April Qureshi – Tools, Not Toys | Conversations with Coaches | Boxer Media

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Conversations with Coaches | Boxer Media

April is a certified leadership and life coach, award-winning entrepreneur, speaker, and best-selling co-author of four books. She is a third-degree black belt in aikido, a Tough Mudder, and a philanthropist. April is dedicated to the pursuit of leadership in contemporary society as a path to advancing our human experience.

Today’s episode is a wide-ranging and fun conversation that touches on many of the key aspects of coaching – adaptability, meeting people where they’re at, motivation, passion, cats…wait, cats? That’s right, and dogs, too!

April is an absolutely delightful and insightful person to talk with on any subject – and if you notice the length on this episode compared to others, you know I’m telling the truth…it took all of my podcaster willpower to guide us to the signoff! If you enjoyed this episode, do yourself a favor and connect with April. Whether it’s just for a quick 30-minute session or the beginning of a long and fruitful coaching relationship, you’ll be glad you did.

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Kevin Stafford 00:00
Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of the coffee with coaches podcast. I’m your host, Kevin, and today I have with me April Qureshi. April is a certified leadership and life coach, award winning entrepreneur, speaker, and best selling co author of four books. I’m not done. She is also a third degree black belt in Aikido, a Tough Mudder and a philanthropist and I believe a tennis player. April is dedicated above and beyond all this to the pursuit of leadership in contemporary society as a path to advancing our human experience. I have I have I have a small review of them. Have I blown enough air at you, April, thank you so much for being on the podcast. You I’ve just only been talking to you for like 10 minutes, but I studied you. I’ve read up on you before the pod. You are amazing. And I’m really happy to talk to you today.

April Qureshi 00:48
Thank you, Kevin. I’m so happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

Kevin Stafford 00:51
And you’re even a cat lover. So you could couldn’t couldn’t be more? Yes for me.

April Qureshi 00:56
Right? That just says it all. So just for the dog loves dog lovers. I do love dogs as well.

Kevin Stafford 01:04
They had they have different different aspects of my heart belong to them. Let’s let’s start at the start begin at the beginning so to speak, I sometimes call this my superhero origin story question. How did you come to realize that you either were already a coach or wanted to become a coach professionally? And then how did you go about starting your coaching business?

April Qureshi 01:27
Yeah, so I liked the way you put the superhero journey because I’m I’m really keyed into that, right now as far as leadership identity. So how did I started as a coach, I started out being coached. And I think that’s a common experience for people who are coaches is that, you know, I was coached, and it made a significant impact on my life in a positive way. And I thought, wow, you know, this is amazing. And, and I thought, you know, how, being a helping type person, you know, I thought, how can I use this? How can I bring this into the world, and do this for other people, right. And when I look back on my life, I realized that throughout my, throughout my whole life, I’ve always had some kind of a coach or a mentor, helping me all along the way. So whether that was, you know, as a kid, with my parents, my parents are a big influence on me. In sports, so having sports coaches, my martial arts Sensei, we’ve been together for almost 30 years now as teacher student relationship, which is phenomenal. And then you know, at work, right, so at work, I’ve always had a mentor to look up to mentor to help guide me and so you know, it’s, it’s like. So, leadership is, is ultimately, being a really good coach for people, right. And so really good coaches are actually really good leaders in my book anyway, that’s what I notice about the world. So people who are out there leading and who make a real positive impact on people who can bring out other people’s strengths, you know, those, they have this natural instinct for coaching. And I thought, well, you know, why not take some training. So I took some training, and it was phenomenal. And I continue every year, I take some course or another. So I just finished the neuroscience of coaching course with Irene O’Brien. And it was fantastic. To learn a lot there. Last year, I studied Positive Intelligence with Hugo Albert’s and positive psychology.com. So continuing to always build on what I’ve learned, because there’s always more to learn. And I think I think that’s key and leadership as well. Right? It’s, you know, being a leader means that you’re willing to expand yourself, you know, learn more, and ultimately pass that on to other people, so that they can, they can do the same. And like, my bio says, it’s like, you know, I’ve been thinking about it, like, because we talk about mission, you know, we talked about vision, you know, like, oh, what’s your, what’s your why, and all this kind of stuff? And it’s like, well, you know, when I look back, it’s, it’s like, how can we elevate our human experience? Because, you know, that’s ultimate to me, that’s the ultimate how, in any small way, right and so it’s a big ask to elevate your human existence on this planet in this short amount of time. But, but what I realized as I get older, and perhaps a bit wiser is that any any amount of effort or any amount of progress towards That is significant in the long run of, you know, up humanity. And even if you don’t think you’re making an impact, you are, right. And so just the fact that you elevated yourself is sending out these positive ripples out into the world. So that’s, that’s my why that’s why I do this. That’s what gets me excited in the morning. gets me out of bed. And yeah, it’s just, you know, and so how do you do that? Right? So how do you how do you elevate yourself and for some people, you have to, you have to be true to yourself, you have to look for the opportunities. And for me, one of those ways is sports. Like, I love sports, I love elevating through sport, because it’s a singular activity, I’m responsible for everything within that. And I know immediately, I have immediate feedback on my performance. And I have immediate feedback on my skills, mastery. So for me sports is the is, is an ultimate, it’s an ultimate way to elevate, you know, your existence and elevate your understanding of people and humanity in the world.

Kevin Stafford 06:22
In such a good way to come to understand those principles, and how they apply to every other aspect of your life, like people honest, like most people, when they think of a coach, they’re going to have at least some element of sports thought they’re going to think of a coach for an athlete or coach for a team. But then, whatever. And this is something I’ve found to be true with a lot of coaches who have gone on to coach and other areas of life is that they really take those lessons that they learned from organized, organized sports. And we’re like, Okay, so what’s the what’s actually happening here, and the way that the way in which a coach can see things that you can’t see yourself and can help you become more the thing that you want to be and you are and how that can be and how this how specific coaching can get where they can say, a coach can look at you, depending on the circumstances be like, Wait, we need to work on your x, we need to work on your wire, you’re seeing your posture, your position where you put your feet, how you move, where you run, how you throw its territory. And I just love, I love the way just that understanding the way it expands almost exponentially, because I find that I had bad hobbies, I played some organized, but not obviously, I shouldn’t say obviously, I played some organized sports as a kid, I’m, I’m a I’m a six foot three guy. So I’ve did some football and some and some basketball when I was younger, and I wasn’t quite coordinated enough to really make it work. But man, did I really get some some life lessons that are still serving me today from that. And it really did also. And now that I’ve come across so many other kinds of coaches and coaching in light, and really, I see now how it laid the foundation for how I can value it. And it’s love that you I love that you identified a couple a couple of core attributes that I find to be very present. And quite frankly, like blazing in most coaches I talk to pretty much every one is that curiosity, that lifelong learner breeders, like you’re always adding looking for more growing your knowledge, growing your wisdom, and always looking for ways to give that back, always looking for places that that can move into and where you could serve where you can help where you can add a little bit of light where you can raise the level a little bit here a little bit there. I just You said so much that got me so excited. On it all. But yeah, that curiosity. I love how, how much that just that really is at the heart of a lot of coaches passion and a coach’s purpose.

April Qureshi 08:42
Well, it’s interesting, because Oh, no, that’s okay. Because it’s interesting. What you say about curiosity and learning, right? And so, what I noticed out there in the world these days is that there is so much opportunity to learn, I mean, you can get an cert certified university education online for free right now. Right if you wanted to. But here’s the thing that stands out, right, so we can’t, we can’t just go and learn. Just for the sake of learning, you know, especially in organizations, you know, in teams and stuff, you know, we can’t just go and learn something just to say, oh, yeah, we we check the box, you know, we spent the money. You know, we fulfilled our HR dream, it has to have meaning and purpose, right? And so whether that’s on an individual level or team organizing organization and so and has to be applicable. So for me in the past, while since becoming a coach, you know, I realized that even though I love learning, not all of it is applicable, right? And so as as I, as time moves on as time becomes more precious as I get older or it’s like, you know, if I’m going to spend, you know, the next three, four months, in this course, I need to be able to apply it in some way right away. Otherwise, it’s just knowledge. And as you know, you can get knowledge anywhere, you can just go to Google and find whatever you want. But, so it’s kind of like, the person down the street who has beautiful house beautiful garage filled with all these tools, right? They have them all lined up, they have the outline of where every tool goes, so that everything has its place, but then they don’t build anything. Right. And so they have a toolbox full of tools. But they don’t ever use them. Because maybe they don’t want to get messy, or you know, they just like the shiny look of it. So, so, you know, what is it you know, when you go about learning? For the purpose of learning, like, how is that going to apply in your life? Where is that going to show up? How can you use it to better yourself and, you know, serve, serve your clients and whatever you’re doing? Right. And the other thing that you said, too, was? What was the other thing you said? was? It was oh, yeah, so we were talking about. So I had this coach, her name was down Louise Williams, she was kind of like a spiritual energy coach, she made a phenomenal, phenomenal difference in my life. And what she said, was that the way you do one thing is the way you do everything. Right. And so you kind of touched on that, a few minutes ago, where it’s, Oh, you, we were talking about sports coaching, right? And, and how, you know, being an athlete and experiencing sports helped you in your life, right. And so, you know, the other thing that that shows up is like, you know, if you’re having relationship troubles, or, you know, you’re having having trouble, you know, finding behaviors that support, you know, the person that you want to be, you know, you’re showing up in certain areas of your life, but not other areas of your life, you know, that is a clear indication that there’s a disconnect, right? So when, when we do one thing in our life, we do it in all areas. And so, when you notice something showing up? The question is like, where else is this showing up in my life? Right. And that speaks to, it speaks to those higher levels of, of living, you know, beyond beyond acquiring skill, right? Beyond learning, and beyond creating behaviors, right? And having an environment that supports that. So those are all great things. But going beyond that to notice, okay, so what is it about? That’s happening in my life? Why does it keep showing up? Why does this keep obstacle, this challenge? This block keeps showing up in my life? Why can’t I get over it? And so asking yourself, where else is this happening in my life, so we start to evolve into a higher realm of like, rather than trying to fix the problem on on a skills, the skills basis, or as a behavior, right, we go to go to the identity is like, what’s the belief that’s happening here, that supporting this, and you’ll start to notice that it affects all areas of your life, not just one area. And so that’s where I find coaching is most valuable in in that we can, we can, rather than trying to solve, solve one thing, we can solve a whole lot of things, if we elevate up into those higher identities, like our values, you know, who do I want to be? You know, what’s my vision? Who else benefits? So when we ask those kinds of questions, right, rather than Oh, yeah, so what are your habits, right? So those are important, but those come after. So it’s a nice cascading effect. So you know, when we talked about sports, and we talked about business, you know, all those things. So having that identity, right, having that identity as a person who loves to learn as a person who, you know, has a mindset of, of maybe winning or a mindset of success, whatever that means for you can really play out into all areas of your life. And so when I work with people, excuse me, that’s, those are the areas that I love to, you know, shuffle the cards and let’s see what comes up?

Kevin Stafford 14:37
Well, that it’s, it really is about finding the right questions, isn’t it like because like you were saying, like, you start asking the right questions and all of a sudden, like you’re talking about there’s this cascading radiating effect where if you if you identify those those those first causes those root causes of it’s like so and I just love that like, that’s one really great question too or not even a question is like a good a good mission statement as you’re beginning. thing or even the beginning, whatever stage of your journey that you’re on, it’s like, the way I’m here the way I am everywhere. So how is that actually happening? Let’s like, let’s just look at that you don’t have to draw any conclusions to start with, but just start asking those questions, start looking in the right places. And that’s where I feel strongly that a coach is is so perfect. And quite frankly, I would almost say unnecessary, because you get a perspective on on yourself, that you just it’s so hard to get on your own, you get that that that slightly outside yourself slightly askew, someone who is who is invested in you and cares about you, but isn’t you you know, it’s like they’re not, they don’t have that necessarily. I’ve talked about this before with some other coaches to where you have an almost familial like bond, when it comes to the depth of emotion and thought and connection that you can have with your coach. But you don’t have any of the baggage that family might bring to that kind of insight, you know, you have someone who is professionally trained and skilled in turning those insights and their care for you into actionable tools. And again, I want to I love that analogy of the fancy garage. That’s to me, it’s like perfect, I could see the light glinting off the Polish tools that have probably never been used. And it’s like, they’re not even tools at that point. They’re just toys, and what coaches do. And that’s not to say there’s not fun and play involved. But tools are there to work. They’re there to build. They’re defined by what you use them for, not by their very existence. And that’s, I’d love, love that analogy for what a coach can bring to someone’s life, what a coach can offer what a coach can bring out, I should say, in someone’s life. I am I’m looking at the clock, and I’m like, Oh my gosh, where would you like 20 minutes in, but if you don’t today.

April Qureshi 16:39
Yeah, and it’s interesting what you just said, because I was a pastry chef for 20 years. And it was, it was an amazing career for me. And the funny thing is, is that, um, people come to me, like, oh, April, I got this, I have this tool, you know, this fancy tool, you walk into the kitchen store, and they’ve got tools everywhere, right. But if you, if you look at a chef who’s really good at their craft, they have like one or two knives, they have one knife that they use for almost everything. And, and they don’t have anything like they can make a gourmet meal with a kitchen fork. And, and one and one culinary knife, right. And so and so while the tools are great, if you know, it all comes down to, you know how you use them, right? So you can have one great tool, you can have, you know, just a small set of really great questions and be able to dig really deep into someone’s you know, into someone’s, to help someone. Right. So it’s really interesting that, as coaches, I did this when I first started, right, it’s like, oh, I want to know all the tools and how to apply them. And, yeah, they have their time and their purpose. But when it comes down to the basics, it’s just, it’s just asking those powerful questions, I call them powerful questions. And, you know, that bring out the essence of what this person is trying to achieve, and guiding them towards their own inner intelligence that’s constantly with them. So I have this thing where, you know, it’s the ego, we all wear these Eagle masks, right, that we, that we, that we wear and society, you know, we wear them in our families, we wear them in our communities wear them at work, but beneath all that, at the core is is your inner intelligence, which is timeless and unchanging, right, and so being able to remove that mask, right, and you you kind of alluded to it, but like shining the mirror as a coach, we shine the mirror back on the person so that they can actually see what the hair what they’re saying they can hear themselves speak. And that has the ability to like, just remove all that ego mask that keeps us safe, right? It keeps us safe from harm, it keeps us you know, there’s a lot of bias stuff that, you know, we could go into on that, but But it keeps us safe, right. And so being being in being in a relationship with a coach where you’re have the ability to unlock, unlock a person’s opportunity to let down that ego mask and, and tap into that inner wisdom, that inner intelligence, you know, is it’s like a big deal because not everybody can do it. Right. Like not everybody has the capacity at this time in this place and our existence to do that. Right. And so finding the type of people who are actually willing to go on that hero’s journey that we talked about earlier. Um, Is isn’t Jim, right? Like that’s really, really special? Because people say, oh, yeah, I need to change, I need to do this, I want to do that, and I want to be better. But there’s only a small percentage of all those people who say that who actually step up and, and are willing to self examine, and do the work to get the results. Right. So, so having, so being a coach and working with people in that realm, in that domain is really, really special. I think, I think it’s, I think it’s precious. You know, honestly, I think it’s precious, because it’s rare that someone is willing to step up and do the work and make the changes necessary to elevate themselves, elevate their their families and elevate, you know, their existence and their communities in this society.

Kevin Stafford 20:56
Let’s, let’s talk about some of those people. Let’s talk about the work a good in some of the nuts and bolts of your of your coaching business. I’ve been kind of stumbling on different ways to ask this question, I found one that I’ve kind of liked recently. Who do you coach? And how do you coach them? The WHO being just like, what kind of like, not necessarily individuals, but like, where what areas of their lives, you coach them in personal professional life relationship, all of the above? And then how being more about whether you focus on one to one coaching, where it’s like, just a one on one relationship where so much of the real magic can happen? Do you have any any group coaching, whether it’s a smaller group that you coach, like maybe in like a mastermind, or just sort of like a small group that comes together, maybe united by common goals? For coaching do you do I mean, obviously, you’re a speaker. So you do like, you know, keynote speeches, you’ve co authored four books, so you clearly have a lot of different ways to get your coaching out there. But yeah, talk a little bit about who you coach and how you coach them these days.

April Qureshi 21:52
I coach, I coach leaders, I coach people who are leaders, so mostly business leaders, right? So entrepreneurs, small business people, executives, and they’re generally are self motivated, they’re already self motivated. Right? So we just talked about that. And a lot of them have rich lives outside of work already. And they want to create more balance. They want to communicate better. They want to motivate not only themselves, but inspire, you know, motivation and action and others. So they want to influence. Right, a lot of them are athletes, you know, you know, just you know, recreational athletes, you know, they have some sort of passion, outside of their work that keeps them grounded and focused. And, and yeah, they’re motivated, they’re motivated to be better people. Right. And so that, that shows up in their personal lives, like I said, in their personal lives and their work as well. So, you know, oftentimes, it’ll be like a communication question. At work, but it’ll show up in all areas of their lives, right. And so we, so we decide where we want to focus, right? And then then it’s like, let’s watch and see what happens, so to speak, and what actions we can take to support you know, the behavior, the behaviors that we want to achieve, and, and the person that we want to be the identity that we want to be. So I work a lot on identity level. So if you are a leader, like, what, what does a leader need to be right, in order to fulfill their commitment to leadership? Right? So, you know, you look at you talked about basketball, you look at NBA stars, right? Those NBA stars, who are the top 1%, they do certain things, like if you look in any, any professional sport, those top athletes are top athletes, because they don’t do what all the other athletes do. Right? So they’re not doing all the stuff that the other athletes are doing, they’re doing something different. So working on that identity level, what is it that sets you apart as a leader that makes you special that makes you stand out? And you know, has a high value proposition for for people, you know, for organizations? What is that? So how much of that do you want to adopt? What do you need to be? So I really love that working on that identity level. And it brings in values as well and your vision and, you know, ultimately, it’s how you give back to the world. Right? So as a leader, you know, we can achieve lots, but eventually it’s got to flip. Right? We got to we got to flip that and start elevating others, right because that’s that’s, to me, that’s the ultimate goal. I’m so that’s who I coach how I do it right. Right now I’m about to start a master’s, a two years master’s program at Royal Roads, university and leadership. So I’m going to be quite busy with that. But I do, I do have room in my calendar for one on one coaching, I love one on one coaching the deep dive. So depending on the person, you know, we can work, like in an hour long session over a series of sessions, or, you know, if people, you have to meet people where they’re at, and so I just meet people where they’re at. So I don’t have like a set formula for how I how the coaching conversation unfolds. But you know, rather, like if you just want like a half an hour session, let’s just do that, or you want an hour long or whatever. So it you know, I work with people how they wanted the how they want to work be worked with, and what’s going to get them their their best outcome. So one on one coaching, I do team coaching. And we’re thinking about putting together a group program, I don’t have a group program at the moment. But that’s definitely one thing that I want to do so elevating leaders towards that identity that’s going to get them the results that they need in their business in their life. And the third thing where you can get a hold of me is April qureshi.com. And hopefully Kevin will write that out for you in the show.

Kevin Stafford 26:23
Spelled correctly, I’ve gotten, I’ve done very carefully. And now it’s like no, I have I have your name, like burned into my brain from misspelling it maybe six times?

April Qureshi 26:32
Well, you pronounced it perfectly at the beginning that that was awesome.

Kevin Stafford 26:35
I practiced.

April Qureshi 26:39
I appreciate that. So I think I did I answered all your questions.

Kevin Stafford 26:44
You did. Actually, I did want to definitely your website, April qureshi.com. And we’ll have that in the show notes. I also like to ask too, sometimes do you have a preferred like social media where you like to not just have people find out more about you, but where you like to engage with people. I know a lot of people will have like a lot of people. For a lot of coaches, it’s LinkedIn is good. It’s a really good place to kind of start relationships. Some people prefer Instagram, depending on how they like to put themselves out there. Do you have a preferred social media?

April Qureshi 27:09
For my for my business, I’m on LinkedIn. So find me on LinkedIn, and happy to chat send me a message say that you heard about me on Kevin’s awesome pot podcast. I do have Instagram and Facebook. But it’s mostly personal stuff. So if you want to get to know me on a personal level, mostly what I do on the weekends, mostly gardening and sports, so you can connect with me on LinkedIn. Sorry, Instagram and Facebook. And yeah, and I have a YouTube channel which I want to revamp but anyway, there’s there’s lots of meditation videos on my YouTube channel. As a meditation teacher, I love that aspect of self development. So yeah, so there you go.

Kevin Stafford 27:57
I love it. And just so I’m just want to go ahead and like tell the audience, in case you can’t tell April is an absolute delight to chat with like I’m so I’m relaxed, like relaxed. Attentive is how I feel right now. And you like and you put me like I was just like you put me there. Like I come obviously very ready and willing to like be an active listener. But man, you are easy and fun to talk to. And I hope the audience is picking up on that because it’s amazing. You should reach out to April, stalk her on social media, you know, find out about her gardening, but definitely connect with her on LinkedIn. Definitely go to her website and find out more about what she has to offer. If you been great, April, thank you so much for being on the pot actually let you go. We’ve already been on for so much longer than usual. We might have to come back and do a part two at some point.

April Qureshi 28:45
Yeah, I’m happy to do that. I’d love I’d love to do that. My smile. If you can’t see it. It’s like huge right now. You guys will face smile up to the eyes. So yeah, appreciative of our time together here today. Kevin, thank you so much.

Kevin Stafford 28:59
Yeah, so I feel like sore cheeks from smiling is a good indicator that I just had a good a good conversation.

April Qureshi 29:05
That’s awesome. I love it.

Kevin Stafford 29:07
Well, thank you, April. Thank you to the audience and we will talk to you again very, very soon.

April Qureshi 29:12
That sounds great. Thank you, Kevin. Bye now.


Conversations with Coaches | Boxer Media
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