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Associate Producer at PikPok Wellington, New Zealand

Case Study: Gabriel Ruiz

You can say I'm an old hand when it comes to leadership. I've been working at it since my mid-teens. However, it's felt both like a gift and a curse. My burden of leadership has brought me great joy and fulfillment over the years. My ability to organize people and resources to create value brought me success as a teacher, preacher, and entrepreneur. But despite my success, the cost of leadership on my psyche often left me shying away from new opportunities. That is until I met Jaques Smit.

I've received coaching from Jaques over the last six growth-filled months. I've developed a healthier understanding of who I am as a leader during this time. With Jaques's patient guidance, I've experienced many level-up moments. Among those, I find three extra beneficial ones that have made me a healthier leader. They are as follows:

  • Contentment with the leader I am.

  • Clarification of my vision.

  • A greater appreciation of the agile method.


Even as I write this, I struggle with placing the word "contentment" and leadership in the same sentence. One of my biggest challenges as a leader has been the constant struggle to fit into a mold that does not suit me. Working with Jaques helped me identify my strengths and accept the leader I am because of them. I am an exceptional leader because I am compassionate, caring, and empathic, not despite those attributes. Now I can continue to grow, facing those parts of leadership I find challenging with my strengths.


One of my strengths as a leader has been creating vision. However, I've generally lacked clear direction in my own vision. With Jaques's help, I've been able to narrow what motivates me, that thing that gets me out of bed each morning and makes facing work challenges a pleasure instead of a burden. Understanding consumer needs and empowering teams to create solutions is my thing. With his help, I've confidently chosen a professional path that fits both my strengths and vision. 


An indirect result of learning to accept my leadership strengths and clarifying my vision has been a greater appreciation for the agile method. Having experienced the waterfall method in various startups, I welcome the agile way of getting things done. By working with Jaques and reading some of his suggested books, I have been able to bridge a perceived disconnect between experience and "business reality." "I know agile works, but" is how I often started sentences about the methodology. Years of a fixed mindset and goal-centric thinking left me unsure about iterative work's "slower" progression. Now I am a true believer in the power of a learning mindset in software development.


In conclusion, I'm grateful for Jaques' assertive coaching. Under his tutelage, I've discovered I can grow as a leader using my strengths instead of trying to be someone I am not comfortable being. Instead of inspiring dread, now I have a cohesive vision that excites me about my professional path in leadership. Finally, I feel empowered to face life with agile grace in a world filled with uncertainty.


I look forward to further growing my leadership with the skilled coaching of Jaques.

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