When you're starting a coaching business-- or any business, for that matter-- you're encouraged to "niche-down". Who are your clients? Where do you find them? How will they know you're of their tribe? And then you're encouraged to niche down further, to dig deeper and focus on your target Person.
As I was launching this business, my internal soundtrack swung between "I can coach anyone who is ready to be coached" and "why should anyone listen to me?" [Here's the thing: I'm going to blatantly ignore that second question for this blog post, but we'll come back to it in the future, ok? Cool.] When I really gave myself a moment to check my ego, I understood that the first statement was untrue. Am I capable of coaching anyone? Sure, but what about people whose values are in conflict with mine? What about folks whose core beliefs are of oppression, racism, misogyny...? Those are not my people. It's likely they wouldn't want what I bring to the table, anyway. My niche-down journey was an exploration of who I wanted to elevate, to support through transformation and to signal boost.
Who are my people? What defines "my clients"?
By now I hoped you've spent some time exploring this website. You see that my clients are female-identifying or femme entrepreneurs. They're brash and bold. They want to dominate their lives, professionally and personally. They're disrupters while being disarming (which is a phrase that my friend Anthony coined). They're badass.
But why this particular group of women? I'm so glad you asked. Women need to raise up other women. One of the phrases that's been on-repeat in my life is that we need to take care of each other. We need to promote one another. Healthy competition is always welcomed, except when it's more appropriate to step to the side and shine your light on someone else. I cannot tell you how many times my professional development has been stifled by other women pulling me down while the men above me push me back. It's exhausting.
But Kari, hasn't the workplace become more welcoming of women's voices? LOL sure. Salary disparity is narrowing, advancement opportunities are expanding, and the workplace is slowly evolving into a more welcoming place for (almost) everyone).
Female empowerment is the fastest growing business trend in 2019 according to Forbes. Female and femme business owners and thought leaders are a fast-growing economic segment whose businesses are less likely to succeed long-term despite start-up success. According to the Harvard Business Review, this is due in large part to a gender gap in entrepreneurship; there is a lack of resources and opportunities for inclusion and networking for female entrepreneurs. Instead of industry making room for them, females are expected to adapt to the old ways of doing things while fighting for a new seat at the table.
Because of this need to adapt, female entrepreneurs face unique challenges in the business world. Through blatant direction or micro-aggressions, they are made to feel like they should:
None of this allows female entrepreneurs to achieve the success they deserve, either at a personal or professional level (and with entrepreneurs, that personal/professional line is often blurred). And so my clients feel unfulfilled. They often seek permission to be who they are. Together through coaching, we identify their goal and leap toward it together so that in the end they can:
Don’t get me wrong: It’s not about being rude or disrespectful. It’s about establishing a cornerstone in the marketplace and helping to shape the future of Business one boss bitch at a time. She's in there and she's ready to dominate. How about we give her a boost?
"Tell me about a time you've failed" is a trick question. Interviewers ask it to gain a sense of your ego, your ability to handle adversity, and how you rebound. But it is a trick question. Let me explain.
During coaching sessions, I often ask my clients, "what does X mean to you?" or "what does Y look like to you"? Some variation on that. Words have specific definitions and, since language is fluid, we have the ability to express ourselves in whatever manner we want and need to characterize our experiences. Recently, I asked a client what success looks like, and they asked back "didn't we already cover this last time"? Well... yes. But they defined success about a specific Thing and this was another Thing. The markers for one don't necessarily describe the other.
Much like I ask clients to clarify their meaning of success or happiness or whatever, my sense of failure is not your sense of failure. How I quantify or qualify failure is dependent on many variables. And there's the trick to the question: what do you mean by fail?
We're taught that failure is something to be afraid of, to stay away from. If we want to innovate, if we want to drive our industries, and if we want to supercharge our lives, we have to get over failure-as-bad real quick. (Forbes, Medium, The Atlantic, HBR, and many, many other business publications agree.) Think of failure as a series of iterations to get something closer to "right". Within those iterations, explore with resilience, humility, and an open heart and mind. With failure comes risks, and with risks come opportunities. Failing is getting out of your own way to be able to see what's next. Failing builds character and focuses the journey. Don't be shy: fail hard.
The next time you're invited to tell someone about a time you failed, chin up, deep breath. Don't dwell on the failure; regale them with risk and tell them what you learned.