What was going on in your career when you first started coaching?

I was starting to think about changing jobs, but was having a hard time identifying the qualities that set me apart. I wanted insight on leadership and both the qualities I had, as well as areas where I could grow.

What big step have you recently taken in your career journey?

I have always been a connector, and have always enjoyed and been happy to give career advice to friends and colleagues. But for some reason, when it came to me asking for help or asking for someone’s time, I was having a really hard time. Through coaching, I was able to understand what was holding me back and how I could approach my network strategically and confidently. I was able to actively reach out to people to talk about next steps and it actually led to a really incredible opportunity!

What risk have you taken in your career that proved to be worth it?

I moved to Tokyo in 2003 with a job, but with zero language skills and without knowing anyone in the country. I wanted to live abroad and ended up with a great opportunity to work for a consulting firm in Tokyo. The first few months were pretty hard - when I finally found a grocery store that sold cheese, chips, and salsa, I knew I could stay! Even if there was a cost premium, It was really liberating to live somewhere where I could just be me. I met a ton of awesome people - many of them are still some of my closest friends. Living that far from home, my friends became my family. I ended up staying for 3.5 years and it was, hands down, the best decision I’ve ever made as well as the biggest risk I’ve ever taken.

What is a recent moment in your career that made you really proud?

Last summer I was approached about an incredible leadership opportunity. I was thrilled that a colleague of mine had recommended me and I was so proud of myself that all of my work in coaching had prepared me to respond with a confident, clear narrative about my expertise. Even more, I was very well-equipped to approach the opportunity from an empowered perspective, understanding my values and skills. I was able to evaluate the opportunity through my own, individualized lens, and arrive at a conclusion that the opportunity was not the right fit for me. Nevertheless, it was an excellent reminder that keeping strong networks pays off.

What was your biggest take-away from your coaching experience?

I should have done this a long time ago. I’ll probably do it again in a few years. Honestly, I invest in myself by joining a gym and getting haircuts and whatnot, so I’m not sure what took me so long to realize that I should be investing in myself and my career. I also continue to change - and work definitely continues to change - so I know the work I did in coaching will continue to pay off and reap benefits.

What's the best vacation you ever took?

This may be the toughest question yet, since there are a lot of fantastic vacations over the years! I turned 40 in 2014, so I started planning to go to Kenya and Tanzania to see the Great Migration. I ended up telling a guy I knew about it and he said that it sounded like a fun trip and he’d be up for coming with me. We ended up spending eight days on safari in Kenya, saw the wildebeests crossing the Mara River, a zillion other animals out and about, and took a hot air balloon ride over the Mara. We then flew to Zanzibar and spent five days just relaxing on the beach. The vacation was spectacular, and the guy and I hit it off and now we are married!

Lauren Laitin