Startups, Sports, Coaches & In Between

Updated: Dec 23, 2019

There’s a strong rationale why excellent sportsmen have excellent coaches next to them.

This is actually the origin of ‘Coach’.

Imagine a young version of you, a 6 years old, getting guidance while soccer/ basketball/ tennis/ football. Being empowered, being fine-tuned, being motivated. Having someone to look up to, one person that reaches out to you, believes in you, and helps you realize that you can do it!

Basically, shows you the way, and gives you the tools to success. The work is yours, it’s still 100% you, and the guidance is the edge.

In 1951, Emil Zátopek was the first runner to break 1 hour barrier in the 20 km. Three years later, in 1954, he had broken the 29 minutes barrier for running 10,000 meters. Zátopek was considered one of the greatest runners of the 20th century and was also known for his tough and unique training methods. He was the originator of interval training and hypo-ventilation training, nicknamed Czech Locomotive. His best time for the marathon distance was 02:23:04.

Yesterday, my 3 kids got an amazing life lasting lesson while having quality time with mommy & daddy as the 5 of us were watching Eliud Kipchoge shattering his own personal record by almost 2 minutes in a marathon distance run, thus breaking the 2 hour barrier for that distance.

And what did they learn?

1. Breaking your own boundaries, is mainly a mental effort.

2. Persistence & determination are the key for personal achievements.

3. Having an assisting staff is a main factor in your success.

4. Focus. High energy. Strong belief in yourself.

5. Practicing sports helps to gain so many wins in life.

6. Be a role model to your kids - don’t talk about it, do it.

7. The real learning is not at school. It’s during the ‘mini-moments’ of life.

Everyone needs someone to believe in them!

Back from your inner child to being a grown up entrepreneur

What happened in the span of years, since you were 6 years old until today, as the grown responsible people you grew up to be?

Has the need of someone to guide you disappeared?

Don’t you need someone to reach out to you, assuring that things will be alright? (When we grow up, this person helped us to understand that the only one who can deliver us anything - is us).

Where do you find this coach as grown-up person?

Your spouse, parents , friends, bosses - they all contribute to your growth journey. you are, naturally, the pivot of your own growth journey, and all the above mentioned may help, but where is this neutral someone, that helps you see the picture, clear the dust, open your eyes with the right filter and gain control and confidence towards your present challenges?

Having thoughts about hiring a Startups Coach?

There is a lot of unclarity about the role of an executive coach.

I hope to lift the fog and define the job description of the coach, and maybe outline the attributes to look for when you are getting ready to embark on your journey as a founder and select the right coach for you.

What is a coach?

A coach that works with the startup’s CEO helps his client through the process of asking questions and teaching the startup and its leader to gain self awareness, to map and prioritize challenges, to become a better decision maker and to communicate his wishes better.

A coach can help the founder to map his values and partner with him to set goals and conduct a full and comprehensive status reviews.

A coach needs to be able to recognize patterns of behavior, understand the bits and bytes of the business and team environment and guide the founder towards success.

Once a comprehensive road map is drawn, the coach can guide the client’s learning. Through the process of asking questions, new ways of thinking might come up and prove themselves useful.

The best coaches are those who can think out of the box and not get hung out on conceptions, specific models or tools. It is required that the coach will address the unique needs that are specific to each client .

Often confusing, but a coach is not a consultant, however, advice is often given, along with shared experiences and emotional support.

Not to worry, the data collected by the coach is confidential, and the choice of sharing it with other senior executives is solely at the founder's discretion.

When is the right time and what should your expectations be?

There is no better time than the present. Having said that, most likely it would happen just after you raise seed-series A financing. This is the stage when you finally have enough to hire the services of a coach. The need to assemble a team is imminent, and getting a coach quickly at this stage can be the X factor to tilt the pendulum in your favor over your competition, allowing you to move full-steam ahead and blaze forward as quick as possible.

Earlier stages can also benefit from coaching, as they are building their leadership skills and culture DNA from the beginning.

The time is primed for a coach when the founder is taking on additional responsibilities and is in need to learn a new set of skills, basically finds himself in uncharted territory.

You will know when you are ready when you are willing to open up and be vulnerable about your difficulties. When you are ready to map your problems and place them under the light of the surgery table, and go to an operation under the knife with a coach of your choosing, after you gain the understanding that these issues you are facing, are not going to disappear of their own accord.

Your coach should wrap up each session with simple, doable action items that propel you forward and help you overcome an obstacle you are currently grappling with.

It could be very practical steps like how many weekly hours you should spend on making a marketing presentation, or having a tough conversation with an associate who is giving you a hard time.

You should be presented with a mirror that reflects your actions. A great coach will further push you to try new methods and approaches in your dealings with challenges, and will make you think outside of the box.

You might feel at unease, but that is exactly the process of learning.

I will say this: very few CEOs start with all the skills they need to grow their companies. Managerial skills are acquired through time and experiences.

In the traditional era, having a coach meant you were tanking. Thankfully, times have changed and progressed, and nowadays, startup founders are the top of the business world. More so, having a coach at their side provides a competitive edge.

One of my entrepreneurs in a coaching session

What makes a great coach? And how to choose the best coach suited for you?

In two words - interpersonal skills. In so many words - a coach can be certified, or could be recommended to you by someone like you that you know and trust.

Speaking about trust - you are going to spend a great amount of time talking to your chosen one for an extended time, so trust and chemistry are a must. It really is important that you arrive into this process fully invested and eager to your meetings. Keep in mind that your chosen coach should be within your budget.

A great coach will help you achieve your initial objective, and in the process, will make you see and identify your short comings and blind spots. The journey you will embark might result in new objectives that could prove to be more valuable.

Here are a number of things to look for when you want to make a smart choice of a coach:

Client oriented: You should get the feel of whether your prospective coach usually works with new managers or is more oriented with corporate managers.

See if he inspires you, if he is flexible and accommodating, and available to you.

Career experience: A “been there, done that” coach could be easier to work with. One who is not focused on your learning curve, but rather acts like your business partner and thinking with you on strategy and has an understanding about business environment - one who challenges you. He should do more than just give you an advice, but rather supply you with the right tools to make a decision.

On occasion he might share his angel, but generally speaking - you will receive help to develop your own.

A mentor like aura: You should have a general notion of your needs and when you look for the right coach, he should feel to you like he is more developmentally ahead, more ahead on the curve, particularly in the areas you are looking to make progress on.

On a personal note - I know that being a startup CEO/ Founder is a lonely position.

No matter what stage you’re at, in your personal life during your startup growth - asking for help is a sign of strength and there’s an opportunity out there! I’m here to help you find your inner leader - in sports, in business, in your family, and guide you in this beautiful journey called ‘entrepreneur’s life’.

In the meantime, 2 tips: 1) Make sure to engage in physical activity sports. It will take all your life results few levels higher. 2) Practice with yourself on taking the day-to-day experiences and stories, as an opportunity for introspection, learning and growth.

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