From Stuck to Figureoutable: Meet Katherine Nobles, Leadership Coach, and Founder of Readily

In 2019, Katherine Nobles made the leap from turning her side job as a career coach into a full-time practice. Within 2020, she has successfully rebranded and founded Readily, an engaging, co-active, and evidenced-based coaching practice that helps leaders at all levels reach their full potential in the workplace. With over a decade of experience in the field, Katherine has worked with thousands of professionals across different backgrounds, industries, and locations. Though 2020 has thrown a curveball into our lives, Katherine adapted her practice with grace and persistence. Her story reminds us to be adaptable in the face of adversity (hello, 2020) and to quote one of her favorite authors Marie Forleo, “Everything is Figureoutable”. 

Katherine will kick off our 2021 year by hosting our first leadership training, “Building Positive Relationships”. Attend this training to gain practical insight into how to cultivate greater connection and collaboration among colleagues in your current organization and throughout your career. If you’re interested in learning three key strategies to help you build positive relationships, click here to learn more about our upcoming training with Katherine.

JF: Tell us a little bit about how you got to where you are today.

Katherine Nobles: I spent nearly a decade working as a career coach and lecturer at various universities including UNC-Chapel Hill and Stanford. During this time, I coached thousands of students, led hundreds of workshops, and taught several courses focused on career and professional development. From there, I left the world of higher education for a brief stint in learning and development at a tech company in Silicon Valley. In 2019, I moved back to Durham, NC and converted what had been my side gig into my full-time coaching practice. This year, I pivoted and rebranded my coaching practice to Readily, providing co-active coaching, evidence-based leadership development programs, and engaging workshops to help leaders at every level flourish at work.

JF: Looking at your LinkedIn, your first role was as a graphic designer. How did you decide to make that jump into career development?

KN: I had a wonderful experience working with my university’s career center while I was a college student. At the time though, I didn’t consider career coaching or working within higher education as a career path. 

I graduated from Virginia Tech in 2007, the same spring as a tragic mass shooting on campus. This experience compelled me to seek ways in which I could work with college students to make a positive impact. While working as a graphic designer, I also began researching programs and doing informational interviews to learn more about the world of student affairs and higher education administration. From there, I decided to pursue my master’s degree in Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership and use my graduate assistantship to explore the field of university career services. I loved it and decided that career development was the area in which I wanted to focus.

JF: You have worked in career development for ten plus years and started in the higher education domain, what compelled you to make the jump from coaching students to coaching professionals?

KN: A couple of things. First, I attended a weekend course about coaching, which opened my eyes to the world of coaching outside of higher education. I was intrigued, and decided to start a side business coaching individuals outside of the university I was working for. Many of my clients were also young professionals, and I enjoyed coaching them on a variety of topics. From there I attended an extensive coaching training and certification program where I saw the impact coaching can (and does) have in the working world.

"These experiences greatly shaped the work I now do today in my business"

Second, while I was working at Stanford, I taught several courses on campus. I found that many of the students enrolled in my courses were professionals, either taking a break to continue their education or working while attending graduate school. Again I enjoyed working with this population and decided to explore the world of learning and development where I could train and coach working professionals in an organization. 

Both of these experiences greatly shaped the work I now do today in my business.

JF: How have you & your business adapted to the virtual landscape we’re in?

KN: I was already coaching virtually before 2020; however, I was used to doing workshops and leadership development programs primarily in-person. I’ve had to learn new tools and techniques to do so effectively over Zoom. 

Additionally, as I mentioned, I spent a lot of time this year pivoting my business to become what is now Readily. All of the services I now offer through Readily are well-suited for a virtual environment. For example, the programs are structured as virtual cohort-based learning opportunities with modules spaced out over a series of 12 weeks.

JF: Readily offers a wide variety of programs, workshops, and coaching options for leaders at every stage, what are three overall takeaways you hope someone has when they finish working with you?

KN: The three takeaways I hope someone has when they finish working with me are:

  1. Leadership isn’t a title, it’s a way of being. When people have the power to see themselves in this way, great things can happen.
  2. Career growth today isn’t like climbing a ladder, but more like rock climbing. The traditional way of thinking about career progression as a linear upward path no longer applies. Careers today are mobile, and require great agility to readily explore and embark on moves in every direction—up, down, over, and around.
  3. Investing in growth and development can create true transformation for both individuals and organizations. When employees flourish, so do organizations. 

"Leadership isn't a title, it's a way of being. When people have the power to see themselves in this way, great things can happen."

JF: What most excites you about the coaching & development industry?

KN: The thing I’m most excited about that seems to be happening in this industry is the rapid adoption of coaching and development efforts on the part of organizations to support their people. Research shows that growth and development are not only one of the top factors that attract and retain employees, but also a key way to boost organizational innovation and success. I’m thrilled that we’re seeing more and more organizations offering large-scale coaching and development initiatives to reach employees at all levels, as I believe these efforts will make a major impact both on individuals and teams.

"Research shows that growth and development are not only one of the top factors that attract and retain employees, but also a key way to boost organizational innovation and success."

JF: What challenges have you seen with clients during this pandemic? 

KN: I’ve seen a few consistent challenges during this pandemic, including:

  • How to stay connected and collaborate well with colleagues in a virtual context
  • How to craft work to become more fulfilling once again after roles and day-to-day work have drastically changed
  • How to maintain career momentum and resilience to prevent burnout

JF: What is one thing that inspires you each day, personally or professionally?

KN: Getting outside! Whether it’s a hike in the woods, a kayaking trip down the river, or a day at the beach, I always feel inspired after spending time in nature. Most days lately, of course, this looks like a walk in the neighborhood or nearby park, yet it still leaves me feeling clear-headed and ready to tackle my to-do’s.

JF: Name an “aha” moment you’ve experienced on your journey of becoming an entrepreneur and running your own business.

KN: Every day I learn something new! If I had to pick one “aha”, it would be that it’s important to start before you’re fully ready. It’s in my nature to want to prepare and package a beautiful finished product before sharing it with the world. A non-profit organization asked me to run a pilot leadership development program for a cohort of its members in early 2020. Not wanting to miss out on the opportunity, I said yes without having the program completed and built the curriculum as we went. By taking this more agile approach, I was able to make a lot of important changes, as I learned so much about what worked and what didn’t along the way. 

"If I had to pick one “aha”, it would be that it’s important to start before you’re fully ready."

JF: Do you have a “philosophy” or “mantra” you live by? If so, how does this play into your role?

KN: One of my favorites comes from author and speaker Marie Forleo: Everything is Figureoutable. When I’m feeling stuck, either in my personal or professional life, I remind myself that “everything is figureoutable” and find creative ways to get unstuck. When I don’t know how to do something, or a task feels overwhelming, remembering this mantra helps me break it down and find the necessary resources to help. I highly recommend checking out Marie’s book by the same title!

"When I’m feeling stuck, either in my personal or professional life, I remind myself that “everything is figureoutable” and find creative ways to get unstuck"

JF: Name three actions/thoughts/skills that have blossomed during 2020 for you?

KN: First, like many people, I would say 2020 has taught me a lot about adaptability. It has certainly been a year of learning to roll with unexpected changes and finding new ways of living and working. 

Second, I put in a concerted effort to increase my mindfulness this year. We’ve all read the many benefits, and I found myself sharing a lot of these benefits with clients and workshop participants when speaking about resilience. In May, I started meditating regularly, mostly using the Insight Timer app as a guide. As a result, I’ve noticed my abilities to focus and reframe my thoughts in challenging situations have both improved.

"This year has built my courage, as I’ve had a greater willingness to step out of my comfort zone than usual."

Third, this year has built my courage, as I’ve had a greater willingness to step out of my comfort zone than usual. I’m a huge Brene Brown fan, and I listened to her Unlocking Us podcast episode about FFT’s at the start of the pandemic. Go check this episode out if you haven’t already! It helped me be more open to trying things for the first time, or offering myself compassion when things felt hard because I hadn’t done them before.

JF: With 2021 on the horizon, what are some milestones you’re hoping to reach within the next year?

KN: On the business front, I am hoping to expand Readily’s reach to new clients, offering more workshops, coaching, and programs to organizations and teams. Personally, I’m looking forward to welcoming a new addition to our family in May. 2021 will once again be a unique year for us, so I’m looking forward to navigating both entrepreneurship and motherhood.


Contributor Bio: Katherine Nobles is the founder of Readily, a coaching and development firm dedicated to creating leaders at every level. With over a decade of experience in the field, Katherine has coached thousands of people across different backgrounds, industries, and locations – from North Carolina to the startup world of Silicon Valley. A former career educator and lecturer at Stanford University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Katherine has led hundreds of workshops and taught several courses focused on professional development. She is a Professional Certified Coach through the International Coaching Federation and holds a B.A. in Communication from Virginia Tech and M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from William & Mary.

Connect with Katherine via Readily or LinkedIn