Heuristic for selecting a Trainer

When looking at a potential coach or teacher, I find myself often using the following criteria to help me make a selection.

  • Openness: Do they expose their ideas and opinions in public forums? Do they allow discourse and feedback on their material, or is it a one-way channel?
  • Prior Art: Research material authored by the coach: articles, blog posts, videos, code, tweets, publications. Are ideas clearly expressed and compatible to your mode of learning?
  • Bias: Do they present multiple facets to ideas? Is there personal incentive for endorsing one idea over another?
  • Interpersonal: The “Play nice with others” factor. How to they behave in a group? Do they foster relationships and enable growth? Do they advocate for peers in their profession?
  • Referral: Use your network of both people you know or online personas you respect and see if any of them approve or refer to the trainer or their material.
  • Experience: Review the individual’s listed skills, credentials, and experience. Can you trust them to bring authentic information that you believe applies to your needs?

This is not a comprehensive lists (all models are flawed). What questions do you ask yourself when evaluating potential mentors, coaches, trainers, or teachers?

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