What began as a career in dietetics for Corinne Dobbas, RD, MS, evolved into becoming a Wellness Coach, yoga teacher and one of MindBodyGreen and Athleta’s 100 Women to Watch in Wellness. Her interview inspires us to be patient with ourselves and with our business so that we can, as she so aptly puts it, grow our business with grace.
In addition to being a Registered Dietitian with a Masters in Nutrition, you are also a Wellness Coach and yoga teacher. I’d love to hear at what point you incorporated these different modalities and what inspired you to do so.
Great question. In regards to wellness coaching, I was a couple years into my counseling work as a dietitian and I felt like I needed more. I was working at a high-end health club, helping people learn how to eat right and lose weight, but I felt like I had more to offer than just making meal plans, talking macronutrients and calories, and providing recipes – I just didn’t know how.
The pure nutrition counseling, although super important, wasn’t fulfilling to me and I saw that my clients needed something else. They could still get to their goal weight and be unhappy. I wanted more tools to be able to help my clients become happy, awake, and aware and ultimately, learn how to make the best decisions for themselves based on where they wanted to go in their wellness journey.
Right around this time, I also started really getting into personal development work and seeing a coach myself. Again, I saw how valuable (and needed) this inner work was. So I enrolled in Wellcoaches. This coaching program along with my own personal development work, working with a coach, and continually working with clients to see what worked and what didn’t allowed me to come at coaching from an inside-out method. Now, I can wholeheartedly say that inner work is the real basis for outer change.
In regards to yoga, I started practicing about a year ago because of a broken heart. I was still meditating, hiking, journaling, seeing my coach, and doing mantra and affirmation work, but again, I needed more.
I had recently moved due to the breakup and didn’t have much to do, so one day I found a hot yoga studio with a two-week for $20 deal and just kept showing up, partially because I enjoyed it, partially because my social life had just shrunk and I needed to clear my head. Regardless, I just kept showing up (I had never practiced before).
Yoga healed my heart and allowed me to grow even more self-compassion and awareness. These are tools I use in my everyday life. They’re self-care tools and I’m a huge believer that if you’re going to be able to help others you need to first be able to care for yourself. Yoga is a huge part of my self-care and being able to teach teaches me just as much (if not more), as being a student.
How would you describe your current business model?
Currently, I’m focusing on virtual group programs only. My Ditch the Diet. Get More. program is coming out in January 2017, and I seriously can’t wait.
When I first started off as a dietitian, all of my work was 1:1 in-person coaching, but I got burnt out and wanted to explore other work, so I did. In addition to nutrition coaching, I used to run group specialty fitness programs that combined nutrition and fitness at the same high-end health club I counseled at. I then worked for Hint water, managing their social media and health and wellness content and today, I recently just took on a general manager role for a fitness studio called Uforia.
I’ve held many different roles in the wellness space, and I love it. My own site, coaching work, writing, and yoga teaching is my creative outlet, my joy, and my passion. I always joke – some like to go out and drink on the weekends or evenings, but I like to stay home, write, and create. It takes a lot to be able to support yourself fully and run a business out of compassion and joy, which is why I’ve always had outside work. I want to grow my business out of love and not out of desperation.
I think for today’s wellness entrepreneurs there’s a big push to have a big successful business online and you absolutely can have it, just know that it takes a lot of work and belief in what you do and desire to get that message out to the world. So keep going. My belief and desire for change and knowledge of how the work I’ve already done has changed so many lives is what keeps me continually showing up.
Remember, most “overnight successes” are 10+ years in the making, so keep going with where you’re at and make the switch full-time to your passion once you feel stable there, so you’re growing with grace and not desperation because that desperate energy will seep all over your business and ruin it.
Is there a certain strategy you’ve found to be the most effective for growing a client base for your business?
You’ve got to be real and most importantly (above and beyond anything else), really truly believe in what you’re doing. If you’re in the wellness space to just make money and do something gimmicky, people won’t follow you or at least not for long.
People are dying to be heard, to be seen and for you to be real aka for you to be YOU. There are literally thousands of coaches, fitness experts, dietitians, chiropractors, doctors, etc in the wellness space, so you’ve got to figure out who you’re trying to help and how you’re different.
Once you figure that out, test out what you want to sell. I’ve had two virtual group coaching programs so far that were very successful. They allowed me to understand what my people want most and then to add it to my program. Of course, I’ve also had to make adjustments to the program and remove what wasn’t helping them. So know that getting feedback is crucial, and you’ve got to see if what you’re selling is even wanted, but at the same time acknowledging that you’ll get better as you grow.
Their feedback is what’s allowing me to make my January 2017 Ditch the Diet. Get More. course.
Bottomline: Be yourself, be different, and test out what it is you want to do and ask for feedback, so you can continually get better.
Were there any initial mistakes you made that you would tell a new entrepreneur to avoid?
Don’t spend tons of money on a website until you really know what it is you want to be sharing. I’ve had about 5 or 6 different websites now, and it’s only my most current site, which I’ve now had for almost two years that I finally know what my message is and what I’m here to share with the world. If I had just had a basic site with a newsletter sign-up and kept writing as I went to hone in my message, instead of focusing on how my site looks – based on comparing myself to others – I would have saved a lot of money. But I don’t regret it at all because all of my failures got me to this point and I’m so grateful for my now.
Which leads me to points #2 and #3. Point #2: don’t compare yourself to others. It’s so easy in this wellness space and with social media, but I promise you everyone is still trying to figure things out, even the huge wellness gurus you look up to. Point #3: you’re going to have some failure (side note: you should!). It’s just how it works, but use your failures as times for growth and to really understand what works for you and your business and what doesn’t. Over time, it’s your job to reflect and keep what works and let go of what doesn’t.
You were recently featured in Athleta’s 100 Women to Watch in Wellness. What has been your road to success and critical success factors along the way?
Above and beyond, I care. I do the work I do because I believe in it, I enjoy it, and I know for a fact that it helps others. The most critical success factor for me – beyond believing in my work – is getting to know my audience. If you write me, I will write you back. If you leave a facebook message, I will respond. I will stay on the webinar with you a good half-hour once it’s over to walk you through a question vital to your coaching path. I take the time to understand that it’s not just the internet I’m talking to, but real live human beings with feelings. I think sometimes it’s easy for people to get obsessed with likes, comments, and shares and forget what their real mission is – to better the lives of others in some way, shape, or form.
Another critical success factor for me, as I mentioned before, is being real – being transparent, and being a human being. I know that I’m not better than anyone else. I’m just here to share and hopefully, what I share resonates with others on a larger level.
Lastly, I don’t force myself to write or create when I’m not in the mood. I need to be able to write from the heart and when I’m in a good space. Does this mean posts and newsletters may take me longer? Sometimes, yes. But for me, it’s worth it because it’s from the energy space I want it come from and it prevents burnout. I’m here for the long haul and understand – just like a wellness practice – that my business is a practice, so that’s how I approach it.
What has been the best piece of advice you’ve received as an entrepreneur?
That’s a hard question! But, I hands-down have to say that setting boundaries has been a huge one for me. I used to be a big people-pleaser and would have a hard time saying NO. Today, setting boundaries has been pivotal for me and not just the way I run my business, but my life. And it’s my coach who helped me with this.
As a wellness expert, you’re going to have a lot of requests come your way. Many asking you for things, many wanting your time, many pushing you for more. Learning to say NO because the compensation wasn’t enough, I didn’t have enough time, I wouldn’t enjoy the project, or I rather spend my time doing something else has been transformative for me.
So remember that you’re in control of your life. You don’t have to do everything. You have to enjoy living your life too. Don’t be afraid to create boundaries – boundaries are a sign you respect yourself – and don’t hesitate to say NO, if you feel in your heart you should. Trust yourself.
What is your morning routine?
It’s super, super simple. I typically wake up, set an intention for the day, let my pup out, drink a cup of coffee, read my daily quote from Notes from the Universe, check email, and then eat breakfast.
What is your favorite indulgence?
Swiss, plain, milk chocolate (obsessed)
Most exotic thing you’ve ever eaten?
Most memorable place you’ve ever visited?
Last book you read?
Rising Strong by Brene Brown
If you could only have one kind of food for the rest of your life, it would be…
Japanese – sushi, seaweed salad, miso soup – I love it all!
What is your go-to breakfast?
Plain Greek or European yogurt with sliced fruit and granola, avocado toast or nut-butter toast, a mini high-fiber bran muffin with natural peanut butter on top, or nut butter with an apple – I like to switch it up!
What do you love most about being an entrepreneur?
Creative freedom and being able to help others.
Corinne Dobbas is a Registered Dietician, Wellness Coach, yoga teacher and was named one of 100 Women to Watch in Wellness by Athleta and MindBodyGreen. You can find out more about Corinne and her business at www.corinnedobbas.com