Growth Mindset and Coaching Culture at Microsoft

How Microsoft shifted from “Know it all to learn it all.” “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast!” Popular quote attributed often to Peter Drucker (see Quote investigator) There is a direct correlation between a company’s cultural health and its business performance according to a report by Institute of Corporate Productivity (i4cp) Coaching Culture and Growth Mindset are two big […]

Ways of Being – Ontological Coaching

I’m using language, emotions and body to write this and you are reading it using language, emotions and body. Now. This is our Way of Being.

I’ve experienced and watched many different coaching styles, approaches and techniques with some of most experienced coaches in the world. Some approaches stand out because of significant and sustainable results in my life, relationships and coaching. One approach is Ontological coaching.

What is Ontological coaching?

Ontology is the study of being. Ontological coaching supports and challenges individuals in a reflection of who they are.

Way of Being is a dynamic interrelationship between three areas of human existence – language, emotions and body.

Coaching in language, emotions and body has the potential to be transformative, for it can generate profound learning and deep constructive change.

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Ontology uses the premise that language is a process that generates reality; humans are languaging beings that continually create what is real for them by the specific ways they use and do not use language.

Notice what language(s) are you using while reading this.

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Emotions shape our way of being or our capacity for action.  Emotions pre-disposes us to act or not and in different ways. If experience being grateful I will act and speak differently than if I experience resentment. The power of Emotions to continually shape perception and behaviour is the essence of our wellbeing and the foundation of our relationships.

Notice your emotion(s) at the moment.



The body (postural alignment, movement, muscle tension and breathing) is crucial in perception, learning and change. Long-standing moods and unhelpful beliefs are embodied (stored and codified in the body). Change may happen at an intellectual level and will be sustainable when the body changes.

Notice your posture, movement, muscular tensions and breathing now.

An ontological coach can support and challenge by developing different ways of using language, emotions and body to generate a more constructive reality. Ways of Being.

Mentoring – Mentor Coaching for ICF credentials

Having previously shared my journey to Master Certified Coach (MCC) with the International Coaching Federation (ICF), it is my privilege and responsibility to mentor coaches in their journeys.

Having been mentored and mentoring coaches I have experienced how powerful it is in the acceleration of coach development and the impact it has on clients.

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is the world’s largest organization of professionally trained coaches, with more than 32000 members in 130 countries. There are currently more than 25000 coaches in 119 countries who hold one of three ICF Credentials:

• Associate Certified Coach (ACC)

• Professional Certified Coach (PCC)

• Master Certified Coach (MCC)

Credentialing candidates for ACC, PCC or MCC with the ICF are required to partner with a Mentor Coach who holds a valid Credential.

According to the ICF website: Mentor Coaching for an ICF Credential consists of coaching and feedback in a collaborative, appreciative and dialogued process based on an observed or recorded coaching session to increase the coach’s capability in coaching, in alignment with the ICF Core Competencies.

Credentialing candidates for ACC, PCC or MCC must complete 10 hours of Mentor Coaching prior to submitting their application.

What can happen in the 10 hours Mentor Coaching?

In the Mentor Coaching I facilitate this is what happens:

  • Feedback and mentoring on real-time and/or recorded coaching sessions
  • one-on one or group mentoring sessions, in a variety of formats, including three way live calls with your private client(s), recorded calls for review and other creative skill building activities
  • Support materials, including recordings provided
  • Define and refine the individual coaching style
  •  Feedback based on ICF Core Competencies
  • Ongoing materials support for life (after the sessions), including new materials and recordings


Mentor Coaching ICF Website

Mentor Coach Duties and Competencies Document -> ICF partnered with the Association of Coach Training Organizations (ACTO) to develop a document outlining the duties, personal traits and competencies of Mentor Coaches.



André Ribeiro is an executive coach, team coach and mentor coach. He is Master Certified Coach by the International Coach Federation and Senior Practitioner by the European Mentoring and Coaching Council. 

Billions – Fortune, Fame or Helping?

The 3rd season of the TV series Billions recently finished. It’s loosely based on the activities of Preet Bharara, the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and his legal battles with hedge fund manager Steve Cohen of S.A.C. Capital Advisors.

In the show traders in a hedge fund Axe Capital, when stressed turn to the firm’s in-house psychiatrist and performance coach. A previous article I wrote -> Coaching Market Wizards is about this coaching traders and hedge fund managers. I found Billions to be entertaining and reflecting the traits some of the billionaires I’ve met and work with.

For more than a decade, SAC Capital employed psychiatrist Ari Kiev (passed away in 2009), a former performance coach for Olympic athletes who has been called the first performance coach on Wall Street.

One of the inspirations for the character of performance coach in the TV show is Denise Shull. Denise hired Ari Kiev among others to coach her. She works with Wall Street investment professionals and elite athletes According to Shull, and I agree, feelings are the foundation of our decisions, but we don’t pay enough attention to them most of the time.

Billionaires Fortune

According to Forbes’ 2018 Rich List there are 2208 billionaires in the World. Not to be mistaken by High-net-worth individuals or HNWIs not even UHNWIs (Ultra…), billionaires are also known as members of the Three-Comma Club. They often use family offices to manage their wealth.

For some billionaires, good genes were enough to land them on the list—33% of the rankings inherited their fortunes.

Earth seems to be getting boring, Ellon Musk is the most famous of the billionaires launching on a space race, which also includes Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Naveen Jain, …. there’s even a book about it.

Billionaires Fame

Watched by billions and admired by many, they took their own lives -> Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson, George Michael, Whitney Houston, Robin Williams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Prince and Anthony Bourdain among many others.

Billionaires Helping

“To become a billionaire, help a billion people.” is a motto of Singularity University.

Billionaires -> Fortune, Fame or Helping?

I coach individuals and family businesses. To impact a family by improving relationships, communication and performance and trickling from that family to hundreds and thousands of families, for me is the greatest contribution, sense of reward and contribution as a person and as a Professional Executive Coach.



André Ribeiro is an executive coach and mentor coach. He is Master Certified Coach by the International Coach Federation and Senior Practitioner by the European Mentoring and Coaching Council. More @

Evoking Excellence in Professional Coaching

This title is inspired by a book called “Coaching: Evoking Excellence in Others”, for me it seems more appropriate to start with self (me) as a Coach.

I feel the need to speak about professional Coaching, a few times I witness excellence and often from so called professional coaches I observe and hear about diversions that can be found in the list of what coaching is not: consulting, counselling, mentoring, therapy… confusing the market (coaches, clients, others).

The most experienced coach (by hours of coaching) in a country was saying to me: “Some coaches are more messed up than the clients. They haven’t sort themselves out and they are out there working with others.”

My approach has been to get accredited with the two largest professional Coaching associations in the world, the ICF (around 33.000 members) and EMCC (around 11.000 members). See Journey to MCC and A Credentialing Experience with the EMCC.

My journey includes investing thousands of pounds, euros and dollars and thousands of hours in practicing, training, reading, listening, reflecting, coaching, mentoring, supervision and development.

The ICF and the EMCC have Core Competences which if upheld can support the professionalism of coaching.

Why is there no clarity about the quality of coaches in the market?

Because Coaching has a fragmented, dispersed and opaque market.

My references to learn about the coaching market are mostly talking directly with coaches, associations and companies. This requires significant time and effort to piece together. And reading the major reports about coaching published by Ridler, ICF , EMCC, Sherpa, Bresser and Coachsource.

What to do about Evoking Excelence in Professional Coaching?

I share what I choose to do below.

Self Coaching Excellence

Maintaining the integrity and quality of the Professional Coach:

-> Self Care, practices of eating, sleeping and moving (exercising). Excellence in Coaching requires a balanced mind and body

-> Continuous Professional Development, developing skill and practice, ongoing learning

-> Practice integrated with reflection, supervision and coaching, being a coachee is one of the best ways to stay connected and grounded on both sides of the coaching experience.

-> Reflection, building on learnings

-> Research, integrating evidence based research, positive psychology and real neuroscience, keeping it real and practical and avoid jargon

-> Reading, listening, observing

-> Developing models and tools, using them if and when appropriate or not at all

Contributing for Excellence in Professional Coaching

-> Support coaching associations by being a member, volunteer, speaker and attending events

-> Supporting, training and Mentoring Coaches

-> Upholding Core Competences of the ICF and EMCC in the coaching practice

-> Writing and Speaking



André Ribeiro is an executive coach and mentor coach. He is Master Certified Coach by the International Coach Federation and Senior Practitioner by the European Mentoring and Coaching Council.

A credentialing experience with the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC)

This is a new journey in coaching accreditations following the experience with the International Coach Federation (ICF) (you can see it here -> A Journey to Master Certified Coach) and is also about the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) and its accreditation process.

Why another coaching credential and why with the EMCC?

After Master Certified Coach (MCC), called by some the gold standard of coaching accreditations from the International Coaching Federation (ICF), the world’s leading organisation of professionally trained coaches with 31.878 members (February 2018), I asked myself -> what’s next for me in my coaching path?

The way I chose to make sense for investing in another credential, is that the Journey to Master Certified Coach with the ICF was initiated by a potential client request and after that, I felt a need to get credential from my own initiative. It made sense to go with the second largest coaching association, the EMCC has more than 11.000 members (according to the EMCC welcome pack October 2017). Like the ICF, the EMCC has been growing in membership and getting more international. And it was another part of the coaching world I felt like exploring and connecting with.

As with other professional bodies, in coaching the EMCC and ICF have some commonalities, however in practice members of one association don’t hang out that much with members of the other. They are considered two different communities in the coaching world. In conversations I’ve had with members of both, besides Board level (and sometimes even there) very few members have a clear idea about what the other organisation is about or does.

The EMCC is big here in the UK and since 2004 even has its own EMCC UK. In member size the EMCC UK (around 1700 members) is bigger than the ICF UK (around 1600 members).

A key differentiator from other coaching associations that attracted me to the EMCC are the Organisation Members, which are very strong in the UK and include Academic members (several universities), Coaching and Training Schools, key businesses, consultancies (Delloite, E&Y, KPMG, PWC) and several NHS trusts.

The right side of the homepage of the EMCC UK says “Developing and Progressing”, “Support and Learning” and “Recognition and Belonging”, suppose that most people who go for credentials and join associations are going for those. Could also be good for connecting with the coaching community, developing connections and business.

The ICF to EMCC Bridge

The deal maker for me to move forward with the accreditation with the EMCC was the bridge, which is a simplified application process for ICF credentialed EMCC members to apply for an EMCC accreditation. I can relate to how simple the traditional application process is, considering I had to make an effort to navigate this simplified process, no worries, the EMCC provides a “simple” 30 page guide explaining the process.

It’s interesting to note there is a bridge from ICF to EMCC, however none the other way round. Seems clear to me which of the two is the biggest / most recognised in the market.

What’s the EMCC and its history?

The EMCC website says about purpose and vision: “The EMCC exists to develop, promote and set the expectation of best practice in mentoring and coaching across Europe and beyond, for the benefit of society. Our vision is to be the “go to” body in mentoring and coaching.” —> Well… yeahhh! The EMCC and every other coaching association out there have the vision to be”the go to” body… perhaps a little more ambitious by including -> Mentoring and Coaching. Note that Mentoring is first both in the name of the EMCC and many of its other materials.

While navigating the EMCC and its credentialing process I found a lot of jargon and fancy words, which isn’t a surprise considering its strong academic roots and connections. It was founded in 1992 by five well known names in (UK) coaching: David Megginson, David Clutterbuck, Eric Parsloe, Sir John Whitmore and Julie Hay.

ICF versus EMCC

As mentioned the ICF with 31.878 members (February 2018) is the largest in the world, big in North America (around half of the members are there) where it originated and also very international. The EMCC is big in the UK and Europe (growing in Asia) and strong in research, mentoring and supervision.

This document presents a clear comparison between the requirements, assessments and competences of the ICF and EMCC (and AC).

I asked a fellow ICF MCC and EMCC Senior Practitioner (in upgrading process to Master Practitioner) and one of the very rare coaches credentialed by both associations at the highest levels, what was the difference he found between ICF and MCC. His reply was: “it’s like my left and right hand, they are different and both useful“.

What individual credentialing does the EMCC offer?

The benchmark quality accreditation for on-going application of competence of individual mentors and coaches, the EIA recognises mentors/coaches who maintain a professional level based on the EMCC Competency Framework.

EIA is for European Individual Accreditation. Basically fancy wording for the accreditation process for individuals. The accreditation process for an individual is explained here.

The EIA distinguishes between four levels: Foundation ● Practitioner ● Senior Practitioner ● Master Practitioner.” “To maintain the EIA, a renewal (re-assessment) is required every 5 years.

What’s the difference between the EMCC and ICF credentialing?

Besides that the EMCC has 4 levels and ICF 3 levels, I found the processes very different.

I found the ICF to be much more practical in particular with what are called Performance Evaluations which mean submitting 2 recordings of coaching sessions which are evaluated on the 11 ICF Core Competences at different levels depending on which credential the applicant is applying for.

The ICF credentialing process stretched me into being very aware of the ICF core competencies and applying them during coaching sessions first on a conscious level and then integrating them into my practice.

The EMCC experience has been much more reflective about which models and tools I use, when, how and why I use them and explaining how I’ve developed my own tools and models. It has also been very supportive in raising my awareness on reflection after coaching sessions and integrating reflection as an ongoing practice. This practice has extended to the rest of my life. This experience allowed me to identify in which coaching competences I’m strong and which ones to I need to work at and made me elaborate a plan with next steps on my Continuous Professional Development.

So EMCC or ICF, what’s the best credential?

The experiences with both have led me to agree with the fellow coach mentioned above “it’s like my left and right hand, they are different and both useful“. I can be more specific in one word each by saying that the ICF has been very useful on a practical level and the EMCC on a reflective level.

In my opinion an approach that combines both the the practical (ICF) and the reflective (EMCC) can be more holistic.

A question remains -> how can an EMCC evaluator assess the performance of a coach without actually listening to a coaching session or reading a transcript? The assessment is 100% written. The application consists of one written case study, five “reflection logs” where EMCC competences are matched to coaching/mentoring/supervision or professional development examples and matching competencies EMCC Competence Framework to training and experience.

Overall after both experiences and processes, for me the balance tips in favor of the ICF. Although missing the (very important) reflection part that the EMCC might support.

In summary -> What did you get out of the EMCC experience and is it worth it?

Being out of pocket (love this english expression), i.e. investing a couple of hundred pounds/euros, a couple weeks and couple dozen hours reflecting and writing about my coaching approach, philosophy, models and tools, the EMCC process was worth it. I say a resounding yes, for me personally and as a coach practitioner for the reflection exercise it ignited. On a professional level and in terms of generating business it’s early days, to be seen…




EMCC Accreditation

Coach Accreditation/Credential -> this document includes Requirements Comparison, Assessments Comparison and Common Competencies for the three largest coaching associations -> ICF, EMCC and AC


André Ribeiro is an executive coach and mentor coach. He is Master Certified Coach by the International Coach Federation and Senior Practitioner by the European Mentoring and Coaching Council. 

A journey to Master Certified Coach

For the master, surrender means there are no experts. There are only learners.” – George Leonard

This goes out to everyone who is on a journey to Mastery in whatever field and in particular to coaches.

A great reference is the book Mastery: the Keys to Success and Long Term Fulfillment (Penguin Books, 1992) by George Leonard it points to Five Keys to Mastery (and there is even a documentary about it).

Key 1: Instruction -> Before mastery, it is necessary to learn and be instructed from those further on the path.

Key 2: Practice -> Practice, practice and more practice to get more masterful (more about practice below).

Key 3: Surrender -> Trust the process as one with ups and downs… Keep learning and surrender to the journey.

Key 4: Intentionality -> Use intention, note that intention remain useless without action (more about Why below).

Key 5: The Edge -> Your personal edge, add your own flavour.

I saw this in an MCC profile to other MCCs, it also captures beautifully my experience:

If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking “Oh wow, I’m an MCC. I know all there is to know.

And then you might be thinking. “Wow. I’m an MCC, and there’s so much I don’t know.

And then you might realize “Wow. I’m an MCC and I know nothing.

A coach once said mastery in coaching is when someone wakes you up in the middle of the night and you are able to have a coaching session.

I invite you to a couple of highlights of my journey to get accredited as a Master Certified Coach (MCC) with the ICF and share some learnings. The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is the world’s largest organisation of professionally trained coaches with around 30000 members, less than 3% are MCCs.

Yes, certification is a business and I also have my doubts about a lot of what is being done by several associations and individuals. Reality is -> clients are increasingly giving it importance and in a market like executive coaching where there aren’t other references, accreditation is the way clients are distinguishing who’s who.

According to the Ridler Report about executive coaching, the percentage of organisations requiring individual accreditation by a professional coaching body increased from 54% in 2013 to 68% in 2015.

Start with … Why?

Why? Going on a journey having a Why will keep you going and committed.

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” Friedrich Nietzsche

For a long time I postponed getting certified as a coach. Why? I thought… since starting in executive coaching 15 years ago, I was never asked for certifications. Well, that changed about 18 months ago when one big potential client that I’m really interested in working with said they only work with MCC coaches. There… I got the Why to get started.

Practice Makes Perfect (Incomplete) —> Perfect Practice Makes Perfect (Yeah!!)

It’s not only practicing 10.000 hours that makes experts. It’s getting feedback, reviewing and improving on the practice. And go through the learning cycle several times.

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”          Samuel Beckett

Mentor Coach

Mastery in anything requires practice, improvement requires practice that builds on itself. For that a mentor coach can be the support that brings your practice to the next level and then to the next. And after the mentor coach, regular coaching supervision is a way to support your development.

Coaching Supervision

I was skeptical about coaching supervision, it could be another fad, a way of coaches to make money out of coaches yet again. And yet again I was lead to supervision by clients who asked me if I was getting supervision (specially in the UK). That made me pay attention, I’m now on my third year and in the third process of receiving coaching supervision and notice significant development.

Team Work

After completing the MCC, I realised how many people helped and inspired me in the journey. Different people at different times. Who’s in your team? Who do you need to recruit to your team?

What’s Next?

Sometimes before getting engaged by a new client I continue to be asked to do a coaching demonstration. The bar has been raised and now I feel the responsibility to continue to develop myself and support others in their journeys. Been asked by a couple of coaches to mentor them. Mentoring programs for ICF accreditation are in process.

This is an ongoing journey. There are no experts, only learners.

Top Resources (feel free to add more in comments):

Peer Coaching -> Reciprocoach, ICF members can also find peer coaching inside the ICF member site, powered by Reprocoach (different rounds)

Live Coaching Calls with MCCs and PCCs -> Real Coaching Sessions Unplugged (free to listen via phone, one call per month, one free recording sent when you sign up)

Audio Coaching Demo with Carly Anderson, MCC and interview with Darcy Luoma, MCC about her preparation for the credential

Audio Coaching Demo with Suzi Pomerantz, MCC

Video Coaching Demos with MCCs (in Spanish) -> Damian Goldvarg, MCC

Audios about coaching -> Life Coaching Training (free, includes 3 coaching session recordings with Pat Williams, MCC and many other recordings)

Core Competence -> Direct Communication, video by Alan Meyne, PCC (long video with examples)

Podcast -> Becoming a MCC with Teresa Pool, MCC

Article -> Jane Adshead-Grant, MCC – The journey to MCC

Article -> The Coach’s Journey Towards Mastery

Comparison of Training Schools Grid -> Marianna Lead, MCC, as ICF MCC/Assessor, offers a FREE consultation to anyone who is overwhelmed with choosing a coach training or has questions about ICF credentialing process.

TED Talk -> Atul Gawande, Want to get great at something? Get a coach



André Ribeiro is an executive coach, team coach and mentor coach. He is Master Certified Coach by the International Coach Federation and Senior Practitioner by the European Mentoring and Coaching Council. 

Why business and executive coaching?

Business and executive coaching can bring several benefits: fresh perspectives on personal challenges, enhanced decision-making skills, greater interpersonal effectiveness, and increased confidence. And, the list goes on.

Those who undertake coaching also can expect appreciable improvement in productivity, satisfaction with life and work, and the attainment of relevant goals.

What are some typical reasons someone might work with a coach?

An individual or team might choose to work with a coach for many reasons.

According to the 2014 International Coach Federation Global Consumer Awareness Study, consumers partner with coaches in order to:

• Optimize individual/team work performance (42 percent)

• Expand career opportunities (33 percent)

• Increase self-esteem/self-confidence (31 percent)

• Improve business management (29 percent)

• Manage work/life balance (27 percent)

Great ROI

Different studies have pointed to Return of Investment in coaching of 5X or more.

A CEO I coached wrote a testimonial saying his return was of 50X of his investment in coaching.

  • According to a study of senior level executives at Fortune 1000 companies who received developmental coaching, the average return from the programs was nearly 5.7 times the initial investment. (Maximizing the Impact of Executive Coaching, The Manchester Review, 2001, Volume 6, Number 1, Joy McGovern,
  • According to a survey of 30 executives who participated in a large executive development program at a Fortune 500 company, coaching resulted in a 529% return on investment (Executive Briefing: Case Study on the ROI of Executive Coaching, Merrill C. Anderson, Ph.D., MetrixGlobal, LLC.).



TED Talk -> Atul Gawande, Want to get great at something? Get a coach

Solving succession: How executive coaching helped one of Spain’s wealthiest families

 It’s good enough for presidents and Hollywood stars, so why shouldn’t executive coaching help you and your family to improve the way you interact for the benefit of the business? André Ribeiro, an executive coach himself, reveals how it helped one of Spain’s largest industrial groups to overcome a tricky succession issue …


Published in Campden Family Business, Aug 28th, 2008

By André Ribeiro


Executive coaching can provide support to an individual, team or organisation. It aims to assist the recipient to develop specific abilities, become aware of how to improve the efficacy and efficiency of the business, personal and interpersonal communication and to define and reach desired goals.


In a family businesses setting, executive coaching can improve communication and relationships between family members, establish goals, and guarantee the success of the company in times of succession.

In 2006 I was contacted by a family member of one of the biggest industrial groups in the north of Spain, which is owned by one of the country’s wealthiest families.

A coaching programme was developed to help the succession process from the 60-year-old leader of the business to his two sons, who were both in their 30s. At the start succession was a forbidden word as there was both rivalry and fear between the brothers.

Dialogue was very scarce – most of the important issues in terms of business and responsibilities were avoided or not talked about at all. The relationship among family members working in the company was confused, with a great mixture between family and work. This was also noted in conversations at home or during family gatherings where business topics were frequently the issue.

The father was mostly seen as the business leader and as a boss instead of a father. Personal and professional interests of the family mixed with the business and generated uncomfortable situations that disturbed the business, other directors and workers.

First, the two sons were trained individually in a half-day session for each. Within a couple of months, when the brothers were at a similar level in several topics, they were trained together in a one-day session every week and then every two weeks.

The coaching process consisted of training and exercises in management and leadership skills, where business and communication issues were analysed and strategies studied. Situations were rehearsed, while role-playing and tasks were assigned between sessions. Feedback was provided during and after the sessions to support the learning cycle and consolidate the action flow.

The coaching programme was then expanded to include the rest of the company’s directors who were trained in specific skills, such as leadership, communication, conflict management, time management and goal setting.

During the coaching process, which lasted for one year, the role of each individual in the company was identified, the way in which they participate in the business was defined and professional and business goals were set up. The responsibilities of the two sons were progressively increased and adjusted.

Several possibilities were studied: hiring an external CEO, promoting a new CEO from within management, yearly rotation of each son as CEO, dividing the group into two so that each would manage one part or choosing one of the sons as the CEO. Towards the end of the process it was agreed that one of the sons would be the CEO and the other the chairman.

Direct and clear communication between the two sons made rumours and intrigue disappear and allowed important business decisions to be taken, such as investment decisions and reorganisation of the management team, which resulted in incorporating new directors and replacing others. The father has since retired but continues to accompany the progress of the business by participating in board meetings.

The coaching process enabled dialogue to be established, relationships to be strengthened and, therefore, succession occurred in a progressive and consolidated way. A follow-up was conducted to carry on with adaptation and adjustments.

Besides income generation, executive coaching enabled this family business to be a place of harmonious relationships and free dialogue among family members and other professionals, with an open communication and orientation towards business development.


André Ribeiro is the founder of ExtraCoaching.


Stephen Covey Interview

Andre Ribeiro with Stephen Covey – Interview in Barcelona at the High Performance World Forum in June 2005

Stephen R. Covey was a world renowned author on leadership and organizational consultant. He was the author of several books and known mainly by the bestseller “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. He received several awards, including being named one of 25 most influential Americans by Time magazine.

Covey had a Harvard MBA and has spent part of his career at the Brigham Young University where he  got his doctorate and became a professor. He has co-founded the Franklin-Covey organization, dedicated to the implementation of the Covey principle-centered approach.

He was known as one of the leading authorities on time management. Thousands of organizations worldwide, including many Fortune 500 companies have adopted his innovative techniques on leadership, teamwork and customer focused service. His time management bestseller “First Things First”, co-authored with A. Roger and Rebbeca R. Merrill, according to publisher Simon & Schuster is the biggest bestseller ever, on time management.

Edited Interview Transcript:


Yesterday I heard your audio book “The Eighth Habit.”

Stephen Covey – Well, really? It’s really long.

Yes, it lasts about eight hours, it’s long. I like your voice, in the audio it sounds very deep.

S.C. Thank You.

Attraction versus seeking what you want. Shall we practice both? Eastern philosophy seems more geared toward attracting, while the West prefers to search. What is your opinion?

S.C. Well, I think there is value in both. Both have something good. Sometimes I use the word “discover, develop, …” and also “detect”, which is more the attraction.

In other words, when Victor Frankl was in the death camps he asked himself the question: “What need can I serve?” It changed his paradigm. Instead of saying “Why me?”. When he found someone who was starving, he would share half of his ration with him.  Give his life meaning, felt like he had more life.

Different words are used to describe how people find their voice. Sometimes they just go out, and get an education and starts to discover it. Sometimes they go to work. I, myself, was supposed to go into business. But someone got me involved in leadership development and it changed me. I told my father: “I rather be a teacher.” All my life he said: “If you can do it you do it, if you can’t, you teach.” But then he told me that he never found his voice in business either.

About systems thinking and leverage points, can you mention some leverage points that an individual can use to change society and business?

S.C. One leverage point is inside out. Don’t try to change anyone else. It’s like in marriage,. Make your spouse happy, not better. So leverage is something of which you can control, something inside yourself. And that does more to model or inspire change in the part of someone else than anything else.

Another powerful leverage point is to develop rituals or habits that you cultivate like sharpening the saw everyday. I try to exercise regularly every day, if I can. It renews you and it gives you more balance in your life. This is a key leverage point.

Another key leverage point is to always listen first.

How do you renew your mind?

S.C. -Study. Systematic Study. Read materials outside my field. My wife  thinks I should read more novels, but, I read more theory.

I also love interaction with audiences. If were my choice, I would spend most of my  time interacting with audiences. Walking around and asking them to challenge me.

Many people probably know what they don’t want, but sometimes they don’t  know what they do want. How can we assist people in getting to know what they really want?

S.C. Teach them about the conscious. Peace of counscious is greater than peace of mind. Peace of mind is more externally oriented. You know, you pay  off your mortgage. Peace of consciousness is when you know you have been honest in all your business dealings. You are true to your wife. You are dedicated with your children. You know it in your heart. The stillness in my voice is more powerful than storms or anything else that is  large, noisy and powerful. Peace of counscious. The more people train their counsciousness, the more sensitivie they  are to it. It’s like you had your own voice coming to you.

Coming back to systems thinking we said that we must work on the inner voice to change the system. But many people say, “Yeah, I have changed, but the system doesn’t change“.

S.C. They are still in outside/in orientation …

They would like to change for example their jobs…

S.C. I’d say  work in your circle of influence. Try to enlarge it, because  is nothing that converts cynics like results. Then…, go to the person that can change the system and say, “Why don’t we try a pilot program?“, just a small program. Which changes a system, for example for me. And then see which results come from it. Pilot programs are very easy to sell, extremelly easy, because there is so little  downside and huge upside. And the boss says “I’m just experimenting” and then it works.

What about people who tell you have to make a living, you have to make an effort everyday, and they see everything as demanding. They have to work, to live and get paid. They say they can not study or develop because they are too busy?

S.C. The’re experiencing distress. They are being stressed, that’s why they are not willing to do anything else, they cop out. That’s why they give excuses like you’re talking about. The eustress is somewhat different: the eu-stress, is  stress that turns you on, something you are passionate about, that strengthens your inner system, that causes you to get up earlier, it gets you to study. You’ll love it because you will have a meaningful work to do, you would have people you have to bless, you want a cause to be furthered that’s eustress. That’s why women live longer than men, because they have eustress. Seve years longer than men, on average. It’s not physiological it’s psychologica. Eustress … a woman’s work is never done.

And that change happens? Does it happen suddenly or gradually? Or both ways?

S.C. Both ways. Sometimes it’s an epiphany, all at once. When I started teaching I realized that I had never had such a level of satisfaction and such a feeling of fulfillment and sense of contribution. Just like that. But, usually it’s more cumulative, slow, evolutionary and less revolutionary.

In “The Seven Habits” (book) you mention the classic example of people going to the gym a couple of weeks and then leave.

S.C. I was working with one person, one time. She was in charge of human resources department of a large company. She said that  just the thought of abundance rather than scarcity changed her whole life. She said “I never even considered the idea of abundance and scarcity. I realized I had been scarce all my life. I had no emotional attachment to scarcity, it was just a habit From then on I always thought of abundance.” That was an epiphany, that she had.

In this society of scarcity, do you think there are  abundant companies and cultures?

S.C. Yes, absolutely. For instance, take Dell Computers. It took them five years to create what they call a culture of responsibility rather than a culture of blame.  What they meant by responsibility is that if I see a problem,  I’m responsible to solve it, one way or another. In other words, the whole culture will be abundant t and will respond to my efforts to solve the problems, because culture is based on the responsibility for everybody, meaning an abundance of opportunities.  It took five years to develop that.

Look how long it took GE, Jack Welch , to produce that leadership process so that it was distributed throughout the whole organization.  About seven to ten years. Now they are the number one or number two in every category.

You’ve talked about principles and values, what about beliefs?

S.C. Belief is another word for paradigm. It’s a synonymous. Your belief  of the way things are. Values are the way things should be, it’s a paradigm of the way things should be. Beliefs are the paradigms of the way things are.

 Referring to the compass, where is the “True North”?

S.C. True North represents two things. One the chosen direction we decided to go in. In other words, if we are emotionally connected as is the culture, this is our purpose, this is our high priority, this is our governing values. That’s one  sense of it.

The other sense of it that the principles govern, we don’t govern. The principles govern. We are driven by our values. The principles drive the consequences, over which we have no control.

That causes humility. Humility is the greatest virtue there is, greater than any other one Humility is the mother, courage the father, integrity the child.

What would you suggest to someone who wants to be more creative? Everybody is talking about innovation. How can one be more creative?

S.C. I would say first the have to get out of the social  definition that they are not. creative Everybody is creative. Particularly children, are true geniuses. Then adults de-genialize them out of their creativity. You always learn to ask questions. Why not? What is another way of doing it? What you and I producing an alternative that either of us can think of right now? So, if we are in opposition to each other, let’s come up with a third alternative. Then  we start looking this way  instead of to each other, and we ask: “What else can we do? What about this? “. Gradually as people have experiences in creating things, they say “This is fun!  This it bondy! “.  Because nothing will bond people more  than creating something together. You will never be desloyal to a person  behind their back when you’ve created something with them, because it was too rich of  an experience, it was too powerful. It would be like violating your whole integrity, to be desloyal to someone behind their back.  Nothing is more bonding that creating  something together.

What about the learning system, such as universities, MBAs. Do you see  any change, an evolution?

S.C. Definitely. It’s evolving towards interdependence, teamwork instead of dependence or independence. Independence is a high value. And at the Harvard Business School I never learned about interdependence, it was all independence. Now you go to the University of Michigan and they start you out  in the ghetto  with a team, to serve the ghetto. For the first two weeks of your whole training. So you learn. Wait a minute, life is a social ecology, we are all  connected together, we are in the same boat, same polar horizon direction. That ‘s the  first thing.

Second thing, we must start teaching people emotional intelligence. More how to listen to people in depth. How to be aware of yourself, what motivates you. Where are your talents, what I call your voice.

Another thing that is changing is teaching global intelligence, awareness of the total package, the larger context in which to operate.

Another is teaching the power of what  I was talking about today: intellectual capital and social capital, the importance of trust.

But I would say that there are many organizations that are far ahead most MBA programs. The MBA is following, not leading. They should lead. The same thing with law. I’m now writing a book for lawyers and I hope we get that to education. I’m writing with two other people, I am not a lawyer but  these two are: one is a federal judge, the other a general counsel. It’s all on synergy and the prevention of dispute. It’s for peace makers. Tomorrow will participate on  negotiations.  He and I have interacted a lot over the years. He believes very  strongly in the power of finding better alternatives a “we” solution instead of “my solution” or a compromise solution.

Regarding the world of training, consulting and coaching, there are many things going on. Here in Spain, for example, there is like an explosion of coaching. Companies are already a bit tired of the traditional training. They want the results, as you say, sometimes there’s a lift  on morale and then in a few days or weeks, the effects begin to disappear. How do you see this coaching world and training world in general?

S.C. I think the reason that things tend to fall back after the training  is given is that the structures and systems have not been changed, so  you don’t have the candle  burning. So, gradually people are socialized or inculturated back to the old way so of doing things, even tough they were trained in better ways of doing things.

I think that coaching is more like being with a trusted advisor. Who  really spends the first effort to understand you and he gets deeper into you, because you feel understood. Instead of kind of outside in, which training is, it’s more from the inside out. In fact, the very word educate is an inside out word, it means “comes from within.” Coaching and trusted advising is based on drawing out the very best out of a person. So instead of saying “You should do this” I would say “Tell me  about yourself. Tell me what are your interests. Tell me what gives  your life meaning. ” Now if you feel like I understand you, then  you would say  to me: “Stephen, what do you thing the options are in terms of  my interests?“. Now I am a trusted advisor to you, because you know I understand.

With training it is all external. I am telling you what to do. And you  may say: “Yeah, but you don’t quite know my situation or know me.” It is more efficient but less effective.

Neuro-linguistic programming and Gestalt therapy, what you think about these concepts?

S.C. I think they have merit. But I would give my primary emphasis on integrity, courage and humility. Rather than learning to manipulate my mind. I think that it’s good to know how to visualize, and affirm and to tackle the regions of your brain. So that you have the kind of the habit patterns built. Trough  neuro-linguistic programming and Gestalt therapy, I think that is good. But, I would say the highest value I will put on character.

I belive that 90% of all leadership failures are failures of character. Not  failures of ability. Or the inability to manipulate your own mind. I spoke to a conference of neuro-linguistic conference on this topic, one time. And I suggested that for every thousand hacking of the leaves, there is one striking of the root. The problem isn’t so much how to manipulate your mind to get better results. The big problem is  to live by your conscience. The character. Character ethics  is the one that gets neglected the most.

The time management matrix, the second quadrant. What would be some pragmatic steps to implement the teachings of the time management matrix?

S.C. I’d say first develop a personal mission statement, so that you know what is important to you. The moment you do that, you can get rid of quadrants three and four.

Most people are not even in the first step.

S.C. They don’t ever reach the first step. They have the ability to say “no”. If they do say “no”, they are guilt tripped. And so they say “no” unhappingly, instead of cheerfully saying “no” because you know what’s really important to you. You can learn to say “no”, only when you have a very burning “yes” inside you about what’s really important.

What about the importance of having a focus, which is directly related to that? Sometimes we have a clear goal, but then there are changes along the path, and so the purpose, the mission changed a bit trough the way. How can we keep the focus, as in life there are many things which distract us?

S.C. I think you have to be flexible and adapt to changing realities. But your  governing values never change. You would never compromise your integrity for anything, for any purpose. Your purpose may change slightly, as you mature and  your consciousness expands and you see more of the social ecology. You may get more clarity and focus on your purpose.

It has happened in our family. We rewritten our family mission  statement four times and it gives us a more clearer focus. It happens  in organizations as well. But the governing values  are usually the same. Sometimes you mature you only add two or three more, you don’t want to have too many ,you don’t need too many.

Because there are only four areas in life (body, mind, heart and spirit). They pretty well embrace all of life. I can not think of  on thing that  doesn’t come under one of those four things.

I would say you’re flexible, but you are also very resolute about  your purpose and your governing values, but you are always open to learn, grow and mature.

There’s a lot of talk about the power of now, living in the present –  something that comes from thousands of years ago – what would you say about that?

S.C. There is a lot to that. You don’t let yourself worry too much about the future, and you don’t have to be depressed about the mistakes you made in the past, otherwise tomorrow is held hostage by yesterday.

I think there is great value in vision. Which means you see the potential that has not been yet actualized. That drives the now. If you are too now oriented, you will be driven to quadrant three that which is urgent but not important.

I think we have to be now be oriented in the sense that if we think always about tomorrow and don’t focus on today or yesterday. Decisions in the now should be governed by your vision.

The way I put it is: Vision is the breakfast of champions, feedback  the lunch and  self-correction the dinner.




André Ribeiro is the founder of ExtraCoaching. He develops strategies and solutions for executives and businesses.