June 14, 2010 | last updated June 1, 2012 9:26 am

Coach Of Year Finding 'Oasis' Message Resonates

Millie Greenough leads her audience through a warm-up exercise before beginning her session on presentation skills for the Connecticut Association of Publishers & Authors in Avon.

Millie Grenough took an unconventional approach to discovering her entrepreneurial passion for professional coaching.

She spent eight years living as a nun, working as a nightclub singer, and teaching English in Central and South America before realizing that these experiences brought her to her "business purpose" of helping others find the right balance in their personal and professional environments.

Today, her consultant business is booming; she's the author of a handful of books and recently was honored as "Coach of the Year" by the Connecticut Chapter of the International Coach Federation.

In 2000, Grenough went through official training and became a certified professional coach, which essentially means she spends hours each week helping individuals and businesses learn how to better manage the ups and downs of their daily lives. With an investment of about $50,000, Grenough founded her own coaching company, Grenough LLC, and went on to author several books that emphasize what she refers to as an "Oasis" approach to achieving life balance. In addition to running her business, Grenough works as a clinical instructor in psychiatry and social work at the Yale University School of Medicine.

"The goal of Grenough LLC is definitely to grow exponentially: the bottom line is mega-effect rather than mega-business-growth," Grenough said, noting she initially started teaching people in mental health and hospital professions.

It was her accountant, she said, who told her, "you should really help businesses; we're people too."

Grenough took his advice and over the past decade, she has worked with a range of business clients from an engineer at Yale, who she says suffered physically from his stress levels, to executives at Foxwoods, who she says lacked communication skills.

Word of mouth and her frequent speaking engagements have been key to bringing in a steady stream of clients, she said. Over the past decade, Grenough has conducted several hundred coaching workshops throughout the state. Working both virtually and onsite, through her Oasis program she has trained nearly 100 people worldwide, she says.

Grenough works with clients weekly or monthly depending on their needs. One of her tasks with her Foxwoods client was creating a workshop to calm the minds of distressed executives who, she said, were fearful of public speaking.

"A lot of them were incredibly smart and savvy, but not so confident about presenting themselves in front of others with polished communication skills. I remember working with one VP who was very nervous about addressing 12,000 employees. I said ok, who are you, and what are you here for at this moment? He said 'ok, I'm here today because I have to let employees know what can happen in this month, in this program.' Focusing on the moment of what am I here for let him leave aside concerns," she said of her work with the group.

Grenough is especially excited about recent brain research that she says shows "how people have the ability to affect the growth of neurons in their brain based on what they do or don't do in their lives." She believes these kinds of scientific facts are important for people so they don't think of her work as "a new age affirmation."

Since last year was slower for her business, Grenough used her free time to sell her books to a Spanish publishing company. She says it took two years for this to happen and she's hoping it will be a business incentive that brings in more clients since she is an internationally published author.

"I'm trying to practice what I preach right now. I aim for a 40-hour week. But the beauty is I enjoy what I'm doing. It's my little way of adding to people's peace in their individual lives, business, families, and the world. I'm on a mission. You can be the CEO of your own life," she said.

Joanna Smiley writes the weekly Local Insight column. Reach her at jsmiley@HartfordBusiness.com.

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