A Tale of a Twentysomething: How I Got Started as a Development Coach
My professional journey began the Spring of 2009 after I had transferred from an upper-class, private university to a working-class, regional public university on a basketball scholarship. Our head coach was rumored to be on the chopping block, leaving players and staff alike to consider their next steps.
I was 20 years old and I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I told people I wanted to be a doctor — I was a Health and Human Sciences and Biology major at each university, respectively — but I had no interest in really pursuing medicine. I wasn’t serious about basketball. I got a job at Abercrombie, but never showed up. I did, however, take a psychology course that developed into a healthy fascination with the subject and subject matter...
It was the tail end of one developmental phase of my life and the opening act of the next.
I came back that Fall and took the semester off. Quasi-shacked up with my girlfriend, herself an infinitely restless soul, I expressed my discontent with a medical future. She agreed — that world was for suckers, I could being doing something more fulfilling.
Throughout this time, the slow drum of what would I eventually come to recognize as my mind’s particular brand of anxiety began realizing the unique position I found ourselves in: I was lost.
I was far too immature to grasp this reality head on, so ego triumphed. I shoved the uncertainty down deep and enrolled back in school. As fate would have it, I would eventually graduate with my original pre-medicine degree, but the love for mind and behavior had taken root.
In early 2012, I started lecturing and mentoring young men on general life and leadership development as a part of a program within the local school district I graduated from. I would catch the bus from right around LAX to get down to Long Beach and spend the day teaching, reading, and engaging in dialogue with people I’d meet along my commute or staff members at each high school. I found myself in a world of perception and nuance and each question answered only gave rise to new more fantastic questions.
On days I wasn’t teaching, it wasn’t uncommon for me to wake up around 7AM and read whatever I could get my hands on until 11 or 12 that night.
I was slowly finding my way.
A particular event happened in early 2014 that solidified my next step. A student in one of the school’s restricted learning programs (for students with learning disabilities or require accommodations) answered a particularly abstract philosophical question with real-world application quickly and accurately. It struck me as odd: how can someone have a learning disability, yet process with such ease?
I spent 6 months looking for the right type of practice and the right type of clinician to take me as a intern, eventually landing a position at Southern California Neuropsychology Group, owned and operated by Michelle Conover, Ph.D. Dr. Conover’s specialties are clinical and forensic neuropsychology, so I instantly found myself immersed in a world of incredibly detailed understanding of behavior and the mental correlates she worked with.
At first pass, clinical work was not for me. I was too impatient, too distractible — too me — to appreciate the work being done. So, I ran the business side of the clinic, continuing to study behavior from the lens of management, rather than symptamolgy or legal status.
After some time, I couldn’t escape the inescapable: I was fascinated by what clinicians knew and I needed to find my own way of doing it. Taking my insane background of grassroots consulting and overdeveloped street savvy and pairing it with what I picked up studying under Dr. Conover, I began building the Conover+Brown service platform Summer 2017.
I would take all kinds of meetings with all kinds of people and pitch all kinds of ideas. I wasn’t too concerned with people purchasing yet, but rather how they oriented to the style and approach of the work I was designing.
My basic tools, frameworks, and services emerged and development planning was born. As a planner and coach, my work is very similar to life coaching or business coaching. I use tools and techniques I picked up from the clinic, which is the primary difference between my practice and many coaches offering similar services, but those are technical details. My work focuses on personal, career, developmental, performance, and executive growth: all common aims for practitioners operating under a variety of titles.
I work with clients all over the country helping them through their various life and work challenges and to think, this all began as a sideline realization that my life course was changing.
This life can be crazy!
Development Coach, Partner — Conover+Brown