The speaker shares their journey from working at PricewaterhouseCoopers to becoming a professional coach and writer. They highlight the importance of following your passion, seeking professional development, and embracing change. They also discuss the concept of a portfolio career and the value of continuous learning.
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So I had been working at PricewaterhouseCoopers as a consultant for about a year, and I knew that it was time for a change. I knew I wasn't gonna stay there. At the time, my father had just completed an executive certification program at Columbia University in New York, and he suggested that I hire an Executive Coach to help me figure out what I should do next. About three months into working with that person, I realized that it was unfortunate that only senior leaders in organizations were getting this level of professional development support, and through the work of the coaching itself, as well as therapy that I'd done previously, the pieces just started coming together. I acknowledged and accepted that I had the life experience, competency, and skill to potentially be a great coach, and so I started to explore that, and on January 1st, 2014, I was on vacation and I had to go back to work the next day, and I said a lot of bad words, and I was like, I really don't wanna go back. I was like, I've had it. And I had this kind of flashback to when I was a sophomore in college. It was Winter Break and a friend had asked me to help them with their resume, and I had loved that experience, and I went home and I told my parents. I was like, I have this idea for a non-profit, where people come and we help them just figure out what they wanna do professionally with their lives. What they could be good at. So I got a couple friends who didn't really know what it was about, but they wanted to help me, and went to a couple of start-up boot camps, and came up with the concept for what I called then, I Equate, and it was about passion and about strengths and about helping people figure out in college what they really wanted to go in to do. For a lot of reasons, it didn't work out, but mostly, somebody had come up to me at some point and said, like why would anybody pay you or give you money to do this? And I was like, you know, at the time, I was like, this person's probably right. I dunno. This isn't going to go anywhere. I was still really enamored with the notion of just making a lot of money, and going into finance, at that time. So I dropped the idea, and fast-forward a few years later on that morning, the concept for Frable had just hit me all within a few minutes. I sat down, I sketched it out. I knew why it would be different, and how I was different at that time, and so, two weeks later, I left my job, I sold my car, I pulled my savings, and you know, I thought my parents were gonna freak out, but they were actually extremely supportive, and I just started. I left the office, Before I sold my car, I drove to IKEA. I bought a desk and a chair and I put it in my bedroom, and I spent the next day just writing a two-page document about what the company would be and I sent it out to people, and other than it being too long and too abstract, got some feedback, and just started telling people, I'm doing this, this is what I'm doing. I think there's two kinds of people, kinds of personalities and the way they start businesses. One is you stay in your job and you build your idea, your hobby, your side hustle, until it's big enough for you to leave. That's really the responsible way to do it. I knew I needed no safety net. I needed to fail. I needed to sink or swim. I needed to know that if I didn't get up in the morning to do it, it was just because I failed to do something, and that's what drove me that first year. It was the experimentation, the networking, the talking to people, the getting clients, the starting to practice the method that I had in my mind, that it was still a proof of concept, and by-and-large, even though demographic and some things have changed over the years, the fundamentals of the business and the process has been refined from those same seeds. I think that to be a great coach, you need to live. Like, you can't just stay in your bubble. Are you the one that your friends come to when they're in trouble? Or when they want to talk about something? When your friend's boyfriend breaks up with them, do they come to you, and are you the person, the wiser, sage one in your group? Like, those are the early things that you can start to pick out from. But if you do decide that you want to do this more intentionally, build a business, or become a professional coach, it's important to know who you wanna serve. Who's your audience, right? And what are they looking for? For me, specifically, I wanted to train in the most evidence-based practice that I could find. It was important for me. I knew I had the instinct, I knew I could trust my gut, I knew I had access to my emotions and wasn't afraid of them, but I needed to tactically and behaviorally practice being a coach in a controlled environment, right? So for me, the best decision was to go to the Columbia University Executive Coaching Program. I did that for a year. It's a mixture of in-person and virtual teaching and guidance. You do a practicum where you coach other people and they coach you and you get feedback. You get recorded, so you get to see yourself and you have to reflect back on what does my body language look like when I'm with a client, right? If you're hunched over and taking notes all the time, and you see the client looking at you, they're like, what is that person writing down? Like what did I say at that moment? And the teachers constantly, they ask you, why did you make that choice? Did you consider doing this? That for me, was incredibly beneficial, in shortening the learning curve that I would've otherwise had on my own. Not to mention that as a young coach, it was the kind of signaling and certification that validated me within the world of Executive Coaching, right? It's true that the coaching is still a wildly unregulated space, but it's not the Wild West that it was 50 years ago. Prospective clients and consumers in general are more savvy than they used to be. They'll do their research, right? They'll Google. They won't just Google, Coach in My City. They'll compare different websites, right? It's like, if your website looks like it's still in 1999, it doesn't matter how great of a coach you are, you know? They'll make sure, most will take calls with different coaches and ask questions. There are a bunch of articles out there now about what kinds of things you should consider before hiring a coach, and certification is one that comes up often, right? Like how do you know if someone has credibility in this space that's important to you? So customers are just more, are better informed today, and they're more willing to do their homework, particularly when making an investment in a coach, you should do that, you should ask how did you train? What is the philosophy like? How does it impact the way that you work? And over the years, every year I've invested in a different kind of coach training experience to expose myself to different methodologies, different philosophies, and you start to find your people, your tribe of coaches, the ones who you, role models that you look up to and say like, this person's been doing it for 30 or 40 years, and they're really masters of their craft and you feel it when they coach and when you're in the room with them. So I think that beyond just the technical qualification that coaching trainings provide, it's being in an environment with people who are, a community of people who are working to be better at their craft, and when you find teachers that appeal to you and that resonate with you, you also have something to look at and say, this is what I can aspire to be, and it gives you the confidence to say, like, okay, well, I wanna be like them, but I wanna be my own version of that, right? I can't be them, I can't replicate them, but I can use their example and the way that they use their body, their questions, their voice. I can learn from that and figure out how I can then become a masterful coach for my clients. I want to build what is called the Portfolio Career, which means crafting a career out of multiple facets of yourself. Strategically that means doing different ventures that you can make money off of, or that you choose to professionally invest in because they add some kind of internal or innate value to you. So Frable is step one. The focus on developing a sustainable business that will last for 20, 30 years, that's priority number one. Phase Two, right now I'm in the middle of getting my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Savannah College of Art and Design, because I wanna, I'm going to be a professional fiction writer. I focus on writing literary fiction, and to me, that's not about the money. It's just about investing in the art and the craft of writing, and there's a big, There's a lot of overlap between coaching and writing. It's all about storytelling at a very fundamental level, and the work that I do as a writer, and the space that I've created in my life to just focus on becoming a better writer, is the same space that I created for coaching three to four years ago. I create a space where the intention was to grow as intentionally and as strongly and as quickly as I could at that one craft, and I'm taking that same philosophy and adapting it to writing, right? It's intentionally making decisions in the way that you design your life, so that you can write every day and get feedback and work on your book and make relationships in a different industry, and over time, I think they'll feed each other, you know? That to me is one of the exciting things to see about how this all plays out. The vision is to one day be able to say, okay, well, I'm making some money from writing now, I can scale back or dial back the number of clients that I bring in from Frable, or this year, I'm not gonna focus so much on the writing, I'm gonna up the amount of availability that I give Frable in terms of the portfolio, right? So it's the same way you would look at investments and how much you put into each basket, it's the same with a portfolio career. It's being able to have the toggles, to be able to decide how much you wanna do based on where you are in your life, and Phase Three, at least, based on what I can foresee now, is I wanna teach. I wanna eventually teach both writing and coaching. I wanna be a teacher of coaches. I think I'm at that point now, where I can add value to students who want to take a step into this world, and not just be amateur or casual coaches, but who really want to take this step into becoming a great professional coach, and I want to teach writing, particularly I would love to teach at community colleges. I think that there is an untapped opportunity, in terms of us redefining what education means in this country, and not overemphasizing only the education that you can get at quote-unquote elite institutions, and refocusing the kind of quality education that you can get with great teachers at community colleges around the country. And so, to me, Frable and teaching, are about serving other people, but there has to be different ways in which I can do that, right? The price point I offer at Frable and the value that I provide there gives me the flexibility to write, in a way where I can write without having to write what someone else wants me to write, where I can write for my art and my craft, and it also allows me to, hopefully, be able to do the teaching where it's part-time, and I don't have to worry about the tenure track or any of that right now. It's really just about showing up as best as I can, as a teacher to students who want to become better storytellers, and Phase Four will be something that I can't even imagine right now, because the opportunities that, Sometimes we create these fictional scenarios in our head, and we start to make decisions in our present, as if that's the only possible future, and what I work with clients on and the philosophy that I use myself is, you have to find the path where your curiosity is larger than anything else, where your willingness to work towards mastery is higher than anything else, where your tolerance and resilience for challenges is higher than anything else, and that, if you just follow that, that opens the doors to the unknowns and the randomness of this wonderful universe that you can't predict, and that ultimately and normally leads us to some of the most fulfilling experiences that we can have as people.