Career Wisdom

Int’l Coaching Week 7 Ways Coaching Can Change Your Life (pt 1)

By Susan Whitcomb | No Comments »

It’s International Coaching Week! In honor of the event, The Academies is releasing a series of interviews we’ve done over the past six months with career coaches who are doing significant things in the world and experiencing success on multiple levels. Check out the first one here:

The Academies/Career Coach Academy’s Success Series: Kim Avery, Career Coach

As I ponder International Coaching Week, I can’t help but think of where I’d be now without coaches in my life. Coaching has impacted every area of my life . . . and it can help you create what YOU want, as well.

As I share some of the results I attribute to coaching, be thinking about what you’d like to see happen in your own life/work. (Warning: authentic confessions to follow, some of which may shock you!)

Financial: I try to be conservative when it comes to mentioning financial results (the FTC is pretty picky about such claims), but the bottom line is this: our revenues have doubled over the past few years. Yes, we’ve had to work harder/be more creative than ever before. However, with the tough economy we’ve had recently, I’m incredibly grateful for this progress. Coaching has helped us BELIEVE growth was possible and helped us put in the elbow grease to make it happen.

Coaching challenge: What stories are you telling yourself about your ability or inability to make a living doing what you love? What’s the next chapter you want to write about when it comes to the topic of money in your life?

Network: Our success could not have happened without crème-de-la-crème instructors and mentors—Beverly Harvey (@BeverlyHarvey), Kim Avery (@CoachKimAvery), Deb Dib (@CEOCoach), Jason Alba (@JasonAlba), Barbara Safani (@BarbaraSafani), Chandlee Bryan (@chandlee), Pat Schuler, Elisabeth Sanders-Park (@elisabethspark), and Kit Prendergast—experts and thought leaders you’ve come to learn from, network amongst, and in many cases become friends with. (I knew only one or two names on this list 10+ years ago, and I’m a shy farmer’s daughter from the sticks who doesn’t love to network. Again, credit goes to coaching!)

And, take a look at the list of coaches on our site—some of the most successful, reputable, and highest paid coaches in the industry grace the Find-A-Coach pages. I am honored to call these folks colleagues.

Coaching challenge: Who would you love to have on your team? What would a world-class network mean to you? What would it take to create a win-win relationship?

T.E.A.M.: You know that T.E.A.M. stands for Together, Everyone Achieves More. Four years ago, I had the courage to hire Lyndsey Lehman part-time (when I flat-out told her, “I cannot afford you . . . but I desperately need you!”) Today, she has grown in her role to be our VP of Operations. She does a magnificent job at biz-dev, marketing, operations, and more, and also manages an awesome staff–Katy Kotman in Student Services; Marcy Pussey in Social Media; and Aly Britton, our jack-of-all trades support person.

Coaching challenge: Where do you need more support in your business/work? What do you need to ask for to make it happen?

I’ve shared just some of my insights here; watch for more in the next blog post.

Your turn! How has working with a coach changed your life (if even vicariously by reading blogs or studying coaching)?


“I’m No Good At” Really Means “I Don’t Know How…YET!”

By Susan Whitcomb | No Comments »

I was coaching an entrepreneurial client recently and, as is so often the case, a limiting belief reared its ugly head in the middle of our coaching session. No surprise, as we all have them (limiting beliefs), including moi!

Specifically, we talked about putting systems in place that would support her annual revenue goals. Listening carefully, I caught a clue to the roadblock when she said, “I’m just no good at organizing.” You’ve probably used a similar phrase, such as:

  • I’m no good at …
  • I’ve never been able to successfully …
  • I am just not talented at …
  • My gift is definitely not …
  • I wish I didn’t have to …

Whatever the phrase, it probably related to a task that you regularly avoid or procrastinate on, such as:

  • Marketing
  • Closing sales
  • Growing my business
  • Bookkeeping
  • Networking
  • Social media
  • Getting/staying organized
  • Staying up on technology
  • Following up with your clients/network
  • Or fill in your own “I’m-no-good-at” task here: ____________

So what do you do when you hit a “I’m-no-good-at-that” roadblock? Before I offer some insights, first pick something from the above task list that resonates with you so you have something tangible with which to relate these ideas.

Now, here are three insights and suggestions:

  1. Incapacitate the accusations: Notice your language or self-talk. Don’t condemn or berate yourself. Just curiously notice and name it, whether silently or aloud. E.g., “I’m noticing that I am labeling myself as ‘not good at’ x.”
  2. Remember the W.I.N. (“What’s Important Now/Next?”) Decide how important “x” is to your success. If you chose “closing sales,” and you don’t have a waiting list of clients ready to thrust money into your hands, it’s likely that “closing sales” is pretty important. If it’s “staying up on technology” but that isn’t critical to the success of your business, note that as well. Focus on important items.
  3. Swap it: Substitute your “I’m-no-good-at” phrase for this new phrase:“I don’t know how to [x] … YET!”

When we shift from “I’m no good at” to “I don’t know how to … YET!” we shift from condemnation to exoneration, and with exoneration to encouragement. As a human being, you are a living, breathing, learning machine. Your brain is capable of wiring more new neuropathways and healthy habits than you could ever dream possible.

Everything you need for success can either be 1) learned or 2) paid for and performed by someone else. If you’re growing your business, you may choose to “learn” more than you “pay for” initially (focus on doing the things that only you can do and delegate the rest).

So what is the mind-shift for you? What do you want to learn next?


Career Coaches Tip-The Gift of a Mentor

By Susan Whitcomb | No Comments »

One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is the gift of a mentor — an experienced colleague by your side who has traveled just a little farther down the road than you have … one who is willing to share her expertise, experiences, encouragement … her mistakes and how to avoid them … her secrets and how to leverage them.

When I was learning coaching, I worked with several mentors, but primarily an amazing saint by the name of Judy Santos. Judy began her heavenly, eternal life almost two years ago. I still miss her and wish I could ask her questions, seek her support, hear her perspective.

It got me thinking about the benefits of a mentor. Here are just a few . . .

  • Safety: A safe place to make mistakes (it’s what we all do when we’re learning!)
  • Feedback: I loved receiving confidential feedback (read: not embarrassed in front of others for my lack of mastery) on what I was doing right, and what I could do differently.
  • Awareness: Judy gently (sometimes bluntly) uncovered my blind spots . . . I’ll never forget the time she asked me, “what will happen if you don’t do this?” (those words echo in my head still today when I’m having trouble finding my courage!).
  • Momentum: I grew by leaps and bounds in my coaching skills.
  • Ideas & Insights: I could ask questions about the client situations I was dealing with.
  • Networking: I developed a deep professional relationship, as well as a personal friendship. Our professional relationship helped grow my business. Our personal relationship enriched my life. I was even able to visit Judy in Washington four weeks before she died.
  • Stretch: I grew in my ability to coach ‘stuck’ clients and different client types through challenging role plays.
  • Confidence: This was probably the biggest benefit for me … I discovered that as my confidence grew, my client list grew … clients will hire you not just for your competence but also for your confidence!

I originally crafted this list of benefits when we introduced The Academies “FREE” Mentor Coaching offer that’s going on through December 16 (a huge $1,700 savings that we can only offer on a limited time basis to a handful of people). If you’re in the market for (dare I say it?) life-changing coach certification training, now might be the time to investigate it further. You can do so here:

And, how about you … how has your life been bettered with a mentor at your side? Or, if you’ve yet to experience that, what would you LIKE to change?

To your significance and success,



Career Coaching Tip You Cannot Thrive in Stale Soil

By Susan Whitcomb | No Comments »

Our surroundings and environment make a world of difference! This picture shows flowers purchased on the same date–the ones in the front were planted within days of purchase; the ones in the back stayed in their original pony-pack (long story, from which I’ll spare you). Two weeks later, you can see a world of difference.

Both sets started out with little to no blooms, like the ones in the back of the picture (honestly, can you count any blooms but one?!). The ones in the foreground were planted in soil that I carefully sifted through, pulled weeds from (yikes, my manicure! why didn’t I wear gloves?), and watered thoroughly before planting. The ones in the background had to stay in their original constricted, plastic packaging.

The result? Obvious. The ones in the better soil are flourishing. The ones in the bad environment grew a bit taller, but didn’t bear any blooms, or “fruit.”

And, of course, it made me think about my own surroundings. Are we sitting in, physically speaking, constrictive spaces that are cluttered and disorganized? Or, on a grander scale, purposefully speaking, are we sitting in spaces that restrict our ability to flourish at work and bring blessing and beauty to others?

It took me all of 15 minutes to plant my woe-be-gone, left-behind flowers. I’ll bet you that in less than a week, they will look as healthy as the rest of them.

What’s the quick fix you could do for your environment today?

  • Maybe it’s a simple 15-minute clutter-cleanup or to dump some tolerations.
  • Maybe it’s a 15-minute quiet time to revisit where you’re headed and what you want to accomplish in this world.

Let me know what you do with your 15 minutes!

To your significance and success,


P.S. If you liked this ‘insight moment,’ we’ll be talking about how to create them for your clients at The Academies Virtual Bootcamp ‘Coaching Day,’ coming up November 4th. You can learn more here: The Academies’ Virtual Bootcamp – Join us!




The Boulders in Our Lives—Roadblocks or Protection?

By Susan Whitcomb | 8 Comments »

We had quite the activity next door recently. Our entire family awakened to the sound of metal crunching at 4am on a Saturday morning. We all went back to sleep, too lazy to get up and investigate. When I heard the sound of a siren winding down about 10 minutes later, I thought, “I’d better go see what, indeed, happened.”

As I looked outside the front window, I saw the complete complement of emergency vehicles: fire truck, ambulance, sheriff’s cars, Fresno PD. My husband and I went out to see what on earth had happened. It turns out that a young man, age 26, was driving down our very quiet, very narrow neighborhood street at 70-80 mph. After running a stop sign some 100 feet before our house, the dip from the intersection that he blew through caused him to lose control of his car. He veered into my next-door neighbor’s beautifully landscaped yard, hitting a 2,000-lb boulder the size of a small car. On impact, he popped that boulder about 20 feet forward (unbelievable), rolled his big Chevy SUV (that’s the underside of the car in the picture), and killed himself instantly.

As the sun came up a few hours later, several neighbors had gathered outside to discuss the tragedy. It was then that a revelation came to light that caused me to shudder. Examining the tread marks on the street, analyzing where the car hit the boulder, where the boulder bounced to (if boulders can bounce), and the trajectory of the car brought tears to my eyes.

Big boulder on left ‘bounced’ 20 feet

Were it not for the boulder, that speeding car would have found a very different stopping point—the middle of my daughter’s bedroom. It was a sobering thought. At that moment, I sensed God’s voice (not audible, but impressionistic) that said, “I knew this would happen … I caused that boulder to be put there years ago for her protection.”

Introspection followed, and I pondered the boulders we all encounter in life. . .

• Sometimes the boulders feel like roadblocks—big and impossible to move or get around, keeping us from the things that we want. Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon professor who died of pancreatic cancer and authored the bestseller “Last Lecture” describes that the brick walls (i.e., boulders) in our lives are there to determine how much we really want something. What efforts will we go through to get through or around those walls? What key skills and character will be built as a result of the effort?

• In some cases, boulders may be a point of guidance—something there to cause you to veer to the left or the right instead of in the direction you were headed.

• Boulders can also be put in place by us, as a point of memorial of some sort—a remembrance of a milestone or, as in the Old Testament, a testimony of God’s faithfulness.

• And, sometimes the boulders are there to protect us. In our family’s case recently, the latter was certainly true.

In any case, bless the boulders in your life . . . and may you know discernment in what form they take, how to negotiate them and/or how to honor them.

To your success and significance!


Are You Self-Centered?

By Susan Whitcomb | No Comments »

I just finished a mentor coaching call with an MBA Career Services Coach who had a great insight that I just had to pass along to you.

One of the techniques in coaching is to take the “I” out of the conversation. In other words, rather than say “I’d like to know more about your dream job?” a coach might say, “Say more about what your dream job would look like!”

As the MBA coach was considering this technique, he mentioned, “I’ve noticed how self-centered my language has been until starting to take this coaching course.”

He isn’t alone. I have to raise my hand on this one, as well. Most of us enter a traditional conversation from a 50-50 perspective, meaning 50% of the conversation is about the other person and 50% about you. In coaching, that ratio should be more like 80-20, meaning 80% of the conversation is about the other person and 20% is still NOT about you, but about the ideas you can add to the conversation that would expand the client’s ideas, insights, or resources.

Note: I use the term “self-centered” loosely—I know that as coaches you are not self-centered; I refer to “self-centered” simply in terms of to whom the conversation is pointing. Does it point back to you and your agenda or does it point to the client and his/her agenda? It’s the latter we’re after in coaching.

Here are a few before-and-after Self-centered vs. Client-centered examples:

  • Self-centered: “That’s my alma mater too! I was there from 1989-1992.”
    Client-centered: “Nice to meet a fellow Tarheel! What’d you enjoy most about that experience?”
  • Self-centered: “Tell me why you want to get your MBA?”
    Client-centered: “What will getting your MBA bring to you?”
  • Self-centered: “I’d like you to do 5 informational interviews this week.”
    Client-centered: “What would be a stretch for you on the number of informational interviews you could do this week?
  • Self-centered: “I want to schedule a follow-up call so I can get to know you better.”
    Client-centered: “Let’s schedule that follow-up call we talked about and, during that time, make sure your direction and strategy is really solid.”

What do you notice in these before-and-after Self-centered vs. Client-centered comments and questions? How can you be more client-centered today?

Do you want to help others accomplish more than they can imagine? Coaching can make it happen … for you and your clients. Hundreds of Academies grads have learned how with coach certification training: more info here on our upcoming September program!

To your continued success and significance!


Susan Drives an 18-wheeler, and Learns Coaching Lessons

By Susan Whitcomb | 2 Comments »

My 'Baby' Brother Doug!

I drove a big rig this weekend! Here’s how it happened. I visited family in my hometown in rural Central California, where I grew up on a farm. My family still farms cotton, cantaloupes, and other crops in the area. My brother Doug Britton has a trucking company there, with 10 trucks that haul almonds, grain, liquid fertilizer and more.

I was asking him about his business and conversation eventually turned to “Would you like to sit in one of the trucks?” I said “Sure!” It was quite a task to even climb up and get in the cab!

Next thing I knew, I had an offer to drive one–a big, huge 18-wheeler . . . 25,000 pounds worth. It was thrilling. But I was scared to DEATH! My brother had more confidence in me than I did, but he stood right by me as I drove (albeit 5 miles an hour) around his equipment yard.

And, of course, there’s a coaching lesson to be learned in all this. Part of the reason I was so scared is that my brother asked me to do more than my little brain could handle all at once! If I were just driving straight, I think I could’ve handled it. But at the end, he also wanted me to return the truck to its original position. That meant negotiating a tight turn, lining up my set of trailers 65 feet long, and sandwiching the truck back in between two other trucks. I had barely 24 inches of clearance on either side. Yikes!

What I learned as a coach was this: If you’re asking a client to do something new–something that’s scary to them–

  • Stand nearby (just like my brother did with me, ready to help adjust the steering wheel at any moment)
  • Break tasks down into small steps (ask them to “drive straight first” before requesting something complicated like turning, aligning their trailers, and squeezing into a small space! For example, if networking makes clients nervous, start with easy networking experiences, then stretch to tougher situations.)
  • Be confident (without my brother’s confidence in me, I would never have tackled driving a big rig … and now I’ve got ‘bragging rights’ to say ‘I did it!’)

Do you want to help others accomplish more than they can imagine? Coaching can make it happen … for you and your clients. Hundreds of Academies grads have learned how with coach certification training: more info here on our upcoming September program!



Backwards Advice about Looking Ahead

By Susan Whitcomb | No Comments »

2011 will undoubtedly bring a rash of New Year’s Resolutions (both career and personal) as many people look forward to a fresh start and clean slate. Some of us love to make resolutions; others happily dismiss them as an unnecessary evil! Whatever your opinion about Resolutions and looking forward, consider instead the benefits of Milestones and looking back. Those milestones and meaningful moments will give you some good memories and momentum for the miles ahead. Here are 10 “Career Milestone” items that may give you cause for celebration:

Milestone #1. Accomplishments: What did you accomplish in your career this past year that you are most proud of? Momentum is a byproduct of accomplishments. Look to your accomplishments—big or small—to see where you’ve made progress and built momentum. What beliefs or behaviors did you put in place that allowed you to accomplish these accomplishments?

Milestone #2. Improvements: What improvements or opportunities did you capitalize on in 2010? Perhaps you committed to doing things a little differently. What caused you to want to change? How have these changes benefited you?

Milestone #3. Insights: What insights did you gain about your career-life this past year? Learning and growth stem from being aware of thoughts and behaviors. What are you aware of today about yourself or your career-life that you weren’t aware of at the beginning of the year? How will you use those insights to your benefit?

Milestone #4. People: Who made the most positive impact on your career this year? We are inextricably connected to others, whether from working on a team, being coached or mentored, taking a class from an industry leader, reading inspirational material by your favorite author, etc. After you identify that person(s) in your life that positively impacted you, think about what you can do to allow something similar to happen in 2011.

Milestone #5. Impacts: What positive impact have you made on others this past year? Consider the benefits you have brought to your boss, coworkers, colleagues, vendors, or customers. There is great satisfaction in knowing that you have had an impact on others.

Milestone #6. Courage: How did you show courage this year? Merriam-Webster defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty.” What or who was in place that enabled you to act courageously? How can you leverage that courage to face new challenges?

Milestone #7. Value: How did you add value to your career this past year? Maybe you’ve added a new skill to your toolbox or learned new communication or time management techniques. How have your clients or employer benefited from this value?

Milestone #8. Disappointments: Disappointments are an unavoidable part of life. What was disappointing to you this past year? You can make this a milestone by putting systems in place so that you don’t repeat it in the new year. Who can help hold you accountable?

Milestone #9. Gratitude: What are you most grateful for in your career? An attitude of gratitude can be one of the most powerful success tools you possess. Rather than focusing on what’s wrong, focus on what’s right. It takes just as much energy to focus on the positives as it does the negatives—it’s a matter of choice!

Milestone #10. Success: What’s your definition of success? People define career success in a number of ways. In the end, the definitions seem to boil down to doing what’s important to you while bringing value to others. In your work this past year, how have you done what’s important to you? If at the end of each day you can point to some activity that was important to you and brought value to others, you can consider yourself a success. Now that’s empowering!

Enjoy your trip down memory lane … and may the miles ahead be filled with great views, good company, and more meaningful milestones.


By admin | No Comments »

Guest on Crown Financial’s “Today on MoneyLife™ with Chuck Bentley” by giving architect Jeremy White a Complete Career Makeover, Pt. 1 & 2


Is Your Job Search in Thermometer or Thermostat Mode?

By admin | 5 Comments »

We’re bracing for 105 degree temperatures this week, like much of the country. And with those temps, we’re praying that air conditioners hold out and black outs don’t happen … which got me to thinking.
Thermometers tell the temperature. Thermostats set the temperature. In the first situation, we adapt to our situation. In the second, we control our surroundings. Too often in the Fresno summer heat, I begin getting uncomfortable and forget that I have the power to turn down my thermostat.
There are times when it’s useful to adapt (blessed are the flexible, for they will not break!). And yet, all too often we forget that we have the ability to reset the thermostat.
If you’re in career transition, start by controlling the basics:
·      being able to clearly articulate your value and return-on-investment to employers
·      choosing industries that are experiencing an uptick
·      moving to a region with low unemployment
·      proactively selecting good-fit target companies…learning about their culture &       
·      upping the number of hours you spend on personal marketing and networking
·      asking for help from people who will give you honest feedback
·      getting an accountability partner in place—you’re 7 times more likely to succeed
       with someone holding you accountable!
·      upping the number of face-to-face or voice-to-voice meetings you have
       each week … and making sure the meetings are with people who have some
       influence in the hiring decision
·      participating in professional associations to increase your visibility
·      doing some volunteer work for people less fortunate than you to keep perspective
·      considering a part-time position to make ends meet or accepting a
       less-than-dream-job temporary position, recognizing that many of these positions
       lead to more when you demonstrate your value over time.
And don’t forget to control the basics in your personal life:
·      the amount of exercise, rest, and nutrition you give yourself
·      the amount of news media you allow yourself to consume, especially if
       discouraging news is discouraging you
·      the people you surround yourself with, whether positive and uplifting or negative
       and dispiriting.

Next time you feel the heat turning up, control your thermostat!


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