Avital Ungar is the CEO and Founder of Avital Tours, a culinary exploration company in San Francisco and Los Angeles that offers progressive dining experiences. She's also our 2015 Awesome Coaching Scholarship recipient.
What has been the biggest value of working with a coach for your business?
I think the biggest value is having someone who is always in your corner, invested in your business and your success. As a CEO, you don’t have the opportunity day-to-day to turn to someone for help with your business because you are the leader. It’s great to have somebody who’s honest and points out the areas where you can improve and then actually gives you the tools to help you improve.
What has been the biggest value of working with a coach for you as a human and as a leader?
I always joke that this is “business therapy.” You have somebody to listen to you, be on your team, and help shape you into being a better person. I’m able to be more effective and efficient, to prioritize my personal life and create balance.
I’m now able to understand both my strengths and weaknesses while developing my self-awareness. I stay motivated and know that other people go through this, and I’m not alone.
What does the future of your business look like now compared to before coaching?
Oh, goodness. It’s completely changed. My business is more effective, more efficient, better run. It has a clearer vision. I have a clearer direction of where I want to take the company and how I’m going to get there.
What do you like in particular about working with Awesome?
It’s so easy to work with Awesome. They are incredibly professional and organized. I find that Andrea brings a lot of curiosity to the sessions, which is one of my core values.
She constantly reminds me of my core values. She gets me. She gets my business on a level that I haven’t worked on with anybody else. She’s incredibly intuitive. She understands when to be straightforward and when to help me find the right answer for myself.
What should people know before working with a coach?
Learn when to talk and when to listen. This is something I don’t do so great on because I think “I have all these problems. I get to dump them on Andrea once every two weeks!”
It’s a great outlet, but it helps to plan ahead. My best sessions are when I’ve actually thought through the top three issues that I want to discuss. The more you can do that, the more you’ll get out of the session.
You also have to have an open mind. Be ready to learn about what you might not be doing perfectly. There just has to be a mindset that there’s always room for improvement and that you don’t have all of the answers.
What has been the hardest part of working with a coach?
It’s not always easy to hear about what you’re doing wrong. It’s not always easy when you’re an entrepreneur and you’re working day and night with this great vision. It’s not easy to be thinking “I’m no closer today than I was three days ago.”
It can be frustrating because it’s not immediate change. I’m trying to change a behavior and a behavior doesn’t change overnight. It’s a struggle. But with coaching, I always have support, and each session I’m taking something new from the conversation, a new perspective.
Who do you think would most benefit from the scholarship program?
You have to want balance in your life. You have to be self-motivated towards change. CEOs who are involved, driven, and really care about their company values, sense of community, and the culture that they’re creating will get a lot from coaching.
As an example, having coaching meant that as the company grew, I was able to attract better employees because I had a clear vision on who I wanted to hire. It saved me a lot of money on hiring the right people. Without it, I would not have been as effective.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share?
Just that it’s great to have a coach in the beginning, to put that dynamic into place from the start instead of having to change and rebuild your culture later.