The Art of Goal Digging
An Interview with Genena Armstrong
Thanks for being here, Genena. Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up?
I grew up on the south side of Chicago in a small 3-bedroom, 1 bath ranch home. My family was the first African American family on the block. My elementary school was walking distance and I loved school. I came home for lunch every day. Thanks to my mom, me, my younger sister and younger brother ate hot breakfast every day. Those were the good old days.
Chicago during the 70’s was a lot different than it is now
You felt safer and the neighbors knew all your business. We played double-dutch and played house. The ice cream truck came down the street often and it was a “treat” to be able to buy ice cream. It was NOT a given. In those days we went to the drive-in movies and we took family trips once a year in the summer to Mississippi where my mother grew up. We had a THOUSAND cousins and mosquito bites were a given. There was no scare of the “West Nile” virus.
My father was the breadwinner and my mother was a stay at home mom. However, my childhood was not like a storybook. At 9 years of age, my parents divorced; leaving behind my mother, a single mom with an 8th grade education. She had a few odd jobs helping out, but nothing of significance to care for the remaining 3 kids left at home.
There were times we were without heat and hot water and we used public assistance to eat and pay bills.
It was then that I understood the value of an education.
My mother did the best she could to care for us. With the help of our older brothers and sisters, we still felt safe and were never homeless. The home that I grew up in still belongs to our family. It is currently vacant and on the market. This makes my heart sad, but I will always cherish my childhood memories in that home.
One of my brothers was shot and killed at the age of 18. I was 5 years old when the police showed up at our house. I still remember that day. The nine of us still remember Chucky on his birthday. My mother refers to us as her 9 fruits of the spirit (Love, Joy, Peace, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Kindness, Patience and Self-Control. (Galatians 5:22-23) My Mommy says I am her “Love” child.
I’m so sorry about your brother, tell us more about your other siblings.
I am one of 10 children. I am number 8 and the 5th of 6 girls. Yes, my mom gave birth to six beautiful girls and 4 boys—no twins! My family and I are close. We argue, but we take care of each other. We range in age from 42 years to 65 years of age. My mom was pregnant most of her life, and if you ask her, that’s all she ever wanted to be—a mom.
Name one quality your parents/family instilled in you at a young age?
My mother instilled in me at an early age to 'always be yourself.' I will never forget her words and I continue to hear those words over and over again in my head.
Whenever I’m tempted to feel inadequate or I’m going into a setting where I think everyone in the room is smarter than I am, I remember to be myself. That I am fearfully and wonderfully made. That I don’t need to compare myself to anyone else, and that the life I am blessed to live is a life I intend to live to the fullest. My mother taught me to celebrate life, and to celebrate the milestone and successes because tomorrow isn’t promised.
When you were a little girl, what did you want to be when you 'grew up'? And why?
I smile as I answer this question because I remember wanting to be a “model.” I thought that life was so glamorous and filled with clothes, make-up, and traveling the world. Well I wouldn’t be a model if you paid me! I like to eat too much! Lol…plus believe it or not I don’t like to be the center of attention. People think because I’m an extrovert and I love being around people that I want people looking at me all the time. NOT! I think we judge each other too much and having all eyes on you is a recipe for judgement to be formed. But look at me now, I’m modeling for ELLA!
Tell us a fond memory from your childhood!
One of the fondest memories of my childhood: Celebrating Christmas time with my family. As you can imagine our house was always full of people. Never mind our house was less than 1,500 square feet with no dining room.
We all gathered in whatever space we could find with plate in hand.
When we were young, after my mom and dad divorced, we didn’t have many gifts. I remember our neighbors next door sending over a HUGE box of fruit and candy, and Mommy making breakfast. Later on as adults Mommy required we spend Thanksgiving with our in-laws and “we better had been at home for Christmas.”
Tell us about your passion! What do you do? How long have you been in business?
I am a Professional and Personal Development Coach, Diversity & Inclusion Consultant, Motivational Speaker, Best-Selling author, Pastor’s Wife, Army Mom, and Muse to many.
I am passionate about supporting women—female entrepreneurs, women leaders, and women in every walk of life.
I work with high potential leaders, managers, executives, and business owners in the areas of leadership development, executive presence, vision casting, career management, and brand identification.
My genuine heart for people, my authenticity, is what I hear most people say they like about me. I love creating enthusiasm in others. My goal is to always remain approachable and understanding in my demeanor with everyone who I’m surrounded by. I have both individual and corporate clients.
My individual clients are mostly women who find themselves at a point in life where they are either identifying a shift in life, a career transition, or starting over in the most surprising times of their lives.
After spending 25 years in HR for Fortune 100 companies, I branched off 3 years ago and I am now President and Founder of my own coaching practice--Metamorphosis Coaching LLC.
I love, love, love being a part of my client’s life journey and walking them through what’s getting in the way of their success, their pure joy, and their sheer 'wholeness.'
It’s that “aha” moment that I see on their faces—when they have dug so deep into their souls and they “get it”--then the cherry on top is when I get an email or note back after a few months telling me they have reached their goal, and they have me to thank for it. Man! I’m talking about that feeling when you feel you can die now and go to heaven because you’ve done your job on Earth. That’s my passion and ultimate happy place; my Utopia.
Metamorphosis Coaching represents -not only how I've morphed in my life- but also how I help my clients morph in their own lives.
Did you say you were a published author?!
In 2017, I was blessed to have become an Amazon #1 Best Selling author of “Bravely She Flies” released in May. I am also a contributing author of “Breaking Barriers: A Woman’s Toolkit for Success” published by PWN in 2012.
Do you belong to any local networking groups?
WOVI (Women of Visionary Influence) McKinney Chapter, Dallas HR, Company Culture Consortium, the National Association of Health Service Executives, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (the first African American Sorority founded in 1908) and, last but not least, McKinney Women Entrepreneurs.
What are some things that make your brand unique?
What I think that makes me - and what I do - so unique is that I can relate to every type of person and situation; I don’t judge people. Nothing surprises me. I am often sought after because I aim to make everyone feel comfortable.
After one of my sessions my clients are empowered and driven towards success in their career and in life. Also, not many coaches hold my credentials and certifications. And not many coaches have my experience inside and outside of corporations across industries, demographics and societal norms. Most of my clients are women in leadership and business.
What makes you so relatable to your clients?
I have been a single mom, divorced, remarried, laid off, promoted and started my own business - which speaks to many of the challenges that women face today.
People hire me because I’m me. I’m myself and I don’t pretend to be something I’m not. I’m not pretentious. I’ve hung out with some of the most elite men and women, but I’m not impressed by titles and labels. I’m discerning. I see the heart of people. I can see their wounds even before they tell me. And I reach for that wound and hug them and encourage them and assure them that it’s going to be okay. You’ve got this. And I walk alongside them until they can walk alone.
Tell me about your logo.
Oh I'm glad you asked! My logo is very special to me because the original designer happens to be my 16 year old son, Jamison. He is a super talented artist and doesn't give himself enough credit for his work. I told him what I do and how I came up with the name. I asked him to design a logo based on what I said and he literally drew the cocoon as you see it. He said "Mom that's all you need." Both he and CJ say I can be "extra" so I went simple. I then sent his rendering to a professional graphic designer who put it to print and added my name. As you can see the "sis" is turned inward--symbolizing a butterfly, therefore "transformation."
I often hashtag "morphcoach" or "metamorphosis" when I reference something I write about that has to do with transforming from the inside out. That's the process a butterfly goes through.
I am a firm believer that transformation occurs from the inside out. Not from the inside. It pains me to see women (and men too) try so hard to transform their looks and work more on the outside than they work on their "insides." Society spends countless dollars on beauty--which I am also guilty of! But the one thing I think we can do a better job of is investing in our "insides"-- our souls, our spirits and our mental and emotional health. For whatever reason some of us are embarrassed to say we need help on our insides. We stay in that cocoon far too long. No amount of makeup or extensions can fix what's going on in our hearts and minds. I wanted my brand to represent my mantra-- that beautiful process of transformation.
Why is it so important for clients to buy what you sell?
What I do is extremely important but often confused with counseling. Counseling and Coaching are very distinct. I think there is value in having both, if necessary. I have clients today that are seeing both myself and a counselor.
The important thing to remember is counseling focuses on the 'past', coaching focuses on the future; your goals, aspirations, and how you want to move forward.
I offer assessments and other resources to my clients based on specific goals. Sometimes my clients have no idea what goals they should tackle. I help with that. You could call me a “Goal Digger.” Or some call me the “Oracle” from the movie “The Matrix.” Should they take the blue pill or the red pill?
Whether you are looking for someone to hold you accountable to your current goals, or help you identify and establish goals, or help you discover what’s getting in the way of you achieving your goals, I can help.
What else makes your services unique?
When I work with my clients, I am with you for the long haul. My packages are designed for us to partner over the course of a 6, 9, or 12 month timeframe. We meet on average once every 2 weeks and each appointment is set ahead of time. I have had clients return again after our agreement expires, which is not uncommon. I typically meet with my clients individually in a space where they are most comfortable. I have a home office but find that meeting at coffee shops or my client's office is the best option for many.
I have a number of resources in my toolbox, and a number of referral relationships for various life essentials—from career, family, faith, health, relaxation, meditation, and health. You will walk away from our sessions ready to tackle your goals head on.
To you, what does it mean to be self-employed? Name a few advantages of being self-employed.
I absolutely love working for myself. I love having the freedom and flexibility to work at my own pace and maintain work/life balance, as well as work with individual clients and corporate clients.
I love the variety of what I do.
I love utilizing every gift and talent God has blessed me with to help others, and to be able to bring my full self into every situation and atmosphere I find myself.
When you started out, who did you hire to help you?
Right away I needed someone to help me become a limited liability company (LLC). It was actually my husband who helped me (I love him!) He’s been a huge supporter and of me chasing my dreams. I call him my “Business Manager.” He has been an entrepreneur for a lot longer than I have, and is really good at budgeting and researching best options for just about everything from taxes to marketing. My next biggest investment was hiring the best web designer to help me promote my business. I am doing “okay” with bookkeeping and financial matters myself but as I grow my business I’m certain I will need to hire one. I make it my business to hire other women in business for themselves. I believe in supporting each other.
Name a challenge you may have faced that took you by surprise. How did you deal with it?
Early last year when I was about to sign my first really big corporate deal, I ran up against a business woman for whom I was asked to partner. She had been in business for herself for a long time and was very successful.
However, because of some things going on at the time in her personal life, (and because of miscommunication and misunderstanding) she and I did not see eye to eye. I wanted the contract and I certainly needed the money, but I was not willing to jeopardize how I do business. My interaction with her was very tense. I wrestled with this for a few weeks. With my advisor's help, I decided not to accept the contract if it meant having to work under her business model. By God’s grace, and a dear friend, I was able to work a deal for a solo contract.
It didn’t mean I didn’t have to work with her; but it meant I worked independently under my own deal. Fast-forward over a year later, she and I are friends and we both learned something very valuable during this exchange.
My advice to ladies who are starting off in business on your own:, when things are hard and you're struggling to make ends meet (because you have bills and responsibilities) but your gut is tells you something is not right—
Trust your gut and keep your heart and hands open.
What other advice do you have for young women who want to be their own boss?
I can’t stress enough how important it is to set yourself up for success before venturing out on your own. Here are the top 5 things I would recommend before launching out:
Gain the credentials you need to walk in the door as a credible expert in your craft. In my case it meant a year long, intense certification program which gave me the letters behind my name.
Develop a robust marketing and social media plan to help you get the word out about your business. This is so key. If you are one of those people that don’t care for social media you will have to get over yourself. Seriously. Everything now is done through networking and social media.
Always remember your brand. Everything you post on social media, and every time you show up in any situation; you are representing your brand. Don’t forget that. People are watching you even when you don’t know they are.
Be professional, not tacky. If you can’t produce your product or marketing with excellence, wait. Don’t throw just anything out there just to say you did so.
Surround yourself with other women who are going in the same direction you are going: Forward! And remember Boss women collaborate, they don’t compete.
What are your words to live by?
A woman with a vision empowers an Empire of Women to do more, see more, and be more.
I've learned the most beautiful thing of all: SHINE, SHINE! By letting my light shine brightly, I encourage others to do the same.
Have you always had a passion for what you do now?
You know it’s funny, ever since I was a little girl I have had a passion to encourage, inspire, and help others. I would be on the telephone talking and telling my friends what my mother had just told me minutes before. As if I knew what I was talking about. Lol. My mother said she would listen and shake her head.
I learned very early on how to really listen to people.
And I’ve always had a discerning spirit. I just didn’t know what it was called. I spent an entire year researching what I do now and how to best acquire the credibility in my craft. Once I figured it out (with the help of my husband and my dear friend Amy Allen Meyer, LPC) I ran after it full speed ahead.
There was no stopping me. I can’t tell you what tremendous joy I feel every day because I get to do what I do best--and get paid to do it!
Where do you see your business trending in the next 5 years?
I am thrilled to have our photo shoot in the BEAUTIFUL Neathery Estates; which is a Bed & Breakfast that belongs to my friend, Tiffany. She has been a TREMENDOUS help and has encouraged me to get going on my dreams. For as long as I can remember I have had a dream of owning and operating my own Bed and Breakfast. I have not shared this with many people, but I am officially announcing that I am in the process of building my business plan with a goal to open one in the next couple of years. I will run my coaching practice from there, as well as offer workshops, retreats and a place to hold meetings and for people to refresh and get away. This is one of those dreams where you have no idea how it’s going to happen, but you have faith that it will.
God gave me this vision and I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds. Stay tuned!