An Interview with a Coaching Pioneer
Gonan Premfors is the co-founder and director of Gozamm in Los Angeles and the founder of The Coaches Training Institute in Dubai (the first coach-training school in the Middle East) Mollie Binkley is a screenwriter and investigative journalist committed to writing about interpersonal relationships and investigating social justice issues.
Why did you start coaching?
When I quit my job in finance to spend more time with my family, people still came to me for advice. I continued to take calls from former colleagues at my old company, but it was happening so frequently my husband started to get annoyed. He told me I should be charging for my time if I was going to spend that much time advising people. That’s when the light bulb went off in my head.
Why did people come to you?
I had a good reputation in the financial industry, so I think they felt safe talking to me. I listened and wasn’t judgmental. And I also think people knew I would keep these conversations to myself.
Weren’t you already coaching in a way?
Yes, without knowing I was. I think that if you have a genuine interest in helping others, it will come more naturally to you.
Do you think everyone can be a coach?
If they are interested in people and interested in making an impact and a difference, yes of course. I do believe anyone can learn these skills.
Are there people who are not meant to be coaches?
Yes, if your heart is not in it and you’re not interested in people. But, whoever you are and whatever you do, you can learn how to be “coach-like,” as a manager, fitness trainer, husband, wife, etc. You can apply these skills without being a coach.
What is your best coaching memory?
That’s a hard question. I have so many. They are usually when a client has an “aha” moment – a realization that you know that some things have already changed as a result of that “aha” in their lives. I’ve had clients who were professional athletes who have gone out and played the best game of their lives after remembering why they fell in love with the sport in the first place, clients who decided to play big in business, clients who left jobs or partners and clients who dared to fall in love again. I could write a book about all those memories, but they belong to my clients and not me.
What’s your worst?
I had a client who burst into tears and left my office without returning, after a visualization which was meant to be positive. I did get a chance to redeem myself because three years later she showed up in a coaching course I was teaching. By that time, she had made some major changes in her life. She had changed her partner, her job and countless other things. The visualization we had done had brought up everything that was wrong in her life. She had turned a corner, and she told me that the particular session, which I thought had failed, was what triggered her to make the big changes in her life.
What do you think coaches and aspiring coaches would benefit from hearing from you?
(1) Sometimes the coaching happens after the session or when you least expect it. My client who walked out needed to sort her life out and the timing meant that she needed to get some things sorted on her own.
(2) You don’t ever get to a place where you are done with your learning. Also, always remember that you learn from every client, every time. The moment you think you know everything you’re done as a coach!
(3) Once when I was attending a retreat at the Monroe Institute in Virginia someone said “the only time you look down on someone is when you’re helping someone up.” That has stuck with me since. Don’t judge your clients rather dare to love them and to be amazed by their resourcefulness and creativity.
What’s next for you?
I will continue to leverage what I have learned as a coach and from my clients so that I can keep creating learning experiences that help people. Through my work as a coach and through our organization Gozamm, we are touching thousands of people every year. We have just launched a major borderless online parenting program that begins in September, and we are also researching ways to use virtual and augmented reality in our work.
My ultimate dream is to have a world where every child is seen, heard, and loved unconditionally. That’s what is next!
Gozamm is an L.A. based company with a global reach. The company creates experiences so that when people go through them, they can see the world (or a problem) in a different light. This new perspective can have a profound positive impact on a person's decision-making process and ultimately lead to big changes. -- view all articles