I was answering the audience questions during a recent speaking engagement when the host said, “pay attention, Sharmin is coaching.” Even though I was pleasantly surprised that he saw it that way, it was no coincidence that I was coaching. My focus for the last few years has been on my coaching presence. Being present to the audience and listening deeply gave me the ability to coach on the spot effectively. Responding to the audience’s question in such a manner has been an enjoyable part of my speaking lately.
This insight prompted me to put this into an experiment, and “Q&A with Sharmin” was born. At the core of it, it is a safe and confidential gathering place for a small group of professionals ready to explore their challenges, find an answer from within, and learn from others. The target audience is those in the mid-level of their career, who want to grow, have more joy, and make a more meaningful impact. The participants would bring a challenge as a topic and be willing to be coached. A secondary benefit is that participants would learn from each other’s exploration.
Like the 90’s sitcom Seinfeld, “a show about nothing,” it is a session with no predetermined topic.
Our inaugural session was on Friday, April 23rd. It got fully booked within four days of publishing the event. The participants’ geographical locations and age range were widely distributed, the topics were varied, and yet the common theme was “change.” Either they were contemplating a change or were in the process of making one. I coached six of them for about 10-min each as they volunteered, while the rest of them listened and found some value in it too.
Experimentation Is In My DNA
Over the years, I have tried new ways of sharing coaching with the consumers allowing them to taste this modality. I conceptualized and initiated (with the help of a fabulous team) two new programs during my leadership at the Washington State Chapter of The International Coaching Federation (ICFWA). One was providing 30-min 1:1 laser coaching sessions to the attendees at the GeekWire Summit, and the other was giving three hours of coaching over a few months to the MBA students at UW Bothell Business School. Those programs gained huge popularity and, thanks to my successors, later were expanded to multiple other conferences and universities. Another of my ventures was a group coaching for women in tech with the collaboration of another coach colleague.
A Rigorous Training Prepared Me For This
My mentor Janet Harvey has a knack for challenging her students beyond their imagination and comfort zone. In our advanced coach class, she often asked us to do very short sessions with some variations. Once she suggested me doing a 5-min coaching session for a speaking gig. I was very intrigued, and then I ended up delivering it in six minutes for that event. In several other public events, I did short, impromptu sessions in under 15 minutes. Such experiences made me more bold and creative about sharing my gift.
I am looking forward to learning and growing from this fortnightly event. In the future, I may do a few tweaks. Some of the ideas include:
– Separate groups for early, mid, and senior-level professionals
– Groups comprising of women and BIPOC professionals
– Private groups (if someone wants to form their own group)
Please check this out, signup for FREE for one of the dates, and let me know what else you want to see in this program and beyond.