The coaching industry, at least in North America, is primarily white and female. Yet the United States is becoming more ethnically diverse faster than ever before. Brookings Institute reported that, in 2019, more than half of the population under 16 identified as a racial or ethnic minority—for the very first time.
“Representation matters to professional coaches, coaches in training and prospective clients. An individual’s ability to see themselves represented in the coaching industry sets the stage for inclusivity and one’s ability to dream,” Andrew Dormas, ACC, wrote in an article for the International Coaching Federation.
Today, there is little data available on how many coaches identify as a person of color. But according to industry veteran J. Victor McGuire, Ph.D., CPCC, there is an overwhelming need for coaching in BIPOC communities—and a larger talent pipeline of both male and female BIPOC coaches.
To meet both needs simultaneously, McGuire started Coaching for Everyone, a 501c3 non-profit organization. A Black coach himself, McGuire has a long and varied career history that has informed his approach to leadership, coaching, and making a difference in people’s lives.
I recently had the distinct pleasure of connecting with McGuire to learn more about the experiences that inspired him to found Coaching for Everyone, and how the organization has blossomed since.
Kevin Kruse: How did you personally get interested in coaching? What made you fall in love with it?
J. Victor McGuire: Ever since I was a young boy, I’ve wanted to spend my life as a servant leader. I spent much of my early career as an educator, and I started a 6-week after-school program for kids in the middle school I taught at, called Spice of Life. We dealt with topics like self-esteem, motivation, communication, time management and mentoring. We did a lot of service learning together. I worked with the students both one-on-one and as a group, and without even knowing it, I was coaching. I ended up getting a grant from the Colorado governor’s office to train other teachers to do the same thing. Those experiences culminated in the book, No Negatives: A Teen Guide to Leadership and Service.
After a significant stint in higher education, I transitioned into leadership training, where I worked with Fortune 100 businesses before starting my own coaching consultancy.
Kruse: What sparked the idea for Coaching for Everyone?
McGuire: It came to me after wrapping up with a client. I just asked myself, “what would it be like if I was in position to offer the same level of coaching that top-performers at Fortune 100 companies receive to underrepresented and underserved populations?” So, I decided to start Coaching for Everyone to accomplish two missions: one is to provide coaching for those under-resourced populations, but also the other mission is to create a pipeline of BIPOC individuals to go through a coaching fellowship program. Coaching is one of the fastest-growing industries out there and has been for a while, but it’s so homogenous. When you do see people of color, it’s usually women of color. You just don’t see many brown and Black men coaching.
Kruse: Tell me more about the fellowship program.
McGuire: In total, it’s an 11-month program that cohorts of about 22 Black, Latinx, and Indigenous fellows from various industries go through together. During the first five months, cohorts go through one 4-day and four 3-day intensive training sessions. The certification process takes place over the following 6 months. During this time, cohorts are divided up into “pods” of 9, where they meet for 90-minutes once a week for 6 months. They also have to be actively coaching five paid clients. We’ve partnered with The Co-Active® Training Institute (CTI) to certify our coaches going through the fellowship program. So CTI staff certifies and trains the fellows.
Kruse: People have different definitions for coaching and seek out coaches for a lot of different needs. So, what does coaching look like for Coaching for Everyone’s coachees?
McGuire: It depends on what the needs are. The program for coachees is three months long, in which they meet with a coach twice per month, so they usually choose one thing to focus on. There are three foundational questions most of our coaches ask when starting with a new client. The first is, “where are you today?” Then, “where do you want to be?” And finally, “what are you willing to do to get there?” That usually gets them up and running pretty quickly.
Kruse: Do you have any goals for Coaching for Everyone?
McGuire: We’re hoping to train and certify 100 coaches within a 12-to-18-month period. Here’s a little simple math to demonstrate the impact of a BIPOC coach: so let’s say when a brand new coach finishes the fellowship program, they’re working with 10 clients. Since the program for coachees is three months long, coaches will likely work with around 40 clients per year. And then if we have five cohorts of 20 fellows each, that’s 100 BIPOC coaches. If each of those coaches work with 40 clients each year, then we’ve impacted 4,000 people with just 100 new BIPOC coaches. It’s not “pie in the sky” math, but you begin to see that it has enormous potential. I tell people it’s not rocket surgery—it’s very simple. We just want to get more people in the pipeline. We want more BIPOC coaches to coach other people. That’s it. But the reality is that it isn’t cheap to certify that many coaches each year. We’re taking on a very ambitious fundraising goal to cover our program costs. We can no longer wait for change. So we’re hoping that many corporations will step up and honor their pledges for inclusivity by supporting our mission.
Kruse: Now, you just had a milestone birthday in which a lot of people start thinking about retirement. And instead, you decided to start something brand new with Coaching for Everyone.
McGuire: A few years ago, I had a conversation with an older guy out on a golf course in South Carolina that I’ll never forget. I asked him if he was retired, and he said, “Oh, god no. I’m still working because I love to work.” This guy was 80 years old. He asked if he could give me some advice. He told me to forget about retirement. He said, “I can just tell by being with you that you’ve got too much to do. You’ve got things to do that you don’t even know you’ve got.” So, I came up with my own term to describe the season of life I’m in—I’m calling it “rehirement.” I’ve rehired myself to do this. Sometimes it takes 10 years to get to that one year that will change your life.
If you’d like to cover the costs for a BIPOC coach to become certified or for a BIPOC individual to receive complimentary coaching, donate here: Coaching for Everyone.
Kevin Kruse is the Founder + CEO of LEADx, a mobile app that scales and sustains leadership habits. Kevin is also a New York Times bestselling author of Great Leaders Have No Rules, 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management, and Employee Engagement 2.0.