The following is a guest post from Tom Maher “the Musician’s Coach” who we met at the recent ICF conference. No more introduction needed, this blog post will give you a great sense of the man behind the “heels”!
If you haven’t met me before, let me introduce myself. My name is Tom Maher and I am a professionally trained and certified life coach. I also professionally impersonate Paul Stanley of KISS in KISS Tribute Bands. Some would think this is an unusual combination, but for me, it works.
I was recently asked how I can be authentic as a coach when I spend so much time being someone else, or “inauthentic”. I told them that no matter how much of Paul or Paul’s mannerisms I try to emulate, I always make sure that I am shining through that trademark star.
I assisted with coach training for my school last fall. Of the 5 courses they offer, I assisted with 4 of them. By the last weekend, most of the students had learned that I spend some of my spare time in tights, make-up and high-heeled boots. They wanted to know if this was the weekend where they would see me in costume. I was open to that, but I really didn’t see a relevant purpose for it.
I must admit that I was a little surprised when I met with the leaders of the weekend and my two fellow assistants, that one of the leaders asked me if I was indeed going to come to training in costume the next day. Coincidentally, her brother was one of KISS’ photographers back in the 70’s, but I had not anticipated that question. The assistants are not supposed to be the focus of the weekend and showing up in costume would certainly draw a fair amount of attention. She said she trusted me and it was up to me to make the decision.
I wanted the input of the other leader, as well. She was little more cautious, but said she was okay with it if I could come up with a clear intention for doing it and then keep that intention in mind the entire time I was putting on the make-up. I was actually more comfortable with this.
The focus of the course that weekend was really owning who you are as a person and as a coach and making no apologies about it. It is about being risky and turning your coaching up to a 10. It is about really stretching yourself in service to your client.
That was it. That would be my intention. Commitment. When I put on the make-up, spray up my hair, put on those boots and the rest of the costume and go outside of the house, I can’t suddenly decide that I would like to be inconspicuous. I can’t decide that I don’t want to be noticed. I must be completely, wholly and fully committed to who I am and what I represent. I have to really own that. When I put on the make-up that morning, that is exactly what I was thinking about.
It really made for an interesting day. You should realize that I stand at about 5’9”, roughly. Putting on 7” high-heeled platform boots puts me at about 6’4”. Spray and tease my hair up, I would guess that I am easily 6’6”+. Add the rest of the costume and the black and white make-up and I really stand out in a crowd.
Our classes are held in hotels, so basically, it is right out in the open or in the public, anyways. We have private conference rooms, but I am still out in the open when I get there and on breaks and when we go to lunch, it could either be at the hotel restaurant or at a local public eating establishment. Did I mention commitment?
I had many interesting interactions that day and could tell many stories about it. What struck me most was the end of the day when I met again with the 2 leaders of the weekend and the other assistants. I thought things went pretty well. The leaders thanked me and said that yes, it would have been very easy for me to make myself the focus of the day and I did not. They said their trust in me was well-founded. I really appreciated that.
Then the leader whose brother was one of KISS’ photographers in the 70’s made a comment that kind of caught me off guard. She said she had never seen anyone do anything like that before. I was confused. I told her that MANY people dress up as members of KISS and given her brother’s relationship to KISS, I was surprised she did not know that.
She said she was very much aware of that and she had seen HUNDREDS of people dress up as members of KISS before, but that was not what she was talking about. I think my confused expression prompted her to elaborate. She said whenever she saw people dress up as members of KISS, it was all about that person, their ego and their experience. It was like a “privilege” for others to talk to them.
She said she had never seen anyone dress up as a member of KISS before and come from a place of service. I was on the weekend mainly to serve the students and the leaders, but whenever someone saw me in the hotel or in the restaurant or when the wait staff wanted a picture or when the cooks came out of the kitchen, I always dropped whatever it was I was doing and spent time with them. It was not about me and what I was doing or me being inconvenienced. Every time someone took a picture with me, I always insisted on one more because “two is better than one”. I gave specific, personal and one-on-one attention to everyone who approached me and I was never “too busy” for them. She was amazed and really moved by how I was present and there for every single person I came across. As coaches, we strive to be present and there for our clients and she said I couldn’t have modeled it any better for the students than I did that day.
I give a lot of the credit to Paul. When someone sees me like that and wants a picture with me, it is not because they are one of my fans, it is because I look like Paul. Paul often speaks about gratitude and appreciation and how much he appreciates his fans, so when they appreciate me, it is really Paul who made the connection. I have never met Paul Stanley, but if I ever do, I want to be able to look him in the eye and say with complete honesty that I treated his fans as well as he would have. It’s all about service, in 7” heels.