Mel has been a longtime friend of Jim & Jane, but we’ve never quite understood what her work as a Business coach entailed. Happy to enlighten us, we shared a coffee with Mel to hear about how her work has become more important than ever in these changing times, how to harness potential, and her ideal dinner party guests.
We read a lot about people who have benefited from a Business coach but are a little unsure what you actually do! In layman's terms can you explain what your job involves and how it can benefit the individual.
I describe coaching as a solution-focused conversation which can address both personal and professional growth. That might range from a goal of wanting to improve health and wellbeing, starting a business, or changing careers (to name a few!). My work with leaders in organisations can involve strategies to build high performing teams and a culture of engagement and purpose, but I predominantly work with people who are changing careers, whether that’s been a voluntary or involuntary decision like a redundancy. I also work with people who are looking to get back into the workforce after a period of absence but might be unsure of exactly what that next step might be.
Coaching has a certain mystery attached to it... it can sound slightly intimidating. What are the common misconceptions around it and how can it help say a woman getting back into the workplace after having children or someone who has been made redundant and would like a change of career?
Coaching is still an unregulated industry so it can be hard to find a reputable, evidence-based coach. Most people understandably turn to someone who has had experience in the same field as them, but this can often mean you don’t get an opportunity to think beyond your current or previous context. Sometimes having someone outside your field (professional or personal) can help you to “zoom out” and take a more holistic view of your circumstances. For women looking to re-enter the workforce or someone who is going through a career transition, I think the most valuable thing is being able to take all your thoughts (no matter how jumbled they may seem!) and share them with someone who can assist you to weigh up all the options, without telling you what you should do.
You started off in teaching and adult education before moving to coaching psychology. Did you always see this path for yourself?
Not at all! Which I think is why I love career transition coaching. I knew I wanted to move into something other than teaching but had no idea what that other thing was. I had to figure out what the transferable skills were that I could take into my next career and coaching came about from that exploration. I would’ve loved to have someone (with no skin in the game unlike partners and family!) to help me through that process.
For many people, 2020 has seen drastic changes in both their personal and professional lives. How has your coaching practice changed over the past year?
Like a lot of people, I now spend my time on Zoom rather than in face-to-face sessions. I actually think this has been a positive shift because people generally feel more comfortable in their own space and seem more willing to share what’s happening for them.
You talk a lot about strength-based training in your coaching practice. Does this involve weightlifting?? Can you explain what this involves? How can this be a useful tool for anyone looking to make changes in their personal lives?
Ha! I guess it could … but in this instance it’s about identifying your strengths (either values or skills based) and using them more. Sounds really simple and yet most people struggle to list what they consider to be their top strengths. Identifying these and noticing when you’re currently using them and when you could be using them more has been shown to have positive benefits both personally and professionally.
What is the most creative aspect of your job?
Thinking outside the box with clients as they explore possible pathways for their next career. We have an innate desire to lock into certainty as quickly as possible but I find the longer my clients are able to stay in that ambiguous, uncertain, creative space, the more likely it will be that they explore as many options as possible.
In a world where everyone is constantly busy, what are your three best tips for slowing the pace down and harnessing potential?
- Set a reminder on your phone or use an app that reminds you periodically to stop and take three to five deep belly breaths. This is something I’ve been working on with my own coach with varying levels of success! Again, seemingly really simple but there’s lots of evidence to support what a difference it can make to the way you feel immediately.
- Rituals and Routines. As someone who was previously allergic to routine, I’ve found I’m almost craving it in these uncertain times. Having some level of predictability to my day and week (whilst still remaining flexible) has helped with this. I’m also experimenting with rituals to delineate between the end of the workday and week. Lighting a candle, diffusing some nice smelling oils or having a bath to indicate that it is time to shift gears.
- I am unashamed to say that I have a power nap most days. Set a timer, curl up with the dog or cat and give yourself permission to have a delicious nap!
You’re also a mother of three. Talk about superhuman! Where are your favourite Inner west places to take the kids?
The skate park in Drummoyne, Glebe foreshore for bike riding and dog walking, and the Tramsheds for a casual dinner or gelato.
Supporting local is so important at the moment. What’s your favourite Australian travel destination and do you have any plans for travel in the near future?
In 2018 I did the Bay of Fires hike down in Tassie and was completely awe struck by the beauty and history of that place so I’d do that again in a heartbeat. I’d love to hike the Larapinta Trail in Alice Springs but for now, I’m looking forward to hopefully spending some more time over summer on Putty Beach in Bouddi National Park.
What, in your opinion, defines good style?
Wearing something you feel comfortable in. Whether that’s a colour palette you’re drawn to or pants versus skirts (pants for me!) wearing something you’re comfortable in definitely changes the way you hold yourself.
Who would be your 5 ideal dinner party guests (alive or departed)
Sienna, my 15 year-old daughter
Are you a morning or evening person?
Morning. Even with a nap I’m useless at night!
Golden Gaytime or Buffalo Bill? Karaoke or Tik Tok? Neighbours or Home and Away?
Golden Gaytime. But I’d still attempt to steal the gumball nose off my sister’s Bubble O’Bill.
Karaoke. But I have been known to TikTok.
Are they still on telly?! I was always a Neighbours fan back in the day.
Pink Cashmere (Prince)
What 3 items at Jim & Jane do you have already and love or currently have on your wishlist?
- OnceWas leather pants (so comfortable they are basically like leather track suit pants)
- Zoe Kratzmann sparkly sneakers (which I love so much I rarely put them back in the closet),
- Currently on my wish list is one of the new textured cushion covers. “Sunshine on a Rainy Day” is my favourite. Perfect for one of my naps!
How can People contact you?