Coach Interview Series: Wil Fisher

by Brandon

Wil Fisher

Life 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 Wil Fisher. Wil is a Life Coach based in Encinitas, California. He is an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) accredited by the International Coach Federation.

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

Wil: My coaching practice is called Willfully Living. My practice focuses on supporting people to live their most self-expressed, authentic, joyful and full life in an intentional way. I predominantly support gay, queer, bi, and trans men, often going through some kind of transition. I also support women in their 30s and 40s who are going through transitions.

A lot of my work is helping clients get in touch with who they want to be and connect with their authenticity. I support them in getting past limiting beliefs that they might have based on internalized homophobia or any beliefs around being a gay man in a heteronormative world and how that manifests. Sometimes that means supporting them to have the courage to be fully themselves in spaces that aren’t as gay-friendly or gay-welcoming. That might be in the workplace or it might be in their personal life with their friends and family. Some of the work is also around gender expression.

I have a company I co-founded that’s based in New York City called Man Question. That work is really focused on combating toxic masculinity and we do that through applied theatre-based practices. I bring some of that work into my coaching, as well. I do a lot of exploring with clients around their relationship to being a man. Oftentimes, sexuality and growing up a gay, queer, bi, or trans man has impacted that relationship. We uncover the parts that are holding them back from living their best life and work towards being in a better relationship with that part of themselves.

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?

Wil: The most rewarding aspect of working with my clients is witnessing the transformation and supporting them through that transformation. Just to be able to see my clients change in their way of being. Secondarily, seeing the tangible, practical results in terms of the accomplishments that they’re making in their life and the changes that are happening. So, it’s both, seeing the way that my clients show up for the confidence and their capacity for self-expression and their capacity for vulnerability and for deep sharing — to see that change over time and then to see them creating results. That’s really thrilling and really rewarding and exciting for me.

The most challenging for me is the business side of coaching. I’m still getting my feet on the ground around being a solopreneur, having my own business, and keeping it sustainable. All of those entrepreneurial skills are still new for me. That’s a bigger challenge than the actual coaching.

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

Wil: I have quite a few mentors. I’m part of a collective called the Gay Coach Alliance. I also used to run a nonprofit LGBTQ retreat center in Upstate New York and we hosted an annual gay men’s coaches conference. Through those two mechanisms, I’ve connected with a lot of older, more seasoned gay coaches.

The coach who’s been the most consistent over the longest period of time is my very first coach, Jim Lopata. I started coaching with him when he was just getting his certification and now he’s the head coach of a major coaching platform based in Boston. Working with him supported my life in so many hugely impactful ways. He really supported me through my transition to start running the retreat center and also transitioning through breakups. Through all areas and aspects of my life, he was there supporting me.

In that support, I also got to know what coaching was like. I got to experience the value of it and see how transformative it was for me. When the opportunity for me to coach came up, it was very clear that this is something that I knew had a lot of value because I knew what impact it had on me. As I’ve pursued that career, Jim has just been a constant support, encouraging me to keep steady, and to keep going.

I think the biggest advice that I’ve gotten from him during this part of my career is to not give up. Not only is he coaching me around that and giving me that message directly but also by example. When I think about his path and the incredible success that he’s created in the relatively short amount of time that I’ve known him, it makes me feel inspired and hopeful for what I can create if I do just stay consistently on the path and don’t give up.

Seeing the way that my clients show up for the confidence and their capacity for self-expression and their capacity for vulnerability and for deep sharing — to see that change over time and then to see them creating results. That’s really thrilling and really rewarding and exciting for me.

NCA: What advice would you give to somebody who is just starting out in their coaching career and maybe going through a bout of self-doubt or Imposter Syndrome?

Wil: The major game-changer for me has been connecting with one a coaching platform. I’m a now fellow coach on BetterUp. In doing that, I was able to increase my client load exponentially in four months. I saw my client numbers go from 10 private clients to where I am now I’ve got 30 clients through BetterUp plus my private clients.

I’m working with so many more people now and I do think that having that opportunity to work with a lot of clients snapped me out of that Impostor Syndrome. If you can find 30 clients on your own, then great. It’s great to be able to charge what you want to charge and you cut out the middleman. Oftentimes, though, it’s really challenging as a new coach to get those kinds of numbers in the beginning.

I have advised a lot of coaches to find a coaching platform and get connected with them and to get their numbers up high so that they are coaching regularly. I have multiple clients a day so I don’t even have time to think of Imposter Syndrome anymore.

Because I’m coaching so frequently, those doubts don’t come up for me anymore. I guess maybe once in a blue moon they come up for me but it’s night and day the difference between how it was when I first started to where I’m at now. It really doesn’t get in the way.

For me, it’s also brought me into business coaching. I had a limiting belief that because my background is in non-profit work, I wouldn’t be of value in the corporate setting. Now that I’m coaching major directors and managers of Facebook, Lyft, Square and other major corporations across the globe, I am not worried about that in the slightest. My coaching training and my background as an executive in a nonprofit completely translate to my capacity to support folks who are high up in the corporate sector. That’s been a game-changer for me, too.

Now, I call myself a life coach and business coach and I do have some private clients that are business coach clients, as well. It’s really thanks to my experience working with that platform.

See if you can get on one of those platforms. And follow the advice of my mentor, to have faith and not give up. That would be my advice for new coaches.

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