"I ask questions that dig under the surface of what's happening at conscious level."
Our interview with Louise Walker
TDC: Thanks for taking time to speak with us, Louise. We're excited to be welcoming you to the coaching team at TDC. Firstly, can you give us an overview of your professional journey up to this point in your career?
LW: My professional journey began in experiential marketing, creating events and experiences to create emotional connections between brands and consumers. It's a job that can be very stressful and highly pressured. I needed support—and that's how I got into coaching.
I remember my first coaching session—it blew me away. The coach asked me, "Why are you choosing to be stressed in your job?" I'd explain that I had all these clients, a long to-do list, etc."
He asked me again. "Why are you choosing to be stressed?" He asked me three times.
And then it clicked for me that it was my choice. It was a huge awakening for me and one of the reasons I decided to become a coach.
I moved to Australia nearly 20 years ago. I've been training in different coaching modalities for over 10 years. I started with neurolinguistic programming, which is about how we run our brains. We take in external realities and filter them through our memories, thinking patterns, values, and belief systems, essentially running continual movies in our minds and reacting to them (rather than what’s real). And I began to realise just how powerful my mind was.
Training as a meta coach was a big part of my journey. 'Meta' means above, so it's all about understanding there’s another way to look at a problem—a frame of reference above the immediate issue, and above that, and above that, ad infinitum.
I'm also an Enneagram coach, and developmental coach, which we'll discuss in more detail later.
TDC: You're based in Byron Bay and also teach yoga and meditation. As you know, we LOVE Byron Bay at TDC, with many past Retreats hosted there. What attracted you to the area, and how does it complement your work life?
LW: Byron's just got a very magical energy. I used to visit friends in Byron and wonder what it might be like to live here.
Initially, I moved from Sydney to the Coffs Harbour region but regularly drove here to participate in big ecstatic dance events. Everyone gets high on the natural energy freed by dancing, which releases the body and clears the mind. I kind of got addicted to ecstatic dancing, then realised I could work remotely and live the Byron life permanently.
It's a vibrant hub of first-class practitioners, healers, and spiritual events. I've met so many amazing people since I've been here, and Byron really supports my work and energy.
TDC: You're coming on board specifically as a Developmental Coach. Can you tell us a bit about this style of coaching?
LW: Developmental coaching involves having a very direct coaching conversation. It's a ruthlessly compassionate conversation that gets right to the heart of what's happening in your life and work.
I ask questions that dig under the surface of what's happening at conscious level. Many questions are self-reflexive, meaning clients need to reflect on their thinking to find the answers they seek.
As a developmental coach, I'm a mirror for my clients. I point to patterns I can see and hear in their thinking and behaviour. We explore belief systems. We look at self-sabotage and, more importantly, what's holding it in place for them, what's happened before in their lives, or what stories they tell themselves to feed their self-sabotage.
So developmental coaching can be very, very freeing. It also disrupts habitual ways of thinking and being, shaking you up a bit—which can feel exciting, empowering or challenging.
TDC: What can clients expect when they come to you for coaching?
LW: Every coaching session is a unique experience. As a developmental coach, I don’t come with an agenda—I'm there to lovingly support you as you reach new awareness.
I describe my coaching style as intentionally disruptive, intensely curious, and lovingly challenging. I hold a strong, powerful, loving space for clients to find their truth.
As a developmental coach, I also work with the Enneagram, an ancient wisdom personality profiling tool. When you work with me, we'll start by doing an Enneagram test, which indicates which of the nine Enneagram personality types is your dominant type. It's a profoundly awakening and revealing process because the Enneagram personality isn't who you are. It's the self-structure you've learned to survive and get love in the world. The test helps you understand that you (your brain, your self) runs a particular personality and look carefully at how it's playing out, where it serves you, and where it doesn't. Then it’s about recognising you are not your personality. It can be very freeing.
TDC: From your past work with professional individuals and groups, what are the biggest challenges business owners face with respect to their self-confidence and self-worth?
LW: Again, it's always very unique for each individual I work with, but generally speaking, one of the significant patterns I see in entrepreneurs I've worked with is judgement. This means that—in their head—they'll be running a particular program in which they judge themselves. Perhaps they tell themselves they're not good enough to launch this new product or run that workshop. And maybe they'll also tell themselves that others will judge them if they take that step forward.
For example, I often work with entrepreneurs who want to get themselves out there on social media, but they think others will judge them. And so this fear of others judging them is actually their own judgement projected onto their audience. When a client catches that, when they realise, "Ohh, this video that I think I'm gonna be judged for, is actually me judging myself and me judging them," and with this realization, more freedom arises.
Another pattern I often see is the 'comfort zone.' Many of us want to stay in our comfort zone, but we also want to grow. But you can't have both. There's actually no growth in the comfort zone because whatever is inside the comfort zone is already known. Growth always happens when we step outside of our comfort zone, which means leaning into fears, leaning into the edges, and doing things that, maybe, we'd told ourselves we couldn't.
Then there's not feeling good enough. Now that's a common belief I used to run as well, and it stems from measuring ourselves against something external to us. Often something imagined. Meaning most of the time, we're not even sure who we're comparing ourselves to, or what we're measuring ourselves against.
Finally, some entrepreneurs really seek validation. Meaning they need someone to tell them they're good enough, whether that’s clients or peers. And so they let their self-worth stay reliant on something or someone external rather than validating themselves internally.
TDC: Most of our members are small business owners in the design and architecture fields. How do you hope to help the members at TDC become better business operators?
LW: The work I do essentially helps business owners understand what their true challenges actually are, and then supporting them to discover what's happening beneath the surface to create these problems for themselves.
So, for example, if someone’s challenge is a lack of rapport or problematic client relationships, we'll look at what's the problem behind that problem. For example, are you're missing the client's perspective? Or perhaps your issue is self-doubt? Maybe you doubt whether you can build rapport with the client?
I'm always focused on how our self-belief structures manifest meaning for us. For example, if you're struggling to onboard clients despite the fact you're taking lots of meetings, I'd gently look at what's happening internally that means you're showing up in a way that possibly your clients aren’t relating to. We'll get clear on what you're saying, thinking, feeling, and doing (essentially your belief systems) to uncover what's working and what isn't in these situations.
My experience as a coach has shown me always that the problem a client first presents with isn't the problem. It's the problem behind it that impacts the situation. So, our work is to peel back the layers and discover what's actually happening unconsciously to manifest the problem in the real world.
TDC: You're a guest speaker at our TDC Mastermind Conference Retreat at Mitchelton Winery this month. What is the focus of the workshop, and what can our lucky Mastermind members expect?
LW: I'm thrilled to be coming to Melbourne! My workshop is about freedom, focus, and inner fire. To break those down, it's about the inner freedom that comes from self-inquiry and self-awareness. I'll be sharing models, case studies and practices to help Mastermind members understand what unconscious 'programs' are stopping them from being free.
It might be how they're framing something a certain way, unconsciously subscribing to a self-belief system or a thinking pattern they're unaware of. Once you become aware of what's behind your actions, you can create freedom on the inside, which then creates freedom externally. When you've discovered a pattern and decided you want to work on it, we start focusing on key leverage points for change. That's when the magic happens.
Inner fire is about finding the inspiration, clarity, and courage to spark change, becoming the entrepreneur you dream of being, and getting the results you want in business.
TDC: What are your plans personally and professionally during the coming year?
LW: Personally, I'm heading to the South of England to see my family. Then I’m going to Poland and Rome and doing a bit of a European Tour.
Professionally, I'm running some Enneagram one-day retreats this year, and I've got a couple of projects on the boil. One is a relaunch of an event I used to run on the Central Coast called The Circle of Courage. It's for heart-centred entrepreneurs who want to step out of their comfort zone into their courage.
So many business narratives start with someone being stressed and then suddenly becoming successful. But what about the middle bit, the messy and painful bit? The bit before they were successful? I want to know more about this part of their story. I want to talk about what happens when we're down in the trenches, and things aren't going our way. How can we trust the universe when things aren't landing as we want?
These events are about getting real about our human-ness. We don't wear masks and pretend everything's perfect, because it’s in the shadows and the pain that growth flourishes.
Another project that's really close to my heart is called "Yinquiry." Yin is a style of yoga that's slower and softer. It harnesses feminine yin energy and is very much floor based and reflective. I'm calling it Yinquiry because I want to weave yin yoga with some of the inquiry work I do in coaching. It's the first time I've spoken about it—it's a burning new idea that feels really important, and I'm excited to launch it across NSW this year.
Head to our Coaching Page to find out more about Louise and our coaching services.
Stay well, and believe in you!