Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Zakaria Sherbiny, founder of First Rodeo Coaching, located in Arlington, VA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

First Rodeo Coaching specializes in 1-on-1 coaching to support people in their personal and professional lives. Some people call me a life coach
others call me a leadership or executive coach. I say that I just coach people - specifically people making transitions.

I love coaching people who are feeling stuck, processing complex experiences or otherwise seeking a change in their personal or professional lives. Life can feel hard sometimes, and in an increasingly complex world, it's helpful to have a trained coach on your side - someone to create a trusting environment where you can get real and talk about what's important in your life - someone who knows how to both listen deeply and push you toward growth, helping you keep yourself accountable toward your goals.

I'm also passionate about working with organizational leaders, specifically leaders in transition and leaders in new roles. Noticing a theme here? Novel situations demand change from us in order for us to be successful, and having a private, confidential place to think out loud - to process the things that stump you and the things that frustrate you while creating productive action that moves you forward - is an invaluable asset as people grow in their careers. While in most workplaces, it's assumed that leaders can go to their supervisors for help developing on the job, in reality, there are many factors that undermine that noble intention. Here are the five biggest reasons why:

  1. Most supervisors aren't trained to develop the adults around them
    it can take people years to understand the unique needs of adult development.
  2. Most supervisors don't have the time to drop what they're doing and help the leaders in their charge grow.
  3. If your supervisor evaluates your work, there's an inherent conflict in opening up to them about where you're growing.
  4. Professional growth is a nonlinear process - the best growth often results from thinking out loud, meandering in conversation, and stumbling upon your "aha" moments. The solution-oriented approach that many leaders are trained in doesn't leave much room for this organic process.
  5. Let's be real - if your supervisor IS the problem, you're not going to them for help, and you may not feel comfortable talking to other people in the organization about them.

Does any of this resonate? Coaching might just be for you!

Tell us about yourself

It's a funny thing about life that it can only be lived forward but understood backward. Looking back on my life, I can see now that people have always been the common thread of interest for me. I was born in Washington, DC but spent my formative early years in Egypt - growing up bicultural, I always had one foot in each world and developed an early orientation to people's stories: what are our commonalities, our differences? What's the role of time and place in how we each ended up how we did? For each of us, the present is the most recent version of how all of those life factors interact. And while the past has already occurred, helping people figure out what they want their present and future to look like is what motivates me on a daily basis.

I started out my career as an early childhood teacher before moving into school leadership. Eventually, I was seeking a change, and after connecting with a friend to help with her startup coaching teachers around personal wellness, something clicked. I realized that adults needed the very same care, patience, and understanding that children did - but few people had someone in their lives who would listen and ask questions without trying to solve their problems for them. While I wouldn't know it for several more months, that's when I first caught the coaching "bug" - that was the moment that First Rodeo Coaching was born.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

In a practical sense: as an entrepreneur still in the earliest stages (I look forward to celebrating my one-year anniversary in the fall), I honestly feel that it's an accomplishment to still be staying afloat, to see the path toward long-term viability.

In a more personal way: the success I have can only be judged by the change that people achieve in their lives. The look on people's faces and the sincerity and emotion in their voices when they make a transformative life change is something that I cherish from every client experience I have. To know that I can be even a tiny part of that is a tremendous gift.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Many ways I could go with this one: working alone has been lonely, and the uncertainty of business prosperity is ever-looming. But the biggest one for me is that personal insecurities have found their way to the forefront. Themes of worth, rejection, people-pleasing, financial security, and countless other thoughts that most of us prefer to keep in the shadows have somehow found their way to the limelight over the past few months. I'm someone that always believes there's opportunity in even the most unpleasant circumstances. I'm proud of the way that I've learned about myself and self-managed in furthering my business - essentially, I've learned to get out of my own way.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Have a network of supportive people around you who believe in you and will cheer you on.
  2. Be patient; it'll take longer than you think
    consider starting something on the side until you have the financial stability to make the jump full-time.
  3. Establish what kind of balance you want in your life - be thoughtful about how much time you want to put toward your work, and protect the time away from it that will help you recharge. The boundaries can be blurry, and no one will do it for you.

Where can people find you and your business?

First Rodeo Coaching
First Rodeo Coaching specializes in supporting people through life transitions.

If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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