Michael Bungay Stanier is the author of several books, including The Coaching Habit and Do More Great Work. Michael has written for or been featured in numerous publications including Business Insider, Fast Company, Forbes, The Globe & Mail and The Huffington Post.

Episode Overview:

A sought-after speaker, Michael regularly speaks to businesses and organizations and has delivered keynotes at Leadership, HR and Learning & Development, conferences around the world, including ATD, SHRM, IPL, HRPA and the Conference Board of Canada.

Balancing out these moments of success, Michael was banned from his high school graduation for “the balloon incident,” was sued by one of his Law School lecturers for defamation, and his first published piece of writing was a Mills & Boone short story called “The Male Delivery.”

Michael left Australia 25 years ago to be a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, where his only significant achievement was falling in love with a Canadian, which is why he now lives in Toronto, having spent time in London and Boston. He was the first Canadian Coach of the Year.


Michael explains why the manager only needs 7 good questions that transforms your leadership game on his book, The Coaching Habit.


“For the simplicity on this side of complexity, I wouldn't give you a fig. But for the simplicity on the other side of complexity, for that I would give you anything I have.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.


For the teachings that Michael does, he tries to strive for that simplicity and he thinks that so often we over complicate things. Michael is all about making things simple, practical and doable. For normal people, coaching is a little but weird because some people are being traumatized by their coaches.

For Michael, coaching is a very powerful leadership behavior to get the best out of people, get the best out of yourself and to have more impact in the work that you are doing. Part of the question that he usually ask is what is the least he can teach people and what is the least people need to have the most impact into the work they need.


“Spend less time asking people what to do and more time asking good questions.”


If you interact with other human beings in your life learning to be more coach-like which in the end is, can you beat yourself a little bit longer? Can you rush for action and give advice a little bit more slowly?  Being a coach like can be a little bit different for everybody.


“Most of us are advice giving maniacs”


Michael discovered that people advice is not nearly as good as they think it is because.

  • The advice they have isn't solving the right problem
  • The advice they have isn't that good of a solution
  • People preferred to figure this stuff out themselves and come up with their own ideas and their own advice

Michael also talked about the And what else…

And what else, comes with an insight that a person answer to your first question is never there only answer and it rarely gets the best to answer.

And what else is also a great management tool if you're going to slow down the rush to advice, asking and what else is a way of controlling your advice monster who is waiting for a leap of action that is trying to solve the problem and save the day. And you want to return this advice monster.

If you are saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?

Michael’s strategy question in the book says: When you think about innovation and you think about the challenges that brings with it so much of what great innovation is about and being clear to what the no's are so you can say yes to the stuff that really matters.

Every time you say yes you are rolling out a bunch of things that you can do instead of finding the things that you really want to do.

  • What is ghost coaching (Coaching the Ghost)
  • The difference between bad, good and great work and how to leverage it
  • The benefits about giving less advice and staying curios longer

Should you get a coach when you are stuck in a rut?

Michael says that you should not get a coach immediately. If getting a coach works for you financially and how will you can commit, that would be really powerful. But there are also passive voice that you can get unstuck.

Tips on how to get unstuck.

  • An accountability partner
  • Hire a coach
  • Read a book


I have made worksheet to help you get unstuck in a rut. Click here to download worksheet.


Michael's Do Great Work book provides 15 very specific exercises to help you understand what great work is.

“The inspiration in your past suddenly make sense”

Sometimes seeking out other people's advice it is a way of detecting from you going away from understanding what's my real challenge what am i going to do about it and how am i going to take this on.

“Everything that you do in work or in life is forge into one or two different buckets”

And on sudden points you have to move away from collecting advice and you have to move into taking responsibility take your best jazz and move things on.



Resources Mentioned:

Book recommendation:

Hot spot recommendation:

Connect with Michael:

The Coaching Habit

Box of Crayons


LinkedIn: Michael Bungay Stanier

Twitter: @boxofcrayons

Facebook: Box of Crayons on Facebook

Michael has created:

  • ‘The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More and Change the Way You Lead Forever', a new book about practical coaching for busy managers. David Allen calls it “a brilliant how-to manual ” and Dan Pink says “simple yet profound.”
  • The award winning and best-selling book, *Do More Great Work: stop the busywork and start the work that matters* 
  • *End Malaria*, a collection of essays from thought leaders about Great Work. $20 from each book sold goes to Malaria No More, and we have raised about $400,000 for Malaria No More.
  • The Great Work MBA, a virtual conference with 10,000 participants
  • The Box of Crayons' training programs which are used by Fortune 1000 companies around the world.
  • The award winning coaching tool, Get Unstuck & Get Going on the stuff that matters

Before founding Box of Crayons, Michael held senior positions in the corporate, consultancy and agency worlds He has lived and worked in Australia, the UK, the US and Canada.

Michael has an M Phil from Oxford, a law degree and a BA with highest honours from the Australian National University.

About Box of Crayons:

Box of Crayons teaches 10-minute coaching so your managers build stronger teams and get better results. When your managers and leaders make coaching part of their everyday work, they increase focus, resilience and impact.  Led by engaged master facilitators, all of our programs are highly interactive, engaging and fun.

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