How I Became a
Business Strategy Coach
and Fractional COO
Cheers! I’m Tanya. I’m obsessed with organization, structure, and planning!
I’ve always been this way and have finally embraced it as the “Super-Power” that I can share with others.
You mean not everyone thinks in terms of lists, diagrams, and workflows?
(Yes, I assume that you will chuckle or roll your eyes here. I can be a bit silly too.)
Love my office! Great place to work for my clients.
Becoming a Strategic Coach and Fractional COO is what I was meant to do.
It is something that comes so naturally to me, but I never considered it a possible career and I fought it for a LONG time!
Trust me, I’m stubborn.
I’ve realized over time that my brain functions differently than many people.
I first became aware of it in middle school when I was having a hard time in a history class. I would take notes as my teacher was talking, but when I went back to them a few weeks later to study for tests, nothing made sense!
He noticed that I was struggling with comprehension and testing initially. He took the time to consider what I was doing and how I think.
It turns out that I take notes in a creative, almost chaotic manner. He taught me to then reorganize my scribble and drawings into a concise and structured format shortly after. Do you immediately see both left AND right brain tendencies here?
I like, and honestly NEED, to embrace both the creative and structured sides of what I do. It’s not a normal tendency and I’ve always struggled with finding a balance between the two.
College and Corporate Career
Years later in college when I started struggling with a few courses, I remembered what my history teacher taught me. I found a way to combine a creative AND structured approach. With content that I couldn’t remember, I would create detailed diagrams and maps that would serve as reminders of the information.
When I sat down for the test, I would flip to the last page and immediately draw the diagrams and maps. Then I would finally start the test and refer to my drawings to help me through it. I was almost always one of the last students to finish.
In general, my classes in high school and college was focused more on science and math. I was decent at it, but not great. I had good grades, but I had to work hard to get them. None of it came naturally. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any exposure to business courses. The closest I came was a Logic class. It was without a doubt my FAVORITE course in all four years. Now THAT made sense to me. Especially when we used diagrams to evaluate the logic statements!
In my first job after college, I fell into the role of an Assistant Project Manager on a large regulatory project. With the help of some great mentors, I quickly developed a project management acumen and was soon running my own projects. I LOVED it!
Everything was structured, detailed, scheduled, budgeted, and ORGANIZED. There were tools upon tools for brainstorming, diagraming, evaluating, strategizing, and so much more. It was magical! And finally, I found a role that made sense with how my brain works!
Twenty years later, I had created a great corporate career out of supporting or leading teams, managers, and executives with project and program planning, process development and improvement, and strategic implementation. Every promotion or new opportunity I was offered was more and more strategic and operations focused. Apparently, it was what I excelled at.
It All Changed with my Daughter
In 2016, we adopted a beautiful baby girl and the instant I saw her, my world changed.
Up to that point, I had always been focused on climbing the corporate ladder. My ultimate business goal was to become a Chief Operations Officer (COO) for a major corporation.
For almost two months I tried to work part-time and take care of a newborn (the adoption was very unexpected so I couldn’t immediately step away). It was tough, but may have been doable. However, I also wanted a more flexible schedule to fully enjoy and appreciate the family I had almost given up hope of having.
I tried to negotiate a different schedule with my boss, but it didn’t work with my position. So, I left the corporate position I fought 20 years to attain. It was an INCREDIBLY hard decision.
I then spent six months as a stay-at-home mom and considered making it my new career. As much as I tried, I found that I wasn’t cut out for it. After a lot of extreme “Mommy guilt”, we started our daughter in daycare and I considered what to do next.
I wanted the flexibility to be a more involved mom than Corporate America would allow, but I also wanted to be a great example to her of forging my own path in life. How could I ever encourage her to be brave and strong if I wasn’t doing the same?
My biggest inspiration
Finding My Path
Encouraged by my love for photography and joy in taking photos for friends, I started a photography business. I LOVED setting up the business structure, writing the business plan, and drafting the operations plan. I had more detailed workflows than formal studios with 10 photographers and hundreds of clients!
But when it came time to run the business, I realized that I didn’t actually want to be a portrait photographer! I wasn’t passionate about it. Walking away felt like a failure, but again, it was the right thing to do.
Quite a few friends, including my husband, asked me multiple times why I didn’t do SOMETHING related to strategy or operations. I would always say “Anyone can do that!”, or “People wouldn’t pay me for this!”, or, “Everyone thinks this way, right?”
While I was trying to figure out my path, I ironically and unexpectedly stepped into a part-time Chief Operations Officer (COO) position for a Leadership and Management company in California (Truby Achievements, Inc.). I also founded a social enterprise business (Small Actions Greater Good) to fulfill a personal mission
However, no matter what else I was doing, I always ended up giving strategic or operations advice to women in various networking groups or programs.
That Aha Moment
My biggest supporter – My Husband
Out of the blue, a business friend finally challenged me in the middle of a meeting – “Why aren’t you a Fractional COO? I’d hire you”.
It was a term I wasn’t familiar with (it’s not common in the corporate world). I Googled it as soon as I got home.
I think my mouth was hanging open for an hour. It was EXACTLY what I love to do! AND people were getting paid for it??
Within 24 hours, I had a simple website created and my first client.
Working with women-owned Small Business Owners doesn’t feel like work to me, but I do take it very seriously. I LOVE to get to know them and their business – to understand their mission, vision, and values; to hear about their big dreams and long-term plans; to help them organize their thoughts and to identify and prioritize projects. I feel beyond blessed that they invite me into their confidence and truly honored that they trust my recommendations.
I tell every potential client that I’m not here to tell you how to run your business. It’s YOUR business. I’m here to help you run YOUR business BETTER.
I’m not a consultant either – I don’t come in with a proposed way of doing things or a solution to a specific problem. I’m a coach first and potentially a long-term partner second. I listen, advise, and organize. And, if you like what I have to say, I help streamline, improve, and grow your business.
How can I help you?
Get to Know Me More
To better understand my personality, and hopefully make you chuckle, here are a few questions that I am often asked and my typical response:
Can you be spontaneous?
My Answer? Sure, please let me know what day you would like to be spontaneous and the approximate window of time so I can schedule that.
Do you use a list to stay organized personally?
My answer? A list? [insert laughter] I have a list of lists with lists! And yes, I use them all.
Where do we want to go on vacation this year?
Ohhh… that’s an awesome question. I’m not sure yet. You pick your favorite brainstorming method and I’ll be right back with the whiteboard and the markers!
Do you plan your meals for Thanksgiving?
Copyright 2019 Tanya Quinn, LLC