Combining the best of personal interaction and statistical analysis

What do you get when you mix a passion for connecting with people and a love of data analytics together? Meet Benjamin Craig, InsideTrack Success Coach.

Prior to becoming a coach, Benjamin spent twelve years working with college students — teaching, working as a writing consultant and managing a writing center. When the opportunity arose, coaching felt like a natural transition. “Teaching always felt a little bit like working with a room full of people, but hoping to have personalized impact. Coaching has allowed me to have the types of one-on-one interactions I always wanted to emphasize as a teacher.”

One of the first learners he called picked up the phone and said, “Thanks for calling, but I'm not eligible. This is a program I'm not going to be able to pursue.” Never one to give up, Benjamin asked the learner a couple of questions anyway — and things began to click. “I was able to determine that this learner wasn't familiar with the jargon that comes with the process of getting started in higher ed. Through coaching, we were able to break down those barriers and determine that she actually was eligible.” He explained that all of the things she saw as obstacles to her program eligibility were actually just words and phrases she didn’t understand. “In just a few steps, we got her from ‘I’m not going to be able to pursue my dream’ to ‘I've applied, I've been admitted to college and I'm on my path.’ ”

“In just a few steps, we got her from ‘I’m not going to be able to pursue my dream’ to ‘I've applied, I've been admitted to college and I'm on my path.’ ”

Benjamin understands the challenge his learners face when they’re taking on college with no tools or experience to tap into — because that mirrors his own experience starting school. “The tools for laying the course for growth in education aren’t automatic. They have to be learned, they have to be discovered. Coaching is a way of getting that impact out to the people who need it most.” 

And as Benjamin sees it, coaching doesn’t just happen one-on-one with a coach — it can happen outside the coaching meeting too. He shares the story of having an initial meeting with a learner to explain his role and some of the basics of the program the learner was considering. At their next check in several weeks later, it was clear that the learner wasn’t confident about moving forward with the program. In the months that passed before they talked for a third time, the learner observed the progress his colleagues had made in their education and how working with coaches had contributed to their success. Having been introduced to coaching from Benjamin, the learner knew exactly where to turn when he was ready. “Sometimes impact happens outside of the coaching session. We know that what we do has an impact, even when we don't see it immediately.”

Away from work, Benjamin loves baseball, describing himself as not just a fan, but a full-on baseball nerd. As a kid, he created fake statistics and then scored players from the back of baseball cards using his own “super stats.” “At the time,” he says, “I didn't realize that this was the beginning of my interest in the very human game of baseball and connecting it to my interest in statistical information.” To Benjamin, baseball brings the best of both interests together. “It's so human and such a cultural thing,” he notes, “and it's also this incredibly vast amount of information and statistical data and history.”

Working as an InsideTrack coach has brought forth a parallel to his passion for baseball. His first connection to coaching was the deeply human, direct impact of working one-on-one with learners. But he has also been able to support his team by stepping back to use data analytics to create a team strategy. “I always had a keen interest in working with individuals, as well as a separate interest in statistics and data analytics. Coaching has really brought those together for me. As someone who thinks about coaching strategy and about how it intersects with data, I can see how those things merge to create real and direct learner impact.”

“Through coaching, I get to be a small part of a lot of stories, and that gives me something that I've always valued – that type of human connection. I'm grateful to have it so consistently almost every day. A story is a way of encapsulating a whole person in a way, a whole experience, sort of the meaning behind experiences.” And for Benjamin, that’s what it’s all about.

“Coaching is an opportunity to make a meaningful impact on one person… and then hopefully one more person and one more person after that. I think the key is that it's so individualized. We can meet people where they are, with the needs that they have, and be present with them. Being in that moment means a lot to me.”

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