Coach Interview Series: Adam Kol

by Brandon

Adam Kol

Couples Financial Counselor

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 Adam Kol. Adam is a Couples Financial Counselor and owner of AHK Coaching.

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

Adam: I’m a couple’s financial counselor. I work with committed couples who are either married or in long term relationships and I help them make sure that the money conversation doesn’t get in the way. That means helping them have healthy money talks, resolving any money fights, and also building out and executing a shared financial plan based on their vision for prosperity.

NCA: I’m curious to know how those conversations might differ between couples who are on both ends of the net worth spectrum? Obviously, you can have money problems by simply not having enough or you can have money problems by sometimes having an abundance of it and that might lead to its own set of issues. What’s your perspective on that?

Adam: At one end, there are individuals and families with very real income issues. The inequality between the wealthy and the poor is growing in the US. It’s one that’s even worse for women, for people of color, for LGBT folks. Those things need to be acknowledged and we need to work on those systemically. Even individually, sometimes there are people who are trying to earn enough to pay their bills and they’ve already slashed just about everything from the budget they can. I think everybody deserves to have a few luxuries anyway and have a nice life.

For folks experiencing poverty, they may have issues with how they talk about money. But at the same time, “we’ve got to get food on the table and pay rent”…that’s the first and foremost challenge they have. For those couples, they might use my content but there’s other platforms that are really well-suited to help them with things like getting set up and figuring out a budget and using debt management techniques.

However, for most families and couples that have beyond the minimum threshold of money needed to support their lifestyle, a lot of the conversations are the same. There may be different logistical points like the difference in having $1,000 versus $100,000, but it’s still a matter of human connection and human partnership around getting on the same page and understanding where each other is coming from.

While there might be some practical differences at the same time, it’s like paying for our apartment, paying for our house, paying for our mansion, paying for our used car versus paying for our brand new Mercedes. It’s the same kind of conversation except that people are having them about different topics. Should we send the kids to private schools versus should we send the kids to summer camp? But it’s ultimately about human dynamics. It’s about partners getting on the same page, caring about each other, and having the tools to listen and communicate in a way that demonstrates that care.

There’s no doubt that having more income helps. It definitely helps. However, it won’t resolve all of the tensions. In a lot of the work I do with couples, they’re doing great in their relationship and in their life, but they know that money is a tough topic for them and they can strengthen their relationship even more by working on it. There can be even more love present. They can have more partnership. All of those things are really positive in a long term relationship. That’s the work I do with them.

NCA: What has been the most challenging aspect of your coaching work?

Adam: I think the biggest hurdle for pretty much any coach starting out is sourcing new clients. That’s a challenge. For me, realizing the effort and energy that I’m going to want to put into social media to start to build a following and to niche down and be able to have a market that I can understand and appeal to — that was unexpected.

The other thing that’s unexpected is how iterative the process can be like. You like an idea you come up with in January and then you refine it in March and then again in April and then June, and then in October you totally rebrand it even though it’s the same basic idea, and then the next year—how much that stuff can go on. The world changes all the time, so you have to adjust as well to what the world has out there. You also change over time, so you have to adjust. It’s definitely a multi-faceted, iterative process.

There may be different logistical points like the difference in having $1,000 versus $100,000, but it’s still a matter of human connection and human partnership […] It’s the same kind of conversation except that people are having them about different topics.

NCA: In a coach/client relationship, you can take away a lot from your client and it’s kind of a collaborative experience. Can you speak a little bit about that? As a related question, have you had any mentor or a coach in your own career that has helped you thrive?

Adam: In working with clients, there have been countless times where I’ve seen a client, for example, who was getting impatient with somebody and not having compassion for them. Then I realize, “Oh, there’s somebody in my life where I am doing that.” Or with a couple that I was working with, I realized they were being afraid to take a big risk on something, and then I looked at my own personal life and saw that I was also afraid to take a certain big risk. I was able to step forward with it because you’ve got to talk the talk and walk the walk.

I’ve definitely had some mentors and just a lot of graciousness from people. As an example, my sister’s best friend is a CPA and she connected me to this woman named Wendy Weiner, who is a former lawyer like myself. Now she’s an expert resume writer and career coach. She talked to me just out of the kindness of her heart and gave me wonderful tips about LinkedIn and then also referred me to this other guy, Shane. Shane’s a financial coach like I am. I’ve now worked with Shane twice. I’ve done two paid presentations with him.

Shane also referred me to a Facebook group for financial coaches where I’ve made a ton of friends, developed a really positive reputation, and now I have a partnership with the people who run that Facebook group for a program that they do to train other financial coaches. I’ve given them some stuff around my specialty areas of communication and conflict.

It’s just amazing how that stuff works out. People can be really generous. When you share something you’re passionate about and you’re serious about doing it right and making a difference, then they see that and they hear that and good things happen.

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?

Adam: The advice I would give is to have a good support network. I 100% have felt it. I think that every coach, if they’re being honest, has felt it. I think every person has felt it anytime they really try and step up.

One of the biggest pieces of being a coach that doesn’t get talked about is you having to sell yourself. You’re trying to find this balance between positioning yourself as an expert in the field and selling yourself as someone who people want to trust and talk to, but also being humble and being a good citizen of the world. That’s a lot to bear. And then comes judgment day: here’s a potential great client in front of you and you’re about to ask them for hundreds or thousands of dollars to work with you.

It’s quite an adventure and it’ll definitely put you through a lot of different hoops. I would imagine that a lot of people who have become coaches tend to be the analytical thinker types. I know that’s part of what drove me and it’s why I’m interested in human beings and why I like coaching.

My biggest recommendation is to have a strong support system, friends you care about, therapists, other coaches, family members to help keep you grounded.

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