Coach Interview Series: Kim Girard

by Brandon

Kim Girard

College Transition 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 Kim Girard. Kim is a College Transition Coach based in Redondo Beach, California. She is the author of Rock Freshman Year: Your Roadmap to the Ultimate College Experience.

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

Kim: I predominantly work with students who are already in college. I also market to high school seniors because they’re making that transition.

Some of my business is consultation only. Parents will consult me, and I charge an hourly rate to get answers and make a plan for their students. Some students need to make a decision about which school to attend, should they take a gap year, should they drop out, etc. I get a lot of those emergency phone calls. Some parents are in crisis. They call me and they say, “My kid is spinning out of control. I don’t know what to do. He won’t tell me what’s going on. He’s failing classes.” Sometimes in my business, it’s really just saying, “Let me help you find the resources and create a plan so that you can move forward.”

What I’m most passionate about is when I take on students where I typically offer semester-long packages. That’s my best, most cost-effective package, where someone commits to working with me for at least an entire semester. I coach students over the phone once a week for a 30-minute session. It’s typical coaching. In the beginning, there’s accountability. “What did we say you were going to do last week? How much of that did you do? Let’s talk about that. Do we need to shift in any of those areas?”

Typically, I find that when students are struggling, it often has to do with other things. It could be that they’re going through a breakup. They could be having issues with their roommate. Maybe they don’t know how to find resources on campus. Maybe they need a tutor. There’s a lot of things that are going on with college students.

I help them identify what would make them happiest in their experience. The goal is hopefully that they discover who they want to be in the world and they use these four years to really take college on instead of having college happen to them. That they go out there and really experience those four years and end up on the other side with a degree doing something that they love, so they can be passionate and engaged in their adult life.

One of the reasons I’m so drawn to young people is that they’re still so full of hope. They’re incredibly optimistic about life. They aren’t jaded yet. [laughing] There’s always a little bit of jade, let’s be honest. Everybody has that little bit of baggage like, “Oh, I wish I did this differently.” Young people are just super optimistic about the future in life in general. It’s fun.

NCA: In your coaching work, you speak mostly to the parents of the students, right?

Kim: I do. It’s always a two-step process. It’s usually the parent. On rare occasions, I have had students find me and say, “Hey, I think I need a coach.” But the parents are paying for it 99.5% of the time. I’ve had one or two students pony up their own money to pay for it, but usually it’s the parent, so I have to enroll the parent in the process and then get the kid to agree to it, as well. That can be a little challenging, quite frankly, but that’s how it works.

So yes, I do speak to parents quite a bit. And I speak a lot. I talk a lot. I go to PTSAs and try to get in front of the parents. That’s how I try to get my business—by speaking.

The thing to remember is that you are always helping. Even if it’s just opening up a space for someone to vent or release some energy, it is helping.

NCA: What parts of coaching have been the most challenging for you?

Kim: The biggest challenge is when I get a parent that says, “Yes, this is what my kid needs,” but then I need to get the student to be all in on coaching. Because they’re younger, sometimes they see it as, “It’s just one more thing I have to do. I’m already busy. What do you mean you want me to talk to someone once a week?” It really is like that with students. They’re so scheduled out that it can be a challenge to help them see the value in it. Sometimes my goal is just to get them on the phone with me. I’d say “Let me just talk to your child for 20 to 30 minutes and explain what I do,” and then I can get to it. It’s the double enrollment that’s challenging.

The other thing that is challenging is the confidentiality issue. I always explain to parents that yes, you’re paying for my coaching services, but technically, your child is my client. Everything that we talk about is confidential. Sometimes, parents want a specific result for their kid, which is understandable, but my job is to help the student get the result that they want. It’s not always what the parent wants. That can be challenging for parents, too. I know parents ultimately know that I am not going to guide their child into something that is dangerous or not good for them.

Once I had a student who was an engineering major but he didn’t want to be an engineer. We spent a couple of sessions going over how to have that really difficult conversation with his father, who is going to be very disappointed that he’s dropping out of school for engineering and wants to do something different.

That can be challenging because when you work with an adult who’s paying the money, they get to have whatever coaching experience they want to have. But when I’m dealing with a student, I have to be able to back it to the parents who are continuing to pay me and hopefully, they still see the value in that when they’re not necessarily getting the result they want for their children.

I also happen to live in a very affluent area in Southern California where we have a lot of parents and there’s a lot of competition. College is talked about and these kids are scheduled out. They are checking the boxes and their parents micromanage every single thing that they do. It’s a big shift going to college. These students are showing up and they’ve had mom do everything for them and now they’re suddenly in a situation where they’re having to make all of these choices themselves. That’s a big challenge.

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?

Kim: The name that comes to mind is definitely not someone that I’ve worked with: Brené Brown. I’ve read most of her books. The challenges that students deal with are often around the idea of not wanting to get help or not wanting to disappoint their parents by their choices or what they’re doing. There’s a lot of shame in our society over things that don’t go well. Every time I revisit Brené Brown’s work, there’s always some key pieces that really speak to me and resonate with me. I’m able to use some of that when I speak with students to normalize what they’re experiencing and let them know that everything is going to be okay.

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?

Kim: I feel like there’s a couple of ways that you can go about it. I believe that as coaches, most of us do come from our hearts and we give so much of ourselves. If new coaches always come from that place of, “I want to hold the space where I can help you in the best way possible,” the answers are always there if we are just quiet enough to listen for them.

I’ve had sessions, even as a seasoned coach, when I think I’m not getting through to the client. Then all of a sudden I’ll get this text message, “Thank you so much for our session today. That was really helpful.” The thing to remember is that you are always helping. Even if it’s just opening up a space for someone to vent or release some energy, it is helping.

Try not to put so much pressure on yourself and remember to come from the heart in everything that you’re doing. Just be all in with every session. Give all of yourself. There’s no possible way that you can’t come out on the other side of it helping someone and knowing that you did your very best. I think that’s all that really matters.

Previous post:

Next post: