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From Hollywood to the business world

Former casting associate helps people follow their passion

Yawu Miller | 4/12/2017, 10:54 a.m.
When Jones entered coaching, the field was in its infancy. She began by obtaining a masters in social work from ...
Nicole Roberts Jones left her job as a Hollywood casting agent to pursue her passion for developing other people’s talents in the business world. Photo: Courtesy WhitPR

In her 20s, Nicole Roberts Jones was a successful Hollywood casting associate, finding talent for shows like “Martin” as she worked in entertainment production for BET.

But all was not well.

“I hated it,” Jones recalls. “I had a successful career in the entertainment industry and I got to a place where everybody told me what I should do or shouldn’t do.”

The one bright spot in Jones’s life: her volunteer work.

“I started working with young women to help them carve out a path to become whatever they wanted to be,” Jones said.

As she watched the students she mentored move through high school and college into adulthood, she began responding to what she calls “grown-up problems.” That volunteer work led to a logical extension of her work scouting and evaluating talent for Hollywood: coaching.

“I’m absolutely great at pulling out the best in you,” she said. “When I worked in the entertainment industry, that’s what I did. It’s still what I am doing.”

When Jones entered coaching, the field was in its infancy. She began by obtaining a masters in social work from the University of Southern California, hung out her shingle and began working with businesses and nonprofits. Initially, she offered program design — the art of fleshing out ideas for new programs to serve emerging needs. The field of coaching, although now well established, was yet to be recognized. Jones got a break early on when the speaker of the California State Assembly, Antonio Villaraigosa, invited her to work with state business leaders to design a new business assistance program.

Her work in program design also led to gigs as an adjunct professor at Boston University and USC.

Gradually, however, Jones followed her passion and shifted away from program design into the coaching business that has become her mainstay. As Jones sees it, upping her game required a new level of investment. She had to get help. From a coach.

“So many people put sweat equity into your business and they wonder why they’re not growing,” she said. “In order to grow your business, you have to be willing to invest at the level you’re willing to grow into.”

Having made the investment, Jones now is an established career/lifestyle coach and best-selling author. She markets her work through her four books, including her latest — “Find Your Fierce” — as well as through seminars. Last Sunday, Jones, who lives in Billerica, concluded a cross-country Find Your Fierce Tour with an appearance in Boston.

Jones’ formula for helping women build successful careers is modeled after her own trajectory, beginning with identifying the one thing about which a client is passionate. Next, Jones asks clients where their proficiencies lie.

“Those two things have to connect,” she says. “If they don’t, it won’t work.”

Lastly, Jones walks clients through how to package their work and determine to whom it should be promoted.

She travels once or twice a month to lead seminars and workshops, working the rest of the time from her home office in Billerica. She has worked with and facilitated workshops for General Motors, McDonalds, the National Urban League and Coach Diversity Institute.

Originally from Inglewood, California, Jones lives with her husband and has two grown stepchildren. She says she loves the seasons in New England, but for one.

“The only thing I don’t like is when it’s snowing,” she says.