Coach Interview Series: Andrea Leda

by Brandon

Andrea Leda

Life Coach, Speaker, and Coach Instructor

Our main objective here at the National Coach Academy is to enable aspiring coaches to reach their full professional potential. One of the most effective ways to educate students about the world of coaching is by offering them a window into the world of real, practicing coaches and showing them all the different ways coaches make a difference in the lives of their clients.

We hope today’s interview adds another insightful glimpse into the dynamic world of coaching.

Today we are interviewing Andrea Leda. Andrea is an ICF-accredited Master Certified Integrative Wellness and Life Coach, Speaker, and Coach Instructor based in Portland, Oregon.

NCA: Can you describe your coaching practice and the kinds of clients you typically work with?

Andrea: I have one-to-one clients and I do small group mentoring, as well. In my one-to-one practice, I mostly work with women who are positive influencers: people who are intentionally using their life to put a ripple in the pond and make a positive impact in their industry. I work with a lot of women who are in C-Suite positions, executive positions, entrepreneurs, other coaches, people in practitioner roles, authors, speakers, etc.

NCA: What initially got you interested in becoming a coach and what kind of degree or certifications did you need to complete?

Andrea: My coach journey started way back in 2005. I did my undergrad in social work. Then I thought I’d go and be a therapist and maybe I could work on some of these rooted issues at their core.

I started my grad program in Systems Counseling. I got maybe a semester in and they handed us what’s called the DSM-5 (which back then was a DSM-4) which is basically a 10-pound brick of a diagnostic manual. [laughing] Our focus was going to shift from therapy-based practices to therapy-based practices and “How do you get the best insurance coverage for your clients based on whatever we can diagnose them with?” The idea of rooting my work through the premise or lens that something was wrong with my clients just didn’t sit well with me.

So I left in 2007 and I had no idea what coaching was. It wasn’t until 2010 that it popped up in my life and through a series of synchronistic interactions, I ended up meeting the founder of the program that I ended up going through called the Institute for Life Coach Training. That was a program that back then was designed for other modalities like social work and counseling and people who wanted to adapt coaching as an additional practice.

I went to that program and just fell madly in love with it. It was not even an hour into my first class when I thought “This is exactly where I need to be and this is everything I’ve been looking for in the therapy realm that was missing from the therapy realm.” That was almost a decade ago.

Since then, I’ve done a couple of other coach certifications because I just can’t get enough of it. I just love being in that student role. I went to IWA. I did an NLP course. And tons and tons of practice in addition to that.

There’s always that moment — usually four to six weeks into the work — where the client realizes for the first time, “Oh, this is actually plausible and the thing that I know that I’m aiming toward is actually going to happen.” […] I love that moment. It never gets old.

NCA: What is the most rewarding part of your career working with clients and on the flip side of that, what is the most challenging aspect of the work that you do?

Andrea: You know, we have the benefit of having foresight for our clients. We can come in and say “I know that you’re going to be successful. I can look at your habits, your practices and your intentions and the direction you’re headed and I can see with a fair amount of accuracy that you’re going to get there.” The client doesn’t always have that perspective. I think, in part, that’s why they hire us. There’s that inkling that there’s a potentiality that they want to crack open but they’re not always fully convinced that it’s going to happen.

And there’s always that moment — usually four to six weeks into the work — where the client realizes for the first time, “Oh, this is actually plausible and the thing that I know that I’m aiming toward is actually going to happen.” I love that moment because I think when we can shift perspective, we realize how much we are in control of the stories we tell ourselves and we have the opportunity to change that. That’s such an empowering gift to reclaim in our life. I love that moment. It never gets old.

Challenges are also two-fold. I think there’s the challenge as a coach in maintaining that belief in our clients and maintaining our belief in the process when the client isn’t 100% there. Our clients are human and they’re not always going to come to session and being the rockstar client. Clients come in not having done their work, not fully believing that it’s possible, not fully taking the actions that they want to take. I think as a coach, my job is to suspend any form of doubt that could get in the way because that can hinder their process. That can be challenging.

The other part of that is running the business. It’s a skill that most coaches aren’t trained in and it’s a skill that I think gets overlooked far too easily. And yes, running a business and being successful as a coach can come from loving coaching and getting great at coaching, but also getting great at business and they’re not necessarily the same thing.

NCA: Can you think of a mentor who was the most vital to your success as a coach and how did this mentor help you thrive in your career?

Andrea: Easily, the mentor and coach that I still work with to this day. His name is Dax Moy and he’s a coach based out of the UK. He came to me a long time ago, right at the beginning of my coaching career. My partner and I did his MindMAP coaching program, which is a coaching program that looks at coaching through the lens of neuroscience. I remember thinking, “Who is this Dax guy?” I’m coming from the ICF world and thinking, “Who is this unqualified person?, and he just blew me away. His capacity for understanding what people are standing in and also the capacity to hold where they’re headed with is something I hadn’t quite seen demonstrated even in my own teachers at that time.

I worked with him both as a practitioner to better hone my skills as a coach and as a business owner. He’s been vital in helping me shape the business that I run today and the model that I’m doing quite well with.

NCA: What is one piece of advice that you would give to somebody who is in that very early stage of their coaching career?

Andrea: My only advice to new coaches is coach your butt off and stop focusing on stuff that I guarantee will not grow your business. Don’t obsess over building a website, printing business cards, and social media pages. The only thing you need to do is open a calendar and put in there the days you’re coaching clients and days you’re creating clients to coach. I can easily measure the success of coaches that I mentor based on how many conversations they’re having a month with potential or prospective clients.

It’s the degree to which you’re actually coaching that will determine what kind of success you’re going to have as a coach. Because no client is created outside of a coaching conversation, so if we’re not orienting all of our energy toward having conversations, we’re not actually building a coaching business.

That’s the place, too, where you’re going to learn the absolute most about what you actually love. It took me 8 years to figure out what I love and who I love serving and it doesn’t mean that everything that I did before that was untrue. I’ve loved everything I’ve done up until the point where I realized this is the thing I want to spend the bulk of my time and energy focused on, but I wouldn’t have learned that had I not been coaching.

Don’t worry about niche. Don’t worry about target audience. Don’t worry about mastering all of these modalities. Just get great at the actual process of coaching.

Previous post:

Next post: