Coach Interview Series: Brad Ward

by Brandon

Brad Ward

Certified Coach and Consultant

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 Brad Ward, PCC. Brad is a Certified Coach and Consultant and owner of The Mission Coach, LLC based in Palm Springs, California.

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

Brad: My practice is primarily targeted to individuals and organizations in the nonprofit sector who are either leaders or aspire to be leaders. That’s on the organizational side.

In terms of personal coaching, I recruit people who are ready to make a transition in their lives or have made a transition in their lives and are trying to figure out how to catch up to that transition. Filling in the blanks, as it were, or reinventing themselves without having to introduce themselves to people when they meet them again. Finding new ways to be themselves.

NCA: What initially got you interested in pursuing this career?

Brad: A few years ago before we moved to Palm Springs, I was in a job I loved. I was hoping that the job would be transitioning with me, but it didn’t. I was faced with a decision about what to do to make a living. I was having lunch with a friend of mine, who I respected greatly and who I had known for the whole time I lived in Washington. She said she had just finished her program to become a coach and I was like, “Oh. Yeah. That’s what I need to be doing.” The light came on for me.

We moved to Palm Springs from Washington, D.C and I found a coach training program that sounded like a good fit for me. I applied and finished the program. Now, I’m a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) in my sixth year of practice.

It was really that simple. It was just like a light bulb went on. What prepared me for this is spending 20 years in the non-profit sector and seeing leaders struggle to make their organizations viable, credible, and thrive. I knew that the non-profit sector needed support but I didn’t know what way I could be supportive of the non-profit sector. So I took all of that 20-year experience — some of those as a senior leader — and now I use that to help individuals and organizations make the world a better place to live.

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

Brad: The most rewarding part is having a client sit and front of me and realize for themselves that they have the answer they’re looking for. When they become more reliant on their own instincts, their own knowledge, their own strengths, and their ability to solve problems — it’s a beautiful thing to watch.

The most challenging part of the work is that everything within my practice falls to me. I’m a solo practitioner and right now I choose to keep it that way. But that just means that I have to wear a lot of hats in my practice and I’m not coaching 40 hours a week as I expected I would be when I first graduated from my coach training program.

What I am doing is a lot of work that leads to coaching. I blog. I do public speaking for local groups in the Coachella Valley. I create new series of talks for myself so that I have more material available to me. I just did the Certified Values Coach training program and I’m in the middle of the Gratitude Leader program right now. These are the ways that I feed my coaching practice with the time that I’m not coaching.

More of those boxes appear on our list every year. We’re keeping up with changes to the regulatory environment. Like in California, we have this new California Consumer Privacy Act. We have to stay on top of all of those things, what’s required of your organization, if anything, and how to comply with those new laws that come down.

It was just like a light bulb went on. What prepared me for this is spending 20 years in the non-profit sector and seeing leaders struggle to make their organizations viable, credible, and thrive.

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

Brad: I did my coach training at Fielding Graduate University and all of the faculty there were really, really valuable to me. All had something unique to contribute to my coaching practice and how I learned not only to be a coach but to live as a coach. It’s one thing to be, but it’s another thing to live. I’ve chosen to live as a coach rather than to simply be one. I make every effort to listen in conversations and to engage with people in a meaningful level. It’s exhausting at times but it’s much more rewarding.

The person who comes to mind first is Laura Hauser. I did my mentor coaching with her last year. She and I have very different approaches to coaching and very different audiences that we reach, but the commonality and the respect and the absolute, unconditional positive regard that we had for one another really came at a good time. I was feeling a little bedraggled by where I was, and that time in mentor coaching with her really buoyed me and helped me refocus myself on areas where I can be successful and areas where I know I have to build an audience to work with.

NCA: What is one piece of advice that you would give to somebody who is in the beginning stages of their coaching career?

Brad: Practice and fail. Don’t be afraid of failure because even as a failure in your own mind, you’ve done something for your client that they couldn’t do for themselves. I really didn’t feel legitimate until I had an ICF certification. My ACC felt okay, but when I landed a PCC I thought, “Now, I’m legitimate.” It was fascinating what that one change of letter did for my confidence. Because up to that point, my confidence didn’t really change that much over time. Yes, it did improve especially in working with Laura Hauser, but it wasn’t a landmark, big-shifting change. But that change from ACC to PPC was really a big confidence boost.

NCA: Do you have any plans of doing an MCC?

Brad: I’m leaving that option open for the future to decide. I’m going to build my practice a little bit more and feel like I’m having more of an impact in the way I serve. That’s where my focus is right now.

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