Your name: Jodi Harris
How many years have you been living life in the Foreign Service?
Where have you been posted?
We’ve been posted to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and Antananarivo, Madagascar. We’re headed to Tokyo next. Between each tour we’ve been in Falls Church, VA while my husband attends training at FSI.
Briefly describe your career path:
When I graduated from college I taught high school for two years. I loved working with students but felt it wasn’t the best fit for me. I worked in Women’s Health while I thought about my next career and then got a Masters Degree in Social Work. I became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and provided mental health assessment and diagnosis and counseling services for 5 years until we joined the Foreign Service.
During our first tour I worked as a program coordinator for Peace Corps Dominican Republic and provided training, volunteer support and program management for social worker Peace Corps volunteers. I missed working as a therapist though and during our second tour committed myself to finding a way to continue providing direct practice services but more adaptable and portable for our lifestyle. That’s when I discovered coaching and decided to complete a coaching certification program. I’ve completed coursework and am now working towards my Associate Certified Coach designation with the International Coach Federation.
What is the name of your business?
Briefly describe your business:
I offer life coaching to individuals facing the up’s and down’s of transition. These services primarily include one-on-one support sessions via Skype or phone, email follow-up and periodic check-ins. I provide insight into the culture shock experience, support clients in determining their goals in relation to transition, help clients better understand what may be holding them back from experiencing the joys of living overseas and, most importantly, I provide a safe and non-judgmental space for my clients to be themselves during the process of realizing their dreams.
Why did you start this business?
I started this business because I missed being a therapist and wanted something more workable and flexible for the FS lifestyle.
When did you start this business?
1 October 2013
What makes you stand out from your competitors? What makes your business unique?
I think what makes my business unique is that I have spent so many years (over 10) working with individuals living outside of their home cultures. This, combined with my own expat experiences and my background as a therapist, provide a nice combination of skills that enable me to support my clients and truly meet them wherever they are.
How does your business fit into the Foreign Service lifestyle?
Coaching is very adaptable to the FS lifestyle because I can meet my clients wherever they are and wherever I am. I meet with clients via phone or Skype. I am also able to create a flexible schedule – a necessity when you’re working across time zones, have children and/or other commitments outside of work.
What has been your biggest challenge with your business so far?
While I’ve had good success in getting clients, I do find it challenging to create a broader network outside of the FS community. I’d like to expand my business so that I am providing services to a wider array of expats, not just those in the Foreign Service.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?
I feel every step of the process has been a huge accomplishment for me. I set up my own website, started marketing and got clients right away. I’ve also been able to incorporate my passion for writing and self-published a book.
What resources have been particularly helpful to you when you were starting your business?
Anything related to website set-up. There are a lot of coaching-related resources out there that were also helpful. I spent almost a year talking to friends and colleagues about what I wanted to do with the business – their support was really significant in helping me figure out the direction in which I wanted to go. I’ve found that FS-related groups (especially on Facebook) have been a huge help as well.
Which resources do you use to maintain your business?
I use Twitter, Facebook and my WordPress-based website daily. I also used CreateSpace on Amazon to self-publish my book.
Any advice for any EFMs thinking about starting their own business?
Go for it! I’ve found that EFMs are such an amazing, creative, smart and resourceful bunch of people. I’ve never met another group of people with such an incredible wealth of skills. It’s okay to feel nervous, but I’ve found that it’s worth it to take a deep breath and proceed, one foot in front of the other until you get there.
Are you on LinkedIn?
Of course, see my profile here.