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Pam Norton - Career Coach

How long have you been doing what you do and how did you get to be a career coach?

For many years, my favorite part of being a manager was coaching and mentoring my staff and other coworkers. In fact, this was more interesting to me than the actual subject matter of my job. When I got frustrated with my job, I reviewed my career, saw this trend and decided to explore getting trained as a coach. In 2008 I took the plunge and signed up at Coach U, one of the world's largest coaching schools, and started taking classes at night.

In July, 2008 I stumbled across the StrengthsFinder tool developed by Gallup. (OK, I was watching Oprah.) The core concept of StrengthsFinder is to focus on what is right with people rather than what is wrong. I was captivated. I had always hated the emphasis on fixing weaknesses rather than helping people feel great about themselves and build on their successes.

When I read my own StrengthsFinder assessment it really resonated. I felt strong - on fire. For the first time it was OK that I wasn't good at everything because I'm really good at what I'm good at. For the first time in my life that was good enough for me. I couldn't wait to share this discovery with my staff and other friends at work. After taking the assessment we shared our results with each other, cited examples of how we saw these strengths demonstrated through actions, and discussed how we could partner more and leverage each other's strengths to help with our own efforts.

One of my friends who participated in this process got laid off a couple of months later. We used her StrengthsFinder report to craft a great resume, and she later told me that knowing her strengths and feeling great about what she brought to the table took the fear out of the job hunt for her. She knew exactly how she added value and was able to turn interviews into two-way conversations to determine if she was a fit for the job and if the job was a fit for her. This helped her feel more in control and therefore less fearful about her job search.

This was a defining moment in my life. When I saw the huge positive impact that comes from people seeing and really owning what's best about themselves, I was hooked. When I looked at what I loved and hated about my job the trend was undeniable. Helping a coworker work through a problem or figure out how to handle a sticky situation made me feel jazzed. Meeting with Audit and Finance to nitpick about process and budgets made me feel dead inside. I decided there and then to spend the rest of my professional life helping others see and use the best in themselves in their work.

In October, 2009 my team (including me) got laid off. We dug out our StrengthsFinder reports, crafted our resumes and started prepping for our job hunts. During outplacement classes, my team was so positive and prepared with great resumes that a colleague I didn't even know from another part of the company asked me to work with her the way I had worked with my team. She became my first paying client, and TransitionSpark Coaching was born.

Who are your clients exactly?

I work with a range of people from around the US. Most of my clients work for a corporation in a middle to senior manager level position. They're really good at what they do, but they want to move up to the next level, fix something that isn't working for them or discover a deeper connection with their passion and purpose. Regardless of their situation, they're people who are ready, willing and able to invest in their own personal and professional development.

What happens if you haven't yet worked with people in my field?

I've worked with people from many professions including banking, technology, manufacturing, telephony, service, and real estate. The focus of my coaching is on bringing out the best in you and helping you get clear about what you want. The subject matter of your current position is a secondary factor. Our work together is all about you.

Having said that, I have over 25 years of management experience in the banking and software industries. I can provide a fresh perspective and help you look at situations from multiple angles.

How are you different from other career coaches?

What sets me apart from most other career coaches is that I don't come from an HR background. I have over 25 years of management experience, and I bring this frontline, real-world perspective to my clients as well as lessons learned from the school of hard knocks. My approach is pragmatic and results oriented but with compassion and humor because that's who I am.

Different career coaches take different approaches, but our common goal is to help you meet your goals. Some coaches focus on job transition with resume writing, interviewing, and job search strategies, while other coaches focus on career advancement, or using assessments to identify the ideal job for you.

My approach is to focus on you. I believe that when you have a deep understanding of yourself - what motivates you, who you are when you're at your best, who you are when you're at your worst, what your natural talents and strengths are - you can make choices that help you reach your goals and dreams. Think of it like putting a canoe in a river. When you're working with who you are it's like rowing downstream. You may encounter some white water, but the situation is easy to manage if you have the skills. When you're in a job that works against who you are or are in a situation that brings out the worst in you, it's like rowing upstream - a struggle every day and you don't go anywhere.

What type of personality do you work best with and what is expected of me?

I work best with people who are open-minded, have a high sense of personal responsibility and integrity and who want to move to the next level regardless of where they are today. As my coach said to me one day: new level - new devil. There's always a 'better' and a 'next' for everyone. I also like working with people who have a sense of humor. Our work together may be serious, but that doesn't mean we can't have fun.

Part of working with me as your coach is that I will ask a lot of you - perhaps more than you have been asked recently. You need to be willing to experiment with fresh approaches and be open to redesigning the parts of your career that you are able to right now. Change can be scary, but it's a key to reaching your goals and living an integrated, fulfilled life.

We will be working together on this journey, but you are ultimately responsible for your decisions, actions and results.

For what type of person is this program NOT going to work?

I'm selective about who I work with. I don't work with people who are just starting out in their professional careers. They don't yet have the level of experience and insight to benefit from my coaching approach. I also don't work with people who are skeptical or think they already have all the answers and are just looking for someone to validate their point of view.

If you're currently unemployed, please be sure that you can afford this investment. I want to be of service as a solution for you, not an additional source of stress.

What exactly is your process and what does it include?

My process depends on you and your goals, but as I said above, step one is to gain a clear understanding of what motivates you, who you are at your best, who you are at your worst, and your natural talents and strengths. I use assessments with all of my clients to help develop those insights. We then move forward from there depending on your goals.

My clients tend to fall into one of three categories:

  • People who are in some type of job crisis and need to be coached through it. I call that Career 911. They need coping and conflict resolution tools and to take responsibility for their role in their situation so they can manage it out of crisis mode. We then determine the next steps, which may entail a job or company change or a new approach to their current situation.
  • People who want to find a new job along their current career path. Sometimes they're employed, and sometimes they're unemployed. We clarify what type of job and company to target, produce a great resume using my 7 Steps to a Power-Packed Resume™ system, develop a job search and networking strategy and do interview role-playing. My job as your coach is to help you get clear about what you want, know how to highlight and sell yourself, and keep you moving forward with a positive frame of mind.
  • People who want to deepen their connection with their passion and life purpose. Sometimes this results in a total career change. Often people got onto a career escalator in their early 20's, and by the time they hit their 40's they find that they're on the wrong path. Working together we get you on your chosen path. But a career change isn't always the answer. As I say to my clients, you might be in the wrong job or you might be in your job wrong.

Can I contact some of your former clients to see what it's like to work with you?

Yes. Take a look at the Testimonials, and if someone resonates with you, let me know and I'll arrange a phone introduction.

How quickly can I expect results?

That depends on your current situation and the results you're looking for. It can take time to find a new job or make a career change. But many of my clients get new insights and identify game-changing actions after our first session. It only gets better from there. If you need a new resume, that usually takes about a month.

How will we work together?

I work with clients over the phone. Coaching sessions last for one hour, and you will likely have an assignment or homework to accomplish before our next session.

How long is the program?

The initial commitment is for six months. Depending on your goals and situation, we meet two to four times a month. Most people prefer to meet twice a month. They find this fits best with their busy schedule and gives them time to accomplish their assignments. However, if you're deep in a career crisis, you may want to meet for 30 minutes once a week until things calm down. We can discuss this during our get acquainted call.

Do people ever re-up?

Absolutely! I have clients who I've worked with for multiple years, and many of my clients complete their six month program and then come back a year or 18 months later because they want to accomplish something new.

Do you accept credit cards?

Yes, I accept credit cards via PayPal.

How do we get started?

Step one is to schedule a 30-minute get acquainted call. We'll discuss your current situation and make sure we're a fit to work together. There's no cost or obligation for this call. You can send me an email via the Contact page, and we'll set up a time to meet.

If I'm not sure I'm ready to get started, how can I sample your work at low cost to see if it's the right solution for me?

My weekly blog, Spark Your Journey, is a great way to sample my work. Each week I share tools and strategies inspired by what's working for my clients that week. On this website you'll find the current post as well as an archive of past posts. Happy reading!

I also offer group coaching, which can be an affordable option. Check my website to see if I've got a group active.

OK, I'm ready to invest in this for myself, but I have a couple of additional questions. Can I call you?

Yes. Just send me an email via the Contact page, and we can set up some time to chat.

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