Working with Simon: a client's career change story

When we first met Simon, it is fair to say that my husband John and I were broken. John had run his own business for several years, but the business got into financial difficulties. John hid the problems from me over a prolonged period and had a nervous breakdown in the process. By the time the position in relation to John's business became clear, there was nothing to do but to put it into insolvent liquidation. At the same time, as a result of personal guarantees which John had given without telling me when the business was failing, we lost our life savings and very nearly lost the roof over our heads.

In the aftermath of that, John shut down completely. He wouldn't talk to anyone, even close friends and family. Days and months went by when he seemed paralysed – he couldn't do anything. His relationship with me and with our son went downhill at an alarming rate.

At that point, my priority was getting from day to day and trying to keep things at home and at my work on an even keel. I confided in a friend about my situation and she recommended that I contact Simon.

As he does with all prospective clients, Simon met with us on a no-obligations basis. The meeting lasted around two hours and John spoke more about his situation during that meeting than he had done in the preceding two years. I think that was because Simon could look John in the eye and say "I've been there; I understand," yet here Simon was – larger than life, happy in himself, confident and clearly very good at what he does. If Simon could experience rock-bottom and then turn his life around in that way, why couldn't John? Anything seemed possible...

At the end of the meeting, Simon indicated that he would be prepared to work with us and outlined his charges, which were payable in full in advance. As soon as he left, John and I agreed that we should retain Simon and I used the last £3K I had in the bank to settle Simon's invoice.

In the event, we worked with Simon for just over a year. Simon's immediate priority was to galvanise John into functioning again, and this happened remarkably quickly. It was then a question of working out the next career move for John. The answer presented itself within a matter of weeks – John should go into business for himself again but in a completely different field and as a sole trader for the time being. The plan was to start small and let the business grow in a controlled way and entirely on John's terms.

I'm delighted to say that that's exactly what is happening. John is happier than he has been in a long time. I have my husband back and, more importantly for me, our son has his dad back.

Several months after we first met Simon, he contacted me and asked if we could have a chat. John and I had engaged Simon to work with John, but Simon is clear that his clients' partners are part of the deal. He therefore encourages all of his clients to include their partners in the various meetings which take place during the coaching process.

When Simon and I met – Just the two of us this time - Simon simply asked, "How are you?" That was the first time in a long time that someone had asked me that, other than in the context of how John was doing. I was moved to tears (poor Simon!).

We chatted and Simon said he wanted to work with me in the context of my own career. I explained that I couldn't afford his fees and he laughed and said "did I ask you to pay me? As I've told you before, I see you and John as a package deal and that's that."

Without me noticing, because of the situation in my home life and being unable to help John, I had focused all of my energy into my work and helping my colleagues. I think there was also a subconscious feeling that, because we were middle-aged and broke now, I had to keep my head down at work and not rock the boat. All of that came at the expense of my own work/life balance and my career satisfaction. As Simon succinctly put it, "for an intelligent person, you are behaving in a remarkably stupid way!" (I love that about Simon – he doesn't mince his words).

With Simon's help, I was able objectively to evaluate my work situation and retrain myself into a more sensible working pattern, which has improved my work/life balance beyond belief. It's better now than it has been for many years, yet I feel more successful than ever in what I do. I am now paid what I worth and am respected and taken far more seriously at work.

Simon enabled us to revolutionise our lives. Life is the best it has ever been. I have been intensely moved by the whole experience. Although John was the client, he helped me free of charge.

Simon inspires confidence and trust. He empowers people. Simon has a gift that is priceless.

Freya Jones
29 April 2016

Because of the very personal nature of this story, names have been changed.