Category Archives: Coaching

Don’t Let Fear Hold You Back

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from Fresh Start Success: Reimagine Your Work, Reinvent Your Life, Re-Ignite Your Passion

Are you denying your inner entrepreneur? If all of your work experience has been in corporations or working for other people, you may view owning your own company as being ‘too scary’ to contemplate. Maybe it’s time to take a second look, especially if entrepreneurship creates the opportunity to use your gifts, follow your passion, and build the lifestyle you desire.

Entrepreneurship can be learned. Many colleges offer seminars and degree programs that cover all aspects of running a small business. Community colleges also offer workshops and courses on various aspects of being an entrepreneur, and so do many local business centers. Don’t let fear of the unknown hold you back. You might discover that your vision takes you to amazing places and grows into something much bigger and even more satisfying than you ever imagined.


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Organizing For Success

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from Fresh Start Success: Reimagine Your Work, Reinvent Your Life, Re-Ignite Your Passion

Sharon McRill earned a degree in General Studies, but had no idea what she wanted to do. She took a lot of English and Film/Video and Women’s Studies credits while in school, then decided she wanted to work at Borders Books’ headquarters. “I banged on the door every week until they hired me,” she says. At Borders, Sharon was hired to be a Vendor Liaison and helped buyers track shipments and purchase orders, handled special deals, and managed corporate accounts. She also was in charge of new media, CDs, video, and DVDs.

Borders as a chain got into financial trouble, and Sharon was downsized. By that point, she had been part of Borders’ dot com group, which grew from five people to seventy in the time she worked for them. After being let go, she discovered the company had sold the website, which was a complete surprise to the employees. Although Sharon got a buy-out package and severance, she was very bitter for a while as she looked for a new job.

At first, Sharon wasn’t interested in being an entrepreneur because she had seen her parents and grandparents run businesses and thought being self-employed seemed hard. She landed another corporate job but it didn’t last. At that point, she sat down and made a list of what she knew how to do and was good at, what she trained to do, what she didn’t want to do. She liked project management, working with people, and simplifying things, so that was where she put her focus as she decided to create a company of personal organizers, which is now The Betty Brigade.

Sharon’s company was a hit, helping people clean out their homes, pack up to move, and generally clear out clutter and organize their lives. She hired her first employee after eleven months in business, but really wasn’t sure what came next. “I had no idea how to grow my company,” Sharon admits. “My parents and grandparents had bought existing companies, so I didn’t know how to do that part.”

She went looking for resources, and received coaching from local entrepreneur groups. Then she created a volunteer board of directors as advisors. She bought them dinner on a quarterly basis, and talked candidly with them about the business’s numbers and the issues she faced. That’s when she realized her company’s growth was being slowed by her own difficulty letting go and delegating. “I didn’t trust my staff to do it as well as I did, but they could actually do it better. Now I delegate like crazy,” Sharon says.

Most of Sharon’s family was very supportive of her shift to self-employment. She gave herself a year to make it work, using her unemployment benefits and severance. “I think my family initially underestimated the size of what I was doing,” she reflects with a laugh. Other business owners were very supportive, and she found her tribe of like-minded entrepreneurs.

Sharon’s work and planning paid off, and she broke even her first year. “That was shocking because of how much I didn’t know,” she admits. “We have a goal of thirty percent growth every year, and so far it has been reachable. Everything still goes back into the business because it’s still growing. The big thing I’m working on is how to get new employees up to speed faster. I want to get them in gear in thirty days instead of ninety so we hit profitability faster. Eventually, I’d like to license the business,” Sharon adds.

Along the way, Sharon learned what was really important in her Fresh Start Success. “It has to do with who you are as a person,” she says. “I wanted the company culture to reflect who I was as a person of service. I wanted to create a community of family, co-workers, and vendors. Every person you contact, you can be of service. Bring that commitment into your business and hire people who share it,” she advises.

In 2013, Sharon was very proud that The Betty Brigade was able to donate more than $31,000 from unwanted items from clients. To put that in perspective, their donations included recycling forty-seven cubic yards (almost eight forty-yard dumpsters) of glass, plastic, metal, and paper. They also recycled household toxic waste like paint, cleaners, and unwanted medicine. Sharon enjoys finding unusual ways to recycle. For example, her people often find old fur coats that are un-wearable because they were not stored properly. Sharon discovered a “Coats for Cubs” program that makes fur beds for rescued wild animal babies, which recover faster when nestled in real fur. Unwanted wigs are recycled for cancer patients.

“What can you do that helps the community at large?” Sharon asks. “She encourages the staff to take part in volunteer activities every week. At the end of the month, the staff member with the most volunteer time gets a small prize like movie tickets or candy.

As Sharon’s vision has grown and she’s become attuned to meeting customer needs, The Betty Brigade has grown, too. Her vision has expanded to include not only organizing and de-cluttering services, but also specialized corporate relocation assistance and other niche services.

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New book! Fresh Start Success: Reinvent Your Work, Reimagine Your Life and Reignite Your Passion—41 True Stories Show You How! Now available on ebook and in print!

Within these pages, you’ll meet forty-one people who made successful big changes in their lives and work. They come from all different industries and career paths, following a wide variety of interests, and redefining “success” for themselves along the way. They hail from all over the world, represent a range of ages, and came to the decision to make a change in their own unique ways, but every single one found success from following his or her passion.

Our Fresh Start Success profiles include Katana Abbott, Amber Allen, Christine Bové, Debbi Dachinger, Melissa Darnay, Teresa de Grosbois, Jo Dibblee, Barbara Edie, Sheri Fink, Dawn Fleming, Marla Goldberg, Tamara Green, Oksana Gritsenko, Christine Hassler, Steve Hobbs, Wendy Ida, Mike Jaffe, Lisa Jendza, Grace Kelly, Karen Kessler, Poonam Gupta-Krishnan, Lisa Manyon, Sharon McRill, Lisa Mininni, Faith Monson, Sheevaun Moran, Loriann Oberlin, Debbie Peterson, Lauren Brett Randolph, Danielle Ratliff, Sherri Richards, Cha~zay Sandhriel, PhD, LeeAnn Shattuck, Pierette Simpson, Susan Sklar, Gail Watson, Patryk Wezowski, Lisa Woodie, and Wendy Woodworth. My husband and co-author Larry N. Martin and I round that number out to forty-one since we made our own big personal and professional reinventions, and the experience sparked our interest in finding how other people coped with change and reimagined their lives and work.


Starting over doesn’t have to mean starting from scratch. The easiest way to pick yourself up and dust yourself off is to look at where you’ve been and find the elements that worked best for you—then look for more of those same things going forward.

The 41 people Larry and I interviewed for our new book Fresh Start Success: Reinvent Your Work, Reimagine Your Life and Reignite Your Passion—41 True Stories Show You How!  all had several key mindsets and behaviors that helped them create successful new beginnings. Figuring out how to ‘recycle’ your skills, experience, education and expertise and build a fresh start is one of the crucial behaviors for making a successful shift.

Grab the book and discover how to make a successful big change in your own life! Buy it now!

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Fool Me Twice, Shame On Me

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from Fresh Start Success: Reimagine Your Work, Reinvent Your Life, Re-Ignite Your Passion

Our current business culture wastes a huge amount of human potential. We underutilize older workers who have valuable experience and perspective. We still fail to promote and incentivize talented women and people of color who could make essential contributions due to unconscious bias in hiring, evaluation and promotion systems. And we cling to outdated, short-term thinking and to business structures that burn out employees and demand they sacrifice work-life balance while providing no loyalty in return. Is it any surprise that our best and brightest flee the corporate life to strike out on their own, accepting risk in exchange for the reward of meaningful work as well as challenging opportunities and income without a glass ceiling?

When you’re crafting your own Fresh Start Success, design your reinvention to include balance for yourself and your employees. Resolve not to make the same human resource mistakes made by the big corporations, which overlook proven talent because of old stereotypes. Make sure your work provides both a livelihood and meaning. Use your reinvention to create a life, not just a living.

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Find Your Life Theme

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from Fresh Start Success: Reimagine Your Work, Reinvent Your Life, Re-Ignite Your Passion

When you look at your career, can you see a central theme that has transcended your individual jobs? In the previous blog post, Lauren was a teacher, and then a gymnastics coach, and then part of the management team at a performing arts school, and finally a life coach—roles that all centered around educating and mentoring. As different periods in her life unfolded, her central theme was reimagined, but it always remained a part of what gave her purpose and satisfaction.

As you’re planning your own Fresh Start Success, realize that the answer to the question of what to do next might be closer than you think. Look for the central themes in your work history, and then look for other jobs that emphasize those same aspects. Don’t get hung up on titles—pay attention to what the meat of the actual job entails. You might find that a new career that seems radically different from your past on the surface shares essential common threads at its heart.

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Coaching for Results

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from Fresh Start Success: Reimagine Your Work, Reinvent Your Life, Re-Ignite Your Passion

Lauren Brett Randolph wanted to be a teacher. She went to university to study teaching and discovered that she hated being in the classroom. “That was a huge eye-opener,” Lauren says. “I really gained respect for the teachers in university.” From the time she was seven years old until she was nineteen, Lauren was a competitive rhythmic gymnast, competing for Canada internationally in events that included World Championships. She was a member of the Canadian National Team for rhythmic gymnastics and eventually became National Team Coach.

Falling back on her experience as an athlete, Lauren refocused her teaching background and trained to be a coach. After university, she joined a dance company, but it didn’t satisfy her love of gymnastics, so at age twenty-three, she began coaching full-time, then became one of Canada’s national coaches. “It hasn’t been about the job; it’s been about the higher purpose,” Lauren says.

As much as Lauren loved coaching and rhythmic gymnastics, she became disillusioned with the sport in 1991. Behind-the-scenes changes she saw at the World Championships were not aligned with her core values, and Lauren quit the sport again in 1997. Her first Fresh Start Success began when she went to work for her husband, a former New York City professional dancer, who ran a post-secondary college for musical theater students. For sixteen years, Lauren was the managing director of Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts. She taught herself how to use a computer and poured her passion into the business, which grew from $300,000 in revenue to $1.5 million in ten years with new programs that she created. She was a catalyst for infrastructure changes that supported such rapid growth and honed her skills on the job even without a formal degree in business.

Lauren realized she needed to reinvent herself again because it became clear that although she was doing amazing work and putting in a lot of hours, she was supporting her husband’s dream, not her own dream. She had tried to make the school her dream, but it wasn’t where her true passion lay. Lauren realized that she needed to make a change for herself.

“I was caught up in the cult of being the ‘ideal worker,’ working insanely hard to prove that I was smart and accomplished, and the ‘ideal mother’—trying to prove that I was a supermom,” Lauren recalls. “So I ‘demoted’ myself to a smaller role. But I was still super goal-oriented and a perfectionist, and pretty soon, I realized I was building myself another new, huge role with the school even though it wasn’t my passion.” Lauren did some soul searching and looked inward to listen to herself. She paid attention to her conversations with people, looking for direction.

As Lauren listened to what themes kept coming up in conversation, she heard people asking for a life coach. Coaching was in Lauren’s blood, and she had a track record working with gymnasts, students, and the faculty at the school. Still, it took her four years to decide to go back into coaching—this time, as a life and leadership coach. Lauren did her research, hired a coach for herself, and went back to school. As an athlete and now as an adult, Lauren recognized that her inner dialogue was holding her back. “I had to silence the negative mind chatter and my doubts about being too old to start over, since I was already forty-nine,” she says.

“I realized that the gremlins in my head are full of shit,” Lauren adds. “Getting to the point where I could acknowledge that was a profound way to step into awareness. I was in my own way with disempowering thoughts, doubts about my ability, and crippling perfectionism. It was holding me back.” She also learned to give herself permission to reinvent her career. “It was my turn,” Lauren recalls. “For sixteen years, I had supported my husband’s dream, and now he was supportive of me.” Her family was very supportive of Lauren’s reinvention, even though it meant a shift away from the family business. Some people were judgmental and made her second guess herself. Prevailing against the naysayers helped Lauren become more determined and grounded.

Immersing herself in learning went well. Lauren felt like she was starting late, and that sense of catching up from behind was a motivator to keep her focused and driven. She was still working full-time while she trained to be a coach but quit her job at the school when her coaching client roster grew to where it was too much to handle both.

Lauren attended The Coaches Training Institute and found their programs to have great synergy with her vision for the future. Then she dreamed up a new life that could provide her with autonomy, allow her to set her own hours, and work at a less compulsive pace. She started providing life and leadership coaching programs of her own in 2013 as The Cartwheel Coach. “Sometimes, I regret that it took me four years to decide what to do,” Lauren says. “But then I realized I needed that time to gain the wisdom to make the shift successfully.”

Championship-level gymnastics—as an athlete and a coach—required visualization, goal-setting, forward-thinking, visioning—all skills that Lauren brings into her work now. “I’m curious about the person in front of me, and I am passionate about supporting them to reach a greater purpose and be their best.”

Two years into coaching, Lauren is still early in her new career. She considers herself successful, since she is making a living from her coaching practice and earning as much money as when she was at the school. “I’m always setting my goals for something bigger and greater,” Lauren says. “But the real success for me was in taking the risk to jump without a net and trusting that I was going to be fine. I’ve learned that success is waking up and feeling fulfilled, having less stress-filled days (and nights), and knowing that I have the resilience to live through change.”

Before the self-discovery work she did as part of her preparation for coaching, Lauren would have said she was a Type A personality. “I was driven and controlling, and hiding a lot, distanced from my emotions. I knew people were depending on me, and I covered up my fear with arrogance. I had also been a huge people-pleaser, and I needed to deal with that.” Lauren had not finished her university degree because she got an offer from a dance company and always felt “not enough” because she hadn’t graduated. Going back to school and getting certified as a coach let her lay that concern to rest. “I know now, though, that I don’t need a degree to define me,” Lauren says. She furthered her education by attending Leadership Development Training, learning how to have an impact in the world at large.

“My goal now is to learn to slow down, center myself, and find a new way of being present in the moment. I used to be stuck in fear and regret. Now, I’m mindful of how I show up,” Lauren adds.

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Creating Champions

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from Fresh Start Success: Reimagine Your Work, Reinvent Your Life, Re-Ignite Your Passion

Athletes don’t make it to the national level without good coaches. Coaches advise, develop training plans, assess the competition, refine performance, and encourage athletes to get past performance plateaus, personal challenges, and life’s rough spots. We wouldn’t expect a top athlete to succeed without a coach, so why do entrepreneurs believe we can do it alone?

Coaching can take all kinds of forms for entrepreneurs. Life coaches help us figure out what we want to do for our Fresh Start Success. Success coaches help us get over limiting beliefs and behaviors. Media coaches help us look good in front of the cameras. Financial and systems coaches help us put together accounting and back office practices that work. Human resource and management coaches teach entrepreneurs—who are usually subject-matter experts—how to be a good boss and manage a company. As marketing consultants/coaches, we help entrepreneurs see and seize opportunities to gain visibility and translate that into a stream of new clients. The bottom line is, regardless of our individual competencies, there is always more to learn—we all need coaching of one kind or another.

When you’re making your Fresh Start Success, don’t try to go it alone. If Olympic athletes need coaches, despite the fact that they’re the best in the world at what they do, then maybe you could benefit from experienced counsel, too. Don’t let your ego get in the way of finding the help you need to reach peak performance.

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The Car ChickTM

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from Fresh Start Success: Reimagine Your Work, Reinvent Your Life, Re-Ignite Your Passion

LeeAnn Shattuck went to college and earned degrees in Quantitative Economics and Industrial Engineering at Stanford. She followed in the footsteps of her father, who was a managing partner at Ernst & Whinney, and became an IT consultant for Anderson Consulting (which became Accenture).

“I learned a lot of different businesses and industries,” LeeAnn says. “I learned something new every day. There was always a lot of interesting new information. But the travel got old. I travelled so often that I knew all about the flight crews and their families. When the crew started to comment when I wore a new outfit, I knew it was too much.”

LeeAnn left Accenture and went to IBM, doing the same work at the same pay but working from home. After 9/11, IBM wanted her to move to New York City, and she refused. She moved to different IT jobs with smaller and smaller firms. “It was always the same hassles,” LeeAnn says. She got divorced, and her life began to shift.

“The last straw came when I asked my boss if I could work a day at home—same billable hours—to meet a repair man, and he said, ‘why can’t your wife just handle all that for you?’ It didn’t even hit him what he was saying until it was out of his mouth,” LeeAnn says. “He and his male friends all had wives who didn’t work. It was very chauvinistic.”

LeeAnn reevaluated her goals. “I asked myself why I was working eighty hour weeks to build a business for this idiot,” she recalls. “I wasn’t getting treated the same as the men, and they had zero-percent respect for work-life balance.” LeeAnn realized she was burned out and began looking for other options, including franchises.

Then the universe intervened. “I was in the bathroom when I saw a brochure about car shopping—a company that helped women shop for cars,” LeeAnn says. “I called the owner, and fell in love with the concept right then. I have always loved cars, I’ve raced cars all my life. It was fate stepping in.” The company at the time was called Women’s Automotive Solutions.

“I had no idea of what I was getting into,” LeeAnn admits. “Customers don’t magically show up. I didn’t know what I didn’t know about marketing, sales, etc. I hadn’t thought about being an entrepreneur. Working with a business partner was new, since it was just the founder and me. I went from a cushy six-figure salary to nothing for a long time.”

Thus began a journey of learning how to run and market a business. “My first customer was a young, single mother who had been taken advantage of by a con artist and stuck in a bad lease. She was terrified of going to the car lot. I helped her get out of her old lease, found her a car she loved at an affordable price, and got her out of a bad situation,” LeeAnn recalls. “This wasn’t really about cars. It was about empowering women. Cars were something I knew well. People started calling me ‘The Car Chick™’ and it stuck. That’s who I really am, and this is what I was meant to do.”

LeeAnn had to create her own support network. Her ex-husband wasn’t supportive of her venture, but her father believed in her. “Mom was a worrier,” she adds. She found groups of other women entrepreneurs and gradually found her way. “I was empowering other women, but I empowered myself, too,” LeeAnn says. “I just ignored the naysayers.”

It took about five years for the business to become profitable. “There was a big learning curve,” LeeAnn says, “and I had to get over my fears and out from under the limitations of my business partner, who had a small view of what the company could become.”

She hired a good business coach and tripled what she was charging while also increasing the services clients received. “My business is different now,” LeeAnn says. “I provide so much more value than I did originally.”

“I am not even remotely the same person that I was before,” LeeAnn says. “I was very risk-averse, and I didn’t see myself as an entrepreneur. Now I’m seen as one of the most influential women in the auto industry. I used to be afraid to speak to groups—now I’m on radio and TV.”

She’s learned a lot, but there’s always something new to master. “I still get scared of a lot of things, but my fear of failure is less than my fear of not trying,” LeeAnn adds. “I don’t need a boss or a partner to be a leader. I know that this is my purpose on earth, and if I didn’t do it, I would regret it forever.”

Brands help busy consumers find a mental ‘filing place’ to remember you. Have you ever noticed how you can remember the tag lines of old advertisements decades after the products disappeared? That’s how well we remember brands—and why creating a catchy and memorable brand is an essential element in your Fresh Start Success.

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Essential Branding

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from Fresh Start Success: Reimagine Your Work, Reinvent Your Life, Re-Ignite Your Passion

Who are you? To the world, you are the brand you create for yourself. That can be scary if you’re new to thinking of yourself as a brand. But to put it another way, you are the product, and products need a brand to stand out. So what’s yours?

One approach to coming up with your brand is to think about who you serve, what you do for them, and what result you achieve, and then distill it down to three or four words. If you try that and struggle, here’s an exercise we use with clients. Describe what you do flippantly. Now look at what you wrote down. Is there truth in what you’ve said? How could you tweak it and make it work for you? That’s exactly what LeeAnn did—and her branding propelled her business far beyond her initial expectations.

As you create your Fresh Start Success, make sure that branding is on your list of essentials!

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What’s Your Emotional Happiness Score?

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from Fresh Start Success: Reimagine Your Work, Reinvent Your Life, Re-Ignite Your Passion

Danielle trained to be a registered dietitian, and worked as a dietitian for seven years. Although she was doing what she went to school to do, very little about the job was satisfying. “I’m a people person,” Danielle says, “and it was good to meet people and help them on their journey, but the lack of compliance made me crazy.”

She faced an uphill battle trying to help clients change dysfunctional food habits, self-destructive behaviors, and deeply-rooted emotions. Long-term successes were few and far between. “There was a lot negative energy,” Danielle recalls. The last straw was when she was sexually assaulted and faced her own emotional struggle and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from the assault. Fortunately, Danielle had a good support network, so she didn’t have to deal with the situation alone.

As she considered leaving her role as a nutritionist, Danielle researched her options. “Emotional health was my number one priority, along with a job that created positive energy,” she says. “For me, that was all part of being happy.” Danielle also reassessed why she went into being a nutritionist, and what she wanted out of her reinvention.

“In my first career, I did what I thought I was supposed to do. My parents led me in that direction as a safe choice,” Danielle says.

Her husband suggested looking at becoming a massage therapist, because he said she was good at giving amateur massages to family and friends. Danielle enrolled in a part-time program at the North Carolina School of Massage and loved it. Her old job gave her plenty of experience interacting with people. Massage requires a high degree of personal interaction and communication, and it’s hands-on, requiring good rapport with clients.

“Massage is a positive profession, because people smile when they’re finished with a massage. I could provide immediate gratification to my clients, and making them feel better gratified me,” she says.

Unfortunately, one teacher left mid-way through the program. Danielle didn’t like the replacement teacher as much, but she stuck with it, and her clinical practice providing public massages went very well. She interned with the teacher who had left the school, and planned to work at the same massage practice after she graduated, but then the owner of the shop moved and offered to sell it to her.

Danielle bought the practice out of her savings and plunged into learning the business end. The old owner had been losing money. Danielle only needed six months to turn a profit and take a paycheck. “It took three years, but I’ve surpassed my old income,” Danielle says. She kept the name of the practice (“Serenity Now”) and differentiated herself by positioning the studio as the premier provider of therapeutic massage, as opposed to sheer relaxation. “I put a lot of thought into appealing to my local audience. I made sure I knew the demographics,” she adds.

What would she tell others considering making a big change? “Just do it. Jump in with both feet. You’ll surprise yourself,” Danielle says. “Find the courage to take the first step. Baby steps are okay.”

If you thrive on a certain type of work that uses your gifts and satisfies your soul, consider the options you have for how to deliver your services to fit your introvert/extrovert personality. Don’t assume that the way you’ve seen others do something is the only possibility. With today’s technology, you can be connected to the world without leaving home. At the same time, our computer addiction leaves many people hungry for personal, high-touch service that requires intensive interaction. Make your new Fresh Start Success suit you!

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