The #1 Startup Coach in the World, Alisa Cohn, Reveals How to Get High-Profile Clients through Content

the secret to becoming a better leader, how to find ideas that resonate with people, and how to make writing a book easier

About the Episode

Alisa Cohn is a globally recognized coach who specializes in guiding startup CEOs, executives, and board members. Her proficiency has earned her prestigious titles such as the #1 Startup Coach at the Thinkers50 Marshall Goldsmith Leading Coaches Awards and one of the Top 30 Global Gurus for Startups.

Alisa's clientele list reads like a who's who of the entrepreneurial world that includes Tim Ferris and companies like Venmo, Foursquare, InVision, Etsy & The Wirecutter. Big corporations including Pfizer, Novartis, Dell, Hitachi, IBM, Calvin Klein, Tory Burch, and The New York Times have also sought her expertise.

In this episode of “Uploading…,” Alisa Cohn shares how she leveraged her content and online presence, particularly on LinkedIn, to build a personal brand that catapulted her career in coaching.

Today, we'll cover:
- Alisa Cohn’s early journey in content creation through her email newsletters and their evolution into major publications
- Alisa Cohn's strategy for content creation, maintaining high engagement on LinkedIn, and leveraging this to fuel her coaching practice
- The transformative impact of personal branding on LinkedIn for establishing credibility and enhancing business opportunities
- Insightful tips on managing resistance to feedback and the crucial balance between intention and impact in communication
- Stories of transformation with clients, highlighting a founder’s journey to overcoming unconscious doubts and achieving company growth

2 Ideas from the Podcast

Idea #1: Finding ideas that resonate with people

Alisa joined LinkedIn when she realized that, despite her many articles and a newsletter, they wouldn't matter unless she promoted them. She saw that the LinkedIn community was the perfect place for that.

After that epiphany, she started producing content to start growing a following. And it was building that presence and sharing her ideas, that she noticed that they actually resonated with people.

Some of these posts were simply a quote with applications in her life, or a client's life. But they were enough to get people thinking and talking.

That, and LinkedIn’s algorithm, helped propel her brand forward.

Her biggest piece of advice here is to look for the things that you naturally think or say or do that are noteworthy and make people interested.

This will become the content that you start trying out on whatever social media or medium you’re interested in, to get feedback and eventually get to a point where you really harmonize with the audience.

Play Segment (7:04 - 11:40)

Idea #2: How to become a better leader

Alisa has seen and worked with everything under the sun in the business world.

That means she’s identified a few key points that most people could work on and immediately be better leaders.

First is to have self-belief; it may sound simple at first glance, but a lot of people are suffering with imposter syndrome or insecurity or simply lack of confidence. Most people with these problems don’t even try, while high-performers are constant triers.

That, and their grit to overcome obstacles means they’re better equipped to become their definition of success.

The second tip is to create a community around you. This means hiring employees, finding backers, and people that can help you.

Though it could also mean building up a clientele. Whether you’re on social media or you’re in the community becoming someone recognized for their contributions and their insight.

Play Segment (19:45 - 21:58)

1 Key Learning: The book-writing process isn’t a straight line

Writing a book is hard, and it’s not for the faint of heart. Cohn realized as much when she started toying around with the idea.

From the excuses you make up for not even starting, to the winding road it takes to write it. And something most people overlook, is the structure needed for the book.

But an added benefit of having an audience to test concepts with means you can get an idea of what the book could or should look like.

For her, the book had to be separated into three big parts:

  • Managing you.
  • Managing them.
  • Managing the business.

From there it was really about writing every day and preparing stories to exemplify your points.

They don’t all have to be yours, though. In the case of her book, she brought on and talked to about eleven entrepreneurs about their own journeys.

Taking excerpts and snippets from the transcript she was able to further feed and strengthen the points in the book.

That said, even though it’s hard to write a book, take the leap. It’ll be worth it.

Play Segment (16:30 - 19:18)

Episode Timestamps

01:38 How Alisa Cohn found her way to coaching
04:02 Transitioning from corporate to coaching career
09:14 Alisa Cohn’s content strategy and writing career journey
12:10 How building your personal brand leads to opportunities
16:29 Details about Alisa Cohn’s book, "From Start-Up to Grown-Up"
18:42 Starting a podcast, interviewing entrepreneurs
19:05 The importance of self-belief and grit for founders
24:59 360 feedback, marrying intention with impact
27:08 Alisa Cohn’s advice for coaches looking to scale their business

Importance of Testing Ideas and Getting Feedback: “My advice to everybody is to just be on the lookout for the things that resonate with people and then begin to try them on whatever social, you know, medium of your choice helps you to test out your ideas. Because you have to be testing out your ideas and also getting feedback, which is this is not a good idea or this is a good idea in order to really see what's going to resonate with your audience. — Alisa Cohn [00:11:19 - 00:11:40]

Necessity of Self-Belief and Grit for Leaders: “You have to have self-belief, and that may sound simple, but a lot of people are suffering with imposter syndrome or insecurity or lack of confidence, and then they don't even try. So one thing about high performers, and certainly founders, is they are triers. They will try and combined with that, they have the grit to overcome obstacles because there are many, many, many obstacles on the way to success. So you have to kind of realize and not be daunted and afraid and upset by failure, setback, obstacles along the way. So I think that mindset is super important. There's no substitute for elbow grease. You must have, you must be able to work hard and have stamina to work hard. And you've got to create a community around you.” — Alisa Cohn [00:19:49 - 00:20:30]

Challenges of Leadership and Feedback: "You think, you know, you have this idea, you pretty sure you know what you're doing, and you have strong personalities, and in the best way, you've got conviction. So it's hard to listen to other people sort of tell you that there might be something else you're not seeing." — Alisa Cohn [00:24:33 → 00:25:17]

Marrying Intention with Impact: "Because you're the expert on your intention, but everybody around you is the expert on your impact, and so it's really important to be able to marry that intention with that impact." — Alisa Cohn [00:25:32 → 00:25:44]

Building Skills and Community in the Social Media Age: "So step one, get great at your craft. So you need to have reps, you need to have clients, whether it's for free, whether it's only not a lot of payment, like not a high fee, you don't have to, like, the first step is to get clients one way or the other in order to get reps and to get practice at your craft, to get better at your craft, find a mentor, find your own coach to really help you have that confidence of being great. And then I certainly think in the age of social media, you've got to find a way to get, to get attention by sharing your ideas. So you could build your own community, you could join another community, you could post on social media." — Alisa Cohn [00:27:09 → 00:27:45]

Episode Transcript & Castmagic Chat

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