Beth McCord of ‘Your Enneagram Coach’: From Avocation To Vocation; How I Turned My Hobby Into A Career
Own your weaknesses. Don’t be afraid of them and let others help you. Since I grew up with a severe reading disability, my English and grammar skills are not where they need to be. I must rely on others who are fantastic writers to take my writings and make them sing. At first, this was hard because I felt great shame for not being proficient in this area. Now, I love it because I can express myself freely, knowing that someone will make it sound the way I intended to communicate. My work becomes better and more powerful. It becomes a fuller version of itself.
As a part of our series about entrepreneurs who transformed something they did for fun into a full-time career, I had the pleasure of interviewing Beth McCord.
Enneagram author, speaker, and coach Beth McCord is the founder and lead content creator of Your Enneagram Coach, a community designed to be a safe place for individuals to explore the Enneagram. With years of experience and a passion for coming alongside individuals, couples, and groups, Beth is leading the way in simplifying the deep truths of the Enneagram from a Biblical perspective. Her mission is to make personal awareness and growth accessible for everyone, anywhere, so they can experience health and transformation in every area of their lives.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?
I grew up in Overland Park, KS, with my father, mother, and older brother. Growing up, I had a substantial reading disability. I’m still a painfully slow reader, but thankfully my parents provided me all the help I needed to work through this disability, and by the time I graduated from high school, I was reading at the 12th-grade level. Because of this, I dealt with teasing, but as an Enneagram Type 9, the peacemaker, I’m very uncomfortable with tension and anger and tended to dissociate from my pain and focus on idealism, optimism, and getting along with others.
I attended the University of Kansas, where I met my husband, Jeff. We married after our sophomore year. After graduating, we joined a two-year internship with The Navigators (a collegiate ministry). During those two years, I learned that I loved mentoring others and was good at it. We had our kids by the age of 25, so I primarily focused on caring for them while Jeff attended seminary full-time and worked part-time. I postponed my career passions during these years, but I discovered the Enneagram and dove deep into studying it. I used the Enneagram to help bring clarity to our marriage dynamics. These insights brought significant changes to how we related to one another. We developed more understanding, compassion, empathy, and grace.
When I used the Enneagram with others in those earlier years, I saw great results. Still, if there were any hints of others disagreeing with it, expressing skepticism, or being resistant to it, I would retreat and continue to learn quietly on my own. I hid my passion and abilities for thirteen years and never formally used the Enneagram except for a handful of times out of fear that it could cause problems in our Christian circles (the Enneagram was not well known at this point).
What was the catalyst from transforming your hobby or something you love into a business? Can you share the story of your “ah ha” moment with us?
My “ah-ha” moment came when a friend posted a photo of an Enneagram book that someone recommended she read. My friend knew I was well-versed in the Enneagram and wanted to become a coach someday, but she didn’t think to consult me. I felt so overlooked. Immediately, I leapt up and stormed out of the house and began driving, and for the first time, I let my anger pour out. I screamed on and off, knowing I needed to let my anger out to gain clarity and healing. I needed to feel the pain and sorrow of feeling overlooked (my greatest wound) that I had carried around for years. After about twenty minutes, I decided to return home. During this time, I felt God say: “Why are you so angry?” Wasn’t it obvious? Couldn’t he see that my presence did not matter to my friend? Suddenly, I realized that I wasn’t angry at my friend. I was mad at myself. I had overlooked MYSELF all of these years and allowed others to do the same. This confession was the most critical revelation I’ve ever had. This was my wake-up call and my chance to show up and bless the world with the talent and ability God gave me. When I arrived back at my house, I was a new person.
There are no shortage of good ideas out there, but people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. How did you overcome this challenge?
I quickly recognized that I had knowledge of the Enneagram but very little know-how to build a business, and I couldn’t help others with my gifting and passion if I did not know how to market my services well. Therefore, I spent countless hours listening to podcasts, webinars, and courses on building a business, becoming an influencer, and marketing myself so that it could bless others while also providing for my family. I often doubted my abilities, but I felt such a deep surge of passion for helping others with the Enneagram that it propelled me forward to take one step at a time. I realized that I had to let go of perfectionism and start somewhere. I also got creative on how to accomplish specific business goals. We had very little money, so I bartered with a graphic designer. She created my logo, and I coached her. The main thing I focused on was taking each next step and not getting complacent.
What advice would you give someone who has a hobby or pastime that they absolutely love but is reluctant to do it for a living?
First, I get it! Making a passion into a career is a very vulnerable process. We fear others will reject what we have to offer, which feels like a personal rejection. But as challenging as it is, we must put aside our fears and focus on the desired outcome. It is also essential to have others around you who support you and encourage you through the whole process. Even though we need to learn to be our own advocate and encourager, self-doubt can beat us down. We need others who will pick us up and encourage us along the way.
It’s said that the quickest way to take the fun out of doing something is to do it for a living. How do you keep from changing something you love into something you dread? How do you keep it fresh and enjoyable?
I’ve learned a lot from Michael Hyatt. For example, I can achieve more by doing less if I focus on getting the right things done. His “Free to Focus” system helped me remain excited and passionate about what I love, so my work doesn’t become drudgery. It’s better to hand off tasks to others who are incredible at the things I dislike and stay focused on what I am best at. This isn’t always possible, but the more I can stay where I am passionate, proficient, and excited, the greater my impact and contribution. The other thing I learned from him is to take time to rejuvenate; otherwise, my passion can get drained and dried up. Taking good care of myself can feel selfish, but it is the opposite. The more I replenish myself, the more I can pour into others’ lives.
What is it that you enjoy most about running your own business? What are the downsides of running your own business? Can you share what you did to overcome these drawbacks?
I love seeing people’s lives and relationships changed through the work I have created. I also love having a team of people who fill in my weaknesses with their strengths and passions. It is amazing to see a collective group of people working together bring about positive change to individuals, families, and communities around the world.
The downside to running a business is the unpredictability of circumstances and outcomes. We can predict and plan, but we ultimately do not know the results, which is scary. I always want to bless and protect the jobs of my incredible employees. I desire to stay conservative in my approach, but I also know we can’t grow without taking appropriate risks. This can be nerve-wracking but also a great way to grow personally and professionally.
Two things that have enabled our company to grow without a great deal of turbulence. We operate off of cash and not credit. To take appropriate risks and investments, we must have a strong safety net so that if we don’t meet our goals, we are not overly harming ourselves and our employees. And we also seek wise counsel. We can make harmful decisions in areas that we are not skilled at or not a professional in; therefore, we seek advice from professionals in those areas. This helps us prevent major catastrophes, ensures better outcomes, and gives us more options to pivot if unforeseen circumstances arise. Being nimble is vital to a strong business.
Can you share what was the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?
I thought I was going to be meeting with individuals and coaching them through their Enneagram Type. I never realized or dreamed that I would be a best-selling author of ten books, a national speaker, and an expert in this field. It is incredible to see how my passion has grown to enable others to become certified Enneagram coaches and create their own sustainable business that positively impacts their clients. I never saw myself being an influencer in my field nor the Christian space, but I am grateful for the opportunity.
Has there ever been a moment when you thought to yourself “I can’t take it anymore, I’m going to get a “real” job? If so, how did you overcome it?
Oh, yes! This makes me laugh because the thought has popped up from time to time over the last five years. My personality Type fears conflict and tension of any kind, but that is exactly what you get when you run a business and are a leader. I overcome this by remembering that I am passionate about helping others experience radical and accelerated transformation with the tool of the Enneagram. I can’t do that if I quit. If I leave, I will be hoarding all my gifts and abilities, and no one will benefit from them. Therefore, I encourage myself to step out even when it is uncomfortable and make things happen. Once I see my work blessing another person, my zeal returns and spurs me on for another day.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I accidentally hired someone. My personality is a warm, friendly, and accepting Type. I naturally think the best of people. After an interview process with a potential employee, I kindly said, “So, I am sure you have talked with my team about this, but when can you start?” What I meant to say was, “If you are the right person for the job and we extend an offer, when can you start?” But since I wasn’t clear, she thought I was offering the job right there. She immediately started crying, hugging me, and thanking me for this opportunity. Since I fear conflict and hurting others, I felt stuck. I didn’t know how to fix this major problem. Therefore, we never corrected my mistake and had her take the job. Unfortunately, she didn’t work out, and we had to let her go, which cost us valuable time, money, and progress. My kindness can be an Achilles heel. I am no longer allowed in the interviewing process.
Who has inspired or continues to inspire you to be a great leader? Why?
Michael Hyatt and his company have had the most impact on my leadership and company growth. Since I was a personal assistant there for a season, I saw how the company operates. He is the real deal. He has great integrity and respect for his employees. He also delivers great value to his customers. What he teaches is what he follows. It is rare to find a leader like this, and I am grateful that I witnessed it, and I model what I do after him and his successful company.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
We help people understand why they think, feel, and behave in particular ways according to their Enneagram Type and use this information to navigate their inner world and stay on a healthy path. Our products bring astonishing clarity so they can be more compassionate, understanding, and caring to themselves and others. By learning more about themselves, they experience accelerated transformation and growth, impacting their families, careers, and communities. These radical changes bring about the transformation they have been seeking and now are experiencing. We have also employed a group of amazing people who can do what they love and provide for their families.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
1) This will be the most challenging endeavor you have experienced, but you can do it, and you need to do it. Don’t give up. Keep going. Press into the uncomfortable space because there is where growth will sprout and life will blossom.
2) Be vulnerable even when it is scary because it will be the very thing that inspires others. When people feel a closeness to my story, it enables them to learn and grow alongside me.
3) Own your weaknesses. Don’t be afraid of them and let others help you. Since I grew up with a severe reading disability, my English and grammar skills are not where they need to be. I must rely on others who are fantastic writers to take my writings and make them sing. At first, this was hard because I felt great shame for not being proficient in this area. Now, I love it because I can express myself freely, knowing that someone will make it sound the way I intended to communicate. My work becomes better and more powerful. It becomes a fuller version of itself.
4) Stay humble. You are only as impactful as you are humble. Once you allow your head to get big, you will fall over and fail. It is a trap to believe that you are more important than others simply because you have a platform. Each of us is weak at the core and need to remain humble to stay grounded. Otherwise, our arrogance will get in the way of producing excellent work that blesses others.
5) Continuously seek wisdom and sound advice from experts in different fields. You can’t do it alone, nor should you. Delegate what is not your passion and strength to those whose it is their passion and strength. This forms a team that will support and thrive together. Jeff and I are not financial wizards. We know very little about how to handle money from a growing business. Left to ourselves, we would have made many mistakes. Once the business started to grow, we hired a financial advisor who has shown us a path to walk down to protect our finances and allow for growth.
What person wouldn’t want to work doing something they absolutely love. You are an incredible inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I am passionate about helping people see through the lens of other people so they can stop assuming others’ thoughts and motives incorrectly. When we recognize that others don’t see the world from our perspective (lens), we can become curious, ask clarifying questions, and approach the relationship with more grace, patience, and kindness. The world is desperate for this type of interaction, but we have forgotten how to do it. I desire to help teach people how to love one another and be more accepting and kind. If people could learn these skills, it would radically alter society’s overall tone and cadence for the better.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Don’t let ‘best’ get in the way of ‘better.’” by Michael Hyatt. I would have never launched my business had I waited until it was at its “best.” This quote helped me to see that all great businesses started somewhere and grew from there. I realized that I would rise from my shortcomings, mistakes, and failures, and if I am humble enough, I will become stronger and more successful because of them.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
I would love to have breakfast with Brené Brown since shame and vulnerability are unique to each Enneagram type. I know our conversation would be fascinating, and the results impactful to many. We could take her amazing research and body of work and dial it in for each Enneagram Type in a way that brings a deeper level of understanding and transformation. Her work has been inspirational to me, and I know pairing it with the Enneagram would be a profound blessing to the world.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.