Hey babes! Welcome back to the blog! Today is really exciting because we have our first interview guest Ms. Joyce Ann Washington. She’s a career and personal development coach from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and she’s here today to share her backstory on how she got started, and how you can too.
Read the transcript of our interview below. (Adapted for easier readability).
Aren– Ms. Washington, I’m so excited to have you today!
Joyce Ann– Hi Aren! Thank you so much for having me I’m so excited to do this interview.
Aren– Alright, let’s begin with how you got started. What was the catalyst that made you take the plunge into the industry of life coaching? Where were you in your life, and where were you financially?
Joyce Ann– Okay, so my senior year of high school I decided that I wanted to start a nonprofit for African American youth to really help them to empower themselves, find their passion and then take actionable steps towards getting there. So I went to school planning to be a therapist, so that I could get money together for the nonprofit because I wanted to gain some skills on how to work with different people. And I didn’t think I was going to graduate from high school and then know how to start a nonprofit. But after further consideration, I realized that therapy was not something that I wanted to do. There was a lot of talking about feelings, but not enough action and there was a lot of schooling that went behind it. So that wasn’t something that I was really interested in going into. Because of that, I started to shift my desires a little bit so instead of doing therapy I thought that I’d do social work! My junior year of college, I decided that I was going to intern with a high school social worker. I did get to meet a lot of youth and I got to put some of my skills of what I’ve learned in my psychology classes into action like how to talk to youth and how to really listen to them and help them deal with their emotions. But it was really emotionally draining. Sometimes the youth really didn’t want to connect with you, and I like that one on one to connection with the people that I’m working with. Now fast forward to my senior year of college. I don’t want to be a therapist, I don’t want to be a social worker, and I don’t know what jobs that I want to do. Again, I want to start this nonprofit, but I don’t know what steps to take to get there. So I decided to go to grad school. I applied anywhere that said youth work (as a major), and I got accepted to grad school, but I really didn’t feel that was the path for me. Not that I don’t like education, I think it’s a beautiful thing, but I just don’t like the formal sitting in a class having someone talk at you for an hour and then going off and doing whatever. That was just not something that aligned with how I learned. Push comes to shove, I reach out to a mentor of mine that I met during college. He told me about this program, in nonprofit management, because he knew that I was interested in starting my own nonprofit. But I was going to have to move to Minnesota for 10 months just to be a part of the program which was fine to me because I didn’t know what else I was going to do. I didn’t want to go to grad school, and I didn’t want to stay in my hometown. So I packed all my stuff up and I was getting ready to move to Minnesota, but I was scammed out of 1200 dollars in a housing scam because I was really stressed out trying to find a home. Now I only have $250 and I do not have a place to stay. It’s like a week or so before I have to move to Minnesota. So I reach out to my mentor again and he helped me find a place that I could go to. I had to take out a lot of credit, just so that I could be able to move to Minnesota. Because I was scammed out of that money, and this is an AmeriCorps program, (If you don’t know anything about AmeriCorps, you do not get paid a lot of money to be a part of AmeriCorps. It’s more for the experience, sort of like a nonprofit.) I had to have part time jobs throughout that 10 month program. After the 10 month program is over with AmeriCorps I have to figure out what I’m going to do now. So I looked for another AmeriCorps program for the summer, just so I can buy some time to really figure out what I want to do while I’m trying to build out this nonprofit. I ended up working for a summer camp over the summer, working with youth. It was nothing major. It just wasn’t working for me. So I started to look for a full time job doing program coordination and things like event coordinating because that’s what I did in my previous AmeriCorps program. I really enjoyed planning out events and doing workforce readiness things. I ended up landing a job which was paying me $15 an hour and I could leave the summer program because it was basically already over. And I could quit my retail job. I love my coworkers, I love the creativity that I could have in the job. But I had to travel between different schools to do the schools programming. That was a putting a dent in my pockets. I do not have a car, so I would have to take Uber and Lyft. And then every two weeks, $200 would be taken out of my paycheck. Not only did we have to work direct service with youth work, there was a high turnover rate so there was always someone leaving and then I ended up having to do the job of two people and I was the only full time person working the youth worker position, everyone else was part time. And then the youth were just being wild and crazy, not being able to get any of the work done that we were planning on doing. And then the pay. It was all just making me feel trapped, really overwhelmed, and really unhappy. There was a policy put in place, which would remove the flexibility that I had in my schedule, and I was just over it. I was really unhappy at that point and I was just emotionally drained and tired. To the point that I was in the bathroom at my job crying my eyes out and I was spending multiple days and multiple weeks just crying and being unhappy with my job. So I took a week off because it was my birthday and I was planning my escape to leave. I wanted to move to Atlanta so I went to Atlanta for my birthday for a week. Things didn’t really work out. I wasn’t able to find a job there, I wasn’t able to find a house there. My two weeks notice was already put in, so I decided that I would just go back home and focus on building out my nonprofit.
Aren– Tell us the story of your first legit client. How did you find them. And what do you attribute as the reason why they chose to work with you?
Joyce Ann– So how I found them, I’m on this website called thumbtack. And basically, she wanted to work with me because she was sort of feeling lost in her career. She had been working with a company for about 10 years or so and she was promoted a couple of times, but after about five years ago she didn’t get any more promotions, and she was just kind of stuck in her position. She also didn’t like how toxic, the work environment was. And so she just wanted to figure out what her next steps were and what her skills were to help her move forward to creating the life that she really desired. So what we did in our 12 week program, was I worked closely with her to really figure out what it was that she wanted to do with her future (answering questions) like: what are some things that excites you? Or some things that drive you , motivates you and gets you excited and ready to wake up and go to work every day? And after we figured out what those things were, we talked about some blockages that she may have for accomplishing any of those desires. And one of the things that was a blockage for her was she didn’t exactly know where her skill set lied. And then we move into creating an action plan. So one of the things that she wanted to do was create a resume, what she did in her job, what kind of skills she gained over her time working at that job, being able to sell herself, in order to get to the job that she really desired. So we did her resume and we started working on finding different sorts of jobs that she was interested in. After the 12 week program, she actually reached back out to me to tell me that she was able to get into one of the jobs that she applied for, because she worked really hard on building out her confidence and she figured out exactly what it was that she wanted. And then she decided that she was going to put forth the action to getting that desire, so that was one of my first clients.
Aren– Okay okay, what are the first five steps that you took to make this career your reality?
Joyce Ann– So what I decided to do was some research on how I could help people on a one on one basis, but there was action behind the steps I was giving to help them, and there wasn’t any schooling (college). So I came across life coaching, which is basically counseling, like mentoring. It’s just giving advice to the clients to really help them figure out what it is they are desiring and what it is that they want to accomplish. So I decided that life coaching was just a better fit for me. I ended up doing some research and found a program that I could get my life coaching certification from because I do think that having certifications in place are important, and then also having the skills in place are important. I’m going to kind of explain this through my framework that I teach, or that I coach in my coaching program, and it’s called Dream in action steps. There are four steps in Dream in action steps. There is dream, deciding what your passion is. Believe, that you can get what you want. If you do not believe it, figure out what sort of negative blockages you may have that’s holding you back. Work hard, actually create an action plan towards getting to what you want to accomplish . And then lastly, is be happy, executing your goal and then reflecting on okay did I enjoy this? What do I like about this? Where could I change some things? Do I actually want this goal? Things like that. (So for me) First step is dream, so figure out what I wanted. Like I said, I wanted to be a life coach. Therapy wasn’t working. Social Work wasn’t working. So my desire was then to become a life coach. Believe, I had to really work on my self confidence, I had to learn how to talk to people one on one and how to be of service to them. And (I had to) get out of my own head of negative self beliefs that I had, that I wasn’t good enough or that I don’t know what I’m talking about, or I don’t have enough experience. Whatever negative beliefs that I had going on through my mind, I had to remove those negative beliefs in order to get to where I wanted to go. Then there’s work hard. I had to take action, and I had to find the place that I wanted to get my life coaching certification, I had to start building my packages for what it was that I wanted to base my coaching programs off of. (I had to) Come up with the pricing, I had to get my business license, I had to actually start marketing myself, for my business. But once I got all those action steps in play, I was able to create my coaching services, and create my business. Last is be happy. When I was first starting out, it was really hard to figure out how I was going to get my first clients. I posted on a bunch of websites and things like that. So I had to really focus on “Alright, what is it that I want to accomplish here”? What is my niche, how do I want to package myself How do I want to sell my coaching services? What exactly am I, promising the clients that I want to work with? Who do I want to work with? So instead of just generically being a random life coach, really just figuring out what my niche was so that I could be able to market myself properly. So those were my five steps towards getting to my career.
Aren– Now that we have the five steps, Is there anything that you would say was a hurdle to getting started that someone in your field may want to avoid?
Joyce Ann– Things I would say, when you’re first getting started in becoming a life coach, or any business in general is to really work on whatever negative beliefs that you have about yourself. When I was first starting out, I was really nervous about my pricing because I was like “I’m new, how am I going to get any clients if I’m charging a certain amount of money and people don’t know me”? Whatever negative beliefs that you have, it is important for you to really delve deep into what those are, so that you can overcome them and start creating actionable steps towards moving past that negative self talk. Knowing how to market yourself. That is a struggle for a lot of coaches because they don’t exactly know who their target market is and they don’t know their niche. So figuring out what your niche is is very important because it’ll help you be able to brand yourself and narrow down who you’re helping so you’re just not out here trying to help everybody. You can really hone in on working your craft and give them more quality services. Be unique to who you are. Don’t try to change or be somebody else because if you’re trying to be someone else, it’s just not going to work out, because you won’t be authentic and when you’re not authentic to yourself, everything is all weird, and it’s uncomfortable, and you don’t get the best quality because you don’t feel comfortable in what you’re doing because you’re not being yourself. Have your business niche be authentic to who you are, have your framework be authentic to who you are, have your pricing be authentic to who you are. Because if all that stuff is not in place, then you’ll feel like a fraud every day and that’s not going to feel good for you, having a business that you’re not being yourself in. You can look online, you can take some tips from other people, but really look for what is true to yourself. And what that will look like. Don’t try to sell coaching. People are not going to be trying to buy coaching. If you want to be a life coach, I’d advise you to sell what someone wants to buy. So for instance, if someone is trying to lose weight and you’re a fitness coach, you’re selling them on the idea that you’re going to help them lose weight. People want results, they don’t really care about the coaching part of it, they just want the results. For me, it’s helping people figure out what they want in life and then taking actionable steps towards getting there.
Aren– Okay, What sets you apart from others as a life coach?
Joyce Ann– I think it’s because I am authentic to myself, I’m a very creative person and I like to find different fun ways to work with my clients. So not only do I do one on one coaching, which I really enjoy, I also am an author. So just writing books and things like that that can help (my clients) figure out what they’re passionate about and create their own action plans after my coaching services are done. I like planning events and doing little challenges. Right now I’m working on building out this self love challenge for some of my clients to be a part of and really learning how to feel good about themselves and removing any negative blockages that they may have. I want to have a bunch of other different activities and things like that, that can keep my clients engaged, after they’re done with the one on one coaching program.
Aren– Okay, for future clientele, how can we book a session with you?
Joyce Ann– So, you can email me at email@example.com . I am offering 30 minute free coaching calls so that we can really get to know each other and see if coaching is really for you. So that’s how you can reach out to me.
Joyce Ann– Alright, thank you again, Aren! I had so much fun doing this interview with you!
Aren– Thank you for doing this interview, I’m really happy to have you!
Don’t forget to check out the Dream Academy Facebook support group, if you’re looking for an accountability partner to help you get your life on track and visit the joy in life coaching website for a free 30 minute consultation to help you start reaching your goals today.
If you enjoyed this interview be sure to leave a comment!
Watch the actual interview below: