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Marc Scheff’s Vision For Creative Leaders - A Brainz Magazine Exclusive

Brainz Magazine Exclusive Interview

 

Marc Scheff coaches creative professionals and guides them on profound inner journeys. With his background in coaching, tech, leadership, and the art world, he supports individuals to break through barriers, and transcend self-limiting beliefs to unlock the full spectrum of their capabilities. Marc's transformative coaching goes beyond the visual arts, resonating with a diverse array of creative minds, empowering them to architect their own narrative and flourish in their professional endeavors.


He is an award-winning artist based and multiple certified Coach living in Brooklyn. In the art world, he is known for his unique portraits made with resin layers. His artwork, like his coaching, reveals the hidden truths beneath the surface, using materials in creative ways to make eye-catching pieces. Marc's creative coaching helps people find clarity, focus, and motivation, leading to lasting changes. With a wide-ranging career, from team player to Executive Director, plus a degree from Harvard, Marc understands the value of community support and creates these connections in all areas of his life.


Marc uses his art skills and leadership experience to help clients achieve their goals, uncovering hidden strengths and talents to bring their dreams to life.


Marc Scheff. Photo by: Heather Willensky
Marc Scheff. Photo by: Heather Willensky

Tell us about your background!


I have a background in tech, creative, and in building and running creative organizations and communities. I graduated from Harvard with a degree in Computer Science. But I was always drawn to art so when I got a tech job in San Francisco I moved quickly to more creative teams. There was a tech boom and crash, and in 2002 I went back to art school. I continued to work on creative teams in tech and game companies. 


In 2008 I moved to NYC where I would soon marry my wife, and shortly after transitioned full-time to creative and illustration work. My tech background helped me land a job at a new kind of art program. In 2011/2012 an all-virtual online art program was unheard of. Can you imagine? I taught there until 2023 when I transitioned full time to coaching. During that time in 2014, I founded an art gallery, also all online, Every Day Original. We still share one piece of handmade original art, every day.


When the pandemic hit in 2020, everything came to a halt. I had two young kids at home and it was capital H Hard. Still, I found an opportunity to grow. I pitched and got funding to create radically accessible and inclusive artist residencies in upstate New York. And when it was time to step away from that role, I was again at a crossroads. I had not been making art, I had been teaching but was feeling that time coming to a close.


What was next was far from clear.


The space I found myself in then is exactly the space in which I love to work with people. It’s hard, it’s confronting, and it requires support and time to find the next right thing. I was lucky enough to have that support and re-connected with coaching. I had been working with coaches and informally doing that work both in my teaching and for a few select people. But it was time to really commit, really see what was possible.


And this is where you find me now. Multiple certifications later, and various side quests (like working for the Burning Man organization), I’m building this work of deep inner work and deep service. Through all the creative tools and lessons I’ve learned, all my training, I work with people to unleash their creative ideas and design fulfilling lives.


Can you share a bit about what led you to pursue a path of coaching for creative leaders and entrepreneurs, and how your own journey influenced this choice?


They say if you want to know your ideal client, look in the mirror. I’m a mid-life creative, professional, entrepreneur, parent, and partner. I understand both the challenges on this path and the work it takes to move past them. I’ve held numerous positions from founder to team player in tech, creative, and non-profit sectors. I started my own gallery in 2014 (and will be celebrating our 10th anniversary this year).


In all of these transitions, I had support. I had coaches, I have an incredible wife who challenges and supports me. I believe, firmly, that real transformation is a collaborative effort with feedback, encouragement, and the occasional push and pushing back. I am doing the most fulfilling, most creative work of my life and it wouldn’t have happened without the support of others. I’m fortunate that the work I do can offer that support, challenge, and encouragement to others.


A client recently left me a voice note saying that since we began she has been remembering who she was, what she is truly capable of with less fear, more courage. She has a project with deep meaning for her and she’s now taking real steps and making real progress. What’s great about this is that I’m not an expert in the mechanics of what she’s doing, I’m just really good at helping people get out of their own way.


And when I get messages like that, the feeling I get is one of deep alignment. When I get a message like that, I know I’m living my purpose.


Marc Scheff. Photo by: Heather Willensky
Marc Scheff. Photo by: Heather Willensky

Your website offers a Laser Coaching session, a Breakthrough Discovery, and a Deep Dive option for 1-on-1 Coaching. Tell us about that!


Coaching is much more popular now than when I first dipped a toe into this world 20 years ago. But it’s still an obstacle for many people to start.


What if the coach pressures me to sign on? What if I discover something really hard? What if I don’t want to share personal stories? What if I feel like crying? Etc.


I understand these fears, and my options are designed to let people explore without pressure, without a full-press sales pitch, and without judgment, in a completely safe and confidential space. The truth is, it would be silly of me or anyone to convince someone into coaching. If I did, they wouldn’t get anything out of it! They’d be so stuck in the question of whether they want to do the work we wouldn’t get anywhere. My options are easy ways to get the actual experience of coaching without the fear of the “sell.”


Similarly, it’s not therapy, but feelings are welcome. I’ve had clients hit some deep emotional pockets. It’s possible to find good answers in dark places, and light places too. Everything is our teacher if we’re paying attention. When someone joins for one of my calls, we talk, I coach them, and if it’s a fit we both know.


The 1-on-1 Breakthrough Client mentioned that "that 30 minutes changed my life." Could you share a bit about what typically occurs during these breakthrough sessions and how they can be transformative for individuals?


What she got in that session was a real clarity about what she wanted as her legacy. She told me, she has a good life. She owned her successful business, her home, in a good marriage, with healthy kids, and good schools. And she also told me if she woke up in 30 years doing the same thing every day she’d be fine… and she would feel like she missed out on something more. She didn’t know what that was.


At the end of the session, she did.


Nuts and bolts: In that particular session we did what is now my Deep Dive session, we just did a very fast version of it. We do two exercises. First, we map out a life and determine where the client feels called to focus. Second, we create a timeline of where that work is going, what milestones look like, and what they will do as soon as today to begin.


To expand on that, many people come looking for more. More money, more time, more success, more happiness. In many cases, people think this is about a “work-life balance. ”But this is a red herring. Many parts of our lives need to balance to feel the sense of ease, energy, and fulfillment that we all seek. It’s a life balance, and work is just one slice of that pie.


The first part of that session addresses these areas, including any obstacles the client may have in beginning to create changes. In the second part of the session, we work together to create a vision. Vision and visualizing is an incredibly powerful tool for those who are able to articulate their dreams. Most people are stuck here and that’s where a good coach can question, challenge, and encourage deeper thinking. I’ve had many/most clients tell me, they came looking for one thing but realized that what they really want is something else.


It’s a remarkably simple process. The key is having someone who can deeply listen, past the words you are saying, and help you connect to a feeling of a deeper purpose.


Tell us about The Unleash Creativity Club. How does group coaching in this setting support participants in reaching their unique personal goals?


Absolutely. This is a course and community for creatives who love sci-fi fantasy. Quite a specific niche, right? Truth is, these are my roots, and coming from that community I saw a deep need for the kind of supportive, safe, and judgment-free work I see every day as a coach. I’ll be honest, when I created the program and community, I wasn’t sure it was that specific. Over time I’ve been able to see who is in the room. And this is the thread that connects everyone, and it’s awesome.


What members say is that this is “truly the most non-judgemental place on the internet.” Some of these folks have big followings online, but this is different they say. This is a place where they can truly be who they are and feel support from a like-minded community. The course itself contains daily insights and prompts to examine the stories you have about who you are, and what you’re capable of. And through the course, I share tools to shift your thinking and perspective.


Participants have done some truly incredible things. Launch new projects, completely shift their creative focus, write more, end relationships with toxic family members, and rekindle stagnant relationships stuck in old patterns. It’s not just about unleashing creative work, but about bringing creative and coaching tools to all areas of your life.



Marc Scheff. Photo by: Heather Willensky
Marc Scheff. Photo by: Heather Willensky

And I saw you have a new book out, Living with Intention. Can you tell us more about that?


Yes! I was honored to be invited by Pixel Publishing to contribute to this book with 13 expert coaches. I want to thank my good friend and small business coach Chris Wilkinson for making the intro. The book is a mix of expert guidance and practical tools. With 13 perspectives, it's a holistic approach to living a life that feels designed and not something that’s happening to you. I was honored to write the opening chapter and introduce the work of the book.


My chapter, Living with Purpose, offers insight and an exercise to discover your purpose and put it into action, today.



I noticed you have a podcast also. Could you share the inspiration behind starting the podcast and what listeners can expect to gain from tuning in?


The podcast is called The Art of Transformation. These are interviews and discussions about stories of transformation, and useful tools to get you there. I’m a creative and an entrepreneur, what I do best is get ideas and try them out. After 20 years in the world of creativity and personal growth, I’ve learned how to take courageous steps, well before confidence is there.


This one started with small steps. And in a sense, it’s what I hope listeners will be inspired to do. When I first started, and you can hear these episodes, I was recording short insights on my phone and uploading them directly there. Now I have much more of a production, which grew organically. Now this small idea has grown and I’ve had some truly insightful guests. Listeners can expect to hear earned wisdom from coaches, creatives, and business leaders who are working at an expert level. I intend to have each episode offer a story or insight that a listener might hear and use to spark change in their life.


I’ll say this too, if you’re reading this and if you’re a fan of Brainz magazine, I encourage you to reach out. We live in this wonderful age where we can plan things off into the future and I’m booking now for the fall.


What piece of advice or insight would you like to offer to individuals who are contemplating a journey of self-discovery and creative transformation? And, for those inspired by our discussion, how can they best connect with you and benefit from your coaching services?



If someone is looking to start or continue a journey of personal and professional transformation, the best advice is to just start. The key is to start small. Ok, but how? There are a million courses, coaches, programs, done-for-you services, and more. When clients get stuck in this kind of decision-paralysis we fall back on easy and fun first steps. And honestly, most of the time that first step looks like an info-gathering phase.


Here are a few ideas designed to be simple, fun, and zero risk of failure:


  • Write one email. It can be to me, or other coaches, tell them what you’re looking for, and ask if and how they support people in your position.

  • Make a list of friends who have done this work, and call one of them today for a conversation.

  • Tell one friend you’re interested in changing one part of your life. Ask for their thoughts.

  • Google “getting started as a ________” (fill in with something you want to do)

  • Journal and write out the following:

  • What I want is _______.

  • If I had that, it would mean ________ and I could then do _______.

  • Repeat the last question until you have no more answers

  • Do it again in a few days


Oh and one last piece of advice: in whatever way possible, have fun. James Clear in his book Atomic Habits emphasizes the importance of new habits being easy and fun to do. 


If you’re not having fun in the process, find a new process!



For more info, follow Marc on Instagram, Twitter, and visit his website!

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