Recently, I was interviewed by the National Coach Academy sharing my coaching journey. Provided is the transcription of our conversation. Checkout their site to learn more about the National Coach Academy's mission.
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 Drew Aversa. Drew is a Keynote Speaker, Business Strategist, and Leadership Coach based in San Francisco, California.
NCA: Can you describe your coaching practice and the kinds of clients you typically work with?
Drew: My business coaching practice revolves around business development and brand development for entrepreneurs or middle-market companies as well as helping business professionals develop leadership capacity and more alignment within their personal and professional lives to improve workplace culture.
NCA: What initially got you interested in becoming a coach?
Drew: Since high school, I’ve been involved in coaching in one way or another. I was the president of our peer education program where we went into middle school and high school campuses and taught subjects ranging from peer pressure to date rape to substance abuse. From there, we worked with licensed school counselors and our peers in need of support. We helped our peers stop drinking, we picked them up at parties, and were that person for them that they could confide in as well as a resource conduit linking them back to counselors for more support.That’s the thing with coaching. The key is you’re there to facilitate a conversation. You’re there to facilitate an exchange of perspective and offer clients resources that you’ve amassed on your life journey, whether it’s in business or personal resources within your network to help them achieve their full potential. To me, the greatest thing about coaching is being able to help somebody knowing that our time together added value to their life.Through the years, my coaching focus has evolved depending on where I was in my own professional journey. When I was a first responder, I coached people new to the job. When I was a college instructor, I helped students land a career in public safety, coaching them on how to interview for each phase of a highly competitive process. A lot of focus during that time was in career coaching.Now that I’ve been in business development roles, different entrepreneurs or business leaders will reach out for coaching to grow their organizations. Often there’s a lot of stress involved in growing a business, so I help them align work-life balance, professional goals, and personal goals. In all, I like working with people of different backgrounds because my process works as I meet people where they are and give them the tools to grow – career, business, and in life.
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?
Drew: The most rewarding aspect is seeing somebody go from a stuck phase where they’re in limbo or they don’t believe that they can achieve something to actually achieving their goal and seeing things play out that they wanted.It’s like the first time you go bungee jumping. You need somebody to tell you it’ll be alright as you take that big leap and then enjoy the experience. Then you come back to the top and you’re like, “Wow, I actually did this. I didn’t get hurt. Everything was amazing. It was pretty exhilarating. I’m glad I took that leap of faith.” Sometimes we just need that person by our side to walk us on our journey forward.
NCA: Can you think of a mentor or a coach in your own career who was the most vital to your success and in what ways did this mentor help you thrive in your career?
Drew: At each part of my career journey, I’ve had mentors in different ways. I had a mentor who hired me to be an instructor at the community college when I was 19 years old and who taught me how to interview for a highly competitive fire department career which I landed in my early 20s.In business, I had a CEO who hired me and I worked directly for him. He mentored me in business and elevated me professionally by putting me on the top executive committee where I worked with CEOs. We had weekly mentoring meetings and we had an understanding of the value in the exchange of time — his time for me and my time for him.There was a reverse mentorship in some ways, too, where my experience in life navigating a severe injury and the things that I had been through as a first responder rubbed off on the CEO in a positive way. In mentorship, while one is being mentored, the mentee can also provide value to the mentor if the mentor is open to learning about life experiences and different perspectives.From a spiritual perspective, I’ve had spiritual mentors as well who have helped me in my faith journey and my transformation from severe injury to where I am today. To be successful in life, you need to have a calm spirit, make your amends, and get rid of those regrets by taking massive action to have the life you deserve and that your creator, God, or the universe intends for you. You get one go round in this body, so make it count!I’ve been grateful to have mentors from career guidance to business mentoring to spiritual mentoring and I believe each one has, as I say, “a reason and a season.” Embracing the people on your path is key because each person is there to teach you something for that time and when you look back you realize the lessons they taught you preparing you for present time.Sometimes we just need a committed person by our side to walk with us on our journey forward to help us see things clearly and align all of the pieces of life’s puzzle. Potential clients need to get really honest with themselves and ask how much more time they want to spend going in the same circle with the same results. If you want a different result, you need a different approach, perspective, tools, level of commitment, and mindset to achieve your desired result. That’s where coaching comes in and why coaches are valuable. They keep you accountable and give you new resources to thrive! It’s like the first time you go bungee jumping. You need somebody to tell you it’ll be alright as you take that big leap and then enjoy the experience. Then you come back to the top and you’re like, “Wow, I actually did this. I didn’t get hurt. Everything was amazing. It was pretty exhilarating. I’m glad I took that leap of faith.” Sometimes we just need that person by our side to walk us on our journey forward.
NCA: One of the most common challenges new coaches face is self-doubt. Some coaches call it Imposter Syndrome, where early on they feel somehow inadequate to take on the role of coach. What is one piece of advice that you would give to somebody who is in the beginning stage of their coaching career and dealing with these doubts in their mind?
Drew: First, it’s a business. If you are going to turn this into a business, it has to be treated like a business. Knowing who your market is and being clear with yourself, so you can be clear with others is key.From there, don’t be afraid to charge money. A lot of people will want to take your time for free because they think of the word “coach” as their high school gym coach who was there and being paid a salary to coach them playing basketball. But the reality is if this becomes your passion and your purpose, then at some point, you will have to start charging because it’s time that you’re giving to other people that you could be doing something else for yourself or creating another business.At the end of the day, time is the most valuable gift that we’re given. If you decide that coaching is your career, then you need to figure out a way to turn this into a business. If you see that coaching is a passion and more of a side hustle and you just want to help people, then perhaps don’t worry about charging money or building a sales process and do this as a pro bono aspect of your life because it feels good. Try to figure out what percentage of this you want to treat as a serious business and what percentage of this you want to treat as a passion project of giving back to people. For some people, taking money may not feel right. The best coaches are truly aligned, including being aligned with their money concept.As a coach, what people don’t see is the amount of time spent going to seminars for self-improvement to learn to be able to give more tools and resources to the people you’re coaching, which costs money out of your own pocket. They don’t see the prep time of what goes into assessing somebody before you begin to coach them. That takes time to determine if this person is the right fit for you to engage with as a coach.The reality of this world is that we need money to live, to retire, and to have influence in how we use money to create a better world through our successes. If coaching takes up more than 8 hours in your week, figure out how to get paid. Also, remember that you are now a business owner as a coach and need to get your own coaching from professionals on tax withholdings, contracts, legal advice, etc.In the end, you need to create a business model that truly works for you so that you can continuously focus on delivering the most value to your clients. For every life improved through coaching, there are many more lives touched through the power of self-improvement as the impact of coaching creates better leaders, parents, and community builders.
Note: I am not affiliated with the National Coach Academy and do not endorse their services. This is solely an interview at their request on coaching.