Kenny Weiss is the first to tell you he had a traumatic childhood.
Yet those years brought him to the place where he is now – helping others find their way to a more successful and fulfilling life, both professionally and personally.
A certified professional life coach, speaker, podcast host and author of the book Your Journey to Success, the Ahwatukee man has had quite a journey himself – one he’s not reticent to reveal, as he does in his book and his speaking engagements.
It’s a story of living with an alcoholic mother, and how the trauma of his early years led to his own bouts with alcoholism and various addictions.
He is brutally honest when describing those, his two “disastrous divorces,” which resulted in child custody battles and, finally, bankruptcy.
But as he tells his clients – whether they are seeking help with personal problems, business problems or both – there is a way out.
As he himself can attest.
“People come to me for a variety of reasons, and basically, in the long run, I teach people to coach themselves,” he says.
Weiss began his counseling and coaching while he himself was going through a counseling process in Colorado after realizing he needed to address what was driving his own destructive behaviors.
“It was about 20 years ago and my counselor took me aside and said, ‘You have a gift. I want you to counsel others.’ So, that’s how I started,” he recalls.
“I’ve always had a gift of being able to walk into a room and feel what’s going on in people. And fortunately, I’ve always been fascinated by psychology and have studied it a lot.”
One of the first things Weiss tells his clients – including individuals, couples and families – is that they aren’t going to solve all their problems in 10 or even 20 sessions. And they’re often surprised to hear what he says.
“Perfection is not the goal,” he says. “I discuss with my patients where the feelings they have come from, why we all get them and how to overcome it.”
He said he helps provide them with tools needed to break cycles – most of which have been ingrained as children. “I was at a luncheon and there was this financial advisor, a young great guy. He’d heard about my childhood and said, ‘You know, I appreciate what you had to go through but I didn’t have anything traumatic like that happen in my life. All I do is argue with my mom.’
“And the moment he said that, his whole persona changed. His shoulders slumped, he looked down. And you know what he admits is his problem in business? When someone says ‘no’ to him, he freezes. He didn’t realize how this cycle affected his life and his career,” Weiss says.
“What he’ll do if he doesn’t get help is what is called repetition compulsion. He’ll pick the same kind of people, he’ll repeat the same behavior, he’ll reenact the trauma without even being aware he’s doing it.”
Weiss, who also founded The Greatness Movement, believes that everyone has greatness. “Greatness is our own gift. Each one of us is born with a special gift that we were meant to walk in, that we were meant to share with the world. And yet, we have a society and a system that doesn’t show us how to walk in it, how to live it, how to claim it,” he says.
He says he launched The Greatness Movement to create something bigger than himself, bigger than his life coaching career. “No movement or change in society can last if it’s led by or is focused on one person. It has to be a fundamental shift of everyone involved. While in the beginning, yes, I’m the one who teaches the classes, but the goal is that other people – because of the impact and positive change in their lives – become excited and begin their own groups! Therefore, the movement becomes bigger than myself, with more people who are aware of the things that I talk about in my book.”
Weiss has a positive way of approaching life, and he incorporates it into his dealings with clients. He often injects humorous analogies into his teaching. “Think about your hair. No matter how badly we butcher it, it will grow back perfectly on its own. Yet the government requires any barber or hairdresser to have a license to get near your hair,” he says.
“Yet, to be a parent, to have a relationship, to deal with our emotions – nothing. Yet we go into tremendous shame – ‘I can’t admit I don’t know how to have a relationship or be a parent, I can’t say that.’ And that’s part of the cycle. And look at the consequences of that. It breaks my heart.”
His clients point out how his positive attitude and teachings as a life coach differ from other counselors or coaches they’ve tried. “Kenny cuts to the quick and is straight to the point in the most positive and supportive way. I had almost given up until I took this last chance,” wrote Chris K. about Weiss. “I’ve made such great leaps and bounds of traction with the horrific traumas of my childhood in just a few short weeks.”
Tiffany C. wrote to Weiss: “Every other counselor I’ve been to focused on all the things I ‘screwed up’ on and it feels very good to acknowledge myself for the steps that I’m taking in the right direction. You’re the only person I’ve worked with who focuses on celebrating the successes (large or small).”
One client proudly putting his name to his kudos is Jay Jasper, a realtor with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services in Scottsdale who last year was named the No. 10 BHHS agent in the state. “My business since starting my coaching with Kenny, in conjunction with a recommitment to business, is up to 181 persons,” says Jasper, who is on the board of directors of the Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors.
“Kenny Weiss, through his gifted approach to guiding me to discover the trauma in my past that created the cycles of success and failure that I was living, led me to recognize the source, work to forgive myself, not blame others and most of all, believe in my greatness,” Jasper says, adding, “He’s taught me to use the tools he instills to recognize the cycles as they appear, step back and ask the questions that help dispel old beliefs and continue to break free of the past and excel in the greatness I was created to live.”
Weiss’ book, the first of several he hopes to write, was drawn from years of notes he amassed. “The way out of the cycle is what I taught myself,” he says. “Our greatest fear is knowing how imperfect we are, and society is set up to hide who we are. People are literally paper-thin away from everything they want in their lives. They just need the tools.”
Weiss offers private coaching sessions for individuals, families and professionals. He also offers an Intensive Series – a weekend session that begins Friday night, includes six to eight hours Saturday, and up to five hours on Sunday, depending on the need.
“This Intensive Series is for busy individuals who find it hard to incorporate regular one-hour sessions in their lives for a period of a few months, and for those who are in a crisis situation,” he explains.
“Success isn’t arriving at something; it’s a process you continue. We keep learning and growing. I’m still growing.”
For more information, visit coachkennyweiss.com.
Kenny Weiss says “perfection is not the goal” with self-improvement. (Photo special to LLAF)