Fun & Games
Meet John Ahlquist,
Co-Founder, video game development studio in LA:
Why did you hire a coach? What did you want to see happen
in your life?
A: I was at
the point where I felt I needed to change my career. My
job environment was lucrative but toxic, and I had become
burnt out and depressed. I had decided to change jobs, but
I wanted to make sure that I was moving to a better job,
not just a different bad job. I also wanted to feel joyful
and energized, rather than burnt out and depressed.
My main goals were to:
- Change to a more upbeat, joyful job.
- To feel energized and not "burnt out."
Q: How did you
hear about Kristin and why did you hire her specifically?
A: One of my
friends hired Kristin as his coach. Actually, Kristin was
his second coach, and he thought she was much more effective
than his first coach. Also, some of the things he was doing
as part of the coaching had come up in conversation and
they sounded like good ideas to me.
Q: What was memorable
or meaningful about your coaching experience with Kristin?
Would you change anything?
A: First was
the connection -- I felt that Kristin listened and understood
who I was and where I was, so her suggestions were relevant
Second, I was getting to a point where I felt
joy in my life. I started out depressed, just putting one
foot ahead of the other. I'm actually pretty good at that,
but it isn't any fun. It took a couple of weeks to get the
change in behaviors to translate into a change in feelings,
but it happened and that was wonderful.
I wouldn't change anything. The coaching worked
very well for me.
Q: Why do you
think coaching works? What about it worked for you?
A: Lots of
pieces worked, and I think worked well together as a whole.
The focus was initially very good. It helped me to stop
and list specifically what I was doing, how I felt about
it, and what I wanted. The structure was good too. Knowing
that there was a review meeting (with Kristin) every week
helped motivate me to get things done. The new ideas were
key also. Once I identified my problems and my goals, Kristin
provided techniques to use to fix the problems and achieve
the goals. With the focus and structure I was able to apply
the techniques. Some worked better than others, and we evaluated
them and I kept using the techniques that worked well. When
new problems showed up, or old ones continued, Kristin had
other suggestions that I applied. Not everything worked,
but overall I made good progress every week.
Q: What are Kristin's
strengths as a coach?
greatest strength is that she is a good listener and cares
about her work and clients. She is smart, focused, knowledgeable,
and does a good job of making appropriate suggestions. She
focused on changing thought patterns as well as changing
actions, and I think doing both is critical to getting a
good change to stick.
Q: Do you feel
your coaching dollars were worth it? Why or why not?
A: Yes, no
question. I am happier, not depressed, and I was offered
a great job. Actually, I was offered 5 good jobs, and took
the first great offer. An interesting key note is that I
attracted the jobs, rather than hunting them down. Employers
called me, rather than me sending out resumes and scrambling
to find a job.
Q: What are the
tangible results of your coaching experience?
A: On July
1, 2005 I co-founded a new game studio in Los Angeles where
I worked as the lead engineer. In addition, I now contract
with other companies on cutting-edge video game development
Q: What are the
intangible results of your coaching experience?
A: Many changes.
I think the intangibles are the biggest part, although the
tangible results are pretty darn breathtaking as well.
I know and feel abundance, rather than scarcity.
I am grateful for the many things around me. I am operating
from a position of serenity and competence, rather than
fear. I better value myself and my contributions. I know
how much is enough (after many years of trying to do too
much). I know what it means to be detached from the outcome,
and I know that paradoxically it improves the outcome. I
value taking care of myself. I can let things happen in
their own time rather than trying to force them. And I can
play and have fun while waiting for things to "ripen."
Life is a blast.
Q: Any other
comments for someone considering coaching?
said that a coach is like a personal trainer for your life,
and I think that is an apt analogy. You have to be motivated
to improve, and if you follow your coach's instruction and
do the work, you can get your life into great shape. It
is work, but the result is well worth it, and your life
will look better, feel better, and be a better life.
one of the top video game developers in his industry, John
was an expert at creating "fun and games" for
other people. He tirelessly worked long hours to perfect
the product his company was developing. So here's the paradox:
John himself wasn't having that much fun. Our coaching was
focused on creating a life that was meaningful, energizing,
The first step was to identify John's ideal life. He actually
had quite a few of his "ideal life elements" in
place. All we needed was to pull them together in a more
cohesive way. For example, John is married to a wonderful
wife. However, he didn't get to spend as much time with
her as he wished. John already had the foundation for his
ideal life--all I had to do was help him tweak it a bit.
As John mentioned in his interview above, he was burned
out and depressed due to a toxic work environment. Even
though John had so many positives going for him (great wife,
financial reserve, meaningful friendships, loving family...),
his job overshadowed all of it. Sometimes all you need to
do is remove the one bad apple that's spoiling the bunch--in
this case, it was his job.
So we coached around career topics and in the end John
decided it was time to leave his high-paying, time-consuming
position and take a leap of faith. This is when the magic
John started to attract other job opportunities. After
considering five job offers, he decided to partner with
a team to create a new studio. In addition, he offers his
on a contract basis. Today, John still works hard but he
found balance. He engineered his own life to be much more
fun, playful, and rewarding. Hey, not bad for an engineer!
John is one of the most rewarding clients I've coached.
My personal favorite line in his interview above is, "Life
is a blast!" Now that's music to this coach's ears.
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