Was It the Job, the Clients, or the Co-Workers That Were the Problem?

We all have to start somewhere, even us coaches. This is the story of my very first career coaching client!

When I met my client, he was a young stockbroker. At 29-years old, he and his new wife were looking to start a family. There was one big problem. No matter what he did, he wasn’t able to hang on to a job for longer than a year. He and his wife knew that he needed to figure out how to keep a job if they were going to have the financial stability to raise a child.

When I coach someone, I always try to break down their difficult situation into different components for discussion and assessment. There had to be a reason why this smart, good-looking, soon-to-be family man couldn’t keep a job.

First, I asked if he liked being a stockbroker. He said yes, absolutely. His mother did very well in the stock market and taught him everything she knew when he was growing up. He was very confident in his skills as an independent trader, finding the work to be challenging and rewarding, but he wanted more. So, no red flags there.

Next, I asked him if he liked most of his clients. He responded with an enthusiastic yes. He loved that people trusted him to give financial advice, even though he was young. They recognized that he was knowledgeable and had their best interests in mind. Knowing that he could help them grow and keep their family wealth gave him a sense of purpose. Still nothing about why he couldn’t maintain a job.

Finally, I asked if he liked his co-workers. He flatly stated that he hated working with them. Ah, here we go! His past jobs were basically at 3rd or 4th-tier companies where he was working with other men who were very unprofessional in their conduct, particularly their language. He was embarrassed to acknowledge that, while working in that environment, his own professional behavior had dropped to their level.

One day, he got so frustrated and mad at his job that he lost his temper, punched a wall, and broke his hand. Yikes! Luckily, he didn’t do any long-term damage to his hand, but it was still a wake-up call. He knew something had to change, for the sake of his family and mental health. This was the point when he found me.

Once we identified his pain point, we had something to work with. We knew that he liked being a stockbroker and that he liked his clients. It was his co-workers who were the problem. To land and keep a job, he just had to find a more professional environment to work in. I eventually was able to help him get a job at E*TRADE where he became a top performer for six years. He is now a founder and managing partner of his own firm, and a very successful wealth management advisor.

It has always given me great pride that, as my very first coaching client, I was able to get him on the right track. It happened because, together, we were able to separate the things he enjoyed about his work and the things that were detrimental. Once he realized this, he could move forward in his life!

He was shocked when I told him a few years later that he had been my first client. What!?

And I was really, really happy when he sent me a picture of his newborn son!