I work as a professional coach for organizations and individuals.
I tell my clients, it’s all about clarity: understanding who you are and what your ambitions are. My slogan is, “I’m putting the ‘I’ back in team.” I help people feel more powerful so they’re more collaborative. Advocating for the individual helps the company by default.
I came from a high-expectation family. Finding meaning in your work was very important. I ended up in business school, but I still didn’t know what to do. Ultimately I went for the ‘ladylike’ cosmetics industry, in sales and marketing.
When I worked at Lancôme, my French immigrant parents were so happy. A French company, and I was on the management track! I felt pressure to be happy—whenever I’d think about making a change I’d think, “How do I know this will make me happy?”
Around the time I turned 40, I realized I had to stop putting off following my dream. The company I was working for had just been bought, and I couldn’t get excited about the new organization. Meanwhile, I had wanted to do organizational behavior since business school. So, I went to a coach training weekend. And when I came back, I told my husband I had to quit my six-figure job. My daughter was 1 1/2. We had just bought our apartment, at the height of the market. We were a two-income family.
I wish I could say I had more of a vision at the beginning. It was more that I trusted that old adage: Do what you love and the money will follow. We just pushed through, and sometimes it felt like when a rocket ship goes through the atmosphere and everything shakes really hard. I did a lot of meditation during those years!
But I loved the work right away, and I felt suited to it. At first, after a client call when they’d had a breakthrough, I’d jump around the apartment. It was just so powerful.
I used to work at Dior, and when I’d tell people that at cocktail parties, it sounded glamorous—everyone wanted to know about it. Then I started saying “I’m a coach,” and people were like, “I’m gonna get another drink!” These days I’m talking about it with more confidence, so there’s more interest.
For years my clients were almost all women, but in the last year it has come up to about 40% men. They’re more reserved, but their insecurities are essentially the same as women’s. Men know that they can’t appear lacking in confidence. Women have a whole lexicon for discussing it.
I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur—I just wanted to be a coach. But a few years ago, I was working with the head of a company, and I realized the problems he was dealing with were identical to the ones I deal with. That’s when I realized it was time to call myself CEO.
Interviewed on March 7, 2018