Saturday, June 23 , 2018, 4:51 pm | Overcast 68º


Paul Burri: All About Coaching (Part II)

Consultation and counseling for a low flat fee, regardless of whether you consider it complementary or complimentary

I have developed an interest in the coaching phenomenon so I went online to see what is out there. Eventually I selected a company that offered an extensive roster of coaches skilled in all disciplines and a free, introductory counseling session. I completed the information form, which asked all the usual questions and, in addition, asked, “Why do you think you need counseling and what are your goals?”

Paul Burri
Paul Burri

I replied that I owned a small, home-based operation and I thought I needed motivation to turn it into an income-producing business. I also answered that I was available for telephone counseling any day between 8 and 10 a.m. A day or so later I received an e-mail from Mr. David Dobson Ph.D. offering to do my complementary (sic) counseling and who asked me to fill out another information form that asked essentially the same questions (don’t you hate it when that happens?) and asking if Thursday at 11 a.m. was good for me. (Remember that I had already said I was available between 8 and 10 a.m.) And, oh, yes, he asked me whether I preferred the $500/month, $400/month or the $300/month counseling sessions.

Eventually we agreed upon Thursday at 9 a.m. Unfortunately, my wife was on a long but important phone call at exactly that time on Thursday morning. Later that day I got an e-mail from Dr. Dobson complaining that he had tried calling me for 10 minutes at 9 a.m. on Thursday but kept getting a busy signal. Then he offered to call me again if I would send him a $25 good-faith payment.

When I questioned the $25 charge, he immediately dropped it to a “symbolic” $5 and patiently explained to me that his time was valuable and that he had reserved 45 minutes that morning for my initial counseling session, and after trying for 10 minutes had to give up and cancel the session. I replied wondering whether he had sat by his phone for the remaining 35 minutes or whether he had found something else to do with that time or whether he hadn’t considered abbreviating a subsequent session down to 35 minutes to compensate for the “lost” 10 minutes. (I also began to wonder whether his lack of motivation in trying to get through to me — after trying for a whole 10 minutes — wasn’t a warning that he might not be the coach who would help me solve my motivation problems.)

Dr. Dobson and I went back and forth several times during which he repeatedly tried to explain the value of his time (yes, I do understand the value of time) and during which I explained the meaning of the word complementary — him having a Ph.D. — and asked whether he had ever owned or managed a business — him being a business coach and all. He declined to answer my question about his specific business experience and ignored my explanation of the difference between complementary and complimentary.

And I’m still unconvinced about getting any help from a business coach. And I am beginning to strongly feel that this is an industry that sorely needs some investigation and subsequent regulation.

— 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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