Coaching From the Inside Out with J Val Hastings

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Keeping Agile Non-Denominational, Episode 28

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Alex Kudinov   Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of Tandem Coaching Academy's Keeping Agile Non-Denominational podcast, and we are your hosts today Cherie Silas and I, Alex Kudinov. Here today, we have Val Hastings. He's an MCC and he is the president of, actually, two organizations, Coaching4Clergy and Coaching4Today'sLeaders and I know that Cheire started her coaching path with Val, with his organization, with his school, so we're talking to kind of proto father of Tandem Coaching Academy. That's where it started. Val, really good to have you here. Why don't you introduce yourself to our listeners?

J Val Hastings   Yeah, well, first of all, thank you, Alex and Cherie, it's good to be with you. Cherie, I remember when you started with our training program; we're proud of the fact that you're an MCC at this point. It's really exciting to see one of our graduates at that point. So my name is Val Hastings. As Alex mentioned, I'm a Master Certified Coach. I've been coaching since 1999. Doesn't feel like that long ago

Alex Kudinov   It was a great year.

J Val Hastings   It was a great year. Yeah, it was. I am the founder of two organizations, Coaching4Clergy [and] Coaching4Today'sLeaders. I've just recently spent the last year during this COVID pandemic interviewing 21 internal coaches from around the world and put all that, the interview information, together in a book called Coaching from the Inside Out and I'm excited about that, because I learned some really interesting things about internal coaches and coaching inside.

Alex Kudinov   So sounds like you've been busy during COVID and I'm sure you use Zoom a lot as we all did

J Val Hastings   Oh, man, I have the Zoom glasses to take care of it too.

Alex Kudinov   So coaching from inside out, what's different between coaching from outside in?

J Val Hastings   Oh, wow, where do I begin? First of all, most of the coaching and coach training that I received was really modeled after the external coach model, where someone outside of the organization, who really has very little history, or relationship comes in, coaches, and then leaves nothing wrong with that model. It's been very, very effective; very helpful. Internal coaching or coaching from the inside is really, "How do I, as someone who's part of this organization with a history, how can I use the coaching skills to really develop and to move this organization as well as the individuals forward?" So you're living day to day. You do what I call 'coaching on the fly' often; so it's not a scheduling appointment but as you're going out to get a cup of coffee, walking down the hallway, going from one zoom meeting to the next, you do coaching on the fly.

Cherie Silas   Coaching in the hallway.

J Val Hastings   Yeah, hallway coaching. Yeah!

Cherie Silas   So then as you look at internal coaching, versus external coaching, what are some of the, maybe, competencies or skills that are different?

J Val Hastings   Well, so I saw all of the core competencies being used internally, as well as externally. Perhaps the way in which they were used, or the emphasis, was different. So for example, one of the things that we noticed being used extremely well was what we call 'hat switching'. So as an external coach, I want to stay in the role of coach primarily 95% of the time, occasionally changing hats, if needed, for my client, but as an internal coach, because you already have a history with people, and you also have other roles, you need to switch hats kind of like in that hallway in the moment. Coach, consultant, supervisor, peer, back and forth, all to really advance the person forward. You have to become masterful at that, Cherie, as an internal coach.

Cherie Silas   Yeah, that makes me wonder, I know that you interviewed regular internal coaches -- non-Agile internal coaches, let's say that, and then a bunch of Agile coaches -- I'm wondering if there's any difference between...like, I know Agile coaches do a lot of consulting, and training, and all that. What about the other internal coaches?

J Val Hastings   So I think the difference is the degree or the amount. So, regular internal coaches, I saw the hat switching not as much. Agile coaches...that was just regular because you have different roles or modes that you operate under. So it's much more pronounced in the Agile world.

Alex Kudinov   It sounds like a lot of hats, and hopefully as they are not worn on the hand at one time, otherwise...it's like, as they say, English crown is very heavy. So too many hats on the head,might hurt your neck. As you're talking about coaching in the hallways, what's coming up for me, we teach our students not to do ninja coaching, right? Always to have the agreement, always to have this understanding, with the client that, "I'm a coach", or "I am this", or "I am that." So as you are walking down the hallways, and you're kind of constantly in this mode -- or more often in this mode -- what do you see of importance to actually stay away from ninja coaching but still be able to do coaching on the fly?

J Val Hastings   Yeah. Well, the first guiding principle that was reinforced by every internal coach was the coaching stance that it all begins with that coaching approach of listening, really resisting the urge to jump in, right away, with another hat or another modality but it all begins with that. Another theme that came across just...loud and clear was, 'Who coaches the coach?' because you're on all the time, even when you're going down the hallway, when you're eating lunch-- like Cherie, you're on your lunch break right now, you're still in coach mode. So you really need someone to help you, an extra set of eyes, so that you're at your best; so that someone can call you out on what's happening. One person highlighted, one of the coaches from the UK, said, "I really just need to learn how to leave my stuff at the door when I walk into the organization; I can't bring my stuff in. My biases...because I'm part of the organization, I have an investment in this, I've got to have someone helping me with that. So, those are some things that came through loud and clear. Alex, I don't know if that's getting at the ninja coach you're talking about or?

Alex Kudinov   That brings another interesting point. So where do coaches go for that help? If you're part of organization, you live and breathe that air, those politics, those kinds of events. So how do you actually go about leaving it at the door?

J Val Hastings   So having a coach, or someone, can be very, very helpful. Many of the internal coaches have buddied up with people within their organization. Although, as I mentioned before our recording, what I noticed with the Agile coaches, is that they have relationships outside of their immediate organization that they're part of, which affords them the opportunity, now, to do some peer coaching, even just to check in regularly with someone, "Hey, here's what's happening. Can you give me your thoughts on this?" and I think that's incredibly helpful. That was one of the things that the non-Agile coaches reported that they desperately need. In fact, they went so far as to say, in the chapters and in the gatherings of international coaching associations, when they went as an internal coach, they often felt very disconnected and didn't feel that support that they wanted. So I really think we've got to be very intentional for the internal coach to help create that kind of an environment for them.

Alex Kudinov   As you're talking about that, that reminds me that in Agile coaching we are yet to have that code of ethics, or kind of guiding ethical principles, and it's actually more fertile environment for sharing ideas, sharing stories-- because what happened in the room, I mean, there is nothing that would stop some Agile coach to go and talk about that with partners, with friends, with greater community, and then you go to professional coaching, you're still an ICF Coach, you're still subscribed to code of ethics. So, what's happening there, how can professional coaches still get that help and still stick with the code of ethics and confidentiality?

J Val Hastings   Well, I'm training a group of internal coaches right now for a large organization, and they've decided to adopt the Code of Ethics from the International Coach Federation because they didn't have anything internally. Now, they probably need to adapt that a little bit and so in the next week or so they've made an appointment with their legal advisor at their organization just, 'Help us through some sticky situations that we think might occur.' They've basically adopted the code of ethics. One of the things that they've created--- after you write a book, you always think, 'Oh, I wish I had included this in', they've actually created a number of scenarios, real life scenarios that they've coached through, they've changed the names, they've sanitized it so you can't figure out who it is, and then created this whole series of scenarios that future coaches that I'll train, or they'll train, can really benefit from reading through and seeing how this was actually coached. 

Cherie Silas   That sounds like it might be a book all by itself.

J Val Hastings   It could be Cherie. It could be and, you know, what showed up a lot in the scenarios was EQ, or lack of EQ.

Cherie Silas   Yeah. So what I've noticed is-- or what I've always subscribed to as an Agile coach is, while we may not be coaching all the time, in fact, Agile coaching, you're probably only "coaching" coaching, we call it professional coaching, for a very small amount of time but what you're doing is taking a coach approach, right? I am a coach, I behave like a coach, I think like a coach, I ask questions before giving answers, all that stuff, like a coach would.

J Val Hastings   Yeah, I would agree. Yeah.

Cherie Silas   So I know that in your book, when you talk to everybody, you kind of came up with some guiding principles that are big ones that people are saying, "If you're gonna do this, do this." What are some of those that you think are kind of most valuable to highlight?

J Val Hastings   Yeah, so we came up with eleven different guiding principles. I think some of the biggies-- one of the biggest was, demonstrate your worth; internal coaches often make the assumption that because they're employed or hired within the organization, that they're safe, that they don't have to demonstrate their worth, or provide data or stories...that is a myth.

Cherie Silas   It is a myth.

J Val Hastings   Yeah, especially during COVID times and companies are cutting back. It is not enough for your immediate supervisor or for HR to know the stories and to have the data. Across the board coaches were saying you've got to find ways to to send those stories up to the top decision makers so that they're regularly hearing and have quick access to information. Also important under demonstrating your worth, to regularly educate people as to what coaching is and what it isn't. Even though you might start out with a clear understanding of coaching, it quickly falls into some kind of punitive approach, which coaching is not. So that was the biggie; demonstrate your worth coaching the system.  Now, the Agile coaches, that was just part of what they do, those that were not Agile, for many of them coaching the system was a brand new idea. So they were coaching individuals, teams, and groups but, for whatever reason, never thought that they could actually coach the entire organization. So Cherie, at Tandem, you've got a really great program on coaching the system that I included snippets of in the book. That was another biggie that's there. Vernon in China talks about living with your mess as an internal coach. It is a great image. He said, "External coaches are like seagulls. They fly in, leave a deposit, and fly out. Internal coaches, you're living in that mess day to day. Because you're living in the mess...I mean that hallway coaching is totally different than as an external coach. Contracting matters and conflicts of interest. Not IF we have conflicts of interest but because you're coaching throughout the entire system, it is inevitable. You've got to look for them. You got to be aware of them. You've got to educate people on them. The other one, another one that came from you, Cherie, was to give conflict a voice. Again, conflict is inevitable, combat is optional. If we give it a voice, we can avoid the combat at all costs. That's just the highlight of them

Cherie Silas   Yeah, hearing you say that last one, it makes me wonder how many of those coaches talked about resistance in the system. I know, Agile coaches talk a lot about that but I don't know about other internal coaches.

J Val Hastings   So I'll use, for example, the group that I'm training right now. Over half of them are HR talent development individuals. So they've got a pretty good amount of influence within the system. There isn't, at least at this point, a whole lot of resistance but what I am hearing is that, as they get out further to the real decision makers, the three or four people that really hold the power, they say things like, "If we can get 'so and so' on board, we've got it. If they don't get this, it's not gonna happen."

Cherie Silas   Yeah.

Alex Kudinov   It sounds like getting on board, and then living with that mess, is somewhat different for internal coaches than external coaches, because external coaches might just say, "Yeah, it would be good to get them on board. What do you want to do about that?" Then internal coaches have more skin in the game, and they have to live with the decisions that not only them, but also coaches make? So I'm wondering, you mentioned that contracting and conflict of interest are more prevalent in these internal coaches than external coaching. So how does one prepare for that?

J Val Hastings   Well, I think one of the things is not if it happens but when. So you know, as an internal coach, there are going to be potential conflicts of interest. So, you might be coaching someone and end up coaching their supervisor as well. Even though you're not talking about each of them, there's even just the appearance, "Oh, I wonder what my coach told them about me" and you have to be very, very careful of that. Even-- I know of a number of internal coaches that have actually gone so far as to say that, in that relationship that I've talked about, where you're coaching the employee as well as the supervisor, where they've actually said, "I can't coach both of you." You know, we need to decide. Other coaches have said if they're coaching the team, they will not coach the team leader one to one. Again, it needs to be another person so that we're not having this conflict of interest so that, really, the individual is getting cared for as well as the team. So it's really just knowing to look for it and stepping up and talking about it. Probably talking about it in advance, Alex.

Alex Kudinov   So going for that awareness. We keep talking a lot about awareness for our clients, here comes awareness for the coaches. Ta-da!

J Val Hastings   Yes, yes.

Alex Kudinov   And you also mentioned that, in the Agile world specifically, talking about ROI is a very big topic and, look, for a good reason. There's a lot of mess in Agile world, where people come in, and then transformations fail. So, people want to show the results. So I'm wondering for internal coach, and primarily professional coach, where you're still kind of changing those hats but still you are in professional capacity. What are some ways you observed, you noted, that are good to show ROI, to show your value to the organization?

J Val Hastings   Sure, sure. So, surveys, you know, even just very informal surveys, came through on those interviews. Asking before questions and after questions. So if you're brought into work with an individual or a team on communication, conflict...do a quick 'Before' survey, then afterwards follow up. That's a very simple way to do that. Most of the Agile coaches also have a number of assessments and tools that they use, where they can actually do some measuring as well. 360s came up quite a bit. In Europe, especially in England, I heard a lot of talking about the use of storytelling where you, with the person's permission, changing names of course, sanitizing things but telling the story. "Here's what has been reported back to me from this individual." Stories have a way of  staying with people and kind of connecting-- we connect with stories in a way that we do differently than with data. So that seemed to be a big thing. I know you mentioned I have Coaching4Clergy; stories are big in the clergy world, much more important, it seems, at times than data. So that would be a way to do that in faith-based organizations.

Cherie Silas   Well, that makes me wonder about how coaching internally and for profit or nonprofit organizations is similar to clergy; coaching in their space.

J Val Hastings   Yeah. So, almost every clergy I know wants the coaching skill set. I hear things like, 'Where was this training? I mean, we deal with people. How do we bring out the best in people? How do you do that when you've not been equipped?' and so, everyone that I know in the faith based world wants the skill set. So there's a lot of similarity. Everybody wants to know how to be a coach. In fact, I was just-- before our call, I was reading through a 2020 coaching survey, it said that 74%, three in four manager/leaders -- this is across the board -- want to enroll in a coach training program at some point. They just see the value. Three out of four manager leaders. Yes, here we are.

Alex Kudinov   We'll take them!

Cherie Silas   Send them here!

J Val Hastings   Yes. They see the value of it. It's a little different though in a faith based world, very relational, not so much around strategy. Whereas when you're with for profits, I mean, the relational parts, they're big on strategy, they're to your mission, vision, all of that. So there's some differences there.

Cherie Silas   I know when I was a pastor, and I started coaching, I was always like, 'I am not a counselor. I cannot- I'm not getting involved in that. Nobody's suing me" and then when I learned coaching, I was like, 'Now, this I can do. If you need counseling, go to a counselor. If you need coaching, we're all over it.

J Val Hastings   Yeah.

Cherie Silas   If we go back to the organizations, was there a difference that you heard between the experience of employees who were internal coaches, and external contract-type people who were there as internal coaches and did anything come up with that?

J Val Hastings   Hmm, let's see. Well, I mean, some of the differences were the internal coaches usually knew the names and the people that were being talked about in the coaching session. So, they knew the stories in advance. So there was always a sense of, "I need to keep that in check that may or may not be helpful." External coaches came in as a complete blank slate. 'Tell me more about this.' That was a big thing, I noticed. A lot of the internal coaches-- there is a camaraderie when you're part of an internal coach team. There's a camaraderie that's there. External coaches, you're often solo and it can be very lonely. So the internal-- I mean, I'm a bit envious. I've been an external coach, most of my time, all on my own. I've had to surround myself with a team, intentionally. Internal coaches, you've got that there. So I mean, those are some of the differences. Is that getting at what you're asking, Cherie?

Cherie Silas   Yeah that makes sense

Alex Kudinov   So going back to your eleven guiding principles. So it's eleven, it's not ten, and I was kind of... how many of those ten, 'Thou shalt not kill'-- you did one more.

J Val Hastings   I did one more.

Alex Kudinov   You did one more. So what is the most important there?

J Val Hastings   What is the-- well, the first one is the most important, it always begins with the coaching stance. I think that, across the board, it always begins with that. To me, that is the most-- if you get that right, you've got the rest.

Alex Kudinov   What does it mean, 'you get it right'?

J Val Hastings   So the coaching stance is that it always begins with listening, and it's a certain type of listening, we're not listening for what's wrong or broken but for what's possible, what's emerging, what could be. We're listening for the greatness and we're listening without assumptions. So, even though I'm part of this organization and have a history, I'm going to do my best to, not set that aside all together, but to put that over to the side, so that I can hear what I might not be aware of. So to listen, and I might bring in some of my history and my experience, but I'm going to try and just not bring assumptions here into the conversation.

Alex Kudinov   We touched a little bit on that, and I'm still kind of struggling with the idea that when you're part of the organization, when you're kind of immersed, steeped in everything-- everyday life there, that... well, I understand it's not easy, but it's even possible to put aside what you know, and to listen for what's emerging, to listen for the benefit of the client, rather than to listen to yourself -- kind of that level one listening -- so I'm wondering if there are any suggestions that you'd have for internal coaches to steel, or to reinforce, their ability to kind of get into that stance and stay there.

J Val Hastings   So I think one, just being aware of it. If you need to put a placard in front of your computer, or something, that just says, "It all begins with listening, just remember that all the time" that reminder will be helpful. Here's where having a coach can be helpful. So, you have someone that you're taking stuff to where you can say, "Hey, I'm wondering if ______. Here's the scenario." Here's where internal coaches, because you probably have a cohort or a team of coaches, you can regularly get together and share scenarios. "Here's what's going on. Call me on this." You can really give each other permission to say things, to step in. That can be really helpful. I do think we also need to recognize, as an internal coach, that there will be a point when maybe what's needed is more an external coach; to kind of have an idea of, "What would that look like?" So really, if I find that I'm so invested in this that it is hard to set to the side what's needed, then maybe I need somebody else to step in.

Cherie Silas   Yeah. It sounds like that's a great space for Supervision.

J Val Hastings   Yes! Yeah, exactly Cherie! Yeah.

Cherie Silas   One of the things that I've been focusing on this past...a little bit over a year, is bringing Coaching Supervision over into the Agile space and it's because of this exact thing. You're in there, sometimes you're in there alone, and you don't have those coaches around you. So, working with a Supervisor to reflect on that stuff, that's what I'm thinking could be helpful.

J Val Hastings   Absolutely. I think the timing of what you're proposing and what you're bringing Cherie is perfect. Absolutely, that's what's needed.

Cherie Silas   You said something a little while ago, and I was like, 'Oh, talk more about that.' When you talked about, 'when we're listening, we're listening for what's right, not for what's broken' and so, with Agile coaches, there's almost this instinctual, "I'm going in there to fix things!" even though...you know...you can't fix them. You have to see people as competent but that's such a different way of thinking. So, I'm wondering, what would you say to Agile coaches, right? They're going in there a lot of times and thinking, "I'm a consultant, my client's broken, I know how to fix them. I'm listening for everything that's wrong. I'm not listening for what's right. That's not what I'm here for." Would you say to that?

J Val Hastings   So I would think, first of all, there's a reason why the title is Agile Coach and not Agile Consultant. Okay? *laughs*

Cherie Silas   Yes!!

J Val Hastings   So that's the first thing. That says, to me, that you start in the coaching role. Even as an external coach, you start with the coaching stance, you see the greatness, you see what's possible, and then there are times when what the person needs is for you to advise or to tell. That is a competency, to share our expertise, but if you start with the coaching stance, and then you just see that's exactly what they need to move forward, you switch that hat. Let me consult a bit. Now let me go back to the coach stance. I think as Agile coaches, you have a chance to really demonstrate the value of continually going back to that 'Agile Coach' hat.

Alex Kudinov   As you were developing this topic of internal coaching, I presume, as you were talking about ROI and listening to stories about ROI, you got a lot of stories, not only how to show the ROI, but also what ROI organizations got from developing internal function; developing internal coaches. So what can you share, maybe stories, maybe numbers, that would basically, to our listeners, would be, "Hmm, that's probably a good idea to start thinking about"?

J Val Hastings   Let me think. Some of the stories I heard were, that hallway coaching piece where people coaches recounted people years later saying, "You probably don't remember this, but while we were walking together down the hallway..." or "While we were sitting side by side on that plane trip, to go work with the division that's over here, we had a conversation, and you were really, really helpful." They're recounting then that that was a defining moment in their life. To me, that goes back to the, 'It starts with listening.' So, to be in that mode of listening, that coaching stance all the time. That was the main piece. In terms of other ROI, I know there are two coaches in Calgary, that I interviewed, who are big on demonstrating your worth. They shared a number of just very informal surveys that they used all the time, you know, "A scale of one to ten, where are you now?" Then afterwards, "Where are you now at the end of our coaching?" That seemed to be biggies. Alex, I don't know if that's what you're asking but...

Alex Kudinov   I still want to go a little bit deeper. So let's say organization, somebody from HR listening to our podcasts, and they're like, "Well, yeah, it sounds good. Sounds like there's a lot of stories that are success stories but how do I go to my CHRO, and how do I sell them even on the idea that, "Hey, can we invest several hundred grand into starting developing this?" So what would your suggestion be; what's the motivation there?

J Val Hastings   So most of the people I interviewed started small. So they didn't go for 100 grand or more but they started with, "Cherie and Alex are offering this training. It's an introduction to coaching" and they get that introduction. "I'd like to start this in my department" and then they kept the stories, the data, and they kept presenting that. They did a lot of educating. 'Here's what, what coaching is, here's what it isn't.' So taking what they were learning and doing lunch and learn; those kind of things-- just recognizing that it's a wave that you can kind of build and just keep going at this. I mean, the organization I'm training right now. I'm training seven people right now in their organization and it took almost a year just to get the funding for that. There's a lot of legwork involved to get to that point.

Alex Kudinov   Definitely that one, no conversation there about Agility with Agility in budgeting.

J Val Hastings   You know, I think the reason I got the contract, Alex, was that I hung out the longest; all the other contractors gave up. *laughs*

Cherie Silas   That is funny. Yeah, I mean, this just points to the reality of, coaching is valuable but it's really hard to describe the value, you have to experience it, and that's just as hard in an organizational sense as it is an individual sense.  Yes. Absolutely.  Well, what else is in the book that we haven't talked about that's something you want to bring out?

J Val Hastings   'Something I want to bring out' What else haven't we talked about...

Cherie Silas   You know, it doesn't even have to be in the book. We've been talking about the book. What do you want to say now?

J Val Hastings   Well, I think the motivation for writing the book Cherie is that-- I mean, we have our coach training program as well and more and more of the students that are showing up are managers, leaders, people that want to use this internally. I think, what I want to just say is that this is rapidly growing, the interest in this area. You know, again that survey of 2020 coaches, since 2015, there's been a 46% increase in interest among managers and leaders in coaching, period. I mean, it's rapidly growing.

Cherie Silas   It sounds like managers want to learn coaching. I wonder if that's because companies don't...it's too hard to get the companies to invest in coaches, so they're like, "We'll just be coaches."

J Val Hastings   Well, I think there is something to that. Money speaks. .

Alex Kudinov   Alright, so the book is in the print, and, of course, you're like, 'The moment I send it to the print, I have all the list that I wanted to add to that." So, life goes on and 2021, we're pretty much four months, five months; the first half of 2021. So far, it's shaping a little bit better than last year. So what's on your desk for the remainder of 2021?

J Val Hastings   The remainder of 2021...more and more of these kinds of interviews. You're actually the-- I was telling Cherie this is the first one. So there is a lot of interest in, "Okay, tell me more about internal coaching, what do I need to know? Where do we need to begin?"; those kinds of things. I'm really looking forward to working with a number of other organizations just to create an internal coaching program. That's now kind of like my hotspot, my passion; I'm looking forward to that. In our regular training, we've trained on five continents in five different languages. So I want to do the same now with internal coaching. I was telling my wife earlier, I miss traveling so much. As soon as I'm able, I'm gonna go.

Cherie Silas   I just want to be on a plane again. So Val, how do people get in touch with you?

J Val Hastings   Well, www.coaching4today'sleaders.com would be the easiest way,and that's the number four. Or they can even just put my name in jvalhastings.com. That'll bring it up. I'm on Facebook, LinkedIn, all those usual places. They probably should know I'm the kind of person if you email me or call me, I'm going to email you back or call you back. I often, when I return calls, I get this,"You really called?!?" Yes.

Cherie Silas   Do people do that any more?

J Val Hastings   I do to the best of my abilities. I'd love to hear from people, their ideas. If you're looking to launch a program, happy to do that. I know the two of you do that work as well. We're all in the same field.

Cherie Silas   Yeah. Awesome.

Alex Kudinov   Well, Val, thank you so much for coming today and spending some time with us. Really great to hear about your book, about ten plus one coaching commandments, guiding principles. Wishing you a lot of luck with the book, with the series of interviews, with kind of getting in the door and expanding that business of brain training to organizations. We'll see you around.

J Val Hastings   Hey, absolutely!

Alex Kudinov   This was Tandem Coaching Academy's Keeping Agile Coaching Non-Denominational podcast and we were your hosts today, Cherie Silas and I, Alex Kudinov. Bye now.

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