The Path to Creating a Life of Fulfilment: Meet Itir Keskiner, Executive Life and Leadership Coach

Itir has worked for different industries and companies including Samsung, Burt’s Bees, and Unilever to gain her insight into the leadership realm. During her 15-year career in the corporate leadership world, she always knew there was something more. Conflicted between creating a life that brings her joy and the idea of “a job is just a job”, Itir felt inspired to go into her coaching business full-time. In her coaching practice, Itir is eager to help others create a life of fulfillment that is aligned with their values. Read about her “special sauce”, what inspires her daily, and learn exactly how her past experience plays into her practice today.

Itir is part of the Fink Development coaching network, in addition to her own practice, Itir Keskiner Coaching and Consulting, specializing in helping under-satisfied professionals bring their values, strengths, and actions into alignment so they can be their whole, most powerful selves.

JF: You’ve been the Executive Life and Leadership Coach for your consulting practice, Itir Keskiner Coaching and Consulting, for several years, how did you decide to start your own business?

Itir Keskiner: The short answer is that I fell in love with coaching! After over a decade of career experimentation in different industries, companies, and roles, I decided to hire a coach to help me be more intentional about my next move. In the process of searching for a coach, I became intrigued by coaching itself. I learned that coaching brought together many of my interests and strengths - active listening, gaining insight into what motivates people’s decision making, and using creativity to overcome challenges. I decided to get certified as a coach. Once I enrolled in my coach training program at the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching, I felt it deserved my full attention. I chose to leave my full-time role as a Global Brand Manager at Burt’s Bees and work on becoming a full-time coach. A few months later, my coaching business was born out of my desire to support others who were in the midst of life transitions like the ones I’d been through.

JF: What makes you passionate and inspired to work with clients and help them create a life that makes them energized and fulfilled?

IK: I feel that I spent too much of my own life trying to fulfill the needs and expectations of others at the cost of stopping to understand my own. I rationalized away years of feeling overworked and underwhelmed because I was receiving external validation that my choices were the hallmarks of success and achievement. I had convinced myself that “work is called work for a reason” and that finding joy and meaning in my life was an unrealistic wish. Thankfully, I was proven wrong. I did eventually follow my intuition into career, relationship, and lifestyle choices that were more and more aligned with my values. I found fulfillment that was truly my own. Now I’m on a mission to help others do the same!

"I had convinced myself that 'work is called work for a reason' and that finding joy and meaning in my life was an unrealistic wish. Thankfully, I was proven wrong."

JF: Outside of the office, what are some things that inspire you to live a fulfilled life, personally or professionally? We heard that you may be working on a Turkish cookbook!

IK: Yes! I am slowly but surely working on a Turkish cookbook of my family’s recipes. It is a collaborative effort with my mom and helps me stay connected to my ancestral roots. Travel, art, nature, food, and learning new things consistently fill me up. I’m married to an artist and it is incredibly inspiring to be around his paintings and creative energy. We live in a house that is surrounded by acres of woods, so I have the privilege of getting outside for walks and the occasional owl or fox spotting. I’m constantly reading and listening to books and podcasts about coaching, health, and wellness. I’m fascinated by all of the modalities for healing and personal growth that I can incorporate into my life and my coaching practice. I’ve also found a new level of fulfillment through my daily Vipassana meditation practice. It helps keep me grounded amidst all of the uncertainty of 2020. I hope to get back to traveling in 2021. I’ve been to 50 countries so far and can’t wait to explore the parts of the world I haven’t seen yet.

JF: On your LinkedIn profile, you have worked in past roles as a Brand Strategist for Burt’s Bees and Unilever, as well as living in South Korea as a Global Strategist for Samsung, how do the skills you learned in these roles translate to your role today?

IK: To be effective at brand strategy, I had to understand customers’ unmet needs, concerns, and underlying motivations so that I could design products and services they would benefit from. I now use the same listening skills and questioning to help my clients gain insights about themselves so that they can design actions that will benefit them. During my time living and working abroad, I improved my situational awareness and ability to adapt quickly to what my environment called for. As a coach, I can never predict what my client will bring to a session. I use my situational awareness to pick up on my client’s emotions and needs so that I can use the appropriate tool or framework to help them in real-time.

"I use my situational awareness to pick up on my client’s emotions and needs so that I can use the appropriate tool or framework to help them in real-time."

JF: You work with so many different clients who are in various industries, who are the clients you most love to work with?

IK: I love working with clients who are ready for change. Witnessing their transformation brings me an immense amount of joy. 

JF: What is your “special sauce” when working with clients?

IK: My ability not only to listen deeply to what my clients are saying, but to also sense what they might be holding back. I find that this type of awareness leads to breakthrough insights that propel my clients forward.

JF: If someone feels stuck and like they’re “powering through their days”, how can a consult or working with a career coach help them?

IK: Working or consulting with a coach can help them gain a fresh perspective. That new way to look at themselves or their life situation often leads to choices and actions that break them out of old habit patterns and limiting beliefs that were keeping them stuck. 

JF: Earlier in your career you earned your Masters in Business Administration. What are the differences between the “business” world and the “coaching” world?

IK: I see more similarities than differences. In both cases,

"Defining a clear vision rooted in values, devising a plan to realize the vision, using innovative thinking to overcome challenges, and tracking progress and the pivots along the way are central to success."

JF: What are three potential takeaways your clients walk away with when working with you?

IK:

  1. I know what I want in life, and how to confront the fears that get in the way of its pursuit.
  2. I’m stronger, more talented, and more resourceful than I was giving myself credit for.
  3. I can make choices that will improve my level of satisfaction even if certain life circumstances are out of my control.

JF: What most excites you about the coaching and development industry? And, what is one thing you’ve learned recently that’s helped you grow?

IK: What most excites me about the coaching and development industry is that there is a coach and/or development modality for everyone. It is a matter of finding what resonates with you. One thing that I’ve learned recently is that I need to hire a coach again! Ironically, I sometimes forget to ask for support myself!

JF: In coaching they sometimes say that coaches attract people who are struggling with the same challenges the coach has dealt with before. Have you seen this to be true in your practice?

IK: Not only do I attract people who are struggling with the same challenges I’ve dealt with before, but are struggling with the challenges I’m dealing with right now. I often say that the hardest part of my job is to walk my own talk! Every client I work with teaches me something about myself. Coaching is such a reflective process that the “mirror” the coach holds up goes both ways!

"Coaching is such a reflective process that the 'mirror' the coach holds up goes both ways."

JF: At Fink Development, we’re big believers in the power of connection and community. Who are you most hoping to connect with in 2021?

IK: I’m most hoping to connect with those who can benefit from my skills, strengths, and lived experiences. I truly believe that the more we help one another self-actualize, the better we all become for it. After all, nobody else can bring what your unique existence brings to the world!

Contributor Bio: Itir Keskiner is an Executive Life and Leadership coach. Raised in a bilingual household, Itir has been a lifelong student of understanding people across perceived boundaries and barriers. As a former "corporate warrior", Itir uses her 15-years of leadership experience at Accenture, Unilever, Samsung, and Burt's Bees to bring her clients proven tools, frameworks, and insights that enhance their performance and fulfillment. 

She is known for taking a holistic approach to understanding what you most want out of life. Itir loves helping under-satisfied professionals bring their values, strengths, and actions into alignment so that they can be their whole, most powerful selves.