We’ve read your stuff. We want you to come and talk to us about the future of social media as a coach. We’ll pay you.
It sounded almost too good to be true.
A couple of months ago I was broke and had no idea what I will be doing for a living in the nearest future. And here I was, invited to coach (something I heard about, seen in action, but never did myself) a big retail company.
For a long time, I thought that coaching is something I want to try doing. I always enjoyed teaching others — and especially talking to my friends about life, insecurities, success, and other touchy-feely topics.
I was always the ‘wise guy’ in the room, and maybe that’s the reason why I love writing so much: it gives me a platform to reach many people with my ideas and insights.
But if I wanted to become a coach, this was my ticket. I don’t have a coaching license. I didn’t study anywhere as a coach. But I was deeply interested in the topic of social media and content marketing, and I’ve attended numerous conferences and blogged about it extensively in 2019.
I thought it might be a good idea to try. Plus, they promised to pay — which came in very handy before Christmas. I agreed and bought a plane ticket to Moscow.
First, let’s discuss what introversion is.
I always knew that I love being by myself. When I finally got my hands on MBTI, I realized (and accepted reluctantly) that I am, well, an introvert.
There is a big misconception about introverts in our society.
People think that introverts are:
a) inferior people
b) they don’t like other people
c) they hate talking
Those things are not true. In fact, it’s the wrong way to view introversion/extroversion dichotomy.
In reality, there is a scale from E (for Extroversion) to I (for Introversion) and everyone in the world fits somewhere on that scale. It’s rare that you find someone, who’s 100% introverted or 100% extroverted. It’s usually a blend, not the extremes.
The key difference between someone who’s introverted and someone who’s extroverted — is in the source of energy.
When you’re introvert, you spend energy doing active things: walking, talking, climbing a mountain, etc. You do all of those things, but at the end of the day, you recharge your inner battery by being all alone and reading a book.
When you’re an extrovert, you love talking and doing active things. They give you energy. In fact, reading a book and being by yourself seems boring. It drains your energy (but recharges the introvert).
That’s the reason why so many people are confused when it comes to MBTI. They say things like,
‘Yeah, well I love talking to my friends, but is says that I am an introvert…how can it be?’
Very simple. You’re an introvert, and you love your friends. These things co-exist.
You’ll just need to read a page every time you talk for 10 minutes.
Imagine what it’s like talking to other people for 3 hours.
I love teaching others, and I love lectures. And before I started being more self-aware, I thought that being exhausted is the natural way things are when you work. It’s not.
Always look for work that recharges you.
The work that fits you, the work that you should be doing in life — is the one that gives you energy upon its completion. For me, it’s writing: even though it may be hard to write during the process, once I hit ‘publish’ I feel ecstatic. That’s the kind of work you should be seeking.
The coaching session went like this: I was invited to give a 3-hour presentation (paid $100 per hour), and then answer questions. There was not much input, so I did what anybody in my situation would do.
I created a PowerPoint.
Turned out, the company didn’t even have a projector screen available (although the office building was huge, and it looked like 500+ people worked there). I had to show my PPT from a MacBook to 5 people, which was awkward.
Once I arrived, nobody met me. Nobody greeted me. I had to wait for 20 minutes for somebody to pick up on the phone, and eventually, we crammed into a small room in the office, and I received the best encouragement any beginner-coach would (with no smile):
So, what do you have for us today?
Once I finished my presentation and answered some questions (this part went well), I felt drained. Exhausted. It was only 2 PM, but I felt as if I worked out for 8 hours straight.
I took the rest of the day off. Talk about being an introvert.
I was invited as an ‘expert’ on social media.
It was day before Christmas. I walked up the stairs of the retail company’s gray office building (everything is gray in Moscow: the weather, buildings, cars, and people) and I didn’t know what to expect.
But knowing that it’s Moscow, I expected the worst.
Disclaimer: there’s one thing you should understand about Russians. They are very hard people to get along with. They usually have 0 empathy (although the young generation is better), and they never smile. Especially if they were born in Soviet times.
I expected to be an impostor. I thought that the corporate people would look at me with disgust and ask,
‘Hey boy, you’re only 21, who’re you to teach us anything?’
To my surprise, they actually liked the presentation.
When I gave my presentation, I saw the way the corporate ladies looked at me. They liked me and my energy, but I bet they didn’t understand (or listen) to most of what I was saying.
I felt as if I was talking into a void.
All of it made me think about what the word ‘expert’ even means.
Of course, I am not an ‘expert’. I love social media, I love content and media in general — but not in the way that an expert does. An expert is static. They don’t learn. (They don’t have to, they’re experts, right?)
I am a researcher. I love the content phenomena and what the new media can bring us. I love talking about it and I love writing about it. Does this make me an expert? Probably, not. It makes me a researcher. An enthusiast.
In fact, I don’t believe that experts even exist in today’s world. One day you’re an expert, the next day — something changes (a new app comes out), you’ve missed out and not an expert anymore.
You can be an expert in social media on March 12, 2019, and then on March 13, 2019 somebody else will. We live in a world that changes every hour.
I came out of that meeting feeling confused.
On one hand, I congratulated myself (something I learned to do quite recently) on becoming a coach. I just finished my first coaching session, yay!
On the other hand, I felt exhausted. I couldn’t do anything else — and I realized that coaching is not for me. I better stick to writing and make the best out of my introverted nature. Maybe, 1–1 coaching would do — and I’ll try it sometime next year.
But I also felt a bit disappointed. Is that it?
I mean, I just coached the top retailing company in Russia — and I know that there are people, who are 40 years old, and they’re doing this for a living. They are talking about things they like, they try to be helpful, but in 99% of cases, nothing really changes within a company.
It seems to me that most coaches are just paid to talk, and they don’t really change anything. This is a weird way to teach others. It’s definitely not for me.
I would like to make changes in the world. I would like to use my ideas and insights to make a dent in the universe.
Maybe it means I should focus exclusively on writing, and let go of the idea of being a coach. Maybe it means I should try a different format (i.e, non-corporate, online, webinars, etc.)
I don’t know.
But I am glad I did it, and I am glad I learned something about myself — and the experience of being a coach. It’s not often that you get such chances at 21, and I am grateful for the opportunity.
(Plus I get to buy champagne and caviar for New Year’s!)
Thanks for reading.