What it Takes to be a Solopreneur: Know your Strengths

When I started my company in 2011, it was not because I had a grand vision of starting a company. It was because I wanted to continue doing what I loved doing for the previous four years in a new location.  

I would call myself an “accidental entrepreneur”. I had been working at a national management consulting firm supporting nonprofits and foundations and I decided to move to give a long-distance relationship a chance. A bold move but I knew in my heart, it was the right decision for my overall happiness.  

When the firm said that they weren’t interested in keeping me on, based in a different location, I made what I thought at the time was the most rational decision. Keep doing what I was doing under my own shingle. And Vista Global was launched. 

I was fortunate to have had the experience growing up in a family business, understanding what is required to keep operations running smoothly. I also learned a lot by being a Senior Associate in a small firm, learning what is required to bring in business, write proposals, manage projects and keep clients happy. 

In addition, I possessed the natural talents to get things done! I learned this through taking the CliftonStrengths assessment. The CliftonStrengths assessment has been used by more than 27 million people globally to identify natural talents. It provides a deep understanding of 34 themes of your natural patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving in four domains:

      • Executing: Help you make things happen
      • Influencing: Help you take charge, speak up and make sure others are heard
      • Relationship Building: Help you build strong relationships that hold teams together
      • Strategic Thinking: Help you absorb and analyze information that informs better decisions

I took the CliftonStrengths assessment in 2012 and learned that 5 of my top 10 themes were in the Executing domain. How does that relate to being a solopreneur?

When you start your own business, you do everything – business development, service delivery, project management, bookkeeping, administration, marketing. Unless you have start-up capital, you are bootstrapping until you can generate enough capital to contract for support services.  

Understanding where you have natural talents and where you may need additional support is important to set yourself up for success. 

If you have thought about starting your business and aren’t sure whether it is the right path for you, I would love to connect. After celebrating Vista Global’s 10 year anniversary, I know it was the right path for me. But it isn’t necessarily the right path for everyone. 

To hear more about my journey as a solopreneur, listen to this episode of Minutes With Mary.

3 Ways that Defining your Talents Will Help Build your Personal Brand

I recently hosted a “sneak peek” webcast on the topic of personal values and strengths. This offered participants a window into the Vista Leadership Institute programs and the journey of crafting your next chapter.

We start with the broad question of “Who am I?” and “Where are my natural talents?” The CliftonStrengths assessment measures your natural talents from 34 themes and you arrive at the list of your “Top 5”. Continue reading “3 Ways that Defining your Talents Will Help Build your Personal Brand”

How do we actually “Be the Change We Want to See”?

If you have been following my blog over the last few years, you may recall that I wrote a blog series on a course I was taking on Conversational Intelligence (C-IQ) for coaches regarding the impact that neuroscience has on the quality of conversations. The blog series can be found at the bottom of the post titled, Courageous Conversations: The Future is Now.

Skills that I learned in the course were: Being Open to Influence, Priming for Trust, Asking Questions for Which We Have No Answers, Listen to Connect, Conversational Agility and Double-Clicking.

Over the last two years I have been using these skills with coaching and consulting clients to close gaps between intention and impact and to elevate awareness of the power of conversation to transform the world.

This year, I decided to certify as a C-IQ coach. The certification program was an additional six months of course work and a capstone project to demonstrate how I embody conversational intelligence.

During the first few months, it was very challenging to grasp what “embodying C-IQ” really meant.  The dictionary.com definition is “to give concrete form to; express, personify, or exemplify in concrete form.”  

To embody conversational intelligence, we were asked to explore our level of competence along the four stages of competence.

The highest level of competence is “unconscious competence”, which is the level at which we are in flow, when things come so easily that you don’t even think about what you are doing. It becomes second nature.

In C-IQ certification, as coaches we were challenged to go deeper with our learning, adding new conversational essentials, to stretch ourselves to move through the four stages of competence.

New conversational essentials presented were: Making the Invisible Visible, Deconstructing Conversations and Co-Regulating our Conversations — up-regulating oxytocin and down-regulating cortisol. Oxytocin and cortisol are the neurotransmitters triggered when we have either positive or negative conversations.

As I mentioned, I was really struggling with the notion of embodying and then one day, I realized I was TRYING too hard. I wasn’t getting to the flow because I was too much in my head, not in my heart.  When I “loosened up the grip” on learning and leaned back, I started to notice that I was now using these skills not only in my work but in all aspects of my life.

I can see how many of the conversational essentials I learned in 2017 have now become second nature.

I am deconstructing conversations with family and friends. I am raising visibility of conversational patterns that are unproductive in all aspects of my life. I am starting to build the unconscious competence…embodying conversational intelligence.

Conversational Intelligence essentials have helped guide me in all aspects of my life, to be the change I want to see in the world.

Are you experiencing challenging conversations in any area of your life and don’t know how to shift from the patterns that keep you stuck? Are you THINKING about it too much?

To get a sneak peek of how C-IQ can help you transform your conversations, we are offering a free 30-minute webcast and live chat on Conversational Intelligence next week, August 21 @ 12:30pm CDT.  We will offer it again in September, if you can’t make it live.

Join us to begin the journey of transforming your conversations!

 

Transforming Paradigms for 21st Century Leadership

The world is changing more rapidly, in more contexts, than ever before. Technology seems redundant or obsolete just as soon as we understand how to use it. Restaurants open and close, trends change – so often to our surprise, and who knows what television show we should be watching on what streaming service and when? There are viral challenges, new social media platforms, photo apps to age us and others to turn us into rabbits. 

As trends and new apps come and go, we are welcoming more of the world into our smartphone and encountering more diversity, more ideas, more complexity in our workplace. This requires a change in leadership that rejects many paradigms that warn us “but that’s how it’s always done!”  

Leadership strategist Dov Baron writes, “For many in ‘old school’ leadership positions who are unfamiliar with allowing people to really see them, this can, of course, be scary and may even seem threatening.” Some of it might seem daunting, but so much of it is exciting when viewed through the lens of social impact and resources for a more just and sustainable world. But how do we transition from the “old school” to a 21st-century leadership model? Baron can summarize it succinctly: “In a word—by learning.”

Continue reading “Transforming Paradigms for 21st Century Leadership”

Why Coaching Credentials Matter

As founder of Vista Global Coaching & Consulting, Mary Stelletello not only consults with organizations, she is also a credentialed professional coach who works with individuals to help them achieve their goals in work and life. Coaching vs. Consulting Mary has played team sports since she was 9 years old.  She recalls how the coach was the … Continue reading “Why Coaching Credentials Matter”

As founder of Vista Global Coaching & Consulting, Mary Stelletello not only consults with organizations, she is also a credentialed professional coach who works with individuals to help them achieve their goals in work and life.

Coaching vs. Consulting

Mary has played team sports since she was 9 years old.  She recalls how the coach was the person who taught you how to play the game, shared new strategies, pointed out what you were doing wrong, pointed out what you were doing right and celebrated team accomplishments.  For the most part, you accepted what the coach said as the best course of action.

Fast forward a few decades and now you hear the word “coach” used in the work environment in many different ways, “An executive coach, a business coach, a leadership coach, a life coach” and so on.  Is this use of the word “coach” the same as in the context of sports?  Well, yes and no.

Yes, a coach is someone who helps you see all aspects of yourself, helps shine a light on the blind spots and helps celebrate those talents that you may ignore.  No, a coach doesn’t tell you what to do, that is a consultant.  Take a look at this blog post to understand the difference.

A coach helps you clarify your values and your talents and works with you to move toward your greatest potential.  A coach is a sounding board, a champion, a truth teller and advocate for your best self. A coach helps you create a plan and be accountable to achieving that plan.

Once you have determined whether you are looking for a coach or a consultant, the next question is, how do I find the right coach?

The Value of Coaching Credentials

Coaching is a profession that is evolving and is less known to have a credentialing process as professions such as accounting, financial planning or counseling.  When you see a CPA after a person’s name, you know that person has gone through a rigorous training and testing process that requires ongoing educational credits to maintain the credential.

To continue the CPA analogy, there are professionals who identify themselves as accountants that are very skilled, who are not CPAs. However, they are not as qualified as a person with a CPA.  Similarly, professionals call themselves coaches without being credentialed.

The credentialing body for coaching is called the International Coach Federation. There are more than 10,000 professional credentialed coaches worldwide. The ICF has 3 levels of credentialing, ACC, PCC and MCC.  A coach at the ACC level has had 60 hours of training and completed 100 hours of client coaching.  A coach at the PCC level has completed over 125 hours of training and more than 500 hours of client coaching. An MCC level coach has completed over 200 hours of training and 2,500 hours of client coaching.  Beyond the number of hours the coach has completed, there is a distinction between the minimum skills at each credential level.

So why does having a coaching credential matter?  Credentialed coaches are strengthening their skills on an ongoing basis.  Choosing a credentialed coach to guide you ensures that you will always benefit from the most current tools and advanced coaching skills while reaching your greatest potential.

Mary began her coach training in 2009 and has recently received her PCC credential. If you think coaching is right for you, contact Mary today for a free introductory session.

Photo credit: Erce via Shutterstock.