I got into the coaching business to help people. And when I first started, I knew how to do one thing better than anyone else I had ever met or read about: I knew how to help people with their food issues.
My very first program, that I emailed to my friends and put on Facebook, was called Guerilla Weight Loss Class. I was terrified to put it out into the world for every soul to see. I felt naked, admitting to friends and family that I’d started this new career that mattered so very deeply to me. I worried that people would think what I was doing was dumb, silly, unimportant. I felt so afraid that there would be girls who would send the link of my class homepage to their friends and make fun of me behind my back. The fear almost paralyzed me. Almost.
In the end, I sat right next to my fear, without finding a way to feel any less scared, and hit publish. I wanted to help people more than I wanted to look cool to mean girls (who probably don’t give a shit about my programs, anyway).
I easily spent 250 hours preparing for that six-hour workshop in the span of three weeks. Even though I’d been knee-deep in food, nutrition, and weight loss books for many, many years just because it’s a personal passion (plus I’d found peace with my body and relationship with food which is the most important credential) I still read no fewer than fifteen books for that class to be sure there was nothing important left out. I was on fire. Before each class, I wrote every word of the content on a Word document and edited it until fastidiously as if I were submitting it to a legal journal instead of teaching an online course to my friends. My nerves before each class started shot through the roof. I’d never been so nervous before, not before my first day at Simpson Thacher and not before going onstage for a performance or to act in a play.
The twelve people who signed up paid me what they thought the six-class workshop was worth at the end which was triple the amount I expected. I was on top of the world and incredulous at the same time: what I’m teaching is good!
I offered the workshop again. This time, strangers found it and signed up. I felt like a magician! I felt slightly more confident but still worked with the dedication of the U.S. military searching for Bin Laden. It melted me that a pediatrician took my class and trusted me to teach her about food and her body. I had lawyers, many lawyers. Lots of people with way cooler jobs than I even knew existed, like an Oscar party organizer (as a full-time job!!!). I would’ve paid them for the honor to teach the class.
I taught the workshop about a half-dozen times and it always sold out. Around this time I began working with people around this time on career transition. I was succeeding at a wildly different career from my 9-to-5 corporate attorney gig I’d left, and people wanted out of there boring, flat lives, too. Most of the time, people just wanted to hear that they were not crazy to hate the job. (You’re never crazy, if you hate your job.) The hardest part about working with people transitioning careers is their fear. It keeps them stuck and they think the voice of the fear is their own voice, which means they believe that voice that says you can’t quit your job without another job lined up, and other stuff like that. None of it is true.
At this point, I worked every single day for every waking moment. I did this because I loved what I did and because I really wanted to succeed. I was living in my parent’s basement, which was not a good situation for me to put it mildly. I had saved well over half my paycheck each month from my law firm days, for years, so I had some serious money in the bank but I still didn’t want to sign a lease without enough money coming in to cover my rent and basic expenses. After five months of working very long days, I was close to my goal and signed a lease at a gorgeous but affordable condo where I lived for the year that I met and dated my now-husband.
I look back on those early days of my business and feel a swell of love for that younger girl. She really didn’t know what she needed to do (marketing! you need to learn marketing!) and what she shouldn’t waste her time on (stop writing out all of those classes in advance! just be yourself!), so she did everything. I emailed journalists. I wiggled my way into magazines and newspapers. I taught free classes. I tried it all.
I wish, in those early years, I’d taken more business classes and fewer trainings. I believed that if I was really good, I’d have a long and fruitful career. This is not always the case. This is a business like any other. I think events for entreprenuers would have helped me spend my time more usefully. But I made really great friends at the ba-zillion trainings that I took. I’m still friends with them to this day, seven years later.
I share all of this with you for two reasons. First, I’m a teacher for a yoga and coach training called Yoga Church and even though we’re only half-way through, there are many new coaches already starting out with their first sessions in real life. I’m so proud of them. I know exactly how that all feels.
Second, I’ve thought of these early days so often lately because this year I’m revisiting the work around food and weight that launched my career. I’m teaching a series of workshops (three, most likely) based on the three movements in my book (called Soul Food – out in September!!! All about healing our relationship with eating). Soul Food has turned into the culmination of my career up to this point: the work I’ve taught has taken me around the world, metaphorically speaking, and back to the body. There isn’t a book out there that actually teaches what I’ve learned in my career which is how to heal our realtionship with eating. To do it we need to know about eating, our bodies, and our soul’s higher purpose – because they are intertwined and we don’t get one without the others.
The first workshop, elevate, teaches us how to find peace in our bodies. It’s the first and necessary step to healing our realtionship with food. There are a few spots left and it starts January 31st.
The second workshop will be in the spring, and the third in the fall (again – most likely, these dates depend on other happenings in my life). So – stay tuned!
I look back on the very winding path my work has taken and feel really grateful that I get to do this job. I see that I’m nowhere near the end. I think we all feel like we’re in the middle of our lives. But I see that I’m just not in control. Opportunities open up, or they don’t. Don’t get me wrong – my hustle hasn’t slowed. I work very hard and don’t always see a single dollar when my work doesn’t sell or no one shows up. Every single “life coach” or similar creative person knows this feeling (and if they act like they’re just winning all of the time, let me reassure you: they are just lying to you). But the richness in this career is not in its riches.
The reward lies in the person who I will never meet, who I don’t even know exists, whose life is helped or even saved by a post I published even though I was terrified to share so much of myself.