Coaching Podcast: Catalyst Retreat Wrap Up and Dealing with Overwhelm
The Catalyst Life Coaching Podcast, featuring JRNI Coaching founders John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux is a deep dive into the experience and business of being a life coach. This transcript of Episode 33 of the Catalyst Life Coaching Podcast talks about the Catalyst Retreat Wrap Up and how do you deal with overwhelm.
John: This is the Catalyst Life Coaching podcast, I’m Noelle Cordeaux, and with me is John Kim. John, how are you?
Noelle: I’m great, how are you Noelle?
John: This is what happens when you wake up at 5 a.m.
Noelle: And this is what happens when you wake up at 10:39.
John: Do you think that we can call each other—do you think I could call you John and you could call me Noelle throughout this entire episode?
Noelle: No way.
John: No, probably not.
Noelle: No way. That’s too much work. I don’t wanna do that much work John, I do enough work.
John: This is re-wiring our brain, it’s like the whole idea of brushing your teeth with your left hand to exercise different muscles in your brain, no?
Noelle: Yeah, you know what I did last week? I was so tired last week I brushed my teeth with face wash.
John: Oh, that’s interesting.
Noelle: It was terrible.
John: I bet you it’s all the same—shampoo, face wash, fluoride, whatever.
John: So something magical happened this weekend.
Noelle: Mhmm. Something magical did happen.
John: Yeah, do you want to talk about it?
Noelle: Yeah. We had our second—no third—annual Catalyst Life Coaching retreat. We had almost 100 coaches from multiple countries, from all over the U.S., come to Los Angeles, California. And we gathered for three days in community, in celebration of the organization and the culture that we have built for and with each other, and we learned—we hit positive psychology, the science behind meaning. Our coaches took this opportunity as a practice and training grounds, and presented workshops for each other, to get feedback. People stayed in Airbnbs all over the city, lit bonfires, had wonderful meals, put their feet in the ocean—so many hugs, lots of crying. It was pretty incredible.
John: It was incredible, and I gotta say I’m always amazed at how far people come, and how many actually drive—like someone drove 2 weeks—blew my mind.
John: And this is our third one, which also blows my mind. What I really love about these is they’re not just fun, social reunions, they’re legit, they are back to back workshops and talks, and I think that’s great because people are getting so much value.
Noelle: Yes, it was really, really incredible. We were blessed. One of our team members who’s leaving us—and I’m so sad about that—is a professional producer. So the reason that it felt so seamless, is because there was a person who thought about the experiential track for every single human who walked in that room—from the handwritten thank you notes, to the wine and cheese that was carefully chosen, to the positioning of the chairs and tables to make sure that folks were comfortable and some could write if they wanted to, or some could walk around if they wanted to. A lot of thought and effort was put into every element, and it showed.
John: Yes. Did you like that is was just the Catalyst this year? Because this was the first year that it was just us and not open to the public.
Noelle: I did, and the reason I liked it is because I think that we all needed a break.
John: What do you mean by that? From the world?
Noelle: A break from the world. I think that we all needed a break from the world. I know that I did, and I heard that sentiment repeated, you know there were Catalysts who are moms, who have young kids, who said “I got to be me here”. There are folks who work really really hard in different contexts of their lives—struggling 3, 4 side gigs, jobs, kids, families—and they got to just engage in the stuff and the people and the science that they really love. And beyond that, the culture, that we have created that has now grown a lot bigger than you and I—I think we started it, I think we model it—but every person who comes into our organization contributes to shaping it. And it’s so kind, and it’s so accepting, and we tell everybody how kind and genuinely, authentically accepting and warm this organization is, but until you step into it for the first time yourself, you really don’t get it.
John: You know what’s interesting is I just went to a Dharma talk last night, and I’ve been—in the last year or so—I’ve been studying Buddhism and all of that, and I gotta say—without putting labels, or without announcing anything—all of those principles, pulling from your heart and kindness and compassion and all of that, is actually, at our retreats, practiced in action.
John: Like organically. No one starts the retreat saying let’s be like this, people just walk in already with that spirit.
Noelle: Yes, 100%.
John: Why do you think that is?
Noelle: Because we attract like-minded humans.We attract people who genuinely, not only want to learn skills to help others to stand in their own authenticity and truth, but they’re seeking that for themself. I think a result—a completely unexpected result of bringing together 350 people who all believe and feel the same thing—is that we give it to each other.
John: That and—by the way you taught me to use the word and instead of but—that and I think it’s generated through our course, through our teachings over the weeks. I think not just in the teachings as in the instruction, but I think them going through the journey, and being vulnerable and talking about their own life—what I call the Breakfast Club element of our course.
John: The coming together from different walks of life, and you don’t have to be friends tomorrow, but today we are here because of this common thread, and then showing yourself—I think that is what softens the heart and creates the soil for that kind of amazing experience.
Noelle: Showing yourself is huge, and showing yourself takes sincere bravery and I don’t think that we talk about that enough—the kind of courage it takes to actually be you and ask for acceptance and love from other people around you—whether it’s in a relationship, whether it’s in a friendship, whether it’s in an organization, at work—it takes real courage to do that.
John: Why do you think people are showing themselves in our course, because not everyone shows themselves in life coaching courses?
Noelle: Well, I think it’s two-fold. On one hand—because that is the best part about our community is that we monitor and foster an environment where that happens, where we are so accepting, so very accepting that I can’t imagine a context where someone would be even remotely shunned or rejected.
Number two is I think that a big part of what we teach people to do in the Catalyst Intensive, as you said, is it’s a skill, it’s something that you have to learn how to do and you have to. Why would any human do anything, right? It’s risk versus reward. So, even though there is inherent risk in showing yourself, being authentic, there is also even greater reward for inhabiting that position in life. I think that part of what happens is this is an incubator, it’s a testing ground, it’s a place for people to try it and see what happens. And then they get acceptance, love, and feedback in return, and it’s like wow well if I’m getting it here I should be getting this in other aspects of my life. Maybe I can stand up for myself, maybe I can do what I want to do, maybe I can be who I’ve always felt I was.
John: Where do you see the culture of our community in three years? I know we talk a lot about our company as far as where we want it to be and the business stuff, but where do you see the culture? How do you see this evolving as far as the annual retreat and how it’s going to be as we grow?
Noelle: This is a really hard question for me, and something that I really struggled with this week was the juxtaposition of me, Noelle myself, and me, Noelle the person that heads this organization.
John: What’s the difference?
Noelle: Well I’ve been trying to figure that out.
John: Oh, right.
Noelle: And that’s the hard part, right? To what extent can I be fully, truly me, and to what extent is that level of vulnerability and transparency—not damaging—but complicated, right?
John: I just had a revelation when you just said this, because I never thought of it this way, and now I definitely have empathy and compassion for you. So for me, and the role that I have taken in our company, it’s never really changed, I don’t have to worry about that or think about that. My job is to just be me, and show myself and produce content and all that stuff and create partnerships, etc. But with you, it’s so different, because the role that you play does have this kind of tug—it’s what does it look like to head a company and all that stuff, right, the whole put on a suit kind of thing. Then the other half, which is just the Noelle that I know and love, what’s the balance—how much can you show, how much are you not supposed to show, and all of that stuff.
Noelle: And what I have been doing is showing my whole self, right? And that has had consequence. There have been people who love the organization and they meet me—I had somebody tell me once that I would be such an effective leader if I was a little bit less whiskey.
John: Mmm. I don’t agree, but okay.
Noelle: But that’s good feedback, right?
John: Yeah. What does that mean a little less whiskey? Less edge? What does that mean?
Noelle: It can be taken in a lot of different ways, but it was a supposition that all of the pieces of me aren’t really fit or acceptable to stand and embody an organization that it is about authenticity and love. And if I’m somebody who is pretty open about loving my vices, and also having these rough edges, and these very human edges and has a life, a partner, a family, things that—
John: A dog.
Noelle: A dog. You know that might not really fit all the time when I present myself professionally, and I took that to heart. I was kind of like yeah, I don’t ever want to show up in a way as myself that makes other people feel threatened or uncomfortable because it’s incongruent with who they are, and I need to honor their journeys more than my own. So, back to you question about where this culture is going. I now believe that protecting the culture of our organization and being the steward of a safe space for people to learn how to help others, to come home to themselves, and to have community with others is probably the number one thing that I—and you—have to protect.
John: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more, and I gotta be honest, as our company grows it’s going to be harder.
Noelle: It is, and I’ve really been thinking about that, I really have been. And that’s why I wrote to all of our Catalysts and I said, “You guys have to be responsible for this now too. You guys have to be responsible for welcoming each new person who comes in like a lost child. You guys love this, you love the way you feel, you love what you’ve experienced, you now have to take responsibility for it too”. And I think that’s really gonna be the way. I think that we have 350 people now, we’re gonna have 500 by the end of the year, by the end of the next year there’s gonna be 1,000—everybody is gonna have to make a commitment to keeping this thing solid and strong, and I believe we can do it. I really, really, really do. I have never met more caring, ambitious, badass, powerful, kind, loving, open, accepting humans in my whole life, and if there’s anybody who can do it, our coaches can. So I torture our team by saying that what we actually sell is make friends and be awesome, but I think it’s true. And the world sucks, right, like it just fucking sucks right now, and if we can create a family and a safe space and a place for people to come and find a respite, and take their shoes off and lay in the sand and come home for a little while, well hell yeah I’m gonna protect that. So, we’ll see. It’s a grand experiment, right?
John: It is, and the word coming home is extremely powerful and I think that’s what a lot of people feel when they come to this annual retreat.
Noelle: I agree. And something that just struck me is why is this so important for coaches, why is this so important for helpers to have this space? Because it’s different than if we were an organization that was all paralegals. I think it’s because when you’re a coach, and when you’re a helper, you give so much of yourself to everyone. It’s who you are, you have the empathy chip—your friends, your family, everybody comes to you with their problems. You’re doing this in your professional life, you’re trying to be an entrepreneur, you’re trying to carve out a career, you’re trying to literally carve out an existence in the field that doesn’t fully exist yet. It’s exhausting. It’s exhausting, and it’s scary, and to come to the arms of a place where everybody is like "oh yeah I see you”—it gives you a break.
John: Yeah, absolutely. Again, thank you for being transparent, thank you for being vulnerable, thank you for showing yourself. And also I know that as someone who’s helming this, you also have to decide when and—because you wear different hats—so I do respect all of that. I also don’t know, in today’s world with startup, how much transparency and showing yourself is possible—that balance where you actually have to do some things for the business to run and generate and grow, but also execute what you believe in. It’s definitely better now today than say in the 50’s, but I think it’s still hard, I think it’s really hard because I think in the startup world, and I’m not that familiar with it, there’s a lot of red tape, and politics, and games, and everything that comes with entrepreneurship.
Noelle: Yes, I have experienced that, and I also have to say that there are a lot of really awesome, smart people and it was just really ironic that during the week of the Catalyst retreat, I came to L.A., and I got my ass kicked, i just straight got my ass kicked in three different directions. It was not so much what happened, but more so that I am personally inexperienced with a lot of the emotions that come from this stuff. I was on the phone with my dad at 6:30 in the morning 3 days in a row, because I didn’t know what the hell to do. He said to me, “You’re not wrong. It is really appropriate to feel this way. The difference is going to be how you respond and how you choose to get back up again.”. And I was like fuck.
John: Can I just say real quick that I love how you have a dad with that kind of capacity, because my dad calls me and he’s like “what do you want for lunch” and that’s pretty much all there is. Wow, that is great advice, I love it.
Noelle: It was great advice, and I’m really lucky, I’m really blessed. And I have to say, over the years my dad and I have not always had this kind of relationship. I was estranged from him and my mom for a good stretch of years in my 20’s. It wasn’t always like this, and we both worked really hard to get there, and I have to give my dad a lot of credit for being the one to lean in and say “I want to have a relationship with you, what are your terms?”. Some got there, and it’s been a gift, and he has really helped me because he has been through stuff like this before. I was doing meditative walking—so L.A. is a weird place for me because I like happiness and I like calm and it’s the opposite of that, right? And I have seen so many different people, at different times, walking down the street in L.A. crying, and I always thought “my god, what’s going on?”, and then I found myself walking down a street in L.A. crying, with my sunglasses on, and I was like “oh, hello, I get it”. And in that moment, what was the most comforting to me, is that I have absolute—I could sit with these feelings and I could let them defeat me or there is another way. I have absolutely no reason in this moment to believe that a super positive outcome is not entirely possible. I have no reason to believe that everything can’t go beautifully, and I can lean into that potential. I can assume that everything will go as well as it possibly can and I can begin to act in that way.
Noelle: And I can begin to act in good faith, and instead of leaning into fear, which would cause me to retract, I can lean into a different way of being, and I can proceed with good faith and just fucking plow forward, which is what I did. And it went really well. It’s hard.
Noelle: It’s hard, but I think that there are a whole lot of people out there who are really committed to a different way of being and working, and as far as our organization goes, I want to find those people and I want to partner with those people. I think that we can change things, I really do.
John: Yeah, absolutely. And I think also with every person on our team, because we’re all so different, we have different strengths and weaknesses, it’s hard for us in different ways. I appreciate you sharing in what ways it’s hard for you—by the way I have to insert this, I think L.A. is calm and people are happy, I didn’t listen to anything else after you said that. No, I live in a little bubble, so that’s different. But, I love how positive you are, and I love that you share your journey as you are guiding and directing this company, and you practice what you preach. And I think that’s so important, as not only a company, but also as instructors, as coaches, as people who are gathering, putting events on, and kind of leading the way, you know?
Noelle: Mhmm. Absolutely, and I think it’s really important to remember for everybody who’s listening, I started out as one of the coaches. So, it seems like such a crazy mound to climb when you’re thinking about becoming a coach, but this whole thing started because I was going through a breakup, I read one of your articles and I emailed you—a stranger, from across the country—and said “hey I’m a coach, you’re looking for coaches”, and you wrote me back and said “hey you’re a really great writer, you have a great story, why don’t you join my team”.
Noelle: So, one of the things with our coaches that we provide is opportunities for those kind of partnerships. When you and I met, neither one of us had any idea that the significance of that very first email exchange.
John: Which is actually just an amazing life principle, but yeah I had no idea what I was doing. But what a great example of how a simple collision can turn into something that is greater than ourselves.
Noelle: Yes, yes. And so as we’re connecting people and we’re building this organization, and our coaches are looking at you and I and saying, “oh, wow I’m here and they’re there”. We covered pretty quick ground, I mean it’s been 6 years?
John: Yeah, wow.
Noelle: 3 companies later.
John: I know.
Noelle: Holy shit.
John: Yeah, yeah and then I think we’re still in our infancy, but also growing very fast, you know? Growing faster than ever.
Noelle: Absolutely, and if I look back and think about where my mindset and my mentality was 6 years ago, I’m a different species.
John: Yeah, I think me too to a certain extent, absolutely. Let me ask you this, so maybe we could end with this, what was your greatest takeaway from this weekend? It could be a business, a personal, any kind of takeaway or revelation.
Noelle: Oh, my goodness. Other people matter.
John: Mmm. Other people matter. I love that. My greatest takeaway was that I think that when you connect others, you also end up connecting to yourself.
John: Which I think is a life law. I think it’s one of the principles of life actually. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing—whether you’re a coach, or a teacher, or running a Fortune 500 company—or whatever, I think if you connect others in a genuine way, not in an egotistic way or controlling way, but really connecting others, there’s no way that you’re not going to be able to connect back to you, and I think that’s beautiful.
Noelle: It is. It is beautiful. We are all connected.
John: Yes. So listen, if you’re listening and you were there this weekend, we value you, and we appreciate you, your attendance was required for us to have these amazing, magical experiences. Or if you haven’t and you have no idea what we’re talking about, but you’re curious about becoming a life coach, come check us out, we are at JRNI.co, and you can read all about us, and you can talk to our team, and we can answer all your questions about life coaching.
Ready to make a leap into your next chapter? If you're ready to learn more about how to become a life coach, take a look at The Catalyst Life Coaching Intensive with over 500 graduates, co-founded by John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux. Vibrant community. Evidence-based life coach training. Lifetime support.