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Archive for Ruminations

A More Modern Design

I wish I’d done this a long time ago.

With the release of Version 4 about 14 months ago I gave the aesthetics of CoachAccountable a spiffy refresh.  It looked pretty good to me and others, and I think it was no doubt a bright, fresh improvement on the look and feel of gray-heavy Version 3.

AND YET, even shortly after that release, we heard feedback to the tune of “Hey, the UI looks a bit dated… any plans to…”

Not often.  I don’t think that was expressed to us even so frequently as once a month.  Yet undeniably the sentiment was out there.

But I resisted it.  We’d just done a remix of the UI, and were well on our way updating screenshots and reshooting videos to match.  How daunting and disappointing, I thought, to restart that process once again.  It was a minority, fickle opinion, I told myself.  When we asked folks to clarify, or name specific elements, or point to examples of what they thought would be a better style guide, we invariably got back little to nothing by which to go on.

So I let the V4 design be while continuing work on myriad other fronts of bettering CA.

And then it was about a month ago that I read this article, titled Stay Calm and Learn This.  It’s a bit of a meandering essay on the qualities that software should engender in order to make the inevitable process of having to learn it more palatable to new users, and in it there were two assertions that really opened up my eyes to the opportunity of hitting the design drawing board once again.  The first was:

If a product is attractive to a particular audience, it further increases identification and willingness to learn.

Certainly anything that increases the willingness to learn on the part of new users is a huge boon. CoachAccountable does SO. DARN. MUCH.  Folks very much enjoy the power it offers, but only if they can be bothered to get over any initial overwhelm.  We do our best to provide resources and one-on-one time to help with this, and we do a pretty good job!  But getting a leg up on this front by merely having a prettier CA?  That’s like an amazing free lunch that keeps on giving.

The second assertion that hit me was:

Software is not free of fashion and group dynamics. We also want what others like, and gladly accept learning effort and setbacks.

Sigh.  As much distaste as I have to being a slave to fashion, this statement is certainly true.  That fashion applies to software is for me as much a revelation as it is a sheepish “well duh, yes of course” moment.

So, very well then: fashion it is.  The great news about fashion is that one hardly need to be a fashion taste maker in order to show up fashionable: you just need to be cognizant of what’s fashionable and suitably fall in line.

Right around this time, we’d gotten this note from a coach who’d just signed up:

Dear CoachAccountable, I am considering using your Team Edition product for our coaching platform.  I believe it has many of the features we are looking for at a competitive price point but the icons and design seem quite dated.  Do you have plans to refresh the design?  If so, when?

This was the same non-specific, not-terribly-actionable report, but nevertheless seeing it expressed so plainly once again is what tipped it for me: I finally decided the time was right to take the prospect of a redesign seriously, now freshly armed with pivotal perspective that made clear both the why AND how1.


There’s an old saw that goes “If you copy from one book, that’s plagiarism; if you copy from many books, that’s research.”

In that spirit, I say without the slightest shame that to remix the aesthetics of CoachAccountable and bring it up to more modern tastes, I did a lot of research. :)

And goodness, was it fun!  I perused mood boards and a wealth of pithy app screenshots, and came to be bewildering conclusion Good god it’s practically all cut from the same cloth… why was I trying so hard to differentiate in any way on aesthetics?  With every little style rule I updated, with every little piece of UI I revised, in some cases to pixel-perfect renditions of other popular (i.e. familiar and comfortable) instances, CA sure enough transformed into something that JUST LOOKS RIGHT, in step with the style of the times.

Here’s a screenshot that shows a lot going on in the old style:

I mean, it’s not bad, right?

And here it is in the new:

Oh, okay… yeah–that’s way better.

The lion’s share of the work took about 7 full working days, and it was satisfying work wherein the time flew by.  And that brings me back to my wish of having done this a long time ago.  I began this project thinking the current Version 4 aesthetic looked overall just fine and I sincerely didn’t know what those occasional outspoken critics were talking about.

NOW I get it.  As I worked, toggling back and forth between the current and new versions, my eyes quickly adjusted to the new.  By that adjustment, the old indeed now appears to me as… well let’s just say far less than it could be.

Seeing quite clearly now thanks to the comparison point that the new affords me, I humbly apologize to all of the coaches and to all of their clients that I wasn’t quicker on the uptake on this front.  I truly hope this new design will be a very welcome sight for all, and for a good long time.

Dark Mode

I’m told it’s very popular.  And I can see why!  To take this all one step further I did a little extra work and cooked up a dark mode of CoachAccountable’s very own:

Ooh, pretty! I can see what all the fuss is about.

You can quickly toggle in and out of dark mode by typing Shift-D whenever your cursor is NOT in some input.  This is hard to do on a mobile device, so you can also set your preference under My Account >> User Profile:

Setting this here makes it your default across all devices, and the Shift-D trick overrides it on a given device.

 

The new look in feel is now in place for all accounts, including for your clients.  It’s a sweeping change but everything is still in its usual place, so you should feel right at home.

Small aside: for just a little while you yourself can appreciate the same refreshing contrast by toggling between the version back and forth between the old and the new.  Just type Shift-4 when not focused on an input.  If you’re like me, you’ll find it neat to see what got changed by recalling how it used to look.  It’s a fun way to mark being along on the journey of CoachAccountable’s evolution, and I’m glad to have you here for it.

I hope you and your clients enjoy the new look.  Here’s to a better CA for all!

Note:

  1. Speaking of the time being right, it was also that week that Morgan did a demo for a group that was then considering platforms as an alternative to running their coaching operations on an Excel spreadsheet, and apparently on that demo a member of THAT group was rather vocal about berating CA’s design.  Well now, I’d say with that the gauntlet had been thrown down.  Who would I be to trip over the low bar set by the aesthetics of your typical Excel spreadsheet!?

9 Years: Happy Birthday, CoachAccountable

Birthday Cake with a big 9 candle

Easiest switch up from last year’s cake ever: I just changed the 8 to a 9 in a Photoshop text layer.

Goodness me, has it been another year already?  I don’t know about y’all, but this is the longest I’ve ever stayed put at a single job. :)-

As has been the case now 8 times before, I’m again delighted at all that we’ve put out in service of the coaching community during the last 365.

CoachAccountable has progressed on a number of fronts.  Perhaps most popular has been the addition of Course Pages and other course enhancements, which collectively put CoachAccountable Courses very much on the level with popular LMS platforms.

The addition of CoachAccountable Companies enables coaches and coaching organizations to effectively interface with client companies, including company invoices, company-wide engagements, and even allowing company personnel their very own way to log in and keep up to date within CA itself.

The addition of alternate appointment availabilities, schedule nudges, and a other ergonomic enhancements further closed the gap between CA’s Appointment Scheduling and other popular scheduling apps, making it possible for even more folks to drop yet another app.

We added a number of features that enable powerful new ways of interacting with clients, including Client Present Mode to make screensharing during sessions a great idea, and Worksheet Answer Comments to allow easy sharing of laser-focused feedback.

Perhaps most meaningful of all, we mapped out several dimensions of how to be a more powerful coach, including being accountable beyond baseline integrity, how to execute novel ways of wowing prospects into paying clients, and even elevating the pedestrian act of taking session notes to an art form.

These are novel dimensions that are not really taught in typical coach trainings, and we couldn’t be happier to be able to contribute to the delight that your clients’ experience of working with you, and do so in ways that go beyond the conversations themselves.

Speaking of going beyond conversations, one other big thing that got shipped during CoachAccountable’s 9th year is a completely new 8-email course that folks can sign up for when first getting an account.  It’s titled “Beyond Mere Conversations: The Magic of a Platform Supporting Your Coaching”.

It really kinda all falls under these umbrellas, doesn’t it?

This replaces the old course, “Coaching with Software: How to use Technology for Superior Results”, which I originally wrote over about 3 days in the Euro Cafe in Granada, Nicaragua back in October, 2012.  That one held up well, but in the intervening years it would be fair to say that CoachAccountable has gotten much more advanced.  So a new telling of the story of what CA brings and how to use it is very much in order.

All told, doing our thing in service of the coaching community remains very much a labor of love.  In spite of whatever chaos has been unfolding amid world events, Morgan, Jaclyn and I agree that there’s always a sort of calm respite in creating good in our little corner of the world; and we are honored to serve the vital, world-changing work that you all do.

Here’s to another year!

 

Interview on the Free Your Inner Guru Podcast

Leadership coach Laura Tucker is the host of the Free Your Inner Guru podcast.

What I love about Free Your Inner Guru is that the conversations are broad reaching and touch on so many areas of life: I always find the ideas talked about giving me fresh perspective or insight into whatever challenge I’m dealing with. Between refreshing nuggets of wisdom and the soothing ambiance of each episode (thanks to the music and voice of the host), it’s like a spa visit for your brain.

Laura herself has been a longtime user of CoachAccountable, and a savvy one at that.  (Indeed, how she weaves CA into her website with a client login and prospective client scheduling is a model specimen of doing it right!)

So I was deeply honored to be invited on to be a guest to talk about CoachAccountable, the entrepreneurial journey thereof, and the impact we’re looking to make on coaching through it.

Among other things, we riff on my initiation into the coaching world via programs with Landmark Education, the meandering path of getting CA from version 1 to something actually good, why Facebook is garbage (at least as a platform for coaching groups), and how staying oblivious to your “competitors” helps you do your best work.

Give it a listen!

CoachAccountable Turns 8 Today!

Like Version 4, this year’s cake embodies more contemporary tastes by eschewing gradients and rounded corners.

What a lovely year it’s been in CoachAccountable land!

And not just because it marks another year of not having any sort of bug database.  (I’m proud to report that the policy of just fixing whatever’s amiss, within minutes of me learning about it, continues to work swimmingly.)

CA’s 8th year saw a number of strides forward in service of the coaching industry.

The biggest, most widely-affecting change is certainly the release of Version 4, a bright new look for the entire app AND unifying of Basic and Team Edition (i.e. Team Edition is now available to all at the same, lower price of single-coach accounts).  Both aspects have been very well received.

We’ve added a few new integrations with other systems: Zoom, Apple Calendar, and PayPal.  CoachAccountable is now published as a ready-to-go integration on Zapier, opening up integration possibilities even further.

We’ve added more features to really flesh out existing functionality, like Group Whiteboards, Group Action Plans, access for inactive clients, support for multiple currencies, and the usual smattering of other enhancements sprinkled about.

We’ve added a third to our team, Jaclyn, and thus further established our ability to serve an ever growing segment of the coaching industry.  And by adding her charismatic and caring expertise to that of Morgan’s, we’ve been reaching out and having one-on-one sessions with the community like never before.

But perhaps the thing I’m most proud of in year 8 is the Webinar Series, which has really started to take on a significance not originally imagined.

At first, I envisioned a sort of “how to” series: clicking around the app and narrating the ins and outs of how to set things up and get things done.  But over this last year in particular it’s taken on a rather different character.

The Webinar Series

I still delight in folks wondering after which program I use I do those drawings. Answer: by hand, and with my daughter’s colored pencils. :)

They’ve evolved into lessons where I illustrate and make arguments for ideas to genuinely run a better coaching business and give clients more.  These ideas are powered by what CoachAccountable makes possible, but I spend very little time in-app showing nuts-and-bolts.

Doing that is itself fun, but the real joy is in the difference we’re hearing it make.  During the most recent one, Designing Your Coaching Business Model, one attendee said:

…That graphic?  Wow.  You’ve just made the roadmap clearer…  Thank you: you’ve just move the whole coaching profession forward…

You can find the Webinar Series here.

Looking Ahead

As I have said in this space most other years, we still have a lot up our sleeves to forward CA in service to the community.  And consistent with my penchant for secrecy around future app development, we ain’t sayin’ nothin’ about what that is. :)

BUT, just as you might gather from similar missives marking year 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7, you can rest assured it will continued to be powered by the insights and perspectives that we collectively get from all of you.

From me, Morgan and Jaclyn, we thank you all for sharing what would allow you to do your work better, and for letting us be of service to that work.

Onward!

Coaching Gone Viral

As the entire world feels the impact of COVID-19, social distancing becomes more important by the day. During this time many businesses are shutting down or scaling down operations, which makes some coaches wonder: what can I do with my coaching business during this time?

We’re keeping a finger on the pulse of the coaching industry, and here are CoachAccountable’s suggestions for the era of Coronavirus (as well as what we’re doing at this time).

» Continue reading “Coaching Gone Viral”

CoachAccountable Turns 7

The source file for this image is the first PhotoShop document that I could ever count as a 6+ year work in progress.

What a year!

What a delightful year.  When I reflect on the last 12 months of playing the CoachAccountable game, what’s most strongly there for me is a sense of calm effectiveness.

Morgan and I have forged a really strong stride of GETTING. THINGS. DONE.  Morgan’s expert handling of customer love and support, coupled with the elevated focus on heads-down work that I’ve taken on (it’s a little harder–though not too hard–these days to get access to me these days, sorry!) has led a lot of meaningful and creative output this year.  Fun things like:

  • The monthly Webinar series, with which we’re teaching powerful distinctions around how to be a better coach (with the aid of CoachAccountable, of course) that you won’t find anywhere else.  The growing repository of webinar recordings (available in-app) is proving a valuable resource for many.
  • Video riffs: me on camera riffing about a few topics around and behind the scenes of CoachAccountable, of interest to CA users old and new.
  • Interviews: we produced a few in depth interviews exploring ways CA elevates coaching work (and other topics), including Greg Bennett (“I close deals thanks to this thing”) and Joe Arioto (“I wish I had this a decade ago”).
  • Being an exhibitor at the St. Thomas Executive Coaching conference and a sponsor of the ACTO conference.
  • Some exercises in copy writing our marketing website pages that seem by and large responsible for nearly doubling our signups (seriously).
  • We’ve amassed a lot of love in the reviews posted about CA (big thanks to those who have so generously shared about their experiences with us and CA over there).

Plenty of new goodies to the app itself, as well.  Many expanded CA’s capacity to help you run a better business, but still also plenty of other features that make the coaching itself better (and give your clients more):

  • Engagements, CA’s system for managing coaching packages that entail appointment allocations and/or recurring billing.
  • Client Agreements, CA’s way to let you issue and manage formal agreements (legal and otherwise) with your clients (including collecting signatures, allowing you to drop services like DocuSign).
  • Full-fledged sync with Microsoft Outlook calendars.
  • New reports: Coach Touchpoints and ICF-style logging of coaching hours.
  • Group Whiteboards, Group Action Projects, Group Files area, and Group member profiles.

Plus the usual bevvy of other tweaks, enhancements, little additions, and bits of polish as we continue our usual march towards a more perfect CoachAccountable (and my usual thanks go out to the many CA users to continue to share their insight and perspectives to inform that march!).

It’s all been (and continues to be) a lot of fun as we fire creatively on most or all cylinders.  On top of that, it’s been very calm as we’ve gone along doing so much, even amid doubled sign ups.

I know I say this every year (but in my defense it always turns out to be true, per subsequent year-in-reviews like this), but there’s still plenty more up our sleeves as we continue to build the best darn coaching platform we can.

Thank you to all who have joined us on the journey.  That you’ve done the work to find your way around CA and wield it in your work means the world to me.  Onward we go!

Cheers,

Interview with Joe Arioto of MetaGrowth Ventures

Joe Arioto of MetaGrowth Ventures has done 16,000 coaching hours and has at times coached 90+ individuals on a rolling basis.

Early on as a user of CoachAccountable he reached out to let me know he was pleased with the system, and wish he’d had it a decade ago.

Given that, you can imagine I was quite keen to talk more, figuring Joe’s insights and perspective from such a seasoned career would be worth sharing.  He did not disappoint!

Some of the topics we covered:

  • Challenges with coaching 90+ individuals (1:52)
  • On charging a higher fee (15:15)
  • Goal Setting and Planning (22:18)
  • Why accountability & tracking is important (29:02)
  • What makes a compelling coaching offer(34:20)
  • Better client rapport with personality profiling (46:10)
  • The difference CoachAccountable makes (52:42)

Thanks Joe for meeting with me in the studio and sharing your expertise!

Join Us: In-Person Coach Meetups in Los Angeles

Every week we hear a few requests for some sort of users group, some opportunity to connect with other coaches.

While our monthly webinar series has proven a successful time for education and group contribution, there’s still more room for community.

So we’re trying something new: an in-person coaches meetup in Los Angeles, California.

Los Angeles Coaches and Mentors Meetup

» Continue reading “Join Us: In-Person Coach Meetups in Los Angeles”

Why there is no CoachAccountable app in any app store, and probably never will be

Wondering if there’s a CoachAccountable app, or if we’re gonna make one and get it all up in the app stores?

The answer is no, and here’s why. » Continue reading “Why there is no CoachAccountable app in any app store, and probably never will be”

Six years later, STILL intentionally oblivious to “competitors”

It was back in 2013 when I publicly declared my policy of maintaining oblivion around other coaching platforms, and here in 2019 I’m happy to say that policy still holds.

These six years later folks still ask us how CoachAccountable stacks up against other platforms, and we remain unable to give any substantive answer to the question.

This may seem a flippant (if not outright ignorant!) position, but this 2-minute video riff explains:

As I say in the video, there are a lot other people doing great work in the space, each working to forward the institution of coaching through platforms that might operate in ways comparable to CoachAccountable.  We hear now and then someone’s comparing us to CoachLogix, or that they’re looking for an alternative to FinishAgent, or someone will ask “Hey have you heard of Coachmetrix… or Coaching Lobby… or…”.  We used to hear some folks preferred Satori (though much less since we released Offerings).

These are all just glancing understandings of the competitive landscape, and that’s good enough.  We remain content to stay out of any features arms race, and are happy instead to continue taking our lead from our customers when it comes to insight and direction on how to better CoachAccountable.

We get hints often enough that we’re on the right track.  People seem to like us enough on Capterra and just this morning ago I got an email that mentioned “Upon first glance your software seems to be the most comprehensive for coaching that I have seen”.

But ultimately it’s up to you to explore and come to your own conclusion: the choice of platform that powers your coaching practice is important enough to get right.

Be it with CoachAccountable or something else, we hope you find what will best serve your coaching!