11 Professionals Helping People Find More Satisfying, Successful Careers
Illustration courtesy of Violeta Noy
11 Professionals Helping People Find More Satisfying, Successful Careers
Anyone who was ever on a sports team as a kid knows how important the coach was. Coaches are there to cheer you on, turn mistakes into learning opportunities, anchor the chaos. But unless you grow up to be a professional swimmer or soccer player, coaches are usually something we leave behind in childhood. And there’s something a little sad about that.
Even people who are happy and successful can lose their way from time to time. And seeking advice from a smart, impartial professional can be incredibly helpful. Clarity, redirection, purpose, productivity—a good professional coach can drive all of these.
Of course, the world of executive or life coaching can be uncharted, so it’s paramount to choose someone who is highly qualified to suit your specific needs. Approaches, methods, and backgrounds vary greatly: Some are certified business coaches; others are intuitive counselors or networking sages. And each has a different way to help you hone your abilities and move through career obstacles. The benefit of their work isn’t that you earn a giant paycheck or millions of followers (although that could also happen). Their goal—just like your soccer coach’s in sixth grade—is to help you connect with your purpose and find your best self.
Editor’s note: Everyone’s needs differ, which makes counseling deeply personal. Advice, inspiration, or guidance from any of the individuals below (or individuals in this field) is not a substitute for licensed therapy.
We’re inclined to give in to the hustle rather than find alignment, says Amina AlTai: “We’re exerting excessive force and effort in one direction rather than seeing what our values are, what brings us joy, what our gifts and abilities are.” AlTai was living in what she calls a “work prison” several years ago when her body gave out. That halt was a forced reckoning. AlTai sold her portion of the business she co-owned and enrolled in school for coaching, meditation, nutrition, and wellness. From there, she built her next business: helping people build mindful, healthy, empowered careers. She created a bespoke program for emerging entrepreneurs that helps decondition old habits and expectations (“the shoulds, the woulds, the ‘your life is supposed to look like this,’” she explains). In their place, she helps clients discover and align with their career—and life—purpose. She calls it “being in discovery,” and the idea is to embrace curiosity, to discover what would make you happy. She also offers one-off coaching sessions, a digital course, and a journal for mindfulness exercises. “I think about eighteen-year-old Amina who couldn’t afford the coaching but definitely could afford the book,” she says. “A lot of time we will look at someone [who is successful and happy] and say that that’s a rare case where someone got to do something that made them happy. But that’s a conscious effort and choice. They aligned all these pieces. I believe that is available to all of us.”
Keren Eldad has an uncanny ability to find what’s holding you back—and she gives you the tools to overcome it. Eldad’s sixth sense is understanding people and their nuances. Which explains how she has built an insanely successful coaching practice among high-level executives and entrepreneurs (“the overachievers,” she calls them). Eldad, who holds several coaching and behavioral analyst certifications, created her signature coaching method to focus on detoxing mind-sets, exposing the underbelly of our self-imposed restrictions (judgment, negativity, resentment, insecurity), and making room for healthy thoughts. She leads talks and workshops on mind-set, performance, and productivity across the globe (she has an infectious energy). And she also leads private and group coaching sessions and retreats to offer her skills to more people, she says, because “everyone is so dynamic, unique, and unusual.” This anthropological sense was probably born out of her unique childhood: An ambassador’s daughter, Eldad is a polyglot who’s lived all over the world, served in the Israeli Army, and founded several successful consulting companies.
The thought of networking can make anyone a little sweaty. It’s hard, uncomfortable, and so often inauthentic. But we all know how critical a strong network can be for career growth. Jen Gottlieb and Chris Winfield created a way for people build networks in more natural, less awkward ways through what they call “connector” dinners, speaking engagements, and three-day career events called Unfair Advantage. It started as a series of dinners that Winfield, a media consultant and former marketing executive, was hosting. He saw that a big obstacle for people trying to advance their careers was reticence—and loneliness. “We live in such a connected world, but we’re more disconnected than ever,” he says. The dinners turned into talks, and then events. Gottlieb, a mind-set coach and performer, came on board last year to add that “transformational” component that was missing. Their approach is to counsel people on how to help one another grow. It’s a generous mentality that invites success because connection allows us to “connect to our true selves, our true passion, and our true calling,” says Gottlieb. Gottlieb and Winfield also host panels and speaking engagements with thought leaders and experts in media, marketing, and entrepreneurship. Their events are incredibly motivating. Most people leave feeling invincible, with a much wider network and a toolkit for effectively moving past career fears.
“It should not take a lifetime to thrive in a career,” says R.A. Leslie who believes that people need inspiration and clarity to thrive because that is what breeds motivation. “When we are inspired, we are filled with boundless energy to grow, create, share, and lead,” says the bicoastal transformational coach and speaker. Leslie works with her clients to tap into this clarity through dialogue. Her sessions are heartfelt and intuitive. Leslie goes deep, asking about her clients’ childhood and pain points. This digging, she believes, unlocks a sense of wonder and appreciation that allows us to see our careers as “an alchemy that we create.” Even a single meeting with Leslie can significantly shift your perspective and uncover a well of creativity (one goop staffer realized a lifelong career dream after fifteen minutes of talking with her). Leslie offers individual and corporate coaching; she’s also producing a series of workshop retreats for women scheduled for late 2019. And while working directly with Leslie is the most effective way to benefit from her practice, her workbook journal is a more accessible tool to help you uncover creativity and “change habits that do not serve our highest good,” she says.
One of the biggest roadblocks to being a good leader is us. We’re too quick to listen to the inner voice that tells us we’re not good enough. And we often let judgments—our own and others’—get in the way. Tara Mohr calls that self-doubt’s bluff. An author and an expert on leadership, Mohr helps people—particularly female-identifying people—recognize how they’re getting in their own way. And she gives groundbreaking advice on how to silence that inner critic, push past limits (from ourselves and society), and make bolder choices so we can get what we want. Mohr’s created a unique six-month coaching curriculum, aptly named the Playing Big Course, that includes readings, Q&A’s, guest speakers, and daily practices to help women find their “inner mentor,” as she calls it. There are also interactive sessions with Mohr, who is incredibly relatable (she’s open about how her inner voice used to limit her). Her books can provide some excellent career guidance in their own right; Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead is a goop favorite.
Niyc Pidgeon, MSc, is a positive psychologist and a high-performance coach, which means she helps clients increase awareness of their lives, their purpose, and their strengths. Pidgeon’s work is grounded in positive psychology, a relatively new science (born about two decades ago) that focuses on mental wellness. The goal is to give energy to what goes right in the world, rather than harp on about what goes wrong. It may seem a little Pollyanna, but there’s data-driven research to back its effects—and Pidgeon has built her global business around it. She counsels entrepreneurial women on how to make more money, find career purpose, and break glass ceilings in work—and life—with her “accelerator” programs. Pidgeon’s coaching varies in length and specificity, from five-week online money courses to twelve-month business programs. If her courses aren’t possible for you, Pidgeon’s book, Now Is Your Chance, is a great substitute—it’s a road map of daily practices and techniques from her coaching program that—with hard work—can yield excellent results.
Think about what makes you happy, and your relationships will likely come to mind. Healthy, expanding connections with people—be they friends or colleagues—make everything better. That’s the core of what Brigit Ritchie and Court Roberts do at WE. The LA-based team works with companies to help employees better recognize one another. They call their approach—which involves active listening, active participation, art projects, talks, and other practices—relationship mindfulness. It’s a “methodology that incorporates tools and practices to increase our quality of life at work and beyond through effective relationships,” Roberts says. “It is the flow of relationship to self, others, and company.” And the benefits of Ritchie and Roberts’s work come in multitudes, most notably seen in an uptick in morale, engagement, and productivity at the companies across the country where they’ve brought their workshops.
Jon Roberts likes to tell this story: He once had a client, an artist, who was incredibly talented but unfulfilled. The client wanted to make three times more money. So Roberts counseled him on how to go after what he wanted. Their coaching sessions unveiled a wider truth: Roberts’s client didn’t want to work as an artist; he wanted to represent artists. So the artist founded a creative artists agency, tripled his revenue, and started offering his clients coaching similar to the guidance he received from Roberts. He “expanded what was possible,” recalls Roberts. As a partner and the director of coaching development for the executive coaching firm Novus Global, Roberts helps his clients—most of whom are in high-level corporate settings—stretch their limits, because it’s those limits that keep us from exploring what we are capable of in our careers, finances, relationships, and growth, he says. To Roberts, it’s about choosing an empowered mind-set and “making the impossible possible.” Of course, it’s easy to say this and trickier to put it into action, which is why Roberts uses three elements—visions, strategy, and mind-set—to guide his practice. Most people underestimate what is possible. “They have created stories and carry limiting beliefs that hold them back,” says Roberts. “But when you choose an empowered mind-set and accountable actions, the possibilities are endless.”
Not smart enough. Not pretty enough. Not good enough. These dangerous little lies swirl around all of our minds. And they’re the reason we don’t have what we want, says mindful health practitioner Jessie Douglass-Smith McGraw. “Everything starts at the core of your thoughts,” she explains. “If we’re dejected, intimidated, petrified, it’s because of our thinking.” It’s one thing to know this intellectually. It’s another to do something about it. That’s where Douglass-Smith McGraw comes in. We create experiences through our thoughts, so why not re-create them to be positive and far-reaching? Douglass-Smith McGraw conducts private sessions with clients (often “outside in green spaces,” she says, and also online) to break through limiting believes. And she works fast. One goop staffer walked away after one session with a six-month-long mental knot completely loosened and free. People often feel liberated just after one session, says Douglass-Smith McGraw: “Anxiety, depression, habits start to melt, and behaviors start to change.” And while her work is intense, she is also about the friendliest person we’ve met.
Photograph courtesy of Lauren Hurt.