…A ‘wow!’ customer experience, first and foremost, comes from deeply caring about your clients. Having curiosity to ask questions, having the courage to ask the tough questions, truly hearing what your clients need from you, and then being truly invested in their success.
I believe being open, honest and vulnerable with your client, provides them the trust and connection with you that few are able to provide.
The coaching industry is now tremendous. It is a 15 billion dollar industry. Many professionals have left their office jobs to become highly successful coaches. At the same time, not everyone who starts a coaching business sees success. What does someone starting a career as a life coach, wellness coach, or business coach need to know to turn it into a very successful and rewarding career?
In this interview series, called “Five Things You Need To Create a Highly Successful Career As a Life or Business Coach” we are interviewing experienced and successful life coaches, wellness coaches, fitness coaches, business and executive coaches and other forms of coaches who share the strategies you need to create a successful career as a life or business coach.
In this particular interview, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Laura Fravel.
Laura Fravel is a business coach helping thought leaders and entrepreneurs elevate their personal brands and expertise … to be seen, profitable and impactful. After 20 years producing stories for TV-media and big brands — from National Geographic to Netflix and Amazon — she saw the difference one person’s story can, and does, make, IF we know how to share it with the world. Today, she coaches entrepreneurs and thought leaders to identify that influential story and develop a strategy to get visible, for both income and impact.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and what brought you to this particular career path?
I tended to be the young one who followed her passion, more than profit (I didn’t realize you could have BOTH!). My early career years took me overseas and eventually to 32 different countries, working for National Geographic and other media outlets, to big brands like Amazon.
I have always had a passion for opening people’s eyes to different perspectives, to their greater potential, and connecting humanity… to hopefully make businesses more relatable to those they serve, our communities more connected, and our world a little smaller and more empathetic.
As I grew in my profession — and life — I saw the power of the individual. I came to realize everyone has a story worth telling. Everyone makes a difference, in their small or large niche. And I shifted from storytelling for television & big brands, to helping people uncover and fulfill their individual passion and purpose — to help them step into that power and their voice.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Fearlessness: Fear holds us back; in particular, a fear of ‘putting ourselves out there,’ of possibly saying the wrong thing, of not sounding “professional” enough, of being “too vulnerable.” I spent a couple decades behind a camera, seeing firsthand how sharing one’s story and voice was the #1 thing that connected people and businesses to those they could help the most. But when it came time for me to step into the spotlight? No way! It took me years to step up. And I wish I had done it earlier.
Visionary: Running a business, you get pulled in so many different directions. Have a vision and don’t ever lose sight of it. I have a document that sums up my mission and why I do what I do. I remind myself frequently of it. It’s my north star that keeps me grounded. It keeps one from wasting time on tasks, and chasing shiny objects, that won’t move your vision (and business) forward. It keeps us from being driven by fear instead of purpose.
Empathy: Humans want connection. A flashy digital presence can definitely get you noticed, but what makes the sale and good coaching, is truly listening and hearing your client and their needs.
How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?
I think you need a fine balance of habits and flexibility, of recognizing when and how you work best. We’ve been trained to sit behind a desk 8-hrs a day or we’re not “productive.” Yet research shows we do our most creative work when we move our bodies. So, for me, first and foremost, it’s having that recognition. Having said that disclaimer…
A few key habits that have kept me sane and moving forward…
- Morning meditation/journaling: It keeps my vision alive.
- Fridays are for working on MY business: I don’t book client calls or client projects. This is a day for me to focus solely on the needs of my business and moving it forward. Content creation, planning new courses, etc. I like having a big chunk of time to dream, focus and create.
- Weekly check-ins with my accountability partner: This allows me to, 1) set reasonable expectations for the week; and 2) have someone to hold me to the fire to get it done. No one should go it alone in a silo.
This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?
Running your own business as a coach, from a home office, with distractions like COVID, and cooking and kids and spouse, oh my! One can get overwhelmed very quickly… without habits. Habits can keep you focused on your vision. It can help you concentrate on those activities that’ll move your business forward… instead of getting distracted by yet another webinar, or course, or random connection, or another social media platform. Identify those activities that’ll help move your business forward — and keep you fulfilled personally — and put your energy into those things, regularly.
Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?
Accountability has always been a key factor in helping me develop and/or breaking habits. Vocalizing it suddenly makes it “real.” Having someone check in, helps you keep on track and helps you problem solve if you’re not able to break or maintain a habit.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” — Helen Keller
This quote has tended to sum up how I approach my life and work. Change is all around us, all of the time, particularly as a small business owner! But if you embrace change as opportunity, a new exciting adventure, it serves you well … dare I say, it even makes life fun! If you resist change, it only causes resistance and headache.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
Elevating women’s voices! There has been a huge surge of women diving into entrepreneurship, particularly since the pandemic and a loss of nearly 3 million women from the US workforce. Add to that, that 71% of women entrepreneurs start a business to make a difference in the world, and we are a movement with impact! This past year I’ve created the Impact Accelerator for women looking to build their personal brand, to pursue more fulfilling work, for both income and impact.
I’m also looking into expanding my reach, not just to women in the US, but creating marketplace opportunities for women in developing nations as well.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Many coaches are successful, but some are not very successful. From your experience or perspective, what are the main factors that distinguish successful coaches from unsuccessful ones? What are your “Five Things You Need To Create a Highly Successful Career As a Life or Business Coach”? If you can, please share a story or an example for each.
One can be the best darn coach on the planet, with the sleekest website and cool logo… but if you’re not putting yourself out there into the world and sharing your genius, you won’t get clients.
- KNOW YOUR STORY: Take the time to uncover who you are, what you want to offer and who you want to help. So many of us get caught up on where we’ve been, our past experience and jobs we’ve held. But we don’t stop to think about where you wantto go. What do we want to stand for and put out into the world? Ask yourself: What narrative am I telling the world? Is it the narrative I want to be telling? Does it serve me well? Your unique story is what will make you stand out in a crowded market.
- OWN YOUR STORY: Ditch the corporate persona, add a dash of personality and show up with authenticity! In a world where we’re bombarded by an average of 7,000 ads a day, we crave human connection. We want to see the person behind the brand.
- SCREAM IT TO THE WORLD: Get visible. Be bold and put yourself out there. Share your values and perspectives with the world; inspire others and provide value. People need to get to know you to like you, trust you and buy from you. You can’t help anyone by staying silent.
- NOW LISTEN. Ask questions. Once you reach your audience, and start gaining inquiries and clients, be curious and get to know their struggles. Connect with them through empathy and stories of others you’ve helped in a similar way. Humans are driven by emotions; not by a long list of strategies or processes that you might take them through.
- LET THEM SOAR. Realize you can give the tools, but it’s up to your clients to put in the work.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen coaches make when they start their business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Fear! And not putting themselves out there. When we start our business, most of us focus on getting the website up, finding that perfect font or colors for our brand, throwing ourselves into social media. You are on fire, lit up by passion and purpose! But… few stop to develop the foundation of their brand: Your Brand Story. When you get clear on that, everything else, from photography to what you say on social media, becomes so much easier. And — the best part — you attract the people you love working with.
Based on your experience and success, what are a few of the most important things a coach should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience? Please share a story or an example for each.
A ‘wow!’ customer experience, first and foremost, comes from deeply caring about your clients. Having curiosity to ask questions, having the courage to ask the tough questions, truly hearing what your clients need from you, and then being truly invested in their success.
I believe being open, honest and vulnerable with your client, provides them the trust and connection with you that few are able to provide.
Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business, and particularly in coaching. What are the best ways for a coach to find customers? Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?
First and foremost, niche down! The more you can speak directly to a specific audience/ideal client, the quicker you’ll gain traction. Trying to please everyone, makes you look and sound like every other business coach out there. (For example, if a pipe in your house breaks, would you call the general contractor? Or the plumber?)
Then, find where those folks hang out and lean into the ways you like to connect with them. Are you comfortable speaking? Give talks and webinars at organizations. Are you better one-on-one? Maybe being a podcast host or podcast guest, sharing your knowledge, in a more intimate conversation is best.
Coaches are similar to startup founders who often work extremely long hours and it’s easy to end up burning the candle at both ends. What would you recommend to your fellow coaches about how to best take care of their physical and mental wellness when starting their business?
All of the research points to working harder/longer hour does not equal greater success/money/fulfillment.
I’ve worked for myself for over 15 years now. And over the years, I’ve had zero work-life boundaries. I’ve had too strict of work-life boundaries. And in the end, when you do what you love, I’ve come to learn by experience, that it’s more of a work-life blend.
Recognize that we need to both take care of ourselves, our relationships, and our work. Sometimes, work is all-demanding. Other times, we relish in more family time. And other times, I’ve escaped to lock myself in a hotel room, just myself, to take care of me and/or work (without the distraction of children or partners or dishes…. nothing!). It’s more about recognizing what you need in the moment then trying to force strict boundaries. Embrace that entrepreneurship allows one to follow your flow, and your needs, as they arise.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I hope I’m already in the midst of that movement! For me, it’s contributing to elevating women’s voices, worldwide. I hope to expand that to connecting women in the western world with women in the developing world, to elevate each other.
Because I truly believe, we are all connected. And when we elevate one, we elevate all.
We are blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
Must I pick one?! I would personally love to curate a “fireside chat” with multiple badass women entrepreneurs — trailblazers pursuing remarkable impact in the world along with their business ventures: Sarah Blakely, Tory Burch, Rha Goddess, Amanda Steinberg, Jessica Honegger … Michelle Obama.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
And are you a women entrepreneur or thought leader? Join my monthly roundtable discussion on elevating women voices/brands… https://laurafravel.com/roundtable/
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!