My name is Noelle. I am a coach and CEO of JRNI. You may have received an e-mail from me in the past, we may have talked on the phone, or you may have seen me on a webinar. This year has been one of explosive growth for me and the JRNI team. Also, my own journey has taken twists and turns beyond the scope of what I thought I could do with my life. Today, I stand unrecognizable to my younger self. Changed, entirely, in terms of my drive, my focus, and what I thought was possible.
I’m sharing my personal story, as well as the story of JRNI, in the hope that it inspires you.
With my story, I’ll start in the beginning, around age 7, when I first began to wrestle with eating disorders and depression. It is really hard to understand forces that affect you when you are in the middle of the storm. Looking back, I can see how my disposition towards depression and the development of eating disorders at a young age shaped my world view: I carried with me a sense of helplessness, a belief that I could not do hard things, that my worth was the sum of my attractiveness as a female, and that professionally, my best bet was to find someone to take care of me and perhaps work a supplemental job. In college, I experienced trauma. In my early 20’s, I entered an unhealthy marriage. I became obese and spiraled into a span of years that can best be described as “dark grey.”
There was however, a small glimmer of hope that lived inside of me. I knew, intuitively that I had something special to share with the world. People always came to me for help. I have an extraordinary capacity to calm and inspire others. I took a job helping adult students chart their academic course and the flicker that lived inside me began to spark.
I loved helping people. I would talk for hours with my students. We chatted about life and love, their hopes and dreams, and of course, the courses they were taking that semester. Every single person left my office feeling like they could take on the world after consulting with me. I still keep in touch with some folks from my first position with the college and we are now old friends.
After having such a great experience with the adult students, I began to get curious about my gift of helping others. I started googling words like “planning,” “helping,” and so on. At the time, my belief in myself was so shriveled, the thought of going to therapy school seemed impossible. I am actually grateful for this, because I discovered the field of coaching as an alternative to pursuing clinical psychology.
In 2006 the coaching field was really undeveloped, so I started to teach myself. Since I had no idea what I was doing, I used myself as a subject. The flame inside me grew hotter. As I started to change, my life changed as well.
My first goal was to get rid of all of the excess weight I was carrying around. The extra weight was an outward symptom of an unhealthy life — insulation keeping me from participating in the real world. I was hiding.
As the weight came off, I developed a sense of agency. “Hey,” I thought, “This is working! I can coach people on how to lose weight!” For the first time in my life, I had a PURPOSE.
My new found purpose spurred me, and I became determined to become a weight loss coach. I searched for and evaluated coaching programs. I was terrified of school. I was terrified of failure. Truthfully, I was terrified to live.
But because I had my purpose, I pushed on anyway. I enrolled in my very first coaching program and MAN I absolutely loved it! I loved the technique, I loved the structure, I loved positive psychology, and I loved the art of flourishing. Most importantly, I loved the fact that there is a whole science around helping people move forward in life.
In the meantime, my marriage was not going well. I became very ill. My body was trying to defend me from what was going on in my marriage. Just as I finished my coaching program, my marriage ended, my dog got cancer, I was left with a house I could not care for and I was unsure of how to move forward. At one point the upstairs toilet leaked and water was literally streaming through the ceiling. It was a dark time in my life for sure.
Slowly, and without a map, I began to piece my life together. I clung to my purpose: to help other women dig out of similar shitty situations like the one that I dug myself out of. Even though my own life was a mess, I started working as a weight loss coach. I had a very small word-of-mouth coaching practice and I kept my job at a local university.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that helping people lose weight was a hollow endeavor because weight and unhappiness are two separate things. I needed more training. I took a second coaching certification and I became friends with a professor who worked at my university. She noticed how sickly I was and spent some time inquiring about my situation.
I told her everything. More than I had ever told another human about my life. It was not pretty, and she heard me fully. About a week later, she came to my office and announced that I had reached the limitation of my knowledge I needed more to truly help women as a coach. Her recommendation: I should apply for the PhD program in human sexuality.
I was floored. I did not see myself as capable of getting into a PhD program — let alone completing one. She came to my office for a month until I agreed to apply for the PhD program. This woman changed my life and I consciously pay forward her belief in me every single day.
I did not immediately get into the PhD program, but I was accepted into the master’s program. I pushed through every ounce of fear in my being and began to take graduate classes. I also took another coaching program.
Unfortunately, just as I was learning so much, my coaching practice stalled. I had so much to share, so much knowledge, and no way to reach people. I remember sitting at the dining room table of that house that I hate, wallowing and scrolling through a wellness blog. I perked up reading an article by John Kim and when I scrolled to the bottom, he had a call for coaches. He needed help.
“I am a coach,” my heart yelled. I e-mailed John and 24 hours later, he told me I was a great writer and invited me to join the team.
I want to pause for a second here and acknowledge that the two most pivotal moments in my life so far have stemmed from the selfless, empowering, kindness of John Kim and my professor. Neither of them knew me well, neither of them had an agenda; as strangers, they opened a door for me, and welcomed me through.
When I started working with John at The Angry Therapist, as I wrote, I got clients. And they were not just clients, they were my PEOPLE. I cannot adequately explain the love that I feel for my clients, the pride I have in their growth and transformation, and the joy we share. For me, coaching is the best job in the word.
John Kim is a visionary. He jumps off cliffs and considers the outcome on the way down.
John’s story is extraordinary, but I will let him tell it, another time. Suffice to say that John’s words and the way that he empowers others is magical. His wacky little coaching collective grew and grew. People began to ask him how to coach, and he asked me to help him fashion what is now, the Catalyst Coaching Intensive, a 20-week program, led by a team of our awesome coaches.
I would have been content to work for John teaching the course, and finish out my graduate education, but the Universe had other plans for me. One day, John decided to start a secret Facebook group as an experiment to see what would happen if a bunch of strangers came together with the intent to share knowledge, compassion, skills, and were put in the position to change each other’s lives. The energy that came from this group was incredible. I remember texting another team member just to make sure that I was not imagining things.
From this Facebook group, the organization, JRNI, was born.
I grew along with the group, by leaps and bounds. I engaged in the community daily. I shared my hopes and dreams, sorrows, and joy. I shared my knowledge. We all gave our time and talents freely. The energy of everyone in the community inspired me to keep going. I applied for the PhD.
In order to get into the PhD program, I needed to pass biology. Every self-limiting belief I ever had was tied up in the word “Biology,” and God, I was a mess. The JRNI community got me through bio and I was accepted to the PhD program. I owe so much to this community, to the people who cheered me on, and loved me through it.
I consider the JRNI community my family, my home.
Meanwhile, the Catalyst Intensive continued to grow. We were training amazing coaches, but coaches were stuck with the same problem of how to connect with ideal clients to build a full and profitable practice after the program was completed. John persevered like the magical unicorn that he is, and took the concept of JRNI and the problem that coaches face “on the road” to find a partner who could help him solve it.
John met Taylor, an entrepreneur, business innovator, and coach in his own right. John and Taylor started a new company, called JRNI, in honor of our original Facebook group, and hired an amazing team in LA to make things happen.
I did not realize the scope of what I was getting into the first time I had a call with the team in LA. John said something to the effect of, “Hey can you talk with some of my friends about the JRNI community and the Catalyst thing?” I will talk to anyone and everyone about JRNI and the Catalyst thing and so I dove in without thinking twice.
About a month later, they called me again to see if I was interested in joining the team in LA. I no longer doubt my own ability and I know that if I don’t know something I can probably figure it out. So once again, without thinking twice, I said “Yes.” I became the CEO of this company shortly after that.
As an organization, JRNI provides a platform for a community of people to help one another and share in the way that was started a long time ago.
We train our own coaches, and have over 500 graduates and growing every day. We orient the entire pulse of the company around helping our coaches connect with the people they are meant to help. Our coaches in turn, harness the power of our community to help others transform their lives. Just like I did.
JRNI is a young company. We are still trying to become the most effective version of ourselves. I would be lying if I said that I don’t have a few extra grey hairs and more sleepless nights than I’d like. We are onto something big though. There is POWER and HOPE in this place. I fully stand behind our coaching certification program. I fully stand behind our platform. I fully stand behind our leadership. I fully stand behind our coaches. They are going to change the world. No doubt about it.
I am too busy to work on my own coaching practice these days, and that is OK.
One of my former coaching students now works beside me as a customer care specialist for our new Catalyst cohorts, other have gone on to work at Growth.com and Bulletproof, I almost lost it when I got to see yet another one of my former students deliver her first live workshop at a JRNI event and move people to tears through healing. My work now is to open the door for others as was done for me and to welcome our coaches to empower themselves and others by living in their purpose.
I rarely think about my journey, except when writing essays like this. I simply live my purpose now and the journey unfolds in more amazing ways each and every day.
If you are thinking about becoming a coach or you are a coach or therapist who is stuck, please reach out to me. If you need a community and a tribe of veteran coaches to help you out of a rut, please join us and seek out coaching through JRNI.
Empowerment, support, and affirmation is a life-changing cocktail. I am ALWAYS down to sip that drink!
Thanks for making it to the end of this story! Though it’s certainly not the end of my story or the end of the JRNI story. For we have just begun.
Lots of Love,