Office Hours Archive: January 21, 2020


0:01:01 Full transcript

Judith is doing her work. She’s creating and sharing content; she’s hosting a monthly webinar, and she’s inviting people to consultations. 

She might have 30 to 35 people sign up for her webinars, and of those she has 10 to 15 showing up and engaging. And of those, a few have done consults with her, and some of those have started to become superfans: they tune into everything she does, they comment and share…they love her. 

So she came to me with two main questions:

First: How do I know if I’m doing webinar selling right?

My answer: I don’t know, because I haven’t done much of that myself. The easy answer is you know you’re doing it right if people are accepting your invitations. But how to get more of them to accept? I don’t know. I told Judith she might want to find a course specifically about webinar selling, and she mentioned that she has access to some good content on the topic. 

I don’t think I mentioned this to Judith on the call, but the ability to sell on webinars is only a part of the story. You have to be able to get people to the webinars in the first place. Getting them to show up and getting them to take action after showing up are two totally different skills. If I had to vote for one over the other, I’d have to go with getting them to show up in the first place. If you can get enough people on a call, somebody is going to buy. 

It truly is a numbers game. Having 10-15 people show up to a monthly webinar is great practice and great fun, it’s not enough to give you a good sense for whether anything is “working.” There’s just not enough data to make any meaningful evaluation. What’s the magic number? I don’t know. Fifty?

Don’t misunderstand me: I’m not saying fifty is the magic number that unlocks the door to riches. I’m saying it’s probably enough to give you meaningful data about whether your webinar is working for you. 

So, yes, keep doing your webinars (and enjoy them). But give more energy to getting people to attend the webinars.

Second: How can I take advantage of the attention my business gets (expected or unexpected)?

Judith was featured on the cover of Brooke Castillo’s Self Coaching Scholars materials recently, and she noticed a corresponding increase in traffic to her website. She’s wondering how she could have been better prepared to take advantage of that attention. 

I didn’t mention this on the live call, but there’s a key insight here: not all attention has the same potential.

The key word here is “intent.” We’re not just looking for attention, we’re looking for intention. Hey, see what I did there? Here’s what I mean: if a fellow coach sees you on a magazine cover, and feels a surge of envy and curiosity about how you ended up on that cover, she might google you. She might find your profile and click through to your website to see what’s going on.

What’s her intention? To satisfy curiosity. I don’t know whether that’s the kind of attention Judith got from that feature, but it’s something I want you to be aware of. All website visitors are welcome, but some are much more likely to take meaningful action than others. If a person is coming to your site after hearing you speak, or reading some great piece of content you wrote, or watching a video you posted somewhere…that’s a person who’s more likely to have the intention of learning more and actually doing something. 

So rather than being ready to capitalize on unexpected attention, I’d pursue the attention you know is more likely to build your business.


0:23:48 Full transcript

Heidi has this nagging, growing anxiety that she’s behind and she’s failing because she hasn’t been paid for her coaching yet.

Recently a friend (who makes money in her own business) asked Heidi how it’s going. Heidi took that to mean “are you making money yet?” even though her friend didn’t mention money at all.

I asked Heidi to let herself believe that’s exactly what the friend meant. Imagine, I told her, that your friend came right out and asked you how much money you’ve made. Zero, Heidi told me. 

Okay, so what? You’ve made $0. What does that mean about you?

Heidi’s exact reply to me was that she has a “a whole negative tornado of junky thoughts.”

She also mentioned that making money would validate the whole thing: the goal to be a life coach, the money she’s spent on her business so far…all of it. 

The problem is that it’s pretty hard to make money inside a negative tornado of junky thoughts. 

This is why I don’t like our cultural obsession with income as status and validation. It’s just garbage. In Heidi’s case, she feels like the validation will only come with significant earnings, as fast as possible. 

And when she thinks she has to make a lot of money as fast as possible, she feels overwhelmed. She has no idea how to do that. The ideas that do come to mind don’t seem big enough to get her the money she needs to feel validated, which then discourages her…and we’re in this vicious loop. 

So how does Heidi break out of the loop?

First, she starts actively looking for evidence that it was a good idea to a) go down the path of life coaching, and b) spend the amount of money that she did. 

Second, she stops trapping herself with the idea that she has to earn a lot to feel validated, but that earning a lot takes too much time and requires too many steps. 

Third, she acknowledges that these things take time. Her business owner friend has been at it for nine years and is just now seeing some real results. 

Fourth, she looks for meaningful baby steps she can make in the direction of earning. For example, she can invite friends over to listen to her teach on a coaching topic. Start small, keep going. 

Heidi and I talked for 26 minutes, and the live attendees seemed to love it (according to what they were posting in that chat window. Heidi seems to not be the only one struggling with these things, so you might want to check out the audio segment or the full transcript. 


0:49:54 Full transcript

Catie had a very practical question about whether to keep selling when a) she has a mostly-full client load right now, and b) she has a baby on the way in a month or so. 

Should she keep inviting people to coach with her even though she’ll be taking some time off?

Here’s how I think about this:

Once a coaching business has some clients, the game is load management. Yes, in an ideal world we have a new client waiting to jump on the calendar as soon as one of the current clients completes. 

But it’s more realistic that we’ll have to decide whether we want our business to be more on the feast side or more on the famine side. 

Before you say “feast, obviously,” let me rephrase: would you rather be just a little overworked or a little underworked? Would you rather set your “normal” at “I have one or two more clients than I actually want,” or “I wouldn’t mind taking on another client or two right now.”

Operating consistently with one or two too many clients gives you more money but less rest.

The other one gives you more rest but less money. 

Which would you choose? 

Catie prioritizes time over money, so she’s not concerned about having little gaps in her client work. In that case, I told her, no need to worry about selling more clients right now. When you get back to work in March, let your audience know you’re ready for them.

In the meantime:

Keep your relationships warm by staying in touch (through content, probably). 

If there are prospects itching to sign with you, let them. Take full payment (or a deposit) and say “See you in March!” There’s no rule that says just because you sign a client now they have to start now, right?

Our businesses are ours to design. We all need to figure out how we want to make the time/money tradeoff today. When our priorities change, the business can change with them.


0:57:42 Full transcript

Hanalee has nagging questions about whether she’s “doing this right.” With everything from her blog posts to her website…is she doing this right? She’s a great student who will definitely get an A if you just tell her what an A requires.

So she’s looking for someone to “check her work,” in her words. 

Most people in this community actually did come into their coaching businesses through a school-ish setting, so it’s reasonable to want to have your work checked and approved.

But it’s not very useful. You can show your website, your blog posts, and your photography do your peers. They’ll give you opinions (mostly positive) and feedback (mostly useless). 

The only feedback that really matters in your new business is the reaction you get from the people you want to work with. Knowing you wrote a good blog post (according to your coach, your friends, your mom) doesn’t mean anything compared to an email or a comment from a person who could actually become your client. 

Getting that feedback is hard work because it requires you to get out of your comfort zone and get into conversations about your work. That’s the only place the magic can happen.

Speaking of websites, I reminded Hanalee that a website is not essential to progress. Helpful, maybe. But not essential. I asked her to consider this scenario: let’s say I’ll give you 20 minutes to schedule a coaching conversation, and if you do it I’ll pay you $1,000. Would you? Of course you would. Do you need a website to do it? Of course not. You need a phone and your own contact list. 

Does a website help in the long run? Sure, of course. Is it necessary to get started? Of course not. So be careful about manufacturing obstacles. 

But when you do get around to setting up that website and creating content, consider this:

It might make more sense in the early days of your business to have a more general website. Something with a headline that sounds something like “I help people feel better.” Then you can use individual pieces of content to test different niches. You might write one long article on how to develop your sense of self-worth. You might write another one about how to lose weight. 

As you move through the world telling people you’re a coach, some of them will end up on your site. With enough time and patience, your ideal niche could emerge from one of these experiments. For some people their ideal niche is obvious from day one. For the rest of us I think it’s useful (and fun) to sample different types of clients to see which one is the best fit for you. There’s no hurry. 


1:27:02 Full transcript

Breian didn’t jump on the call for coaching on this session, she just wanted to add her thoughts about being too money-focused in the early days of the business…especially this idea that the business is “in debt” from day one simply because you invested money into it. This idea of being “behind” from the minute it’s born doesn’t seem to serve the business or the business owner. 

I 100% agree, which is why I always ask people to consider that money a long-term investment in yourself, your happiness, your personal development and your earning power. 


1:31:45 Full transcript

Dara is moving on from her identity as a professional quilter (and thought leader in the quilting community) to fully commit to life coaching. We didn’t do much coaching but she wanted to add her thoughts to the conversation about enjoying the process, letting the business grow and evolve at its own pace, and doing it in a way that feels right to you. 

We did have a quick conversation about how our messaging might find resonance more easily when it’s couched in some aspect of our identity (and the identity of the person we’re trying to serve). Here’s a segment of our conversation you might find useful:

“Mark: Something I will say to people about their websites and about their businesses in general is that because I think that humans are sort of … we are sense-making machines and we’re looking to make sure, am I in the right place? Am I in the right place? The fastest way for us to check whether we’re in the right place is to look around and see whether the people there look like us.

And the way that can show up on a website is by having the words on the website connect with a specific identity trait or set of identity traits. And by that I mean … the most broad one being women. So I coach women, is what many of you would say. More narrow than that would be, I coach women of faith, or I coach women with teenagers, or whatever. Where people … it’s a trait or an attribute, but it’s strong enough that it rises to the level of being identity.

So in yours, I’m not saying you should do this, but it’s just such a good example, where you have this … In the quilting community, you are a name in the quilting community. And “I am a quilter” is a strong identity statement. Like, “I quilt” means something to a quilter. So if two quilters meet and it’s like, “Oh, you quilt, I quilt,” that’s a connection that me as an observer would not understand, that I as an observer would not understand. So even as we stick with this idea of a general website that kind of dips its toe into different ideas, if you have a very obvious part of your identity that fits with a community, it can be helpful to … if you were to making a broad statement on your website, something along the lines like, “I’m a quilter who helps quilters thrive.” It’s still general, but it calls out to her identity in a way that’s going to make instant connection with you.”

Consider how it might be useful to highlight your identity in your message.


1:39:52 Full transcript

Marci is new to the community and mostly just wanted to get out of her comfort zone and introduce herself. Marci, you’re very welcome here. 

She told me she’s been working with her coach (our own Breian) on figuring out how to honor the different roles she fills in life:

She’s a mom, she’s a fitness instructor, and now she’s a life coach.

She’s felt overwhelmed by trying to do all of them at the same speed, and it’s burning her out. She said she feels pressure to hurry up and make money as a coach, but she doesn’t want to do it at the expense of her other priorities.

You can already guess my answer: forget the money for the moment. Allow yourself to experience all your roles, and be aware of what you’re getting from each of them. As you get a better sense of what each one means to you, you’ll find it easier to balance time and energy between them. 

I don’t think this will surprise any of you, but I don’t view business (the type of business we’re all running anyway) as primarily a money-making project. 

I view it as an exploration of my values, an opportunity to build relationships and be of service, a personal growth and learning project, and a way to make a living. It’s all of those things, and money isn’t the most important to me.