Today I’m speaking to Nami Haghighi who is a business coach and mentor who is now working in Malaga; sometimes even from the beach.
Claudia: Good morning, Nami. I wonder if you could just start by telling me a bit about what you do.
Nami: Right. Well, I’m a business coach and mentor based in Malaga, Spain, and just following on from what I’ve been doing for a number of years. Actually, over twenty years, I have been a business consultant, then I ended up living in Malaga because of the weather and just the lifestyle here, I loved it, and business consultancy wasn’t really what I wanted to do anymore, but I always tend to want to help businesses do better.
So, I thought, “What could I do?” And I got interested in coaching. So I started coaching with Animas and qualified as a coach, and then realised that I seem to tend to always go more towards mentoring than coaching, and I’m always really interested in helping businesses. So, I focused more and more on businesses, and that’s what I do.
I actually work with small business owners to help them become more confident and more successful in their business, and getting great results for them. So that’s what I do on a day-to-day basis.
Claudia: Lovely. How long have you been doing that?
Nami: I’ve been doing that about six years now. So, yeah, from very small beginnings. Originally, I was attempting to work as a life coach with a Spanish market where I just managed people and realised that they weren’t quite ready. It was very, very new- coaching – hardly existed at all in Spain, and people didn’t get what it was all about. So, after a year or two, I had to switch and start working with the expert community, that being the international community, which is quite a large community living on the coast here.
So I work now with Italians and Germans, and you name it, British people as well, English and Irish, but, basically, international with a variety of business backgrounds, and I basically work up with Three different types of businesses or different types of business owners. I tend to work with business owners more than focus on the business to start off with.
Initially, (the group) are the people who are not happy with where they are in their life and their jobs. They are basically not enjoying the work they do, but they don’t know what to do. The fear is holding them back as to switch. Some have no idea what to do. So I help them discover: what are their values, what are their passions, what visions they have for their life, and then what could help them achieve that vision.
The second category are people who just started their business and finding it very challenging to grow it to reach customers and clients, and communicating with them effectively, and literally getting the amount of business to be able to sustain their business, and they are about to give up because they are not earning enough from it.
The third category are people who are probably in the first three years of their business, they have successfully managed to get over the first hurdle of getting the business up and running and it’s going well, however, they realise that what they would love to do is work less and earn more, and enjoy the lifestyle that they got into the business for, in the first place.
So those are the three types of different people I work with, and it makes it very, very interesting because I just love change. I wouldn’t really enjoy if I was just working with one type of person doing the same thing. So my clients tend to be from all sorts of different businesses. I have estate agents, and jewellery designers and chiropractors, opera singer, I have had actors, filmmakers; photographers; so every day is different and it makes it really exciting for me.
Claudia: Fantastic, and you said they are from all around the world as well.
Nami: They are. They are, yes. Today, actually, just as an example, after this interview, I’ll be heading to the office in Malaga Centre and I’m meeting somebody for coffee – that’s coffee with Nami; I can tell you a bit more about that in a moment, and that person is British, and then I have a session with an Argentinian lady who is a marketing manager of one of my clients, and she just needs some focus on work with the company and all their stuff, and it’s actually a rental platform that they rent properties for people on the platform. So I’m working with her to fine-tune her marketing, reviewing what has gone on so far this year, and fine-tuning their marketing plan for the rest of year and getting there some focus.
Then, to finish off with, I’m meeting a half-Swiss, half-Italian lady who is an opera singer and wants to bring opera music and classic music to the masses by organising concerts here in Malaga. So that’s what today looks like.
Claudia: Very interesting. Does the way that you work with these different people vary too?
Nami: It can do. One of the things that I loved and I learned from coaching was, not so much the techniques, but the tools and the attitudes that come with coaching. So, it’s meeting the client where they are, and I have a program that I can take people through, but that’s not going to fit. So I’m very much client-focused, and using the listening skills that we learn in coaching, I use that to figure out exactly where they are; what their challenges are, and help them see those themselves, and that’s the starting point.
Then I have a process that I go through with them to get them to realise what are their values, what are their passions, what would their ideal business look like? So, although I get to see where they are, but I help them move forward, maybe a year or two or three depending on how visionary they are, and realise where it is they want the business to take them to because I’ve found most people start from where they are, and then move forward without knowing where they want to go exactly, “Now I just want to become a coach, and then do coaching.” “Okay, but what would your ideal coaching practice look like? How many people are you working with? Are you working from an office? Do you have staff? What would you feel like whenever you are working as a coach, and what would your day look like?” And get them to imagine all of that and visualise all of that, and see how excited they are.
Once we get that picture, and we get them excited, then we work back from that point to today and working back, “So, in a year’s time, you want to achieve this. Okay. For that to happen what do you need to be doing in nine months’ time? What do you need to be doing in six months’ time; three months’ time, right down to today? So they can actually have a very simple step to take today knowing that it’s going to take them towards the goal that they really want.
The example I use is, one of the first questions I ask, “I’m here to help you achieve whatever it is you want, and what is it you want?” A lot of them say, “Well, I’m doing okay. I just need to earn more money.” I say, “Okay, here is a euro, you have more money now. Your goal is achieved,” and, usually, it gets a laugh and they realise not having specific goals, smart goals set doesn’t help them achieve it. “When would you know you are there? When would you know you’ve got there, and where is there?”
Then I also demonstrate this by telling them, “Just imagine that you leave this office now and you go outside and jump in a taxi, what’s the first question that the taxi driver is going to ask you?” Is, “Where do you want to go?” “Yeah? And can you imagine telling the taxi driver, ‘Oh, let’s just keep going and see what happens?’ Right? That never happens. You know exactly where you want to go.”
Claudia: That’s a very good point, yeah, and so why do we not do that with our lives; a much more important journey, I suppose, that we are on?
Nami: Absolutely, and with our business? Because the fear holds us back as to, “What if I couldn’t get there? What if I couldn’t make it?” And I say, “Look, let’s figure out what it is you want,” and I noticed a lot of clients say, “I would love to have this, but…” and I say, “Okay. You are not allowed to say, ‘But…’ for the next five minutes because that’s what’s holding you back. You are already putting barriers in your by saying the buts.” So, I don’t know if you want me to go a bit more into that for you?
Claudia: It’s ever so interesting, and some really nice examples of how to work with people and sort of demonstrate the importance of having direction and having specific goals if somebody is wanting to move forward. It’s brilliant. Just a question that’s coming up for me right now is, is that how you have ended up in Malaga and with this business that you love?
Nami: Right! Oh, how I have ended up in Malaga, it’s quite interesting actually. What it was is, I was actually working in the UK. I was based in Northern Ireland for a number of years. I left London in 1986, I believe. Too much hustle and bustle for me, and far, far too much going on, and I didn’t have a quality of life. So ended up in Northern Ireland visiting a friend, and then I fell in love with the place, really friendly people and a lot of opportunities because everybody was leaving the country. All the young people were leaving the country, and I thought, “Mm-mm! Nobody is moving in. So that’s creating a gap.”
So I moved into the gap and loved it, and I lived there for about fourteen years and I was working as a business consultant. Started life as an accountant and a tax advisor, and I realised I enjoyed working with people a lot more than I did working with numbers behind a computer. So I switched into business consulting and did that for a number of years – over twenty years, on and off – and what was happening around 2000, I was running a number of businesses.
People used to come to me and say, “I’ve got a great idea. I want to start a business, but I need your help.” So I would get involved as a director, or as a partner, or just as a consultant, and we would set up businesses and successful, really successful businesses because they could focus on what they were good at, and I would take care of the rest of the business and the formula worked like magic, and in 2000 I was running a number of businesses and it got really stressful for me. So I decided to take some time out, I put staff in place and I decided to take a year out to go traveling around the world, and just before I did that, I came to a friend’s wedding in Malaga and I fell in love with Malaga.
So, the whole around-the-world trip got shelved, and I moved to Malaga to stay here for a year thinking – the dream people have – “Oh, I’ll just hang out at the beach and chill out, et cetera,” and that’s how I ended up being in Malaga. Six weeks after I got here, I got extremely bored being used to running a number of businesses and suddenly I wasn’t doing anything.
So, I bought a piece of land to build a property just to keep myself busy for that year and I ended up becoming a property developer. I built four villas, sold them all really successfully, did really well, and it just happened to be something on my bucket list – that’s something I wanted to do, is build a property. I knew nothing about it, didn’t speak the language, had no idea about the rules here and the paperwork, et cetera, but it didn’t hold me back, and the reason being is, everything that I learnt about business you can apply to any business. So, I applied that successfully to property development and did very well.
After that, about 2006, I stopped the property development because the market, I felt that it was just going to burst, and, of course, a few months later, about a year later, it kind of went all downhill. So I had left the business by then, and I decided, “Oh, I’ll do that round-the-world travel,” and that I had shelved for six years.
So I travelled a little bit, but then I decided, “Okay. Now I want to do something in my life. I’m bored again,” and I looked around to see what I could do and I came across coaching. So, I trained. I came back to London, I trained, and I became a coach, and then I also realised that it was really difficult to make a living from coaching, and this was the first time in my life, and I had run a number of businesses in a number of countries in a number of languages, and it was the first time I was having difficulty getting a business established, and I don’t give up. So I had to find the way.
So I started to stop focusing on the problem and started focusing on the solution. I started looking around, and one of the things I came across was that I was a coach telling people that they should have a coach, yet I didn’t have a coach. So, what message was I giving out there? Also, for some reason, I was stuck and not getting enough clients and I couldn’t figure out what the challenge was because I was really focused on the problem.
So, I got a coach in London and also a coach here, and I started working, and I basically realised that all my life, I had never had done any marketing – I had never had marketed my services. I’ve always had people waiting to work with me, I was known in the area, et cetera, here I was in a new country doing a new business that nobody knew about and yet I was expecting people just to come to me as they always had done.
So I had to kind of wake up and start thinking about selling my services, communicating more effectively and that led to basically starting a business networking group here, again, because working with my coach I realised that most of the clients that I had got in the past were people who know me. So, how do I get people to know me? I need to meet more people and networking is a good way of doing that.
So I started looking around for business networking groups in Malaga and there wasn’t any, and I had never dreamt about doing that because it just wasn’t part of my journey, but my coach helped me to. He actually came over and gave a talk at the very first one. So, we had an expert giving a talk for an hour, and then followed by networking afterwards in the central of Malaga.
So it was a support really and how I had somebody being able to see from the outside what I couldn’t quite clearly see, and, again, I was focused on the Spanish market, and I was totally ignoring the expert market thinking, “They are really retired people, why would they be interested in coaching?” Et cetera, and it wasn’t a reality. So I had to test the reality, and three years on, we have two and a half thousand members, and we have a monthly meeting, and it has been going from strength to strength, and on the back of that I’ve had to get on stage, give talks, give presentations, I have organised courses and workshops in stand, and the list goes on. So, that was a very long answer to your question.
Claudia: And a very interesting one. Wow! What a transformation in three years! That’s phenomenal. Well, well done for taking the bull by the horns and going from feeling that making a living from coaching is difficult to what sounds like having a very thriving business and network. It sounds like you observed the expert market as being the place where coaching might be sellable and also marketing yourself; building up a network so that you could be more known. Is there anything else that took you from feeling the coaching was impenetrable and non-existent to today?
Nami: Well, it was really kind of connecting with the passion for myself. I kind of had an idea, but I didn’t have a black and white on a piece of paper – a proof – and so it was very easy, especially because friends and family were telling me, “Oh, why are you doing this? Every business you have been in has been successful quite quickly. You’ve made a lot of money in the past, so why are you sticking to this? What’s making you keep going?”
I didn’t really have a clear answer until I worked in a coaching program on a course that I did in London. We went through a whole process of extracting your values and not the values that you might do in coaching, like choosing from a list, etcetera, but it was something that Dr. John Demartini has devised, which is basically thirteen questions about the actual life you are living today and observing, and then you give three answers for each of those questions.
That’s available online, so people can download it and do that value test for themselves, and that actually tells you what are the most important things? What are the things you value most in your life right here right now? It’s like taking a photograph of your life but based on what’s important to you.
Of course, my top three values were helping people, business, and personal development, and that’s why my top three values were actually combined in the business of business coaching. That’s why I was so interested in it and I wouldn’t let go, and I really wanted to make it successful because it was everything that was most important to me, and then looked at passions, et cetera, et cetera, and just really reinforced me, and it reinforced my beliefs around myself, and also helped me kind of build on who I am sometimes.
Because I changed hats from accountant to business consultant, to a property developer, and now to a coach, I felt that I have to take on a persona of a coach and really in times and places, probably, I wasn’t being quite authentic in myself, nobody gave me that feedback but the danger always existed that that was the case. But doing all these exercises, and going through these courses helped me realise that I can be myself because what I have to offer is not for everybody, but to the right people that would benefit from it.
So, focus on me, what I have to offer, build on that, rather than keep looking around to see what other people are doing and see if I can do a bit of this and a bit of that, no. Just find out what you are really good at, and offer that and really focus and niche and hone it down and really offer that as your individual unique offering, if you like.
Claudia: I think, that’s a really good tip.
Nami: Yeah, and, again, it’s so easy to be – and I know, I have been there as a coach starting off for the first three years and people couldn’t figure it out, even talking to Nick, you just couldn’t figure out why I wouldn’t get any client because I had tons of experience, a lot of information that would be useful, I could take people from where they are to where they wanted to go, et cetera, yet I wasn’t getting any client, and it became a mystery for everybody, and, really, it was down to the next level.
I have actually put this whole thing in a program now, and I’m writing an e-book about it right now, but it is about getting clarity about who you are, what you offer, and then also clarity around who is your market? A lot of coaches – and there is two school of thoughts around having a niche and a micro-niche, or not serving everybody, and there is kind of positives and negatives on both sides of that, but I would say that, for me, having a niche and knowing what I’m good at and who I can serve then I can actually communicate much better with that.
I know who they are, first of all, I know what age they are, what sex they are, et cetera, so when I walk in a room, when I go into a networking group event, I’m focused on who I need to speak to, as opposed to talking to anybody who comes to me, and walk away with no results because I had a very nice conversation, I meet very nice people, but if I was there to get clients, I need to be focused on who I need to speak to.
So if my clients are mainly women between 35 and 45, then I don’t need to be, initially, looking to speak to a guy who is 18, or 70 years old. It doesn’t make sense. Yet – and I have done this with clients. I have actually gone to networking events with my clients because they said to me, “Networking doesn’t work.” I said, “What? Every single client that I have got, pretty much throughout my life, has been through connections and networking, and not necessarily a networking meeting, but networking in general -the big picture. So I don’t understand what you mean by ‘It doesn’t work’.” So, I went there and I saw what she was doing wrong: she was not focused, she had no idea who her client was, and she was just reacting to what other people did because she didn’t have a plan; she wasn’t in control of the situation.
Again, I wrote a blog about this recently because they are simple things, and this is what I do. I think, this is one of the secrets of my coaching and mentoring, is that I make it very, very simple: no technical jargon, no blowing people’s minds with stuff – it’s really bring it right down to their level and help them understand and get it so they can move forward.
Claudia: It sounds lie the clarity that you might have in a networking situation is the same on the bigger picture; being very clear about what you want to create and then doing that in a simple way, and a sense of bringing everyone together that you knew would have an interest or a need in what you provided. I think it’s a lovely example of being driven by your values and by knowing your own skill set, and then creating a market somewhere that it felt it was a bit against the odds – somewhere that it wasn’t immediately lots of people that were Native to Malaga knew what coaching was and were rushing to come and see you, but you just went, “This is where I want to do it, and there is a way of doing that,” and, I think, that’s an excellent thing for us to bear in mind as we start out, which is, you can create the market and you can create the business that you want to run.
Nami: Yeah. Absolutely, and, don’t get me wrong, it’s not all easy because you’d realise what needs to be done, it doesn’t mean that I’m necessarily going to do it because other stuff comes in your way and you do all sorts of things on your path and your journey, but, certainly, having the confidence that once you know; once you’re actually clear about who your market is, then you can actually see, “Do this, number one.”
Again, something else which is challenging for me is, there is no other business coaches here. So I can’t even look and see because one of the things I do with my clients – if they say, “I want to do this, but…” – that ‘but’ comes in – “… but I’m not sure if it’s going to work,” and I say, “Simply, anybody around you, can you see anybody in this area on the coast that is doing this – what you are intending to do?” “Yes, there are.” “Are they being successful?” “Yes, they are.” “Then you can do it. Yea? It’s just a matter of figuring out your way of getting you there and the way of getting you there,”
So, what I do is, I tend to help them focus on one thing at a time, and we talked about multitasking earlier as well that not everybody is good at multitasking, and, I think, when you are up against a full-time coach who is doing well, and is doing marketing, and investing in their business in getting coaching, and spending money on their website, and their market, and quality videos, et cetera, and then you are wanting to compete with that as a part-time coach putting a couple of hours a week, well, you’ve really got a challenge there of being able to stand up against that kind of a competition.
However, that doesn’t stop you because if you know your niche, you can go directly to your niche. You don’t need to please the public. You don’t need to have hundreds of videos online and all the different things that people without experience will tend to, “Oh, you need to do this. You didn’t need to do that, and you need to have this, and you need to have that.” True, it will help, but, guess what, six years on as a coach, I still don’t have a logo, right? And I write about one blog a year. Okay? It’s nice, I would love to be able to do it more, but I’m too busy doing other things that matter, serving clients, and helping clients. It would be lovely to do all of that. I’ve done one e-book since I started at the very beginning, and, again, I kind of hold myself back.
So, I was in the training room with my original coach in London and it’s kind of a very interactive kind of experience, and very challenging, and the whole weekend he puts us in challenge, after another, after another, and, basically, the challenge was – he just literally put in on the screen – he said, “Okay. Everybody who is in the room now is going to go on to Facebook and out this exact paragraph on their wall, and it read like, “I’m just about to write an e-book, and I would like you to help me and my accountability if you just go ahead and buy a copy of my book and I will send it to you as soon as it’s ready.” Just like that: no title, no what the book is about – nothing – just, “Trust me and buy my book.”
Of course, I cringed at the fear of “Selling a book before even writing it,” and I’ve never sold a book before. The other e-book was a free download. So here is me thinking, “Mm mm…” but the rule in the room is you just do what is asked of you. So, hummed and hawed, and, et cetera, but by the end of the afternoon I decide to put it up quietly, hopefully, nobody would see it, et cetera, and, of course, I won the challenge. I am now I paid published author and I haven’t even written a word at the time of the book, and here are people thinking that they have to spend years writing a book and then market it and then do all these things before they can actually be a paid author.
Well, how wrong is that and I have already sold 13 copies, 170 pounds worth of income, and I haven’t even written the book yet? I hadn’t even got a title for it yet. I had no idea what it was about at the time when I marketed it. So, this is just kind of challenging — our perceptions around things. So, going back to logo, and web design, and blogs, “I can’t get clients until I have 30 blogs done,” or, “I can’t get a client until I have a nice logo.” Not true.
Claudia: I suppose, we can all play to our strengths, can’t we? So writing might be something that I would be more inclined to do; somebody else might go and speak at an event; others will go to networking events, and, yeah, absolutely, I think, it is a combination of playing to our strengths and where we feel at home, and going to where our market is – where our potential clients are.
Nami: Absolutely. A kind of 80/20 rules that comes into play a lot of places. It’s about 80% about ‘what’ as opposed to ‘how’ or ‘when’ or ‘where’ et cetera. So, figure out what it is that you want to do, ideally, what it is you want to achieve, who is it that you want to work with; the rest of it will come. Just to let you know, another thing that I do with clients that kind of gives them an “uh-huh” moment almost every time is that when they come up with a vision, and the vision is about a year’s time, I say, “That’s great.” I’ll make sure they are comfortable with the goals they have set so it’s believable to them, et cetera; they can connect with it, so they get a ‘8’ or a ‘9’ out of ’10’ as to how believable it is to them.
Once they have got that, then I show them, I demonstrate just on a piece of paper, I just draw the line, I say, “Here, it is today, and this is a year’s time. Now, the concerns you have about whether you can achieve this or not, all the ‘buts’ that you have, it doesn’t apply. The reason being that the person is going to be achieving these goals in a year’s time is not the person sitting in front of me right now. Why? Because you’ll be developing; you will be growing, you’ll be learning, you’ll be practicing, you might do a Public Speaking course in the meanwhile, and you be on stage giving talks.”
So the mismatch is that you are looking at yourself today, and you’re looking at that big goal in a year’s time and you think, “How can I possibly achieve that?” Well, you don’t. It’s none of your business. You just decide what that is and you start moving towards it, and you will grow. You will become the person who achieves that goal, and it might not be the ‘you.’ Like, in my case, I had never been on stage giving a talk, but as a part of the process I decided “One of those experts that comes to my event every month giving a talk, one of those experts needs to be me.”
So, I had to learn and overcome my fears about public speaking, et cetera, get on stage, give a talk, give a presentation, and, amazingly enough, it is one of my strengths, and I didn’t even know it. I just shied away from it. Now every time people come say, “We love your talk. It’s really interesting,” and people telling me afterwards how they put what I said on stage into effect and they have got a massive result in their business, and that just gives you so much joy, yet I was holding myself back from this apparent strength that I have because of what was going on in my mind, “What if…? What if…? How could I possibly give a public speech? What do I have to say? What do I have to share that is being important?”
The reality is, we all do, but because we are so used to it; because it’s our life, we don’t realise that that information is so new and important to other people that we kind of shy away from having given it value and realising how valuable that can be.
Claudia: You’ve already told me a lot about your working life, the networking that you do, the kinds of people that you help, I just wondered, if I were to follow you around for a day – I’d be very lucky to come over to Malaga; if I were to follow you around, what would your day look like? So, I’m thinking about, for example, how many clients would you see? Maybe, what’s the balance between working with clients and doing some of this marketing or networking and things like that? Would I see you at your desk in your office, or outside of your office? Could you describe a day?
Nami: Sure! Well, why don’t you fly over and let’s do that?
Claudia: Let’s do that as well.
Nami: Yeah. Okay. For the next edition? Yeah. So, for me, I love variety. So, no two days look like the same for me, and that’s planned in that way. So if you are expecting it to be it is not going to happen. I’ll tell you an ideal day, or the normal day that I kind of have, the balance between marketing, frustratingly enough for me, it has been, maybe, 70/80%, not just marketing, but social media learning about different tools and being behind a computer pretty much, that’s how it started, and it was very, very frustrating for me because all I was interested in, I wanted to get in front of people and have sessions, and yet about 20%/ 25% of my time was spent doing that. The rest of it was administration, marketing; everything else which I didn’t care much about.
I always had people doing that for me in the past. So, it’s the stuff that I didn’t really enjoy. So that was frustrating, but that has changed. It’s probably about maybe 50-50, and I say that but I don’t work full-time. I don’t have a 9 to 5 job. I never have. Never. I suppose, I worked for about three years. Since then I have been self-employed, so I have always pleased myself within limits. So, that’s what suits me. That’s what works for me. So I’ve always looked for situations and possibilities and businesses that give me that freedom.
Now, a typical day is so different. I gave you an example of what today would look like, but when I enjoy most is when I’m actually working in sessions with clients. Something else I do is called “Coffee with Nami,” and anybody who is listening to this, or reading this interview, they are more than welcome to go to my website and book a coffee with Nami. It’s absolutely free of charge, and it’s where I help people as a part of my passion; sharing my passion with people.
Of course, I demonstrate how I can help them, but the main is genuinely authentically there to help people because the kind of help that I give is not available, really readily-available out there with the knowledge and the background that’s spoke to them. You can get a marketing course, or you can read a blog about anything and everything, or watch a video, but it doesn’t necessarily talk about your particular business, or your industry, et cetera.
So, I would have coffee with Nami, usually once or twice a week. In the last two years, my first time I set my goal to have a hundred coffees in one year, that was 2014. I didn’t achieve my goal, unfortunately – I only had 99 coffees in that year, but my hundredth came in January of 2015. So I’ve had about over two hundred coffees now in the last couple of years.
Claudia: You must love coffee, or hate it now.
Nami: I’ve got on to decaf now, but that’s how passionate I am. I actually hadn’t worked it out. When I set these goals myself – again, with my mastermind group in London – I set this goal and I said I want to help a hundred people. Even if they can’t afford to have coaching, but in that one hour I can give them massive value, and I do that. So that’s how it became, and it is funny enough it’s something that we talked with Nick maybe four or five years ago, that Nick said, “What do you enjoy doing?” It was one of these frustrating moments of me not getting clients, et cetera, so, “What do you enjoy doing?” I said, “I love giving people advice over coffee.”
So the whole concept of Coffee with Nami was born, but it took maybe three or four years before it came to reality because that’s how slowly I operate because I’m open to any questions, opening myself up and saying, “Look, I can answer any questions you have on business,” and that’s quite a challenge.
So, normally, I would have about one or two coffees a week depending on the demand, et cetera, then I would have sessions. Normally, that’s something else for new coaches as well – this is something I cringed about at the time, that there was a balance between having my own space, or renting a room, et cetera, for coaching, or having it in a public place, and I thought of holding a coaching session in a public place was just not a very, very professional standard and I just couldn’t do that, et cetera, but, at the same time, the rooms were so expensive that between the travelling and the cost of the room, et cetera, I was working for free.
So, I decided, “Okay. That’s the problem. So what is the solution?” And the solution is, test the public places and find a public place. So, now I go to four or five-star hotels that tend to be quieter. I look for the bigger ones where they have lots of different spaces and rooms and corners, et cetera, and now, I don’t think in the last couple of years I haven’t held a single session which hasn’t been in a coffee shop in a hotel room.
So, no private space – totally public. Of course, it’s different if you are doing emotional stuff, life coaching, and you are going to touch nerves, et cetera, but with business coaching it is fine. I can’t even imagine, I have got an office space and I have a board room, but I now even feel that that would make it a bit too stiff to go into a boardroom, et cetera, and a table, et cetera. So this whole coffee thing works for me absolutely well, and, I think, it’s important also that we train people their expectations and what to expect from us.
We don’t even realise, but what we tell them, the emails we send, the communication we have we set the scene. They are looking to us to lead. They are looking to us for the conditions; to have the conditions, et cetera. So it’s down to us to set that up right from the beginning. So, I have never ever had anybody saying anything about, “Oh, could we have a quieter room?” Or, “Could we go somewhere else?” Never ever because it’s a fact, “You want to meet me, you want to have a session with me we are going to meet at hotel Molina Lario in the central of Malaga.”
Everybody knows me there, everybody gives me great big coffees now, for the same price of the normal coffee. They just see me coming, and I hold all my sessions there, and my office is right across the road, literally, but I prefer to have it there and it’s much more relaxing, et cetera, and also it helps because I can see sometimes people are listening to our conversation, and I have had people come over to me and say, “What is it that you do?” And getting my business card, et cetera, then become my client, but I didn’t really push it either.
So it has a lot of advantages, but I know that that was a big thing for me at the beginning. So for a lot of coaches that might be a challenge, as to, “I don’t have a room. I don’t have a business card. I don’t have a logo.” None of that really needs to hold you back. If in doubt, book a coffee with Nami, I’ll explain more.
Claudia: Oh, lovely! This is true. Lots of these practical concerns come up, don’t they? Before we embark on a journey, “Well, how am I going to get clients? How am I going to do this? How will I do that?” There are lots of challenges, and there are lots of different solutions, as you say, and I suppose it’s about working out what’s best for us and our clients; the kind of coaching that we want to do, and the different resources we have available. Yeah, I find personally, I quite like coaching outside, or in big spaces. There is something about big spaces that seems to have people look around and be open to more expansive thinking, I think, than in a small room.
Nami: Yeah. The scene is very, very important, and I’ll just tell you, on that last question, that my ideal day just happened quite recently, of what I had set a few years back as to the vision of what would an ideal coaching day look like for me – a business day would look like for me – is working with a VIP client; that there is no time limit, there is no session, there are no limits on anything. They have 24/7 access to me, and they are not cut into times and sessions and so on. They just literally have Nami in their business; in their life for the period that they choose to have.
The very first session we had was we went to my favourite beach and spent a whole day on a beach bar at a table listening to the waves crash and spent the whole day working on her business there, had lunch there, coffee, et cetera, drinks, and what have you, and watched the sunset and then came home, and that was what I set my vision, that “This is what I would love to do.” So I didn’t know how it was going to happen, who, etcetera, etcetera, but it was going to be a VIP client that can afford to pay for me for one-day full sessions, and so on.
The next stage from that, which I have already kind of thought about is, retreats, but it will take a while before that’s in place too, but to come and build your business on a long weekend retreat in the sun, doing all fun things, but at the same time literally working on your business to build it, and thanks to the technology these days, you do not have to be in office to do that anymore. So we are fortunate to be in that position.
Claudia: Yes, and it’s lovely to hear that because, I think, sometimes when somebody says, “What would your perfect day be?” One is tempted to say, “Oh, a day on the beach. We have lunch, we coach, and we watch the sunset,” and it can feel silly, but, actually, in reality, it really can happen and it sounds like you were clear that that was your perfect day at some point and congratulations it has happened for you.
Nami: Thank you. Thank you. Yes, it can. It’s daring to dream and every time I have done that, it has come about. So, even doing a course, or a workshop, I had no idea. Again, I set my goal a few years back, “I want to have a workshop,” but rather than focusing on the workshop, you write a little story about this thing – your vision.
So, my story was, “Here we are about ten people on the beach, on a Sunday afternoon celebrating a successful workshop and watching the sunset together, having a meal, et cetera,” and went into detail about how that whole thing felt like, looked like, using the law of attractions and the secret, whether you believe it or not that it exists, even for a business coach talking about law of attractions, yes, it works.
So, I had written this and kind of forgotten about it, and then, of course, I think it was 2013, I found myself on a beach with ten people celebrating a workshop, watching the sunset, having a meal in exact detail. The only difference was, it wasn’t actually a coaching workshop I was giving. It was a joint workshop we had organised with another coach and all the attendants were coaches from all around Spain. So we were training coaching coaches, but every other detail was exactly the same, and, literally, my hair [uncertain 00:43:56] because I just realised I had a déjà vu, and I realised I had actually written this detail. I had to come home to get it out, and at the time I was writing it, I had no idea.
I had never given a course. I had no idea about what the workshop was going to be, but the law of attraction connected me to this other coach and she said, “Do you want to do this thing together?” And in the end, Sunday afternoon she says, “Oh, let’s celebrate.” I didn’t have anything to do with it. I just helped organise the event, and she said, “Let’s go to this Chiringuito, this bar on the beach just down the road here and have something to eat before everybody goes off because they were going to Madrid and Ruiloba and so on travelling.
So we all went there, the exact number, the exact thing, and I did not create it. It just happened, and that’s the power of the law of attraction, and believing and setting it up, that was the worst thing that could happen.
Claudia: Beautiful. Well, why not?
Nami: Yeah. Absolutely!
Claudia: It doesn’t cost a thing.
Nami: Not a thing.
Claudia: Have it go.
Nami: Just don’t let fear hold you back setting your dreams and your vision and it can happen.
Claudia: I wonder if there is anything else. You’ve said so much that’s really interesting and really useful, I think, really practically useful for coaches and people thinking about coaching; starting out on that journey. I wonder if there is anything else that you felt you wanted to share?
Nami: Well, I suppose, to summarise all of that is, as a coach, or whatever business you are running, make sure your heart is in it 100%. In other words, this is what you would love to do, and then whenever you are with a client to be client-focused. In other words, “I know everybody is interested, but I’m genuinely interested in the person in front of me, and I am 100% there for them completely listening to them, understanding them, and doing everything that they feel as though they have a partner in their business.” Yeah? “I’m not just a coach that they see one hour every two weeks, or whatever. They feel; I make them feel that they have a business partner,” yeah? And give massive, massive, massive value.
End of the day, you are there, you are in front of them, you are going to spend that time with them, why not do your job in a way that when they walk away they can’t help but think about you, talk about you, and appreciate genuinely what it is you are doing. So it’s genuinely coming from the heart. It’s not, “The work I do it’s all coming from the head.”
Obviously all the business stuff, the strategy, and so on and so forth, but at the same level, my clients feel that they’ve got a good friend, a business partner, and they are going to get massive value and that’s what gives me joy, and that’s what means that they get incredible from what you do and, hopefully, they will tell us others, apart from the fact that they will get the best coaching ever; the best supporting ever. That’s where I come from. So, be completely and utterly client-focused and giving more than 100%, and make sure your heart is in it
If you don’t like a client that you meet for a discovery session, or a coffee, or whatever, you don’t like working with them, I have refused clients, and people can’t believe, and I said, “No. I don’t drink alcohol, so I won’t work with people who want to introduce a new beer into Spain.” That could be quite lucrative for me, but no. Gambling, no. There are things that I draw the line and I literally have had people coming to me and saying, “What do you mean?” “No.” I said, “No, I don’t work with people like that.”
If it’s somebody I don’t get on with and I don’t have a good rapport with, I just don’t get them, and I don’t understand, walk away. Be brave to walk away because it’s just going to end up in disaster, and as desperate as we might be when we are starting out for every single client and every money, every pound coming in, be brave to walk away and stick to your standards, and to your moral standards, and make sure you can give them 100%. So if you don’t like somebody, and it comes; people can read that. Subconsciously, people pick that up and you pick that up in people and it’s just not going to be a happy ending.
Claudia: Absolutely! Better for coach and better for client if we follow our hearts and guided by that intuition about who we work with and how.
Nami: Absolutely! Absolutely!
Claudia: Well, thanks again, Nami.
Nami: My pleasure.
Claudia: Incredibly interesting examples and things for us to ponder on.
Nami: Fantastic. My pleasure. Well, thank you very much for asking me, and doing this interview, and I look forward to continuing the second part of this somewhere on the beach in Malaga.
Nami’s story is a really useful one to hear for coaches starting out. It can be daunting trying to find your style or niche, and starting to hear clients, but what we might learn from this is that, being driven by our values and bringing who we are into our work, and, of course, having a coach ourselves can help us imagine and create a living which is exactly what we might want.