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Jody Michael talks Crain's honor, StartOut, future plans
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times
2018-12-26

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When Jody Michael started her business, Jody Michael Associates, 22 years ago she was one of the first executive and career coaches in the United States. Prior to that, Michael spent 15 years at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, where she was one of the first female traders.

"Nobody really knew what coaching was, and so I spent a lot of time during those early years engaged in conversations that were primarily educational in nature," said Michael. "Now conversations are much more nuanced because people who seek out coaching are far more sophisticated in their understanding than they were back then."

Michael and her team have worked with hundreds of clients at the Chicago flagship office and satellite locations in Atlanta, New York and San Francisco. They illuminate clients' blind spots by challenging their perceptions, posing questions and directing experiential practices.

"My approach has always been to facilitate real, transformational change, not the 'check-the-box' tactical approach to coaching that predominates the field," said Michael. "I have created more efficient methods of coaching to accommodate the increasingly busy schedules of today's executives including apps and tweaking the supporting materials and homework I give my clients. On the executive coaching side, I have encouraged organizations to create diversity initiatives and promote equality for all employees."

Michael's goal is for clients to gain greater self-awareness, clarity, observational capacity and confidence so they can get a promotion, make more money, gain emotional intelligence and be effective leaders in their fields.

Recently, Michael was honored in Crain's Chicago Business magazine's first ever Chicago's Notable LGBTQ Executives list alongside 87 other movers and shakers.

"Crain's is one of the most respected business publications around, so it is an honor to be featured as a business leader," said Michael. "It is incredible to reflect on the progress that LGBTQ executive and business leaders have made in the past few decades. I am grateful to be recognized for my contributions to the Chicago business community—first, as an entrepreneur, second as a female entrepreneur and third, as a female LGBTQ entrepreneur. These opportunities would not have been available to me, or to my fellow honorees, just a few decades ago."

Additionally, Michael has recently joined the StartOut board. She decided to get involved because there is still discrimination toward LGBTQ people in the workplace which hampers their ability to reach their full potential professionally.

"I know what it is like to face discrimination because of my gender and sexual orientation," said Michael. "More importantly, I know that it does not have to be a deterrent to success. I hope to further the organization's mission by lending my insights and support to other LGBTQ entrepreneurs and leaders beyond those I see as clients in my coaching office."

Over the past few years, executive and career coaching has been depicted on the Showtime show Billions through the Wendy Rhoades character played by Maggie Siff. This has given more people insight into what Michael and her team do on a daily basis.

When asked about Billions in general and how the writers showcase her profession, Michael sings the show's praises. She said that due to her time as a trader; the fast-paced, competitive and often-cutthroat environment of the show rings true.

"I imagine that people who work in wildly different industries find Wendy's demeanor and methods offensive," said Michael. "More often than not, I find her cut-to-the-chase approach appropriate for the situations depicted on the show—and for the culture of that industry. Her character is sharp, intuitive and insightful."

The only flaws Michael sees with the Rhoades character are she is too directive and does not use Socratic questioning enough. Michael explained that these flaws make Rhoades a colorful character to watch.

As for her future plans, Michael wants to expand her business' reach. She is also releasing a book next year focusing on what she has learned over the past 25 years of applied research and though leadership in the area of mental fitness. Michael is concerned that not enough people are focused on their mental fitness and she said it is needed now more than ever.

"It is a systemic problem that hurts us individually, in our relationships, at corporations and among political leadership," said Michael.

Michael's message to everyone is to get bigger than yourself by finding meaningful things to engage in that contribute positive impact and value for others.

"When you align your life with your purpose, find your North Star, why you are here and what special gifts you offer it is game-changing for you, others and the world," said Michael.

To read more about Michael, visit www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/On-doing-what-you-love-Coach-Jody-Michael/43297.html and http://www.chicagobusiness.com/awards/jody-michael.

See www.jodymichael.com/ for more information.


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