On Becoming

On Becoming

January 22, 2024
An Overview:

Where I’ve come from, what I believe, and why I coach.

Hello friends — it’s been a long while since I’ve appeared in your inboxes, but I promise I haven’t been far. As I approach the two-year mark since launching my coaching practice, I continue to be awed by the courageous inner work my clients are doing to become leaders who inspire the best in others, and am honored to be able to walk this journey with them.

As we enter 2024 in earnest, I’ve been deep in reflection about the work I want to do as a coach, and how to bring that to more people like you. I’ve excited to announce that I’ve got a website redesign in the works, as well as a backlog of writing that I hope to send your way once that’s launched. Thank you for hanging in there with me.

In the meantime, I’m pleased to share a new podcast episode I recorded with Thomas Igeme for Venture Visionaries. For someone who’s always felt inept at talking about myself, being interviewed by Thomas has been a gift beyond measure. Thanks to his curiosity and thoughtfulness, I’ve been able to share more deeply than I thought possible about where I’ve come from, what I believe, and why I coach. I’ll be in touch soon. For now, give the episode a listen and let me know what you think!

I’ve been able to share more deeply than I thought possible about where I’ve come from, what I believe, and why I coach.

"This visceral feeling of wishing that they would see how they were suffering, that wishing for them to see how they were making each other suffer, and making other people suffer, that really stayed with me. Today, I think there is an element of it that I do bring to my clients because a little bit of that love – not to be sappy – but a little bit of that love: “I really do wish for you to have what you want. I really do wish for you not to suffer.” And that is, I think, the core of my coaching practice."

3:01: How has Singapore shaped my views on leadership?

7:09: Were there clues in my early years to who I am now?

9:22: How did I navigate my varied career?

14:34: What is the core of my coaching philosophy?

18:27: Why pay for founders to get coaching?

21:50: What do coaches / consultants have in common?

23:12: Is there an ideal personality type for founders?

26:43 How do I think about designing my life?

30:14 What would I tell myself earlier in my career?

Thomas: Welcome to Venture Visionaries. I'm Thomas Igeme. And in today's episode, we're exploring the interplay between business strategy and personal growth. Now my guest today, Dalglish Chew, is a Partner and Coach-in-Residence at Avalanche VC, investing the first institutional capital in technology companies, transforming how people learn, earn, and own.

He also works as an independent executive coach, exemplifying our themes of building your own career path and infusing them with personal growth. But my story with Dalglish begins over a decade ago on a trip to Yosemite. As a ragtag group of would-be friends, most of us immigrants, fairly new to America, went on an adventure, eager for new experiences and new connections.

We were blown away by nature's grandeur and inspired by our youthful desire to explore both the world and each other. And we made quick friends. And yet one person did stand out. This brilliant yet inscrutable figure who while being a business major in college was now completing his English PhD. He was a person who was clearly deeply interesting because he was deeply interested in the world around him. And yet he was inscrutable.

It was really difficult to get beneath the surface and figure out what really motivated him, what he wanted out of life, and why. And so it was a huge surprise to me when the next time we connected, Dalglish was an executive coach, not just connected to his own inner journey, but working to inspire others to do the same. And he'd taken a pretty impressive path to getting there.

From partnering with top health systems at McKinsey to empowering non-profits and education equity, Dalglish has done it all. Connecting those experiences is his philosophy of doing the inner work to unlock outer growth that resonates profoundly with our discussion on leveraging human capital as a strategic business advantage. In this episode, we're gonna be delving into Dalglish's Singaporean upbringing and how it affects his approach to leadership and business. His transformative career journey into coaching. We'll explore how his unique perspectives on personality systems, life design, and founder success can inspire all of us to embrace unstructured time and confront our blind spots. Without further ado, let's dive into a conversation with Dalglish now.

Thomas: I'm really curious how your upbringing on the other side of the world shaped your initial approaches to leadership and business in ways that might be different than somebody who's just US born and raised.

Dalglish: So there are a few kinds of ways I introduce people to Singapore if they, you know, maybe don't know beyond the stereotypes of what they hear in the news. So one thing is we have a new Prime Minister in the line of succession. He's been named. But what's so interesting is if you look at his record, on press, what he's said. He's known for being unassuming. He's known for being easy to work with. And when he was asked, “Do you have any designs on higher post?” He would say, “I have never hankered after post, position, or power.” And so I say that to  give a bit of an introduction to how Singaporeans think about leadership, which is to say – the worst thing would be to want it too much [In Singapore] you get recognized for good work. You get tapped on the shoulder. You keep your head down and do all the things you're supposed to do. And then one day you get anointed. The worst thing would be to want it too much, right? To be on record, advocating for yourself. And so there you can see the big difference between the US and Singapore. When I came here, I realized that if you do that, you will get nowhere. No one is recognizing your quiet, “heads down” work. No one is going to come to you and anoint you.

So that leads me to the second thing, which is – because I've had to teach myself how to make my way in the U.S.,I have a  different relationship to U.S. corporate culture than most Americans have, because I can objectify it. When you grow up in a system, it becomes what’s taken for granted. And I had to learn it, teach it to myself, and find words for it. So I have a different relationship with it now, than perhaps someone who grew up with it does.

Thomas: What are some of the ways that you've seen that different relationship with it show up?

Dalglish: No one ever asked me what I wanted until I got here. One of the things I had to learn and teach myself is self-advocacy. Like – how do you explain yourself to others? How do you craft a story for where you've come from, what you're doing and where you're headed. There was a lot of discomfort around it for me in the beginning because it felt so selfish. It felt like “me, me, me.” And it felt almost egotistical in a way that in Singapore would have been frowned upon. What I realized was that here, it's not seen that way. It gives people a handle: “How do I relate to this person? How do I help this person?” I didn't realize that without telling people, “here's what I want and here's how you can help me,” that actually helped them help me.

Thomas: Do you ever find that your experience in Singapore gives you eyes to understand things about American culture that people who are born here would miss?

Dalglish: I will say that I've also brought with me a lot of pragmatism. “What works?” Like I said, I taught myself, figured out how to make it work, how to get ahead, how to succeed. I think there was a hard-nosed pragmatism around “Oh, well, that wasn't working. What's going to work? Let's figure it out.” So I do think that is very Singaporean.

Another way of saying it is: I find myself relatively free of some of the more ideological baggage that I think Americans encounter. “Does this feel right? Do I want to, does it feel authentic?” I have this hard-nosed pragmatism, like “Well, it works, so just do it, right?”  So the whole thing I said about no one ever asking me what I wanted in Singapore – I do use that [pragmatism] a little bit in the sense that I don't spend too long thinking about “Is this enjoyable? Am I having a good time?” There was a side of me that says: “Look, this is necessary. This is going to work. Just do it. Just get on with it.” I don't want to speak for all Singaporeans, but that is something I feel I brought with me.

Thomas: When you think back on little Dalglish, were there any little pieces that pointed to who you are now?

Dalglish: I'll start by saying I'm on record, probably on another podcast, or on some of my writing, giving this flippant answer. People ask me, “What's the main qualification to be a coach?” And I flippantly said, “You know what, grow up and survive a dysfunctional family. That will make you a really good coach.” And I  said it flippantly and felt  bad about that after, because there's a truth to it. And by the way, I always wonder if my parents are listening because they are both still alive and I feel bad about [saying] that. But I think there is a truth in that.

When I try to think about what I really mean:  I grew up a really sensitive child. So just very observant, and quiet, and constantly taking in what was going on around me. And when I talk about dysfunction in the family – [by the way] my family's actually pretty privileged, I grew up pretty privileged, I have to say that –  but there was just so much unhappiness, so much unhappiness in the family with my parents, both of them. And I think what I mean when I say the coach I am today comes from having survived that, is that I was so steeped in this sense of their suffering and also not wanting them to suffer. I, in some ways, loved them so much and wanted so badly for them not to suffer.

This visceral feeling of wishing that they would see how they were suffering, that wishing for them to see how they were making each other suffer, and making other people suffer, that really stayed with me. Today, I think there is an element of it that I do bring to my clients because a little bit of that love – not to be sappy – but a little bit of that love: “I really do wish for you to have what you want. I really do wish for you not to suffer.” And that is, I think, the core of my  coaching practice.

Of course, I'm skipping a lot of steps here, because it was a long way around to coming to that [point]. And the biggest insight and realization for me coming into coaching is: “That heartbreak – yes, you have to heal it, but then that's the gift. That is the opening.”

Thomas: You went to Wharton, studied business. You went to Stanford, got your PhD in English. You went over to McKinsey and rose to leadership in McKinsey. And now you're working at a VC firm as a Coach-in-Residence and building up your coaching practice. That yearning for diversity, but also this deep mastery. Is that how you see yourself? Or is there a different story you tell about your journey? How do you connect those pieces?

Dalglish: A word that you used in that question was “depth.” And that is something I do identify with. I abhor superficiality. I want to get into the thing, go through something and through the other side and realize the essence of it. Like, “What is the essence of academia? What is the essence of consulting?” I feel that I’ve always had this drive to truly not just do something, but understand its bones. There's something satisfying about that for me.

[As for] the diversity, I mean, the zigzags of my career, I think the first thing I would say is – because you asked how I tell that story –  it can look like you can piece it together now, “Yeah, that makes sense in this light.” [But] that was not the experience going through it. So, I'm not someone who would say I have a lot of faith in the benevolence of the universe. I don't think I make my way through the world that way. But I will say that in these big career moves, there's always been a feeling of the hand of fate or some higher wisdom in it, because I've always just known that it was time to do something, and then something would  present itself.

So, I'll give you an example. Not many people know this unless they were with me at Penn, but I was an English major. And I actually applied to Penn not knowing what Wharton was, if you can believe that. I had no idea that it was the number one undergraduate business program, blah, blah, blah. I totally intended to go there and be an English major and then arrived and thought, “What is this Wharton thing?” And then being a good Asian student, saying “Oh, that seems practical. That would totally make my parents feel like the tuition was worth it.”

So actually, it was actually the English major that came first and the Wharton degree came after. I actually  applied to do that secondarily. The other thing is that I actually applied to consulting jobs in the Summer of 2009. That was going to be what I wanted to do. And then the recession happened. And I remember being in my English professor / advisor's office in the summer, having applied to these internships, and a call came. And it's one of those three firms, which will remain unnamed, and they said: “We could only take one [intern] this year and I'm sorry, it's not you.” And I was just like, “What am I going to do?” Because I didn't have an internship lined up. Usually those things get you your full-time offer.

And my advisors, who had spent years saying to me “You need to do this PhD. You would be wonderful at it.” And I was always like, “What is a PhD? Why would I spend six years in school doing this? I have no idea what this is.” And I was there [in my advisor’s office] and it just clicked. “Why am I  trying to swim upstream on this consulting thing?” When there was this whole path that, up till that point, it was almost like people were throwing flowers [on this path for me to follow]. My advisors were even saying, “Oh, you know, even if you don't apply [to graduate school], we'll write you the letter of recommendation now and maybe you'll come back for it later.” And it was just like, “Okay, well, no brainer. I guess I'm doing this thing.” This is like the hand of fate, you know?

And then from the PhD to consulting, I had a moment of crisis two-thirds of the way through my PhD. Not about the PhD, because I always intended to be a professor. It was more about the reality of the academic job market. It worsened from 2010 to 2017, when I was doing my PhD, and it has gotten even worse since. So that reality was starting to hit. And also the realization that, I am not someone who can imagine myself doing one thing for the rest of my life – back to the diversity and the wish to do different things deeply.

So I had a bit of a crisis. I was like, “I am 31 years old. I have never had a real job, Wharton degree aside. Oh my God, what am I going to do?” And I remember talking to my friends, many of whom were at Penn with me. And they said, “Well, you know, you applied for consulting back then. You could probably still do it. They hire PhDs.” I remember looking it up frantically, and I think it was the spring or summer of 2016, or 2015, and I was a week from the deadline. I said “Okay, I'm just going to throw my hat in. I guess I've been through this process before. I'll probably figure it out.” And then one thing led to another, and I got the job and then, as you know, five years at McKinsey passed.

So at each point, I feel like it wasn't planned. I did not plan anything. I did not plan for the way my CV looks. It's just happened. And so I have this faith, I think, from those experiences, that if you just try to deal with what's in front of you and try to serve to the best of your ability, that things work out. And that is, again, not how I felt while I was there. It’s perhaps how I feel about it now.

Thomas: Some of the things that have popped up thematically as we've been talking are: Comfort in the knowingness of the next step, and trusting that if I'm just focused on the right next step, and you mentioned the word service, that will allow the  rest to come through, there's a pragmatism around “Here's the way things are and don't baggage yourself unnecessarily with ideology.” And thirdly, there's an understanding of almost the performative nature of corporate life, and that it is learnable and performable. And there we go. Is that how you define the core philosophy of your executive coaching, or is there something else or deeper that comes to mind?

Dalglish: Service for sure. I think that if there is a through line [in my career], it is service, and by serving to the best of your abilities, what's in front of you, it works out. During my PhD – I always tell people that there's only so much reading, writing and researching you can do in a day. So I was left with a lot of this mental energy and time that I didn't know what to do with. So I started volunteering with Minds Matter Bay. As you know, I was teaching, I was building curriculum, I was building their three-year program. It turned out later that one of the reasons I got an interview with McKinsey was because I'd done all that work.

Again, not intended! I didn't do any of that thinking that I would one day apply to a job, because I was always going to be a professor. So again, an example of how it works out. I just wanted to offer service. [When I was volunteering at Minds Matter Bay] I had no idea how it would ]be beneficial for me], it honestly didn't help my PhD, as you know academics don't care about that stuff. But it worked out. So it was one of those moments of having faith.

In terms of my coaching philosophy. Yes. I think I bring that pragmatism. I think there are ways that corporate culture – I don't want to generalize – but there are ways that our jobs can make us feel like there's something wrong with us. Like when you get feedback, a lot of Asian clients get feedback, for example, that “You need to speak up more, you need to take up more space and have this presence.” It's hard not to hear that as “There's something wrong with you.” Like “You're too shy.” One can start to apply these labels and identify with them. But as you said, these things are learnable. I can bring a hard-nosed pragmatism to that because you could spend years figuring out your personality flaws. There is a part of it that's just pragmatic, and you can learn those things. So I do bring that spirit to my clients as well.

But I think the deeper, if there is a philosophy or a spirit of my coaching practice, it does go back to what I shared about growing up and with my family. Which is: When we suffer and when we don't know how to hold our own suffering, it spills over and we make others suffer.” And I think that is more the core philosophy of my coaching practice. [Hence] why work with founders? Why work with leaders? Because these are people who are making decisions every day with the potential to have an impact on hundreds, thousands, billions of people.

We've all been in situations where a CEO’s gesture, a word, a look, you know, a hundred people's lives change that day. And that's what I mean when I say we need to be careful about how we hold our suffering. People in these positions have the potential to make so many people suffer. I trust that most people, I think, probably have their own experiences of this. So for me, there is almost a moral responsibility: “This is work you have to do, that you should do, because if you don't, you will make other people suffer.”

Thomas: One of the pushbacks that I could imagine: “We need somebody to build a business. We're not investing in this founder in order to reduce suffering.” What would be your response to somebody who came up with that counter?

Dalglish: I have responses at two registers, one more practical and one more spiritual, so I'll give you both.

So let me start with the practical.I  think we routinely underestimate how closely linked those two things are. We don't think that working on our blind spots, holding our suffering – by the way, it’s also because of the language I’m using, right? What does holding your suffering have to do with ROI, or what does it have to do with returns? So there's part of this that's due to the language I'm using, which may feel a bit esoteric. But again, we all know from personal experience how much mental, emotional, even physical energy these day-to-day sufferings take up. And we know that it feels small, but can become big very fast.

I’ll give you an example. You're a CEO and you have, just hypothetically, let's say you have a really big blind spot around having your flaws pointed out to you, or getting feedback. You’re one of those people who just needs to believe in the mission, put blinders on and not hear how this is maybe not working out. Well, that works for you. And if anything, it can be very compelling to investors and other early employees. But how long do you think you can go before that becomes the culture of this thousand-person company? And now, it becomes incredibly difficult to reverse. Now, you have this thousand-person apparatus for propping up your own need not to face something. So we severely underestimate this soft, “touchy feely” stuff and how very quickly the practical consequences come. The phrase that I use is “How quickly the bill comes due” with these things that we are not taking care of. So that's a practical answer.

As for the more spiritual answer. You know, people ask: “What's the ROI coaching? Why should I invest in this? Why should I pay for this?” The first thing I will say is that when we talk about success, we tend to think, “successful, not successful.” We think of it as a binary thing, but we don't think: “At what scale? Success in what sense? At what time scale?” So some of the things I'm talking about, like holding your suffering, not making other people suffer, covering your blind spots, being self-aware. As much as I've talked about it like it’s a moral responsibility, I also want to be fair to the people who come to me, prospective clients, to say: “Yes, I do believe this is your moral responsibility, but it is also optional.” I really do believe that as well, in the sense that I cannot say that you cannot be successful without doing this [inner] work.

We know, again, plenty of examples of people who have a lot of success, but who are doing things that are not the kinds of things I'm talking about. But, I say, “Success at what cost? Success at what time scale?” We come back to the phrase, “the bill always comes due.” I really do believe that. And it may not be you paying the bill. It may be your family. It may be your employees. It may be the families of your employees. So I think: What aperture do we take to understand success?

Thomas: How different do you personally see your role to executives as a coach versus the way you did as a consultant? How do you think that having been a consultant affects the way you coach?

Dalglish: Well, they're both in some ways “helping” professions. I don't know how many consultants would identify with that. There is, again, the element of service, right? Consultants are not claiming [our clients’] success. We are helping, and we celebrate helping our clients get to where they want to be. So in some ways there's this service to someone else's agenda. I think they do have that in common. And both professions are very grounded [in the sense that] they are relationship businesses. You have to be someone who knows how to build trust. You have to be someone who knows how to relate to people. It's not just about having the right answer; you would not get hired in one of these places, just having the right answers. That they have in common. And I suppose the one extra thing I have brought with me from consulting is  an organizational acumen or awareness that I wouldn't have had coming straight out of a PhD. “What does a boardroom look like? What are some board and executive dynamics? How do these politics play out?” It forms the basis for at least cognitive empathy with my clients, and what they are going through. So that, definitely, I've brought from consulting.

Thomas: What are the things that you find yourself observing in early-stage founders that you think most people are ignoring?

Dalglish: For me, it's less about [a founder’s personality] traits and more about how you hold it. It would be very difficult for me to say that “This [personality] type makes a good founder. That type makes a bad founder.” So for example: maybe there is more of an archetype of the founder who is visionary, who is the leader, who is passionate and brings other people along with their energy. Well, one might say, “If you're more introverted and reserved and thoughtful, that's not going to be the right profile for being a founder.” But I can't say that, because I've seen very successful founders on both sides of this. It's a question of – how do you hold your tendencies?

Now, if you're really introverted and reserved, do you do that to a fault? Are you compelled to always be prepared, and conserve your energy, or do you have choice? Do you have this ability to say, “Yes, that is how I usually operate, and it has worked out really well for me, but I am aware that in certain cases it doesn't, and I feel the freedom to try something different. I feel the freedom to move towards problems and people when maybe I would otherwise want to retreat.”

And same for the people who are, extroverted and very  energetic. Well, do you do that to a fault? Can you only be that way? What happens to you in a situation where retreat and thoughtfulness and reflection are necessary? So it's less about your default personality. It's how you hold that, and also its blind spot. And people vary in this. For some people, blind spots truly are blind spots. They have no words for it. They don't even know that it is a thing. And some people are very aware, “Yes, there's a blind spot. It is something I'm working on.” And there's a  move towards the difficulty. “Yes, this is something I struggle with and I am trying. I am going against my tendency in some ways and I'm willing to do that. So that to me is more the thing that I value and prize in a leader more than any specific trait.

Thomas: You mentioned the Enneagram as a personality system that you're particularly familiar with and use quite a bit. I'd love it if you could briefly talk about why you find that particular categorization helpful.

Dalglish: The main reason is that it worked for me. I offer it to clients because I have spent close to a decade working with the Enneagram on my own stuff. I never knew that one day I would want to bring it to clients. It's this lived experience of knowing [the Enneagram’s] transformative potential that allows me to speak to it, and use it, and guide my clients in it very differently than if I were just intellectually saying, “this is the thing I learned.” So that is, I think, very key. But to zoom out and talk about personality systems in general, and why the Enneagram: I think of these systems as  different languages. You can use different languages to describe an object. You can use English, you can use French, you can use German and all these different languages. And for me, it's just been about choosing the language that resonates most with me. The MBTI and the Enneagram might look at the same behavior or motivation and just say different things, So it's just a way of getting a handle on some of these things.

Thomas: What feels most important in your own life design?

Dalglish: I would say today, as a coach, the main thing to design [my life] around is space, which is quite different from being an academic or being a consultant – where you could say, if you have space, you should be reading one more article, you should be starting one more project, or as a consultant, if you have space, there's probably something you're not doing. You should be developing a new client. So as different as those two things are, they actually have more in common, and are more similar than not in the sense that if there is space, it means that there's something I'm not doing.

And I carry that a lot from the places I've been, the institutions I've worked with, and a little bit of the insecure achiever mentality, right? This deep unease with space and time. If I look at my calendar and like, “Oh, wow, I have no meetings today.” The instinct of that ethos might be, “Wow, no one needs me. I'm in trouble, right? I should be doing more. I'm not helpful anymore. I have no more value.” And as a coach, it's easy to lapse into that. “I need to get more clients. I need to get on LinkedIn. I need to post more, write more."

But I have realized that what makes me a better coach is getting more comfortable with this unstructured time. I try not to overburden it. “You have to journal, and you have to meditate, and you have to …” That just reinstates that sense of “needing to do” in a different form. So being comfortable with space, and whatever comes up. Maybe I realize I need an hour to really collect my thoughts, and put into writing what I've been observing with my clients. The thing about coaching that is very different from consulting or academia is that in many ways, those other jobs rewarded burning out. The more you do, the more tired you are, like “stay up late till 3am doing that proposal” – you get rewarded for that. Not so here. If I try to do more than I can, I become a worse coach. Because people will show up to sessions, they have an hour with me, they expect me to be there, fully present, and all of me available. If there's any part of me that is just so tired and on edge, I am doing them a huge disservice.

Thomas: Are there any habits or practices you recommend for your clients who are seeking to build more comfort with space?

Dalglish: I'm tempted to start listing things to do, which to my point – Please, listeners do not take this as my prescription – I have been in weekly therapy for what feels like the last decade. I’m not saying that everyone needs therapy. But it is this time for me where – this is just me to work on me. There is no pragmatic outcome here. There is no goal I am trying to meet. There is no KPI. It's just this commitment. It’s a practice to show up week after week, and to work with what is there. And to also soak it in – “This is just about me. I'm not helping anyone. I'm not doing anything.” Therapy has become, in some ways, supervision for me – coaching supervision, because it helps me be a better coach. Meditation, for sure, in whatever form you find it, that has been very helpful to me. But I think, what we said about the anxiety that comes out with space, I think actually it's whatever helps you work with that. And what is that about? Is it about this deep need to be needed? This need to be helpful? This sense that I am of no value? I don’t know what to do with myself?” So, whatever helps you be with that.

Thomas: I want to share with you three different people. The first is Dalglish at about nine. The second is Dalglish right in the middle of his PhD. And the third would be Dalglish right in the middle of his time at McKinsey. What pops up for you to share with each of those folks and why?

Dalglish: What would that I want to say to nine-year-old me? It would be that: What is most painful now – I mean, who knows if a nine-year-old would understand that – but what is most painful now will one day be the greatest gift. If there's a reason to go through it, you know, when we look at the way we suffer, it's like, “Why do I have to suffer this way? Why do I have to be in this situation?” There's a lot of angst in that way, but to know that this will one day have meaning. And not only meaning! One day, this will be the thing that you can offer others. I think that would have been amazing to know. And it brings to mind a quote from Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. I love the phrase – actually, I think he's quoting another poem, so it's not his – but: “What gives light must endure burning.” And this burning is necessary, as painful as it is, because one day it will be your light.

To me in the middle of my PhD, it’s the thing I said [just now] about having more pronoia: “The world conspires for your benefit. It will all make sense.” Because I think I had such panic about having made certain decisions that just didn't make sense. “Why did I do this PhD if I didn't want to be a professor? And now I am 31 and have no real professional experience.” This sense of: devote yourself to service, devote yourself to doing the best you can with what's right in front of you, and it will work out. And as I say that, I think I, even now I need to hear that.

In the middle of McKinsey, gosh, I think – and this is something I did come to later – but I think if there was one thing I wish I had known earlier, it was that it's so easy to play the game that others have recruited you to play. Do well at this, learn this, meet these markers, we'll promote you. We’ll reward you in such and such ways. But when I look back, the whole time, there was this other game under it, which was: “What am I learning? Who am I becoming? What am I getting? What am I taking from this experience, that means something to me outside of the language and the vocabulary and the frameworks and the models of the Firm.” Because that is what I'm going to take with me, right? And it's what I have taken with me, right? 20, 30, 40 years from now, I would hope people are not still talking about what title I had when I left, or what I did. But rather: What have I done with what I've learned? Who did I become? And what did I do with that?

Thomas: And now it's time for our recurring Spokn story segment, when we hear from the people behind the leaders and organizations that we look at. For this week, I wanted to talk to some of the people who've worked with Dalglish, who call him a colleague or coach. And my question for them was simple. What is Dalglish Chew's superpower? What makes him so effective as a business executive and coach? First, I talked to Justus Luttig, an investor at Authentic Ventures. Here's what he had to say:

Justus: Dalglish’s superpower is his ability to, in a very short period of time, strip away the layers that are lying within your true self when working through a problem. The way in which he understands and reads people brings to the fore these key issues that are underlying what you're going through at that point in time. And that removes all the noise in trying to get to the fundamental key point that you're working through.

Thomas: I also got to talk to two co-founders working with Dalglish: Nathan Lee and Celina Qi, co-founders at Juniper Behavioral Health. Pro-tip, they're hiring if you're interested! Let's hear what they had to say.

Nathan: Dalglish’s superpower is his ability to bring out the best from you, especially when you didn't know what that best version looked like beforehand. He's incredibly thoughtful in his direction, and he's challenged me personally in ways that are complex and nuanced that I wouldn't have on my own. He’s helped me develop as a founder, both in leadership and in character. He also doesn't just take your words at face value. He digs deep into understanding your motivations intellectually and emotionally, and how to channel that energy into becoming a leader at your fullest potential.

Celina: Dalglish’s superpower is his deep understanding of what makes each individual person tick, and his ability to help people use that to develop authentic styles of leadership. He takes such an individual approach to each person, because each person is so different. And he's incredible at getting to real and thought-provoking insights about a person so quickly. Even within our first few sessions, he was making spot-on observations about me that I had never even thought about myself.

Thomas: And lastly, let's hear from Katelyn Donnelly, the managing director at Avalanche VC and fellow partner with Dalglish in investing.

Katelyn: Dalglish's superpower is that he's able to really understand other people very quickly and in a super deep way, and understand their motivations, what makes them tick, which then can help other people see that in themselves, see things that they might not have fully understood or had the words to process. And then they can see what's been holding them back and what they might need to do to improve and grow in the future.

Thomas: And that brings us to the end of this week's episode, dear listener. Thank you so much for giving me the gift of your time. As I reflect on Dalglish's amazing story and the impact that he has had on countless organizations and leaders, I'm struck by the fact that while the bedrock of his value comes from his deep business chops, inquisitive mind, and commitment to personal growth, the fuel behind it is simply the fact that Dalglish… cares. That was true of that nine-year-old in Singapore, and it is true of this investor and executive coach today. And that is caring that can't really be taught, can't really be bought, but once freely given is invaluable.

And so my hope for you, dear listener, is that this week you'd reflect on at least one person who you want to give the gift of your caring, and one person who you are grateful for choosing to give that gift to you. Our world is better for it. As always, this is Venture Visionaries, and I'm Thomas. I'll see you next week.

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