At Cafe Ventana, we grabbed a table near the fireplace. Tim raved about the beignets, but I went for the smoothie this time. Cafe Ventana’s beignets aren’t the only food he loves about St. Louis. In fact, when I asked his favorite thing about the city he said, “Uh, probably the food. I was really surprised, pleasantly surprised, that there were this many good restaurants here. With an asterisk. I do not understand the fascination with Imo’s. It’s… there’s…” he paused, “I’m just going to end it with that.” He laughed. “I cannot eat it. It’s not pizza to me, but that’s just my opinion. But there are just so many good restaurants around. Good food. Good chefs, good sous chefs, um… good stuff!”
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Tim finished his undergrad at Penn State. Looking back he realizes he didn’t really know what he wanted to do. Twice he changed his major, first from chemical engineering to electrical engineering, then from electrical to industrial engineering. While it turned out that this wasn’t what he wanted to do, what mattered at the time was… “I had that paper to get a good job”.
And he did. For 8 years he worked at Westinghouse Electric, which he compares to Maritz in St. Louis in that you either knew someone who worked there or someone who used to work there. He tried something different after that by working for an HR consulting company for 8 years. The experience was a good one, but when he had the opportunity to move to California and work for a manufacturing consultancy, he jumped at the chance.
That turned out to not be such a good decision. Six months later Tim had quit his job with nothing else lined up. It was that bad. But, after only six months he was recruited by an HR consulting company in Clayton and that is how he ended up in St. Louis! He worked there 2 years, then worked at a marketing agency in Soulard for about 1.5 years, followed by a healthcare consultancy. That was his shortest stint yet. His bad work experiences were affecting every aspect of his life, and looking back he saw that the time spent at each job was getting shorter and shorter. “I thought… enough! Time out! Now what?”
When he took the time to really think about it, everything in his life up to this point seemed to point him in one direction, his “common thread” was “facilitating learning in others”. So, he completed his life coach certification and here he is! He gestured as he explained that this could be temporary. “This is it for now. That’s the best part of this whole evolution. I’ve realized instead of worrying about what’s happening 2 years from now, because 2 years ago I would never have dreamed I’d be doing this full time, I’m therefore not worried about 2 years from now. So for now, it’s perfect!”
This is a message he is constantly trying to get across to his clients (mostly Millennials). Stop worrying, just enjoy the journey. “The pinnacle that we strive for is fictitious, but you have to realize it on your own. I always tell people, the best way to achieve your goals is to set them and then let them go.” This is so important he says, because we don’t know where something is headed when we begin. “We have expectations that it’s going to be X, but it could end up being X like.”
Seventy-seven percent of every communication we have by age 11 is negative. According to Tim, this has created adults who second guess everything. We think things like, ‘I’d love to do that, but can’t.’ It is possible, however, if we can overcome that thinking. “What it really comes down to is 4 or 5 things, fear, clearly, and this is everybody. Lack of self-confidence, fear of what others will think.” Coaching people helps them become a third party to their own behavior and they can practice changing it.
What he finds fascinating is the way people think before they meet with him. Almost inevitably they answer his questions with statements like, ‘well, I don’t want to be the type of mother who does this...’ or ‘I don’t want to...’ Tim immediately interrupts this train of thought. “It’s very clear what you don’t want. What DO you want?” The answer is usually silence. “They haven’t thought of it before. They finally have the chance to think what DO I want, without feeling selfish.”
I cannot agree more with Tim’s next statement. This belief has led me to try paragliding off a mountain in Switzerland, segelfliegen in Germany, and traveling to Turkey alone. “If what you’re following doesn’t scare you enough, your dreams aren’t big enough. That’s why the journey is all of it. You never stop learning.”
His first meeting with someone is a free 30 minute consultation where he assesses receptivity and asks some basic questions like, what if money wasn’t an object? what would you be doing? where? These questions are designed to help his clients start connecting the dots. Many times they see a pattern from their childhood that leads them to the career that will make them the most happy. “It’s never discovering,” Tim says, “It’s rediscovering.”
I told Tim my goals and how I get so frustrated with myself that I put my future in a box by imagining that I have to follow a certain path to get what I want. He laughed, “What’s so great about working with Millennials, is that for the first time and at a younger age, there is a group who is open and allowing and receptive to that mindset and that’s such an opportunity.” I asked if he thinks the internet is a part of that and he is sure that it is.
It was time for us to begin heading home for the evening and for Tim, home is the Central West End. This is his second favorite thing about St. Louis, his apartment. The building was built in 1929 complete with servants quarters, a milk door, beautiful archways, and hardwood floors. It’s actually one of the things keeping him here. “It just makes it a joy!”