Coach Interview Series: Lyn Christian

by Brandon

Lyn Christian

Master Certified 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 Lyn Christian. Lyn is a Business and Life Coach, Speaker, Author and Owner of SoulSalt Inc. based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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

Lyn: We are in the business of courage. That’s the core essence of our brand. The way that that manifests is that I attract career-reinvention clients. The average age is 43. They are looking to leave the work that they’ve done and make a contribution elsewhere. Sometimes that means even exiting the industry they were in. That takes a lot of courage.

Another sector of my practice is around entrepreneurs. I coach the mindset for entrepreneurs: how to keep yourself in the game, staying courageous, and keeping the mindset that is required for you to start your own business, run it, and get to a place where it’s successful.

The third space is courageous leaders in organizations who are doing well, but they want to be exceptional. It takes courage and willingness and humility to dig in and go to the next level and not just let the status quo of “I’m good enough” be their reality.

NCA: On your website, you have a unique focus on the idea of being a “badass.” Can you explain a little bit about what being a badass means to you and what it looks like in your clients when they’re able to achieve that?

Lyn: That’s not something that we just pulled out of the air and decided we’d use just because it’s catchy. Because it is very seasonal. It used to be “You’re a rockstar” and back when my grandma was alive, it was “You’re the cat’s pajamas.” Ten years ago, people started calling me a badass and I didn’t know what they were talking about or what it was that encouraged them to call me that.

We did research. It came down to the fact that I actually live a courageous life. I’m living the things that I’m coaching people to do. I do have my own business, I do start other enterprises, and I have reinvented them at times. I do apply the principles and the things that I’m coaching around and I’m courageous in leading my own team and my employees.

To some people, that sort of integrity, being formidable and being undaunted in your search for having your words and actions match up, is badass. We started using it because people were using it with us. It was actually a form of market research and being responsive to the market.

Even the company name, SoulSalt — I didn’t name my company. After I’d been in business for about five years, I sent my best clients — the ones I had the best match with — to some marketers. The marketers said, “There’s a consistent story here, Lyn. There’s one part of your work that’s very tangible, logical, down to earth, like the salt of the earth. And then there’s this part that’s esoteric that we can’t put our fingers on, but people seem to have an experience that expands their vision of who they are and what they can achieve that touches in on something greater than what we can actually put our hands on.” They suggested that since I’m in Salt Lake, I should be called “Salt of the Soul.” That didn’t roll off my tongue, so we knocked the word out and said, “Let’s transpose it to SoulSalt.”

Listening to the audience is incredibly important. If we’re going to be successful, independent coaches, it’s required that we market. And marketing isn’t just posting something on Instagram or writing a tweet or writing a blog. What I have found is 20% of your week—that’s one day out of five—have to go into creating relationships, learning about your brand, getting your language and your copy correct, working on SEO. You can see that manifested in the brand.

NCA: This definitely echoes what a lot of coaches have mentioned before: don’t box yourself in. Let your work inform your brand. I like how, even when it comes to the name of your company, you let your clients inform your process.

Lyn: Even the sort of coaching you do can be informed by your experiences with clients and the marketplace. When I started out, I was a restorative coach supporting people who had just finished or were in the process of walking across the threshold from therapy into the next stage of life. I’ve gone from that to being a project management coach. I’ve coached executives. I used to be a coach trainer and I’ve created coach training schools.

One of the things I would tell people is consider yourself with all the possible coaches inside of you. Like a big canister, a big bucket of new tennis balls that are all fuzzy and fresh that you need to roll out there and see which Velcro attaches to you that you like to be attached to. You have to experiment and discover where you’re going to end up as a coach and not just think that the coaching you do when you first graduate is going to be the coaching you’ll do in ten years.

We are in the business of supporting people to go from one place to another, usually to a higher frequency or a higher level of performance. It behooves us to do the same in our own personal and professional life.

NCA: What would you say in your own experience has been the most challenging aspect of coaching?

Lyn: I think the marketing, the business model, and being able to have a sustainable practice is a challenge in general for any kind of solopreneur. Of course not everybody today will do that. That’s what I wanted. I wanted the freedom and flexibility of having my own company and working when and where I wanted to. It’s one of the reasons why I picked coaching. You are constantly looking at what to do that cracks the nut that brings me the clients or brings me the revenue that I’m working on generating. Once you get that down, how do you stay alert to the fact that you’re going to have to switch that up? With technology being such an interplay today with all that we do, nothing stays the same for long periods of time, so you have to be nimble.

Another challenge is staying sharp as a coach. You can become good at coaching and you can feel it. You have people who are referring. You’re making the money that you want. You’re satisfied with the people who walk through the door. You end the day with lots of dopamine and oxytocin and serotonin thinking, “Yes, I’m doing this. I’m living the dream.” I think it’s hard to pull yourself out of that and to always be growing and learning and to not get stuck in the advice trap and not get stuck in “I’m good enough.”

You might be a good coach, but unless you’re constantly learning and growing, unless you’re having somebody coach you, unless you are taking continuing education and working on certifications and have somebody give you a whack on the side of the head every once in a while, I think you can get stopped in mediocrity. I think you can be good, but I don’t think you can be great without those awakenings and those jarring moments or “light bulb” moments.

That’s the challenge I give to coaches. We are in the business of supporting people to go from one place to another, usually to a higher frequency or a higher level of performance. It behooves us to do the same in our own personal and professional life.

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

Lyn: There was the first person that I hired as a coach when I didn’t even know what that was. What she inspired in me was that I wanted the life she had. I wanted the personal growth that she had and she attributed a lot of it to her coach training. I had an example of something I could do with my future that I never knew existed. So I thank her for opening the door and showing me there was something I could do professionally and personally that would not only enhance my life, but would actually become my livelihood and a passion for me.

The second was Marshall Goldsmith. When I was Director of Innovation for Franklin Covey Coaching, he trained me and we brought his training into Franklin Covey a couple of times. His personal touch, his consideration of me, and even just giving me extra time for personal advice really showed me that there are people out there who are huge all-stars and very successful that are also really gracious, good human beings. It was great to have that closeness. Even to this day if I reach out to him, he reaches back and that reminds me that we do have some stellar individuals in our industry and they do care about the people.

The next person was Judith E. Glaser who has passed away. She was the founder of the WE Institute and the author of Conversational Intelligence ®. She became my mentor and trainer and certified me in Conversational Intelligence® through WBECS. We got to have a personal relationship and we created a podcast together. She was the real deal. She embodied her work. She embodied Conversational Intelligence®. She mirrored back to me that the way I think about things, the way I process things was highly valuable and very personal. “Lyn, this is from your genius.”

She also gave me a huge example of walking your talk. She applied Conversational Intelligence® in every conversation we ever had. Over the span of two years, I watched her use it day in and day out to the point where she was using it to fight Stage IV pancreatic cancer and it helped extend her life by walking her talk.

Finally, I’m currently enrolled in another course from David Peterson, PhD, who is the head coach from Google. David has helped me not just be a good coach, but be a great coach. He’s even written about that topic. That’s why I’m so attracted to learning from him right now because there are better ways.

I have an education plan where I push myself every so often to go in and learn things. I even went back through the process and hired somebody at one point to help me see if I could recertify as an MCC with the ICF because it had been 10 years. I hired one of their peer coaches and had her take me through rigors to see if I could still pass that test.

There is new science all the time. David is helping me see what today’s science says and how I can not be lulled into my success and think that that’s good enough.

NCA: One of the most common challenges new coaches face is self-doubt. Some coaches call it Imposter Syndrome, where early on they feel somehow inadequate to take on the role of coach. What is one piece of advice that you would give to somebody who is in the beginning stage of their coaching career and dealing with these doubts in their mind?

Lyn: I don’t know if I’d encourage them to battle it. Here’s why: it’s a reality. It’s a human piece, especially when you’re being honest and you’re not a narcissist and you don’t have some delusion of grandeur. Realize this is something that you’re going through and that many of your clients are also either going through or are going to go through.

Go through the process and feel the feels and realize that you will get through it. If you continually embody your work, if you continually speak who you are, you can speak and work your way into seeing the results of your work and validate it. If you can’t, then you need to see a therapist or someone who can help you get the roadblock out of the way.

Be patient with it because it can take 18 months. That’s been my experience. You can take as long as 18 months for the cortisol that’s in our limbic brain, our reptilian brain, to calm itself down and for us to start stepping into our power validating that they are pieces of coaching that we’ve got.

Another thing is to go through the process. Have a reflective moment every day at the end of each week or each month where you sit down and say, “Here’s what I know for sure. Here’s what I feel about it.” Use the Growth Mindset from [Carol] Dweck. “Here’s what I don’t yet know and yet I’m working on it.” It’s a “yet.” We can literally embody the process.

If we start to battle it, it becomes this dragon, this monster that we’re fighting and we lose the opportunity to know it’s real. It’s our reality and it’s other people’s reality. By going through it ourselves, we have greater compassion for others and a greater understanding of what works for us and thereby greater enlightenment of how to support others. Not to advise them but how to support them while they’re going through it.

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