Ask the Right Questions - Sam Montoya

Personal growth and development is ideal for successful entrepreneurs and professionals. But approaching your personal development with the right questions and curiosity is a must for everyone.

Regardless if you are a professional here in this space or an entrepreneur, there are challenges we all face that are part of the human condition. I recently had an insightful conversation with the Owner and CEO of Systems of Impact, Sam Montoya, a Growth-minded Coach for Millennials. He shared a wealth of knowledge and perspectives that will serve you no matter what path you are taking.

Sam shares some of the lessons he's got from experience with pivoting careers and starting his own coaching business. There are many nuggets of wisdom you can find in our conversation, but let's dig into the always challenging entrepreneurial life and how asking the right questions can guide you toward significant change in your professional and personal life.

Entrepreneur's Rude Awakening

While still in his corporate position as a product manager, Sam is fittingly in the business of coaching. He is naturally curious and has found joy helping others unearth answers to questions to find their truth. When it comes to business, however, he has found coaching to be the easiest part. Its the marketing, the sales and every other part of operations that is the challenge, for many entrepreneurs.

So while you may or may not be alone reading this, can you shamelessly raise your hand if the "everything else about operating a business" part is driving you a little bit crazy? You get into business for the opportunity to provide a product or service and do what you love that brings you joy and serves others. For the creatives and the coaches and many others out there, operating your business can be a rude awakening. It takes many skills and functions to operate a successful business. The entrepreneur that wants to run flower shop finds out that he or she will need to do accounting, sales and marketing, figure out branding and social media. Yes, you can hire professionals for some or all of these services, but budgets vary and there may still be parts you will be challenged to take on.

Where there is the art of the craft that you love and enjoy, there is also everything else that contributes to the dream becoming reality.

In a recent article from the Harvard Business School Online, What Does It Take To Be A Successful Entrepreneur?, Tim Stobierski says, "Countless aspiring entrepreneurs have an interesting, innovative, and compelling business idea, but don’t have the skills or qualities to carry it through to fruition."

It is true, doing the one thing requires you to step out of your comfort zone and be willing to see challenges as opportunities to learn, especially in the infancy stage of your business. For Sam, starting a YouTube channel to share valuable content as part of the marketing side of his coaching business was one of those opportunities. It involves recording footage, video editing, production, color grading, audio effects, and ultimately learning Adobe Premiere Pro. Acquiring transferable skills, such a storytelling is another opportunity that Sam says is serving him well in both coaching and in his corporate job.

Perspective matters. Embracing the challenges as opportunities to learn and put systems in place by understanding how these components interact and effect each other will serve your business and overall vision much more efficiently. Allow yourself and your team to enjoy the learning process, stumble gracefully and rejoice the day you can hand the more technical operations over to a professional.

But, I am pretty sure you are here to see Between the Highlights, so Sam does detail his strategic approach to putting systems in place for his business. Starting with the ideal customer or your avatar is a pretty standard place to start for any entrepreneur or business. Sam explains how looking at the sales piece that ties to coaching, lead options and lead magnets , Facebook ads, and such led to him asking what gaps existed in his knowledge that would prevent him from being able to facilitate "X" (whatever X is for you). Those gaps are the opportunities to learn so that you understand and know how to implement and operate your growing business.

Takeaway: Identify the gaps (a.k.a. opportunities) in your business where you can learn specific skills (hopefully transferrable skills) that will lead directly to increased sales, better marketing, and client or customer retention.

Tip #1:

Coaches can help bridge the gaps and accelerate your growth. Sam stresses this importance and adds that looking for mentorship can be just as helpful and doesn't have to be formal. Learn from whoever you can that has the knowledge you need. (Set aside ego and make the investment in a proper coach)

Asking the Right Questions

Confidence and Fulfillment

Asking the right questions of yourself can guide you toward significant change in your professional and personal life. As a coach, Sam talks about asking contextualized questions that will help a person find the answer they need, not the one that they want. So what are the right questions you should be asking yourself? Also, how should you approach asking these questions?

Starting with yourself is of the highest importance. Going through a rough period in his life brought Sam to a place where he started to ask what core values do I want? Beginning with values and a belief system was a way for Same to not only get to work on himself, it was a way to build confidence. He shares part of a powerful inner dialogue that I am sure many of us have had a version of internally:

Am I confident that I can be the person that I want to be [...] who the hell do I even want to be?

Asking the kind of questions that truthfully answering will leave you changed and rocked to your core is what we can all benefit from. The other part of this that I ask Sam about, is my own recent obsession with creating the best version of your future self. I have found such tremendous value in looking toward the best version of me that my solution for anyone that ask me (at least before this conversation with Sam) is to focus who you want to be and lean into planning your days, your thoughts and actions based on that version of "reality." Live a life aligned to who you say you want to become.

Sam brilliantly reminds me that it is more important for you to meet yourself at the level you are at. His recommendation is to just get clarity on what kind of person you want to be, what you stand for in terms of your values. There is internal work to do on yourself and that comes in levels.

“I don’t need to know what my ideal life is today, maybe I just need to know what my ideal morning is” -Sam Montoya

Answer simple questions to gain perspective and curiosity for a better quality of life. Fulfillment is not an outcome, it is a factor for the person that wants to matter, and wants what they do to also matter. I believe Sam is masterful in asking those contextualized questions because, as he mentions, it is about actively seeking to understand the answers within. Sam breaks it down and share the steps he took that got him on course to succeeding with confidence:

  1. Define the kind of person he wanted to be.

  2. Adopting values (he mentions Bushido the Samurai Code)

  3. Adopting beliefs to support those values (he mentions Impact Theory's Belief System)

  4. Then seeing the external life reflect in the new person he knew he was.

"when you believe that your worth and your self worth are not dependent on any external situation but they're your own internal compass, then you start to see things in a very different way" -Sam Montoya

These are ideas of the types of questions to be asking yourself. One thing I am always fond of when speaking with Sam is that he pushes back with deceivingly simple questions, yet I find that answering his questions sends me through a digging expedition to uncover what's beneath the surface of a superficial answer. Kind of how when someone asks, "how are you doing?" and your knee-jerk, pre-programmed answer is always good ...fine. Unless you are talking about being Jocko Willink GOOD, then I ask that you be more intentional and thoughtful with how you approach answering questions that have the potential to unlock an outcome you never imagined possible.

Your approach to answering questions needs to be with curiosity. Be curious in a way that organically leaves you seeking to understand yourself and others in a greater way. Curiosity is also a distinct personality trait associated with being an entrepreneur. Greatness across all times in history was sparked by curiosity. So be great!

I will leave you with this powerful wish Sam has for all of you, and it is this:

"Just be curious about the world around you and understand that everyone is going through their own thing, and just seek to understand the world around you and you will be very pleasantly surprised of how the world will open up to you"

Sam Montoya is not just a Success Coach to Millennials and a Product Manager with MGM, he is also a Student Ambassador with Impact Theory University. He is supportive, insightful and a wealth of knowledge.

Systems of Impact's YouTube Channel