Coach Interview Series: Jim Weinstein

by Brandon

Jim Weinstein

Career 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 Jim Weinstein. Jim is a Life and Career Counselor with 20+ years experience as a successful business executive. He is based in Washington, D.C.

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

Jim: My practice is focused on careers. I work with people at all stages of their career from people who are still in college to people who are in their 60s or even in their 70s who are looking to do something in the twilight years of their lives.

I don’t really have a specialization within career because I enjoy working with a wide variety of people. I do particularly enjoy interview coaching and network coaching.

NCA: Please tell us a little bit about your educational background.

Jim: I went to Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. I majored in Political Science and minored in Romance Languages. I then went on to Harvard Business School where I concentrated in marketing. I then went into advertising and in the 17 years I spent in advertising, I rose pretty much to the top of that profession with some top 10 advertising agencies.

But when I hit my early 40s, I decided to reexamine myself. I just thought that selling deodorant and potato chips wasn’t what I wanted to continue to do for the rest of my life. I volunteered at a nonprofit and wound up running it for a couple of years and then decided to go back to school. I went to Antioch University in Los Angeles for a Master’s in Psychology. I became a licensed psychotherapist, opened a private practice in Beverly Hills and I did that for about 10 years.

I decided to move back east. I’m originally from New York, but I didn’t want to go back to New York. I’ve always been interested in politics. As I said, I majored in political science and I had a lot of friends in Washington, so I decided to move to Washington. When I got here, I realized that my background, my education, and my experience really lent themselves beautifully to coaching people about career issues. I had several successful careers and made some successful transitions both in my career and in a geographical standpoint. That’s what I decided to do and that’s where I am today.

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

Jim: The most rewarding part is when I see the success that I’ve helped people engender for themselves. I see that quite a bit whether that is landing some interviews after not having been able to do that for years or, even better, landing a job, getting promoted, getting a raise. When I hear those things and my clients say, “Hey, you were instrumental in helping me achieve that,” that’s incredibly satisfying.

The most dissatisfying part of my job is when I’m unable to help people and that is almost always because they haven’t been clear about what it is they’re trying to accomplish.

When I hit my early 40s, I decided to reexamine myself. I just thought that selling deodorant and potato chips wasn’t what I wanted to continue to do for the rest of my life.

NCA: Can you talk a little bit more about how that happens? What’s missing in these clients?

Jim: What’s missing — this is rare and I don’t often encounter this — is that they’re afraid to speak up and say, “Hey, that’s interesting advice you’ve given me but that’s really not where I need help. Where I need help is in something else.” Sometimes that’s not clear to them until after the fact.

If I’m heading in the direction that they feel might not be productive for them, they need to tell me that. It’s difficult to know that without some feedback. Sometimes clients are reluctant to do that.

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

Jim: Honestly, there hasn’t been a coach mentor for me. I’ve merely created my own path. I have had mentors in the past who’ve helped me decide to go back to school and get licensed as a therapist but I have a high degree of confidence in my ability to coach people around career and so I really never used a mentor for that.

NCA: What is one piece of advice that you would give to somebody who is just starting off in their coaching career? What’s one piece of guidance you can offer?

Jim: It’s interesting because my niece just contacted me. She’s been in media buying and said, “Hey, I’d like to talk to you because I’m thinking of becoming a coach.”

NCA: That doesn’t sound too different from the path you took, right?

Jim: Yep, that’s right.

The advice I would give is unless you have a very significant background of success — as I feel I have had — you need to establish credibility as somebody who is worth hiring as a coach. In order to establish that credibility, if you don’t have a strong record of success in your own career history, find a niche or specialty and really learn as much as you can about that before you hang up your shingle.

I’m a generalist but I’m able to do that because of my successful background. Even today, 40 something years after I graduated from Harvard, the name Harvard carries a lot of weight. I have some things going for me that the average person is not going to have who wants to get into coaching, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be successful. They just need to find a niche, become conversant with the issues in that niche, and work from there.

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