Julia Griffin, Diversity Coach
I work in London in the field of equality and diversity education and training and I am also studying with ICA and growing my coaching business. Along with parenting, that is quite a handful! Life is more rewarding than it has ever been before - finding something you love doing is very motivating.
1. Why did you become a coach?
I started to think about coaching a few years ago as I floated into my late 40s. Four things shaped my path to ICA and coaching.
- to run my own business (but I had always worked in the public sector and lacked confidence)
- to enjoy a better work life/balance (and especially in relation to parenting and my own health and wellbeing)
- to benefit from a flexible and creative career (yes, that holy grail)
- a career which celebrated age and experience
Coaching ticked all the boxes.
ICA stood out from other coaching schools because it offered the business skills as well as coaching skills and accreditation.
It had teleclasses, flexible learning and access to a body of learners and coaches all of which are essential to me as a learner.
2. When did you discover your niche, and then how did you use it to find clients?
I coach families, individuals and organisations who are experiencing challenges in relation to a perceived difference, like disability or sexuality, for example. My tag line is 'positive about difference". Interestingly, my coaching encompasses a focus on the clients' use and understanding of social media which is instrumental in how people express and define themselves and connect with others. You would be surprised by how many issues social media throws up for people and once you throw difference into this mix the challenges are exacerbated.
3. Who are your clients (or who are you planning they will be)
My clients include parents and carers and organisations such as schools and community-based groups. Social media is a wonderful tool but so many families and organisations are struggling with online safety, bullying and so much more. Once you start coaching it takes you to all sorts of places and I have also coached a number of individuals to start-up their own business and this has been exciting.
4. How have you blended coaching with your previous experience or profession?
I blended coaching with my background in education and training. I address schools and community audiences and I always draw on coaching skills alongside my teaching and training skills. This means that I can provide some expert knowledge but I see coaching as the most effective way of enabling people to make positive change.
5. What is / was your experience as a student of ICA?
I love ICA and I think that most people do. I am a huge fan of the teleclasses which enable me to connect with learners from around the world and I learn so much from their exchanges and experiences. The coaches and teachers are wonderful too. They offer a huge breadth of experience and they are so utterly generous with sharing their knowledge. I always feel rejuvenated after a class.
6. What's a typical day for you as a coach or as a student?
Do you really want to know?
Ok. You asked!
Each day starts with my son. I parent an 11-year-old boy who is in his final year of primary school. My morning starts with him and involves the usual morning mayhem of lunches, school bags and the endless chase for the missing shoe as snatched away by our pet dog in the dead of night.
After kissing him goodbye at the school gates, I head towards my local coffee shop where I check emails and catch up with immediate business. Community provides a vital role in my life and my local coffee shop is part of that community. They also do a mean espresso which helps.
Then each day will be different. I have online coaching commitments but I am also out and about in the community around East London where I undertake training. I love the variety. Face-to-face coaching and training, online coaching and plenty for time for myself. I have a lot of time at my desk at home which overlooks an old apple tree. It's the best office I've ever had in my career.
Within each week, I also make sure I swim and do yoga and mindfulness. I need this for my creative self and to be a good coach. I also provide myself with a good diet both nutritionally and ideas wise. I read discussion threads on the ICA forum, take classes and undertake my own learning. I get as much from the dedicated coaching classes as I do the business classes. I am learning all the time.
Coaching allows me flexibility. I can attend most of my son's school events and walk the dog or take a break to sit in my garden when it's needed. This is important to me. My new life provides a structure which works for our family but it also work for me as a person.