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E#158 What You Promise in Marketing

This episode is about what you promise in marketing

Are you worried about what you’re promising in your coaching promotions and feeling like you can’t deliver? 

I want to explain a few basics about messaging, what coaches do, and how to describe your services in a way that is congruent, transparent and authentic so that by the end of this dialogue, you feel clear and comfortable with what you are promising.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* What Coaches Do and Don’t Do?
* What are promotional messaging basics
* Describing HOW your solution helps

The Backstory 

A lot of coaches tell me they are worried about making big promises that they can’t keep, or about giving people the wrong idea.

Some coaches also feel they aren’t a good enough coach to help the person get a result, so they are worried about being able to deliver.

Today, I am going to help you to clear up these myths and solve these challenges once and for all, so you can promote your services confidently and authentically.

Let’s start with a reminder of what coaches do and don’t do, some promotional messaging basics, and then talk through some examples so you can be clear on what you ARE promising, and what you are NOT promising. Then we will finish with an explanation of what health and wellness coaches do.

Remember – What Coaches Do and Don’t Do

Firstly, and before we break down the marketing copy, remember that as a coach, you are not treating or administering any therapy to a client that would make you responsible for their result.

As a coach you are helping people to create the time and space to focus on developing habits that will get them a result they want. And that’s very different.

Please keep that in mind as we proceed with how we help people.

Also remember that your promotional messaging is NOT about what you do or how you do it. You need to know how to answer that question if asked (and I will cover it at the end), but your promotional copy is ALL about your niche client.

Let’s dive in.

Promotional Messaging Basics

I think part of the reason that coaches struggle with their advertising is that they don’t know what to say to attract clients and then explain what they do to these prospective clients.

The foundations of good promotional messaging are built on trust, rapport and relationship.

Good messaging creates these things by focusing on three foundational points.

Right now, I’d like you to imagine a triangle that has those three points 

  1. Your niche clients’ big struggle in their words
  2. Your niche clients success or vision, in their words
  3. Your solution and how it fills the gap.

Your advertising needs to speak to those three things.

I think where a lot of coaches get caught up is in describing the problem and solution. When they do this, coaches feel kind of responsible for fixing the problem and creating the results.

No, no, no.

This is the first myth I want to clear up.

The reason you describe the niche clients struggle and success is so that they recognise you as someone who understands their specific needs. 

They can recognise themself in your words, so you become visible and attractive to them.

Here’s a really bland example. It’s like me saying – are you wearing a red shirt and white sneakers, but wish you were wearing a fancy black tracksuit?

In this example it’s clear that I’m not going to give you a tracksuit! I am calling out anyone wearing a red shirt and white sneakers who wishes for something more stylish!

So that’s the first point – speaking to their struggle and success to show that you understand them. Your marketing copy needs to cover these two points in the triangle.

The next bit is explaining how your solution fills the gaps.

Note that this is not describing WHAT your service is – it’s explaining HOW it will help them. 

Let’s break it down so you can get clear on what your role is in their journey, and how to convey it.

Describing HOW Your Solution Helps

When describing how your solution helps, you need to be clear that you are helping people to follow a process to get to the result they want – you are NOT promising the result itself.

Your clients are the ones who are responsible for doing the work, not you. You can’t follow them home and make it happen.

But you CAN help people to get a result by helping them follow a process. 

It’s very clear that we want people to be attracted to the outcome that they want to achieve. 

And you were going to speak to that outcome, but you’re not going to promise to deliver it. 

You are going to show them the technique and the process for getting there and you are going to hold them accountable to doing that work. And that is the difference.

Let’s use a fairly benign example to illustrate this point – dentistry.

Let’s say you are a dentist who is also a coach and you are doing a promotion for your services.

You know that you have to make the service sound really appealing and so you want to talk to the results that people are going to get. Then you’re going to walk them through how they’re going to get that result so that it’s clear that you are not responsible for the result but they are.

The dentist example

Let’s say that your program promises to help clients achieve clean, white teeth free of plaque and holes, following a proven, three step process.

Sounds good, right? So what is the three step process?

Well firstly the dentist is going to make sure that you’re accountable to brush your teeth every day three times a day following his recommended method. He’s also going to make sure that you are accountable to floss your teeth twice a day following his recommended method and at the right time in relation to brushing your teeth. 

And thirdly he’s going to recommend that you use a specific toothpaste and mouthwash at the time that you’re brushing your teeth.

So as you can see it’s a very simple three step process that anybody can follow. 

The problem is that most people don’t follow the method or aren’t sure about the best way to do it, or they lack commitment and self responsibility to keep doing it. 

And that’s why coaching is so important. If the dentist was a coach he would be helping you to figure out how to make those daily habits happen so that the result would follow.

The weight loss example

Let’s say that your program promises to help clients lose weight by developing a healthier relationship with food, based on two proven strategies.

Sounds great. What are the strategies?

You might decide that managing portion size and mindful eating are two techniques that are especially useful.

So your program might include discussion and resources on managing portion size and how to eat mindfully.

Your clients may choose to implement these (or not) in addition to their own weekly goals.

Your program helps them to develop habits that are linked with weight loss, and that if done consistently, should see weight shift. The weekly goal setting and review process helps to create accountability and navigate obstacles.

As you can see, in this case, the client may or may not have their own tools, but they might like to learn and implement ideas on portion size and mindful eating that will help them to slow down, manage portions better and effectively lose weight.

The accountability around action is the secret sauce here! 

Explaining what you do as a coach

As you can see, it’s very important to be clear on using your client’s own words in the promo copy for your program.

If asked, you should also have a clear and simple explanation of your role as the coach.

There are many ways to approach this and it’s a whole separate podcast, actually.

But for now, let’s assume you want to position professionally and give some info on the benefits to the client. That is the ‘rough’ formula for your statement of what you do. 

The Coaching Psychology Manual by Moore and Tschannen-Moran discusses the fact that coaches facilitate client-directed neuroplasticity – in other words, forming new habits that change the brain. 

Words to this effect, and/or discussion of coaching psychology and/or positive psychology are relevant to set the scene around what you do.

In addition, remember that we help clients develop their own foolproof process for change, that they can enjoy and be consistent with, so that the result can be realised.

Coming up with a simple statement is important. Make it relevant to your audience, but it could be as simple as something like this:

Health and wellness coaching is based in coaching psychology and it facilitates neuroplasticity – your brain’s ability to change.

My role as your coach is not to advise or direct, but to help you achieve the things you are struggling to do on your own.

When you work with me, I help you to develop your own foolproof, automatic habits and process around healthy eating/sleep/stress management/other  so that you can do X consistently and confidently.

Summary

Marketing is all about your ideal client and it needs to focus on their story.

It’s easy to get lost in explaining coaching services or being plagued by the thought of promising what you can’t deliver, or simply underdelivering. 

As you can see, the thing clients are stuck with are not WHAT to do, but HOW. 

Therefore, your job as a coach is to explain the process by which you help them, in words that they understand, so that your scope of practice is clear and that your offer is mouth watering!

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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E#155 The Value of (Pilot) Program Content + Emails

This episode is about the value of (pilot) program content + emails

Program content and emails are important program resources that help your clients to know what to do, grow into their new identity and make positive, lasting change. The right amount and type of content and emails can make your clients’ ‘know, grow and change’ journey more impactful, therefore adding incredible, tangible value to an intangible service – at least initially, before clients truly experience the value of coaching itself. 

When creating content and emails, it’s essential to consider the customer journey and user experience so that you can meet clients where they’re at and meet their needs and wants.  

Simply listening to and addressing needs is another great way to add value!

I like to call content and emails ‘assets’ – the definition being ‘things that you own (e.g. your IP) that has an economic or other value. 

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* Getting started guide
* What are the monitoring tools that can really help?
* How your personal experience can help you come up with great content?

Content Assets

Here are some of the content assets that you can create and use in your pilot and completed programs.

Getting Started Guide

This is a program road map and welcome guide for your clients, all in one. It explains briefly how the program works and includes housekeeping items like how to book appointments, log in, whitelist your email, etc. 

Written and Verbal Quizzes

Everybody loves to learn more about themselves. Everybody!

And as coaches, we know that self-awareness is the first step to making change. It’s an essential pre-requisite for creating a compelling vision (where I am now, vs where I want to be).

Quizzes, questionnaires and reflective worksheets are effective tools for raising self-awareness and/or changing perspective and negative thinking patterns that keep us stuck. They are fun and interesting methods of bringing curiosity and attention to who we are, what we like, and what we are capable of.

As clients become aware of the symptoms, thoughts, feelings, behaviours and situations that they experience, and identify those which affect their motivation and habits, they will start to really ‘get it’ – that they have unique lifestyle challenges that they must master on their own terms. 

In coaching programs, we tend to use quizzes more in the pre-work and first 2 – 3 weeks of a program (in the awareness phase), but they are also useful going forward for ongoing discovery.

Quizzes can be sourced externally or you can create your own (Word doc, quiz software, Microsoft forms, Google forms).

Examples include:

Monitoring Tools

We know that recognising success makes you feel like you are getting somewhere, and achieving a result – and that creates a sense of value.

Yet so few of us take the time to recognise our efforts, our progress, and our incremental results.

We live with ourselves every day, so the subtle changes that occur may be hard to see and acknowledge.

Monitoring tools offer a powerful way to help your clients recognize some of the more subtle but important changes they are creating in life, body and/or mind.

You can use monitoring tools from the first week of your program to help your client feel good and see hard data to show that your program gives specific benefits and results. 

Useful tools include:

  • Weekly, in-session monitoring tools like a rating of 1 – 10 in any area, like energy, stress, hunger, sleep etc. Discuss and get the client to write them down.
  • Weekly goal review, including % success
  • Goal review (mid-program & final week) to give a big-picture view of change.
  • Wellness wheels (good ‘before and after’ visuals)
  • Reflective journals
  • Blank meal plans or other schedules
  • Checklists
  •  Progress charts or spreadsheets (e.g. for workouts done, glasses of water etc)
  • Anything else that helps a client ‘tick things off’.

Homework Tasks (in Email, or Portal Resources) 

In addition to a client’s own weekly goals, you may like to offer optional homework such as some activity or experiment you determine with the client in their session.

Homework generally falls into the category of skills development (self-efficacy), challenge, or self-awareness.

Here’s an example of each:

  • Skills development – invite a client to create their own tool for monitoring exercise based on their learning style, or to practice reframing negative thoughts.
  • Challenge – invite a client to say no to something, or set a boundary with a person, or themselves at work. Or, in a group setting, create 2 or 3 teams to complete a fun task such as highest total number of exercise minutes. 
  • Stretch – invite a client to complete one of the goals they set, with the option to stretch beyond it and do a little more (e.g. 5 more minutes of exercise.

    Other examples of homework tasks for coaching programs include:

    • Complete the VIA strengths inventory and identify one way they have used their #1 strength this week to help them with their goals.
    • Writing down 3 successes every night. This is a quick exercise that reinforces positive change – which is good for the client AND the perceived value around your program.
    • Saying ‘you’re worth it!’ into the mirror each morning.
    • Keeping a gratitude diary.

    Coaching tools

    Coaching tools are used to help clients get unstuck and/or otherwise facilitate change. 

    Like regular quizzes but with more of a coaching flavour, these tools can help to enhance a client’s self-awareness and facilitate a shift in perspective. Both are essential parts of change. 

    They may include: 

    • Decisional Balance, 
    • the VIA Strengths Test, 
    • Appreciative Enquiry, 
    • Energy Drains and Boosters, 
    • the ABCDE model, 
    • Reframing
    • Socratic questioning, 
    • a Positivity Rating. 

    Emails (or private / video / audio messages)

    Used wisely and in the right amount, emails, private messages and/or audio/video messages can add value to coaching programs.

    They can make it easier and more convenient for clients to remember to do this, such as:

    • log in to the coaching call each week
    • remember to complete their homework

    I once had a program for busy people and many of them wanted to remember to do a small daily task during the program. 

    To help them, I created an email autoresponder series was optional for my clients to subscribe to. It sent a simple email at 6am every day for 6 weeks, reminding them to do their activity. 

    It finished after 6 weeks, and didn’t sell or subscribe to anything else. They found it extremely useful!

    Emails, messages and personal video or audio messages can build connection, rapport and trust, if you use them to:

    • check in with progress on goals
    • let them know that you’re thinking of them or are ready to support them if they’re having trouble.
    • be a cheer leader for them
    • acknowledge their progress.

    In short, emails can support a client to deliver content, but also to remember to do things, feel supported in tough times, and feel acknowledged and valued.

    Experience Content

    Your own experience – what you did, what worked for you, how you felt at the time, and what worked for your client – is super helpful content to share with program members.

    It could be delivered as live or recorded videos, audios, blog posts or small snippets.

    There needs to be context added, for example, how you overcame a mental hurdle along the way, or a specific tool your client used to finally get out of bed at 6am, or a story of how someone redesigned their environment so they were no longer tempted.

    Stories are powerful and they help people imagine themselves in the same position, and succeeding.

    Value Adds

    Value adds are those unexpected little things that delight and surprise you – and add tangible value to a program, simply because you’re showing that you care.

    The goal is to make the client feel personally valued, supported and/or rewarded

    A great way to enhance ‘user experience’ (UX)! 

    Examples include:

    • A physical welcome gift (goodie bag, book voucher etc)
    • A personalised welcome letter
    • A blank journal and a branded pen (easiest to start) 
    • A beautiful worksheet that you create
    • Recipe booklets
    • Recommended Reading lists
    • Links to relevant Ted talks
    • Offering a private 15 minute chat
    • Links to ‘how to’ or ‘why’ style blogs or podcasts you’ve created (or others)
    • A completion certificate
    • A completion gift
    • A personalised thank you letter
    • A follow up postcard (e.g. 4 weeks after the program)

    For value-adds that can be used within a program, getting your clients to use them – in session, and for homework activities – can significantly boosts their self-awareness, achievements and results. 

    Value-adds used outside a program help a client to feel heard, acknowledged and valued.

    In a pilot program, actively taking on feedback and making changes to a program also demonstrate respect for and acknowledgement of your program clients. This is a way to add ’emotional value’ and to build trust and rapport.

    Summary

    Content and emails (and other media) aren’t about pushing your story or information on people, or forcing them to do or buy anything. 

    Content and emails (and other media) are an opportunity to truly support and help your client on a sometimes-challenging and uncomfortable journey to change and, to demonstrate that their journey and success is your priority.

    Best of all, you don’t need reams of stuff. You just need a few pieces of super useful stuff to support the journey to know, grow and change. 

    Based on what you know of your ideal clients, what could YOU create that would add the most value to your clients’ journey?

    Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

    Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

    Learn more here:

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    E#154 The Why, What and How of Pilot Program Workflows

    This episode is about the why, what and how of pilot program workflows

    When you’re creating a coaching program or an educational program, there is SO MUCH that needs to go into the finished product that you don’t even realise. It’s like thinking you are putting together a 50 piece jigsaw and realising it’s actually a 5000 piece jigsaw. 

    In this episode I’m going to help you sort out the pieces of your program jigsaw and map out the basic roadmap or workflow of your pilot program so you can build it quickly and efficiently.

    In this episode, I’ll talk about 
    * What pilot programs?
    * What are workflows, and why create them?
    * What is it that you are mapping out?

    Why pilot programs  

    I did a compete episode on the benefits of pilot programs a while ago. But to recap, in my experience of over 3500 coaching hours, I have had the best results in programs that have started with a pilot version. 

    Now, I firmly believe that you should always run a pilot program so you can develop and test a draft version of a program with real clients before you launch it so you can feel more confident, professional and give clients exactly what they want.

    The starting point for any program is to map out a workflow which helps you to develop a professional program outline that captures all the key things you need to do, in a way that maximises your clients’ experience and results.

    In this episode, I’ll briefly map out the Why, What and How of pilot program workflows to help you capture the key elements and make the build out a little easier.

    What are workflows, and why create them? 

    Workflows are essentially planning tools that help you think through and map out the individual tasks you need to do to build your pilot program from both YOUR perspective AND considering the needs and wants of the clients you will serve. 

    Workflows help you build your program in a way that is very time efficient – aiming to capture all the important steps and do them in a logical order, so you know exactly what to do and how to do it.

    For example, building a program isn’t just about working out what you are going to do in a session and what content you might need to create. 

    It’s also looking at those things from the clients perspective – like how to make your client feel excited and comfortable when they attend the session. Consider also the format and delivery style of content in your program.

    For example, some social media Guru might have told you that you need to send three emails each week with a long story to engage your reader. How is your ideal client going to feel if they hate getting lengthy emails? The answer is simply, turned off.

    Or, what if you want to build out some fancy expansive platform to share coaching resources with your clients, but they are virtually IT illiterate and hate being online?

    As you can see, workflows are definitely about creating your own step-by-step roadmap for building your program, but more importantly they’re about making sure that your client has an exceptional service experience with your business.

    After all, it’s exceptional customer service that creates raving fans, transformational results, and plenty of referrals.

    In summary, workflows are all about good planning and customer service. They ensure you don’t miss anything in the build, and to co-create the program and build it in exactly the right way for your niche clients to have the best experience and results.

    What is it that you are mapping out?

    Since you want your clients to have a great experience in working with you (UX = user experience), you want to break your program into chunks and ensure that the customer experience in each area is easy, seamless, and enjoyable.

    There are three main areas to map out with workflows:

    1. Key steps in the promotion-to-sign-up phase
    2. Key steps in the onboarding phase (payment, welcome, engagement)
    3. Key steps in how the program will be run and what needs to be delivered, and when.

    Along the way, you can liaise with a niche focus group to get their opinions at each step of the way. Here’s how that could work.

    Once you’ve mapped a workflow for the areas above, test each one out yourself, as if you were a customer. 

    What was the experience like to sign up, be welcomed, pay, receive the info etc?

    How did you feel as you did it?

    What could be different/improved?

    Refine the process if needed, then, ask a couple of focus group members to talk through it or walk through it with you to see if you’re on the same page.

    No need to ask the WHOLE focus group to do all three aspects – just a couple for each is enough.

    How do you create workflows?

    The workflows themselves can be as simple, visual or detailed as you like – YOU decide.

    Some people (e.g. visual learners) like to use post it notes. 

    They write one step on each post-it note, then rearrange them on a mirror, wall or window until it seems like all of the steps (for signing up, on boarding or working through the program) are in a logical order, easy to undertake without any frustration, tech issues or time wasting.

    Alternatively, they may like to draw pictures.

    Some people (auditory or interactive learners) prefer to talk through things.

    Asking clients for their opinions might be the best way for you to map things out – or to talk through it aloud on your own.

    Some people (visual / detail learners) prefer to write answers and/or use spreadsheets.

    Working through a series of prompt questions might be helpful to identify all the considerations.

    Having a detailed, step-by-step project plan in a spreadsheet might help you to capture all the steps and schedule/allocate time to each task.

    Remember, they can be as simple or detailed as you like.

    Some people are happy to go with the flow and build things on the fly as they go, so might prefer to start with little detail and just some main ideas.

    Other people feel like they need a detailed, step-by-step list of tasks in order to do it properly and feel confident enough to launch.

    Summary

    Pilot programs (and eventually, full programs) contain a lot of moving parts.

    Workflows are great tools to help you capture all the steps and put them in the right order for three critical areas: sign up, onboarding and program delivery.

    As you create workflows, it’s important to get client opinions, test them yourself as if you were the client, and even get clients to talk through or walk through the ideas with you. That way you build more than just a great program – you build a program that gives your niche the best possible experience in working with you.

    Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

    Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

    Learn more here:

    Posted on

    E#142 Interview with Michelle Hasani

    This episode is about my interview with Michelle Hasani

    MW: Today, I’m very excited to be talking to Michelle Hassani today and Michelle, I’m not going to introduce you. I’m going to let you introduce yourself and tell us all about your business and what it is that you do.

    MH: Thanks Mel. Well, I’m Michelle Hasani and my business is Revive and Thrive. It’s about workplace wellness, leadership and lifestyle coaching. And I’ve been in business for about three years now. So my background is in leadership policy. 

    I work a lot for not-for-profits, in government organizations, which is where those services will come into play. For me, starting out in business, I had been in leadership for a long time and realized that I didn’t actually loved what I was doing anymore, and I guess the flow had gone out of it. 

    In this episode, I’ll talk about 
    * The value of coaching
    * Helping clients understand whether they have systems and structures that support people

    I had an aging father who was ill and I had a young daughter at the same time so it was just a combination of things and reflecting and thinking I’m not loving what I do anymore. And there must be a better way of doing life. So following that I went and worked for the government for a little while. And for about five years and did some really interesting pieces of work.

    During that time I started thinking about where I wanted to be long-term and coaching was the bit in the equation that I loved doing as a leader and as a manager. But I didn’t really get the opportunity to do it because there were so many other parameters that were influencing my time and then having had a cancer experience within the mix of that, I recognize that prevention was an important piece. 

    Our health system, while fragmented, was awesome at providing treatment but not awesome at helping a person, really make behavior change or reclaim their health and wellness post-intervention of some really heavy-duty chemoradiotherapy, lots of surgeries, that kind of thing. So, often our system leaves people broken rather than cured.

    So that’s kind of where I started thinking, what did I want to be doing? I wanted to help people with prevention which is far better than cure. 

    MW: You’ve talked about the gaps in healthcare, and it’s an interesting thing, and people often say what’s the value of coaching, and when you think about somebody having been through such a significant journey and then being on their own in between visits to their doctor or their specialist or whatever. It’s a lot to deal with. It’s not just like you broke an ankle. It’s a it’s a life-changing experience, right? And you have to maybe rethink and re navigate your life going forward and who’s going to help you with that? 

    MH: That’s where I started in terms of thinking it was one of the areas that I actually wanted to be working with people, helping them navigate the multiple practitioners that are in your world. When you have something like cancer, you’ve got multiple practitioners who aren’t necessarily talking to each other. And so that in itself presents a whole heap of other challenges in the equation. 

    It’s about helping people to develop a really clear plan about what their priorities are, and how can they rebuild following that trauma of the experience. 

    MW: So fast, forwarding three years now who’s your typical client? Who are you working within your business? 

    MH: It’s predominantly women though I have started to get some male referrals. My model is about working with a whole organization, but I have to say that that hasn’t transpired as I thought it might. It’s still work in progress. But my main clients are coming from government employees, who are actually being seen to be underperforming or having significant health issues that are preventing them from performing, or perceived health related issues that are impacting their ability to perform at work. That’s one cohort. 

    There is another who have been underperforming but they’ve been long-term employees so their employers are wanting to invest in them, rather than the ‘three strikes or you’re out’ approach. They’re looking at what else they can be doing to actually help these people reach their maximum potential. It’s quite a proactive approach? It’s actually still very experimental. 

    For me, this work has extended to two government departments and I’m talking to a third, so it’s slowly developing. But we’re looking at how we can look at that as an ongoing model rather than it just being.

    I have other clients who have had breast cancer and want to invest in not going back there again. So rebuilding post-treatment and and going from there.

    I have a few clients who are women who run their own businesses. They work as professionals and recognize that their health and well-being has been compromised because they’re putting others first rather than self. Some of those want to progress in terms of being at a particular level in their career but that would like to go to the next step but they know that going to that next step requires them having the foundation really solid in terms of their self-care as well as their skill set. 

    Because of my background, I’m able to help them build the tool kit around leadership, as well as their toolkit around their their health and well-being. 

    MW: That’s interesting. You’re working with those three groups and I think I can hear some similarities between them.

    MH: Yeah, there are similarities. So performance is there, people working at their optimum, whether it’s their day-to-day management of their family versus how they perform within their workplace, or whether it’s about that performance in terms of the next step career-wise and building on from where they are now. 

    Some of the tools that I use with people are the same regardless of whether they’re underperforming at work, or they’re wanting to progress to the next level. The foundation for each of them is very similar, the same because one size doesn’t fit all, but it is quite similar.

    MW: Interesting. We are kind of dancing around the topic of niches, but it’s almost like you’re looking at above and below the line of performance – with some coming up to that line and then some wanting to exceed.

    MH: Yeah. Sometimes people don’t even know what their baseline is, you know. So that’s helping them to know where they are at right now, where they want to be and how they are going to get there, which is the whole coaching Journey. 

    And when I think about a whole organization and when I go in and work with them, it’s about helping them to understand whether they have systems and structures that support people.

    Not being an effective leader is actually holding them back so I talk about wellness systems but it’s as simple as their communication. It’s not just about the health. It’s about the mindset and values that organizations use and then how that plays out in terms of enabling and supporting people to actually be self-driven within context. 

    MW: That’s interesting to think about the types of organizations that you’re working with. Are they generally that are more proactive and have a bit of a framework and some policies in place? Or are they people that don’t give that level of attention to their workforce, and almost need to be educated and directed a bit in that area? 

    MH: It’s kind of interesting in the government because the state government is such a large beast, then there are policies and procedures, but what happens in practice is different depending on who’s leading individual teams. There’s not a streamlined consistent approach, so that’s where the work is.

    With some of the smaller organizations that I’ve been working with, they might have some things in place. One in particular that I’m thinking of have done some fantastic work in terms of the documentation, but it’s then the implementation and anything leaders need to model what they’re doing. So you can have it on paper, but if you don’t have people that are walking the talk so then it isn’t congruent. 

    Often there’s a lack of congruence with the environments and so it’s about helping them to recognize that this may be the aspiration, but you’re not quite there yet. 

    MW: I was thinking this morning that a corporate culture starts with the individual and every individual has an impact on that. There’s definitely that role for leadership but it’s also, “how do you help the individual to take responsibility for their own health and well-being in a place?”

    MH: Yeah I talk to organizations about that in my model, it starts with self, then it starts with the shared systems within an environment then it’s about enabling and equipping the leadership. Whether you’re a leader or you’re not, it all starts with being self-aware and building your own toolkit. 

    Then as you build your leadership within that, you’ve got your shared systems, shared language and shared values. 

    What that does is it frees up your teams to actually be self-managed. They have the confidence to be able to experiment as we do in coaching and explore different ways of doing things and it brings a freedom in environments because, you know, everyone’s on the same page and consequently creates thriving cultures. It’s like, you’re closing the gap between the leadership in the workforce, almost bringing them onto the same page and getting them talking, the same language and working together, rather than that distrust or that they don’t understand me. 

    I think what I see more is that often smaller businesses are fantastic at taking care of their people but they forget to actually take care of themselves right? You know so you can have the policies and practice you can actually really give you staff days off. You can fund them to go and have fun. You know, you have a gym program for them, all of those things, but when it comes to, you know, a couple of organizations, I’m thinking of their stress levels are really high because they’re actually spreading themselves too thin. So some of the work I also do is around helping to identify what the gaps are. So one organization are recently worked with was identifying the right level of support that is needed for their growing business as well. By then being able to help them develop what that looks like. 

    We don’t have to do it all ourselves. It’s sometimes knowing when’s the point same as in your coaching business, when’s the point of when you get help from others and pay someone to do a component of your work versus

    MW: I’m curious to know your focus in business for the next 12 months. So if there were one or two things that you think are your priorities, what would they be? 

    MH: I’m having some interesting conversations with some peak bodies at the moment around how they can provide adequate support.

    A lot of services are delivered by not-for-profits and see organizations might have an employee assistance program but it’s about helping people to change the behaviors on going around their health and wellness. You can have a debriefing service, for example a lot of not-for-profits work in environments where vicarious trauma is actually an issue.

    But there are a whole heap of things that you can put in your toolkit to reduce your stress, manage your health and wellness, be more open around those conversations, those kind of things. There is a space for coaching to actually support in education engagement. 

    The other is around, consolidating, some of the government work and and trying to move it from an ad hoc referrals to actually looking at a system response.

    For example, you can get a free physio appointment or something like that, but you co uld also have a health check or health and wellness check. How might we be able to add a service in place that’s been so that the employers are getting maximum benefit?

    MW: Yes, really packaging what you’re doing and taking that out into companies. 

    MW: I was talking to someone the other day and it’s all about timing. In September last year, I had conversations with a person. He’s a head of a peak body and they were worried about getting support, and decided to go a different way which is absolutely fine. Then only a week ago, I pick up the phone and say, hey, I’m just touching base to see how you’re doing and is there anything I can support you with?’ And that person said hey your timing is perfect. We need to have this conversation. So, you know, sometimes you as a coach who’s running a business, you don’t see the immediate effectiveness of those conversations that you are having. 

    It’s about planting the seed and then making sure that you go back and water it. 

    MW: It’s such an important point because a lot of people say, “how do I get a steady flow of clients?” and the answer is, “you have a steady flow of conversations.”

    MH: Absolutely, you know, lots of people will go the social media way and you have to really know who the client is. The clients that I’m working with are of the age and professional status that are not going to pick up a service from an ad on Facebook or Instagram, you know. So they might check it out in terms of the quality of your content. Yeah. But they’re not going to click a link and book there. 

    MW: That’s a very important point. Coaching is a relationship business and you’re in the you what you are doing is building relationships in both the service that you deliver and the marketing of it and it’s like building friendships. I remember moving to a town where I knew nobody, but I didn’t get on the internet and start posting and hoping to make friends and business connections. I went out and talked to people and kept showing up and kept showing up and kept showing up and eventually they figured out who I was and got to know me. It’s that repetition of showing up and adding value to them, sharing articles, asking how they’re going, following up and it’s also about making those strategic connections. 

    MH: This year, I’ve done a couple of workshops for a local government, but also for the tourism industry tourism Commission of South Australia. 

    Now I can’t say that immediate work has come from either of those but the relationships that I made in one Workshop, eighty percent of the people in there were in the health provision space, but they’re all relationships, you know, from that we’ve talked about setting up a meeting on an ongoing basis to come together and look at how we can actually collaborate to provide support to clients. So that becomes a referral pathway rather than a thing that you sign up a client there and then. So that’s ongoing and it’s about building that relationship again with the tourism commission. That’s about keeping in contact with the people that attended, you value-add by giving something and not expecting anything back but what might come is that referral. 

    MW: It’s called the principle of reciprocity. Give first in order to receive as Stephen Covey, would say, absolutely yeah. 

    MW: So, and I don’t go and deliver a workshop with the intent that I’m going to walk away with three clients from it.

    I have the intent of hoping that people walk away with an aha moment that they can, then start to make improvements within their business, or within their own personal life. And then to know that if they then need additional support that it’s a phone call away and that starts a conversation. 

    MW: And I guess the other thing too, is that when you go to go to any sort of event or you run an event, there are going to be people who your values are aligned with. As in “values-aligned” as a hyphenated word. That’s a bit jargony for a podcast, but it just means that you might make a couple of connections in that session that you then take offline and and can, continue and build that more intimate relationship as well. 

    MH: There are some people who I know of who run workshops and sign clients before they’ve left the room and I don’t know how authentic that is. What I mean is, I personally like to process the information. And so, you know, gathering information and testing and then saying “is that what I want to be doing? Is that who I want to be working with?”

    And maybe my clients stream comes slower because that’s the approach I take, but I’m actually quite comfortable with that because the people that come on board are genuinely committed to going through the process and then become long-term clients rather than it being you’ve done this short intervention and thanks very much.

    MW: So, just to wrap up, Michelle knowing what, you know, now of all that you’ve done and experienced. If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself the you of five years ago or three years ago? 

    MH: If I just go back three years I think the thing that I would have done is I probably would have stayed working part time. I need to be in collaboration and working with people in that context. So I think what I would have done is maybe stayed employed by someone for a period of time until I had the flow of clients because it takes time, it takes a good two years not just in coaching just generally. It takes time to build a solid client base to build those relationships. 

    Also, I’d say trust yourself in lots of different stuff. I originally was encouraged by multiple people to have a niche and one niche, you know, like an I think that slowed my business progress rather than looking at my whole skill set and tool kit. So, you know, like I was going mainly in that cancer space to start with, but in actual fact, our culture in Australia around paying for support in that space people get so much free stuff and there’s so much fundraising, and those kind of things, people expect to be given. I don’t agree with that but that’s okay. So I think, yeah, I think take the advice of others but then really trust your sense of where you think you need to go. 

    And I think the other thing, a great piece of advice that I and I was given is, don’t build it unless you’ve sold it. One of the things I did in the beginning was start writing programs, having them ready to go, but if you actually haven’t sold it, there’s no point building it now.

    MW: Right, you just need enough of a skeleton to have the confidence to go out there and promote yourself and say I’ve got this, but it’s not the complete whiz-bang finished product. 

    MH: Yeah. Because you can spend a lot of time that’s not paid for so, you know, like, be really clear. I guess the advice is, be really clear on what is income-producing activity? And what’s not. Because at the end of the day, as much as, you know, we all become coaches because we want to help and support people who grow the stuff that you can do sitting at your desk like designing your website, doing your social media, all of those kind of things isn’t actually income-producing activity so it’s about having it’s been clear on what is what is your income activity and what’s not and so have a best structure. 

    You don’t need it to be perfect and, you know, as we would talk to our clients about progress, not perfection, I think in terms of our business that’s the same piece of advice. I would have given myself. It’s progress not Perfection. Yeah. So and no, you don’t have to spend a lot to get your business off the ground but there’s just some key Basics that you need a good logo, good business card.

    MW: And you can do that electronically, you don’t even have to have a paper form, you know, if you’ve got a fantastic LinkedIn profile. You don’t need a website until you until you’re really clear who you want to work with and you’ve done some work, it’s good to have a starting point, but then when you don’t know in the beginning. 

    It’s like when I was three, I didn’t know that I was going to University and to become a biologist 20 years later, you know? So it’s that same kind of thing. You might pick a direction and keep it rubbery and also not too much in place so that you can develop it out through your experience of working with people and figuring out what you love to do. 

    Thanks so much. Michelle for your insights today and I hope that everything goes as you wish it to this year and the coming 12 months. 

    MH: One thing I’ve learned Mel is that it’s just being open to what the possibilities might be – to have a direction but then be grateful for the new opportunities that are presented. If you’re not open to them, you can’t actually know what they are. The space that we that you’re going to work in may not even be designed yet. So the space that we’re working in as health and wellness, coaches may not even be defined yet be open to listening to what people need and adapt.

    MW: It’s very valid and the first bit you said is the important bit – listening to what people need.

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