Personal & professional coach helps people find and meet their goals
By Judith Monachina
Originally appeared in the Advocate, December 1, 1999.
Millie Calesky is part consultant, part advisor, and even part therapist. A personal and professional coach, she helps people do the things they want to do but for some reason are not doing. Sometimes she starts one step behind that: helping them figure out what they want.
With one criterion for success, openness, she says her work is very similar to a traditional sports coach: she’s there to motivate, bolster self-confidence and help her clients get focused and organized.
In fact, one of her recent clients was an athlete, a former bronze medal speed skater who, by the time she called Calesky, was working in upstate New York as a wood worker. When she decided she wanted to run for local politics in her hometown of Wilmington, NY, she decided she wanted to hire a coach. On Nov. 2 she became town supervisor.
When I interviewed Calesky I presented her with a real problem, slightly more humble than that of her Olympian client. But I wanted to talk with Calesky about a tangible situation, rather than talk in abstract terms, and it was useful in learning what exactly she does.
“Let’s jump in there,” were her first words, which we did very quickly. Within less than one half-hour of telephone conversation, I had an assignment and had learned some things about my own procrastination that could be helpful.
Calesky isn’t a therapist. She recommends at times that people go that route if that is where their needs really are. She describes herself as action oriented, and sometimes during the meeting she and her clients discuss reasons why a particular project isn’t happening, “but we don’t stay there…I’m really focused on the action,” she says.
One of her first questions for my case, after she learned what I was interested in doing, was to ask me to assume there were no barriers and to imagine what I wanted to do, which I was able to do. Within three or four questions she helped me realize what has been at least one of the reasons for my procrastination. Talking about such things as my schedule, my productive time of the day, and how-I-like-to-work type questions, she then worked with me to set up a time to do one hour of work on my project. She says sometimes people only work for one half hour at a time, particularly if they feel a lot of resistance. Part of her job is to set up reasonable goals and tasks.
Does she every discourage anyone from pursuing an idea they have? She says she is very honest and feels she must tell someone if she genuinely feels like his or her idea is especially risky. But she says she still works with people on their ideas after they’re aware of her views.
She once told a client, a man who lives in Florida who is working at setting up a business, that she was concerned about his business idea. Having worked in the industry in which he was entering, she told him what she thought. He continued to do what he wanted to do and is still working at the start up.
Naturally she isn’t able to help all of her clients make their dreams come true. In one recent situation, she was working with a man who was referred by a friend, a client of Calesky’s. She quickly realized that he wasn’t motivated, and they agreed that he was probably wasting his money.
Her clients include the owner of an internet-oriented business who wanted to go back to school. His task was really to focus his energies and get himself organized. Several clients have been alternative health care providers who need help in starting and marketing their business.
She says one of the things she finds most exciting is knowing there’s life in a project even when her client isn’t sure of it.
A retired entrepreneur, who had run his own business, had a lot of different activities going and wanted help building his company at the same time he was working on writing a book. Calesky says he needed someone to keep him on track and someone to whom he would be accountable.
This seems like the key. The client does all the work outside of the l/2 hour sessions. They usually leave with a list of things to do and then report back to her before the next session so she can prepare for the session. This way the client has essentially set the agenda. By reporting progress and obstacles to someone who is coaching them, the clients find it harder to put off the little tasks.
Coaches generally bill by the month, said Calesky, and she does as well. A contract is typically between $250 and $500/month. Calesky offers three sessions per month and as needed telephone conversations and emails in between these sessions. Calesky lives in Hinsdale, but it seems much of her work is done by telephone since many of her clients live out of this area.
Calesky says she’s worked in several different career fields in her life, and each experience proves to be useful in her coaching. Especially useful is her nursing background and her work in the medical industry in which she sold consulting services of a large company to hospitals and physicians.
Her launch into this business was facilitated by a course with the Berkshire Enterprises program, which she completed in 1998. She says each day there are more and more coaches but still internationally she estimates there are about 5,000.
Calesky can be reached at 413-655-2555. Her first consultation is complimentary.