From Coachee to Coach: Portrait of Francesco Solinas

But how do we write a portrait of me? Francesco replies to me, as I propose that he write an article about his story on how he became a Coach and talk about his interests and passions. I’ll be honest I don’t like talking about myself publicly! So let’s just have a chat, I reply.

All right, come on! Where shall we start?

Thus began our chat and the story of how he became a Coach.

Francesco Solinas is an Executive Business Coach and Partner at Performant by SCOA.

My path began in business. Between the mid-1990s and the early 2000s, I made my small career path, rising to managerial roles with increasing responsibilities.

As he narrates, Francesco looks around, as if memories are hidden around the room. At some point, perhaps he has found the moment he was looking for, his gaze becomes more serious.

I also had big responsibilities, I had to make complicated choices to solve important problems. In short, I was feeling a bit lonely. That’s why a colleague and friend of mine advised me to get support from a Coach.

There, in this way, Francesco approached the world of Coaching, first as a Coachee and then as a Coach. After all, not too long ago, it was he who, in explaining to me the role of the Coach told me before being a Coach, one must work on oneself and be a Coachee: a Coach who has not worked on himself will not be able to help! 

It is always important to work on oneself as it is the first step in discovering what you are truly passionate about. It is lucrative to be inquisitive towards yourself to then help others.

The transition

At some point, things in the company changed, and Francis was faced with a choice: continue his career as a corporate employee, or start something new that would challenge him completely.

I had been so happy and satisfied with my Coaching experience combined with the desire to get back into the game professionally that the desire to invest in this kind of profession had born in me.

Thus, Francesco decided to take a leap of faith and leave his profession to become a Coach.

Coaching had given me so much, why not lend a hand to others?

Do you feel that your experience in business is vital to be a Business Coach? I ask.

Basically, yes. Then, every business reality is different from others. No matter how much one person may know about the world of organizations, he or she can never presume to understand each other’s everyday life.

However, it is possible to speak the same language and understand the issues to be addressed and any problems. But my experience would not have been enough for me to do this job…

In fact, during those years Francesco also approached another discipline that could help him grow as a person: Mindfulness.

I needed to find a space, an avenue that would allow me to evolve, he explains, so when I left the company, I started practicing and studying mindfulness, which helped me maintain well-being during the challenges I was facing.


There are many ways to work on oneself; the one Francesco has chosen is Mindfulness.

Mindfulness has become a part of me: my way of moving outward.

Francesco tells me about this practice and its benefits, but I need to have some basic clarification. But when we talk about Mindfulness what are we talking about? Is my sister doing yoga the same thing?

He starts laughing, not so much because of my lack of preparation, but because of the cliché that I also fell into.

Mindfulness means awareness and is a practice that is normally done while sitting. Yoga like mindfulness helps attune the body and mind.

I have never practiced yoga but I feel like I can say that while Mindfulness is static, yoga has a more dynamic development. Both are ancient Eastern disciplines that hold great wisdom, which I think is very useful to the Western world today.

We are talking about a personal practice that uses meditation as a training ground. It means training the mind not to run away from the present moment but to stay in the here and now, with as open and nonjudgmental a mind as possible.

In practice, it means sitting for a half hour a day rather than a quarter-hour and meditating. This is an ongoing practice to familiarize oneself with one’s mind and body, useful for better managing emotionality and reactive patterns in general. This kind of exercise is now part of my daily routine, Francesco recounts.

For example, I have always had a problem with expectations and judgment, both about myself and others. Mindfulness helps me to be a little more detached and peaceful with what I don’t have and want, appreciating more of what is there.

Between West and East

You must be a fan of the Eastern world. Who knows how many trips you must have taken!! I ask, increasingly fascinated by this world between the meditative and the mystical.

No! So many people are passionate and take trips to the East, but I for now am not drawn to such a trip.

Mindfulness is for me an opportunity to look at reality in a certain way, it is something very practical.

It doesn’t have to be a spiritual path. For me, it is first and foremost about treasuring practical advice for living a peaceful life.

Francesco explains to me how scientific studies have shown that a certain area of the brain, called the Default Mode Network, where the thoughts of “mental brooding” develop, with the mind committed either to the past or to the future, is much less stimulated in those who practice Mindfulness.

Obviously, “mental brooding” is a way of seeing things from another perspective… Mindfulness does not have to take away our passion or pleasure part-it’s good to have expectations!

The problem is when emotionality takes over from reflection, then practicing is a way to find the right accord between emotionality and rationality, so that passion does not become all-consuming.

There is too much tendency to go on autopilot, and to me, Mindfulness teaches how to soften this a bit.

During this one long talk about the importance of self and self-management, I start to forget about the article. I ask a lot of questions about his experience, Coaching and so much more…

At one point my eye falls on the clock in the upper right corner of my desktop, it’s been almost an hour now Francesco, excuse me maybe I’m taking up too much of your time?! I ask, No no, don’t worry about it, however, I have to go now!

We say goodbye. I turn off the Zoom call while I think about how to set up the article. It’s nice to just have a chat!



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