Thursday, December 23, 2010

Waking up to Happiness

One of the joys of getting older is gathering a wealth of experience to guide myself through life. Though of course, being older, I’m not sure I remember it all. Hmmm.

Anyway, thankfully through my work as a coach I have lots of lovely people around me who continue to teach me so much. A Head of Talent Development in a major commercial organisation recently said to me: “Success is how you feel when you wake up in the morning”. Wonderful. I had to ask and thank them for their quotable quote.

And it appears our government here in the UK is waking up to this wisdom too – the Prime Minister has asked the Office of National Statistics to find a way of measuring the county’s happiness. The intent is to build this into government thinking, policy and action and so that the monopoly held by the ‘Continuous Economic Growth’ lobby has some balancing force. And about time too.

The economic growth has undoubtedly been good. It has brought clean water and warm housing and universal education and health service and food to the shelves of so many. And it’s something that is to be still more widely enjoyed globally. But as I often find myself exploring with clients, ‘a weakness is a strength overplayed’.

The sustainability of delivering these benefits in the way we currently do is clearly questionable. And with over 30 million anti-depression prescriptions handed out in the UK alone every year, greater wealth has clearly not led to universal happiness. So getting a grip on what we want, what we really, really want is now approaching it’s time.

Which brings me to coaching. Is there a profession better placed than coaching to help people unravel their thoughts, hopes, feelings, and indeed prejudices and misconceptions so that they can see the connections, and find what it is they truly want and who they are? Is there a profession better placed to help people help themselves to take action, build new, more useful choices and habits and achieve what they want in the ways that are right for them?

And of course, the real power of what we do lies in the fact we are not preaching as experts, but simply inviting and enabling people to see their work and life and options from many different perspectives, then giving the support to do something about it. They discover. They decide. They act.

We truly have a role in shaping the future, because we enable people to choose to see the world through many different lenses. As more people see themselves in a bigger way, I believe they will see us all in a bigger way, and this will change direction from a highly individualistic ‘me/more/now’ culture to a wiser, interdependent view of ‘us and them and you and me/enough is just fine thanks/and is this good for future generations?’

I hope there will be a future time where happiness is more widely felt and enjoyed, because one person’s success is not about beating another in some ranking/performance/level of ownership table, but rather the success (and fulfilment) comes from one person helping another, and another….Coaching conversations with clients, and the wisdoms that emerge from them, has shown me how we are connected to everyone and everything around us, the past that got us here and the future of those who follow us. A strong vibrant profession will enable more and more people wake up feeling good. That would truly be a mark of success for our profession. It’s a great time to be alive.

Now where have I left those reading glasses?

Neil Scotton, PCC, December 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

A new way to market yourself

Fresh beginnings…we all love them. There is something so promising about a blank slate. Maybe that’s why so many people make resolutions at the start of each New Year.

As we march through the remaining days of 2010, our minds inevitably think about what we expect or hope to accomplish in the New Year. Maybe we want to lose ten pounds, eat better, exercise more, start writing that book, get over your fear of public speaking, make new friends, create a better work-life balance and build a social media platform all in 2011. So many resolutions start strong only to fade into some distant memory before we flip the calendar page to February.

It seems that often, the problem with keeping a resolution is lack of ongoing support and accountability. As a coach, that’s where you come in. Use this time of year to your advantage and market yourself and your coaching services as that accountability needed to make resolutions stick.

Want some research to back this up? The latest study from the ICF found that people are turning to professional coaching to attain goals in their personal and professional lives. More than two-fifths (42.6 percent) of the ICF Global Consumer Awareness Study’s respondents who had experienced coaching chose “optimize individual and/or team performance” as their motivation for being coached. Following this reason was “expand professional career opportunities” (at 38.8 percent); “improve business management strategies” (at 36.1 percent). The study also showed that coaching is being used to help people increase their self-esteem/self-confidence and manage work/life balance.

Not only is coaching allowing people to attain their goals, but coaching has proven to be a very satisfying experience as a result. The study also found that 83 percent of respondents were “satisfied” and 36 percent were “very satisfied” with their coaching experience.

Right now is the perfect time to market your coaching services to clients wanting to meet their newly made resolutions. Couple these findings with examples of how coaching can help them reach their goals and resolutions (through goal defining, action plan creation, accountability, etc.).

What about you? At the start of a New Year, do you find yourself working with clients on reaching their New Year’s goals?

How do you plan to market yourself to new clients in 2011?

Friday, December 17, 2010

I Care For…tell the world during International Coaching Week!

As a coach, we know that one of the things you care for is the coaching profession-at-large. And in just a few weeks, you can share it with your community.

Founded in the late 1990s as a way for coaches—regardless of geographic location—to celebrate the coaching profession, International Coaching Week (ICW) is a weeklong opportunity for you to share what you care for with the world! Traditionally, it is held annually the first full week of February and is celebrated by coaches and clients alike.

Through the years, people have celebrated ICW is numerous fashions…from offering pro bono coaching services to planning and executing multi-day conferences. Regardless of how it is celebrated, its main objective is to educate the public about the value of working with a coach and all that can be accomplished through a coaching partnership.

That said…how do you plan to celebrate ICW 2011? The possibilities are endless—your imagination is really your only barrier. Still stuck? Run through these questions to find something that works the best for you:

  • What kind of availability do you have during ICW? This will determine what kind of project you can take on.
  • Will you be working alone or will you have a team? ICW is a great way to involve your entire chapter or colleagues who live in your community.
  • What kind of message do you want to share? The kind of message you share will determine how you go about sharing it. A few message examples: “Coaching works! Here’s why…” or “Coaching is…” or “Coaching is not…”
  • What is the most beneficial way you can share coaching with those in your community? Think through different options you may have…if you have the opportunity to rent out a local café, perhaps hosting a speed coaching event would suit you well. Or if you are working alone, maybe you can offer pro bono coaching hours to people in your community. Or maybe you can offer special rates to those who sign a coaching contract with you during ICW.
  • How will you market your event? The size and scale of your event will truly determine the kind of marketing you need to take on. The only key in marketing and event is to not wait until the last minute! Start planning now to give yourself plenty of time.

Learn more about ICW at Coachfederation.org/coachingweek.

Don’t forget, if you want to be eligible to win one of several great prizes, there is still time to share what you care for! Submit your video or written message here by 11:59 p.m. on December 31, 2010 and your name will be included in the drawing. Learn more.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Building an Audience With Social Media: Got the Three C’s?

What’s the biggest difference between people who are successful in social media and those who aren’t? Simple—the successful people have built themselves an audience.

An audience doesn’t necessarily mean having 10,000 followers here or 5,000 friends there. At its most basic level it might be that. But what’s a bunch of friends and followers if they aren’t helping you to grow your business?

Consider this: what if your “audience” isn’t anyone who would be interested in what it is you offer? What if they were people just looking to boost their numbers without any interest in engaging you in any sort of dialogue? What if they were primarily focused on promoting their own stuff the majority of the time? These types of scenarios are clearly not ideal.

So what should you really be looking to achieve? Building the right kind of audience with social media means your participation there is leading you to be seen as a credible, trust-worthy source who may be able to help others solve whatever problem they may be having. It means you’re reaching a market of people you’ve deliberately sought out through search strategies who might need what you have.

When you’ve grabbed the attention of your followers and friends and built interest and credibility, you now have a way to gain traffic to your website, capture more leads and continue building and strengthening the relationship.

It’s all in the three C’s:

Content

Content is the lifeblood of successful social media marketers. What reasons are you giving people to listen to you? This goes two ways: sharing your own helpful posts, links, and resources—and promoting and sharing the content of others. This does three main things: establishes your expertise, drives traffic, and provides your audience with helpful information. Remember, the content you are sharing should not always be your own.

Conversation

Simply by being seen as someone who provides great content in the social media space you will naturally find yourself engaged in conversation. Having these one on one conversations is what is going to make you stand out among the noise and deepen the relationship. In addition, when you make it a habit to promote others, this brings more “social appreciation” your way. These interactions cause others to seek out more information about you beyond where you’ve made the initial connection.

Conversion

Once you have converted someone to a newsletter subscriber, blog subscriber or paying client, you’ve taken steps toward acquiring another raving fan. These loyal folks will not only bring you more sales, but will be much more likely to sing your praises to others out in the social media universe. This is how you grow your “tribe.”

Do you see how simple and effective it is to build an audience of captivated friends and followers? Do you see the difference this could make in your bottom line?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Anything else you would add?

Christine Gallagher, MLS, MSIS, founder of CommunicateValue.com, teaches small business owners and professionals how to conquer the overwhelming aspects of online and social media marketing to increase business and maximize profits. For FREE tips on how to build profitable relationships, leverage technology and create your own successful online business, visit http://CommunicateValue.com/subscribe.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The client demographic you should be targeting now

If you aren’t already coaching young people (more specifically, people in their late 20s and early 30s), this is one client demographic you will want to start marketing to NOW!

Why, you ask? Recent ICF research found that 25- to 34- year-olds are more aware of professional coaching, more aware of the ICF, more satisfied with their coaching experience and more likely to recommend coaching to others than their older counterparts.

The ICF Global Consumer Awareness Study* indicates that this age group sees coaching as a viable resource to help them with their professional goals as they are faced with the global economic downturn and high unemployment rates early in their careers.

In fact, nearly half of the people aged 25-34 selected “expand professional career opportunities” as their top reason for partnering with a coach. To compare, the older age groups chose “optimize individual/team work performance” as their top reason for partnering with a coach.

These findings point toward a very promising future for coaching—not to mention those industries that could benefit from the coaching experiences, principles and culture that the younger generation may bring to their organizations as they move up in their careers. Needless to say, it seems the future of coaching is very bright!

Do you already coach clients in the 25- to 34-year-old age range? What motivated your younger clients to participate in a coaching relationship?

If you don’t, how will you market yourself to this demographic?

*Conducted independently by the International Survey Unit of PwC, the ICF Global Consumer Awareness Study surveyed 15,000 individuals across 20 countries. Read more about this research at Coachfederation.org/works.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

From Tragedy to Transformation

The date, September 11, 2001, after a successful career on Wall Street spanning over 25 years, I had just arranged the sale of the venture capital firm I was the CEO of, and watched the horror unfolding out my apt window facing the World Trade Center. My office was across the street overlooking the fountains. It was a beautifully sunny day. I had decided to stay home. I was in shock. I lost friends and colleagues and was in a deeply emotional state for several months.

I contemplated my future. What was in store for me I wondered. I looked back at my career/life and realized that what I enjoyed most was helping people to achieve their personally relevant goals. I had been a mentor, advisor, coach and didn’t even realize it at the time.

I decided to try my hand at being an independent business consultant. That lasted two years but wasn’t truly fulfilling for me. I would advise a company as to what to do, get paid and leave. One day I was introduced to a woman who was becoming a coach. I had no clue what she did but when she explained the process I was so intrigued that I asked her to coach me for a few sessions. At first I was skeptical. I am not one to open up easily but the process amazed me. So much so that I researched for an ICF certified coach program in the area, chose IPEC and enrolled.

Upon graduation I wondered how to best move forward in this new career. I had heard about the ICF and found the local chapter in NYC. I got the nerve up to attend a monthly meeting and was happily surprised how welcoming everyone there was. There were new coaches, coach wannabes and seasoned coaches attending. I networked, made friends, partnered with other coaches, and after several months was asked by the outgoing President to run for the Board.

My experiences as an active member of ICF-NYC are unforgettable. Over the next few years we focused on giving value to our members. We brought in informative speakers on topics members told us they were interested in. We offered workshops focused on how to grow your coach practice and improve core competencies. We organized groups of coaches to go out into the community and help those that weren’t able to afford our services. From helping college students, to career fairs, to local community groups we got members involved. I was elected chapter President in 2007. We won three global awards over those years. I hosted several webinars sponsored by ICF Global on our chapter best practices, wrote articles for Coach World, volunteered my time as part of the global chapter leader mentor program, spoke at three ICF annual conferences and now host Coach Chat Radio.

This past year, as Past President of the NYC chapter I have focused on mentoring those on the Board who will continue the legacy of our chapter achievements. This being my last year on the local Board, and with a lot of encouragement, I decided to run for a global board seat, was nominated and won the election.

As a new Board member I plan to offer my years of experience in business as a former CFO, COO and CEO, as well as a former chapter leader of one of the most successful chapters in the ICF to help our global organization advance the profession of coaching throughout the world.

For those who have sitting on the sidelines up until now, what can you do to contribute your passion and skills to expand the profession we care so much for?

Bernie Siegel, PCC, incoming 2011 Board of Directors member

Friday, December 3, 2010

What do YOU care for?

What do you care for? It’s a pretty broad question...one that can generate a wide variety of responses and make people feel a number of emotions.

And it can be answered on many levels—you may care for orphans in another part of the world, for your community or country, for your family, for your health and for your ICF membership but you may not care for them all at the same intensity.

So…what is it that you care for? There is no right or wrong way to respond to this question.

Since the end of October, when the I Care For campaign was officially launched, responses to this question have been pouring in—and they are truly as varied as our 17,000+ members.

We’ve learned that Jaki in Kenya cares for “the academic and personal advancement of children from disadvantaged backgrounds” (learn more about Jaki’s story in the January 2011 Coaching World); José in Portugal cares for “a world where being is the matrix of doing and having;” and Bonnie from Canada cares for “creating a world of authenticity, purpose and belief in possibilities by connecting people to their core values and purpose in life.”

Haven’t shared what you care for yet? Do so by 11:59 p.m. on December 31, 2010 and your name will be entered into the I Care For contest. Prizes are awarded in two categories, depending on how you submit your message. (No worries to those who have already shared what they care for—you will be included in these drawings as well!)

Those who share their message through a video will be entered into the drawing for a $250 USD VISA gift card. And those who submit their message via e-mail/Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/other written form will be entered into the drawing for one of two Kodak Play Sport video cameras. I can’t think of a better way to kick off the New Year than with one of these prizes!

And entering is so easy…you simply need to share what you care for! Instructions for submitting your message can be found here.