Trust wins all. Without trust you have nothing. Forget about what you don’t have and focus on what you do have with the team, the clients, the potential and the long game and they will bring you what you may be missing. It is a win win.
As a part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kristy McCann Flynn, Founder & CEO of GoCoach.
Kristy has 15 years of experience as a Strategic Human Resource Leader, Change Manager and Organizational Development Expert. She has served in senior leadership positions throughout her career most notably with Pearson Education and Constant Contact. Kristy brings a big picture perspective and a hands-on, tactical approach to her leadership that she is now bringing to life with GoCoach where she is CEO & Founder. Kristy’s goal has always been to help and educate others to meet their ultimate success. She is now converting this energy into a company whose mission is to help and educate others to own their career.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Asa former HR executive, I was really frustrated seeing good people leave companies due to lack of professional development. I was sick of seeing us firing good coachable people who just needed to hone their skills. It was exhausting. People are companies, and it’s our job to advance them so they can advance everyone. So I left the corporate life, cashed in my retirement, and created a company that provides personalized professional development to everyone at anytime. My goal is to alleviate the skills gap in this country and to produce happier and more empowered employees.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Wow, there have been so many! Every day is a story when you are learning, building and educating others and every story is a blessing and opportunity. I think my favorite is how we began. A group of dedicated, like minds came together to say enough is enough and we need to educate and help other people. The team has sacrificed life, family, dollars and time to build something in the wee hours of the night to help other people. We worked hard and tirelessly to ensure we were building educational opportunity for all. It’s been 18 months since we came together in December of 2017 to map out how to provide continuous education for all and we are still going strong with our dedication, passion and strategy to make lifelong learning accessible to all.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I am pretty sure I messed up every day. What made it great is I have a team to support me and our mission even when faced with failure. The funniest story actually started as a defeat when we had an investor meeting that went very bad very quick. It started with the investor who we’d been communicating with for 6 months telling me that the big meeting we were ready to for was only a first meeting as far as they were concerned. It went downhill from there pretty quickly. We had to explain what coaching was as this investor spoke about how much money he pays his therapist, what medications he was on, and how he wasn’t sure if he liked our name GoCoach because in his mind it was confusing (we provide coaching to all working professionals entry level to executive level in hard and soft skills). Long story short, we walked out of the meeting scratching our heads, and determined to never let someone make us feel that way again. 4 months later (we have been in business for a year), we’ve captured a great corner of the market and have the plans and potential to do so much more. We’re speaking with investors who value how professional development is a win all for companies, employees, and bottom lines. Funniest moment was when we were in these good meetings, and my team commented on how nice it felt to be treated like professional human beings. We laughed and agreed that we will never be steamrolled, and we’re committed to aligning ourselves with the right people who care about people and education.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
As you can probably tell, we do not compromise on our people or values. They are our bottom line with who we are, how we will educate and serve others, and how we can bring education to anyone, anytime. Our diversity of thought, identity, values, and ethics is what defines us and how we use these components is what makes us unique. We’ve gotten offers from investors that we’ve turned down because the fit wasn’t right. And we’ve declined client agreements because their vision for bringing coaching into their organization wasn’t compatible with our vision or values. Because we operate this way, our clients can trust the work we’re doing with them, and that their employees are in good hands with our coaches. We’re here to help, and we will make sure that those who need help and learning will have access to that.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We have lots going on to bring personalized learning to everyone through our coach marketplace and mobile application where we make coaching affordable and accessible to all. We cannot wait to tap into career readiness for college students and middle America to advance their job skills, while providing access for anyone to upskill anytime. I think the most exciting project is the project of us as a team as we continue to advance ourselves to help advance others. It is limitless, humbling and euphoric at the same time. When you help others, you feel it and so do they and it creates so much opportunity for everyone.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
Don’t sell out — ever. Give a piece of your company to those that matter- who will help others and not just advance a bottom line. Lay your stake through who we are and not what they want you to be. Stay true to your intentions and be better than just a tagline. We are female founders for a reason. It is our diversity that will produce greater returns for so many people. We see the long game and not the short game, and we need to work and help others to see and think beyond a minute and bottom line but of what will matter long term for others.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
Every person is different — so meet them where the person is and not where others on the team are. Situational leadership with a servant leadership focus matters because it will provide a foundational aspect of diversity and inclusion that will advance many others. Meet people where they are, and you can build anything with each other everywhere.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Particular person- absolutely not. Many, many people, YES! At an early age I understood the power of people that can ignite anything when good intentions are at the forefront. What guided me was friending, working and learning from many people that have the best intentions of others. That list is very long and I wouldn’t even know where to start. In addition, I have learned from many that did not have best intentions but a singular bottom line of themselves. They are in essence a huge learning lesson and experience within itself. While I don’t see these people with good intentions, they taught me, educated me and provided a lens of what does not work and why me or GoCoach and the team will never be that. In a weird way they were a guiding lights and needed inflection to see the full spectrum and reality. When you build something with others, you want to ensure they are part of the building and the how. When they are not, well, they are just the other guys which is even more obvious in our times today. We do our job for others- we are not the other ones who don’t.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Every trip, every tumble, every scrape, every bruise and even every break was all worth it. It had to happen to see a holistic picture of everyone. I was built out of anger — from childhood to adult. I am funneling that anger into a place that provides education in a safe and supportive way where no one is left behind and becomes a learning home for anyone. I created GoCoach to be a home to the many of me that endured, fought and feared the inhuman components of work. We have a war on talent and a job skills shortage because companies gave up on us — — — and we gave up on them. We are bringing the balance back with investment in people to lead to engagement & empowerment that champions change and diversity that drives an inclusive workforce of potential.
What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
5 Leadership lessons:
1) No ego. When you have an ego, it prevents you from being vulnerable and learning from others. I consistently put my ego in my back pocket to continue to learn from the many people I’ve helped over the years (and beyond) to evolve the company.
2) Trust wins all. Without trust- you have nothing. Forget about what you don’t have and focus on what you do have with the team, the clients, the potential and the long game and they will bring you what you may be missing. It is a win win.
3) Hold up the mirror. Many days are great, some are mixed and even ugly. What matters if you can hold a mirror to yourself and still see you and your intention in good days and bad. So, hold a mirror to yourself every day to ensure you are not losing yourself and others on things that don’t matter. Focus on what matters and live it every day.
4) Live the fourth. Living the fourth often gets associated with Star Wars but it’s true meaning comes from something I learned in my Jesuit education that I had access to thanks to my parents sacrificing everything. In living the 4th, it means to evaluate, reflect and plan for the next day where you serve others as your best and most authentic self. It is not easy, I am still learning it every day, but it brings balance to you, your whole self and what you can bring to others.
5) Servant leadership — in its most simplistic form — Serve your people and they will serve you.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
GoCoach is a bridge to education for all. Once we build this bridge, I will move on to create the “Save the World” VC which will only invest in companies that save the world. Our focus will be education, climate, homeless, pollution, animals and anything that can save our world for our future of tomorrow for our families.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Less is more. Focus on what matters and it becomes simple. When we over tech and architect everything we lose our human element. If we lose our human element, then what is really life? An algorithm? A bot? A complicated code that tries to define us? Focus on what matters — use tech as an access point and not a solution and we all win. I generated this response from what I compiled and learned from Darwin, Malcolm Gladwell and Stephen Hawkins.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Yes, US- Obama, Ariana Huffington, Leana Wen, Parkland students, Deb Quazzo, — World- Bono, JK Rowling, Malcolm Gladwell