When you go to the website of tonight’s guest, you’ll find this quote, which is a wonderful expression of what it means to live a passionate, turned-on life from 83-year-old Mavis Leyrer.
“Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, ‘… What a ride!'” And this is the way tonight’s guest lives his life. I can tell you from having spent some time with him that you’ll discover that in everything he does David Wood is living life full-out. To give you a sense of who David is, I want to read you a bit of his bio in his own words.
He says, “I left a cushy, consulting job in New York-an actuary working with Fortune 50 companies, believe it or not-to return home to Australia and follow my boyhood rock-and-roll dream. Despite a shocking singing voice, I actually got paid for it and once even embarrassed myself on TV. In 1998, I found out there was a career where you can actually help people make big life changes and get paid.
“As I’d been trained as a coach by Landmark Education and loved coaching, I jumped at it.” David’s done some pretty impressive things. As he would say, here’s the impressive stuff he’s done, and then we’ll get down to who he really is in this interview. David’s coached more than 1,25o hours by phone in 15 countries around the world. He’s personally mentored over 200 coaches.
He’s coached on national TV and radio. He’s been certified as a personal certified coach by the International Coach Federation in Washington, DC. He’s served as chairman of the International Coach Federation Publicity Committee in the US and founded a global coach training school called the International Coach Academy. On top of that, he’s presented at major corporations like Xerox, Ford and General Motors.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: David, thank you so much for joining us tonight. It’s really a pleasure and an honor to have you with us.
DAVID WOOD: Thanks, Chris. It’s good to talk to you. It’s good to catch up with you.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: For me, perhaps David’s most impressive credential is that he recently spent a month with Byron Katie at her Turnaround House diving deeply into the process Katie calls “The Work.” Some of you know my partner, Janet. Janet and I feel The Work is the most powerful process for undoing the beliefs that keep each of us from living a life of passion.
This series is focused around passion so, David, as we begin, would you share with us how your passions, the things that you care most about, led you to what it is you do today?
DAVID WOOD: Yes. I went and did a course at Landmark Education called The Forum, and I was pretty cynical. I was an actuary consultant, and I just thought self-help was a bunch of mumbo-jumbo. I looked around and saw these self-help junkies and said, “I’m never going to become one of them.”
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Famous last words, right?
DAVID WOOD: I know! What I found was that people were having incredible breakthroughs in just three days. Their lives were changing, and they were doing things that were completely unpredictable, like getting in touch with a father they hadn’t spoken with for 10 years, and like that. I thought, “Wow! This is great, but I’m still not going to do any more of these courses.”
As time went on I saw that the people who did the second course were even happier. They were bouncing off the walls with enthusiasm; they had lots of energy. I thought, “I want some of that,” so I did the second one. I found that I was accidentally coaching people. I didn’t really mean to, but I found people would get blocked and they’d be stuck.
They’d say, “I’m not sure what my goal should be,” or “I’m not sure how to do this,” or “I’m just too embarrassed to call this person.” I would just naturally be sharing what I could see. People were having transformations and really moving forward. I found it so fulfilling to help people, in particular to help them dig down and find their courage and face anything that they were scared of.
I really loved that, and I’m actually doing that. When I got a chance to train up as a coach specifically and take on a few clients with Landmark, I jumped at it. I said, “All right, train me up!” That’s one thing I’m passionate about: really finding the courage to face anything that you’re afraid of. The second thing that really leads into this is freedom.
I find every time I face something I’m afraid of, I get more freedom, what I call inner freedom. I’ve also found after working nine-to-five, nine-to-six, or nine-to-nine for a corporation that I love determining my own schedule. I really don’t like to be on someone else’s schedule, and I don’t like to have to do one thing for a block of 10 hours. I also found that I don’t like to be tied to a certain city.
I like to be free to go and live wherever I want whenever I want, so I’ve created a lifestyle that lets me do that. I know we’re going to talk about how to do that. One way-although it’s not the only way-to do that is to create a coaching practice where you get to help all over the planet.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: You’ve been very successful at doing that. Would you share with us how you actually went from coaching sort of informally to actually being a professional coach and being able to make a great income at it? Many coaches and many people who are on the line who are in professions similar to coaching in one form or another find that the biggest difficulty they have is getting clients.
I know we’re going to talk about that tonight, but you did that somehow at the beginning. How did you get started? How did you move from being a sideline amateur coach to being a professional paid coach?
DAVID WOOD: One of the first things I did was to print up business cards. I decided I was going to print up cards, have them in my back pocket, and hand them out. That’s something anyone can do for under $10. That’s really simple. The second thing I did was I went and got some training. Training doesn’t have to be professional certification. It’s great to do that, but it doesn’t have to be.
I enrolled with a training company, and I hired a mentor coach as well. I figured if I’m going to learn how to do this, I should be working with someone who’s already doing it. I would say this to people who are wanting to make that transition from wishing they were a professional coach to being a professional coach. Find your mentor; find someone you respect who is really doing it.
Then either work with them one on one, if they’re available for that, or get their book, manual, CDs or whatever they produce to show you how to do it. I think that’s a great way to get started.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: David, I want to stop you there because I know after all your years of coaching and the great success you’ve had doing it, that it can be very expensive to get a coach one on one. Yet you’ve put together some packages to help people get started. Tonight, we’re going to get some tips from you about how new coaches can get started. If they want to get some professional guidance, what can you suggest to them that you’ve created?
DAVID WOOD: Great question. I would say that you’ve got options. If you have a couple thousand dollars to spend, up to $5,000, go for professional training. I think it’s a wonderful way to go. If you don’t, you can get packages at under $1,000, self-study packages, about how to become a coach. One of my products is called the Coach Start Manual, and that’s now selling for under $100.
People can get that online, but I’m happy to give you as much as I can in this interview, too, Chris. We can go through some of the major pointers in the Coach Start Manual, which can help people get up and running fast.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Fabulous. I know you’ve given some free gifts to our listeners. Anyone listening can to www.HealthyWealthynWise.com/CoachStart. David’s put together some things to supplement this interview. You can even get his Coach Start program for $1.00 and try it out for 30 days to see how it works for you. What I love about what you’ve done, David, is that you’re not so focused on the art of being a coach as much as how to actually create a business doing it.
I wonder if you would just start off by sharing something with us. Does someone who wants to be a coach require professional training to be a good coach, or is it possible that some people come by it naturally? I’m thinking of Richard Williams, the father of Venus and Serena Williams. He was never a tennis coach before, but somehow he helped to create two the best tennis players in the world. Is that common or is that unusual?
DAVID WOOD: I don’t think it’s an either/or question. I don’t think it’s, “Do you require professional training, or can you be a good coach without it?” I think both are true. I’ve found at Landmark Education that I was just naturally coaching people. I bet that most of the listeners on this call right now are already coaching friends and family; they’re already coaching people at work.
They’re probably finding they’re attracting people who come and ask them for advice. They’re just not getting paid for it. I think many, many people have a natural aptitude for coaching. Initially, I just started taking on clients without specific training. Tony Robbins is a good example. I like to mention Tony because he didn’t go and study for two years on how to do neurolinguistic programming.
He just started doing it. He said, “I’ll give you twice your money back if you’re not satisfied.” He just kept on doing it until he became really good at it. Then he decided to create his own brand of it. I think it’s called neuroassociative programming or conditioning. He created his own version and certifies people in that. You don’t require professional training.
I say to people to get training because it feels good. When you’re ready and when you’ve got the budget for it, get training because it feels good. One way you can do it is to start a business, get a coaching product or work with a coach, start it up and create the finances to fund your certification. To get certified, you need to coach a lot of people anyway. You can’t just get certified and then start coaching.
You need to be coaching as you’re doing it. That’s one way to do it; but get professional training because it feels good and because you want to be a better coach, not because you want a piece of paper on the wall. The piece of paper on the wall will not help you one bit.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: I so appreciate that, because there’s something we share with people in The Passion Test. When we connect with the things that get us excited and turned on, when we do the things that are fun and that allow us to be more connected to what we really care about, then we find ourselves going down a path where we begin getting support.
We begin seeing things happen that we couldn’t have predicted in advance, and life has the kind of fulfillment that that quote at the beginning of this interview expressed. For a lot of coaches, getting started is very difficult. I wonder if you would share with us what you see as the biggest obstacle that new coaches face.
DAVID WOOD: Yes, there are two things. The biggest one is a structure. They might know how to sit with a friend who’s asked for advice, but they don’t have a structure for how to approach someone professionally. They’re not sure how they would set up the sessions, what they would say to the client at the beginning of the sessions, what they would go through, what five steps will work for them, and then their agenda in the session.
If it’s an introductory session, they might try to sign the person up for three months. If they get to the end, if they happen to stumble through and the person says, “I’d really love to work with you. What do we do?” they get stumped there as well, naturally, because they don’t have a structure yet. They say, “We’ll work together.” How does that look? “I don’t know yet.”
That’s really why I created the Coach Start Manual, because I thought, “Let me go back over the last couple of years and put everything I’ve been doing into a structure so people can just copy that for themselves. That’s one thing, the structure. The second thing is confidence. If you put on the hat of coach and say, “I am now committed to helping you in your life,” it’s a natural thing to feel nervous about that.
How do I know I’m going to come up with the answers? How do I know I’m going to say the right thing to this person? What if I get completely stumped? What if someone says, “You’re a fraud; you don’t have a degree in this”? That really has stopped just about every coach I’ve worked with, including myself.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Yes, how do you get over that?
DAVID WOOD: The best way to get over that? There are a few things that I suggest in the manual. One thing is to write your own bio. Write a bio and, if necessary, have two or three friends help you with it, or have a mentor coach help you with it. There are many things you have accomplished in your life that you don’t even realize yet. The fact that you’ve been divorced helps you work with anyone who might be going through a divorce.
The fact that you’re married gives you some kind of common ground with someone who’s looking to get into a relationship. You may have gotten a great pay raise at work. You may have studied self-help for 20 years, which most people on this call have. That’s your own home-study university. When you start to write your bio and realize all of the things you do have to offer, you’ll start to feel more confident.
Another thing that is so critical is you have to start coaching. You have to get out there, you have to extend the invitations, and you have to do the practice sessions. It can be a little scary in the beginning, but once you’ve done the first five, the next five are so much easier, and then the next five are easier. I say by the time you’ve done 50 trial sessions-and this is what I encourage people to do in the Coach Start Manual-you’re an expert at doing introductory sessions.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Then you have the confidence.
DAVID WOOD: Exactly. That’s where the confidence comes from. There are so many ways that this helps people’s confidence. One is that they just learn how to do it. Another thing is they start to see results. They’ll actually do a session with someone and the person will say, “Wow! I’ve been wanting to change careers for 10 years, but I just haven’t done it. Now I see that it was because I thought I’d fail. If I didn’t think I could fail, I would just do it tomorrow. I’m going to go and do it now.”
If you have experiences like that, even if you do 10 sessions and you only have that once, that shows you what’s possible. Then from every person you do a trial session with, I recommend that you get a testimonial. “Just give me a paragraph on what you got out of that.” Now you’ve done 50 trial sessions, and whether or not you got 10 clients out of that or 10 paying clients, you’ve now got 30 testimonials to put on your website and you’re starting to feel like a real professional.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Do you have any suggestions about how people should ask for the testimonial? It may be a little bit difficult for some people to ask for that. How would you suggest that they go about it?
DAVID WOOD: It’s actually going to help them in getting the trial sessions. I say to do it right at the beginning when they set it up. There is one way that I’ve asked at trial sessions. I say, “It looks like you’ve got a goal here you’d like to work on, or there something you want to change in your life. I’d be happy to do an introductory session for you at no charge.
“The reason I do it at no charge is because I want to find out if you’re a fit for me just as much as you want to find out if I’m a fit for you. It’s to see if we really want to work together. The second reason is because at the end of it, I’ll ask you for one or two paragraphs on what you got out of the session,” and that’s how I built my testimonials.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: You actually tell people right up front before the session even begins.
DAVID WOOD: Yes, and what that does is it lets them off the hook. Some people don’t want to do a trial session because they think they might feel obligated to hire you, so I like to let them know upfront, “This is one of the things I’ll get out of it. If you’d like, you can call this my fee for the session. I’ll just ask you for two paragraphs on what you got out of it.” Then people think, “There’s some kind of exchange here, at least,” and they can feel better about spending the time with me talking about their goals.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: That makes complete sense. I’ve talked to a lot of coaches, and one thing for many people that’s difficult is just getting those first, initial clients. Do you have any tips for new coaches? You mentioned printing business cards; that’s a start. Are there any other things that they can do to start getting those first clients?
DAVID WOOD: I think that’s it. You print the business card, even if it just says your name, ‘coach’, your phone number and your email. Just start with that; it doesn’t have to be fancy at all. You don’t even need a company name. It gives you something to hand out, and you start to feel like the coach that’s in your back pocket. The other thing that you can do, because you need a structure, is I do recommend that you get yourself a coach.
You could also get some kind of training material, whether it be the Coach Start Manual or anything else that you’re drawn to. Get yourself a structure so you know what you’re going to ask in the first session, the second session, and the third session. Then go and invite people. What I go through in the manuals is to have people make a list of everybody they know. Next to their names, list a reason why you would like to offer them a free session.
You might want to offer them a free session because they’re a center of influence, they know a lot of people, or they’re a hub in a community. If they know you’re a great coach, they can refer you to a lot of people. That’s one reason. You can call them up and say that: “This is why I’d like to offer you a session. Another reason might be, “I’d like to coach you because I know you’ve got change happening in your life. You’re undertaking a major transition right now, and I’d like to support you through that. I’d like to offer you a session.”
You might just say, “I just love your energy; you’re a high-energy person. I think you’re going to produce great results, and I can improve those even more. I’d like to do a session with you to see if we’re a fit.” Once people have that list-everyone they know-they’ve got to have a reason to call that person. It’s not just, “Hi. I’m desperate for clients. Can you help me?”
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Which doesn’t work very well.
DAVID WOOD: No. “This is why I’d like to offer you a session,” then it’s so much more attractive and you’re more excited. If you’ve got the time, call. You’ve got a good reason now.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Your suggestion is to begin with the free trial session so you and they get a chance to feel each other out?
DAVID WOOD: I do; I really do. The reason is this. When someone’s hair gets long, they don’t even have to think about it. It’s just, “I need to go to the hairdresser.” If someone has a pain in their tooth, they don’t even think about it; they just know they’ve got to go to a dentist. However, if someone is having trouble in their life, it’s not their first thought, “I have to get a coach.” Coaching is still quite new.
It’s not just an everyday occurrence and completely trusted like that, so I think it’s a good idea to have some kind of introductory conversation about their life so people can start to see the possibility involved in coaching. They can start to see a possibility for their own life. They may not have seen it yet. Some people are walking around thinking, “This isn’t it, but I don’t know what I really want,” as you well know, Chris. It’s helping people find out what it is, so coaching really offers two things. I like to break it down.
One thing is it can help people to choose really inspiring goals. They can help them find the ‘what’ that they want to work on. The second thing is the ‘how’. In that initial introductory session, see if you can get that person inspired and have them see something possible for their life that they hadn’t really seen before-like, “Wow! I really could have the relationship of my dreams,” or “I really could increase my income by 30%; I’ve done it before, I could do it again.”
Once they see that as possible, then you can also help them to even see a possible path: “What are the kinds of things we would do over the next three to six months? What do you think we would work on?” They say, “I guess we’d do some research. I guess I’d have to work on myself a bit, get myself in shape. I might have to increase my skills, and then I’d have to get an action plan and actually go out and approach companies,” or “Go and approach potential romantic partners.”
Once they start thinking like that, they think, “Wow! I’m really in action.” Then they start to see the value of coaching. Once you get a person in that position, it makes much more sense to say, “Would you like to go ahead? Let’s give it a whirl. Let’s do this for three months and really produce some results in your life. How does that feel?”
CHRIS ATTWOOD: This brings up the question of the fee. Are there standard fees for coaching, or is there a way that coaches can determine what a reasonable fee is?
DAVID WOOD: I don’t know, because I say that a reasonable fee is what the market will pay. That’s how I decide what a reasonable fee is. If people can afford $1,000 an hour for my time, then I’m really happy to accept that. When I’m getting that kind of rate, then I might take people on for $100 an hour just as a kind of charitable exercise, because they might not have the money, but I just want to help them rather than to throw them to a new coach.
However, if the market is not paying that-for example, if you don’t have a reputation yet, if you don’t have any kind of a platform, if you haven’t written a book, if you’re not having lots of people referring people to you so you have a big waiting list-then it makes sense to charge less. One simple way to start is this. I wouldn’t set your fees at $150 a month. I think that’s too low for what you’re offering, but I would say to set your fees at $300 a month to begin with.
Then if you’re new you could say, “I’m going to give you a discount. If you come on for three months, I’ll give you a discount because I’m building up my practice. I think you’re going to be great for my business because you’ll be telling everyone about the great results you’ve produced.”
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Great. You can actually set a fee, but then as you’re getting started, allow people to feel like they’re really getting a special opportunity.
DAVID WOOD: Yes, and they are. Here’s another great thing, Chris. You don’t have to pretend. That’s another thing that helps coaches in the beginning-and I’ve done this, too. You go in and you try to pretend, “I’m a big professional coach with lots of experience. Just don’t ask me about it.” When you’re new that’s not the case. Just be straight with people and say, “I’m new. I’m a great coach and I’m getting started. Therefore, I don’t want to charge you my regular rate of $300 for three months.
“I’d like to offer you a steep discount to come on as one of my first clients. In return, at the end of the three months, I’m going to ask you for three names of people you know who would benefit from this, and I’m going to ask you for a testimonial.” You’re putting it as a deal like that, “I’m going to give you a big discount, but here’s what you’re going to give me in return.”
The client is thinking, “I can do that. I’ll give you three names if I think it is valuable, I’ll give you a testimonial, and I’m getting $200 a month off.” Who wouldn’t want that? What I suggest is to set your rate where you’d like it to be, do a steep discount for, let’s say, the first five people who come onboard. Now you’re not so desperate for clients; you’ve already got five clients.
You might be thinking, “I’ll just do a 50% discount for the next three or four people,” and you offer them that. Then for the next three or four people, you might say, “I’m still building my practice, so I’m willing to offer you $100 discount per month when you sign up now for three months.” Once you’ve got, say, 10 clients you might say, “I’m done with discounting. I’m producing results. I’ve got these people, I just go two referrals.”
What happens is you start saying your full fee and then you’re shocked when someone says, “Fine. I have my credit card. Are you ready to take my number?” You’re actually shocked when people do that.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: What a nice kind of shock, though.
DAVID WOOD: Yes, and here’s another thing. I don’t want to lay too much on for people, but you can start this in the beginning; you don’t have to start with the big discounting. If someone says, “How much is it?” you say, “It’s $900 for three months.” Then shut up. Just say your fee and then shut up. Just let them do whatever they’re going to do. If they balk at it and they feel like that’s a stretch for their budget, then you can come out with the discount offer.
Then it’s so much more attractive because they’ve already been sitting with, “Can I afford the $900? Should I do it or not?” Now you’re saying, “I’ll give you the whole thing for $300 if you give me a testimonial and referrals. They think, “Woot!” They’re in. Another tip I like to tell people is this. Some coaches, when they start, just charge per session, which is a huge mistake.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: Why is that?
DAVID WOOD: Because the person may have come to you for the introductory session because something is happening in their life right now, and they’ve got this desire for change. While they’re in that state, they may be willing to commit to a three-month program to really make some change. However, if you wait a week, something else takes their fancy.
Maybe they buy a flat-screen TV and now they’re having trouble making the payments, or they decide to go on vacation for a while. Things get in the way. This is why they don’t have the results in the first place. I say to ask for a minimum of three months. What Scott [Holmans] has told me-and I think you know Scott-is, “I have a year program. I have a 12-month program and here’s how it works.”
He offers that, and I said, “I’m going to do that.” I said, “You can do three months or six months. Which one would you prefer?” That was a huge difference. I used to do monthly. What would happen is after one or two months, people would normally drop off just because things get in the way. Once they pay for three months or six months upfront, they almost always completed the program, just because the payment decision was made.
Tell them it’s a 12-month program, that there’s a discount for that, here it is, and just see how they react. If they say no to 12 months, then six months is now going to sound much more attractive to them. You’re positioning it in their mind as a long-term thing rather than a just getting a quick fix in the next week. That tip alone can increase your income by a factor of five to 10.
CHRIS ATTWOOD: That’s fabulous. It’s really excellent advice. In today’s age, the Internet has provided us with such great leverage. Do you have a tip that you can give to coaches who want to acquire clients over the Internet?
DAVID WOOD: Yes, I do. I think …
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For more information about David Wood and his work, please go to http://www.personalcoaching.com.au/life-coach.htm.