Who uses coaches and why?

Some Initial Findings From 2008 ICF Global Coaching Client Study conducted by PricewaterhouseCooper and the Association Resource Centre, Inc:

65 percent of coaching clients are female.
The majority of coaching clients are between the ages of
36 and 45 (35.9 percent).
The majority of coaching clients have acquired an ad-
vanced level of education (a post graduate degree such as
a master ’s degree or Ph.D.).
The duration for the average coaching relationship for sur-
vey participants was 12.8 months.
The top three motivations for obtaining coaching are: 1)
Self-esteem/Self-confidence (40.9 percent); 2) Work/Life Balance (35.6 percent); and 3) Career Opportunities (26.8 percent)
96.2 percent of coaching clients report they would repeat their coaching experience
82.7 percent of coaching clients report they are “very satisfied” with their coaching experience


Who uses coaches and why?

Some Initial Findings From 2008 ICF Global Coaching Client Study conducted by PricewaterhouseCooper and the Association Resource Centre, Inc:

  • 65 percent of coaching clients are female.
  • The majority of coaching clients are between the ages of 36 and 45 (35.9 percent).
  • The majority of coaching clients have acquired an advanced level of education (a post graduate degree such as a master ’s degree or Ph.D.).
  • The duration for the average coaching relationship for survey participants was 12.8 months.
  • The top three motivations for obtaining coaching are:
  1. Self-esteem/Self-confidence (40.9 percent); 
  2. Work/Life Balance (35.6 percent); 
  3. Career Opportunities (26.8 percent)
  • 96.2 percent of coaching clients report they would repeat their coaching experience
  • 82.7 percent of coaching clients report they are “very satisfied” with their coaching experience

Ageism – The Last Acceptable form of Discrimination

Because I’ve been focusing on coaching for Millennial managers, I have been wading into the seamy side of intergenerational issues.

There was an iconic saying of the 60’s, “never trust anyone over 30”. Today, the very generation that coined that phrase is long past the age they once distrusted. They are in the position of managing, evaluating, promoting, hiring and firing those under 30, sometimes called the Millennial generation. So, should Millennials trust anyone over 30?

Though there are significant cultural differences between generations in the workforce today, a topic many writers have tackled already, the question is really not about age. Imagine for a minute that you were at work and someone said, “he speaks a different language, so his opinions aren’t important to listen to.” Or, “Her skin is a different colour than ours, so she’s not going to the training session.” Perhaps this does happen in your workplace – but if it does, I bet there is an HR policy or at the very least a workplace law that gives you recourse to fight it.

But what about when you hear someone say, “he’s only 26 years old. He’s not ready for that position.” “He hasn’t had enough experience yet, he’s so young.” Or more likely, “young people today don’t have what it takes to…” or “that generation is etc.” It goes the other way, too: “he’s too old to understand.” “she’ll never go for this new technology – she’s too stuck in the old ways of doing things.” We are even reinforcing Ageism through media – newspapers doing op-ed pieces on the failures of the Millennial Generation, and Blogs railing about the Boomer Generation.

I call this Ageism, the last acceptable form of discrimination in our culture. It flows through our thoughts like water, acceptable, reasonable, justified. We pass it on, ironically, from generation to generation like learning how to tie your shoes.

So, here’s an experiment to try to see how deeply Ageism goes in you:

Imagine that all other forms of discrimination we now abhor once felt just as acceptable and reasonable to the people who held them. Armed with this disturbing perspective, the next time you are working with someone of a different age, either older or younger, ask yourself what assumptions you hold about this person – listen to the statements that go through your head about them and that will tell you what your assumptions are. Listen especially closely for age-related or generation-related assumptions.

Then play the game of assuming the complete opposite.

Now, behave as if that opposite perspective is just as true as the assumptions you started out with true just to see what happens.

If you assume the person is too young to understand how to manage a team, or too old to have ideas about personal branding on the internet, assume the opposite and see what happens.

More importantly, start from an assumption that any person, regardless of his or her age, is smart and capable. Once you’re in that perspective everything else will probably be related to lack of confidence, technical knowledge or opportunity. Those can all be fixed if your intent is right. And more importantly, you now have access to the ideas and energy and help of a significantly higher number of smart, capable people than you allowed yourself to have before.

Is this an easy or difficult experiment for you? Can you give up Ageism? It’s important that you try, because changing all our minds starts with you.

Quitting to succeed

Seth Godin, author of Tribes and Small is the New Big, has another book out – The Dip.

An important and audacious premise of The Dip is that quitting is sometimes the very best action to take to get what we want. Godin says, “we fail when we get distracted by tasks we don’t have the guts to quit”.

I see this in business often – the distraction of failing work. The project that started off as a good idea and has become a death march but no one will pull the plug because $2M has already been spent.  The job you stay in because you can’t imagine starting again despite knowing in your heart that it will only get worse and suck every last ounce of energy out of you for the rest of your career.

It happens at home too: The marriage that is being held together “for the kids”, thought the kids are miserable watching their parents slowly give up living. The children’s sports that parents keep the kids in even when the kids no longer love it, just because “we’ve invested so much already”.

Godin says in some situations no amount of work will lead to success, or there may be a light at the end of the tunnel but you’ll be almost out of oxygen by the time you get there.  The trick is to know when you’re at the decision point, when it’s time to throw one more log on the fire or move on to a better place.

His premise clicks nicely with reading I’ve been doing on Strengths, particularly the work of Marcus Buckingham in Now Discover Your Strengths. The premise there is to replace the painful and limiting improvement of weaknesses to a subjective level of “normal”, with the recognition of and improvement of natural Strengths. In the Improving Weaknesses model, you start at D or C- and get to B.  In the Strengths model you start at B+ and get to A++ with significantly more fun and less wasted energy.

Both approaches nicely work for clients in Adaptive Coaching – notice where you are in your journey and connect with others about the potential for success and how your strengths will help you get there.  Then take action to either quit and start something new based on your strengths and current resources, or keep going.  Based on the result, learn, adapt and start again.

10 things businesspeople can do to adapt in the new economy

It’s rough out there.  Customers have lost their discretionary income.  Some have no income at all.  If you do business to business  then you know budgets have been severely cut back.  It seems like nobody’s buying.  So what do you do while things are slow.

10.  This economic situation is temporary and if you can wait it out, times will be good again.  But the world will be different and you can be ready for that.  While things are slow, use the time to reevaluate your business strategy.  Who are your customers and what do they really want?   Now’s the time to go visit or call or email them and ask!  You might be the only business person who does, making you stand out.

9. Catch up on your reading, and not just books but online resources as well. Often the most relevant information is available on the web first.  Set up news alerts and RSS feeds for the area you are in.  Keep tabs on the new thinkers, not just the old faithfuls – they might end up redefining your world. 

8. Make some new friends.  If you’re on Twitter, try going to a TweetUp, or Jelly. Try some new activities in your business or home community.  Ask someone new out for a coffee, someone in a different business entirely.  Ask them about their business and interests.  Be curious and open and you may synthesize ideas into something no one else in your industry has thought of.

7. Start a conversation.  Start a blog, join Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.  Sharing your knowledge for free and being transparent about your thoughts and actions is the new business model.  It gives people a sample of the kind of thinker and communicator you are and creates trust and connection.

6. Learn something new, go to a class, try a webinar.  The possibilities are enormous for learning new skills and methods of doing what you do.  Also, the connections you make at learning events can open doors to new ideas and customers.  While you’re learning, take the opportunity to connect with others in the audience or class and find out what kind of work they do, how they do it and genuinely seek to keep in touch.  This isn’t about selling something – it’s about creating authentic connections.

5. Help someone else.  Mentor a young business person.  Provide free speaking engagements to chambers of commerce, Rotary clubs, colleges and universities and other business groups.  Write articles.  Volunteer for organizations that provide services you are passionate about and get to know the people involved.  

4. Focus on your strengths. Here’s where you start looking inward and perhaps start making some changes.  Start by understanding your values and strengths.   Take the VIA signature strengths test  to identify the strengths that come most easily to you.   Then work on projects that align with your values and use those strengths.  Try some of the other questionnaires on the site as well – learn what makes you tick.

3. Check your intent.  When you connect with customers do you intend to create a relationship or simply to sell a product and move on?  Do you intend to adapt to changing circumstances, even if you don’t yet know how, or are you content to join the grim chorus calling for the end of the world?  Be honest.  People can smell a snooker a mile away.  And remember that optimism is contagious and your customers will sense your good intent, strength, optimism and belief in your business, and be attracted to you.

2. Think and act positively.  An accurately positive attitude, including confidence and optimism about things you can control, is attractive.  People want to be surrounded by, and support, positive influences, especially now.  Seek out others who have the same approach and who will support you looking for opportunities to make realistic and achievable changes.  Lead the change you want to see.

1.  Ask for help.  People love to help, both professionally and personally.  In addition to the help you receive, you can make some great connections by asking experts to help you.  And one day you will be able to help in return.

Keeping exercise up in the dark months

I was just talking to my own coach about my frustration at not having exercised for 3 weeks and I realized I need to document my thoughts now so I have something to remind me!

Now, I have to qualify this by saying I do one or two dog walks every day for 2-4 km. When I say exercise, I mean an hour of weights, lunges, pushups, etc. You know, the stuff that gets results.

The backstory to this is that I had a couple of setbacks in my otherwise pretty good fitness commitment in the last two years. The first came when I was on top of my fitness and could clean and jerk 30 lbs in each hand, hold a plank position for over 2 minutes and do jacknives on the exercise ball. Then I got plantar fasciitis – I couldn’t put weight on my foot. I stopped exercising. I gained 20 lbs. I was very unhappy.

I slowly got better, got back into exercising, rebuilt my strength and felt better. Then the iron deficiency hit. I was exhausted all the time. Exercise no longer gave me an energy boost, it shut me right down.

Now that I’m on iron pills, I got back in the game again. I had a summer of gardening, hauling, digging, turning compost, rebuilding the veggie garden beds – all the heavy stuff. I swam in the lake regularly, climbed staging to paint the outside of the house, walked, dug a pond. I felt great.

But now that the days are short and cold, my enthusiasm for lifting weights is at a low ebb again. Maybe it’s SAD or maybe it’s fear of that overwhelming exhaustion again. But something has to be done. And I know my iron is back up.

So here’s what I have decided to do:

1. Recognize that my body has a cycle. By attending to my body and rating my energy on a scale of 1-10, I can sense when I’m prepared to kick butt, and when I need to curl up with a good blog. When my energy is high, instead of writing blogs and reading coaching books, I can use my high body energy to get in some good muscle-strengthening. When it’s low I can rest and read.

2. Since my energy ebbs and flows over the course of the day, I am going to get right into my exercise gear as soon as I’m up in the morning. That way there’s nothing standing between me and my workout when I’m feeling ready to rock.

3. I need a milestone every week, so I will put one workout in my calendar, set up a checklist of moves and make sure I get through it. That way, I’ll get my body going at least once a week regardless of my underlying sense of energy. The more I do it, the more I’ll want to do it.

4. Everything I ever needed to know I learned from my greyhounds. They are the ultimate couch potatoes. They sleep 23 hours a day, upside down like dead cockroaches on the sofa. But they have two distinct playtimes every day when they get up, shake themselves, have a big stretch, and start running, chasing, tossing toys in the air. If they get to go out in the meadow, they will run hard just for the fun of it. They seem so proud of themselves! I am going to use their get up time to signal me to get up too. When they play I will go play with them – run around outside, play tag, hide and seek, etc.

5. And finally, I will be accountable to myself by tweeting my success on Twitter.

Exercising in the dark months means structure and adaptability, the yin and yang of life.
Getting exercise in the dark months takes a little structure, and a little adaptability. I’ll report back and we’ll see how it goes.

Spiders are adaptive – are you?


A recent Globe and Mail article tells us that spiders sent to the International Space Station were able to make webs in zero gravity. The author compares their initial failures, and quick adaptability, to the path we can all take in the new economy.

The spiders did not strike for better gravity, sink into helplessness, or demand compensation. They just got on with it.

The spider experiment is a great metaphor for human adaptation: Notice, respond, learn, adapt. They tried webmaking as usual and failed, but learned something from the failure. Taking action is the key, and continuing to take action after failure using the new learning is the way adaptive organisms thrive.

Can you adapt and get on with it?