From Tech to Art: Finding Purpose with Marc Scheff Coaching and Illustration

Episode Transcription

Glenn Harper 0:00:00

Hello, everyone. Welcome again to another edition of Powering Entrepreneurs podcast. I’m Glenn Harper.

Julie Smith 0:00:04

Julie Smith.

Glenn Harper 0:00:05

What’s going on, Julie?

Julie Smith 0:00:06

You know, I feel like I should ask you that we’re so close to the end of tax season as we record this and you’re just cool come and collected in here doing an episode.

Glenn Harper 0:00:13

There’s a deadline.

Marc Scheff 0:00:14


Julie Smith 0:00:14

I don’t know. Someone told me. I don’t know. I got something.

Glenn Harper 0:00:17

It’s only taxes. It’s nothing important, so we’ll be fine with that. Well, it’s good to have you on board again today, Julie. It’s been a couple days since we’d done one of these and we’ve got a special guest today, mark Chef, a empowering entrepreneurs driving force behind Mark Chef coaching and Mark Chef illustration. He’s helped many want to be clients to discover and fulfilling their purpose. Mark, thanks for being on the show.

Marc Scheff 0:00:39

Thanks for having me. Glad to be here.

Glenn Harper 0:00:41

You bet. I detect a slight West Virginia accent. Is that where you grew up from?

Marc Scheff 0:00:46

You’re so good at accents. I’ve listened to this before. What did you mention before? I’m from Boston originally and then spent some time in San Francisco and I’m now in Brooklyn.

Glenn Harper 0:00:57

Brooklyn? So that home is Boston, then?

Marc Scheff 0:01:00

Yeah. Got you raised.

Glenn Harper 0:01:02

Is that how you decided to there’s a little school up there you went to for college. Is it pretty easy to get into.

Marc Scheff 0:01:08

And nobody small school in Cambridge? Yeah. Is it easy to get into? I don’t know. I went to a high school. I was very fortunate to go to a high school that was founded in 1645 as basically a school that was a feeder school for that small school in Boston for ministers or something. I don’t know. That is not the path that I took, obviously, but it’s a long, rich history there.

Glenn Harper 0:01:38

But it was a way to get access and go get it was probably a pretty amazing place to cultivate some relationships and figure out who you want to be when you grow up, I would imagine.

Marc Scheff 0:01:48

Yeah. No, very fortunate to have grown up there and to have had that opportunity.

Glenn Harper 0:01:52

And what made you decide to leave Boston and go to New York?

Marc Scheff 0:01:58

Well, I left Boston for San Francisco and honestly, I’m a bit of an introvert, bit of a homebody, and that has not changed in the 46 some odd years I’ve been around. But it was actually a friend of mine who, when different companies were coming I graduated in 1999 from Harvard. We can mention the name of the school. They had these recruiters coming then saying, oh, we’ve got all these tech jobs. I was a computer science major and I was saying, oh, no, I’m just going to stick around here. And they were coming. And my friends said, look, there’s a free trip to San Francisco. Just go on the trip, you don’t have to take the job. But I went and I just fell in love with san Francisco and the people that I met out there and the people who were getting hired by this company. So I chose to go out there. Then.

Glenn Harper 0:02:46

How long did you stay out there? San Fran?

Marc Scheff 0:02:49

Almost nine years. I was there, and I lived all over. And this is when I sort of went through that transformation from tech and sort of exploring the world of coaching and art. And that’s when I got into a lot. That’s really when this whole thing started. Yeah.

Glenn Harper 0:03:05

So it was like a three hour tour, and you stayed there for nine years? That’s how it works.

Marc Scheff 0:03:09

It was very much yeah. I don’t know which character I would be on the show, but yeah, we did we actually went on a boat. That was part of the trip. When I went out there, they took us on a sort of cruise around, saw Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge and everything, and there was music. I actually got up with the band and sang that night. I’ll brag a little bit. I was the president of my glee club in high school and my singing group in college, so I got up and sang with the band on my I don’t think that got me the job, but I don’t know if it hurt it.

Glenn Harper 0:03:45

Anytime you have an opportunity to belt one out, you might as well do it. So that’s a good thing.

Marc Scheff 0:03:50

Yeah. And I think I probably I mean, I think it was open bar, so I probably had some liquid courage that night.

Glenn Harper 0:03:56

Listen, we all sound better if it’s karaoke night. That’s a rule. Game on. So part of what we love about our podcast is the purpose is try to inspire entrepreneurs and help them as they figure out their journey. And part of that is trying to share in those things that harper with other entrepreneurs on how they got from A to B and made those decisions. And how did you decide on the computer science degree and ultimately to the art part? Because that’s a very unique combination, because there’s, like, the digital art and then there’s, like, regular art art. And I don’t think you’re a painter painter, but I think you might be the digital content kind of guy.

Marc Scheff 0:04:35

Well, yeah. So in high school and up until high school, I did a lot of art, and I was very committed to that. In fact, my high school teacher, who really was a mentor in life for me, Mr. Buckley, he took a few of us one semester when we didn’t have an art option and allowed us to skip one of our other creative options and do art because he saw that we had some proclivities, some interest in talent. And so all the way through high school, that’s what I did. And I grew up, like I said, in Boston, with a fair amount of privilege. And with that also comes with great privilege, comes great expectations. And those expectations were not to become a starving artist. So what I decided my first year of college, you have to pick your major the first year, which is a very silly thing, I think.

Glenn Harper 0:05:26

Who knows what? Yeah.

Marc Scheff 0:05:29

I didn’t know. But I did know that I didn’t really enjoy writing. So I looked at all the majors that didn’t require a thesis, I’ll be honest. And I liked computers. And so I thought, okay, I’ll do this. And at the time the tech industry was starting to boom this 1995, 96. And I saw a future there. So I thought, okay, I’ll get a job, I’ll make some money and I’ll take art classes kind of on the side. So I went out to San Francisco in 99. I did that work. And very quickly at my first job, I moved with a group of us from the more sort of technical development into a little bit more of a creative kind of front end. Basically what we know as like a web developer. It wasn’t really a thing. Then there was art people and then the developers just sort of made the website. But this was starting to become a thing in 99.

Marc Scheff 0:06:22

And then after what was kind of the crash, then I was again sort of fortunate. Everything was sort of crashing. But everyone also still thought that there was just tons of money out there because VCs were still funding lots of places. So I kept sort of getting these jobs and then having these companies kind of crash a couple of months later and they gave these big severance packages. So in the middle of all this, I decided I’m going to do what I said I was going to do and I’m going to take an art class. This will be fun. It was a little bit more than fun. I really fell back in love with the process of making work. This wasn’t like some advanced portraiture making beautiful paintings. This was literally charcoal on newsprint making, drawing spheres and cubes and really basic stuff. But I loved being there. So it was 2000, I want to say 2002 when I was at a job. And I actually wrote this woman a thank you note recently because my boss at the time kind of called me in and was like, kind of noticed that you’re really busy. It seems like you’re really focused on this art thing and kind of gave me, unofficially, a heads up. She’s like, we’ve seen a lot of layoffs.

Marc Scheff 0:07:38

Like if layoffs were happening and there were a severance package, would that be something that you want? Obviously this is 20 years ago, so I don’t feel like anyone’s going to get in trouble. She wasn’t supposed to do that. But I was very, very grateful to take that opportunity and put essentially a down payment on my art career. From there, I was able to get jobs. Like I was a creative director at a startup at the time, and I went and worked at video game companies, and my tech background and my art background helped me get a foot in the door with those opportunities.

Julie Smith 0:08:12

I want to take a step back. You talked about Mr. Buckley and being a mentor. Do you still talk to him to this day? Is he still involved in your life and you kind of alluded to what he kind of did for you in regards to seeing your passion and kind of helping it come out. But can you just elaborate on that a little bit more? Because I think that’s so important.

Glenn Harper 0:08:30

I think what he did, he made him skip math class and go to art class. That’s a great teacher right there. I want to get that guy.

Marc Scheff 0:08:37

I actually really liked math, too, so I skipped the music class.

Glenn Harper 0:08:40

That’s even better.

Marc Scheff 0:08:42

Funny enough, was also enjoyable. Yeah. Mr. Buck. I had two art instructors from my history who I still keep in touch with. Mr. Buckley was one, and Ms. Purdy, my fifth grade art teacher, who I remember really kind of stood up for me in my creative process. But Buckley was there from 7th grade to 12th grade. My school was one of those schools that did 7th to 12th. And frankly, I was having a difficult time as a child. I had a sort of hard time with my parents at home, and I think that was sort of starting to come out a little bit at school with my behavior. And he was one of the teachers who kind of didn’t really talk to me directly about it, but really supported me in sinking a lot of that energy into my creative work. So more than just sort of someone who was sort of encouraging, but he was a very honest person. He would not pull any punches.

Marc Scheff 0:09:40

If he had stuff to say about the way the school was run or what he thought about what was happening, he would tell you. And he trusted us also not to go and spread everything he was saying. I do still keep in touch with him, actually. He just retired last year, and I drove back up to the school to see him and get a little bit of time. And he’s still someone that I’ll share what I’m up to with, share my journey, because I think one of the things that he sort of instilled in me is a little bit of that entrepreneurs spirit, that spirit of mentorship, that spirit of coaching and really meeting people where they are. He never made me feel ashamed for whatever it was that I was feeling or making some crappy piece of art. He would encourage me. He would challenge me. And I think I’ve carried that with me through literally everything that I’ve done.

Glenn Harper 0:10:39

That’s kind of cool that you get the lot of time. Those mentors, you never know when they come into your life, right? But at 7th grade, that’s pretty cool. That started out young, which is kind of great because it kind of puts you on a different mindset, I would think.

Marc Scheff 0:10:54

Oh, absolutely. Like I said, the school was founded in 1645. There’s a lot of tradition and there’s a lot of sort of expectations and you kind of have to fall in line a little bit with most folks. But with him, certainly he didn’t suffer fools, but in a way that kind of made more sense. It wasn’t just about rigor and rules, it was about life. He would sit with us and it wouldn’t just be about you better get in line or you’re going to go to the principal’s office or the dean’s office. It was about, hey, when you leave this place, you’re not going to get anywhere with whatever’s happening, whatever you’re doing here’s a better way to really think about things, but also not just about blindly following the rules. Again, that entrepreneurs spirit. Not just sort of saying, okay, this is what I’m supposed to do and I’ll do this and this is what I’m being told. But really something that I use in my life now, which is that sort of creative thinking, that imaginative thinking.

Glenn Harper 0:11:55

It’s hard to put entrepreneurs in a box. We don’t do so well there. We’re a bit psycho. We need to have all kinds of good stuff happening, be able to think clearly and wildly and just do what we feel is right. I want to get back to one of the things your work experience piece on your LinkedIn read like War and Peace. There’s a lot going on there and I just want to know how I get in on some of those severance packages. Is there a way I can sneak in there? Because that seems like a really cool way to get things to happen. But again, I think that experience just shows your resiliency that again, you didn’t say no, you took the opportunities, you made the best of them. You kept learning until you found this calling to do this thing. And again, there’s two things that you do and I’m trying to figure out the coaching and then the art side of it. Which one is really your passion? Which one do you like the best?

Marc Scheff 0:12:47

Oh, man, I knew you’d ask that question and it’s such a hard one to answer. I’ll answer it with a little bit of a story. I’ve been in the world of coaching, in the world of art for almost the same amount of time. I went back to art school in around 2001, 2002 and really essentially got introduced to the coaching world through a men’s circle that I went to in San Francisco in 2004. And I was there every week for four years. And over the last 20 years, I’ve sunk pretty hard into both of those. And it was about two years ago or three years ago, we remember, something pretty big happened then, and a lot changed. What changed for me is we moved upstate from Brooklyn. We have a little cabin up there, and we moved upstate there, and a lot changed. I wasn’t in my studio every day. Our kids were home all the time. We have two young kids, and my wife’s work kind of exploded because she works in the world of her job is she runs an organization that is working to end mass incarceration. So with everything that was going on in 2020, she was very busy. So kind of a lot stopped. And I took the opportunity then to obviously spend more time with my kids.

Marc Scheff 0:14:06

I wouldn’t say I took the opportunity. I would say I had to. And it was very difficult. I mean, I think it was very difficult. Even with everything that we have, it was extremely challenging. And it was around the end of 2020 that I started to put more time into a project that I was working on upstate. All that is to say, when that ended, when I decided to leave that organization, I hadn’t really been putting time into my art. I hadn’t really been putting myself out there as a coach. So it was a relative, let’s call it a low point. It was a very difficult time. And I think you’ve asked some other guests about kind of what was that turning point, and I’m kind of illustrating that now. So we sort of call it like an everything kind of falls apart kind of moment. I had the opportunity, and I say an opportunity, but I mean, if I’m really honest, I was depressed at the time. Things were pretty bleak. Kids were home all the time.

Marc Scheff 0:14:59

Things were really challenging. I was having challenges in particular with one kid who we weren’t really sure what was going on. And my wife was busy with work and everything kind of had to keep moving. So I had a really difficult time. I was very grateful to have the support of some friends, my wife, people who kind of knew a little bit on the inside of what was going on off social media. What I did at that time was take some of these creative tools and those coaching tools and make a new plan. And I’m not going to say it was, oh, I just sort of sat down and was like, oh, yeah, okay, great. I’ve got a plan. It was difficult, and I needed time. It took months for me to really come to this place, but I used one of these creative tools and I sat down and I said, okay, let’s look at my LinkedIn. What the hell do you do? You run an art gallery. You do illustration, you do digital work. You do, as you call it, regular art, traditional art stuff with your hands. You teach and you mentor people and you’ve run organizations.

Marc Scheff 0:15:59

So let’s put all this on paper, and let’s sort of figure out let’s take a moment here and instead of just taking sort of the next thing that shows up in front of you. And I think this is a little bit of what I work with people. I don’t think this is a little bit of what I work with people on, instead of just sort of saying, okay, what can I get? What’s available if you have time to do this? It was so valuable for me to sit down, kind of put it all on paper. I call it like an everything on the table kind of exercise. Just put your whole LinkedIn on paper in front of you, and then you do a little bit of a Marie Kondo and you just keep the stuff that sparks joy, right? So I looked and I was like, what of these things really gives me energy. What really feeds me and feels like is part of my purpose here on this Earth. And that gets a little bit woo woo, but I feel like that’s where I live. So with that, I kind of looked at all that, and yes, it’s art, but it’s a little bit more about creativity. And the thing that really I notice lights me up the most is when I am using my creative skills, using my creative talents, my coaching talents, my conversation to inspire other people. When I looked at this list and I could see that I’d had an impact on people’s lives who had then gone on and had an impact on others lives, that was just an amazing feeling, like my heart was full. And so I started to look around at what that might look like. And in fact, I didn’t go right to coaching, even though that’s the world I’d been in.

Marc Scheff 0:17:27

I actually applied to school for art therapy when I decided that the deadlines were about a week away. So I went to Harvard. So I’m very used to waiting until the last minute to do things. That’s how we write papers there. And so I scrambled. I got my recommendations, I got my applications, but in the meantime, I also signed up for a coach training program to really see what other skills were out there, not just from what I had learned and what I had been doing, but see if there was just to understand, I’m a lifelong learner. So I was like, okay, I’ve got some time. Let’s do this. And I fell in love. I really fell in love with what I was seeing out there and really kind of exploded my world. And I’ve been on that path really ever since.

Glenn Harper 0:18:10

So that was kind of your AHA moment right then.

Marc Scheff 0:18:14

That was an AHA moment, and and it was a series of AHA moments. You know, I think I think sometimes people maybe who are listening are like, okay, well, I’m waiting for that one moment where it all becomes clear. My moment was a year, and it’s still happening. It’s still happening now that I’m open to it.

Julie Smith 0:18:31

And I think we talk a lot about you talked about the highs and the lows. We talk about the peaks and the valleys.

Marc Scheff 0:18:36

Oh, my God. Yeah.

Julie Smith 0:18:37

And as you’ve been through them, do you feel like even though the valley was tough and you kind of elaborated on that, do you feel like you needed that valley to kind of get to the peak?

Marc Scheff 0:18:50

I wish the answer was no, but absolutely. I absolutely did. I can think of a few other times where things really seemed pretty bleak. I mean, this was really the big one in my life, but I did need that. And I hate to say I’m grateful for it, but now, having looked for that support, I think one of the things that really helped me in that moment, A, is that I had some of these coaching tools from my work. So I sort of knew that this was happening in a way. And I knew that there was another side because I’d already kind of worked with people on this, even though it didn’t feel like there was another side. But I absolutely needed that, and I needed to actually look at that as an opportunity. And again, it wasn’t like it happened, and I was like, oh, great. An opportunity. Like, no, it was terrible, and it was terrible for a while.

Glenn Harper 0:19:44

Well, one of the things that you kind of mentioned I think is really important is you’re just a normal individual and you have a real job, and you just kind of struggle and you just kind of do your grind, you do your routine, and you’re just there and you just accept that as the norm. When you’re trying to break out from that and be an entrepreneur. Those struggles that one has and those things, it’s trained us by society. Whatever. That’s a personal, private thing. Well, you were very fortunate that you had a little support around you while you’re being challenged with those struggles to try to figure that out. And again, we only grow in the valleys. Right? The peaks are like those are cake. We’re just skiing there, going downhill. But the valleys is the hard part. So having those people to be able to share that struggle with, a lot of entrepreneurs don’t recognize that there are people out there that can help them with that. That just, hey, just find the mentor. Find somebody that you can lament a little bit with. And most entrepreneurs want to help everybody.

Glenn Harper 0:20:39

And while you were doing that, I think the other point that you made is we call it the manifesto, and it’s basically write down who it is you are, what do you want to be? Get all that crap in your head on a piece of paper. And then you start tweaking that, and next thing you know, it kind of just jumps off the page. But until you do that, it’s so mumbled in your brain, nobody can kind of figure that out. You kind of have to have to write it down. And again, another success story of somebody writing things down. Julie see that? It works every time. 100% of the time. 60%. Yes. When you decided to kind of go on your own and do this coaching thing, is it something you’re just like, look, enough of these real jobs, enough of these severance packages, enough of traveling around like, this is who I want to be and what I want to do. Did you just do a gradual transition in that, or are you forced to just say, well, look, I’m doing this now. This is where it is?

Marc Scheff 0:21:36

Well, I’ve done this a couple of times in my life, and I’ve done it two different ways. I don’t think that I would ever say to somebody, oh, just give up your job and good luck. One of the things that I’ve done for years is mentor and coach artists who are looking to do that. I don’t like this thing that I’m doing. I want to make art full time. And if I were to give you sort of my vanilla advice, it is to start doing that work kind of in your spare time, which is what I did. And this was in 2008 or nine when I moved to New York because of the woman that I was dating, who I am now married to and have two kids with. So it happened. It was a good move. It was a good move. But then in 2010, we had our first kid, and we realized how expensive those kids are. And so I did go back, and I went back, and I found a job. I found a job because I needed to find that support, but I looked for a job that I could do that wasn’t going to take up a lot of brain space that I could do pretty easily that would make me enough money that I could come home and do my creative work. That’s really what I did, is I came home, I did my creative work. I continued to build up a freelance practice.

Marc Scheff 0:22:59

I actually went on and worked for a different company after that in video games. But then about nine or so months later, I went full time freelance. But I spent that extra time building up that work so that I wasn’t sort of jumping on and saying, okay, I’m available. Like, I hope clients show up. I made sure that I had those clients before I left in a little bit of a runway so that I could pay my bills. And I’ll be honest, I also have a second income in the house. So I knew that if things got thin, which they did at times, I had that support. And so I’ve been doing that since about 2010 when COVID hit obviously.

Julie Smith 0:23:46


Marc Scheff 0:23:46

Was that AHA moment, but it was like a little bit of a forced one for a lot of people as well.

Glenn Harper 0:23:52

It’s funny. As an accountant entrepreneur, I don’t know what side of the brain I use most. Is it the right side, left side? If you think about it’s, not the side he uses. Right. So my point was that that one side of my brain really is kind of like most of my brain. Right? Well, you distinctly have these two halves. One is the excessive creative side where even when you tapped into the other side, the, quote, real job working side, it didn’t even affect your other side. So you literally were working on both sides of your brain and doing just fine, where for somebody like me, it’s like one thing and that’s all I can do. Right, so you were able to I.

Julie Smith 0:24:32

Can attest to that.

Glenn Harper 0:24:32

It’s a true statement. So having the ability to be able to shut off the creative side to go do this thing and kind of rest that side, then shut that one off and go on the other side, that’s pretty cool. Not many people can do that. So that was kind of a neat opportunity that you had because when you said it took a job that didn’t hurt you one side of the brain, I thought that was a neat statement.

Marc Scheff 0:24:50

Well, I would push back on that a little bit.

Glenn Harper 0:24:52


Marc Scheff 0:24:53

This is actually where I work with people a lot of the time, people who are sort of ready to hear this. I don’t believe that we don’t have those sides of the brain. I think that’s a limiting belief that our society has kind of put on us is that, oh, I’m just a numbers guy. I’m not creative.

Glenn Harper 0:25:09

This is crazy talk, is all I’m saying. This is just all crazy talk.

Julie Smith 0:25:12

I don’t know Mark. I’ve known him for a long time.

Glenn Harper 0:25:15

And I’m very uncomfortable.

Julie Smith 0:25:16

You can convince me. Convince me.

Glenn Harper 0:25:18

Okay, keep going.

Marc Scheff 0:25:19

We’ll see it. There’s a great book, if you like words in reading called Master and Commander about this. It’s sort of a movie. It’s different kind of movie. Russell Crowe did not write the book. Okay, yeah, but I feel you. But it talks about this sort of myth that we are sort of run by one or other side of the brain. And without getting too deep into the research there, there is plenty. It’s a little bit of a science book by somebody who is really kind of at the top of the game there. But this is where I work with people, especially when people are kind of ready or fed up or frustrated or just really even sense that there’s something more that more potential, more impact that they want to have in the world. That does take creative thinking, but through many different exercises, including lots of writing exercises, lots of exercises that we do in. Conversation. This is a muscle that you can build. It’s not one that we are trained to even like. Look at me.

Marc Scheff 0:26:23

I went and studied computer science because I thought that wasn’t really the muscle that I was trying to build, this creative muscle. But through, thankfully, the experiences that I had early on, I got to see that the people who are truly successful truly have a fulfilled life. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or not or a business owner or multimillion billion dollar business owner. It’s that kind of creative thinking that we actually do use all the time. If you’re a manager, leading teams. I know that you’ve talked about this on the podcast, the kind of listening and openness and vulnerability that you have to have while being a business owner, while being a manager, while being a professional. This does take creative thinking. And I think the people who are best at that kind of listening are the ones who are open to that or who understand that at least a little bit and are willing to work with that.

Glenn Harper 0:27:19

Another way of saying that would be is that some people are scared by whatever society puts on them or their own fears that they have, that it’s hard for them to tap into that greatness, that they have to make the decision to get out of their comfort zone and go do something that’s way outside their box. Right? And I think that’s what you’re saying is to recognize that, because I think most people just need to push, to just get started, and then all of a sudden, it just opens up a whole nother what do we call that? Another window of opportunity, I guess, or a whole nother zone, another dimension, I guess you’d call it. And most people didn’t even know they have that in them until they start looking and they’re like, wow, I didn’t know I could even do that. Which is kind of rewarding, right?

Marc Scheff 0:28:04

Kind of rewarding? It’s life, man.

Glenn Harper 0:28:06


Marc Scheff 0:28:06

It’s amazing. No, you’re absolutely right. And I think you put it really well. I would add to that that it is scary to sort of jump off. And that’s why I said I don’t recommend just sort of cutting everything off and being like, okay, I’m a totally different person. I’m doing this other thing. I hope it goes well. What I call it, at least what we call it in our world, is leaning into your edge. So the way I kind of think about this, and I’ve written about this on my coaching blog, is that imagine, if you will, that you, your taste, the thing you like, the thing you do, who you are, is like a piece of a puzzle. And you fit in that puzzle with your family, with your community, with your coworkers, with society. And so you’re in a kind of comfortable place. In order to grow, in order to take on new challenges, you have to kind of lean into the edge of that shape that you are. And so what a great coach does is give you the support that you need to kind of push on that edge and change that shape. And the reason that’s challenging is because imagine that you’re a piece in a puzzle. Well, if you change your shape well, it’s not going to really fit anymore.

Marc Scheff 0:29:08

And you’re going to have pressure from your family, from your coworkers, from your friends, from society at large to kind of go back into that shape that you were. Maybe you go and have a great session with a coach. Maybe go have a great, really opening weekend somewhere where you really learned a lot about yourself and who you really are and who you want to be. And then you come back and everyone’s like, I don’t know, you’re being weird. Please go back to kind of who you were. It’s very easy to fall back into old habits. Again. This is where coaching, this is where I really fell in love with it is that sort of ongoing support where I’ll work with people and then I’ll talk to them again a week later, a month later, and they go, okay, that felt really great. And then things kind of got back to normal. You can imagine, like, you make a New Year’s resolution, I’m going to get in shape, and you really go for it. And then suddenly the life, the 2.

Glenn Harper 0:30:01

January, you give up, right?

Marc Scheff 0:30:05

Yeah, exactly.

Glenn Harper 0:30:06

I think what you’re saying is like the taste, once you taste it, it’s really hard to go back, but it’s real comfortable.

Julie Smith 0:30:16

Well, and I kept thinking about that uncomfortable feeling. I think we grow from being uncomfortable, which is exactly what you’re talking about that is hard, especially when you’re surrounded by people who like that comfort. Right. And so as you coach people and you talk about the puzzle piece, do you find that sometimes they have to find new people?

Marc Scheff 0:30:38

Oh, yeah, absolutely. I was working with someone who works at a pretty high level. She’s been working in government and nonprofits. She was actually a senior advisor to the President on his campaign. And she’s written on my LinkedIn, so I don’t feel like I’m breaking confidentiality. You can go read her testimonial. But when I was working with her, there was a lot of self discovery that caused her to sort of examine her relationships and who she wanted to work with, without getting into really too many specifics there. But I’ll tell people, don’t be afraid that you’re going to come find a coach and suddenly have to find all new friends and quit your job and all these things. Again. I’m never going to recommend that you just sort of jump off a bridge and hope it goes well, but it’s about these kinds of gradual shifts. One of the things that I work with people on and the way that I work through this change is through the idea of and I think this is probably we’ve talked about this. You’ve talked about this a lot is this idea of a very small first step. If you read James Clear’s book Atomic Habits, which is, I think, an absolute must read for any entrepreneur or human, honestly, it’s just such a brilliant book. But he really hammers in the idea, and there’s a ton of research behind this that he talks about in his book about this idea of taking small steps. And if you take those small steps consistently, or even one small step and do it consistently, that change has exponential impact over time.

Marc Scheff 0:32:08

And I think he gives this example in the book, but if you can imagine you’re shooting a rocket to the moon or something, you’re flying a rocket to the moon. Now, if you were to shift that rocket half a degree from Earth, you would go after the same amount of time, you’d be millions of miles off into some new space. Now, obviously, if you’re flying a rocket, you probably want to get to where you’re going. But when it comes to coaching, you can guide these small steps to shift who you are, to change your relationships. You don’t have to change all these relationships overnight. You will discover, and people do discover. And I’ve worked with other people who came back to me and said, I did the writing exercises, I did the energy exercises you talked about, and, God, I feel like I need to actually find some new friends. These friends that I have aren’t serving me. They’re holding me back. And I go, okay, well, let’s support you on doing that in a way that you do it in a healthy way and not in a way that takes you too far down. Let’s get you the support that you need.

Glenn Harper 0:33:11

That’s the craziest thing, is that people in our lives it could be anybody, friends, family, colleague, whatever. They either they want you, support you to get to be your best version, or they like you the way you are because it serves them. It’s the damnedest thing of how do you get why I can’t understand why people don’t want you to be the best you can be. It doesn’t make sense to me, but that’s the way life is, right? So just recognizing that you’ve got to push the limits. You got to get overcome your fear, you got to get that taste, and then all of a sudden, you will transform yourself into somebody who you really want to be, which is, again, the craziest thing, that it’s hard to get the support from people. You got to move to do those things. I don’t know the answer.

Julie Smith 0:33:56

I just think it’s such an when you said it, it was such an important thing that I just think people need to hear. I think we kind of hear little bits and pieces of it but just to be blunt and hear it directly of, like, it’s going to be okay. And sometimes that has to happen, I just think was really important. So thanks for sharing that.

Glenn Harper 0:34:13

If you were going to have your dream client besides me, who would that be that he would he didn’t say.

Julie Smith 0:34:20

He would take you on.

Glenn Harper 0:34:21

I don’t want to put the pressure.

Marc Scheff 0:34:24

You took my answer now, Dang.

Glenn Harper 0:34:26

Well, besides me, who out there? Would you be like, man, if I could just get that dude or that chick and I could just coach them, they would be amazing. I can see their potential. Do you have somebody like that, that you were just in your crosshairs, that you would just love to go after.

Julie Smith 0:34:41

Or have you had them?

Marc Scheff 0:34:43

Have I had them? Well, I think thank you for that, because I have had at least one client that is really my dream, and I’ll just sort of describe them, and then I can maybe even give you a specific person who would be my dream client, the client that I worked with that really filled me up. And I have a few, so if you’re listening out there, I’m not necessarily picking favorites, but you’re asking me to pick one.

Glenn Harper 0:35:12

No discrimination here.

Marc Scheff 0:35:13

Yeah, but it’s the idea of what I want to do with my work is I want to have a ripple effect. It’s not just about, okay, you want to make a change in your life, and I want to charge you money, so let’s work together. And that’s not how I work, actually. I offer a free discovery session. In fact, I offer two basically sessions so that I can work with people so that I can understand what it is that they want to do in the world. What is that purpose? Let’s do some writing. Let’s do some conversation. Let’s really see what shows up. When we have these conversations, does it open you up? Are you able to really look at and have this conversation with yourself, with your inner self, and really be vulnerable and open and say what that looks like? And the second part of that is, am I excited by that? I’ve definitely met with people who say, oh, I just really want to make a lot more money, or I want to find this, or I want to find that, and if we can’t get underneath that and find a deeper purpose and impact, that’s not my client. So the dream client is someone who is really seeking to make a big impact in the world. I think I work really well with people who, like we said before, kind of understand that you have to be a little bit comfortable with discomfort.

Marc Scheff 0:36:25

So if you’re coming in with all your defenses up and I think I’m doing everything fine, I just want it to go better. I’m like, Well, I was on Peter Shankman’s podcast, and I love what he says about in order to live a life you haven’t lived, you have to do things you haven’t done. So if you’re not just lip service about that, if you’re someone like that and you’re willing to use creative tools and like I said, I’m a little bit woo woo. So if you’re willing to kind of look at your inner purpose, if you’re willing to look at yourself and have these conversations, that would be a dream client. I’m working with someone right now who’s in the creative world and looking to make a bigger impact. The truth is, I don’t work with a specific profession. So would it be a celebrity? Would it be someone who’s running a very large business. Is it Joe Biden? I can’t say. I probably wouldn’t say no if he asked. But just for the record of his listening But I’m looking for people who really have heart, who really are coming at this with more than just okay. I want to be successful. I want to have tons of money even. I just want to be able to give money.

Marc Scheff 0:37:37

I had a really interesting conversation with an artist who I have worked with for the last six months or so. And one of the things that really kind of caught my ear when we were talking is when we were talking about kind of that bigger vision and purpose, And I do ask people to push themselves in this conversation. What’s bigger than making more money? What do you get? What do you want? How are you going to impact people? She really had a vision around for herself. It was around animal wildlife preservation. And we explored that and we got into that, and we got to see some small steps towards creating a life that she could start doing that, even in small ways, and start to build that part of her life before she made her millions or anything else. Because people often, like you said, they think that I need to get to this place and then I can kind of relax. I need to get to this place, and then I can kind of have what I want or do what I want. I work with people to show them. And what I open up for them a lot of the times is, well, maybe there’s ways that you can do that now, and maybe that would actually make this other stuff easier. It would make those decisions easier about what it is that you should be doing.

Glenn Harper 0:38:48

Again. I love stereotypes because they make me laugh. And they’re mostly true. But when you look at somebody who is more creative, they don’t really do things for the money. They do it because they have a passion in something. And then we got to try to figure out how to help them make money with that creative side, because they got to make a living. We look at the people that Do The other Side that Are all about making money and systems and process and building something. They really don’t know their why other than they make money. So I think a typical client that you would have could be on either side of that spectrum, and you got to figure out how to extract just because I want to make more money. Well, that’s probably not what they want to do. They probably want to find their purpose. And the person who’s not making any money and be creative, they probably want you to make some money.

Julie Smith 0:39:31

Well, and I think I just listened to a podcast this morning, and I actually sent it to Glenn because I was like, this podcast was amazing, and you’re saying all the same things, so kudos to you. It was funny. I was like, having deja vu sitting over here. But I think oftentimes when people can’t find their passion and purpose, they’re not fulfilled. And so they keep chasing that. You kept talking about chasing that next thing because they get there, right? They get to the next thing. And that moment was nothing to them, right? Because that didn’t actually fulfill whatever passion, purpose, mission, vision, whatever you want to define it as. It just was the next thing and the next thing and the next thing and the next thing. They’re chasing that dollar, whatever it is, they’re never going to be fulfilled until they can define exactly what’s going to fulfill them. Essentially.

Marc Scheff 0:40:22

Yeah. I’m curious, can I ask you a question? Is that allowed?

Glenn Harper 0:40:26

Sure. It’s America. You got anything you want.

Marc Scheff 0:40:31

I’m curious if you were to say, what’s the impact that you have with these conversations? What’s the impact and who benefits from all this great, all these episodes of your podcast.

Julie Smith 0:40:42

So I think Glenn and I are going to have a little bit of a different answer. So this all came from at the CPA firm. It’s like we have these entrepreneurs that come in, and it seemed like such a lonely world, and I think both of us kind of live that as well, of like, who do you talk to, right? You have all these things in your head and all these ideas and whatever that is. And it’s like there’s no one to kind of go through those peaks and valleys with or to learn or be like, oh my gosh, I went through that too, right? And so we really just wanted for me, the purpose of was to really bring a sense of community. I love that sense of community around something, all the same things. And so if we could give one piece of advice to one person, and they use that to change their life, I think the podcast idea is done, right? I walked into Glenn’s office one day and was like, I have this idea. And he was like, okay, sit down. Like, I’ve had 400 of them that day, right? And he’s like, okay, so how do we do this. And so it just came from making again, you talk about impact, and if it’s just one person, then I feel like we’ve done what we set out to do.

Marc Scheff 0:41:49

For me, Glenn, are you saying that she came in with a creative idea to do something that and that you were open to that?

Glenn Harper 0:41:59

Let’s be crystal clear. It’s actually my idea, and I softplayed it like ten years earlier, and then she finally ten years executed on it. It took her a long time.

Marc Scheff 0:42:08

Sounds like you had a great coach to push you over that.

Glenn Harper 0:42:12

It’s a funny thing, I do have.

Julie Smith 0:42:14

An affinity for saying that every single time I have an idea, by the way.

Glenn Harper 0:42:19

Well, I think I do have a little bit of creative side just because of just the life experience that I had and what I deal with on a daily basis with clients and I do a ton of reading. I just can look at things in a different perspective because in my role, I have to look at a different perspective. I can’t keep everybody in the box. We have to look at different things to solve different problems. So I do have a creative side. Definitely not art. I can draw like a 3D cube thing. I can do that pretty good, but I really can’t draw anything else other than that. But for me, the podcast thing was I just recognized that back in the day, like you said, your high school you went to that was formed way back when. There’s certain things that people teach in school and certain things that we wish they would teach. And either you’re either going to work for a job or you’re going to work for something that you find passion. And I just think with the access to information in today’s world, there’s more and more opportunity to be an entrepreneurs because the access to information is read available before you had to go to school and you had to learn it all yourself. And if you didn’t go there, you weren’t going to let and nobody’s going to tell you the secret today. The information is out there. So for me, the inspiration is I just think entrepreneurs is the coolest thing ever.

Glenn Harper 0:43:31

Again, some people are programmed that way, some people aren’t, and that’s okay. But the ones that are programmed that way and they don’t know it the inspiration to just say, hey, you’re not by yourself, you can do this. Here’s what you’re going to probably face, and you’re never going to know it till you go through it. But at least if you have some sort of operating manual that says this is probably what’s going to happen if you do these things, that was kind of my why and to just inspire people to say, hey, you could be more than just doing this task and a job. And that’s really why I wanted to do it.

Julie Smith 0:44:02

Two different perspectives.

Marc Scheff 0:44:04

Well, it sounds to me like you’re both saying kind of what you said at the beginning is you’re making an impact on people and you’re changing lives. Even if that’s just I love what you said about a perspective shift. I think that’s a really important thing to understand as even just a first step. Again, someone doesn’t listen to podcasts and go, quitting my job, we’re done. Maybe I don’t think we hear those stories. But shifting perspective is so important because again, if you hear it enough over time, podcasts are great for this, right? If you hear it enough over time, it starts to sink in. We have society telling us all these other things, but if you have another voice in your head going, well, maybe there’s another way you could think about it. Just even thinking about it or writing about it is something that can shift a perspective, and that could be that one degree change that over time gets people to start to move in a direction that is more aligned with purpose and fulfillment.

Glenn Harper 0:45:03

If you make that degree shift on your rocket ship, you might have land on the moon. If not, you’re going to be seeing a Tesla flatter out in outer space somewhere. So you got to be real careful with that. So I think one cool thing that we like to ask is everybody, whether they know it or not, and if they haven’t looked at it or not, but we all have a superpower. Do you have a superpower besides, is it writing? Is it communication with people? What is the thing that you’re like? Man, I freaking own that.

Marc Scheff 0:45:37

If we were to have dinner together at my house and there was food leftover, I can tell you exactly which tupperware will fit the leftovers perfectly every time.

Julie Smith 0:45:49

That is a and you know where the lid is.

Marc Scheff 0:45:52

Most of it. That’s not part of it, but I can tell you which one will fit as it relates to entrepreneurs. Again, I mentioned this and I think it’s okay to talk about mental health stuff. Growing up, it was not the easiest for me, and one of the things that I had to do as call it a survival technique and I say survival technique, I mean, we always had food on the table. I went to a private school. You could look at my life and say there wasn’t suffering, but it wasn’t always easy. And one of the things that I had to do is to become very sensitive to the people around me and whatever mood shifts was going on for them through therapy and coaching and other tools. What I’ve discovered is how to use that, call it sensitivity as a superpower. Now, I use that, obviously. I used it in my coaching and my work with people and starting to really have a real, what we call kind of a third level listening or global listening for a little bit of what’s under the surface for people and being able to gently and with support say, okay, I’m sort of noticing something here for you. You’re saying this, but I’m also noticing something shift for you. Can we talk about what you’re feeling? Again, this gets into a little bit of the woo woo work. I’m not going to sit here and be a business. I mean, we work on people’s businesses, but I don’t work on it by looking at their numbers and telling them how to manage their teams.

Marc Scheff 0:47:21

I certainly don’t tell somebody. I have clients who do things that are very, very different from my background. Not just creative people. I’m not going to coach you and tell you how to be a CPA. But one of the things that I think is again, it was a difficult experience that I’m now in many ways grateful for, because it gave me the tools to understand a what it’s like to be a sensitive person, but also what it’s like to work with that sensitivity as a deeper level of listening. So when I work with people, I will talk about, okay, so what is it that you’re feeling right now? Let’s examine what’s happening for you as you talk about these things and let’s see where maybe there’s some discomfort. Because discomfort is a feeling, right? And oftentimes we’re taught to sort of COVID it up or just find a solution. And I do in some worlds I call myself a Solutions Focus Coach because that’s what we do. I’ve done lots of therapy, which is sort of like looking at what happened and really trying to process and integrate that so you feel better. And then coaching is a lot about looking at the future. It’s about, okay, let’s start with where you are, but let’s not ignore those things. Let’s not pretend those things don’t exist. How can you work with this, just as I have, with these various adverse experiences?

Marc Scheff 0:48:43

How could you possibly work with that as a tool?

Glenn Harper 0:48:46

I think the premise, I think that’s part of another thing about this podcast that we hope is that every single person on the planet is certifiable crazy. Right? We all have issues, not only just the way we’re programmed, but what things shaped us and all those things that harper through us for our life. Everybody has a struggle, everybody has a story. And when you can finally just say, how the heck do I get out of my own way? Because it’s only up to you as an individual. Nobody else is going to do it for you. And so we find that when somebody, the mentor, the inspiration, whatever those things are, that can get somebody to just go, wait a minute, if I look at it from this perspective, those things don’t matter anymore because tomorrow is the first day of the rest of my life. Let’s make that happen. I think that’s probably your superpower is getting people to get out of their own way, which I think is probably the coolest thing that we do all the time, because that really is what it’s about. People just get so into your zone, you can’t think outside the box, and when you can step back and look over, you’re like, oh, that’s all I got to do. Easy. And then you can put all that stuff in the back and think about it later.

Julie Smith 0:49:54

I like how he says easy, right?

Glenn Harper 0:49:56

It’s easy, Pete. How hard can it be? Million, billions of people do it.

Julie Smith 0:50:00

So I think we have one more question. What is your end game? Where does your journey go and where.

Marc Scheff 0:50:07

Does that’s a great question. The way that I think about that and I do think and write about this is what would the world be like if my purpose was fulfilled, if I were to live my purpose and my vision for the world, which is what I think and what I hope we’re all kind of working towards and get to work towards. And this is, like we said, with clients who are maybe stuck in a job or maybe they’re at the end of their they’ve run a startup, they’ve run a company, they’re ready to exit whatever it is. There’s time to think about what is the deep and meaningful impact you want to have in the world. So when you ask about endgame, that’s what I think about. What does the world look like when that future is created? So my purpose, if I were to state it in two words, is to unleash creativity. And that’s how I work with people, is to work with people. I use creative tools, and it’s a little bit of a TARDIS if you get the reference doctor who no. Okay, so there’s a phone booth, and it looks like a phone booth, but you go in, and it’s like a whole universe in there. It’s a lot bigger on the inside. And I think that’s how I work with people on purpose. You might be able to say to do this, but the world will look different if you actually fulfill that, if you take all these small steps. So to get to the answer to your question, I think if we lived in a world where people really had access to creative tools, I think that a lot would change. I think that people would be just much more at ease.

Marc Scheff 0:51:43

People would know that they have the creative tools to get through adverse experiences. They would not be as much or maybe at all acting out of fear. So many of our decisions are out of fear. Fear of scarcity, fear of losing friendships, fear of losing resources. And for many people, that fear is real. That’s a real outcome that’s possible. So I’m not saying fear isn’t real. I’m not saying that these outcomes aren’t possible, and I’m not saying it’s easy. The work that I do with. People is often not easy, just as you said earlier. So if that purpose were fulfilled, if that endgame were fulfilled, I would be working with people who would be making these deep and meaningful impacts on the world to change people’s lives. So that if we’re really going to paint a picture, I want everyone to have the resources they need. I want everyone to have food, housing, health care, and I want to work with people who are bought into that vision. You don’t have to run a healthcare company to work with me, although I have worked with people who essentially do. But if that’s part of your vision, whether you’re an actor or an artist or somebody who does work in healthcare or any of these things, if that’s part of your vision, I believe that we can all make small steps towards that vision.

Marc Scheff 0:53:02

You might say, oh, I just do this kind of creative work, or I’m just working. I run a production company. I’m not doing that. But there are always small ways that you can do that. Even if that’s just work that you do as a volunteer or donating money, there’s always ways that we can contribute to this world where everyone has what they need. There’s a wonderful book by I hope I get it right. Mariam Kaba called. We do this Till we free us. And it’s about that kind of world that we’re working towards, where everyone has what they need. And people can live in a world where a lot of the fear is gone because the scarcity is gone. People have what they need. And because, again, if I’m working with people using these creative exercises, you start to build that muscle where an adverse situation comes out, maybe the company folds, you lose a job, whatever it is, and you can have that resource, as I was lucky enough to have to say, okay, this sucks. This is terrible, this feels awful. And I know that I maybe need time to mourn, to grieve, whatever it is. And I can still do a little bit of writing and a little bit of work to start to work myself out so that when I’m done feeling sad, I can be on the path to contributing to this better world.

Glenn Harper 0:54:27

I think that’s the greatest country here in the United States, where the equality or the opportunity is there for all. All you have to do is seek it. Now, you may not get the outcome you want because of whatever those conditions are, but the opportunities are there. And all you have to do is open the door and go seize one and see what happens. And if you chose the right one, you got the right team, you do it right, you will be successful at it. And if not, guess what? Go back and grab another one. That’s the coolest thing about here. There’s just so many opportunities for everybody, and that I think dovetails into your point, Marc? Do you want to give a little plug of your companies or whatever like that? So our listeners, if they want to reach out to you, they can do so.

Marc Scheff 0:55:09

I’ll try to keep it simple, because, again, you look at my LinkedIn, there’s a few different things there. But right now, I’m very much focused on the coaching work. That’s where I feel like I have the most impact when I work with people one on one. When I work with people in groups and through the writing I do. And you can find links to basically all of that I’m sure you’ll post a link in the notes, Mark, with a C. It’s Scheff with two S, and an S at the beginning.

Glenn Harper 0:55:36

Sounds good. Well, Mark, really appreciate you coming on the show today. I hope our listeners found some value in that. I’m sure they did. I always learned something on all these. So appreciate your time today, Julie. Always good seeing you. Talk to you soon.

Marc Scheff 0:55:49

Thanks so much for having me.

Glenn Harper 0:55:50

Take care.

Marc Scheff 0:55:51


Episode Show Notes

Entrepreneurship is a challenging but rewarding journey and for those looking to embark on this path, having a support system and a clear sense of purpose is crucial. With a focus on the importance of finding one’s passion and purpose, guest Marc Scheff from Marc Scheff Coaching shares his journey from the tech industry to coaching and art, and emphasizes the importance of finding one’s passion and purpose in life.

This podcast is a must-listen for anyone looking to embark on the challenging and rewarding journey of entrepreneurship.

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