Coach Interview Series: Versandra Kennebrew

by Brandon

Versandra Kennebrew

Certified Integrative Nutrition Health 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 Versandra Kennebrew. Versandra is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach based in Atlanta, Georgia.

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

Versandra: I am a certified Integrative Nutrition health coach. Most of my clients come to me because they want to live healthier, happier lives.

My coaching practice focuses on four primary areas: career, relationships, spirituality and physical activity. Integrative Nutrition health coaches recognize that these four areas have to be nourished in order to live a full and productive life. The practice is based around discovering the things that are needed to create balance in these areas.

We begin the sessions with each client by doing an assessment. Some coaches use the circle of life. Some often call it the circle of something else. [laughing] We allow the clients to take a look at where their life currently is and where they rate themselves in those particular areas. As we find out the areas that are more imbalanced, we help them to zero in on three top goals. We don’t like to go more than three goals because when you have so many things you’re working on at one time, you get all spread out everywhere and you can’t really focus.

Bio-individuality means that every client is different. Their physical, emotional, and spiritual nourishment requirements are different. There isn’t a specific cookie-cutter way of addressing these issues. Once we discover each client’s particular challenges in finding balance, we help them discover a variety of solutions that fit their lifestyle.

My programs are generally 6 months long and then we continue on if that’s what’s needed. It’s really more of a lifestyle adjustment that’s needed then together we create a day-to-day practice. Something that they can do each and every day to support their balance and well-being in all of the four top areas: career, relationships, spirituality, physical activity.

I came from a career where my last role was district sales manager running 22 stores in three states. My primary function was supporting the growth and development of more than ninety retail managers. That was very fulfilling to me because although my company wanted me to make sure to increase profits and decrease their losses, I recognized that personal development was at the core of anybody’s success. So I took that on as the number one focus and it led to higher profits and fewer losses.

In healing my own self from being a workaholic with failing health, I had to find ways to incorporate work-life balance. I discovered that retail multi-store supervision was no longer a career that served my highest good. I discovered holistic living. It made me feel so good to have more control over my own well-being. I felt like I needed to share that with others. It would be an extension of what I was doing already with personal development but I would also have tools to teach what I had learned about living a holistic lifestyle.

In 1999 I became a massage therapist. Later I became an energy healer, then I added on yoga teacher and Integrative Nutrition health coach certifications.

By merging Eastern and Western healing modalities, I have created lifestyle programs and retreats that support people from all walks of life as they take control of their own health. Some of the things I share they can do for themselves at home. It helps them to recognize that success begins with self-care. It’s all about you and your well-being, and when that is in alignment, then you are going to draw to yourself or attract all of the things that you really want.

As I developed coaching programs, I became more and more successful at doing that. I became an international speaker and author. I’ve even written six books since then.

I also enjoy supporting people who are also looking to become authors. Just to give you an idea of where my primary clients come from, they’re generally authors, holistic health practitioners, people that are really into spirituality — those types of things. These are the people that are generally drawn to me. Some of them are looking to start their own business. They’re looking to really follow their passion. Follow their bliss. Some of them just have no clue where to get started or how to make that happen.

Untreated trauma from my childhood led me to homelessness in 2003. There was a recession that was happening while I was also experiencing a third divorce and second miscarriage. Depression and anxiety from past and present trauma led me to living life in a way that I had not been accustomed to. I was used to having everything the way I wanted. I had enough money, a car, and I traveled. I had all of those things and when things changed, I did not have the ability to change with it. At least not quickly enough. I ended up in a homeless shelter where I tell people that I lost my mind so that I could get a new one. That’s really what happened.

I needed to make a major shift in my way of thinking and my feelings about other people. I used to drive past people at the bus stop and think something was wrong with them. If they asked me for a ride, I would say, “why don’t you just get a job? You’re an “able-bodied” person. Why don’t you do what you got to do to make it work?”

What I discovered during my own major life transitions is that it’s not just about whether you’re able-bodied or not because when you have so many things challenging you at once, it can cause a chemical imbalance in your body. We have serotonin and other natural chemicals in our bodies that support our sympathetic nervous system. There’s a lot of things that occur during fight or flight that we may not be aware of and how it’s affecting us.

I wouldn’t change my experience for anything because it made me have more empathy. It made me see that people have different lifestyles and are in different places in their lives and it doesn’t mean that one is better than the other because we’re all on our own personal journeys. It also helped me to uncover some childhood trauma that happened in my life that I had pushed to the side and didn’t have time to deal with because of my busy career. It helped me to go deep and do my own personal inner healing in that process, which makes me stronger than I’ve ever been before.

Personal development and living a holistic lifestyle has made me a stronger person. It allows me to open my heart to everybody and recognize that we are all divine in our own way. I really love helping people see the good inside of themselves and overcome whatever challenges they believe are keeping them from moving forward by recognizing that they have the power inside of them to do that. Sometimes they needed a little support. That’s all.

Bio-individuality means that every client is different. Their physical, emotional, and spiritual nourishment requirements are different. There isn’t a specific cookie-cutter way of addressing these issues. Once we discover each client’s particular challenges in finding balance, we help them discover a variety of solutions that fit their lifestyle.

NCA: What is the most rewarding part of your career and on the flip side of that, what is the most challenging aspect of the work that you do?

Versandra: The most rewarding is definitely seeing people write down three things that they really want to do and then in six months or less, seeing them accomplish those things. Sometimes those are things that they’ve been trying on their own for three, five, ten years and they really have no clue why they have not been able to make it happen. But to see it happen and turn around in six months or less, it fills me with joy. I love that.

The challenging part is that most people are still not aware of the benefits of coaching or they have a tainted perception about coaching. Some people think it’s only for people who are rich and famous. It’s only for people who have already achieved a certain level of success and they know where they want to go. I believe coaching is for anyone who wants to excel. I am not a fixer of people’s lives but I do help people silence the noise and turn off distractions so they can get to know themselves more intimately and live optimally.

That is definitely a challenge — helping people to recognize that no, I am not a stranger that’s coming to tell you how to fix your life. I just want to pull out of you what’s already there, polish it up and help you to see your true self. I want to empower you to go back inside over and over again and release the junk. It’s not going to be a one time thing. Every time you overcome something, you recognize there’s something else you may want to overcome and if you have been empowered to do this, you can do it again.

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

Versandra: First, practice makes perfect. Just like any other profession, you can learn something from a book and how it’s supposed to be done and you can think you have it all and you understand the whole process. But until you actually get one-on-one with a client, then a different client, and over and over again, you really don’t have it down because the books can never really reveal the personality differences, the lifestyle differences. There’s a lot of things that are in gray or shaded areas that the books don’t really teach you about. The practical coaching process is what’s going to teach you more than anything else.

Getting out there and coaching as often as possible — even if it’s not a full coaching session but a mini-coaching session and you have that interaction one-on-one with a lot of different people — is going to help you. It could take you five years, ten years to get to coaching excellence but when you do those small mini sessions or you get more practice one-on-one, then you’re going to be able to cut your time of becoming an excellent coach in half.

Lastly, have your own coach. Every coach needs a coach. You need someone who can look at what you’re doing and give you some feedback that’s empowering and not just say, “Oh no. You didn’t do a good job”, but instead “This is what I see in you as far as your gifts and your talents and what you do really well. If you want to take coaching to the next level, you may want to consider these things as well.” Having a coach is essential to a successful coaching career.

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