Jen Paterno is one of the coaches that we found this month and we did a little interview with her. She impressed us with her honesty and expertise.
She started her coaching career in 2004 when she found herself naturally inclined towards training and development, particularly in the hospitality industry. Over the years, she honed her skills in leadership, professional development, and restaurant management. However, what truly mattered to her was helping her team members discover their passions and paths in life. In 2017, she transitioned to coaching, prompted by her COO’s recognition of her coaching potential.
She overcame many challenges in her life, stemming from a tumultuous upbringing and abusive relationships, which fueled her commitment to emotional growth and personal development. This dedication culminated in significant self improvement in 2020, aligning her with her coaching mission.
She prioritizes genuine connections with her clients, emphasizing compatibility. Her clients experience profound shifts across various life domains, from health to business and personal growth. Jen’s clients benefit from profound paradigm shifts, with her coaching extending into various life domains, including health, business, relationships, and personal growth.
Meet Life Coach Jen Paterno:
Name: Jen Paterno
Pillar: The Spirit, The Mind
Who is this coach for: Anyone who wants to adopt a paradigm of success.
How they can help: By using various tools and techniques like the Energy Leadership Index and CliftonStrengths assessments just to name a few, as well as many frameworks of coaching depending on the client’s needs.
First of all, how are you and your family doing after these Pandemic times?
My dogs and I are doing wonderful.
I am fortunate enough to have few complaints from the pandemic.
I was able to continue to work throughout the worst of it and to have remained healthy for the majority.
How did the coronavirus pandemic affect your clients? Did it affect you at all?
When the coronavirus took over the world, my coaching practice was extremely niched, I was working only with leaders in the hospitality space who were struggling to achieve work and life harmony.
My interest in this space was based on a very real issue many hospitality organizations face: Great leaders leave because they do not feel that they can have a life outside of the shop.
As someone who succeeded at “having it all,” I deeply wanted to help others do the same.
Sadly, the reality of the pandemic left most restaurants and hospitality groups clinging on for dear life with no extra investment dollars to bring in coaching and personal development work.
While hospitality folks are still some of my favorites to work with, I realized very quickly that niching could and would be super problematic for me.
Truth be told, I never wanted to be in a box.
I was simply following advice I had been given by a business coach, “fall in love with your ideal client.”
While this is great advice, it is only part of the formula for success.
What I would now say is, yes I AM in love with my ideal client, but not so much so that I don’t appreciate the other fish in the sea.
My practice is currently niche free with my only true desire being to coach from and to a place of true authenticity.
What are the biggest lessons that you learned in this pandemic?
Connection is the most critical need, skill and capability that we have as humans.
I have developed the deepest, most enriching relationships with people that I would never had had the time to connect with if life didn’t challenge us to think differently.
These relationships continue to grow and thrive today, and I am so grateful that these people entered my life at a time when I was ready to take it all apart and put it back together differently.
Do not underestimate the human need to connect. Ever.
Tell us about you, your career, how you started with your coaching career?
I started my coaching career in 2004, but at the time had no idea.
I found myself inexplicably drawn to the world of training and development, specifically in the hospitality space.
For the next 13 years I would work my way into various roles writing leadership and professional development workshops, operations and systems training and opening new restaurants all over the United States.
This work was amazing, and yet it only scratched the surface of what was important to me.
What has always mattered most to me is leaning into my ability to work with the people on my team to uncover what they are passionate about and the road to experiencing more of that “thing.”
Because of the nature of the industry, I found myself engaging in these conversations with folks that ran the gambit from high school students to adults with many more years of life experience than me.
This added a level of richness to our conversations that I could not have ever anticipated.
In 2017, I chose to explore life outside of hospitality and took a role in the Media and Advertising industry.
It was early in this role that my COO said to me, “You know, Jen, you’d be a really great coach. You should look into getting certified.”
Within a few months I had enrolled at iPEC and began what would turn out to be the journey of my lifetime.
What was your biggest obstacle that you had to overcome in your life that made you who you are today?
My parents were very young when I was born, 19 and 21, and as such, were not incredibly emotionally mature.
They just hadn’t had the time to grow up themselves.
In essence, I have always been a kid raised by kids.
While they did they best they could, I never learned how to properly name and process my emotions the way some other kids did.
Later in life, I found myself in a pattern of entering very abusive long term relationships.
I experienced physical, sexual and emotional trauma at the hands of people I loved very much.
These events paired with a general lack of emotional regulation led to an adult who became super emotionally reactive.
Additionally, I developed awful anxiety that really peaked when I entered my 30s.
In 2020, I was six or seven years into another relationship that did nothing but wreck my mental health, sense of self and purpose.
At this point in life, I had finished my coach training and was taking on clients AND I was recognizing that something just didn’t feel right about my life anymore.
After another meaningless fight over a day with my family ruined, I made an impulsive decision to end that relationship and dig my heels into my own personal work.
I was in therapy 2x a week, I hired a coach and I started SSRIs for my anxiety.
I really started to unpack the patterns of emotional reactivity and bad behavior I had been mirroring from the people around me.
I was deeply dedicated to this work.
If coach training in 2018 was the start of my new journey of a lifetime, June 2020 to June 2021 was a visit to one of the natural wonders of the world, it pushed me to a level I only vaguely believed existed.
The Coaching Style:
How do you innovate with coaching your clients?
My biggest innovation in coaching my clients comes from what I call my “uncommon” start to my professional career.
At the time, working full time in restaurants was by and large considered “not a real job.” (If anyone reading this still feels this way, I am comfortable telling you directly that you are sorely mistaken.)
The hospitality industry gave me the unique opportunity to learn skills through experience and practice that my future colleagues, clients and acquaintances were only learning in books.
While the rest of the world was digesting theories involving communication, relationship building and problem solving, I was learning them real time as situations arose, and failing real time in some of those situations.
This makes me an incredibly agile and grounded coach.
I provide my clients space to stretch, encourage them to try things that may seem unusual and often make up various exercises and frameworks on the fly.
As a coach, I am not afraid to try new things, so there is honestly nothing that is off the table in our sessions (unless it is outside the realm of coaching and best suited for therapy).
What’s unique about your coaching approach?
It doesn’t get more cliché than this: ME!
I could write about my session structure, my lack of marketing planning, various frameworks I’ve developed and taught, etc.
The reality is, none of that stuff matters unless you and I connect, and that connection cannot be forced.
Step one is talking to prospective clients to decide if we are a match, and we BOTH have to feel it.
If not, that’s great!
I have a long list of different coaches that I recommend.
I try my best to make recommendations that are specific and aligned to what I have learned about each client.
I want to work with clients that are drawn to me and I to them. It’s that simple.
What benefits do your clients get after working with you?
My clients experience lasting paradigm shifts.
We don’t just coach surface level.
We dig into what changes they really want to experience, the sky is the limit!
I’ve worked with clients on everything from health and wellness, business, relationship, life and energy coaching.
We go where you want to go and you write the roadmap.
Some specific client wins include launching new small businesses, integrating daily habits, releasing decade long limiting beliefs, writing books and overall just shifting perspective.
I offer text based support between sessions and a sliding scale for payment.
My goal is to make coaching work for my clients, not to convince them to go into debt in order to work for me.
In addition to coaching, I offer learning experiences, team workshops, consulting and various assessments to support the process.
Do you use any specific tools to be efficient with your clients?
I use the Energy Leadership Index, CliftonStrengths assessments and a number of frameworks and exercises that have proven successful time and time again with my clients.
Technologically, I utilize WhatsApp between sessions and I am in the process of exploring an iOS and Android app experience as well as transitioning to a new CRM platform that will hopefully make connection easier.
If you had a super megaphone that, when you speak into, the whole world will hear your message, what would you say?
!! BE YOUR FUCKING SELF !! the world needs you.
What is the greatest lesson you have learned in your life?
I am more than “enough” exactly the way I am.
Everybody needs someone else’s story.
This is not something I grew up believing.
This is something I learned through sharing bits and pieces of myself, sometimes very messily.
I am not for everyone, and that’s okay because I don’t need to be.
The people who are meant for me, will find their way to me and vice versa.
There are billions of people on this planet.
You don’t need (or want!) them all. I promise.
Your final thoughts?
The coaching industry can be murky, one of the things I feel MOST passionate about is shedding light on the importance of working with properly trained coaches.
Specifically, I will always recommend folks look for ICF certified coaches, as it’s important to make sure we as coaches are not playing in someone else’s sandbox (especially a therapists!).
Coaching is a helping modality when used properly, but also a hurting modality when mis applied.
I run a free webinar once a month dedicated to shining a light on what coaching is and more importantly what it IS NOT.
There is no sales pitch, my goal is just to make sure people feel equipped to make the right choices before investing in a service.
Where Can You Find Jen Paterno?
If you liked this interview and you would love to adopt a new more successful paradigm, go to www.noperfecttime.com and see how Jen can help you do that.
If you’d like to connect more personally with her, you can do that through LinkedIn and by sending her a message there. It was an honor having this interview with her.