Coach Interview Series: Rodney Mueller

by Brandon

Rodney Mueller

Executive 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 Rodney Mueller. Rodney is an executive coach and business advisor based in Saint Louis, MO.

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

Rodney: My coaching practice has three arms. One is an individual coaching practice where I work with clients one-to-one in a year-long program. I tend to work with leaders and entrepreneurs. A classic client example would be a startup CEO or other executive who has just gone through a transition. In the startup, they might have raised a round of capital, and as the company grows, so does their leadership. I help them in that process. Not only working on it from the business side, but holistically — how they relate to themselves, how they take care of themselves, and how they create their business and personal goals. It is a holistic process of leadership development that helps them become the most confident and effective versions of themselves.

Other examples of people that are in the one-to-one practice might be somebody who’s in a corporate job that wants to start a new venture. Or somebody that is a high potential or overachiever, which I say is code for “whatever they do is never enough.” That might be a director wanting to get into a VP role, but they need to grow in their executive presence, political savvy, communication, and impact.

I also have a leadership development product for growing teams. I put senior leaders together with some group coaching on leadership topics and some individual coaching.

I’m also working with a nonprofit right now where we’re designing a coaching program that will serve 400 women per year in creating holistic career and financial success. Designing the philosophy of that hiring plan, the content, etc.

I also train coaches with Accomplishment Coaching. I have my hands on a lot of different arenas.

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

Rodney: It sounds trite to even talk about it and I think that’s because I’ve been a coach for over 10 years now and it’s all I do. I forget how special it is — what I do as a coach. But I’m reminded most when a client will come back and they’ve achieved some pinnacle dream in a holistic way.

One of my favorite examples is a startup CEO that I worked with for many years, starting at the concept of the idea. He left a corporate executive role and not only did he take his startup from nothing to a $130 million valuation in three and a half years, but he would tell you that his marriage grew stronger, as well. He became a better father, a better husband, a better leader and took care of himself in a better way through that process. That’s super rewarding to me. When people are not only creating success, but they strengthen their relationships. They get married. They have children. They love their life. That’s super rewarding.

The hardest part is working with clients to take action in the face of their fear — particularly when a client is on the verge of a breakthrough and they stop short. Sometimes that’s even before they hire you. They really want to hire you and they have a real future that they’ve created, but they get stuck based on limiting beliefs around money or time or they’re not ready to do the work that they need to do to get to the next step. The good thing is that it’s a matter of timing, so I don’t think it’s lost forever for clients.

It’s heartbreaking when you see so much for somebody, but they’re just not yet ready.

Similarly, it’s also hard when you’re working with people for a certain period of time and you don’t always get to see all of the great success that they create in the future that results from that time that you spent together.

The hard part for many people is that we aren’t socialized to see that who we are being is our gift. When you sit down with another human being and you are listening to them, you are being with them and you’re committed to being their partner in helping them express their greatness fully — simply being that way is priceless. It is the gift.

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

Rodney: My greatest mentor, and there has been many along the way, would be a Master Certified Coach named Jodi Jan Larson. She was the senior coach trainer in my coach training program over 10 years ago. She is a renowned leader and a pioneer in the coaching profession. She was also instrumental in creating the International Coach Federation and really successful at helping to build out Coach U. She is now the Chief Development Officer at Accomplishment Coaching, which is an ICF-accredited year-long coach training program.

Jodi became a mentor, leader, and coach training wizard for me. I often attribute growing up as a leader and a coach to her. I started with learning how to be a smart coach and a good leader. Then she helped me learn how to coach people tactfully and most powerfully, and sometimes that’s not saying everything that you see. Sometimes that’s just a gentle nudge. Sometimes that’s just being consistent.

What has been the most impactful are these simple moments along our relationship over the last 11 years where I felt like I was really wrong, or I really messed up, or I was really unworthy. I would work up the courage to tell her how I had messed up or didn’t do something right and expected her to tell me, “Yeah, you are a piece of crap. You shouldn’t even be allowed to be here. You’re a bad coach and leader.” And instead I got partnership and acceptance and empowerment in that experience. That was massive.

Jodi Larson is a huge, huge influence. I wouldn’t be the coach or leader that I am without her wisdom and guidance and commitment to me and my development all these years.

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?

Rodney: Remember that in coaching, it’s not about what you do or say. That’s not the value. It’s not about your experience or training or your ability to tell people what to do. It’s literally who you are being for that person. The hard part for many people is that we aren’t socialized to see that who we are being is our gift. When you sit down with another human being and you are listening to them, you are being with them and you’re committed to being their partner in helping them express their greatness fully — simply being that way is priceless. It is the gift. It is more important than anything that you say or do or teach.

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