I contacted Mark when I had an idea what I wanted to do – but the job didn’t actually exist and the logical voice inside me would very loudly shout: ‘You can’t have a job that doesn’t exist!’
I had a disparate set of skills and had enjoyed successful careers as a graphic designer and motivational speaker – and wanted to combine the bits I loved of both careers. Designing a logo was fun, but not challenging enough. Advising businesses was well paid, but not involved enough.
Mark helped me examine my motivations – especially my need for freedom, fun and purpose. He helped me clarify what I do for clients, what makes it different and special, and how to communicate this to them and get them on board for amazing (and profitable) adventures.
I discovered that looking at how a company works – their processes, the people, and their product – and improving their brand through design, creative thinking and training is exciting enough to keep me awake at night.
Mark also helped me turn down the volume on that very loud whisper: ‘Who are you to think you can do that?’
Results – my income has more than quadrupled, my creativity has soared, and I get to use my quirky little clever ideas for achieving my purpose.
Aileen Bennett, Roaming Creative Director / Idea thinker upper, CreatingClever.com
Mark helped me understand where I need to focus my time in order to become more successful as a creative. He challenged me on some of my assumptions, as well as the language I have been using. He helped me to acknowledge what my true aim as a dark fiction author is, and where I was falling too far into the Shadow Career.
Mark’s unique skill is being able to empathize as a creative professional, but also challenge as an ambitious entrepreneur.
J.F.Penn, New York Times & USA Today bestselling author, JFPenn.com
I can’t quite remember how I first discovered Mark, but I do remember that it was while I was doing his free, 26-part creative course that I decided that I really wanted some coaching from him.
I didn’t really know what coaching was, but from his course, I could tell that here was someone who knew what it was like to work in the creative and cultural industries.
For years I had worked on a huge number of creative projects, usually one at a time, and because they were usually my babies, usually I worked from start to finish on each one. But it meant that I never seemed to move forward. Each thing was fun and exhausting. But each time I had to start from scratch, often broke (because I’d poured everything into getting the previous thing done), and having to do most of the heavy lifting on my own.
Mark clearly ‘got it’, and from day one, he has helped me to build a portfolio of creative assets, and reorganise my way of working so that a number of teams effectively (as Mark puts it) “work for me while I sleep”. I have more time for the kind of creativity I enjoy, and my career has taken flight.
When friends and colleagues ask, “How do you do it all?” I refer them to Mark. And they’ve benefitted as well.
But that’s just the stuff on the tin.
Mark has been my support through the best and worst of times.
Both in my business life as a creative professional, and in my personal life, Mark has variously been my mentor, guide, cheerleader, sounding-board, counsellor, brainstorm partner, editor, financial planner, meeting strategist, ‘the adult in the conversation’ (although I’m not sure he particularly welcomes that role!), and friend.
Mark has helped me change my life. As my Mom once said, “Thank God for Mark!”
Ian Poitier, Writer, Director, Producer & Consultant
The two main challenges I faced when starting coaching were to put a price tag to the value I bring to clients, and to prepare myself to come back home after 2 years traveling across the world.
I had very few doubts about coaching, I knew that with hard work and commitment I was bound to benefit from it. I had worked with a life coach a couple of years prior to that and it gave me a good idea of the process. I am also fully aware that top performing people (athletes, singers, CEOs and so much more) all have coaches to help them get where they are and to keep pushing forward. It simply makes sense!
My results after working with Mark a little bit over 3 months were tremendous! I now understand and appreciate how coming back home is in no way the end of the adventure, but if anything a new exciting opportunity! I can now negotiate contracts with new clients that I would have not dared ask for. And I am now also at the helm of a new entrepreneurial venture – Outshinery – that came to fruition in record time with Mark’s encouragement and guidance.
What I like the most about Mark’s coaching style, on top of the British accent (!), is how he is a creative himself. While I’m in visual design and not petty, it felts we really had a common ground, an understanding of the not so black and white world of creativity. We were speaking the same language. I also enjoy the longer sessions (2 hours) than usual coaching, and appreciated how we would usually split it even between my two main projects.
Overall, on top of all the momentum I generated in the short amount of time we work together, I still to this day revisit and use the gold nuggets I have written down during our sessions. I truly highly recommend working with Mark to bring your A-game!”
I heard about Mark from a poet friend and thought he sounded like exactly what I needed. I had had coaching before, but was struggling with the balance of my ‘portfolio life’ and wanted support from someone who was an expert in this area.
Mark has been superb. He has been sensitive, thoughtful, wise and asked the right questions at the right time. I now feel much more confident about where to focus my energies in the next few years, and what to cut out. I can’t recommend him highly enough.
I was at a point where I wanted to aim higher and think bigger and because the options and possible routes of going about it were too many, I wanted to find a coach who would help me sort it out and make the best possible choices in the least amount of time.
I had zero ideas about coaching because I didn’t know what it was, I could only imagine what it would be indirectly, by deduction from things I’d read. I realised that all high achievers were ‘drinking water’ as we say in Greece, in the name of their coach, so I figured it must be something important and useful if people of such high calibre were doing it and were considering it important if not indispensable.
Now having had the experience I can definitely see the importance of coaching if one wants to tackle something of very high stakes or wants to jump into unknown territory. I guess everyone can benefit from coaching, but it is in these edge cases were I think it is of most benefit.
I have a much clearer picture of where I am, where I am aiming to go and I am actually on my way there with both feet firmly on the ground.
I would describe Mark as a calm Socratic listener. He listens with attention and creates such an environment where most of the time I would know the answer by the end of my question.
He also gave me very good practical advice with regards to my-day-to day meetings and contacts, helping me frame the situation in advance and be better prepared both practically but also psychologically.
Stathis Athanasiou, Film Director and Visual Artist StathisAthanasiou.com
When I approached Mark for coaching I was in a place of emotional turmoil, stuck in my career, and needed help to find a way to create a life that would give me joy. I thought I had the plan and simply needed support in the execution of my goals as an artist. In fact what happened in my year’s work with Mark is that he supported me to look deeper at who I am and what I truly need and want. The result has been a transformative shift.
The coaching gave me confidence and self-awareness and enabled me to find and commit to a true life purpose. Buried talents in writing and coaching were unearthed and enlivened and I found an arena where my passion for service could flourish. Already within the year with Mark I exceeded my own expectations of myself by setting up a company, writing six e-books to be self published, embarked on new qualifications, trialed my dream of living and working abroad as a writer and coach and found a way to find new passion within my legal career.
The vision I am currently working on for the future is so much more impactful and audacious than I would have anticipated. The coaching has supported me to raise myself up from a mire of anxiety, depression and perceived uselessness to a perception of myself as an able ‘agent for change’ and to take actions in line with that.
Mark has been a quiet, gentle, steady and reliable provider of evidence based feed back and challenge. He is a master in the use of silence to prompt internal reflection! I have appreciated his style of combining coaching with mentorship. His availability between calls and his willingness to go way above and beyond the coaching calls by reviewing my writing manuscripts and providing books meant that I felt supported throughout.
Importantly, while I would not hesitate to engage him as a coach again, I have left this year’s work feeling empowered to make my idea future an reality and not dependant on him.”
Helen Conway, Senior Lawyer, Artist and Coach, StudioConway.com
When I first contacted Mark I was feeling lost, confused and extremely frustrated. I wanted to ‘put myself out there’ but I wasn’t even aware of the reasons why I struggled.
I didn’t really know that coaching ‘for normal people’ existed. I thought it was just for olympic athletes and top CEOs. The reality is that everyone can gain from coaching. It is having someone who is there for you, 100% concerned about your own interests and success.
As a result of working with Mark, I’ve embarked on a completely new adventure! In 3 months, my email list has grown from 0 to over 800 and counting… My YouTube channel has 1,600 subscribers and 50,000+ views and is growing every day.
I’m creating new relationships around a totally new paradigm, based on openness to others, and I’m opening new channels of income. I never dreamt this could have been possible before!
Mark is non-intrusive, stimulating and inspiring. He gently guides you towards your purpose whilst keeping you accountable to guarantee progress and eventually success.
Fabrice Bourrelly, Artist, Architect and Virtual Reality (VR) Designer, FabriceBourrelly.com
One question I ask people I work with when they want to develop a new skill is ‘Who is already great at the skill you want to be better at and could help you?’ So, when a publisher commissioned me to write my first book about the work I did, I had to ask myself the very same question.
I wanted to work with a coach who was a writer, someone who had already been on the journey and could share their learning, their experience and could help me discover, learn and adopt the most useful ways to get better at writing. I wanted to work with a coach who had a focus on results and action.
I found Mark.
I had a book to write to a deadline. Working with Mark gave me a dedicated space to share my frustrations, my mini celebrations, my ‘stuck’ moments, my ‘overwhelmed with ideas’ moments and turn them into action. Learning what I needed to do to be the writer I wanted to be was all part of the journey.
Mark helped me become clearer and more confident as a writer. As well as sharing his own experience, lessons and insights, he guided me to look at other writers’ work too. I became much more aware of the discipline I needed for my creativity to thrive.
Experimenting with and developing the most useful way for me to manage the tension of generating versus structuring ideas was a simple and exceptionally powerful part of working with Mark.
The result was achieved. I completed my first book: The SHED Method: How to Make Better Choices When It Matters.
I reached out to Mark for help with (re-)establishing and maintaining my creative practice, while balancing the demands of clients and the general day-to-day tasks of running a small business.
I knew a standard business coach wouldn’t give me the guidance I needed, so I spent some time researching the right coach for me. I found Mark after reading some of his work in the 99U books; after our initial consultation prior to beginning the coaching, I had little doubt by the time we actually started work together.
One thing the coaching has brought me is a little more sanity! I am now much calmer and more focused about my own needs and how the business needs to work for me.
Setting aside time for my own creative projects, and valuing these in equal measure to client work, has re-invigorated my practice – which is now shaping up to be the kind of studio I set out to create in the first place.
Mark’s varied knowledge and skills mean this is a relaxed but focused experience that is tailored to your needs. Mark understands the importance of creative time over the ‘pounds and pence’ approach of a standard business coach – perfect for any budding creative entrepreneur who doesn’t want to loose themselves to the bottom line.
Helen Hughes, Owner, Helen Hughes Design Studio
When I first thought about getting a coach I was in a lot of despair. I am a somatic psychotherapist, hospice worker and teacher. I had immensely beautiful teachings I was trying to bring into the world, but they were so different that no one seemed to be able to understand what to do with them.
There was no neat category that these teachings fell into because they transcended categories. The outlets that I had for them were somehow not right for the teachings themselves. Not only that, they involved looking a death, which no one really wants to do. I felt I was bursting from the pressure of carrying these fairly radical teachings alone, and feeling as if they would kill me if I carried them much longer.
One day I suddenly realized that I had a creative person’s problem, and that I needed straightforward mirroring and strategy and guidance in all kinds of areas where I felt weak and vulnerable. On a strange whim I googled ‘coaches for creativity’ and found Mark.
Up until the moment I realized that coaching was exactly what I needed, I thought of coaches as kind of lightweights. Coaches were people who helped you set personal goals and nagged at you until you did them. I didn’t need that. I had a therapists’ arrogance. Maybe I thought that they didn’t have much training. But I was stuck. Really stuck. I needed to be supported with more of an active guide than a receptive one.
In reality I found a coach who really listened to my quandary, spent a lot of time understanding what I was holding and trying to do, enthusiastically mirrored over and over the importance of the work and my ability to do it.
Mark helped me get out of all of the little nagging sinkholes I used to just get stuck in: marketing strategy, program development, enlisting students… you name it. He was there helping me bring it into existence instead of dying in oblivion. That support was utterly invaluable.
In two years I was able to run a pilot program, then develop and run a first year training program in the material that I teach with the second one about to begin. I have traveled all over presenting in small venues and have grown in notoriety for these ideas. People are getting it and it is changing lives.
Further, I was able to write a student manual, restructure my professional practice, articulate my ideas so that they are understandable to the audience that I want to draw, and redo my website (coming soon!) in a way that reflects my new posture in the world.
One of the best things Mark did was insist (kindly and persistently) that I not leave my poetry or myself out of the picture of this new life.
I have a long way to go, but I am not suffering from the experience of “This is going to die with me.” It isn’t.
As a coach, Mark is extremely kind while being direct. Really wise while being modest. Incredibly smart, sensitive, intuitive and clear in his thinking. I sometimes felt like a seven year old kid learning to play a sport with a really kind Dad showing me the moves with love and compassion. Because I had never gotten this kind of fathering it was really transformative for me. I really felt he had my back.
Something that was really important to me personally is that Mark is a serious, practicing poet. That meant that he was not coaching from an abstract perspective. What’s more he had a poet’s fine sensibility. He recognized and encouraged mine. This turned out to be a profound comfort. He took care of my inner artist. And I felt very safe under his guidance.
Jeanne Denney, Somatic Psychotherapist, Teacher and Founder of The School of Unusual Life Learning (SoULL), JeanneDenney.com
Coaching with Mark was one of the best investments I gave myself at the early stage of my career as an artist.
If you want a gentle voice that can give you encouragement when you need hand-holding, as well as practical business advice, Mark is the coach for you. He is a lovely combination of creativity and business strategy.
He helped me with my productivity when I thought my problem was that I didn’t know what to do. I did know, I was just too overwhelmed to see past my fears. He helped me structure my ideas into an actionable plan while sharing techniques to work with my natural creativity + productivity rhythms.
Instead of fighting my creative + contradictory personalities, I learnt to work in partnership with the moodiness of my muse that also suited the practical left-brain context my business needed.
(The investment in a coach also helped my mindset that this being-a-professional-fine-artist-life I wanted IS a business and businesses invest in themselves.)
If you’re like me, you need a coach to hold your hand through your fears while still helping you with the big picture strategies. I highly recommend a series of sessions so you will get the best of Mark. He seems to genuinely be invested in his clients, always ensuring you have an action plan that suits your goals + abilities while holding you accountable to those actions. Us creatives need both the gentle nudge in confidence + a firm kick into action sometimes!
Together we put a myriad of plans into a structure that suited my goals & stretched my perspective of what I thought was possible to achieve. I was able to develop a marketing strategy that made sense to me. I wasn’t left hanging with ideas & suggestions from Mark, we always outlined a plan to make them happen. This means I feel confident in what I’m doing, I’m less distracted by shiny new ideas & know which to focus on that suits my goals. Even if something doesn’t quite work out I have techniques and ideas on how to deal with that also.
The structure of my action plan + confidence I gained from Mark’s coaching gave me the courage to pursue my creative (some may say ‘crazy’) idea to develop my own kickstarter program over winter 2011 (June-August).
This resulted in raising over $3,000 and I’m having my first solo exhibition next month. I have my first body of work, a group of collectors and the encouragement to keep going in my new career as a fine artist — despite the scary and lack of security.
Brenda Mangalore, Artist, Sashé Studio
I decided to work with a coach because I felt I was missing someone to guide me through the next steps of my business. Working for yourself, there are no set ‘rules’ as to what you’re supposed to be doing next and I wanted some added perspective on what I thought I wanted to, and then how to go about doing it.
In the past, I’ve been disappointed with highly priced coaches who haven’t taken the time to get to know me or my business. (One coach, on both sessions was typing and catching up with their own work during our conversations!) I was really hoping that wouldn’t be the case with Mark, and it wasn’t.
Mark was very aware of my business, and had researched what I did, what my site looked like, he even noticed things on my website that I had forgotten about. It was very useful getting that fresh perspective from someone who notices the details and understands a creative business.
I was about to launch my first proper eBook and Mark really helped me through the process, in particular with the anxiety that comes from a launch. Above all else, he made me realise it was okay to pace myself and celebrate each step, rather than pile on the pressure and feel consistently inadequate by comparing my efforts with what I ‘should’ be doing.
Mark’s coaching style is very calm, methodical and focused which matched what I needed. He’s got a good sense of humour and I felt I could be very honest about my fears and opinions and have him understand where I was coming from without judging me.
Amy Harrison, Copywriter, HarrisonAmy Copywriting
Through our coaching sessions Mark taught me a broad range of personalized skills applicable to the day to day business of my art practice and how to build a strong presence online.
He provided me with tailored solutions for time management, how not to freak out about things, how to routinize my work so that I am creating new artwork consistently while also taking care of the business side. Two sessions were focused on branding and identity helping me to better speak about my art and present it.
Rachel Marsden, Contemporary Photography, Rachel-Marsden.com
I was growing as a creative professional. I was taking on more responsibility at work, earning that proverbial seat at the big table and it was happening fast. Although that’s great, I needed to know if I was really spending my energy on tasks that mattered to me. I needed to know if what I was doing was actually helping my career goals or if I had ventured off track. I needed to better understand how to get to my next career level.
I was in dire need of some good advice and not the kind recruiters, friends, or co-workers can give you. Nobody tells you what your next steps should be in life. I mean, who isn’t slightly confused? Since I found Mark’s Creative Pathfinder course enlightening I decided to reach out to Mark for some personal one-on-one coaching.
We connected on Skype over four sessions. During that time Mark honestly listened to my situation and helped me see past the clutter in my head. Together we made a plan to attack and re-focus my energy on steps that could really make a difference in my life. His inspiration has been truly valuable to me and the further I travel down the path we established the more valuable it seems.
Our sessions have long been over, but I feel like I could always contact Mark at any point. I feel like I got more than just four sessions… I feel like we’re friends.
Would I do it again? Yes.
Bradley Derry, Industrial Designer and Creative Team Leader, BradleyDerry.com
I had been working as an independent consultant for about half a year when I saw the announcement about Mark’s New Year’s Resolutionizer program. I was immediately intrigued by the title, as I had never really been able to keep any New Year’s Resolutions before.
I knew I needed to do something to fix my working life: No matter what changes I tried to make, I was not getting enough sleep, client projects always seemed to be due at the same time, and I never knew whether I was making the right decision when I spent an hour networking instead of working on a client project. I was always tired and had more mental angst than I wanted.
Most of my friends and former colleagues, who had ‘normal’ jobs, didn’t really seem to understand my decision to strike out on my own, and the traditional kinds of advice didn’t seem to apply to my situation.
I had the sneaking suspicion that Mark could help me, yet I couldn’t help thinking that the Resolutionizer cost a bit more than I wanted to pay. I had never tried coaching before – and certainly had never considered working with a coach entirely online – and wondered if I might be spending my money foolishly.
Somewhere in my head there was a voice that said, “You can save your money and solve your problems yourself if you just make a plan and stick with it for another six months.” However, there was a part of me that was tired of going through all of the trial and error on my own.
I am so glad to report that I ignored that voice in my head, as the Resolutionizer was worth every penny, and more.
Mark’s expertise was apparent from the very first call. He very quickly helped me to identify my most productive working patterns and to design not just a working life, but an entire lifestyle, that is based on working independently and works with my natural strengths.
I have developed a more positive and relaxed outlook on life and am impressed that the program worked so quickly. I clearly got more than I expected: I initially signed up just to get some help with my New Year’s Resolution to get more sleep, but found myself addressing productivity and motivation and client management issues all at the same time!
As someone who has always strayed a bit off the beaten path, I appreciated Mark’s ability to bring out my best qualities and help me capitalize on what makes me unique instead of suggesting that I try to fit into a box somewhere. Perhaps most importantly, I understood why I was never able to make that 6-month plan in the first place, let alone stick to it!
The peace of mind I have gained through Mark’s coaching is invaluable. He is insightful, truly committed to providing outstanding service, and excels at making his clients feel comfortable. In fact, my experience was so good that I have signed on for the Money for Creative People program.
Mark understands creatives and entrepreneurs in a way that most people don’t, and I highly recommend his services for anyone who feels that they don’t fit into the traditional mold. The world would be a better place if everyone had Mark’s gift for relating to people and helping them to create the lives they want to lead.
I have been a freelance writer and arts project manager for over four years. I decided to work with Mark over six sessions at a point when I was really struggling to balance the different aspects of my professional and creative life.
I approached Mark because I had been to a seminar he gave on Time Management for Creative People and was impressed by his honesty and passion, and his mix of creativity and, for want of a better word, business.
I was a little resistant to the very idea of coaching (taking, perhaps, that very English, ‘it’s a bit American/self indulgent/I should just stop whinging and get on with it’ attitude…) but I found working with Mark extraordinarily helpful. Because he took my work and the problems I was facing seriously, so did I.
Carving time out of my week to really examine what I was doing, and how, and why, helped me to step back and take a more objective view of things, which in turn helped me to think about what I wanted to change.
I found Mark professional, interested, and prepared to challenge my thinking and my habits.
I wouldn’t say my life is perfect as a result (!) but I have managed to put strategies in place to defend my own creative time, and have developed more of an ability to take a step back when things are getting hectic, and check I am going in the right direction.
Sarah Butler, Writer and Creative Project Manager, Urban Words
I was having trouble deciding what to do for a job. It’s not like I was stuck for options, I actually had too many. I was at a social networking group and was explaining my dilemma to some of my friends who suggested I needed to see Mark.
I had heard of business (and life) coaches before and had met a few, who in my mind I wouldn’t have consulted over what filling of sandwich I should have, let alone ask them for advice with problems I was having around making decisions about my business or career. Many people who pass themselves off as coaches are quite flaky.
What Mark had going in his favour was I had great respect for the people who recommended him. He came with an ‘non-flaky’ reputation immediately. For some reason I got the feeling that he had made an effort to put himself out there and become known to people in a real way, rather than set up a website advertising his services.
I got more clarity about who it is I am, and that who I am is OK. Instead of chastising myself for being ‘all over the place’ I began to realize that actually I was just very talented in lots of areas and sometimes that can be a little overwhelming for me to cope with.
Instead of thinking I had to do it all, I was able to see what it was I liked doing the most. I realized that if I were to be successful at any one of them I would have to sacrifice some of the others and attached to that loss would be some pain. I got to see more clearly what the choices were.
I came away more informed as to my processes, what it was I really really liked, as opposed to what I thought I should like. I left feeling like I wasn’t such a bad person after all for not having my whole life planned down the last minute.
I also think that just having someone listen is powerful. Of course I have friends I can talk to but in those interactions I am mindful of my role in the relationship of having to offer up something to them. When I saw Mark I owed him nothing apart from paying his bill, the dynamics are different if you are being heard by someone who role is it to listen and guide and then charge you for that service. You don’t leave thinking “Was I being a selfish, self-centered person for talking only about me for the last hour?”.
The fact that Mark was qualified in some psychotherapeutic discipline made me personally feel better. I understand that we are driven by a lot of unconscious material and that if I were to engage with Mark he would reveal those processes to me, and quite frankly I would have resented someone had read a few books on NLP pointing them out to me.
He observed the usual boundaries – he was on time, he apologized if he got things wrong, he was smartly dressed but not intimidating in his style. My general sense was that he was very kind and that he actually cared. He had a good understanding of how tricky it can be to promote yourself in a world that doesn’t always accommodate or understand people who cover such a broad spectrum, as I do.
I loved the fact he recommended books and websites for me to look at. I think with most things you face in life, its the feeling of isolation that makes it all the worse. By pointing me in the direction of others who shared the same experience as me and had faced the same ‘problems’ I was facing, not only was the isolation broken but the shame attached to being the ‘only one’ left me too.
I felt like I had gone to see Mark with a tangled ball of wool (that was my working life and/or attitude towards it), over the sessions we untangled the wool.
Debbie Davies, Creative Entrepreneur
In my experience, the great challenge for the wild & creative is to interface with the ordinary & practical. Ideas need to meet action. The spirit needs grounding in the material. Mark McGuiness’s practice offers a seasoned, empathic and clear-headed approach to the marriage of these disparate realms — and it’s an essential service.
Joshua Wolf Shenk, Writer, Shenk.net
A number of years ago, I was frustrated with my job, career and boss. My osteopath recommended that I see Mark who was a coach. A coach at the time was new, at least to me, so I was a little concerned about what I might get out of it. After some contemplation, I thought a visit wouldn’t hurt.
I can’t tell you how glad I am that I took that initial step. I went in for help with my work but when all was said and done, I got a new direction and insight to my life.
Looking back, my job was driving everything. Mark quickly got to the root of the troubles and challenges that I faced. Mark was outstanding at guiding me to look at all the facets of the issues. He helped me bring out all the questions and then helped me down the path to discovering the answers.
Mark has an approach that gives you a comfort zone to work through the process. The bottom line effect was a whole new way of facing difficult situations whether it was with my job or something else.
It’s been 10 years since I first saw Mark and I have returned for coaching from time to time. Looking back, I would sum up the experience as going from feeling confined in a straitjacket (my old job) to freedom (my new business).
If you’re looking for assistance, I can’t recommend Mark enough.
Rosanne Bachman, Managing Director, Pinwheel Consulting