We are all in this together. These words have never rung truer than they do right now. The COVID-19 pandemic affects us all. Some may be experiencing job loss and or had to make the difficult decision to walk away from their passion project in order to take care of their family. The atmosphere is ripe with worry – overcoming negative emotions and self-talk is vital for personal and professional well-being. So how do you cope with the “new normal”? We sat down with an entrepreneur, coach & mentor.

Why did we choose Erin?

I feel that this month’s member spotlight shines a light on this important question and provides sound advice for those struggling to adapt. In her role as an experienced executive coach and business mentor, Erin Rocchio offers her clients personal guidance, support, and ways to modify behavior in order to not only survive but thrive in challenging times.

Let’s hear from Erin on the value of executive coaching and actionable steps you can take today to move your business and yourself forward during the COVID-19 pandemic…

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you ended up in your current role as a Team and Executive Coach?

I was born and raised in Southern CA, the oldest of three kids, and a student-athlete all my life. I learned the importance of leadership, teaming, and emotional intelligence from an early age. This was our dinner conversation in my family (weird, I know). My father has been in the business of executive coaching and management consulting for over 35 years. After college and a stint in educational leadership, I decided to make the move to join him in building FMG Leading, a mid-sized human capital advising firm, focused primarily on healthcare and private equity.

After eight years at FMG, I left my formal role to launch my own coaching practice, with a focus on supporting leaders out of burnout and into a more sustainable way of succeeding in business. Today, my husband and I are loving time with our two young daughters. My practice now is spent coaching executive teams and leaders around building healthy cultures, mindful leadership, and deep growth. I’ve also been lucky enough to join a brilliant group of colleagues (Evolution) doing this work in the tech startup world.

2. Can you share a few simple actions that entrepreneurs can take today to help move their business forward, especially considering COVID-19?

Connect with other humans – in a meaningful way: phone, Facetime, Zoom check-ins. Be vulnerable and share openly about how you’re really doing. Being seen and heard by someone you trust goes a long way towards feeling energized, supported and capable of weathering this insane storm.

Lower your expectations – of yourself and others right now, especially if you also find yourself in a caregiver role for others. This is NOT the time or season to write that novel or sew that quilt unless you have 12 hours of free time a day. For working parents who have suddenly also become school teachers and childcare providers while in those same hours tending to stressed-out clients, managing remote teams, and trying not to go crazy yourself, the belief that you should be highly productive during this pandemic will only make things worse. Free yourself of that belief. Let it go and be okay with doing the minimum each moment. The big questions I ask myself and clients these days, “What is enough? What is sufficient?”

Lean into support – if you need financial assistance given the economic fallout from COVID-19, don’t hesitate to take advantage of loan forgiveness programs and others in your local area, as well as federal relief. If you need a sounding board about the state of your business and team, lean into coaching support. Many executive coach colleagues and I are willing to offer our services at a steep discount to struggling founders and/or business leaders, so please ask. Also, many of us are candidly suffering from heightened anxiety, overwhelm, and other mental health challenges. Please, don’t hesitate to reach out to a skilled professional. This is not the time to prove how “tough” or “brave” you are, when in fact the brave, tough thing to do is to get yourself the mental healthcare you need.

Simplify, Prioritize, and Execute – especially in a time of crisis, we all need to have clarity about where to focus our energy and efforts. Keep your business aligned around a simple, compelling vision. Set clear, achievable goals for your team to feel “in control” of an out of control environment. Limit your priorities to 1 or 2 at a time (seriously!). Taking action and moving forward with focus is highly empowering, especially when you know your efforts are in concert with others toward a shared win.

3. In your opinion, what is the value of professional coaching and utilizing a variety of leadership development tools to enhance performance?

Ask any athlete and they will tell you how vital coaches and other skilled guides have been along their journey to success. We all need support to be our best selves – in business, in sports, and in life. An experienced executive coach offers you a rare safety net – you can be your real self, let down your guard, and share vulnerable thoughts and feelings like you can’t with anyone else. This helps founders and business leaders work through what’s most important to them and how they intuitively know they need to act.

A strong executive coach will also provide you with supportive feedback, to help you discover your hidden talents, gifts and sources of wisdom. They will tell you the truth about what you need to learn but do it in a way that lifts you up and moves you into new ways of behaving. A great coach will have your back, something we all need at a human level to feel our strongest, to feel capable. A great executive coach will help you do your real work of learning about who you really are and how to translate that into the business you build. At the end of the day, you can’t afford not to do this deep work if you want to have any lasting success as an entrepreneur.

4. How has being a member of Downtown Works helped you grow as a professional?

Downtown Works has opened me up to so many incredible new connections and opportunities in the San Diego startup world. The city is such a hotbed of talent and entrepreneurial energy. Getting to know people at the heart of that movement in a supportive, encouraging environment like DW has given me a ton of lift as my practice has taken off. I am so grateful for the learning opportunities, moral support, and the community of DW!

5. What is one piece of advice you would give someone wanting to transition from an office environment into remote work?

For first time remote workers, here are my tips to make WFH work for you:

  • Structure – put on real clothes, get to work “on time”, take regular breaks, and put your work away at the end of the day. Sticking to a semi-regular structure will keep you focused and balanced instead of wanting to pull your hair out.
  • Wellbeing – take care of your body and mind every day. Take a conference call during a walk, make sure to eat a real lunch, and step outside for fresh air as often as you can. Your wellbeing takes on new importance when you’re juggling a crisis and business in a time like this.
  • Priorities/Focus – pick one thing a day to focus on, do that thing, and then move onto something else. As a parent, I’m constantly telling my kids to do “one thing at a time” and the same is true for adults! We all do so much better when we can attend to one thing fully. You’ll feel calmer, more effective, and less overwhelmed.
  • Connection – connect with one person on your team, your boss, and even one of your family/friends every single day. Make it meaningful and real. Get onto video if you can. Laugh together, cry together, share a story or beer… whatever you must do to feel you’ve got your people around you (virtually) and you are in it together. Because we all are.

6. Where can readers find you and your company on social if they want to know more?

Erinrocchio.com and @erintrocchio on Twitter/LinkedIn

I’d love to see you join my monthly newsletter tribe or around the twitter-verse! I’d love to connect and support you/your business in any way I can. Stay safe and be well!

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