Kim Meninger of Great Heights Coaching

By meredith, November 21, 2011 3:55 pm

After 10+ years in the corporate world, Kim left her company to raise her baby and find what it was that was calling her. That was when she started Great Heights Coaching, a company through which she helps individuals and organizations maximize success. Kim has an MBA with a concentration in organizational development from Boston College and her career and life coach certification through the Life Purpose Institute.

Can you talk about your career path and what led you to choose career coaching?

I got an undergraduate degree in psychology, and my original dream was to go into a PhD. program and become a clinical psychologist. When it came time to apply for the programs, I kind of froze. I thought: I can’t really afford a full time program. I’ll be thirty before I can even move out of my mother’s home. All these fears arose for me, and I realized that it wasn’t the right time in my life to take that step.

I went through a complete shift when I entered the corporate world and took a job at EMC. I loved my job and the corporate environment, which is why I was there for 9 years. I managed relationships with various business partnerships. It was a satisfying role for me because I was able to use my psychology background to build relationships, understand what motivates people, and negotiate with others. For a long time I felt a great sense of satisfaction from my job.

While I was at EMC, I decided to pursue an MBA part time.  I felt that I was missing some of the mechanics, having not studied business as an undergraduate. By the time I graduated from the program, I was ready for a change of scenery. Things had changed a lot: the company was growing wildly, but didn’t have the same focus on its people.

I decided to try a smaller organization, thinking that it would be a better fit for me. I accepted a partner management position at Monster, where I worked for two years.   Unfortunately, it just wasn’t a good cultural fit for me.  The organization wasn’t committed to developing its people or leveraging its talent.  I didn’t feel connected to the mission and just couldn’t pour my heart and soul into it as I had in previous roles.

I had a baby in 2010 and made the decision to stay home with him. Because I felt so disconnected from my work, it was hard for me to justify putting a newborn in daycare to go to a job that wasn’t fulfilling.

I was fortunate enough to be able to make that decision.  As I was settling into my new role,I started thinking about what it was that made me happy. It had been so long since I’d felt any sense of satisfaction in my career. I knew that there had to be something I did well that I also enjoyed doing.

It was then that a common theme emerged: helping others to navigate their careers. For several years I had managed young professionals who were new to the workforce.  I loved helping them plan their development and take the next steps in their careers.  I thought to myself, “If I could translate that to a career, I’d be thrilled.”  When I started talking to people, and looked into it, I realized you can make a great career out of it.

For almost a year, I’ve been working with professionals who want to make a career change.  Most are unhappy, but don’t know what they want.  Others want to get ahead in their current career. They’re not sure how to make the next step so I help them to reconnect with their passions and natural abilities to find a more rewarding career path.  We then create a plan to ensure success.

In the process, I’ve also recognized a huge opportunity to work with businesses. Many employees are unhappy in their work environments.  They feel disconnected and are actively considering other options.  This isn’t good for the business or the individual.  I’ve decided to expand my coaching practice to help businesses create workplaces that foster greater employee engagement and satisfaction.

I’ve read a lot about starting a business, and I always come across articles about how it takes a lot of grit and determination to start a business. Can you tell us more about what it was like to start your own company, and what qualities and skills it required for you?

It’s ironic because I never thought of myself as an entrepreneurial person. I thought I was the type that was really great at executing on someone else’s plan. The thought had never occurred to me until I was at home with my baby and really took the time to think about how I could be more satisfied. I wasn’t ready to give up on my career entirely, but I knew I didn’t want to go back to what I had been.

Find out what your passion is and what motivates you.

Starting a business requires a lot of effort, a lot of determination. If your heart isn’t in it, it’s really hard to go through the process of developing something without support. One thing I missed was having co-workers around to bounce ideas off of, or that manager that’s patting you on the back, saying you did a great job on this project.

You really have to find a lot of that satisfaction from within. If you’re just doing it to escape something else it’s not going to be as rewarding. Make sure you’re working on something you feel strongly about.

A lot of people have trouble morphing their passion into their business because what they’re passionate about doesn’t necessarily include the types of functions involved in running a business. So if you’re somebody who has a passion for, let’s say web design, and that’s what you really want to do, there are a lot of other pieces to running a business that could fall by the wayside if you don’t have a plan in place.

Know your resources. Know who’s out there that can bridge some of your gaps. While it’s great to be out there paving your own way, you need to find support systems that can help you. There are really great resources out there: from the local Chamber of Commerce to the Small Business Association.   You really need somebody that can help you put all the pieces together and a well-rounded plan that takes into consideration all of the elements of the business.

For those women that live in the Greater Boston area, and are looking to strategically grow their business in some way, another great resource is the Women’s Enterprise Initiative (

Where would you suggest other people start when trying to re connect with their passions or figure out what those passions are?

I use some very simple questions that sound obvious, but people typically don’t ask themselves.

First I always ask: What comes naturally to you?

This doesn’t have to be job specific. Think broadly across your life. Spend some time on this and don’t dismiss anything as insignificant.  People tend to be really hard on themselves.  They spend a lot of time beating themselves up over what they’re not good at, but often think that what they’re good at is either unimportant, or that anyone can do it. That’s not true. Each person has a unique combination of gifts that doesn’t exist anywhere else; their own gifts that they bring to the table.

What do you enjoy doing?

Consider your everyday life. What are you doing when you lose time? What are you doing when hours have gone by and you haven’t realized it?  Oftentimes what we enjoy doing are the things we’re good at, but that’s not always the case.  Don’t feel destined to a career in something you don’t like just because you’re good at it.

What do you want?

This is a hard question because it’s so broad, but it doesn’t have to be profoundly philosophical.  It just needs to be specific.  Sometimes it helps to think about what you don’t want.  We tend to be better at identifying what we don’t like.  For example, you may know that you don’t want a long commute, or a manager that micromanages. This gives you important information about what you do want.

When you factor in all those things, it paints a much clearer picture of who you are and what direction you want to go in.

Is there a pearl of wisdom you would tell a younger version of yourself, looking back ten years or so, that you wish you would have known then?

I would say….and I wrote about this in one of my blog posts about the definition of success. (Read more at When I was young and without much experience, I had this vision in my mind of what it meant to be “successful.” I marched toward that vision, influenced by my environment. A successful career meant having a prestigious job title and a high salary. That was the world that I lived in.

As my life evolved and my priorities shifted (I got married and had a baby), suddenly those things became less meaningful to me.  I began to ask myself, “Was I wrong?”  “What now?”

It’s really important to stay flexible, so that you can respond to career and life changes along your path.  Also, always follow your heart and be true to who you really are.  This will lead to greater success and happiness in the long run than being tied to the artificial constructs of what it means to be successful.

Given that you are obviously a very busy woman who lives a full life between running your own company and raising a family, is there anything you do regularly to stay grounded and connected to yourself or maintain a balance?

That is a work in progress for me. I could do a much better job of that. One of the challenges of having your own business is that it’s easy to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s really hard to step away from it. I’m working on having more time to do things like yoga and exercise, things that will contribute to my own physical and emotional health.  I think it is really important to set boundaries for yourself that you would have in a more traditional work environment. I would be lying if I said I do a really good job of that now (Kim laughs).

On a daily basis I try to stay connected to my husband and my child and keep my priorities in focus. There are times when I get lost in my work. What I really want to do is make sure that those relationships stay really powerful and don’t get lost in everything that I’m working on.

What would you say you’re most passionate about?

When I think about what motivates me, and ask  myself why I am doing this, my answer is that it’s because I went from being a really enthusiastic, loyal and committed worker who felt really great about the work that I did to suddenly feeling disengaged and disillusioned by my work environment. I know so many other people who have been through that, and I don’t think it’s necessary. My passion is to be surrounded by people who love what they do. I really want people to be passionate about their work, to feel good about what they do every day. I think that life is too short, and we spend so much of it at work that people should really enjoy what they do. That doesn’t mean they have to “save the planet.” It just means they should feel a sense of purpose when they get up in the morning. I want to help people get there.

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