For 15 years, former high school teacher Adam Robb helped his students learn by pushing the boundaries of traditional education. He’d invite guest speakers to his classes, teach kids about horticulture, start them on upcycling construction projects — the list goes on.
Eventually, Adam decided to leave teaching, and co-found the Howl Experience: a structured and educational gap-year experience, taking students out to the Rockies and Yukon.
There was just one problem: “This sounds ridiculous, but it was the challenge of defining who I am,” Adam says. “Am I going to start a non-profit, or is it a for-profit? Is it a charity? I was looking for all the help I could get.”
That’s when Adam was pointed to Impact Hub Ottawa’s Coaching for Impact. A free-to-members service that provides access to top-tier, 1:1 coaching sessions with leaders across a range of industries.
Adam connected with coach Jonathan Wade. A long-time member himself, Jonathan is the president of Social Delta, and has over 25 years of experience in the social enterprise sector.
“Jonathan was really good at not forcing me in any direction based on his past experiences,” Adam says. “He was able to meet me where I was, and give me the language and questions to consider so that I could be prepared for when things actually happen.”
And things definitely did happen — with Jonathan’s guidance, Adam decided to incorporate Howl Experience as a non-profit. Before long, applications opened for the program, and youth started applying for placements.
It’s a kind of magic
We’ve all heard stories like Adam’s before. Beyond just sharpening our skills, a coach can empower us to take a risk, try something new, and build our networks. And that’s not just guesswork — according to one study by the Institute of Coaching, 80% of folks who were coached reported increased self-confidence, while 70% said their relationships improved.
“It has definitely given (me) more confidence,” Adam says of Coaching for Impact. “I don’t have any entrepreneurial background whatsoever — I just had a good idea, and Jonathan was able to meet me where I was in my process.”
Member Lisa Deacon also makes the most out of the service — she’s spoken to nearly every single one of our coaches, she says. As the co-founder of DataFest Ottawa, Lisa is passionate about using tech innovation for good — and she knows exactly what she needs for her social innovation practice to succeed.
Coaching for Impact gives members access to top-tier coaching opportunities with Ottawa’s social impact leaders, as well as dedicated peer mentorship circles, live Q&As, and more — both online and in-person.
“In our day and age, we shouldn’t be experts at everything that we do,” she says. “We should be able to access help through networks, such as Impact Hub Ottawa, to enable us to do what we’re actually good at.”
When Lisa was considering selling one of her businesses, she reached out to Jonathan for help. “Having these experts that I know and trust, who can help me weigh my decisions — it really helps me feel confident in how I come out on the other end,” she says. “I don’t really worry too much about having to do that on my own. I know that they’ll be there.”
Lisa has also connected with coach Sharon Nyangweso, founder of full-stack inclusion agency, QuakeLab. “I’m really interested in pursuing anti-oppression training in my personal networks,” Lisa says, explaining that Sharon shared invaluable insights and resources with her. “I really appreciated Sharon’s time and her expertise — it blew me away.”
Don’t hesitate to reach out
Of course, it can sometimes be intimidating to reach out for help, but the coaches are always excited to hear from members. “If you can find an ally who you didn’t know existed before, who has maybe gone through some of the challenges you’ve gone through — that in itself can be transformative,” Jonathan says. “Certainly, I think that that’s true for my life.”
Jonathan’s advice for anyone looking to reach out? “Don’t wait for an issue — feel free to call at any time. Bring questions if you have them, but if not, we can have an open discussion. The point of the conversation is to meander through ideas that people may have, and not necessarily come up with a solution, but to come up with an approach to find the solution.”
So what’re you waiting for? Connect with a coach today.
With special thanks to our partner, TD, committed to elevating Ottawa’s changemakers.