Nancy Capistran of Capistran Leadership: “Be crystal clear about who your ideal client is, how you serve them, and why”

For example, my ideal clients are growth-minded, already successful CEOs, Business Owners, and/or Managing Partners of privately held business that have revenues of 5M dollars and above. Leaders that are genuinely committed to getting to their next level of success. I help to cover their blind spots, provide clarity while also expanding their decision-making and […]

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For example, my ideal clients are growth-minded, already successful CEOs, Business Owners, and/or Managing Partners of privately held business that have revenues of 5M dollars and above. Leaders that are genuinely committed to getting to their next level of success. I help to cover their blind spots, provide clarity while also expanding their decision-making and actions forward.

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 Nancy Capistran.

Nancy is an award-winning, internationally Certified Executive Coach, Crisis Advisor, CEO Peer Advisory Group Chair, and an internationally published author. She knows firsthand about extreme, abrupt, and unpredictable life experiences. She has a contagious positive mental outlook with a spirit of steel. Capistran is often referred to as “911” for CEOs and Business Owners.

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 left corporate America several years ago because I realized there was a big void with executives and how they effectively managed conflict and priorities. All of us have blind spots and the C-suite is no exception. It’s true what they say, it’s lonely at the top. Having a trusted perspective from a certified professional that understands the specific dynamics and is seasoned at asking pertinent questions — is priceless.

I shifted my talents to help senior level leaders gain an unemotional and unbiased view of their world. All too often, others don’t have the courage or the authority to ask the mission critical questions and provide meaningful insights. These types of confidential conversations open up a whole new world for the executive(s) I choose to work with.

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?

  • Leadership Toolbelt:

I like to bring thoughtful, visionary, and intelligent approaches that are grounded in real-world solutions. I help my clients learn how to become a positive energy in their world and how to balance and manage their omnipresent tensions while striving for leadership excellence — personally and professionally. I focus on inspiring and developing intentionality while having my clients maintain their core values and beliefs — even when life’s pressures dictate otherwise. I know firsthand about extreme, abrupt, and unpredictable life experiences. My bird’s-eye view comes from being in the trenches and at the frontlines of several of life’s most challenging times. I have curated a “rebound-ability” and street-smart approach to make traction and thrive through intensity and I draw from those experiences to ignite the most meaningful impact for my clients.

  • Deep Listening:

I have been told on a number of occasions that my deep listening skills are a huge benefit to my clients. Having extra depth of concentration and attention to the detail to fully understand what is being said as well as what is not being verbalized through a non-judgmental lens is a rare competence. This ability opens up the opportunity to genuinely listen to what the person is saying and feeling, without judgment. Inherent beliefs, conscious and unconscious biases, and faulty demand often stops people from achieving their potential, and in turn, the organization’s greatest potential.

  • Commitment:

I believe in others at a deeper level than they usually believe in themselves. That combined with my natural assessment and insights for understanding what motivates and stresses people, adds a unique perspective to quickly gaining trust and rapport with my clients. At the start of our coaching engagement, my focus is on breaking through their self-limiting paradigms while also creating an objective, honest, and respectful bond between us which is mission critical to enhance confidence, competencies, and generate favorable results.

How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

Healthy habits are important as they play a vital role in our automatic routines. They have significant influence over how we think, feel, act, and ultimately what we can achieve. Daily habits help us manage our minds, shape our personality, and impact our overall life.

I strive for excellence and developing trust starting from “hello”. I want my clients to know I am committed to their success. I also believe that showing up with mental toughness, uncommon agility, sensitivity, professionalism, insight, and sound counsel creates the best outcomes for my clients.

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?

Human beings are creatures of habit. Our bodies remember the frequent actions we take. Similarly true for our minds, our thoughts often become our reality. This applies to both good and bad habits. As we navigate our daily lives, whether we are aware of them or not — we are developing habits. Some of our habits have a positive impact like developing an empowering morning routine or starting a daily gratitude journal. Disruptive habits like eating fast-food regularly or racking up credit card debt have an adverse effect on our lives. Repetition helps our good or bad habits to grow stronger over time and become more of an ingrained, automatic impulse. Habit-strengthening takes work and needs to be deliberately cultivated or eliminated to best support one’s goals and objectives. Healthy habits help us to function more effectively whereas unhelpful habits hold us back. They require intentional behavior modifications which are often labor intensive and difficult to stop. Strengthening your good habit-forming muscle is a precious gift to your future self!

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

Gaining awareness is critically important to identify your current habits — both good and bad. Celebrate your good habits and the value they bring to your world. No one is exempt from bad habits. Change can only happen when we are brutally honest with ourselves. Let me be clear, stopping a bad habit is really hard. We need to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable in order to overcome our bad habits. Procrastination isn’t our friend especially when it comes to making meaningful change in our lives. Recognizing the need and desire to eliminate a bad habit is mission critical to breaking the toxic cycle. It requires a conscious commitment for behavioral change. There are bound to be moments of weakness and vulnerability — expect them and plan for how you will push though those bumpy times. Knowing your triggers and creating a proactive plan to offset the inevitable obstacles will allow for better progress. It will be essential, as you journey to overcome your bad habit, to regularly recognize small wins along the way.

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

My favorite life lesson quote is: “Life is a journey, not a destination.”

To me this means that our life is full of bumps, bruises, laughter, and achievement. If we are open and intentional about learning and growing, we can leverage every choice we make and experience we have. Both favorable and unfavorable experiences add to the collective wisdom we carry with us to use as appropriate throughout our life’s journey.

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

With the many disruptions from COVID-19, I recently did a refresh of my internationally published book, Open Your Eyes and LEAD; Hardship and Wisdom Shape the Best Leaders in Life (available on Amazon).

COVID-19 released an unparalleled collective awakening. The Pandemic forced our entire human race to press reset as it upended everyone’s day-to-day lives. It rapidly changed the way we interacted, worked, and learned. Now, more than ever, we live in an increased virtual existence.

Society was reordered in countless, expedited, and dramatic ways. The Pandemic-induced death toll due to COVID-19 reached into the millions. Not since the flu pandemic of 1918 had we experienced such incredible suffering and horrifying loss of life. COVID-19 also triggered a wave of increased mental health issues in the forms of anxiety, stress, depression, social isolation, and loneliness. Worldwide, we agonized, and we will continue to agonize over this calamitous reality for generations to come.

Many of us became conscious of the preciousness of life. We gained a heightened awareness of what is most important going forward — the matchless significance of what really matters most to each of us.

When the intensity of circumstances is at an all-time high, we often discover who the true leaders really are. The greatest leaders throughout history have often been shaped during times of crisis and uncertainty.

The rapid changes that COVID-19 unleashed in all aspects of our lives required different kinds of leaders. Many of the people who came forward had never set out to be leaders. These unexpected leaders grew organically and were able to display the requisite courage and innate confidence to make tough decisions in the heat of the moment. This happened not because of their titles, but because of their actions. They were intentional and disciplined in their approach. These leaders instinctively understood the importance of working smarter, as well as harder, to make a constructive difference. They recalibrated their thoughts and summoned the bravery to act in spite of great uncertainty, not only for themselves, but for the greater good as well. Their brilliant actions produced innovation out of necessity, permitting all of us to stop protecting the past and to reinvent the future.

In addition to the multitude of issues that COVID-19 created, there were countless silver linings that highlighted the resiliency of our human spirit. May we each find our own silver linings that allow us to be bolstered for our rebound and invigorated to start anew. Carpe Diem!

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.

Coaching is a hot field. It is a billion-dollar industry that continues to grow rapidly. Currently there is no barrier to entry, anyone can label themselves as a coach. Not everyone will be a good or successful coach. To stand out from the crowd here are my Top Five Musts to Create a Highly Successful Career in Executive Coaching.

  1. Invest in an accredited coaching certification program. It will:
  • increase your knowledge base with valuable tools and techniques
  • provide an instant layer of legitimacy
  • garner more respect and opportunities
  • increase the value of your services
  • build your brand as a trusted asset

2. Be crystal clear about who your ideal client is, how you serve them, and why.

For example, my ideal clients are growth-minded, already successful CEOs, Business Owners, and/or Managing Partners of privately held business that have revenues of 5M dollars and above. Leaders that are genuinely committed to getting to their next level of success. I help to cover their blind spots, provide clarity while also expanding their decision-making and actions forward.

3. Dial up your brand. Understand and articulate your differentiator — you should be able to easily articulate how you stand out from the crowd. Referrals are the highest form of professional compliment and can be used widely in your marketing materials. Your branding is central for success. Your personal brand is distinctive to you — your unique promise of your true worth. A solid brand image is essential for opening doors. Intentionally build and monitor the pulse of your brand on a consistent basis.

4. Provide value starting from “Hello”. This happens by focusing on supporting the best interest of what is most meaningful for your client. Making an immediate impact through your coaching is memorable. It is important to interpret the situation, your client’s needs and wants quickly and accurately. Ask powerful questions, provide valuable insight, perspective, and guidance. With a goal of providing your client with executable feedback and tangible outcomes.

5. As a coach, I am very focused on meet my client’s where they are. Our time together is highly focus on their top issues and opportunities. I often act as a sounding board. Helping my clients to clarify and achieve their goals, gain more self-awareness, enhance their learning and development, and unlock their next level of success. I’m referred to as a “beacon of light” from one of my long-term clients because I’ve helped to cover his blind spots and collaborate with him as he navigates a variety of demanding and stressful situations. Just like a lighthouse is beneficial in warning or guiding ships in dangerous waters — a coach should be supporting their clients through the thorniest of challenges and opportunities in their world.

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

The most common mistakes I have seen are lack of:

– business skills and commitment to help them through the tough times.
– clarity on their ideal clients and what specifically they do to add value for the client
– focus and results to best support their client’s most pressing issues and opportunities.

Many of the most common mistakes can be avoided by proactively having a well thought out business plan in place prior to starting a coaching business. This roadmap should include but is not limited to:

– Vision

– Mission

– Business Description

– Organizational Structure

– Competition

– Ideal Clients

– Goals, Strategies, Expectations, and Assumptions

– Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats

– Timelines

– Financial Plan

– Training, Equipment, and Materials

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.

Coaching is a relationship-driven industry. Building relationships takes time and is mission critical for success. To create a WOW client experience, the coach needs to consistently communicate clearly and respectfully keeping in mind client’s preferences, tendencies, and personality styles. I appreciated this testimonial because it speaks to what I consistently try to create with all of my clients:

“Nancy is the consummate professional. Her pragmatic yet compassionate approach in coaching is always the right temperature for the situation. I especially appreciate Nancy’s ability to gently push me out of my comfort zone or provide a reality check when needed, and always with unwavering support and unconditional championing for my envisioned success. She is a powerful advocate for your inner leader, and I strongly recommend her as a key strategist on your “personal board of directors”.

As I was writing this section, I received an impromptu call from another coach that I was supporting through a very intense personal issue. He was just diagnosed with cancer and is waiting for the treatment protocol recommendations from his oncologist — a very difficult place to be in. He said he was just thinking of me and the value that our coaching session had for him. It helped him to gain clarity in the most meaningful areas of his life. He said I helped him realize that he wasn’t showing up as his best self for his family, his clients, or himself. He has implemented the approaches we discussed, and he was excited to report that the strategies we discussed worked great. People hire coaches to help them grow and increase their skills and abilities with a goal of enhancing their lives in the most favorable way possible. Positive change requires progressive change. Encouraging others to dig deep to arrive at their own conclusions and solving their own problems by asking tough — though provoking questions allows for profound growth, and sustainable results.

Client Focused:
Show you genuinely care — consistently. Empathetic client focus is the foundation for building and sustaining trust and loyalty. Coaching clients expect and deserve a highly personalized experience. One size does not fit all. Keep individual clients’ needs front and center with every interaction you have. Focus on inspiring action in a wise and efficient manner by accurately understanding your clients, their perceptions, and concerns. Being able to sense what your client needs and wants will create results by empowering others to tackle their thorniest challenges.

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 have spent many years cultivating meaningful relationships. I’ve been committed to expanding my community of people with compatible core values. This has provided me with emotional strength and camaraderie which has helped me navigate through the stumbling blocks of business growth and life in general.

Simultaneously, while I was going through my professional coaching certification program, I was intentional to also focus on building awareness around my newly minted coaching business. I learned how to capitalize on social media, and in-person relationship building that eventually turned into referral sources and strategic partnerships.

I also spent three years writing an my internationally published book, Open Your Eyes and LEAD; Hardship and Wisdom Shape the Best Leaders in Life. Through my book signings and speaking engagements, I gained more credibility, visibility, and increased brand awareness — which enhanced qualified leads.

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?

This question makes me laugh as this is my Achilles heel! I struggle with this the most!

I’d encourage you to never underestimate the importance of your mental and physical health. It is so easy to fall into the vicious cycle of delaying our social interactions and activities. The business list of “things to do” can be never ending. Stress is a less than favorable response to an overly demanding work schedule. Feeling depleted can have major consequences if not managed appropriately. Giving oneself permission to schedule quality time outside of work provides a much-needed change of pace and enhances our peace of mind. To show up as our best selves and provide high-value return on investment (ROI) for our clients we need to respect ourselves and take care of our mind and body on a daily basis. Time is finite — I had recently lost sight of this, especially during these intense, unprecedented times. I have intentionally recalibrated my activities and I’m on the road to better choices and improved habits.

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. 🙂

Expanding Human Excellence® is of great importance to me especially when it comes to leadership — as we are all the leaders of our own lives.

We are on the cusp of the end of traditional leadership. There are far too many outdated ideas about what leadership is. The competencies of the past are very different from what is needed to take us successfully into the future. With the brisk and brittle structure of our world today, the shortcomings in leadership are showing and growing.

Now is the time to take a stand and be the leader who starts the snowball of change in your orbit of influence. For a healthier tomorrow, we need to ignite an acceleration of leadership reform. This journey for foundational change starts with the power of one: one person, one action, one favorable result. The magnitude of one positive act is contagious and has a ripple effect on the world. If each of us commits to make a material difference each day with our regular interactions, the revolution for change will take hold.

Ethical citizenship compels us to participate daily in sustained efforts to bring about a greater society. I would like to believe that we can make traction to bridge the gaps so that we can better appreciate the factors that motivate the behavior of others, especially those that are contrary to our own views. With open hearts and minds, we can learn to appreciate diverse beliefs, traditions, and cultures. Stretch the limits of who you are. Gain new experiences by trying different things with different people. It is OK to feel uncomfortable; it is part of expanding yourself. Pushing through challenge is what makes us appreciate what is on the other side. If each of us is willing to stretch beyond our existing state of mind, it will create an upshot of beneficial results.

Error on the side of generosity rather than scarcity. If we resolve to focus on more acts of kindness, imagine the results we could accomplish together. Showing up as the leader you want to be, while inspiring others to do the same, will create a powerful force for the betterment of our world. Guide yourself and those in your sphere of influence with moral excellence and the courage to stay the course. Strive to achieve professional effectiveness and personal fulfillment.

Our earth must become more people-centric. We, the citizens, are the world’s priceless treasure. When we are inspired, we create a chain reaction of enhanced energy and heightened results. Let’s work together to shift our culture forward; let’s accelerate a profound ripple effect of change. It is up to all of us to magnify our thinking and our actions.

Find your voice. Be open and agile. Seek wisdom. Think, feel, and speak your truth with integrity and respect. Practice empathy. Take pride in your own efforts. Create your purpose while adding value to those around you. Exhibit a distinctive presence with character and courage — shine on. We are braver, stronger, and smarter than we believe we are. Our world is just as beautiful and full of hope as it ever was. Live your best life! Humankind needs you.

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.

Oprah Winfrey is the one person that I’d really appreciate having a confidential conversation with. We have both had different yet a multitude of extremely challenging obstacles in our lives. I would find great value in comparing notes on how she found the strength and courage to persevere through such intense obstacles. Through my own extreme journey, I can appreciate the nuggets of wisdom I’ve collected over the years. Often the most disruptive of times created the most valuable learnings. I think Oprah and I share a similar drive. Through our own life journey, we’ve had to push through with grit and integrity.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

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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