It's hard to find the right coach.
You need someone who gets you—someone you feel comfortable with. You need a style that resonates with your personality.
You also need someone who can actually help you. They should feel familiar, but they should offer you a different perspective too.
Nowadays, anyone can create a website and call themselves a "coach." So, it's important to know what you're getting.
I'm not a huge believer in formal credentials, but the quality of training a coach has pursued can tell you something about how much they've prioritized developing their skills.
Even more important is their experience. Have they helped people like you before? Do they understand the challenges you're facing?
I think the most reliable indicator of all though is the feeling you get. When you look at their website and read what they've written, do they sound like your kind of person? What's your gut feeling?
My Education & Training
- Co-Active Coaching: More than a hundred hours of in-depth experiential training at the Coaches Training Institute in San Francisco (recognized as the most rigorous coaching training in the industry)
- M.E.T.A. / Hakomi: Two-year Comprehensive Training program in counseling at the M.E.T.A. and Hakomi Institute of Oregon
- Positive Intelligence (in progress): Eight-month Coach Certification (expected completion in 2021)
- Brené Brown: Completed Brave Leaders training program
- Myers-Briggs: Over 85 hours of Personality Profiler training
- University of Tokyo: Received prestigious Monbukagakusho full scholarship to conduct postgraduate research at the University of Tokyo (ranked #1 in Asia at time of attendance)
- University of Southern California (USC): Graduated with honors, B.A. in East Asian Languages & Cultures and B.A. in Interactive Media; awarded the Renaissance Scholar designation
What is Co-Active Coaching?
The word "co-active" comes from the idea of being in the action together.
It's based on the belief that people are naturally creative and whole—not broken. A trusted coach's job is to help the client connect with their own deep wisdom that knows what they need.
With focused curiosity rather than judgment, Co-Active explores the whole person, not just who you are at work or in your personal life.
There are three principles at the heart of the model:
(1) Fulfillment is about finding your vision, values, and what makes you feel alive.
(2) Balance is about exploring a range of potential perspectives and picking the one that will help you take the action you want.
(3) Process is about being with the full range of your emotions along the way to build your capacity for resilience.
What is Positive Intelligence?
Positive Intelligence is a coaching modality created by Shirzad Chamine, the chairman of CTI (the most prestigious coaching school in the world) and a professor at Stanford and Yale business schools.
Based on research conducted on hundreds of CEOs and elite athletes, Positive Intelligence supports clients in building the muscles of mental fitness, shifting the part of the brain you use to face challenges at work and in your relationships to improve your performance and emotional wellbeing.
What is Hakomi Counseling?
Hakomi is a somatic counseling practice that integrates insights from Western psychotherapy and Eastern mindfulness, as well as neurobiology, systems thinking, and personal growth work.
It's oriented around present-moment and body awareness as well as the study of deep-seated beliefs about the self.
Ultimately, it's grounded in the idea that the client has the most wisdom and context about their mind and it's the counselor's job to support them, ground them in their experience, ask powerful questions, and gently guide them toward uncovering their own answers.
My Experience: Some of the organizations I've worked with in my career
- Naughty Dog (Sony's acclaimed game design studio)
- Square Enix (one of the most iconic video game companies)
- Scott Free (Director Ridley Scott's production company)
- The Embassy of Japan in Washington, DC
- The Department of Veterans Affairs
- The National Science Foundation
- A Fortune 100 retail company
- A Fortune 500 e-commerce company
- A Fortune 1000 apparel company
- A Fortune 1000 financial services company
- An email marketing startup
- An education nonprofit
- A healthcare nonprofit
- A public sector energy company
- A local government department
- A large luxury hotel company
I stand with one foot in the world of logical analysis and the other in the realm of embodied feeling.
I studied computer science in school, and I've spent a decade in management consulting working with organizations ranging from tech startup, to non-profit and government, to Fortune 100.
I've also spent the last several years hanging out with mindful seekers and counter-culture people from outside mainstream society. I've meditated daily for over a decade, and I spent years living and studying in Japan. I regularly attend and lead events focused on authentic relating and vulnerability. I'm not religious, but I'm now highly spiritual.
My best-fit clients
Because I sit at the intersection of those two worlds, I tend to have two best-fit types of clients:
If you tend toward the more analytical, I might be able to help you feel more alive and find more fulfillment.
You're logical and rational. Probably skeptical and jaded.
You might work in tech or a similar corporate-type field. You're probably successful in your career, but you feel stuck somehow.
Maybe you don't love your job and you feel like you're wasting your potential.
Or maybe your job is fine but your relationships aren't where you want them to be. Maybe you don't have any hobbies outside of work or you struggle making friends.
You want to look forward to getting out of bed in the morning.
You want to feel more alive.
I empathize hard with this, so much so that I've devoted the whole section below to these types of feelings. (And, you can read more about my own journey here.)
If you tend toward the more emotional side, I might be able to provide a logical and grounded counter-balance to support you.
You're a feelings-centric person who needs more structure or support. You might struggle with self-doubt, or you might not be sure how to achieve what you want.
Maybe you have a strong set of values and it feels hard to align them with the work you're doing in the world.
Maybe you're full of ideas but you never actually do anything with them.
You might start lots of projects and lose interest or get overwhelmed.
Maybe you feel like people don't truly see you for who you are, or you don't have anyone in your life who can comfortably hold space for you.
Something is holding you back from the life you want to be living.
Do you identify with any of these? (because I've been there—this was me)
You feel like something big is missing
There's an existential hole inside you that you cover up with work, Reddit, gaming, or some other form of distraction.
But it keeps coming back.
You keep waiting for your "real" life to start
Despite your life's objective success markers, you still feel like you’re just treading water until you really achieve your potential and you can spend your time doing what you really should be doing.
You know you’re capable of so much more—your life is supposed to be amazing, right?
You're overwhelmed by lifehacking or productivityYou've tried Tim Ferriss, you've read about the science of happiness, and you have a GTD system. But it's never enough. There are always more changes you're "supposed" to make to finally be happy.
You feel existentially or spiritually disconnectedYou're lonely, or you feel like you’re not really part of any community. Maybe you hate small-talk and you think most people are boring. You're not especially religious, or you're even a strong atheist.
You're turned off by woo-wooYou’re looking for something more in life. But, as a logical, rational person, you’re quickly turned off by anything too woo-woo or out there. No crystals, chakras, or daily affirmations for you. What's actually backed by scientific evidence?
You're proud of your analytical mindYou tend to look down on overly-emotional, feelings-oriented people. How can they get through life by just doing whatever feels right instead of using data? (But, maybe a tiny part of you is jealous of just how much they're able to feel compared to that numb emptiness you often experience instead.)
You can't help but solve other people's problemsYou know that sometimes your partner or friend just wants you to listen. But when the solution is so obvious, you can't help but offer suggestions. Why wouldn't they want to hear your idea if it would make their life better?
You find it hard to connect with new people as an adultYou want to make more real friends—people you can rely on and go to for support—but it’s much harder than other people make it seem. Where are you even supposed to meet interesting people, and how do you turn a meetup acquaintance into an actual friend?
"I kept walking away with one refreshing insight after another"Ryan, Director at a Fortune 10 Company
"There was a time in our early sessions where I questioned whether working with Michael would be valuable to me. Our first encounter led to an 'a-ha' moment that I wrote off as a lucky break. But when I kept walking away with one refreshing insight after another, I knew that all credit is due to Michael himself. I encourage any skeptic to give Michael two meetings to prove his worth – and I’ll tell you right now that the second meeting is only for you to be convinced that the first wasn’t a fluke.
Michael admirably applies praise where deserved and tends to avoid positivity for positivity’s sake. He does not judge – he seeks to understand. His inquisitive nature and mannerisms are a refreshing blend of friendly banter, humor, and understanding that are hard to find and very much appreciated. There is great peace of mind in knowing that at least one person outside of my family can be absolutely trusted with my most confidential musings about my career.
He has an uncanny ability to say something back to me in a way that’s more coherent than how I first said it. When I hear my thoughts stated back to me it brings a certain permanence, conviction, and power to them I am challenged to replicate on my own.
I can’t thank Michael enough, and I wholeheartedly encourage you to take advantage of his gift."
—Ryan, Director at a Fortune 10 Company
What's holding you back? It's probably not a lack of knowledge.
I'd like to share an insight I had about my own life.
I spent years obsessed with lifehacking (the pursuit of optimizing all aspects of your life). I was subscribed to over a dozen RSS news feeds; I was on too many email lists to count; and I was constantly listening to podcasts wherever I went.
I wasn't happy, and I thought that if I just kept reading and listening, I'd eventually find that one insight that would change everything for me.
It never happened.
Today, there are endless resources out there telling you their version of the path to happiness. But if your life isn't where you want it to be, I don't think what you lack is information. You probably know things you should be doing but you aren't doing them.
In my experience, what's missing isn't a key insight from a teacher. It's your own self-knowledge and your ability to shift your worldview.
I don't have all the answers. But I spent many years feeling lost, disconnected, and unhappy, and I can tell you what finally led to real change in my life.
It took a journey of deep self-discovery, pushing myself past my comfort zone, and designing my purpose. I know that this part sounds salesy, but it's the truth: Working with an amazing coach is what finally got me to start that journey.
I was completely vulnerable with her, and she was able to look past the stories I'd been telling myself. She was able to see a part of me before I ever could, and that turned out to be the core need I'd been missing for years. I doubted her advice at first, but she kept challenging me.
And she stuck with me as I made it happen.
Is now the right time?
If you're excited to take the next step along your path, let's find out if we're the right fit for each other: