We had the good fortune of connecting with Tim Harrison and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Tim, the decisions we make often shape our story in profound ways. What was one of the most difficult decisions you’ve had to make?
After I graduated from Rice University in 2020 I was launched into a world in crisis with the pandemic and social unrest following the killing of George Floyd. At the time I had a coveted job lined up doing Strategy Consulting at a big firm but I couldn’t shake this deep conviction that I was called to contribute more to the world. I was inspired by a quote from a theologian and civil rights leader named Howard Thurman who said, “Don’t ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive and go do that because what the world needs is people who have come alive”.

I realized that I wanted to live a life where I developed and used my gifts in a way that inspired and equipped people to realize their potential. I knew that to maximize my own potential in this area, I had to align my financial incentives with my ability to impact lives in this way. That required a leap of faith but I trusted that God had put this desire in my heart and that I would only know for sure if I went for it. I decided to turn down the job offer to move forward with a vision I had for a company and pursue a career as a professional leadership coach.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am the co-founder and CEO of a non-profit called the Enjoyable Pain of Growth Academy (EPOG Academy), which makes professional coaching accessible to high school students in underserved communities. Our coaches zoom into classrooms to meet with them one on one and help them develop a personal vision, discover their strengths, set goals, make progress towards those goals, and grow from adversity along the way. We believe that students are whole, creative, and resourceful so our coaches don’t give advice and tell them what they should or shouldn’t do. Instead, our coaches are trained to listen and ask powerful questions that help these young leaders create their own plans and initiate actions toward a future they design.

I am also a professional leadership coach. I work with executives and entrepreneurs often as they transition into a new leadership role or as they are starting a venture. I help them rise to the challenges of leadership and to increase their overall effectiveness with their teams. I’ve had the privilege of coaching leaders at the director level at companies including Schlumberger and MD Anderson. I’ve also had the privilege of coaching some of the high school students in our programs at EPOG Academy. I love being a coach because I get to partner with people from different walks of life in the crucial moments of trial and triumph as they strive to become more than what they are!

I’m also passionate about creative expression. I love engaging crowds of all kinds as a speaker, facilitator, or through lyrical performances of Rap and Spoken Word Poetry. You may find me around Houston leading a discussion at a university, delivering a talk at a leadership conference, or performing at an open mic downtown

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Something lesser known about Houston is that it has some great nature spots. I love going to Buffalo Bayou for walks or on my electric bike. There are some spaces off-road where you can be surrounded by trees and question if you are really in Houston. It’s also a slice of heaven at Centennial Garden or on top of the hill by the Miller Outdoor Theatre in Herman Park. It’s a dream of mine to perform there one day so if you’re reading this and know of someone who can help make that happen, please let me know!

After the park we’d end the night by going to some of my favorite open mics. Avant Garden in Montrose has a great open mic called Write About Now founded by Amir Safi. It is nationally recognized for having talented poets and a vibrant crowd. On Saturday evenings, I like a spot called the Newtonian at Day Six Coffee downtown hosted by Josiah Messer Ecking. It’s more of an intimate setting, but there is a Q and A after each poet performs, which allows for a depth of conversation and expression that is hard to come by.

If they were around for the weekend, I would invite them to join me at City Life Church on Sunday, a medium-sized non-denomination Christian church not too far from the med center. They have a practical perspective, chill young adult community, and a pretty diverse crowd.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Although I am 6 foot 8 inches tall I truly stand on the shoulders of giants. I have had many mentors and people that have made a difference for me throughout my life but I do not have space to name them all here. First and foremost, my parents Joseph and Myrna Harrison, have laid the groundwork for anything I have or will accomplish.

I want to give a particular shoutout to Ruth Reitmeier, Ryan Brown, Tom Kolditz, and Lillie Besozi at the Doerr Institute. They each have supported me in different ways that have allowed me to catapult into my career as a coach and lead my organization. I want to shout out Mikki Hebl, Joe Karlgaard, David Leebron, Tom Stallings, and William Edmund at Rice University for seeing my potential as a leader before I saw it in myself. I also want to shoutout to all the Board of Directors, Associate Board members, coaches, administrators, students, parents, and donors who make EPOG Academy possible.

Website: epogacademy.com

Instagram: coachtimharrison

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/coachtimharrison/

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutHTX is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.