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10 Feb, 2010

Trainer In The Spotlight – Liz Plumtree

Posted by: The Coaching Academy In: In The Spotlight

I am one of the The Coaching Academy’s presenters in the Small Business Coaching Diploma.  I also coach some great people on the Protégé programme as well as running my own business in the North West of England.

My favourite coaching question is: …”what will having that (goal / belief / decision) give you or allow you to have?”.  If I feel that a client is struggling to articulate a goal or if it does not seem to be congruent with everything else they are describing in their lives, then this question helps them to explore what other issues there are surrounding it.  It helps to uncover what the true driver or goal really is, and what the motivations are behind it.  I’ll often use it when helping a client to describe their goal as a well formed outcome; it’s particularly effective when used in the will / won’t vs do / don’t format:

  • What will happen if you do it?
  • What will happen if you don’t?
  • What won’t happen if you do it?
  • What won’t happen if you don’t?

The question that often elicits a breakthrough or ‘aha’ moment is “how do you know that?” 

We often allow ourselves to wallow in our limiting beliefs, without challenging ourselves and helping ourselves to break some truly undermining thinking habits.  This question helps to shatter those thought patterns.

Another common situation I encounter is when clients stack up a whole series of goals and challenges with tighter and tighter deadlines.  This is quite common when working with business owners or new business start ups; and with the need to get money into the business quickly, it is really understandable.  However, how realistic is it that they will achieve all of these goals?

Challenging clients to consider the relative importance of each of these goals, using a combination of the two techniques above helps them to start prioritising effectively.  Use the Will / Won’t versus Do / Don’t series of questions I mentioned earlier to ascertain how important each really goal is.  Each time they answer with a negative or fearful response, such as “I need to do it by the end of this month” or “my customers won’t like it”, challenge them with “How do you know that?” or “what evidence do you have that that is going to happen?”  Help your clients to take a little pressure off themselves by encouraging them to prioritise effectively.

Challenging clients requires tenacity and confidence, but without it we run the risk of allowing our clients to remain in their old habits without at least considering new ways of thinking.

My own business is all centred around Coaching in Business, and includes working within all types of organisations across the UK.  I have never lost my love for working with SME’s and continue to coach small business owners.  I also do some associate work which takes me into large private and public sector organisations, helping employees through periods of transition including business reorganisations, redundancy and talent management programmes.  Business is great and has never ceased to excite me.  I think that is what keeps me so motivated.

I spend ………upto 8……………….. hours a week coaching individuals……. The rest of my working time is spent with companies helping them to use coaching to build benefits at both an individual and an organisational level.  I usually work about 25-30 hours per week, and balance the rest of my time with my family and friends.  I also volunteer with the Youth Ministry in our local church community.

I usually market myself in …6 Sessions for individuals.  Within organisations, it varies enormously depending on the nature of the intervention.  It could be a quick “in and out” contract, or one which can last for upto 2 or 3 years.  That’s what I love about my work – the variety and challenge of each contract.

My top business building tip is be prepared!  Everything takes longer and costs more than you originally planned.  This is not a negative statement; it’s all about being realistic, and ensuring that you have sufficient income streams to protect your cash flow, particularly in the early days.  (any of my clients reading this will be fed up of hearing me say it over and over again!!)

If you want to attract more clients, I recommend asking for referrals.  The person you are networking may not necessarily be the person who gives you any business, but they will potentially know lots of contacts who may.  If asking for a referral from an existing client, I would recommend waiting until towards the end of your relationship with them.  Seeking additional business through them may affect the dynamics of your coaching relationship with them.

My best advice for marketing your coaching business is focus! focus! focus!  Get your product or service clearly defined, establish who your market will be – and stick to it.  Don’t get distracted or keep introducing new ideas into the mix.  You need to be very clear on where your successes are so you can build for success.  Similarly, you also need to be able to ditch those aspects that aren’t working as well as you would like, and concentrate on those that are.

People probably don’t know that I am an avid caravanner…yes, really!  We have a touring caravan which we use all year round, and the flexibility of my work allows me to go off with our 2 children, even when my poor husband has run out of annual leave! 

My favourite self-development book is Take Time for Your Life by Cheryl Richardson.  It was one of the first self-development books I read after “discovering” coaching, so this may be why it had such a great impact on me.  It takes you through a step by step guide to re-structuring and redefining your life, and is so practical and firmly rooted in the “real-world”.  There is a danger with many self-development books that paint such an unrealistic picture of the “ideal” life – this book is the exact opposite.

After that, I would say the next most influential book for me was Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits for Highly Effective People.  I think almost every coach recommends this as one of their top ten reads, so that in itself says something.  It can be a bit heavy going as a “cover to cover” read, but you can also read it by picking one habit at a time.

The most inspiring speaker I have ever heard is Richard Bandler – I did my NLP Practitioner programme through Paul McKenna Training, so it was one of the most inspirational weeks I ever spent.  Richard Bandler has a pretty maverick approach, but I would thoroughly recommend hearing him speak if you ever have the opportunity.

If I was alone on a desert island, I would need to have (three luxuries that don’t include family members, pets or friends) with me:

  • A journal to record the experience (and lots of coloured pens to satisfy my predilection for mind-maps)
  • YSL’s Touche Eclat (does that make me sound shallow?)
  • Can I take my caravan?!  I’d be totally self-sufficient then!

My favourite place in the world is…a very special beach in North Cornwall which I shall not name to keep it exclusive!  We have had so many happy times there with my sister’s family, surfing, rock-pooling, eating doughnuts and watching the tide come in over the rocks.  Magic!

The most unusual thing I have ever done is a tandem parachute jump over a cliff edge from a mountain in the French Alps.  It was over a kilometre high and the views (once I had opened my eyes) were just stunning.  I love high-octane sports, and this has to be one of the most frightening but exciting things I have ever done. 

One current goal is to relax more.  I am pretty intense about work and “self-motivation” can often spill over into “over-drive” or even “burn-out”!  I have great energy levels, and I would like to direct these more into my personal life so I have more quality time with the family.

My definition of success is: understanding where try happiness lies for you; who you are happy with; what you are doing when you are happiest – then going out and grabbing it with both hands!  True contentment is a blend of pleasure, meaning and challenge; so success for me is a good combination of all three.

The thing I most love about coaching is helping others to unlock and reach their potential as individuals; it’s pretty much as simple as that for me.  Of course, there are side benefits I enjoy, such as being self-employed and enjoying the flexibility and freedom that comes with that.  It also allows me to indulge in my passion for working in business and meeting some of the most interesting and fascinating people.  Even after all this time, I still find new ways to use and apply my coaching, such as working with young people in our Parish community – a whole new arena for me!

By Liz Plumtree

4 Responses to "Trainer In The Spotlight – Liz Plumtree"

1 | Jacqueline Pigdon

February 11th, 2010 at 11:23 am


Great tips – also to get your coaching business up and running define your niche.

I defined mine as Spiritual Coaching and to commence all our programs we create a unique birth chart analysis which outlines your biggest strengths and weaknesses that are holding you back in life. We also offer palm reading sessions to clients living in London which is an amazing tool that allows our clients to hit the ground running from day one!

I’d like to give away 5 free palmistry sessions to 5 lucky people who are currently struggling in their life and are looking for answers as to why.

If this is you get in quick to request your palmistry session below and quote this article in reference!

Live Your Best Life!

Jacqueline Pigdon
Existentialist Spiritual Coach!

2 | Paula Radford

February 11th, 2010 at 12:20 pm


Great article. I’m soaking up all your hints and tips, as I’m on the verge of make a career change due to imminent redundancy and coaching is the way I want to go. I’ve never been self-employed so that will be a brave new departure for me. Right now so I’m surrounding myself with positive people and using my coaching skills to challenge my own limiting beliefs. People like you will be my inspiration. Keep enjoying life

3 | Cherie Concannon

February 16th, 2010 at 1:57 pm


Roller Coaster is most definitely an understatement!

But self-employment is incredibl fulfilling. Having the ability to self-direct your work and really adapt it to your gifts and talents.

Good Luck,

Cherie Concannon
Success Coach

4 | Louise Riman

March 9th, 2010 at 1:06 pm


Wow, love the insight into a happy life, Liz… and Cherie, thanks for the reminder to adapt my gifts and talents for my work. I crave being busy and am just climbing out of a mini rut I allowed myself to fall into. Back on the power trail now!

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