December 13, 2011

Alum of the Month – January

Amy Grant Ahlers ’91 Provides Wake-Up Call

Amy Grant Ahlers ’91 cringes when she hears women berate themselves for not “measuring up.”

A certified life coach, Ahlers is committed to inspiring women to rise above the nonstop chorus of criticism swirling in their heads. “This internal battle eats away at self-love, self-worth, and self-esteem, leading to depression, dissatisfaction, decreased productivity, and heart-stopping stress,” she said.

Ahlers, 38, recently published “Big Fat Lies Women Tell Themselves: Ditch Your Inner Critic and Wake Up Your Inner Superstar,” a book that examines 59 common esteem-busting lies women tell themselves. The book offers women tools to rebut the “Inner Critic,” or “Inner Mean Girl”, and connect with their “Inner Wisdom.”

“The most important relationship in your life is your relationship with you. And, most of us are not doing so hot. We are incredibly, intensely hard on ourselves, and that stinks. We think that if we were just accomplished enough, thin enough, beautiful enough, or rich enough that we could then magically shift our internal dialogue into an empowering, nurturing, loving one.

“But after more than 11 years of coaching women from every conceivable walk of life, I finally got it: women are really hard on themselves despite their external circumstances. We all engage in beating ourselves up both for the big things and for the tiniest imperfections. And it isn’t helping us become more successful, or to feel more fulfilled, or even to get more done,” she said.

Ahlers says her book doesn’t just talk about the problem, but gives immediate, bite-size solutions for readers. “It’s been exciting for me to see that the book is having a positive impact,” she said.

Published in October, “Big Fat Lies” reached #1 in Self-Help and #39 overall on Amazon.

A Foundation For Life Coaching

Ahlers credits her experiences on the O’Dowd Campus Ministry Team, helping organize and facilitate the junior and senior retreats in particular, with having a dramatic impact on her career. “I think I draw upon the skills I learned in CMT the most in my work as a coach,” she said.

O’Dowd drama also played a big part in her life. “I was in several plays a year and the experience was just remarkable,” she said. “One of the things that I loved most about participating in drama was it didn’t matter what grade you were in, what your background was, or what race you were. When you got into that classroom there was just this feeling of true community,” she said.

Getting Started

After attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for two years, Ahlers majored in drama at UC Irvine. She worked in online media sales for several years before earning the CPCC (Certified Professional Co-Active Coach) designation from the Coaches Training Institute. She is also a Bigger Game (leadership/growth/change model) certified coach, is a certified business advisor from OneCoach, and is a master coach equivalent.

“I went to an introductory course about life coaching in 2000, and I immediately knew I had found my calling,” Ahlers said.

Today, Ahlers is the CEO of Wake-Up Call Coaching, which offers a variety of coaching services, and the co-creator, with Christine Arylo, of Inner Mean Girl Reform School, a 10-session course that helps women replace negative beliefs with empowering affirmations. She also offers goal setting courses.

Life Coaching 101

Life coaching is, at the core, helping people set goals and reach them, Ahlers explains.

Ahlers works with people seeking clarity about their goals, as well as those who have defined their goals but are having trouble achieving them.

Radically changed workplace paradigms and the continuing economic crisis have resulted in an increased demand for life coaching, according to Ahlers.

For example, Ahlers says she is currently working with several doctors who are fed up with the changes in the health care industry.

“With their workloads they are only able to spend a few minutes with each patient and aren’t having the impact they want to have,” she said.

“With the external structures crumbling, people are looking inward and trying to figure out how they can be true to themselves, find meaning and fulfillment, and also make a difference in the world,” she added

Not for Everyone

Ahlers acknowledges that life coaching isn’t for everyone. “You need to believe in the power of coaching in order for it to work for you,” she said.

“You can get where you want to go without a coach, but you’ll get there faster if you have a coach,” she said. “It’s just like joining a gym. If you go to the gym, you’ll get results, but if you work with a trainer you will probably get the results faster.”

Making a Difference

Ahlers says the most rewarding part of her job is making a difference in the lives of others. Recently she worked with a young woman in who was struggling on number of fronts – in a personal relationship, with work, and with friends.

Throughout the course of coaching, the woman was able to end the personal relationship, find a new, more satisfying job, and forge a new community of friends.

“She came up to me with tears in her eyes at a recent retreat and said I had completely changed her life,” Ahlers said. “She had these tangible results, and the intangible result of really feeling happy in her life. It is very humbling and acknowledging to receive feedback like this.”

An Oakland resident, Ahlers and her husband, Rob, have a four-year-old daughter, Annabella.
In her free time, Ahlers enjoys running in the Oakland hills and spending time with family and friends.

For more information about Ahlers and her work visit

And you can visit to receive information about her book.

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