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Michelle Duval: “The amount of capital needed to prove a first-to-market disruptive product. “

My big idea is to make personal coaching available to anyone who wants to improve themselves in terms of developing human skills and the optimal mindset for work. As long as you have an internet connection, you can have access to the F4S coaching app. You simply tell us a little about yourself in the work […]

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My big idea is to make personal coaching available to anyone who wants to improve themselves in terms of developing human skills and the optimal mindset for work.

As long as you have an internet connection, you can have access to the F4S coaching app. You simply tell us a little about yourself in the work context, and the AI-powered app will help you make sense of it for you. It will explain how you look at things, what drives you, what makes you uncomfortable, and more!


As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Michelle Duval.

As a pioneer into new forms of learning, Michelle Duval helped found the field of professional coaching in Australia in 1997 and became a leading voice forging developmental and transformational coaching worldwide.

Michelle’s coaching psychology methodologies and training programs are used by professional coaches in over 60 countries. She has also co-authored two international handbooks on coaching, and is featured in 20+ books.

Using her experience and research Michelle developed Fingerprint for Success (F4S), a people analytics and coaching platform designed to help everyone optimize their mindset for success.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you please tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My interest in the coaching industry was sparked by my early experiences in the hospitality industry working for 5-star hotels. My role at the time involved coordinating the visits for high-profile guests (like Andre Agassi, Richard Branson, and Pavarotti) to ensure that their needs are all taken care of during their stay.

Through this experience, I had the privilege of taking a peek into the lives of these individuals who are the top and elite in their respective fields. I got fascinated by the entourage of support each one of these professionals traveled with — ranging from dieticians, psychologists, chefs, sports coaches, and more.

And this got me thinking: How can I make this same level of support accessible to everyone so that we can all fulfill our potential in all aspects of our lives?

Since then, I’ve been working hard to solve this question through my startup, Fingerprint for Success (F4S) — an AI-powered web application that brings personal coaching to everyone.

Can you please share with us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

During my first international speaking opportunity, a man came up to me after the conference and said to me, “You’re wearing glasses to make yourself look intelligent.” Needless to say, I was extremely shocked and didn’t really know how to respond. So I explained that I needed my glasses to actually see things. He proceeded to tell me that I’m blonde and can’t be very smart so he assumed I was trying to enhance my image of intelligence by wearing glasses.

From then on, I realized that I was always going to experience prejudice based on the way I looked. And because there’s only so much I can do to my appearance, I realized that the only way I could break down these stereotypes was in the way I communicated. That’s why I’ve always tried to speak in a more concrete way — so that my words and thoughts would start mattering more than how I looked.

Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?

  • Understand who you are.

When I was 23 years old, I was struck down with several autoimmune diseases. And during that time, I was so ill that I was unable to work. As a silver lining to that situation, I had the chance to do what I like to call a “Ph.D.” on myself to understand what were my strengths and figure out what impact I wanted to make on the world.

After much reflection, I realized that the 1 recurring message that my peers, seniors, and work colleagues all kept sending to me was this: The biggest impact I made on their lives was being able to listen and give them perspectives on their situation that they couldn’t find elsewhere. And I realized that this was my very unique and specific ability, which was what led me down the coaching path.

  • Developing talent should be something that’s made available to everyone

There’s a lot of inequality in this world — based on nationality, gender, race, the color of your hair, professional experience, you name it. And it’s always been my personal mission to break down this inequality by making personal development accessible to everyone regardless of your position, history, experience, and so on. Everyone should have the support and tools to be the best versions of themselves.

  • The customer comes first

This one’s an oldie but a goodie. I came from a hotel management background where I was in charge of ensuring our high-profile guests are taken care of. In that setting, customer care was taken to a whole other level — I was expected to know what my guest wanted even before they knew what they wanted.

To this day, I’m very appreciative of how this customer-centric mentality has become so ingrained in me that it’s become second nature. I continue to employ this principle in the development of F4S. We’re constantly circling back to the essential question of “what does the customer need?” whenever we’re at a crossroads about app usability or product development.

Ok thank you for that. Let’s now move to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about your “Big Idea That Might Change The World”?

My big idea is to make personal coaching available to anyone who wants to improve themselves in terms of developing human skills and the optimal mindset for work.

As long as you have an internet connection, you can have access to the F4S coaching app. You simply tell us a little about yourself in the work context, and the AI-powered app will help you make sense of it for you. It will explain how you look at things, what drives you, what makes you uncomfortable, and more!

Now the really revolutionary thing about F4S is our other essential component — Coach Marlee, is the world’s first personal AI coach. You can chat with Marlee and it will guide you through your different personal development areas like how to increase big-picture thinking or how to communicate more effectively.

How do you think this will change the world?

Businesses and employees are struggling more than ever with human problems — talent retention is getting harder, people are feeling unfulfilled at work, and teams aren’t working together optimally. COVID has only made all of this worse.

F4S is used as a tool for organizations and individuals to address these challenges at a human level. When each person within a company is given coaching to optimize their mindset, motivations, attitudes, and human t skills, the collective effect is thriving in life and at work .

It helps both the individual in terms of professional development and the business in terms of the bottom-line.

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this idea that people should think more deeply about?

I believe that the “Law of Unintended Consequences’’ is most relevant to F4S in terms of the AI aspect of the app. There have been amazing developments in this area over the years. And we consistently and proactively think about how our decisions about these new technologies could be used for good or ill-intent.

In a general sense, I don’t think that the possibility of something being used for bad purposes should stop us from pushing technological boundaries because its potential for good may be infinitely more beneficial to humanity.

However, as we pursue the path of new frontiers as entrepreneurs, scientists, or engineers, dilemmas will always present themselves. When the time comes to choose at those points, we must always make the conscious effort to choose the path that’s for the good of humanity.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this idea? Can you tell us that story?

After many years of coaching many successful entrepreneurs, startup founders, CEOs, artists, athletes, and more, I realized personal coaching was only easily available to a very select portion of people. It was unaffordable, and there was a belief that only certain people deserved to be coached — whatever that means.

So there came a point where I knew my mission had to move beyond helping just the top 1–5% to maximize their potential. I wanted to use my coaching expertise to help everyone realize their potential.

Because who doesn’t want to understand themselves better, communicate more effectively, or have better problem-solving skills? It’s not just the C-suite executive or the CEO.

What if every single person within a company was given the opportunity to develop their mindset and human skills from an easily accessible coaching app. It’s not hard to imagine the amount of good it could do for both the individual and the company.

After I committed to making coaching available to everyone, I started to explore how technology could help me do this. And that was how the idea for F4S was born!

What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?

As I mentioned before, there is a common perception that personal coaching can only be available to the top 1–5% of those in their respective fields. Some haven’t even heard of what personal coaching is.

So it’s important for us to challenge that belief and encourage everyone to take control of their own personal and professional development — a coach can help shape your work motivations, communications, and attitudes in a positive way. And now, there’s a personal AI coach that can help you to do just that!

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

I actually had the privilege of being a business coach to many startup founders and CEOs of high growth ventures before starting F4S. And this was a big advantage for me in terms of having an idea about the mechanics of the startup world. So I don’t have as many things to share in terms of having “unexpected” problems coming up along the way.

But here are 2 things I did not anticipate before starting F4S:

  1. The kind of interactions I would have with people would be drastically different as a startup founder as opposed to a coach.
    Coming from a coaching background, I was very used to having authentic, open, and honest conversations with clients, business partners, and investors. And moving into the startup world, I was a little taken aback by how people wouldn’t always be upfront or direct about things.
  2. The amount of capital needed to prove a first-to-market disruptive product. 
    I started my first coaching business in 1997. So I’m quite seasoned when it comes to understanding the financials behind starting a company. I also had great investors to seed my startup. I have since learned that first-to-market disruptive products need more capital early on, to have the runway to validate and prove them.

Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”?

During my years in hotel management, I had the opportunity to observe the lifestyle of many high-profile folks, from actors, politicians, athletes, and professionals. And I observed that every part of their lives followed a disciplined routine that was always in support of achieving success in their respective fields. Singers would have specific food and drinks to ensure their voice was taken care of. Athletes would make sure their bodies were in peak condition with the right balance of training, nutrition, physiotherapy, and rest.

While I can’t have the same entourage of people to take care of me like the superstars, I employ that same principle of a holistic routine as part of my success habits. I’m very mindful of my food, how much I sleep, stress levels, and so on. I create a structure for these various parts of my life and try to follow it as close as possible. Of course, there are off days but the general framework is there.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

What’s the key to success? Having the right technical training? Connecting with the right people in your field?

I investigated this question in a world-first study, where I tracked the success of founders and found the common denominator between these high-achieving individuals (who either had between 6 million dollars and 1.2 billion dollars exits within 5 years, or profitably grew their business over 10 years).

What were the results? I found that their positive outcomes were significantly correlated to their attitudes, motivation, and mindset. Therefore, success actually begins with things like how you see problems, what makes you tick, and how you make decisions.

That’s why so many people at the top in their field access personal coaching to work on sharpening their motivations and attitudes for success.

But I’ve always wondered why it is that personal coaching only seems to be available for the 1% wheneveryone deserves the right to understand and shape their motivations to be the best version of themselves.That’s why we’ve created Fingerprint for Success — the world’s first personal AI coach in an app that optimizes the motivations, mindset, and human skills of individuals using people analytics. It makes personal coaching available to anyone with an internet connection — from the CEO to the mid-level manager to the new person that just joined the team.

Ultimately, my vision is to help anyone and everyone to optimize their potential for success.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Website: www.fingerprintforsuccess.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/fingerprintapp/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/fingerprintapp

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/fingerprint-for-success/

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