Through a series of questions asked by Kathleen Keating of FastStart PR to Paula Goudsmit, President of High Impact Coaching and Consulting, the essence of High Impact's approach to delivering the High Impact portfolio of offerings is illuminated.

Interviewed by Kathleen Keating, FastStart Communications 

Aside from fear, what do you think holds people back from achieving their goals?

Holding on to old approaches that are no longer effective. For example, a person may believe, "The only person I can count on is myself," and this viewpoint may serve them well in achieving promotions, accumulating wealth, and attaining other goals. However, at a certain point it begins to backfire because the person isn't able to successfully delegate or foster trust among colleagues. This results in the classic overstressed, overworked micromanager.

As a person reaches certain goals, those goals inevitably become replaced with newer, higher ones that often require different strategies and approaches to achieving them.

How do you conquer fear?

By breaking it down and looking at it for what it is because so many of us tend to make it much bigger and scarier than it actually it is. When you look at it from the perspective of knowing what is really true about ourselves, fear is exposed as that bumbling Oz character hiding behind the curtain.

How would you describe your approach?

I'm a "root cause" coach, meaning I like to get underneath the surface issue to find the bigger win. Since I'm a businessperson first and a coach second, I'm all about achieving high impact, sustainable results.

When you say "surface issues" what are you referring to?

Surface issues are the softballs people throw out at the beginning of the coaching process that are tactical and oftentimes relatively quick and easy to achieve such as "I want to be promoted in six months."

While any good coach will develop a roadmap to achieve that goal, what I find is that there is usually a bigger issue behind it such as defining the client's leadership brand or creating a vision for the future regardless of the position or title.

I go beyond the surface issues to support transformation and accelerate personal and professional business results.

What makes your approach to coaching different?

I am fiercely committed, courageous and loyal when it comes to helping my clients "hit it" in a way they never thought possible.

The majority of today's workforce spans three generations -- Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers. What is your approach to coaching teams and individuals across these generation gaps?

I use a Talent Analytics assessment, which provides objective data on individual behaviors and drivers, regardless of the generation. This helps to level the playing field, especially in team situations, and establish a solid foundation for effective communication and cohesiveness.

Then I draw on the strengths and nuances of the generational perspectives to help individuals and the team achieve their desired results.

Have you ever had to kick a bad habit? If so, what was it and how did you do it?

Yes, being my own worst critic and taking things personally was a former habit of mind. Many people don't realize these behaviors can be just as toxic as alcohol, tobacco, drugs, etc. but when you lose these habits of mind, it frees you up to live more authentically.

How do you go about creating good habits?

By helping clients achieve small, early wins, which translates into heightened confidence in themselves and the coaching process.

For example, a client may be transitioning into a new career, which is a big deal. Together, we'll create a roadmap for achieving that specific goal. Along the way, it's likely we'll also find other areas in the client's life that may be affecting their ability to achieve that larger goal. This can include factors such as the client is sleep deprived, or perhaps has put on a few extra pounds or maybe even feels they don't enough balance between their personal and professional lives. By working on these immediate challenges and tackling smaller goals, the client is clearing the path to achieving the larger goal.

Describe the moment you undoubtedly knew you were doing your life's calling.

The moment I knew was during the oral portion of my certification exam where I had to coach a seasoned, certified coach/supervisor while also being observed by three other master coaches.

As I coached my client, it was as if there was nobody else in the room but the two of us. My total focus and engagement was in the moment and on his agenda. When we were done, the look on my client's face and the absolute joy I felt confirmed that I was doing my life's work. This was further validated after the coaching session when one of the observing supervisors pulled me aside and said, "I'm not supposed to tell you this, but I want you to know that coaching is what you're meant to do."

Why should I not hire a coach?

You should not hire a coach if you want someone to collude with you, to tell you the things you want to hear or how you should do it.

How do you make a difference in clients' lives?

I increase their personal effectiveness by reconnecting them to their passions, strengths, talents, and vision. In so many ways it's like connecting a plug to an outlet where clients are back in touch with the energy supply that lights them and everybody around them.

The biggest myth about coaching is:

That it's not results-based. Fortunately, the scientific data and research is catching up and proving that coaching is highly results-driven, transformative and sustainable.

How do you effect change?

By helping clients get curious about it and empowering them to see it as an opportunity as opposed to something to fear.

What are you currently working on that will be HUGE?

I'm working on empowering the next generation of professionals, especially women. I was recently asked to join the Institute of Women's Leadership at Nichols College to develop the leadership potential of female students and to serve as a resource and authoritative voice on women's leadership for the community, which I find extremely rewarding.

Sheryl Sandberg hit the nail on the head in her recent book "Lean In" by trying to push women to take a seat at the table rather than waiting for an invitation. That's something the younger generation is learning to do and I'm excited to help them do just that.

What have you learned from your clients?

People do change and can transform their lives when they have the courage to figure out what it is they need to do differently and then execute a plan against that.

How do you define a successful client engagement?

A successful engagement is one where the client is committed to change in order to achieve his/her goals while also being open to the possibility that the experience may look very different from what they initially expected.

Looking back, what advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?

I would actually give her four pieces of advice, taken from the Four Agreements;

  1. Be impeccable with your word,
  2. Don't take things personally,
  3. Don't gossip,
  4. Always do your best.


What quality do you most admire in yourself?

My resourcefulness. It's something I underestimated for many years until I realized it has been the single biggest factor in my success. Let me explain my "aha" moment.

When I was in my mid-twenties, I was working two jobs while also pursuing my Master's Degree at Boston University. One evening, while driving to my night job, I was at a treacherous intersection at the top of a hill on a double-lane highway. On this particular night, the light at the intersection was stuck at red. I was the third car in line, watching in horror as the lead car inched into traffic and I kept thinking, "Someone is going to get seriously hurt." I looked around and saw a small retail shop on the corner and thought of going in and asking them to call the police (this was before cell phones were widely used), but realized that would take too much time. So I put my car in neutral, ran to the light post and pushed the pedestrian walk button, which immediately tripped the light to green.

As I ran back to my car, the other motorists beeped and waved to thank me for solving the problem. That's when I realized there are two types of people in this world. Those who get stuck by a problem, and those that see possibility. I see possibility.

"You have such a genuine spirit and persona that it made it easy to sense your sincerity in the lessons you conveyed. I have to tell you that those whom you coached couldn't say enough about how impactful those sessions were (it would not be an overstatement to say they "raved" about you).

You truly have a gift and have been fortunate enough to find your niche in life"

Eric Ashlock, Senior Director, Aramark Corporation