Interview with Fiona Harrold, world renowned coach and author

Find how writing her first book helped establish Fiona Harrold as a world renowned coach.

What’s your career background?

I have been at the forefront of coaching for most of my career, but in my 20s I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar – in Covent Garden, London. I was also a social activist and have always been proactive about wanting to change things for the better. 

I discovered coaching when it was in its early stages and my career took off instantly. So few people were coaching that it really felt like we were on the first wave of something new and exciting. 

I was featured in the media a lot and when my first book, Be Your Own Life Coach, came out in 2000, it was serialised in the Daily Mail and it quickly became a bestseller.

Since then I’ve spoken on stages around the world, written five more books and built my social media profile. I’ve worked with celebrities, politicians, trained Prison officers and had clients from across the world.

How did your career change after having children?

Having my son meant that I became rigorous in how I used my time. I put up my fees and created a small team of coaches around me, so that I could make the business work but reduce my hours.

I stopped travelling for speaking engagements and learned to be more selective in what I accepted. I think that sometimes with new businesses there is a feeling that you must say yes to everything and that’s maybe compounded by the fact that we, as women, are natural givers but being a mum changes your priorities and perspectives.

I increased my online presence and concentrated on being able to provide the same service for people through calls and webinars which allowed me to stay close to home.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

Before coaching was ‘invented’ I was looking for some dynamic help to pull me forward. I didn’t want counselling or therapy; I wanted to be proactive and accountable.  I found a wonderful woman in London who offered this and after a time, she invited me to became her apprentice.

Just at the time I started to work with clients, coaching started to take off. It was a very organic process rather than something formal and planned – I was looking for a solution for myself and stumbled on coaching, which turned into my business.

How did you move from idea to actual business?

The truth is that for me it was effortless – my mentor encouraged me to see that I could set up a coaching business. I worked closely with her and within a few months, she decided to move to Italy and handed her busy practise to me. 

This was pre-internet days, so I focussed on getting featured in Newspapers and magazines to get my message across and attract clients. My first feature article was in Time Outand after it was published I had a three month waiting list.

What’s your USP?

I help people build a platform to get their message out online, on the page and on stage. My new programme, PLATFORM 2020 shows you how to get your signature solution that becomes your talk on stage and your book

Who’s your target audience?

Women between 35 and 55.

How do you spread the word about what you do?

Thankfully my book has positioned me so well that I don’t have to do too much and because it still sells today, I have new clients contacting me all the time.

I have an email list and I post daily on social media and I’m delighted to contribute to great platforms like The Talented Ladies Club!

I enjoy speaking on stage and I’m going to focus on my youtube channel next. 

What’s been your most successful marketing strategy?

Having a bestselling book. I never really thought a book could be a marketing strategy, but it is the thing that not only positioned me. It acted like a magnet for publicity and clients – I didn’t have to chase, people came to me and I was humbled. 

Twenty years later and I’m still receiving Thank-Youmessages from people all over the world, telling me how Be Your Own Life Coachhelped them change their lives. 

How can you build a better relationship with people than that? I’m blown away by the connection people feel they have with me from that book and the others that followed, The 10-Minute Life Coach,Reinvent Yourself, Indestructible Self-Belief and The 7 Rules of Success. 

What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?

Being a single parent to my son and having a thriving business. Trying to juggle everything and not neglect one or the other is the biggest obstacle and the hardest challenge for so many women, yet they do it. 

And your proudest moment so far?

Being awarded Mentor of the Year, last year was great. However, I’m proud that I was able to provide a good lifestyle for my son, so he could attend a specialist dyslexic school that was extremely expensive, but brilliant.

Why is work so important to you?

I love making a difference. I love making the most of myself and using my talents to help others. I think it’s so important because it inspires other women to realise their potential and go for what they want.

Who inspires you?

Obviously Oprah and of course, Madonna! Ingrid Newkirk is incredible for how she built PETA into the most powerful animal rights organisation in just a few years. She galvanised celebrities to support campaigns and has been radical and popular at the same time.

I love Stella McCartney’s ethics on not using leather. She’s led the way for fashion to follow. Tom’s shoes is a fabulous company that has inspired a new way of doing business that offers a great product and helps others at the same time. I will be doing this from now on with my online programmes. 

I love people who stretch themselves to live on the edge of their potential and make a difference at the same time.

How do you balance your work with your family?

I plan time away and time together. I think it’s important to switch off all social media because, for me, social media is a business tool not necessarily a personal thing. Holidays and trips that provide a real and definitive break from work are really important too.

What are your three top pieces of advice for someone wanting to do something similar?

  1. Do what you’re good at: You have talents and skills that are unique to you. Spot them and combine them to stand out to create a great service.
  2. Become a master in your area: Learn, read and study to become really good at what you do. Then, you’ll have a deep confidence and conviction that others will feel.
  3. Get an amazing mentor: It’s an incredible feeling to have someone spot your talents and see your potential, and then pull you forward. Go for it! 

You can find out more about Fiona Harrold on her website.