Happy Birthday to The Art of Coaching!

Five years ago, on March 5, 2013, The Art of Coaching was born. Its solid form landed in my hands on that day, and since then, it’s found its way to over 50,000 other people.

When it came into the world, I was a pretty content administrator in the Oakland Unified School District. I was leading a team of coaches whom I’d hired and we were serving some of our most struggling schools. I thought I’d retire from OUSD.

The Art of Coaching was my personal PD project. I’d been coaching for some years, but I couldn’t exactly explain what it was that I did. I knew that I loved coaching and that it had a powerful impact on others. And I remembered that when I started coaching, there were very few books available on the subject. So I thought, well, I’ll sit down and spend a year thinking deeply about what I do and how I do it—and I’ll write a book. Writing is how I figure out what I think, and so it made sense.

As I started having these thoughts, Kate Gagnon, who was then an editor at Jossey-Bass, reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in having lunch. Five months later, I had a book deal. I offered it to other publishers, but in the end decided to go with Jossey-Bass because I like the books they publish and I really liked Kate. (Side note: Kate reached out to me because I’d been writing for Edutopia for years. I’m frequently asked for tips on getting a book published—and this is where I start. If you want to write a book, you need to build a “platform”—you need to have readers. So start writing blogs, articles, whatever you can and build a platform).

The Art of Coaching changed my life. After it came out, my inbox started filling up with emails from people describing how it had helped them, and with requests for trainings. And so I started offering workshops and consulting and the book took me all over the U.S. and to Madrid, Nairobi, and Rome. I love traveling and am so grateful for these opportunities.

Most importantly, the book connected me to people all over the world who share a commitment to working in a curious and compass

ionate way that benefits children. I have learned so much in the last five years from the questions that people have asked,

the stories they’ve shared, and the wisdom they’ve imparted. As I’ve explored my leadership, I’ve learned so much about myself—some of which I shared in this recent blog. I am more hopeful than ever that we can heal the divisions between us, that we can heal the wounds of our past, that we can transform our schools into places that we want to work every day and in which our children will thrive. This hope comes from the connections that I’ve made and the enthusiasm I’ve seen for how we can listen, learn and grow in our work.


Here’s what I want to say to you: Take risks, big risks. Follow your dreams and your passions and see where they take you. My path to where I am now has not been a straight one—there have been twists and turns and seeming setbacks, but I’ve followed my path, knowing that my journey is mine, trusting that it would take me where I need to go. There have been terrifying moments and seasons of confusion and exhaustion, and now I am here. Looking back at my five year old book, and at the three books that came after it (The Art of Coaching Teams, Onward and the Onward Workbook) and I am so grateful for every step.

So what is it you dream of doing? What is calling you? What is that one thing (or many things) that you keep thinking about, wishing you could pursue? And what could you do today, before you go to bed, to take one step in that direction?

March 5, 2013, the first time I held my new book-baby!

With gratitude for all of you who have been a part of my journey.