By Taylor Jones
Crystal Barrow is amazingly motivating, a quality you hope to find in a career and success coach. As a business owner, she’s working hard to make sure her clients reach that ah-ha moment, which is one of her motivations for being in her business. As a woman, she first built her business on the concept of helping other women build each other up and reach their goals, an idea we are all about at Planful. She also uses her business to construct herself as a successful woman to create a goal-oriented and positive atmosphere for her daughter to grow up in. It’s her job to recognize the challenges that her clients face and tell themselves and give these clients tools to overcome these challenges to reach their professional goals. Whether you have just graduated college, are a mid-career transitioner, or want to move up within your current career and don’t know the next steps to take, Crystal would love to help you.
While Crystal is one of those women who does it all – a full-time job, mothering, and owning a business – she is also down to earth and easy to have a conversation with. Seriously, stop what you are doing and read this interview for a dose of career inspiration.
Women in Business Feature: Interview with Crystal Barrow, owner of Shape Your Success Coaching
Planful: Tell me about yourself, your background.
Crystal Barrow: I was born and raised in the Bronx, and I now live in Westchester, NY. When I graduated college, I was working as a federal law enforcement officer and began going to law school in the evenings. But when the attacks on the World Trade Center happened, I decided that I needed to begin moving towards my career and life goals faster, so I began law school full time. After graduating from law school, I became a practicing attorney of criminal prosecution for New York City and then the state of New York.
P: What made you get into career and success coaching?
CB: Before starting this business, I challenged myself to create and organize a community group on MeetUp.com. I wanted women to be able to come together and empower each other to reach their goals. I created a meet and greet early on in this group, and I noticed one woman listening intently to my career story. After the meet and greet, this same woman pulled me aside and told me I would be a great coach. And I asked, “What is a coach?!”
The idea that I could have a career that could help people answer questions and meet their career goals was a fascinating idea to me, and it’s the conversation that really started it all.
P: What were your biggest challenges when starting Shape Your Success Coaching? Now?
CB: Oh boy. [laughs] I graduated my coaching certification program. But then a bunch of questions started to hit me: How will I do this? Is it even financially possible? What do I even know about business? All of these questions were negative towards my abilities, so I had to coach myself through this negative self-talk to encourage myself to keep going. I had to make a plan to overcome these negative questions. I asked myself, what’s the alternative to not having this business, which serves people and helps people meet their goals. The answer is that there is not an alternative, I have to do this. So I had and still have to coach myself to develop this business further.
P: What motivates you?
CB: There are three things. The first is that I have been given my gifts from a creator, whom I believe is God. If I don’t share this gift, then I am doing a disservice to myself and others by not sharing it.
Second, when I hear that shift in a client, the sign of recognition. I love hearing the stories of success and victories, big and small.
Lastly, I made the decision a few years ago to become a single mother by choice. I now have a beautiful toddler. I want to model both what a successful woman is and how to help others for my daughter.
P: What would you like people to know about your business?
CB: Again, there are three things. If they work with me, they’re getting a coach that is authentic and available to work with them at every stage of their career – from college graduates to those looking for a successful, sustainable career shaped by their own terms, to mid-career transitions.
I offer services and packages that tailor client’s resumes and stories for the type of job they want to have. I also have a Coach On the Go service, which gives people access to me when they need me, on an as-needed basis.
I do also love to meet people and talk to the masses. I’m always available to talk to people about their career, and I love talking to communities.
P: What are your best time management tips?
CB: This is always a work in progress. I try to create systems based on how I learn and retain information best. I am a visual person so I create to-do lists. I also have one or two people – I call them accountability partners – I share my goals with on a daily basis to help me be accountable for my goals big and small. This keeps me on task.
Recently, and this has worked really well, I have given myself a power hour. Between my daughter, my company, and my full-time job, I find at least one hour to accomplish my business goals. The rest of that time, if there is any left, is dedicated to serving the public, coaching, and serving my daughter.
And, maybe most importantly, ask for help. It’s so crucial and maybe cliche, but if you don’t ask for help you won’t get it.
P: Best advice you’ve ever heard?
CB: We have choices, and we get to change our minds. I love this advice because it crosses over into every major area of our lives – health, financial, and of course your career. We can make decisions and change them later. People sometimes make the wrong choice or are stuck by the fear of making that wrong choice and failing. But we can’t get stuck, we can always make another choice if the first one doesn’t work out.
P: Any advice for other female business owners or any business for that matter?
CB: Yes! These are a collection of quotes that I have accumulated from others and through my own experience:
- To be wary of comparing yourself to others. It’s definitely easier to say than do, but it’s just a no-no. We can’t do this.
- To say yes and figure out the rest later. So many times were offered opportunities, and we think about why it may not work out or fail, but I think we should say yes to an opportunity and focus on how to make it work along the way.
- What you focus on expands, so you have to make it something good.
Thank you, Crystal, for sharing a little bit of your business and life with us! Through Shape Your Success Coaching, she offers resume revision, interview preparation, and life and career coaching. If you’d like to know more about Crystal and her work at Shape Your Success, check out her website here.