As more people seek to unlock their true potential through personal and professional development, the coaching industry is booming. A recent study from the International Coaching Federation estimated global revenue generated by coaching at US$2.849 billion, and that's only likely to increase in the coming years.
Also skyrocketing is the use of artificial intelligence by businesses. Gartner showed a 270% rise in the use of workplace AI between 2015–2019. So, is there an argument to combine the two?
We at F4S like to think so. Having worked in the coaching space for decades, our founder Michelle has witnessed first-hand the profound impact leadership coaching can have on individuals and organizations. However, it has traditionally been incredibly expensive, making it accessible to around 2% of the population. This meant that only a tiny, elite group of people (top leaders and CEOs, and those with the financial means), can get access to accelerated personal development.
However, as we navigate unprecedented global challenges, there's never been a greater need to develop 'human skills.' Problem-solving, out-of-the-box thinking, leadership style, and communication skills will prove crucial at all levels of an organization — not just in the C-suite. It was in this context that we saw an opportunity to democratize professional development, by combining coaching and AI technology.
So in 2021 we developed a unique AI-based coaching app in the form of Coach Marlee. Based on our mission of making human growth and development accessible to everyone, Marlee is a free, artificially intelligent coach.
Coach Marlee specializes in performance coaching, helping you achieve the personal goals that are important to you. Based on decades of evidence-based research into human development, Marlee gets smarter the more you work together.
AI Coach Marlee was built using deep expertise in coaching, behavioral data science, and AI engineering. We coupled founder and CEO Michelle Duval’s 25 years’ worth of expertise with decades of evidence-based research to create personalized coaching support driven by machine learning.
Machine learning enables intent recognition, so Coach Marlee can quickly and accurately understand what you want to achieve. It also allows sentiment analysis so Marlee can identify human emotions and form an appropriate response.
The future of AI coaching is generative conversational AI. Here at F4S, we’re using ChatGPT, which is ChatGPT's language model. This allows Coach Marlee to generate unique conversational responses rather than follow a script. So you get an authentic coaching experience, just like working with a human coach.
This ability to respond to a wider range of conversational inputs means Coach Marlee uses active listening skills, which are critical to intelligent coaching. Marlee can recognize important phrases and reflect them back to you, allowing Coach Marlee to ‘dig deeper’ during coaching chats.
As the world's first AI coach, here are a few of the impressive feats Marlee has accomplished:
This makes Coach Marlee more effective than even the average human coach!
Read on to learn more about how a digital coach can help on your professional development journey.
You might be wondering what the coaching process actually looks like. You can think of a coach as being similar to a mentor — someone you can bounce ideas off and seek guidance and support from. There are many different types of coaching, including life coaching, health coaching, growth mindset coaching and leadership coaching. It also exists across a range of industries, from sport to startups. However, all effective coaches have one thing in common: unlike a consultant, they won't tell you what to do. Instead, they artfully ask core questions, and guide you to reach powerful conclusions yourself. Coaches also help you set meaningful goals, and design the optimal path to get there.
Coaching has endless benefits for both individuals and businesses. Some reported benefits include increased productivity and work performance, improved confidence, and greater team cohesion. In one study, sales teams saw an 88% increase in productivity when coaching was combined with training. For comparison, training alone only resulted in a 22% productivity increase.
A 2013 meta-analysis also reported that coaching had a beneficial impact on well-being, resilience, and goal-directed self-regulation. This is crucial, given that 89% of people experienced burnout during 2021, costing businesses 34% in annual salary per employee. And, at least half of all millennials and Gen Z employees say they will leave their job in the next year, citing burnout, lack of opportunity for development, and lack of meaning in their work.
While the pandemic lit the fuse, this well-being-at-work crisis was already a ticking time bomb. Companies have focused on hard technical skill development for too long. Soft skills (or, human skills) are required to help build the resilience required to deal with uncertainty and rapid change. As are strong interpersonal communication skills, so leaders can help others navigate these challenges.
It’s crucial teams start investing in this area. Not only is it good for employee well-being, it's good for the bottom line. With a reported 700% return on investment, it’s no wonder both companies and individuals are deciding that coaching tools are money well spent.
However, there are limitations to traditional coaching. For starters, it’s synchronous — that is, you and your coach have to be available at the same time. With flexible and nomadic work patterns, this can be challenging.
Working with a coach face-to-face can also feel too confronting for some people. Finding the words to express the challenges they are facing can feel too difficult, or they may be overcome with emotion. Finally, traditional coaching can be costly. Nearly half of all coaches charge between US$300 and US$500 an hour. This makes effective coaching services unaffordable for many of us.
In fact, only a tiny minority typically have access to this level of professional development. For businesses, while the ROI is strong, the development budget required to support hundreds or thousands of employees is prohibitive. This means personalized coaching hasn’t been a scalable solution in the past.
But that’s all changing.
AI coaching uses artificial intelligence to offer an innovative, data-led coaching experience. Based on insights gleaned from our evidence-based assessment, our AI-based coaching app offers recommendations for development resources tailored to your needs. AI smart bots then augment that experience by providing reflection prompts, motivational support, and accountability.
The appetite for these types of bite size, micro-coaching sessions is high. 85% of people want technology to help define their future. They believe that AI can help them:
A further 75% would make life changes based on AI-led recommendations. AI coaching can also help businesses struggling with ‘The Big Quit’. 55% of employees said they’d be more likely to stay with a company that supports their career growth using advanced technologies, such as AI. So, virtual coaching can help employees gain the work-life balance they need for a fulfilling career.
F4S is a digital coaching platform backed by over two decades of motivation research. Founder and pioneering coach Michelle Duval created our AI-powered Coach Marlee. Working with expert coaching partners and AI trailblazers, Duval developed an authentic and highly-effective coaching experience.
By asking powerful questions and customizing responses based on your personal goals, Coach Marlee works alongside you to unearth your human potential.
You like some variety, radical changes, doing new and different things in some of your work or business.
With a little bit of development you can become more socially aware of yourself and others.
One of the biggest advantages of AI-enabled coaching is that it’s highly accessible. AI coaching provides an ‘always on’ solution – you can work with a digital coach whenever it’s convenient for you. Need some solution-focused coaching to quickly get yourself out of a sticky situation? Simply log on at any time of the day or night. It’s also free — which is a not-insignificant benefit, given the average hourly cost of a coach.
At F4S, it all starts with an assessment of your particular motivations. Completing the assessment gets you full access to personalized support from Coach Marlee. Marlee will invite you to set your personal goals, and then provide deeper insights and recommendations to help you achieve your development goals fast.
You might be wondering how F4S stacks up against other AI-enabled coaching solutions.
Well, AI coach bots tend to focus on either assessment or development. For example, BetterUp’s Whole Person Model uses an AI assessment to help identify key areas of development. It then links you to a human coach to help you improve those areas. Meanwhile, Torch’s people development platform instead integrates coaching within other learning pathways.
Here at F4S, we offer the best of both worlds. Coach Marlee is unique in that it helps you in both assessment and development. You can work with Coach Marlee to build awareness around your individual strengths, learning style and potential blind spots. Then, Coach Marlee can help steer you toward your personalized development plan.
This might include help with goal setting or tailored suggestions for your next custom program. Marlee can coach to over 1000 personal and professional goals. There’s also the option for additional support from a human coach, should that be right for you.
As we mentioned above, a huge benefit of an AI-powered self improvement coach is the ‘always on’ availability. No longer do employees have to scramble to fit coaching into their work day (or worse yet, their personal lives) Coach Marlee is there to support your personal development journey 24/7, 365 days a year. Feel most focused first thing? Try a 15-minute pre-work session. More of a night owl? Get stuck in during your evening downtime.
Location-based accessibility also matters. We know you might want to dip into coaching support at home, on the bus, at work, or during your kid's soccer match. So we make sure Coach Marlee offers the same outstanding support, whether you’re on your desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile.
Already have your own personal development plans? You can set your own goals and receive recommendations for resources to help you smash them! Whether you’ve got career development, well-being, personal finance, or relationship goals, Marlee’s alongside you every step of the way.
Once you’ve set your goals, Coach Marlee makes personalized recommendations aligned with what you want to achieve. For example, want to improve your leadership skills? Try the Personal Power program. During this highly-impactful, eight-week program, Coach Marlee will support you in building your capability and confidence in positions of influence.
We have a wide range of programs available, to meet you exactly where you are. One of the nearly 90% of people suffering from burnout? Use Coach Marlee to set a well-being goal that supports your work-life balance and mental health. Our deeply impactful, nine-week Vital Wellbeing program helps increase energy levels and vitality. Weekly cutting-edge, science-backed resources help improve emotional resilience and build self-esteem.
Working with Coach Marlee encourages you to form positive habits in support of your development goals. Marlee offers nudge reminders if you haven’t engaged in a while and provides supportive messages to keep you moving forward. Positive reinforcement as you progress in your program helps build the momentum you need to smash your goals.
And, as Coach Marlee is always available, you can partake in focused sessions whenever you want. Pop into the app and read over a skills development article on your commute. Or log on and complete your daily 15-minute coaching session during your lunch break. Linking development to other activities makes the habit sustainable over the long term.
The F4S platform offers an online journaling app where you can jot down and store all the thoughts, actionable insights, and daily reflections you have during your time working with Coach Marlee. It has a place for you to set your development goals and somewhere for you to track your progress. You can also create a coaching ‘playlist’ based on Marlee’s recommendations. Simply click ‘add to coaching queue’ to build a personalized pathway to success.
AI Coach Marlee is making a difference with entrepreneurs, high growth ventures, universities and across many unique organizations and industries. Let's take a look at some of the companies benefitting from Marlee's cutting-edge AI technology.
During a period of rapid growth, Canva looked for support from F4S to build dynamic, high-performing teams. Using the F4S assessment has helped Canva team members better understand each others’ strengths and preferred ways of working.
With greater shared understanding, teams were able to embrace the differences between members. This has led to improved trust within teams and excitement to embrace opportunities for development and growth together. In fact, 98% of Canva employees welcomed the opportunity to set development goals and take advantage of AI-supported coaching programs.
Cliff Obrecht, co-founder and COO says, “F4S is a central component of our people growth strategy at Canva and empowers us to harness our unique culture and optimize performance as we scale.”
Multinational software corporation SAP, wanted to improve its mentoring program for developing women leaders. Mentors and mentees were often matched based on geographic location or time zone. SAP wanted to bring greater intelligence to its mentoring scheme. It wanted a data-driven way to help create the most beneficial matches based on mentee needs and wants.
Using F4S people analytics, SAP was able to match mentors and mentees based on key motivations and attitudes. It allowed mentees to pinpoint and model specific motivations in mentors they admired. This helped them optimize their unique strengths for leadership roles, giving them confidence for the future.
Mentors and mentees were also able to tap into the resources of the F4S platform. Mentors could track AI coaching interventions and programs recommended for their mentee’s specific goals. They were able to help them reflect and answer any questions that came up as they grew their skillset.
Lorraine Longato, Business Innovation Strategist at SAP, says, “F4S allows you to analyze a person’s characteristics, which allowed us to focus on matching ‘profile needs/wants’. These deep insights lead to a positive outcome for both mentors and mentees as they are being actively heard, helped, and coached to achieve their desired outcomes.”
One of the most common concerns with human coaching is worrying whether your client record is secure and your coaching conversation will remain confidential. Sharing personal goals, challenges, and wellbeing struggles can sometimes feel easier with an AI coach. However, we acknowledge that the disruptive spread of AI has occurred rapidly, and this technology is still very new. While there are exciting implications for many industries, there may still be privacy concerns.
From day one, our focus was to ensure that complete confidentiality and data security was baked into the platform. As a team of professional coaches, we know that trust is crucial in forming effective coaching relationships. So privacy has been considered in every step of our coaching process.
We use ChatGPT4 as the LLM (Large Language Model) but we do not rely solely on it to generate responses. This enables us to have complete control over what Marlee says and avoid inaccurate or irrelevant responses, which can occur due to the occasional 'hallucinations' of deep learning models.
Instead, we utilize the knowledge gathered from Marlee's coaching sessions to provide more effective responses. For instance, Marlee can analyze the successful actions users have taken in the past to reach their goals and use this information to offer targeted advice. We prioritize ethics by anonymizing any identifiable information and generalizing the concepts. This enables Marlee to leverage a broad knowledge base to provide meaningful suggestions without compromising user data.
Experience the cutting edge technology of F4S and the long-lasting benefits of employee well-being and performance. Quickly resolve employee challenges with coaching and see an increase in energy levels and improved leadership.
Our expert coaches developed a 9-week Vital Wellbeing program to help you learn how to calm anxiety quickly and build emotional resistence.
Coach Marlee (your amazing AI-powered personal coach) will analyse your unique traits and goals to personalize the program so you see results as quickly as possible.
In this high impact nine week program Coach Marlee will help you to increase your energy, vitality and general wellbeing while also helping you to break through self sabotage and develop life long skills for emotional resilience and self-esteem. Enjoy weekly cutting edge science backed wellbeing resources from both Marlee and our wellbeing partner Blisspot.
“What profound and exciting coaching. Brilliant!”
"Great experience overall! The 'Attention to detail' coaching program really helped me a lot as it opened up a new way for me to see things. This is very useful in my approach to work."
“Personal power program was great for me to gain confidence and knowledge on approaching my new leadership role”
“Marlee helped me build deeper levels of self-esteem and how I valued myself vis-a-vis the greater world. It also taught me courage to believe in my beliefs, and that it is not about success or failure, but that we give it a go, a try”
“Marlee helped me to work on my self-belief”
“The Team Building coaching program has helped me gain a deeper understanding of my team and how to best lead, communicate and work with them. As a result, collaboration has become so much easier and we can better utilize our creative differences in our decision making - improving our happiness and performance!“
“Trust Your Gut coaching program helped me build deeper levels of self-esteem and how I valued myself vis-a-vis the greater world. It also taught me courage to believe in my beliefs, and that it is not about success or failure, but that we give it a go, a try”
“I love how practical this coaching is!”
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