Coach Interview Series: Jess Reidell

by Brandon

Jess Reidell

Divorce and Career Change Coach

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 Jess Reidell. Jess is a Divorce and Career Change Coach based in Marietta, Georgia. She is also a co-author of the book Dear Love, I’m Ready For You, a collection of stories about the power of love.

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

Jess: When I started my coaching practice my original niche was divorced women. Interestingly, as I began to do four and six-month coaching packages with women that were trying to reinvent themselves after divorce, the byproduct of that was that they were all creating businesses. They were getting inspired to become entrepreneurs and step out on their own and do new things. I realized that not only a passion but a talent that I had was inspiring people to take leaps of faith and definitive action in the direction of their goals.

My practice now is two-fold. I know a lot of people would say, “Oh, that’s a no-no. You have to go in just one direction.” I still coach both types, but I seem to be attracting more and more the corporate burned-out individuals that wants something more for their lives.

Most of my clients are women between the ages of 38 and 50. They have the question in their minds of, “Is this all there is? Am I really fulfilling a purpose by going to a job I don’t particularly love, funneling money into my bank account every two weeks and bailing water out of a boat with a hole in the bottom?” It’s the way people start to feel after a while.

Some people know exactly what sort of business they’d want to start and some people really need to tap into their inner purpose and passion. I help people do both things.

The divorced women that I work with need to have been divorced for about a year. I like to work with women that are ready to move through the grieving process and move forward to reinvent themselves in their lives. I went through a pretty painful divorce myself and I didn’t really have any thought tools to manage how I was thinking and feeling. Knowing what I know now about what’s possible when you have some real specific tools to really manage and dissolve painful thoughts, I think the grief and getting-over-it process took me longer than it needed to.

NCA: What initially got you interested in becoming a coach and did you need to complete any kind of certifications or training to get to this point?

Jess: This is kind of an interesting story. Becoming a coach was on my radar as far back as 2013. I was working for an organization called Lifestyle Lift. It’s no longer in business but because of their branding, they were thinking of creating a division that offered life coaching. That really excited me and I wanted to possibly spearhead that department and tee it up for the company.

Unfortunately, I was laid off from the company and instead of segueing into what I really wanted to do, I was still chasing the corporate path. I had this limiting belief myself that I have to have a corporate job to survive — to “make it.” I had a lot of fear and trepidation around going out on my own in business at that time.

I spent a couple more years floundering around in corporate. It was pretty clearly indicated by the universe that it just wasn’t the right thing but I wasn’t taking the little hints. I kind of needed to be hammered over the head with the fact that corporate wasn’t working out for me anymore. After I was laid off in 2013, I bounced around to two more corporate jobs.

On my 45th birthday I was at dinner with my husband and he looked across the table and he goes, “How does it feel to be halfway to 90?” [laughing]

It was the turning point in my life. It’s just one of those moments where at first I was I like, “How dare you? That’s rude. What are you implying?” Now I’m really grateful he asked me that question because it set into motion a review, an inventory of where my life was, and the fact that I really wasn’t happy with what I was doing. I was like, “Wow, this life coaching thing. I should’ve really looked into it or gotten it off the ground a while ago.” But it happens when it’s supposed to happen.

I enrolled in the Martha Beck Coach Training Program which is now called Wayfinder Training. I chose Martha Beck because I had followed her work for many years. She is one of the original pioneers of the life coaching career path. She’s now Oprah’s favorite life coach and still writes a column in O Magazine. I had followed her work for a while because she did a mind tool back when I was working in weight management. I really admired her energy.

She’s a little unconventional. She works with a lot of tools with meditation, magic, miracles — just these energy work things that are a little bit off the beaten path. That’s what I wanted for my own practice. I know they’re trying to regulate coaching and there’s some programs that are accredited. I really had no interest in that because I was really interested in learning her specific coaching tools and what she had to offer.

Eventually, yes, I’d still want to get the certification just to have that checkbox ticked off. But I’ve gone through the training program. It was an 8-month telecourse.

On my 45th birthday I was at dinner with my husband and he looked across the table and he goes, “How does it feel to be halfway to 90?” It was the turning point in my life. […] It set into motion a review, an inventory of where my life was, and the fact that I really wasn’t happy with what I was doing. I was like, “Wow, this life coaching thing. I should’ve really looked into it or gotten it off the ground a while ago.” But it happens when it’s supposed to happen.

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

Jess: The most rewarding part is watching the growth and the transformational leaps and bounds that are made by the individuals that I partner with in my practice. Seeing them make subtle mindset shifts and change a way of thinking that was holding them back and going for things that previously they were paralyzed to take action on. That is super rewarding.

The most challenging part is probably the marketing aspect. For whatever reason, you go in with this energy of service of like, “Okay. I’m going to show up and pop open my practice and if I build it, they will come.” But what you don’t realize at the time is that 60 to 80 percent of your time is spent on marketing in the first year or two, and maybe 20 to 30 percent is spent on coaching. A lot of us without marketing degrees are really learning a lot by trial and error, so that can be frustrating in the beginning.

There’s just so much information flying around out there about what we need and don’t need and there are fancy ad sets and funnels, etc., but if nobody knows who you are, none of that matters. You need to build the audience.

Start small and grow. I like the way that I did it because I just started doing the work one-on-one. I opened an actual physical location as well, so I see people in person as well as remotely via Zoom or Skype depending on what technology works better for the client. Seeing people and building a reputation. Getting testimonials. Getting results for people is the way to go instead of getting out there on the scene and spending 10K on a fancy website and funnels and all of these things. I think a lot of people are disappointed when they invest so heavily in marketing and it doesn’t pan out for them.

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

Jess: There’s several of those people. The first and foremost, of course, would be Martha Beck herself because I chose her training course and I wanted to learn her tools. In our western culture, there’s so much focus on hustle and you’re going to run out of time and all of this frantic energy. I think what I was able to do was get perspective on things and get out of the comparison trap just with Martha’s energy.

For example, instead of running around saying, “I don’t have enough time”, one of the things I learned early on just being in her energy is what if you were to flip the script on that and say “Time doesn’t have enough of me”? [laughing] How is that going to change the way you operate in time and the way that you move through time and space?

Things like that were so monumental in getting me out of this groupthink of “I gotta do more. I gotta be more. I gotta hustle. I gotta get mine” — that franticness of competition and comparisonitis and all of that. I was able to leave that behind.

It’s also really important to work with a coach on the basic fears, anxieties, and doubts that I think everyone has at the beginning of starting a business. I hired a coach early on that really helped me with mindset and energy. And then I actually took a group mastermind with a coach that I’m also really, really fond of and somebody that I wound up working with for about a year. My tools are unconventional and I work with magic and crystals and energy. You got your sage and your palo santo and all of your witchy things that some people frown upon or that aren’t necessarily condoned by the masses. But she made it really safe to embrace some of these things and normalized it.

NCA: What is some guidance that you might want to offer to somebody who is in the very beginning stages of their coaching career?

Jess: This is probably one of the biggest things I learned and that I’m using now in my own life. Don’t think that you need to figure out the “how” before you jump, before you take action or make a move. It all precipitates from the decision point. Decide what you want and then begin to figure it out and put the pieces together. A lot of people never take action because they get roadblocked by their mind and their ego like, “Oh, wait. I don’t know how to do that.” So they wind up taking no action because they can’t figure out first steps or they don’t have a blueprint for how they’re going to do it.

Just decide what you want and then build around that and begin taking small, incremental action steps — I call them “turtle steps” — towards that end. You will get there if it’s really what you’re meant to be doing and it’s what’s aligned with your heart and you’re going to go for it. Allow it to unfold and really, truly, you can’t fuck it up. One of my favorite coaches taught me that. You can’t fuck it up.

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