A Research Paper By Manuel Guerreiro, Executive & Life Coach, PORTUGAL
“Live Without Anxiety” with Ricardo Laranjeira
Hello everyone, today I have the honor of interviewing Ricardo Laranjeira. Ricardo was born in Lisbon in 1968, did his studies in Corporate Communication, and worked for more than 10 years as a Marketing and Communication Director in different companies until he decided to become an Executive & Life Coach.
Ricardo has been working as a coach since 2009, has a master’s in NLP, is an expert in Enneagram, and is certified in the methodology of Enneacoaching. Ricardo is also a trainer in storytelling and social panorama and has published a book: “Live without anxiety”, which is in its 3rd edition in Portugal.
You may also find him online at (www.comunicacaomaiseficaz.com) where you can explore the different services that Ricardo can offer.
What Are the Motivations and Changes Required to Become a Coach?
Ricardo, I know that you started your career as Marketing & Communication professional but at a certain moment in your life, you decided to change your focus completely and become a Coach. What motivated you to make this change and become a Coach?
Thank you, Manuel! Well, it all started when I was around 40 years old and I had what I call an existential crisis and felt I wanted to do something different with my life. I started to explore more deeply my motivations and what would make me feel more fulfilled. During that year I took some tough decisions, personally and professionally, that ended up in a divorce and a change in profession.
I started to study many different topics: NLP, Enneagram, Coaching, and I felt that I could feel fulfilled doing Coaching.
I wanted to help people to get a different life, to change for the better, a bit like I think my story was.
So, tell me a little bit about the fulfillment you get out of being a coach. What do you like most about coaching?
The Satisfaction You Gain From Coaching
When I was working in marketing and communication, I felt that I was not contributing effectively to the well-being of the people around me. Coaching allows me to contribute to it in a very tangible way and to feel that kind of impact.
I believe that my clients have all the resources and potential to achieve their goals, and I support them in finding their solutions and using their full potential. This is something that I fell in love with. Feeling that a client feels more empowered to take care of their own life and use their full potential is undoubtedly my passion.
Ricardo, I know that you have clients from all types of industries, and different countries, but they are essentially corporate executives. What are the benefits that coaching can offer to these types of clients?
Well, first of all, I think the corporate world is increasingly competitive and it demands perfection from many of its professionals. I feel that many of these executives have no room to show their weaknesses and that they have expectations about themselves about always being strong and confident in all situations. This is a huge stress factor that can lead, in many cases, to burnout situations. Coaching can improve your clients’ awareness; helping them identify patterns in their behavior and, by supporting them in this process, I can help them achieve their goals and reduce their stress levels.
This awareness and self-knowledge can unlock barriers and open their minds to different perspectives and make them the best version of themselves.
So, coaching will help to uncover patterns or behaviors where they were stuck and support them to get to new perspectives and solutions that will unblock them. Even if they don’t have these types of challenges, they can use coaching to develop themselves and improve in different areas of their lives.
How to Deal With Anxiety?
Thank you for the insights. In your book, you talk about Anxiety and how people can better deal with it. From your experience, what are the most common causes of anxiety in our days?
Well, the book, which was written by me and my wife, results from the experience I had with many clients, and different workshops and courses and training that we delivered here in Portugal for several years.
Anxiety can come from many places: fear, trauma, guilt, shame, humiliation, rejection, betrayal, abandonment, and so on. But sometimes it implies a certain level of self-awareness to realize what it is and what triggers it.
Interesting. So, what can we do, as coaches, to help people deal with anxiety?
As coaches we can help our clients become aware of their anxiety and what triggers it, creating a space of trust, where they feel welcomed and not judged, enabling them to make a conscious decision to work on it.
We are all subjected to high levels of stress, more than ever in human history. Having high-stress levels means we have a tremendous amount of adrenaline circulating in our blood. We are always in alert mode and concerned about everything, everywhere, and there are almost no moments of discharge where we can regain our balance. Many of us enter a vicious cycle between thoughts and emotions and we lose the connection with our bodies. So, some of the techniques I use during my sessions are Meditation, body scanning, and breathing exercises, so my clients start to reconnect with their bodies.
My experience taught me that gaining this awareness helps people to make changes in their lifestyles. I help my clients discover how they can balance their lives. This may mean doing more physical exercise, for instance, reducing their internet usage, or having some ritual or practice that helps them gain this balance and get rid of this adrenaline. Other times it’s about connecting, with their relatives, their spouses, their husbands, and their sons, it’s connecting on a deeper level with their families and friends. They are so focused on getting more that they disconnect from their purpose and their human connections.
Yes, there’s a fine line between coaching and what could turn into therapy, if you’re not careful, don’t you think?
That’s a really important topic. When I wrote the book about anxiety, I started to attract a lot of people with really deep anxiety problems. Some of them needed therapy or even a psychiatrist that could medicate them.
I realized that, although I have many tools and knowledge, I didn’t have the tools they needed. Sometimes it’s not clear from the beginning and we need to be attentive in our diagnosis. Currently, I ask in the first session if they’re taking any medication, or antidepressants if they are already being followed by a therapist to identify what might be more serious cases. Apart from this, during the course of the sessions, I realize if the client is in a phase of their life that allows them to progress, develop and focus on the future. If they’re too attached to the past and in a depressing loop, I can recommend them to be followed by a therapist.
Thank you very much for sharing. I know that you changed or refined your niche during your journey as a coach, would be really interesting to understand your view on how this change has been. Can you tell us more about it?
Well, in the beginning, coaching was something really new in Portugal. So, I didn’t have much competition, and that allowed me to have clients from really different niches. But then a lot of coaching professionals started to enter the market, and I felt the need to specialize myself. Besides that, I also realized that there are matters in that I perform much better than others. I realized there were topics I really didn’t like to work on, for instance.
I understood what motivated me most was working with clients that wanted to be coached in topics that I related to my past experience with “Men issues”. The search for meaning and purpose, identifying what is lacking in their lives. Men, that wanted to make a transition, were normally in their forties and were living a sort of existential crisis. Some people would call it a midlife crisis.
I started to build a pretty detailed client profile, what I call Avatar. My Avatar is 42 years old, he’s a top executive in his company. He has two children, is married, and leads a team of 10people. I defined his level of income, the problems that he could be facing in the company, the problems he faces in his marriage, the difficulties to communicate with his children, and so on. I have my avatar fully built and defined. This is very important because when you are advertising your service or when you put yourself in front of a camera to present yourself and who you are as a coach, you should talk directly to your niche, people need to feel a connection, even if they are watching you or hearing you on YouTube.
So, I started to fully focus on this niche and I started to work with men, not only from Portugal but also from other countries around Europe, such as England, Scotland and Ireland, Germany, and other places, such as the United States. I understood that was something I was good at, and I understood it was a sustainable niche, so that turned out to be the niche I have currently.
Thank you for sharing your personal experience. We are close to the end of our interview, but there are one or two things that I would still like to ask you. One is related to the topic of the moment. the pandemic that clearly changed our lives in the last year and a half. Do you feel a difference between the requests from your pre-pandemic clients and the current ones?
Well, I noticed some. I had several clients who had difficulties with their relationships because they started to be at home much longer and spend more time with their partners and children, and this was a cause of stress for many.
They felt they had less space and were subjected to constant distractions and little time for themselves to release stress.
Then I had several professionals who had difficulties in managing remote teams, so they were working to be more efficient in building relationships with their people online, they were worried about how to maintain team spirit and collaboration during these times.
I also noticed that the pandemic forced us to contact more with ourselves and that, for some people, was a cause of stress. During the pandemic, the levels of stress, sadness, and even anger were higher than I had ever seen. Fortunately, many of the cases I have contacted took advantage of these moments of greater introspection to make meaningful changes in their lives and are now happier and more fulfilled.
Coaches’ Tips for Newcomers
What other advice might you have for new coaches that are entering this particular arena of coaching?
First of all, they must decide which niche they will focus on and what they will specialize in. Then, you should define your “Avatar”; without this, you’ll be lost and doing a bit of everything. After defining this, you should decide what methodology and tools you want to use and that you identify yourself with the most.
I would advise you to invest in your digital marketing and advertising, produce good quality content and advertise it. Me, for example, I invest more in LinkedIn and Twitter because it reaches more of my target audience. I also see that, in recent times, there is a greater investment in sharing video content.
And last, but most probably the most important thing, you should be genuine, be true to yourself. Find out what your passions are, and when you find them, it will be much easier. For me for example, one of my passions is Enneagram. When you really like something, you become obsessed with it and you’ll naturally study and work more and become good at it.
Again, a lot of good advice.
Well, you’ve been really generous with your time. I can’t thank you enough for the opportunity.
Thank you very much for your time today.
Thanks for the invitation.