Justin Thomas is one of those people unafraid to change in his pursuit of servant leadership, living his faith, and helping others to grow. Thomas is perhaps best known in Triangle business circles as the former CEO of CrossComm, a Durham-based app developer with a national reputation for excellence.
Recently, Thomas had one of those life-changing moments—the death of his father—cause him to step back and re-assess his priorities. “I had gone back to business school, then took a leadership position with CrossComm and learned so much working with that team,” he remembers. “But one Monday last year, a typical Monday where I’d gone in early to get started with my week, I got a call that my father had suddenly passed away from a heart attack. This was a natural transition point for me to step away and go into business coaching and pursue more of my faith and community-driven interests. Sometimes it takes a death in the family to consider where to focus your time, talent, and resources.”
So, Thomas took some time to reflect, thinking he’d transition slowly to his next endeavor. He focused first on starting a faith-based men’s group, named in honor of his father, the CL Thomas Fellowship. “I really wanted to honor my father’s legacy and what he stood for,” Thomas explained. “The goal was to gather a group of men, young professionals, typically married with no children, and the willingness to be taught from biblical perspectives. We teach them to be providers, and we define ‘provider’ as those who bless and protect those around us.”
Just as he was launching the CL Thomas Fellowship, a mentor steered Thomas to a health coaching program at Duke Integrative Medicine. “My mentor and I both thought this program would help me as well as lend credibility to what we’re trying to do with our men’s group, especially with regard to health and wellness,” he explained. “But once I got into it, I thought, I actually like this and would want to pursue the certification as a health coach.”
The health coaching program, in addition to arming Thomas with new perspectives on health and wellness, taught active listening skills and the ability to lead group dynamics without taking the spotlight. “When a client comes up with a solution to a health issue, he or she is more emotionally attached to that decision and thus more likely to follow through with it,” he said.
After achieving certification as a health coach, Thomas a natural entrepreneur, decided to launch a new business with the help of the Forrest Firm. “I worked with James Forrest to form my new corporate entity for Health Coach CEO, as he’d done for the CL Thomas Fellowship, and Lyle Gravatt was instrumental in developing trademarked brands for us,” said Thomas.
Thomas offers a rather unique value proposition in the world of health coaching, as he provides executives with health and wellness guidance seasoned with a CEO’s approach. “I’d done a lot of reading on CEOs doing better through paying attention to themselves, through mindfulness, getting more rest, and other tactics,” Thomas explained. “I related to CEOs well, having been one, and I help them to identify goals, break them down into achievable milestones, and hit them with executive summaries and bullet points that are actionable.”
“CEOs visioncast all the time—they set goals for growth in profitability, revenue, efficiency, and they understand that you don’t achieve big things in one day. These are really successful people, and the fear they have is that if they pay attention to their health, their work performance will go down. You have to figure that out with them. What I’m really doing is helping them to see how to come up with new habits, giving them the teaching and accountability. It’s personal and professional development, as well as spiritual, but rooted in health and wellness. We look at their achievements and the strengths they use to reach their goals, and we simply apply that to a different part of their lives.”
In addition to serving CEOs and other executives in a one-on-one dynamic, Thomas has been expanding the health coaching concepts to management teams. “I recently had a company bring me in to teach good health and wellness habits to their new managers, and while I love the thrill of serving clients one-on-one, I really enjoyed the group dynamic and allowing each person to come up with his or her own plan,” he said.
The future is bright for Justin Thomas in his new role at Health Coach CEO. “I’m really appreciating this moment,” he explained. “I’m just working on developing my craft, adding value to my clients. And I’ve had much benefit from this concept myself—you get health-coached in the program, and I can focus on really helping people, while leaving the medical expertise to referrals to professionals.”
“I’m doing what I feel like I should be doing.”
The Forrest Firm is grateful to have Triangle entrepreneur Justin Thomas as a client and friend of the firm, and we wish him every success in developing a concept that will have great benefit for his individual clients, but also their companies, families, and communities. For more information and to learn more about coaching packages, visit www.healthcoachCEO.com.