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For Three Hours Each Week, Morgan’s the Boss

Working at CoachAccountable is pretty great. We are truly a high-performing team (we both separately get a chuckle when people are surprised there are just two of us), and our mutual coaching background allows us to coach each other, deal with the rare breakdown in a matter of minutes, and make sure we’re both constantly present to our big goal (elevating the coaching industry).

Know what else is cool? We get to do whatever we want. Meaning we get to flip the script on software companies, startups, working remotely, and pretty much whatever else we want. We get to do things like not having a bug log (no need, no accumulation), avoiding a feature request list (we’re in touch daily with the din of what people are asking for), and creating “Morgan’s the Boss” (MtB).

What’s Morgan’s the Boss, you ask?  That’s our weekly ritual, Thursday mornings for a block of 3 hours, when we invert the power structure of CoachAccountable.  Morgan gets to tell John what he should do, rather than the other way around.  It’s Morgan’s chance to call the shots and prioritize what she sees to prioritize, and John’s at her disposal to execute on those ideas.

Here’s how MtB time occurs for each of us.

CoachAccountable - Morgan MeredithMorgan’s Experience

At the last software company I worked at, here’s how suggestions from the front lines were handled.

Support team: Hey developers, every day we have to do X thing about a hundred times, and we’re often stuck waiting for you to help us out. It’d make all our lives easier if we could….

Developers: Yeah yeah, that would be nice someday. But we’re really busy fixing stuff that we shouldn’t have released because it was broken, so why don’t you write that suggestion on a scrap of paper and burn it as a sacrifice to the gods of programming in hopes it’ll someday happen?

Support team: …

How I felt at work, pre-CoachAccountable

And at CoachAccountable, during Morgan’s the Boss I get to actually ask for things that make my and John’s jobs easier. And they get done.

I can request everything from a “Loved On” button to mark when/how I’ve loved on customers (consistent with my title as Director of Customer Love and Handholding), to blog posts that have been lingering, to updated images on the signup page, to a quick way to delete multiple old Worksheets.

John makes a guess as to how long the task will take him, then races to beat the clock and show off his work. He often surprises me with a bonus item, something like, “While I was building thing X, I realized thing Y would also be great, so I built it!” I enjoy seeing the challenge take shape, too; often I’ll suggest something, John will take it to a different level, and we’ll co-create the idea of the final result. That process animates both of us as we get to step out of our expected results for the week.

The net result of Morgan’s the Boss is that I feel empowered to make my job more efficient, John’s enthusiastic about having less busywork to do, and CoachAccountable as a whole is better for it.

John’s Experience

For me, Morgan’s the Boss time is a special kind of treat for several reasons.

First, I’ve been by-and-large calling ALL the shots for CoachAccountable for quite some time now, 6 years and counting.  Yes, I love the control and being able to play this most worthy game wherein I’m fully responsible for the outcome, but boy is it nice (and a novel change of pace!) to relax the ol’ executive function for even just a little while and settle in more simply executing based on another’s leadership.  To do so is to experience one of the luxuries of being someone else’s employee, one that I, as a long term entrepreneur, had largely forgot.

Second, MtB is a chance for me to truly play, even if for just a little while, the idealized role of the utopian egalitarian leader: I get to put my money where my mouth is in saying I value the input and perspective of others and believe in their capacity to meaningfully contribute direction.  I hope to always remain open to the insights that are not necessarily mine, both from CoachAccountable customers and team members, insomuch as I genuinely prioritize and act on them.  I’m fond of the phrase “CoachAccountable is a benevolent dictatorship”, and this exercise fits that to a T.

Third, some really good stuff gets created when we go according to Morgan’s priorities rather than mine.  Routinely dealing with different things as she does, she naturally has different insights into what would help the cause.  These insights concern not only serving our users better but also making her job easier, which feeds right back into serving our users better.  Time spent making her more effective is time well spent indeed.

Finally there’s a certain energy to carrying out Morgan’s tasks in a rapid, time-bound fashion.  We hop on a Zoom call, she tells me what she wants me to do, I say something to the effect of “Okay boss, I’m on it… see you when I’m done!” and I hop off and get cracking.  It’s a game to see how quickly I can knock out the task, and there’s a keen audience of one that I’m performing for (which is way more fun than toiling in isolation).  Focus and flow come easily, and being able to proudly show off something new and done is so very rewarding.  We hop back on the Zoom call for show-and-tell, and move on to the next thing.

And that’s how it goes for the 3 hours.  It’s not exactly instant gratification, but it’s darn close and I love it.


And there you have it.  Here are some of the cool things that have come out of MtB sessions that you might have come across:

  • Having a Worksheet as part of an Offering sign up process
  • Rapid deletion of duplicated items in Courses and similar Worksheet assignments
  • A tidier Terms of Awesome
  • This speed run video of setting up an Offering from a new account in under 3 minutes.
  • The former Affiliate program became the more aptly named Referral Program
  • A Support Services page created using Offerings, where you can book a time for help
  • The coaching hours log report (ICF credentialing, anyone?)

We continue to have fun rewriting the script and inventing new structures for how our company is “supposed to be run”, and we’ll continue to improve CoachAccountable in the myriad ways that our joint perspectives allow us to!

Happy Birthday CA! Let’s Recap Year Six.

5 years of doing it has me quite proficient at Photoshopping on another candle.

What a year it has been!

Version 3 launched.  That by itself is enough to mark CoachAccountable’s 6th year a powerful one.  I keep hearing of other platforms whose efforts to upgrade or release a new version end up being largely, ahem, a bug-ridden shit show.  No such problem here.

And what a relief to have that done.  Much of the time I was working on V3 my wife and I had a new baby around.  Suffice it to say that building a major revision to a system as complex as CoachAccountable when you have a new baby is challenging.

But that’s all done!  And young James, our second, is now 19 months old: largely done with teething and sleeping beautifully through the night.

With that lovely foundation of well restedness restored, plenty of other good things have happened in CoachAccountable land during this 6th year.

Since Version 3’s launch a lot of the progress on the platform has centered around a theme of letting you guys run the more nuts-and-bolts aspects of your business more smoothly, and by “business” I mean selling your services and getting paid.

We added support for automatic subscription billing.  We made it so that you could accept payments via Square.  Most importantly, we launched Offerings and Offering Bundles which allow you to sell your coaching services right from your own website.

On the more human side of things, the talented and charismatic Morgan joined as CoachAccountable’s Director of Customer Love and Hand Holding.  She and I represented at the Association of Coach Training Organizations’ annual conference whereat I gave a talk on using technology in coaching.

Beyond that sort of outreach, we made some lovely strides in making CoachAccountable itself more approachable for you, your colleagues, and your clients.  A beautifully animated 2 minute video explains the gist of CoachAccountable like never before, we finally made it super clear how everyone can install CA as an app on their smartphone through a groovy simple trick, and we got all our privacy-respecting bits in order for full compliance with the GDPR (spoiler alert: we were never doing anything nasty with anyone’s data to begin with, we just wrote up the paperwork to make it official :).

And we had the usual bevvy of technical improvements to make CA just plain run better for everyone: direct sync with Google calendars, bulk client uploads, a new thing called “Calculated Form Inputs” (which we haven’t even had time to write up yet!), and a steady stream of other enhancements and polish that make their way into CA most every week.

In summary, with all that covert work on Version 3 done and launched, this year has been a delightful and swift march towards a more perfect coaching platform.

It has been (and continues to be!) our joy to grow CoachAccountable into all the lovely things it can be in service of you guys as coaches.  We hope you love these improvements and that they’re serving you well: empowering you to do your best, most difference-making coaching.

AND I’m happy to say here and now that we STILL have plenty up our sleeves.  As always, can’t wait to show you when it’s ready.

Thank you to everyone who’s been along with us for so long (and to those of you who have just joined!).  Together we’re forwarding a most worthy industry, making it more effective and more approachable.

Here’s to the game!
John & Morgan

Prospective Clients are Full-Fledged Clients, and that’s a Good Thing

With the advent of our much-anticipated, oft-requested Offerings, you can now sell coaching directly from your own website. Offerings set up a seamless experience for your clients and prospective clients, with options to schedule an Appointment directly into your calendar, be automatically enrolled in a Course (such as an onboarding Course), and/or participate in a Group.

One of the great things about Offerings is that they eliminate the need to have a separate account with ScheduleOnce, Acuity, Calendly, or other such online scheduling systems.  This is because CA Offerings give you the ability to let prospective clients book intro calls with you directly online.

But Offerings allow you to give much more than just a way for those new clients to schedule themselves into your calendar:

» Continue reading “Prospective Clients are Full-Fledged Clients, and that’s a Good Thing”

Five Years

CoachAccountable's coaching software is 5 years old!

This year’s cake is actually vegan and gluten free.  You can hardly taste the difference!

Holy moly, that’s like half a decade!

As I look back over the (now quite long) path of this endeavor I’m struck by how thoroughly CoachAccountable has moved past the “startup” phase, how far beyond that humble “Yeah, I’m going to make a web app to help coaches and see if it takes!” hopeful state.

CoachAccountable has taken.

» Continue reading “Five Years”

Helping Your Clients Understand How You’re Going to Use Coaching Software

I got a note the other week with an interesting ask from Adil of Adil Iman Coaching:

Evening John,

Hope all is well. I love the software and I will be sure to sign up after the trial.  I am shooting a video next week about what happens in a coaching session and there after.

Are you okay for me to mention this software and if so what could I say in a nutshell to sell the idea.

Any suggestions or scripts would be fantastic.

Thank you for creating a great software.

Regards,
Adil

» Continue reading “Helping Your Clients Understand How You’re Going to Use Coaching Software”

Happy Birthday, CA–It’s been 4 Years Now!

You know I can probably fit like 2 or 3 more on there.

You know I can probably fit like 2 or 3 more on there.  Re-gifting might be a sin, but re-caking?  Totally fine.

Oh jeez, someone ordered the wrong sash for Mr. CoachAccountable, it was supposed to say "Happy Birthday". Oddly he doesn't seem to mind.

Oh jeez, someone ordered the wrong sash for Mr. CoachAccountable, it was supposed to say “Happy Birthday”. Oddly he doesn’t seem to mind.

CoachAccountable’s fourth year of existence since the 2.0 release got off to a groovy start with the release of CA Mobile, the appy experience of CoachAccountable for coaches and clients but without the hassle of having to find and download anything from an app store.

Then in January CoachAccountable got a named shout out in the Acknowledgements section at the end of the New York Times best seller book Always Hungry, for which CoachAccountable served as the platform for the pilot program upon which the book is based.

Tambre Leighn and company chose CoachAccountable as the delivery and community platform for their cancer survivors program, Well Beyond This. That CA Groups serve as a support group medium for participants makes this a project for which I am deeply honored to be a part of.

Along the way there has been the usual bevvy of enhancements and expansions to the system, including Course Whiteboards, Unit-Based Courses, Worksheet Image Prompts, and Form-Based Session Notes.

Beyond that it’s been busy times as the platform continues to grow and evolve to serve ever larger organizations and programs, so much so that my days as a one-man shop have come to an end.  The need for assistance to keep up has prompted me to create the new Director of Customer Support and Hand Holding position.  I’ll be introducing him in this space very soon.

Year 5 promises to be the biggest leap forward for CoachAccountable yet.  As usual I have much more up my sleeve to better the platform in order to better forward and serve the industry and the many talented coaches working to produce great results.

My many heartfelt thanks to coaches and organizations who continue to try out CA and find it a win for their work, here’s to another year of great coaching!

On Shitty Customer Service

Yes, the title of this post is crude and vulgar.

But we all know it when we experience it.  It can be maddening enough that any gentler term would be whitewashing of how it leaves us.

The other day I got an email invoice for my annual service with a company that, to protect the guilty, shall not be called out specifically.  It was for about twice the amount I paid for the previous years of which I’ve been a customer, and invoice contained these friendly words:

Thank you for your purchase! Please contact billing@____.com with questions or concerns.

» Continue reading “On Shitty Customer Service”

Terms of Awesome

Most of the legalese-filled documents like “Terms of Service” and “Privacy Policy” are lengthy, uninteresting, and full of jargon that is generally inaccessible to humans.  CoachAccountable has such documents and they indeed fit that model: they are fully vetted as legit and covering all bases by qualified lawyers, but that still doesn’t mean they’re not boring, boilerplate, and overall uninteresting.

Perhaps that is as it is meant to be to satisfy the needs and eventualities that can arise in our current system of law.  Fine, so be it.

But when it comes to outlining the parameters of the relationship between CoachAccountable and its customers, there really is (and deserves to be) more to the story.  Enter the CoachAccountable Terms of Awesome.

Written like a manifesto of the rights and privileges one can expect as a user of CoachAccountable, the Terms of Awesome is essentially an account of how I’ve been doing business with folks since launching back in 2012.  It’s been working well, so I’m happy to declare publicly that that is, in fact, the deal.  Read the Terms of Awesome here.

 

CoachAccountable Merch First Sighting

Baby Kira, sporting promotional gear.

Baby Kira, sporting promotional gear.

In fairness I drew this on a plain white onesie a few weeks before she was born.

Turns out demand for CA merch for newborns is really low. :)

On Being a One-Man Operation

Amid a tendency in business for smaller operations to portray themselves as larger ones to appear more successful or be taken more seriously, I submit to the world a proudly defiant confession:

CoachAccountable is indeed a one-man operation.

I’m delighted by how often that surprises people when they learn this, from long time customers to first time visitors to the site.

This setup works remarkably well.  Having marketing, customer support, UI design, copy writing, and actual building of the system all come from the same brain affords delightful efficiency.  Just the other week when creating a tutorial video I found places wherein it would be more logical to teach and more pretty to present with a few modifications.  So I just made those modifications to the software, and continued on with my screen captures (in a larger organization the marketer would usually have to propose those changes to the product manager, and if the marketer was lucky enough to have those changes accepted and prioritized, the product manager would have to schedule in those changes to with the development team, and then those changes would be made and released days if not weeks or months later).

But that I am just one person causes concern for some people, and understandably so.  One coach who was at the time a prospective customer summed it up beautifully:

…It concerns me a little that you are a one man shop.  Though obviously a very gifted, committed, and responsive one man (in fact I don’t like people like you who can make me – a mere mortal – feel like a sluff…haha) but there is inherent exposure for all of us there.  How will you keep up with supporting the system as it grows?  What happens if you (heaven forbid) were to get hit by the proverbial beer truck?  For those of us who could be staking our coaching livelihoods on a system like this, it leaves one concerned about the exposure and need for a continuity plan.

Very fair questions indeed.

» Continue reading “On Being a One-Man Operation”