Annapolis woman quits Wall Street to help others
By SHANTEÉ WOODARDS, Staff Writer
The Annapolis Capital
Looking back, Amy Steindler can admit that she knew a finance career wasn’t for her, even before the market tanked.
The Annapolis resident had been caught up in the prestige of being a wealth adviser, but knew she wanted to do something more creative. So Steindler quit her job and spent more than a year re-evaluating her life. That led her to discovering the work of O magazine columnist Martha Beck, who also is a life coach. She signed up for her classes and Beck certified her as a life coach, making her one of five to receive it in the state. Through Insight Out Life, Steindler aims to help clients deal with different aspects of their lives like relationships, careers and health.
“Some (clients) are in a place where they understand that corporate America is not for them, but they’re at a loss of figuring out what to do,” said Steindler, 52. “It’s fun to watch people blossom and say ‘I can live my life in a different way and be fulfilled and happy.’”
To become a Certified Martha Beck Life Coach, participants are required to read Beck’s books that deal with self discovery and apply online to the program. The training requires a written test, an interview with Beck and a series of paid and unpaid coaching hours. Training sessions are offered four times a year and the program’s tuition costs $7,000, according to Beck’s website.
Steindler doesn’t count how many clients she has, and keeps a note on her computer “I am a talented coach whose clients find me at exactly the right time.” When introduced to a prospective client, she’ll have a conversation with them and explain her work and they both decide if they will be a good fit. If they hire her, Steindler will send them some paperwork with questions, including one about what they want out of life. Their responses – which range from “financial security” to “unconditional love and support” – help Steindler determine what questions to ask during their sessions.
She charges $125 an hour and packages are available, such as eight sessions for $800. Steindler also hosts a variety of workshops where participants are encouraged to do different things like shoot pictures, list wildly improbable goals, creating their fears out of ceramics, or use activities like running and snowboarding as life metaphors.
In the fall, a mutual friend introduced Hope Katz Gibbs to Steindler. That led to Gibbs participating in the “Through Your Own Lens” program, where she and seven others spent the day shooting pictures at a barn in Queenstown. The goal was to photograph objects that represent themselves and then display them in a slideshow. The final picture allowed the group to see how much they had in common.
“It’s kind of middle aged angst, when you’re 35 to 55 and are thinking about who we are and what do we want to do next,” said Gibbs, who lives in Arlington, Va., but works in Annapolis “(Steindler) does a beautiful job taking what she’s learned (from Martha Beck) and bringing it to me. I know she’s well trained and I think everybody needs a life coach who is a really good friend.”
Steindler grew up in New York and came to Annapolis in 1989, where she lives with her husband, Dave Buemi. In the fall of 2008, the couple took a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon and were unplugged from the rest of the world for three weeks. Steindler was refreshed when she returned, until she learned that the stock market had crashed while she was away. She spent the rest of the year overloaded with a workload that kept her chained to her desk and telephone. She quit the following year and spent the next 18 months writing freelance articles and trying to figure out what to do next.
She was at the library when she happened to discover Beck’s “Steering By Starlight: The Science and Magic of Finding Your Destiny.” Unlike other self help books, that made Steindler “want to roll my eyes and gag,” she was drawn to Beck’s insights about the essential and social selves. The essential self is the real person and is made up of hobbies that have been beloved since childhood, whereas the social self developed in response to societal pressures. In January 2011, Steindler signed up for Beck’s course, which called for about nine months of training and a weekend in Phoenix. She launched her business in May.
Steindler enjoys her work, but she knows that it comes with its critics, particularly in a corporate setting.
“The corporate world doesn’t want to know all of this woo-woo stuff, but individuals are absolutely rapt,” Steindler said. “A company is no more than a group of people. It’s not an entity that has a mind of its own.”
Annapolis-based Jack Martin Insurance solicited Steindler’s help because it wanted to move away from the call center environment and build client relationships. In order to do that, Steindler talks to the staff biweekly for motivation and encouragement.
“In this economy, it’s important for people to rethink what they are and what their goals are,” CEO John Martin said. “Amy is amazing at getting people to reinvent themselves. … (Some reluctant participants) were the ones that blew us away with a whole different concept of who they are and how they could touch and effect our clients.”
Steindler is preparing workshops for the rest of the year. In April, she and former coworker Rick Lesan will work with the Anne Arundel Library Foundation to present “How to Invest Without Losing Your Mind.” Lesan, a financial manager, will talk about financial security while Steindler will talk about how to avoid stressing out and second guessing while trying to predict the market.
“People can come out of that gathering with a better sense of not only a rational and irrational human being (but also) what to do with that knowledge,” said Lesan, who lives and works in McLean, Va. “I found her so valuable for me, that I think she’d definitely be valuable to the kind of people I work with, albeit from a different angle.”
For more information, visit www.insightoutlife.com.