Gem City Playbook: Tesha Nesbit Arrington
The woman behind Phoenix Rising shares her coaching story
I can openly admit, at 43, I am in the heart of this experience.
So, when I had the opportunity to talk with Tesha Nesbit Arrington, I was pleasantly surprised to learn I wasn't alone. You might know Arrington as the director of Diversity & Inclusion and Community Outreach at Erie Insurance Group. In her work, she leads all diversity and inclusion efforts for 12 states and Washington, D.C. She is also actively involved in the community, serving on boards and committees for the United Way, Erie Arts & Culture, and Penn State Behrend, to name a few. However, even with these amazing achievements in her professional career, there was a point when Arrington felt restless and knew there was something more within her. And that is when Phoenix Rising, a full-service coaching and consulting practice came to be.
Phoenix was something I recently heard about and I wanted to know more. Oftentimes entrepreneurs have side gigs while their day jobs remain their priorities — and it is essential for anyone wanting to journey out on their own to recognize these voyages are divergent and often fraught with detours along the way. So, at a local coffee shop, on what felt like a rare snowy February day, I asked her what inspired her to start her business and what she hopes to do in the future.
"I had a very challenging time when I turned 40 and everything was just a question mark. And, it was during this midlife transformation — a time when it seems like everything on its face is normal, and everything's fine in your personal life and professionally. And I thought why would I even be questioning anything? But, when your soul is restless, there's just nothing you can do to ignore it. And, the universe is trying to tell you something."
It would take her a few years to figure it out.
"I'm 48 now, and it took a while to work through that. But, probably when I was about 43 I realized that this was a very normal part of our transitions in life. Very normal. But I recognized I wanted to help other people — women in particular, because we tend to carry a lot in our lives — and so Phoenix Rising was created to support people on their journey towards transformation, reinvention, and renewal. It's not just limited to women, but that definitely is a target market." I learn the name is iterative because Phoenix implies the notion of rebirth.
I asked what was the trigger moment for her.
"I actually was being coached," she almost hesitantly expressed to me. "And, my coach told me we're going to put together a learning plan for you." But she was initially opposed to the idea. "I thought, I'm always evaluating and re-evaluating my life, and creating goals — and I thought what am I going to create with a learning plan that I don't already know?"
But, she did the exercise and was shocked at how easily it came to her.
"Phoenix Rising was in that plan, and I thought this is it. This is what I'm supposed to do."
To keep her business separate from her work, Arrington doesn't coach anyone at Erie Insurance. "I held my launch party in Pittsburgh back in 2016. I did it on June 21, the first day of summer, the birth of my invincible summer," she highlighted. "Right now it's definitely more of a side hustle. But, it was important for me to have that launch to symbolize that this is something that is real, and having supportive friends and family around to celebrate that."
Currently, Tesha has one major client and a few others that she is beginning to work with. For confidentiality purposes, the names cannot be revealed.
She is very passionate about this and plans for this to become more full-time when she sunsets her corporate career.
"What I recognize is that I don't have to self-impose dates around when this becomes a more flourishing practice. I work with a couple of people now, and that's exciting to me because I really get to leverage some of the coaching skills that I've been developing over the years." And she can do this while remaining committed to her primary work.
Her background has primarily been in human resource development. She holds an M.S. in Human Resource Management from La Roche College; received a Diversity Management certificate through Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations, and a coaching certification from the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches.
As for how to get connected with her, "I like to drive people to my website so they can see my story. I think that's an important place for them to go first. Afterwards we set up an appointment and do an assessment of exactly what someone wants to uncover and then work to further narrow that down and create the goal for the coaching."
Arrington's service is beneficial because it provides a safe place to talk — and a neutral person to talk to. "That is a significant value of using a coach and particularly for somebody who may be at a point of trying to make a significant change. I think it's important for someone to think about what the next best version of them looks like."
She emphasizes, much like entrepreneurship, there is no linearity to the coaching journey. "I think it's an important piece to uncover, for people to recognize that it's okay to change their minds. I think that's critical and I ask people to really allow themselves to be completely open to possibilities, and to being uncertain — because that's going to be part of the learning for them — it's part of the journey. And that it is part of the safe space for them to explore."
She also believes it's important to examine what each of us are capable of. "I'm a multidimensional woman and I recognize that — and as I've gotten older, I've been able to lean into that. I'm not defined just by what I do in my day job. I have these other opportunities to share perspectives or talents and connect with other people. So, I think it's important when people know that, to not pigeonhole themselves and stay safe. I think we need to be willing to take some risks and be courageous. People aren't always ready to do that, but we don't get time back. So, you really have to push forward on the things that matter to you and that move you."
For more info on Tesha Nesbit Arrington, go to aphoenixrisingcoaching.com