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I graduated from my MBA program in 2009 and went on to work in customer success at a number of start-ups. Three years later, I found myself missing all the learning and growth. Work was interesting, but I was ready for more. My father was a coach and it occurred to me that maybe that could be an interesting avenue for me to pursue as a side thing.

Research led me to discover Academy of Leadership Coaching & NLPs Coaching course. I liked the sound of Neuro-linguistic programming and the structure of the course was intriguing, so I jumped right in and signed up for ALCN’s 2012  Coach Training Program.

My life, at the time, was a little chaotic. My wife and I had just had our third child and I was poised to get a promotion at work. I knew things were a little out of hand, but it wasn’t until our first coach training session that I was able to pinpoint exactly what I was feeling. All I knew was that the never-ending demands on my time caused a permanent tightness in my chest.

We did an exercise where we paired up and asked each other to come up with a metaphor for what our lives felt like. I hadn’t yet grasped that attending the NLP coach training meant that we’d be undergoing being coached ourselves as well as learning how to coach others.

I thought about it, and the metaphor came to me.

My life was like Class 5 rapids. I was just the guy on the raft, desperately steering from one obstacle to the next, trying to keep myself from crashing and drowning.

As the exercise progressed, my coach partner helped me explore ways that I could bring my life to a Class 4 and then a Class 3. I emerged from that session with some concrete ways that I could build breaks into my day and find ways to get out of my head a few times a day. I was instantly sold on coaching.

When I graduated from the NLP Coach Training program I had complete clarity and I knew exactly how I wanted life to look. I wanted a Class 3 life.

I didn’t leave my job after completing the program. Instead, I brought my coaching skills into the workplace. I believe that my job is to help people on my team find solutions to the challenges they face. I use deep listening to ask powerful questions and I find that my team feels more empowered. Being trained in coaching makes you a more effective and impactful manager.

A few years after becoming a certified coach, I started a customer success consulting firm. Start-up companies hired me to coach their people and teach them how to run their own customer success teams and I was able to move my family out of the Bay Area and up to Bend Oregon which had been a long-term dream of ours.

I recently chose to take an in-house position as VP of Customer Success at a start-up that gives me the freedom to commute working a week from home and a week in the office, allowing me to maintain my work and family life balance. I have kept my consulting website live to share relevant information with my network. I’m still learning and growing, always looking at how I can keep improving so I can, in turn, help my team and my coworkers. I’ve taught many people at the start-ups over the years how to have a business coaching conversation. In fact, they call those ‘Nils conversations.’

Attending ALCN’s NLP Coach Training course was one of the most pivotal points in my life. It allowed me to gain clarity and to discover who is in charge of my life. Me.

Nils Vinje
VP of Customer Success – Rainforest QA

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