Headshot of Brandon

In 2018, Brandon Johnson ‘13 took a bold step by launching  his own business, Be Gallant Coaching. As a certified professional career coach, Brandon works with nonprofit and education professionals, guiding them through their career journeys, from crafting a compelling cover letter to landing interviews. He takes a holistic approach with his clients, working with them to reframe roadblocks as opportunities for self-improvement.

In his own life, Brandon reflects fondly on his time at both UCSB and USC for the skills he learned on time management, networking, and self-motivation. Throughout his career journey, he’s realized the importance of trying new things and letting go of perfectionism. Now, he helps others do the same.


Q: Although you’ve pivoted into a different field, how did your Mathematics major at UCSB prepare you for your career?
It definitely taught me about hard work. Through the coursework, I learned how to focus better and be more diligent about how I structure my time. Since graduating from UCSB, I have actually also been able to use some of my math and computer science education in a variety of my work endeavors, like when I spent time after college doing astronomy research.

Q: You received your Masters in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs from the University of Southern California. How has that advanced degree aided you in your career journey?
I feel like I became a better student as a graduate student, as compared to undergrad. I think that part of the reason why is because I was working through the graduate program, meaning I had much less time on my hands. It reinforced my time management skills. Also, it showed me the importance of networking. 

Q: What inspired you to start Be Gallant Coaching? 
While I was in grad school, I began thinking about what it would be like to own my own business one day. But, I honestly didn’t have a well-formulated idea at that point. Then I took an elective course on career development as a grad student. It was such a cool class and I really enjoyed learning from the professor. From there, it just really clicked. After I graduated, I got a regular job but slowly started freelancing as a career coach. I did a lot of resume writing and cover letter assistance. One day, I realized I could probably make something bigger out of it so I decided to move forward with the business idea. 

Q: What is your career coaching philosophy? 
First, I think it is important to say that coaching is not for everyone. Coaching is not necessarily something that everyone needs. But it can be incredibly transformational when done well. If coaching is something that you want to explore, then it has to be something that you’re willing to invest in. What you put into it, you’ll get out of it. My goal in being a coach is to try to help people create a better life for themselves and take control over their career trajectory. 

Q: Why do you think so many people feel unfulfilled in their careers? What is your approach to helping them find more job satisfaction?
I think a large part of it is that it is difficult to know what you want to do. A lot of the clients I work with are college graduates who chose their major at 18 years old and just hoped it was the right choice. But your interests and needs change over time! Then you end up years down the road in a place that is no longer in alignment with your values, which can bring up feelings of frustration and defeat. 

Q: You highlight the importance of ‘design thinking’ principles in your coaching work. Can you explain to me what that entails?
One of the topics that I was reading about early on in my coaching career was design thinking principles. It refers to the concept of testing things out to find what works best. It really connects into career development well because you have to test out what you might like to do. It doesn’t have to be a perfect or fully formed idea, but you have to get into a position where you can determine if it is a good fit. You have to try new things! 

Reframing is another important concept in my work, which is the ability to restructure your thoughts to be more positive. You have to reframe bad problems into good problems. For example, if you’re applying to a lot of jobs but not one person is taking a chance on you, that is a bad problem to have because you can’t necessarily control whether someone is going to hire you. But you can reframe that into a good problem by saying, ‘I don’t know how to network effectively or write a good resume.’ You have control over those factors, which you can improve upon to fix your original bad problem. 

Q: What have you learned about yourself over the course of your career? 
I learned quickly that I am easily bored, which is why I’ve held a variety of positions throughout my career. I also learned that for a while, I had a hard time letting go of doing things perfectly. I prided myself on the amount of time I would take to plan my next steps out, but I realize now that it is better to just get active on what I want to do even if it is not perfect. In my own life, I’ve implemented the reframing principle to focus more on positive motion instead of perfection.

Q: What is one piece of advice you have for those seeking self-employment or hoping to launch their own business? 
I would say to expect everything to take time. Often, when someone has the idea to start a business, they think it’ll happen faster than it likely will. After a few months of working, they might think it’s not working because they’re not good at it or it’s the wrong choice. But, that’s usually not true. It’s just a matter of putting in effort over time and continuing to learn from your mistakes.