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BCCJ Member Spotlight: Sarah Furuya (Sarah Furuya Coaching)
BCCJ Junior Editor Glenys Morton caught up with Sarah Furuya of Sarah Furuya Coaching to learn more about her life as an extroverted entrepreneur, her passion for stories and how they can bring people together, and the motivation for setting up the Legends podcast. Here is her story…
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your background?
Hello, my name is Sarah Furuya, born and raised near Liverpool in the United Kingdom. When I left home at 20 I was keen to become a doctor, but unfortunately, failed to get into medical school. Instead, I went to the University of Aston in Birmingham, where I earned a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology and Human Psychology.
During this time, I spent a year working at a sexual health service in South Birmingham. That experience piqued a new interest in activism and looking out for the wellbeing of others. After 4 years, I left university and decided what I really loved was hospitality, and worked at a graduate program for a large brewery company, followed by managing a few restaurants. Following which, I made another transition into the telecommunications industry, working at a sensitive information bureau for a large telecom company in the UK.
What led you to Japan?
At 29, I was involved in a serious car accident. This event forced me to reflect on my life, and I decided to move to Japan and become an English teacher. I left my boyfriend, I left England, and in May of 2001, I arrived in Japan. Initially, I worked as a kindergarten teacher for a little over a year in Kanagawa. I then decided to move to Tokyo and worked as a freelancer doing a variety of English teaching gigs. I was a rubbish English teacher, but enjoyed every place I worked, and always did my best. I met my now-husband in 2002, soon after moving to Tokyo. He had just moved up from Osaka, so we were both new to the area. Because of this, we were able to explore Tokyo together. After three years, he proposed to me in Barcelona, and the following year we were married!
What led you to become a consultant?
When I was 17, I wanted to become a priest. And shortly after, a doctor. Even though I did not follow those paths, I was always interested in listening to people one-on-one, hosting people, helping them and bringing them together. I suppose I am a person who people always confide in, and my listening skills and interest in helping people slowly led me to my passion, coaching. I have been told by friends that I have a warmth and authority that draws people to me who are looking for advice.
After my marriage, I stopped teaching English and moved into corporate training which I did for 7 years, slowly working my way up the ladder. This is how I found my love for coaching and workshops. However, this was only 20 percent of my job, while the rest was administrative–not something I shared the same passion for. But this experience inspired me to train formally as a coach and reach back into my psychology and biology background.
Training, coaching, counselling, mentoring; I learned about all these different things at the corporate training company. Coaching was the one that really captured my interest and imagination. The organisation, FEW (For Empowering Women), was where I found my first mentor, and provided me with invaluable experience that solidified my interest in becoming a consultant and motivated me to start my own company. Along with becoming a coach myself, I have continued to be coached by others throughout my career.
In 2012, I took the plunge and started my own business! I did a myriad of online courses as well to learn everything I could about entrepreneurship and small business, and also learn from others who experienced this first-hand.
What is the goal of your coaching?
Broadly speaking, it helps people take the next step in their career and to help them overcome all sorts of obstacles: internal, systemic, corporate. There are all kinds of different obstacles that are inherent in systems, which lies at the core of my coaching. However, it really depends case by case based on what the client needs.
What type of people or businesses do you work with?
I work with a variety. The first is corporate, where I may have a client that wants me to take a group of people from their company through a one year program that is about leadership. The way that I deliver leadership is very coaching focused, meaning there are a lot of questions, and presenting models to people and then getting them to be involved more and in what happens next. Then those who are trained can go on to create a new and better culture in their organisation. This will also include 1-on-1 coaching so I can help each of them individually. I analyze the systems my clients are involved in and then help them to move forward towards realising their goals, whether that’s related to performance, team development, becoming a leader, or even becoming more relaxed and less stressed at work.
I also have private clients. These vary case by case, essentially though, it’s supporting people to get to the next level of what they want to do, how to get there, and once they reach that goal, where they go next. Essentially, I am trying to help people have better experiences in their life and work.
Can you tell us a bit about your legends program?
In coaching, I am often working with stories, but also, I just love stories and the impact they can have on our everyday lives. I felt that creating a video series and podcast where these stories could be shared was the perfect medium for me to channel individual passions. I am interested in people’s stories, I want to know about their backgrounds, their families, their upbringing, their ancestry. Usually, I have a set of questions that I am specifically interested in learning about my interviewee. In every interview there is always a special moment when I learn something previously unknown about the person I am interviewing.
Not interested in surface tales of business or clichés of life, I have carefully selected a group of people to bring the richness of their lives to the table with incredible frankness and depth. Each is successful in their own way, and has built, created, lost, grieved, started again, moved, travelled, celebrated, and delighted in life. And I invite my listeners to join me and revel in the richness of these legends.
My philosophy around this is “Boom, X, Y, Z”. I want to touch boomers, generation X, generation Y and generation Z. So my eldest guest was a 70 year old rock star, and my youngest guest was an 18 year old who was joining the cirque du solei. Everybody has stories and there are many ways to lead a life. By listening, people can both relate and learn. I choose people who I find interesting and exciting. I choose people who I am fascinated by, and I don’t want any two people to be similar or the same kind of person. I want different perspectives and different backgrounds and different generations and different stories.
This is a passion project with no motivation other than sharing the stories of a variety of people from all walks of life, and give them a chance to share a more intimate side of themselves. I want people to feel like a star and express themself, and this part really enriches my own life, and I hope that of the listeners’ too.
I don’t know where this project is going yet. But it helps me scratch a ‘creative itch’ and do something I love. The Legends project is a physical manifestation of my love of stories, and memoirs, and coaching. I want to show how many different ways there are to live an interesting and meaningful life. So much stuff comes out that you don’t know about or don’t expect. I want people to hear these stories as if they were the memoirs of famous people. I want people to start to realize and question how amazing the people around them are.
[You can listen to Sarah Furuya’s Legends podcast HERE]
What are your hopes and goals for the future?
I know this sounds a bit daft, but I would really like a swimming pool. I love the idea of being able to swim every day in the luxury of my own home without having to go anywhere. It’s quite a fancy pleasure to indulge in, but I hope one day I can have a pool and between meetings slip in and have a quick swim before returning to my day.
Next on the list, I would also like a table that can sit 10 people in my home. As you can probably tell by now, I love talking to people and spending time with them. I love having people around my table, and creating a ‘village’. There is something about building very sacred groups of people who lift each other up that calls to me.
More abstractly, I want to be well going forward. I hope for happiness and good health as I move into my later life.
For my business, I love coaching, and I am just starting to feel the call to do something more scientific. I am not yet sure exactly how I will introduce this, but for now I am very interested in studying psychotherapy. But of course, that is a big task. It feels daunting to go back to school and take a three-year course. Let’s see!
If you would like to learn more about Sarah Furuya, listen to her LEGENDS podcast, view upcoming events, and see some of her fantastic services on offer, please do visit her website HERE
You may also be interested in…
BCCJ Masterclass – Teams by DESIGN with Sarah Furuya