Episode 91: Business Coaching – Shimon Lazarov

Predictable Prospecting
Episode 91: Business Coaching - Shimon Lazarov
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Shimon Lazarov the CEO of LiveCoach is here today to talk about you as a person. I focus on sales and spend a lot of time focused on the ins and outs of the sales process, but the person behind the sales matters too. Shimon is here to shed some light on coaching and the importance of having a coach.

Coaching can increase productivity, success, and life satisfaction. Ongoing coaching is usually more useful than a one-time coaching session. Finding and connecting with the right coach for you isn’t that easy. Shimon created LiveCoach to connect coaches and clients through an easy to use online platform.

Episode Highlights:

  • Business coaching versus life coaching. People work with coaches to accomplish something that they don’t know how to do or to be held accountable, so that they follow through or to aspire to new horizons.
  • People usually prefer a coach over a peer to help them be held accountable.
  • Some people only need specific help for one thing. Other people want accountability or they want their life to be better.
  • There is a link between something in life bothering people and their work success and productivity.
  • Personal and professional success are interrelated.
  • How coaches have neutral objectivity and your best interest in mind.
  • The more neutral a coach is the better and more effective that coach will be.
  • The LiveCoach platform can help you find a coach by describing your situation or you can be matched through their algorithms.
  • You can talk to several coaches for free to help find the best coach fit for you.
  • When you start talking to people, you will be surprised by the amount of insights that you will get.
  • Shimon suggests talking to as many coaches as you can.
  • Many coaches do a questionnaire or a review as prep work. Some part of the initial work will be reflection about what you want to achieve and gaining clarity.



Marylou: Hey everybody, it’s Marylou Tyler. This week we are going to talk about you as a person, the whole person. I have a very, very wonderful guest today, Shimon Lazarov. He’s the founder and CEO of livecoach.io.

It’s funny. When I started teaching at university, I realized that it’s not just about teaching you guys the process , it’s activating, it’s doing, it’s getting a further understanding. I quickly realized that just teaching the material wasn’t enough. That I really needed to have office hours, I really needed to be at my students’ disposal so that if they had any questions.

Sometimes we never talk about the process. Sometimes we talked about life at the company that they were working at, or maybe they were in that kind of role where they were there for a short period of time, and then they went off, went to another company because there’s a lot of those programs at university that do that now.

I thought you know what, I need to get an expert on here to talk about coaching. Frankly, I wasn’t even sure which questions to ask Shimon because of the fact that I really focused so heavily, head in sand, on a process that only recently did I come to the realization and awareness that coaching’s a big piece.

Welcome, Shimon, to our podcast today. Thank you so much for sharing your information and enlightening us on what this thing called coaching is all about.

Shimon: Yeah, thanks for having me. It’s great to be here.

Marylou: Wonderful. Naturally, there’s a difference here. I just did a survey of my list which is a combination mostly of sales people and a smattering of different roles. I have business developers, I have C-Suite leaders. I got some marketing people who love content and follow me for that. But I asked the question on the survey, “Would you prefer to have peer coaching as part of this class or would you like to have a coach, a mentor, someone who is there, you can ask any question to, who uphold you accountable,” and it was staggering the difference of results I got based on the sales role.

If you’re in the business developer closer role, you’re all over the coaching thing. For those who did all roles though, they prospected, closed, and serviced, the percentages were wildly different. Can you speak to, not just the roles, but what types of coaching, or what is the difference between coaching that we think of when we think of coaching which is usually business related versus the life kind of coaching goals and coaching process?

Shimon: Yes, that’s a great question. I think it’s a relatively new industry. The definitions are still kind of being decided upon. There’s no standard. It’s not like when you go to a dentist you know exactly what training dentists have, what exams they’d have to pass. When you go to a coach you don’t really know, anyone can call themselves a coach.

But basically, what we’re seeing is that there’s three main topics that people work with a coach to solve. One of them is just when they want to accomplish something and they don’t know how to do it. In a business setting, this can be, “I want to get a promotion but I don’t know how to make it happen. Maybe my boss isn’t communicating clearly with me what are the expectations for me getting a promotion.”

In your personal life, it could be, “I want to buy a house but I don’t even know how to get started.” It can be also in relationship issues like, “Something’s not right with my spouse. What do I do about it?” That’s one thing where you go to a  coach to get a plan of how to do something. We have many coaches on the platform that are great for that.

The second aspect is actually following through with your plans. Whether you have worked with a coach to formalize a plan, or whether maybe you know what you need to do, but you just need someone to hold you accountable. That’s where the survey that you’re mentioning, it’s very interesting, because you could ask, “Who is better to hold you accountable, is it a friend, is it a colleague, or is it a professional coach?” We can talk about those things but that’s definitely something that’s necessary.

The third aspect is working with someone to really understand what you want out of life. Even if you don’t have a current problem, you’re happy at your job, you’re happy with your relationships, and you have those issues. Someone that can open new horizons to you and really give you something to aspire to. Many times, those three roles can all be performed by one person. Many times, one person can fulfill all of these roles. Many times, you need to work with different people to accomplish those things.

Marylou: Right, right. Well, it’s funny that you say that because this follow through is definitely what we were leaning towards the accountability questions on that survey.

Now this is my list. It’s not representative necessarily of the universe out there. But if there were leaders who responded to the survey, not by a big margin, but they prefer to have peer, colleagues, friends, influencers hold them accountable slightly over having a coach.

But, everyone else, when I combined the roles, they were definitely in favor of what they consider a coach. Now, of course, I didn’t drill down into how they defined a coach, but they prefer the coaching over the peer. Primarily, some of them the gap was pretty big, and some was just really small, a couple of percentage points difference. I was surprised at the number of people who wanted this type of accountability, this follow through as you’re calling, just never had an idea about that.

Shimon: Yeah. You’ll be surprised at how many times we know that we need to do something in life but we don’t actually follow through. There’s many good reasons for that. Biologically, we’re very much wired towards the immediate and the things that grab our attention right now. Sometimes it’s hard for us to think long term. Having someone that forces us to really get the longer perspective on things can be super helpful.

Marylou: When we think of coaching, is it better to think about yourself, the whole person when looking for a coach or can you be pretty effective if you’re just focused in on one aspect, the business side of things for example? The accomplishment of a goal, being a better business developer, or making my quota versus being a good family member, having a more balanced life, exercising, whatever else.

What are you seeing the trend is? Are we trying to combine all these things into one sort of life coach type thing or do we separate out, for business I’m using this person, for athletics I’m using that person, and for my life, there maybe even a third person in the picture. What’s the trend that you’re seeing?

Shimon: I come from a background of building marketplaces in Silicon Valley, so very, very data heavy. I always like to look at the data and slice it, and dice it in many different ways to see if insights comes from it. We’re seeing basically that there’s two segment of people.

One, the segment that only need help with the first topic that we spoke about, which is like, “I need something very specific and I don’t know how to get it.” If that’s someone’s situation, they can totally work with a coach only for that thing. Get a plan in place and start executing it.

But everybody else, whether you know what you need to do but need accountability, or whether you just know that your life can be better, but you don’t know exactly how to make it happen, can be a big link between a personal goals and professional goal. That means, many times, if there’s something in your personal life that is bothering you or something that you know that could be better, it will radiate into your performance at work.

That’s something that wasn’t very trivial, because the research, usually the academic research around coaching just focuses on productivity. It’s like, “Yeah, we have data showing that working with a coach on improving your sales or on improving your communication or whatever it is, is more effective than not working with a coach.” But there’s not a lot of research showing the kind of combination of working on your personal stuff and how it affects your professional stuff.

I started looking at our data and very interesting things are starting to appear. For example, if you improve your relationships with your family, over 90% of times, your work performance also improves which I found to be very interesting. I also like to look at people holistically. When we think about what we want to achieve in life, in general, it made sense to me that those two terms are connected.

For example, if we want a promotion, it is probably to make more money to increase our prestige at work, but why do we really want that? Many times that is not disconnected from our family life or from our personal life. It’s the other way around also, if we want a great family life, why do we want that? We want that maybe so we feel good. Then we can focus on really achieving really amazing success at work. The connection between those two things, I think it’s fascinating. I think people should do some more research on it to figure out what’s the best way to improve someone’s life holistically.

Marylou: One of the top questions that always come to mind is at what point in life is a coach worth considering? Say we’re in college, we have our teachers, they’re kind of our coaches, sort of our T.As or coaches, then we get out into the working world, we look immediately towards our managers for coaching, but sometimes that’s falling pretty flat. I think a lot of what we’re seeing now is with all the tools that are out there to help, I’m talking sales, with all the tools that are out there to help us in get into the door and have those first conversations, we’ve got a lot at our disposal now to be able to leverage technology that help us, but there’s still that lack of confidence, that lack of tenacity, that lack of persistence. Where I think of coaching or if the manager’s quick coach and role play would be helpful but that doesn’t seem to be happening in corporate America.

At what point are you gonna say, “You know what? I’m important. It’s about me. I’m gonna go ahead and figure out how to do this.” But at what point do you think that lightbulb goes on that they should seek out external help?

Shimon: Yes, you’re right. Ideally, your manager should be your coach in an ideal world, because a good manager wants to develop their employees. But, sadly, we know that in corporate America or in just in general, people, they’re more focused on the short term results than the long term results.

Many times the manager will ask one of their employees to do something that is really good on the short term, but knows that it’s not necessarily the best thing for the long term career development of that person. A classical example of that could be let’s say one of my employees is really, really good, and I know that I can develop them and then they’ll get a promotion and stop reporting to me. As a manager, it’s not necessarily the thing that I want to optimize, or even if it’s just subconsciously, or even if it’s I’m a good person but I’m focused on delivering those results, maybe I will not push my employees to develop as much as they can, especially the good one.

You probably heard this term where people get promoted until their level of incompetence. You’re good at what you do, you’ll get promoted. The place where you stop being promoted is the place where you’re not very good at what you do. That’s a sad fact, because I’m thinking how many people are just stuck at doing something that’s not the best thing that they could be doing.

But I think the biggest value of a coach is the neutral objectivity. Someone that can look at your life, look at your professional life, and really have your best interest in mind. Not have any other things they’re optimizing for and in a very real sense, your success is their success. If you get promoted it’s to their credit. They don’t care about the short term team performance but more of your long term career development.

I would advise someone, the more neutral you can get that person to be, the better your results will be. Even for example, some people don’t like working with a professional coach or just within accountability buddy, someone who you touch base with once a week just to make sure they’re on track to achieving their goals. If that accountability buddy is a close friend or a spouse, the results are much worse than if it’s someone who’s maybe a distant colleague or someone who is not so close to you because then they can be truthful. They can say, “You know, you missed your goal, you said you were going to do this things, you didn’t do it.” Push you to really achieve the things that you set with yourself, that you determined that are important to you.

I think anyone could use a coach. You can see this with professional athletes or performers. There’s many careers in which having a coach is a must. I started this company because I really believed that any person can benefit from that. The challenges just quantifying it, communicating it to people, and matching them with the right coach at the right time which is an interesting problem to solve.

Marylou: You have then a place where, if I was considering coaching, I can go to and is there an assessment process that helps, because I may go to the site and not have a clue like you said, I don’t know really what I need or what I want or what’s available. I’m sort of at ground zero in terms of understanding what even to ask for in some situations. It maybe an accomplishment goal. It may be a follow through goal. It may be a lifelong thing I’m trying to work on but I don’t know how to prioritize them. Do you have some type of assessment process or questionnaire that the audience can go and see if they’re curious about how coaching can benefit them?

Shimon: Yeah, absolutely. We built the platform to be as open as possible. Anyone can just go and select what are the things they want to work on to the best of their knowledge. We don’t ask for people to prioritize. We have over a hundred coaching categories and you can just check the boxes of what you’re interested in working on.

Also, we have a free text part of the form where you can just describe your situation. Even if you don’t know how or what you want to work on fits into one of the categories, that’s absolutely okay, you can describe your situation, and then coaches will reach out to you with their solutions. You can reach out to coaches, our algorithms are good at matching you with coaches that have helped people achieve similar things. We’re good at analyzing the text that you write in the free text and also the combination of categories that you want to work on, and then you can start the conversation.

What’s cool about live coaches is that you can, for seven days, you can talk to as many coaches as you want for free. We think that’s one of the barriers which is you want to get exposed to many coaches. I would never suggest someone to choose one and just talk to them and work with them. Talk to many coaches. We also see this, it’s interesting, before this platform existed, the main way to get a coach was through a referral.

You would have a friend who worked with a coach, got great results, and so you would reach out with the same coach. The only problem with that is that it only works if you and your friend want to work on exactly the same thing. If my friend worked with a coach to change their career, that might not be the best coach for me if I want a promotion.

Marylou: Right.

Shimon: It’s just a different skill set, different experience, different motivators. That’s why we saw that many people have this mismatch of I know that this coach is good but not for what I need. I know that the other coach does what I need but I don’t know if they’re good. That’s why on our platform you can just keep reaching out to people until you find someone who’s good, and then you can do this again, and again as your goals evolves. Everytime you want to change your goals you can reach out to a bunch of coaches and see who’s the best person for the job.

Marylou: It’s like you have a community of coaches with whom you can have conversation. Find out if there’s an alignment there between what you think you want, like anything you ever want. The more you have conversations about what your goals are or where you want to go, you get more clarity, you get more specificity. If you are able to have these conversations with multiple people, you’re gonna hone in on exactly your path, or at least pretty darn close at the age when you’re old.

You’re gonna get there. You may have to pivot along the way, but I think like anything, having someone hold you accountable, tough love versus family versus colleagues. Having that independent voice, I think. I know for me, personally, if I ask my husband to monitor something for me athletically or even my business, he’s just so forgiving. I would never get anything done. He’s my biggest fan, therefore, he’s not a good coach, he is a fan. I would be definitely more interested in finding out the neutral objectivity, I love that phrase, I think that’s really what we’re looking for.

And if I go back to my survey, peer coaching or peer accountability has its place. A lot of the my classes are offering that in terms of the people who are in class, are there you can buddy up with, but the independent coaching is definitely something in sales that I’m seeing a very high percentage of people would like to have that accountability through an independent neutral type of coach but may not know how to seek that out.

I think this is a great place for those of you who are listening to head on over to livecoach.io or similar websites. Start talking to coaches and finding out where those gaps are, between what you thought you were getting from your manager. Maybe even as you learn, which was really what we do with prospecting and predictability is that as you learn some techniques and tools, is to bring it into your teams and start working with your peers through the role play environment, and making sure they’re getting the kind of the benefit of your coaching as well. But first and foremost, it’s about you. It’s about working towards whatever goals you have because I think there is a blend here as Shimon said of life and business.

I know for me personally, writing in a gratitude journal everyday, it lifts my spirits. I can see it. I’m more positive. Rejections that come my way through prospecting, I take in, I absorb, I learn from them. I don’t think of them as personal objections to me. My goal is to get up every morning and help as many people as I can. I think with gratitude, I can do that. Writing in a journal gives me the ability to each day get up and say I want to help as many people as possible today.

Shimon, what is the best thing to do than go to over to the website and get a lot form and start having conversations?

Shimon: Yeah. You can go to livecoach.io. We have a special offer for your listeners which is they can go to livecoach.io classics. Then in there, they can get two weeks of the free trial instead of just one week.

Marylou: Okay.

Shimon: But in any case, you can just go, and start talking to people. You’ll be surprised at how much insight you can get. Even if you have a bunch of coaches that are good, it’s the same thing, just different styles can make a huge difference. Some people like a coach that’s more active and tell them what to do directly. Others like a coach that’s more on listening and being there for you. I would just suggest that. Yeah, talk to as many coaches as you can and I’m sure that you’ll find a good one.

Marylou: What about prep work? We talked a lot about planning in my world. I get a lot of my folks to really think through what they’re trying to accomplish and get it down, either on their cell phone, on paper, or however they record. Do you suggest that they go through a self -discovery process before they reach out or is it just as you go you could figure it out as well? What would you recommend there?

Shimon: Yes. I think every goal, every coach will have their own recommended prep work. For example we have coaches that do a very in depth, personal questionnaire in the beginning to expose your personality traits. Other coaches, for example, do a 360 review as part of the intakes. For example, asking for feedback from your peers, from people who reported to you or people who you’re reporting to. Then use those results to really identify the areas where you should work on. Some coaches are just like, “Let’s start with a blank slate. What do you want to achieve? What are your barriers? Let’s work on those barriers.”

I think it really depends on the coach’s personal style, but I would tell you, any good coach will have some portion of the initial work be just reflection. Just really go deep and understand what motivates you in life. What do you want to achieve? Why to you want to achieve those things? Then just gaining clarity on those things, regardless of whether it’s done through a questionnaire, or just talking back and forth, is very, very helpful to people.

Because many times we’ve inherited our values especially professionally just by chance. We started working somewhere and our first boss told us this is very important to be a good employee and just stuck with that. We don’t know if it’s good. Until we do this reflection process, it’s hard to expose those things because many times those are beliefs that are kind of buried deep inside and some work needs to be done to figure them out.

Marylou: That’s a great point. We were talking about this this morning. I was on another call. Sales as a degree is not necessarily ubiquitous in the United States in college. A lot of times we’re going in at sales as quite a newbie or the new comer, as I call some of my folks, is they’re getting indoctrinated by this popping into a position.

That happened to me. I was a systems engineer. I’m an engineer by trade, computer programming, but because we were working in disruptive technologies way back when before the internet. I was trying to get analog telephones to digital telephones, that’s how long ago it was. But I was in a situation where the reps couldn’t really sell because they didn’t know the technology in them. They fired all the reps and put us, the systems engineering people, into sales. We go home one day as an engineer, and you come back the next day, you’re a sales person.

It’s trial by fire, for sure. I think a lot of this audience who’s listening today are probably in those roles. Not necessarily having a degree in any, getting training, and all that skill, and mindset, and process training that you would get if you were in an engineering program, or even a marketing program.

My son is going through marketing right now. He’s getting a very good education in all things marketing. They don’t have all things sales. I think a lot of us are really looking for that next level of performance and with various income levels. This would give us a good breadth of opportunity to search out and work with the coach to improve whatever it is that our goals are.

Those big, hairy, audacious goals that we’ve got. Working to them or just getting through the next quarter. It really depends on where you are in life but the beauty is that these folks are out there. They’re well verse in various member of different disciplines and they’re all aligned to help you. It’s all about you.

Shimon, thank you so much for joining us today. I will put all the links on the page that we have for the podcast so people can get a hold of you, but if they want to reach you, is the best place the website or should they go to LinkedIn? Where should they reach you personally?

Shimon: Yeah, the best place is the website. I’m pretty quick at responding. Wherever you reach out to me, I’ll definitely get to it. Thank you so much. It was a pleasure. It’s always fun discussing these topics.

Marylou: Yeah, thank you. Again, I very much appreciate it. It’s a little bit of a soft topic for us, but I think it’s an important link that seems to be missing. The survey says it’s really an important piece that a lot of people are looking for. I think this is a nice way with the crowd sourcing options that you’ve offered here is to find the right person or persons that could help you achieve your goals. Thanks again, Shimon.

Shimon: Yes. Thank you, Marylou. Have a great day.