Vince Morales is a mindset, self-image, and resilience coach. In addition, he is skilled in leadership consultation and development. From April 2016 to June 2017, Vince was a homeless veteran in San Diego, CA. While homeless he made a powerful decision to change his thinking and mindset launching into life coaching. He developed a niche for resilience and mindset coaching. The growth of his business ultimately led to the end of his homelessness. Vince is Founder of Validus Coaching & Consulting, formerly Zoe Transformation. His story has been featured in online articles and online news outlets all over the U.S. He is a certified John Maxwell Team Coach, Trainer, & Speaker as well as a motivational speaker. In 2021, Vince earned his Master's degree in Psychology of Leadership from Penn State University and is currently a doctoral student pursuing a Ph.D. in Performance Psychology. He is a 2020 inductee in The National Society of Leadership and Success.
Hi, Vince! Introduce yourself.
To some, I was affectionately known as the homeless life coach. I had the privilege of wearing many hats over the past 35 years. I prefer not to establish my identity or define myself based on the work I do. The reality is Vince is a loving husband to the most amazing wife, Michelle. We are going on 34 years of marriage this January. My marriage, family, and faith are my priorities. We are blessed with four fantastic adult children. We lost a fifth child back in 1989 while I was serving in the Marine Corps. We live in beautiful San Diego, CA. No grandchildren yet, but we think a pet pug may be on the way soon.
What is your career background?
After leaving active duty in 1989, I went into law enforcement. I served in many special duty assignments, including detective, school resource officer, and patrol. I also served as the team leader of our department’s SWAT team and three years as a hostage negotiator. My wife and I started several businesses to include a video production company in Bellevue, WA. Starting and running our own business was probably the most challenging thing we had ever done. We eventually moved to San Diego, CA and then life hit us hard. We ended up homeless, and it was during that time, I launched a life coaching business to create a stream of income. This is also where the affectionate ‘homeless life coach’ comes about.
In 2018, after our homelessness ended, I became a certified coach, trainer, and speaker for the John Maxwell Team, a Forbes coach in 2019, and I earned my master’s degree from Penn State University in Psychology in Leadership in 2021. I am currently a doctoral student working on a Ph.D. in performance psychology.
I am bi-vocational, which means I also have another career as a Lead Employment Navigator at a Marine Corps base in San Diego. The program is a Department of Labor (DOL) VETS pilot program that supports the DOLs Transition Assistance Program. Our purpose is to provide transitioning service members and spouses with one-on-one, personalized services that position them for success in their transition to the civilian workforce.
What is it that you do for your clients?
In terms of coaching and consulting, I challenge my coaching clients to focus on their mindset. It was my mindset I had to confront, deconstruct, and reconstruct to change my homeless situation. A person’s mindset is always a factor, no matter your endeavor. That is why I chose a mindset niche. I am dedicated to helping my clients make personal discoveries through question mastery and providing tools to help them rewire their individual mindsets. I am not a counselor or therapist. I am not about telling my client what to do. I help them discover what they believe they ought to do. I recognize I am a coach with question mastery skillset. Make no mistake, I have no problem asking any client tough questions. But, as a coach, I empower them to be the best version of themselves and unlock their full potential. I settle for nothing less than measurable solutions in mindset coaching.
I also do leadership consulting. I like to approach leadership at a meta-level. Since my master’s is in psychology of leadership, I always address the psychology aspect of leadership development. I love developing and empowering leaders to find their specific leadership style and learn which situations those styles work best in. I never use the same blanket leadership style when leading my own teams. I use distinct, effective leadership styles based on each team member’s personality. Of course, being a certified Maxwell DISC Behavioral Analysis facilitator helps me do that.
I also do some motivational speaking. That slowed down quite a bit because of the pandemic. I love speaking to audiences and I embrace the opportunity to inspire, empower, galvanize, and powerfully connect with audiences using what I learned from my homeless time. I find my homeless experience, the pain, suffering, reaching those dark places emotionally, yet coming out in a triumphant way allows me to carve a message that is relevant, robust, and that resonates with audiences.
Who should hire/work with you?
Anyone who has a mindset. I laugh because that sounds broad, but it is important. It is an overlooked element for people, personally, professionally, and spiritually. Suppose a person is concerned their mindset is hindering, blocking, sabotaging, or getting in the way of their success. In that case, they should collaborate with me for coaching. But, let me be clear, I am not for everyone. I will always be honest, loyal to my client, but I will be their coach. I am on your side. But I will provoke my clients to deeper, contemplative place in their journey. As coach, I will ask the tough questions that no one else may want to ask. But we will walk the journey together because I love to see my clients go higher and farther than they ever have in every dimension of their life. These breakthroughs will not happen because of me, it will happen because my client finally made a choice to empower themselves and go deeper that transformation at some level is going to happen.
Tell us about a time in your life when you wanted something so badly that you were unstoppable in pursuing it. What obstacles did you overcome to get there?
Our homelessness started on April 3, 2016, until June 24, 2017. The first five months, I struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts. I was degrading physically and emotionally in a fast way. Homelessness can be an incredibly painful experience if a person allows it. A time came when my wife thought I needed to be committed to a VA hospital. When you become homeless, your mindset shifts into survival mode. When in survival mode, you do things you never thought you would do. Sometimes the desperation leaves you thinking you will do what you need to do to stay alive. Sink baths in the local supermarket or coffee shop restroom. If the sink is not working, you take a toilet bath. You justify a lot of things for the cause of personal survival. When it comes to identity, you try to explain many things to yourself because your identity is non-existent. Now the last drop of hope is the thing you do everything you can to hold on to. Everything else in your life has already gone. Basic identity as a man, husband, father, and son was gone. I took on the identity of shame, guilt, embarrassment, and rejection.
In August 2016, I started reading a book by John C. Maxwell called ‘Thinking for a Change.’ I read this book before, but now that I was homeless, it resonated much more. Maxwell’s quote powerfully impacted my life at that point. Maxwell wrote, “One of the reasons people don’t achieve their dreams is that they desire to change their results without changing their thinking.” There it was. That was the metaphorical sharp elbow to the gut. I resolved to confront my thinking right there and then. On August 18, 2016, I went to work deconstructing and reconstructing my mindset, no matter how things look around me in terms of my circumstances. My wife and I decided we would not let ourselves be defined by our homeless circumstances. We made a decision to be impact makers and I remember thinking I was going to use the homeless situation to inspire and empower the hell out of folks, all while we were still homeless. My wife and I began feeding homeless folks around us by sharing our meals with them. We did this because that is not the thinking of homeless people. This was counter to our previous prevailing mindset. We were actively changing our mindset and being immensely intentional about it.
We went beyond just thinking and started acting like we were thriving, and soon, we truly were thriving. Thriving became reality. Some things in our mind shift did not make sense, but it didn’t matter. We had to keep at it, and soon, the thriving, empowering, inspiring homeless life coach was born. I began to notice many more people who had beautiful homes and careers were in much more difficult situations than we were. They were actually living the homeless life far more than we were. Somewhere along the way of being busy with life, they evicted their dreams and made their dreams homeless. Going after the expectations and demands of others rather than their own dreams sent their dreams into the alley ways of thought. Their dreams now dormant, empty of life. My wife and I were thriving while homeless much more than folks with six-figure incomes. Our thinking powerfully shifted to a level where we made homelessness serve us, not we do it. We achieved mastery over our homeless circumstances. It may have been a circumstance for us, but it was no longer our identity. Shame lost its power over us. I stopped blaming the VA, veteran’s groups, and every other group or person I thought I had to blame. The moment I took full responsibility for the circumstances, only then did I have the power to change my circumstance. But not until then. That became the most significant gift God gave us, a revelation of the truth of accepting personal responsibility.
I have a picture of my wife and me in our van when we were homeless. She is sitting in the back seat, cold, and wearing a hoodie to try to stay warm. She was in a lot of pain. This picture has personal significance for me. See, I will never, ever let her be in that position again, crying and in pain in the backseat as a homeless woman, wife, and mother. I keep this picture near me as it has become my ‘Why’ I am unstoppable. Simply because I choose to be unstoppable, no matter how things look around me.
In 2019, I gave some clients these questions as we were entering 2020. Little did I know how important the questions would be because we did not know we were embarking on a terrible pandemic. I feel these questions are just as necessary for 2022. Let me challenge you with these two questions and final tip for 2022:
Who do I have to be that I have never been before?
What do I have to do that I have never done before?
Resolve these two questions for yourself, for 2022, so you can go where you have never been before.