I recently met with Peter Barth, managing director at The Iron Yard. Peter is an incredibly successful entrepreneur who helps other entrepreneurs become successful. Along the way, he finds and invests in companies that have tremendous potential. And he’s really good at it.
If fact, he’s so good at it you’d think he has a built-in sixth sense to sniff out the magical gene that makes a company thrive. As it turns out, he’s not really that focused on the company’s product. When I asked him what he looks for in a company, his reply was surprisingly simple.
“That’s easy. I look to see if the people are coachable. If they are super-defensive and can’t take coaching then they are not going to be successful.”
So what about the product? Is that important?
He told me, “Sure it is, but a great product won’t go anywhere without coachability. In fact, I try to throw out a harsh criticism in the beginning to see how they will react.”
The current generation has grown up in an environment of “trophies for all” and sometimes has a tough time accepting criticism. This is a fatal flaw, especially early in your career. We all need to learn how to take coaching and use it to improve.
Here are a few ideas about using coaching to your advantage:
- Get a notebook and make it your coaching log.
- Listen intently to your coach’s comments and take notes.
- Objectively look at the advice and ask if it is information you can use and apply (let’s face it: not all criticism is constructive).
- Actively work the good suggestions into your project or daily routine.
- Go back to your notes and write down the adjustments you’ve made and record improvements.
Finally, write your coach a thank you note. You want to encourage feedback. It’s a great way to learn.