Why I left my $200K tech job to start a health coaching business

Why I left my $200K tech job to start a health coaching business
Photo by Jessy Smith / Unsplash
"Don't take this the wrong way, but you strike me as the type of person who will never be happy working for someone else."

This was the feedback I received from a manager while working as an engineer for a Silicon Valley startup. During career reviews, most employees would hear that they needed to improve the quality of their code or work on communicating more clearly. But not me. My main issue was that I challenged authority and expressed frustration when I thought that the wrong decisions were being made.

While he may have seen my behavior as an attempt to overstep my bounds, I wasn't trying to undermine him at all. I wasn't trying to be the one in charge. Honestly. I was just trying to ensure that my team was thorough and thoughtful about their approach to problems.

Unlike so many eager entrepreneurs out there, I didn't have lofty dreams of "being my own boss". But my manager was right about one thing: Being a tech employee sure didn't suit me.

Finding purpose through fitness

Like many of you, I turned to running and weightlifting in pursuit of a slimmer and fitter body. However, to say that my fitness journey merely resulted in a toned physique and lower resting heart rate would be a massive understatement of the impact it has had on my life.

During my toughest days, I found solace at the gym. While I sweated and gasped my way through a workout, I worked out the problems and worries plaguing my mind. I learned to embrace discomfort and face challenges head-on. I gradually gained confidence in myself and my abilities.

Ultimately, my dedication to fitness made me want more for myself. As I surpassed my expectations of my physical abilities, I pushed myself to surpass my perceived limitations outside of the gym as well.

Life is chaos, and it can sometimes feel like bad things happen at every turn. I myself have hit rock bottom and struggled with stress, depression, illness, and injury. I know all too well the feeling of being trapped, helpless, and alone. It is precisely for this reason that I want to empower others and help them overcome their own challenges.

You can't control what happens to you, but you can control how prepared you are to take action and respond. I strongly believe that a healthy lifestyle is the key ingredient to taking on all the challenges that life presents. It is my deepest wish to help equip people with the tools they need to bolster their health and their resiliency.

Passion is not enough

My motivation to serve others as a health coach had been brewing for quite some time, but one question remained: Am I the right person for the job?

Passion alone is not nearly enough to guarantee career success. And although I had certifications for personal training and nutrition coaching in hand, I knew that having a solid knowledge base was only a tiny piece of what coaching entails. In order to determine if I could be an effective coach, I needed to validate that I possessed the unique competencies, personality traits, and values that the job demanded.

Rather than being a judge of my own character, I turned to various friends, colleagues, and mentors for their honest feedback. Through this exercise, I discovered that I did possess some strengths that would serve me well as a health coach. Specifically, I learned that my authentic and approachable personality would help me quickly connect with clients, while my strategic mindset would enable me to craft tailored plans that fit their unique needs and circumstances.

Summary of the strengths my friends and colleagues identified in me

However, I also I realized that some of the traits that had served me well in a corporate setting were less applicable in this new role. In particular, I had to tone down my strong will and sense of urgency. I needed to develop patience and empathy when working with clients and let them lead. As someone with a strong sense of autonomy, it was important that I also empower my clients to take ownership of their own journeys.

Bolstered by these insights, I was eager to put my health coaching skills to the test. The only way to find out if I could break through was by holding my feet to the fire and selling my coaching services at a fair price. With my background in the startup world, I considered profitability to be the only true measure of whether my skills and expertise were valuable.

Acquiring my first few clients was a daunting task, but I was luckily able to connect with a handful of people through my existing network. To this day, I'm incredibly grateful to my early clients for trust in me and bearing with me as I found my groove as a coach. The early successes and positive feedback they shared with me provided the drive I needed to continue developing as a coach and building my business.

I've never felt more gratified than in the moments when clients tell me that I've made a positive impact in their lives. Moments like these affirm that I am on the right track and inspire me to continue showing up at my best for others.

Gray Matter Health is my big bet on myself

I spent nearly a decade of my youth as a cog in the corporate machine, where I slowly built up my financial and social capital.

In my 20s, I remained patient, put my head down, and paid my dues. I acquired useful skills. I established a reputation as an operative capable of delivering great results. I formed my personal and professional values. I figured out who really I am and what I have to offer to the people around me.

Now, in my 30s, I'm taking everything I've got and putting it toward building a business on my own terms. Because it's worth it. Dedicating my effort, competencies, and resources to a cause I'm passionate about has been the most worthwhile pursuit of my entire career.

With that, I want to introduce you to the biggest and most important undertaking of my life. Say hello to Gray Matter Health.