Leona Carter of Carter Strategies: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right”

When starting your coaching business, understand, as a C.E.O., be open and receptive to learning and growing. If you come up with an idea, you don’t have to marry that ideal for the life of your business. I didn’t realize I could change an idea when it was no longer working in my business. I […]

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When starting your coaching business, understand, as a C.E.O., be open and receptive to learning and growing. If you come up with an idea, you don’t have to marry that ideal for the life of your business. I didn’t realize I could change an idea when it was no longer working in my business. I thought I was obligated to make it work. Being receptive helps you to understand why it’s not working and what could work better.

https://content.thriveglobal.com/media/d25668c8b9411f03ce46e572d883ff1c

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 Leona Carter

Leona empowers women to build intimacy with their husbands through the power of dating again. Leona is an International Empowerment Speaker, Best-selling Author, and Intimacy Coach. Married since 1995, Leona, and her high school sweetheart, Omarr, have six children and one grandson.


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?

Surprisingly enough, entrepreneurship was not on my radar. I grew up in Seattle, Washington. I married my high school sweetheart and moved to Oceanside, California, because my husband served in the United States Marine Corps. After getting out of the military, we settled down with our six children in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I had a career as an Independent Living Specialist and was great at what I did. I told my husband I would retire from the job. It wasn’t until one day at work I had to fill in as a presenter due to someone being ill. I was an Independent Living Specialist/caseworker in the same department and knew the material; therefore, presenting came naturally. When I presented, I felt alive like I’ve never felt before. That started the journey for me to pursue my purpose in life because my regular desk job did not make me feel the way I did when I presented to a group of 40 city leaders. Now, as an Intimacy Coach and Speaker, I get to feel alive every day.

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?

The first instrumental trait was being myself, which was THEE most important trait. The funny thing is I didn’t know it was a noteworthy trait at first. I was that girl who excelled at everything I did. When I was in fourth grade working as a lunch line volunteer in the school cafeteria, all the teachers would tell my mom, Leona is so efficient. That word “efficient” followed me throughout high school, including my first job at McDonald’s. I would be myself, and people were always so impressed with my ability to do so. When I got into entrepreneurship, I continued showing up as a better version of myself. Because of that, I would gain national and international speaking opportunities. It just so happens that I am energetic, vibrant, and connect with people easily. When I walk into the room, you knew that I was there.

The second instrumental trait was my energetic personality. Doors for me, with God’s help, always opened because of what I heard so many people say, “Leona would be great because she’s so energetic. We need her energy.” I lived a life of faith and always remained optimistic. I work with wives in my business, and in coaching sessions, they would lean on my confidence, faith, and optimism until they had it for themselves.

In 2010, I was diagnosed with Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis. For the first six months after my diagnosis, I could not walk very well. I was on 13 medications, hospitalized six times over three years, and had very little energy. After several years of getting my health back and changing my life to get off 13 medications, my faith, passion, and optimism in life skyrocketed. I was grateful to have another chance to live life to the fullest. If I wasn’t energetic enough before 2010, I was 10x more vibrant now, and it permeated through everything I did. I did the most straightforward projects with so much energy, and people took note.

The third instrumental trait was my stamina and hard work. I thought everyone had a dedication to their business once they learned what their passion was and would work towards it. It seemed like a no-brainer to work hard for what you are building in your business but I quickly, did I say quickly, learned many people want the reward without the hard work. Along with being that “efficient” girl in grade school, I also loved homework. I would be the first one to complete and turn in my assignment. It wasn’t until I was in my life coaching certification class when they required us to do a lot of homework, I learned I’m still the girl who turns assignments in first. I remember the Life Coaching Instructor announcing in front of the class, “Only one person turned the homework in, and that was Leona Carter. Where is everyone else’s work at?” As flattering as it may have seemed, I sunk in my seat from embarrassment, awareness, and shock simultaneously. I was still that girl, now woman, who was a hard worker and turned her homework in before everybody else, even as an emerging entrepreneur with six children and a marriage to nurture. That was the aha moment for me. The overachiever in me that I proudly embrace was still there. I acknowledged that if I can work hard to build other people’s dreams, I can create my dream.

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?

Habits, or what I like to call areas of discipline, are the building blocks in your success. The reason it is so essential to build the foundation of your areas of discipline is that, as Tom Waits says, “The way you do anything is the way you do everything.” When you develop discipline in the core areas of your life, it will help you in your business.

Writing in a gratitude journal first thing in the morning is a priceless habit to add to your regimen. The more gratitude you have, the more reasons you will find to be grateful. This mindset is transformational for your day because it sets a tone of gratitude and appreciation throughout the day. Having a gratitude journal can be encouraging to revisit when you need encouragement.

Going to a specific location to implement your morning practices is another excellent habit. For example, you are getting out of bed and going downstairs to the recliner by the window. This will be the place you drink your tea, write in your gratitude journal and pray before you start your day. Developing a place to start your day is vital because you will know that space for a feeling of refreshing and refueling. Sometimes when you are having a rough day, randomly visiting that recliner chair in the evening can refocus you.

Eating in the morning before you start your day is another excellent habit. I had to work hard to remember to eat regularly in the morning. I’m not referring to getting a Sausage McMuffin on the way to an appointment; I mean intentionally plan out your breakfast each morning. Eat in the morning before you leave home as a part of your daily habits, so your body can break the fast it’s been in all night. Health advisors and nutritionists had it right about breakfast being the most important meal of the day. Personally, this habit was hard because my stomach didn’t notify me of hunger until about noon. Because I don’t love to eat, I forget to eat until I am starving, and then I am not intentional about what I eat. I have an alarm set on my phone that says, Leona; it’s time to eat. Yes, I used to be that person that said, “but I don’t eat breakfast.”

Each of these areas of discipline helps you show up better in your business by developing that consistency muscle. When you consistently show up for yourself in your morning routine, that developed muscle will quickly show up for your weekly podcast. “The way you do anything is the way you do everything.”

Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?

The best way to develop good habits is to start with your personal or non-business-related habits daily. In my book, Maximize T.I.M.E. 44 Strategies To Effectively Manage Your Time From Motherhood To C.E.O., I give an example of a mompreneur trying to be efficient with her time to do the same routine when she wakes up. For her, it might look like this; wake up at 8 am, shower, write in your gratitude journal, make coffee, then wake the kids up. Keeping this same routine will allow you to incorporate other good habits such as writing in your gratitude journal then listen to a great podcast. Next thing you know, this mompreneur will be running on the treadmill at 8:30 am before she gets in the shower. Did you see what I just did there? I added another great habit.

The best way to stop a bad habit is to replace it with a good habit. It’s very similar to an individual who wants to stop smoking. Smoking cessation programs use chewing gums as an alternate activity. If you have a terrible habit of eating bonbons late at night, replace what you eat late at night. Put another snack in the same place as the bonbons. It’s a small example to prove a more significant point, but it’s impressive how well it works. I used replacement when I wanted to cut back on the amount of coffee I was drinking. I still had a hot steaming cup at 7 am, but it was tea instead of coffee.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

I have a few quotes that I often say because they reign so true in my life.

1) Speak those things that are not as though they were. -Romans

2) Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right. -Ford

These two quotes were foundational in writing my book Because I Said SO! I grew up understanding my words had power; therefore, I was intentional that things happened, Because I Said SO!

3) Live life to the fullest and focus on the positive. -Cameron

There are so many things I could focus on that can drain my mentality into a constant state of negativity in the world today. Because of that, I work hard to operate in faith and positivity and fuel my focus in that direction.

4) A culture of honor is celebrating who a person is without stumbling over who they’re not. -Johnson

This quote is pivotal and relates to so many areas of life. In the marriages I get to support, I often remind wives to celebrate their husbands for who they are and not stumble over who they are not.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I am excited about three current projects. The first project is, my husband and I are writing our first book together. Our book is transformational and highly anticipated. The title will be announced late summer of 2021. Our book will help couples with strategies to navigate the misconceptions of sex in marriage to create authentic, long-lasting intimacy in their relationship. Couples live with unmet and un-communicated expectations from their spouse. We share how to reset those expectations in their marriage. If expectations are not reestablished, it will result in the downfall of many marriages, especially after a pandemic.

The second project I am working on is a marriage summit exclusively on Clubhouse. I have over 17 experts coming together to empower married couples in communication in marriage, intimacy in marriage, community in marriage, and serving in marriage. It’s a power-packed speaker lineup.

The third project I am working on is what I like to call a marriage movement. My husband and I have created and partnered with three other relationship coaches to form CounterCulture Marriages, a movement to shift the marriage mindset, disrupt the cultural norms, foster God-centered relationships, and restore passion into marriages. All four couples come together to provide workshops, events, programs, and resources to empower and equip marriages around the globe. We come together virtually from two different countries and three different states. Each couple specializes in relationships to become a part of the marriage solution to the post-pandemic problems.

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.

Employing the H.E.A.R.T. Method to get clarity in your coaching business outlines five things coaches need to do to create a successful coaching business.

H — Hearing

What do you hear your audience saying? It’s essential to listen to your audience’s needs so you can accurately provide the transformation they need.

E — Excellence

Where do you excel in excellence? Often, coaches look at the industry to find what’s trending instead of operating in excellence in the expertise they didn’t know was valuable. Many new coaches dismiss what they’re good at because it comes to them so effortlessly, but people will pay you for your expertise.

A — Articulation

Are you able to articulate the solution you provide for the problem your clients have? Because of the power of clarity when communicating to your clients, copywriting is such a phenomenal skill set because it helps you articulate the solution for your brand.

R — Receptive

When starting your coaching business, understand, as a C.E.O., be open and receptive to learning and growing. If you come up with an idea, you don’t have to marry that ideal for the life of your business. I didn’t realize I could change an idea when it was no longer working in my business. I thought I was obligated to make it work. Being receptive helps you to understand why it’s not working and what could work better.

T — Transformation

What is the transformation you provide for your customers? For example, if you’re a health coach, you may not be the health coach for someone’s entire journey. You might be the health coach for them until they lose their first 25 pounds. You may not be the coach for their entire health journey of losing one hundred pounds. It’s essential to get clear on the specific transformation you provide.

What are the most common mistakes you have seen coaches make when they start their business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

There are three common mistakes new, and emerging coaches make. I know this because I made them, too. Once I course-corrected, I saw my business explode.

The first common mistake is that their target audience is too broad. One of my business mentors said, “You need to niche down so small that only you fit in.” Most people think their niche is small enough, but nine times out of ten, it’s not. I wrote an article in October 2019 titled, ‘How small can you get?’

Here is an excerpt from my article where I outline an example of narrowing down your target audience:

“Every book, every business, every store, and every clothing line has an ideal client. The smaller your focus is, the easier it is to market and write to your client.

HOW SMALL CAN YOU GET?

I write for an audience of women readers.

OR

I write for an audience of married women readers.

OR

I write for an audience of married women, readers who never experienced motherhood.

OR

I write for an audience of married women, readers who never experienced motherhood and married a mama’s boy.

I have taken the bigger picture of women readers and made it very small and specific.”

Coaches need to evaluate if they are fine-tuning their audience enough. When you do this, that’s when the client says, “Wow, it’s like you were speaking directly to me.”

The second common mistake is serving your audience a buffet instead of appetizers. How many times have you created a product or service, and you have steps 1 through 25 in one program? We often overwhelm clients or potential clients with too much information at once. People need to consume bite-size appetizers. For example, if you are a Parenting Coach, first of all, be known for the “one thing.” Just because someone wants to hire you to help them with their children doesn’t mean you coach them until high school. You may be the coach that trains parents to teach their children how to transition from one activity to another the prevent meltdowns. You can be known as The Meltdown Mama because you help parents support their children to rid meltdowns.

Look at your coaching programs and determine if you are overwhelming your clients. Even if you do comprehensively help clients, you can’t market that way. You have to promote the “one thing” so that it’s bite-size and easy to consume. In my 28 Dates Intimacy Coaching Program, I market by asking how intimacy is in your marriage. Many marriages suffer from communication issues, parental issues, and more, but my specialty is empowering women to build intimacy with their husbands; therefore, it’s clear how I serve. It doesn’t mean we don’t talk about other areas. I am serving appetizers as their first course. Once they have consumed the appetizers, then I serve the second course. I don’t present clients with all 8-courses at one time.

The third common mistake is not understanding how to build market research in your business model. You always need to know what your clients expect and why they think you can help them with their problems. And, of course, be clear that you understand their specific situation. One of the easiest ways to do that is to have a survey or questionnaire they fill out in your onboarding process. Whether you are promoting a product, service or inviting them to your free Facebook group, understand what they need and why they feel you are the one the help them.

This slight shift in your business will be a game-changer. It clarifies for you if you are marketing effectively in your industry. If several people come to me thinking I am a matchmaker to help them find husbands, I need to reevaluate my strategy if I help wives, not aspiring wives.

Another thing this will do is help you understand each client’s specific problem, which can be the varying factor among other clients, but the commonality is that they all have the same goal. A great example is that my husband and I have six children. Building and maintaining intimacy was a challenge in our marriage, along with other things, but from the market research, I found out most of the issues my clients were having were due to in vitro fertilization. Although I don’t have any experience in that particular area, our goals are the same. We both want to build intimacy with our husbands. I would have never known that if I didn’t have market research in my business model.

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 great tool to create a wow factor in your customer experience is building check-in times into your weekly coaching program. For example, if you have a 12-week program, use a week as a catch-up week at approximately week five. Often clients who sign up for your program have every intention of completing it, but sometimes life happens. Give them grace and the week to catch up on any coaching homework or videos they need to watch. This time helps clients feel supported and not feel overwhelmed. Use the check-in week to see how they’re doing and get honest feedback about how your program is so far for them.

Another area to enhance customer service is sending your client a private note with a small token of appreciation. In a digital world, having that special gift and note exceeds clients’ expectations every time. As a part of your intake, be sure to get their address so that you can surprise your client later down the road.

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?

A great lead generating idea for getting customers is to partner and collaborate with another organization that serves your same audience with a different product or service. This partnership or collaboration is perfect if you are starting a new business. For example, if you have a business selling t-shirts and your target audience is college students, you may want to partner with college campuses’ retail stores to see if you can sell your t-shirts in the campus store. Finding an organization with the same audience will also be a tremendous ongoing referral for you.

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?

A phenomenal strategy to use is time blocking. Time blocking is very similar to Dave Ramsey’s method of every dollar. He says it’s important to tell every dollar where to go in your budget until you have a zero balance in his financial programs. Time blocking does the same thing with your time. You should schedule every part of your day in time blocks, including walks, taking stretch breaks, drinking water, and more. It would be best to tell your time where to go instead of asking where did it go. The power of time blocking is that you can schedule walks, work, and weekends. One of the best ways to take care of your physical and mental health is to routinely time block exercise and self-care to fuel your mental wellness. When time blocking your physical and psychological wellbeing, you prevent, overwhelm, and burn out.

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 love this question because I have started that movement in my world. I am shifting the marriage mindset in our society and lowering the divorce rate in America. I would love to collaborate with the non-profit organization called Focus on the Family, who is pivotal in this movement. My team and I are getting the ball rolling, especially since marriages have been affected due to the pandemic.

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.

There is a couple I would love to interview and have lunch with, and that is Kirk and Tammy Franklin. Kirk Franklin is a world-renowned gospel artist, and Tammy is his wife. His music has changed my life. Kirk Franklin is the only music artist I have purchased all their projects. I remembered in 2015, I just lost an election as a city candidate, and Kirk Franklin’s song, My World Needs You, came out the same week as my loss. I cried and played that song all week long. It helped me refocus during such a low place. Everybody knows that I am Kirk Franklin’s #1 fan.

The second person I would love to meet would be Eddie Murphy. I have watched all Eddie’s movies, and he is my B.F.F. in my mind. I remember there were times I didn’t want to watch a movie, and my husband would say, Eddie Murphy’s in the film, and magically I had a change of heart.

Oddly enough, Oprah is the third person I’d like to meet. Sorry to put your third, Oprah. She looks like and laughs like my Auntie Rita. After my Aunt died of breast cancer, I thought to myself; I will never get to take my Aunt Rita to see Oprah on tour. More than Oprah’s brilliant mind, I see her as an extension of my family because I see my Aunt Rita when I look at her.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

I am excited about the opportunities I am blessed with to help marriages. Please follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/intimacy_with_her_husband/

You can connect with me at http://www.leonacarter.club/ for all the latest projects and upcoming marriage conferences.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!

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