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Coaching to Flourish Season 3 | Episode 12

April 07, 2023 by Coach Training EDU

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Be Curious!

Raj Anderson and guest experts answer your coaching questions each week!

In Coaching to Flourish Season 3 Episode 12, Raj Anderson and Jen Torres discuss powerful topics especially relevant to new coaches, such as how to explain what coaching is to potential clients, why curiosity is so important to life coaching, personal branding, and tips for confidence and self-trust.

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Live Transcript (unedited)

[Raj Anderson] Okay. Hello. Welcome everyone to the Coaching to Flourish podcast, and I'm your host, Raj Anderson, executive life coach and coach assessor. I'm really excited because we are here today with Jen Torres, and we're continuing some of the themes around women's History Month. Some of you may have heard of Jen Torres, but we are gonna learn a bit more about her as we do what we normally do in our coaching to flourish. You know that we like to have guest speakers where we answer some of your key questions, we look at key coaching themes, and we're gonna learn some new insights today. 

So, Jen is an executive life coach. She has years of experience in the coaching field, she's an entrepreneur, she works with leaders, she is a trainer, she's a very good friend of mine, and she focuses on personal branding as well with her clients. So welcome Jen. How are you? 

[Jen Torres] I'm great. Thank you so much. I'm really excited to be here. 

[Raj Anderson] We're really excited to have you here. Um, I know we've got some questions for you in a moment. What, what else would be great for the listeners to know about you?

[Jen Torres] Uh, what would be great for listeners to know? Well, I wish I lived somewhere warm like you do. Um, but no, I think maybe just, the passion that comes behind what I do. I know you're the same way Raj. It's um, It's a responsibility, but it's also a blessing, working with people. So a lot of passion work that I do, in addition to working with executives, um, is working with teens and young adults. So often that's helping them kind of find their path, um, figure out who they are and what they wanna be and, or who they wanna be, maybe more importantly. But yeah, I think you covered most of it, or some of it may come out as we chat. Thank you for the introduction.

[Raj Anderson] And Jen, what got you into coaching? 

[Jen Torres] Hmm. I'll give the abbreviated version, but I was, uh, as you mentioned, an entrepreneur, so I had my own business for over 10 years, and actually had a life coach that I was working with. And I often credit her with me having the courage or even just asking, being asked the question - I wasn't feeling fulfilled anymore, I wasn't as motivated as I once was. And my coach asked, do you think maybe you are done? And I never, it didn't occur to me. Like you know, that inner voice we get, maybe I'm doing something wrong, I need to change something. Um, I hadn't asked myself that question. No one else around me who was close to me had asked, we just kind of - it was like I was in it and kept, you know how it is, you just keep going day after day. And the minute that she asked me that, my shoulders came down, I took a big sigh. I was like, ah, thank you. She gave me permission to explore something that I hadn't, for whatever reason, given myself the opportunity to ask.

And I, and it turns out I was done, and it was very clear. And so that opened up an opportunity to - well, I'm done, but now what's next? And it was actually that coach who suggested that maybe, um, coaching could be something for me. I think she noticed I'm naturally quite a curious person. Um, I love interacting with people. And so long story short, I am now where I am today.

[Raj Anderson] And here you are. So you gave yourself permission, um, you know, step into this world. And some of the questions that we've got today are around, um, Individuals who perhaps are new to coaching. Or they have been in some kind of work with people for a while, perhaps they're adding that repertoire of coaching skills, uh, to their tool belts. And, or they're just stepping into this journey. And often, and I'm sure you've heard this as a trainer as well, we might get asked the question of, well, how do I really explain to people what coaching is? 

So our first question is for you, Jen, how do you explain what coaching is to potential clients, you know, sort of developing that elevator pitch. 

[Jen Torres] Mm-hmm. . I think it's definitely something that's becoming easier, because the idea of coaching is becoming more mainstream and more accepted. We're finding it being offered in organizations. Um, so often people do have a better understanding of fundamentally what coaching is. However, there still are people who maybe have a bias against, they don't really know what it is. So I think some of the definition is actually in what it is not, right? So it's not therapy. It's actually not consulting, which is often I think what people, uh, even when we tell them that they'll push, you know, but what should I do? I want you to tell me what I should do. And the beauty of coaching is really that it's more of a partnership, in that it is giving somebody the time and the space, in the fast paced busy world that we live in now, to hear themselves think, um, to have a judgment free space.

So, there are key things. I think that it's free of judgment. Not only from the coach, but you know, I know we always encourage our clients to refrain from judging themselves as well. You hear yourself saying things out loud, and that judgment can come through. But, uh, being able to hear that, have things reflected back to you, have a - what is the word I'm looking for - a neutral or an outside perspective, from our friends, from our family, from our coworkers. Somebody else to maybe shed light, offer a new way to look at things. 

So, yeah, aside from what it isn't, I think those are some of the key things that you wanna highlight. And then I really think it's, as much as you can, let someone experience coaching as quickly as possible. So even if it's after dropping that elevator pitch, leaving them with a question. You know, an example type of question might be one of my favorites. You know, who do you need to be when you show up tomorrow at that new job, or for that interview? Right? And you'll see them kind of stop in their tracks and, oh yeah, that's a new one. I've never thought of that before. So I think the more people can actually experience it, um, then the, the buy-in is there pretty quickly. If they're ready, if it's right for them, right? 

[Raj Anderson] Yeah. It sounds like we’re circling around to curiosity. You talked about, you've always been curious yourself, your coach helped you get curious. You dropped those curious little nuggets in, even right from that first interaction. What else would you share with listeners about why curiosity's important? 

[Jen Torres] Well, I think it ties in with this idea that we are not there to provide the answers, which is a great thing for coaches to realize, because it takes the pressure off of us. Um, I know there's a lot of maybe imposter syndrome or feeling like, I don't have it all together. I don't know everything, I don't know what advice to give this person. And we, we learn that our job is not actually to give advice, but to stay curious. And curious in a specific way, right? So it's not curious as, um - I really like that the coach framed for me that I'm curious, and that would be an asset for coaching, and didn't say, Jen, you're really nosy, . Right? Like, that's maybe what I thought of myself before. But, to see that there's value in being curious, right? I think we maybe underestimate the impact and the power and, and the help that that can provide sometimes.

So, if we're curious for the other person's sake. And it has to be a genuine curiosity of questions that will open up maybe their thinking to something new, to a new perspective, to a deeper understanding. Um, you know, part of the goal in coaching, and one of these gifts from it is having a deeper self-awareness. And so I think in being curious, we help our clients find their own answers and understand themselves, rather than us providing a diagnosis and saying, well, here's why you are the way you are, and here's, therefore this is what you need. 

And then it's the gift that keeps on giving. So for whatever reason, maybe there's a particular issue or topic that might have brought someone to coaching initially. I think once they start to see that, they can take the things that they've learned within any session and start to apply that to other areas of their lives as well. 

[Raj Anderson] Yeah, the gift that keeps gifting. Takes a lot of pressure off, doesn't it? When you know that you are not there as a coach to fix it, or solve it for someone. And if you allow yourself to be curious, actually you are handing it back to the client then, aren't you? 

[Jen Torres] Yeah, and I actually think - uh, you and I've talked about this before, but sometimes we do our best coaching when we really don't know a lot about what the subject matter is, right? So, um, for example, I'm a parent, and so if somebody came to me with a parenting issue, it might take a little effort for me to put aside my personal biases and opinions or experience of, you know, what's worked for me in the past, maybe this will work for them. But if it's something that I really don't have a deep knowledge of, um, it's a lot easier to stay away from that fix-it problem solving mode and really genuinely be curious. And like you say, put it back on them, cause they know what it is, um, that they need to do, right.

[Raj Anderson] That's a really valuable point actually, Jen, thank you for sharing that. Because um, you know, having worked with lots of new coaches and mentored them as well, there, there can be that feeling of, well, do I need to be an expert in this? And I'm not a parent, but I coach lots of people who are parents, so, and it's not, it’s not got in the way.

[Jen Torres] No, no. And I know you do a great job, you know, and it's like, I'm not an engineer, and I've coached a lot of engineers, right? So, uh, I think that will give a coach confidence and then it will ultimately lead to a really high quality, valuable session. 

[Raj Anderson] And I know we're gonna look at the confidence question in a moment. Yet I am a coach so I'm curious, and we are talking about curiosity here. For you, Jen, I hear incredible things about you all the time - testimonials, referrals, about people's experience that they have when they coach with you. And since I know personal branding is something that you focus on with your clients, what would you say is important to you in terms of your own brand? 

[Jen Torres] Well, thank you for the compliment. You're making me blush here Raj. You know, I think it's, it's really interesting cause I actually worked with a coach myself. You'd think, oh, I help people with branding, I should be able to figure it out, and I need help. Um, again, once again, to get that outside perspective, to hear myself think. Um, I'm sure for like, a lot of people can relate to this. Some people know crystal clear what niche or what area of coaching, who they wanna serve. Some people it takes a little more trial and error, practice, being brave enough to branch out into maybe something that you didn't think was for you, right? And, and that may be a fit. 

But, so I think I was trying at first to be, kind of generic, kind of appeal to everybody. At the beginning, you know, you feel like you're just so lucky if anybody wants to be coached by you, and you kind of can't - really, wow! And the feedback that I got from my coach was hilarious. It was, well, it's a beautiful website, but it looks a little bit like how I would imagine you decorate your living room, but it doesn't tell me a lot about who you are as a person. And so I think I had to do a lot of work on, and you know, as an entrepreneur before having my own business, that was easy to brand, cause it wasn't me. It was my business, but I was detached to an extent, right? And so, it was a lot easier to be objective. What are the benefits? What are the strengths? What are we offering? Um, how do we wanna package it up and present it? Suddenly when it's you, you are a human being, and you're like, well I don't know, there's a lot of me. 

So I think figuring out, cause you could put your whole life out there. I think for coaches, uh, I work a lot with coaches wanting to launch their own coaching practice. It's figuring out what is your story that is going to resonate with the people who you would like to coach. Right? So if you picture your ideal client, what piece of you do they need to know? They don't need to know all your personal background, but there might be some bit, some little treasure that when they read it, they know for certain, that's the coach I want. That's the person I want coaching me. 

So whether it's the imagery you use, the language that you choose, the information that you select, I think it's all the whole package really. But you need to narrow it down, and to - remind me, what problem am I solving for people? Um, and I think also part of leaning into your brand is trusting that if you are authentic and you're true to yourself, it'll work out. And that's a scary step to take. And it also means you need to be okay with not coaching everyone, and knowing that you are not - you're, you're definitely the coach for some people, and you're definitely not the coach for others. And I think being okay with that, um, it also helps to know not everyone is your ideal client, right? Like, I think, I probably offer more value to certain people who like my style and like my approach and things like that. So, I dunno if I went off on a tangent or if I answered your question, but, um, I guess it was more about what was my own brand. But I think it's part of that, helping people find what their brand is. Um, I think I am known for coaching with a lot of heart, but also not being afraid to ask the questions that maybe some people, um, feel uncomfortable asking. Um, I think I'm also really okay as well in sitting with emotion with other people and holding that space for them. Um, I don't know if that comes from my own experiences, you know, I don't know how I would've been when I was maybe 20 or whatever, but I think that that's definitely a big part of who I am as well. 

[Raj Anderson] Thank you, Jen. So many golden nuggets there that I was hearing from you around, you know, new coaches, think about what might be the problem you are attempting to solve for someone? What part of your story would you like to share with your audience? Who might that audience be? Giving yourself permission to not be the coach for all things or all people. And then I'm also hearing from you all the work that you've done on yourself, because there is that having had a coach, having continuing to grow. Knowing who you are feeds into your brand. 

[Jen Torres] Yeah. Yeah. That's so true. And I think, um, particularly a lot of why I've done a lot of work with, uh, teens and young adults - I remember that so vividly. You know, like, I wish I had somebody at that age who I could have talked to. And I think I'm still maybe a little scarred by it, or, but I've definitely learned and grown from it. 

But probably, I guess another theme now as I'm saying it out loud, is I've always done what I love to do. Whether I knew how it was gonna fit - and that was scary at the time, so it took me in a lot of different directions. But then, um, without the wisdom or the guidance of someone helping me trust and see that it all made sense and would align, I did it anyway. Um, but it, it would've been, I think, better to have had a coach go through those early years and even not so early, right. Having my own business and navigating that, um, while raising two little kids and all that stuff. Yeah, but I think that that's probably another theme, is just doing what you love and then trusting that it will come together, and those things will all help to support one another.

[Raj Anderson] Doing what you love to do. And I can attest that she has shared messages with me saying, I love what I do! . 

[Jen Torres] Yeah, I know, too often. You don't even ask, and I'm telling you.

This is like our yes/and activity that we do in class, uh, where we talk about how coaching can be similar to improv, if anybody's ever done any acting classes or had any experience with that, where whatever's offered to you, you take it, you accept it, and you go with it and you say ‘yes, and,’ and then you add to that.

Um, so coaching, it's another thing where having the confidence and being able to trust yourself a little bit, like what we were talking about earlier, with not always knowing the answers, being okay with that. So, we'll be okay right now hanging out, knowing that Raj hasn't left me here unintentionally, and she will be back within moments. Um, yeah. I guess I'm just thinking out loud, what she was saying about, you know, sharing when I do have great days. And not every day is great, right? There's some calls that don't go the way you would've hoped. Um, but for the most part, it's such a fulfilling job and, yeah, it is something I definitely love to do and will tell her that all the time - I’m like, I love my job! 

I think my favorite part about it is meeting new people. Um, getting to know, again, there's back to the curious thing, right? Understanding what gets people excited, helping them find what they're passionate about, helping them uncover what that passion can translate into, right? In terms of a career, maybe, life choices. Uh, hey! 

[Raj Anderson] I am sorry about that. Look, we crashed the whole system! I think we had - and I was attempting to get back in in this great conversation I was having with you. Jen, what did I miss whilst I got kicked out? 

[Jen Torres] Well, I just started, uh, just freestyling, talking about improvisation. And how with coaching, it's so true though. You never know what's gonna come, what's coming next, and you need to be okay with that and ready to go with it. It's also, I realized lately something I love about this job is that, um, I don't - I'm realizing I don't have the attention span I thought I did, but that I like the variety, right? Like, I love each session brings something so new, right? So, yeah, we just, just kept going and went with it, and I’m glad you’re back. 

[Raj Anderson] And that's how a strong coach is. Such grace, she just handled it. Structured improv is exactly what might happen in a coaching session, where you just have no idea where it's going to go. But I, I think it's also the power of incredible women. We crashed the system.

So I know, um, I missed a bit of it, but I will go back and listen, and we've got a few minutes left while we kinda look to conclude this great conversation that we've been having. So what are some confidence tips you would give to new coaches? 

[Jen Torres] Um, so I think - well I covered a couple of them, is just leaning into really, truly who you are and being authentic. And be okay with making mistakes, right? We talk a lot in our courses about approaching, uh, things with a growth mindset for our clients, and I think that's what we need to do as coaches as well, is take our own advice. And you know, I was just saying, not every session goes the way we would like, um, and that's okay. We're going to learn and grow as well. I'm definitely not the same coach I was five years ago. Right? And, um, so I think not being afraid, being courageous, right? Leaning into those coach qualities of, um, putting yourself out there. 

And honestly, trusting the client. I think maybe we put too much focus on ourselves and that's where our confidence can start to crumble. The minute we let go of that need to be the expert or to be in control of the session, um, it just takes the pressure off. And I think we actually, the irony is the less pressure, the better the coach, the better we coach, and the better the outcome of the session. And I think once I see coaches who are in training to become certified, once they kind of get that, I think it becomes like smooth sailing. But it can be hard to get there. 

[Raj Anderson] Okay. So there's three trusts that we train coaches in around - trusting self, trusting the process, and trusting your client. What words of wisdom would you have for us in working on self-trust? 

[Jen Torres] Hmm. You know, I think maybe connecting it to what the value is and what the ultimate goal or outcome is that you would want. Cause if we don't trust ourselves - and that can be the hardest thing to do, it can be even harder to trust ourselves sometimes than trusting others, right? Um, but if we can recognize that that might be the one thing that's standing in our way, it can then can be easier to let go, um, and really be able to trust ourselves.

Um, I think also maybe setting up safe scenarios, right? So if you can start by, you know, it can be a conflict of interest for sure to coach friends or family, but maybe if there's a tool or an exercise that, um, you know, you just wanna get your delivery of, how do I describe how this tool goes? Can I practice this on you? Um, A lot of coaches will start coaching for free or barter in exchange for things, just so that it maybe takes the pressure off a little bit too. But, group workshops as well can, can, um, test your skills in a different way, and maybe bring out a different side of you that you didn't know was there. And again, it can be a safe environment. Um, start maybe with a smaller group and - yeah, just look really looking at it as a learning opportunity and knowing that you're only gonna get better. It's only gonna go up from there. 

[Raj Anderson] Well, thank you Jen. It's been such a pleasure having you on. I think we might need to get Jen on again at some point in the future, because I know that I learned so much from you today. So I invite all of you to share your comments with us once you have listened to the podcast, send us your questions. And I'm just gonna go away uplifted from our time together. I'm grateful for you, Jen. I'm, I've just learned a lot. I'm gonna focus on continuing to be curious, self-trust, learning structured improv, taking it to the next level as we get to do live in this session.

[Jen Torres] Was this is all part of the plan? You knew that when you were… Let's see how she handles that one. 

[Raj Anderson] Yeah, let's leave her in the space on her own. Let's see what happens. See, it was, it was all part of the plan. 

[Jen Torres] See everyone. I'm all right. I'm still in one piece. It's all good. . 

[Raj Anderson] Exactly. She modeled it with grace. Thank you, Jen. Is there anything else you wanna add before we close out?

[Jen Torres] Hmm. I just wanna thank you personally. Um, you know how much you mean to me. Um, I tell you all the time as we talked about earlier. But also coach training edu, just being a part of this community is life - It was a game changer, life changing for me in so many ways. I don't have time to list them all now, but, um, just the people who have touched my life, that I've had the blessing to, uh, cross paths with who, you know, who do keep in touch. And it's like, I'm sure you feel this too, it's like we have friends around the world now, right? So, uh, no, it's just, yeah. I really appreciate being a part of today's chat. Thank you. 

[Raj Anderson] Thank you, Jen. Such a great point. Come and join us at the Coach training edu community. That's where Jen and I met, and she has had a life-changing impact on me. So thank you all. Thank you, Jen. Thank you listeners, and we'll see you next week. Send us your questions. Take care. Bye.

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