Introducing Emma Garrett, a Coach for High-Integrity Leaders
Emma Garrett chose to break stereotypes when she decided to take it upon herself to do the work that she loves. She did not care what she was “supposed” to do under societal standards, and instead took the steps to find what she was meant to do. She is now a career coach based in Colorado and her mission is to help high integrity individuals design and succeed at their ideal work. She has worked with people from 25 different countries, helping them with everything from job searching to leadership coaching to starting their own business.
How did you come to do this work? What made you decide this was your calling?
I was working very long hours in New York and I knew that I wanted something different, but I didn’t know what. I had a sense that I wasn’t going to find out what I wanted when working the kind of schedule that I had and being so overwhelmed. I decided to move to, what felt to me at the time, the middle of nowhere Colorado, with the idea that I was going to leave space for my soul to contact me. I did manual labor on a ranch that provided a lot of time to just be and think.
Right before I moved, I had worked a contract in Belize, and on the way back I bought a book in the airport called “48 Days Until the Work You Love.” I don’t even think I got through chapter 1, but I knew I was available to figure out what I wanted to do on this planet. I was working on a friend's resume in Colorado late one night for this job that she really wanted and that I knew she would be so good at. I noticed that it was 2 a.m., but I was still in total flow. It felt like a sign. I started searching for a resume writing certification and that sort of thing, and I found a career coaching program that was just starting. That morning, I biked to go complete my registration and make my deposit for the program and I loved it. When I moved out of the ranch, I came across the book that I bought on the way home from Belize which still had the receipt in it. I realized that the time since I had bought that book to when I registered, had been 48 days… It was a sign that this was out of my hands, there was no logical reason for me to have even bought the book, but I did it. I felt like it wasn’t in my power to have picked that for myself, it was just meant to be.
What was next after you finished your certification?
For someone who didn’t have any previous credentials in this field, I was different. I wasn’t going to out executive anyone. I was coming from a very different perspective and still am. My mom was a doctor, and for a woman to be a physician was not really a norm at the time. She had a lot of naysayers in her world, but she didn’t care. She lived by thinking what other people thought she could do or should do, or what is right societally for her to do, was not a factor. Being raised by a woman like this was a gift.
During and after my certification, I certainly was encumbered by societal conditioning. I had family members say things like “How are you going to be a career coach when you haven’t even had a career??” In those early days I was doubting myself and I didn’t really know what to do after the certification. When I finished the program, I started doing pro bono work and had some speaking events here and there. It definitely didn’t feel legitimate to me when I started and it was actually years after that I actually started calling myself a coach. I got hired to work with Spanish speaking spouses of relocating employees coming to the US because I was fluent in Spanish. This eventually enabled me to get hired for contracts.
I love that you say that you work with “high integrity” people. What exactly does that mean to you? Who is your ideal client?
It means a lot of things to, one being those who care about being in alignment or congruence. They care about expressing their values and beliefs and act in alignment with those. Working with people whose values lead makes my job easier and much more engaging. When people come to me, they often say things like “I really care about doing work that is aligned with my strengths, and I really want to help people and make a difference, but I’m not good at selling myself.” That is the type of person that I work with the most. For those who don’t like to “sell themselves” and don’t want to have that feeling of being fake or inauthentic, I help them realize that marketing is really everything, but you can do that marketing without even realizing it. I think about my friend who is so great at selling new products. If she has a great new pair of leggings, we all hear about it. If she uses a new food delivery service that she loves, we all hear about it. She doesn’t push it, she just naturally expresses her enjoyment for the product. When I am working with my clients, I really keep her in mind. This is when you utilize your own personal mission, values, and the things that you care about. When you connect with that and approach your job search or whatever else from that place, things get so much easier because there is nothing you have to fake. If people have aligned values or needs then they are magnetized to you and the marketing aspect will come naturally.
It seems you’re also helping people get clarity about what their values really are, is that correct?
Absolutely. That is the concept behind strengths based leadership in positive psychology. The things that we really care about and are really great at, the things that we value so deeply are just part of the texture of how we exist as humans so we don’t necessarily see it all the time. I am always telling my clients “fish aren’t going around saying they’re so efficient in the water and giraffes aren’t bragging about how they’re so tall. It’s just the way of being.” Choosing to stick with it is another expression of integrity. There is a bit of surrender, not passive surrender, but this kind of trust in those values, that passion, and mission.
What would you say is a win for you and your work?
A magnificent thing happens when really high integrity people are doing the work that they want and the ripples of that are super cool for me to get to watch. Say for instance, hiring an all women team in a male dominated industry, or creating an organization wide initiative to do compensation reviews for equity, or working with clients who start their own business and they use all women vendors. Some of my favorite parts of this work is that I am someone who doesn’t have the normal profile for the work that I do and I love working with people who also don’t have the normal profiles for the work that they do. They also hire people who don’t fit the typical profile because they understand it.
Will you explain your relationship with self care?
Self care is just not a frivolous thing. Our quality of energy determines our effectiveness. This puritianical concept of squeezing every last drop out of you and that being an indicator of your worthiness is something that I wholeheartedly object to. I still see ways that I unconsciously participate in that, but energy first is my intended approach to anything. Take care of your own energy first, just like putting your own oxygen mask on first on a plane. We all know this concept, but how many of us are actually living it? When I talk about energy first as a strategy for my clients, I ask them what the energy is that they want to bring to a negotiation, or a client call, or even just a conversation with an employee or boss. You get to decide what version of yourself you want to bring to others. If you need to have a sticky conversation, how do you want to present yourself in that conversation? If you want to describe yourself as assertive or compassionate or energetic, then you can reverse engineer your words and your actions from that touch stone of energy.