I’m going to introduce you to someone who I had the pleasure of working with for 5 months. Her name is Nancy Fournier, PhD. She is going to share with you … words of wisdom for all coaches, her challenges and how she faces them with courage and what she loves about her new business.
Nancy is a Vassar College graduate with an MA in Social Services Administration from University of Chicago and a PhD in public administration from Virginia Commonwealth University. Over the last 30 years or so, Nancy has amassed leadership experience in public educational and nonprofit secretaries.
And since 2004, she’s been a consultant focusing on executive coaching and job evaluations for executive directors. And now in her current coaching business, Relish Your Role …
Nancy empowers women executive directors of nonprofits to lead with authentic power by strengthening relationships with staff, board and partners.
She also has a podcast by the same name, Relish Your Role, which you can find on any podcast app as well as on her beautiful website. I hope you will check that out.
And I hope that if you know any executive directors of nonprofits or you are one yourself, that you reach out to Nancy because she’s an incredible mentor, resource and coach for women executive directors of nonprofits.
Welcome Nancy. I’m so glad you’re here!
Yeah, it’s nice to be here.
Yeah. So tell everybody how you found me and what inspired you to work with me and my VIP 5-month Coaching Business Breakthrough program.
Well, I sort of came to a pivot point, I think it was about a year ago now. I was doing what all coaches and consultants do. I, I had a roster of executive directors I was working with, but I was also doing board training and just being a bit of a generalist.
I really made a decision that I wanted to just focus on my coaching. It brings me the greatest joy and I think it’s what I’m best at. And realized that I had just sort of had a word-of-mouth practice and I needed to get better at what I naturally do not like to do, which is sort of market and promote and organize myself.
And I started with an internet search, but then kind of fell in the world of podcasts. You struck me as very authentic as that’s kind of a running theme for me as people who speak with their authentic voice resonate with me. And I started listening to your podcast and reached out to you.
I’m so glad that you did. We had a productive and warm, friendly partnership.
What are some of the things that we did together in my VIP program?
- Having the structure, having the built-in accountability.
- There are deliverables every week and I really appreciated having timeframes to put these thoughts that were sort of bouncing in my head down in paper.
- And, to really nail down a Signature Program.
- And, to really get clear what my niche was … what the needs were of the people that I work with.
- I still live off of and have learned so much from the process of going out and interviewing women, nonprofit EDs that I did not know about their challenges and the things they love about their jobs and their vision for the future. So having your system and your prodding to sort of move through those sequential steps were incredibly helpful and I would’ve never done it on my own.
- And you also pushed me to learn all of these new technologies that were definitely challenging, but I feel like I’ve mastered it, which was great for my own self-confidence.
Well, you have mastered it. It’s really amazing and you brought so much courage to the table. And what I noticed about you — and this is true of some of my clients —is that everything was right there for you. All you needed was prompting, some encouragement, some structure, that kind of thing. And you were able to create everything with aliveness, freshness and authenticity.
So, it was a pleasure working with you. I’m sad because I miss you. It’s been about a month since we finished and, and yet I’m so glad we get to reconnect this way and also on LinkedIn.
Yeah, it is really nice. I do a little feel a little bit like the bird kicked out of the nest. It’s like, okay, now you’ve gotta go fly and do this and do your weekly broadcast emails and think out your podcast episodes. And it’s like, where’s Rhonda?
Well, I’ll tell you, I’m still watching you though.
I know I can feel it.
I’m really enjoying seeing you fly on your own and just knowing that you have this solid foundation. I know that you are soaring and I know that it’s a bit challenging at first, so we’ll talk more about that in a minute.
What do you love about your coaching business being on your own? What’s the positive side of it?
The positive pieces are the changes I see in my clients. Definitely being able to help my client base really get better in their own self-awareness and being able to put their own saboteurs to rest and strengthening both their relationships and their ability and their delegation skills internally.
And also building more trust with their boards and for them to begin to do this and get stronger is incredibly gratifying inwardly. In terms of myself, I think being very serious and intentional of saying “This is the work I want tp do and I don’t want to do anything else.” And really sticking with that.
Yes, there’s so much power in that intentionality and also in the passion that you feel for your audience having been in that industry for so long. Your program is so tailor made to what they need. So that’s very, very exciting.
What specifically will you help women executive directors of nonprofits overcome and achieve?
That’s a really great question. What they will achieve are 4 things:
- That they have a staff that can work autonomously. So being able to grow their leaders from within so that my clients can focus more on the larger strategic issues.
- That there is better trust and deep involvement from their boards. That their boards can carry their responsibility of being ambassadors for the organization out in the community.
- That their partnerships in the community are genuine and that they’re very comfortable explaining and embracing their unique value add of their agency and lifting their other partners up so that there isn’t any sense of sabotaging or any of those things.
- And I think most importantly, that they develop the confidence to create the support groups. One of the things that I hear again and again and again is how isolating the role is of being a, a leader of a nonprofit and especially as a woman. And I think the goal is that they’re able to develop support networks that they can continue to nourish themselves, find a safe place to bring up their questions.
And I’m one of these coaches whose goal is that they see me happily in their rear-view mirror after a period of time that they can do all of this on their own.
Yeah. Just to sum it up … I think one of your many zones of genius is really in the working relationship. Executive directors of nonprofits have so many relationships they need to manage. I feel like you really hit on something really core for your audience.
What’s your plan on how you will attract your one-on-one coaching clients for your signature program?
Well, I’m working a 3-tiered approach.
There is the, the current networks of clients I’ve worked with and just my general involvement in the nonprofit community in, in the town where I was from. And so making sure they remember me and have gotten a number of them to subscribe.
- I send out my Relish Your Role podcast episodes once a week so that they stay on top of what I’m doing. So just sort of working my existing network.
- I have become a serious LinkedIn consumer, a user both reading and contributing. And that has definitely increased my visibility.
- And then I’m just going back to square one networking. I spend the summer in a different part of the country where I am the rest of the year and just getting on the phone and meeting other nonprofit consultants. Talking a lot with recruitment firms because they’re finding that, that they’re hiring new eds who really need some support and talking about making linkages there, offering training, just doing all of that, getting outside of the comfort zone of someone who’s been doing it for a long time and acting like I’m someone who’s just starting out and reaching out and having those emails and those coffees and those conversations of: “Here I am and this is what I do and who do you know for whom this might be helpful?”
That 3-tiered approach really covers all the bases! And because you have so background in this industry, you’ve got so much going for you. And it’s just a matter of sort of waking it up, enlivening it a little bit, you know — building those relationships just as you are going to help your clients build relationships. I just feel like you are so in the right place and doing the right things. Really good job!
Well, thanks. I think there’s also a seasonality to this field and getting out there in August is usually a pretty difficult time —which is when you and I are speaking — because people’s heads are getting their kid back to school. Maybe they have taken, you know, are taking the vacation they haven’t taken all year. And so it’s just kind of ramping all of that up.
Well, that’s a really good point because things do ebb and flow. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. And maybe it’s good that you’re kind of winding up right now because you’re getting some of the kinks out, you know? And then, maybe mid-September, when people are a little more settled in their lives, your message is going to come through even more strongly.
What’s the scariest or most uncomfortable thing that you’ve done or are doing in your coaching business so far, and how are you getting through it?
- I think the scariest is being your own cheerleader in some ways. You have to get up and you gotta get out there. Even if you wanna mope, even if you wanna not deal with it. I think it’s scary to just keep pumping yourself up.
- I’m not scared of talking to new people. I am not scared of offering what I do ’cause I feel pretty confident in that. But I think it is scary and difficult.
- Posting nationally is a little scary. You fear judgment. I think we all have this fear of people are gonna judge you negatively and just pushing through that.
- And, all of the technical pieces. And when I upload that podcast episode, yes, it is definitely scary.
Yeah, that makes sense. I am just shifting my attention from Facebook over to LinkedIn because I think LinkedIn is actually a much sweeter community.
Don’t be afraid, you know, if you can manage that fear and really just trust your instincts, trust who you are,
You’re such a courageous and well established human being. You have so much that you can leverage, so many assets.
And I just want to tell you … nobody has to show up perfect there (on social) and not on your podcast either. I mean, even if you made a mistake.
I made a mistake not long ago and one of my colleagues sent me an email and said “Something’s wrong here … I think you need to fix something.” And I was just able to quickly fix it. It’s so much more forgiving than maybe, you know. Having done this for a long time, my podcast for 5years, my business for 20 years, I just want to assure you, you can, you can just be a human being.
I think for me, and I’m sure many of your clients, it’s that selling part that’s very uncomfortable. And I sort of hover around the … “and therefore you should get in touch with me” part that I still cannot say I feel 100% comfortable with. But I’m sure everybody who reads these is … “there’s a reason why she’s posting this.” It’s not just to edify folks.
But I do think that there is an extra step nowwhich is to, yeah, put your expertise out there. Put your caring and your authenticity out there. Show who you are, be vulnerable, but then take that extra step —not in every post you make —but every now and then to say: “Hey, work with me. I would love to work with you. Here’s how you can do that to take a next step.” Because I think without that ask, your business will grow more slowly.
I think we’re sort of ingrained … you don’t wanna sell yourself. You don’t wanna be too pushy and just moving past that. It’s NOT being pushy. But those are hard tapes to get out of your head.
I completely get it.
Do you have any final words of wisdom for coaches who’ve just graduated from coach training or are just starting to tinker with their coaching business?
Tenacity … keeping one’s energy and focus and optimism. It’s not always easy every day, but I think that’s really important. Keep at it, keep at it, keep at it, keep at it!
Yeah. And try to love that part too. You know, really enjoy the craft that you are building of having a business, being the CEO, doing the podcast, all the things, you know, to just sort of enjoy that part too. Because the more you enjoy that part too, the more positive energy goes out when you are putting your marketing out and when you are networking.
So that’s really well said and beautiful. Thank you so much for spending this time with all of us. And I really am just holding you and your business up and out for the world to see. And I really think that as soon as you have your first client in this signature program, all of your value, all of your juice is going to come out for that person and they will be so amazed what it’s like to have support.
Thank you. I see that too. And I’ve had a couple of nibbles, it’s been 5 weeks, so it’s really sort of in its infancy and you know that, but I very much appreciate your confidence. I should have recorded that last piece and I could listen to it when I have moments of doubt.
And I think that’s the thing. The other last thing for coaches, I don’t know anybody who doesn’t have moments of doubt. I work with these really established, I mean, they’re just incredible women and they have moments of doubt. So, there’s no reason to think that we all don’t experience those as well. But I’m gonna hold onto what you just said to boost me through those moments of doubt.
Good. And I wish you all the best! Thank you so much for your time today.
It’s been a pleasure.
All right. Take good care!