Thursday, September 27, 2012

Recovery in Executive Coaching -- What it is, and How It Makes you Unique

ICF  Global Executive Practice Community of Practice on 3 October, 2012, 12:00 p.m. (New York)

Recovery in Executive Coaching -- What it is, and How It Makes you Unique
Ram Ramanathan
Deborah Huisken and a panel will discuss 'Recovery in Executive Coaching and Uniqueness -- What's the Connection?' on 3 October First Wednesday at NOON ET USA.  Pl join 1-212-457-9879  PIN: 622186# 

There is a growing international body of coaches helping executives understand what misuse is, how that turns into addiction (or not), what recovery is, and why they should know about it, both for themselves and for the people around them. The recent International Recovery Coaching Conference (IRCC – Oct. 1 & 2) in London is one among many demonstrations of the worldwide interest in this topic.

This panel session will be moderated by UK-based business coach and consultant Deborah Huisken of Dancing Star International ("one must embrace the chaos within to give birth to a dancing star"), and will include UK/Italian-based Executive Recovery Coach / Trainer and Chair of the IRCC Anthony Eldredge-Rogers, as well as US-based sobriety and career coach Jess Dods. They will discuss:

1. What is addiction, and how useful is this label?
2. What does recovery coaching look like?
3. Does spirituality play a role in the process, and if so, what is that role?
4. Why should you as a coach understand these issues and how will learning about them increase your edge – your uniqueness – both as a coach and as a human being?

Deborah has participated in recovery-oriented initiatives since 1989.  She brings recovery principles into all of her work, as a way to help business clients deepen their understanding of themselves and their choices.  She founded her business coaching and consulting company, Dancing Star International (DSI) in 1994, in part to find a way to weave this experience into her work.  She serves as a thinking partner to small to medium-sized enterprises, helping leaders and their teams develop their businesses and themselves.  Her clients have held mid- to senior-level roles in consumer, business-to-business, science, and arts organizations, including Apple Computer, General Dynamics, Hewlett Packard, London School of Economics, SunTory, Philips, Pfizer, the British Government, and the United States Federal Government.  Deborah focuses on what makes her clients unique (e.g. giftedness, high sensitivity, eccentricity, being highly-talented or multi-talented, recovering from addiction or surviving trauma, being a right-brained engineer) to help them understand how to leverage that uniqueness in the work they do; work that their organizations and the world needs from them. Born in the United States, Deborah lived in the UK for most of the 1990s.  She returned to the UK in 2009 and currently divides her time between the southwestern USA, northeastern USA, and England.  In her corporate roles she has worked across Europe and in Israel; in addition she has worked with individual coaching and consulting clients from around the world including Canada, Europe, England, Japan, Sweden, Trinidad, Israel, Ghana, Korea, and the US.

Anthony Eldridge-Rogers has a lifetime of experience in recovery. He has spent over 30 years and thousands of hours learning about recovery and assisting people to achieve it. He is a trained coach, taking certification with CTI (the Coaches Training Institute), an ICF-accredited training organisation.  He has developed and presented workshops on Mastering Recovery from Addiction as well as developing Recovery Coach Training Programmes and approaches. He is also a recovery coaching programme design consultant. 2012 will see the publication of  his first book, An Introduction to Recovery Coaching, for coaches and others interested in the recovery field.  Anthony runs a private recovery coaching practice and consultancy covering the field of recovery coaching and works with clients across the world from the US, EU and Africa.  In 2010 he was invited to become a fellow of the RSA where he has recently founded the RSA Coaching & Mentoring Initiative.  He is a board member of RCI, (Recovery Coaches International), and founded the FRC (Foundation for Recovery Coaching) UK in 2011.  The primary objective of the FRC is to remove the economic barriers to entry for anyone wishing to become a recovery coach.  He lives in the UK and Italy with his wife Lehla and has three children, twin daughters Olive and Amari and son Jahli.

Jess Dods brings 26 years of continuous sobriety to his career coaching work. He holds an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management.  He has held operations, business development and management positions with global energy companies and banks, as well as senior management consulting positions with Arthur D Little and Navigant Consulting.  Jess has lived in several countries around the world.  He began career transformation coaching full time in 2003, having added coaching training to his grounding in domestic and international business realities.   His clients include executives, managers and professionals from business, not-for-profits, academia, attorneys, government, international development, banking, finance, consultants, physical and social sciences.   Jess trained with the Coaches Training Institute and with Lee Hecht Harrison as Certified Career Transition Consultant. He is a Member of the Harvard Maclean Institute of Coaching Professional Association (ICPA).  He is experienced in a range of assessment tools and the application of positive psychology tools in coaching.

Ram S Ramanathan
Mentor Coach, PCC , BCC
Bangalore, India

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Customers first

Customer Service Week is internationally recognized the first full week of October. For coaches, this is an opportune time to revisit your customer service strategies. Here are two specific ways you can commemorate Customer Service Week:
  • Revisit your customer service policies. How do you handle potential clients? Your current clients? Future clients?
  • Show gratitude to all existing clients. How do you show your appreciation?
 Next week, consider what you can do to make customers first!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Coaching the Distance: Bridging cultural gaps seamlessly with state of the art communication technology

Below is part of an occasional blog series highlighting the Catalysts and sessions of ICF Global 2012.
Ralf Wolter, ACC
State of the art Internet collaboration tools and high-definition video conferencing solutions are affordable and ready for use.
  • How can you leverage these to make a virtual coaching experience for your client even better than an in-person meeting?
  • Are you aware of coaching opportunities in the virtual world?
  • Imagine a video coaching experience that is as ral as being in the same room: what would you do?
  • Do you use group coaching to attract new clients?
  • How can you make it easy and cost-effective for new clients to join your sessions?
  • Do you have clients who do not want to travel and dislike audio coaching?
  • Over 75% of Fortune 500 companies use HD video conferencing solutions.
  • Are you ready to connect with them?
  • Does using communication technology cause you panic?
  • Are you familiar with cultural aspects of coaching globally?
  • We will discuss practical approaches and practice latest collaboration tools. Join us to share your experience with virtual coaching across cultures and learn from others.

Patricia Weiland, PCC
Join this interactive session to experience "coaching the distance," including real-time demonstrations using the latest technology. The demonstration will show you how to leverage technology for better understanding in your coaching sessions. Learn how to create incredible brainstorming with a virtual white-board. Ensure accountability with the sharing of homework documents. In addition you can also connect with other coaches to be able to test, troubleshoot and tackle new technology in your own office. After the session at the ICF Conference join the online discussion from your office to test and update your virtual technology offerings.
Join our LinkedIn and Facebook communities.
Ralf Wolter, ACC, and Patricia Weiland, PCC, are Catalysts at ICF Global 2012, October 3-6 in London, UK, where they will be presenting “Coaching the Distance: Bridging cultural gaps seamlessly with technology." Learn more.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Climb Higher with Customer Testimonials

It's human nature to want credit for our accomplishments. When we've made someone happy, we want that person to shout it from a mountaintop. But in the small business world, getting a satisfied client to scale that proverbial mountain can be tricky, and if potential customers aren't listening nearby, praises may go unheard. So how can a coach be sure positive feedback reaches their market? Whether gathered through surveys, comment cards, or focus groups, reviews must be recognized, acted upon, and shared to lift your business to the uppermost peak. How can you use testimonials to reach the summit?

Listen and understand feedback.
Both positive and negative comments can lay a path to the top. Pay attention to compliments to gain an understanding of what's important to customers -- you may uncover a new marketable strength. Complaints and suggestions should be relayed into smart changes to better serve your clients. For example, customers may be seeking additional services or prefer a payment plan over one bill. Just remember, when you implement a change based on a customer's feedback, tell that person. Letting a client know you're listening is one of the best ways to secure loyalty for the long haul.
Make strategic adjustments.
Organize your reviews into three categories: calls for immediate action, modifications affecting this year's revenue, and long-term game-changers. After deciding on needed adjustments, test ideas against your budget and resources, talk to your regular clients to assess their reactions to changes, and establish measurable benchmarks to gauge your plan's success over a set period.

Share your strengths.
Word of mouth is a small business's lifeline, but rather than shouts of praise from a mountaintop, encourage conversations in locations where the right people will hear your message. Direct mailers should always include a page or two of diverse, persuasive comments from your clients. And with much of today's social networking concentrated online, the Internet also makes an ideal environment for planting reviews. Place concise and specific customer quotes in highly visible, well-trafficked spots on your website. Leverage your Facebook page by encouraging clients to "like" your business, then asking pointed questions (i.e., "In what way has my coaching been most helpful to you?") with your status updates to encourage positive comments on your wall. Establish a YouTube or Vimeo channel and post video testimonials of satisfied clients sharing their experiences. And brainstorm incentives to persuade dedicated patrons to post their feedback on city-specific directories, search engines, and review websites like Ask City, Angie's List, Yelp, Judy's Book, and -- you can even simplify the process by linking directly to your listing on these sites from your own webpage. Such personalized, credible reviews not only help generate real interest from prospective clients, but also help you climb higher in local search rankings and, ultimately, surmount the competition.

Christopher Wallace

Christopher Wallace, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Amsterdam Printing, has more than 20 years experience in sales and marketing. At Amsterdam Printing, a leading provider of custom pens and other promotional items such as custom USB drives, Christopher is focused on providing quality marketing materials to small, mid-size and large businesses. He regularly contributes to Promo & Marketing Wall blog.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Say the word

Last month, in honor of the word ‘life coach’ being added to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, we asked our Facebook ( fans to answer the following question, “Coaches, what do you think this says about the professional coaching industry and its future?” Take a look below to see how our Facebook fans responded:
“Our work is global and significant.” (Kaylus Adams Vision-Coach)

“What is a life coach? Look it up!” (Keith Lawrence Miller)

“I think this signifies the relevance we as coaches have in today’s world. It validates what we have long known; that coaches are the gateway to professional success and personal happiness for people today.” (Inspired Heather Paris)

“This means that somewhoe, people recognize that hiring a coach to make better different areas of someone’s life is a great investment. I say investment and not expense because taking care of our well-being is key to our success and happiness. I would also add that taking care of the ‘life’ side of the human being will for benefit the ‘business’ side too. Everything is interlinked: career, health, happiness, spirituality, love life, etc.” (Ines Mahjoub)

“It should be a goal of all coaches to one day ‘life coach’ can be removed from Webster because our work will be done.” (Dean Miles)

“The protectors of our language, who manage new entries for our dictionaries, are not trendsetters. They reflect, rather than create new language. Thus, they rarely accept a new word until it is already mainstream. That the term Life Coach is recognized sufficiently to enter the permanent records says something about the legitimacy and acceptance of coaching. I am happy to hear it!” (Jim Smith)

“This is a huge acknowledgement of what we bring.” (Anouk Boering)

“How far we’ve come in awareness and understanding about coaching in the past 17 years!” (Diane Gard Brennan)

“I posted this on the Merriam-Webster page: Glad to see the profession listed but we never use the term ‘advisor’ to define a coach, as advice-giving is decidedly not the role of a coach, but rather, the role of a mentor. Professional coaches question, probe, prod, reflect, clarify, challenge, and many other things but virtually never do they advise, direct, instruct, or provide recommendations. I beg you to contact the ICF for perspective on this, since you are viewed as a definitive resource and you have inaccurately portrayed the very core of this new profession through the use of the word ‘advisor’.” (Christopher McCluskey)

“Woo hoo! We’ve come a long way, baby!” (Linda McCarrin)

“I believe the life (and business) coaching profession is at an embryo stage as people of this magnificent planet need so much more of being held as naturally creative, resourceful, and whole human beings! Coaching has come a long way and its domino-effect and therefore, impact, will be part of a transformative synergy in the future.” (Veronique Pigeon)

“Great achievement indeed! We are changing the world and this is the best proof. Way to go life coaches everywhere!” (Rawan Albina)

“Hats off to the pioneers of this field who believed in what they do and continued changing lives.” (Fatima Nakhjavanpur)

What about you? What does this mean for the coaching profession and our future? We’d love to know—leave a response below or join the conversation at

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Leadership Coaching For Challenging Times – How Deep Simplicity Can Show Us the Way

Below is part of an occasional blog series highlighting the Catalysts and sessions of ICF Global 2012.

If you’ve ever done musical or acting improvisation, you know that you have to work with  whatever your improv partners give you.  If you don’t, the whole performance can fall apart very quickly.
Alan Seale, PCC, CTPC
Life works pretty much the same way. Whatever comes up, it’s up to us to make something of it.

Everything that happens is an opportunity for co-creation. When we start from here, our first questions might be, “What is the opportunity here?  How can I accept this opportunity and work with it rather than resist it?”

We can turn that simple concept into a very practical and powerful coaching application. Choose a situation in your life. How you are “being” with that situation—what is your relationship to it? Are you pushing against it, and maybe even giving it more energy? Or are you flowing with it by asking, “what wants to happen here?” What’s the message that’s trying to come through? 

Let’s take the exploration further. For just a moment, actually push against your situation in your mind. Try to stop it or force it to be something else. Do your best to control it, and notice how that feels. 

Then shift your approach and explore how you might actually flow with this situation rather than push against it. If there is something new trying to happen here, what might that be? If this situation was your improv partner, what could you co-create? Notice how this approach feels different.

In asking these questions, we become empowered by everything that happens rather than being a victim of it.  We take whatever comes and work with it.  When you embrace rather than push away, you can transform the energy of the situation.  From there, you can usually find a way to move forward. 

Alan Seale, PCC, CTPC is a Catalyst at ICF Global 2012, October 3-6 in London, UK, where he will be presenting “The Deep Simple: Getting to the essence for breakthrough and transformation." Learn more.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Challenging Coaching - Going beyond the limits of traditional coaching to face the FACTS

Below is part of an occasional blog series highlighting the Catalysts and sessions of ICF Global 2012.

John Blakey, PCC
In 2009 Ian Day and I co-authored the book "Where were all the coaches when the banks went down?" in which the we introduced concepts such as ZOUD (Zone of Uncomfortable Debate) and the FACTS coaching model (Feedback, Accountability, Courageous Goals, Tension, and Systems Thinking.) We emphasised the responsibility of professional coaches to leverage the opportunity presented by the privileged coach-client relationship and to act in the interests of the wider system (rather than exclusively in the interests of the individual coachee) by adopting a more proactively challenging stance with their coachees. Our first book created a lively discussion and debate amongst the coaching community, as it forced coaches to "look in the mirror" and to challenge deeply-rooted practices.
Ian Day

Our latest collaboration titled "Challenging Coaching - Going beyond the limits of traditional coaching to face the FACTS" was published in April 2012 and further explores these themes. In this latest book we explore more deeply the techniques for increasing the level of challenge using our FACTS coaching model to unlock deeper potential in business leaders and their teams. Long-held coaching principles such as being non-directive, building rapport, and holding to the individual's agenda are put under the spotlight as we question their relevance to a 21st-century business environment where the needs of the wider organization must take precedence over the particular wants of any specific individual. Our session will inevitably generate questions for coaching practitioners since it acts as a wake-up call amongst traditionalists and buyers of coaching services.

Our session will provide attendees with an opportunity to explore these concepts experientially and to examine practical techniques for "turning up" the degree of challenge within a coaching conversation. We anticipate a highly interactive session with plenty of opportunity for discussion and sharing of experiences and insights from the audience.

John Blakey, PCC, and Ian Day are Catalysts at ICF Global 2012, October 3-6 in London, UK, where they will be presenting “Challenging Coaching: Going beyond traditional coaching to face the FACTS." Learn more.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Cognitive blind spots

Cognitive  blind spots. Everyone has them. Cognitive blind spots are often manifested as repeated patterns of ineffective behavior or resolutions to change that seem to fall short of the goal. The nature of blind spots is that one perceives limited data or is using inadequate methods of judgment to address a problem. This phenomenon is similar to the blind spots you have when driving a car. There are certain visual fields that are not readily apparent and you must mindfully check those areas for other cars or use a device to identify those vehicles. Similarly, it is difficult to correct for cognitive blind spots because you often lack the insight and resources to do so. If you had these perspectives and remedies operating effectively already, then goals would always be met and change would be easy. Such is not the case and that is where outside support in the form of coaches, teachers and mentors can be helpful.
Have you ever noticed the plethora of self-help books in the bookstore? What used to be a few shelves of books mostly by Wayne Dwyer or Dale Carnegie is now an ever-expanding selection of remedies and advice that seem to provide a temporary burst of ideas and energy, but ultimately leads to limited meaningful change. In other words, if self-help books were so effective, why would there be a need for more and more of them?  I am not opposed to using a self-help book as a vehicle for personal insight, and in fact, I have a collection of these books myself. However, there is a tendency to ultimately default to the well-worn path in our minds despite our best intentions, often leading to frustration and despair. Personal coaches can help by providing additional insight and accountability.

Certainly, awareness of the problem is the first step. However, because these cognitive patterns are preferred and well-worn in the brain, it will take more than just awareness to create meaningful change. The brain is plastic and fully capable of lasting changes. However, these changes require tremendous effort, motivation and in fact, a dampening down of default methods of thinking to bring about these changes. It is similar to a sled hill. It’s easy to go down the paths that are already well-established but it takes deliberate effort to move your sled and make a new run. That is how the brain tends to operate.

One way to make deliberate changes is to become mindful of both your present behavior and to create a reasonable alternative. It is more effective to say, “I will do this instead of that” rather than, “I won’t do that.” For example, there are several forms of meditation that train the brain to resist existing patterns of thinking and refocus on new ways of thinking. Meditation is an emollient to smooth transitions in the mind. 

Most of all, realize that change takes time. The brain requires several opportunities to try out new behaviors before they become readily accessible. In between the resolution to make a significant change and the actual attainment of the goal can be many challenges. There is always the temptation to go back to the familiar. However, with a coach, teacher or mentor that you trust and rely on, your chances of success are greatly improved.

Ann C. Holm
Ann C. Holm is an ICF certified coach with a lifelong interest in brain science. For 25 years, she coached brain injured clients toward cognitive recovery with an emphasis toward optimal functioning in the community. In 2009, she started a coaching practice in order to serve any client who wishes to uncover personal potential through increased awareness of how the brain works, and knowledge of psychological type preferences. .Ann holds a B.A. in Psychology, Speech and Hearing Sciences (1983) and a M.S. in Speech and Language Pathology (1986), both from the University of Michigan. She received Life Coach training from the Coaches Training Institute in 2008.  She is also an MBTI Master Practitioner and currently one of less than 100 MBTI practitioners worldwide certified to administer the newly released MBTI Step III.  Learn more:

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey – Marketing Lessons for Coaches

During my recent stay in Las Vegas, the presence of “Fifty Shades of Grey” was overwhelming: At any given moment there were at least five people reading the printed edition of this book. And due to the many Kindles I saw, I assume a few more “hidden” readers of this book.

My unscientific research showed that more than 80 percent of the readers were women aged between 25 and 50 years. The results did not change during the course of seven days of unscientific research.  There was no other book as ubiquitous as this one.
I confess: I haven’t read the book. I don’t know if I ever will.

But I am always fascinated by “overnight success stories” – which usually never just came out of nothing nor overnight…

Did you know, that it was the very first e-book that sold more than 1 million times for Amazon’s Kindle alone?

Did you know, that the Trilogy outsold the Harry Potter seven-part series by two to one on Amazon UK?

While enjoying the sun of Las Vegas I was wondering: “What are the lessons we as coaches can learn from the success story of this book?”

Lesson 1: Passion
The book was written with passion and the initial driver was not to make money out of it. The author, a former TV executive, E.L. James wrote a so called “fan fiction” as a fan of the Twilight Saga. Fan fictions are stories written by fans about their beloved movies.

At a later stage the author removed the fan fictions from the Twilight fan website due to the sexual nature of her writings. She rewrote it and modified it to cut loose from the Twilight theme.

What we as Coaches can learn from this is the fact, that it takes a lot of passion to develop a great product or a great service. You have to invest long hours fully dedicated to your dream. For us coaches this means to invest a lot of time into learning, training and peer group coaching. Only this infinite passion gives you a chance to offer a valuable service, which people might be willing to buy in the end.

Especially since coaching is not tangible, it’s passion that will differentiate us from other coaches competing for the same client. It’s our passion a potential client needs to feel if we want him to trust us.

My clients always appreciate how passionate I am about their success. Sometimes they “borrow” some of my passion if they got stuck in a bad state.

Your passion to assist your client comes first, and the money will follow.

If you start with “how much money can I make” in mind, you will most likely fail.

Lesson 2: Shoestring Budgets can Work
When the trilogy was written, the UK-based author published it through an Australian publisher as an e-book and print-on-demand paperback. This means, there were no big expectations that this book would sell more than a few hundred times.

The small publisher did not have a huge marketing budget nor did they invest a lot. They promoted it on relevant blogs and eventually the book was promoted by word-of-mouth recommendation. That’s when sales were boosted.

All of this happened during the course of less than six months in 2011.

What we as Coaches can learn from it: Even on a shoestring budget you can reach a huge audience by promoting your coaching approach to relevant media/blogs only. And it does not need to stop with online media. Find ways to promote your business via partners, influential people, etc.

As long as you are not in the same league like Apple, who invested more than 500 Million US$ into their iPhone advertisements, you have to use a focused promotion strategy.

Lesson 3: Focus on a niche
The content of the Fifty Shades trilogy is not written for everybody. In fact, it’s for a very specific niche and that’s one of the reasons it was not published by a large publisher in the beginning – because it had a market that seemed to be “too tiny”.

It turned out, that the audience was large enough to make it the best selling e-book of all times and the fastest selling paper back of all times for Amazon UK. It was also interesting enough to sell the film rights for several millions US$.

Not too bad for a niche product…

What can we as a Coach learn from it? Don’t be scared to focus on a very specific niche.

The internet age is very useful for selling to a niche – because there are no borders any more. If you have a great coaching approach for niche, which might look “too tiny” in your own country, the audience might be large enough if you promote it internationally.

With Skype and cheap telephone rates you can coach people all around the world.

Remember: Sometimes 10 clients are more than enough, and that’s what I call a niche…
Axel Rittershaus
Axel Rittershaus is a serial entrepreneur who started his first company in the IT industry in 1993. Since 2008 he power-boosts executives and their businesses with his unique outcome-oriented coaching company “The Executive Coach” He works with executives and teams, improving their leadership, sales, growth, and communication skills. He works with both European and African companies. Axel is also the president of the ICF Chapter Cape Town. The International Coach Federation is the largest worldwide resource for professional coaches. The Chapter Cape Town is an active group of coaches and the contact point for all requests regarding professional coaching for coaches, individuals and businesses interested in coaching. Email Axel on

Thursday, September 13, 2012

How we use energy work to open the throat

Energy Work & Coaching Community of Practice
Presenter:   Rhona Post MA, MCC, CI Practitioner
Scheduled Call: Friday September 21, 2012; 11:00 a.m. (New York)
Call in Number:  +1.212.457.9879
Pin #: 622180#

Welcome back to the continuously expanding Energy Work and Coaching Community of Practice. I am grateful for the continued support this group provides.

I took the summer off to deepen my Mindfulness practice. I can now say with certainty that my sitting practice helped deepen and support my healer coaching practice.

As our group continues to explore linkages between Alternative healing and our ongoing coaching practice, I’m inviting members to review two ICF core competencies—Powerful Questions and Direct Communications with a particular focus on the various energetic methodologies to achieve mastery. For example, I have observed how blockages in the throat impact our ability to ask powerful questions or engage in direct communication. Recognition and attention to specific areas in the body serve as guideposts to our continued efforts to be present.

There are many great communication strategies we employ to provide a base line approach with clients, but what I am speaking to is the internal cultivation we can engage with to open the various charkas, and in this case, the throat chakra. Recognizing and working with the throat chakra is both an analytical and felt experience. The concentration we bring to exploring one area supports us to notice what is going on (or not) in other areas. Focusing our attention and breath on any one area in the body provides an entry point for investigation and release. With practice we soften/open our relationship to what is happening in the body, as well as soften the holding patterns we’ve developed to protect ourselves.
 Rhona Post, MCC
The stress or discontent we/clients feel is directly related to the lack of ease we experience in our own mind, prohibiting us from truly being present even mindful in our thoughts, speech and actions. The greatest communication strategies will not help us when we are unaware of our own blockages. Our ability to move with ease between fearless and gentle speech is an integral component to mastering powerful questions and direct communication.

Please join our group on Friday, September 21 to explore some mindful approaches to breathing, and speech.  ICF usually provides 1 CCEU for each class. 

If you are interested in learning more about healer coaching, please call me at +1.941.554.8466 or email me at

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Conversations for Power and Possibility: The Global Conversation

Below is part of an occasional blog series highlighting the Catalysts and sessions of ICF Global 2012.

The Global Village has never seemed smaller, our fates so clearly intertwined.  Economic, social and ecological challenges threaten our shared future. What is our creative response?

Darlene Chrissley, MCC
In the past, conversations that mattered were held behind closed doors where a few powerful men gathered. The media were controlled by a handful of media barons, who held politicians in thrall.  A few powerful advertising companies carefully managed their brands and our impressions.  There was little opportunity for the individual to make a difference on a global scale.  Communications amounted to a one-way broadcast activity, and citizen engagement was given lip service at best.

But the mobile revolution has put a phone, audio and video recording device in every pocket and we have become connected to a virtual global conversation that never stops humming.

The people of the world have been empowered to collaborate on issues of common concern, especially those issues that threaten our future on the planet.  We have never had this capability before.  Its existence now, is one of our best hopes as a human community. 

As coaches our medium is conversation, our mission to facilitate positive change for individuals and systems.  What is our vision for coaching the really big conversations, and influencing the global systems that are shaping the future of our species and planet? What is our creative response?

In the session Conversations for Power and Possibility: The Global Conversation we use two case studies as springboards to possibility thinking.  Conversations for Power and Possibility was launched by ICF Toronto in response to the economic crash of 2009. The film Iceland: Future of Hope documents a nation’s soul searching at the same moment in time.

I hope you’ll participate what promises to be a provocative dialogue on coaching the global conversation Friday, Oct.5 at 2:30.

Darlene Chrissley, MCC, is a Catalyst at ICF Global 2012, October 3-6 in London, UK, where she will be presenting “Conversations for Power and Possibility: Coaching the global conversation." Register today!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Three things you can do this week

Do you maximize your membership? ICF members have numerous opportunities open to them…but not everyone takes advantage of them. This occasional topic series will highlight those things you can do to ensure you are making the most of your connection to the ICF.

Reserve your space for an ICF webinar: Requirements for ICF Credentials. This webinar will take place on September 14 at 12:00 p.m. (New York) and will last for an hour. Information to be covered includes: requirements for coach-specific training, mentoring, client-coaching experience, reference letters, and recordings of coaching sessions. If any level of ICF Credential is in your future, you will not want to miss this!

Purchase your copy of the 2012 ICF Global Coaching Study Final Report. ICF members receive discounts on industry research. The 2012 Final Report is more than 140 pages of research that outlines the coaching profession in its current state. Topics covered include: size and key trends of the profession; profile of coaches; training and accreditation; the client; interaction between coach and client; and key issues and future trends.

Peruse partners in the ICF Media Partner and ICF Business Solutions Partner programs. They offer ICF members special pricing and/or discounts on their various goods and services.

What is your most value-added member benefit?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Are you doing what matters?

I might be describing a rather common situation: efforts without results, unfinished projects, wasted time and money on training sessions that didn’t change anything. I have worked with professionals who always wanted to achieve certain results in which they highly invested, but without knowing what really matters or what they should be really doing. It’s exactly what the chair of the American Statistical Association said about people’s lack of orientation: Many make the mistake of starting to write questions without spelling out objectives or what Mabel Newcomer would call it: it is more important to know where you are going than to get there quickly. Do not mistake activity for achievement.
So then, in business, how can you separate the things that matter from the ones that don’t?
- What are the activities that contribute to your evolution?

Is it specific? Just as a commercial contract in vague terms can’t be trusted, vague objectives can’t have a precise or positive finality. Even though in my experience, I have met plenty of managers who believe that doing a lot of things means doing well, in real life, these can only confuse you and make you waste valuable time. One of the American Airlines strategies for a profitable activity is making sure that objectives are precise:

When clients make a phone call to book a seat, they must get an answer in no more than 20 seconds since the initial call is made

85% of the company’s airplanes must take off in no more than 5 minutes since the scheduled hour and must land in no more than 15 minutes since the scheduled hour.

If an objective isn’t clear enough, then it cannot be fulfilled.

Do you believe in what you do? The famous basket ball player, Michael Jordan, has one important principle he keeps in mind when playing in a game: you have to expect things of yourself before you can do them. As longs as what you are doing isn’t useful to your development, it might not work out trying to stick to it. Nothing is more frustrating than investing time and money in something that doesn’t work in the end.

Do you keep track of what you’re doing? At the North Pole, the only way to survive is to constantly move; if you stop moving just for one second, you freeze. We can apply the same principle in business: when you have a clear objective, it is important to stick to it and see how far you can go with it. When you lose focus and begin to invest in things that distract you, you risk losing your way. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the only way to success is seeing the objective only. The only thing that matters is equilibrium and the only way of achieving it is by knowing where you are and where you are headed.

Rodica Obancea, ACC
Rodica Obancea, ACC, is passionate about change, emergence, living systems. She works within business environment, with managers, teams for achieving ambitious results. For more information, visit

Friday, September 7, 2012

Five Ways to Build a Successful Coaching Brand at Little to No Cost

This article first appeared in the August 2012 edition of Coaching World. Coaching World is the digital, quarterly publication of the International Coach Federation. It is distributed via email and accessible at for all to enjoy. Coaching World is written and produced by the ICF Marketing Department. Look for the next issue in Novemeber!

Brands are everywhere. And that includes an ever-increasing number of coach brands, too. So, how do you stand out in that crowd and reach the clients you want to attract? By building an even more powerful brand for yourself.

The good news is: You already have five assets in your branding arsenal that you can use immediately to build your unique brand as a coach, at low cost – or no cost at all.

1. Your brand positioning. How you position yourself as a coach is fundamental to the success of your brand, but what does “positioning” mean? I like to define it as the way you want clients to perceive, think, and feel about you as a coach, in relation to other coaches. It helps you get clear on the specific piece of “mental real estate” you want to – and can – own.

 Many coaches say to me, “But I’m not a ‘company,’ so I don’t have a brand.” But the truth is that your clients and potential clients already have perceptions, thoughts, and feelings about you. That means you have a brand – right now - whether you like it or not. The question is whether you have the brand you want. This is why it’s so critical to take charge of your brand definition. Leaving it to chance is no way to build a coaching business; after all, great brands don’t get to be great by accident.

Every successful brand positioning – whether for a company or a person – is based on six elements: Target Group, Needs, Benefits, Reasons Why, Comparative Framework, and Brand Character. I recommend that coaches use these elements to create a Brand Positioning Statement. Writing it down helps you to define what you want your brand to stand for. Once you have that clear definition, you can design a marketing plan that helps you communicate your brand to your Target Group – the type of clients you want to attract.

If you remember one thing, remember this: Communicating your brand happens as a result of what you do, not what you say. You can say you’re a reliable coach, but what good is that if your actions don’t show that you are? Through what you do, you create a credible brand that your clients will trust and believe.

2. Your clients. Maybe you’ve heard the saying, “Make new friends, but keep the old… one is silver and the other gold?” Well, as a coach, these “old friends” are your existing clients. Just how golden are they? Studies show that it costs six to nine times as much to attract a new customer as it costs to keep an existing customer happy.

How does this apply in the coaching world where your objective is to help clients establish new behaviors and meet goals so that they don’t need you as a coach anymore? Even if you’re no longer coaching a particular individual, that person is still a “client.” You can continue to stay in touch and ask for referrals.

Part of my concluding conversation with every client is, “How comfortable would you be recommending me as a coach to someone else?” If they say, “Sure!” I say, “Great, could you provide contact information of five people you believe would be interested in coaching?” I also send an email once a month to every current and former coaching client. It’s full of valuable information, and it serves to remind them about the coaching experience they had. At the end of this email, I again ask them to refer me to anyone who could benefit from coaching. This simple question has attracted new clients again and again, and it doesn’t cost a thing.

I also send happy birthday emails to my current and past clients. These bear no cost, but this personal touch can make all the difference in the world. I reward clients for referrals, too, with a thank you bottle of wine or book I think they’d like. The cost is only a small fraction of what I gain.

3. Your products and services. Your own service as a coach can be a powerful asset for your brand. If you have a superior service, get it in the hands of potential customers by offering a free trial session. It may cost you some time, but it’s a way of demonstrating what you can do, and it creates free “advertising” for you.

If you don’t believe what you offer is truly superior – and it’s important to be honest with yourself about that – there are many ways for your brand to be perceived as better and to differentiate yourself from other coaches.

In order to find a meaningful point of difference, understand your Target Group well and get crystal clear about what they need from you. Be specific, and make choices. In other words, don’t try to be the perfect coach to all people. Perhaps you specialize in helping middle managers gain the confidence they need to get promoted. You might be a coach who works with teens to help them set their future course in life. Maybe you work with top executives who need to strengthen senior leadership skills. Ask yourself: What is your passion, and what strengths do you have as a coach that your clients most need from you? This is where you find your point of differentiation.

One way to create a meaningful differentiator is to become an expert in your local area. Write a column on coaching in your city’s newspaper, or publish a blog. Write a book, if possible, especially given that you can publish e-books for next-to-nothing these days. I get a large number of training, speaking, and coaching business from people who’ve read my books; writing articles or books can help your business, too.

Invest in a good website. I hate to say it, but a lot of coaches’ websites actually work against their brand. It’s absolutely necessary to have a good site that highlights your products and services, pointing out what makes you unique. Have people visit your site and give you feedback on their user experience. Make it easy for your clients to find what they need to know about you – especially your contact information.

If you have a website, be sure your email address ends with @[your-domain-name].com. Too many coaches use their free @gmail or @yahoo accounts to send emails to prospective or existing clients, which immediately says, “I’m small potatoes.”

4. Your team. I often hear coaches say, “I’m just a one-person-show, so there is no one else to help me market myself.” That’s one of the biggest branding myths out there! Everyone you know is on your “marketing team” and can help spread the word about your brand!

I say, “Every time you shake a hand, you market your brand.” Think of all the people you interact with daily – friends, family, existing customers, suppliers, associations you belong to, former classmates, and on and on. Make a master list. Then, think about all the connections each of those individuals make every day as well. Get the people on your list to recommend you, making sure they are clear about your brand positioning. That’s how all of your connections become walking, talking advertisements for you.

What is the #1 underutilized piece of branding space? The back of a business card. That’s 50% of your brand-building space wasted! For just a few cents more, why not use it to explain the benefits you offer as a coach? When you do, every person who receives it has the potential to become a marketer for you, especially if you give them a few extra cards and ask them to hand them out to people who might be interested. One coach I know uses the back of his business card to offer a free trial session. No matter how you use it, that blank space offers you a powerful branding opportunity to expand your business and your marketing team at the same time.

5. Your competitors. When I mention to a coach that competitors are one of their best brand-building assets, they often look at me like I have two heads. Aren’t ‘competitors’ a liability, not an asset? Not at all! If you don’t know what other coaches are doing, you will have a hard time setting a strategy to succeed. On a scale from 1 to 10 (10 is high), how well do you know what other coaches are doing to be successful? Most coaches answer 3 or 4, but that’s most probably not high enough if you want to be the coach of choice for your Target Group.

You can learn a lot from other coaches that can help make your own brand stronger. Learn more about the other coaches who your existing and potential clients might choose.

Luckily, there are many ways you can learn about other coaches without spending any money. Create a Google Alert for the name of each coach you want to learn more about. Every time something is written about that person on the Internet, you will get an email about it. Subscribe to that coach’s e-newsletter or blog, follow him/her on Twitter, “like” his/her Facebook fan page, and watch their YouTube videos. This is smart, ethical research. Then, don’t copy what they do – instead, do it better. Use what you’ve learned to improve your own brand.

Is your branding and marketing budget limited? Don’t worry! There are dozens of additional low-cost and no-cost ways to use the five assets you already have to build your brand as a coach. Carefully define your brand, develop a low-cost marketing plan, then each week, ask yourself: What top three activities can I do this week to strengthen my brand? That’s how you build a differentiated image that makes you the coach of choice for clients.

Brenda Bence
About the author:
Brenda Bence is an internationally-recognized branding expert, Certified Speaking Professional, ICF-Certified Coach, and the author of four award-winning branding books, including the recently released
Smarter Branding Without Breaking the Bank: Five Proven Marketing Strategies You Can Use Right Now to Build Your Business at Little or No Cost. After graduating from Harvard Business School, Brenda spent 20 years developing mega brands for Fortune 100 companies across 50 countries and four continents. In 2002, she founded her own company, BDA International. Now based out of Singapore, and with clients that span six continents, Bence travels the world speaking, training, and coaching individuals and companies to greater success through corporate and personal brand development. Visit

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Webster defines life coaching and gets it wrong

Last month, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary proffered their definition of a Life Coach. While it’s gratifying to have our profession officially recognized, the critical noun used to define it is woefully inaccurate.

The Webster Dictionary now defines a Life Coach as: (noun) an advisor who helps people make decisions, set and reach goals, or deal with problems.
So what’s the concern? It’s that little word, “advisor.”

Professionally trained coaches rarely, if ever, play the role of advice-giver. It’s a valuable role, to be sure. It’s just not the role of a life coach.

Mentors give advice. Consultants give advice. Teachers and preachers and experts of all stripes give advice. But not life coaches.
Sports coaches, fitness coaches, nutrition coaches, even voice coaches give advice. But not life coaches.

Why not?

These other forms of service are characterized by a knowledge differential. The knowledge of one person is desired by another, so the one who has it offers advice to the one who desires it.

Think mentor-to-apprentice. Teacher-to-student. Master-to-novice. Physician-to-patient. Consultant-to-business owner. In each of these, the one desiring growth seeks advice from the one with expertise.

Seeking advice is one of the surest paths to wisdom and success. But it’s not the only means by which personal growth occurs.

Advisors work from the outside-in; an advisor has knowledge and seeks to impart it to the inner being of the advisee.

Life coaches do exactly the opposite; they work from the inside-out, because they don’t have the knowledge their clients are seeking.

Life coaches cannot possibly be experts on their clients’ unique life paths, or giftings, or sense of life callings. They can’t know those things until their clients discover them for themselves.

So a life coach’s primary role is to help clients do exactly that – to discover for themselves, through relationship with the coach, what lies uniquely within themselves.

A Judeo-Christian proverb states: “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.”

This beautifully captures the exploratory, inside-out nature of life coaching. A life coach “draws out” the purposes of a client’s heart – their gifts, their call, their passion, their path.

How do life coaches do this drawing-out?

They question. Being genuinely curious about what may be discovered, they question and listen, and then question some more.

If coaches are expert in anything at all, it is questioning; digging, probing, prodding, and then reflecting, clarifying, reframing, and challenging.

Think of detectives arriving on a crime scene. They have no more information to begin with than you or I. They don’t know whodunit, or why, or how.

They can’t be advisors because they don’t have the desired knowledge.

The expertise of detectives lies not in having answers but in knowing how to draw them out.

Detectives question witnesses. They search for clues. They form hypotheses and formulate more questions. And eventually, through an intentional process of inquiry and clarification, they discover whodunit and why and how.

They attain their answers from the inside-out. Just like a life coach.

Life coaches approach clients like detectives seeking to discover giftings and callings, and to then help clients discern how to fulfill those.

The differences between advisors and detectives couldn’t be more stark: outside-in versus inside-out.

Old Mr. Webster may not change his definition, but it’s a blow to the field of life coaching if he doesn’t.
Christopher McCluskey, MSW, PCC
His current definition leaves life coaches synonymous with mentors and consultants, creating a hot new buzzword for the same old services instead of distinguishing an entirely new profession.  

Christopher McCluskey, MSW, PCC, is President & CEO of Professional Christian Coaching Institute. A pioneer in the field, he serves on numerous boards and is an active member of the International Coach Federation.