Interview with Denise White
Pro Denise White is a Life Coach in Ohio. Her experience as a counselor and commitment to health make her a great asset to our PocketSuite Pro community. Nicole talks to CEO, Chinwe Onyeagoro and Managing Editor, Sean Litteljohn about the importance of consistency and how she turned a devastating personal injury into a thriving online coaching business.
What is it that you do, and how did you come to do this?
I have been a licensed Mental Health Counselor since 1995, well over 20 years. I have been in private practice since 2007 and then decided in March that I wanted to look at transitioning my business online. A bit of backstory, I had a bad fall in 2005 and a severe spinal cord injury. I had always struggled with my weight, but I gained so much weight after that injury. I had two lower back, spinal cord surgeries, I’ve had a third one, I’ve had five fusions in my neck. It’s just a big mess and what led to that was my doctors misdiagnosed it as a pulled muscle.
I’ve stayed in private practice, but you can imagine, given my physical limitations, the draw to do everything online. I started looking into coaching. I had no idea what to choose for a niche and started thinking about my journey. After that spinal cord injury, I gained so much weight that I was at 342 pounds at my highest weight. I had just really given up and was so depressed, and it’s a miracle that I even held it together to work because I was in so much chronic pain. My doctor had referred me for weight loss surgery. I had gone and talked with somebody for consultation, and then something switched in me, and it just seemed so blatantly obvious that I had to change my mindset and learn to eat differently.
It was at that point that I decided to launch into taking this weight off. I’m not at my goal yet, but at this point, I’m 115 pounds down. I didn’t think I’d be able to do it is because 70% of my right leg has neuropathy. I have a little bit of a limp, and I can’t exercise other than swim, as far as getting out and taking a good walk or even walking to the grocery, those days were over when that spine injury happened, and I was 37 years old at the time with a new baby.
She’s 17 now and I’ve been living like that since the injury. Therefore coaching in the online world seemed like a fantastic thing for me to do. I’m not ready to crawl into a hole and give up my life. I’ve never been. I’ve pushed through with a thriving, private practice, and recently I transitioned to this online coaching model. I got into a coaching group that convinced me that even though I am not yet at goal weight that because of my experiences, people would connect with me, and sure enough, they have.
Since March, I’ve brought on probably 14 or 15 coaching clients. I did a launch, a $20,000 launch about four or five weeks ago. I’m getting ready to do another one in October. Just really pushing hard to build that solid firm foundation for my business.
What was the thing in your brain that clicked and said, “It’s going to be up to me!”? What was the thing that made you feel like, “I can pull through and do this!”?
I know exactly what it was, my doctor, referring me for bariatric or weight loss surgery and having to sit through the videos of how they rewire everything within you. The vivid memories of those spinal cord surgeries and lying in the hospital and not even knowing if I’d ever walk again and just being so young. The thought of deciding to put myself in that position where it was yet another major surgery and recovery. It was so traumatic to go through that spinal cord stuff that I could not fathom, deciding to go and do that.
There was nothing that could tempt me. I made up my mind and I don’t think I’ve ever been so determined about anything in my life. It didn’t matter if it was the holidays or my birthday. I was so dedicated to it and still am. It’s slower for me because I can’t exercise and so the name of my Facebook group is Weight Loss withOut Workouts. I thought it would draw people who had a spinal cord injury like me and it did attract some of them. Primarily it has drawn people who are morbidly obese. They’re limited in their mobility. It’s incredible to see even 400 and 500-pound people who have no idea how to lose weight and watch them losing weight quickly. I have one coaching client and her brother had a massive heart attack. He was as heavy as her. She’s losing weight like crazy and she’s never lost weight in her life. She’s 47 years old.
Do your clients need something as traumatizing as the spinal cord surgery you had to draw from? Did they all have something to motivate them that’s just as powerful?
All kinds of pain points motivate them to stay on track and the fear that they may leave their loved ones too soon.
You have to have faith in the process. If I didn’t believe in the coach who was teaching me, I probably wouldn’t have gotten this far. But I think that what she’s saying works, and I have followed that. And sure enough for me, it has worked.
Is it just a happy accident that the acronym for your business is WWOW?
I didn’t even realize that it is.
What does success look like for you? In my book, you’ve already achieved it and then some! But what’s on the horizon for you?
I don’t want to have to worry about money. I don’t want to have to worry about finances. I want to help as many people as possible who think that there’s no hope like I felt that there was no hope. Watching them light up is just one of the most beautiful things I think I’ve ever seen. I have never regretted being a counselor. I love being a counselor, but I’m ready now. I’ve done it for 24 years. Moving forward, I want to let all of my energies be online. Then in the future, I don’t know other than I don’t plan to play small.
When I heard your story, I thought, wow, are you on the virtual speaking circuit? Your story resonates far and wide with folks dealing with this on a massive scale and with folks who struggle with it on a day-to-day basis.
I’d love to write a book about coming from a very abusive background as a kid. I know I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. I am going to keep helping people.
What has been the most challenging part of your transition to move online?
Commanding what I’m worth, asking for what I’m worth because I’m such a caretaker, and I’m such a giver.
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You’ve done some of that mindset work just the acknowledgment of your worth and value. That’s half the battle.
I’m working on it and I’m still in my coaching class. I’m in a 12-month coaching class, and I’m in the fifth month of it. I’ve never had coaching. I just hit the ground running, but that’s what I do.
What advice would you give to folks who are making a similar transition into coaching in the virtual world and don’t have the background?
I think for me, hands down, it’s consistency. Going live on Facebook regularly, and I mean several times a week, not once a week. When you’re new, you have to be seen, and you have to speak with confidence in what you’re saying and believe in what you’re saying. Someone like me was terrified of public speaking. I forced myself to do it every day for probably a good three weeks, just so the fear would lift. It did. Now I look forward to it.
We hear that a lot, both from therapists, coaches, and folks who are not generally using social media for marketing. There’s a fear of what if noone shows? In the early days, that’s the reality. How do you help people think about that?
I think it’s more than OK. In the beginning, it’s to be expected and you have to with this whole process. This is where I see other people in my coaching class falling by the wayside and giving up on themselves. You have to have faith in the process. If I didn’t believe in the coach who was teaching me, I probably wouldn’t have gotten this far. But I think that what she’s saying works, and I have followed that. And sure enough for me, it has worked. I think it’s a matter of having faith initially, no one will be there, but then a few come and then a few more, and now I have almost 1700 people in my group. And I have only been doing it for five months.
People will come and advice will come and go, but it’s all about believing in yourself. Why is it different in this case that your coach is so essential in this process?
Because coaching was completely foreign to me and watching how she runs her program has been a template for me. I wasn’t sure it would work. I just knew that I would watch her and see if I could make it happen the way she made it happen. And I did. Belief in myself had to happen, but I’d never pulled it off. Just watching her and her program helped me.
The foundational belief in yourself is ground zero. Then it’s the belief in the process that you can then use to turn that into something more.
You’ve got to step out of your comfort zone and show up. No coach can give you that, but you couple that with somebody you can mimic, if you’re brand new at this, it’s a pretty good deal. That’s what’s working for me!
How has COVID impacted you? Has it changed anything dramatic for you other than the decision to go online?
Not in my life, we’ve all thank goodness stayed healthy. I could finally take my work online, and for many clients, they’re like, “This is nice because I don’t have to take off work to come to see you.” COVID hasn’t impacted me that much. You have to remember because of my disability, I wasn’t running around anyway.
What brought you to PocketSuite, and how has it made a difference for you?
My coach brought me to PocketSuite, my coach swears by it. I would not have known about it. It’s part of her program and how she schedules clients. She does a tutorial and helps you get set up. It’s been very nice that clients don’t have to have my private number and I get my own business number. I love that part. I love that the texting and everything happens right in the app. I love that I can put in my availability, and that way, clients can easily schedule. My clients tell me it’s very user-friendly. I don’t ever get, “Where do I sign? or “I don’t see.” comments from my clients. None of that. It’s very well done.
Any message that you have for folks out there now, whether they’re coaches or operate in one of the many different professions that leverage PocketSuite? Any words of wisdom for them?
It feels like there’s a coach on every corner like they’re just coming out of the woodwork. They’re friending me on Facebook and there are all these coaches. “Make the weight loss coaches go away!” people say. “I don’t want to see the weight-loss coaches!” I think we get intimidated by that. What I believe the reality is, most people do not follow through from start to finish.
Most people give up because this requires perseverance and patience and belief in yourself when you can’t see anybody on the other side of that video. So when you think about giving up, push no matter what, there is only one you. I don’t care if they’re doing the same things as you, there is only one you, and that’s what you have to let shine through. That is what they purchase. They don’t buy any of these weight loss tips on Facebook Live. They could Google it and find the same thing for free. It’s because of who I am and what I’ve been through and it will be the same for you.