"Watch It": The Acronym for Building a Strong Workplace Culture

Episode #1072: In this episode of the Arete Coach Podcast, Dr. Shahrzad Sherry Nooravi, an Executive Coach, Organizational Psychologist, Speaker, Author, CEO, ICF Master Certified Coach (MCC), and Founder of Strategy Meets Performance, discusses the importance of creating an intentional culture, emphasizing growth and development, her journey towards becoming an ICF Master Certified Coach, and the power of positive praise.


About Dr. Shahrzad Sherry Nooravi

Dr. Shahrzad Sherry Nooravi is an Executive Coach, Organizational Psychologist, Speaker, Author, CEO, ICF Master Certified Coach (MCC), and Founder of Strategy Meets Performance. Dr. Shahrzad earned her MCC after training at the Center for Creative Leadership and the Hudson Institute of Coaching. Today, she helps business leaders through her organization, Strategy Meets Performance, out of San Diego, California.


Dr. Shahrzad helps individuals, teams, and organizations lead in empowering, bold, and inspiring ways so that their strategy meets their performance. She believes that each of her clients can be the change they want to see in the world and she helps leaders celebrate their strengths and success, share their voices, and work on what may be holding them back from their deepest potential. In doing this, she transforms the leadership of teams, individuals, and company cultures.


In addition to her role at Strategy Meets Performance, Dr. Shahrzad has been an adjunct faculty member for the Center for Creative Leadership since 2010. In 2021, Dr. Shahrzad was the Vice-Chair of the Organizational Development Network and President of the San Diego chapter of the International Coaching Federation (ICF). She is a highly successful author, speaker, group coach, and workshop leader, covering topics such as culture, teamwork, and resilience. Her upcoming book, A Powerful Culture Starts with You, breaks down culture and leadership in a unique and interesting manner with case studies and tips for leaders.


Through her work, she has received multiple awards such as the 2019 Women to Watch award and the 2015 Circulate San Diego Citizen of the Year award.


Key highlights

A Powerful Culture Starts with You

Timestamp 17:13


When recording this podcast, Dr. Shahrzad was working towards publishing her book A Powerful Culture Starts with You. In discussing this book, Dr. Shahrzad shares that through her many years of working with CEOs, giving speeches, and hosting discussions, that CEOs and their executives would often say, “culture feels ambiguous. I get it and I don’t. Tell me what to do.” This inspired her to start writing A Powerful Culture Starts with You. In her book, she uses step-by-step processes and case studies that help others understand how and where culture develops. In her book, she uses the acronym “watch it” meaning:

W: Walk around

A: Ask, seek, explore

T: Take in feedback

C: Clarify and understand

H: Handle your ego

I: Inspire a new plan

T: Take charge of growing yourself and your culture

She follows this acronym with coaching models and quotes to help executives be the start of their powerful cultures.


Defining the “natural energy” of an individual

Timestamp 24:51

When discussing what assessments she uses in her coaching practice, Dr. Shahrzad shares that the cause of some difficulties we face is that they are “outside” of our “natural energy.” She explains that natural energy is much like how a person functions as an introvert or extrovert. In summary, Severin describes natural energy as identifying the “gap between somebody’s natural and adapted or pretended states.”


Dr. Shahrzad also applies this concept of natural energy to the Big Five Personality Traits. She shares there are different energies people have when responding to stress and making goals. By understanding the natural energy or state of a client, Shahrzad can help them better understand their strengths and weaknesses, ultimately helping them achieve their goals.


“Bit by bit the bird builds her nest”

Timestamp 32:30

When asked what personal mantras or sayings Dr. Shahrzad uses in her life, Dr. Shahrzad shares a French saying which translates to, “Bit by bit the bird builds her nest.” She explains that she had to remind herself of this saying anytime there was a large project that she had taken on and wishes that she knew this saying when she started her business. In starting her business she learned that “it takes time. It’s bit by bit.” Just like the bird who builds her nest.


Becoming an ICF Master Certified Coach

Timestamp 36:16

When discussing her journey to obtaining her MCC credential, Dr. Shahrzad states that she believes the certification “raises the industry of coaching.” As she worked towards her certification, she was led to The Hudson Institute of Coaching. In this process, she also worked with a mentor coach who helped her sharpen her coaching to better help the executives and business leaders she works with.

Biography as a coaching tool

Timestamp 47:49

One of Dr. Shahrzad’s favorite coaching tools is the creative biography. Using this tool, she instructs clients to “get creative” and include pictures or images of their goals and what is important to them. In the biography exercise, she asks several questions such as “what positives have you held?”, “what went well with those?”, “what could have been better?”, “tell me about your family background”, “currently, what are your hobbies?”, and “what do you do to recharge?” She will also ask about the things that her clients are proud of, things they have achieved, and their future. She states that she encourages “them to include pictures of their family, pictures of what things they would like to have because there is something really important about visualization.” She uses this tool as a self-discovery tool for clients and a tool that helps her get to know and serve her clients better.


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