I firmly believe that everyone can benefit from professional coaching— in fact, it’s impacted my growth at every stage of my career. Expert guidance has not only helped me make better decisions and develop actionable goals, it’s also guided me to navigate professional relationships with greater clarity.
And at long last, companies are catching on to the fact that coaching not only helps employees at all levels, but it also positively impacts the bottom line. Enter Bravely. Co-founders Sarah and Toby are democratizing coaching – providing entire organizations with the kind of support traditionally reserved for executives. Plus, at Klaviyo, we’re now making unlimited confidential coaching available to all of our employees!
I had the pleasure of chatting with Sarah about her inspiration, how Bravely works, and why the coaching industry is primed for disruption.
Here’s what she had to say:
JD: Back when you started Bravely, where did you see a need for coaching? What problems were you solving for?
SS: Like most startups, the idea was sparked by personal experience. Because I had worked in HR and then also led a sales organization, I’d become someone who my colleagues could come to for guidance and mentorship about their work lives. This sparked my co-founder Toby to ask the question: why doesn’t everyone have access to this kind of support at work? There are so many moments in our professional lives when we need an outside perspective or a neutral thought partner. We believe this shouldn’t be a privileged resource, but one available to everyone.
JD: Many people are familiar with a model that provides senior executives with access to coaches. Why did you decide to focus on a company-wide inclusive model at Bravely?
SS: The traditional approach of offering coaching at the leadership level only perpetuates the inequity that exists in the workplace. We understand why companies have gravitated towards supporting managers and executives in the past — the need is real. Everyone, at every level, deserves support and guidance to supercharge their development and increase their well-being. Investing in individualized support at every level is the future of talent development.
Image via workbravely.com
JD: At Bravely, you often work with companies experiencing hypergrowth. What kinds of challenges and opportunities are their employees experiencing that coaching can help with?
SS: When a company’s on a rocket ship trajectory, what people are often looking for is stability. Change is exciting, but uncertainty is a breeding ground for burnout. “How can I be successful when things are changing so quickly? How do I focus on developing the skill I need to get to the next level when I have so much on my plate?” Coaching can help to guide someone to identify the path forward and take action. That can look like mapping the long-term goals you’re working toward, or learning how and when to ask for help, or finding balance and resilience within yourself.
Everyone, at every level, deserves support and guidance to supercharge their development and increase their well-being. Investing in individualized support at every level is the future of talent development.
JD: At Klaviyo, one of our values is that we strive to make the world more equitable. How can coaching help do that?
SS: I love this question! First, Bravely is a great partner to you and your employees as we built our platform with equitable access as the foundation. A coach can serve as an incredible accountability partner and help people identify how to live their values in their day-to-day life. Bravely coaches can help you break down a macro goal like making the world more equitable into smaller action steps that lead to big impact.
Image via workbravely.com
JD: Sometimes people go into coaching expecting to get answers or find new mentors. Then they’re surprised to find that instead of providing answers, their coach asks them questions. How does Bravely approach coaching? What is coaching — and what is it not?
SS: Bravely defines coaching as “a solutions-oriented, collaborative process of creating strategies and building skills to move forward and thrive at work.” Our coaches approach the people they work with as partners. Where mentorship is about one person imparting their experience to another, coaching is a tool for finding your own solutions, and the focus is always on the future.
We recognize that people in any marginalized group have their own version of this experience every day. We believe that people can only thrive at work when they’re able to bring their whole selves. Belonging is at the core of our approach.
JD: On a personal note, how has coaching helped you?
SS: I have been transformed by coaching, personally, and experienced a lot of breakthroughs working with my coach. I’ve identified patterns that keep showing up so I can avoid them in the future, killed negative narratives in my head that have held me back, and gained the confidence to show up as my authentic self. Something magical happens when you are able to safely open up with someone whose sole purpose is to support you and help you grow!
JD: Your cofounder, Toby, is President Emeritus (and served on the Board of Directors) of the groundbreaking group Out in Tech. Tell us about that. How has it informed the way that Bravely approaches coaching?
SS: Toby’s been open about his experience in the startup world as a gay man, of every new interaction being its own “coming out,” of having to decide whether to hide parts of himself or adjust how he expresses himself depending on who’s in the room. We recognize that people in any marginalized group have their own version of this experience every day and that people can only thrive at work when they’re able to bring their whole selves. Belonging is at the core of our approach.
So, what do you think? Let me know how coaches and mentors have helped shape your career in the comments!
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