Welcome to the eighteenth instalment of Monday #MusicMatters as part of the JAMS Canada PRO Series – “Here’s What I Know”.
We caught up with Chantal Fraser for her insight as a Business Coach
How does one become a business coach? Education? Or simple interest? Or a natural advice giver? What made you decide this was the path for you?
There are many different paths to becoming a business coach. Some people choose to complete formal training programs (there are a number of different options), others base their coaching on their own life experience.
I’ve been mentoring people for over 20 years, and leading people for almost 40 years. One of the first business meetings I took as a new entrepreneur was with a business coach. He teaches people the practical lessons he learned running his own business. I still remember the advice he gave me about reframing spending money as an investment. He generously shared 2 hours of free coaching that helped me figure out some of the challenges of starting a business.
In 2017, I accepted my first paid gig for career coaching. In 2018, I started working with my first business coaching clients. I became a coach because people find value in having me as a thought partner, as they explore ideas for their business or career.
I’m not very good with hints. People have been telling me that I should be a coach for at least 15 years. It took people figuratively knocking me over the head with a stick saying they wanted to pay me to coach them for me to “get it.”
What skills do you use as a business coach that can be a transferable skill to musicians?
The first step in deciding to work with someone as a business coach is determining if we can quickly establish a relationship based on trust. If we can, then I’m happy to work with you. I want to see everyone thrive. So much so, that I’ll refer potential clients to other coaches if I think they’d be a better fit. There is enough work for all of us.
I suppose this would transfer to musicians. If a venue contacts you and asks you to play, but they’re looking for a completely different sound than what you enjoy performing, you may refer them to another musician.
The most important skill when coaching someone is to listen to understand. That means asking a few leading questions, to allow them to explain what they’re trying to achieve. Then asking more questions to clarify and/or confirm I understand. I may even ask more questions to lead them to discovering new ideas or ways of framing what they want to do, that makes sense to them.
Jeanette and my whole family know that understanding music is not my forte (I do like bad puns though!). I know very little about musicians, I rarely remember their names (even world-famous ones).
However, I understand that musicians play a valuable role in our society. I’ve happily paid for music lessons for my children whenever they’ve showed a modicum of interest. I wrote a letter in support of the music program at a local high school in part because science has proven that learning to play music helps people understand math.
I don’t need to understand someone’s business to help them. I need to be an active listener, a trusted thought partner, and someone who does what she promises to. One thing that all my clients, so far, enjoy is what I’ve learned is called radical candour. A friend once told me that I’m not afraid to name the elephant in the room. And to keep pointing it out while others would prefer to ignore it. I do this because I don’t want people to be caught unawares by something that seems obvious to me.
In Kim Scott’s book “Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity” she wrote “Radical Candour“ is what happens when you put “Cares Personally” and “Challenges Directly” together.
How might radical candour, listening to understand and building trusting relationships be transferable to a musician? It seems to me, that when you collaborate on a piece of music, with other musicians, then caring personally about what the others find important, while challenging them to perform better, listening to understand and trusting each other to work towards your common goal, would create beautiful music.
Do you have any particular success stories about some of your clients who followed your advice & created a success for themselves?
I’m going to share a testimonial from my website with you.
“Chantal is personally responsible for helping me identify opportunities to expand my business model and has significantly increased my professional network.” Matt Richardson, Educator for Online Safety and Digital Excellence, Digital Empowerment Project – Canada
I don’t know much about Cyber-Security. I do know that Matt Richardson knows his field. He’s also an engaging and interesting speaker. I first heard him speak in January 2019. We met for a brainstorming session after that, and I asked him if he would speak at a Human Resource Professional Association (HRPA) conference I was planning for September 2019. We ended up developing a coaching relationship. One day I look forward to collaborating with Matt to deliver joint sessions, where he focuses on the Cyber side and I focus on the Human Resources or Leadership side. Our skills are complimentary. I learn new things from him all the time.
Matt was already a professional speaker, doing cyber security gigs with local schools and parents’ groups when we met. We explored how he could help employers with background checks and finding the right candidates for job openings. Matt is now a sought-after trainer in the HRPA Speakers Bureau and he’s been hired as a consultant by some of those who’ve heard him speak.
Matt is a great thought partner, he helps me find engaging names for my professional speaking gigs that provide a snapshot into the content and engages the reader.
I’m happy to share that both Matt and I were selected to lead break out sessions at the HRPA Annual Conference in January 2021. A true success story is when everyone learns from each other, and we help each other thrive.
If musicians want to hire you, what are the kinds of things you can offer them.
I don’t know what I can help someone with until they tell me. What I do offer is a 30 minute “try before you buy” conversation (phone or video) to see if we’re a good fit. During that conversation you’re welcome to tell me about an idea you’d like to explore. I’ll be your thought partner, ask questions and maybe even make a few suggestions. Most of the time people have the tools and knowledge to know what to do. They just need someone to listen to them and help them articulate what they’re trying to decide.
It’s a lot easier for me to help someone who has an idea of what they want. I’m not the right person to help someone deal with trauma, or to find an “easy answer” to becoming a billionaire. If you know what you like to do, and are good at, and have an idea of how you’d like things to turn out. Then I may be the thought partner you’re looking for.
I offer a sliding scale of fees. Entrepreneurs with no staff, pay significantly less than those who have a full-on business with staff. Fair warning, if during our “try before you buy” talk my intuition tells me that you’re going to be difficult to work with, then I’m going to quote you an hourly rate to compensate me for the irritation you may bring into my life. So far no one has accepted one of those quotes, and I’m quite OK with that too!
How has COVID 19 impacted your business? What are the negatives and the positives?
When I attend an in-person event, I make a point to sit with people I don’t know, because I like meeting new people. I miss having the opportunity to network with my colleagues in person. I miss meeting new people face to face.
Luckily, I’m used to meeting people from across the lands we call Canada by video/phone meetings. Transitioning to more gatherings by video conferences was relatively easy for me. I’ve also been doing the majority of my work from home since I retired from the military in 2012. I had a 7+ year head start getting used to working from home.
I’m still working part time at my business, because that’s the way that I like to do things. I’ve signed a 2-year contract to provide training in English and French on behalf of Canadian company MentorCity. We delivered our first sessions in mid June. I’ve increased the diversity and number of professional speaking, coaching and mentoring clients. I’m still doing pro-bono work for two of my professional associations and a select group of others. One of these projects, with the International Federation of Business and Professional Women, allows me the opportunity to meet and work with women from around the globe – and I don’t have to leave the comfort of my home to do so!
I’m having fun, delivering services to long standing clients, meeting and working with new clients and trying different kinds of projects. My overhead is down, and my business is on track to make more money this year than I did last year.
I’m grateful to be living the life I’m living, for all the wonderful people I know and collaborate with, and for the opportunities open to my business.
Chantal Fraser founded Empowered Path Inc. in August 2012, to help people learn how to help themselves, their communities and organizations thrive.
She offers a variety of services in three broad categories: Professional Speaking, Coaching & Mentoring, and Collaborations with tangible and practical solutions that you can apply immediately, using a conversational approach and Canadian examples.
Chantal Fraser holds an MBA from the Royal Military College of Canada and is a recipient of the HRPA Honorary Life Award.
Find out more about Chantal on her Facebook page @EmpoweredPathInc
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Some contributors also responded with videos – please subscribe to our JAMS Canada YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-CmaB7MV0r1ehhveBPmBEg