Thinkers50 Curated LinkedIn Live with Alisa Cohn | The Ultimate Startup Coach

 

Start asking the right questions, build better relationships, and get more of what you want! Alisa Cohn has been coaching startup founders to grow into world-class CEOs for nearly 20 years. A one-time startup CFO, strategy consultant, and current angel investor and advisor, she has worked with startup companies such as Venmo, Etsy, DraftKings, The Wirecutter, Mack Weldon, and Tory Burch. She has also coached CEOs and C-Suite executives at enterprise clients worldwide. In this session she will explore what she has learned along the way and what startup founders really, really need to know.

Transcript:

Des Dearlove:
Hello, welcome to another Thinkers50 curated session. I’m Des Dearlove.

Stuart Crainer:
And I’m Stuart Crainer, and we are the founders of Thinkers50, the world’s most reliable resource for identifying ranking and sharing the leading management ideas of our age.

Des Dearlove:
Our belief in the power of ideas has been the foundation of our work. Since we launched the first ever global ranking of management thinkers in 2001, and we’ve published a new Thinkers50 ranking every two years since, and it remains the premier ranking of its kind.

Stuart Crainer:
So we are excited that 2021, a year in which fresh thinking and human ingenuity are more important than ever is also a Thinkers50 year. Nominations are now for both the ranking of management thinkers and the distinguished achievement awards, which the Financial Times very accurately calls “The Oscars of Management Thinking.”

Des Dearlove:
The award shortlists will be announced at the end of July and the year’s finale on the 15th and 16th of November will bring all the excitement of a new ranking and the naming of our Thinkers50 2021 award winners.

Stuart Crainer:
Our theme this year is Ideas with Purpose and our guest today fits this description to a T. She is Alisa Cohn. Alisa has been coaching startup founders to grow into world-class CEOs for nearly 20 years. A onetime startup CFO, strategy consultant and current angel investor. She has worked with startup companies such as Etsy, DraftKings, The Wirecutter, Mack Weldon, and Tori Burch, and many more.

Des Dearlove:
She’s also coached CEOs and C-Suite executives at some of the world’s best known companies, including Dell, Sony, IBM, Google and Microsoft. Alisa is a guest lecturer at Harvard and Cornell Universities, Henley Business School and the Naval War College. She’s the executive coach for Runway, the incubator at Cornell NYC, New York City Tech.

Stuart Crainer:
And she’s also coached public and political figures, including the former Supreme Court Chief Justice of Sri Lanka and the first female minister in the transitional government of Afghanistan. Her forthcoming book is called From Start-up to Grown-up, great title. Subtitle, Grow Your Leadership to Grow Your Business.

Des Dearlove:
And if that wasn’t enough, Alisa is also a Broadway investor in productions which have won two Tony Awards and has warned us in advance that she’s prone to burst into song at the slightest provocation. She’s also an amateur rap artist.

Stuart Crainer:
Please send in your questions for Alisa at any time and also let us know where you are joining us from today.

Des Dearlove:
So let’s get started. What’s the secret to being an effective executive coach?

Alisa Cohn:
Oh, well, so first of all, thank you for having me. It’s really a pleasure to be with you today. And I think the secret to being an effective executive coach is two things. One that you really have to sort of love to understand with curiosity how people think and why they do what they do. You have to have a innate curiosity about human behavior. And the second thing is that you have to be willing and able to meet people where they are and adjust your style, because at the end of the day, my success as an executive coach really corresponds to, is really measured by my success of my clients. So I’ve got to walk beside them and help them self-actualize and achieve greatness in their leadership context.

Stuart Crainer:
So during the pandemic, you’ve been busy Alisa.

Alisa Cohn:
Yeah.

Stuart Crainer:
New book coming out, published by Kogan Page in October. Tell us more about the new book.

Alisa Cohn:
Oh, well, my new book is a passion that I have been thinking about for a number of years and it’s called From Start-up to Grown-up. And it’s the basis for thinking about how do you grow from being a founder to a CEO, from somebody who’s busy building a product to someone who’s busy building a business, and it’s not really a straight line. And what I have seen in my 20 years of coaching and in particular coaching founders is that founders make the same mistakes over and over again. So for me, it’s a passion to be able to reveal the tools and techniques that they can use so they don’t make those mistakes and they can accelerate their ability to be successful and optimize their ability to be successful.

Des Dearlove:
Have you ever had, I mean, you must have had clients that were resistant to coaching. You must have had clients who it didn’t stick. I mean, does that happen sometimes maybe? And what do you do about it?

Alisa Cohn:
Oh yeah. Well, first of all, it’s two different things, right? One is about resistance and the second is about sticking. So resistance is about skeptics, right? I’ve had coaches before. I don’t believe in coaches. I don’t really know, or you can’t really help me. You don’t know your business. The truth is, I welcome skeptics. When I first meet somebody, my first goal is to add value within 20 minutes and back to what’s a successful executive coach, my ability to listen and really understand what they’re saying, synthesize and sort of mirror back what they’re saying and then help them get out of the problem so they can look at the problem and then together we can solve the problem, that is very convincing to people that executive coaching can be helpful to them.

The other thing is that sometimes people will say, you need a coach like it’s a punishment. So what I do is I help them see, it’s not a punishment, it’s a perk. And so that helps get over the resistance. I think stickiness is a different question. So the question is how open are people to actually be willing and able to change? And that to me is a whole masterclass about what makes people tick and what makes them willing and able to change.

Stuart Crainer:
And you really can make a difference in 20 minutes, you think?

Alisa Cohn:
Yeah, you want to do it right now?

Stuart Crainer:
[inaudible].

Des Dearlove:
I think you should start. Make a difference in Stuart’s life right now.

Stuart Crainer:
[inaudible]. It might take longer, who knows? I’m about to know but I can see the quick wins in any kind of change program are important. And I can see that in coaching, it’s probably… I can see it is probably achievable. What if it doesn’t work in 20 minutes?

Alisa Cohn:
Right. Well, the thing is that what people really value in the muck and mire of a busy professional life, and I think about a startup founder that I met with initially, right? He came, the same kind of thing, his board said, “You need coaching.” He’s like, “I don’t need coaching,” but finally he’s like, “Fine. I’ll talk to the coach.” So we sit down together and he’s skeptical, but I just say, “What’s the problem that you are thinking about and can’t make any progress on it?” He immediately came up with his head of product. So what’s the problem with the head of product? Well, all these different things. And we talked it through and we came up with in a really great solution for what is he going to do now? What specifically is the conversation he needs to have with his head of product, with a script and a role play and everything in 20 minutes.

So why were we able that? Well, the truth is that as a startup founder, he’s got a lot of things to do. The thing that he doesn’t really want to do is deal with Eddie, right? Because it’s complicated. He doesn’t know what to do. It makes him uncomfortable. So he’s able to focus on all those different things and not focus on this important problem in front of him, which is Eddie. So when I show up, I kind of help him clear the space and all we’re going to do for 20 minutes is talk about Eddie, because it’s actually a really important problem for him to solve. And it doesn’t take that much time, a devoted thinking and being common sensical, but also recognizing where his emotions are playing out, that helps us make progress on this what seemed to be an intractable problem.

Des Dearlove:
Okay. I’m seeing we’ve got, we are being joined by… We’ve got people. We’ve got people joining us from Bucharest, from Baghdad, from Bangalore, from Brazil, [inaudible] and Poland, Amsterdam, the UK. So it’s a very international audience we’ve got. Please put your questions in the comments and we will certainly try to get through as many questions as we can. You mentioned, well, I mentioned in the introduction that you not only coach startups, but you also coach really established companies. What’s the difference in terms of coaching a founder of a startup versus an established CEO or somebody who’s been an executive at a large organization?

Alisa Cohn:
Yeah. So the founder and the CEO of a startup, think about this, the leadership, the entry level position inside of a startup is leader, is boss. So that person hasn’t typically grown up in business. They haven’t managed a team before they haven’t managed a business before. So they’re learning on the job, all the different traits. So on the one hand that makes them very open to new ideas and trying to do it this way. And so that’s really wonderful, but there’s really a lot of learning they really have to do on the job. When I work inside of the established company, the CEO I’ve worked with in public company, last year.

Now it goes without saying, he was the CEO after 25 years of growing up inside of this organization. So he’s got a lot of those skills, but sometimes the problem is he doesn’t have a strong beginner’s mind. He’s not open to experimenting. So I have to help him think about how do you experiment with a different style? How do you think about what maybe hasn’t worked here in the past, but now you’re the CEO might work here? So what I think about is I bring an entrepreneurial mindset to large companies and large companies, CEOs and executives, and I bring process and system orientation to entrepreneurs and to founders.

Des Dearlove:
So it’s a kind of cross pollination sort of process going on there, taking from one and giving to the other. We’ve got a good question. Got a good question from Pranav asking, “So startup to grown-up, what are the main roadblocks in the thought process of founders?” You said they make the same mistakes again and again. What are those roadblocks?

Alisa Cohn:
Well, there are predictable roadblocks that happen with founders. So number one is they hire their friends and they don’t have a conversation with their friends about how it’s going to change their friendship. And then what happens over time is that they hire other employees, but they know there’s a protected class of people called the friends of the founder. That’s one predictable pitfall.

Another is they’re not intentional about building culture. So they’re sort of oh, culture will happen once after we’re already a big company, but the prime that’s by the time they have 30 or 40 people inside of the company, there’s already a culture and it’s mostly accidental. So they haven’t really thought about how do I create a high performing culture people feel cared for.

And then the third thing I would say is they don’t think about the way their communication needs to scale. So when I’m talking to you eight people in my early days founding the startup it’s easy. We’re all in the same room. But as the company grows from eight to 30 to 100 to 1000, you need to adapt your communication style and founders tend to be really behind on recognizing they have to do that and learning the skills to do that.

Stuart Crainer:
I suppose the reverse is true as well in that, I mean, Chris Zook has done work on the founder’s mentality and how you can take the founder’s mentality and apply it to a big organization. I did some interviews at Mphasis, the Indian company, a few years ago. And what struck me there was that they’d taken the founder’s mentality, the entrepreneurial energy and sense of owning the company and being the company. And they manage to translate that to a big company. So you don’t want to lose what makes the founders great in the first place, I guess.

Alisa Cohn:
Stuart, I think that’s exactly right. And that’s very insightful, especially as it relates to culture. So how do you create a culture where people do feel the owner’s mentality, sense of urgency and sense of innovation, even as you grow and as you scale, and it has to do with who you hire in the beginning and then who you keep hiring, do they have those traits and then are the people who are kind of your cultural co-founders, are they imbibing and embedding the atmosphere around them with a same sense of innovation? There’s also, I think, a change, right? How do you kind of manage innovation using systems and processes and tools, but without squeezing all the life out of what could be exciting or innovative?

Des Dearlove:
Okay. We’ve got some more questions coming in. You mentioned the scaling communication issue, because when you are in a small tight-knit group, you can project your personality and your persona quite easily. Dina’s asking, “Can you highlight most significant persona that anyone can relate to?” How important is it to project persona and personality and how do you do that as [inaudible] organization gets bigger and bigger?

Alisa Cohn:
Yeah, I think there’s this tension between, or I should say this interesting word and this tension around this word called authenticity. So we want our leaders to be authentic, but the truth is, if you as a leader are worried about stuff or you’re feeling grumpy and you’re addressing the all-hands and you’re sharing your worry with everybody, and you’re grumpiness with everybody, that’s your authentic style and it’s actually not helpful. Do not do that. Or if you’re sort of like a clown, funny, and then you… There’s actually a great story with a founder that I know he addressed the all-hands and he actually said, oh, we’re just making half this stuff up. That’s okay when you’re 30, it’s kind of we are really making all this stuff up, but they already reached like 500 people and there’s no longer really appetite to be making all this up.

People are making decisions and building a career inside of their company. They need you to take that seriously. So you, as the authentic leader need to think about how can I bring my humanity to this? And maybe I’m funny, maybe I’m serious, maybe I’m intense. That’s great. But then you need to really make sure that you’re sort of scripted and polished when it comes to addressing people, whether it’s in the all-hands or in small groups or one-on-ones, so that you’re aware of how you’re coming across. And is that playing appropriately for the context of your current company? Not your company last year, your company now.

Stuart Crainer:
Yeah. Des and I did some work with Gareth Jones and Rob Goffee offers a book called Why Should Anyone Be Led by You? And their kind of a slogan was Be Yourself More With Skill. So you had to kind of adapt your authenticity for context and-

Alisa Cohn:
Yes. That’s a great expression.

Stuart Crainer:
Yeah. And I think at times that CEOs can’t be authentic as you say, because they don’t want to communicate, worry and concern. It may be completely inappropriate for them to do that.

Alisa Cohn:
Right. One thing I would say is when I think about… When people ask me about authenticity, I say, listen, bring your humanity because it is true that some appropriate humanity, appropriate vulnerability, does help people connect to you and that connection is going to help them be led by you, right? To your point about the book. And those are some of the secrets to be able to be sort of authentic in quotation marks and not just let it all hang out authentic.

Des Dearlove:
I mean, again, coming back to Rob and Gareth’s work, they would talk about a repertoire. We all have… None of us are just one thing, we have different aspects and dimensions and they would say, and perhaps you would agree that we have a repertoire it’s about choosing from our repertoire so that you don’t become totally inauthentic, but you are selective in terms of which aspect of yourself that you show, I think.

Alisa Cohn:
Definitely, definitely. And all CEOs also have to have hats, right? I think of it as hats. This is your own percentage of the board hat. This is your I’m now leading the all-hands hat. This is your having a one-on-one with a sensitive topic with someone who’s kind of upset hat. If you can change your hat, then you can change your style. It kind of triggers you to remember, I need to pull the right from the right repertoire, as you said, to what’s required here in this moment

Stuart Crainer:
As a man who doesn’t suit hats, I’m going to move on. That’s a good question from Pranav Kumar. In your coaching experience, who have you found more open to young ideas? CEOs, I mean, the kind of stereotype of the modern CEO is they’re not particularly open actually, and you would expect entrepreneurial founders to be open, but I suspect the both don’t really conform to stereotype.

Alisa Cohn:
Yeah. Both do not conform to stereotypes. And I would say both startup CEOs and large company executives can be super open in some circumstances, but if you push them on something that they are shut down on for some reason they are super closed. And so I think as a coach, the trick for me is to kind of always find the gateway about what’s going to help someone keep their mind a little more open, but I’ve worked with all kinds of people. And I think it really has to do with, do you as an executive have a growth mindset and a learning orientation, or do you think you’ve kind of figured it all out? Most of my clients have a growth mindset, otherwise they would not be being coached.

Des Dearlove:
Yeah, no, absolutely. And again, it’s interesting that the point you made, one of your three sort of points about founders of startups, the culture piece cause I spent a couple of days with Reed Hastings from Netflix. And it’s very evident that what he was trying to do with Netflix is learn the lessons of his first company. I was trying to guess it’s Pure Software.

Alisa Cohn:
Pure Software. Yep.

Des Dearlove:
Yeah. And exactly that they didn’t consciously create a culture. And in fact, it turned into… it became a stifling culture because as they introduced the rules, they lost the spontaneity and the dynamism. So I think what he’s tried to do with Netflix, and obviously we all read a lot about that culture is consciously tried to build the culture in from the beginning. So I guess that’s the sign of someone who’s on an interesting journey.

Alisa Cohn:
Yeah. And a learning journey. And I think the learning journey didn’t start when he started Netflix, it’s like their culture has been built through experimentation and trial and error all the way, an example of what you said, in Pure Software, they had a lot of rules. And so he recognized that the rules didn’t always bring that much value and that rules sometimes stifle creativity. So then Netflix people are getting their expenses approved and he began to realize, gosh, it’s taking a lot of time to get your expenses approved around here, no more approval. We trust you. Right. But then they have… What I am impressed with in Netflix is they have checks around that. Right? So that no one’s taking advantage. And also, I think they’re hiring process is super rigorous in order to support the kind of culture that he has been trying to build there.

Des Dearlove:
Yeah. Yeah. There he talks about high talent density. If you have good people and you make sure you hire very good people, you can allow them to not have so many rules. But if you dilute that and you get the wrong people in place, you’ll have the usual troubles, I think, that a lot of organizations have. The reason that we have rules.

Alisa Cohn:
Yeah. I think that’s right.

Stuart Crainer:
There’s a good point from Rik Spann who joins this session most weeks and tends to make a musical analogies, which are sometimes helpful, which I think it is in this case. And he said much can we learn from the way leaders in music like Duke Ellington, et cetera, engage in different types of projects, and it teaches about learning, leadership agility, and entrepreneurial mindset, and here the development of an authentic tone is key. From your experience in music, do you see metaphorical connections here?

Alisa Cohn:
Well, thank you, Rik for putting me on the spot here. I think that there’s a lot of lessons to be learned from music and I’ll just say two right now. I think of the CEO as the conductor. So actually your job as a CEO is to make sure all these units, all these groups, all these instruments are playing well together with music that we want to hear so that we can all feel successful. That’s one. The second is to your point about jazz. I mean, it’s well known that people have to kind of learn their craft and learn to play the instrument well and learn to read music. And then once they kind of have the muscle memory about how you actually execute this instrument, then you can improvise. And I think there’s a tension between doing in the classically-trained way, doing it the right way and then recognizing that it’s time to shift your style and make something up. I think startup founders are pristinely and exquisitely tuned to make things up. They also need to work on kind of getting the basics underneath their belts.

Stuart Crainer:
Isn’t that one of the problems with CEOs that at the CEO role is conductor, but actually their background tends to be in one particular instrument?

Alisa Cohn:
Yes, that is totally true. And actually normal founders will think that they have to know all the answers and that their job is to know all the answers. And by the way, in the beginning, after they’ve been thinking about this for a year or two or three, and then they hire some people, the truth is they are the smartest one in the room. They do know all the answers, but over time, that’s not sustainable. They need to conduct this orchestra and hire people who are better than them, and then hire the right people and then train themselves to recognize they don’t need to be the last word or the decider on everything that goes on. That’s a very difficult leap to make for a startup founder.

Des Dearlove:
Okay. And then there’s a step beyond that when presume, I mean, because typically leaders, CEOs haven’t been historically good at managing their own exits, because presumably there comes a point when perhaps they’re not the right person to conduct the orchestra anymore. Have you had situations where you have to kind of help someone move a bit closer to the exit?

Alisa Cohn:
Yes, actually I talk about that in my book, in the first chapter, it’s about self-awareness. Do you even want to be the CEO? The truth is that as a founder, most founders are really focused on or what their natural strength is peering over your shoulder into the future that you cannot see, that is a superpower. And then they can inspire people to follow them. Inspire venture capitalists to invest in them.

That is a wonderful skill, but then over time, people in their company want performance reviews and career ladderings. And there needs to be like a machine that’s kind of cranking out the product at scale. They may not be suited to do that. They may not have the temperament. They may not have the desire to do that. There’s one founder that I’ve worked with a few times, he’s a three-time founder and he realizes that after a certain point in the company, it’s like he’s no longer the guy to want to build this company. Right. So he’s kind of figured that out after painful experiences of running into a brick wall of what happens once it becomes more at scale.

Stuart Crainer:
Interesting question from Ola, “Did you end up having to rethink the way you coach execs or startup founders during the pandemic? If so, how?” How did the pandemic change your kind of practice of coaching and the way you think about it?

Alisa Cohn:
Yeah, thanks Ola. I think it’s like books will be written around how we all changed during the pandemic. But I will say a couple of things. One is that originally, all the founders that I worked with did a couple of things. We immediately had a bunch of emergency meetings with the executive team and had daily meetings on a regular basis to make sure that communication was pristine. So the way that changed my coaching was that I really helped them think about their role as being the communicator-in-chiefs. People knew what was going on because people were craving certainty. So actually I wrote an article for Forbes, which was, how do you plan for a future that you can’t plan for? So it’s about how do you communicate certainty in a time of uncertainty? So my coaching definitely shifted with that. Also, it goes that saying there was a whole focus on self-care, which I don’t think is going to change. CEOs I work with, to their credit, got very focused on the wellbeing of their people.

However, they did not focus as much on their own wellbeing. And so a number of them just had some dark moments and there was one in particular, the CEO of one startup I work with in particular, he didn’t have a single day off for about eight weeks, right? So eight or nine weeks, he was just working around the clock. And when we caught up at some point, I could just tell you are no longer any good for anyone, because he was really just working himself to the play point of burnout. So I think for me, I got much more attuned to self-care. Definitely the executives I work with are much more attuned to self care or to the wellbeing of their employees. And I don’t think that’s going to go away anytime soon, especially in our new remote and hybrid work environment that we’re looking into the future.

Des Dearlove:
Okay. We got another question here, from your experience, what are the top five leadership skills? And I’m going to add a bit to that and are they changing? Have they changed because of the pandemic or are they constant? Are they universals?

Alisa Cohn:
Yeah. Well the top, to me, the top leadership skill is your ability to shift to the circumstances. So your situational agility, knowing what’s required here and being able to activate that, that is by far number one, and that has not changed. Our circumstances have changed quite a bit. So I think if anything, that’s kind of compounded. The second is probably aligned with that is communication. And I think communication has changed because the founders and the executives that I work with have had to learn how to use video and phone in a way that if they were working in person, they did not have to.

For example, they used to put off having difficult conversations like, oh, it’s video all they want to see you in person. That is no longer an option when you’ve gone remote and your employees are scattered throughout the company. Then the third one I’ll talk about is actually back to coaching. So what’s necessary definitely right now is for leaders and managers to double down on coaching their employees because there’s a lot of what’s happening now where playbooks have not been written. So it’s the idea of coaching to evoke excellence in their employees, helping them feel supported, helping them make good decisions when you, the leader are not necessarily around. I think that’s going to become very much a skill for the future. That’s only three.

Stuart Crainer:
Do you think the entrepreneurial and corporate worlds better understand each other than they have done in the past? Because it always strikes me that when I talk to… We’re a small company, I talk to people who work for big companies and just seems to gulf of perspective and the context is so different that they don’t really understand us and we are mystified by them.

Alisa Cohn:
Yeah, I think it’s that way. I think that… You pointed out earlier the idea of stereotypes, there’s a stereotype of how the large company executive is, and then definitely there’s mythology around startups mythology or even that show Silicon Valley just perpetuated this myth of what it is to be a startup founder. It is not really like that. And I think when large company executives or professionals come inside of a startup, they are startled about how little sort of administrative support they have and how much they have to really wrangle people themselves. But I think they think it’s refreshing about how much ownership they have. Inside of large companies there’s a feeling of getting eight different approvals all the way down the chain of command. Startup people most likely can’t tolerate that environment. Founders definitely can’t tolerate that environment. That’s why they became founders.

Des Dearlove:
Okay. You talked earlier about the need for people to have a growth mindset in order to be coachable and a lot of these things go to that. If someone’s got a fixed mindset, I mean, are we one or the other? Do we move between? How do you help someone move from fixed mindset to growth mindset? Is it-

Alisa Cohn:
I love the sophisticated nature of the question of how do you create a growth mindset from a fixed mindset? How do you grow yourself out of a fixed mindset? I think that’s a nature of people and their place in development. I don’t think a coach can really change somebody. I think people are willing and able to change based on in some ways their makeup, but also based on experiences that they have had in their lives. We have all experienced something for the past 16 months or so that has really made us stop and pause and reflect. And I think right now is a time where people are all reevaluating their lives. And that is the definition of kind of a growth mindset where new ideas, new frameworks, new skills, new ideas, new belief systems are… it’s fertile ground to grow all of those right now. So if you think you have a fixed mindset, right now is the time to open up your mind and think of yourself as someone who’s got a growth mindset, because it’s a great time to make changes in your life.

Stuart Crainer:
I mean, one of the amazing things, when we are reading out, talking about your biography Alisa at the start is you’re involved in so many things and it’s a bit daunting for people like us who live quiet mundane lives, but how do you manage all that portfolio of activities? Because I think we’re all juggling things, but you are juggling an incredible range of activities. How do you manage to do that?

Alisa Cohn:
I always wanted an interesting life and so I really made it my business to get involved with a lot of things that were going to give me an interesting life. And the way I handle all of it is to recognize that there are times where I’ve got to be solely focused on this thing and not those things or this thing and not those things. And so I find the ways to balance a portfolio by treating it as a portfolio and I give attention as needed. I try to keep my time kind of organized, but I would say I give myself a lot of self-compassion and permission to not be 100% perfect.

Des Dearlove:
And tell me, does one of the world’s leading executive coaches have a coach? [inaudible]. Do you take the medicine?

Alisa Cohn:
Yes. So, thank you for asking. I have three coaches. I have my mentor friend and coach Marshall Goldsmith, who is well known to all of us. And he always takes the opportunity to spontaneously coach me whether I like it or not.

Des Dearlove:
Whether you want it or not, yeah?

Alisa Cohn:
Yeah. I also have a peer coach through the Marshall Goldsmith 100 Coaches. I have a peer coach and we coach each other mutually on a weekly basis. And I have a second peer coach where there are some activities which are outside of coaching, like angel investing and also some, and even sort of the mechanics of startup operations. And he’s another peer coach I talk to and we mutually help each other. So yes, I believe in coaching, everyone should find various different coaches and mentors and networks of people around them to help you succeed.

Stuart Crainer:
Can you be overcoached?

Alisa Cohn:
Interesting.

Stuart Crainer:
You see sports people. So there’s I know soccer fans who watch soccer and he’s actually said quite often, he’s been overcoached. So people who begin to they lose their natural instincts and they [inaudible] same way as everyone else.

Alisa Cohn:
Yeah. When I do three, this is something I’ve changed over the years when I do 360 feedback, which is getting feedback from folks all around my client to figure out what are they great at? What do they need to get better at? There used to be a sense that they’re supposed to somehow fix their weaknesses, somehow fix the things that they’re not doing very well. I think it makes people self-conscious. It makes people not confident. It makes people second-guess themselves. I really try to help them focused on emphasizing the super powers, how do they mitigate the risks and the problems and the development opportunities maybe even higher around themselves and how do they find the one or two leverage points that help them be the most effective person and executive they can be? So I think that notion of being overcoached is very interesting. I think when you’re constantly second-guessing yourself, it’s like stop it, right? Take the pressure off and go back to what made you successful in the first place.

Des Dearlove:
Fantastic. I’m afraid we’ve run out of time. It’s been fantastic having you with us and thank you. I mean, I can see the appreciation in the comment box that everybody’s really enjoyed hearing you talk. And you’ve been put on the spot a couple of times, which is always a good thing. The book is called From Start-up to Grown-up and it’s out in October.

Alisa Cohn:
It’s out in October. You can pre-order it now. It’s out in the UK and October 4th and it’s out in the US on October 26th.

Des Dearlove:
Okay, fantastic. And if people want to find out more about you and your broad portfolio, they can go to your website?

Alisa Cohn:
Yes, they absolutely can. You can also download my Questions to Spark Conversations and be added to my very fun and dynamic newsletter list.

Des Dearlove:
Alisa, that was totally inspiring and very, very helpful. Thank you very much.

Alisa Cohn:
Thank you so much for having me, I loved it.

Des Dearlove:
Please join us same time, same place, next week. Thanks.

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