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Mentor Coach Interview Marion Franklin, MS, MCC

By Megan Potter, February 14, 2007


Hello all and welcome to the Wednesday Interview! The first coach I have chosen to interview is our own Marion Franklin. We all know her from the New Coach Connection (NCC) and I certainly gained much insight from her answers to my questions!

Read on.

How do you define coaching?

Coaching is a collaborative relationship. Together we figure out what is true for you so that you can make better choices and live in a way that really suits who you are. It's a way of helping you to live and be your best. Coaching supports, guides, questions, motivates, aligns, and builds confidence.

When did you decide to become a coach? – What was your aha moment?

Back in 1993, after going through a divorce and facing an identity crisis of 'WHO AM I?' if not someone's wife, teacher, mother, etc., I began taking a series of workshops related to personal development. I was astounded at the changes and transformation in people around me as well as my own. Following the initial workshop, I enrolled in several more and continued to be in awe of the facilitator, a psychotherapist – "How does he understand people so well? How does he get people to change so dramatically for the better? He explained that he was 'coaching' and that he was prepared to teach a group of us how to do what he does. I was the first person to sign up!

What is your niche and how did you find it?

I especially love to work with women who keep saying yes when they really mean no. I love working with people who need and want to put some joy and fun into their lives. They bounce from work to home and don't quite know how to socialize, be in conversation, and stand up for themselves. Yet, I work with so many different situations because what people initially think is their 'problem' often is just a symptom of something else.

It wasn't something I looked for – it was what showed up with most clients and some of it was what I had been working on in my own life and was seeing great results – setting better boundaries. I also have a gift for socializing and connecting so people are attracted to that and want to learn how to do that for themselves.

My other niche market consists of people who want to become coaches, have had some training but still aren't ready to coach, or coaches who don't feel particularly confident. That started out through a back door. I co–facilitated coach training classes and realized there were missing pieces. I developed a 4–week teleclass that soon expanded into a full blown ICF–approved 42–hour coach training program that teaches masterful coaching skills and instills confidence. Out of that, I realized coaches needed a place to continue practicing and sharing client challenges, and so an ongoing mentor group began. The participants' outcome is consistently 'feeling more confident' and delivering more value to clients.

What training did you take? Would you recommend it to others?

It's an odd question for me. Despite having been a coach for over 10 years and doing my own coach training and mentoring, my training was through a small organization "Pathways" led by one therapist/coach. Through tons of workshops and training classes (250 hours!), I learned more about coaching and psychology, and understanding behaviors than what I see taught in any school or program today. (That's why I started my own training program based on the unique way that I learned coaching.) So in a sense, I would recommend MY program "Laser Coach Your Way to Sustainable Success" which used to be titled "Learn HOW TO Coach." In essence, I use the same style and unusual teaching techniques that I was taught. It has often been described as "sophisticated" coaching.

Once you started your business, how long did it take you to go from zero to a sustainable business? What did that involve?

When I first started, I only coached part–time. Usually, I had two clients and held my 'regular' job. Luckily, I had saved money and was prepared to leave that job at any moment. When it became unbearable, I quit only having two coaching clients. THEN I panicked! So, I made up my mind that I was going to get one new client every month no matter what it took. I stretched myself dramatically and did that. However, in reality, to really earn a decent living and keep a steady flow, it did take 5 years of solid work and lots of determination and sweat.

What mistake have you made that you would like to help others avoid?

I would say for most people that it is a mistake to quit a job or to expect coaching to sustain them in a short time. I was realistic and I have an incredible amount of stamina and perseverance. Most people don't have as much and so the mistake I see most often is having false expectations. Of course, all of the hype about making it as a coach doesn't help that.

If I had any regrets, it was not realizing how critical record keeping and bookkeeping is to a business. After my first year, I was scrambling to pull numbers and records together and realized that systems needed to be in place to handle all aspects of running a business. Initially, I didn't keep client and course logs all in one place that would have helped when applying for certification renewal and new certification. I learned the hard way and now pass that information on to every new coach I encounter.

What is one thing you think all beginning coaches should know before they start out?

Not everyone is cut out to be a coach. PERIOD. It's not only about relating to people and understanding behaviors, it's ALSO about being an entrepreneur and running a business. Coaching can be isolating and there are ways to avoid that but it takes planning. I have trained so many people and a lot of them decide not to pursue coaching because they realize it takes more than just asking some good questions. There is a really science and art to it and not everyone is cut out to master that skill.

Where do you see coaching going in the future and what do you think the next big trends will be?

My prediction is that coaching will grow exponentially because it's catching on now more than ever before. I believe that coaching groups may be a trend because it has a lower price entry point that can appeal to more people. As I see it, coaching will become mainstream and only the cost will keep people away – not the need itself or understanding that there is a need. I am hoping that someday in the future, insurance will recognize coaching as vital to people's health and welfare.

What do you love about being a coach and coaching?

I love the reward of actually watching people transform into who they want to be and to living their life on their terms. I love sharing wisdom and knowledge that I've gained through my own development and using tons of examples from previous clients so that people feel more hopeful about the possibilities for themselves.

As for being a coach – I LOVE the fact that I can make my schedule any way that suits my inner clock and my timeframe. I never start early in the morning, usually coach only 3 days a week, and I haven't coached on a weekend since I first started.

What parts of coaching is the most work? The most difficult?

For me personally, the most difficult aspects are the paperwork and follow up. I am not a paper person who likes to get involved in the details, bookkeeping, and record keeping. The actual coaching never feels like work to me.

What are the top three pieces of advice you'd leave for new coaches?

Don't expect to make a living from coaching in a short time frame.
Get good coach training! It's not a step you can skip and expect to be a good coach.
If you plan to make coaching a business, learn HOW TO run a business. If you plan to coach part–time, then invest all of your effort in becoming a truly skilled, masterful coach.

Name three books/blogs/websites you would suggest for new coaches to read/look up.

Cheryl Richardson – Take Time for Your Life

Laura Berman Fortgang – Living Your Best Life

Don Miguel Ruiz – The Four Agreements

Thank you Marion for the great information. I am sure that it will help many new coaches as they travel on their coaching journeys.

Brief Bio – Marion Franklin, MS, MCC

As a Master Certified Life Coach, Marion coaches individuals and groups regarding professional change, focus, conflict management, and human relations. She has coached managers at corporations including PepsiCo, Toys'R'Us, and Reader's Digest. She works with people who want to make better choices by staying focused on what they really want out of life and enables them to move beyond perceived obstacles. Through her coaching, clients achieve long–lasting, meaningful, and consistent results. Marion attends the School of Practical Philosophy and as a former high school teacher, created and teaches a unique 60–hour coach–training program offering both CCEUs and ACSTH. She is the co–author of '7 Simple Secrets to Successful Workshops.' She has been a featured presenter at meetings, retreats, and an ongoing Women's Workshop Series, has been featured in the Journal News, cited in The Wall Street Journal, and has appeared on Cable TV.