Creating a brand for yourself is imperative in the working world today, but it can be a challenge for some.
As a certified lifestyle management coach, Harper Spero helps New Yorkers improve not only their personal lives but their professional fulfillment as well, through avenues such as social media and website building. Prior to jumping into life coaching full time in November 2014, Spero, 34, worked at Agent of Change, an event production and brand strategy firm that she still consults for sometimes. She worked in public relations in the beauty industry prior to that. Spero, who lives in Chelsea, chatted with us about her new job.
What sparked your interest in life coaching?
I actually sat in on a meeting with this previous boss that I was working with and someone did a visioning exercise with her where they asked her where she saw herself in 10 years and the following day I reached out to this woman saying what did you just do, how do I do that and what certification do I need in order to do something like this? And I learned that she was a life coach.
What certification is needed to be a life coach?
The program that I did was the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching. I'm a Certified Professional Coach.
What made you want to do it full time?
For me I wanted a lifestyle change. I wanted to be able to have the flexibility and freedom to do my own thing. I always knew I wanted to start my own business, I just wasn't sure what that looked like. But once I found coaching it seemed like the right fit. A side note is that I dealt with some health issues a few years ago and that sort of put me over the edge to not wanting to do something less than fulfilling.
What have your profits been like?
I have clients that I'm working one-on-one with but was surprised to find that in such a short amount of time of being an entrepreneur, I've already had people reach out to me to consult for them, write for their publications et cetera in the personal development and health space, which provides additional income. Additionally, I'm in the process of planning some workshops and campaigns with other friends and colleagues in the personal development and health space for the spring and summer.
What was an unexpected challenge in being a life coach?
When I launched my website I expected overnight for something to happen. I literally was so stressed about my website launching, and the day it launched I got all this great positive feedback, but I expected some burst of clients signing up. There wasn't a specific benchmark I had in mind and then I realized oh, now I need to put together marketing emails and my social media and email blasts and really keep the momentum going. Just releasing my website wasn't going to be enough.
Did you build your website yourself?
I did not, I hired someone. I had a vision for it and worked with a company that I trusted.
What is your demographic?
Right now I'm calling it 25 to 45 year olds, male and female, who are looking to make changes in their lifestyle and that want to commit to working on their overall health, well-being and general personal fulfillment.
What is a common thing people need help with?
Just getting their life in order and figuring out what to prioritize. Another really big thing is that people tend to focus on how other people envision their lives and not about how they want their lives to be. I hear a lot of, "My mom said, my boyfriend said and my wife said ?" and it's like, well what about you? They're forgetting that they're part of this picture and it's their life.
Looking back, do you wish you did this originally?
No. I learned so much in 10 years of working in marketing, events and [public relations] that definitely helped me be where I'm at now and building a business. I found that a lot of people in my coaching program are really struggling with social media and marketing and website stuff, all of which I've done with clients for 10 years, so I have that background that really helps me leverage myself and build my own brand.
Any advice for readers who are considering a career 180?
Not to settle. If something's not working, find a way to make it work. Whether it was a bad boss or a bad company or a bad job or the money didn't feel right, I made changes and found that taking risks was a lot better than staying in a comfort zone. Why waste your time when you can do something that's fulfilling and makes you happy?