From my perspective I first define success when it comes to coaching. A coach is successful when they are facilitating the growth and change of a client while being compensated fairly because if they are effective their client should be able to have long time return on their investment.
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 Lynnette Phillips.
Lynnette Phillips is a passionate leader, certified Limbic Performance System facilitator, speaker, and live your best life enthusiast. Lynnette transitioned from the corporate world after a 17-year career with the Walt Disney Company to pursue her purpose of helping others and organizations empower their possibilities through her work as a coach and consultant. In 2019 Lynnette Co-Authored It’s Possible: A Dreamers Manifesto to Overcome Opposition, a collection of inspirational stories of overcoming obstacles. Lynnette is a VIP Contributor for Fairy Godboss, an online community offering expert advice to women in and re-entering the workforce as well as a dedicated volunteer with Gamma Phi Beta Sorority as a member of the Belonging, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee and The Acceleration Project as a pro bono consultant volunteer.
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 am from a military family so change and adaptability is in my DNA. At the age of 21 I transitioned my college internship into a full-time position for the Walt Disney Company, launching me into my career. One of my favorite aspects and a necessary skill of that leadership role was coaching. It was imperative to listen effectively as well as facilitate change and growth. After pursuing my master’s degree in Organizational Leadership and Executive Coaching while working full time and pregnant with my second child I knew I wanted an opportunity for coaching to be my primary vocation.
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?
I believe self-awareness, curiosity, and compassion are the three most instrumental to my success. I had to learn not only what I did well as a coach and business owner but what type of support I needed to not just be good but great. When I first told my husband I was resigning from my corporate position for the business full time while in the pandemic the first question he asked me was, “What does support look like to make this happen? I took the opportunity to share where I excel as a coach, where I would need business help and support, and how the goal was to do this with less stress. To achieve this, I had to know what the stressors were and how do they impact my behaviors and how I show up in my daily life. An examination of self-awareness.
Which leads to why curiosity is so important for a coach. You are leading clients on a journey of their own discovery. I am not prescriptive with measure but more diagnostic to support clients identifying their own hurdles and helping them clear them with solutions, growth, or changes that are sustainable. Lastly, compassion is key in success. The journey of a coach involves the intersection of serving the client while managing a successful business. One must demonstrate compassion to others as well as themselves. For me I facilitate my work hours, determine the work I want to do and most importantly the privilege to say no to certain opportunities that may not be the right fit for me and my coaching style. One of the ways I show compassion to not only my industry, business, and clients is that I have a network of coaches offering a variety of services in the event I need to refer a prospective client.
How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?
Habits are the ultimate marriage between commitment and consistency. When thinking about the habits contributing to my success it means doing things even when they are difficult or even while still. One of the habits anchoring my physical health is ensuring proper water intake along with moderate exercise. At times, my most creative moments are later in the evening well into early morning hours, so I try to sustain my energy and fuel myself properly. Also developing a daily 30-minute self-care regimen with a variety of my favorite ways to be present and in the moment. I call it the First 30. I wake up before the kids, express gratitude for at minimum 5 things. I may read, meditate, or pray, light my favorite candle, or use aromatherapy. I use this as a habit to create a state of just being. I feel better, refreshed, and then ready to serve my family, business, and clients. Family dinner is a ritual at this point rather than a habit, but it is critical for me to gather myself, husband, and kids around the dinner table and just engage. There is no technology at the table fostering an environment of connection. My husband and I ask the kids who did they engage with, what are they grateful for, also how can we support them.
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?
It is important to create good habits as it allows you to live out a life of your values. Often things can feel “off” or not in alignment to the life we desire. If you go deep enough in the subconscious part of our brain where our habits and beliefs are rooted there may be a disconnect. For me, my top personal values are Joy, Kindness, Freedom, Care, and Compassion which have played a significant role in my habit creation of the First 30 minutes of my day as well as other lifestyle choices.
Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?
Let’s start with not calling it a “bad” habit albeit it is a habit not serving you for your full potential. Our brains tend to categorize a statement such as “bad” habit and generate a thought and feeling about that specific thing. Meaning these so-called bad habits cause you to think poorly about the decisions and action/inaction you may be exhibiting. You have to disrupt the pattern of thinking, create a new belief about the new habit you want to commit to and consistently demonstrate, then you want to put it into practice. Take the example of a new marathon runner that was not a runner to begin with. They must create a belief system around why this is important to them, then invest the effort, emotion, and energy to train. The marathon runner runs well over the 26.2 miles in the race when they create the habit of training.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” Eleanor Roosevelt
This quote resonates with me so much because it encourages me to get on the other side of the tough things in my life. When my mother passed away at the age of 55, I thought how can I move forward and live in relationship with this grief, but that became my catalyst. I truly set into motion using the strength, courage, and confidence to be her living legacy. It was living through that devastating moment that facilitated my enrollment into graduate school which led to my coaching degree, certification, and currently my coaching business.
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 currently working with a team of global consultants that are all certified in the Limbic Performance System to collaborate on facilitating neuroscience-based programs for individual leaders and organizational teams. I am honored to work directly with the founder of the program Steve Neale that also trained my peers. These programs focus on developing our inner executive functions beyond enhanced emotional intelligence but sustainable habit formation through clarity of purpose, power of self-belief, and understanding your personal value set.
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.
From my perspective I first define success when it comes to coaching. A coach is successful when they are facilitating the growth and change of a client while being compensated fairly because if they are effective their client should be able to have long time return on their investment. Often coaches are unsuccessful because the desire to book a client overrides the understanding of is this a client that needs or will benefit from my expertise. Here are my Five Things:
- Be Clear on Your Approach Are you a specialist or a generalist — You would never go to the podiatrist for a heart issue. Coaching has some specializations as well as generalizations. Let your client know which one you are. As a coach understand the clients needs. Do they really need a business coach, but you are a life coach offering services that will not meet the client need yet willing to sign them up for your services.
- Have A Network Of Referrals — Coaches should have a network of peer coaches and mental health professionals to offer a recommendation should they identify they are not right fit for a client. During discovery calls which are often 15–30 minutes to speak with a prospective client a coach should be able to identify if they can and should be the support for this prospective client. The coaching process invites conversations of clarity so what better way to demonstrate that then by the coach modeling it and sharing resources if they really want to help an individual. That does not mean you lode the relationship or business it means you are more likely to gain their business when it is needed because that potential clients trusts you.
- Be Clear on What Coaching Is and Is Not- As referenced earlier that coaching is a 15B industry it has the potential to be masked or misrepresented. A successful coach facilitates a conversation with clients and advocates for the industry with clarity about what coaching is and is not. Coaches facilitate action to move forward once identifying an area of development. Coaches do not diagnose or treat mental health concerns. During times of inquiry during the coaching process a client may identify a mental health concern. It is key to remain committed to what coach is and is not sharing the appropriate resources. In graduate school I interviewed a licensed therapist that offered coaching and she advised me that she felt clients were most successful when they understood the difference between coaching and traditional therapy.
- Coaches Need to Have Coaches — A client should ask their coach if they are currently being coached or when they last hired a coach. Not only does a coach hiring a coach increase the network referrals it allows the application of the coaching process to be applied by the practitioner. It is an opportunity to promote personal and professional growth.
- Capture the Client Testimonials — Coaches help facilitate transformational change in the lives of their clients. So why not amplify your impact by having your clients share their experience and story. Have a process in place to ask permission to share and document your impact.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen coaches make when they start their business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
One of the common mistakes is an outreach for clients and funnel creation rather than working within your network. Former colleagues, employers, and especially alumni are great starting points as they are often invested and engaged with what you are doing. The first coach I hired for myself was a fellow alumna from my graduate school that assisted me with my capstone project to complete my program. I located her in the alumna business directory, and she has been a great resource, coach, and referral partner.
As with anything purchased consumers buy from brands or people they know, like, and trust. Create the opportunity for an ask and offer with your internal network. Find out who may be looking for coaching type services and offer your assistance.
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.
The best experiences a coach can offer is to listen to what was not said by the client and support them to reach their goals. I recently worked with a client during one of our sessions and she stated, “Although she was only 6 weeks into our 12-week engagement she was seeing the results of clearer decision making and had also been given the position of a department head at her contract position.” The WOW and the WIN there is when a client experiences the growth and is consciously aware they are creating change and impacting outcomes in their life.
Also incorporating a hybrid of reflective exercises with guided interactions between you and the client make a difference. I often do not refer to it as “homework” but rather an opportunity to create a reflection and then allow the client to share seeing as they have invested the time, energy, and emotional input into the reflection.
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?
I worked with a coach on this. Remember a successful coach should have coaches. My coach Bryan McDonald from onPurpose Growth used tools such as a rubric to identify my ideal client to help me qualify and get specific about who I can serve with maximum impact. This allowed me to connect with and speak more clearly to more qualified leads. Also staying in contact with those that I did have a fruitful conversation during a discovery call. They may not have been ready to purchase at that time, but I ensure to continue to build the relationship. I personally prefer speaking and facilitating workshops as an alternative to a funnel. I recently offered a free workshop focusing on women leaving and returning to the workforce due to the pandemic. From me speaking essentially for free I was contracted to lead a larger engagement as a paid opportunity.
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?
The long hours become the consequences of setting up the business but should not be a coach’s culture or long game. The initial online presence i.e. social media can be overwhelmingly time consuming and a mental energy drain. I recently attended a consultant training session on social media where they advised spending time with 2 platforms to start thus really looking at where your audience is rather than managing 5 accounts because each platform requires a unique way to convey a brand message.
I highly encourage automating systems if possible and clearly laying out the client experience. How will they purchase a coaching engagement, sign and return the coaching agreement, pay the invoice? Also budgeting for support as the business grows frees up some time. Coaching does allow for a Work From Home/ Anywhere lifestyle. Solid processes support the ability to be flexible. To best take care of the physical and mental wellness is to stay clear on why you have this business, its true purpose and making time for what matters most. As an example, I think about my availability and client’s availability with the goals of ensuring we are both balanced and have time for the things that matter most. I must mention again my self-care regimen with multiple tools helping me to affirm but energize my capacity to be successful.
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.
🙂 While it is still in its infancy stages my work as Co-Founder of The Fulfilled Mom Movement is my hearts passion. The mom or caretaker within families is the heartbeat. They are the key to running a system and they need support, encouragement, and tools to live a life not only that they have designed but allows them to be fulfilled. I see my future impacting mothers globally to care and develop themselves with the same energy they do for those under their care.
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.
Hands down it would be mimosas and omelets with Michelle Obama. Her commitment to raise kids while on a national stage and be the most trusted advisor, friend, support, and wife to a former president makes her the dream mentor in my life.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Follow me on LinkedIn or IG or become a virtual pen pal and send me an email [email protected]
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!