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Kelly McCarthy – From PR to Passionate Coach

Kelly McCarthy is a Washington-based coach who left her career in Public Relations to pursue her passion for helping others. Read on to hear Kelly’s story and her advice for those who want to make a change.

Coaching Focus: I work with overwhelmed leaders who want to maximize their potential, focus their purpose, and create a ripple effect of motivation and inspiration in those around them.

Location: Gig Harbor, Washington

Connect: You can find Kelly online at her website, as well as on Instagram and Facebook.

Tell us about your journey as a coach.

I was always the person my friends came to when they needed to talk, so naturally, I pursued a degree in Psychology. The closer I inched to graduating, the more I realized that being a therapist would not be a good fit for me.

Fast forward 18 years, and I was working at a job that was beneath my skill set, and I was bored out of my mind and unsure what I wanted to do with my career.

A friend told me that she had hired a coach, and I noticed myself on the edge of my seat and leaning in as she described what it was like to work with her coach. By the end of the conversation, I told her that’s what I wanted to do.

I quit my job a few months later and enrolled at the Co-Active Institute (CTI). I graduated almost a year later with my CPCC and ACC certifications. I had never taken a leap of faith like that before, and it was the best thing I have ever done.

We want to destigmatize talking about money, including how much coaches make. Would you please share with our readers any relevant revenue figures from your business?

While I was still in Certification back in 2017, I worked up the courage to charge my client $150/hour. I was petrified. He is still my client 5 years later (and yes, I have raised my rates several times after certification).

People are resourceful. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. There’s something that DEEPLY matters to them, which is why they’re seeking a coach. If you’re the right coach for them, to get the desired results, it will be well worth the investment. 

What courses, programs, or certifications have you done?

I completed 104+ hours of training from the Co-Active Institute (CTI) and 6 months of supervised Certification to receive my Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC) Certification.

Upon completing that coursework, I was qualified to apply for my Accreditation from the International Coaches Federation (ICF). With over 500 hours of coaching, I now hold a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) Credential from the ICF.

What advice or perspective might you give to a new coach trying to get her first clients? Any advice they should ignore?

A piece of advice that I would offer is to change the language in your head from “getting” my first client to “inviting people to experience coaching.” If you’re inviting people in to what you’re passionate about, it won’t feel like selling to you nor to your potential clients.

Many people don’t know what coaching is, and only you can bring your own magic. They won’t hire you for your knowledge. They’ll hire you for revealing them to themselves so they feel seen, heard, understood and motivated.

If you’re inviting people in to what you’re passionate about, it won’t feel like selling to you nor to your potential clients.

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

To be honest, this is something I still struggle with as a coach. I am not a firm believer in Niches, but I do see the value for marketing purposes. If you listen to Rich Litvin’s podcast on this topic, he finds that people will still ask if you can and will coach them, even if they don’t fit into your niche because they love what you bring.

What books have significantly influenced your life? What are your key takeaways from these books?

The Prosperous Coach by Rich Litvin and Steve Chandler reminds me not to settle for clients that are not a good fit for me, just because I want the business.

Taming Your Gremlins by Richard Carson helped me to become more familiar with the Gremlin voices that hold me back so that I can give them a cell phone to play with while I get back to business.

Dare To Lead by Brené Brown reminds me to continue leaning in to “arena moments” or, as my mentor, Rick Tamlyn, would say, “GULP” moments. If you’re not sure what this means, look it up, you’ll be glad you did.

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

I would first spend it on gifts for my clients that remind them of their greatness. With any money left over, I would create a scholarship fund for those who may not otherwise be able to afford coaching (with any coach of their choice).

What are some of your favorite affirmations or thoughts? Why?

I love the phrase “Flip the Script.” A client wrote in a review once that I would help her flip the script on herself so she could continue making progress. To this day, I flip the script on myself when I get stuck. I ask “Is this true? Can you absolutely know it’s true?” (Thanks, Byron Katie!)

Another one I love is “Beliefs drive thoughts and thoughts drive actions.” So, it starts with your beliefs. What do you believe to be true? If you have self-sabotaging beliefs, it will lead to destructive thoughts, which create negative actions (or reactions). Stand firm in your beliefs… the rest will follow.

When you feel overwhelmed, stressed, or have lost your focus or motivation, what do you do?

I’m an Enneagram 7, so if it’s not fun, I’m not interested. If it’s something I absolutely have to get done, I make it fun. I’ll go pop some popcorn, make myself some iced tea, put on some good music, and light my favorite candle. If I make the environment more fun, I find my motivation to finish strong.

Kelly McCarthy - Kelly McCarthy Coaching, LLC - Featured Coach

If I really get stuck, I’ll go throw the ball for my dogs outside, go for a walk, or call a Coach-friend to collaborate. I draw my energy from others and those conversations usually unlock something.

Do you have any examples of how a “failure” set you up for later success?

I could NOT for the life of me seem to get myself out of a funk for about six months. I convinced myself that I was NOT a good coach (even though I had paying clients). Rather than fighting against it, the best thing I did was turn and get to know that voice and “interview” it to find out where it was coming from and why it had me in its grips.

The sneaky little bugger cleverly disguised itself and convinced me that coaching was SO much bigger than I was making it. I realized the voice was based in fear. Now that I know it better, when it tries to rear its ugly head I am able to notice it and dismiss it easily.

I also learned not to accept just anyone as a client who would pay me to be their coach. If I want to keep loving what I do and want to be able to help my clients cultivate the best outcomes, I want to work with people who I can build a strong, trusting relationship with so we can push the boundaries together and create an environment in which both of us are safe to fail.

Do you have any embarrassing (at the time) stories from your work as a coach? Or a time when putting yourself out there really paid off?

When I was a brand new coach, I went to a networking event. I was still unsure of how to position myself as a coach but challenged myself to go anyway. I walked in, alone, and was a ball of nerves. I began talking to a small business owner who seemed interested in working with me, but my ego took over and channeled my inner badass. I said to him, “I was taught in coaching school to push you so hard that you’ll want to fire me.” Needless to say, I never heard from him after that.

If you could put a message on a huge billboard — getting a message out to millions — what would it say and why?

“Live your life as if everyone you meet has something to teach you.”

I firmly believe that humanity would be SO much better if we all just learned from each other, rather than trying to win or be right. This belief applies to political viewpoints, religious beliefs, and so many other things. If we were all just curious about what it’s like to walk in one another’s shoes, stay curious, and ask questions, rather than rush to judge or make assumptions, we would all be much better off.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Stick with it and enjoy the journey, rather than putting pressure on yourself to reach the finish line. Chances are, the goalposts will be moved anyway by you or someone else. Shift your perspective, stay curious, and keep stepping one step at a time.

This article was written by the Life Coach Magazine staff. We cover everything from personal development, to coaching tips, to how to grow your coaching business. Follow us on Instagram or sign up for our emails!

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