In this episode, we will be talking about building a coaching career that not only YOU are proud of, but it’s also a career that your parents are proud of. There are several layers I want to unpack regarding this topic for today, so get ready for a casual chat style episode today.
Before we dive in, if you are someone who want to grow your career as a coach and take your brand and business to the next level, I’d love to invite you to join us inside the Thought Leader Club 1:1 + Community Program focused on helping you build a body of work that not only lets you become known for something but also magnetizes clients and opportunities to you.
And side note, when I say career, that doesn’t mean you HAVE to quit your 9-5 job in order to make coaching your career. More on this later, but your coaching business CAN be a legitimate career irrespective of whether you’re in a 9-5.
If this is a career you want to build for the long term, come join me inside the Thought Leader Club 1:1 + Community Program. For all of the details and to apply, you can head on over to cheryltheory.com/program to send in your application. I cannot wait to see you on the inside.
I want to share a recent anecdote that inspired my musings for today.
About a month ago, my parents came to visit me and the husband here in Singapore for a couple of days. It was a wholesome few days.
My parents were able to meet some of my husband’s extended family. We ate lots of good food and good drinks. It was an overall very wholesome few days with my parents.
It honestly just flew by and I was pretty sad when they left. Now that I live in Singapore, I don’t get to see my parents often, who are in Hong Kong. So this time meant quite a bit to me.
There was one particular moment from their visit that inspired today’s episode. On the second day of their trip, they mentioned, “ Oh, we saw this podcast recording audio set thing that was on sale. Do you need new equipment for your podcast?”
Outwardly, I said no thank you. Because my podcast microphone is working very well and I just got a new webcam for recording the video podcast and also because I didn’t feel inclined to learn to use a mixer at the moment.
But on the inside, I felt a sense of pride and awe wash over me. I also felt overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude at that moment. Because this moment signified to me that my parents see my business as my actual, legitimate career. And they were happy to support me in my career.
This moment meant so much to me because just a few years ago, in 2018, my parents were absolutely furious and disappointed in my career decisions. Just a few years ago, they called me ungrateful for choosing to leave law school despite all of the opportunities and resources I had access to, and that I was always half asking things and not fully committed to what I would do, and pointed out all of the moments in my childhood where I gave up on something.
They also couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just finish the degree first then figure it out from there.They even told me that I needed to be responsible for bringing back harmony into the household.
However, over the years, since 2018, my parents have seen me do a number of things.
For example, they saw me go get a full-time job as a research assistant and explored a career in research and academia. They eventually saw me apply for a PhD, and that was a decision that was purely done on my own accord.
Second, they saw me stay committed to growing my coaching business, although they might not quite understand what I do, because they aren’t really users of social media themselves. But they’d still see me do my coaching calls with clients and they see me in deep thought as I create content or reflect on my clients.
Last year, my dad even asked me, do you just talk and make money on the Internet? And I remember just laughing and saying yes, kind of.
But all that to say, over the past few years, since quitting law school, my parents saw me put in the work, stay committed to what I say I’d do, and ultimately take full responsibility for my own decisions and career.
That’s why that simple thoughtful question of, “Do you need a new podcast mic or recording set?” That single sentence literally brought about a wave of feelings over me. It also made me really, really marinate on how I have been talking a lot about creating your own dream career, not the one your Asian parents expect of you.
And can I be very, very honest with you all? I don’t think that sentiment or tagline really encapsulates what I really mean. And this anecdote highlights what was missing from this initial tagline.
Here’s the thing. I want all of us to build our coaching business to the point where it becomes not only the primary source of income, but also to the point where it is a career that you are proud of and one that you truly want to build. And hey, it’s ALSO the career that makes your parents proud.
I think this is particularly relevant for I think a lot of people in my community especially for those of us who are children of immigrant parents. For me personally, I feel such a deep, deep sense of wanting to give back to my parents in whatever way possible.
I want to also emphasize that I don’t think it’s wrong whatsoever to pursue a career with the intention of wanting to make your parents proud. I think that’s a very valid reason to pursue a career.
But the reason why I’m an advocate for creating YOUR OWN dream career is because I don’t think pursuing a career that you are proud of, has to come at the expense of not making your parents proud.
Rather, the more I think about it, the more I am seeing how you can have both. You can have a career, as a coach and entrepreneur, that makes both you and your parents proud.
I want to unpack this topic further in two ways.
First, I want to answer the question “But do I need to be a full-time entrepreneur in order for my business to really be considered a career?”. Second, I want to look at how being proud is the new business strategy.
I know that for a lot of side hustlers especially who are growing their business on top of their 9-5, there might be times when it feels like your job and your business are competing interests.
For example, maybe you’re feeling frustrated that you feel drained after a day at work and now you don’t have any more energy to work on your business.
Or maybe you’re looking at your business as something you’re just gonna try out for a few months and see if it works.
Whatever the scenario is, and it could be something else, these situations often indicate that you don’t see your business as a career.
But here’s the thing. Treating your business as a career doesn’t mean you have to quit your job and become a full-time coach in order to “take your coaching business seriously”.
To take your business seriously is just an identity. Being a coach is an identity. And this applies to any job, any traditional career path, and industry. Being a [insert job title] involves having an identity in relation to that career.
Treating your coaching business like a career does not require you to quit your full-time job. It also does not require your main income to come from coaching.
It does, however, require you to show up proudly for what you do and to do your work well. Otherwise, one can argue that this is just another gig that you do for money’s sake and you complain about having to do the job, and feel no affinity towards.
The reason why I was able to excel in both my business and academic career during my side hustlers days was because I treated both my business and my research assistant job, and later my PhD studies, as a career. It was because of my identity that allowed me to view both as careers, concurrently.
Even before I made my first 10K month in late 2020, I was treating my business like a career. I continued to show up every single day , week after week, even though I wasn’t booking sales calls, because my identity was tied to “This is what I do. This is who I’m becoming. This is what I am. Building for the long term. This is who I am, right now, no matter what my ‘results’ look like.”
I was able to treat my business “like a business” even before I was making money consistently because I was committed to being in this entrepreneurship game for the long term.
I really cared about what I wanted to help people with. I found joy in building my business even when I was not making money or signing clients. I was someone who was entrepreneurial. I loved entrepreneurship.
And hey, when I was signing clients by the end of the year and into 2021, sure, I loved the monetary outcomes of entrepreneurship too.
But before I got there, I had to work on my identity as an entrepreneur first and foremost. And my identity is something that does NOT change irrespective of what my results are. That is the definition of identity.
Identity is who you are, no matter what. In this case, no matter how much money you’re making and who you are. The way I was looking at my business was through the lens of: this is a long term career I’m building.
Of course, there were days when I treated my business more like a “job”, just like how there were days when I treated my full time job or PhD, like a job.
Not every day is a “I’m out here creating my best life and being my best self” type of day. There were days when I just did whatever I needed to do for the day, and clocked out. And quite frankly, getting your work done is necessary and required for any career.
For example, yes there were days where I was tired. But I knew that posting something that was helpful to my ideal clients doesn’t require much time or energy. It can literally take no more than 5 minutes to type some text based Instagram stories to share a musing that I know my ideal client needs to see and hear today.
So there’s also that aspect of: How much time and energy and “feeling your best” do you think is necessary or “optimal” for showing up for your business or working on your business? And to what extent is that true? Where could you be wrong in your assumptions about how much time, energy, and feeling your best is required? Just something to think about.
All that to say, I didn’t have to quit my PhD before I treated my business like a legitimate career. I also didn’t need to put my PhD as a secondary priority in order for my business to create six-figures. You can excel in both your business and career. You can excel in multiple areas of your life at the same time, on top of your business.
For some of you, maybe your profession outside of your coaching business is a priority for you right now.
For others, maybe your profession is just meh and your end goal is to become a full-time coach. Either way, no matter what your professional aspirations are, you get to choose to treat your coaching business as a career, right now. It is an identity you can embody, today.
More importantly, you can be proud of the business you’re building, right now, no matter what the circumstances are. Seriously.
I know that you really care about the work you do and the value you’re putting out into the world. Being a coach and entrepreneur is something to be proud of, 100%.
Let’s talk about why and how being proud is the new business strategy. I want to demonstrate this point by sharing a few examples.
Exhibit A: When Betty first came to me, she was starting her business from scratch. We coached Betty on showcasing her thought leadership and standing out in her industry through her unique and highly creative perspectives and ideas. She was proud of the content and concepts she created specifically for her ideal clients. She was also proud to be a coach. By the end of our time together, Betty made back 2x her investment.
Exhibit B: When Kim first came to me, she signed several clients but was nearing burnout (she was literally working on her business for 29 hours a week at that point). She also wasn’t signing clients consistently and wasn’t charging over $1,000 for her program. With Kim, we focused a lot on building a brand that was only an honest and genuine reflection of her, and also one that she is proud of. By the end of our time together, Kim raised her prices, signed her first 16 high ticket coaching clients, and drastically cut down the number of hours spent each week on her business
Exhibit C: One of my current clients first came to me three months ago, a time when business felt extremely discouraging and she has been in a client drought for months and months. So far, we’ve worked primarily on soft launching with this client and helping her rebuild her confidence in selling her offer, which she is so damn proud of. This client has so much belief and conviction in her offer and rather than choosing to give up on what she does, she decided to seek out support to help her get her business back on track so she can deeply impact more people. As of today, this client has just finished 7 sales calls in the past two weeks, and has 3 more booked on her calendar in the upcoming week.
When we put these examples together, here’s the common thread between them: Being proud of your work is the new business strategy.
Thought leaders are proud of their message, story, perspectives, and ideas. If you’re shaky in your belief in what you talk about, why would clients want to work with you?
We, as clients, want to work with leaders of the industry, and leaders are willing to go first and pave the way for others simply because they have so much belief in their message.
Soft launching only works if you fully back what you’re selling. To be honest, while I do think it’s possible to make sales regardless of how proud you are of what you do, because maybe you have really awesome marketing for your offer, but if a client enters your program and can see how little passion you have for them, they’ll quit. They’ll want a refund.
And that’s not going to help your reputation in the industry. So please sell an offer that you genuinely are proud of. It will only enhance your marketing skills and also the client experience and client results.
Having a uniquely differentiated brand is built upon being proud of who you are and what you bring to the industry. The rationale for this is simple. Faking it till you make it can only get so far. Your lack of belief will catch up at some point. It’s really hard to build a brand when you and your identity, which is the core of your brand, isn’t proud of what you do.
There will be friction within you because you’ll know you’re operating out of integrity, and is that really how you want to build a business? My guess is, likely not. Something to chew on.
These are the exact skills we zone in on inside The Side Hustle Club. You’ll learn the skills of soft launching, becoming known for your unique thought leadership, and building a uniquely differentiated brand. These skills work exquisitely well when you are genuinely proud of the work you do.
Here’s the thing. I’ve helped brand new coaches, coaches who have signed clients but aren’t doing so consistently. As well as, side hustlers, full-time business owners, those who have invested in other programs or coaches before but still aren’t seeing results, and so on.
The common denominator between all of these clients I’ve worked with and them getting results, is how PROUD they are of what they do. For me as the coach, I cannot coach you on being proud of what you do.
That’s what I need you to bring to the container: a genuine enthusiasm and pride for the work you do as a coach. That’s something that must come innately and naturally for the client. Without it, the skills we’ll work on together will fall flat and you’ll just be going through the motions of taking action.
I would argue that being proud of what you do, who you are, how you’re building your business, the impact and change you’re here to create irrespective of how much money you’re making, that is the new business strategy.
It matters. It matters to like who you are, to like what you do, and to like how you’re impacting this work and how you’re making money. And Ii’m confident that to whoever is listening to this episode, you are someone who also deeply cares about your work and about the change you want to create. So lean into that.
When it comes to building a career that you are proud of and also a career that makes your parents proud as well, it first involves embracing your business as a career right now, just as it is and just as you are.
Irrespective of any external markers such as whether you’re in a full time job, how much time you allocate to working on your business each week, how many clients you’ve signed, and so on.
Choosing to treat your business like a career is an identity. It also involves being proud of what you do, which is also an identity you can choose to lean into now.
And right now, perhaps you’re building your business or pursuing a path that isn’t what others agree with and maybe it’s completely not what your parents wished that you’d pursue, whether it be a career or some other decision.
I want to first acknowledge that by doing so, this does not immediately mean that you’re being ungrateful for everything your parents might have done for you, or that you’re being selfish and only thinking of your own wants and desires without consideration for those we care about.
Rather, I want us to recognize that there will be times when we have different or even opposing aspirations, goals, and desires from our parents. That’s completely normal and expected. But THIS is where you have to make a decision, and oftentimes, it’s not easy.
So my question to you is: Are you going to take full responsibility over your decisions and stay committed to your goals? Even if people don’t get it or support you?
The truth is, it’s not other people’s job to agree with our life decisions or support our goals. It’s your own job to always have your own back and stay committed to your goals and keep your word to yourself. No one else can do that for you, nor should they, if you can’t even do that for yourself
Remember that oftentimes, creating your dream life and going after what you want may NOT necessarily be what others expect of you. In these situations, it means you have to stand firm when pursuing what you truly believe in and always take full responsibility for your decisions and actions.
It is also okay if people don’t support you in the beginning. Stay committed to your vision and goals.
Ultimately, creating an aligned life, career, and business is a choice you have to make. There’s no right or wrong. Just make a decision and move forward!
And overtime, as you continue to pursue your goals, my sincerest hope is that you will not only be building a life, career, and business that you are proud of, but it’s also one that your loved ones are proud of as well.
Join us in the Thought Leader Club 1:1 + Community Program is the exact room you want to be in if your 2023 and 2024 vision is to:
✨ Become known for your unique thought leadership and build your career as a thought leader
✨ Build a body of work that not only showcases the depth of your thinking and the caliber of your skills, but also compels best-fit clients to want to work with you and you specifically
✨ Attract both clients and opportunities that you once felt were out of reach for “someone like you”… But you now see that you’re completely capable of
Step into the version of you who stops following else’s playbook of “traditional success” and instead, proudly create something that’s truly of your own.
Get all the details and apply. We’ll then book a sales call to make sure that the program is the best fit for you and we can onboard you as early as next week. Our first inaugural cohort starts on November 1, 2023 👀
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