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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Lerner

What I learned from our best coach

"Who is your best coach and what's their secret?" I get this question a lot.

Based on ratings, it's usually Hannah or Nopadon. This can vary from one cohort to the next based on team assignments and chemistry.

But that's not how I decided.

I discovered the answer at our coaches' retreat last month. I watched the conversations to see who the coaches wanted to learn from...

And when other coaches looked for advice on coaching, they went to Marcin Zaba. (Third from the right, back row.)

What's his secret?

So I asked Marcin to share his secret. And this is what he said…

"The teams are stuck and they don't know why. Usually, it's a lack of understanding of their customers because they're thinking about their business from an inside-out perspective (e.g. 'How can I make my product more appealing,' rather than 'How can I help my users make progress').

"As a coach, we need to help them ask the right questions and find the right insights as fast as possible. But that’s hard because they don’t know what they don’t know."

And the way to get people to actually listen is to show them data that violates their expectations...

Engineer a surprise

"So I try to engineer some kind of surprise - a shock - to the team. If they're surprised by some useful new information, then they're more likely to ask good questions and commit to the process of information discovery."

Time and again, we see the most successful teams are the ones who have the confidence to view new information as an opportunity rather than a threat.

Simple next step

Here are 2 questions you can ask your team to get started:

  1. How often do you find out you were wrong about your customers? (At least once per week?)

  2. And how do you react when that happens?

Are you actively seeking information that challenges your beliefs and assumptions about your customers and your business?

Unless your startup is growing at least 10% per month, you're not capturing the opportunity. This is an indicator that there's still something important you don't know about your customers.

I hope this helps.

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