What got us here won’t get us there

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My first coach was hired for me before I knew anything about coaching. Because I was constantly upsetting the status quo, my bosses couldn’t figure out what to do with me.

I seemed to break all the rules put in front of me, and when my mentors at the time tried to provide me with a one-size-fits-all solution to my problems, I could never get excited about executing on their suggestions.

But my coach was different. My coach asked me powerful questions, waited to hear what I thought the solutions were, then dared me to go out and do that thing, even if it had never been done before. When I shared with her that I had a fear of public speaking and standing in front of the room, she forced me to grow and take responsibility for my own experiment to get over my fear, trying out different tactics until I landed on something that worked.

In this way, I blazed through the upper limit of what I (and my mentors) thought was possible, reaching new heights while inventing a new set of rules.

Mentoring and coaching are not the same, though they can be frequently confused by managers and HR in companies today. Each has its unique place supporting leaders and it is important to draw a clear difference between the two.

Mentors primarily help by sharing their past experience – what worked and what didn’t – to inform decisions today. When you work with a mentor, you are likely benefiting from the wisdom of someone who has gone before you and will tell you what they did to succeed.

Right now, leaders are navigating uncharted territory. This year alone, it’s estimated that 1.7MB of data will be created every second for every person on earth. Imagine that: With so much data at our fingertips, global companies are now facing unprecedented challenges while asked to solve some of the world’s most complex problems. Most of the experts or mentors we would look to for guidance simply haven’t been up against these challenges.

In other words, what got us here won’t get us there

Enter coaching. The coach’s primary job is to help the leader find a way to be the most productive, highest-potential version of themselves. In whatever sector or business, the goal is the same: Arm the leader with vital, cross-situational skills to activate their full potential and help them perform no matter what challenges come their way.

Coaching is about up-leveling the person and their thinking – not fixing the problem. 

Google’s Eric Schmidt, when describing Bill Campbell – one of Silicon Valley’s greatest coaches – in his book Trillion Dollar Coach said: “Bill didn’t work the problem first, he worked for the team. We didn’t talk about the problem analytically. We talked about the people on the team and if they could get it done.”

Great leaders need both mentors and coaches. Mentors will tell you what worked for them. Coaches will develop your thinking and help you get to the next level of leadership. A coach will challenge you to get clear about what works for your current environment, and a mentor will tell you about what worked in the past, or in similar situations.

So when do you need a mentor and when do you need a coach? 

With coaching, you are required to generate the answer for yourself first. When you are asked to find your own answer – instead of getting a ready-made solution from a mentor (or book or a boss) – you can make powerful choices that are grounded in experience and learn from your own mistakes.

The business world we find ourselves in today is disruptive, constantly changing, and dynamic. It requires we draw on leadership resources like coaches to help us get better at powerful decision making. We are all now embedded in new and chaotic territory, building complex solutions that have never existed before. Make sure you have a coach in your corner before doubling down on a mentor. Ideally, you’re lucky enough to have both.

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Piyush Gupta

Piyush Gupta is VP of Product and Technology at Sounding Board and champions the voice of customers and users with deep empathy. Piyush envisions Sounding Board to be the first window of coaching experience for professionals and leaders worldwide. His approach is deeply rooted in proven scientific research, modeling human behaviors, and data-informed insights to deliver mindset shifts and desired business outcomes for organizations at scale. He believes that a world-class UX is key to drive simplicity that will lead to millions of professionals to access coaching for their development. Piyush co-invented the world’s first ‘landmark intelligent driving directions’ technology that led Google to redesign their routing algorithms for the Asian markets. For the next decade, he led two disruptive FinTech companies to the market leadership positions and delivered two award-winning products that serve more than 70 million users worldwide. His teams filed 20+ patents while he himself authored three patents. He is an active startup investor and advises selected AI-driven startups on business and product strategy. He is the recipient of the World Summit Award, one of the most prestigious international honors for product innovators. In addition, he is a James Swartz fellow, the most prestigious fellowship at Carnegie Mellon University funded by the founder of the iconic venture firm, Accel Partners. Piyush holds an MS in Software Management from Carnegie Mellon University.

Tommy Perkins


Tommy is at his best helping clients think through complex challenges in order to create a positive impact on their organizations. He thrives when interacting with others whether helping his team succeed or working with clients to build long-term partnerships. He has extensive experience consulting with organizations on driving their employee experience, guiding organizations through change, and working to ensure organizations are moving the needle when it comes to their results.

Most recently, Tommy was a Client Services Leader overseeing some of GP’s most prized accounts on a global level. His responsibilities included overall client growth strategy, retention, and satisfaction. He represented all of GP Strategies’ major business lines including leadership, coaching, and engagement, digital transformation, outsourced services, and technology implementation solutions.

Before GP Strategies, Tommy spent several years with TTEC Digital (formerly rogenSI) where he led the sales team,  eventually becoming the regional Learning & Performance practice leader for North America. While managing the P&L and sales team he also led the largest global relationship for the firm (Deloitte Globally). During his time at TTEC, he focused on delivering blended learning solutions that incorporate technology and hands-on training. Before TTEC Digital, he spent several years dedicated to strength-based leadership disrupting the business landscape regarding performance management and employee engagement with thought leader Marcus Buckingham at The Marcus Buckingham Company / TMBC (now ADP).

Tommy has had the privilege of working with some of the most well-known global brands in professional services, retail, technology, and healthcare including Deloitte, Facebook, Microsoft, Bank of America, Novartis, Gap Inc., lululemon, and Intel. Several projects he led for Deloitte were Global GNPS, New Partner Pivot, NextGen Partner Program Deloitte China, Present to Win, the RPM project on performance management, and Unconscious Bias.

Tommy holds a BS in Health Sciences from Texas A&M University, and an MBA from Universidad del CEMA.

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Lori Mazan

Co-Founder & CCO Sounding Board, Inc.
Lori Mazan is the Co-Founder and Chief Coaching Officer of Sounding Board, the preeminent global leadership development enterprise platform changing the face of leadership development through innovative technology for leaders at all levels of an organization. Lori is a seasoned executive coach who has guided hundreds of corporate executives through 1:1 coaching focused on business outcomes and developing critical leadership skills. Client companies advanced by Lori’s expertise include Fortune titans such as Chevron and Sprint as well as high growth and public companies like Intellikine, and Tapjoy, plus 10XGenomics, which became a public company in 2019 while top executives worked with Lori and the Sounding Board team.
Lori has spent the last 25 years coaching C-Suite executives to leadership excellence. Many of those public and private company CEO’s expressed that they would have liked this caliber of coaching earlier in their careers. Inspired by these experiences, Lori joined with Christine to launch Sounding Board as a feedback-driven, cloud-based leadership coaching platform that could maintain best-in-class leadership coaching while lowering costs to make it affordable and scalable for leaders at every level of their careers.
Before founding Sounding Board, Lori received her Masters’ in Adult Educational Psychology/Counseling from the University of San Francisco and a Bachelors’ in Psychology from the University of Virginia. Lori is an educator and has spent over 10 years as a professor of social psychology and group dynamics while acting as the interim Dean of Students at Holy Names University, She is certified by the industry’s gold standard, the Coaches Training Institute, and is a founding member of the Genentech Preferred Network of Coaches. Sounding Board is one of <3% of sole female founded startups receiving venture funding. In 2019 Sounding Board was selected as 1 of 7 startups (out of 100+ applicants) as part of SAP’s HR tech cohort, a group that represents the rising stars of the next-gen HR ecosystem.

Christine Tao

Co-Founder & CEO Sounding Board, Inc.
Christine Tao is the co-founder & CEO at Sounding Board, a Silicon Valley startup redefining how organizations are developing their leaders. Her extraordinarily rapid career growth to executive management in the media, mobile and tech sectors of Silicon Valley became her inspiration for founding Sounding Board. As she began to manage larger teams and be responsible for growing revenues, it became clear that she needed a “sounding board” to coach her on the development of her leadership skills. That’s where her Sounding Board co-founder, Lori Mazan came on the scene. A seasoned executive coach focused on leadership development, Lori coached Christine on real-world leadership skills that had a direct impact on business outcomes. Based on her positive and impactful experience with leadership development, Christine was driven to make leadership development coaching accessible to people at all levels of the organization.
Christine advises several startups, is a budding angel investor and is also a Tory Burch Foundation Fellow, a foundation dedicated to investing in the success and sustainability of women entrepreneurs.
Prior to co-founding Sounding Board, Christine was a Senior Vice President of Developer Relations at Tapjoy, a venture-backed, leading mobile advertising & publishing network. She led the growth of Tapjoy’s publisher advertising business from 0 to over $100 million in revenues in less than 3 years. Prior to that she led e-commerce partnerships and strategy at YouTube. Christine holds an MBA in Marketing & Operations from Wharton and a BA in Business Administration from UC Berkeley.

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