Coach Interview Series: Nancy Geronian

by Brandon

Nancy Geronian

Founder, FindYou Life 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 Nancy Geronian. Nancy is an iPEC Certified Professional Coach, an Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner (ELI-MP), and the founder of FindYou Life Coach.

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

Nancy: I have a broad spectrum. Many of my clients are working towards a goal of either entering back into the job market or changing paths, whether they’re in school and they’re going to be going into the recruitment process, or they’re in a job they just aren’t enjoying. I mainly deal with people in the job force who are trying to make changes there.

NCA: What initially got you interested in this career path and what kind of degree or certifications did you need to complete?

Nancy: I was always either a tutor or a mentor. In college, I was an academic counselor. I went to Carnegie Mellon University and that was the first time I was training people not in their work, like Mathematics or Physics, but more with things like procrastination and time management. That’s when I first started getting interested in more than just knowledge-based items.

With that, I started with IBM. I’m a managing consultant there now and I’ve been here for about 6 years. I wanted something else in addition to my full-time job, so I ended up getting my certification through iPEC which I finished at the end of 2016. I’ve been doing life coaching for about 3 years now.

NCA: Can you talk a little bit about your experience at iPEC and what you feel were the greatest benefits that set the program apart?

Nancy: I think one thing that I really enjoyed was the diversity of people going into it. It wasn’t just everyone focusing on relationships or executive coaching. It’s a huge mix and that let me play around so that I now feel comfortable taking on any client, whether it’s people going through a divorce or in the job market. That’s what I really enjoyed about iPEC.

Also, the in-person time with the same group of people several times throughout the program where we’re meeting heavily Friday through Sunday — that also was fantastic since you’re growing alongside these fellow life coaches. I think those two aspects are probably my favorite from iPEC.

[Coaching is] difficult sometimes because people are in situations that you have never imagined yourself in or maybe you’ve never been in. [But] you don’t have to go through the same situations as people to be able to assess them as a life coach.

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

Nancy: I think the most rewarding is definitely hearing my clients’ accomplishments. Just being there assisting them on their journey is really exciting. Then they refer you to other clients and they you, “Oh, this is how they have helped me.” I think that’s really exciting and rewarding because you hear it from their perspective. I think that’s really awesome to see.

One of the challenging things is that I’m meeting with people through all walks of life, so it’s extremely eye-opening and difficult sometimes because people are in situations that you have never imagined yourself in or maybe you’ve never been in. I think one of the things about a coach is understanding that you don’t have to go through the same situations as people to be able to assess them as a life coach. That’s another challenge in itself.

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

Nancy: Her name is Ida and we went through the coaching program together. One of the things that she’s helped me with is boosting my confidence because I’m always challenging myself. I’m actually pursuing my part-time MBA at Carnegie Mellon as well. She’s always telling me, “Wow, you’re doing all of these. It’s so incredible.”

Sometimes I go through the motions of doing things and don’t realize my accomplishments. She just makes me take a step back and say, “Wow. For being 27 years old, there’s a lot that I’ve accomplished and sometimes it’s okay to take a pause and maybe say no to a couple of projects.” I think that’s how she’s really helped me. I really appreciate Ida’s time and what she’s helped me understand.

NCA: Some clients might think “Well, a coach should have more experience than me” so they might prefer somebody older. What has been your experience on that front? Has age ever been an issue or is it a benefit that you’re more on the younger side?

Nancy: It’s definitely both ways and I can give an example. One of my clients had bipolar II disorder and she was almost able to come and speak her mind without a filter at times. One of the things she mentioned to me was, “Well, I looked you up on the internet. You’re young. You have it easy. You’re pretty. How can you coach me? Things are just easy for you.”

I was very uncomfortable in the situation but I just said, “It’s not about me. These sessions are about you. Let’s focus on what you want to speak to me and not on the idea of me coaching you.” She actually was very impressed at how I was able to respond to her very quickly and took the light off from me and put it back on her.

Of course, it has been a challenge with a couple of my clients because I have clients who are more than 50 years old and I’m nearly half their age. But what I really remind my clients is that it’s not about me. I’m here asking you questions. I’m here giving you assignments after every session, but I’m not here to focus on my experiences because I don’t want to be that life coach that preaches through my experiences all the time.

I really wanted to be more focused on my clients because I know for me, it’s not very helpful to me when someone just constantly talks about their experiences. Many times it’s more advantageous to me if people just listen to what I’m saying. I relay that back to my clients.

NCA: What is one piece of advice that you would give to somebody who is just starting out in their coaching career?

Nancy: Don’t just focus on how you would brand yourself as a life coach immediately. Just see what kind of customers and clients you attract and then start building your practice. It’s really great to have the website and things like that, but sometimes I felt like I was always behind. I thought, “Oh, this life coach already has 20 clients and this one already has a website.” Just be patient with yourself. It’s okay to go slower. It’s okay to have a timeline that’s a little bit longer when you do start out as a life coach. That would be my piece of advice.

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