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 Robbie Green.
Robbie Green is a Certified Professional and Executive Coach at Talking Talent, with a focus on working families. She is an Industrial and Organizational Professional, with a Master’s degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Most importantly, she is a working Mom herself, with 24 years of experience.
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?
Sure! I am a true country girl. I grew up in a little community called Una, Mississippi. Notice, I did not say, city, area, or even TOWN, but a community! I am the product of the greatest example of love and commitment that I have ever witnessed, and the longer I live, I realize what a luxury and blessing my parents were, and are in my life, even in their physical absence. The example of love, family, and love of family that I witnessed, instilled in me a sense of responsibility to share that with the rest of the world. I remind the parents that I coach that even if their childhood was not something they want to pass on to their children, they can create the life they desired for themselves growing up, for their own family. Even though it was not given to them, it can start with them. My parents were married for 50 years and one month to the day my father passed away. I know that I am beyond fortunate to say that, because not everybody can. My childhood was so great that I wish I could bottle it up and give it away. Now, as a Professional and Executive Coach for Working Families, I get to do just that. In my past careers, I described myself as the Jackie of all trades and the master of none. Until I realized, all my work/industry experience was priming me to be what I was destined to be today.
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?
- Empathetic — I am able to accept people for who they are, without judgement nor the need to always understand. One coach described my empathy by saying, “Robbie did not judge our life stories and experiences. She just simply said ‘yes, and…’”
- Attentive — I reminded my clients that their happiness hinges on their perspective and their willingness to be present. Therefore, I practice what I preach and I give my clients my undivided attention — recognizing that one hour with me may be the only uninterrupted time in their day.
- Authentic — Some of my favorite feedback that I have received as a coach is “Robbie is as real as it gets”. When it comes to my coaching style, you never have to wonder what you are going to get. That makes it easy for Talking Talent to pair me with the right clients.
How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?
Funny story. I don’t like routine. However, before I officially became a Professional Coach, I noticed that habitually, people sought me out for advice. And often people that I just met, would tell me their life’s story without me asking. I noticed those natural recurring themes, and that is what really started me on this journey of wanting to offer guidance to people on a regular basis. So noticing habits helped lead me to success. It helped me to see what kinds of people were routinely seeking me for guidance, what kind of person naturally gravitated to me, and that helped me to identify my target audience early on.
Another habit that really helped in my success journey was the consistent use of social media to speak to the hearts of the women that I was focused on. I have to thank my husband for that. He said to me, “If you don’t tell people what you are doing, how will they know?” Again, because I don’t like routine, this was a new habit that I had to form. But not only was it useful to me personally as an entrepreneur, I believe it is one of the things that ultimately led me to becoming an Executive Coach for Talking Talent. They saw how authentic and impactful my words were on platforms like LinkedIn, and they believed that type of energy could be something that would help attract attention to the Talking Talent brand.
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?
I am so glad you specified this by saying good habits. The number one reason it is important to create good habits is because it is not easy to break bad ones. Sounds like a “duhhh” statement, I know. But the truth is, your brain will continue to do what is familiar — whether that be good or bad. It is difficult to establish NEW habits, that is why you should start out with good ones. Whatever is different, your brain deems it dangerous, and whatever is the same, your brain considers it safe. This is simply a survival mechanism that is embedded in every human being. For example, I have been using this analogy with clients lately: If you have been eating three pieces of chocolate cake for breakfast for the last three years, and then on a random Thursday you decide that you are going to start having a green detox smoothie, around that third day, your brain is going to start to question your choices. The green smoothie will feel like a bad idea, although it’s a healthier choice, because it is not what you are used to doing. Your brain will miss the routine.
Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?
Developing good habits starts with programming your brain, and stopping bad habits starts with REprogramming your brain. To develop good habits, first step, decide what you consider good. What’s good for your life? What’s good for your career? What’s good for your future? Then you decide WHY is it good. Why are you doing this? On New Year’s Day, I had the pleasure of sharing some tips on setting New Year’s GOALS (not resolutions) to viewers on our WRAL, or local NBC affiliate. I reminded viewers that you first determine the what, and then decide the why.
THEN determine if your why is worthy of the work. It will be work to establish a new habit. If it were easy, you would have already done it. The best way to determine the worthiness of your why, is by stating your “what” and adding these two words at the end — “so that”. Back to our chocolate cake for breakfast example — if you decide you want to switch to green smoothies for breakfast, SO THAT, you can don’t cross the line of becoming a diabetic, then that “why” is definitely worthy of the work.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
My favorite Life Lesson Quote came from my Mother. She had just shared it with me in the last couple of years. I was talking to her on the phone one day, and said, “Momma. It seems like something is always happening. If it ain’t 1 thing, it’s 112. She replied, “Yeah baby, that’s why it’s called life. It’s constantly growing and changing, because it’s ALIVE. If it were not growing and changing, we would need to call it something else.” Man. The wisdom of my MOMMA! That resonated with me so much because it instantly gave me the wherewithal to expect and accept that changes come with life! It made me better able to field them and not fear them, to finesse them and not fret them. That life lesson even helped prepare me to handle losing her on March 19 of this year, and losing my Mother-in-law the very next day.
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 on my first book. And that quote above is a teaser of what you can find in it. This little book will not just help Working Moms, but it will help anyone that reads it, because of the outpouring of love and wisdom that will come from it. It will be a book of gems that my Mother dropped on me over her lifetime. Because of her recent death, my “so that” for publishing this book is stronger than ever. I have to complete it, “so that” it blesses whoever has the chance to read it, and ‘’so that” let her legacy live on.
As an Executive Coach for Talking Talent I will be leading some small group conversations centered around grief, and how to make a resilient comeback from that. With so many people dealing with grief due to the covid crisis, this is going to be an instrumental offering to make sure people are well for themselves, so that they can show up as the best version of themselves at work and at home. As heavy a subject as this is, I am looking forward to it.
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.
- Belief in your calling and ability — Becoming a Professional Coach is the surest thing I have ever done in my 24 years as a working parent. Beyond a shadow of any doubt, I know I have been placed on this earth to pass on my gift of family — using the vehicle of coaching. As I mentioned, I did a lot of different things before now, and I never really felt like any of them were what my life’s work was about. I discovered long ago that I was not really intrigued with climbing the ladder of corporate America, but a much better use of my time and talents was to support the ambitious women who did want that life; the ones who wanted to have a happy house and a successful career. I knew that having both of those things were possible, and problematic. When I looked around, there was no one there to fill the need of these women. Which brings me to my next point:
- Identify a problem and become THE go-to problem solver! — In my opinion, sometimes, not only do you need someone to talk to and to glean advice, but it matters who that person is. Over the years, I discovered that Working Moms often suffered in silence. How did I know that? Well, I’m glad you asked. I had been that silent sufferer. I knew what it felt like to be riddled with working Mom guilt, and not know what to do about it. I also knew what it felt like to lose your identity as a person, once you became a wife and mother. I remember literally saying out loud, “Who am I? Am I just somebody’s Momma?” Which sounds HORRIBLE when you say it aloud, but it doesn’t make it any less true of a feeling. As a Working Mom, you can feel like you are so busy taking care of everything and everyone else, that you lose yourself! You can lose yourself to your family and to your career, and that’s a problem — one that I identified and also identified with, and one I wanted to fix.
- Not trying to be all things to all people — When I started my coaching business, I decided to focus on Working Moms, and that’s how the Working Mom’s Coach was born. That was my lane, and I was sticking to that. I had several people tell me that I should broaden my spectrum so that I did not limit my customer base. However, I felt compelled to stay in that lane. The way I saw it, women continued to have babies every single day. Therefore, there would always be a need for my services in that lane. And I never wanted to be known as a “Life Coach for all of your life’s needs”. My goal was always to make a positive impact on families. Now, as an Executive Coach for Talking Talent, with a focus on Working Families, my 2-lane road has broadened into a 4-lane ExpressWay — worldwide. I coach working families worldwide. It makes me just giggle a bit every time I say that out loud. It is an answered prayer, and a dream career.
- Patience and determination (Guess that’s 2 things, but, I’m saying…they go hand in hand) — Ok. Here’s a little mini coaching session. Repeat after me: “Acceptance is KEY!” Accept that building a business does not happen overnight. You cannot just wish customers into your inbox. But, if the feeling of what you desire to do will just not let you go, then your why must be worthy of the work. Be PATIENT and KEEP WORKING. The customers will come!
- Clientele — Please See #4 on patience and determination.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen coaches make when they start their business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Giving up too soon — Remember, initially, customers won’t be lined up at your door waiting to be coached. Stay the course, do the work, and the customer will come.
You’re in the elevator, but you don’t have a speech!! — LISTEN…. If you can’t clearly and easily tell people what you do, how can they ever trust you with what they need? Avoid this by creating a clear and concise statement that encompasses the pain people are experiencing and finishing it with a solution. Then, PRACTICE IT!!! It should roll off your tongue, like when someone asks you what’s your favorite red lipstick, and why (well maybe that’s just me). For instance, as the Working Mom’s Coach I would say:
Possible Customer: “So you’re the Working Mom’s Coach. Tell me more. What does that mean?”
Me: I am a certified Professional Coach, and my goal is to give Working Moms M.O.R.E.! But now more to do, because we have enough that we get to do already, right? I help Working Moms:
M — Manage Mom guilt
O — Overcome being overwhelmed
R — Reassure them of their relevance, and go from
E — Exhausted to excited about life
Possible Customer: Wow! I need ALL OF THAT
- You are scared to toot your own horn — This was a big one for me, because I tend to describe myself as an extroverted introvert. I was so used to people naturally gravitating towards me for (free) advice, it was hard for me to proactively share with the rest of the world that I was really good at giving guidance and advice, and people should pay for it. Once I began to “beep beep, honk honk” people started to BELIEVE that I was the go-to problem solver for the issues that plagued them. My self-belief totally transformed me into THE Working Mom’s Coach, and I am the best in my lane. I’m (now) not afraid to say that.
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.
To create Woww! moments, you have to be able to:
- Win Over Without Words.
- Win Over With Words
Win over without words — When you have a client, you must be a GREAT listener — good listeners create good coach sessions, but great listeners create WOWW moments. When you can make your coachee feel like there is nothing and no one else more important than them for the allotted time they have with you, that’s the start. As the old adage goes, “people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. Listening intently says “I care”.
Win over with words — You want to find pockets that allow you to insert guidance that get reactions like my Momma’s wisdom did for me. During a recent one to one session, my client told me I was her Friday Soul Food. That’s a WOWW moment! So, find your magic. I have been told that I am real and that I have a very comforting voice. Both of those elements invite my clients to open up right away and have a great experience the first time.
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?
Pray. Build your credibility. Hangout with your target audience. Identify the PPP
- Pray. I prayed and asked for guidance — a lot — and still do. It’s the way I stay centered and grounded. And I believe that prayers open up doors that lead to the right people — because everybody is not your assignment (but that’s an article for another day).
- Build your credibility — Use your resources and connections to do this. I turned a free door prize that I donated at a Women’s conference into becoming a recurring expert guest on my local NBC affiliate. That type of exposure (TV in particular) builds your credibility and attracts qualified clients.
- Hang out where your target market is — and let them know who you are and what you do (remember, TOOT TOOT!) Social Media platforms are great places for that.
- Identify the PPP — Identify People’s Pain Points, and speak to them every chance you get.
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?
In the last two months alone, I have facilitated sessions on burnout for over 1,000 people. It is a very serious and real issue, so it is important that we all proactively work (or not work) to avoid it. So, remember to take your own coaching advice and set proper boundaries for your wellbeing. Especially if you are still working for someone else from 9–5 while you are building your coaching business, be sure to make the best use of your time.
Use systems that will automate things for you to save time, so that you don’t become overwhelmed. I have the pleasure of facilitating webinars and group coaching sessions for some of our client’s international employees. To accommodate time zones, that means I may finish a session at 11 P.M. When I have those long days, I am able to start a bit later the next day so that I do not become mentally drained. Find a physical activity that you enjoy, and incorporate it into your day. I sometimes go for walks during my coaching sessions.
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 would start the Family Over Everything movement. The goal of this movement would be to help strengthen families all over the world. I would connect people who may not have come from the best family environment, but desire to be an amazing Mom or Dad themselves, with people that did grow up with a great family life. When we can strengthen families, we can change the current state of the world and future generations to come.
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.
I currently have a very short list of Working Moms that I would love to have dinner and conversation with one day, for very different reasons. Now that I think about it, they are each from very different industries — many of the ones you named. That list includes (in no particular order):
- Michelle Obama
- Jane Elliot
- Serena Williams
- Jada Pinkett-Smith
- Ciara Wilson
But, since you said “have dinner” and not a dinner party, I can only pick one person today, and I choose Serena. Not because I deem any of the others less important, but at this phase in Serena’s life and this phase in my life, she is the right choice for dinner– today. I have referenced Serena many times in my coaching. I talk about how fame does not exclude you from the woes of motherhood, and Serena has been very forthcoming in sharing that reality with the rest of the world. I have referenced her struggles in childbirth, and how she helped to bring to light the adversity black women face during this very vulnerable and traumatic time in their lives — not always receiving the same care as their white counterparts. And I have talked about how her daughter Olympia has changed her life forever. As I am speaking to PPP’s (People’s Pain Points) I remind them of the importance of having a coach and accountability. I remind clients of the importance of keeping a coach — even after accomplishing a goal. I tell them that, “I guarantee you that after Serena wins a major tournament, when she wakes up the next morning, the first thing she does NOT do is fire her coach.” And, in all transparency, I want to be Serena’s coach — her Working Mom’s Coach. I believe that I will one day.
How can our readers further follow your work online?