Five questions to Pauline Van 't Hoff


Hi Pauline, Please introduce yourself and share what motivated you to become a coach for the Forward Incubator program.

“My name is Pauline, I’m 31 and originally from Amsterdam- a city I love for its rich cultural diversity and various activities. Just over a year ago, I had the opportunity to take some time off and reflect on the next steps in my professional life. I decided to delve deeper into my hobbies and dedicate my time to volunteering.

Becoming a business coach at Forward was driven by my desire to support those with dreams and ambitions.  I saw a strong alignment with Forward’s mission of providing equal opportunities. It prompted me to explore my coaching potential outside the corporate environment, and it was an exciting step outside my comfort zone.

What set Forward apart was the incredibly positive and welcoming atmosphere, which made me feel like a part of the community from the start. From my experience, volunteering elsewhere didn’t offer the same sense of belonging.”

How did you adapt your coaching style to accommodate the unique needs and backgrounds of the entrepreneurs you worked with?

“In my previous experience within the corporate world, coaching often followed a structured path from point A to B. At Forward, I’ve learned to be highly adaptable. My focus shifted from having my ideas as the primary driver to putting the entrepreneurs in the driver’s seat and the importance of supporting independent decision-making. This also encouraged me to understand the limits of my own expertise and understand when to seek help, both within the community of fellow coaches and my network.

Patience and flexibility are key in the coaching process. The entrepreneurial workflow is often nonlinear, and the diverse mix of cultures within the team can also be challenging.

 It took some time and less effective meetings with the team because of my impatience and direct communication style, but at the end of the process, I learned a lot from working with the team and entrepreneur. I improved my ability to adapt my communication style and attempted the ability to be genuinely open to feedback from the team and the entrepreneurs themselves.

Through your collaboration with Forward·Inc, what stands out as your proudest achievement or moment?

“One of my proudest moments as a business coach was witnessing the entrepreneur’s pitch. Seeing his genuine excitement and passion was a beautiful experience, and it made me realize the depth of our personal connection.

Throughout our coaching journey, we encountered misunderstandings and faced our fair share of differences. However, what made this moment truly special was that we worked through these challenges together and managed to create a strong bond, discovering commonalities at a personal level. It reinforced the idea that coaching is not just about achieving professional goals but also about building meaningful connections with the individuals I support.”

What qualities make someone a great Business Coach for the Forward·Inc community?

” First of all, flexibility is essential. You need to adapt to ever-changing situations and be open to new approaches. Secondly, it is important to focus on seeing the bigger picture and not get too caught up in the details. Empathy is another key trait. Understanding and relating to the experiences and challenges of those you’re coaching allows you to build trust. I would also advise future business coaches to be encouraging and ask insightful questions that can help entrepreneurs think critically and find solutions themselves while still tracking the coaching process to ensure it’s on the right path. Last but not least, it’s important for a coach to remain mindful of their role, understand the distinctions between coaching and leading, and clearly define roles and responsibilities within the team.”

What do you wish for Forward·Inc and all the new participants joining the programs?

“For Forward·Inc, I hope you can grow while preserving the informal and energetic atmosphere that made it feel like a genuine community for me. I also wish for Forward to reach and impact as many newcomers as possible, instilling the motivation and determination to start their businesses.”

To the newcomers, I wish them to enjoy every step of their journey. I hope they find inspiration and a sense of fulfilment through the program.

As for future coaches, I hope they embark on this role with enthusiasm and a genuine desire to learn and grow. Coaching can be advantageous, and I believe this sense of fulfilment motivates people to volunteer their time.”

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