Johanna Lamm

Life Coach

Johanna Lamm is a Minneapolis, Minnesota, life coach who uses a holistic approach to help clients improve their personal and professional lives. Johanna integrates practical problem-solving skills, wellness practices, spirituality, yoga, and mediation in her life coaching process. Johanna’s life coaching process supports and enables clients to overcome challenges, improve personal and professional relationships, and transform their lives. Johanna believes that improving one’s mind, body, and spirit connections is necessary to move along one’s healing journey in the life coaching process.
Johanna Lamm focuses her life coaching practice on helping women find balance, use their voice, and take up space. Johanna’s life coaching process encourages clients to identify issues and obstacles in their daily lives, provides a framework for clients to discover options for addressing those issues and obstacles, and offers support and motivation for clients to accomplish their goals.
Johanna Lamm was born in Duluth, Minnesota, and she has lived in Minnesota her whole life. Johanna earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Hamline University and her doctorate degree in psychology from the Minnesota School of Professional Psychology. Johanna uses her clinical knowledge and past working experience as a foundation for her life coaching work and life coaching process.
Johanna Lamm is an avid reader, and she enjoys opportunities to attend concerts, plays, and musicals and opportunities to travel with her family. Johanna Lamm is passionate about human rights and social justice issues, and she volunteers with several charitable organizations including Humanize My Hoodie and Her Purpose.

Where did the idea for your career come from?

The source and inspiration in my life coaching business was about helping women finding balance in their personal and professional lives. Balance is a key to being content. Women, especially are expected to juggle a career with family, socializing, and looking pretty all the time. Enough of that! Women are not perfect, and the strive to be perfect so is destructive and exhausting. Instead, women should be able to enjoy life and not be responsible for everyone else’s needs, understanding that our needs matter just as much! My goal in my life coaching business is to help women overcome challenges, improve personal and professional relationships, and transform their lives. Finding balance in life includes leisure time and self-care in the form of, for example, reading for fun, laughing with friends, napping, yoga, meditation, spirituality, volunteering, etc.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

My typical day starts early, because I enjoy getting up before my husband and treating myself to an early breakfast and coffee, consumed while reading a book. I enjoy reading popular fiction as well as memoirs, and I am also an aspiring poet and writer herself. I have had some poetry published, and I am currently writing a memoir that I hope to publish someday. After breakfast, I take my time getting ready for the day. I schedule only a few life coaching clients per day so that I can give each client my full attention and focus without distraction. My life coaching sessions are individualized for each client. My life coaching process may consist of talking with the client, reviewing previous homework assignments with the client, teaching the client new skills, strategizing, and even gentle body movement and meditating practices. To increase productivity and stay on track throughout the day, I use an old-fashioned paper planner and different colored highlighter markers to delineate different types of activities. For example, life coaching client sessions are highlighted yellow, my personal yoga/meditation/exercise are highlighted blue, personal appointments are highlighted pink, and so on. I can’t imagine using my phone or a computer as a planner, I have to have a paper version of my weekly calendar with colors that I can touch and hold in my hands to feel organized! Between life coaching sessions, I do my own yoga practice, sometimes in a group class taught by my best friend, or I go for a walk, journals, or spend time with my husband, who also works from home, talk to my sisters or parents, or reads. In addition, I invest a lot of time in continuing education in my fields which keeps me on the forefront of current trends and new resources. I like to explore and learn about new things outside my areas of expertise as well. I also spend time volunteering with several charitable organizations including Humanize My Hoodie and Her Purpose. Currently, I am preparing to teach a class at their Fashion Institute based on Monica L. Miller’s book Slaves to Fashion.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I bring my ideas to life by “embodying the ideas themselves.” I teach my life coaching clients what I love and what has genuinely affected and changed my life for the better. Yoga allowed me to finally feel grounded and capable of being present in and loving my body. It’s hard to be a woman in our society and feel comfortable in my own skin. I believe that yoga makes the process of internalizing self-love and body-love possible and even rewarding. I approach my life coaching sessions with passion and with compassion. Meditation and mindfulness are also skills that added so much to my life, and I easily transfer my appreciation for them when I am passing these lessons along to my life coaching clients. And in terms of life coaching itself, I knew from the age of twelve that my calling was in helping people grow and find their best selves. I feel like I communicate genuinely my desire for my life coaching clients to heal and grow from the start, and they anchor themselves to this and from that anchor learn to fly with the wings they’ve always had.

What’s one trend that excites you?

A trend that excites me is the continued focus on mindfulness in life coaching. It has become a buzzword, and people who don’t know the value of mindfulness may be sick of hearing about it, but mindfulness is truly the way to peace and equanimity. Our society has us convinced that, in order to be successful, we need to be rushing around accomplishing ten things at a time, yet that leaves one exhausted and feeling inadequate. In addition, instead of enjoying the simple things life has to offer, we are in our heads ruminating about the mistakes we made yesterday or worrying about the tasks we have yet to complete tomorrow. The truth is, the only thing we really have is now, this very moment. We squander what we have by living in our head instead of in the present. Mindfulness is a gift that allows us presence, awareness, livelihood. What more is there, really, than experiencing what is actually happening now?

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I think that organization is helpful in terms of productivity as a life coach, of course, but my productivity is enhanced simply by the passion that I have for the work of helping clients. If my work actually felt like work, if I wasn’t passionate about it, it would be much different in that I might need external motivation to participate. In my case, I do my life coaching job because I can’t not do it! The need to help people is visceral and part of who I am, something that I love and appreciate about myself. I think it’s a gift I got from my mother. She was a special education teacher and eventually a middle school principal, and my mother was always an inspiration to me. Everyone she worked with, from the students to the staff and student’s parents, loved her and her ability to get things done while demonstrating kindness, compassion, and humor. I try to be the same.

What advice would you give your younger self?

My younger self was quite serious and responsible. Today, I would tell her, “Don’t forget to play.” I remember timing myself as a young girl after school, seeing how quickly I could clean my bedroom. I think to myself now, “Why wasn’t I just playing with things instead of putting them away?” I know that it was my attempt to feel in control of something when other things felt out of control. I grew up too quickly and missed out somewhat on being carefree. I don’t have regrets because many gifts came from my little “adult-child.” I learned responsibility and organization early, became quite determined to succeed, and learned to observe and pick up on nuances, such as others’ emotions and behavioral patterns, which serves me well in my career as a life coach. Plus, the play that I may have denied myself then is manifesting now in my adulthood. For example, I love swinging at playgrounds, laughing (especially at myself), playing a lot of board games, and attending concerts and comedy shows with my husband and friends.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

One thing that I am adamant about is not terminating or “firing” a life coaching client if the client is a no-show or misses a couple of appointments. Many life coaches and doctors have a strict policy of terminating clients if they are late to several appointments, especially if they miss several sessions in a row. This is, undoubtedly, money-driven, for those other life coaches and doctors. But, I find it quite disgusting and counter-productive. Those other life coaches and doctors may say, “having consequences like terminating the client relationship will help the client take responsibility for showing up.” While that may be appropriate “tough love” for some clients, it may be completely inappropriate for other clients. For example, a life coaching client who is struggling with addiction, social anxiety, or fears of abandonment, missing an appointment or two may be beyond the current ability of the client to control. And, terminating the client relationship could make the client not want to seek help in the future. For me, if a life coaching client misses a couple appointments due to an inability to get out of bed, instead of terminating the client, I would call the client to let the client know I was sorry to hear that the client was struggling and would work with the client on options for having the client make the next appointment time.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I am focused on working with the life coaching clients that I currently have rather than looking ahead and focusing on recruiting new clients. I think that some life coaches focus so much on growing their client list, and it’s possible they might not spend adequate time on working with the clients that they already have. I have found that investing time and focusing attention on the clients I already have pays off in other ways. For example, client retention and satisfaction are important both to me and to my clients. In addition, referrals from current clients who work with me are more effective than advertisements. Focusing on my current life coaching clients also helps with integrity and authenticity. My primary goal as a life coach is not to make money, rather, my primary goal as a life coach is to really help people. Unfortunately, some people in the helping professions have lost sight of that, especially with the pressures of large clinics to make money.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

I have primarily grown my life coaching business from referrals by existing and former clients. When I help one of my life coaching clients accomplish a significant goal or overcome a challenging obstacle, that client often tells her family members, friends, or work colleagues how life coaching helped her do that. While I do adverse her life coaching services, it’s always rewarding to me when I receive a referral from an existing client, validating the work that I have done for that client.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I have learned to refrain from giving life coaching clients too much insight or too much awareness in the life coaching process. My educational background, years of working experience, and my intuition can give me the perspective to see things that my client may not be fully aware of yet. I am able to understand how a client’s past plays a role in her current thoughts and behavioral patterns, and I used to point these insights out to clients fairly early in the process, without fully considering whether or not the client was ready to hear and process that insight. I have since learned to slow down and help guide my life coaching clients reach the discover the insights and recognize the thought and behavioral patterns themselves, because each client has that wisdom within them—it may just take time to reveal and recognize it. It requires patience for both myself and the client to let the life coaching process work, and sometimes both myself and my client need to be comfortable with silence in a session. It’s an art, really, and I am proud to say that I now am able to guide clients on this path of self-discovery during the life coaching process very well. When clients generate the insights for themselves, it is more meaningful and transformational for the client, and it’s a key to success in the life coaching process.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I have mentored life coaches, and I always suggest that a successful business opportunity awaits for those that can provide more diverse options for helping a client accomplish the client’s goals and overcome obstacles. For example, I am not only certified in life coaching, but also I am certified in wellness coaching, spiritual coaching, yoga instruction, and mediation teaching. I am a firm believer in educational opportunities and diversifying the toolbox of skills that a life coach can present to clients. My doctorate degree in psychology enhances my ability to be competent and successful in my life coaching career. Further, attending as many continuing education seminars and workshops as I can about life coaching, mindfulness, mediation, yoga, and spirituality. There is always more to learn, and lifelong learning makes us better life coaches and overall better human beings. I also tell new life coaches to study diversity all the time because it is a critical area to understand and master, as well as an ethical responsibility. I also suggest mentoring and volunteering, which I also consider ethical practices and part of the foundation for a well-rounded life.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

The best $100 dollars that I recently spent was on supporting a fundraising drive for Humanize My Hoodie, a Minneapolis, Minnesota, based anti-racist group that she also volunteers for. That organization does so many things for the city of Minneapolis and beyond. One example is their Ally training, which I think should be mandatory for educators and anyone working in the helping fields. It’s important to educate ourselves about Black history, bias, threat perception, microaggressions, etc., as well as alternatives to current policing and prison policies. Their training includes reflection questions that are very helpful for life coaches.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I enjoy using Zoom’s videoconference software, which has been the way I see most of my life coaching clients since COVID hit the world. At first, I wasn’t sure how it would go because I primarily saw my life coaching clients in-person prior to the pandemic, but the videoconference sessions work just as smoothly as in-person sessions, and we’ve all adapted to alternative ways of working. As a bonus, I now work with life coaching clients from coast-to-coast that I never would have thought of working with before the pandemic started.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I strongly recommend that everyone read Resmaa Menakem’s book My Grandmother’s Hands, which offers an innovative way to heal racial trauma. As noted on the back of the book, it is “the first self-help book to examine white-body supremacy in America from the perspective of trauma and body-centered psychology.” Each chapter ends with a helpful summary, called re-memberings, and a specific body practice for healing. It’s a very powerful and transformative book. I read this book over six weeks with an online book group so that they could discuss and process each chapter together. I thought it was extremely helpful to have a community with whom to process her emotions and share insights and new awareness together.

What is your favorite quote?

My favorite quote right now is from Andre Lorde, “When I dare to be powerful—to use my strength in the service of my vision—then it becomes less and less important whether I’m afraid.”

Key Learnings:

  • Being passionate about helping clients discover their own insights and their own solutions to overcoming obstacles and accomplishing their goals is an important part of the life coaching process. Simply telling a client the insight or telling a client a solution to implement isn’t what life coaching is actually about, although it may be what a client thinks will happen when they start the process. It reminds me of the difference between giving a person a fish (feeding the person for a day) and teaching a person to fish (feeding the person for a lifetime).
  • Second, a life coach’s education and breadth and depth of experience is important to consider when selecting a life coach. That diversity and depth of education and experience—a more holistic approach—can help a variety of clients in a variety of ways.
  • Third, a life coach who has personal experience in overcoming obstacles in his or her personal and professional life gives that life coach a deeper insight into the life coaching process and an empathy that clients will recognize and respond to. Going back to the “teaching a person to fish” analogy, it’s more genuine and more impactful to teach a person to fish if you’ve been fishing your entire life, compared to trying to teach a person to fish if you’ve only read about it in books and heard about it in school. Finding a life coach who has been on her own self-discovery journey and has struggled to overcome her own obstacles makes the life coaching process and coach-client relationship more authentic and effective.