How can you find the right coach for you?
If you've already been looking for a while, you know it's not easy.
I’m not just going to tell you to hire me (I’m not the right fit for everyone, and my practice is often full).
But I've gone through the coach-search process several times in my life. And as a coach myself, I have an insider's perspective.
In my opinion, here’s what's most important:
- You need someone who gets you. Someone with a style and worldview that resonates with your personality. For example, as an ENTP in the Jung-Myers 16 types, I work really well with xNTP's and xNFJ's in particular (they all have the cognitive function Ti, meaning we have a similar way of processing information).
- It's helpful if they're like you (in some ways). They should feel familiar and trustworthy but also offer you a different perspective. Ideally, they would also have some personal experience with challenges similar to what you're facing. For example, if you're dealing with nihilism, it might be helpful to work with someone who felt something similar in the past but managed to work through it.
- They must have the skills to actually help you. Nowadays, anyone can create a website and call themselves a "coach." So it's important to know what you're getting. Personally, I'm not a huge believer in lots of formal credentials (many people just collect them as trophies without going deep enough into each one). But, the quality of training a coach has pursued can tell you something about how much they've prioritized developing their skills.
- Look for someone who's continually doing their own work. Are they a fellow seeker & learner? Do they have their own coach/therapist/counselor? Look for someone who doesn't just mechanically repeat back what they heard in their original coach training. Someone who's still regularly attending workshops, reading a lot, going on retreats, or whatever else to improve their skills.
- Similarly, I suggest finding a coach who's the right mix of confident and humble. You want someone who's built up solid self-worth. Who trusts themselves to guide you without feeling too much impostor syndrome. But not an arrogant "prophet" who just wants to tell everyone what worked for them. Coaching is about helping people find their own answers. Bottom line: You want a coach who knows a fair amount and who also knows how much they still don’t know.
- Ultimately, the most reliable indicator is how you feel around them (or their writing/videos/etc.). Research in the therapy world shows that the single most important factor for positive therapy outcomes—more even than the specific modality used—is the client-therapist relationship (e.g., how much a person trusts their therapist and feels understood by them). I suspect the same is true for coaches. So trust your gut: When you look at their website and read what they've written, do they sound like your kind of person?
So, am I the right coach for you?
No idea, but I've put a whole lot of information about me all over this website, so I invite you to read on and decide for yourself.
My Education & Training
- Co-Active Coaching: More than a hundred hours of in-depth experiential training at the Co-Active Training Institute in San Francisco (recognized as the most rigorous coaching training in the industry)
- Hakomi / M.E.T.A.: Completed two-year Comprehensive Training program in counseling at M.E.T.A. (Mindful Experiential Therapy Approaches) and the Hakomi Institute of Oregon; plus, an additional year of advanced study seminars
- Positive Intelligence: Completed eight-month coach training program from Shirzad Chamine (the former CEO of the Co-Active Training Institute and a lecturer at Stanford Business School)
- Brené Brown: Completed Brave Leaders training program
- Personality Typing: Completed over 100 hours of Personality Profiler training from Personality Hacker, Penelope Trunk, and more
- Meditation & Buddhism: 13 years of meditation experience using a wide variety of techniques (and, currently meditating for 1-2 hours a day); study of Vipassana Buddhism through the Satya Narayana Goenka lineage; study of Sōtō Zen Buddhism through the Taizan Maezumi lineage
- 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
The primary modalities I use for coaching & counseling:
Hakomi is a somatic counseling practice integrating 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. In other words, it seeks to examine how the client's mind is organized (particularly subconsciously) so that they can be gently guided toward uncovering their own answers.
What's so exciting to me about Hakomi is that I've seen first-hand in myself and others how it can access memories, thought patterns, and mind states that you didn't even realize were in there. Then, over time, it can literally rewire patterns that aren't serving you.
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.
Personality typing has a bad reputation with some people. I didn't trust it at first either. Here's the issue:
The most useful typing systems are highly complex and nuanced. But, a lot of people write articles and social media posts with only a shallow understanding. They peddle stereotypes rather than depth. After many years of study, I can tell you this: The systems I work with are not simple and binary. You're not just 100% extrovert or introvert, etc.
Your type can tell you two about your style of taking in information (e.g., focusing more on sensory details versus abstract concepts), your style of processing it (e.g., focusing more on how it makes you feel versus how it could most efficiently get you toward your goals), and much more.
Building on those attributes, I can help you learn how to make better decisions, how you can best use your innate superpowers, what you need when you feel stressed, and more.
Positive Intelligence is a coaching modality created by Shirzad Chamine, the chairman of the most prestigious coaching school in the world, a NY Times bestselling author, and a lecturer at Stanford and Yale business schools.
Based on research conducted on hundreds of CEO's 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.
Specifically, it's a system of practical techniques for noticing your current mental and emotional state and shifting it to one that will better serve you in the moment. For example, it offers tools to use when you're feeling overwhelmed, lonely, frustrated, or any number of other states that make it hard to be productive or joyful.
Mindfulness, Meditation, Buddhism
Meditation and mindfulness are core practices that I've anchored my life around.
These technologies retrain your brain, allowing you to make difficult decisions more easily, move through challenging emotions, increase self-control and resilience, deepen your self-awareness, and transform your existential foundation and highest-level priorities in life.
These are lifelong practices, not simple "lifehacks" to increase your productivity and move on. This is about facing the deepest questions of being human—of examining the nature of self & reality, not through philosophy, but through first-hand, felt-sense experience.
If you're not familiar with Buddhism and are skeptical of religion, don't worry, me too. Buddhism is not so much a religion as an evidence-based system for reducing the everyday suffering that's inherent in being human. So, it's largely compatible with everything from atheism, to Christianity, to Shinto. Many of my clients have found Buddhist insights very useful for dealing with both the existential and practical challenges in life. (That said, if you're not into it, we don't have to talk about Buddhism at all 🙂)
Also, it's important to say that I'm not an accredited teacher in the Buddhist tradition (which often takes decades of highly devoted practice). That said, I'm a committed Sōtō Zen Buddhist (in the Taizan Maezumi lineage). I've also studied Vipassana Buddhism (through the Satya Narayana Goenka lineage) and other Buddhist traditions.
Similarly, I wouldn't call myself a meditation teacher either—simply because I have too much respect for the true lineage-holders I've studied under who have devoted their lives to teaching Buddhist meditation. However, with my 13 years of meditation experience (currently meditating 1-2 hours a day and regularly attending meditation retreats), I at least consider myself qualified to help people get started on their journeys.
P.S. Meditation didn’t work for me at first, either. I used to have trouble going for even 5 minutes without opening my eyes to check the time. Don't worry: There's hope, and I believe I can help you.
My Experience: Some of the groups 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, I've participated in plant medicine ceremonies, and I spent years living and studying in Japan. I regularly attend and lead events focused on authentic relating and vulnerability. I'm not at all 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-woo (or cautiously curious)
You’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?
Or, maybe you're cautiously curious about things like Buddhism, psychedelics, or state-shifting ecstatic experiences.
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: