Meet Donna Karlin, Founder and Principal of the No Ceiling, Just Sky™ Institute

Donna Karlin is the founder of the No Ceiling, Just Sky™ Institute. She’s an international speaker, lecturer, author and world-renowned leadership coach (better known as “The Shadow Coach”).

Donna works with global leaders to develop the competencies and practices that enable them to meet the challenges of the future. She brings a dynamic, strengths-focused perspective to executive leadership development. Donna is committed to increasing the effectiveness, endurance and fulfillment of individual leaders and their organizations through work with senior executives, high-potential leaders and teams.

Donna is a SupporTED Coach, a member of the team that coaches the TED fellows, as well as a coach at Unreasonable Institute and StartingBloc. She is head of the advisory board and a communications and team dynamics advisor for INSPIRIT International Communications. She is a member of the Advisory Council of The International Academy of Behavioral Medicine, Counseling and Psychotherapy (IABMCP), and is a founding Fellow of the Institute of Coaching (ICPA), Harvard Medical School.

What inspired you to become a coach?

People constantly came to me for insight into their businesses, lives and careers. When my son was born and needed innovative surgery, his surgeon saw how I was working with him post-operatively and insisted I work with all her future patients. I put two and two together, seeing the intersection of human systems and the environments they operated in, trained in coaching psychology, and created a coaching method to apply to both worlds. I now teach, speak and consult on six continents. Knowing I can help shape the approaches coaches use and powerfully impact senior global leaders keeps me inspired even after 34+ years in the field.

What one piece of advice do you find yourself relying on most? Why?

Pay as much attention to finding out what you don’t know as to what you do know. Continuously expand your network and learning. Be open to new models and ideas, so you can dance in real time with whatever your clients are experiencing, consistently expanding your offerings. I don’t ever want to be known as someone who brings a cookie cutter approach to human evolvement. Everyone is unique, as is their approach and perspective, and everyone knows something about life and living that I don’t know. Let them take part in crafting how we move forward together.

What is the biggest hurdle your clients face? What advice would you give others struggling with this issue?

Their own perceived limitations, whether self-imposed or imposed by others, is the biggest challenge my clients face. My advice is to sift through curiosity: What if they could…? Craft something so powerful that you let go of limiting beliefs.