The coach in your corner
Life coach preparing women of color for success
It’s normal for companies to implement strategic plans to reach specific goals and analyze progress along the way, but can individuals use this tactic to take better control of their lives? Clara Angelina Diaz says yes. She is a life coach, author, and speaker who helps clients become laser-focused on their professional and personal goals to gain more purpose and power in their lives, and infuses the process with compassion, support and spiritual insight.
At 8 years old, Diaz immigrated with her family from the Dominican Republic to the U.S. right before the onset of winter. Later on, in her adult life, she would suffer from seasonal depression, the frigid cold months subconsciously sparking memories of her family’s difficult transition to America.
Diaz didn’t realize her childhood was manifesting itself in negative ways into adulthood until she was 23 years old. “That’s when I started to dig into my own desires and become more self-aware,” she says. “Part of my spiritual awakening was realizing my ability to have some kind of power of my life.”
Feeling an urge to express herself through painting, Diaz took a painting class, and there, she happened to meet a life coach. Fascinated by his job, she started working with him. “Very quickly after, I decided I wanted to become a coach myself,” she says.
Before becoming a coach, Diaz held two jobs: one as an independent Spanish language interpreter and the other at a nonprofit organization that focused on helping community members reach financial independence. And before that, she had worked as a mortgage processor at Bank of America. “I realized I didn’t want to work in something where I had to push something down people’s throats. I wanted to help them,” she says.
She put off college for a long time, she says, but as an adult attended Lesley University. “At the time I was planning to start my business, and I did an individualized major which allowed me to learn everything I could about launching my business,” she says. “I was working on my business plan and writing my thesis on how coaching can improve the chances of entrepreneurial success — and this was all part of class time. I was able to finish college by directly applying what I was learning to what I was already doing.”
Launching the business
Transitioning from employee to self-employed was a slow process, according to Diaz. She launched the coaching business as a part-time venture at first, while continuing to work as a contract language interpreter. In that job, Diaz could choose how often she wanted to work. “I would just balance my time between growing my business and working my job — and then turn around and invest most of my paycheck into my business,” she says.
“I told myself, ‘Every day I’m going to do more of what I want to do and a little less of what I don’t want to do, so eventually, my ideal situation becomes my real situation,’” she says.
As soon as Diaz received her coaching certification, she pulled out her contacts list on her phone and told everyone on it that she was offering coaching for $50 per one-hour session. Diaz admits this was an arbitrary number, saying, “The idea that I could charge money to do what I already naturally love doing — it took me a while to wrap my head around that.”
Her client list started to grow, and then Diaz became a mother. “With motherhood, it’s the greatest challenge but also, like any challenge, it can also be your greatest opportunity, if you choose to look at it that way,” she says.
As a mother responsible for bringing someone into this world, Diaz set a new intention for her life and her business: Peaceful, purposeful progress.
“Before my daughter was born, I used to work with whoever needed coaching,” Diaz says. “But then I realized what I do has a huge impact on people’s lives and society at large. So why not dig into what I truly care about, which are women and people of color?”
She continues, “In this country, there is no denying that women and people of color are oppressed. If I can do something about it, then I will.”
Now, as a life coach, Diaz specializes in working with women of color, “mompreneurs” and female leaders. “From a business standpoint, having a niche has been lucrative. Everybody needs coaching, but I’m an immigrant, I’m a mother, I’m a woman of color, and I know the specific struggles,” she says.
At first, she was hesitant to market to a niche audience, but she says creating strategic relationships with other local organizations, such as the Latina Circle, has helped her find her audience.
Her client roster includes a state representative, attorneys with their own law firms, international graduate students and creative entrepreneurs. Many are local to Massachusetts, but she works with individuals overseas as well, including clients in London, the Dominican Republic and Colombia.
People come to her searching for clarity, she says. Some have vague goals in mind, such as, “I need to get my act together,” while others have very specific goals and need a trustworthy, objective guide. “I provide a combination of strategy, accountability, guidance and just ‘somebody who has their back’ in the process of being more than they were before,” Diaz says.
Diaz offers individual and group coaching. Her three-month Women’s Personal Leadership Mastermind Program, for new and established entrepreneurs, costs $750 and includes six private sessions of coaching. Over the past two years, 120 clients have participated in the entrepreneur program. Individuals working one-on-one with Diaz in sessions twice monthly pay $600 for three months or $1,200 for six months. After paying a 50 percent deposit, clients are allowed to pay the balance on a monthly basis.
Writing and speaking
Diaz is also a published author. Her book, “Create Your Best Year (One Day at a Time)” was released in 2017 and provides an affordable entry to her teachings. The book includes the author’s personal stories, actionable advice, and guidance towards a more positive mindset.
Diaz books appearances, seminars, book signings and speaking engagements two-to-three times a month on average, she says. She markets her services in this way and also relies on word-of-mouth referrals. “I have some pretty high-profile clients who will invite me to an event, and they have no shame in telling people I’m their coach — and there’s no better endorsement than that,” she says.
As a life coach, Diaz is the sole employee of her business and has a team of contract employees to carry out different tasks. Her team includes a project manager and personal assistant, a graphic designer and creative director and an accountant. She also has her own business coach.
When asked whether some might view coaching as a luxury, Diaz says, “Once you experience the difference it makes in your life and the impact you can make in the world by having someone in your corner, you no longer see it that way.”
She adds, “[Life] coaching was born out of executive coaching to help powerful people become more powerful. My original idea in getting in this field was to make coaching more accessible for all, even the idea of coaching, that it exists. You can be a coach to a friend.”
On Saturday, Dec. 8 from noon to 1 p.m., Diaz will be at Boston Public Library’s Codman Square branch for a book signing and a free workshop.