Duanna Pang-Dokland – Igniting Possibility

Duanna Pang-Dokland is the woman behind Igniting Possibility, a coaching business that works with entrepreneurs and executives who want to rock their career while making a difference in the world. As a solo entrepreneur, she does this through one-on-one or team coaching sessions in the areas of leadership and team development, work/life balance, sales and business growth. We hear from lady her entrepreneurial journey and her experience as a life coach.

1. When and why did you decide to become a life coach?

In 1998, I experienced first hand the impact of coaching at a workshop in Australia and it changed my life. I was awakened to all the untapped possibilities in my life, and saw for the first time the blind spots that were holding me back from living life to the fullest. And because this workshop had attendees of various ages and professions, who were facing issues that were common to us all, I saw our humanity very clearly. I saw, for the first time, the workings of our human “machinery”: the things that trigger us or inspire us; when we shut down; and when we light up and want to contribute to others’ lives.

I was very moved. I was also deeply inspired to be an instrument for other people’s a-ha moments and breakthroughs.

When my family and I moved to America from Singapore in 2004, I decided to switch from my previous career in magazine journalism to life and business coaching because I wanted to make a positive difference in people’s lives. I believe coaching can revolutionize how we live.

The quote that constantly inspires me is by George Bernard Shaw: “This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I can live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.”

2. How did you put together all the resources needed to start “Igniting Possibility”?

I invested some of my savings in a coach training and certification course, and became a certified coach. Because I was starting my business in a new town in which I knew no one, I invested a lot of time and energy in networking events and groups, and gave talks and workshops at chambers of commerce, women’s groups, business associations and so on.

3. What are some interesting stories you have in starting up “Igniting Possibility”?

Initially, when I said I was a coach at networking events, a few people would ask “Which sport?”

4. What are some of the challenges you faced in starting up?

When I left Singapore, I left my entire social network behind. Looking back, I sometimes wonder if I was in my right mind to start a business in a town and country where I didn’t know a single soul! I guess I was “practising what I was preaching” as a coach when I chose to perceive everything as an adventure.

So, the first challenge was building a network from scratch. I also had to familiarize myself with a new culture and be sensitive to the nuances in how Americans in the South do business and relate with one another.


5. Can you share some of the lessons you learnt from overcoming your own business challenges that you think will help other businesses?

One of the most significant lessons I learnt was that marketing your business is the most important activity for any business that wants to be sustainable. The saying “If you build it, they’ll come” is a myth and an illusion. No one will come to your business unless you learn to communicate about it in a way that is compelling and attractive enough for your prospects to invest in your product or service.

Next, you need to market consistently and systematically by having an annual marketing plan.

Also, it works to have a healthy mindset about sales and marketing. Think of the purpose of marketing as this: to resonate with your prospects and their needs so well that they are inspired to be your clients.

6. What are some of your proudest business achievements to date?

My proudest business achievement is having a local hospital as my client, where I worked with four directors and two management teams in leadership and team performance over an 18-month period.

And I am most proud and honored to be part of a process that leads to my clients uncovering blind spots that have been preventing them from achieving their goals; having breakthroughs by doing things they thought they couldn’t do; having juicy “Ah-ha” moments; having their relationships be more fulfilling; and generally being happier!

7. What advice would you give young people who want to start their own “Igniting Possibility”?

I would advise young people trying to break into coaching to first go through coach training at a school that is accredited by the International Coach Federation, an association of professional coaches. This is where you learn that coaching, unlike consulting, is not just about giving clients advice. Coaching is more about drawing out the clients’ wisdom, potential and commitment to their own dreams, and balancing that with the insights you can offer.

In order to have a sustainable business, I would also advise young people to boost their sales and marketing skills, and to run their coaching practice like a business.

And if they want to be masterful coaches, they need to continually invest in and experience personal development themselves. In other words, live what you preach.

Also, practise, practise, and practise your coaching skills.

About the Author: Duanna Pang-Dokland is a Certified Life & Business Coach who is Singaporean but lives in America. Her practice, Igniting Possibility, designs and delivers programs for entrepreneurs and executives that lead to significant and sustainable results such as increased profits and productivity. Duanna is also the co-author of a new book, 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life, along with self-growth pioneers like Les Brown, Ken Blanchard, Mark Victor Hansen and Byron Katie.

Related link: Why Start-ups Fail and What You can do to Succeed by Duanna Pang-Dokland
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