Philippe Danielides is a former corporate lawyer and communications strategist, and the founder of Inner Current Coaching, a professional coaching firm.
Philippe’s work focuses on helping high-achievers find fulfillment in work and life, and partnering with organizations to develop cultures that promote well-being.
He holds a BA in Political Science from Middlebury College and a JD from Georgetown University Law Center, and has trained as a coach with Dr. Martha Beck and the Sagefire Institute.
He lives in New York City with his faithful dog Homer.
Where did the idea for Inner Current Coaching come from?
The idea came from my own life-changing experience with a coach.
I’m a native New Yorker and a lawyer, which safely places me in the category of most skeptical people on the planet. And one thing I was most skeptical of was that anyone could actually help me find a career and life path that made me happy.
To be clear, I’d arrived at the realization years earlier that I was miserable as a corporate lawyer, but I couldn’t see a viable path out. So as much as I wanted and needed help, the thought that prevented me from asking for it was, “Nobody really understands what it’s like.”
(As it happens, this is the most common experience of my clients who often struggle for years to figure out their next step before reaching out.)
Long story short, one day on my subway ride into the office, I made up my mind that it was time to make a move, and that I just needed someone to nudge me out the door. So I hired a college friend who’d become a coach, and expected she’d give me some assessments and other homework that would just help me find my next thing.
But that’s not what happened.
Instead, she asked questions that challenged my foundational beliefs about who I was, and what it would mean to live a purposeful life. It rocked my world, and in the span of a few months, I connected with a vision for my life that I’d previously dismissed as impossible, and I felt more alive than I ever had before.
A big part of my vision was helping others who felt trapped connect with their own vision, and I saw coaching as a powerful vehicle for that work.
A year later, I’d completed several intensive coaching programs and launched my company.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I don’t have a typical day and I’ll explain why, but I do try to start my days in the same way – going to the park with my dog Homer and reading through a mindset / vision exercise called Morning Formula that I learned from another coach. Whatever the day brings, I’ve learned that the key to performing at my best is beginning it from a place of clarity and calm.
In terms of productivity, working as a corporate lawyer, I got used to having ten equally urgent things on my plate at all times.
It’s a mentality I initially carried over to entrepreneurship, and it did not go well. I constantly felt hurried and was wasting a lot of time and mental energy managing these competing priorities.
So I made two changes to my days that’ve simplified my life and helped me become more productive.
The first is that I created a standard template for my week where each day has a theme. So, for example, Mondays and Tuesdays are primarily coaching days, Wednesdays are for content creation, Thursdays I focus on marketing and outreach, and Fridays I block out for self-study. Of course my weeks don’t always go that way, but it’s helpful to have a baseline to return to.
The second change is that I now limit myself to two or three tasks a day to complete. Anything more and I start to feel anxious and stressed which negatively affects my productivity. These aren’t recurring tasks, so every day I’ll still set aside time to check my email and stuff like that. But when it comes to bigger projects and tasks, I’m careful not to overload myself.
How do you bring ideas to life?
My whiteboard is one of my most treasured work possessions. When I have a new idea, I usually stand in front of it and write things out as I pace around. When I run out of space, I write down what I like on a piece of paper, erase the board, and begin again. When I feel like I’ve refined my idea to a point where I can receive feedback, I reach out to my mentor or a trusted peer and talk it out.
Sometimes I repeat this cycle a few times until I get clear enough on the goal and the steps I need to take to make it happen.
Even though I was trained as a lawyer and so I spent most of my career writing and editing in front of a screen, I’ve discovered that I’m primarily a visual and verbal processor. Designing a process that supports my nature rather than working against it has significantly increased my creative output.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Remote work. For two reasons.
One, it’s opened up incredible opportunities for talented people who don’t live in or near big job markets.
And two, it’s given people a lot more freedom to travel and design their lives as they wish. In 2018, I spent two months at a co-working house down in Nicaragua, where I met a range of people including artists, authors, marketers, programmers, stock traders, and more. The environment was creative and collaborative and brought people together who otherwise wouldn’t cross paths if they were working in offices.
Plus I got to surf most days…
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I plan out my priorities and goals as the beginning of every month, and plan out my weeks on Sunday afternoon (before the sun goes down). With all the shiny objects and interesting people in New York City, it’s very easy to get distracted and veer off course. When I have a plan, and keep it in front of me throughout my day, I’m much more likely to maintain focus on the tasks that matter most to my business.
What advice would you give your younger self?
There’s no reason to hurry. Take the time to explore what interests you. When you find something that really lights you up, trust that feeling and go all in.
Side note: When you do find it, don’t immediately expect your family and friends to understand. And whatever you do, don’t condition your decision on their understanding and agreement with your choices. Because you probably won’t get it. At least not 100%. No one knows better than you what excites you and makes you happy.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Night-owls can be just as happy and successful as morning people.
I feel like our culture worships early-risers, and I’ve seen countless articles and talks about why people who get up early are better off than people who don’t. For years, I felt ashamed about my night-owlness, until I started reading about chronotypes. The idea is that people are genetically predisposed to have different rhythms throughout the day, and that identifying your chronotype and structuring your day accordingly is how to perform at your best.
If waking up at 4am every morning works for you, that’s amazing, but my body unapologetically disagrees.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Honestly, I’ve only adopted this in the last six months, but I love it. At the end of every month, I review how I’ve spent my time and ask if there’s anything I’m doing that I’d be better off paying someone else to do. As an entrepreneur, time is a precious resource that needs to be well-managed. While there’s definitely something to say for wearing all hats when you start a business, the faster you identify the highest-value use of your time and invest in the support you need to protect it, the better off you and your business will be.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Simplifying my offer.
When I first started coaching, I had a longer menu of options that people could choose from. Choice can be a wonderful thing, but I found that people were coming to me primarily because they were stuck and confused about what to do next. In that case, giving them three or four options to choose from was actually overwhelming and counterproductive because it made it harder for them to make a decision.
I do still offer other services, including corporate workshops and retreats, but my primary work is one-on-one coaching. The work is of course customized to each client’s unique needs, but the overall framework and fee structure of my offer is the same.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Last year, I partnered with a friend and very talented coach to organize a group retreat in the Hudson Valley. We designed the weekend, created a landing page, and started sending out invitations and publicizing the event. People seemed to love the idea; just not enough to reserve a spot. And after a month receiving countless “no’s”, we decided to cancel the weekend. It was my first professional collaboration, and also the first event that I’d had to cancel.
In terms of overcoming it, the main thing was accepting that our offer just didn’t fit the needs of our market at that time, and that it wasn’t personal. It can sting when no one shows up to your party, but it’s harder to learn from an experience if you’re so focused on licking your wounds. So we asked people what they liked about the weekend, what prevented them from coming (a lead contender was that we’d unknowingly scheduled it over a major Jewish holiday), and what they’d want to see next time around. Even though we had to cancel the event, we learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t which we’ll factor into our next retreat.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
An online exchange for moving boxes.
It’s crazy how much unnecessary waste is produced when a person moves. Most boxes have a longer shelf-life than one move, but since people have no use for them and often don’t have the space to store them until the next move (especially in NYC), they throw them in the recycling bin. Better to give them to someone who needs them for their own move rather than put them through the recycling system.
It saves resources, it’s cheaper than buying new boxes, and there’s always a demand.
Someone go make this happen!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A camping stove.
I love camping and cooking, and one of my missions is drawing city folk out into nature to slow down and connect with one another and the living world. Last year I ran several group camping trips in upstate New York, and there were a few people who came who’d never camped before. It’s amazing to witness someone discover the beauty and magic of nature, and hearing about their experience over a family meal under the stars is hard to beat.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Evernote. It’s a web-based note taking app. Whenever I have an idea or learn something in a book that I want to remember, I write it down so it doesn’t float away. I don’t carry around a notebook with me all the time, so I was writing my ideas down on whatever was available – random scraps of paper, iPhone notes, or in an email to myself. Turns out, that isn’t a great system for keeping track of anything. With Evernote, I have one place where I store and can refer back to my notes and random thoughts. It’s amazing.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield was a game changer for me, and it’s one of two books I most often send to people. (The other is “Dark Horse” by Todd Rose.)
The biggest gift I received from The War of Art is that it normalized and de-personalized the challenges inherent to any creative pursuit. Pressfield calls it “resistance” and speaks about it as a force as pervasive and indiscriminate as gravity.
I think we have a tendency to look at people who are leaders in their field and project the belief that it must be easy for them to do what they do. It’s easy for Michael Phelps to swim, it’s easy for Yo-Yo Ma to play the cello, it must’ve been easy for Shakespeare to write, etc. Well, aside from the fact that just isn’t true, taking resistance personally is profoundly disempowering and prevents us from pursuing what we want most in life.
What is your favorite quote?
“Nature is never in a hurry, and yet everything is accomplished.” ~ Lao Tzu
Growing up in New York City, I feel like I was conditioned to always be in hurry. Everything here seems to move quickly, and if you were to ask New Yorkers if anyone feels like they’re behind (whatever that means), my guess is you’d see seven million hands raised. Even outside of New York City, it seems like life is speeding up and our technology is only encouraging this further. But as life speeds up, we feel more anxious and overwhelmed.
Unfortunately, the truth is that it’s hard to be happy and healthy if you constantly feel overwhelmed and in a hurry.
This quote, which I keep on my desk, helps me remember that even though I have set ambitious goals for myself, there’s no reason to rush. I just need to show up every day and do the work, and the rest will take care of itself.
- Slow down. You don’t need to hurry to accomplish big things.
- Everyone has an opinion. Always honor what works best for you.
- I’m not saying it’s easy, but you’ll learn a lot more from failure if you don’t take it personally.
- Get clear on your priorities, and then do everything you can to protect them.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.