Written by Estee Chong
I’ve known Terine since I was 18. She was the first friend that I had in college where the both of us started off in the same foundation class to begin our higher education. As time passed, we eventually went our separate ways streaming into our own major courses. I decided that my path was Fashion and Textile Design while she went for Graphic Design instead. We were pretty close for a few years and eventually life just got better of us and we drifted apart.
Although she majored in Graphic Design, the both of us ended up being in the same fashion retail industry, doing somewhat similar jobs. There were occasions where we did call and meet up over the years but we were not as close as how we used to be during the college times.
Fate had different plans for us as we became close again nearly 20 years later. This was when the pandemic occurred, and the both of us had lost our jobs. The offline retail industry suffered greatly and many people got retrenched. Terine was forced to leave the company she was working for. On the other hand, my company decided to relocate me to another state which made it quite impossible to commute daily. Hence given the circumstances, I chose to tender my resignation because I was not able to commit to the new assignment and decided to look for better opportunities.
It was also during this time that learning of Chinese Metaphysics was easily accessible via online. I came across many social media posts and classes online to which I explored further during my free time. Given that I had additional time at hand, I decided to upskill myself and enrolled in professional coaching courses with the best and pioneering academy in the industry, Corporate Coach Academy (CCA). From the classes that I enrolled in and learnt, I’ve discovered that other than doing designing and branding, I would like to try teaching and public speaking, areas and skill sets that I felt I was personally lacking in and wanted to improve on. Although online retail was starting to do very well midway through my classes, my heart no longer wanted to be involved in the retail industry anymore. Hence, I made the decision to pivot into the education industry instead and see where I could go. As I was undertaking my classes, I was very fortunate to be offered a job in a coaching company. I began undertaking a new role in the coaching / training industry.
Juggling between my job and personal interest in metaphysics, I got to learn that coaching will be one of the thriving industries in the coming decade. Chinese Metaphysics has always been one of my favourite subjects, my go-to tool to determine life destiny. It always interests me on the potential these two separate fields have in positively changing peoples’ lives and yet, they still remain as two separate fields to many. I always pondered in my mind how the both fields can be combined together to be used as a powerful coaching tool.
Throughout my course, I only had the opportunity to coach other students. Though it was a really good learning experience, I felt that it did not provide me with the practical setting as a professional coach. So, I decided to try coaching someone outside of my classmates’ group. Given our rekindled friendship, I asked Terine if she would let me coach her and thankfully, she agreed. I have to admit however that coaching her was not an easy task. Despite her initial agreement, when I told her that I would like to have a coaching session with her, she would somehow not be open to the idea and would try to postpone. I figured that directly pushing her to a formal coaching environment must’ve been too pressuring for her and so I slowly introduced coaching elements into our daily conversations. As we had our daily conversations, I helped her in making minor decisions and helped her in seeing matters with a different perspective using coaching skills. I did so by asking some powerful questions that I learned during my lessons. And I think that slowly gave her the confidence and trust that coaching was indeed able to help her.
So, one day, Terine asked if I could formally coach her to become a better business owner. She was trying to make it as a reseller for homemade food products. We started the coaching session to find out her story behind the food reseller business, how she got into it and the goal that she wanted to achieve.
I asked Terine, “What made you choose food among other products to sell in your business?”
She replied that during this pandemic, with many people retrenched, food is the only thing that people would pay for as we still need to eat to live.
“What do you specifically like about the food business?” This question was asked because I wanted to understand where she was coming from when she decided to venture into the food business i.e., if she was into cooking or baking to sell her own goods and running the day-to-day business operations or if her enthusiasm was geared more towards eating and therefore recommend the food to people.
She told me she likes to eat; hence she would go hunting for good food. She knew of vendors who were struggling as well during the pandemic and would like to work with them where she would be the marketer for them.
Next, I asked,” So what is happening for you now?” to find out about her current situation. I found out that although she had the resources and suppliers to do the business, she was barely making RM100 per week and she desperately needed money to pay for her many bills and to take care of her elderly mother.
So, when I asked her, “What do you want to achieve in this coaching conversation with me” she told me that her goal was to increase her business revenue by 5 times within 2 months which was about RM2,000. We agreed to have the targeted number small because she was new in the food industry and wanted to achieve a realistic number fast. In return she wanted me to be brutally honest with her in giving my feedback because she was desperate and needed to see what went wrong in order to change to become better and improve her business.
I then learned that people are only or more receptive to coaching when they are the ones who want to improve and be better.
In the next stage, we brainstormed to identify important areas to build her success goal plan. Example of the few questions that I asked Terine are,
“What indicators can tell you that you are successful in this food business?
“What is required of you to let your potential customers know about you?”
“What area do you need improvement in, in order to run this business?”
As the conversation progressed, we established 3 important areas to focus on: the first area was Marketing, second area was networking and third area was personal development. So, in the area of Marketing, her desired outcome was to create a Facebook page named “Terine’s Super Food” and to gain 100 followers in 2 months. She wanted to establish an official business page instead of using her personal account which was less formal. Her second desired outcome for networking was to expand her network circle by 30% by joining 2 community groups. And the third desired outcome for personal development was for her to lose 10kg weight. This was important for her because she wanted to project a healthy image and be fit physically to run about collecting her orders from vendors and doing delivery to customers herself without feeling too exhausted.
In the next stage we brainstormed on ways to achieve the 3 desired outcomes. We talked about her strengths, issues and challenges that she was facing to find out her desired outcomes in order to achieve her RM2000 in 2 months’ time. Terine picked Marketing as the first to work on because she needed to have a platform to announce her new business and the type of food products that she was offering. She was already good in graphic design so designing visuals for posting on “Terine’s Super Food” Facebook page wasn’t too difficult but how she was going to gain 100 followers in 2 months’ time was the challenge.
What she did so far was only to sell to her small circle of friends by word of mouth. After I found out that on her personal Facebook page, she had about 500 friends and acquaintances, I asked her,” How can you leverage these 500 friends that you already have?” She told me that she would first send an invitation to all of them and even if half of them responded she would have gotten 250. That would exceed the number of targeted followers that we have set earlier.
As we brainstormed the next step, she discovered that she could also join other Facebook groups where small business owners come together to promote their products and services. So by joining several active groups she would be able to expand her presence to non-friends circle.
What would be the challenging part was that she might lose her enthusiasm and feel discouraged in promoting and posting on Facebook when she received low inquiry or low sales.
I asked Terine, “Is it normal for businesses to have high sales time as well as low sales time?”
“Yes” she answered softly, unwilling to admit and accept the fact.
“What will happen if you continue to allow yourself to have these feelings?” I asked her.
“I won’t be able to work, and won’t be able to have income to feed myself and my mom. I do not want that”
I then asked her, “What needs to change then in order to stay motivated so that you can work to get more sales?”
After a moment of reflecting, Terine said that whenever she is feeling down, she will tell herself that she needs to keep herself moving, being in constant action. So, instead of lying down all day and feeling down, she will make sure to get up from bed and start doing things to break the negative thinking mindset cycle. By keeping herself busy, she noticed that she was able to manage her emotions better and focus on herself as well as on building her business better. Hence, Terine decided to keep up with this positive routine and turn it into a daily habit.
That was a good start I felt. After that we had another session to talk about the other two desired outcomes. Everything went smoothly and fast forward to 2 months later, I had a conversation with her again to follow up on how she was. Amazingly, by being consistent on her goals, she did manage to achieve her goal of RM2,000 by the second month. To top it off, her weight loss goal was a success too. She got into a fitness routine and a healthy diet plan and she managed to lose 6kg in just 2 months! She was ecstatic! She told me she learned that support and motivation from someone, in this case me and her mom, truly made her feel stronger to push on and face the obstacles. She learned that from coaching she was able to see things in a different perspective which made her see things in a more positive way.
What I’ve learned in this journey is that each and every one of us have a certain values and belief system in life that an outsider would sometimes not be able to understand. But being a coach, we must be sensitive to the client’s values, beliefs, identity and experiences. We need to have a coaching mindset where we are open, always curious and flexible as well as client centered. We as coaches need to demonstrate that we are ethical, non-judgmental, respectful and honest in order to create a safe environment for the client to trust in us to share their deepest thoughts. I also found out that constant learning and self-mastery development are really important to enable one to go far to achieve many things in life.
Coaching is a partnership between the coach and the client. As coaches, we help clients to define and achieve their goals and objectives. The ultimate aim of coaching is to help people develop and improve performance. I am proud that I contributed to transforming someone’s life!