ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT FOR JANUARY 2020 WITH BRIAN BOSSHARD
Hello, my name is Brian Bosshard (PCC, MBA, PMP, etc.), and I am honored to have been chosen for this month’s Alumni Spotlight. In this spotlight, I will take the opportunity to tell you a little about myself and what I do, and why I ultimately made the decision to become a Life Coach. I will then talk about my Life Purpose Institute (LPI) coaching training and experience. I will then conclude with some things I have done to build a successful coaching practice, and provide some tips I have learned that I believe have helped to accelerate my coaching knowledge and act as a catalyst for my business. So, without further ado, let’s jump right in…
Who am I? My name is Brian Bosshard and I am 49 years old. I live in Valencia, California, which is located in Southern California, about 30 miles north of downtown Los Angeles. I have been divorced four times and married five times. I am currently married to a wonderful woman, who is also a Doctor and Medical Director for a large medical group located here in Southern California. I know that being divorced four times sounds like a lot, and it is, which is part of my story and what led me to ultimately pursue life coaching, which I will get into later.
My wife and I have four young children. I have a son (Lucas) who is 9 years old and in the fourth grade; a daughter (Savannah) who is 6 years old and in first grade; another son (Austin) who is 4 years old and will be starting Kindergarten in August; and another daughter (Brooklynn) who is 2 years old, and will be turning 3 this month. They are all great kids and keep us busy, and yes, they are all named after cities, and for no particular reason, except we liked the names, and liked the theme.
What is your background? Great question! I have a very diverse background and education that I believe lend themselves well to me being a great Life, Career and Time Management Coach, which are my three niches. I possess a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Business and IT, and also have a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA). In addition, I am also a professional project manager and have many certifications in project and time management, such as: Project Management Professional (PMP); Professional Scrum Master (PSM); Certified Scrum Master (CSM); Project Management+, etc. I also have about 20+ IT specific certifications in Microsoft, Cisco, Novell, Linux, Networking, etc. which I will not list out, as they are not relevant to this spotlight.
What do you do for a living? This one is interesting, as I have two jobs! For the past 30 years (since I entered Corporate America at the age of 18), I have worked for three different Fortune 100 companies as a professional project manager, managing enterprise-wide, multi-year, multi-million dollar projects. I worked for Bank of America for five years while I was going to college and ran their Recovery Management Data Center in Pasadena, California. Then I worked for Disney Corporate in Burbank, California for over 20 years, and was the project manager for projects such as Disney Gift Cards and ESPN Fantasy Football network infrastructure. Now, I am the Project Manager for NBCUniversal in Universal City, in the Corporate- Engineering Group and responsible for integrating companies that we purchase into our larger corporate network. And this is just one of my jobs… I do this type of work because it draws in my technical, detail-oriented, organized, logical trouble-shooting and liking to help and get things done skills. This career is very challenging and rewarding, but also comes at a cost, of much stress, high-visibility, long hours, and is very demanding.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in Life Coaching? This 30-year career in Corporate America and performing at a very high level, has been a drain, so although I am still doing it now, I wanted to find a new, more fulfilling and rewarding career, that was less stressful with fewer hours, where I could apply my unique skillset and help people. Which is one of the many reasons I chose to also become a Life, Career and Time Management Coach. In addition, over the past 10 years, I have been mentoring MBA students by helping them to find their ideal careers, once they graduate from college, which I have found to be very rewarding.
Another reason I became a life coach is more on a personal level. Throughout my five marriages, I have been married to several alcoholics, which as you can imagine, was not easy. Thus, I became a member of a support group about seven years ago that has literally changed my life for the better, in more ways than I could have possibly imagined. As part of this program, I give back whenever possible, and one of the many ways I do that, in addition to being the Southern California District Treasurer and starting new meetings in my area, is that I sponsor men and women that are dealing with loved ones that suffer from the disease of alcoholism. As you can probably imagine, the topics that I help people with span all areas of life, including relationships, finances, health, self-care, stress, depression, anxiety, etc. Therefore, although I haven’t been formally coaching my sponsees, I have been helping them and supporting them on their life journeys for the past seven years, which I find very fulfilling.
In addition, due to my business background (Bachelor’s and Master’s in Business), I also have a strong financial background. Over the past 10 years or so, I have helped many people that were struggling with their finances, wanting to find strategies to pay down their debt, or create and stick to a budget. Thus, I have been helping people in different facets of life for about 10 years by providing help, support and guidance.
In early 2018, I hit a cross-roads, where I was burnt out on my job in Corporate America, and feeling that I was meant for something more, and that there was a big part of my life that was missing. I was feeling very depressed and unfulfilled. I had this feeling that I was meant to use my life and skills for something more than just working for a big corporation, not that there is anything wrong with that, but I felt drawn to the idea that there was something else out there for me. I took about 6 months trying to figure out what I was meant to do in life, and how I could apply my project management, finances, time management, work-life balance, life coping skills, and apply them to a career. During this time, I also always wanted to open my own business, so one day I was meditating and it hit me out of nowhere (probably what some call a God Shot), and Life Coach popped into my head, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t stop myself from going back to this topic, as it truly resonated with me down to my core being, so here I am!
When did you start your life coach training at LPI? Back in September 2018, I just knew that I was meant for something more, and it was to open my own business as a Life Coach, so I could apply my skillset to truly helping people make a positive difference in their lives. Therefore, I did the next indicated action and I signed up with LPI for the ACTP Track, because I know that once I decide to do something, I will not do it half-way… I am either all-in or I am not, so when I made the decision to become a life coach, I wanted to do it right by getting properly trained and certified and LPI was the best option for me, so I went for it!
I enrolled in the ACTP Path at LPI and took my first class in October 2018. I chose to take the 3-Month Foundation Class from October 2018 – January 2019, with Bonnie Weiss. This was my first real exposure to the coaching philosophy and how it works. I had an amazing experience and truly enjoyed working with Bonnie and my fellow classmates in learning about ACE and how to coach. I next took the 8-Week Advanced Practicum Class with Diana Long from January 2019, and started this class the same week I finished the Foundation Class, as I was very enthusiastic about coaching and am also a Type-A Personality, so I wanted to learn as much as I could and jump right into getting my certifications and start coaching. I also had a great experience in the Advanced Practicum Class, and that was my first exposure to TOMM, and so there was a learning curve there, as I maybe should have taken the Advanced Practicum Class after the advanced class, but I did it this way due to the timing of the classes and wanting to finish faster. I learned a great deal from Diana in the Advanced Practicum Class and got a ton of practice with some great fellow coaches. Lastly, I took the 5-Day Intensive Advanced Class in May 2019 with Leah Grant. I got a lot out of the advanced class and Leah really challenged me to be a better coach and I learned how to take my coaching education and skills to the next level.
I started LPI for the ACTP Path in October 2018 and completed the entire program, classes, homework, tests, etc. in June 2019. The entire process took me 9 months, so I was definitely fast-tracking my education and certifications. I applied for my Associate Certified Coach (ACC) with the ICF and obtained my ACC in July. I then spent the next four months coaching anyone and everyone to hit my 500 hours, which I successfully completed in October 2019. Therefore, from start to finish I completed 500 hours of coaching between the months of October 2018 and October 2019, so approximately 13 months. I applied for my Professional Certified Coach (PCC) in November and was awarded the designation of PCC in November 2019. So I basically went from no formal coaching education to a PCC in 14 months! With that said, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this aggressive pace for everyone, as it was very focused and intense, and quite a bit of work, but just know that it is possible, if that is what you choose to do.
What is your coaching practice all about? I started my life coaching company back in December 2018 by registering my business as an Limited Liability Company (LLC) and launching my new website. I specialize in Life, Career, and Time Management Coaching. Although I focus on these areas, I also coach several clients in areas such as self-care, wellness and finances, to name a few. When I first started my company, I was coaching full-time for about 6 months, but found that working two full-time jobs and taking care of four young kids was a bit overwhelming, so I have since scaled back my coaching business to part-time. I currently have a good client base and perform two coaching sessions every weeknight and some weekend and early morning clients as well.
I truly love coaching and know deep down to my core that this is what I was truly meant to do with my life. Although I could choose to coach full-time now, I have spent so much time on building my project management career, that I am not quite ready to retire from that yet, at age 49, so I will continue to do both. With that said, I love coaching so much that I envision myself working at my project management job for maybe another 5-10 years, and then retiring from project management when I hit age 55 or 60, then switching to coaching full time, but for now, I am finding that I am able to do both jobs, and coach about 10 paying clients a week, which I find very fulfilling. Did I mention that I am pretty well-versed in time management?
What have you done to make your coaching business successful? Due to my strong business and marketing education, I was fortunate to already know quite a bit about how to run and market a business, so I went the route of doing it all myself, which is a cost saver for sure, but also very time intensive. If you have the knowledge and time, it can work, but if you don’t, you may want to think about hiring people to do some things for you, especially in the beginning to help get you started.
Some of the actions I have taken are: creating a good company name and logo; building a solid life coaching website; putting my business on all the major social media sites; joining a local small business networking group, and reaching out to family and friends to inform them of my coaching and getting referrals by word of mouth. All of these things have attributed to me getting a total of about 30 paying clients over the past 12 months.
What do you recommend to new graduates for growing their practice? I recommend that new graduates from LPI grow their practice by doing several things. First, I think it is imperative that coaches have a good company name and matching logo. This will help people to remember you and your company. Second, I recommend you have a good website that you can refer people too, so they can learn more about you and your coaching business. Be sure to have many pages and text and pictures on your website so that you can take advantage of the search engine optimization (SEO) that many search engines use, such as Google. Third, be sure to have business cards to hand to people when you talk to them, and if you have the time and energy, you may also want to consider creating some postcards or brochures that you can leave at public places, such as small businesses, etc.
Something else I highly recommend is joining a small business network group in your community. I joined TEAM Referral Network Group here in Valencia (they are in other cities/ states as well). There are some other good ones out there too, such as Business Networking International (BNI), etc. I joined a group of about 20 small business owners, and not an exaggeration, I was able to convert 17 of the 20 business owners in my group to paying clients, and received additional clients from people they knew as well.
I also found it very helpful to put my business on Yelp. I have about 5 reviews out there now from current/ past clients and I find that I receive about one prospective client a week from someone just doing a search for life coaches in my area on Yelp. This is completely free to you, as you do not have to pay to be listed on Yelp. Just be careful as my experience has been that Yelp will try and upsell you on all kinds of bells and whistles that may or may not be what you are looking for.
Lasty, I can’t say enough about social media. Right after I created my website, I put it out there on Facebook, Linked-In, Instagram, Twitter, Yelp, Google, etc. I created free business profiles on all of these platforms and have links back to my website. This will help with your SEO, as well as give people many other avenues to find you and your business. If you do this, it might be a good idea to regularly post status updates, blogs, articles, etc., to help keep your business current and in the minds of prospective clients. In addition, don’t shy away from asking your current/ past clients for recommendations. I ask my clients for recommendations and to post them on FB, Google, Yelp, etc. and those can also be influential for someone trying to select which coach they want to partner with. In my free time, I will probably also add a Testimonial Page to my website and start adding the great review I have been fortunate to receive.
What advice do you have for graduates of LPI or new coaches? The best advice I can give here is simple- find as many people as you can to coach and make as much time as you can to coach, especially when you are trying to get practice, gain experience and knowledge, and get those valuable coaching hours. As I previously mentioned, I was able to get over 500 coaching hours in about 1 year by doing this. I accomplished this by joining my small business networking group and getting many clients. One reason that I got so many clients from networking group is that I gave them steep discounts off my regular coaching prices, to entice them to signup for some sessions, where I was getting some income and a lot of practice. I only charged $20 per session, and at the time, I was charging about $75 per session on my website. Which is another recommendation, when you are first starting out, although you could charge a lot more money for your sessions, if you really want clients to get the experience, hours and word-of-mouth referrals, consider giving big discounts in the beginning- it can be very enticing to people that are afraid to make a big investment or long time commitment.
The next thing I did to get more coaching hours is that for the past year, I was offering full, 1-hour coaching sessions. Every session I did was for one hour, which drastically increased my number of coaching hours. Since I am now working two jobs, and have less time available, I have now scaled my sessions back to 45 minutes so I can get more sessions in, but while I was trying to hit the 500 hour mark, the one hour sessions were great.
The other thing I did was to take full advantage of all of the great fellow coaches I met in my three training classes at LPI. I wrote down contact information for every classmate I took a coaching class with, and as a result, I literally ended up barter coaching with about 10 of my fellow classmates, well after our classes ended, which drastically increased my hours, and gave me a ton of practice on using my newly-learned coaching skills with other coaches, which provided great feedback and support along the way. Thus, I strongly encourage each of you to reach out to your current/ past coaching classmates and ask if they want to barter coach, as barter coaching counts towards paid coaching hours for the ICF Certifications.
Similar to coaching with fellow classmates from LPI, the other thing I did was take advantage of our Life Purpose Institute Alumni Facebook Group. For the past year, I would simply post a request on this page and ask if anyone would be interested in barter coaching with me. As a result, over the past year, I have barter coached with a total of over 20 coaches that I found through our alumni Facebook page, that I didn’t even know. This is a great way to work with other fellow coaches that you don’t know, but have similar coaching training and goals, so it is a win-win for everyone. This was instrumental in me obtaining additional practice and gaining those coaching hours.
I will end with this… I have barter coached with about 30 fellow LPI coaches over the past year, and I have noticed that many coaches seem to have similar struggles, but a prominent one is what should my niches be? I too struggled with this, until one of my LPI Instructors told me that if you coach 100 people, you will naturally find your niche(s). I thought I had my niches down, but after coaching about 50 people, I figured it out, as there was definitely a common theme for the topics that people kept coming to me for, and I have changed my niches as a result. Therefore, don’t feel like you have to have all of the answers, all at once. Instead, start with what feels right, and you can always make changes in the future, as nothing is set in stone. Life is fluid, so just move with it.
Thank you to the one or two of you that actually took your valuable time to read this very long spotlight. I hope that you were able to get something useful out of it that will either help you grow your business, or as a coach, or maybe even both. If you have any questions on anything, I am happy to talk to you and pass on whatever knowledge or experience that I may have. I have truly learned a lot from LPI and am forever grateful, and am happy to help fellow coaches in their journey.
Thank you, good luck, and you will do this!