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Hannah Jones, ADHD Coach

SCC Catalyst Member Hannah Jones is the owner of Seabright Coaching. Hannah helps adults and teens with ADHD to overcome executive functioning challenges, leverage their strengths, and achieve their dreams.  Learn more about Hannah on the SCC Coach Finder!

SCC: This is the Santa Cruz Coaches Executive Director Kimberly Errigo, turning the tables to interview our Director of Communications Hannah Jones, who’s out going in many ways! Hannah has been with us on the board for the last few years, and she is getting ready to move on. I’m delighted to be able to interview you today, Hannah! How did you become a coach?

HJ: Well, it’s funny – when I first heard about life coaching as a career, my first instinct was to say, “that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of. Nobody’s gonna pay people to do the most natural thing in the world to do.” I wasn’t thinking “coaching is the most natural thing in the world to me, so I should be doing that.” It took me a while to recognize the value of coaching. 

I was a teacher for 25 years, and in my last couple of years I had the opportunity to go to half-time to finish a novel that I was working on. When I lost the structure of my full-time job, I started to really fall apart. Even though I had the time, the means, the opportunity, and the good idea, I couldn’t get any traction on my novel. That led me on a journey to ultimately getting diagnosed with ADHD and learning about coaching as a modality that could help me to achieve my dreams. When I put those two things together, I realized that that’s what I needed to be doing for other people. So I got trained, hung out my shingle, and here I am. I call the birthday of Seabright Coaching June 21st 2017. 

SCC: So much has transpired in the last few years for you! Talk to us more about your niche.

HJ: I’m an ADHD and executive function coach. My clientele all have some challenges around executive functions, which include time management, organization, planning, and  prioritization, but also “emotional flooding,” which is emotional dysregulation around having to get stuff done. It can look like impulsivity or having overpowering emotions that keep us from being able to do what’s next. 

SCC: Are most of your clients in school, like students at either the high school or college level, or do you work with adults as well?

HJ: As a former teacher, I assumed that most of my clients would be high school and college students. Instead, I love working with people diagnosed with ADHD in midlife, or folks just entering second-act careers, and realizing that executive functioning challenges are  getting in their way. I also see a number of  young adults between 20 and 27 who experienced a change of  plans–a chronic illness, a rough transition to college away from home, or some other challenge.  I do have a couple of high school students as well. 

SCC: How does the book you mentioned fit in with your coaching practice?

HJ: It informs my coaching a lot. For one thing, several artists and writers have gravitated toward working with me because I understand the challenges of having ADHD and executing a creative project  – especially when there isn’t an external deadline driving it. Creating the book has been a laboratory for me to work on skills and strategies that helped me, which I can then share with other people doing creative work.

SCC: Talk to me about your books. 

HJ: My first novel is called Hero Green. It’s a novel about a sixteen-year-old witch who’s living off the grid with her parents. They are radical environmentalists and their land is threatened by a developer, so they move down to New York to fight the developer. Hero attends high school, experiences profound culture shock, and ends up founding an ecological movement called “Hunker Down.” 

I self-published the book last year, and now I’m talking to an agent about possibly having it come out through traditional means. It’s really interesting timing because I envisioned this slowed down, anti-consumerist environmental movement where people stay home, grow food, and make things, and lo and behold, here we are. 

SCC: What’s a typical day look like for you in your coaching world?

HJ: I have gotten really good at compressing coaching into a three-day week. It used to be that if somebody wanted to coach in the middle of the night, I was there to coach. I try to embody the habits that I want my clients to have, so my mornings are spent in creative or athletic pursuits. I’m either playing tennis, running, writing or playing music. Then I’m coaching in the afternoons. Mondays and Fridays are for deep work and, often, Santa Cruz Coaches business!

Right now, all of my clients are obviously on Zoom or phone, but unlike many life coaches, most of my clients are local. I have a studio behind my house called the “shack in the back,” and it’s a wonderful refuge for collaboration and deep work. 

SCC: Sounds like you’ve really dialed in your day in the way that lights you up. 

HJ: Yeah, I feel lucky. 

SCC: What made you get involved with Santa Cruz Coaches? 

HJ: I was craving community. At first, I was psyched about being a solopreneur because I’m introverted, so I enjoyed going deep and envisioning my business. But soon it became apparent that I was going to need some friends.  I taught over the hill and didn’t have a big community here, so I wanted connection to the Santa Cruz community. 

Also, I had so much to learn from other coaches because I was transitioning from the education world, rather than the business world. There’s a Venn diagram of coaching where we’re all coaches, but we bring such different backgrounds to coaching. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from my colleagues. 

SCC: I would just say it’s been delightful having you on the board and working with you for these last few years. You really light up a room when you come in. What would you tell other new coaches who are just starting off or just starting to imagine building a practice?

HJ: I had never done anything entrepreneurial before, and it was hard for me to know how to build my systems. When I started to get more clients, I felt like I could just stop marketing at that point –  even though I knew that coaching relationships aren’t designed to last forever, nor should they.  I learned that it’s really important to always be looking ahead. Always be thinking about what direction you want to be growing in three months, six months, or a year out, and be intentional about your path. Otherwise you can feel like you’re reacting in the moment and putting out fires, rather than building the kind of business you really want. 

Also, I’ve heard a lot of people talk about how difficult selling conversations are and how hard it is to convert prospects into clients. I’ve never felt that way because I know exactly what I have to give, and I genuinely believe it is of value. I understand that most people have little use for what I offer, but the people who need it really need it. Getting clear about your niche and your value at the outset can prevent a lot of heartache and a lot of imposter syndrome.   

SCC: Excellent advice. Where would you like to see yourself as a coach five years from now?

HJ: I got into this field very clear that I wanted to be a thought leader and that I didn’t just always want to be coaching one-on-one by the hour. I’m coming to recognize the connection between creativity and coaching – it can be one of the superpowers of having ADHD. It’s empowering to focus on the skills of divergent thinking and problem-solving instead of focusing on dysfunction. I want to move more toward harnessing those superpowers and helping clients to figure out how to build creative practices for themselves that match the way their brains work. 

SCC: It really speaks to how we evolve as coaches within our practice. That’s something you’ve seen in just a short period of time and something you see if you look ahead. 

HJ: There’s tremendous potential for the evolution within the practice over time, and that’s what I love. The constant iteration of business as a spiritual path.