It's About You. It's About Me.

It’s About You.  It’s About Me.
By Donna Yurdin, ICFTN President

Coaches have a unique relationship with clients. We can open the eyes and expand the perspective of clients but do not tell them what to do; we are not consultants. We listen and learn all about the person, their past, their motivations, their aspirations for the future but, we are not therapists. We honor where they have been, what they know and sometimes, admire how much more they know than we do.

Our March ICFTN program in Nashville will engage us about active listening and coaching presence. These are a bedrock for creating a successful coaching relationship, in establishing trust and intimacy. No matter how good you are at asking questions, there must be a willingness by the client to engage in coaching in order for you to be effective.  Trust won’t happen until the coach is listening and is present. But presence is not just about showing up.

Recently, I have been challenged by a young professional client who needed me to share more about myself, to be more transparent with her in order for her to trust me and engage in the coaching process. At first, I was taken aback but then realized that it took courage for her to ask more of me and that the barrier I normally erect between myself and a client was not going to work for her. I had to meet her where she needed me to be. Without showing my vulnerabilities, she was not willing to show me hers. Building a relationship with a client that allows them to let down their defenses, open up about their fears, be willing to admit weaknesses, requires the coach to do the same. 

Presence is more than just showing up. It is actively listening, showing respect to the client no matter what they reveal in order to establish trust. Agreeing with the client is not required. Acceptance of them as a human being is. We hope it is a mutual exchange of respect and acceptance.  But, if it isn’t, we have to remember that as coaches, we have the greater responsibility for being trusted.

How do you demonstrate acceptance? Are you 100% present with all your clients? What can and will you do to get better as a coach in co-creating your client relationships?

In addition to the March program, the chapter has also begun offering WBECS programs for added professional development.  If you attend the upcoming program on Narrative Coaching by Dr. David Drake, you may find these questions pertinent to his model and his use of design thinking in exploring professional identity and personal sense of self.  Enjoy and let’s continue to have this dialogue to get better as coaches.

Donna Yurdin, ICFTN President

Donna Yurdin

In the Spotlight: Celeste Shepherd, ICFTN Assistant

Celeste Shepherd1 - Where are you from, and how did you choose to live in Middle Tennessee?

I’m actually a native Nashvillian! Well, almost… I was born in London, England and moved to Tennessee with my parents at age 2. After college, I moved to Austin, Texas for a number of years, but when my son was born in 2007, the desire to return home to Nashville was too strong to resist.

2 - What is your professional background?

Prior to starting Celebelle, I spent the majority of my professional life as a C-Suite Executive Assistant and Administrative Manager for family run businesses. When I lived in Texas, I was fortunate to fall in with and work for a serial entrepreneur who owned a commercial paint company, 5 restaurants/bars, and a large parcel of real estate in the Riviera Maya in Mexico upon which he built an ecological subdivision. Working as his Administrative Manager for 13 years allowed me to hone my administrative skills across a broad range of industries as well as pick up a number of complementary skills such as graphic design, event planning, employee management, and bookkeeping. And, needless to say, the variety of tasks that fell on my plate on a daily basis perfectly prepared me to juggle the demands of my own business.

3 - How did you choose your specialty area and how did you end up working with ICFTN?

I started Celebelle in 2010 with the aim of providing top notch administrative and creative support to other entrepreneurs and small businesses. It’s been fantastic! Nashville is such a great place for entrepreneurs and there are so many opportunities to connect with possible clients and in turn make referrals. The thing I love about the Celebelle business model is that most of our clients are able to utilize multiple services. They may start as a creative client and then add on admin or vice versa. Some clients are project driven and some, like ICFTN, are daily. The main thing is finding the right fit and doing our best to provide great service. I ended up working with ICFTN because I had done some work with former ICFTN president Terry Humphrey and she recommended me to the board to help manage the needs of the membership. That was 5 years ago! It’s been a great collaboration and it’s been lovely to see ICFTN grow over these past years.

4 - What are the greatest challenges and greatest rewards of your career?

A challenge and benefit of this type of work is the variety of tasks that need to be completed each day. On the benefit side, it’s never boring – my days fly by and I’m constantly learning new things. But, it is a lot of hopping around from client to client, task to task – keeping everyone’s work moving forward… the challenge is working efficiently and not letting anything drop through the cracks. Sometimes multiple clients have deadlines that stack up together and then its crunch time! Fortunately, everyone we work with is so kind and appreciative of our work that on the occasions when we run behind, they are always understanding. My greatest reward is hearing “that’s perfect” or “it’s just what we wanted”. Exceeding people’s expectations is one of my biggest motivators.

5 - What is something that most ICFTN members would be surprised to learn about you?

I think my retirement career will be as a genealogist. I love family history (mine and other people’s) and really enjoy the challenge of puzzling together family trees and stories. Celebelle did a family history book for a client once and it was so fulfilling to organize, edit, and create a printed book for them to hand out to all their relatives. I’m my family’s unofficial historian and someday I hope to have the time to really dig in further. And if I could get paid for it ... even better!

6 - How do you enjoy spending your free time?

When the weather is nice, I love to play tennis and get outside. When it’s cold or rainy you’ll find me curled up with a book, binge watching Netflix, or generally snuggled up.