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LICA To Celebrate 15th Anniversary This Fall

Trained coaches offer personal and professional support, job interview tips

When most people think of coaching, they think of energetic men and women in sweats and baseball caps yelling encouragement at young athletes on the ball field. However, The Long Island Coaching Alliance (LICA), soon to be celebrating its fifteenth anniversary, deals with a very different kind of coaching: helping people better manage their careers, transitions, relationships, parenting, and all manner of concerns. A chapter of the International Coach Federation (ICF), the organization is made up of professionally certified executive, business, and personal coaches from all over the Island.

“Coaching is kind of like a personal trainer for your brain,” explains LICA president Josephine Rotolo. “People benefit from having a kind of partner in crime; someone to help with brainstorming ideas, figuring out where they want to be.”

While to some, this explanation of coaching may sound similar to therapy, according to Rotolo, coaches are future-oriented, and there lies the distinction. “We’re not going to talk about something that happened back in your childhood, or focus on the past,” she explains. People who are best able to take advantage of the kind of coaching LICA offers will have changes they wish to make, but feel empowered to make those changes and move forward. Those who do not feel empowered, or do not feel like they are in a good place to move forward from, may be better served by pursuing therapy first, or in addition to coaching.

While all LICA coaches must be certified, they come from many different backgrounds and have different specialties; in fact, people can choose which coach they think will be the best match for them based on their profile on the LICA website. Barbara Kessler, treasurer of LICA, came to the organization after 25 years of working in law. After conducting many interviews in her former career, Kessler realized that most people were woefully unprepared for interviews, leading to good candidates losing out on positions due to a lack of interviewing experience rather than the ability to perform the job.

“I’ve interviewed hundreds of people and I’ve heard just about everything,” said Kessler. “I decided I wanted to focus on helping people tell their stories better.” Kessler left law to start her own coaching firm, Life In Focus LLC.

While LICA has been around since 1997, coaching has perhaps taken on new importance in the last few years. In this economy, many people have had their confidence shaken, and can benefit from working with a trained professional to help them focus on the positive. Some may scoff at the idea of positive thinking, preferring to adhere to realistic thinking, but Rotolo is skeptical of that approach.

“Realistic for who?” she asks quickly, going on to explain that there is scientific research that strongly supports the idea that positive thinking tends to lead to more positive actions. Some coaches come from a neurology background, she continues, and they recommend positive thinking on a medical basis.

Besides contacting LICA if someone feels that coaching may be the right choice for them, Rotolo recommends that people ask themselves some basic, but highly important questions: “If I’m not confident, what do I need to do to get there? What am I doing that’s working, and how can I continue to build on that?” Furthermore, it’s important to actually write down the answers; taking the step to write things down is more likely to lead to results.

On Oct. 16, LICA will celebrate its fifteenth anniversary with a discussion panel featuring coaching experts: “Why Coaching Matters, and the Future of Coaching,” time and location to be announced. Visit the website,, for more information about upcoming LICA events. To contact coach Josephine Rotolo, visit To contact coach Barbara Kessler, visit

Five Tips For Job Interviews

From Barbara Kessler of LICA and Life In Focus LLC

—Really know the job description for the job you are interviewing for; most people who go in for interviews don’t know the job description very well. Furthermore, give specific examples of how you fill the needs listed in the description. If they ask for problem-solving, explain your experience solving specific problems, including the multiple solutions you considered and why you chose the ones you eventually did. Keep the explanations no longer than two or three minutes.

—Have questions for the employer that can’t be answered by looking at the website. “Don’t ever not have a question,” cautions Kessler.

—Your interview starts not in the office, but in the parking lot; as soon as you show up, present yourself professionally. Don’t ever neglect the receptionist, as some interviewers will ask the receptionist how the candidates conducted themselves before the interview started.

—Remember to send a thank you note after the interview, mentioning something positive from the interview. With a likely 10 qualified people for every job, being nice and conscientious will help you stand out. Of course, be absolutely sure to proofread your note for proper spelling and grammar first.

—Create a narrative. “The best way to sell yourself is to be honest and tell your story,” says Kessler. Be concise, but rise above repeating the catchphrases you think the employer wants to hear and really give the interviewer a sense of your individual skills and accomplishments.