High Jumper

This former track star still soars over hurdles

by Virginia Lindauer Simmon

kim_dubrul0615Kimberly DuBrul, APC, GPC, is the owner of Your Year of Transformation, the coaching business she launched in 2002 after a 19-year career in real estate.

Kimberly DuBrul was a track star at Springfield High School; her high-jump record stands to this day. When considering college, though, she turned down a track scholarship at Bentley College in Massachusetts to study retailing and fashion merchandising at Champlain. “I was the girl in Springfield who bought the few copies of Vogue magazine when it came in,” she says

Although many people remember her from her 19 years in real estate, since 2002 DuBrul has practiced coaching. According to the International Coach Foundation (ICF), coaches partner with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. DuBrul’s company is called Your Year of Transformation, and since Feb. 1 of this year, she has worked from an office in The Karma Bird House at 47 Maple St. in Burlington.

“Champlain was awesome for me,” says DuBrul with an enthusiasm that seasons much of her speech. In her freshman year, she was named “Most Valuable Student” in the business administration division. In her second (senior) year, she was vice president of the student senate. As an alumna, she joined the board at age 25 and continues to be involved through coaching and volunteer work.

After graduation in 1985, she continued her job at Magrams The Fashion Shop, where she had worked during school. “I definitely had big visions,” she says, laughing. “Somebody told me, ‘You can make $30,000 a year selling real estate. At the time I was making $7,000 a year, and working for somebody else has not been the most fun for me.”

She took a job at Preston’s Jewelers while studying for her real estate and broker’s licenses, then went into real estate with Frank Cioffi, for a Help-U-Sell franchise — a flat-fee service for homeowners wanting to sell.

DuBrul sold 20 houses the first year, earning about $10,000 to $12,000, but after hearing from other Realtors what she could have made in a more traditional setting selling homes, decided to switch.

She narrowed her choice to three options: Pomerleau Real Estate, Lang Real Estate, and Tom Thompson of Thompson Real Estate. “Frank was like a mentor to me,” she says, “and he totally supported me. He said, ‘Well, if the best company in town wants you now, you should go there.’ He encouraged me to work at Lang.”

Over the next 19 years, she would sell real estate at Lang, at RE/MAX with Tom Thompson (“because it let you run your business like a business instead of the traditional way”), and eventually Hickok & Boardman.

She had met John DuBrul in the early 1990s “when he sold me my first Mercedes,” she says, laughing. He is a vice president at The Automaster. They married on Sept. 6, 1996. Their daughter, Rowan, is now a senior at Rice Memorial High School. Their son, Joe Joe, is 12.

Her introduction to coaching occurred around 1993 when, feeling a bit burned-out, she read Take Time for Your Life by Cheryl Richardson. “I needed to take my life back,” she says, “and the title of that book stood out for me. She was a coach, and I had never heard that term before. But I was always setting goals and challenges so I wrote down that I was going to be a coach.”

DuBrul had been following a real estate trainer named Mike Ferry since 1990, and in 1997, Ferry came out with a coaching program. “That made my ears perk up,” she says. She had been informally coaching for friends, going so far as to take classes from Coach U. She immediately signed up to have Ferry coach her.

In 2002, when Ferry was looking for coaches, she applied, listing the friends she had coached and the studies she had already pursued. “It was just a whirlwind. I coached for a little over seven years for them — about 40 clients a week. I call it now Coaching Boot Camp. If I had known ahead of time, I might have been afraid to do it.”

The first year, she coached part time while still working in real estate, but soon realized that she wanted to contribute at a higher level. The work was done by phone from her basement office. “Though I could come up with a list of all the great things about it, the worst part about that job was that I had a young daughter and a baby. The clients I coached were all over the U.S. and Canada, and they had their time every week, so if we had a snowstorm or school was canceled or the kids were sick, there was no leeway for a mistake. We were afraid to even have a noise in the background during a coaching call.

“The coaching environment was very demanding, so it was a stressful time in my life and my family’s life, because I was just over capacity. On the other hand, I coached so many people — over 500 during those years. Most coaches never get to coach that many, and that experience is irreplaceable.”

Online, DuBrul found a school in Victoria, British Columbia, called Coaching and Leadership International. “On their information call, the thing that hit me so hugely was they said that every time you have a coaching session with your client, there will be a breakthrough. It was like music to my ears.” A year later, she had her certification in Power Coaching with Mind Kinetics.

Then the bottom fell out. It was 2007. Her father was dying in the hospital at Dartmouth, and she was visiting him when she received word that her mother-in-law had died in a car crash. Then her dog, Fido, had to be euthanized.

“I thought, OK, it’s time to make this move. I wanted to feel like I was really helping people. On Friday, the 13th of June, 2008, I left.”

She was planning to borrow from her retirement fund for a couple of months, but the stock market crashed. “Not only did it take all my money,” she says, “but people now thought of coaching as a luxury.”

The two months she had planned for getting going stretched into a year. “I went from making a whole lot of money in real estate to zero.”

DuBrul had been in her basement for seven years and knew she needed to get out among people. “I went to every networking thing, every event, every meeting. I spoke at places just for free, tried to be as visible as I could. And a year later, people were saying they could see coaching is not just a luxury but a necessity.”

Brian French, the owner of Brian French Real Estate, has known DuBrul as a Realtor and a coach. “I sold her her first condo,” he says. “I’ve been working with Kim for a number of years and find her to be one of the most compassionate people I’ve ever met. There’s always something to be learned when you’re with Kim. If we all had Kim’s outlook on life, I think everybody’s lives would be a lot better.”

Early on, DuBrul vowed to work only with people she could see — no more telephone coaching — although she has mellowed on that point. Whereas at first, she did only business coaching, in 2008, she added life coaching. Clients are about 50-50 men and women, mostly business people or corporations such as National Life.

A few years ago, Valerie Burton, the owner of CAPP (Coaching and Positive Psychology) phoned DuBrul to ask if she would be willing to teach the business-building portion of her coach training. “She had worked with me on the phone and helped me get ready for my ICF certification, and called me out of the blue and asked me to teach for her.

“Sight unseen, she paid my way to Atlanta to come down and teach. She’s been a great role model for me. I love training so much. It might be the favorite thing I do now.”

Lesli Blount, director of corporate support at Vermont Public Radio, is a friend and a client. “I knew of Kim for a long time before she and I met,” says Blount. “She’s the kind of person that, when we met, we said, ‘I want to know you better; let’s get together for breakfast.’ We’ve been doing that for a couple of years.

“We talk about things in the community, relationships, things that delight us, and things that tick us off. We don’t see each other often, but it’s very rich when we do.” She and DuBrul graduated from yoga teacher training last month.

DuBrul’s days are full. An early riser, she exercises and meditates daily. Coaching takes up the bulk of the day from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., when she picks up her son from school. “Then I’ll go back to my home office and continue answering emails. Evenings are when I do the coach webinars with the CAPP Institute.”

She enjoys speaking at events and often conducts interviews on her BlogTalkRadio show. A tap dancer, she appeared in Lyric Theater’s production of Hello, Dolly! as a featured dancer and member of the chorus, She volunteers at Rice and Mater Christi, worked on the steering committee for the new Mother Baby Unit at The UVM Medical Center, and has served on several boards over the years. She’s also a founding member and on the president’s advisory council of the John Maxwell team of coaches, speakers, and facilitators.

Helping DuBrul find time for all this is her “virtual assistant,” Kaitlyn Dorey, director of marketing and admissions at Mater Christi. Dorey was a senior in high school when she began working for DuBrul, who was in real estate at the time. “She does all of my billing, any flyers I need, and my entire e-newsletter every month. We don’t see each other in person; I just send her the information.

“I’ve always been a hard worker, out there to encourage people, walk the talk, because I’m not going to ask my clients to do anything I’m not willing to do myself.” •