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Changing Lives as a Coach Transcript – Anne Roche

fighting fire with fire

Changing Lives as a Coach – Anne Roche

Anne Roche

Miriam: [00:00:00] Hey folks, today it is just my pleasure to have a new friend. Anne Roach she used to be a defense attorney for the poor, and at some point she made the decision to become a coach and . You know, you and I are both coaches.

I love coaches, they make for great interviews. But also I wanted you to know that in general, I’m not interviewing a ton of coaches anymore and I chose you specifically because there’s something about you that is really unique. I’m so excited for this interview. So welcome Anne.

Anne: Thank you so much, Miriam.

I’m so honored and I was thrilled to say yes cuz I really enjoy being in conversation with you as. Good. Good deal.

[00:00:43] Attorney to Coach

Miriam: Okay. Well, I think the obvious question is why does someone go from being an attorney to a coach? You know, and I think before I let you answer this, coaching is such a strange beast because.

anybody in their dog can call [00:01:00] themselves a coach. It’s not regulated in the United States. I don’t know if it’s regulated anywhere in the world. And I find that coaches a good coach can transform your life and a mediocre coach can take your money and do nothing with your life. So you already had a prestigious job. and you made this decision. So tell us a little bit why ?

Anne: Well I don’t think anyone’s more surprised that I left law and became a coach than I am frankly, . I loved, loved being a lawyer and I mean, I didn’t even know what a coach was., I mean, I grew up on the East coast and. I mean, very judgmental,  very judgmental.

I mean, life coach, like, that’s not even a real thing, you know? That would’ve been one that would’ve been what was in my head. And law, you know, law is a real thing. That’s a real thing. So I, I mean, I was all [00:02:00] kinds of, Things in my own head, and I never ever imagined leaving law for anything. But I kind of hit a wall.

I hit a wall in my late forties. I was far away from family and friends and I loved my work, but everything in my life started feeling hard.

My parents were aging and, and their health was declining, and I knew something had to change and I didn’t know what it was. And I, so I started looking around for different positions.

Getting to Be a Coach

I was a private attorney, but I took public defense cases, and so what that meant in Massachusetts was that I spent a lot more time on the administrative part of my work than I did with my clients.

And I, I really loved being with my clients. And so that started that balance, started feeling out of whack, and I started looking around. and then I had this conversation with my sister. I talked to my sisters every day and I was, we were talking [00:03:00] through some problem and she’s like, you should get paid for that.

This, you’re so good at giving advice, you should become a coach. And I was like, I, I don’t, you know what you’re talking about. But anyway, fast forward, I, I went. To a weekend of a very intense, a, a year long intensive coaching program through ipec. I went and it just changed my life. I, I thought, I have to do this full-time because everything in my life changed internally.

Nothing on the outside changed my, I still had teenage PA kids. My parents were still declining. I still lived in the same place, but everything about my life felt different. I was deeply connected to the people in it, to the work I was doing to every part of my life. I felt more connected, more joy, more present in my life than I had in years, and I thought, I didn’t know that it was possible to change my life without [00:04:00] blowing it up.

And when I discovered that that was possible, I thought I have to help other people do this too. Wow.

[00:04:08] Changing Lives as a Coach

Miriam: So in general, you help other people how they can change their life without blowing it up? . That’s a nice tagline.

Anne: Yeah. I mean, not, you know, when I was in my coaching program, the people who I really resonated with.

Were the other men in my program who had, who were leaving big jobs or positions of leadership or And, and which is not to say that only the men in my program were doing that, but they were going through an identity crisis. The men in particular were going through an identity crisis that involved their work.

If I am not this person who I have so deeply invested in professionally and, and this persona that I have, that I put out there publicly, who am I? If I’m not a lawyer? If I’m not this intellectual, [00:05:00] you know, whip, smart, hard, edged attorney, , who am I? Who have you and I that I really, that was the struggle I was having.

And that first weekend in Ipec, I felt like my, I, I’ve said this often, but I felt like. I was unzipped and my heartfelt fell out and I thought, what is this? What? I don’t know what this is, . I didn’t know that this was part of me, that it was something I had permission to use and that it in fact held most of my power, and that was the changing point for me, that I am so much more than this identity.

and in fact, there’s so much more power in me than I, than I ever imagined.

Miriam: I love that you’re one of the only one of the few women coaches that I know that specifically, I wouldn’t say target men, but you’re not afraid to work with men.

Return on Investment

Many women coaches [00:06:00] only work with women and I think something that I felt a kinship with is, I would say probably 80% of my clients are men something that I think you have conquered better than I have is that I noticed on your website you talked a lot about joy and the increasing of this and different things, and I have found myself hesitant to.

Talk about some of the softer spaces because I’m afraid that I will be I don’t know, dismissed, I guess is the sort of word. And so I talk about ROI and your business will do X. And it’s true. Any of the business owners who care about return on an investment.

At least doubled, if not tripled their revenue. Now, I’m not gonna take credit for that. They did the work, but I was walking along on the path. So I talk about ROI and all this stuff, but what I would like to talk about is that when you get your life in [00:07:00] order, you experience more joy. And when you experience this joy and this freedom, you start doing good for other people.

That’s where my heart really lies, and I know that you have some of that same thing, so I’d kinda like to hear where you got the courage to just be you and let the chips fall where they may.

Anne: Yeah, it’s such a great point, Miriam, because I felt the same way. I mean joy. The only thing less real than a life coach is joy.

Feeling Joy

I had never used any of that language . You know, total bs both of those things. It, it was my mindset. And yet it was true. I had this moment of clarity for myself that what I needed in my life, what was missing in my life was joy.

And when I had that moment, Miriam, I was like, what, is that? I’ve never used that word in my life. But I, I [00:08:00] also had a, a moment of clarity that what brought me most joy, where I felt most alive in life was when I felt connection when I felt deeply connected to the work, to the person, to the conversation, to the whatever it was I was involved in.

And yeah, it took me a little while to To call BS on myself and really say those things out loud. It took me, I really fought, I mean, I was in that program for a full year and I never ever thought I’d call myself a life coach. You know?

I was like, well, I’ll be an executive coach or a career coach, I’m a life coach. It because whatever the external issues are, it’s about how you show up. In your life, how do you show up? How do you lead yourself? And you get that figured out. All external obstacles will shift.

That was a turning point in my early career as a coach when I started sharing my own story, because that’s what people [00:09:00] resonated with, men and women. All of my clients resonated with that moment of, there is something missing in my life.

It’s making all the other stuff around me hard, and I know there’s a shift in me that needs to happen.

[00:09:20] Phases in Anne’s Life

Miriam: Yeah. Yeah. Ooh. So well said. I was thinking earlier about the phases in our life and how each phase maybe has a tagline, and I wondered if you would walk me through some of the phases in your life and how your mentality shifted.

Anne: It’s an interesting question. I don’t know that my brain works that way. Mm-hmm.

I don’t know that I think about things in terms of, you know, when I was in my twenties, I, I will say I, my. I have three children and my first two are in their [00:10:00] twenties.

And so I remember the angst of my twenties. There was a lot of angst in my twenties. Stress. I remember that.

Miriam: Yeah, just I, I remember that in my twenties too. And I also have children in their twenties and I’ll, we’ll have a conversation and they’ll bring up some sort of something, an issue and I’ll.

Unfortunately be a little too coachy or momish with them and say, well, you could do X or you could. And unfortunately, sometimes I say, well, you should just do X. You should just say X. And then I have to catch myself. Well, my daughter is savvy enough to say, well mom, when you are my age, could you have done or said that?

Right? And I’ll say, no. Right? No, I couldn’t have. And but then I say, but you. You were raised by me, so I’m pretty sure you can do it now. . Yeah.

Being Ready to Change

Anne: You, so that bring, that brings up an interesting point and I think [00:11:00] it, it goes to both the, maybe the blocks you have around using those, the words of the soft skills and also of those moments of transformation that we’ve all experienced or have yet to experience, which is, until somebody’s really ready for it, until they’ve reached that moment where the cost of not doing it, of not stepping forward totally is too high.

They won’t do it. You can, you can say it until you’re blue in the face to somebody, but they have to be ready for it. And so part of what I do as a coach is

It’s not my plan. It ha it’s not my process. It has to come from you. And so if you are not understanding that, the answer lies within you. And if you’re not ready to really face that, you’re not ready for coaching. Yeah. Yeah. And, and that happens, you know, I get people who. [00:12:00] They want me to tell them how to do X or just give me the process.

And you know what? As a former attorney, I love to tell people what to do. , one of the reasons I thought I would never give it up. I love to tell people what to do, what I have discovered by becoming a coach when I, when I became, became a coach, and again, something I never thought I would, I would believe in is it, is there is so much more joy and so much more power in watching somebody else come to their own solution.


and then it’s more sustainable for them. It’s something that they have ownership over that they can do themselves, and it takes such practice for me to be quiet and really create the space for someone to do that, to ask them questions that help them to pull out the answers [00:13:00] from deep within, but that’s so much more fun than just telling somebody what to do.


Miriam: Well, and when you tell someone what to do, they tell you all the reasons why it won’t work. , which is no fun at all. . So I hear and agree for sure. Yeah,, one of the things I like to talk about on the podcast are mindsets because I believe that. Your actions come from your thoughts or sometimes your feelings.

And I, it’s a debated, do your feelings create your mindsets, which create your actions or vice versa. I’m sure over the course of your lifetime, you’ve had some mindset changes that you have said, I used to think this and this kind of self sabotaged myself. Now I’m thinking this, and it’s opened this space in a way that I hadn’t anticipated, and I wondered if you would share a story or two about that.

Anne: I used [00:14:00] to be and still am very, very hard on myself. That was, I would say an overarching predominant trait, very hard on myself. The biggest mind shift I have had in the last.

10 years is that it isn’t about me. It isn’t about me. Hmm. And that makes so much more room for so many other things to come forward.

Miriam: Yeah. Define it a little bit because I think we could take that a variety of different ways. What isn’t about you?

[00:14:44] Getting and Giving Answers as a Coach

Anne: Sure. Well, the difference between giving somebody an answer and letting them figure out an answer that works for them is my ego.

It’s either you’re listening to me, give you the answer, and then I’m the expert , and it’s about, aren’t I so [00:15:00] smart? Aren’t I so clever? Yeah, I have the right answer, versus. Creating a space for you to find your own answer is not about me at all. It’s about you. So I, I think about that in terms of, you know, coaching.

I think about that in terms of parenting. I didn’t have children for me, I had children. For them. So their lives are not about me. Their lives are about them, and it gives me the ability to give them some space to grow and make mistakes and not be worried that it’s a reflection of me or about my parenting or what I did or didn’t do.

I think about that too in the work I am doing. In the advocacy work that I’m doing, I don’t know if I’ve shared this with you, but I’m working with a [00:16:00] group of coaches who are also former law enforcement and we’re working on, working on evolving the culture of law enforcement.

If I made it about me, That this is something I was doing or responsible for, I would be limiting what’s possible in the outcome because it’s all about stepping away from ego and opening up a space of humility.

Making it Smaller

What is there to learn here? What opportunities are here? How am I showing up to this? What am I learning about how I’m showing up to this? It’s expansive. It goes from, you know, like needing an outcome, expecting an outcome, being disappointed if that outcome doesn’t come. I mean, even as I’m talking about it, I’m getting smaller and smaller.

Right. Narrower and narrower. Into this expansiveness this. What else [00:17:00] is happening? What else is possible? If it’s not about me, what else is happening here? Yeah. And what am I not seeing or what can I see now that I didn’t see before? Cuz I was so focused on self.

Miriam: Sure. Let me, let me zoom out just a teeny bit because you had mentioned one time that you were working on these projects and I have been fascinated by it, so I’m so glad you brought it up.

I think my initial curiosity goes back quite a bit to say, how did you get involved in this to begin with? Like I, I agree with you entirely. In this expansive space, you’re trying to not only create but nurture and help other people in and help people in law enforcement see things differently, but let, can you get like super concrete mm-hmm.

Getting Involved

and say, this is what was happening. This is the need I saw. This is how I got involved. [00:18:00] Because I think that there are a lot of people. Who have these skill sets and they want to do good and they don’t know how or where to get involved, and it seems so messy, and I only have so much time and they end up writing a check.

Well, nobody writes checks anymore, but they end up sending a credit card payment to someone. Out there. I’m gonna even put that in air quotes. Someone out there who’s doing something and you know, I support these projects that are out there somewhere, but I’m also always asking the question, how can I do something locally?

And I do not have an answer for that because it’s, yeah. It’s overwhelming. It’s weird. It, it’s not weird, but it’s, there’s weirdness to it.

[00:18:42] A Messy Process

Anne: When you used the word messy, which is a thousand percent. Yeah. I will absolutely be concrete about this. When Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd, I was on fire. On fire because Yeah.

COVID had hit and the world came to a complete halt. [00:19:00] Yeah. Everybody in the world, it turns out the world can stop for a moment. It turns out we all can stop what we’re doing and pay attention to something. Mm-hmm. . So that was that was a moment of major clarity for me and I. Everybody we talk about it’s too late.

It’s too late to turn the ship around, or it’s too late. It turns out we can all stop literally and pay attention to one thing. Mm-hmm. as a world. And then Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd and I went on fire because I used to be a defense attorney for the poor, and that was a moment. It’s not that we can’t stop racism.

It’s not that we can’t address. Racism. It’s that we don’t want to . And it turns out that the world can look at this and is looking at this and here’s a moment.

And I, I was [00:20:00] at that time a coach and I had found this light in me that was lit up. And I, you know, I had gone from this fire of law into this light of coaching and the fire.

Sprang right back and I thought, tag me in. I gotta get back in the trenches there. I, I gotta, I’m gonna leave coaching, I gotta reinstate my law license, I gotta, I gotta get back in. Coach put me in,

Coach Training and What If’s

and then somebody in my IPEC Facebook group asked the question, what if law enforcement had gone through the coach training that we went through, what would be different? Oh my gosh, yes. In that, in that outcome and what would be different for George Floyd? And that moment just blew my brain open and I thought,

I don’t know the answer to that, but I am really curious about it

there is so much that is hard in this culture in in that is That is really hard in law enforcement and we, you know, having this training has [00:21:00] changed my life completely. And it, it showed me the humanity of law enforcement. Mm-hmm. and I mm-hmm. . That’s, that’s the, that’s the current, I stand in the love of humanity and I thought, what, what is possible here?

And I was a coach for men and I was really drawn to ask these questions and to listen. And again, here I am on fire, here I am in advocacy mode, and that there was ego in this. Like, I’m gonna come in here with my coaching skills. I’m gonna turn this ship around , I’m gonna, I’m gonna teach everybody how to do this.

Well, of course, that’s a recipe for disaster.


I was so curious about this experience of law enforcement and what made me most curious were people of color in law enforcement and the pain that, that they were experiencing. [00:22:00] Yeah. On so many ends, and I.

I, I can be in this space. I don’t wanna be in this space, but I can be in this space. Mm-hmm. There is clearly a need here for. Coaching in law enforcement.

Miriam: Can I pause you for a second and ask? Yeah, please. How did you even start the conversations? Did you go down to your local precinct and say,

Anne: no, no, no, no. It was, this was all online. This was all in first it was in this IPEC Facebook group.

Okay. So that’s where it was happening.

[00:22:31] Having a Conversation

Anne: So I start, I kept, I just kept, you know, let’s ha let’s jump on a call and let’s have this conversation. And I started Just saying, you know, we’ll have a meeting. Let’s just have a, let’s have a conversation. And so I start, because we were all in lockdown. Sure. And were some of those people in, in law enforcement?

Yeah. Yeah. Okay. And so, And then other people got very interested and started coming into these meetings. There were a lot of people talking about it and so there was a lot of presence on clubhouse [00:23:00] by law enforcement wanting to talk about the culture of law enforcement and where it needed, I don’t even wanna say the word help, cuz that was the word I was using originally. Yeah.

Where it needed attention and where were opportunities for change and where they were hungry for change. And I think that’s what was so astonishing to me was that, that the people kept, who kept saying, you’re onto something. Keep asking these questions, keep holding these forums, keep reaching out, keep making this space.

Were all people in law enforcement.

And so it just snowballed. I mean incrementally, I should say incrementally. I spent, I wanna say a year and a half in constant conversation with a small group of us two people who. Retired law enforcement. One person whose father had been in law enforcement was a person of color and me having very messy, very challenging, very [00:24:00] love-filled conversations about their experiences and what we saw as problems.

Blind Spots

And really leaning into our own blind spots, what we didn’t know and how we were showing up in ways we didn’t realize. We did a lot of work and it was messy and it was hard, and It wasn’t easy, but we kept showing up to it because it was so grounded in love.

I had thought I was, you know, wide awake to racism and to my own biases and I thought I was an advocate and I realized that a lot of that was Words and not actions.

I did not at all understand the difference between not being a racist and being an anti-racist. I did not understand that at all, . I couldn’t see where I had kind of turned a blind eye [00:25:00] or where I had been unwilling to be uncomfortable.

And it, it’s hard to even, it’s hard to even. I mean, it’s still present. It’s still present. It’s an ever, it’s sort of like, you know, any practice, you never master it. It’s,

Miriam: no, you just continually become more of this other thing that you’re focusing on.

Help Again, I’m gonna ask you to get a little more concrete.

The difference between being.

You’re gonna have to even say the words not racist versus anti-racist. What did that mean in terms of your actual behaviors? Because again, ideas and mindsets turn into actions at some point.

Anne: Yeah, I mean there are, so, there are so many. Ways in which I, I recognized I recognized that difference, you know, both in conversation, both, you know, when somebody [00:26:00] says something, That’s a little like, Hmm.


What are they, what were they saying there? Or, I’m not sure. I, I’m, I’m not really sure what that was, but I don’t really wanna go there instead of just saying, tell me what you meant when you said that, or, tell me, tell me what you’re thinking there and really going towards it as opposed to away from it.

Mm-hmm. . I think one of the things that you were, you were just touching on is, For me, it was the recognition that it isn’t about me and that that’s what I meant more concretely that, that the. That the conversations that the learning I was having, the more I recognized this wasn’t about me and my ego, am I wrong?

Am I right? What if I say the wrong thing? What if I, you know, how do I do the right thing? That’s all ego. That’s all about self.[00:27:00] What was more what I was able to show up to more joyfully.

connected to was curiosity. Tell me what you’re thinking and, and where did that come from and where does that show up for you and how does that feel for you and what else might be happening? It’s not about me being right, it’s about me being curious and it just, curiosity creates.

Miriam: So when you’re curious and you create space for the other person, what what do you see that doing for them?

[00:27:38] Creating Connection

Anne: Creating connection? Yeah. One of the things I just wrote down last night.

I care less about what you believe in. I care more about how you feel. Mm-hmm. , because I have felt the same things. Mm-hmm. . And as soon as I see [00:28:00] you in your, as soon as I can hear you and see you and feel you in your feelings, I connect to you and then you can connect to me. And that’s the bridge between us.

Right, right. That’s, that’s where the magic happens, I think, in that space where, You create enough space that that person feels seen, now they’re able to do some big things things that they might not have been able to do before.

Anybody who wants to do something big, and I assume, I hope the people who are listening to this want to do something big and meaningful with their life. I wanna do something big and meaningful. Well, that starts. Little concrete actions of seeing and listening and being curious and understanding, and out of that space something new happens, [00:29:00] a response is different, or an action is different, and the machinery of better living moves forward. You know, I think so much of the bad living that’s happening is out of thoughtlessness and rote habit where people aren’t actually thinking about, what does this mean that I am doing X? There’s no thought about that.

I, I, I disagree. I think there is a lot of fear. I think there is a lot of fear.

Big and Meaningful

When you say something big and meaningful, when I was an attorney, I wanted to do something big and meaningful because that was about me. Mm-hmm. . Now I just wanna show up in love and connect. And it changes what happens. And so this work I’m doing with law enforcement, it doesn’t [00:30:00] have to be big and it doesn’t have to be meaningful.

I just have to be present to it and show up in love and connect. And the outcome is I may never see it, and that’s okay. I may never know it, and that’s okay. It’s made a big difference in my life.

Miriam: Sure. So I love that you would push back and disagree, . We’re gonna, we’re gonna circle around to that later, but I’m gonna push back on your pushback. If we were playing, you know, a game of cards and you trumped something, I would trump over it and say Yes. But in, in my opinion, That is doing really big things to see people, to get people talking where they formerly weren’t talking.

I think it’s Mother Teresa who said something about remember the little things are the big things, and to, to get to a space where people will be [00:31:00] vulnerable enough to actually talk and see each other is huge.

To get people from different races and different walks of life. And different genders to have these kinds of conversations where the paradigm can be shifted to get ego out of the way enough to have some sort of forward movement. I think that is a big thing, you know?


So I wanna take a little bit of a pivot here and something that I have respected about you is your ability to have high empathy. I think you said something about on your website, I have enormous empathy but no tolerance for BS , and that is a really unique.

Gap to span because I find, I mean, if, if we wanted to jump into the spiritual language, speaking the truth and love, there are many people who can speak the truth and they don’t do it in a loving way [00:32:00] whatsoever, . And there are many people who are incredibly loving and they don’t have the ability to just call a spade a spade.

Where, where’s this skillset coming from? If someone wanted to grow in their ability to do that, how would you coach them to grow?

Anne: I think kindness is clear. I think clarity is kind. Yeah. So it, that is a work in progress for me.

But you know what’s interesting? Empathy is not about holding somebody else’s stuff. It’s about seeing it. Mm-hmm.

allowing them to put it down, but seeing it. BS is picking it up. I, I don’t have time, patience, or interest in picking up anybody else’s stuff. . Yeah. I got enough of my own . Yeah. Yeah. And I think that I see clearly.

No Drama

Why? What is this thing? You’re, what’s all, you’re coming to me with all this noise or this [00:33:00] drama? Why? I don’t, I don’t want this. This isn’t mine. This doesn’t belong to me. Have at it, but you know, I’m not, I’m not here for that . Yeah, no, I, you know, that I, that has, that has not served me in some ways. I think, you know I didn’t have a lot of friends girl friends when I was a kid.

I think that was I, I wasn’t, I didn’t understand drama. I didn’t understand like the, the noise. I was like, I don’t, this is not interesting to me. I don’t, I don’t care about it. And so definitely there is you know, being very empathetic doesn’t always mean you’re cuddly, right? So, there’s definitely been moments in my life where I’m like, Ooh, I don’t think that landed well, because, you know, I think somebody really wanted me to be cuddly there, and I was like, yeah, I see you and you’re full of it.

Like you like, you know, you’re, this is like, this is stuff you’re buying into because it allows you to avoid the stuff you don’t wanna do. That [00:34:00] doesn’t always go well with people. .

Miriam: No, but wow, that’s powerful because very, very few people are willing to say, I see you, but also this thing, this thing that you’re doing, it’s not serving you.

[00:34:15] People’s Needs

Anne: It’s such a mean thing to say to somebody , like, not everybody needs that. I, I have had to learn to ask and I’m not, not always good about that. How do you want me to show up here? Do you want me to show up? You know, sympathetic sympathetically, are you asking for comfort?

Cuz I don’t always know it. . Yeah. Are you asking for coaching? Are you asking for Sometimes people don’t need to hear. That’s not serving you. They know it’s not serving them. Mm-hmm. , but they’re not ready for change, you know?

I have definitely lost friendships over it. People who want are very happy in their misery and would like company there and. I don’t, I just don’t do it. Sorry.

Miriam: Well, you offer many things, but that’s not one of [00:35:00] them. You know, I, I do think it’s a superpower because many people, you know, are so far one direction or the other, and you’ve managed you’ve managed to live in that space.

That’s powerful. I see you, but this is yours and I I don’t wanna take it on, so I’m not gonna give you even a seconds of letting you feel like maybe you should be something else cuz No, that’s, that’s, and and do you even know that it’s yours? You know, are you even aware that this is yours? Right, right. I do think over time Some of my clients whom I have coached have learned how to say, I know this isn’t serving me, but I’m just wanting to say it for a second.

Creating Space

Yeah. And I’m like, no problem. Yeah, totally. No problem. Totally. Yeah. As long as you’re aware, you’re welcome to. I mean, I had somebody say the other day to me, I know this is what’s going on and I have no intention of changing it at present. And I said, good to [00:36:00] know. Yeah, that’s good. I won’t bug you about it.

Anne: Yeah, . And I have to say, you know, as a coach and, and as a person, I, I think it’s really valuable to, to a, to create a space for somebody to come in and put all their stuff down. . That was something that when I was, when my kids were becoming teenagers and before I became a coach, I realized they were not actually asking me to pick it up for them.

Yeah, yeah. They were just asking for a safe place to put it down. Yes. So that was, you know, before I was be becoming a coach, and I recognize that in order to be that person, in order to create that space for my kids, I had to be quiet. I had. , I had to manage my own stuff so that I wasn’t putting that on them when they came home either.

Being Messy

Mm-hmm. . And so I shifted how I was working so that when they came home from school, I was quiet and calm. Yeah. And they could come in and be messy. And [00:37:00] I don’t just mean physically, but like emotionally just, or quiet, and then put it all down. And then they could decide what parts they wanted to pick up or not put up, pick up.

And I, I do that for my clients as, as well. And I, it’s, it’s such a simple thing. It’s just not easy to do, but it is so simple and so useful. Yeah. Oh, what a good skill.

Miriam: Oh my goodness. Anne, this has been such a great conversation. I feel sad that I’m gonna need to draw it to a close. Given your schedule and my schedule, I wanna ask one other quick question before I have you tell how people can reach out to you.

[00:37:41] Finding Anne

Miriam: What is a book that you feel like has shaped your thinking of late or you just feel like has been a value?

Anne: The Art of Possibility by rosemond Xander and Ben Xander is a really, really great book about. [00:38:00] Changing your mindset. Not necessarily even changing your mindset, but just seeing things a little differently and opening up possibility as a result.

Miriam: Wonderful. That’s great. I love these book recommendations.

I generally read every single one, and that’s one I haven’t read yet, so thank you. How can people find you?

Anne: Well They can visit my website, which is anne roach coaching.com. I also have a space where I have some podcasts and stories@fireandlight.org. But I. I am less interested in people finding me and more interested in people finding themselves.

So , . Spend the time asking yourself those questions to to everyone in your audience. Yes. What is it? What is it? If it weren’t about you, what else might be happening? What else might be [00:39:00] possible?

Miriam: I love that. Oh my goodness. Well, before we started this conversation, I mentioned that we like to do a donation in your name to one of three charities and you chose Mercy Ships.

Such a great charity. They give free surgeries to people in need. And the more I hear about kind of your background, that makes sense to me why you chose them. So we’ll do that as soon as we get off there, here, and This has been great. Thank you, Anne. So generous of you, Miriam. Thank you. And it’s such an honor to be here.

Thank you so much.


End Credits

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Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

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head shot Miriam Gunn

If you are curious to know more, please contact me!

As someone who has been a therapist for over a decade and has been coaching people for over three decades, I am uniquely qualified to address your concerns.

Ending Horse Slaughter in the United States Transcript – Gentle Giants (Christine Hajek)


Christine Hajek

Horses and Non-Profits – Christine Hajek (Gentle Giants)

Gentle Giants-Christine Hejak

Miriam: [00:00:00] All right, friends. Today I am super excited to have Christine hijack with us today. She is the owner and founder of Gentle Giants, and this is a charity that rescues draft horses from slaughter, abuse and neglect. They are located in Maryland. They have over 300 acres and rescue, to date over 1500 horses.

So part of the reason that I want to have this conversation, as we know my podcast, is about ending self sabotage and developing yourself in your business so that you can make a difference in the world. And Christine has certainly done that and is doing that. I’m just so excited for this conversation.

So welcome, Christine.

Christine: Thank you, Miriam. It’s such an honor and pleasure to be here.

It’s so great.

[00:00:47] Christine’s Journey to Horses

Miriam: So I don’t even know how I got exposed to your charity. I probably saw something on Instagram. That’s my best guess. And I started saying, what is this? And started sniffing around and have [00:01:00] kind of not only

donated but been following your, your nonprofit work for at least three or four years. We had the privilege of talking, I had the privilege of talking with you last year and did a little bit of coaching and that was fun. So your motto, rescue, rehabilitate, retrain, rehome. It’s the whole package. Why don’t you tell me a little bit how you got started with this venture?

Christine: So There’s a long story and a short story, so to try to compress them both together. I did grow up in a home with horses and it was a relatively small breeding farm. But like most commercial equine ventures, all the horses at the farm had to earn an income in order to be there. So that meant that at the end of each horse’s service,

If one of the mayors became unable to get pregnant, if she had more than one complicated delivery, if she had a FO that was born, you know, less than [00:02:00] satisfactory conditions or had crooked legs then those horses were liquidated and they were liquidated at the auction. And at the time when I was a kid, I really didn’t understand exactly what that meant.

But as an adult, when I was into horses on my own, I purchased a draft horse at an auction very, very impulsively. Having been grown up and being told the horses at the sale are trash, they’re the throwaway horses. They all are there for a reason.

The Reason

I ended up purchasing this horse, and when I went to the stall to collect him, the Mennonite fellow who was selling him was stroking him and talking to him, and he was crying, and so I said, I’m really, really sorry that you have to sell your horse, but I’m really glad that I was able to buy him and I promise I’ll give him a great home.

And the gentleman was really relieved and he was like, I had no idea it was a private buyer. I thought he sold to the meat men. And I said, the, the meat men. and I promptly got a very, very thorough education of exactly [00:03:00] what was happening to all of these horses who were no longer wanted and weren’t working out for their homes.

I was a little appalled. I was 28 years old when I learned about horse slaughter despite having had horses since I was six. But it really is truly a dirty little secret of the equine industry that nobody speaks about openly. Because nobody likes to admit, number one, that they know that it’s happening, and two, they don’t like to admit that they’re contributing to it because this is a financial benefit for these farms to have a way to dispose of their horses, rather disreputably, but then also to still earn an income with that disposal.

So that was kind of the start of Gentle Giants. I met that first horse who was named Elijah, and he was indeed not trash. He was not a throwaway horse. He was absolutely amazing. So I knew that if there was one Elijah out there, there were bound to be many, many more.

So that started my quest to go out and find them all.

[00:03:58] Starting Gentle Giants

Miriam: Wow. Well, [00:04:00] 1500 horses is nothing to sneeze at, and I’ll be honest with you. I, I’m gonna take a tiny digression. I’m a therapist by trade and current coach, and I know how to control my emotions, but when you tell that story, I got choked up and I had to just pull, pull that back, and I cry every single time I read one of your newsletters.

Horses are expensive, huge animals. Draft horses are three times the size and the expense of the regular ones.

Almost all of people in general are divorced now from the land and the animals, and they don’t understand the suffering that is caused by simple choices.

Now, I don’t know what it costs to euthanize a horse these days, but I’m gonna guess somewhere between a hundred and $200 to euthanize them and have the body disposed of.

So it’s not a huge amount of money that these animals could not have their [00:05:00] last days be full of terror and fear and pain and suffering.

And I’ve seen the pictures of these animals you’ve rescued the before and after where they’re skeletons. Mm-hmm. and then they’ve put on five or 600 pounds and

So anyway, I’m not gonna get all like emotional on you, but I appreciate what you’re doing and it’s no small thing.

So let’s, let’s get into how did you go from one to many? Because there’s a story there.

One to Many

Christine: So in the very early days of general Giants, it really was truly just a hobby. And it kind of, it was in my backyard, just a couple horses at a time. When it got to the point that we had four or five rescued horses, my at the time, boyfriend, now husband kind of came to me and said, this is, this is getting to be a lot of work, and I really think that we need help.

What we really needed [00:06:00] at that point in time was volunteer help more than funding. And so we kind of had a short discussion and had to decide are we either gonna scale back and go back to one to two horses at a time, or do we wanna incorporate a nonprofit so that we can get some people to come out and help us?

And we quickly decided we did not wanna scale back. It was time to incorporate and become a nonprofit. And we both went into this with absolutely zero knowledge or education about the nonprofit industry?

At the time I was a paramedic firefighter. My husband is still an active duty firefighter. But I will say one, one of the things that definitely helped me was one, I’m a very, very nosy person by nature, so I immediately started following and investigating other equine charities that I looked up to and reading their financial reports, looking through every single page of their website, just getting any information I could.

And I also looked at some of the charities that I did not admire and looked at what [00:07:00] they were doing and how they were doing it differently.


but then I reached out to some of the charities that I did admire and I was really, really surprised that a couple of them really welcomed me with open arms. They gave me some great advice.

They helped me out with practical things like writing my bylaws and forming my articles of incorporation and coming up with succession plans and things like that.

And that’s part of why I pay that forward now with doing mentoring with smaller startup organizations also, because if I hadn’t have had that support and assistance in the early days, I don’t know that we would be here.

Miriam: Yeah, that is an important point to, to just mention that wherever it is that you are right now- you were somewhere else five to 10 years ago. Mm-hmm. . And who were the people in your life that made it possible for you to get to where you are right now and how can you help that happen for the next person?

So I appreciate just that you’re [00:08:00] talking about that when,

when you look at the maybe difference in mindset from you rescuing one animal to turning it into a nonprofit, and a nonprofit is a business, every bit as much as a for-profit is a business, it just has a really different kind of focus on what you do with the funding and you know, the laws and everything.

Explain to me the mindset shift that had to happen in you to go from one to many.

[00:08:31] Clean Slate

Christine: I think one benefit that I had is because I was coming into this not having previously been in the for-profit world. I mean, my. Career had been as a paramedic and a firefighter, which is very structured and kind of paramilitary.

So I didn’t have things I had to unlearn, so I was kind of starting off as a clean slate and able to learn this whole new thing from the beginning. I think the biggest mindset I had to battle with in the beginning [00:09:00] was I was personally afflicted with a very common thing that that seems pervasive in the nonprofit community as a whole, which is the idea that because nonprofit work tends to normally passion centric jobs, that there’s an expectation that the people that work in the nonprofit industry should be willing to sacrifice financial security or even a competitive salary just because it’s the nonprofit industry.

And, you know, that’s something that I certainly now no longer believe and General Giants pushes back against that. It’s, it’s a very, very strange. Psychological Psychological conundrum that people seem to have this really, really visceral reaction that people should not be paid for doing very good things in the world.

However, people do not have the same reaction and they actually seem to expect people to be paid quite highly for going out and doing absolutely horrible [00:10:00] things in the world.

Scaling the Business

You know, if you wanna, yeah, if you wanna create violent video games or horrible, you know, music that talks about violence and drugs, people are like, oh yeah, you’re gonna make billions and billions.

In our, our early days, I very strongly felt that we should not have employees, that no one should be paid to do this. And then we hit a point that I, I actually realized, you you can’t provide adequate care and work unless the people who are doing that work are being fairly compensated for it.

Miriam: Absolutely. There’s no way to scale without that. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Volunteerism gets you from one to many, but then at a certain point in time you have to hire a team of people that you can count on and that when they’re terrible, you can fire. And when you know you can, like, you have to have that structure.

There’s no way to scale without it.

So one thing I find with maybe [00:11:00] newer business, Is that depending on the business owner there is more or less structure depending on the person. And then over time they learn and iterate and that whichever direction on the spectrum they were, if they were less structure, they’re like now I have to make a policy about that.

Mm-hmm. . And maybe they get more structure and then if they’re the other way around, then it becomes less.

[00:11:23] Business Structure

What have you learned? Like let’s just go with the animals, their care, et cetera, et cetera. Where did you have to start putting in what you would call business structure? You mentioned you have bylaws and you have these other things. It’s not a free for all, and it’s not just what any ever anybody wants to do. . Mm-hmm. .

Christine: Well, I mean, starting out the gate, we were certainly well aware of the, the, the business structure that we would have in order to have to meet our obligations to the IRS as a a 5 0 1 So that, that’s the simple stuff.

The bookkeeping, the accounting so on, so forth.

As we [00:12:00] have grown, I’ve actually kind of been surprised at the amount of policy that we’ve had to create and, and put into place that I really, never expected. So I definitely would’ve fallen on the spectrum very, very, very far to the super loosey goosey, no policy person.

And now have kind of developed along that line into, okay, now we have structure and policy.

So that can be anything from, you know, we certainly format our goals and plans for All the goals we want to meet with stewarding donors or volunteers. But it can even be down to the minutia of having to create policies about social media use with our staff.

One common thing that happens is, you know, if we have a sudden loss at the farm, we don’t necessarily want our staff sharing that on social media until we’ve had an opportunity to announce it. Because, if either a volunteer who was very close to that horse, saw that social media [00:13:00] post before we were able to call them, that would be really hurtful.


Mm-hmm. , same thing. Mm-hmm. I mean, if we have a donor who sponsors that horse and they were to learn about it through this, you know, odd third party or whatever, that would also be very hurtful. So I’ve been surprised sometimes that some of the policies we have to put into.

Miriam: Yeah, that makes sense to me.

I, I was talking with someone literally earlier today, and we were talking about how these challenges that come up within the business become the impetus for the new policy. Mm-hmm. , it’s like, oh, I didn’t, I didn’t know I needed that. Now I know I needed that.

And I’m sure you run into it from everything from – not everybody and their dog can give our horses snacks, you know, or treats or whatever. Like we have, we have rule, here’s where you put the manure fork. Mm-hmm. , here’s how you handle when you have a grievance. Here’s how you handle when someone wants to do x. I mean, you just don’t know until you know, and then out comes the policy.

[00:14:00] Can you give a little, like, give us an idea of the size, like how many volunteers do you have? How many employees, kind of what’s your annual budget? Help us understand how many horses are you currently working with?

Christine: Sure. So our current herd sits at 157 cuz we actually just had a new horse arrive about 20 minutes before we got online.

[00:14:21] Fostering Goodness

Wow. So we have 157 horses and in order to care for them, That takes a staff of 34 full-time people, two part-time people, and we have a army of about 220 volunteers. And of those volunteers, we have a core group of about 50 volunteers that are giving at least one, if not two full days a week. They take their volunteering very, very seriously.

They will call out sick. They will let us know when they’re planning to take vacation. They literally treat their volunteering time as if it were a job with the same responsibilities. And those volunteers are [00:15:00] bread and butter because we actually can rely on them to the same level as a staff member.

Christine: Yeah. That’s fantastic. What do you think it is that you’re doing that is creating that kind of loyalty? Because that’s unusual? I’m not sure. We do ask our volunteers that all the time. Most of them have said, you know, they’ve certainly appreciated that the, the more time they’re willing to invest in us, the more time we invest in them the more training and expansion opportunities we give them, the more responsibility we’re willing to hand over to them.

People who can commit more than 20 hours a month are extended riding privileges and some extra hands-on horsey time. but that’s not the reason for everybody. I mean, we have out of that really core group of volunteers, I would say more than half, aren’t interested in writing or those other opportunities.

Good Experiences

I really do think they just enjoy the hands-on care and they come to a point where they have a personal [00:16:00] ownership over the horses and the rescue, and they feel a responsibility to it. And that’s always what I wanted to create. I wanted to create a situation where our volunteers felt more like they were coming to their very own boarding barn where their own horse might be, rather than feeling like they were reporting to the factory and like punching a clock.

Yeah, and that comes from my own personal experience as a volunteer at some different rescues, some, some horse rescues, some wildlife rehab centers, and I’ve had some good experiences and some not so good experiences, so I’ve certainly cataloged how those experiences made me feel as a volunteer so that we could better structure a program that would meet people’s needs and be enjoyable.

Miriam: Sure. I have to think at some level, part of their motivation has to do with you are giving them an opportunity to be a part of not only something larger than [00:17:00] themselves, but something that is clearly doing good. If you look at the before and after pictures in your newsletter, there’s no doubt that you’re doing good.


Even if you have rescued an animal only to put it down 12 hours later because it is not saveable. You have spared that animal fear and pain and suffering and I’m, I don’t know, you’d have to tell me, but I’m gonna guess 90% of the animals you bring there are rehabilitate-able. Maybe not to full potential, but they seem to really do pretty well.

Christine: Mm-hmm. , they do. They really. And I mean there, there’s certainly in, in this line of work, there are a lot of losses and those losses can be very, very painful. But I, you know, we also, we bear that as a group. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. And so that, that’s very bonding as well.

Can you tell a couple stories of some of the horses that you felt like made a difference, either in your [00:18:00] life, in someone else’s life?

[00:18:02] Making a Difference

Yeah. Tell us a couple stories. So the, the horse that comes to mind first who’s probably made the biggest difference for general giants as a whole would be Manhattan. And so we found Manhattan at the biggest slaughter auction at the east, on the East coast. That would be New Holland, which is in Lancaster County in Pennsylvania.

And I purchased new Manhattan. I was bidding against a kill buyer and managed to win his bid. It was relatively low, I think it was like $460. So he was a relatively inexpensive horse. And as I was gathering him up, I didn’t notice it before I purchased him, but I noticed after I did that he had a four digit number engraved in his hoof.

And I asked, did the state veterinarian who is on site there, he inspects the horses for them to get their U S D A meat stickers and everything. Asked him what it was and he told me, oh, that’s a New York City carriage horse. And I was [00:19:00] appalled. We did reach out to New York City and we were able to track down his previous owner.

And I do want to say full disclosure, his previous owner was not the person responsible for him ending up at the sale. His carriage owner had sold him to another horse trader that deals in carriage horses because he wasn’t handling the really big trucks and trailers well in the city. They thought he would do better someplace else.

He was supposed to be going to Mackinaw Island where he’d be pulling a carriage and there wouldn’t be any vehicles. But instead they ended up taking him to the auction where we found him.

Carriage Horses

So in the beginning This was a bad thing because a lot of media got released about general Giants finding this horse, and a lot of information from that kind of got spun to really frame the carriage industry in a negative light.

But through that we were slowly able to meet with those folks and kind of develop a relationship and explain to them that [00:20:00] we are not their enemy, We don’t wanna see carriages go away.

People only care about what they see. And many people, the only horse that they ever interact with in their life might be a carriage horse.

We wanna see carriage horses cared for better than they currently are. We wanna make sure that carriage horses have permanent retirements when they’re no longer working or able to work so that they don’t end up at an auction like Manhattan Did. But Manhattan solidified that relationship and since then we’ve had over 50 carriage horses from across the country retired with us.

Wow. So that really made a big difference. And a lot of people are very, very surprised to hear that we are pro carriage. A lot of people expect that our answer’s gonna be, that we’re anti. In no way do I feel that the current carriage industry is perfect or even great. But I don’t think that the answer should be abolitionism.

Getting Better

I don’t think that we should [00:21:00] completely take it away. I do think there’s still a place for horses in our world, and the less that we have the public interacting with horses, the less we can expect public to care about what happens to them. So yes, that makes sense. Carriages continue, but better. Sure that makes sense.

Miriam: You know, I think actually it would be worth our while to take a couple minutes and have you explain this meat industry thing, because I am certain, I mean, I understand it. I know what it’s about, but. I think most people would say, well, I don’t understand. People don’t eat horses, so what, what is this about?

Why don’t you give a little bit of a tutorial on that?

[00:21:42] Horse Slaughter

Christine: Sure. I would love to, cuz there’s so much misconception about horse slaughter, especially in the United States. So most people believe that there is a ban on horse slaughter in the united. There actually is not. What there [00:22:00] is is there’s a tiny little half of a sentence in the agricultural spending bill, and that little half of a sentence says that tax dollars will not be used to pay for U S D A meat inspectors to inspect the carcasses of equines.

And that means that if a horse is slaughtered in the United States, that it can’t be sold for human consumption. So that originally was put in place in around 2007, and that was what closed the three slaughter houses that existed in the United States. There isn’t actually a ban, so it is legal to slaughter a horse in the United States.

It’s just not legal to slaughter it and then sell it for human consumption. There are still a couple very small slaughter houses that do process horses to be fed to large predators in zoos and other private sanctuaries. . I might not like that, but right now, that’s not my hill to die [00:23:00] on. I’m gonna fight against horse slaughter for human consumption, and then we’ll deal with that issue later once we fix the bigger problem.

So at its height back in probably the mid to late 1980s, almost half a million horses were being slaughtered in the US. Every year, most of that meats being exported into Europe. So the biggest consumers of horse meat are typically Belgium, France, and Japan- italy a little bit too.

Consumer Interest

So what has happened now is horses are shipped over borders into Canada and into Mexico, where our US horses are then slaughtered there, and then ex exported for sale for human consumption in other European countries where horse meets literally on the table.

Demand for horse meat is greatly, greatly slowing. One thing that has happened over in European countries is consumers have become aware of the fact that our US horses are [00:24:00] actually privately owned horses that they’re eating. There’s a lot of the promotions are very much billboards of horses out in expansive big fields.

So it, it’s kind of this presumption that these are like wild horses and or horses that are raised specifically for slaughter because most of the countries that do consume horses have two classes of horses. They have the horses that they eat, and then the horses that they ride and enjoy the companionship of.

So now that they’ve become aware of the fact that. No, these are actually, these are lesson ponies. These are race horses. These are show horses, these are workhorses. A lot of consumers have become less interested in horse meat that’s originating from the United States, so consumer interest is definitely declining.

The other big thing that I hear in relation to horse slaughter is people who are for horse slaughter, like to use the argument that if we did not have horse slaughter, there would be no way to dispose of all of these [00:25:00] unwanted horses, and then there would be starving horses running loose all across the United States.

And to that, I say that’s just unreasonable and it’s not true.

[00:25:11] Understanding the Issue

Starving horses and abuse and neglect exists now, even though horse slaughter isn’t an option. Those people could have chosen to sell their horses to slaughter if they didn’t want those horses, but they didn’t make that choice. They made the choice to starve the horses.

My experience working, you know, for 20 years. In conjunction in supporting animal control and humane law enforcement is that the starvation in abuse of horses is a mental illness. It’s not a financial illness. And a lot of the people that have been involved in those cases actually could afford to care for their horses. They just did not because they were mentally ill.

The second thing is to look at the sheer numbers. There’s approximately 9 million horses in the United States. . In 2020, only about 140,000 horses got shipped to slaughter. So at that [00:26:00] point, we’re dealing with less than 1% of the equine population.

Every year, almost a million horses are euthanized because of illness, injury, end of life decline, and that’s obviously a much larger number than a hundred thousand. So, The equine industry doesn’t really have to adapt very much to absorb these quote unquote unwanted horses that I would argue are not actually unwanted at all.

I do believe that our, our equine industry could absorb those numbers.

We might have to ask our breeders to be 1% more selective when deciding to breed horses. We might have to ask our private owners to rather than sending your very, very old, sick, lame, blind horse to the auction, please just euthanize it and put it down.

Do the responsible thing. Don’t make your problematic horse somebody else’s problem. But it’s, it’s a very solvable issue.

You know, I look at other [00:27:00] issues like the overpopulation of dogs and cats, and that truly is an issue. That’s an overwhelming issue. I look at the issue of course, slaughter and I’m like, we can fix this.

Horses Have Feelings Too

Like in a year or two, it’s all we need is the equine community to come together and we could absolutely fix this and it wouldn’t be necessary anymore.

Miriam: Yeah. I love that you’ve taken it on. I mean, I was thinking about our interview earlier today and I was thinking somehow somewhere you landed into your calling.

this has become your calling and you know, I don’t know if you’ll single-handedly end it, but you’re gonna be a huge, you know, voice in the ending of this thing that is just kind of a besmirch on the United States. It’s just not anything to be proud of. Something I’m always after people, you would never, you know, send your 14 year old dog to to auction, you know, [00:28:00] you just, you would never do that.

And why people think just because the animal is bigger, that it doesn’t have, you know, muscles that feel pain and sentience, that feels confusion and whatever. And I don’t know, I, I’m like, I a person who is probably different than most people out there, but if I have an animal, it comes to my house and it stays there until it is no longer with us.

Mm-hmm. , and you take that into con, into account before you get the animal, how, what is its lifespan, what is this likely to cost? And if I can’t do right by it, and I then I, I have to do right by it, whatever that means.


[00:28:41] Responsibility

Christine: and there’s lots of ways to do, right? Like, I’m not saying that every person who ever purchases a horse has to keep that horse until the day that horse dies. They may not be able to do that. Right? But there are responsible outlets. I mean, I am the same way. When an animal joins my family, they are here for life.

But I did [00:29:00] once have a dog that I raised from a puppy who did not work out in my household, and no amount of changing the way the house operated or hiring behaviorists and trainers. Nothing was going to work. I had multiple dogs and this dog needed to be in an only dog home. We connected with a really reputable rescue.

The dog stayed in our home. They helped us network her. They helped us interview families. They helped us place her. They put her under their contract, and it was absolutely smooth and flawless, and we were able to stay in touch with the new home. Yeah, and it worked out great.

Miriam: So it was a win for everybody.

Yeah, it was well earlier. Before we got online or before we started recording, you had showed me a book that you said was hugely influential in the development of your thought process about nonprofits. Do you mind sharing what that is?

Christine: Yeah, so that is [00:30:00] Charity Case by Dan Palatta and I love Dan Palatta. Maybe one day he’ll hear this.

Hi Dan. Love you .

Dan Palatta

I got hooked on Dan through his very, very famous Ted Talk and he did a TED Talk called how we Think about or. What we think about charitable giving is dead wrong. But my favorite book from him is Charity Case, and it’s how the nonprofit community can stand up for itself and really change the world.

He’s an incredibly innovative nonprofit guru. He was the driving force between the AIDS Ride for Life and the Susan G. Coleman three day walks, I mean, just really, really impressive, super out of the box thinker, and he’s really pushing people to kind of take down a lot of the psychological walls and barriers that prevent the nonprofit sector from being able to best do its own work.

Miriam: Can, can you list any of those offhand?

[00:30:54] The Non-profit Sector

Christine: Well, sure. One of the first things he talks about is kind of branches back to that, that earlier topic of the, the [00:31:00] psychological trap of believing that just because it’s nonprofit sector work that you’re going to be expected to accept, very unfair and disproportionate Compensation for that work.

Mm-hmm. that if you were doing the same work in the for-profit sector, you’d be paid sometimes four or five, 10 times. Yeah. What you would be expecting to earn in the nonprofit sector. The other area is we’re really limited on advertisement and the ability to invest in advertisement. Whereas in the for-profit sector, you know, everyone’s going to tell.

You know, spend, spend, spend until your last dollar’s not returning any amount of income. But in the nonprofit sector, people don’t want you to advertise. I mean, they want you to get it donated. And then it’s gonna be on TV at three o’clock in the morning. Yeah. Or it’s gonna be on, you know, one of the very, very back pages of a magazine.

And the third area where the nonprofit sector is really, really limited is its inability to take financial risk. and you know, [00:32:00] that kind of goes back to. Donors are expecting that every single fundraiser that a nonprofit is going to do is, is going to return at least threefold its investment. And anything less than that is basically a crime.

And you know, no one in the for-profit sector has to meet that kind of demand, right? And oftentimes that’s really, really unreasonable thinking. We can’t always return a threefold investment on an event. I mean, what if we schedule an event that’s an in-person event and a snowstorm happens, or, you know, something else major happens that day?

Challenging Culture

I mean, all of that is funding lost and not, not every fundraiser goes exactly as planned. So I think a part of that too is, is kind of changing culturally our expectation of what nonprofits are supposed to be able to accomplish and, and kind of lightening up on them.

And that’s something that there have been times in the very, very early days of general [00:33:00] Giants we were building our donor base and our fundraising wasn’t as effective as it is today.

And there were a couple years where, you know, our fundraising expenses took up 30 or 31% of our annual budget. And sometimes I would get very irate phone calls and letters from donors who were absolutely agast about it until we really got on the phone and talked about how it is as a small startup nonprofit trying to build that donor base and trying to fundraise.

And then as that donor base gets bigger and bigger and bigger and more reliable, , you know, now we’re in our 18th year and we’re super excited that our fundraising expenses are less than 15% of our annual budget. So we’ve gotten to our point where our fundraising is really effective and it is really streamlined.

Starting Small

But you don’t start there. Yeah. Like, and, and people, supporters and donors have to give you an opportunity to grow there. Mm-hmm. , it’s not something that’s gonna happen. Right out of the bat, and you’re not going to [00:34:00] change the world with money that comes from a bake sale.

Miriam: Yeah, that is true.

Christine: So we had talked about, we have 157 horses and we talked about the size of our staff. Our annual budget runs from. Five to 6 million a year. And that’s what it takes to keep this whole machine running and operating. A lot of people don’t really realize how big General Giants is.

We span almost 350 acres, so it’s a very, very large operation. We’re having 12 to 18 horses adopted a month, so there’s always horses going out, new horses coming in. It’s a lot. Yeah, it really is a lot. It’s a lot.

Miriam: You haven’t even mentioned that many of the horses coming in have severe medical problems that many times can be fixed.

So that’s part of the rehabilitate space. And what would you say. Changed in you? How did your thinking have [00:35:00] to change to manage a five or six or 7 million operation versus a hundred thousand or 500,000? Like as this thing gets bigger, your skillset has to adjust and grow.

[00:35:14] Relationship With Money

Christine: I think that is an area where I came into this with a little bit of a

gift that, I don’t know where it came from. I, and it’s something that I see in a lot of the smaller groups that I mentor. I’m very, very fortunate that I’ve never been a person who bought into poverty mentality and I didn’t buy into it even when I actually was poor , you know, as a single starting off firefighter, that I look back at that now and I’m like, how did I even survive?

I’m like, I don’t know, but I never felt poor. Yeah. I think one of the most important things has been and when I mentor smaller startup groups, one of the first questions I always ask the founder or director, whoever I’m dealing with is, [00:36:00] what is their personal, emotional relationship with money?

And if their emotional relationship with money is ideas, like money is the root of all evil, or rich people are stingy or that there aren’t many wealthy people or people don’t wanna give, or there isn’t going to be enough money, then I immediately tell them un, until they can get to the core root of that belief and change it, they’re not gonna be successful because everything they’re doing is coming from a scarcity mindset.

but if you look at money as an idea of it’s neither good nor evil, it’s just a tool for getting things done. No different than any other tool you might pick up, like a hammer or a pocket knife. It just is what it is. My personal belief about people is that most people are incredibly generous and they’re happy to help.

Part of Something Larger

They’re, they’re just waiting to be asked and that everybody has something that they want to share. It might not be a check for $20,000. It might just be a check for $20, but they [00:37:00] still wanna be invited to share. And that I think has been, for me, the, the biggest benefit. And it’s where I see the biggest weakness in startup groups.

Miriam: Yeah. Yeah, I can really see that. Again, I see you giving people the opportunity to be part of something larger than themselves where they get to participate in doing good. So what would you tell the you of 18 years ago?

Christine: I’m not sure, I probably would’ve told myself to lighten up. Not worry so much. You know, and just as always, and with anything, you know, we, whenever we’re, really presented with a problem, our first thing is as a group, our board goes back.

We read our mission statement and our core value statements, and then we’re like, okay, now that we’ve refreshed that, how do we wanna answer this problem? You know, what? What do we want to do? Yeah.

Miriam: Oh, I love that you do that. reviewing regularly your mission [00:38:00] statement and your core value system just keeps it front and center and it allows all decisions to be made through that grid, which is brilliant.

Very. Well worked.

[00:38:12] Horse Story

So we’re gonna end in just a minute, but I do have my own curiosity. You said somebody arrived, a horse arrived just like 20 minutes before we started. What is that animal story and what are you projecting for its future?

Christine: Oh, so this animal is a great indication of how things are changing in the horse world and things with horse slaughter.

So this is actually a horse that we were contacted by the horse’s owner who happens to be an Amish farmer. So I will say, and, and it’s a little stereotypical, I hate to stereotype, but most. Amish and Old Order Mennonite people that I have interacted with around the idea of horse slaughter have been [00:39:00] incredibly detached and pragmatic about it.

They understand exactly what is happening to their horse when they take it to the auction. They know what the outcome is going to be. They have no moral or emotional objection to it. To them, it is strictly financial. That horse is no longer able to do its job on the farm. Every horse on the farm has to earn

its keep or it can’t be here. Therefore, that horse needs to go and it’s going to go in the way that earns the money rather than the way that costs them money.

Caring for the Horse

But this farmer. Picked up the phone and said, which, I mean, that takes effort. , he had to find our number and he had to go find a phone. And he called and said that this had been his father’s horse.

And then when his father retired from farming, it went to him and he’s worked this horse for two years now. This horse is having a health problem. That means it can’t plow anymore.

And even though he’d be going forego. Probably a thousand dollars is what he’d get for this horse at auction [00:40:00] right now. He was more than happy to actually give us this horse just to know that this horse would receive the medical care that he’s not willing or able to provide, and that the horse will be safe for the rest of its life.

So the tides really are changing. It’s a little slow. Yeah. But we’re starting to see that more and more.

So whenever we’re contacted from somebody who’s in a direct like horse farming community, we’re never, ever, ever going to say no to them. Yeah. Because this is such a new change. Yes. Or their culture to look at this a different way and to start seeing the horses as sentient beings and companions who have a right to retire just like we do when the end of our working days come.

Miriam: Wow. Wow. Christine, this has been so great. Thank you so much for just your time. Can you please tell people how they can find you, how they can help? Yeah,

[00:40:56] Where To Find Christine

Christine: absolutely. So you can certainly learn all about [00:41:00] us@www.gentlegiants.org. We’re also on Facebook. We have an absolutely hilarious and very, very active TikTok.

If you enjoy watching funny videos about horses and you can also find us on Instagram.

Miriam: Awesome. So my listeners know that I always give as a thank you, a gift in your name to one of four charities. And what I mentioned to you before we started is this time I would like to do something different instead of giving a gift in your name to a different charity in addition to giving a gift to General Giants, what I would like to do is just profile your.

Your nonprofit, your organization in the year of 2023 with, with my podcast. So that’s something that we’re gonna do, and those of you who are hearing this will hear more and more about general giants. And whether you have horses or not, here is an awesome way to do some good. So thank you again, Christine.

Christine: Thank you so much. It’s really been a pleasure.

End Credits

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Podcasts, or wherever podcasts are found.

Full audio episode found here.

Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

All LeaveBetter Podcast episodes can be found here.

Music by Tom Sherlock.

head shot Miriam Gunn

If you are curious to know more, please contact me!

As someone who has been a therapist for over a decade and has been coaching people for over three decades, I am uniquely qualified to address your concerns.

Work-Life Balance and Self Sabotage – Cary Prejean

Noah Koff

Work-Life Balance and

Self Sabotage 

7.26.22 Cary Prejean


Welcome to another episode of The LeaveBetter Podcast  where I interview high performers and business owners to glean from their wisdom and practical routines, habits, and mindsets— that you can apply to your own life.

Sometimes, rather than an interview, I riff on a particular self-sabotaging habit and it’s remedies.

In this episode, we are pleased to have Cary Prejean—a native of Louisiana and the founder of CFO Consulting, LLC. He works with business owners to help them turn their business into what he’s labeled “the well-oiled machine” process.

*Before you go—Sign up for my newsletter at Leavebetter.com.  Once a week, wisdom and practicality in your inbox.

Remember: the actions you take today set you up for six months from now. So do something today that pushes you toward that next level of you. So go be INTENTIONAL.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, or wherever podcasts are found.

In this episode, Cary and I talk about creating a balance between your personal life and business. Cary shares his experience between making that shift and focusing on what’s most imoprtant. Enjoy!

The transcript of this episode can be found here.

[00:15] Introduction

[01:32] Scan the Horizons for Opportunities

[04:19] Create a Positive Business Environment

[08:45] Work-Life Balance

[11:07] Ontological Design

[16:56] Teenage Discourse to Adult Discourse

[22:41] Avoid the Financial Pitfalls

[28:57] The Herd Mentality

[30:48] What Are You Chasing?

Music by Tom Sherlock
Strategic Business Advisors
The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Self-Sabotage and Your Business Mindset (Noah Koff)

Noah Koff

Self-Sabotage and Your Business Mindset

6.14.22 Noah Koff


Welcome to another episode of The LeaveBetter Podcast  where I interview high performers and business owners to glean from their wisdom and practical routines, habits, and mindsets— that you can apply to your own life.

Sometimes, rather than an interview, I riff on a particular self-sabotaging habit and it’s remedies.

In this episode, we are pleased to have Noah Koff—a business and leadership coach for product creators who want to better their business and life ahead of schedule. His business is global, but located in Portland, OR in the United States.

Sign up to my weekly email newsletter at Leavebetter.com.  Please let me know if you enjoy this series on Instagram at @leavebetter. Whether we continue this series or not depends on you!

Please enjoy!Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform.

In this episode, Noah and I talk about his businesses in London, self-sabotaging mindsets, things to pay attention to when you are raising funds for a business, and some routines that he regularly employs.  I know you will find both wisdom and practicality here.

Watch an excerpt of this episode here!

The transcript of this episode can be found here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

Resources listed:

[00:00:56] Intro Noah

[00:03:06] Avoid Self-Sabotage with Other Cultures in Business

[00:06:59] Mindsets of Self-Sabotage 

[00:08:04] Perfectionism

[00:09:42] Self-Doubt

[00:10:46] Comparison – Unleash Your Genius

[00:13:30] When it’s Time for a Change

[00:19:49] Overcoming Self-Sabotage Raising Funding

[00:22:46] Take Action, Celebrate Small Wins, Work Out

[00:25:48] Breath Work

[00:28:25] Morning Routine

[00:33:53] The Four Agreements 

[00:37:27] How to Find Noah Koff

Music by Tom Sherlock


The Podcast Trailer

The LeaveBetter Podcast Trailer Transcript

LeaveBetter logo

Hi, I’m Miriam Gunn, CEO of Leave Better. A coaching and therapy company dedicated to helping you win in business and in life.

We are a world trying to open up. An economy that is gasping, and we all have questions about how to bring more positivity in the midst of it all.

At LeaveBetter, we feel called to walk alongside you listening, asking, leading.

We’re going to be bringing an array of voices, addressing the topics of self- sabotage in life and in business. Looking for wisdom and practicality tools and ideas to take you toward that next level of growth and revenue.

We want to see each person end 2022 better than they started it. With more, hope, more acumen, and better poised to serve others in their businesses and their lives.

July one, follow us on apple podcast, Spotify, Google podcast, or wherever you listen.

We’re looking forward to meeting you there.

Podcast Episodes found Here

Podcast Transcripts found Here

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform.


Music by Tom Sherlock

head shot Miriam Gunn

If you are curious to know more, please contact me!

As someone who has been a therapist for over a decade and has been coaching people for over three decades, I am uniquely qualified to address your concerns.