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ET Project \ Podcasts

ET-046: Future-proofing your business by remembering to practice for improvement

With Mr. David Goldsmith

ET-046: A conversation with David Goldsmith

and your host Wayne Brown on May 09, 2023

Episode notes: A conversation with Mr. David Goldsmith

Today, we’re heading back to Santa Fe, New Mexico in the United States to visit one of the early professional coaching pioneers, Mr. David Goldsmith.

David’s mission is to grow the quality of coaching and leadership worldwide. That’s a big audacious goal.

David’s also a senior partner of the Goldsmith Group, he’s the founder and executive director of 7 Paths Forward, which is a training organization for coaches, where he partners with Mr. David Peterson.

Here is an extract from our conversation as we start to get into it…

“…It’s a two-part story. It kind of touching, my dad was diagnosed with an untreatable form of lung cancer 30-plus years ago, and he was given 90 days to live, and unfortunately, that diagnosis turned out. During that period of time, I was visiting with him and my mom had gone off to do some errands and he was complaining that his mom wasn’t doing enough for him. If you knew my mom, you knew that was a silly comment, and it was the comment that somebody who’s in their own bubble and scared and the world is caving in, might say.

And I sat with him and we talked about what was going on and what the reality was and everything else, and at the end of the conversation, we’d come to an end, he kind of resolved a lot of this for himself, he said, “I don’t know what you just did. But you should do more of that. Is that being a shrink? Is that a therapist? I don’t know what that is. Go do that. It’s great what you’ve been doing in business and all the business stuff and the businesses you’re building, go do that.”

Today’s Guest: MR. DAVID GOLDSMITH

In the early 1990s, David worked closely with Thomas Leonard on the Coach 100 concept and served as the first president of Coach University. Yes, that’s more than 30 years back.

And during that time, he and Thomas founded the International Coach Federation, commonly referred to today as ICF, which is the leading coaching certification body for the global coaching profession.

As well, David was one of the first to attain from the ICF, his master-certified coach and board-certified coach credentials.

He later went on to lead coach-inc.com through its expansion as well as co-founding with Ruth Ann Harnisch the Foundation of Coaching, which later became the Institute of Coaching at Harvard, furthering the profession’s commitment to research.

As coaching spread globally, David was invited to Japan to train the country’s first coaches, and he worked closely with the Japanese groups, Coach 21 and COACH A to establish coaching in this part of Asia. His client list reads like a who’s who of the business world, and today his focus is primarily on working with executives, professionals, and entrepreneurs.

Often known as the coach’s coach. He’s also worked with many of the leaders in the industry.

Final words from David:

“One of the things that happen in the coaching profession that, doesn’t happen in the coaching profession, that happens in many other places is very few coaches practice. They just work. I was listening to some magicians talk about preparing to do a three-minute trick on television. And they were sitting down with another magician who was coaching them on the script, and they thought they were gonna go through the whole three-minute script.

They spent the entire two hours on the first three lines. What are all the possible ways you could say it? What are the reactions from the crowd? What do you do if this happens or that happens?

And so there was a lot of deliberate intentionality about thinking about that. And one of the things I’ve seen is that once coaches are trained, they don’t spend much time practicing. They don’t spend much time reflecting on how to do it better. And so they stay in the good category. If you wanna accelerate your coaching, spend a lot of time practicing very deliberately.

If you think about world-class athletes or world-class musicians, the percentage of practice to performance is something like 50 or 100 to 1. And in the coaching profession, it’s 1 to 100. So you can imagine if you spent just 10% of your time in a given week practicing coaching rather than just coaching, and there’s a whole bunch of ways to deliberately practice, you’d get better a lot faster…”

0:00:02.8 Wayne Brown: Hello and welcome to the ET Project Podcast. I’m you host, Wayne Brown, and this is the second week of May 2023. Can you believe just how quickly the year is passing, hopefully you’re making each day, each week and each month count to their fullest, and you’ve already started stacking the winds. As always, we’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world, who we’re affectionately referring to as Team ET. Today, we’re heading back to Santa Fe, New Mexico in the United State to visit one of the early professional coaching pioneers, Mr. David Goldsmith. David’s mission is to grow the quality of coaching and leadership worldwide. That’s a big audacious goal. David’s also senior partner of the Goldsmith Group, he’s the founder and executive director of 7 Paths Forward, which is a training organization for coaches, where he partners with Mr. David Peterson.

0:00:58.8 WB: In the early 1990s, David worked closely with Thomas Leonard of the Coach 100 concept and served as the first president of Coach University. Yes, that’s more than 30 years back. And during that time, he and Thomas founded the International Coach Federation, commonly referred to today as ICF, which is the leading coaching certification body for the global coaching profession. As well, David was one of the first to attain from the ICF, his master certified coach and board-certified coach credentials.

0:01:30.2 WB: He later went on to lead coach-inc.com through its expansion as well as co-founding with Ruth Ann Harnisch the Foundation of Coaching, which later became the Institute of Coaching at Harvard, furthering the profession’s commitment to research. As coaching spread globally, David was invited to Japan to train the country’s first coaches, and he worked closely with the Japanese groups, Coach 21 and COACH A to establish coaching in this part of Asia. His client list reads like a who’s who of the business world, and today his focus is primarily on working with executives, professionals, and entrepreneurs. Often known as the coach’s coach. He’s also worked with many of the leaders in the industry. So Team ET, with that, please ready yourself for the episode today titled, Future-proofing your business by remembering to practice for improvement.

0:02:33.2 Speaker 2: Welcome to the ET Project, a podcast for those executive talents determined to release their true potential and create an impact. Join our veteran coach and mentor, Wayne Brown, as we unpack an exciting future together.

0:02:49.9 WB: All right, good morning Team ET. Welcome to yet another week, splendid week and today, as usual, we have a fantastic guest with us, Mr. David Goldsmith. David’s one of the coaching pioneers, I wanna say in the world, probably more so in America. David, but I know you’ve also had some influence in countries like Japan and presently you’re doing some work down in Australia. So welcome to the ET Project. It’s really great to have you here.

0:03:20.4 David Goldsmith: Great, fun to be here as well, and I’m delighted to spend this time with you.

0:03:24.5 WB: You go back quite a way, if we look at the beginning of coaching. I’m not an expert in this field, you’ll know much more about it than me, but people like Timothy Gallwey, Mr. John Whitmore back in the 70s, I guess, 70s and 80s, really are noted as pioneers. When I did my research, I see that you also really had a foundational impact on coaching as it is today, and I just wonder how you got into it, what was it that drove you in this direction?

0:03:58.7 DG: It’s a two-part story. It kind of touching, my dad was diagnosed with an untreatable form of lung cancer 30 plus years ago, and he was given 90 days to live, and unfortunately, that diagnosis turned out. During that period of time, I was visiting with him and my mom had gone off to do some errands and he was complaining that mom wasn’t doing enough for him. If you knew my mom, you knew that was a silly comment, and it was the comment that somebody who’s in their own bubble and scared and the world is caving in, might say. And I sat with him and we talked about what was going on and what the reality was and everything else, and at the end of the conversation, we’d come to an end, he kind of resolved a lot of this for himself, he said, “I don’t know what you just did. But you should do more of that. Is that being a shrink? Is that a therapist? I don’t know what that is. Go do that. It’s great what you’ve been doing in business and all the business stuff and the businesses you’re building, go do that.”

0:04:58.6 DG: And I said, “Great,” filed that away. I had no idea what that was about. So that was the spark. Then couple of months later, I was visiting with my friend Mark, and Mark and his wife and my wife, we’d go out to dinner and movie every six weeks or so, and Mark would talk about this business that he wanted to start, he was really excited about, it really enthusiastic about it. We’d get together six weeks later to have the same conversation, and then six weeks later have the same conversation. And one day he calls me and he says, “I wanna hire you to be my coach.” I said, “Great, what’s that?” And he said, “Well, I think if you and I spoke, spend a half an hour on the phone once a week, I actually start getting done the things we keep talking about at dinner.” And I said, “I’m happy to experiment. I can talk on the phone and I can cash checks. Let’s try it.” Well, it was enormously successful. Mark is still a friend of mine, he is still running the business that he and I talked about at that time and has been very successful with it.

0:05:56.6 DG: He went on to refer a whole bunch of people to me, I met Thomas Leonard through him, and that’s what got me involved in this whole profession. As I’m going along and coaching all these people, my wife said, “Oh, do you need to get trained in what you’re doing? It’s really cool, but… ” I said, “Sure, where?” And then Mark told me about Thomas Leonard and I got involved with Thomas, and within a month or two’s time I was coaching Thomas and helping organize and run his company and ultimately became the president of Coach U. And during that time, Thomas and I looked around and said, “Wow, coaching’s getting really popular. There’s all these coaches, we’re training all these coaches, we’re getting all this publicity. It’s really becoming reality.” So all those seeds that Timothy Gallwey, John Whittemore and all of those people had been planting really now took root.

0:06:44.1 DG: And I think Thomas was a big part of helping commercialize and revolutionize coaching. We said, “These people need a place to get together. They wanna go to meetings, they wanna meet each other, hang out,” and that’s how we started the ICF, which is now growing to be the largest association of coaches, the world standard for certification, and it’s very exciting to see what’s happened since then.

0:07:06.2 WB: Incredible story. What was the vision at that stage? Like if we look at the title I see all the name of ICF, International Coaching Federation or Coach Federation, as it was, what was your vision at that stage apart from people just coming to hang up, did you see it evolving in any way like it is today?

0:07:27.4 DG: Yeah, we knew that people needed to learn from each other, we knew that people needed to have some kind of certification, we knew that there would be licensing, certification issues, we knew that people needed a tribe to belong to. Coaching was already a lonely profession, people were working from home, that’s one of the earliest places where people… So they needed a way to really connect and gather, and if you went to the very first gatherings of coaches that ICF and people put on, I remember the first day was amazing because there’s all these people that you knew basically via audio tele-classes and meeting in places that you are now seeing in person, and the vibration and the energy and the connection was extreme and told me people need to gather, people need to convene, people need to figure things out, we need to set standards, we need to do research, so we need to professionalize the profession and give it a body and so that was the vision.

0:08:31.9 WB: Interesting, and you just mentioned something very interesting, we talk a lot today about how the pandemic has pushed us faster into being virtual coaches. Back in the 90s, people were already doing that, maybe not to the same digital level, but they were already that way, and it was more shifting to being one-on-one or in person, or there was a mixture, I guess at that stage, but it wasn’t something new.

0:08:57.7 DG: No, it wasn’t and in fact for the first half of my coaching career, I’d say 95% of the coaching work I did was by telephone. The middle part was maybe 50-50, and now it’s 95% Zoom.

0:09:12.8 WB: And there’s a lot of the debate going on in the coaching fraternity at least whether telephone coaching or Zoom coaching is more effective. Do you have an opinion?

0:09:23.7 DG: I don’t. I think there’s clues and cues you can pick up video-wise that you miss in an audio-only conference, but I think as someone trained to coach with audio only, my listening skills got even deeper. But I can’t say whether one is better over the other. We used to say in-person was the best, and then Zoom came along and I think it might be slightly better in-person, but the overhead cost to doing in-person sessions, I don’t know that it pays off. So I think we’re talking shades of difference, not dramatic differences.

0:10:04.6 WB: Yeah. True, I’m sitting in Shanghai at the moment and the coaching scene in China is still very, very young, and I find people, the Chinese in particular, still like to do in-person coaching, face-to-face versus virtual where it’s possible. Economically, of course, the virtual coaching is far more effective and convenient for us as coaches at least. But I personally don’t feel that there’s a great loss in shifting to a totally virtual… That’s just a my own observation.

0:10:39.9 DG: Yeah, and there’s companies that used to mandate that if you coached for them and all the coaching was in-person, and then the pandemic hit and the coaching was via Zoom. And none of them are going back.

0:10:51.7 WB: It does appear that way. So let’s step back a little bit to some of the earlier times. And we’ve scratched the surface. You connected with Thomas Leonard, you guys, apparent… Seem to have done enormous things for the coaching world, so thank you for that. You come across as very entrepreneurial, and I’m just wondering, was that always the case? So you founded so many things that I’ve read about it prior to coaching. Was that always the case for you?

0:11:24.0 DG: Yeah, I’ve been an entrepreneur since I think I was eight years old when I first put on a fundraiser for the hospital, and we set up a carnival in the backyard, and we raised $13 and got my picture in the paper. But I’ve been good at getting things out of the ground and getting things started, and I have a skill for that. I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs, my father ran his own clothing stores for all the time I was around. So I grew up comfortable in that environment. And it’s interesting, both my kids are not comfortable in that environment. They both prefer to work for other people and have no interest in running their own thing. But for me, that’s been a huge part of my life and I’ve loved it.

0:12:05.2 WB: So you’re sitting in Santa Fe in New Mexico, have you always been there, by the way, is that where you’ve grown up?

0:12:14.0 DG: No, we’ve been in Santa Fe for 25 years now. I was in Florida before that, I grew up in New York.

0:12:20.1 WB: I’m curious, Sante Fe, I’ve been there, so it’s a beautiful, small township. I had the pleasure to do a leadership conference there at one stage and we did some hiking in the southern rocky area, but we launched out of Sante Fe. It’s a small township in comparison to some of the bigger cities. How did coaching evolve for you in that location? Like I can imagine, as you said, if you were sitting in California or you’re sitting in New York, but from there, was it difficult to find the business to grow?

0:13:00.2 DG: No, I’ve been coaching globally almost from the very beginning and working around the globe, so I’ve had a base of clients that is not Sante Fe specific before I moved here and continue to this day. And I’ve had clients in Santa Fe that I’ve met and people that I’ve worked with and people that benefited from the work we’ve done together. But I’ve had a global practice and where I live was less of a concern since I was doing the bulk of it by phone anyway, and I would travel… Before the pandemic, I was traveling almost every week for one thing or another, so… But I had the ability to live in a place that was gorgeous, that I liked, that I wasn’t required to live in a place where there was a whole lot of work, because I had built and brought a practice with me.

0:13:40.8 WB: You also did some work in Japan, and if I understand my research correctly, you’re credited with bringing coaching to Japan, essentially. So how did that come about?

0:13:51.9 DG: In 20-ish years ago now, I think, there’s a very talented entrepreneur in Japan by the name of Mamoru Itoh or Itoh-San, as he’s called, and he had gotten wind of coaching ’cause he was always been studying trends from outside of Japan. He contacted Coach U said, “I’d like to have somebody come and train a bunch of coaches here.” Thomas was not interested in doing that. And he said, “Would you like to do that?” I said, “Yes, I’d love to.” And I went and built a relationship with Itoh and his team of people, and at the time it was a team of four people, and they have now grown that company to a publicly traded company called COACH A on the Japanese stock exchange. I think there’s a better name for it, but I went over there every few months to train coaches and they ultimately licensed the coaching materials and they built up a very similar system, and they now have a huge company that provides coaching services to clients around the globe. They teach Japanese folks how to become coaches, and it’s really been a huge success story.

0:14:57.6 WB: I’ve worked with some of the Japanese while being based here in China, and the culture is very different. And when I first read about that, I was wondering, how you addressed being an American, being at that period in time, how you addressed coming into Japan and understanding their culture as a starting point to be able to introduce coaching? Did you find it difficult?

0:15:21.1 DG: I don’t think I found it difficult, but I was very intentional about it. So I spent a lot of time in the lead up to going and doing the first training for understanding the various concepts. I had a great team of people at Coach 21 at the time, that I was interacting with ahead of time. So I was able to get a sense of what was going to work, what was not going to work, what I was likely to run into. The people that Itoh-San had invited for his first training, I’d say were some of the more progressive leading-edge folks in Japan, so they were up from where things.

0:15:55.0 DG: At the time, Japan was going through a transition where people instead of working for one company for life were starting to be changing jobs and building different careers. So the country was under a bit of sea change as well. So they provided great translators, I did not have to learn Japanese, though I wish I did along the way.

0:16:14.3 DG: And I got very comfortable talking about what I needed to say, then the translator would translate. I had my wife along with me who stood at the back of the room with a sign, so if I ever said something that she thought difficult to translate, she would hold that sign up, so I could clarify. So she’d had an ear there, and so I was… And then we went would de-brief on breaks. Is everything I’m saying landing? Is this making sense? Do we need to tweak things? And it was very successful, but I was very intentional about how to make sure it landed and how do we trans-culturerate the content. For example, there’s concepts like I request that you do something that couldn’t translate in Japan. I had to figure out another way to say that and explain that because that just didn’t exist in Japanese culture.

0:17:00.9 DG: We had to learn about things like there’s two different words for the truth. One is the actual truth and one is the truth people wanna hear. Well, that’s kind of an important concept to dig into in coaching when you’re having people disclose what’s going on.

0:17:16.0 WB: Very true. I found exactly the same challenges when I first came to China, facilitating through translators, really wondering what you’re saying and was it being translated correctly, was it actually landing the same meaning as what you said it in and how to unpack that. It’s a challenge that you don’t think about at the very beginning, I have to say, at least in my case. As much as I was intentional, it still took me sometime to be able to get around how to really come to terms with that. So I can visualize some of the nuances that would have been happening for you during that period, how you would have had to deal with it.

0:17:57.0 DG: To your point and question before about in-person versus video versus audio, being in-person with these folks allowed me to watch the person ask the question, and there was a ton I picked up from the length of the question, how they said it, whether they were smiling, their facial expressions, so that provided a lot of information. And oftentimes, I knew what they were asking even before it got translated to me just by being very present and paying attention to what they were saying, so that was an environment where that in-person thing made such a difference. I think that had I been doing this as an audio-only teaching. It would have been very hard.

0:18:42.8 WB: Fully agree. Somebody, I had a mentor at one stage who when I came over, I’ve been based out of China now 18 years, and when I first came over they suggested that I spend some time watching foreign films with no translation on them and just reading that body language, reading the environment and getting a grip around people’s actions and facial expressions to your point. And I find that extremely powerful. I fully agree with your takeaway there. If we look at the coaching world at the moment, how different is it, if it is, don’t want to make an assumption, but is it different from 30 years ago? Are we doing things apart from the method digitally? Are we doing things differently as a coach today than what we were 30 odd years ago?

0:19:34.1 DG: Yes. I think we have a more advanced body of knowledge of what works and doesn’t work in coaching. We have a variety of different approaches. We have a variety of ways to think about that whether it’s what the ICF has put together in their competencies, it’s whether other people have put together in various courses. You can go very deep on a lot of different ways to coach and none of that existed at one point in time. When I first started, there were two training schools. And now there’s many hundred.

0:20:03.1 DG: So there’s lots of approaches, flavors, varieties. So I think all of that work and thought has gone into it. When I first started coaching, there wasn’t anybody saying, how do you do coaching faster? It was just, we’re doing coaching. There wasn’t a sense of slow, medium or fast. And now it’s, oh, how do we get results in more time? So we’re now upending some of the things that we thought to be true or that we didn’t have time to think about.

0:20:28.0 WB: What’s your take on the debate between mentoring versus coaching?

0:20:36.8 DG: I think they’re both really valuable and they’re both very different. There’s different commitments on the part of the players. There’s different expectations, there’s different responsibilities similar to therapy or teaching or any number of things. And it doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t look and see, gee, this mentor is doing some coaching or this coaching sometimes feels a little bit like mentoring, but they’re different.

0:21:00.4 WB: When you set out to coach somebody. Is there a method you use when you first meet somebody, like do you have a scripted approach or is it very situational?

0:21:14.4 DG: It’s gonna sound oversimplified, but it’s always situational. So I’ll say that I start out with a huge box of tools, and like a master carpenter, I have seven different kinds of hammers and 12 saws and 14 screwdrivers. But it will look deceptively simple at the beginning because my question is, hello, what do you wanna work on? And I might ask that question a couple of different ways, but it’s gonna start there and then the person’s gonna talk and then we’re gonna figure out is that really what they wanna work on? And what would success look like? And we’re gonna start there and work our way through. So I generally jump right into a conversation with people. And if you and I met at a party and you said you’re a coach, what’s that? And I’d say, well, I help people really grow and expand more quickly than they could on their own. What are you up to? What are you finding challenging? And you’d say something and we’d start coaching.

0:22:06.4 WB: Are you on board with neuroscience? Like do you study neuroscience yourself or do you use neuroscience studies within your coaching?

0:22:12.8 DG: I’m sure I use some elements of neuroscience. I have not formally studied it. And I think there’s a lot we can learn from neuroscience. And I think there’s a lot we can learn from all aspects of how a human works. So I don’t think neuroscience is the be all, end all to coaching. I think it’s one path in and one way of thinking about things. Similarly, assessments can be very helpful but it’s not the only way to coach people and there’s lots of different approaches to take. So I have respect for all of them.

0:22:47.0 WB: To your point about having a huge toolkit that you can pull from for the right circumstance. If we shift a little bit from coaching now into the field of leadership, I know you also have a strong focus on leadership. How do you see leaders in today’s environment coping with the changes and the transitions that they have to face as a result of technology advancing as rapidly as it is? Do you see specific challenges ahead?

0:23:17.1 DG: I think there’s a lot of challenges. I don’t think they’re technology driven. I think they’re driven more… And I don’t think, I think there’s a lot of leaders that are not doing well with the current waves and tsunamis that are coming across leadership. The pandemic was a huge challenge for people. It’s completely changed the contract for people at work. It’s changed cultures. It’s brought up a whole history, a whole issue of hybrid work and where people work and where people live.

0:23:46.3 DG: And I think we’re only at the very beginning stages of the grips with the implication of that. I think we’re seeing climate change show up in as a challenge to leadership in terms of the conditions that everybody’s working in are much more unstable and unpredictable. And we’re seeing a bunch of that here with all the snowfall and the atmospheric rivers and the fact that storms are just more intense and more frequent.

0:24:10.2 DG: That’s a change. The political climate globally is much more challenging. We have a much more divisive world in many, many places. So that’s bringing new challenges to leadership at the workplace. We’re having economic challenges. There’s inflation at a fairly rapid rate. There’s concerns about the financial system recently. And I’ve just peeled off four of them. There’s probably a whole bunch other ones. What is AI going to bring to the world? And what is that threat gonna look like? And is that gonna replace jobs, change jobs? What’s the unknown threats there?

0:24:43.4 DG: So as a leader, confronting all of that together, knowing that that’s what the people you are leading are going through, that’s the, your company’s leadership is going through and what you personally are going through, trying to lead through all these storms is exhausting. And I think many leaders are just tired.

0:25:01.2 WB: Uncertain as well. Right? So tired from the uncertainty and the complexity that they’re facing on a daily basis. Is there a solution? Like I don’t see it changing or getting simpler in the near future. How do we continue in this vein? People will just be burnt out and…

0:25:22.1 DG: We’re gonna adapt, and humans are very good at that. But the early phase of adaptation is painful. So if you were training for a marathon and you didn’t run much and you said, “Okay, go out and run a mile today,” that would feel really unpleasant. It would be tired, it would hurt and you wouldn’t want to go do it again. And then I said, go do that again the next day. But then you take a break and let your muscles recover from that and then the next week you might be able to do two miles and you would adapt and eventually, you could run a marathon and you might train at 30 miles, so that you could do 20 comfortably. But there’s a process of adaption. So I think leaders have to go into training and we have to train for the environment.

0:26:06.2 DG: And I think many leaders are hoping this is all going to stop. I’m working with a lot of tech leaders and there’s a lot of uncertainty, at least in America. And it’s because of those tech companies have offices worldwide, there’s been a lot of disruption and layoffs. And many of those leaders are hoping, okay, well, we’ll get through this round of layoffs, then we’ll be done, then we’ll go back to normal. And it’s like, no, I don’t think so. So people have to first get that it’s gonna be a more challenging environment probably forever. And when you do that, you start adapting. I’ll give you a simple example. At the very beginning of the pandemic and people had to start working from home, no one did much. They kind of figured out a place to work in their home and they had a crappy chair and they may have disrupted the family.

0:26:49.8 DG: And then three months in, they said, I need to get a better chair. This one’s too uncomfortable. Or I need to get a better desk. And then people started saying, well, it’s gonna last longer. I’m gonna convert my shed to a home office or this third bedroom, we’re gonna put a desk in. And people started realizing, oh, this is gonna go on for a long time. I’m gonna make some changes to make this work. And I think we as, I think, leaders have to recognize we’re in that same kind of a change. And so I asked them, if you knew this craziness was gonna go on forever that you’re experiencing now, what would you do differently? And that’s the place we start thinking from. How are you going to take the time off to stay resilient? Because a lot of times people are saying, well, I’ll take time off in three months when this is all done. Well, it’s never gonna be done.

0:27:34.6 DG: So how are you gonna take time off and recover now? How are you gonna train for the marathons or the ultra-marathons that leadership requires rather than the sprints that you’ve been used to, is the fundamental distinction that I’m sharing with people. And that opens their eyes and they start thinking differently. But I think we have to train to be different and we have to adapt. And the more we resist that adaptation, the more painful it’s gonna be.

0:28:01.0 WB: I can see a growing need. And is this part of the reason for the explosion in coaching? Do you feel… Is the popularity and growth in coaching being driven by this complex uncertain environment that we find ourself in?

0:28:21.2 DG: No, I don’t think so. I think coaching has been growing exponentially for some time well before this complexity happened. I think coaching has helped people grow and accelerate in a whole variety of fields. So it’s become an important discipline for helping leaders grow. And many companies have adapted that over time. If you think about all the companies that put up with people that were difficult but high performers, they didn’t have a good way to deal with that. It was either get rid of the person or put up with that behavior. Now we have people that can work with those people and have them become shining lights inside an organization. That’s a huge shift. And that’s driven a lot of the desire for more. ‘Cause we can take people that are high performers and challenging. What can happen with the people that don’t have that challenge to them that are performing well? How can we accelerate their growth?

0:29:15.0 DG: So coaching has grown because of its ability to accelerate people’s results in a way that we haven’t seen anything before. It’s affected the training industry. The training industry was where people used to spend budget, but people found that it didn’t have a long lasting tale. And when people started pairing coaching with training to help people implement and integrate that training into their work skills, that training become more effective. And you had a need for more coaches and you had more effectiveness out of that leadership initiative.

0:29:48.1 WB: So it sounds like the perfect storm.

0:29:51.4 DG: Yeah. And coaching is more needed now than ever.

0:29:54.8 WB: Very true. So looking at the future, David, where do you see the coaching cycle landing? As we look at the shift with AI and we look at AI coaching, we look at these platforms that are coming. Do you see that we reach a point where the human side of coaching disappears completely?

0:30:18.0 DG: I don’t think completely, but I think good coaches are at risk. So here’s what’s happening. We’ve been training Alexa and Siri and all kinds of voice recognition systems for quite some time. People have been getting comfortable talking to robots to the point where if all of a sudden, I said something and all of a sudden, Siri started talking to me, I would reach for the button. But I would say, shut up, I’m not talking to you. So we’ve gotten comfortable talking to robots. So that’s a thing. Voice recognition and the ability to understand voices has become a thing.

0:30:52.2 DG: There are people working on understanding inflection, tone and feeling in voice. That’s a thing. You have the ability of AI to be trained on all the coaching sessions that get done. And to start looking at which questions were more powerful, which interventions had longer term success over a series of coaching engagements which worked and what didn’t work.

0:31:16.0 DG: So, and the ability to crunch that data over of thousands and thousands of sessions instantaneously and figure out the best question to ask. We are already seeing people experiment with ChatGPT with therapy questions, and finding it helpful. And people are a little bit alarmed about it, but I think they forget that people want help when they want help. And if I can talk to a robot at three in the morning when I wake up and I have a question, and I get a decent answer or it helps me to think or the robot asks me a good question that helps me to think. A lot of good coaching is branched questions. And you could program all of that into a robot pretty well.

0:31:58.3 DG: We also know that humans are more disclosing to robots than they are to other humans. The robot doesn’t have any biases unless they get programmed into them. So you’ve got all of that coming together to make coaching delivered at scale much less expensive, if you are in the purchasing department or managing budgets for coaching departments in large organizations, and I come to you and say, I’ve got a robotic solution that’s 60% as good as the humans were paying you and it’s 10% of the cost, you’re gonna say, hmm, maybe we should consider that because now we can have everybody in the company get coaching and get that advantage, and will it be as good all the time? No, but 60%, it’s pretty good.

0:32:44.2 DG: So I think if you’re not a great coach and you’re not skilled at dealing with all the complexity that’s going on in helping leaders deal with all this challenging environment that we’re in and staying ahead of the game and learning faster than what’s happening in the world, brain robots can do that work pretty effectively. And many humans won’t care that they’re talking to a robot. Because if I talk to a robot at two in the morning and I can get back to sleep because I’ve solved a problem or figured something out, that’s a win.

0:33:17.1 WB: For sure. So on that basis, what are you looking at for the future with your own business? 7 Paths Forward with the things that you’re focused on? How do you see your own business in the future?

0:33:29.4 DG: 7 Paths Forward has been put into practice to help more great coaches. We have tons and tons of good coaches. I don’t think good coaches are bad, but we have tons of them. We don’t have a lot of great coaches. So 7 Paths Forward whole existence is to provide a place where people can become great. And so we do not teach people the basics of coaching. People come to us who are already trained and experienced and want to learn how to be great. And our whole focus is on that 5% or 10% of the market that the market is gonna still be very interested in.

0:34:06.2 DG: And so if you come to us and need coaches, we’re providing you great coaches. We’re not focused on providing good coaches. There’s lots of places you can go to get those. And the price point for those keeps going down further and further. So we’re doubling down on having more great coaches understand how to be effective and do things robots can’t do.

0:34:27.2 WB: And 7 Paths Forward, you have three programs, I believe, like a tiered approach.

0:34:33.6 DG: Yeah. Well, a number of ways you can engage with us and to keep studying and build those skills. ‘Cause it’s a lifelong journey to really become a great coach. And you… One of the things that happens in the coaching profession that, doesn’t happen in the coaching profession, that happens in many other places is very few coaches practice. They just work. I was listening to some magicians talk about preparing to do a three minute trick on television. And they were sitting down with another magician who was coaching them on the script and they thought they were gonna go through the whole three minute script. They spent the entire two hours on the first three lines. What are all the possible ways you could say it? What are the reactions from the crowd? What do you do if this happens or that happens?

0:35:17.8 DG: And so there was a lot of deliberate intentionality about thinking about that. And one of the things I’ve seen is that once coaches are trained, they don’t spend much time practicing. They don’t spend much time reflecting on how to do it better. And so they stay in the good category. If you wanna accelerate your coaching, spend a lot of time practicing very deliberately. If you think about world-class athletes or world-class musicians, the percentage of practice to performance is something like 50 or 100 to 1. And in the coaching profession it’s 1 to 100. So you can imagine if you spent just 10% of your time in a given week practicing coaching rather than just coaching, and there’s a whole bunch of ways to deliberately practice, you’d get better a lot faster.

0:36:04.2 WB: One of the things I love about doing what I do is, I get so many great insights and I’ve never looked at coaching in that manner. So thank you for sharing that. [laughter] You’ve just… The light bulb has just gone off and I really appreciate that. As we come to the end of the conversation, which has been fantastic. Any sort of words of wisdom for leaders out there in today’s world that are struggling? Any advice or guidance you would leave with them?

0:36:36.6 DG: Yeah, I said it before, but I think recognize that you’re shifting from a sprint to a marathon and get and do the training consistent with what it takes to run an ultra-marathon and make that mindset shift. Don’t expect things are gonna get better. Expect things are gonna stay the same or get worse, and then make the right decisions to support yourself going forward.

0:37:00.1 WB: Yeah. Great advice. All right. Well, Team ET, you’ve heard it from one of the pioneers of the coaching world, Mr. David Goldsmith. Thank you David for coming on the ET project. Really appreciate the conversation, and as I say, many light bulb moments for me as well. So greatly appreciate it.

0:37:15.8 DG: Yeah, thank you so much for having me. It’s been a treat spending this time and sharing stories and talking about coaching. I’m super passionate about it and I’d love to have more great coaches on that journey with us. So thank you for allowing me to spend this time with you all.

0:37:30.6 Speaker 2: Thank you for joining us on the ET Project, a show for executive talent development. Until next time, check out our site for free videos, eBooks, webinars and blogs at Coachingforcompanies.com.

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