My guest is Jean DiGiovanna, CPCC and founder of Workshop University. She is a certified coach, speaker and educator with over 20 years of experience in corporate training, consulting and instructional design. She has delivered hundreds of workshops and webinars in business and life strategies to Fortune 500 companies, non-profits and academia and has spoken both nationally and internationally. We’re going to talk about that a little bit.
She’s helped thousands of entrepreneurs find their voice and get their message out to the world. She is also a member of the National Speakers Association and was named one of the top 10 Coaches of Boston by Women’s Business Boston in 2007. She spoke at the 2010 Global Coaching Conference to over 15 coaching chapters across the country. She is a published co-author of Success is a State of Mind alongside Mark Victor Hansen, Les Brown and Deepak Chopra. She is also the author of Wake Up To Your Life: Monthly Workouts for the Heart, Mind & Soul.
When Jean isn’t speaking, coaching or running workshops, she loves to ski fast, bike leisurely and dance to live Latin music. She has also been known to hula hoop on her webinars! We definitely have to ask her about that. To learn more about Jean, please visit her website at http: //www.WorkShopUniversity.com.
From Boulder, Colorado please give a warm welcome to Jean DiGiovanna. Hey Jean. How are you today?
Jean: I’m doing fabulous. Thanks for having me.
Nichole: It’s my pleasure. Where should we start? Should we start with your trip to Europe or your hula hooping on your webinars?
Jean: Let’s see. I had a trip to Europe. I could share that a little bit at the start because, when I was in corporate, I was a consultant for about 10 years. I had the opportunity to travel all across the country to help open offices. I got a lot of my experience and training, which kind of led me to the workshop path when I started my business in 1998.
Since then, I still do corporate training part-time in my business. I had an opportunity from a client who is in Boston to deliver a training course in their office in Amsterdam. Like most of us, I hadn’t been back to Europe in about 10 years. I so sorely missed it.
I decided that since I’m getting flown there that I’m going to take two weeks after that and take some vacation. I decided to go to Paris to see two friends. I spent about 12 days in Italy, which is one of my loves. I was able to get back to Italy. I just feel blessed to have these opportunities and really take advantage of them.
Nichole: I think that’s a great segue. I wanted you to share a little bit about your path to becoming a coach. It also sounds like you’ve had some offshoots over the years that developed into a university. I’d love for you to take a little bit of time and share your path. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so I’m sure your business wasn’t built in day. What does that story look like for you?
Jean: Basically, I hired my first coach back in 1993. For those of you listening on the line, coaching was really not on the map at that time. I was not happy in my corporate job. I just knew that there was something else.
I had studied computer science. I was in this high tech consulting firm. I’d look around and think, “This is not me. There’s something else.”
I had taken the forum from Landmark education and attended these amazing growth and development courses. I was just drawn to the facilitators. I was thinking, “Wow, I love this transformational work.” I had always been committed to my own growth and development.
I was referred to a coach to work with. At the time, she was also in corporate but was doing part-time coaching. She was very spiritual. She had this other side of her. She did past regression work and energy healing. I found it so fascinating.
I got so much out of working with her that I actually realized that was what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a coach. At the time, I was in my 20s. I thought, “I’m kind of too young to be a coach. I’ve got to live some life first before I can help others.”
After I left corporate to start my own training business in 1998, it was great. I set a goal. I literally left so that I could have a more balanced life. That was really why I left. I was traveling a lot and working long hours.
I thought, “You know what? I want to work 20 hours a week and make the same amount of money as when I left corporate.” In two years, I reached that goal. I felt so accomplished. I was having a balanced life. I was able to do all of these other things that I enjoy outside of work.
In 1999 if you recall, the high tech bubble crashed. All of my clients were in high tech. That’s what I knew. Everyone knew me from there. I used to be one of the leading trainers in our company. I was training over 100 employees a month, which was crazy.
I was very known for that. I was blessed to get a lot of business when I started my business. Then, overnight, I literally went from six figures to no figures and no clients. I thought, “Oh my God.” I could go back and get a job, which actually almost broke my soul, or I could fight an uphill battle and find people in other industries that have money to hire me.
There was this whole inkling of “I really want to be a coach,” so this is what I did. I took a home equity line of credit off of my condo at the time. I invested that year in myself. I got trained and certified as a coach through the Coaches Training Institute, CTI, in 2000.
I just started coaching everyone that I knew. That was what they used to tell us even before we got certified. I was coaching for free. Over time, I was charging. It was great. I loved it. I knew this was what I wanted to do. It was a natural gift for me.
Then what happened was I realized that there’s only so many people that I can coach one on one. It’s just not cutting it to support myself. What else could I do to bring in additional revenue with the skills that I have?
I thought, “Oh, I can run workshops. No problem.” I just started running public workshops and seminars on topics that I knew people needed. I started growing a seminar business as well.
I still had my corporate training business. It was slow in coming. A lot of my colleagues started attending my workshops. They were saying, “Wow, this is really great. Can you teach me how to run my own workshops?” I said, “Sure.”
Then the lightbulb went off and I thought, “Wait a minute. I can get paid to do this.” That’s actually how Workshop University was born. It kind of was organic.
Then I built that business, and luckily about two or three years later, my corporate clients started coming back around because the market was doing better. I pretty much had both businesses going part-time. My corporate training business always fed and financed the Workshop University business.
Then six years ago, I moved to Colorado and decided to let my corporate training business ride and focus on Workshop University. You know when we say we will let go of something, and the next thing you know it grows? My corporate training business grew quite a bit after I moved, which was fine.
I still do the corporate training on a part-time basis, which is great because it keeps me in the game. I primarily focus on Workshop University. I have since sold both businesses under Workshop University. That’s been my path.
Nichole: I’m curious because I’m sure there’s a lot of personal decisions. Were you working with a coach sporadically at this time? How did you come to make these really hard decisions?
Jean: Actually, that’s a great question. I’m glad you pointed that out. Believe it or not, since 1999 I have rarely ever not had a coach. Maybe I haven’t had a coach myself two, three or four months.
That is just a commitment I’ve always made. I kid you not. Even when my income was really low, I always made sure I paid my coach. That was a huge priority for me. I would not be where I am without the different coaches that I’ve worked with over the years. I have one today. I’m either with a coach or working with her in her program. Regardless, I’ve always had one.Since 1999 @JeanDiGiovanna has almost always had a coach. That's a commitment she's made. Click To Tweet
Nichole: That’s fantastic and so great to hear. We all promote coaching when there’s troubled times in our lives. Sometimes we come to coaching often because we’re dissatisfied in our career, like you said. I went to coaching originally for the same reason. I knew something was off, but I didn’t know what.
Then to continue with coaching even as things are getting good, you realize that it may start out as getting away from this painful journey. Then it grows into something so much bigger. Just to have a sounding board and someone else that’s kind of been in the trenches is fantastic. That’s great to hear from someone who’s been as successful as you have.
Jean: It’s so important.
Nichole: Jean, what would you say is the best advice you’ve ever received? I know it’s a little different than coaching.
Jean: That’s a great question. I don’t even know if this is advice that I was told. It could have just been the influence of the coaching training that I have. One of the biggest most important things that I’ve followed in my life is to honor my values.
Specifically, there were times in my coaching business where I had opportunities to take opportunities that didn’t align with what I wanted, even though I needed the money and the work. For example, back in the 90s when I started my business, I was looking for clients. This opportunity came about from a referral where I think someone was going to send me to five different states in ten days. I was going to do these interviews to customize some training. I wasn’t actually going to deliver the training. I was just going to do the interviews for it.
It was good money. Anyone in their right mind would have said yes. I said, “You know what? I left my job because I didn’t want to travel so much. I didn’t want to live this lifestyle. I didn’t want to bust my butt and kill myself for ten days and then have to have two or three days to recover.” You know what? I said no. I honored what was important to me. As a result, about two or three days later, an amazing opportunity came that was aligned.
It’s such a hard piece of advice to take, especially when we are in that survival mode. I just truly believe that when we say no to things that don’t work, then the yesses are going to show up. We’ve created that opening.
Nichole: Honor your values. When it comes to integrity, a lot of us do that intuitively. When it comes to building revenue sometimes we need to remember to have integrity with ourselves.
Jean: There are definitely times when we need to say yes because we’ve got to take that. It was a risk. I think it takes courage. It takes a risk to really and truly honor your core values and not waver. As I’ve grown I’ve just connected more spiritually also with my soul. I’m here in this body, but my soul has got a path for me. The more that I can honor that, the happier I’m going to be.
Nichole: I like that a lot. We’re talking about you being coached. If we could shift gears a little bit, could you share a little bit about how your coaching process works when you have clients?
Jean: I pretty much to this day follow the process I was trained on through CTI. No matter who I’m coaching, whether it’s life, business or executive coaching, I always do a foundation session. Let me rewind a little bit because I know that a lot of people do what’s called sample sessions and things like that.
I used to do a little bit of that, and it was helpful for sure. I didn’t do a ton of that. I mainly set up my exploratory calls as discover sessions to understand where someone was at and what they were looking for in coaching.
I actually didn’t set it up as a sample coaching. Instead what I used to do was to coach them on that call, but they didn’t even know that they were getting coached. Then I would point out at different times by saying, “You know the thing we just covered? That’s an example of what our coaching would look like.” You can point to what it is.
God knows when I started coaching there were only probably 600 coaches in the country that were certified, so we had a lot of work to do on educating people on what coaching is. We did a lot of that sample coaching.
In any case, when someone signed on with me, the other interesting thing that may not be kosher with a lot of people and programs is that, to this day, I still do not ask for a commitment. I don’t ask for a three-month or six-month commitment from my client.
Clients don’t know what it’s going to be like. I truly believe that when they start coaching and continue to get value, they are going to stick around until they’ve gotten what they needed. When they complete, then they complete. The only request that I make is to let me know 30 days in advance when you want to complete so that I can know that. We will have those sessions for the month, and then we’ll complete.
I literally still have clients I’ve worked with for three or four years. I don’t know if it was just honoring what felt right to me, but that’s just how I run my coaching business. In executive coaching, it’s a little bit different because I’m being signed on for a six-month contract.
Going back to business or life coaching of people I get from the general public or referred to me, we always start out with a two-hour foundation session. I give them homework in advance where they’re answering a set of questions. It helps me uncover what their values, challenges and intentions are for the coaching.
Then we get together. I have done some homework to extract out what I think their values are. Then we solidify those in the foundation session. We solidify what their challenges are and what they want to break through. Then we set some clear intentions for the coaching.
My coaching looks like 30 minute calls twice a month where we work the plan. We will often take checkpoints after a few months to see where people are. It’s very fluid.
I coach people in the moment. I always let people know that you don’t have to prepare for a coaching session. You don’t have to have something completed to get on and coach. We coach where you are. That’s the beauty of it. That’s pretty much what my practice looks like.
Nichole: It sounds like it works for you. I think the key here is you’re honoring your values and what felt right for you and your clients. You’ve tailored it based on the client that you have. For a business, there’s an expectation of, “This is what you do and how long it takes.” For a personal scenario, it can vary depending on what’s happening during the coaching process.
Jean: The other thing that I want to mention is that it’s kind of a joke that we separate life and business coaching, because it’s so integrated. Many times, I coach entrepreneurs. Often I tend to attract people who are in corporate or they want to start their business. I help them get their business up and running. They may already have a business and want to take it to the next level.
Inevitably, we also move into life coaching at different calls. They’re okay with it. I’m fine with it because it’s all connected.
Nichole: That’s a very interesting point. Sometimes when we are saying that we are a business coach or working with business people, I think sometimes that’s just a door for marketing. A lot of times, we don’t know what’s going on to begin with either.
We think, “Okay, I want to grow my business.” We aren’t realizing that there are other factors going on in our life that are impacting our business. That’s a very big insight. I’m glad you brought that up.
Jean, what would you say is your coaching superpower?
Jean: I believe my coaching superpower is my ability to see into the future. I don’t mean like palm reading. I have always felt like I see people’s potential and what’s possible for them and often their life purpose.
It’s intuitive and perceptive. I hold that intention when I work with people. Not everyone is ready to go there. There’s this persistent commitment to help them get there because that’s where fulfillment is. I would say those are my superpowers.
I use a lot of intuition when I coach. I just coach in the moment. The only notes I’m looking at when I open a coaching session are the notes that outline the homework from the last session. Otherwise, I’m right there in the present moment.
Nichole: That’s incredible. I’m sure that’s what’s keeping your clients coming back for a couple years and more. That’s fantastic. As a coach who has successfully grown her business in a couple of different directions, which marketing techniques have worked the best for you?
Jean: Speaking is absolutely bar none for me. It also happens to be one of my passions. I think you mentioned this earlier. There’s a lot of techniques out there. The most important is to choose one that aligns with your passion and what excites you. When you use that technique, you’re going to have an energy of attraction right away.
For me, speaking has always been a passion of mine. I used to run workshops all the time. I used to train. It requires speaking. I love using speaking as a way to get one-on-one clients. It’s actually a pretty fast way if it’s something you enjoy.
The other thing is, you don’t have to be a wonderful speaker to also run online webinars, which is another easy way to get clients. The idea here is that you’re impacting a lot more people at once. The assumption is that a percentage of those people are going to want to learn more and seek you out for one-on-one coaching.
I would say absolutely speaking, running workshops and webinars. The other main marketing tool I’ve used second to that is leveraging my biggest fans. I ask them to share what I’m up to or any promotions, workshops or talks I’m running to help them market it to their own list.
The third that is becoming bigger for me is in the content marketing arena and through social media, like LinkedIn. I have a plan now where every week I’m doing something in that arena to get my content out there. I’m getting followers and getting people interested. People are forwarding things along. I just have to trust that, as that happens, more and more potential clients will seek me out.
Nichole: I did take a peek at your website. You’ve got a nice blog going. It’s very impressive. You’re walking your talk. I love it.
Jean: This is a little truth telling. I have to admit that I literally this year finally made a commitment to blog consistently. That’s a big deal for me because I don’t do a lot of things consistently.
Nichole: Congratulations. I love what you said about marketing. It sounds like you’re not overloading yourself, which is easy to do. There’s a universe of marketing elements that you can do. You found what worked for you and again honored your values and your passions. I think you hit the key spot there, which is consistency.
I would love for you to talk about your free offer that you’re giving our listeners. Do you want to dive into that?
Jean: It was kind of timely. I was part of an online summit called The Online Course Creation Summit. Probably many of you that are listening out there have seen a lot of marketing around how to create an online course. Not only can you impact a lot more people globally, but you can work less and make more.
Once you create a course, it becomes a revenue or passive income stream for you. I’ve actually created a special report that you can download for free. It is five tips for taking your content or course curriculum and breaking it down into online course curriculum that actually sells. There are two templates to get started.
You can download that at www.workshopuniversity.com/onlinecoursecreation. You can opt in and get that sent to you.
Nichole: Fantastic. Jean, thank you so much for being my guest today. I really appreciate it.
Jean: You’re very welcome. My pleasure.
Nichole: Show notes are always posted at www.iMarketingSalon.com if you want to see anything that you missed today. This is Nichole Santoro. Thank you so much for joining us. Make it a great day.