Coach Interview Series: Marina McAdam

by Brandon

Marina McAdam

Life Coach and Educational Consultant

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 Marina McAdam. Marina is a Life Coach and Educational Consultant based in Houston, Texas.

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

Marina: Originally, I worked as a teacher in different educational backgrounds as well as other countries. That gave me a pretty wide range of skills. Eventually, I went into educational consulting.

I was working with either high school students who were planning to go to college and helping them with that process as well as parents who were planning on having kids or had very young children and needed advice on what kind of schools to choose, how to get into specific private schools, etc. That’s how I originally started.

What I realized is that a lot of educational decisions are extremely important. They’re based on specific life changes and life situations that a lot of people have to take into consideration and risk a lot of things. That’s how I started life coaching, to help various people in making decisions and changes in their lives.

Right now, I work mostly with adults and adolescents, helping them to figure out what they want in life. If they decide to go to college, how that might look for them. Or if they decide to transition jobs or get a new degree.

I also work a lot with immigrants who come to this country with degrees from their countries. It’s a new set up for them so they’re trying to figure out what to do: either quickly change everything because they get a chance to start from the beginning and try something that they’ve never tried before, or use their educational background and skills and build something new or continue something in this country.

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?

Marina: I think the most rewarding is to be able to show my clients that they are seen and they’re heard and they’re accepted without judgment. I have clients who come to me with certain desires and things they want to achieve in life. A lot of them have tried to voice those things out and a lot of times they were judged or laughed at because sometimes our desires may seem strange or insignificant. Sometimes my clients have wonderful careers and are making so much money, then they’re asked, “Well, why do you want to leave all of this to do that?” That’s what I provide — a possibility to see, to hear them, to accept them and provide options in the situation.

The most challenging situation that I get with clients is when parents come with children. I find that most often the vision of parents and how they see their child succeeding is very different from the vision of that child. Being able to put them on the same path and trying to build the same goals for the whole family — that’s the most challenging thing for me.

College is a huge financial investment. You cannot really make a mistake here. You have to know for sure what you’re choosing to study because the implications of making the wrong choice are pretty great.

For example, I have a client, a child who wants to study music and become a musician, for example. Then I have parents who think it’s a horrible idea and say “You’d do so well in Science. Why don’t you become a doctor?” I’m often faced with completely opposite sides of the spectrum I try to work on getting them somewhere in the middle where both of the sides are sort of the satisfied or given options to somehow try and come together on their decision. There’s usually a lot of finances involved for the family, so it can get really, really difficult.

That’s where my life coaching comes in: just to make sure that this is really what you want to do and this is what your passion is, and not that you’re choosing music because your girlfriend is in a band with you right now and that’s the university that she’s going to. It can be really tricky trying to figure it out.

It could be on the side of parents. I have clients where dad always wanted to be a lawyer and that was his dream that he couldn’t achieve. His son did so well in all of those subjects that could potentially help him to go to law school, so that becomes his vision for his son.

As far as life coaching and educational consulting, I find that they are so connected and that’s what I try to work on and with both sides of that spectrum.

I had to slow down and look at my life and make a decision that it’s okay to slow down. I can try and achieve a lot within a short period of time but that probably would mean sacrificing time with my children. It took me a lot longer to get to where I am right now, but I got here.

NCA: In your educational path to becoming a coach, can you think of a mentor or even a coach that you personally had who was the most vital to your success and in what ways did this mentor help you thrive in your career?

Marina: That’s an interesting question. I do have a person I talk to. I call her my spiritual advisor because I think life fulfillment should be the basis for me personally to vet how happy I am with what I do rather than the financial achievements or the more material side of it. I do have a person who helps me more on the spiritual path who keeps me in line in understanding whether I feel fulfilled doing what I do and if there is anything that I need to change if I am not happy with what I do.

It’s very important to feel — not just the approach — but actually to feel what my clients feel and experience that by being a client sometimes.

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

Marina: The path towards my own business was sort of long. It took me a lot longer than the majority of coaches just because of my personal situation. I had kids, and all the regular mom stuff kind of set me back a little bit. At that time, I had this vision. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and I even knew what steps I needed to take. But because of my outside circumstances, I just couldn’t move as fast as I wanted and that was bringing me a great deal of sadness and frustration.

What I learned from my own process is if you do have a solid idea and it’s truly something that you should do as your life work, it will always be there for you. I spent countless nights struggling and being depressed about this and I finally let go and I told myself it does not have to happen right now for me. I have to acknowledge that there are outside circumstances that I have no control over. When I let go of that stress, that’s when things started to happen for me.

When sometimes things don’t happen soon enough, it’s okay. What I find in today’s culture, and it works for some people, is this idea that you have to do it now. You have to kick yourself in the bottom and sit down and write a plan and go and meet like a hundred people tomorrow. It works for some people. It also depends on your personal situation because some people do need that.

However, you have to acknowledge what’s going on in your life. In my case, watching all of those people trying to do all of these things now, it was really doing a disservice to me just because of my life circumstances. I had to slow down and look at my life and make a decision that it’s okay to slow down. I can try and achieve a lot within a short period of time but that probably would mean sacrificing time with my children. It took me a lot longer to get to where I am right now, but I got here.

Previous post:

Next post: