SHRMingham Blog Member Spotlight Oct 2010

{SHRMingham Blog is a publication of the Birmingham Society of Human Resource Management.}

1. Name, Company and Position

Duanna Pang-Dokland, CC (= Certified Coach)

Igniting Possibility Coaching (

Certified Coach and Owner

2. Tell us about what you do there.

I work with executives and entrepreneurs who want to rock their career while making a difference in the world.

I do this through one-on-one or team coaching sessions in the areas of leadership and team development, work/life balance, sales and business growth.

As an entrepreneur myself, I also need to do the “taking care of business” part that includes marketing and account keeping.

3. What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of what I do is when, as a result of our coaching sessions, my clients uncover blind spots that have been preventing them from achieving their goals; when they have breakthroughs by doing things they thought they couldn’t do; when they have delicious “Ah-ha” moments; when their relationships are more fulfilling; when they are happier and when they achieve their goals!

4. How did you “get into coaching” and why?

In 1998, I experienced the power of coaching (see answers to No. 3) myself at a workshop in Australia. It changed my life.

When my family and I moved to America in 2004, I decided to switch from magazine journalism to life and business coaching because I wanted to make a positive difference in people’s lives. I believe coaching can revolutionize how we live.

5. What advice would you give to the newbies trying to break into coaching?

I would advise newbies trying to break into coaching to first go through coach training at a school that is accredited by the International Coach Federation, an association of professional coaches. This is where you learn that coaching is not just about giving clients advice, like a football coach would. It’s more about drawing out the clients’ wisdom, potential and commitment to their own dreams, and balancing that with the insights you can offer.

In order to have a sustainable business, I would also advise newbies to boost their sales and marketing skills, and to run their coaching practice like a business.

6. What advice would you give to a person who is still “green” in coaching?

In order to be masterful coaches, one needs to continually invest in and experience personal development oneself. In other words, live what you preach.

Also, practice, practice, practice your coaching skills.

7. Complete the following sentence… “I know the day is going to be a struggle when…”

… I wake up uninspired.

8. What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it? Why?

The last book I read was “The How of Happiness” by Sonja Lyubomirsky, a positive psychologist and research scientist.

Yes, I would definitely recommend it because of the following reasons:

a. The book is based on research done by a psychologist, rather than the author’s perspectives or life story. It is the first how-to-become-happier book authored by someone who has actually conducted research revealing how people achieve a greater sense of happiness in their lives.

b. The revelation that the things most of us think will make us happy – career, money, relationships, material possessions – only contribute to 10 percent of our happiness. As much as 40 percent of our happiness is determined by intentional activities we can choose to undertake, that the book outlines.

c. Because we are all different and are inclined towards different happiness activities, the author offers us simple assessments that enable us to pick the activities that feel natural to us. I like this approach because it is very aligned with the coach-approach – that one size does not fit all, and that for personal development to work, it has to suit the individual’s needs and preferences.

9. What is your favorite all time movie? Why?

“Life is Beautiful” is one of my favorites. In this movie, a Jewish Italian waiter, Guido, together with his wife and young son, are sent to a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. In order to keep his son’s spirits up as well as protect his innocence, the man pretends that their imprisonment is a game, with the prize being a tank. One could say that, in the end, the game saved his son’s life.

I like this movie because of Guido’s unwavering commitment to reframe life’s circumstances, including being at a concentration camp, into “beautiful” experiences. That is something that is not easy to do, yet Guido succeeds with his sense of humor and lightness.

Guido’s relationship with his son is also inspirational – he does not give up on the preciousness of his son’s innocent perspective, and I get that Guido deeply believes that his son’s very life is dependent on how he perceives his experiences at a concentration camp: If it is just a game, then life is beautiful and all is well.

10. You’ve just been granted a wish and can invite four people to dinner. Who would you invite and why?

a. His Holiness the Dalai Lama – so I can be in the presence of a human being who is authentically joyful and happy regardless of the fact that he has been in exile, away from his own country for over 50 years. It would be inspiring to appreciate his philosophy of life and to share a few belly laughs with him!

b. Thomas Merton – so he can share his insights about being a Christian monk who was also fascinated by Buddhist philosophy.

c. Sir Richard Branson – so I can soak in his entrepreneurial mindset, his fun and outrageous business ideas and enjoy his down-to-earth presence.

d. Aung San Suu Kyi – so I can appreciate how she maintains her sanity and poise over the past 14 years that she has been under house arrest in Myanmar.

11. What is your favorite way to spend the weekend? Why?

My favorite way to spend the weekend is with my husband and son at a pool or a beach, swimming, reading and playing. I love the therapeutic feel of water. Even though I am not a good swimmer, just floating around gives me peace.

12. You can take two things with you when you are stranded on a desert island. What do you take and why?

I would take a fully-stocked sailboat and a friend who knows how to sail, so that I can get home to my husband and son!

13. Are you a cat person or a dog person?

I can be both although I have none at the moment.

14. How long have you been a member of BSHRM?

One and a half years.

15. What else does BSHRM need to know about you?

In my previous career in Singapore, I was a magazine editor and writer. One of the highlights of that was meeting celebrities like Cindy Crawford, Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, Jackie Chan, Peter Weir, Linda Evangelista, Prince Albert of Monaco and so on. The other highlight was traveling on press trips like the one to Madrid and Barcelona in Spain. While the deadlines were unrelenting – I remember falling asleep at the computer trying to reach the deadlines — that was a fun and fast-paced part of my life!

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