We had the good fortune of connecting with Charisse M. Williams and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Charisse, putting aside the decision to work for yourself, what other decisions were critical to your success?
Before starting my full-time coaching practice I took a three-month sabbatical. During that time I went on a retreat to Mexico and later I took a flight to Amsterdam and came back from Marrakech five weeks later. I went alone, made up my itinerary as I went along visiting Dusseldorf, Paris, Barcelona and Sevilla along the way.
During that time I was earning my Life Coaching certification and did not allow myself any work other than my coaching homework and planning for my first week back.
Most people wouldn’t begin their life as an entrepreneur by taking time off. We are taught that we need to be constantly hustling and grinding to “make it”, but my life experience taught me otherwise.
Taking time off to see the world, practice my Spanish and French while navigating new places solo was invigorating, sometimes scary and often exciting. It was exactly what I needed to gain a fresh perspective on life and work. It was the best decision ever.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I am a leadership + well-being coach who helps my clients successfully navigate leadership transitions and find more work/life balance and alignment.
My business was inspired by my own experiences as a brand new Executive Director. The first time I was an ED it was really exciting, but also a little overwhelming and lonely. I was experiencing so much newness in my life, including moving to Atlanta for the role in 2007 and having no friends in the city. It was really hard to find someone I could speak to openly and confidentially about all of the challenges I was facing.
The second time, in 2011, I hired an Executive Coach and it made a world of difference. I had a sounding board and a thought partner to help me think through everything from strategy and staffing to board engagement. In the process, I came to really admire my coach’s work and thought it might be something I’d like to do some day.
I took the plunge into coaching full-time in 2019 and haven’t looked back since.
What makes me unique as a coach is my wide range of professional and life experience. In addition to my 25 years in nonprofit leadership, I am an attorney and a yoga teacher who brings mindfulness to all of my work. That has been a really important tool in my toolkit because most people, including my clients, are really stressed out.
One thing that I am really proud of is publishing my first book, The Joy of Thriving While Black, in April of 2021. Part memoir, part invitation for self-reflection, The Joy of Thriving While Black is about the intersection between Blackness and well-being. In the book I examine thriving while Black as both an individual pursuit and a collective experience. Driven by my personal narratives and those of the friends I profile, the book explores ten contributors to thriving including community, pride, self-care and resilience.
I have packaged all of my learnings and lessons from the book into a coaching program called THRIVE More which kicks off in in January, 2022.
I have created the career of my dreams that I am excited to get out of bed for every day.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love showing people around Atlanta. It is such a beautiful city, with so many cool things to do that are mostly off the beaten path. When someone visits here I like to show them all the places I love to walk including the Beltline, the Lionel Hampton Trail and the beautiful parks like Grant Park and Piedmont Park. I would then drive outside of a city for a hike in Sweetwater Creek State Park.
After a bite at Carroll Street Cafe, I would take them to see some of the incredible murals all over town including the ones on Carroll and Wylie Streets in Cabbagetown. A drive past Martin Luther King’s birth home in Old Fourth Ward is an absolute must.
I love being a member of The Gathering Spot and taking people there to eat, see the artwork and share its incredible back story. We’d have to grab a cup of coffee at my favorite spot, Grant Park Coffee and eat food from around the world including Indian food from Botiwalla, Thai food from Surin, tapas from Barcelona and authentic Mexican at Mi Barrio.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to shout out Creator Institute and New Degree Press for the structure, coaching and guidance that helped me publish my first book, The Joy of Thriving While Black.