One of my main drivers to start my own company was that I wanted more training than my previous employers gave me.
For 15 years I had a rule that I invested 10 to 20% of my revenue in training.
It was a combination of reading books, evening events, conferences, training & coaching.
The last years I have added community activities to that. I have learned a ton from creating
- the community book: “who is agile”
- agile conference calendar
and mostly the teams that helped me with them.
Actually, I learned so much by working with great teams and their trust, that I decided that the next years, I want to experiment with how I will learn new things.
I want to learn by doing, instead of purchasing training. I will be helping multiple teams or organisations for a short while. This means I will contact companies that work in special ways or are doing stuff in a creative way. My current idea is to do actual work for them for a week.
Last week I came up with the name Au-PairCoaching for this and then asked on twitter what that made people think:
Here are the reactions:
Nicole Rauch: To me that sounds as if the coach would move into my house and live with me for a while.
- Holger Oem: The coach is very young, has no experience on his job but is willing to do anything to help
- Zurcherart: 19 year old learning a foreign language by coaching your children
- George Dinwiddie Someone cheap to spend all their time babysitting the children (development team) for years.
- Leo Exter : Um. The stuff cheap-and-nasty romance novels are filled with.
- RonJeffries: A young woman who doesn’t speak my language, won’t watch the kids very well and will get mixed up with my husband.
Nicole reaction, was in sync with what I thought. It’s not moving in in your house, yet moving in with your team/company.
Holger’s reaction is both good and bad.
– Although I still see myself as young, I doubt my children agree with that.
– I do have experience, I actually think I will bring lots of value.
– yes, I come to learn at the same time
– yes, I am willing to anything to help
Steve’s (Zurcherart) reaction makes me think, I burned down my parents’ house at 19. Not sure you want that 19 year old person in your company 😉
I consider working people as adults, I don’t want to treat them as children.
I want to learn, yet more the company culture then the language.
George reaction: mmm, not really want to be seen as cheap, usually people don’t listen to people they consider cheap consultants.
Leo’s reaction: I wonder if that is good or bad. these novels are popular.
Ron’s answer is really disturbing. (Thanks Ron, I like it when people push me.)
The part about not speaking the language will be true most of the times. I might miss local nuances. (It’s the main reason why we say that a CoachRetreat is done in the local language.)
I really want to do the job well. I wonder, is this the general experience with au-pairs or just rumors?
The last part; it took me 16 years to convince my wife to ask me to marry her. I’m not going to jeopardize our relation buy fooling around. And I doubt that is what au-pairs actually do. (Although It might be a secret wish of some men hiring an au-pair.) I will check with my wife to see if she has some similar concerns.
Do you know of other people doing this?
When I asked for help on the draft of this talk, I learned about a people who did something similar.
- Corey Haines had his Programming Tour
- JB Rainsberger had his European tour
- Sebastian Schürmann did what he called walzing
- Olaf Lewitz has something similar going on
- Scott Berkun worked one year at WordPress
- Daniel Temme had a one month walzing
- Rob Asthon: worked for free
- Alistair Cockburn is teaching around the world, without going home
- Ine & Catherine did the opposite: work from around the word, mostly for Belgium Clients
- Know anyone else?
So Yves, how is your initiative different, how is it unique?
- I’m talking about coaching, while most others was about programming
- I have 3 children (and a lovely wife) that I want to give a lot of love, attention and support. This means I don’t want to go away for months in row. Just like with the training I want to replace, it’s maximum 1 week every 2 months.
- I will be picky on the companies I pick. I want them to be a-typical. As I will have regular clients at the same time, I can afford that.
- With that family to support, I won’t work for free
- I will do paircoaching: One of the things I am really careful about is so called seagull coaching. dropping some shit on a team and moving on without seeing the consequences.
- I give freelifetime support in this week
- As I haven’t been part of what the others done, I don’t know, all the differences. I will write about it at the end.
Do you care if people are actually using what you are saying? You said it was about learning, so if you learned something and the company is not taking your advice, are you happy?
Yes, it’s about learning, but learning as a coach: when I learn something that clients don’t use, I have not really learned anything. One thing that is constant in my life, is that I want to become more effective. Also as coach. Not learn fake stuff, this is partly why this works better than training, I still have to be able to use what I learned in real life. In that sense, my learning will also be verifying assumptions that I already have.
or as Nicole rephrased it so nicely:
“Your notion of ‘learning success’ is when you learn something new, apply it and see that the other person reacts in a way that they feel helped. Of course, then you need the other person to be interested in what you are applying.”
You are talking about learning and you still want to earn money with it. Isn’t this some cheesy marketing scheme?
That is a hard question and one I have been struggling with for a while.
Let’s start by making clear, this is not about finding new regular clients. I will keep doing the work I am normally doing. For my clients in Belgium. If this blogpost is related to marketing, it’s about finding companies that I could learn from. The companies I am looking for, are different than my usual clients, if only because they are outside Belgium. For full transparency, the first of these companies I have already contacted and they have said yes. I will be helping them in October. After I come back to Belgium, I will do a retrospective with the coaches I have helped and plan a next iteration with another company.
The money part: can I charge for learning?
When I was at university, I had a friend who was studying at the conservatory. He practised playing guitar on the streets. earning money while he practised. He even told me, it helped him to practise longer and better. As long as he brought people value, they paid. I think that was smart. I’m sure you can find people around you that earn money while this perfecting their craft.
Update: It took me a while to realize his money scheme was different. His “customers” pay after the delivery of the songs. And they decide how much they will pay, after he has delivered. I will experiment with that.
Will you always move to the country, what about distributed teams?
Good question. I just finished reading: A year working without Pants from Scott Berkun. A wonderful book. In 2005 I was coaching an agile team that was distributed : partly in Belgium, partly in Yekatarinaburg. I loved doing that. I am interested in helping out a full distributed team like Berkun did. On top of it, it would be nice if I can work full time on my walking desk.
What do you hope to learn?
- My current modus operandi; is to do long term assignments. I observe teams for a week and only then start giving ideas. Working for one week, I will need to change that.
- Most of the companies that are calling for help are companies that want to change the way they are working. You can see it as a therapist helping people in trouble. I want now to work with companies that are doing great and that I will help to become even better.
- I don’t know what I don’t know…
From the twitter remarks, it’s clear that the name au-pairCoaching is not the best name.
Will you help me find another name?
- BYOC (Bring your own Coach)
- JourneymanCoach: invented by Olaf Lewitz
- JourneyCoach: invented by Olaf Lewitz
- Distributed Coach
- Remote Coach: invented by Olaf Lewitz
- StageCoach: invented by Martine Vos
- CollaborationArchitect: now used as part of Innovation Games certifications
- CreativeCollaborationAgent: this is the name I have been using for a while…
After some soulsearching and discussing with friends. I decide to use Remote Coach. It fits well in all situations.
Do you know companies I should do this with?
Please tell me
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