Alan Heymann – Learning the True Power of Your No | Conversations with Coaches | Boxer Media

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Alan Heymann | Conversations with Coaches | Boxer Media

It was wonderful to have Alan back on the podcast, and we jumped right into talking about how fantastic his 2023 is already going. We discuss his new group coaching endeavor (learn more by clicking the link below), and how much more of a guide and “conductor” he is in that setting. We also dive into how easy it is to “spread yourself too thin” and how dynamically powerful a well-considered and openly shared “no” can be.

As you might remember from our last conversation, Alan has a knack for coaching fellow introverts, helping them find their superpowers in an extroverted world. He also specializes in coaching through transitions. To date, Alan has coached leaders who were born in 26 countries and work on 5 continents. Alan is also the author of the book Don’t Just Have the Soup.

He’s a communications and marketing veteran from the media, government, and nonprofit sectors, with degrees in journalism and law. Alan has spent time as a reporter, anchor, editor and producer, spokesperson, business owner, activist, and team leader. His entire career has focused on doing good in the world, by helping others grow.

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Kevin Stafford 0:02
Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of the conversations with Coach’s podcast. It’s me, it’s me, Mario. And I’m kidding. It’s Kevin. Little, little Nintendo on the brand. I’m having a fantastic day already made even more fantastic somehow by getting to chat again with Alan Heyman. Alan, you might remember he’s been on the podcast before he was delightful. Alan has a knack for coaching fellow introverts helping them find their superpowers in an extroverted world. Obviously, I’m very drawn to that notion. He also specializes in coaching through transitions. To date, Alan has coached leaders who were born in 26 countries and work on five continents. Alan’s, also the author of the book, don’t just have the soup, which is a great title. He’s a communications and marketing veteran from the media, government and nonprofit sectors. with degrees in journalism and law. Allen has spent time as a reporter and anchor and editor and a producer, spokesperson, business owner, activist and team leader. Let me catch my breath. Alan’s been up to a lot in his life, isn’t dire career, though, has focused on doing good in the world by helping others to grow. Alan, it’s great to have you back. It’s good to see you.

Alan Heymann 1:09
And happy new year. It’s great to be back as well. Good. Good to be here with your audience also.

Kevin Stafford 1:13
Excellent, excellent. They’re pretty good, too. I’m quite fond of them myself. So let’s, let’s speaking of the new year, let’s talk a little bit about that. I know you’ve got some exciting things moving forward and 2023. Already, when we’re recording this, by the way, we’re about three weeks in and I’ll probably be posting sometime in February. So who knows what exciting things will have emerged between now and then. But right now, it seems like you’ve got a lot going on. So talk a little bit about that.

Alan Heymann 1:38
It’s been a fun month, so far, a fun year, I guess you could say. So there’s joy in knowing that people who have been working with for quite a while are still around or in some cases are coming back. So having the returning clients having the clients who say yeah, I’d like a little bit more of that, please. So it’s been very gratifying, also into some new stuff this year. So my colleague, Jennifer Hart, and I are doing a group coaching series that actually just kicked off in January. And it’s a little different from some of the group coaching that she and I have done individually and that it’s open access. So it is open, and whoever wants to join us can. And we have an initial group that was made up of people who a signed up for the series or be are already existing one on one clients for either of us, and we’re allowing them access to that group at no charge. So

Kevin Stafford 2:22
awesome. When we’re done, by the way, I’m sure you

Alan Heymann 2:27
may absolutely have the link. And so we’ve we’ve opened up the coaching space to maybe people who have not had access to it for a while. It’s you know, affordable, it’s lower impact, because it’s only once a month, it’s a specific topic. So we’re going to come in and sort of open the floor and see what people’s collective wisdom is on that topic. People are coaching each other a bit in the space. And we’re sort of interested to see what happens when you have what is essentially a core community of people. But the composition of that community is changing a bit from month to month as people come and go. So what does that look like? What does that do to norms and behaviors and how we want to engage with one another has been really interesting to kind of evaluate so far, and we’re off to the races and ready for February on that one.

Kevin Stafford 3:11
That’s exciting I let that reminds me of one of my favorite dichotomies of authors. Or at least like, like big, like authors who write who create large worlds. And they have the, what’s it called, it’s the architect versus the gardener, where there’s the types of stories that lend themselves well to the architectural approach where there’s detailed plans and their scaffolding, and there’s just building and you bring lots of people together, but they’re all you end up with this common goal. And there’s like this core attributes, it’s very structured. And then the gardener is kind of a tender, a friend or a co qsar, you allow to build huge energy and natural resources to sort of influence and help grow the garden take care of weeds as they come up, but largely guide, it’s like there are there’s obviously lots of similarities between the two. But that reminds me of like, the differences of having a more closed fixed group versus an open group where you’re just kind of like it changes and grows dynamically in ways that you can’t really plan for. And that’s exciting and varied is very, very, very, has a lot of potential to go in all sorts of different directions.

Alan Heymann 4:08
I think you’re right, and I’m looking forward to seeing how those directions come about over the course of the next 11 months.

Kevin Stafford 4:13
Yeah, cool, cool. Cool. Okay, so what else sounds like you were about to jump right into it to the to the next thing that’s going on, which is great. That by itself is fantastic. But I just had to say that little architect gardener thing popped immediately to mind I was like, oh, that’s exciting.

Alan Heymann 4:24
It’s timely too because it’s chilly you know in this part of the country for you know this time of year so the mind does tend to wander to things that could be happening in the actual garden in a few months time.

Kevin Stafford 4:36
Well, what else are you growing right now?

Alan Heymann 4:39
My growing the rest of my practice so definitely a lot of emphasis on we’re what I like to continue finding the one on one clients who do I best serve and how often thinking a little bit this year about capacity, because I did find myself a bit over stripped for capacity toward the middle of last year, and getting better calibrated within my own In a space of what I’m comfortable with in terms of saying yes, and maybe it’s not a yes, right now, maybe it’s a no, maybe it’s I’ll do it later, maybe there’s this terrific friend or colleague of mine who might be able to do it instead. Because I, you know, what I decided at the beginning of this year was that I would like to stand for relentless devotion to all of my clients. And I would like to stand for that, regardless of who’s paying the bill, or how they come in the door. And that’s different for many different clients of mine. And I want to make sure that I have the space and the energy to be able to do that properly for all of them. So the danger of saying yes, too often is that there’s too little for each person I say yes to. And I don’t want that to be the case, I don’t want to struggle to try to remember the names of all of my clients, or to have to rely too heavily on nodes for detail, or to just end a day feeling like yes, I was in service. Yes, I’m doing work that I love. But I’m just depleted. And I’ve got nothing left. And I want to stop before that happens. And I have the tremendous fortune and privilege of being able to set my own schedule as a small business owner. And figuring out how the income and revenue piece kind of falls into all of that has been something that I’ve been just playing with on the fly. And I’ve been taking good counsel from people who have been doing this a lot longer than I have, as they seem to have figured quite a bit of it out. And they’re allowing me the benefit of their lessons as well.

Kevin Stafford 6:18
That’s fantastic. It really is. It’s almost insidious how how too many yeses, dilute and diminish the power of your other yeses in ways that you it’s hard to pick up on until it starts to happen. And then you realize, like, you have that moment where you realize like, I’m exhausted. And like if you feel that way, and you start to look back, and you’re like, I didn’t really show up for X client or y relationship or for my for my family in certain ways, it starts to like bleed into all of your other yeses. And that’s really like, that’s one of the motivating factors for me, because as a sort of people pleaser ish type person for a long time still am because I liked that aspect of myself. But it had occupied such a central aspect of the way I showed up in the world, that I literally spread myself too thin, and I was thin in places where I should have been strong and stable and resilient. And I’ve had to really like do some do some rigorous looking at the way I was structuring my life and the way I was allowing my life to be structured, and embrace the power of No, not as a negative, but actually as a builder and a positive.

Alan Heymann 7:21
Absolutely. And that can be an asset in some way, at least down the line to the person who is the recipient of the know. So I just had this yesterday, in terms of a nonprofit community that I serve outside of my work as a coach, and there was a request a significant request that would have entailed, you know, just a lot. And it was also wrapped up in the request was a tremendous amount of trust and faith. And I felt it, it’s like, wow, I’m getting this request. And I understand everything that that means and everything that that person is putting into entrusting me with the thing they’re asking me to do. And that is the reason why I’ve given this due consideration, and gotten to know, you know, over a period of time, that was a bit longer than just immediately shutting it down. Because I knew I would not be able to serve in this capacity, I would not do it justice, I would not serve the needs of the person making the request. And in the end, we ended up having a lovely conversation by email about the nature of the No.

Kevin Stafford 8:23
That might have to be the title of the episode. It’s like I like that turn of phrase, the nature of the know, the nature of the know, that’s got some alternate meanings there too, depending on how you choose to spell No. appeals to the little English Lit brain in me, but that’s I love the exploration and the sharing of that exploration of the know with the person who’s receiving it. Because it really is, when done well, when done with grace and consideration and intention. It’s just as much of a gift as a yes is

Alan Heymann 8:52
100%. Because imagine another scenario where I wasn’t as confident in my No, or where I had some inkling that maybe I could move a few things around. Or I could push and pull a little bit. Take a little from here, put a little over there. And I somehow got to Yes, and the result was less than ideal. I forestall that possibility by seeing it ahead of time and saying that’s not where I want to head with this. You deserve 100% commitment, energy attention time, which I can’t give given everything else that I know is happening for me at the moment. And I think that the person who made the request, understood and appreciated that point of view in a way that maybe people don’t always take the time to explain I suppose.

Kevin Stafford 9:45
They don’t take the time to explain because a lot of times you don’t take the time to understand it yourself and that deck because that could be a very difficult a very difficult path to go down to begin down even just inside yourself. I’m imagining like thinking about how interrogating what a no should look like what it would look like in my life. realizing you want to let somebody down love to love to go the extra mile for people. And it just it’s really, it can be quite frankly, revelatory to really work that muscle. Because then it’s another thing to you’re worried like, Well, how do I know it should be a no? What if I’m wrong? And I actually would have showed up in the best possible way. I just didn’t know how to realize that at the moments like, Yeah, guess what you’re going to, you know, you make mistakes, when you try things, sometimes those are your teachers. And then you tear muscles to help them to grow and get stronger. It’s one of those things is, the more that you engage in that kind of activity really properly evaluate whether a yes or the No is the right answer, given a given a circumstance and event a commitment. As you work that muscle you get better at understanding what it’s going to mean? And what is actually the right answer, your nose will become not more certain in a locked in, you know, non living way, they’ll become more certain because you’ve understood how to do the work and how to look at things and you know yourself better, which is a huge part of it, too. It is, if you think about it is this sort of intrinsic process of getting to know yourself better your capabilities, your strengths and weaknesses, how they overlap with others. You grow your own personal network. So you have so you have in your head and understanding of for me, this might maybe should be a no but I could already in my head kind of hear a yes. For somebody else that I know who’s great at this kind of thing I’m being asked about, let me think about that. Let me pursue that maybe let me have a conversation about that. And see comes it becomes a stronger process, the more you engage in it, which is it’s scary at first, though, when you have it because you you can feel a little lost, you can feel a little weak, you can feel like you might make a mistake, which can paralyze people from even starting down that path to the good note the strong No,

Alan Heymann 11:41
yeah. And as a fellow recovering people, pleaser myself, I get it. And as a coach who works with clients who come in often with this question of how or how much or how often do I get to say no to my boss, when there’s a power differential there? And I think where you were going just now is perfect, because what you can do is the qualified now, you know, it’s not a slamming the door shut? It’s a no, I cannot do that by Tuesday, but I can do it by next week. It’s a no, I can’t give you 100 of that thing. But I can give you 50 It’s a no, I can’t do that. But this person down the hall who’s amazing could probably do it even better. Or it’s No, the thing that you’re asking me for is not actually the thing that you want. So let’s have a conversation about what you actually want. And I will find the best way to deliver it. Because oftentimes the request is centered around, you know, a process rather than an outcome. And so if you entrust your people with the outcome, instead of the process, you can let them figure out the process and there’s less no involved in that anyway.

Kevin Stafford 12:47
Uh, no can really be just as much of an opener as it can be a closer and by opening an opener where it’s like, it’s the beginning of a conversation, the beginning of an understanding as much as it is a door closer it’s like it’s I think, I don’t think people I love talking about this because no is such a it’s like one of the first words most kids learn if you humorously but also, in fact in life that that know that I don’t want to do this negative. It’s like one of the first tools we get. It’s one of the most dynamic tools we get. But I feel like we a lot of us will just stop at that that toddler’s understanding of the concept of No. And there’s really so much more it can do for us and the people that we’re trying to serve. It’s as we’re as we’re talking, I’m just like, Man, I kind of want to I kinda want to noodle on this for a while. It’s something I returned to periodically and just come to even greater understanding as I go.

Alan Heymann 13:34
Yeah, it’s a great coaching question, what is your relationship with the work now?

Kevin Stafford 13:39
It’s great. I want there’s, I didn’t want to, while I was so excited about what we’re about to talk about that I kind of like left the group stuff behind. But I do kind of want to go back to that because you were talking about the new group coaching program that you’ve got going. And it got me thinking about and you were also mentioning how, throughout 2022, especially in the middle, you felt a little a little spread thin, like you’ve had a lot of commitments. That’s how it was what led us to the no conversation, which I’ve loved. But talking about the group coaching, you said something that very, very much hit like a green light in me, and how in the group, there’s coaching that’s going on in between the members of the group that doesn’t necessarily have a whole lot to directly do with you or whoever’s running the group with you. I wonder if you talk about that a little bit and how you have found that to be in your practice, because I know the one to one, it’s like it’s warm up where almost everybody starts with coaching, it remains where the magic happens so often when you’re just in that, that one to one back and forth relationship. And you see the aha moments and, and the dawning of something, it’s very magical and powerful. And translating that or allowing that to be translated creating the environment in which that can occur is a different sort of skill set and a different sort of approach to coaching that I feel like all the coaches struggle with and I tell I can tell that you’ve gotten coaching on this, and I’m really excited about the ways that people have figured this out. So if you can, or if you if you’d be willing to talk a little bit about that how group coaching can still manifest the same kind Does power and magnificence about one to one coaching experience?

Alan Heymann 15:03
I think, you know, as you rightly point out it is it is less individual attention from the coach to the client. But that’s it is a different set of objectives. So I think that the group coaching experiences, as we’ve had so far in this program, probably sit somewhere in the space in between coaching and facilitation, in the sense that Jennifer and I hold the space, we create the container for the conversation, we ask questions to keep it moving. But even to the extent that I find myself talking, almost all the time, a lot less than my clients do in a one on one session, we’re talking even less than that in the group. So our job is really to kind of keep things moving along. But the insights are being exchanged on a regular basis without our involvement. And that’s that’s kind of part of the setup, it’s more of a peer to peer thing than a, you know, an expert to to mentee kind of situation that some people come into coaching looking for and maybe don’t find sometimes or even a coach to client situation like we have in the regular one on one work.

Kevin Stafford 16:05
I almost have an image of you like sort of at the controls like an audio producer helping to produce an album where you’re just like just like lower like the tweaking the gains here and there moving little dials as needed. But mostly like once things are set, just letting letting letting things follow their own course as as things are set up, you have the studio, you’ve created the environment in which all of this stuff can happen. And you’re just there to kind of keep an eye on things, a little guidance here and there as needed to almost conducting a symphony, so to speak, I made maybe making it sound too dramatic. But honestly, it kind of feels like that’s me.

Alan Heymann 16:34
Yeah, it is it is very much improvisational in that way, as well, in that you don’t know what the destination is going to look like, when you begin the journey. It’s, you know, I trust this group of people, we’re going to be in community together for the next 75 minutes. And we’re gonna see where we end up. And it may be completely different from the expectations of every single person who walked into that room. And we just don’t know. And we live with that possibility when we come into the space.

Kevin Stafford 17:02
And just circle right back into bring everything together. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you have your full Yes, the all the full powers of your Yes, ready in moments like that, because you’re not ever sure what’s going to be asked of you what opportunities are going to present themselves and you want to be ready, which means you want to be fully present, fully, authentically engaged in the process so that you can go wherever it’s ready to go wherever it’s willing to go wherever everyone’s going to take everyone else. I feel like that’s just I mean, obviously, this all tends to come back to the same foundational principles. It’s one of the reasons why we love coaching. But, again, I love how how readily everything just folds back together into showing up with the full power of your Yes, and making sure you have that full power preserved and ready to go for the people you’re trying to serve.

Alan Heymann 17:46
Yeah, for sure. And it’s been it’s been a great journey so far. I, I’m looking forward to doing it again and again.

Kevin Stafford 17:52
That’s, could we ask for anything more? I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow, and do this all again. Okay, so before I let you go, because we know that this is a good time to stop, because I’m tempted to do the thing that I told you, I’d be tempted to do and just keep talking to you for the rest of the afternoon. But we both have other people to serve today. So I want to make sure, first of all, the link to that group, that open access group, I will I’m going to put that in the show notes. But I want to make sure that you say it out loud here for the audience as well.

Alan Heymann 18:21
Absolutely. So we titled The series open coaching the essentials, because we’re hitting essential topics every month. And so you got a peaceful And that will take you to the description page and the registration page for for each of those

Kevin Stafford 18:36
perfect and peaceful is pretty much your hub where all of your basically all of your action happens at least when it comes to the website stuff. Yes, that’s excellent. And you’re I know you’re fairly active on LinkedIn is that your preferred social media where you like to kind of meet people connect network, get have people slide into your DMS so to speak. I don’t know if that’s the right terminology for LinkedIn. But you know what I mean?

Alan Heymann 18:56
It is the only social network that I use at the moment. So yes, lovely place to find me.

Kevin Stafford 19:02
Lovely, lovely. Okay, I’ll have a link to your profile in the show notes as well. Man, Alan, it’s, um, you know what, I’m totally going to have you back again, like in the summer, it feels like it feels like you’ve had already such a fruitful and content for 2023. I can’t wait to see what you do. And I can’t wait to get the chance to talk to you again, because our conversations just flow so naturally into the things I think we’re both very passionate about. It’s pretty easy when you’re when you’ve been to people who are passionate about similar things to just talk about how great they are.

Alan Heymann 19:28
I look forward to it. I’ll happily do it again, especially when the weather is warmer outside. Thank you so much.

Kevin Stafford 19:33
Thank you very much, Alan, thank you to the audience. You’ve met Alan before go back and find his first episode we similar kind of conversation, similar kind of greatness, similar kind of inspiration. So check that out to make sure you check out Alan, take a look at that open access group. I’ll put the link in the show notes and we will talk to you again very soon.

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