Brenda Hayes, Ph.D., coaches in Fredonia, NY

A new professional field is taking shape.  Having emerged about 15 years ago, it’s coaching – variously billed as executive, career, business, life, or personal coaching.  The basic purpose is to help you realize your goals.  Who coaches?  And why?  Flying High Solo interviewed two coaches to explore their practices.


Coach 1 – Kathleen O’Grady -Walking the Talk

Kathleen O’Grady, Raleigh, NC

“One of the biggest issues is that people choose careers that their parents suggested or society said were the path to success.  And 10 or 20 years later, they just don’t feel good about their jobs.”

After choosing the safe path herself and working as an executive assistant for 10 years, solo Kathleen O’Grady from Raleigh, NC, found her career passion.  Now she helps others find theirs.  O’Grady is an executive, leadership, and personal coach.  She says she has lived “the transformation.”

 O’Grady’s Insight

When O’Grady was an executive assistant, she worked closely with many CEOs and CIOs.  “I found such a wide variety of leadership styles and characteristics, that it fascinated me.  I observed them very closely.  And it seemed the most effective leaders were the ones who were comfortable in their skin,” O’Grady said.  They genuinely liked what they were doing.

It seemed O’Grady was outgrowing her job.  So in 2007, O’Grady realized that to maximize her own talents, she should be doing something she genuinely liked.  Around that time, her boss had a coach – as did several other execs in the company.   It was her introduction to a field she instantly found fascinating.

Helping people fulfill their potential clicked.  So O’Grady enrolled in the 10-month Business Coaching Certificate Program at North Carolina State University. In 2008, she received her certificate, then left the company in 2009 to start her own practice.

Coaching is a personal one-on-one process, according to O’Grady “that helps the person understand they are in the driver’s seat of their life.”

O’Grady uses music, strategic questioning, and a variety of other techniques to assist clients live authentically and find their unique career path.

The International Coach Federation defines personal coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”


Coach 2 – Brenda Hayes – From Counseling to Coaching

After 30 years as a licensed counselor practicing in Philadelphia, solo Brenda Hayes moved to western New York state to be closer to her aging mother.  Realizing that counseling with its prohibition against socializing with clients and the anonymity required would limit her social life in a small town, Hayes turned to personal coaching.

With a Ph.D. in Human Development, and a long career in counseling, moving in coaching was fairly easy. It’s one-on-one, helps people remove barriers to their dreams, and focuses on empowering people to achieve their goals.

Counseling versus coaching

Brenda Hayes, Ph.D. coaches in Fredonia, NY

Hayes is careful about the distinction between counseling and coaching.  Some potential clients are better candidates for counseling, and she advises counseling to people who show signs of depression or severe anxiety.

 Workshops on Living Solo

For those looking to tap into their personal and professional goals, Hayes uses several methods.  One of Hayes’ specialties is facilitating workshops – and one of her topics is “Living Alone.”   Her third workshop on living solo is scheduled for March.  The topic emerged from her clients and participants in her other workshops.

“I have really been surprised at how positive participants have been about the opportunities, joys, and challenges of the solo life,” Hayes noted.  About 10 people typically attend, mostly women from a wide range of ages, from 30 to 70, Hayes said.

During the workshop, Hayes leads participants through discussions of how being an introvert or extrovert might affect their feelings.  The groups also make distinctions between being lonely sometimes and loneliness, and about different role models for various aspects of life, including intellectual stimulation.  Many realize they need more going on in their lives, said Hayes, and take steps to volunteer, enroll in classes, and other activities.

In addition to workshops, Hayes coaches many individuals on job issues, career direction, and how to develop a business.

“My first client was a 70-year-old man who wanted to develop a practice in Chinese energy work,” said Hayes.  “He did and is successful at it today.”

Coaching, it seems, uncovers many different paths and has many different approaches, but one thing seems to be true, it moves people forward to fulfillment, if the client is ready to do the work to uncover his or her authentic self.

According to the International Coach Federation (ICF), there are about 41,000 professional coaches worldwide and close to 16,000 in North America.   ICF has 44 chapters in 34 states.

It’s a field in its early stages of growth.  Compared to 1.3 million accountants in the U.S and 845,000 social workers, 16,000 is a drop in the bucket.  Coaches are not licensed but members of ICF must adhere to a code of ethics.

Story by Bojinka Bishop.

Editor’s note:  When I first thought of writing a story on coaching, I wanted to find out if more solos used coaches than married people.  One might think solos need someone to talk things over with, and therefore, would be more inclined to employ coaches.  The International Coach Federation has done a study with PricewaterhouseCoopers on the profile of coaches and their clients.  It’s due to be released in March.  We’ll report relevant findings when the ICF report is published.

In the meantime, my very informal, unscientific survey revealed: Both coaches interviewed said only 1/3 of their clients were solo/single.





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Comment(s) on Two coaches, two approaches

  1. Lanora Schellhorn says:

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