Andy was a business executive who learned to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing, highly uncertain environment. Now, he's a leadership coach and career strategist who helps individuals who want to go from just getting by, to having insanely awesome careers. Andy is a Certified Professional Coach, has an MBA in management, is certified as an expert in Lead Management Systems, and is a Board Certified Healthcare Administrator.
I'm curious to learn about what led you to change careers and become a leadership coach, could you tell us a bit about that process?
Wow, that's a great question. Not to be boastful, but I had a pretty successful career. As you mentioned in the intro, my career was in healthcare administration and so I had a really good career, I had some great mentors and I worked for some great organizations. But I got to a point in my career, kind of a crossroads, where I thought that I've got the second half of my career to look forward to, and how do I really want to spend that? What I really enjoyed most about my career, up to that point was helping develop others in seeing future leaders grow and develop and advance their careers. I was involved in a lot of extracurricular professional organizations and such, where I found myself speaking to large audiences about career advancement, working with individuals, one on one mentoring individuals. So when I got to that crossroads, in my career, I made the decision that what I enjoy most about leadership is helping others develop as leaders. I found this thing called coaching, that, quite frankly, I didn't know much about myself. It's just one of those things that just really spoke to me and really hit on a lot of my personal values and passions. Over the last few years, I took the time to deliberately make that transition and become certified and I'm enjoying the heck out of working with folks as they want to advance their careers and have those insanely awesome careers.
It sounds like more and more people are finding coaching as a pathway to their career advancement, why do you think that is?
We can't ignore what happened over the last year, but up into and through and even now, to this point, the corporate environment, the business world itself has just become so competitive and so fast-paced and constantly evolving. New changes are happening every day, especially with innovation and, and the digital era that we're in. It's hard for a leader to keep up with everything so you have a lot of working professionals, you have dual-income families where the husband and the wife, or the spouses are both working and raising families. So there's just a lot on people's plates these days. I think individuals are looking for ways to continue to have that competitive advantage in the workplace, and continue to advance their careers. For so long coaching has been this wizard behind the curtain kind of thing, if you will, where folks have heard of it, but don't really know much about it, and haven't looked into it all that much and one of the things that have really helped coaching kind of launch more into the mainstream and be more evident, is the digitization of it. So many organizations are going to online virtual platforms, much like we're doing here with the podcast, where you can work with a coach from your home, the coach can be anywhere in the world. So it's a great opportunity to work with somebody to put together your plan of action. The biggest thing about a coach is that a coach is not an advisor, they're not a counselor, they're not a mentor, they don't have all the answers for you, a coach really believes that you have all the answers you need and that you know your path forward, you have the skills that will make you successful. So a coach kind of helps draw that out and package that up in such a way that you have the vision and the pathway forward, to help with your success. Individuals are looking for things like work-life balance, or career advancement, or maybe even thinking about a career change themselves and are curious about the steps to make that career change. The idea of becoming a solopreneur these days is very attractive and so folks trying to maybe get out of the corporate grind like me, and looking to put their thoughts together into, "Is that the right move for me? Should I make that move? What are the pros and cons of all of that?" A coach is really there to help you think through all of those kinds of things and really press you to take some action.
What are some of the myths that you hear around coaching that you'd like to dispel?
I think the biggest myth is that coaching is needed when you have a performance improvement plan, or when your organization has decided that they need to see your performance improve. So it's almost punitive, in a sense that coaching has traditionally been looked at that way. Everything that I just described up until this point, would really dispel that myth. It is a very proactive way to manage yourself, manage your career, manage your life, manage your family, your finances, and so on and so forth. Anything you can think of that you want to improve on, a coach can help you with that. I think a lot of folks also tend to lump mentors and coaches together. Those are similar, but there are some differences there. A mentor to somebody you go to when you want to walk in their shoes, and you want to learn the way that they got to where they are so you're looking to understand exactly what they did and follow in their footsteps. Again, as I said a minute ago, coaching is not that. Coaching believes you already know what you want to do, what you need to do, and is going to help you put those thoughts into action. I think the last myth with coaching, that I think is important to understand is that, like mentoring folks, especially in leadership, tend to think that attending leadership development programs or signing up for leadership development cohorts is similar. I always like to think that leadership development is one thing that is very helpful. I had a lot of opportunities in my past career with leadership development, and it was great and it helped me advance my career, but there was never a partner that I had through any leadership development program who was going to help me put a lot of what I learned in development programs into play. So what I like about coaching is that you have that accountability partner who is going to make sure that all of the skills and abilities that you've acquired through the years, whether it be through experience or whether it be through formal development, that you're employing those in the workplace and in your field of expertise, and really bringing out the best in yourself. Then coaches make sure they are holding you accountable to making sure that you are performing at your best.
Can you help me do that by sharing with our listeners, one of your most successful favorite networking experiences that you've had?
I didn't realize until a short time ago that I would label myself as kind of a perpetual networker. It is something that's always been important to me, especially in my career to be involved in various ways especially through professional organizations. For me, I was a member and still am a member and have been in leadership roles with the American College of Healthcare Executives. So again, that was my past career as a healthcare executive. Now, as a leadership coach, I still work with many healthcare executives as well. So it's still important to me to maintain that networking relationship with the American College of Healthcare Executives. But even personally, getting involved with things at school, with the kids, with the church, with things in the community. I think it's important to have a balance so that you don't overindulge yourself in networking. My favorite networking experiences, though, are those ones where you really develop lasting relationships. So one in particular, that I'm thinking of was early on in my career when I was first getting into leadership and really looking at how could I formulate that my vision and my career goals. I reached out to somebody who was a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives who ended up becoming a really close friend of mine. We talk regularly, our kids ended up playing on the same little league team together for a while. So we kind of followed each other in terms of our career path and obviously, I'm on a different path now than he is, but it was something that we always found each other is kind of confidants and friends and, helpful advisors, if you will, and mentors to each other. I can't say enough about the value of networking in terms of developing those types of relationships that you can always leverage because we all need what I call your personal Board of Directors, for your career or life, and networking is a great way to build that personal Board of Directors.
How do you stay in front of these relationships that you're creating and cultivating your community?
I think one of the silver linings to really come out of this pandemic is the ability to stay connected virtually. When we were all working from home, and it was difficult to go out to networking events or have a lunch meeting or anything like that, you found that you can stay in touch virtually by having virtual coffee sessions, or even just messaging on LinkedIn, just to check in with folks. I always made it a goal throughout the last year to, check in with a certain number of folks a week. They were who I was going to check in with just to see how things are going. What was great about that was I was reaching out to folks that were outside of my immediate area of where I lived so I was able to connect with folks across the country, who otherwise, I would not have been able to connect with and probably would have lost touch with. I can't say enough about what this last year has done for us as individuals in terms of our ability to network and expand our horizons, and meet new people and establish new connections and stay connected with old connections as well.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
I really think what I would have told my younger self was to pace myself a little bit more. I think I became so focused on climbing the quote, unquote, ladder, that I missed some opportunities and experiences. I think if anything, I would go back and tell myself to just pace things out and to not get out over the tips of my skis because there's a burnout factor that's real for a lot of us when we're trying to chase something relentlessly, and missing opportunities in other ways. So that would be one of the big things because even though I definitely enjoyed my 20s and it was later in my 20s when I first started having a family, I think that that is important. You're only young once, and there's a lot to enjoy about life other than focusing too much on your career.
Do you have any final words of advice for listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Get out there and connect with folks on LinkedIn. Look for those in companies that you are interested in working for, or organizations that you're interested in being a part of, and don't be afraid to just send that connection on LinkedIn. I always like to say to attach a note to it as well. Just send a nice personal note of, "Hey, I'm interested in your company," or, "I'm interested in learning more about your organization and would you mind being my connection?" It just adds an extra little personal touch that helps to create a stronger connection, rather than just adding to your list of how many are in your network. Just get out there and do it is the best advice I can give.
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