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Kara Phillips – Featured Coach

I grew up with parents who are therapists. Just take that in for a moment… As you might imagine, my worldview was shaped by strong communication skills, the ability to recognize and express emotions and feel free to talk about feelings and be vulnerable. It wasn’t until I was well into adulthood that I realized that my life was not the norm. 

When I was young, I always wanted to be a teacher. In college, I flip-flopped between psychology and education, trying to find where the two met, but never really figuring that out. When I first learned about coaching many years later, it was like an epiphany for me! This, THIS, is where those two worlds met! And I got to include my love of listening, validating, and encouraging others. I was so excited! I felt FREE! It took a long time from that first epiphany until I shifted all my focus into coaching, but I learned so much along the way. 

I have started my coaching business, Living Rhythm and Joy, two different times. After the first time didn’t “take,” it was clear to me that it was not the right time for it… my time and attention were needed elsewhere (more on that later).

When I started my business again the second time, it was clear that the time was right. I sent letters to friends and acquaintances, letting them know about it and asking them to share with people they know. That is how I got my first client! She was a referral from a high school friend I had recently reconnected with thanks to that letter!

What are some courses, programs, or certifications you’ve taken part in? Would you recommend them?

I have taken a couple of coaching classes. I was lucky enough to participate in a beta class that was being put together for the Adler Graduate School in MN many years ago. That class really got to the heart of coaching and is where I got my first real taste of how much I wanted to do it.

Then, before I started my business for the second time, I took a six-month course through Coach Training Alliance. That course incorporated teaching about the business of coaching, as well as coaching techniques and practice. It is designed to be the first step in ICF certification.

I would recommend this program to new coaches or people who are thinking about becoming a coach. It is very well rounded and prepares you for all aspects of coaching.

What are some of your favorite mantras, thoughts, or journal prompts? 

There is always, always, always something to be thankful for!

I went on a weekend getaway with my best friend to a small northern Minnesota town in late February. We ate breakfast at this quaint little cafe where they had all kinds of sayings and cute pictures on the walls. One of them that was right at our booth said, “There is always, always, always something to be thankful for”. I took a picture of my best friend sitting under that sign and have been using it as my mantra ever since! Every day I post something I am thankful for and share it with my Instagram and Facebook communities. Particularly in this new COVID world, I always want to be a source for positivity and encourage others to find joy in everything!

What are your thoughts on “choosing a niche” as a coach? 

Choosing a coaching niche is important for multiple reasons. The best coaches are ones that are passionate about their area. A niche is important, too, when thinking about the business aspect of coaching. You have to be able to reach people and connect with them around a need.

The more specific a niche you define is usually better. For example, when you have a baby, you want to find a doctor specializing in pregnancy and childbirth. Sure, a general physician or family doctor can handle it, but you would feel safer in the hands of a specialist.

The same is true in coaching. You can call yourself a life coach and work with anyone on anything. Still, if people seek help for a particular situation, they will find more comfort in someone who specializes in that area.

What’s the biggest challenge you have with your business right now and how are you going to overcome it?

Right now, I am facing the challenge of getting my name and voice out in the world. I am becoming visible by increasing and improving my social media presence and learning new tools to help create messages and streamline my processes. I am talking to everybody I get a chance to about what I offer: rediscovering yourself, experiencing joy, and finding inner peace while raising children with extra challenges.

If you had an extra $10,000 to spend on your business, how would you spend it and why?

If I had an extra $10,000 to spend on my business, most would go into marketing. I would hire someone to create a new webpage and work on SEO. In my dream world it would also allow someone to manage my social media! I would also spend some on marketing materials. I would love to have branded pens and notebooks for every client. And of course, it would be nice to invest some into my office to create a beautiful space.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?

When I find myself getting overwhelmed or losing focus, I stop for a minute, take stock, and figure out if something is going on in my life that is making me feel out of control. I know myself well enough to know that I tend to get paralyzed when I feel out of control… It’s like I believe that if I just stop moving, life will stop going on around me too! Once I realize what is happening, I jump right into using the self-care techniques that I talk about with my clients. 

Sometimes, the basics will be enough to break free – like talking aloud to either myself or God – or journaling about what is happening. Journaling works best when I am not sure what the issue is because it tends to lead me to the source. Once I have figured out the cause of the feeling, I can address it. Sometimes it just requires paying attention to some detail, but other times (more often than I would like!), there is something in the past or an old feeling that needs to be processed and dealt with so I can continue to move forward. If that is the case, I usually end up talking to someone – a friend or family member – and engaging in pampering.

How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success?

I first started my coaching business back in 2009. I was eager and enthusiastic… but not well prepared. I bought a bunch of books, took a coaching class, built a website, etc. But I had no idea how to run a business or market myself. Of course, I was woefully ignorant of that fact! I worked hard for about a year and a half until the money I had set aside was used up. Then I needed to get a “real” job again. 

I went back to work in IT, where all of my professional experience had been. The week my benefits kicked in, my daughter had her first of many hospitalizations due to mental health issues. I spent the next seven years navigating an unknown world, trying my best to help her and losing myself in the process. I lacked support and did not know how to find the resources to get help – much less even think about taking care of myself during that time! 

Now my daughter is living on her own, and my husband and I are empty nested. I have found a group of like-minded women who meet once a week on Mondays, for the support I lacked in my life for so long. It is FINALLY time, once again, to focus on me and my dreams! What I learned in the ten years since I first started my coaching business is invaluable! I have a clear understanding of who I want to coach, and why, and I know myself better than I ever have! There is nothing, NOTHING, that can replace life experience in this world! 

In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?

I matter!

It sounds silly, I know, but my journey to where I am now left me empty and forgetting the fact that I need, and deserve, to count my feelings and needs when making decisions and managing my life. It is this new knowledge… belief… that led me to restart my business. Now, I am a living success story for the value of my coaching! I practice what I preach every day!

If you could have a huge billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say?

You have a choice!

You might not get to choose your circumstances, but you can always choose how you react, respond, and your attitude. Choose wisely!

Connect with Kara

You can find Kara online at her website:

You can also find her on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

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