Life Coach Insider: Steve Piacente

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Founder of Next Phase Life Coaching, Steve Piacente is a professional life coach who specializes in working with authors, journalists and others in the communications industry.


Big Blend Radio Success Insider Spotlight on Steve Piacente – award-winning author of “Bella” and “Bootlicker”, executive communication coach and life coach, professor at American University, and former journalist and speech writer. 


Steve began his career as a journalist more than 30 years ago and has reported from Tampa, Fl., Charleston, S.C., and Washington D.C. He left journalism to become a speechwriter, and later, deputy communications director at a large federal agency. Today he is an executive communication coach at The Communication Center in Washington and Professor of Journalism at American University.

As an author, Steve has been listed as one of the “50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading”. He has self-published two novels, Bella, and the prequel, Bootlicker. In 2012, Bella won an Indie Excellence Award and the Readers Favorite Gold Medal for dramatic fiction. Steve is currently in the works with his third novel (Pretender), and a self-help book built on 15 people’s “hell-and-back” stories, what they learned about themselves, and the lessons they’ve been generous enough to share with others. See

So what does it take to be a successful in the world of life coaching? Listen to our Big Blend Radio discussion with Steve Piacente and read his answers to our 10 Life Coaching Insider Questions about his career, including the challenges he faces, as well as his inspirations.

1. What led you into the world of life coaching?

As a media and presentation trainer, I found that many of my clients were blocked by issues that had little to do with talking to reporters or making presentations, and lots to do with issues like work-life balance and troublesome relationships at home or at work. I thought: If I’m going to be advising people on such issues, it would be good to have some training. So, I looked at a number of programs, found the one I thought fit me best, and became a certified life coach. One of the best professional decisions I’ve made!


  1. What attributes do you have that make you a good fit for being a life coach?

Twenty-five years of daily newspaper reporting taught me to be objective. Ten years of speechwriting in the federal government taught me to listen carefully to others’ voices. Being the father of three, plus an adjunct university professor for more than 15 years has taught me patience, empathy, and how to help people when they feel blocked or unfulfilled. I am naturally curious, efficient with time, and have a good sense of humor. Mostly, what makes me a good life coach is that helping clients find the best in themselves helps me bring out the best in myself.


  1. Who or what inspires you?

We’d need more room for a thorough list. My wife and her career as a special education teacher and administrator inspires me. My children and what they’ve achieved as a PR professional, art therapist and mechanical engineer inspire me. A client who went from utter fear of public speaking to delivering an address in Tanzania on women’s empowerment – and doing it with power and poignancy – inspires me. I believe that everyone we meet is both our student and teacher, so I am never lacking for inspiration.


  1. Describe your ideal client.

My ideal client is creative, highly functioning, and ready for change. I feel that too often people settle for, good enough is good enough. That is, the job is good enough. The relationship is good enough. And so on. My ideal client sees the disconnect between good enough, and the art of what’s possible. They understand that our time on Earth is finite, and that it doesn’t make sense to waste a lot of time doing things that don’t make your blood simmer! My job is to help them get there by figuring out what’s in the way, and how we can break through the wall.


  1. What is your pet peeve in regards to the life coach industry?

Two things: Those who practice a one-size-fits-all kind of coaching; and people who pass themselves off as life coaches without having graduated from a program accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF). If you’re looking for a coach, find one who’s been certified by the ICF, which has strict requirements and standards.


  1. What personal changes have you had to make in order to build your career?

The toughest change was switching gears from consultant to coach. As a communications consultant, I teach people the quickest, most efficient way to get from Point A to Point B. As a coach, I ask a lot of empowering questions to begin a dialogue that leads people to the answers to their issues. Answers resonate more powerfully when clients discover them through the questions I pose.


  1. What do you consider your biggest challenge?

I would like more hours in the day, or for the scientists to figure out that cloning thing. Seriously, my biggest challenge is to fully embrace the idea that every challenge is an opportunity. My favorite question for my clients and myself when a challenge arises is, “How else can you look at that?”


  1. If you could invite any three people (alive or passed on) for a dinner party who would they be?


– My mother, who, despite never going to college, wound up as the comptroller for a major moving company. I would love to see her meet her great-granddaughters.

– I would love to sit and talk to John Steinbeck, my all-time favorite author. Steinbeck’s writing helped inspire me to become an author. I have published two novels, will publish another in early 2018, and am also working on a non-fiction book aligned with my coaching practice.

– Third would be Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani woman known for her inspiring work for female education and human rights. Malala, now at Oxford, was nearly murdered in 2012 by a Taliban gunman. If you missed it, make sure to watch her 2013 speech to the United Nations.


  1. If you could switch careers for a day, what would you choose?

I am a lifelong athlete with far more enthusiasm than talent. I would love to experience life as a professional basketball or tennis player. (Can I keep the day’s pay?)


  1. What is the most important tip you would pass on to another person just getting started as a life coach?

Be open to new ideas. You’re probably accomplished in your current profession. Becoming a successful life coach requires learning a new skillset, new techniques, and a new way of looking at how to help people. Also, you’ll need to get over it if you’re not comfortable with self-promotion. Clients need to find you and understand why they should choose you instead of someone else. Find a middle ground where you can explain your philosophy and fees without feeling like you’re being pushy or arrogant. I’m living proof this can be done.


About the Author:

Founder of Next Phase Life Coaching, Steve Piacente is a professional life coach who specializes in working with authors, journalists and others in the communications industry.

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