What Makes a Great Coach?

This summer, Jim and I traveled to Chilko Lake. We hiked, explored with ATVs, went horseback riding, hiked some more, fished, and, believe it or not, took a cooking class from a world-renowned chef, Victor Bongo.

Chef Bongo’s story is worth reading. From his bio: “Originally hailing from The Democratic Republic of Congo, he incorporates his African roots, philanthropy, and education in all facets of his cooking.” He’s got a long list of culinary accolades. His Instagram account will feed you the latest in real time.

It’s one thing to watch an episode of “Beat Bobby Flay” or “Halloween Baking Championship” and learn a new technique. Spending an afternoon with a professional chef and seeing how they do it step by step is another thing.

Three things will stay with me forever:

1. If you plan on having friends over for dinner at 7:30 p.m., don’t start cooking at 6 p.m. Do 80% of the work in the morning (or even the afternoon). You can spend time with your guests, not sweating over the stove when they arrive. Do it right; you’ll only need a few minutes to “put everything together” when it’s time to bring out each course. Sure enough, our cooking class was in the middle of the afternoon, and we served dinner to all the guests at the lodge at 7 p.m. We were dressed for cocktails at 6, mingled with everyone, and then popped into the kitchen at 6:50 p.m. to plate the first course. #lifechanging

2. He makes almost all his desserts in cups. We made tiramisu in cups.

3. He threw peppers right on the flame. Wait, what?

I have been roasting peppers in the oven for nearly twenty years. He threw them on the flame, moved them around with tongs, and popped them into a plastic bag. Saved time, didn’t have to turn on the oven, no dirty sheet pan, no oil, just right onto the flame.

Perhaps you’ve been doing this for years, and I’m just late to the party. Or maybe I just changed your life too:)

Sure enough, when I made chili this afternoon…

I threw those peppers right on the flame.

A great coach (insert the synonym of your choice here teacher, leader, consultant, advisor) will stand “shoulder to shoulder” with you. You’ll quickly see that they are a master of their craft. They open your eyes to new strategies. They look at what you’re doing and can quickly “redirect you” without overcorrecting. They make you feel like you’re “getting it” as you go along. And the good ones will teach you things you’ll use for the rest of your career, maybe your life.

Do 80% of your prep before dinner.
Make dessert in cups.
Throw the peppers on the fire.

I’ve known some terrific teachers, outstanding coaches, and wise consultants. Perhaps I should change my title from “Chief Marketing Officer” to “Chief Marketing Coach.” I’m here to stand shoulder to shoulder with you, to open your eyes, to redirect you and your team, and to improve your practice (and your life) as you go along.

Recognize that great marketing is a team sport.
Plug the holes in your funnel.
Say thank you, often.

simple, but powerful.

Thanks, Chef Bongo.

A good coach can change a game.
A great coach can change a life.
– John Wooden

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