BBW MEMBER INTERVIEW: Alida Zweidler-McKay, Executive Coach and Advisor of ZMCoach, LLC

What is your name?

Alida Zweidler-McKay

What is your title?

Executive Coach and Advisor

What is your business name?

What is your website URL?

What is your Instagram handle?

What is your LinkedIn URL?

How long have you been a Boston Business Women member?

Since April 2017

Where are you based? How did you end up there?

Lincoln, MA - we moved here from Houston, TX for my husband's job. It's been a great place to live!

Tell us more about your company! What do you do and what pushed you to start?

I started my coaching business because I wanted to see more hard-working, heart-centered leaders succeed in corporate America without burning out. I work with smart, talented managers to create careers they love. We build their leadership and influence skills. We map out their career prospects and build a roadmap they can follow to reach their goals, while maintaining the work-life balance they want to have.

What is your definition of success? How do you know when you’ve reached it?

I succeed every time my clients experience life-changing results - landing a new job, getting the promotion they've been dreaming of, or making a career move that gets them more of what they want.

Tell us about your most transformational moment as an entrepreneur?

Honestly, it was the talk I gave at the Boston Business Women Conference in 2017. That was my first time telling my own story, and it really helped launch my coaching business. Before that, I had spent nearly 20 years as a management consultant working for other people. It meant a lot to be putting myself out there to such a large gathering of amazing women.

What was one of your biggest challenges in business?

Honestly, I'm in the middle of it. What I'm seeing now in corporate America is really difficult. People are being asked to do more and more with fewer resources. They're burned out and exhausted. Unfortunately, too many companies are treating people like they're disposable. It's taking everything I have to help my clients navigate their careers - and especially their work-life balance - in this environment. While entrepreneurship has been a great path out for many people, most of my clients do work that can only be done in larger organizations. That means they need to find ways to navigate the increasing demands without losing their souls or their sanity. I feel lucky to have a solid base of experience and tools that make a real difference, and that I have the support around me to absorb the pain and challenge of it, so I can be there for them.

How do you handle the harder days? The struggles? Those moments when you feel like giving up?

I take great solace in nature. Our home is right by conservation land with a gorgeous pond, where I can go for walks to recharge. I also lean on my family and friends. I have a wonderful husband. We cook dinner together most nights and debrief our days. My mom - who's 92 - calls me every day, too. That's something I can look forward to, no matter how hard the day has been. And I love spending time with my son, who's 19, and watching him set out on his own path.

How has being a Boston Business Women Inner Circle member positively influenced your life + business?

In addition to that amazing opportunity to speak at the conference years ago, I've appreciated being part of the Facebook group. Seeing people posting about their lives, their businesses and their challenges, has helped me take the ups-and-downs of being an entrepreneur less personally.

Tell us about your most proud moment in your career.

I love watching my clients succeed! Here's one of my favorite moments, though: One client came to me after a really horrible performance review. She was working for a new boss who had a very different style than hers, and than her prior boss. She had to change how she communicated with him, and with her team. She paid to work with me out of her own pocket, because she knew her job was on the line. We worked together on her communication and leadership skills, and after a few months, her boss was so pleased with the changes he saw in her that he offered to pay her back for the coaching program. They even brought me in to do some workshops for the team. That was fun!

Who is the woman behind your business? What does she like? How does she spend her free time? What does she value?

I'm a bit of an introvert, so I really like my quiet time. I like to do crafts - needlework or, more recently, crochet. I love being out in nature, going for walks. I love animals. We have two wonderful cats, and in the past have had dogs, horses, hamsters, etc. Growing up on a small farm, I even had a pet chicken! I read a lot - both nonfiction relating to my work (business, leadership, self-development) and fiction, especially romantic comedies.

What makes you stand out from others in your field? What do you do differently?

My background is in Organization Development, and I spent many years training in group dynamics, after earning my undergraduate degree in Sociology/Anthropology and creating my own major in business school in Organizational Change. That means that I can see beyond individual challenges to the system dynamics that are at the root of them. I find that gives me nuanced insights that help clients navigate the politics that may be holding them back.

Where can we keep up with you? What social media platforms do you use the most?

I'm on LinkedIn and Facebook the most. I have a group on Facebook called Engaging Leadership, where I post articles about leadership and careers.

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