What led me to becoming a coach and advice for new coaches.
Midway through college, I jetted off to Europe and spent a summer and semester in London. I was there with a few other friends and we each had the time of our lives working in London and traveling as much as possible.
My career eureka moment happened in the personnel department at Harrods department store. While we all waited to hear our name called, I watched the interviewer usher people back to her office and then back again to the front desk. Her job was to place each person in the ideal position.
After returning to the US and graduating with my psychology degree, I started looking for a job that resembled the "interviewer" job at Harrods.
Through research, I learned about the recruiting industry and promptly called the president of the local association of personnel consultants.
"Hi, I am a new college graduate and would love to interview you about the recruiting profession. Do you have 15 minutes to meet with me?"
"We don't hire new grads, sorry" was his reply.
Through persistence, I was able to arrange an informational meeting with him.
I talked my way into a job, too. Of course, it was straight commission (as in NO upfront pay) but that didn't bother me. Within the first month, I made my first placement and started earning an income. Within a year, I left and started my own recruiting company.
I'll never forget how scared I was to tell my mentor - my boss - I wanted to venture out on my own.
This very kind, supportive man shocked me by saying "You'll never make it. You are way too young."
So, I packed up my things and left.
My next step was to rent an office and officially launch my recruiting business. I was scared to death but also excited about the possibilities.
With a lot of hard work, I developed my business and earned more than most of my friends.
One of my clients needed intensive recruiting help, so I traveled for 2 years hiring professionals for their SW region.
By age 27, I directed the national recruiting program for the largest home-healthcare company in the US.
This was my initiation into challenging working conditions. 8 AM - 9 PM was a fairly typical work day. It was an office full of stressed out maniacs and I worked nearly every day, including weekends!
Keeping up with the demands was a challenge, no matter how hard I tried.
My personal life suffered and I started thinking about my next move - but could not figure it out.
The few moments of total peace and clarity came to me, each week, during the final minutes of a yoga class. You know, the corpse pose where you just lie still? Being still allowed brief insights to enter my mind.
If you want to figure out your future, start by getting present with what's right in front of you. The clues are always right there.
Each day, as I interviewed candidates for jobs, I noticed many of them looked unhappy. Why on earth would they take another job and move their family across the country if they didn't love the work? If baffled me.
So, I started getting real - very real - with the job candidates.
As unorthodox as it was, I encouraged job candidates to *not* take the job they interviewed for and to pursue their passion instead. I also invited them to call me in a week to tell me they took the first step.
Sure, it wasn't good for business to talk people OUT of a job, but it was good for my soul.
Soon thereafter, I heard about a coaching conference and attended. I quickly signed up for a two year training program and shut down my recruiting business.
I was clear, however, I did not want to be in the position of recruiting clients or pushing coaching in any way. In fact, I was so sick of recruiting I had a nice bon fire one night with all of the resumes I collected over the years. How's that for officially closing down a business? S'mores anyone?
Somewhere along the way I learned that very skilled and talented people tend to easily attract clients. So, that was the game plan. My strategy was to be GOOD - really good.
The best coach, at the time, was Thomas Leonard. As the grandfather of the industry he was THE most respected and talented coaching expert. During my second year as a coach, I worked for him.
And, today, I continue to learn and grow through various trainings and classes. Being good at what I do matters to me.
But, being a force of good in people's lives matters even more.
Everyone has challenges - including me! Following your passion is deeply rewarding but it isn't always easy. When I started my coaching career, I made huge sacrifices such as closing down a successful recruiting business and moving in with my sister, to save money since I didn't know what to expect during that first year. I slept on her fold out couch and worked non-stop learning my new craft and coaching anyone and everyone for free or a low fee, since I was a newbie. It wasn't glamorous but it was deeply gratifying and exciting. (Yes, it was easier since I wasn't married, yet. Don't make your current circumstances your excuse, though. You can always find ways to free up time/money/energy even if you are married and have a family or a demanding schedule.)
Remember that part about long working hours and how my personal life suffered, in my previous career? Well, that trend continued for a couple of years, as a coach. Starting any new business takes tremendous effort and time, at first.
I also gave up watching TV (for 18 months) when I was building my business, since it was a major time drain.
A huge break came my way when I was invited to appear on a large online platform (iVillage - 18 million members) as the featured Life & Career Coach Expert for a few years. It was a very creative and fun time designing community challenges (courses) for their members and ongoing written content.
I literally had to put a lock, on my home office door, to encourage better work/life balance since I could've worked 24/7 - it was that much fun!
Eventually, when I got married, I had to learn how to be in my relationship without attempting to coach my husband! My marriage is one of the greatest sources of joy and peace for me now.
Moving to Hawaii and back to Dallas triggered a redesign of my business each time. The time zone in Hawaii made it difficult to work with many clients, so I pivoted into offering more online programs since I had major success with an earlier one. Creating those programs and formats took blood, sweat and tears. Several times, my content was copied. Very defeating and discouraging for me to experience......
Over the years, I've learned how to set boundaries around time to reduce feelings of overwhelm and burnout. I've discovered how to harness my passion as a source of fuel for my clients and myself.
Some tasks (usually tech related) can make me a heat seeking missile for anything with sugar in it - a cookie, mint from my purse, old Halloween candy, etc. Now, I ask myself if a task 'inspires or tires'. If it's inspiring - even if it's a lot of work - I'm up for it. If it's purely a drain and tiring, I'll delegate it. Getting someone to lighten your load and help is always inspiring!
I've also learned to take a stand for my work. This has been one of the hardest lessons of all. Over the years, people have copied my website and work (word for word - one transcribed my words into french!) I reached out to each one and had powerful conversations since I was genuinely curious why they would copy anyone. This is when I realized that some coaches don't have the best intentions. It made me question the entire industry. Now, I have a lawyer and I don't waste one minute with that nonsense.
Reality show producers have contacted me about show ideas, over the years, and I declined since the ideas didn't have heart or substance. However, I struggled with those decisions each time. Shiny objects can be a distraction to anyone. I've learned how to quickly size those up and move on by asking myself a simple question "Does this project have heart and substance?" I also tune into how I am feeling. Your body never lies and has more wisdom than you realize.
Staying centered, in a world full of distractions, takes intention. I am very proud of my ability to do this by staying true to the vision I've designed for my own life.
Most of what my clients experience, I've felt or experienced, too. So, I really get it! We've all been there.
For ME, coaching is spiritual. I love the idea of a good-hearted person showing up at just the right time to offer help and support. Offering this to others gives me a deep feeling of fulfillment and purpose. Plus, my work is very much a calling.
I also value FREEDOM and am incredibly grateful for the time freedom my career gives me. I coach clients I enjoy and can do my work anywhere! For 3 years, I lived and worked in Hawaii!! How's that for freedom?
It's also VERY fun to see my clients discover and create more FREEDOM, too. More time freedom, emotional freedom, less burdens.... It's exciting to see people break some rules, take a stand for their happiness and drop the 'shoulds' in life.
When I reach the end of my life, I want to be flooded with memories of all of the wonderful people I helped and how their lives were forever changed by our time together. That's what inspires me the most.
Every week, someone reaches out asking for advice about becoming a coach or curious about how I became one. The most successful coaches I know felt 'called' to this work. If it's your calling, it will be obvious to you.
Just like any other profession, there are skills you'll need to learn and master first. Don't take shortcuts with your training. Find a training program accredited by the International Coach Federation and sign up. Quality training will initially take at least 1-2 years. Keep your skills sharp with continuing education, too.
Most of the coaches you see online did a quickie coach training program so they could say they were certified as a coach. Those programs are not accredited and are led by marketers (people selling the coaching lifestyle) ready to make a fast buck by selling certifications. Don't waste your time or energy. *Only pursue training if it's accredited by the ICF.* Then, you'll be eligible to apply for a credential that is respected and expected by savvy customers. You can also find coach training in major universities, now! Most of those programs are accredited by the ICF.
Hire your own coach and get your life in excellent shape. Then, practice your new skills (while you are in training) so you can install the learning and become truly proficient. Because you are new, you might have to initially coach for free. Do it because it's the best way to learn and knowledge is valuable. So, keep your day job at first. Eventually, charge for your services. If people don't sign up, go back to square one. Learn, practice, and grow. Some people lean into marketing and selling, selling, selling when they want more clients. I view that as a mistake. Shift your attention to training, training, training. If you are truly good, you will get results and results always lead to referrals.
One of the BEST ways to train and learn is by actually COACHING people. Your clients are your best teachers, at times. So, get some clients (possibly at a low rate) at first so you can gain valuable experience.
The world doesn't need more coaches. We need BETTER coaches. Only enter the profession if you have the intention to be skilled and masterful. Clients deserve nothing less from you.