MM #72: How to Merge a Current Career with Coaching

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FEATURE: How to Merge a Current Career with Coaching

MJ Jennings, the “Inspiration Woman,” is an executive coach who has made as much as AUD$100,000 in one month from coaching!

Based in Hong Kong, she calls herself a “Pacific gypsy” because of the travel she does up and down AsiaPacific.

How did her life journey take her from a farm in New Zealand to the intense, vibrant career she now enjoys?

MJ first heard about coaching in 2000, and her interest peaked after being given an article by a friend. By that time, she’d moved with her children to Hong Kong. She had completed her masters in Human Resources and moved into Business Excellence, a team approach to continuous improvement. But coaching offered a different way to inspire people and help them move forward in their lives.

Tip: Use your current skill set to enhance and compliment your coaching style.

“I actually started coaching by being coached by a master – David Wood – about six years ago,” she says. (Thanks for the plug MJ!) From Hong Kong, MJ arranged face-to-face and phone sessions. She found coaching was a natural transition from the work she was doing.

Not about having the answers

“I realized that my clients needed more than the traditional training approach,” she explains. “I found I had lots of ‘guinea pigs’ to practice on.”

Being coached herself gave her the confidence she needed to jump in and start doing it. “My initial perception of coaching was misguided… I thought I had to have the answers, and my approach was more along the lines of consulting or advisory. Now I really know coaching is all about the coachee, not me!” She credits this experience with giving her a deeper understanding of the coaching philosophy as well as a toolkit of forms, approaches and questioning techniques.

She became a founding member of the Hong Kong International Coaching Community, joined Coachville and became very active in promoting executive coaching as a business learning approach.

Tip: Get involved – join forces with other coaches to share information and make coaching more visible in your community.

According to MJ, awareness and acceptance of executive coaching has been slower in Hong Kong than it has been in other areas. “To survive as a coach, you need to have other ‘strings to your bow’ – and mine was training,” she says. She leveraged the workshops she ran by promoting one-on-one “coaching based interventions.” This built her confidence and her cash flow. “I built a company around the things I like doing, and the coaching has become a major part of that. We now generate revenues that have just kept growing.”

Getting out there

MJ feels staying in the public eye is a key way to attract new business. She has been on radio programs a half dozen times and has done several interviews in local newspapers and magazines.

“Building a positive reputation is very important for credibility and approachability,” she says.

Most of MJ’s business is referral, and people see her in action as a speaker and doing other activities.

Tip: Be noticed. Look for ways to tie coaching in to what you’re already doing, and offer your expertise to the media.

MJ says, “Practice what you preach – if it’s a business it must look like one, feel like one and run like one, with a business plan, strategy, goals and action plans.

She has a “no surprises” policy, discussing fees and structure with clients up front. She does pro-bono work, charity workshops and offers coaching packages to encourage repeat business. At the same time, she negotiates higher fees for intensive programs to ensure a return on the investment in time and resources.

And she’s busy. In the next six weeks, she’ll have five coaching sessions in Singapore, three in Hong Kong, training workshops with one-on-one coaching sessions in Vietnam and Korea, followed by a week of coaching back in Hong Kong and four sessions in Tokyo.

Even coaches can use a coach

Part of MJ’s success is how she “walks the talk.” She says successful coaches need to have a commitment to life learning.

“If Tiger Woods has a coach – then there is a time in our lives when we all need a coach to stretch, guide, challenge and recognize effort,” she explains.

Do talk to strangers

She advises other coaches to keep talking to strangers, and keep networking. Potential clients can’t find you if you’re not putting yourself out there, she points out.

Often, MJ’s casual chats turn into business when she’s asked what she does for a living. But “it’s not about the money, or the potential for business,” she says. “It’s about them identifying a need that they have, and wanting to work through a coach to get that need met. I love it when they contact me and I’m their ‘chosen’ coach.”

See more about MJ’s business at ActiveCommunication.net.

MJ got her start through the CoachStartâ„¢ Mentoring Program – if you would like one of the few remaining positions, you can apply here.

***

Action: Expand Your Business

1. Start researching and asking for recommendations to hire a mentor coach
2. Does your coaching look like a business? Where do you need to become more business-like?
3. Do you have a current career or hobby you can merge with coaching? What would the first step be?
4. Post your first step, thoughts and comments at the blog!

Enjoy!

David

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10 Responses to “MM #72: How to Merge a Current Career with Coaching”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    I`m located in Canada, and am currently enrolled in the Adler School of Professional Coaching.

    I work for a telecom company that has a peer coaching program and skills coaching component built into each workday. However, coaching is centered on work performance not meeting standards instead of coaching to strengths. This is a new profile for me and I am most definitely looking at career opportunities.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I really enjoyed that article from MJ Jennings, she is an inspirational person who has achieved a lot in her life time. After reading her story I have realised that I can do that as well, I just need to get out there and network more.
    I have started to coach people on a regular basis without even realising that I am. I have such a passion for assising people. I realise when I first started coaching as well, it is all about the client and that I don’t always have to have all the answers I help my clients obtain the answers as it is within them.

    Orine

  3. jeanne Says:

    I am curious what people think about there being a need for a niche in adoption. It is what I know and am writing a book on it. Feedback greatly appreciated.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    To merge coaching with your career is definitely much easier when you work in “corporate” world. My career has been in hospitality – 5star luxury hotel chains and that is the only place you can not really talk about life coaching because it is all about standards, policies, culture – trainings are already design in certain ways. I have to look outside but it is not easy at all. You can not really merge hotel with coaching unfortunately.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Anonymous hospitality, I have a catering business and I experience the same thing, too much is going on. I would love to use my coaching in the work place – but feel uncomfortable – my staff have been with me for 20 years will they think it strange I suddenly ‘coach’ instead of ‘teach’? cooking coach

  6. Marcie Says:

    I am a single mom who used a the best coach in New York to help me go from a furniture sales person to a woman who manages a chain exclusive furniture stores in the New England area. Dr. Donna Martuge has inspird me to learn coaching so now I can help others. You should work with her. 914-588-9293. She is inspirational.

    Marcie (future coach)

  7. Rev. Linda K Patterson Says:

    “Anonymous said…
    HI,
    I want to start coaching and know someone who could mentor me – but I don’t have the money to take any courses and get certified. Anyone else in this position? Is it OK to start coaching first and then take courses after?”

    I, too, am in a similar situation. I feel I’ve been coaching for a long time, in many ways but don’t have the confidence to know I’m doing it properly. I would love the skill sets of being trained. I know that I usually “hear’ beyond the words people say and have strong intuitive abilities.

    Would love to hear what officially and unofficially trained coaches out there have to say.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    I worked with MJ last year at a Conference. She is definitely a life of the party – energetic presenter, full of substance and definitely, very inspiring. Very easy person to work with…

  9. Anonymous Says:

    I love coaching my daughters basketball practice. She enjoys having her daddy watch and coach. Makes her feel special. I love it to

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  10. Anonymous Says:

    Hi
    Im reading everyone’s story and It all sounds great. My question to you is can a hairdressing teacher become a coach.

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