Monday, January 11, 2010

Interview with Professional Coaches Tony and Andrea Voirin


Tony and Andrea Voirin are the professional coaches behind AVA Coaching , a company dedicated to assisting clients in finding the tools and practices they need to move toward success and remain focused on their goals.

I had the opportunity to work with Tony on my writing career. I was stuck. With a plate filled with projects and an aversion to marketing my work, I had difficulty organizing my time and making concrete steps forward. Tony helped me to recognize my blocks and find ways to overcome them. Since working with him, I've placed several short stories and articles, have a serious marketing plan for three completed manuscripts, and am putting the finishing touches on a fourth.

At first I thought my problem was organization. If I could only get my paper piles under control, I'd have several published novels! Coaching helped me see that my ineffectiveness had more to do with my values and commitments--something I'd never considered. Clarity came in small steps, but boy, did it make a difference!

I admit I first thought that professional coaching was created for people with a certain self-help mindset. I'm a pragmatic Mid-Westerner, and this sounded like an introspective celebrity-type trend. But Tony was born in the US and Andrea hails from Germany, and you will see they embrace the same coaching concepts. And since the client brings her own values to the process, it can work for anyone. It's an exciting process, and one I wanted to share with other writers, but I'll let the experts explain how it works! Welcome Tony and Andrea!

You’re both professional coaches. What exactly are you coaching people through (besides authors trying to be more effective)? Weight loss?

Andrea: Most of my clients wanted to make changes in their life-style – meaning – going to bed earlier, working out more, drinking less, eating healthy, working less and sometimes the plan includes a weight loss. A very common topic that I coach my clients around are relationships. How can they be improved, how can they handle difficult conversations or conflict, etc.

Tony: I predominantly work with people taking on large projects or change and people having difficulty balancing their personal and professional life. Some examples are a person having difficulty completing their doctoral dissertation, a newly graduated student trying to start her own chiropractic clinic, an author wanting to focus her efforts and a surgeon wanting to improve the quality of his family life.


When I first heard of professional coaches, it brought to mind an analyst or a bully! What is a professional coach?

Andrea: A professional coach has had professional training and is holding a certification. Coaching is a profession that is not regulated yet. If I were to hire a coach, I would make sure that they had formal training, are holding a certification and belong to one of the professional organizations, like the ICF (International Coach Federation) and have some references.

Coaching is non-therapeutic and therefore no threat for counselors and therapists. There is a place for all of them. Coaching is about setting goals and having someone assist you in figuring out what your barriers are and how to overcome them, so you can reach your goals. A coach’s perspective is to hold their clients as capable. There is no need to “fix” the client.

People say I give great advice. Does that qualify me to be a personal coach?

Andrea: Coaches do not give advice! In fact, giving advice, if you think about it, leaves the client possibly thinking that they are not capable of handling a situation themselves. As a coach, you pre-suppose that your client is whole, healthy and complete and perfectly capable. Advice should only be given with permission – and that counts for everyone.

Tony: Coaching assumes that you are the expert of your own life. You know better than anyone how things work in your life. My advice comes from my view of the world which includes my past experience, objectives and values. A coach works to assist the client in coming up with their own best “advice”.

As someone who is undergoing the coaching process, I’ve already seen marked results. When I make a discovery that moves me forward, it seems so obvious in hindsight. Couldn’t you just tell me what to do? My career could move much faster that way!

Andrea: This is very simple. What works for me, might not work for you. You have all the answers within you. It usually makes the client also feel a lot better if they come up with their own solutions.

Tony: Trouble is that before going through the coaching process with my client, I wouldn’t know what to tell you. Each coaching call is truly a discovery process. Coaches are trained to “peel the onion” by asking the client powerful questions.

Are you ever tempted to “lead” your client to the right answers?

Andrea: Yes! That is why it is so important that a coach has had formal training and has learning to be neutral. Sometimes with my clients we touch on areas that I have not worked out for myself and it is hard to stay neutral and not give advice or lead your client into your direction. As a coach, you learn to “self-clean” and stay out of your client’s business. Those are all things you learn during a formal coach training.

Tony: I agree with Andrea, that part of the formal training a coach goes through is focused on unlearning this desire. If you are looking for someone with experience in a field that can tell you what to do, you want to mentor, not a coach.

Your website focuses on family/relationship coaching, but my experience has been individual/career coaching. Am I the exception to the rule, or do you take on career coaching as well?

Andrea: I simply do not want to coach business clients. My areas of coaching are Relationship, Leadership and individual coaching. All those areas could include a change of career as well but that is not what I am focusing on.

Tony: I have recently completed training as a leadership coach which focuses on individuals.

Sometimes a writer can't focus because of what's going on in the household. For those with family/relationship problems, how can coaching help them? Does the entire family have to be involved?

Andrea: I think coaching is a great way to assist families in getting better results. Traditionally, if one of the family members are “not working” the whole family is out of balance. For one family member to go to counseling, hoping that they will be fixed and things will be changing is usually not working. Counseling is a great way to figure out what went wrong in the past and why…coaching is a way to plan for the future having that knowledge.

In cases where they family includes teenagers, I would absolutely include them…if the kids are under 10, it might be more effective to just coach the parents.

What led you into personal coaching?

Andrea: My 13 year old son that had counseling for 7 years went out of control and we looked for help. That is when we were introduced to coaching.

I'm sure I'm not the only writer who could use help discovering effective methods to advance his or her career. If you could give one piece of advice to our readers, what would it be?

If you are interested in being coached, ensure the coach has completed formal training. Most coaches will also offer a session at no charge which can allow you to experience coaching before you commit to a contract.

Thank you Andrea and Tony! If you're interested in trying professional coaching, you can contact the Voirins through their web site .

3 comments:

  1. As someone who's been coached, I'd recommend it to anyone wanting to move forward in their lives. It worked for me.

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  2. Wonderful interview - I too am a professional Creative Life Coach - working exclusively with creative types for the past 11 years - thank you for introducing your readers to coaching - the coaches interviewed said it well - the philosophy of coaching is to entertain the idea that you don't have to do life alone - taking action, and accountability allow the client to move forward in all areas of their life and become more balanced allowing them to soar! Reva Solomon
    ScribeWizards.com

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  3. I've never been (formally)coached, but thanks to this post I now understand what it is. The concept of building from the client's existing strengths is so important -- makes it seem far less intimidating. Great interview!

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