Helen Isacke

Founder of the Trusted Coaching Directory

Marie: Hello listeners. It's so lovely to be with you again this morning. This morning Jeanine is not with me but we have a wonderful guest speaker with us that we are going to learn and grow from. So, let me introduce Helen Isacke. She is the founder of the trusted coach directory which was established in 2016. Helen first trained as a coach in 2003 and specialized in working with new managers and she's trained in various profiling tools. She is an NLP master practitioner and she's the author of Soft Skills for Strong Leaders. I love that title of that Helen. You've put your own practice of coaching on the back burner to set up something that is really important, i've discovered over the past few months which is a directory to raise the profile of top-quality professional coaching and coaches and to raise the credibility and standard of coaching so Helen welcome to the podcast this morning.

Helen Isacke: Thank you, Marie. Very It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you.

Marie: So, we only met a few months ago Helen when I was actually introduced to you by another coach and for me being part of your trusted coach directory, one of the most important things for me as we were talking just before we joined the call was the community the community that it offers and also the learning opportunities. So, I'm curious as to what made you put your own coaching practice on the backburner, as you describe and set up TCD.

Helen Isacke: Yes. That's a great question and it could be a long answer so i'll try and condense it. As an external coach    which up until recently I think coaches were mainly external as in, we were going to organizations and setting up our own contracts. You know that a lot you have to do to market yourself and to raise your profile and get out there and you'll see you constantly have to market yourself and differentiate yourself. And for me I i've been in so. This year for various organizations over the years very lucky and picking up those pieces of work. And I always used to say you know you just keep doing a good job and being a great coach and the work just keeps coming through from the associates. And then the credit crunch happened 2008/2009 and projects were coming to an end and so much were coming to an end and I thought I believe all of this leadership coaching I need to go find my own clients. And so you do, you get out there and you get this marketing engine started. Then it got again and you're constantly having to do that you always have to replenish clients and build relationships you know as we all know as external coaches. It got to the stage at the beginning of 2016 where I was looking at my pipeline it must have been January February things were getting quiet, projects were coming to an end and I’m thinking what else do I need to do to raise my profile? I thought oh you know there must be a directory out there for coaches. And I couldn't find one, not for UK based coaches. So, whether it stupidly or not I thought okay well if I can't find one, I'm going to create one. Because I enjoy really enjoy the sales and marketing side. And so that's what I did and it wasn't just for me to find work for me, it was to help other coaches who I could see through all the coaching groups that are saying other coaches were struggling to find client work and they could be fantastic coaches but they weren't so brilliant at the sales and marketing and actually that's not what they wanted to do. And so part of the reason was to create a platform where coaches could go out there and raise their profile and get into a lot larger organizations. But the other side of it is around the fact that Coaching isn’t regulated. Anybody can call themselves a coach and they do and as we know you can go on a weekend course and call yourself a coach or you can sit on an executive board and maybe you're made redundant or you move on and then you think right I could be an executive coach and therefore you know we all meet coaches everybody wants to be called a coach and yet so few have really gone through all the training that you and I have been through and that we find leaves the credibility for quality coaching so that's why you know the credibility comes into this. And I'm sure you know it's great what you're doing you're bringing people in and actually training them up and you know supporting them through that process but there are a lot of coaches out there who are not they're not qualified, but that's not helping those who are qualified. Hope that… does that make sense?

Marie: Oh yeah. Helen you are speaking our language. One of the reasons actually we set up empower world was to ensure that the profession had a standardization. As you know we set up empower world in the Middle East in Qatar and at the time there were many people who were, first of all they didn't understand what coaching was and they will be. And they were calling themselves coaches and it was doing a disservice to our profession we believed. So, you're speaking our language when you're talking about things like the recognition of those coaches who have been through professional training that is robust and aligned to the professional coaching bodies out there.

Helen Isacke: Yeah. And then the other thing I was hearing when I was talking to, doing some marketing and that was doing my own coaching business and talking to H.R. directors. Some of them didn't know what to look for in a good coach. And I heard quite a few horror stories. One in particular nature director of a big pharmaceutical company telling me that she went into this company and found out they were using an executive coach who was almost taking over the H.R. departments and was saying that they had this particular coach had to bring in their own coaches to coach that the senior leaders in this organization and when she started digging down they weren't qualified they didn’t have their CPD, they didn't have supervision. And so you know other coaches were getting into big organizations. And for me it was about fact that the standard of coaching as well because again you know I’ve met so many coaches over the years before setting up the directory who they might have qualifications but they're not doing anything from the CPD point of view or they're not having supervision. And I’ve got coaches who come on the directory because I'm saying you have to commit to regular supervision if you're coming on the directory and those who did have come back to me afterwards saying I had no idea how important that supervision was. So, I think we’re certainly raising the standard as well.

Marie: You certainly are. And you know I think both Jeanine and I are certified supervisors on accredited with the EMCC as well so that means we've gone through a process to become supporters of coaches but we also have supervisors that we go to ensure that we are providing the best outcomes for our client because it's the clients that really benefit at the end of the day from supervision because it allows us to uncover our blind spots as professional coaches which we all have. And yet at the same time it is really not recognized. I am noticing that it's more recognized in the UK than it is in the rest of the world and that's fantastic. But what you are doing with your coaches is you're really supporting them to realize the benefits of it because to be part of your directory you have to have a supervisor.

Helen Isacke: Yeah absolutely. And some coaches say oh no you know I can't afford supervision. Is that old saying, you can't afford not to have supervision? It’s part of our craft. It's part of what we do. And there are ways of finding affordable safe houses.

Marie: Yes. Agreed. And I'm going right back to the beginning of your conversation Helen because what really interests me and this happens a lot of the time. When organizations are set up or created it's often to for want of a better word to scratch our own itch. So, Jeanine and I wanted to train people and be because we really believe in the passion in the profession of coaching. So, we wanted to bring our passion to it. We believe we did we were doing something different for the industry as we were training coaches and it sounded like you set up this directory because you knew there was nothing else out there. So, you were you were in in fact scratching your own itch setting up something that you thought is missing.

Helen Isacke: Yeah absolutely. And you know there wasn't that you know. Some coaches say to me Oh yeah, it's another directory, there’s so many directories out there. And I think. So, hang on where is the directory for professional executive and leadership coaches and coaches who go into organizations and work with professionals. And yes, actually there are some in the states and maybe in different countries but there's nothing specifically for the UK and TCD (trusted coach directory) is at the moment for UK based coaches because that's not gone to world domination yet but that's for me to sort of keep it contained. There's nothing out there. There's a life coach directory and for me you know life coaching is very different to executive and leadership coaching. So yeah there just wasn't anything that the professional coaches get out and promote themselves.

Marie: So, thank you for setting it up because it is such a valuable place to be in the market for all of us executive and leadership coaches and also as supervisors as well to be part of that community. I'm curious you've got lots of experience as you've seen coaches come through. Also being a coach yourself, what are what are some of the mistakes that coaches who are wanting to get into the business of coaching, what have you seen some of the mistakes they've made?

Helen Isacke: Oh gosh. Well shall I start with my mistakes I’ve made so many! You know I’ve got my coach in Germany as I said in 2003 and having a background in marketing I kind of launch myself into Yeah, I can do this but made so many mistakes over the way. Ok so where do I start. I think at first, I think the first really big challenge for the coach is whether new or not so new coaches is knowing who your target market is because as a coach if you're truly a non-directed coach we don't need to know somebody, you don't need to know the job role, you don't need to know their industry. It might help you understand the jargon. So, in effect you know you come out of coach training thinking you're so passionate you want to go out and help people and make a difference. And you know. We can go coach anybody with a pulse basically and we can but that doesn't help you market yourself. And when I first came out of my training and there was a lot talk about niching, I thought how can I niche when I haven't had that much experience? And I was quite heartened when I heard somebody talk, a very experienced coach saying you needed 100 coaching hours or to have a coached 100 different people before you could choose your niche. And I thought I can say that I’ve got some time to think it through. And so, for me it's having your niche, knowing who it really is. Who you love working with you know you can have fun you two and that could be in a particular industry could be in the I.T. industry or pharmaceutical. Or the question whoever it might be! Or a niche could be and if it's just a CEOs, you've got CEOs all over the place, we'll see tears or CFO. But it could be someone who's got a particular challenge and the niche that I realized quite late on actually that really suited me because of the time of people I was attracting were those first-time managers and so and that helped me so much to be able to let people know what kind of approach I was and who I could help and what their challenges were and what the results were that they were getting. So I think my first mistake was not having a niche although I appreciate that does take time but it can be frightening sometimes choosing a niche because there's a worry that you might be cutting other people out and you don't need to and you can test niches you can have a niche for three months and let people know who it is that you work with and it helps other people recommend that kind of person to you. So, I think a niche I think that you know is really helpful the starting point.

Marie: Yes. I love what you say about that. I have a belief that nothing is set in stone so we can always change our mind.

Helen Isacke: Yes.

Marie: Because you say this month this is my niche. And if it if it really isn't aligned with what you truly want changing it is OK.

Helen Isacke: Yeah absolutely. I think it's the other challenge. I'm not sure it's a mistake but certainly a challenge for the new coaches. And again, not even so new is articulating what coaching is. So, I think you were on our zoom call yesterday morning.

Marie: Yes, I'm just.

Helen Isacke: Yeah.

Marie: We were thinking about the fantastic conversation we had as coaches discussing what coaching is.

Helen Isacke: Yeah. Just how if we're discussing it and what coaching represents and quite different ideas coming out. You know if we're a bit disjointed how are we putting a message across to people who've got no idea what coaching is. And I think that's the big challenge for the coaching world is that we're still educating people as to what coaching is.

Marie: Absolutely and I think when we are promoting what we do on any of the social media platforms for me it's about educating our potential audience. So, teaching them a little bit in their blogs and experiences we have about what can be expected from coaching what the outcomes really are. And as I said on the call yesterday morning for me getting somebody in front of you to have an experience is the best way to describe what coaching is and that's not often where you begin is it?

Helen Isacke: No it is getting somebody in front of you. Yeah, I'm so sorry I’ve just cut out from you for a moment.

Marie: No problem Helen.

Helen Isacke: And it's also I think what is you know when you're in conversation it's you know when somebody says to you so what do you do? And you know a mistake can be just oh I'm a coach. And then the person in front of you glaze over sometimes because they just hear so many people saying, they're a coach but also because they don't really understand what coaching is. And if we don't know how to articulate what it is. I always found the best way is just to give a little case study in a conversational way. And I got to the stage when I was doing a lot of networking in the early days and I’ve learnt how to craft a pitch. I wouldn't even mention the word coaching.

Marie: Yeah.

Helen Isacke: And so, somebody said to me oh you know what do you do? You know back in the day I would've said or on a leadership coach and they go “Oh so you train leaders do you?” And you know it's not training. And so, you go into a very long-winded way of explaining what it what it is. But I just found I got an example in front of me to read through but if I just said you know I work with senior leaders who or I work with people who've been you know in a team you know do their job their day job for however long they're really good at what they do so they get promoted once and they get promoted. And so, all of a sudden, they become responsible for that team rather being part of the team that brings lots of challenges. So, you can be fantastic at you know being a computer programmer that doesn't mean to say that you are a brilliant leader. And so, what you know I do I work with them to help them understand you know what's going on for them and how they behave and how they respond and how they can communicate better with their team, how to motivate their team. So it's really to explain to people what the challenges of my particular niche and the kind of issues that sometimes we just think well that's how life is, life is difficult when you become a manager and people are really difficult and awkward and I’ve got pressure and I'm overloaded with work and there's nothing I can do about it. And it's just letting other people know that actually there is a way forward through coaching, through uncovering those behaviors or non-behaviors and understand what's driving that. A lot of that is emotional intelligence and that's why I wrote this book about soft skills because to me coaching is all about emotion intelligence. About raising our own self-awareness. Being able to control that in the way of other people's behavior and helping new managers understand what's going on between team members and what motivates them motivates.

Marie: And I love that Helen. And this is actually what we teach. We have an advanced program and part of that advanced program is a module on how to get clients and what we share and that is what you've just described is sharing a story helps our unconscious mind to get interested in something. So stories are always more interesting to people to see the journey that people have gone on through using your experience of coaching to get the results that they have. So, even if people aren't interested themselves as they hear the story what happens is, they're with somebody else who is struggling in their managerial role and they'll remember the story you shared. So, they'll say “Oh I know a girl I know a woman who coaches on that” and they'll pass the information on. And that's often what happens when we share our pitch in that way in the form of a story or a case study.

Helen Isacke: Yeah. It's just so powerful because people remember you for that. And that's how we market it away. I think word of mouth is great isn’t it that people can just recommend you.

Marie: Absolutely.

 Yeah. I was thinking about some of the other mistakes I made. And one that was coming to me then was when you first start out in coaching it's easy just to you know, I used to give a free taster session and just and again, you know you were saying people can't understand coaching until they sampled it. And so, you know part of my training and we were taught to give a taster coaching session and then you can sort of you know tie somebody in shirt to having some more sessions with you. My mistake was just I was so keen to prove how amazing coaching was and is, that in that taster session I would add so much value at the end of it they go away and say that was great. I'm sorted now. Thanks very much. I'm just giving too far too much away. And it took me quite some time to realize actually this wasn't helping me because not only did I give too much away in that taster session at the end of it I didn't have any proper sales conversation. I virtually say oh well it's been useful for you know where I am this is my number. You know do give me a call and one or two people would sign up and say Oh well how much would it be et cetera. But so many people went off into the sunset and I never heard from them again. And so it was for me learning how to demonstrate coaching but in a sales conversation which is not selling but it is explaining what coaching is and calling out the challenges that person has without helping them to achieve their objectives, demonstrating the power and building rapport you know demonstrating the power of coaching so that they can see the value you could add if they have a program and then having a conversation about what that program would look like with a coaching program and scoping out.

Marie: There are so many hats I think that we have to wear when we are building our practice. So, we want to be the best coach and that means coaching. But we've also got to be the salesperson and we've got to be the entrepreneur because we've got to think in a different way if we want to grow our business that potentially is very different from coaching because coaching attracts so many people who want to help and support others. A lot of coaches can be afraid and believe that selling isn't a good thing. So, it is looking at the mindset of how your coming to the position of selling for me exchange of money is simply an exchange of energy I'm providing a service. So, there is this lovely energy called money that is given in reciprocation of that of that service. So, it is a different mindset to bring isn't it?

Helen Isacke: It's a totally different mindset. And as you say coaching typically attracts people who want to help other people. That's what we do. And we do it because we love it. But at the end of the day we've all got bills to pay. We've got you know we've done training with all CPD, we’ve got supervision to pay for and we're running a business. You know if you're an external coach you have to be you know we're entrepreneurs and we have to be business savvy. And then I hold my hands up you know I'm not the most business savvy person you know I do. I give away far too much. But you know I love doing it. But we have to be more business savvy. Otherwise you end up being disgruntled and not being able to make it work. And i've seen so many coaches that have to go back and get a “proper job” and go back to what they were doing before because they couldn't make their business work which is you know crying shame. Absolutely. This site was so as an external coach you have to understand about sales marketing. And you also need to need to know how to you know what we call have a marketing ladder. How do you fill the funnel? How do you know people need to know you like you trust you to work with you and coaching as we know professional coaching executive leadership coaching, it's not cheap. We're not charging 50 pounds an hour or you know £500 for a program. You know we're charging decent work because we add so much value. We need to have. People aren’t just going to pick up the phone to you having never heard of you and say you know Marie can I work with you. And yes, you know I have my check I'm going to transfer 10000 pounds to you. It doesn't happen very often. You have to you have to build that relationship with them over time. And that could be with you know doing webinars, it could be you know putting articles on LinkedIn. It's having that initial discussion, it's having a first step in a process to follow to build that relationship to then convert into a longer-term paying client.

Marie: And that can feel very daunting to new coaches who potentially haven't got the marketing skills or don't believe they've got these marketing skills. So, what would be your top tips if you could narrow down to some top tips for initially coming down to the marketing Helen. What would you share with our listeners?

Helen Isacke: All right. I think I mean first of all I said before just be really clear on who it is you want to work with because that is the foundation for everything else, I think one of the foundation blocks. And if you don't start pulling people in it go for the low hanging fruit. Go back to people that you know rather than trying to establish lots of new relationships on LinkedIn or whatever social media platform that you use. Go back to friends, family. Let people know what it is that you're doing now and who you're doing it for. And even give to them a taster, give them a sample of what to what coaching is and once they’ve experienced it, then they’re going to be shouting about you to their friends, I mean word of mouth is so powerful because it's you know it's a warm referral.

Marie: Yes.

Helen Isacke: Absolutely. So, that's what I’ll be doing. I remember in the early days one of my best referrals was a neighbor of mine and you know I hadn't coached her formally but she knew what I was doing and I’ve been talking to you about my training and also knew her very well and she you know she's a very extrovert person and she got lots of friends and you talk to anybody basically which was great. And she was you know sending people through to me which is fantastic.

Marie: And I recall when I started my coaching practice, I did some pro bono work for a couple of gentlemen who'd lost their jobs and were really not in a great state. And then when they got their jobs and new jobs, they invited me into work in the organization because they had such value from that experience of working with me as an executive coach outside of the organization. So, you never know when an opportunity can arise when you're working with somebody.

Helen Isacke: Yeah absolutely. And I think that pro bono word is really important particularly at this moment in time. You know the world is in flux. Lots of people are worried about their jobs. They're all looking at you know what else they could be doing. They know that they're going to have to start charging. They’re going to have to start making some changes and it could be going to a new industry or a new role. So, to be able to reach out and connect to people who already know and they know you and trust you already and offer a program, a session just even as a sounding board and of course you're going to be seeing some coaching questions and build that relationship. I think that's a great way of letting people know what you do so that when they do find their feet you know they'll be wanting to bring you in and recommend you.

Marie: Yeah, we are vastly running out of time here. We could talk. I know I could talk to you all day about all of this and more so as we're closing off. I'm curious because I know you read a lot of books and you've also got your fabulous Soft Skills for Strong Leaders’ book that you've written in addition to your own book, are you reading anything currently that is impacting you or the work you do or that our listeners may be interested in?

Helen Isacke: Well hopefully it's the latter. It was making me smile when you asked me earlier saying you know what are you reading at the moment. And I thought oh this could put the cat amongst the pigeons or not and this was a book those recommended by a good friend. And it's called Becoming supernatural and it's by Dr. Joe Dispenza.

Helen Isacke: Oh. Yeah, I don’t know if you’ve read him.

Marie: Yes, I'm a big fan. I've got all his books.

Helen Isacke: And I’ve heard of him and read bits and pieces that a friend said You know you'll love this because you know from a meditation point of view. And what's interesting about it you know we all talk about meditation, mindfulness and a lot of people who do it. And you know I do meditation and what this book does it explains all the science behind it. You know sometimes I think well you know I'm doing this but is it really helping I'm not quite sure sometimes? And it explains all the science behind it. And it's about visualization. It's about you know the law of attraction comes into us as well towards the end and doing walking meditations and visualizations. And it's absolutely fascinating because it brings the science in and then explains about the different you know alpha, beta waves, the state that you get in to you know when you're awake. What happens when you're meditating? And some of it which is I was reading the other day affection on it and I thought this is just you know it's a lot of neuroscience coming in. And I thought this is a lot of NLP as well. I used to do a lot of NLP stuff which is about future pacing and you would be you know getting people into a more relaxed state and then creating this image on the screen of their mind and dissociate from it and then associate into it. And so that resonated with me as well. I found it absolutely fascinating.

Marie: Thank you for that recommendation. And I really encourage listeners to read that and also as you're talking, I'm thinking how important it is when we're stepping into growing of business or practice of coaching is to choose this state that we want to be in because the vibrations of our state impact the outcomes. So, in simple terms you know how you are showing up in the world is a reflection of what's coming at you. So, if you are finding it tough and hard look first at yourself as to what your belief system is what's happening within you and potentially move into a state that is relaxed and calm and see what happens as you change that state.

Helen Isacke: Yeah powerful words a great reminder. And don't just keep adding in very quickly onto that. And this is all about the vibrational state. Just takes me back to the first book I read about that and it was called… I can’t remember when it was, maybe 10 15 years ago it's called Excuse Me Your Life Is Waiting by Lynn Grabhorn and I don't know if you've heard learned that but.

Marie: Said, the name again please.

Helen Isacke: Lynn Grabhorn.

Marie: Lynn Grabhorn.

Helen Isacke: Excuse Me Your Life Is Waiting. And I remember reading that and it just blew me away about this. You know how your state means that you're vibrating on a certain level and when you're in a great mood and you're really motivated and you’re vibrating up here that you attract the good stuff that’s vibrating up there. But when you're feeling really down or grumpy on a negative state you're vibrating down on the floor. Then you just attract stuff that’s vibrating down there which is more of the grumpy stuff that's going to make you anxious and stressed.

Marie: I haven't read that book I already love the sound of it. And I think for those of you listeners who think that's a bit woo-woo that isn't for me just start to practice or pay attention to the state that you are in. And notice what is it you're attracting into that state that you are choosing to be in. So just get curious about it as we do as coaches just get curious about yourself because to me the best coaches are the ones who do their own self-reflection and get to know themselves more and can step into powerful states when we are being entrepreneurs when we’re being marketers or whatever it is, we need to be. Helen thank you so much for being with me this morning. Any last words for all listeners?

Helen Isacke: Just thank you. Thank you for inviting me. And as you said Marie it's just be curious and just very quickly going back to setting up your own business if you're a new coach or not so new coach. Just remember there are lots of people out there who are willing to help and share and lots of very generous people out there and all that that's your money. You know take advantage of your communities.

Marie: Beautiful. And on that note how can people find out more about you and your directory.

Helen Isacke: Oh, thank you. Just look up trusted coach directory. The URL is trustedcoachdirectory.com or if you want or find me on LinkedIn, I have a funny spelling surname some Helen Isacke and the spelling is Isacke a which is right spelling. So yeah kind of thinking what they thought would be great.

Marie: Lovely and just to clarify for all listeners the trusted coach directory is a UK based directory so you have to be living and working in the UK to be part of that directory and have a look at what Helen's doing she's making a difference in the world in her own unique way. So, thank you again Helen for being with us here today.

Helen Isacke:  Thank you, Marie. Thank you very much.

Marie: So, listeners we look forward to our next conversation with you. We hope you found this useful if you have please share with your community share with others and like it and leave comments as to what's going on for you right now. And if you'd like to find out more about empower world and all programs have a look at our Web site and on social media where you can find details of our coach training our advance coach training and all the other programs that we offer. Looking forward to hearing from you. Have a wonderful day everybody thanks you for listening.


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