Careers are rarely a straight path. They zig and they zag and they often have moments of outsized importance in terms of what might happen next. These can be opportunities to leap frog to the next level or keep you stuck treading water working on the same types of projects over and over. I remember one of these turning points in my own career came when I joined TripAdvisor. I had the good fortune to work with a stellar leader who challenged me with a big initiative.
I made the most of that opportunity in large part—due to an unfair advantage. For the first time in my career, I got the chance to work with a coach. My coach helped me see things I couldn’t see on my own, and the personalized guidance made all the difference. He helped me reinforce my strengths, identify my blind spots, sharpen my strategic thinking, and tailor my communication to the priorities of the executive team.
I remember thinking to myself: “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”.
Then, I realized why. I didn’t get a coach sooner because I never had the opportunity. For the first time, I was senior enough and lucky enough for my company to offer me the support I needed to reach the next level.
But, that level of support is only available to a privileged few. You shouldn’t have to wait for a company to choose you to be more successful.
A few months ago, Victoria Young and I started a new company to change that. Our mission is to make professional guidance more accessible—so you can choose yourself.
From a young age, we learn how to learn. Embedded into the daily life of every student is a loop consisting of three steps:
After those early years, the loop breaks down for many people. There are lots of ways to acquire knowledge (blogs, podcasts, books, courses, etc.), but limited opportunities to put that knowledge into practice & get support in a low pressure setting.
Managers are supposed to fill that gap, but they rarely do.
Many world-class performers have a secret superpower—they reach the next level with the 1:1 support of coaches and mentors, not by consuming hours of YouTube learning content. 96% of people who have engaged a coach would do it again.
Yet, the people who could benefit the most from more support don’t have access. Exceptional coaches are prohibitively expensive; exceptional mentors are notoriously hard to find.
People are ambitious. In fact, they are so ambitious that existing solutions often fall short of helping them achieve those ambitious goals.
We can see this clearly in how people feel about the support they are getting at work. In a recent survey, over half of people felt their managers fell short of their expectations, over 70% are dissatisfied with the development resources at work, and nearly 90% turn to someone other than their boss for guidance.
Today, nearly 90% of people say work is more stressful than 5 years ago and 85% of people say issues at work negatively affect their home life. Thankfully, there has been a rise in mental health awareness. More people than ever are attending weekly therapy sessions, mastering meditation, and taking necessary steps to be happier and more mindful.
But, these steps can only go so far if the root cause remains.
Work is changing. These changes were already afoot, but the pandemic snapped priorities into sharper focus. We want more ownership, more flexibility, and more control over the time we spend staring into Zooms, typing away in Slack, and responding to comments in Google Docs.
People are seeking greater rewards from their work, both intrinsically and extrinsically. They want to enjoy what they are doing more and get fairly compensated for it. The “great resignation” is not about people being passively resigned to their fate, but actively embracing the diversity and pace of opportunity available today.
Work, at its best, can be a way we tap into flow, express our greatest strengths, and collaborate meaningfully with others we respect, admire, and can learn from. But most people don’t get to experience work the way it could be, which is why we’re building Scale.
It’s been just over three months since we shared early Scale prototypes with a few friends. We’re grateful to our supporters who have helped us learn, and we’re excited to share our plans for the future.
We’ve honed in on three questions critical to the future of professional development:
If you’re anything like us, you have a growing stack of unread newsletters, saved tweets, downloaded podcast episodes, online courses to complete, and unopened books to read. It’s easier than ever to acquire knowledge, but harder than ever to turn theory and concepts into workplace results.
We are very early, but making some nice headway towards a more effective, more personalized way to learn. In the fall, we launched Guided Sprints: intensive, practice-driven, 4-week programs supported by a 1:1 coach.
We’re already seeing the results. Most learning is a consumptive experience that leaves application as an “exercise to the reader”. As a result, people struggle to connect the dots between what they’ve learned and the challenges they face. In contrast, Guided Sprints encourage people to immediately apply what they’ve learned to their own situation—giving them the opportunity to deconstruct and reconstruct new ideas likes LEGO blocks—all with the support of a coach.
Finding a coach is extremely challenging. Affording one is equally difficult. The traditional format for coaching—60 minute live sessions—is often inefficient, inconsistent, and expensive.
We believe coaching needs to be reinvented, the same way Noom reinvented nutritional counseling, Peloton reinvented personal training, and Headspace reinvented mindfulness guidance. In addition to rethinking the relationship between a person and a 1:1 provider, each of these services provides a better way to track progress.
Today, almost every area of our lives is quantified, from our glucose spikes to the number of mindful minutes we have per day. Yet, where we invest so much of our time, energy, and hearts—work—is largely only measured based on whatever title or salary we receive. What if we can also track our personal progress in key areas of work like influence, creativity, or negotiations? And what if coaches were able to better support people by having that data as well?
We see a future where there’s far more insight into the specific skills, behaviors mindsets, and approaches that lead to successful outcomes at work.
Work was never meant to be done in a silo, without support or without community. In the past, people found their community in the office. Of course, today that is changing. The prevalence of remote work has eroded the deep relationships and work dynamics that existed in the past.
But, remote work is just one factor. As work becomes more fluid & dynamic, many office relationships have become more ephemeral. Even if people don’t see a future for themselves in their current job or company, that doesn’t mean they should feel adrift.
Now is the time to re-imagine professional interactions in a way that makes people feel less alone, more connected, and part of something larger than their individual roles. Work can be a fulfilling, lifelong pursuit when people are supported in staying connected to their strengths and the most clear vision of their potential.
We believe that by starting community first, we’ll help people connect with a sense of work that is much larger than their current role. With Scale, you’re defined by everything you’ve accomplished, where you aspire to go, and your enduring role in your professional community.
We’re seeking fellow founders to help us build the future of professional development:
Scale is backed by top tier funds (Long Journey Ventures, Fuel Capital, and Tuesday Capital) and people who’ve committed themselves to helping others grow including Adam Medros (Former President and co-CEO of edX), Brian Balfour (CEO of Reforge), Cyan Banister (Author of The Ugly Duckling), Esther Crawford (Creator of Belonging Fund), Hiten Shah (Thought Leader and CEO of Nira), James Beshara (Founder of Magic Mind), Julie Zhuo (Author of The Making of a Manager), Lenny Rachitsky (Creator of Product Manager Fundamentals), Li Jin (Passion Economy Pioneer), Ruben Harris (CEO of Career Karma), Steve Schlafman (Executive Coach to Founders & VCs), and Yury Yakubchyk (CEO of Elemy).
We’re building a network of high performers dedicated to personal growth and helping others grow.
We know, we know. There’s a lot of communities and a lot of noise. Our goal is to cut through the noise to unlock practical insights from the minds of the top operators and coaches and bring leaders together to take action, co-create, and connect over key topics. Follow us on LinkedIn and sign up for our community to access upcoming exclusive live 1:1 coaching experiences, interactive workshops, and fireside chats with leaders from top companies.
Right now, we’re accepting applications for the Scale Guided Sprints, which provide you with access to an experienced operator-coach and interactive content to reach your goals, all while being part of a founding community made of the ambitious, collaborative professionals.
Cheering You On,
Ravi & Victoria