Of all the things you can say in a business context, “Can I pick your brain?” has to be one of the most loaded. In many cases, people really do want to help. They may have solicited help from mentors and colleagues as they built their businesses, and they now want to extend the same generosity to others.
For those who are unfamiliar with coaching, it might seem like talking to a coach and talking to a friend aren’t all that different. Both listen. Both want to support you. And both can provide unique perspectives on your situation or challenge. And yet, that doesn’t mean that a coach and a friend are interchangeable.
My friends and colleagues have called me a business unicorn, a manifestation fairy, and the most connected person they know. I’m very grateful for the compliments, and it’s true that I love connecting people to opportunities and making introductions among clients, colleagues, friends, friends of friends...you get the idea.
Building and launching a business requires focus, determination and stamina—there’s a reason people say it’s like a full-time job. When you’re preparing to make the entrepreneurial leap, it’s an exhilarating time. But what if it doesn’t feel that way? What if you’re so preoccupied by stress that you can’t focus on planning? While you don’t want to put your entrepreneurial goals on hold forever, there are times when it’s useful to take a step back and consider the timing of it all.
Leaving the stability and security of a full-time job is one of the biggest challenges for people who want to launch their own businesses. Building and starting a business requires a huge amount of energy and focus, which makes it hard to keep up with the demands of your current job while you’re also looking to the future. But at the same time, launching a business also requires money, which makes it hard to leave that same full-time job. And it’s not just your new business that needs the cash flow—you still have all your usual bills to worry about as well.
Have you ever tried going through your day or week without prioritizing? It can be chaotic, especially if you’re an entrepreneur who is juggling lots of different things at once. When you assign each task equal importance, everything feels urgent. You can’t possibly complete every task, so you fall behind, and your list gets even longer. Meanwhile, the things that really need to get done aren’t getting star billing on your list. Not even close. They’re somewhere down there, but by the time you get to them, if you get to them, you’re ready to call it a day. The cycle of anxiety and chaos starts all over again before your head even hits the pillow.
Imagine for a moment that you’re a budding entrepreneur. You have an idea you’re passionate about and you’ve decided to leave your job to pursue it full-time. As you dream about your new professional life, do you stop to consider your lifestyle? Do you have a vision for how you want to enjoy your time outside of work? Or are you resigned to the fact that your new venture will take all of your time, and then some?
Flashback to 2014, a very cold winter in NYC. I’m excited to have just launched my own business, and am working out of my apartment. After almost a decade in traditional settings, it’s blissfully calm and quiet as I take client calls, craft strategy, and write emails. Actually, it’s too quiet, which means that my inner critic is working overtime as I try to make decisions. Is anyone going to read this blog post? Will anyone respond to this email blast? Am I making the right move here? Is anyone going to hire me?
Here’s something you may not hear from other coaches: I’m not for everyone.
I might curse during a session. I will definitely be direct and straightforward. Whether you’re a client, a friend (or both), or a family member, it’s in my DNA to tell it like it is. I don’t sidestep the tough issues or try to hide what I’m thinking. I always say what needs to be said. It’s part of who I am, both as a professional and a person, but it’s also how I believe I can best help my clients.