“As a wellness coach, I create a safe, supportive, and accountable environment for clients to identify what feels out of balance in their lives and to make incremental changes to build positive habits that are grounded in personal values.”
What was your path to becoming a coach?
I’ve spent my career surrounded by entrepreneurs—at startups, as an agency leader, and in venture capital. In my experience, the path of entrepreneurship is often accompanied by burnout. I’ve seen many founding teams work hard to win and then wonder whether it was all worth it. I recently began to shift the focus of my one-on-one work with tech leaders to encompass not just marketing and communications consulting, but also frank discussions of wellness. This led to becoming an in-house yoga instructor at an accelerator and, ultimately, to pursuing professional wellness coach training at the Mayo Clinic. Today, I’m privileged to serve the tech community by helping its members stay balanced while building the products, teams, and companies of the future.
What should someone know about working with you?
My practice is grounded in the Mayo Clinic wellness coaching methodology, which emphasizes self-identified, self-driven behavioral change. As a wellness coach, I create a safe, supportive, and accountable environment for clients to identify what feels out of balance in their lives and to make incremental changes to build positive habits that are grounded in personal values. While many people think wellness is purely a function of nutrition, sleep, and movement, the Mayo Clinic’s working definition is more holistic and can include relationships, spirituality, finance, and everything in between. A typical engagement lasts for a minimum of 12 weekly 50-minute sessions conducted in person, over video, or on the phone, but they can continue for however long the client desires support.
How does collaboration with other providers inform your work?
Wellness coaching is rooted in the field of positive psychology, which emphasizes building on the “good stuff.” To that end, it’s common for a coach to work alongside a clinical psychologist who can help clients eliminate the “bad stuff” (depression, anxiety, and other forms of illness). In this way, a wellness coach and a clinical psychologist or a physician can make a great team. My training at the Mayo Clinic emphasized the importance of establishing a network of trusted therapists, nutritionists, trainers, and other allied health professionals to call on when your clients ask for recommendations. One of the many benefits of a community like Alma is a close working proximity that allows doctors, therapists, and coaches to refer clients to one another.
What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant to try therapy or coaching?
I get it! In the tech industry, where I practice, there is a lot of pressure not only to work crazy hours, thus leaving little time for therapy or coaching, but also to be hyper-aware of your personal brand. I think a lot of entrepreneurs are wary of being seen as someone who needs help, in any capacity. But that perception is changing. More and more tech companies and investors understand that paying attention to mental health and well-being can be a competitive advantage. Think of wellness coaching the same way you’d think of running an experiment inside your startup—if it works, great, and if it doesn’t, that’s okay. At minimum, you’ll gather some useful data that will help you in your journey.
What are you most excited about within the evolving mental health landscape?
One of the underlying causes of stress and burnout for tech workers is the pervasive and pernicious concept of hustle culture—the idea that if you’re not working 24/7, sleeping under your desk, or otherwise sacrificing it all for the success of your company, you are destined to fail. It’s been incredible to see people like Alexis Ohanian use their platforms to argue that time away from the job isn’t optional. As the tech industry embraces wellness, another positive byproduct will be the natural diversification of founders and founding teams—more people who aren’t in a position of privilege to “sacrifice it all” will envision themselves as entrepreneurs. To that end, I’m excited about the mental health industry’s opportunity to evolve the tech industry.
“Paying attention to mental health and well-being can be a competitive advantage.”
Interested in speaking with Leslie?