One life to love

When Santha John decided to retire and resign from her post as Managing Director JWT Mindset, a leading ad agency, she was afraid she would have nothing to do. But a chance meeting with someone at a park led her on to the idea of becoming a life coach – and the lady is having enjoying the process of becoming one. Minal Khona tells us more after an interesting chat with the lady herself.


A well-known figure in Hyderabad circles, the cakes she makes during Christmas are very popular with the lucky ones who are gifted with one. But besides being a wonderful cook and having had a very successful career in advertising, Santha John has a personality that is not given to being idle for long. Afraid that household concerns like a malfunctioning washing machine or a car due for service would make her “become a witch” she started thinking about post retirement options even as she worked out her notice period. Seated amidst the green environs of her home, she says, “I was asked to continue for a few months after I resigned till the handover was complete. I agreed but kept wondering what I could do after that as I am not very patient and would find it hard to just sit at home doing nothing. I enrolled for a CEO coaching programme from Chennai but my heart was not in it. I didn’t want to go back to corporate life. “

Destiny intervened and she met someone at the park during one of her walks, who had a cousin who is a life coach in Canada. “I went home and looked it up on Google and found this coach in London. I connected with her but she told me she couldn’t certify me as a coach and connected me with Curly Martin who is a life coach and the author of the bestselling The Life Coaching Handbook.  I did part of the course in London and it is ongoing so the rest of it continues over Skype. I had to give a commitment to the coach as to when I would start coaching and my deadline was the 31st of December last year. I started on the 27th of that month,” Santha reveals with a smile.

What exactly though, is life coaching? She says, “It is not mentoring, counseling nor is it therapy. Basically, if you have a goal you have been putting off, or you are not able to achieve it or there are hiccups along the way, a life coach can help you attain clarity without being judgmental. Just like one would organise one’s cupboard where everything has its place, similarly talking to a life coach can help you organise your life – from inside out.” It also works towards motivating people to start something they have been procrastinating about or change habits that hold them back.

As Santha trains to become a coach, she has to put in 50 hours of coaching, two case studies and a thesis of 3100 words to get international accreditation and become a full-fledged life coach.  While she coaches, one mentor and one coach listen in over Skype to guide her through it and give pointers. She says, “As a coach, for 75 per cent of our session, I have to let the client speak. It is through what they say mostly that they understand what it is that they want to do or what they seek.”

Initially, Santha did pro bono work which she announced over Facebook. Subsequently she started charging 25 per cent of the nominated fee. She laughs and says, “When it was free, everyone wanted to come. Now that I am charging what in effect works out to only Rs 2500 a month for four sessions, not everyone is keen.” Santha donates the money she earns through life coaching to the Hyderabad Children’s AIDS Society. A client can have only four sessions a month, once a week for an hour at a  time. Santha plans to devote two hours a day to this practice. She even has plans to convert an outdoor room into her office.

One of the techniques of this programme is creating a list of your values and the uppermost value defines how you lead your life. A practice that has taught her something about herself too, she reveals.  She says “I am a very impulsive person by nature; I am learning not to be so impulsive. From having all my requests or orders followed by staff at work, I am learning to be a bit flexible with home issues where not everything is smooth sailing at all times. “

So while Santha prepares to become a life coach, she hopes to be able to help as many people as possible to lead more fulfilled lives.