NCFAs innovation and funding ecosystem

Founder CEO Coaching: ‘It’s the latest sleeveless vest to have a coach’

Sifted | Amy Lewin  | Oct 20, 2021

Founder loneliness - Founder CEO Coaching:  'It's the latest sleeveless vest to have a coach'If you want to know what it really feels like to run a startup, there are a handful of people you need to speak to — and they’re not founders. They’re the founders’ coaches.  They hear it all — cofounder skirmishes, nightmare investors, even founder fetishes — although they rarely name names.  And the reason they get to know so much?

“Founders have literally no-one to talk to”

says Julius Bachmann, a Berlin-based coach who works with dozens of startup founders at any one time.

“They sit in the centre of an organisation they have built themselves, and every stakeholder around them has a specific interest. Their investors, employees and cofounders are all in the same tunnel and have their own problems. Founders’ life partners have their own lives — and want to be listened to as well. And the founders’ families… they gave up trying to understand what they’re actually doing 10 years ago.”

The coaching phenomenon

Coaching has been a thing in Silicon Valley for some time and is now “quite trendy” in Europe too, says Gillian Davis, a UK-based coach who’s worked with startups like WeTransfer, MessageBird, Spotify and Typeform. “It’s the latest sleeveless vest to have a coach.”

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“When a founder reaches out to a coach, it’s almost always [the same story],” says Dave Bailey, a UK-based coach who’s worked with hundreds of founders. “It’s basically, ‘My life is out of balance, I haven’t been sleeping well, I don’t have friends any more, I don’t do exercise, I’m worried about my health and feeling pretty blue’.”

Absolute shitstorms and near breakdowns aren’t the only things on the agenda in a coaching session, however.

“Mode one is calming the system down,” says Bachmann. “I have solo founders that work with me every week, and 45 minutes of that hour is, ‘Everything is flying at me and I don’t know what is important’.”

“Asking open questions and active listening” are signs of a good coach, says Stephenson, while “really good coaches are also willing to challenge you and give you a sense of their own understanding.  You want someone who’s like, ‘Sounds like you want to do this thing, but you’re maybe a bit scared. Just do this thing’,” Stephenson adds.

Read:  Emotionally Intelligent Minds Know How to Bridge the Perspective Gap

People problems

More than anything else though, coaching sessions are for talking about “people problems”.

“Once you’re scaling, all problems come back to some relationship and people issues,” says Bailey: cofounder challenges, leadership issues and management troubles are extremely common.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Founder CEO Coaching:  'It's the latest sleeveless vest to have a coach' The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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