What is an overachiever?
If you think you are one, then you probably are.  If you don't know, ask someone around you and see what they say.  Basically, overachievers are people who have high expectations (for themselves and everything around them), typically work hard, and have a lot of potential.  For the most part, overachievers have gone to great schools, accomplished a number of things so far, and have had success most of their lives.  But it's not the outward achievements that classify someone as an overachiever, it's more so the mentality of always wanted to improve and make things better.

Why would someone need a coach?

I would recommend a coach in situations where you might want help with direction, inspiration, or clarity.  When you get to a point where things have been bouncing around your head for a while and you wish you had a cool aunt or uncle to talk to (who wouldn't push advice), then I would suggest calling a coach.

Many overachievers balk at the idea of paying someone else to "coach" them.  I think this is a totally justifiable perspective because we're incredibly talented, insightful, and self-aware problem-solvers that should be able to figure it out on our own.  While this is true, it's helpful to have a coach in order to accelerate the process and offer an external perspective.  In a coaching engagement, the questions, exercises, and discussions force the client to collect their thoughts in such a way that makes it faster for them to get where they want to go.

It's also important to note that nothing has to be "wrong" to be coached.  While a lot of clients are working on areas they're unsatisfied with, it is also common to have those who are trying to reach another next level in what they're already doing.  Think of it as a way to get closer to your potential - whether it's something that you're not happy with or an area that might be ok, but you know it could be much more successful.

Are you a "life coach"?
I don't really like the term "life coach" because I feel like it lumps me into a category of people who read Tarot cards and believe in unicorns.  I prefer just "coach" or "personal strategist" but it's essentially the same thing.  The main difference is that I'm entirely focused on helping overachievers.

What areas can you coach me in?
Coaching is a skill that can be applied to virtually anything.  I have a very straightforward approach where I use a similar framework to address all different types of issues.  Some of the common areas include:
  • Career
  • Friends/Family
  • Finances
  • Romance/Dating
  • Personal Growth
  • Health/Wellness
  • Business
  • Any other area you want to address
Like negotiation or facilitation skills, coaching is more about the process of helping the client get where they want to go. 

What if you've never had experience in what I'm working on? 
Personal experience in a given area is helpful, but not necessary.  Again, because coaching is a skill and a process, it can be applied to a number of topics.  For example, I've never had weight, stress, or financial issues I can comfortably use the coaching process to help clients in these areas.  The framework is largely the same - clarify what you want, create a vision, determine a course of action, and learn about yourself along the way.

If I ever feel that I won't be able to relate well enough to a client or their situation, I will be completely candid with them and most likely refer them to another coach or a specialist.

Why are you focused on overachievers?  They don't really need help...shouldn't you be helping underachievers?
Coaching is about finding a good fit with someone who "gets" you.  I "get" overachievers because I am one.  I know what it's like to have high expectations, work really hard, and push yourself, but still not feel fulfilled.  There's a certain mindset that comes with being an overachiever that I can identify with, which means my overachiever clients can better communicate with me.

As for underachievers, I see them as "closet achievers"...I believe they want to be successful but might not have the tools or motivation to get them there.  Underachievers are just as exciting to work with because there's the potential for a coach to have a much greater impact.  As long as these "closet achievers" are committed to working toward their own success and fully buy into the coaching process, I would be happy to work with them.

How can you coach someone older than you?
Again, the coaching skills aren't topic or age specific.  The process can be applied to people of any age, background, or location.  Although my targeted age segment is 24-35 year olds (because I can most strongly identify with the issues that come up in that age range), a good coach is able to apply their process to any age and any situation. 

The only requisite is that the person be open to exploring new avenues, willing to experiment with different perspectives, and flexible enough in their thinking and actions to create new opportunities.

How long would I have to work with you?
Typically, one would seek out a coach for a particular issue they want to address.  Think of it as employing a specialist or consultant or specialist for a given engagement.  It's almost like we're undertaking a project together, where we observe and experimenting with new things over a set period of time.  The minimum length of engagement is 3 months because that's the shortest amount of time needed to see significant progress.  Depending on your goals, you might consider extending your engagement at 3 months.

You can work with a coach once during a specific time in your life and never go back.  There are, however, a number of clients who come back periodically (once a year, every few months, etc.) but it's entirely up to you.  It's like one of those business cards you keep because you might just need to get in touch with them again someday.

Why are all sessions over the phone?  Do you coach in person?
Phone sessions are standard for the industry.  Once you do it, it's no big deal.  Interestingly, I actually don't consider myself a "phone person" but the sessions have such a strong focus that it doesn't seem strange.  It's like a conference call where we have a very focused reason for talking.

I also can coach in person but these sessions require an hour discussion because it allows for more chatting and greater distractions.  Coaching in person also means the client would have to pay for travel and expenses.

Isn't it weird to coach someone you've never met?
Honestly, at this moment I can't answer the question because I've met all my clients.  I don't know them well, but I've at least been introduced to them at some point.  However, I've done enough consulting in my business life with new people that I don't think it would be weird.  It almost doesn't matter if you know them or not because you'll get to know them quickly.  Even if you happen to be coaching a friend you would get to know them in a totally different capacity. 

Is coaching overachievers your primary job?
Yes and no.  Yes, helping overachievers be happier is a primary focus in my life, but I consider myself a business person first and foremost who has developed skills in coaching.  I'm a co-founder for a retail line of empowering products, a personal trainer, and am writing a book.  I enjoy being involved in a number of projects and thrive with a variety of activities.

Do you need to be certified to be a life coach?
No, currently there are no requirements in the industry for certification.  Many coaches begin their practice as an extension of their former industry or skills.  For me, coaching individuals is an outgrowth of the work I did with Business Units as a Strategic Planner (which I didn't know was coaching at the time).  I was very involved in helping these groups articulate their long-term objectives and then outline the projects/initiatives they would implement to reach their vision.  I use a similar process when working with my clients.

What's the difference between therapy, consulting, and coaching?

This isn't an official explanation, it's my way of differentiating the different disciplines:
  • Therapy = looking at root causes arising from your past, creating hypotheses for why you act a certain way.  Trying to understand why you do things.
  • Consulting = giving expert advice in a given area.  Can be business consulting, nutrition, IT assistance, home repair,
  • Coaching = helping someone improve by walking them through a process.  Emphasis is on looking forward, with the outcome tied to the level of commitment of the client.  Sports coaching, personal training, employee development programs, life coaching all fall into this category.  While coaches are specialized in a given field (mine is personal inquiry), it's the general process and approach that allow that person to develop through largely their own effort.

Why did you start doing this?

When I was struggling with my own questions, I wish there had been a credible person that could have helped me by asking me the right questions.  I think there's a huge value in having an external perspective, even for just a short while, to force me to clarify my thinking.  As an overachiever and someone who values a grounded and rational approach, the fluffy new-age coaches just didn't appeal to me. 

Also thinking about my own career, I realized how much I enjoyed helping business units with the strategic goal-setting process.  The discussions were always interesting and I was happy to provide them with the tools and facilitation to do so.  I began to shift toward bringing these tools to individuals and found it incredibly rewarding, so I became involved in the personal inquiry aspect of coaching.