Developing Your Talents to Serve Others with Francine Carter
This episode of Bottom Line Faith features Francine Carter, Owner and President of Action Coaching & Training, LLC.
“My faith plays into my own faith in me, and [the talents] God has given me, and for me to develop those talents so that I can be a help and be able to talk [about] spirituality and not be afraid of it; being able to talk [about] a religion even if I don’t understand it.”
Adam: My name is Adam Ritz, thanks for joining us. I’m your co-host and producer along with Ray Hilbert. Ray, always a pleasure to see your smiling face.
Ray: It is good to be back together. It’s been a couple weeks since we’ve been able to record one of our programs here, and I’m fired up for today’s guest.
Adam: It’s one of my favorite shows to co-host, and I love your introductions of the guests. Who do we have today?
Ray: Well we have Francine Carter, and she is the founder, owner, and president of Action Coaching & Training, LLC, and she’s gonna share some life lessons. We’re gonna learn all about who you are and what you do in just a moment, Francine, so how are you?
Francine: I’m doing great today. Thank you.
Ray: Are you ready to go?
Francine: I’m ready.
Ray: I know we had a chance to speak a few weeks ago in preparation for the show, so we’re gonna have some great conversation. And Adam, I just want to remind our listeners just kind of what our purpose here is at Bottom Line Faith, and kind of the word picture, friends, that we like to use is imagine you know, we’re going to lift the hood and we’re going to tinker around in the engine of Christian leadership. We have a chance to interview presidents and CEOs and business owners from all over the country. Athletes, celebrities and individuals like Francine, who really through their work and their vocation are having an impact on leaders all across the country as well.
Adam: And just from Francine saying hello, I can hear that you have a great radio voice. Have you heard that before?
Francine: No, I haven’t. But I like that.
Adam: You’ve never done voice work professionally?
Francine: No, I haven’t.
Adam: Well, now you can put this on your resume, that you were on Bottom Line Faith.
Francine: Wonderful. Love it.
Ray: Well, Francine, take a moment and share with our audience. What is Action Coaching & Training? What do you do? Why did you start it? When did you start it? Just give us a framework. And then we’ll kind of come back to some of the other things we want to talk about. But help us understand your company.
Francine: Well, I started out as a ballet dancer. Back in the day I was a ballet major, became a social work major and a therapist, ended up at an employee assistance company. And I still knew that there was something else I wanted to do. And I heard someone at a training and development meeting, and they were talking about the differences between mentoring and coaching, and as soon as I heard him explain coaching, I knew that was my absolute calling.
So I decided to venture out, have faith in myself, and in what my calling was, and started Action Coaching & Training. So what I do is work with individuals as well as companies in coaching and in training, and mainly soft skills communication, which is really not a soft skill. It’s an everyday, pretty hard, skill. And my husband helped me come up with the name because he said, “You are always in action. That’s it. That’s it. It’s got to be your name: Action Coaching & Training.” And then the initials are act, so it’s perfect.
Ray: I love it. Okay, so you’ve got my attention, you said that you came to this meeting and you learned about the difference between mentoring and coaching. So help me understand the difference.
Francine: With mentoring, your mentor has been through what you want to go through, or in that same direction. So the mentor is going to help you understand where they went, how they went, what to avoid, possibly, and provide you some extra resources. Now in coaching, we coaches know that all of our clients have their answer and their solution. It’s our job to ask the questions and help them get through their own barriers to be able to bring that answer to the surface.
Ray: I love that. And Adam, I’m reminded as I’m listening to what Francine is sharing with us, you know, Jesus was the master at asking meaningful questions. In fact, the term that I’ve learned is called the rabbinical art of questioning. And so for example, when that rich young ruler came and said, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And rather than just answering the question directly, Jesus responded, he asked a question. He says, “Why do you call me good?” And so he could see what was inside that young rich man’s heart? Is that what you’re talking about?
Francine: Exactly, exactly. And I’ll give you an example, one of my clients, I had 12 sessions with him. And I always asked the question, I would never answer the question for him. So the last question, at the last session we had, he said to me, “Okay, this time, just give me the answer.” And I said, “Alright, alright. Give me the question.” So he gave me the question. And I looked at him. And before I could even open my mouth, he went ahead and answered his own question. And I loved that, because that bit of hesitation that I had with him, he knew the answer. And after he answered it, he looked at me goes, “Doggone it, you did it again.” And that’s what it’s about. We know that they have their answers. We all have our answers inside of us.
Ray: Yeah. So, let’s learn. I’d like to learn a little bit about like, what types of clients do you serve? What are their roles and companies and organizations in leadership? And why? Why would they hire a coach, because this is a word, this is an industry that has exploded over the last say, 10 or 15 years. And I’m sure that some of our audience, you know, are familiar with the term, but they may not understand why does a leader need a coach? So who hires you and why?
Francine: Well, people hire me, there are a couple different ways I get into a company. One is when someone, they notice that it’s worth and has value, or having a difficulty, and they know that they’ve got what it takes, but they don’t want to interfere. They want someone else from the outside to come in and really get to the truth of what’s really going on without having to know every single detail.
So as a coach, I come in, I talk with that person, it’s confidential, they can say what they need, and I always tell them, you could even tell me that you’re not really fond of your boss, it’s not going to go back to your boss, but we’re going to find out why you’re not fond of your boss and help you understand more about where your boss may be coming from, as well as leaders of organizations. The higher you get, sometimes, the less you have someone to confide in. And you think you have to have all of the answers. And the reality is, even though you’re a leader of an organization, you’re still a human being, and you still have some insecurities here and there. So being able to have someone who’s extremely objective and is not going to give you the answer, but is going to help you figure it out. That’s what they hire us coaches for.
Ray: Well, I hear three things in that. I’m actually taking some notes as I’m listening here. And let me know if I missed anything. Okay, Francine, every leader needs a safe place to have a real conversation without consequence, without penalty. I heard that I heard they need confidentiality to know that what they share is not going to be used against them politically.
Francine: Exactly, or in any way shape and form used against them.
Ray: And then, akin to that, we just need a sounding board. You ever like that, Adam, where you just need to hear yourself think? And as she referred to in her first statement, sometimes as you’re asking your question out loud, you can figure out the answer out loud. If those thoughts are stuck in your own head with the door closed, you’re blocked, and as soon as you get to talk to Francine, ask your question out loud, you maybe, you can figure out the answer on your own.
Francine: Exactly. And what I call that is, that’s when you’re in your head. And it’s that minutia mania, or you just keep going around and around and around.
Ray: I have minutia mania. I never knew what it was called. I’m nuts!
Francine: We all have a little bit of that. But the key is to accept that nuts part of us and how to use it, and to use it in the best way possible. Because we humans, we really are hilarious, we’re hilarious. And the crazy things we do. We fight life every day. How many of us fight getting up in the morning, we fight the alarm clock? Well, doggone it, the alarm clock went off and we woke up. I think that’s a pretty good start to the day.
Ray: Score for me. I got out of bed. I have a friend that got into some coaching. And one of the things I heard from his side of the table, which is your side of the table, is not to confuse the term with life coach. Is that a term that bothers you? Because I think just according to pop culture and movies, if you see some a coach in a movie, it’s usually like a life coach. That’s not what you’re doing. Is that correct?
Francine: You know, you can’t really separate the leader from their life. It is a combination of both. And if you’re going in as a business coach, that might be your focus. But you still got to look at how each person walks into the company, how each person is bringing their own faith, their own history, their own culture into the company and how it meshes together and meshes together well.
Ray: Yeah, that’s really great. Folks, we are speaking with Francine Carter, the owner and president of Action Coaching & Training, and I’m Ray Hilbert, your co-host along with Adam Ritz here at Bottom Line Faith. And so I’m beginning to understand, I’m beginning to understand what this is all about. And so just for a moment, Francine, I’d like you to speak to maybe somebody driving in their car right now. And they’re listening to this program. Maybe they’ve got their headset on and they’re working out there on the treadmill, they’re running, whatever the case is, and they’ve got something they’re really wrestling through. What would you advise them from the perspective of being a coach? How would you advise them to wrestle through that big issue and possibly engage a coach?
Francine: Yeah, the first-off is to know what you’re wrestling with. And if you don’t know exactly, to be able to sit down with that person, or find someone you confide in and say, “This is what I’m wrestling with. Do you know someone that really specializes in that?” The other way of looking at it is going into the International Coach Federation on the web, because they’ve got certified coaches there that, we want to make sure that you’re really looking at someone who’s been through training, who’s not just holding out and hanging out as shingle and saying, “I’m a coach.”
I’ve gone through a coaching program that was nine months, and it was equivalent to my masters in social work. It was amazing. So there is neuroscience involved in it. There’s a lot involved in it. So don’t be afraid to seek out and to seek out a number of different coaches. I’ve had clients contact me and I, and we’ve met, and if it’s not a good match, I always tell them that “I will help you find the person that’s going to be a good match for you.” It’s not about competition. It’s not about competition. It’s about finding the right person that you can feel confident with. And you can feel extremely vulnerable and be safe.
Ray: I’ve just got conjured up in my mind, are you telling me that we’re going to meet my office, and I’m going to curl up on the couch? And I’m going to lay down and talk about what happened to me when I was five years old, and why I’m a mess. Is that what’s going to happen here?
Francine: No, no, no, no, coaching starts with where you are, and going to optimal, okay? Therapy is where you are, but healing the past. And it’s interesting, because I have both, I’m a licensed clinical social worker here in Indiana. But I’m also a coach, and I tell my clients, if you’re sitting up, we’re in coaching; if you’re laying down, you can be in therapy. So it’s always fun to see, you know, those executives that still wear the suits, because, you know, there are some out there that will all of a sudden start laying down, and I’ll say, “No, no, no, no, no, you haven’t paid me for that part yet.” But, but there is, there is a distinct difference. So making sure that your coach is not your therapist; your coach is helping you to get where you want to be.
Ray: I think it’s important to point out to our listeners right now that we’re all sitting up. We’re gonna make sure that people understand we are sitting up for this interview, although by the end we may be laying down.
Francine: I can do both, I can do both.
Ray: Well, let’s take a little bit of a look back now, talking about kind of looking back and so forth. Tell us a little bit about in your career and your work. Some of the hardest decisions you’ve had to make You know, here at Bottom Line Faith, faith is a big part of it, it’s the core of our conversations here. So tell us a little bit as you maybe we’re starting the business or as you built your company, the hardest decision you’ve had to make, and how did your faith play a role in that, and maybe it wasn’t just around business. But tell us about that.
Francine: I think it was especially when I left a full-time salaried position to start a company. And I remember that first few weeks of that company thinking “I’m not getting paid for this hour, I’m not getting paid for this hour.” So it really was stepping out on faith. And one of my favorite Bible verses is Matthew 14:25-33. I never remember the number so I had to look down.
But the story about being in the boat, and Jesus standing out there and saying, “Come on, walk out here with me.” And they’re on the boat fearful going “No, I don’t think so.” And so finally, Peter gets out. But as soon as he gained fear, he started sinking. And I love Jesus, “Ye of little faith.” So it really was taking that chance, walking out, and having faith. Now that does that stay every day? No, because I’m human. But you’ve got to remind yourself that there is that master plan and let it play out.
Ray: And I think we’re definitely at a point in the program, and this happens almost every time when our guest says something that just feels like “Okay, this is a pause moment,” right? So I just want to take one of these pause moments. And if you’re listening to the program right now, and you’ve been praying or wrestling through some big move, that’s really the question is not what’s right or what’s wrong. But which of those moves or what in that move or decision is going to cause you to have to trust and have faith in the Lord?
As Francine was saying, you know, keeping our eyes on Jesus. It was only when Peter took his eyes off Jesus that he started to sink. And so is that decision that you’re wrestling through, maybe it is to start a business or I don’t know, maybe it’s some toxic relationship, or who knows what’s going on in your life right now. Maybe it’s a proposal inside your company. Who knows what it is? But pray; stop and pray. Think about that. What’s going to cause faith to be exercised here? And that’s really where you started, right?
Francine: Absolutely, absolutely.
Ray: Any regrets?
Francine: Oh, no. And plus, I don’t believe in regrets.
Ray: No? What’s that about?
Francine: You know, we’re all in our own journey. Yeah, and everything that happens to us is a lesson, you know, so looking back and regretting, you’re only going to put yourself back in that boat of fear. You know, if you continuously look back and say, “Well, I regret this and I regret that,” you’re never going to be moving forward. I look back and say, “That was interesting. Let’s not try that one again.”
Ray: Yeah, that’s right.
Francine: And so it really is looking forward and having the faith and recognizing you’re on your own journey, and we are all on our own journey, and trust the master plan, for heaven’s sakes.
Adam: Is that one of the Francine Carter main points of coaching: Don’t have regrets? You answered so quickly, almost like a slogan. It was almost like a slogan, I don’t believe in regrets.
Francine: Well, that’s my belief. I can’t push my beliefs on my clients. But if they talk about their having regrets, I will ask questions about what the regret is doing for them, and how it’s playing out, or how it might be holding them back. So again, it’s questions. If they choose to continue to have regrets, that’s their choice. But my job is to help them at least plant that seed, kind of like what you suggested at the front of this. we don’t know what that one seed is going to grow later on. But hopefully in the questions that I ask, those empowering questions, they learn more about themselves.
Ray: That is great. And so let me ask this question for you. Francine, have you ever not accepted a client?
Francine: Oh, sure!
Ray: Tell us about that. And let me tell you why I’m asking the question. Because, again, there’s probably a listener or several listeners right now that have heard of this concept. Maybe they’ve had somebody talk to them about hiring a coach or what have you. Why would you, as a coach, reject working with a client, because maybe this can help them shape their thinking as they evaluate who could be a good coach for them.
Francine: And it’s not about rejecting, so sorry about that. It’s about moving them to the person that’s going to work best for them. I go by my intuition, and most coaches do. We really develop our listening skills to the point that we really find that intuition, and if it’s a good chemistry, and if we find it’s going to work, and if that’s not happening, then it’s really that way of saying to the client, “This may not be the best mix, but let me help you find another coach that you may have that better mix with.” So it’s not that rejection. It’s just knowing that it’s just not going to work and it’s not going to work as fast, and you’re not going to get your return on your investment. And that’s, that’s not ethical. Yeah, that’s just not ethical for me.
Ray: That’s good. So you might, you might come to a conclusion as the coach in that interview. And in that conversation rolling – I’m speculating here, right? But maybe there is a misalignment of values, maybe goals and priorities and even how we might define success personally, professionally. If those are conflicting, are you saying you would not be a good coach for that person?
Francine: No, not at all. Because we can absolutely have a conflict of what we believe. It’s how we’re going to go about it. My approach is pretty direct. And so I’m very, very upfront with my clients. I’m pretty direct, I wear high heels for a purpose, it’s to kick you where you need it, if you need the extra kick, but being that direct. And also I let them know that I do have a sarcastic way about me, but I use my sarcasm for good and not for evil, because sometimes I believe, at least, that you can use your sarcasm to present an issue that may be tough to hear initially.
Francine: And so being able to talk with that client up front, this is my approach, this is my personality. Whatever you bring to the table is not for me to judge.
Ray: Actually, I’m a big believer that sarcasm is a spiritual gift that just got left out of the Bible. So I’m really glad to hear you say that. You are gifted. You are very good. I try to exercise that muscle. Alright, well, folks, once again, this is the Bottom Line Faith program. Adam Ritz and I, Ray Hilbert, your co-hosts. Here we are interviewing and talking with Francine Carter, the owner and president of Action Coaching & Training, out of Indianapolis, Indiana. And Francine, let me ask this. Can you think back in a coaching relationship and a coaching conversation, a big mistake you made and if you can think about that, what was that mistake and what did you learn from it that’s now helped you be better at what you’re doing.?
Francine: Again, mistakes are not one of those things I think about, like regrets. I think the biggest one that I look back on is being a little too open. You know, I’m an open book, you know, it’s all about my truth. If you ask me a question, I’m going to answer it. Sometimes clients don’t want, or others around me don’t want to hear my unfiltered versions. So being conscious of a nice healthy boundary and making sure that you know, we put ourselves in check.
Ray: Sounds a lot like my 13 year old daughter. Ever since she’s been young, there’s no filter. If it’s up here, it’s coming out and no thought, she’s quite open, right? Yeah, we nicknamed her CNN because she never stops talking.
Francine: My husband always says if I’m not talking at night, he knows I’m sleeping.
Ray: Well, so on that note, a wife, you have children?
Francine: Two children.
Ray: How old are your children?
Francine: They are 22 and 23. We adopted them from foster care when they were 7 and 8.
Ray: Fantastic. So you have epitomized working motherhood, spousehood, those sorts of things. So, you know, there’s there may be some leaders listening right now who are wrestling and balancing it all? How do you work through that process, building a company being a spouse, children, I’m sure community involvement, church involvement, those kind of – how did you balance or how do you continue to balance it all?
Francine: Priorities, absolute priorities and what my passions are. If someone wants me involved in something, and my heart doesn’t scream “Yes,” then it’s a no for me. When I started my company, it was a hobby. It was a hobby because we had just adopted the girls about a year before, and they needed stability of knowing there was going to be a mom around at the drop of a hat. And we had many phone calls that I had to drop a hat and go to the schools. So that’s where my priority was. I always tell people that my first business was my children and then the second business was my business, and it was a hobby. So now it is only yes to the things that really, really ignite my passion.
Adam: How much does your faith playing the role of coaching with one of your clients? I guess, from your, I don’t know if you’d call them teachings or philosophies, if this person is a Christian or is agnostic or atheist. I mean, how much does your faith play into that, I guess, relationship between you and your client?
Francine: Well, my faith plays into my own faith in me, and what God has given me: the talents. And for me to develop those talents so that I can be a help to even a client who’s an atheist – which I’ve had a couple. And we’ve had that conversation. That’s another piece, making sure that as a coach, I don’t ignore that piece of someone’s life and being able to talk spirituality and not be afraid of it, being able to talk a religion even if I don’t understand it. I don’t have to understand it. They have to understand how they want to use their religion, their faith, their spirituality in their life. Now, of course, if they’re going to harm someone, that’s another thing, but it’s all up to what they want. And it starts with me having the faith in the job that I have been given to do.
Ray: Believe it or not, Adam, once again, we are at the end of our program and boy, there’s so many other things I’d love to talk about and questions. But you know, there’s one question we always ask.
Adam: We need – before your question, I think, I’m going to suggest that we change the slogan or implement the slogan, “The fastest half-hour in radio with Bottom Line Faith.” it’s the fastest half-hour you’ll ever listen to, interesting people we talk to. Okay, on with your question.
Ray: It never ceases to amaze me. So Francine, we talked about this before going on-air and having this interview. We said there’s one question we always do ask, and it’s the last question we ask here on Bottom Line Faith. I always take a moment to set the stage for it. It’s what we call our “4:23 question.” It’s based out of Proverbs 4:23, where Solomon writes, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it determines the course of your life.” And there are some biblical scholars who believe that these may have been among the last words that Solomon wrote, he gave us Ecclesiastes, he gave us the Proverbs and those sorts of things.
And there are some, as I said, biblical scholars that think not only was this perhaps some of the last words that he wrote, but it’s possible that he gathered his family, he gathered his loved ones around him, and he’s thinking, “Okay, I’ve given you all this wisdom, I’ve given you all these principles to live, but now I’m going to give you the one thing to never forget. Above all else, guard your heart.” Okay, so let’s now just fast forward the clock and let’s pretend it’s at the end of your time this side of eternity. And you have a chance to gather your family, your friends, and your loved ones. What is the most important piece of advice that you could pass along? In other words, fill in the blank: above all else…
Francine: Know your heart, and be and live your heart.
Ray: Say it again.
Francine: Know your heart, and be and live your heart.
Francine: I’ll be contacting my attorney later.
Adam: .com and .org.
Ray: Be and live your heart. Love it. Love it. We always love to end our conversations with that question. Because that’s really the big takeaway, right? The big thing that really, we can understand our guests, understand what drives them. And so I can see why coaching is your life; I can see why you’ve been very successful at it. Are there any closing thoughts or comments you’d want to pass along to our guests as we wrap up our time together today?
Francine: Live your truth. Just live your truth, Absolutely and unapologetically transparently, and watch yourself transform.
Ray: Adam, what do you think?
Adam: And I’ll just add to that, Francine, and speak for you about the minutia mania that is just running around inside the skull and bouncing around. You need to let that out, right?
Francine: Absolutely, absolutely.
Adam: That’s what I’m gonna do the rest of today; I’m going to deal with my minutia mania.
Ray: Well, Francine Carter, I have a whole new perspective of how to work with you from this point forward. I want to make sure our listeners have a chance to find you online. The website, maybe Facebook, Twitter, what do you got?
Francine: The website is actioncoachingtraining.com. You can find me on Twitter, you can find me on Facebook, all of the wonderful social medias. There’s an addiction there, so I’ll be seeing my therapist later.
Ray: Closing thoughts from you?
Adam: Just always a pleasure to have these faith-based leaders on the show, and to find out more about coaching and how I think it’s nice to that, you know, these, your clients are people that maybe aren’t comfortable opening up in front of other people. They might feel like they have to have a mask on at work, they can’t let their hair down in front of their employees, or let anybody know what their thoughts might be. And it’s great that they have a resource in you to be able to close the door and have that conversation.
Francine: Thank you.
Ray: That’s absolutely powerful. And leaders, we all need that place to be real, and where we can feel safe and know that it’s going to be penalty-free to be real. It’s not going to be used against us. Because we know that’s not what happens in a boardroom. And you know, when things get shared, it gets put back on you, you get consequence and penalty to it. And that’s why we all need that safe, trusting relationship. And so perhaps a takeaway for you from today’s program is maybe you need to consider finding yourself a coach, and Francine gave us the website of the organization, International Coaching Federation. Check them out online and you can find a coach near you. And it’s not just face-to-face. There’s online coaching, phone coaching, there’s a lot of options out there. But what we really want to leave you with this program is don’t go through what you’re going through alone as a professional as well as a leader. You need somebody that can help you work through it. We all do.