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Book Summary: The Advice Trap – Be Humble, Stay Curious & Change the Way You Lead Forever

The Advice Trap (2020) is a practical guide to taming your inner Advice Monster. Many of us give advice compulsively because we’re insecure and want to control the situations we’re in. But that comes at the cost of alienating ourselves from other people, and stifling innovation in the workplace. Instead of jumping in with solutions, we need to cultivate a deep sense of curiosity and really learn to listen to other people.

Everyone hates to receive advice, but everyone loves to give it. Unfortunately, most advice is useless. To stop giving other people a piece of your mind, Michael Bungay Stanier – author of the best-selling The Coaching Habit – urges you to corral your “Advice Monster.” Stanier’s guidebook, which he describes as “a manual, a playbook, a studio, a dojo,” tells you how to make the transition from gratuitous meddler to helpful coach.

[Book Summary] The Advice Trap: Be Humble, Stay Curious & Change the Way You Lead Forever


Communication Skills, Management, Leadership, Business Mentoring and Coaching, Job Hunting, Career Guides, Business Management, Self-Help, Psychology, Personal Development

Introduction: Become a better leader by reaching for challenges, not solutions.

Do you ever feel frustrated that people don’t follow your good advice? Or end up drained by trying to help too many people?

Those feelings come from being in thrall to your Advice Monster – that inner voice that constantly wants to tell other people what to do.

In these summaries, you’ll learn exactly where that voice comes from, and why needing to come up with solutions all the time can be so destructive to your relationships and ability to lead.

You’ll discover how to master the art of listening and why asking questions is ultimately more important than giving advice. And you’ll see how all these things can help you develop empathy and humility, as you come to realize that you aren’t the only one with good ideas.

In these summaries, you’ll learn

  • why trying to save people pushes them further away;
  • how our brains are wired to protect us from stressful situations; and
  • why people try to sabotage their own coaching sessions.

Giving unwanted advice gets in the way of finding real solutions.

We’ve all had the experience of wanting to give advice when somebody is talking about a problem. Before we know it, solutions pop into our heads that we’re just dying to share.

So, why shouldn’t we? Isn’t it helpful to come to someone’s aid when they’re struggling?

Well, there are some situations where it’s definitely helpful to give advice. For example, if someone asks where the restroom is, it would be a bit weird not to tell them how to find it. But, most of the time, our knee-jerk desire to tell people what to do is actually counter-productive.

The key message here is: Giving unwanted advice gets in the way of finding real solutions.

Let’s look at what’s going on. Often, when people tell us about their problems, we’re so desperate to tell them what to do that we don’t really listen to what they’re saying. It can take a while for someone to get to the point. If we jump in with advice too soon, we run the risk of advising them on the wrong thing because we haven’t taken the time to listen to what they’re really concerned about.

Even if we do get it right, most of the time we’ll end up giving mediocre advice anyway. That’s because the majority of us don’t listen deeply enough to pick up the necessary information. Instead, we rely on limited knowledge and our own assumptions to find a solution. In our rush for a quick fix, we hold on to the first idea we have instead of throwing out a few and looking for the best one.

Compulsively giving advice also affects our well-being. It’s exhausting trying to solve the world’s problems and do everybody else’s jobs for them all the time. And if you’re a business leader, spending all your time stuck in other people’s problems means you’ve no time to look at the big picture.

It’s also no fun being on the receiving end of a barrage of unsolicited advice. It can feel undermining, like people don’t trust you to make your own decisions or come up with solutions by yourself.

Those of us who constantly give advice are our own worst enemies. By underestimating the capabilities of the people around us, we strangle innovation and exhaust ourselves. In order to break the cycle, we must come face-to-face with our inner Advice Monsters.

We all live with an internal Advice Monster – and it’s time to get it under control!

That voice whispering in your ear – the one that says you have all the solutions – is your personal Advice Monster. Your Advice Monster is an important part of your personality that developed in times when you were stressed, and wanted to feel more in control of a situation. The monster commonly comes in three personas.

The first is called “Tell-It.” This monster convinces you that the only way to add value to a situation is by being the leading authority, and always having the right answers. It loves hogging the spotlight and explaining, loudly, why its opinion is more important than anybody else’s.

The key message here is: We all live with an internal Advice Monster – and it’s time to get it under control!

The second type of Advice Monster is called “Save-It.” This persona is more subdued, which makes it harder to spot. “Save-It” types won’t jump on a soapbox to shout about their ideas, but they’re equally convinced that they hold all the solutions. What’s more, they believe that they – and only they – can save the situation, and it’s their moral responsibility to do so.

Lastly, there’s the most manipulative Advice Monster of all – the “Control-It” persona. This monster wants to convince you to keep a tight grip on all things at all times, or risk plunging your world into chaos. It teaches you that others are not to be trusted, so you must bravely run the ship by yourself – or else!

It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to work out how these Advice Monsters might limit our lives. They prevent us from letting other people in, and from being open to different ways of seeing the world. And they pile impossible amounts of responsibility on our shoulders by deluding us into thinking we’re superheroes – destined to save the world one piece of advice at a time.

So how can we get rid of these monsters? The bad news is that we can’t – they’re part of our personalities. They actually developed to help us deal with difficult emotions. Getting rid of them would be denying important parts of ourselves.

The good news is that while we can’t get rid of them, we can tame them – and make them work with us instead of against us. But first, we need to get to know them better.

Stressful situations can trigger our Advice Monsters.

Just as puppies tend to start excitedly yapping whenever a car passes, there are certain things that will set off our Advice Monsters and make them even noisier. To start taming your monster, you need to identify your personal triggers. Which people – and which situations – are most likely to set off your advice-giving reflexes?

For the author, it’s time spent with his brother. No matter how mindful he tries to be, something about being with his sibling makes his Control-It persona itch to come out and start managing the situation.

The key message here is: Stressful situations can trigger our Advice Monsters.

For others, being around strangers may spark their Advice Monster. Or being with people who seem less experienced than them. Once you’ve identified the people that bring out this impulse, start identifying the situations. Do you feel compelled to give out advice at work? What about in political debates? Or when you feel out of your depth? These triggers are unique, and will differ from person to person.

Next, start thinking about how you behave in trigger situations. What does your Advice Monster do when it swings into action? Do you give your teammates solutions they haven’t asked for? Or try and take control by filling silences when out on a date? This exercise might make you cringe, but it’s important to be honest. Having specific examples will help to break the advice-giving cycle.

Once you’ve got some good examples, you can start looking at the payoffs – and costs – of your compulsive, advice-giving behavior. We keep giving advice because we get a small reward for doing it. For example, you may feel helpful or smart when you come up with a solution. Or you may feel in control when you dominate a meeting. But there will be a cost, too.

Constantly giving advice can negatively affect your relationships and potential to lead, leaving you isolated and overwhelmed. In order to really change and grow, you must let go of immediate gratification and work on building a “future you” that doesn’t give advice as a reflex, or out of fear. Think what will be possible when you stop trying to control situations, and can instead just be with people without any agenda!

Instead of proposing solutions, we need to ask more – and better – questions.

Toddlers are famous for asking questions as they look at the world around them. Why are ladybugs red? Why are we eating peanut butter sandwiches for lunch? Why does that classmate have two mothers?

They’re frank and open and very, very curious. But as we grow up, we lose that vital art of asking questions, and instead start wanting to tell everybody else what we think. If we want to become good leaders, it’s time to get back to basics.

The key message here is: Instead of proposing solutions, we need to ask more – and better – questions.

So how do we learn to ask good questions? The most important thing is to keep them short and simple, and make sure that they are genuinely open-ended. For example, beginning a conversation by asking “What’s on your mind?” allows the other person to answer in any way they choose. Whereas questions starting with phrases like “Wouldn’t you agree…” or “Don’t you think…” are actually just statements pretending to be questions. They close the conversation down.

Once we get a reply to our first question, we need to quash the urge to jump in with advice, and instead ask follow-ups like “What else?” This simple question is so powerful because it forces people to dig deeper, and reveal any underlying challenges they might have missed.

Another great follow-up is to ask, “What’s the real challenge for you here?” Of course, when you get an answer, your Advice Monster will be screaming at you to come up with the perfect solution – but don’t. Instead, ask the person even more questions. Prod them into thinking for themselves about which actions they want to take. For example, you could say “What do you want?” or “If you’re saying yes to this, what must you say no to?”

A great way to end the conversation is to ask, “What was most useful or valuable here for you?” Giving someone the chance to formulate that for themselves is much more helpful than lecturing.

By starting to ask great questions, you nurture the most important quality you can have as a leader: curiosity. By taking the time to listen to the people around you, you give them the space to tune into their own inner wisdom, and build a sense of autonomy and purpose.

People will do anything to try and avoid having a vulnerable conversation.

By asking questions, you’ll notice something important start to shift: instead of being ruled by your Advice Monster, you’ll begin to adopt a coaching habit – which means you’re more interested in helping to identify challenges than coming up with perfect answers.

But sometimes, in spite of your best efforts, you’ll get stuck in a conversation that’s not going anywhere. You ask the right questions, but you still can’t quite get to the heart of the challenge. That probably means you’re confronting a “Foggy-fier.” Foggy-fiers are conversational traps that – much like fog – can hide what’s really going on. The good news is that the sooner you learn to spot them, the sooner you can blow them away.

The key message here is: People will do anything to try and avoid having a vulnerable conversation.

Sometimes, a conversation stays superficial because neither person wants to get vulnerable. So you settle for a safe topic that you both feel comfortable with, even though it’s not challenging.

Or the person you’re coaching could be unconsciously trying to distract you from what’s really going on. For example, they come into the session and talk nonstop about someone who’s irritating them. If you’re not careful, you’ll miss the fact that you’ve been completely diverted into “coaching the ghost” – analyzing someone who’s not even in the room! If that happens, you need to gently pull the focus back, asking “Why does this matter to you?”

Or – sometimes – someone will come into a session with an overwhelming list of unrelated problems, leading you both to get completely befuddled – a phenomenon the author describes as “Popcorning.” In this instance, you should ask them to select the challenge they feel is the most important and start there.

Other distractions include talking in the abstract – what the author describes as “Big-Picturing.” Or launching into long, detailed stories that don’t go anywhere – what the author calls “Yarning.” Much as we all enjoy a good story or theoretical conversation, these tactics are problematic because they distract from the real, vulnerable work. As a coach you should gently draw attention to that, and once again ask a focusing question.

People use Foggy-fiers to avoid having challenging, vulnerable conversations. By asking probing questions, you give them the chance to identify their own blocks, and move the conversation to the next level. We’ll learn more about that in the next chapter.

To have transformative conversations, you need to make people feel safe.

The human brain is constantly alert, scanning the horizon for threats. When it feels like something destructive is coming, it triggers our survival mechanisms.

When we’re engaged in a challenging or uncomfortable conversation the same thing happens – the brain jumps into action, sounding the alert to activate these same survival modes. As a result, we either go into “fight” mode and become antagonistic or defensive, or we completely shut down – going into “freeze” mode.

Of course, these aren’t the kinds of reactions you want when you’re trying to have a difficult conversation with someone.

The key message here is: To have transformative conversations, you need to make people feel safe.

There are four important tactics you can use to make someone feel safe. The first is to be on their side. Be empathetic and mirror back what they’re saying with nods of encouragement and positive language. Use words like “us” and “we” to show that you’re on the same team, tackling the problem together. If someone feels supported, they’re much less likely to become defensive.

The second thing you can do is to show respect, by making it clear that you are of an equal rank. Human relationships involve a lot of power play, with people sizing each other up to figure out who is stronger. As a coach, you need to give up that need for power and control, and be vulnerable with the people you’re coaching. Share your process and insecurities, and show them that you value their opinions just as much as – or even more than – your own.

Feeling like an equal will also give them a sense of autonomy, which is the third essential element in feeling safe. If people feel like they have a say in the process, they’ll be much more likely to open up.

Lastly, you should always manage expectations and never spring a surprise on someone, as that will instantly put them on edge. Introducing a structure for the session can also help put them at ease, as can assigning times for different tasks.

By creating a safe, supportive environment, you’ll bypass the survival mechanisms that shut people down, and help them engage in the kinds of demanding, exciting conversations that will change their lives.

To become a good coach you need to learn how to be coachable.

Even the most intrepid climber won’t scale Mount Everest in one go. He takes one step back for every two steps forward, making sure to rest and acclimatize to the changing air pressure in between.

Taming your Advice Monster and developing your coaching mindset will be a similarly gradual process. You may feel like you’re making progress, and then slide right back into your old ways. It can be frustrating, but remember: you’re changing the habits of a lifetime! Of course it’ll take time to get it right.

The key message here is: To become a good coach you need to learn how to be coachable.

The best way to develop your coaching muscles is through practice. Coaching isn’t something that has to happen behind closed doors in a special session. You can use the key skills of listening and asking questions in every interaction you have. Ask your family open-ended questions about their day. Quiz your colleagues about how they think you can solve problems together. Grab every opportunity to be curious and expand your worldview.

Coaching doesn’t only have to happen face-to-face, either – it can happen over the phone, on Zoom and on Skype. And emails and texts are great places to flex your new skills, too. Allow the coaching mindset to seep into every aspect of your life.

But in order to keep learning, you should not only practice coaching, but also practice being coachable. That means asking for feedback on how you’re doing, and trying to improve your performance wherever you can.

It also means getting your own coach. Being coached will help you identify your obstacles. How do you try to avoid the coaching process? What makes you feel vulnerable, and how do you deal with that? Getting in touch with these things will make you more effective in your work with other people because you’ll be more empathetic and understanding about what they’re going through.

Learning to tame your Advice Monster is a lifelong task. But, like scaling Everest, the journey is just as important as the destination. Instead of beating yourself up for not getting there fast enough, relish the process and celebrate your willingness to learn and grow.


  • Most of the advice people give is worthless, but their inner “Advice Monster” insists on giving it anyway.
  • Advice giving is bad for the advice giver, the advice receiver, the team, and the organization.
  • Learn to shut down your advice monster and become more like a coach.
  • Quality coaching requires developing a “coaching habit.”
  • Quality coaching adheres to three principles: “Be lazy, be curious” and “be often.” When you are lazy, you listen instead of jumping in instantly to give advice.
  • Ask seven types of questions: “kickstart, AWE, focus, foundation, strategy, lazy” and “learning.”
  • Instead of giving advice, help people identify their challenges.
  • Good coaches are generous, vulnerable, and studious.
  • Move past the myopic “Present You” to become the sagacious “Future You.”


Most of the advice people give is worthless, but their inner “Advice Monster” insists on giving it anyway.

You – and everyone else – possess an internal advice monster who loves to advise at every opportunity. Unfortunately, most of it is useless – or even destructive.

“You ask advice: Ah, what a very human and very dangerous thing to do.” (American journalist Hunter S. Thompson)

Giving advice is as basic to the human condition as enjoying community over solitude or happiness over sadness. The advice monster believes that the best thing in the world is for you to know you have the “best answer” for someone’s issues and to share it. The advice monster insists you are delivering value. It’s how you maintain control and tamp down your natural qualms about failure. You could be delivering good advice, but, like most people, you usually don’t for two reasons:

  1. You address the wrong issue – In any conversation, it’s natural to solve the first issue that surfaces. This is where most people focus their advice. But the first issue that pops up usually isn’t the real problem. Continue to listen and probe. To redirect your advice monster, ask a question instead of giving advice.
  2. Your suggested solution is mediocre – Your solution likely won’t help because, again, like most people, you’re dealing with insufficient information in an “ocean of assumption.”

Advice giving is bad for the advice giver, the advice receiver, the team, and the organization.

Unsolicited advice often results in four negative consequences:

  1. “It demotivates the advice receivers” – When someone else tells you what to do, your natural reaction is that the advice-giver doesn’t value you as someone who can think for himself or herself. Advice givers often strike at your autonomy.
  2. “It overwhelms the advice-givers” – Your already busy life becomes even more hectic. You must plan your affairs as well as someone else’s.
  3. “It compromises team effectiveness” – Thanks to everyone’s advice monsters, teams become assemblies of “demotivated receivers and overwhelmed givers.” Team members then have difficulty focusing on the business at hand.
  4. “It limits organizational change” – Amid today’s rapid change, organizations can no longer rely on old formulas and static processes to stay on top of their work. The “status quo of hierarchy” is inadequate to meet today’s abrupt challenges.

The advice monster presents itself to you as three different personas. Its loud “Tell-It” personality whispers in your ear that you have the answer to any problem and should share it broadly. Tell-It’s primary principle is, “I know best.” The “Save-It” personality is less boisterous and more egotistical. It says everything will crumble unless you save the day. The “Control It” personality is a big manipulator. It signals that giving away control is disastrous and you must be in charge.

Learn to shut down your advice monster and become more like a coach.

Suppressing your advice monster – and becoming “more coach-like” in your basic approach – is the right tactic, but it can be hard to implement. To use it effectively, make the transition from “Present You” to “Future You.” Your present is like a child; it denies you nothing. It offers your present self immediate gratification. Your future self is an adult who lets you put off immediate feel-good rewards for substantial, lasting rewards in the future.

“You don’t need a new app; you need a new operating system.”

Bringing the advice monster under control requires self-reflection. Consider four factors:

  1. “Who let the dogs out?”: What activates your advice monster? Figure that out in advance to avoid triggers, like situations, events, and people that push you into the advice-giving mode.
  2. “Confessions”: Hold a mirror up to yourself. When something lights you up, what do you do? What specific actions does your advice monster pursue?
  3. “Prizes and punishments”: Everything you do has benefits and costs. Determine which benefits you like and earn them; the identity which costs you dislike and avoid them. “Future you” will face the penalties for the advice monster’s mistakes.
  4. “Future you for the win”: The positive awards that accrue when you shut down your advice monster include your personal development. Future you will have three admirable qualities: “empathy, mindfulness and humility” – the defining attributes of great coaches.

Quality coaching requires developing a “coaching habit.”

To change your advice-giving orientation, develop a coaching habit. What makes coaches great isn’t their advice but, rather, their thoughtful nature, natural curiosity and ability to listen.

Quality coaching adheres to three principles: “Be lazy, be curious” and “be often.” When you are lazy, you listen instead of jumping in instantly to give advice.

What counts in coaching isn’t outcomes; it’s the coaching processes themselves. Quality coaching follows three principles:

  • Be lazy: Don’t always immediately try to solve other people’s problems. Step back. Stand down and relax.
  • Be curious: The curious, listening, thoughtful, reflective, and wise coach anchors any conversation. The advice monster unsettles people and makes them feel nervous and inferior.
  • Be often: Don’t confine your coaching orientation and behavior to coaching conversations. Use the principles of good coaching in all your interactions and communications, including during meetings and when writing emails and text messages.

Ask seven types of questions: “kickstart, AWE, focus, foundation, strategy, lazy” and “learning.”

Great coaching depends on asking bedrock questions you can use in any order, context, or combination – whichever works best, depending on the situation.

“You can be known as the person who helps articulate the critical issue or as the person who provides hasty answers to solve the wrong problem. Which would you prefer?”

The seven questions are:

  1. “The kick-start question: What’s on your mind?”: This provides the initial curiosity to jump-start any conversation.
  2. “The AWE question: And what else?”: This is the handiest question in your coaching arsenal. It helps you uncover what’s affecting someone down deep.
  3. “The focus question: What’s the real challenge here for you?”: The first challenge someone mentions is never his or her true challenge.
  4. “The foundation question: What do you want?”: This helps you discover what actions will become necessary.
  5. “The strategy question: If you’re saying yes to this, what must you say no to?”: Strategy rests on selecting among your options and weighing the opportunity costs.
  6. “The lazy question: How can I help?”: The alternative to this question is, “What do you want from me?” When you ask it, remember that it’s not your job to rescue anybody.
  7. “The learning question: What was most useful or valuable here for you?”: Learning doesn’t happen when you tell someone something you know. It occurs when the other person puts two and two together.

Instead of giving advice, help people identify their challenges.

You can’t determine someone’s real challenges if you depend on “Foggy-fiers” – that is, those awkward conversational approaches that fog your vision and lead away from dealing with real concerns. Beware six pitfalls:

  1. “Twirling”: The first words someone says never hit the true challenge.
  2. “Coaching the ghost”: The person you’re coaching keeps focusing on some other person or situation – the ghost. This is merely a distraction.
  3. “Settling”: Don’t collude in timidity. “Push back” to get to the real issue.
  4. “Popcorning”: You ask, “What’s on your mind?” The other person comes back with a string of multiple, facile answers: “Pop” and then, “PopPop.” Before you know it, you hear a litany of problems: “PopPopPopPopPopPop!” Help the other person skip the tangents to discover the real problem.
  5. “Big-picturing”: Generalities and summaries don’t contribute to helpful coaching conversations. Get to specifics.
  6. “Yarning”: The other person tells a dramatic, pointless story. Help uncover the core issue.

When you spot a fog creator, identify it. Be explicit about what you are and aren’t learning from your conversation with the other person. Ask a focus question. Apply adroit questioning, active listening, common sense, and careful reflection to help someone identify their true challenges. Expect one of two responses when you succeed:

  1. Your friend or colleague sees the light and is ready to charge ahead. He or she thinks, “When can I get out of this conversation, so I can get going?”
  2. The other person is happy to be in touch with the real problem but has no idea what to do. You can ask, “We seem to have found the real challenge…Now, how can I help?” When the person offers an idea, ask the AWE question: “And what else?”

Good coaches are generous, vulnerable, and studious.

Develop coaching skills through regular practice and repetition.

“Coaching is the act of staying curious. Feedback is when you need to share your point of view.”

Follow four tips to master your coaching habit:

  1. “Be generous”: Great coaches wisely practice “generous silence.” During any conversation, but especially during a coaching discussion, great coaches periodically remain silent so the other person can speak freely and easily. The silence needs to last only three to five seconds. Quality coaches exhibit “generous transparency” by being candid about the coaching process and “generous appreciation” by showing that they value the other person.
  2. “Be vulnerable”: Great coaches are humble and open to being coached themselves. They acknowledge that they have much to learn and are willing to give up control. When quality coaches accept coaching, they are honest about their failings.
  3. “Be a student”: The more knowledge, both practical and theoretical, you gain about coaching and related topics, the better a coach you will become. Learn from leading experts. Concentrate on the best teachers: authors and academics, top executives, and TED presenters. Read Marshall Goldsmith’s works on coaching and Whitney Johnson’s Disrupt Yourself.
  4. “Be an advice-giver”: Now that you understand why you must pause before offering advice, remember that the point is to give worthy guidance.

Follow four specific strategies to give sound advice:

  1. “Define it”: Give your advice when the other person is ready to hear it, not before.
  2. “Diminish it”: Qualify your advice by prefacing it with a disclaimer, such as “Here’s my best guess…” or “I may be wrong…” Don’t project the attitude that your advice is great just because it comes from you.
  3. “Deliver it”: When you offer advice, be prompt, quick, and courageous.
  4. “Debrief it”: After you suggest an idea, ask, “Does this give you what you were looking for?”

“Your job is to make your coaching an everyday interaction.”

To keep people in the conversation, use the “TERA Quotient.” TERA stands for:

  • “Tribe”: Demonstrate that you and the other person are together on the issue in question. Use the words “we” and “us.”
  • “Expectation”: Forecast small milestones for the future to help the other person to address the human need for predictability.
  • “Rank”: In any conversation, the parties want to know who is more important. Do your best to raise the other person or team.
  • “Autonomy”: People want a direct say in what happens to them. Signal that they have options. That’s why the foundation question – “What do you want?” – is so powerful.

Move past the myopic “Present You” to become the sagacious “Future You.”

Extend yourself and become the fully realized future you. This will transform how you lead others.

“The best advice comes from people who don’t give advice.” (actor Matthew McConaughey)

Besides creating a new you, you might be transforming or leading your team, or even becoming an integral component of a new organization. Take three steps: 1) develop your coaching habit, 2) don’t get tangled up in the “advice trap” and 3) shut down your advice monster for good.

Final Summary

The key message in these summaries:

Most of us go around compulsively giving out advice because we’ve internalized the idea that we can only add value to a situation if we have good solutions. But telling people what to do all the time backfires if it stops us listening to what they’re actually saying. Instead of blurting out advice, we need to master the art of asking probing questions. That way, we can identify what’s really challenging someone, and empower them to discover their own solutions.

Actionable advice:

Check if your advice has landed.

Occasionally, you will be called on to give advice – which can be tricky when you’ve spent so much time trying to get away from it! But offering a thoughtful solution is different from giving a knee-jerk opinion. If you’re sure that your advice is needed, give it generously, making clear that this is just one approach to solving the problem. Once you’ve done that, check whether your advice has “landed” by confirming it was what the listener was actually looking for.

About the Author

Michael Bungay Stanier wrote the bestseller The Coaching Habit and founded Box of Crayons, a learning, and development company that teaches “10-minute coaching.”

Michael Bungay Stanier has a gift for distilling big, complex ideas into practical, accessible knowledge for everyday people that helps them be a force for good.

His books have sold over a million copies, with The Coaching Habit topping the Wall Street Journal bestseller list. MBS has been featured on the blogs and social media platforms of thought leaders including Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss, and Brené Brown, and has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBC,, and innumerable podcasts―as well as in notable publications including the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Inc., and Fast Company.

MBS is the founder of Box of Crayons, a learning and development company, that helps organizations move from advice-driven action to curiosity-led transformation. They have trained more than half a million people for clients including Microsoft, Salesforce, TELUS and Gucci.

Before establishing Box of Crayons, MBS’s accomplishments included publishing an academic article on James Joyce and a Harlequin-esque short story; playing small roles in helping invent Pizza Hut’s Stuffed Crust pizza and creating “one of the worst single-malt whiskies in existence”; and spending 20 minutes writing what has remained GlaxoSmithKline’s global vision for more than 20 years.

A former Rhodes Scholar, MBS is an Australian who now lives in Toronto, Canada.

You can join others committed to being a force for change at

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