The Power of a Coach (TED talk)

Today I finally watched a TED talk that I’ve been meaning to watch entitled “Want to get great at something? Get a coach.”

I’ve embedded it below, followed by a short video I did earlier this year about why every professional needs a coach.

I wanted to watch this video because for the last few year I’ve had a coach that I pay monthly to help me move my business forward. I found him fortuitously through a bootstrapped software summit he did a year ago, and after subscribing to his email list and replying to his question of why I signed up, we started emailing and eventually decided to work together.

So before you ask me how to find a coach, I’ll tell you – find someone who has gone through what you are currently going through, then get in touch with them and tell them your story. Don’t ask for free “mentorship”. You can find plenty of free content online. If you are reaching out to a specific person, you are asking for help and should be serious. Be willing to put your money where your mouth is, and pay the person to be your coach.

It doesn’t really matter what my coach and I have worked through, just that he has helped me solve some of my largest business problems and my business is way stronger for it. I’ve over doubled revenue, found a business model that works, and am now working on scaling the business with team + technology.

It works.

Differences between coaches and teachers

Before I get to the videos, I want to share something I’ve been thinking about. We have teachers when we are young, but unless you go on to get graduate degrees you cease having teachers when you graduate.

When you set out into the work world, you figure you’re ready for your job. After all, that’s what formal education promises us right?

Get an education, finish your degree, graduate, go on Spring Break, then get a job and have a great life and support your family. Right?

This narrative is starting to break down and shows the difference between teachers and coaches, and why we all need a coach (or more) in our lives.

Teachers teach us something new. A basketball teacher or entrepreneurship teacher teaches us how to dribble a basketball or start a business.

Coaches take us from the point of being able to dribble a ball down the court or start a business. They then nurture and guide and correct to get us to the next level, and the levels beyond.

Ideally in your professional career, a manager can be a coach for you. This rarely happens at startups because startups are focused on doing as much as you can with as few people/resources as possible so as to reduce their overhead and elongate their runway, which correlates positively to a company succeeding.

If you are an executive at a startup and you do not have a coach, then you need one. And this is especially true if it is your first startup or first time being an executive.

You can probably get some great advice from your investors (if you have them) and mentors who are 2-3 steps ahead of you in business. But if you truly want to grow as a person and a professional, and therefore grow your business for the long term, then you need someone who is 4-5 steps ahead of you and has years of experience on you.

Remember, teachers help you learn new things from scratch. Coaches hone and take you to the next level.


Here is Atul Gawande’s TED talk that I referenced at the top:

And here is the video I did about having a coach in April of 2017. More videos on my YouTube channel: