How one business coach went from HR to designing futures

How one business coach went from HR to designing futures

Eric Horwitz first became interested in coaching when a career coach helped him make a change of his own. Nowadays this NYC-based business and career coach helps everyone from investment bankers to CEOs and event planners to design their future. Here’s why, and how he does what he does.

I’m a life coach, business, and executive career coach. I’m originally from Denver, Colorado, and I always wanted to come to New York, so I studied at Columbia University. I also always wanted to be in business, so I was an economics major. While I was at Columbia, I ran the campus deli, and that’s where I really learned about business.

Of course, I had amazing Nobel Prize-winning professors at Columbia but a lot of valuable lessons came from running that deli! For example, I was selling sandwiches on campus, but the Barnard students were all the way on the other side of the campus and would never come because it was too far. So, I put together a food cart went to their dorm rooms and I knocked on every door. I sold all the sandwiches. With business, be creative and always try a different way.

I’ve been coaching for 11 years—I also run the Columbia University career coaching network offering services to Columbia’s 330,000 alumni—but before that, I worked at PriceWaterhouseCoopers in HR consulting. When I turned 32 I thought, “Oh my god, if I keep doing this they’re going to write it on my tombstone.” I got a coach and through working with that coach I realized I really enjoyed the idea of giving advice to people on their life and careers. You spend most of your life at your job—or sleeping—so you better love what you do.

I used to own a huge loft in Manhattan, and in a city like New York, you are your real estate. But I have two kids, and my kids grew up and moved out and suddenly I had this big apartment and I just couldn’t deal with it anymore. So I downsized, but I couldn’t downsize my space because it’s a really important part of coaching. No one’s going to go to a coach who lives in a one-bedroom.

A friend of mine recommended Breather. Every part of the experience, from the customer service, to the design of the spaces, to the location was spot on from a business perspective. Always clean, always Tootsie Rolls, always working markers. For a coach, you don’t want a therapy space—you want an active, open space, where work is going to be done. As a coach, I need you out of your everyday workspace because you don’t have any creativity inside your usual office space.

I coach people across a lot of different industries: fashion, event planning, executives at investment banks, CEOs, millennials just starting their careers. Coaching is about exploring, talking and designing and executing. I’m pushing you on whatever your career objectives are but we’re also working together to design futures. Let’s say you’re looking for a raise. I always tell people if you want a raise, you need to have another offer on the table. When I help people with their careers, it’s about looking at a number of different options together and figuring out the right way to move forward.

Lately, I’ve started meeting with clients to help them plan and strategize about their week. I have a whole personal operating system to ensure there’s no drama. We’ll figure out who you’re meeting with, your budget for the week, the areas of your life you’re going to focus on. A system like this is more important than it used to be, people don’t have the same respite they used to have on the weekend, and then because of social media, you can plan out your week but then the week attacks you viciously. The planning I do with clients helps to avoid this. I copied this from Benjamin Franklin, he invented the concept 250 years ago.

We also work through balancing your personal and professional life. Maybe you and your partner want to have a child, we’ll discuss the different roles of each parent and and how to balance work and family. Being a coach is really about working with people through the different parts of their lives. The longer we live, the more options we have, so I want you to make the most of the gifts you have been given.

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