From the Obama White House to SabbaticalLand

An interview with Gena Chieco

“Barn’s burnt down — now I can see the moon.”

Gena Chieco used this haiku to reframe the events in her personal and work life that led to her sabbatical.

A coach, former type-A overachiever, and all-around awesome human, Gena spoke with me about how her sabbatical has informed her life and career, and how she integrates the learnings into her coaching.

Gena talks openly about the tough parts of her sabbatical, including learning to appreciate being alone, how to be at ease while you spend down your savings, (“my finances have gone Benjamin Button,”) and how your next steps aren’t likely where you’ll ultimately end up.

Gena also talks about her coaching approach, how she got her training (hint: on sabbatical), and how she counsels those looking to take time off of work.

Some resources that Gena mentioned in her talk:

Specific episodes Gena loved:

  • Tim Ferriss + Steven Pressfield :
  • Mark Groves + Sahara Rose:
  • On Being + John O Donohue:
  • Brene + Nagoski on burnout:

Her favorite podcasts and books while on sabbatical:

  • Oprah’s Super Soul podcast
  • Brene Brown (like, all of it ;))
  • Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic
  • The Artist’s Way

Gena’s coaching training, while on sabbatical:

  • Martha Beck coaching — “Finding your north star” and “The way of integrity”

And, from Gena’s coaching focus:

On the topic of vulnerability, Brene Brown is a guru: Her TED talk on vulnerability went viral as did her TED talk on shame. Her Netflix special, the Call to Courage, is a terrific intro to her work. She has two podcasts, Unlocking Us and Dare to Lead, which are wonderful, as are her books.

Gena’s website is:

For more, explore our blog or visit our YouTube channel.

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