Can a computer ever replace a life coach? The two seem at odds—life coaching is all about a personal experience, and tech is about data and formulas. Yet IVY Member Zach Schlosser is out to prove that technology can get up close and personal.

The Emerge! App follows the lessons of a former top executive coach with 20 years of experience in transforming people’s lives and helping them live up to their full potential. Through a series of exercises, the app analyzes users’ personalities and shows them how to be leaders in their careers and leaders in their lives.

Zach sat down with IVY Magazine to talk about the path any person can take to become an effective leader.

Reach out to Zach if:

  • You’d like to learn more about the Emerge! App and how it can help you live up to your full potential.
  • You run or work for a company that values leadership and emotional intelligence and might be curious to get involved with the Emerge! App. They are looking for companies to engage with.
  • You want to go skydiving! (It was just his birthday, and this is what he’s giving himself.)

Zach is an IVY Member (SF). Connect and collaborate with him here.

Emerge App!

IVY: Leaders aren’t born; they’re made. Agree or disagree?

Leaders can have lots of personalities, just as there are many styles of human. But there are certain traits, certain skills that leaders will have in common, and those are developable. At Self Emergence, we are rooted in 4 qualities: self awareness, empathy, persistence, and vision. We think those are the qualities that make a good leader, no matter who you are.

IVY: So you think people can become better leaders over time?

We’re in a “growth mindset” right now, which is really revolutionary. In a “fixed mindset,” people think their intelligence and talent are fixed, unchangeable. In a growth mindset, however, people believe they can change and that basic traits like talent and intelligence can be improved through dedication and hard work. It’s radical because it suggests scientifically that people can actually become smarter and more talented. It’s not inherent.

Psychologists have done work on this growth mindset, and they learned that people are both way happier and way more effective at everything when they feel like they are either being evaluated on their progress or evaluating themselves on their progress, knowing that they can learn more.

People think we should be evaluating ourselves by comparing ourselves to other people, but that’s not true. That comparison actually hinders us. For example, in one study, two groups of people were asked to make pots. One group was asked to make the perfect pot. The other group was asked to make as many pots as possible. At the end of the day, guess which group made better pots? The people who made the most pots. You get good by constantly learning and learning over and over again.

IVY: How did you decide to launch the Emerge! App?

My partner and boss has been an executive coach for the past 20 years, and Self Emergence came about because he was interested in finding a way to give really effective coaching to a lot of people. He wanted a way to take the methodology and experiences that he had been using with great success in more one-on-one coaches and share that with a lot more people.

Executive coaching is really expensive, and there are several limitations. They are really fantastic when they’re one-on-one—you can be really productive if you have a good coach, but the one-on-one aspect limits number of people the coach can actually see. In companies where coaches try to scale their teaching, either through seminars or training sessions, often the lessons don’t translate. There’s no integration back to the work or home life, and so the learning can fade. So, when we started Self Emergence, we were interested in finding a way to do coaching at great scale, while maintaining great depth. Essentially, we wanted to find a way to help many people grow without the expensive one-on-one coaching.

IVY: It seems like much of life-coaching depends on someone’s own personal goals, and backstory—what does the app do to turn that information into usable data and still make it seem personal and effective?

This is a great question. One of the reasons Emerge! is effective is because it guides users into their own experiences and uses that experience as a foundation for their growth. We start with something obvious: we let users set their own goals. In the beginning, the work to envision who you want to be, is just that, a detailed visualization of your goal. But then, we use selfie videos to help users explore and develop parts of themselves.

So, take a session on transforming the inner critic. The inner critic is not universal, but it’s general enough that lot of people experience it. In that session, we guide users through getting in touch with this voice, clarifying what it says to them, what the underlying attacking energy or impact is, and then we have people become that voice, become that part of themselves. We show them how to get into it, like role-play or improvisation, and then act it out and record it on video in the app. So, whatever the inner critic is for each particular person, it comes through when they become that voice. Then, they can watch that back, externalizing the previously internal aspect of themselves. The whole point—like improv—is to free yourself from being stuck in whatever destructive interior selves are running you, and to use that underlying energy in ways that are fruitful, dynamic, and appropriate.

IVY: What exercise can members do already to start “getting what they want?”

Well, I’d start with just what you suggest: asking yourself what you want.  A helpful way to get clarity about what you want and why you want it is to have someone ask you (you can ask yourself too, but it’s more fun and can go deeper if you do it with a partner), “What do you want?”

Then answer with whatever comes to mind first—not in a hurry, just looking at what comes up. After a second, the person asks again, “What do you want?” And again you answer whatever comes to mind first. Do this for 1 minute, or if it sounds cool, 3 or 5 minutes. Some people know or have a sense that what they are doing now is not what they really want to be doing, but they’re not quite able to acknowledge it. So for them, one of the most scary, difficult, and ultimately liberating and empowering things to do is answer this question honestly and let that impact them. That’s a quick exercise that for some people may be a lot of fun and can give this kind of insight.

IVY: If you could get a coffee with any historical leader, who would it be?

Probably, Robert Kennedy—JFK’s brother—I read his memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and he sounds so inspiring to me. In the memoir, he struck me as being so confident in himself, in a really good way. He seemed incredibly capable of listening to other people’s perspectives, taking them in and fully understanding what those perspectives meant about them as people.

I got a sense of real human maturity. That’s the quality that I most admire. There are tons of inspiring traits that people around me have—brilliance, perceptiveness, generosity, love—and I love all of those things, but when it comes down to it, the people I most admire are the people who are just very mature.

IVY: You appreciate when someone is confident in who they are.

Definitely, I think a big part of this “maturity” is when people who are in leadership positions can acknowledge what they’ve done and who they are. Both Kennedys had really powerful positions, but they weren’t hiding from the fact that they didn’t always know what the best thing to do was. They were struggling through everything one step at a time and trying to use all the resources and perspectives around them. I think that’s a big part of maturity. When grandpa tells you advice, it always comes off as a great advice because of his incredible life experience, but I also really appreciate when those kinds of people are humble and acknowledge that they still don’t know everything.

IVY: If you could ask Robert Kennedy anything, what would it be?

How do I relax out of my own habit of self-doubt? How do I keep from getting caught in this upward mobility game? I want to stop trying to be better than I am and stop comparing myself to others. What advice do you have for me to acknowledge what I don’t know in such a way that it doesn’t take away from my personal value?

IVY: How can IVY be involved with the Emerge! App?

Whatever way you are living right now, I want you to ask yourself how you most want to be living both externally and internally. What would it be like for life to be super rich and fluid and fun? I think that’s possible, and I want to help us all get there.

On the professional level, if you work for or know companies that value the people and value leadership throughout the whole organization, the ones that value self-awareness and emotional intelligence, we’re looking for more companies to engage with.

IVY is a social university, inspiring connection, collaboration, and growth. To learn more, visit IVY.com.