Case Study

From Public Health to Full Time Coach: Meet Nicole, the Health and Mindset Transformation Coach

Meet Nicole Williams, an ICF credential holder and Lumia graduate who now works as a coach for herself and other companies -- learn how to find a coaching role!

In our Case Study series, we're diving into the personal journeys, the real-life ups and downs, and the unique paths of Lumia graduates. Discover how real coaches found their way to coaching, built their businesses, and get clients!

Every interview is a window into the life of someone who has embraced coaching as a way to not only change their own lives, but also to impact others. These conversations are about connection, growth, and the diverse ways each coach brings their authentic self to this meaningful and important work. 

From Public Health to Full Time Coach: Meet Nicole, the Health and Mindset Transformation Coach

Today’s interview is with Nicole Williams – a certified life coach based in Maryland. Her coaching approach is person-centered and non-judgemental. She assists clients in identifying values, developing the capacity to deal with their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, and gently challenges inconsistencies to develop deeper self-awareness. You can connect with her here.

Please introduce yourself and describe your niche as a life coach.

My name is Nicole Williams. I am a certified life coach, and my focus right now is health and mindset coaching. 

What’s your professional background?

I have my Master's in Public Health, so I spent 20 years in the public health industry. I've worked in a lot of different capacities, including health education, policy, program development and grant writing.

What made you want to become a coach?

I went through a divorce, and became a single mom. And it was during that time of personal growth and transition that I started to think about what my life would be like as a single mom, what I wanted to do and focus on. 

I thought about going back for another degree – counseling or psychology. But, I knew that the time investment and the financial investment wasn't for me.

I worked with a coach throughout my divorce transition period who was really helping and supporting me. It occurred to me that the support that I wanted to help people with was similar – understanding what was happening with their life currently and helping them chart a new path for themselves.

What did you look for in a coach training program?

As someone who comes from an academic background, I knew I wanted a program that met certain standards and requirements. It was important for me to find a program that was using models that were evidence-based. 

With a public health background, I was familiar with some of the behavior change models already, and so I wanted to make sure I followed a program that was also teaching those similar models but for coaching.

I wasn't ready to continue to climb the corporate ladder in Public Health. But I started to think about how I could pursue this coaching option, like: what I could do part time while I was working, or what were my options? 

What stood out to you when looking at Lumia?

It was very practical and understandable. It felt very approachable for me. I was listening to the podcast and hearing John and Noelle talk about different coaching principles – they had a way of talking about them that felt approachable, fun, inviting. 

I wanted a program that was inclusive and accepting. Diversity was a big part, too. I looked at the teachers and read through some of their profiles on the website to make sure it was a diverse background in terms of racial and ethnic diversity, but also the diversity of the teachers' experiences. 

What was your experience with Lumia?

I enjoyed all of the classes, they were engaging and provided space for us to practice. My favorite part was when the teachers shared their personal experiences whether it were coaching other clients or their professional experience. 

I really loved the Signature program. I really enjoyed the mentoring sessions – that group coaching aspect of the Signature program. 

I loved that it was a smaller group on purpose. I think we had a cap of 10 students. I really enjoyed the one-on-one teaching with those smaller mentor group coaching. 

I loved the ability for us to do real-time peer practicing, and then we had an opportunity to come back together as a group and get feedback from the mentor instructor. 

We also had a chance to connect deeper with the peers that we were working with and to learn more specifically from each other.

What’s the Lumia community like?

The Lumia community is pretty fantastic. I've connected with quite a few students. We stayed connected outside of the program when it was done. The community in general is very welcoming. 

They are very supportive and open to different learning styles, answering questions, helping to make sure that you understand what you're supposed to do – everyone is really there to answer those questions.

You have this wonderful group of resources and individuals who are working in the field and doing different things. I really appreciate that aspect of continued support even after I finished.

What was the actual coach training experience like?

It’s a relaxed atmosphere and community. While it's grounded in evidence based practices and it’s an academic setting, it doesn't feel like you're walking into a difficult college level class.

It feels like it's approachable in a way that anyone can participate and be a part of the discussion and complete the classes.

I would recommend Lumia to others. And I think that the way in which they have structured the program so that you have Essentials for someone who just wants that. And then if they want to build on those skills and move to the ICF credentialing path, that they have the Signature program, I think it is incredibly smart for Lumia to break it up like that. The program itself is very approachable.

For someone considering it, this is a really safe, accredited, evidence-based, approachable program that you can jump into. And that would give you a really, really good set of coaching skills.

As a working parent, could you complete Lumia's coach training ?

It was a big thing for me as a mom! I wanted to make sure I could actually do this while I was working and I have two kids. And I could! I had the time to go to the classes during the week and complete the assignments and get that done.

Who did you meet in your Lumia cohort?

There were teachers, professors, there were other individuals from other kinds of healing modalities, whether it be like other therapists or counselors, individuals who've completed certification on breath work or Reiki. Healthcare professionals. 

The age range varied very greatly from fresh out of college to seasoned professionals who were just wanting to make a pivot and make a change. I loved that diversity that we were getting to see.

What were you looking for in terms of support?

The biggest support I was looking for was support from individuals who were certified coaches. Lumia met that need. Every single teacher made themselves available to the students to help support and answer questions.

The other great thing is in the Signature program we get some group mentor coaching with Lumia, but we also have to complete some individual mentor coaching. I had so many questions! How do I find a mentor? Who's a mentor? Every single instructor was open to having that conversation about helping me make that decision. Who could be my mentor? What should I be looking for? They offered mentoring, formal mentoring services, but also informal check-in sessions.

That support meant the world to me. When you're trying to navigate so much and you're very new to the coaching space, that support is tremendously important. I was stretching myself in a way that I wasn't expecting and at the same time I now had a beautiful network of coaches that I could lean on. 

How has coach training changed you as a human being? 

The more that I am authentic and centered and working on myself, the better coach I'm becoming. 

I'm already a patient person, but I think it has allowed me to be more empathetic in my relationships. In coaching it’s so critical to show up without judgment. Showing up without judgment for yourself, but also for your client. 

It forces you to be more introspective about what you're thinking at the time, what assumptions you're making, if you're coming to a relationship with certain biases. With anyone that I'm interacting with, there's this kind of deeper level of empathy as it relates to that, that I feel has been really helpful for like my personal for like by personal relationships and growth.

I have this deeper awareness of what's happening with me at any given moment and I try to approach situations with curiosity instead of judgment.

Coming into coaching as a novice and then deciding to make a really large pivot in your career, you have to really practice grace with yourself because you're going to make a lot of mistakes.

How have you built your coaching business?

As I have stepped into entrepreneurship and coaching, I don't have a choice but to step into a place of responsibility in a very different way. I don't have a boss telling me what I need to do and what my checklist should be or assigning tasks for me. 

It is solely my responsibility to identify my coaching opportunities. It's my responsibility to continue my training and keep my skills fresh. It has put me in a position where I can just take ownership of what I want for my life.

When you decide to use your coaching skills – whether it be building your own business or maybe working for someone else – there really isn't this well-defined path. 

As you're exploring that, you have to be really open to a lot of different companies or continue to build your own practice. 

While you may have a specific area that you want to focus, be open to trying different niches. You might surprise yourself.  

Make sure that you are getting coached. Find a coach to support you, because a large part of it is mindset more than it being tactical and skill. Find that personal coach for yourself who can really support you. I’m constantly looking for resources. I'm a big learner. Those are some of my strengths. I was always looking for resources to help me. There are a lot of resources out there.

Pull together a list of resources that you think you can tap into. One piece of advice I got was to conduct some informational interviews, very informal, with some coaches who I was either following on LinkedIn, some alumni from Lumia to just glean from some of their experience.

I was really focused on working for another company at first and I do work with companies but there are some limitations that come with that. Gaining the perspectives and experience from other individuals who've gone through who work for different companies and what their experience has been was helpful for me to make my own decision to decide what would be best for me.

How did you secure a coaching role within a bigger company?

I work part-time for two different companies as a coach right now, and I am working to establish my own practice. What I like is that I have the opportunity to continue to gain experience while I'm still figuring out what I want my own practice and program to look like.  

I spent a long time trying to find a coaching role that was the right fit. 

If someone is in the process of getting their ICF credential, that helps! There are some companies that are specifically looking for an individual who has that ICF credential.

I did a ton of research on different companies that promote meditation, like the Calm app or companies that promote weight loss like Noom. I tried to really explore companies that fell into like these very kind of common pillars within the coaching industry. So one is like health and wellness, the other is more like business executive coaching.

I really started on LinkedIn. I started going through my network and looking at different positions and searching that way. I immediately went into the health coaching space, because my public health background was also attractive to a potential employer.

Both of the companies that I work for are in the healthcare space. I also just recently ended employment with a company that utilized the model of coaching and therapists to support their clients. I had an opportunity to work in that capacity as well. 

My background coupled with coaching has given me this well-rounded experience that employers find attractive. In one of my current positions, in addition to coaching, I have had the opportunity now to help with other aspects within the companies around like program development. That's given me this kind of unique position that I'm really excited to dive into.

What’s the best way for someone to use their coaching skills in a professional field?

There are so many skills that you glean from coaching itself. What I tried to do when I first finished with Lumia is take a look at the skills that I gained from coach training and then the skills that I also have gained from my formal professional background and experience and look for areas of synergy.

Look for those skills that you bring from your life – as you're speaking to employers and you can pull in that experience from your previous professional space, whatever that was!

You might have been a stay at home mom, there are definitely skills that you've gained from that experience too. Look for areas of crossover and synergy so that as you're communicating and working and talking with potential employers, you can speak from both spaces.

What were your financial goals post-Lumia?

My first goal since completing Lumia was to make a return on my investment. I have done that! Standing on your own two feet as a coach is a process. I'm working for these companies and I have that opportunity to build my income and gain practice. I know it will position me so that as I build out my own practice, it will be even stronger.

What are three words to describe Lumia?

Refreshing is the word that's coming to mind. It feels exciting and inviting.

What was your experience with getting your ICF ACC Credential?

As I look at the longevity of this career in this space – I absolutely love the options that are available to me to mentor, coach, to maybe even teach. You know, there's so many ways to expand once you have your coaching skills and you continue to develop. 

Credentialing was really important to me. Now that I've earned my ICF credential, I think that it will continue to open doors for me as I explore different aspects of coaching.

The other piece is this opportunity to network. I've joined the ICF as a member. There are chapter groups that you're a part of, so you really have this big opportunity to network with other coaches, which is really critical.

Now that I have my ACC, I'm excited to continue to build my coaching hours. I am definitely planning to go for my PCC. Another really cool aspect is if I wanted to become a mentor coach, I could do that. 

What advice would you give to others starting their Lumia journey?

For anyone who is just starting out – just practice.You'd be surprised as you continue to practice with different clients and really focus on those skills, how much you improve, how much your confidence improves, and how much you start to own that space that you're in now as a coach.

Know that you're still effective as a coach, even if you might have a session where you don't feel like you're doing that great. That you are showing up and supporting your clients is still effective. 

Thinking of Becoming a Coach?

A lot of talented people like you dream of having a coaching business, but aren’t quite sure how to get there. We train and certify adventurous coaches, making sure you’ve got all you need to build a business you love and transform lives, on your terms. If you're ready to learn more, come check out Lumia Life Coach Training

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