Is Business Coaching Bullsh*t?

October 08, 2014

Connect Member

Founder of, financial media executive, engineer, entrepreneur, instigator.

DailyWorth founder Amanda Steinberg interviews business coach Stephanie Licata to ask, “Are business coaches for real? Why not just hire a therapist?”

Stephanie Licata is the founder of Sound Change career coaching and also a consultant specializing in recruiting, change management and leadership development.

Amanda Steinberg: Coaching is a booming industry, but it's also relatively new. I hear murmurings from colleagues and family members who ask me, “Is coaching real? What is it? Shouldn't you just hire a therapist?” So, what exactly is coaching?

Stephanie Licata: Coaching is a process and conversation to elicit motivation and action for the person receiving the coaching. Therapy, on the other hand, is diagnostic, focusing on one's problems. Coaching is future thinking, while therapy often involves discussing one's past. Coaching doesn't analyze or judge circumstances but takes them for what they are and explores ways to interact with that circumstance.

AS: Why do so many people still invalidate coaching?

SL: Anyone can call themselves a coach by putting up a website, so it just becomes very difficult for anyone to distinguish credible coaches from great marketers. Great coaches should have a combination of in-depth work experience related to their coaching field, while also going through a certification program that requires actual hands-on training, mentorship and evaluation. I took it a step further to study group and organizational psychology. I wanted more solid ground to provide better results for my clients.

AS: When you studied organizational psychology at Columbia University, what did you learn that you now apply to your coaching?

SL: I learned about how the intersection of individual personality types and group dynamics affect a team's ability to perform. In addition, I studied how critical it is to include employee coaching as part of team review processes. Feedback — say, during an employee review — has very little impact unless coaching is added as a next step.

AS: I've heard you say that good coaches know that it's 100 percent about bringing out their client's unique skills and potential, not about coaches creating versions of themselves.

SL: Coaching is a bit like parenting. Your kid is not here to be you. They are born from you, but they are also separate and unique. If you try to make them like you, you kill the natural gift they were born to give. As a coach, I don't want to create mini-me's — it's my responsibility to distinguish where my own ideas are getting in the way of serving my client's desires and highest potential.

AS: Tell us about your company Sound Change.

SL: I've been coaching for many years, and I noticed that many of my clients are facing major career changes. So now I'm focusing almost exclusively on coaching people through career changes. I help them navigate the career change process, which includes emotional response to change, their marketable skills, and their financial reality (a favorite at DW!). In particular, people have so many skills that are valuable, but they don't know how to match them to specific jobs they qualify for. Women often struggle to recognize their value or how valuable their skills are. I show them how to package what makes them most desirable in the workplace or as an entrepreneur to move into new positions. It doesn't have to be a scary or unstable process when you understand the journey.

Join Stephanie Licata and Amanda Steinberg on Oct 20th in New York City.


Amanda Steinberg is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.