From Start-up to Grown-up



Decoding AQ with Ross Thornley Feat. Alisa Cohn - No1. Startup Coach in the World

Show Notes

Alisa Cohn is an Executive Coach; Angel investor, author and podcast host who has worked with C-suite executives at prominent startups (such as Venmo, Etsy, Draft Kings, The Wirecutter, Mack Weldon, and Tory Burch) and Fortune 500 companies (including Dell, IBM, Microsoft, Google, Pfizer, Calvin Klein and Hitachi.) She is the author of the 2022 Independent Press Award-winning book From Start-up to Grown-up and podcast host of the same name, which provides insights and tools for the journey founders (and all leaders) must go through as they scale their leadership.

She was named the Top Startup Coach in the World at the Thinkers50/Marshall Goldsmith Global Coaches Awards and the #1 Global Guru for Startups in 2021 and 2022, A sought-after speaker, Inc. named Alisa one of the top 100 leadership speakers, and she has keynoted events for IBM, PwC, Dell, and Citi. She is the executive coach for Runway, the incubator at Cornell’s New York City campus. She is a regular contributor to the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Inc, and she's been featured as an expert on BBC World News and in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. She is an angel investor and a Broadway investor.

Ross and Alisa talk about making a difference, direct impact, rapid skill acceleration & development, managing yourself, being successful, the speed of learning, retiring skills, leaders, asking specific questions, internal mobility, coaching, creating a new future, scanning the environment, updating your sense of reality, practice not being annoyed, acceptance, turning bad into good and re-framing before responding. The pair also discuss mentors, Martial Goldsmith, role models, being pushed, getting business, getting paid, following up, persistence, being distinctive, thought leadership, being overwhelmed, outrageous openness, go with the flow, bravery, getting excited, podcasts, compounding effects, exercise, building muscle, arthritis, momentum and TedX.


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  • 00:15 Alisa's intro
  • 01:19 Why Alisa is fascinated by startups
  • 02:38 Key things learned from leadership and coaching
  • 05:59 Hiring tips
  • 08:25 Challenges around role shifts
  • 10:34 Overcoming realities we don't like
  • 15:39 Key people who have influenced Alisa
  • 19:08 Getting on the Tim Ferris show
  • 22:46 Key things to help guide new coaches
  • 26:38 Thoughts of aggregators in the marketplace
  • 27:28 Alisa's final article
  • 29:09 Believing in yourself
  • 31:53 Nourishing your own identity
  • 35:38 Role shifts
  • 37:31 What excites Alisa the most
  • 40:26 Getting into weightlifting
  • 46:19 The last time Alisa did something for the first time
  • 48:30 Alisa's Book - From startup to Grownup

Full Podcast Transcript