Adding something uniquely different to the coaching conference calendar, the 8th International Gay Coaches Conference took place at Greenwich, NY 2-5 May 2019. This annual event, hosted by Gay Coaches Alliance, continues to combine top class coaching workshops and seminars with a sense of vibrancy and community that sets it apart from other coaching events, writes Chris Cooper.
The theme of this year’s conference was Everyone’s a Coach, recognizing the wide variety of ways gay men use coaching to add value to their clients lives and businesses, often beyond traditional definitions of coaching.
The event began with a pre-conference day ‘Realize Your Greatness’, led by Jeff Moore. This helped delegates to understand at a deeper level how their talents create a unique service for their clients. This went beyond working out your niche and enabled those present to get clearer on their mission and message – something all coaches would benefit from regularly checking in on.
The main conference program covered a wide breadth of coaching topics, including emotional and social intelligence, neuroscience and the ‘three brains’, how to run a group coaching program and engaging spiritual wisdom through coaching. In addition, there were sessions related to business development and personal wellbeing, including public speaking, five steps to grow your coaching business and the importance of self-care.
For the first time, the event introduced an ‘un-conference’ format. Delegates were asked at the start of the conference what other topics they would like to see covered. Volunteers stepped up and delivered seminars on the most popular choices. These related more specifically to attendees’ experiences as gay men, which added further richness to the offer of the event.
A highlight of the conference was the presentation of the Thomas J. Leonard Humanitarian Award to Garry Schliefer, PCC, honoring the contribution he has made to coaching and the wider community, including founding Choice, the magazine of professional coaches. The award, named for one of the original founders of the global coaching profession, recognizes a gay coach for outstanding contribution and ongoing commitment to the development of coaches and the advancement of the coaching profession.
There was a rich program of additional activities for attendees to enjoy, including daily early morning yoga and meditation sessions. A highlight of the evening program included a live performance by Grey Jacks, who combines his career as a coach with being an acclaimed recording artist. He and his indie rock band The Grey A delivered a set previewing his forthcoming album Date Your Elders.
As always, the conference was held at the stunning Easton Mountain, a community and retreat center exclusively for gay men, which next year will celebrate its 20th anniversary. Although the largely grey and wet weather was not conducive for delegates to explore the numerous hiking trails and natural highlights, it provided a unique setting and special atmosphere for this event.
The conference attracted lots of regular attendees, plus many new faces, most of whom commented on the richness of the experience and sense of community they felt.
As an attendee from Manchester, England, I was blown away by the warm welcome from the men at the event, all of whom I met for the very first time. However, like many of those here, I will certainly be back for next year’s event.
Information about the Gay Coaches Alliance can be found at www.gaycoachconference.com.
The 9th annual conference will take place at Easton Mountain, 30 April - May 3, 2020.
--submitted by the 2020 GCA Conference Organizing Committee