Tuesday, July 17 , 2018, 9:06 pm | Fair 66º


Paul Burri: The Business of Coaching

The 'advice' of a life coach isn't worth the time or money

I recently read an article — probably a hypothetical situation — about a CEO, I’ll call him Norman, who was having trouble meeting some ambitious goals, had just lost his second vice president of sales and was potentially in trouble with his board of directors. An associate suggested he find a life coach and gave him a list of four possible candidates.

Paul Burri
Paul Burri

You may or may not know that the business of coaching — and it is a business — is a hugely lucrative, rapidly growing and totally unregulated industry. How do you become a “life” coach, a business coach, a weight-loss coach or a spirit coach? It’s simple: You can sign up to become a “certified” trainer from any number of Web sites. (One of them calls itself the NLP Foundation. What does NLP stand for? Neuro-linguistic programming — whatever that means.)

The cost and time involved varies from as little as 16 hours and $397 to one month and $2,200. Or, if you’re really serious about it, you can spend $4,996 for one month of “training” in Cleveland. (The $4,996 does not include air fare, hotel room or meals.)

What does a life coach do, aside from charging about $350 per hour? Let’s go back to Norman to see how it went for him. The first coach he spoke to was a gentleman who used the Alcoholics Anonymous mantra and told him he was “in denial” and needed to acknowledge he needed help. Huh? Isn’t that why he contacted the guy?

The second coach told Norman, “You need to stay on the cutting edge so that when you look at yourself in the mirror every morning you don’t get socked in the jaw by the realization that you have been pigeon-holed.” Talk about a collection of platitudes. I haven’t had any coaching training, but I would add, “Incongruity can be a motivating force that both invigorates and depresses at the same time. Don’t try to create change while doing the same things repeatedly.” Both pieces of coaching advice are equally valuable because neither means anything — and I got mine from the newspaper horoscope for Sagittarius.

Norman’s third coach advised him that he needed to get some advice. Huh? Isn’t that why he contacted her?

The fourth one was surely the best of all. She told him he needed to “focus” and offered to call or e-mail him three or four times a day to remind him. Hey, Norm, I can save you $350 per hour. For $20 per call, I’ll call or e-mail you every hour to tell you to focus.

What’s the bottom line? If there are any would-be entrepreneurs who think they need a life coach to motivate them, I recommend that they keep whatever job they have and forget about being an entrepreneur. By definition — or at least by my definition — an entrepreneur is a self-starting individual who has an unquenchable fire in his or her belly, and the last thing the person needs is someone to motivate him or her.

If you’re not an entrepreneur and you think you need a life coach, see your pastor, priest or rabbi. They’re a lot cheaper and won’t tell you to “magnetize and focus your life energy to achieve the supremacy that is within your grasp.”

— Paul Burri is an entrepreneur, inventor, columnist, engineer and iconoclast. He is not in the advertising business, but he is a small-business counselor with the Santa Barbara chapter of Counselors to America’s Small Business-SCORE. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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