As told to and written by copywriter Sophy Dale of Word Power Consulting.

How startup CEO Sally was supported in handling difficult conversations and finding effective conflict resolution strategies.

“Keri’s coaching unlocked places within me that had been closed off for a long time. I reclaimed a sense of self-belief and the confidence to look after myself.”

Sally is a tech business owner. Following many years working in corporate, she launched her own business, on a mission to revolutionise online education by creating a new kind of learning experience.

Developmental coaching to step into leadership as a business owner

At the point Sally started working with Keri, she was exhausted and in burnout. She felt that she had gradually drifted away from her original vision for the business:

“I was really burnt out from pushing too hard and being sleep-deprived with the baby.  I was bending myself to fit who people thought I was and eventually I got to this point of just hating everything that was in my name. I hated that the business wasn’t what I wanted it to be, but I’d just gone along with it because at the time, it felt like, oh that takes marketing off my hands, or it takes other tasks off my hands. But I completely lost my sense of self and then also my vision for what I wanted the business to be.”

Working with Keri as her developmental coach allowed Sally to unpick how different elements of her past were affecting her current behaviours, which then allowed her to start considering different approaches.

Wanting to change the direction of her business

Sally’s original reason for starting to work with Keri was that she didn’t like the direction her business was going in. It quickly became clear that confidence and conflict navigation would also be a big part of their work together.

“I was feeling that I’d lost the ability to talk for myself and was hiding behind masks, feeling tongue-tied and confused. Building confidence to reveal myself as I was was a big shift.”

Navigating conflict differently, having difficult conversations and holding boundaries

As a result of her work with Keri, Sally is now able to negotiate her boundaries with clients more directly, and has been able to take time away from her business to be on holiday, being fully present with her family. She sees power dynamics differently and has been able to take the business forward while staying true to her original vision for it.

“Before working with Keri, I would go into a situation thinking, ‘Everything is my fault, I created this situation, I have to live with it.’ whereas now I can be rational about whose responsibility it really is. Keri has helped me to learn how to create clear, fair boundaries and then stay strong in them. It left me feeling in such a strong position, with no guilt or panic or fear, just knowing that I’d been clear and fair and had asked for what I needed. I feel such a sense of relief.”

How the developmental coaching process worked

Sally worked 1:1 with Keri, beginning with a detailed pre-call questionnaire, then a half-day of coaching, then a month of follow-up support that included two more 1:1 calls and daily WhatsApp check-ins.

“Keri followed up our first call with a really detailed write up of our session, which was amazing, I’d never had that before and it felt so professional.

I loved the daily check-ins because anything that was coming up, she would kind of coach on the spot, basically through voice notes. There was a lot going on during this period in my business, and I just felt Keri was so personally invested in me and my wellbeing. It’s so helpful to feel looked after like that.

Keri’s coaching is grounded and realistic, no bullshit, but very caring. For me, community is so important, and that’s something Keri is so good at. She’s great at introducing you to new people and it’s that level of personal investment – that she knows who you are as a client, I suppose, so she puts you in touch with the right people. It just all feels like you’re looked after and like someone really understands you and what it is that you need and want.”

What changed

“I reclaimed a sense of self which led to a huge building in my confidence overall. I really started to look after myself, to take that need seriously. 

I stopped feeling like my business was misaligned with my values and I stopped working with people who weren’t the right fit. And as well, I have really clear boundaries with clients now. 

Overall, I feel completely differently about conflict navigation. Although conflict can still obviously be a pain, it feels so much better to have it out there and done. It’s been so freeing.”

Building a whole new way of doing online learning

Following her coaching with Keri, Sally’s renewed confidence has led to significant growth in her business. She’s creating a woman-led, permaculture-infused different approach to building online education businesses, starting a membership alongside done-for-you services and allowing people to work more creatively and collaboratively, growing an ecosystem of learning resources. She’s reclaimed her original vision for the business. 

Find out more about Sally’s online learning platform, The Portal Collective, here.