Transition Excellence

Leadership Coaches are selling the wrong way around…

Most leadership coaches think about what they want to sell—a book, a program, coaching—and immediately start trying to sell it. 

Sound familiar?

It goes something like this..

You spend a lot of time or money creating a fancy logo. Or you hire a branding expert. And then what about a beautiful website? At the same time you now need to hire a content strategist. But what about advertising—Facebook ads, pay-per-click. Then you create a free eBook to get people to sign up to your email list. Not to mention you develop an email campaign to draw people into your complex marketing funnel…and on and on.

To illustrate, a member of my community had hired the experts. She was out $40000 not to mention many months of her life. Not to mention, she’d spent a small fortune. She was exhausted at the same time she was bored as hell…

Ebook—check. Website—check. Marketing strategy—check. Content strategy—check. Email campaign—check. Funnel—check. 


Nada. Nothing. Not a single email. Not a single client. 

What not to do as a Leadership Coach

Ebook—check. Website—check. Marketing strategy—check. Content strategy—check. Email campaign—check. Funnel—check. 


Nada. Nothing. Not a single email. Not a single client. 

They get drawn in by those pesky Facebook ads on their feeds but they actually think that Facebook is the fastest way to get the clients they want and desire.

So let me ask you… is that really the case?


Not if you want to build a boutique coaching practice with a handful of high-performing, high-fee clients. 

“But Rich, you have a beautiful website and a logo and you send weekly emails and you’ve just launched a program, and I see your face on ads in my social media…”

In fact, did you know that just created a beautiful website fifteen years into my leadership coaching career. In addition, I’m only just launching my own program fifteen years into my coaching career. 

Although most leadership coaches start with a product and try to reverse-engineer the system. On the contrary, they need to start with a system and end with a product. I call the system “The Arc of Fascination™.” Obviously, this is how great leadership coaches sell.

The Arc of Fascination

Leadership Coaching and the Arc of Fascination

Successful leadership coaches can build an entire coaching business using The Arc of Fascination. It’s the way great coaches and mentors work:

  1. Have something to say
  2. Share ideas
  3. Grow ideas
  4. Build an audience
  5. Grow a community
  6. Have something to sell

1. Have something to say

What’s your purpose? Why are you a leadership coach? What do you believe? 

If you can’t answer these questions, you’re not ready to sell. Anything. 

As Simon Sinek once said, 

“The goal is not to do business with everybody that needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.” 

You must spend time reflecting on what you believe. 

(a) What are your counterintuitive truths? Write down six things that most coaches believe that you think are not true… “Most coaches think _____. But the truth is _____. Most people think _____. But the truth is _____.”

(b) What are the top three lessons you want your kids to learn from you?

(c) If you could write your number one belief on a billboard at the Superbowl so millions of people could read it, what would it say?

These are the seeds of your beliefs. 

Suddenly, you can build a business around your beliefs.

2. Share ideas

Don’t try to be perfect. Messy is sexy. 

Stop comparing yourself with people who’ve been writing articles or creating videos for years. We all started at zero.

Nevertheless , once you are clear on some of the things then start sharing them.

Firstly, start a weekly newsletter. Make it monthly if that feels overwhelming. That’s only 12 things to share over the next year…

Secondly, start a podcast. However, don’t interview anyone. Do this! Simply begin to coach people. Then at the end of the coaching, ask them to share an insight. As them to share just one a month. That’s 12 videos of you coaching by the end of this year. Twelve ways for people to experience your coaching before you try to sell your coaching.

As Colin Marshall says, 

“If you spend your life avoiding vulnerability, you and your work will never truly connect with other people.”

3. Grow ideas

You have an amazing laboratory for growing your ideas…your clients. 

When you share your ideas with your best clients, you can see which ones grow and which ones go nowhere.

So just keep sharing your ideas with your clients. Seek their feedback. Watch their reactions. 

Alain de Botton once wrote, 

“Anyone who isn’t embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough.”

4. Build an audience

I used to be a high school teacher and when I left that career to become a coach. I was done with teaching.

But what I hadn’t realized is that I would always be an educator. 

Successful leadership coaches must build and audience and if you want to grow and audience you need to be an educator.

Successful leadership coaches must build and audience and if you want to grow and audience you need to be an educator

Notice I said, “Be an educator,” not, “Build an email list.” I said, “Be an educator,” not, “Create content.”

Recently, someone said to me, “Rich, I watch so many people trying to copy what you are doing now. Instead of looking at the principles behind how you got there, they are trying to sell programs like you, without first building a community like you did…” 

It was a great catch. And I’ve spent the past four hours writing this article to educate people on that very principle. 

As Hugh MacLeod says, 

“Educate and inform. Don’t interrupt and sell.”

5. Grow a community

First, start small. Second, bring your top clients together. And third, create experiences. 

I didn’t begin with a community. 

I did like to bring people together. 

But It started small.

In 2009, I invited the members of my first ever Confident Woman’s Salon—six people—to meet me in New York. In fact, only five of them could make it. Evelyne Brink was there. She later became a one-on-one client and then became a member of 4PC. She later supported me to run Deep Dive experiences around the world. Evelyne has been part of my community for over a decade. 

In 2011, I ran my first ever intensive with Steve Chandler. We each enrolled 15 people. That was it. My entire community at that point was 15 people. That’s how community begins: small.

Another example is Allison Crow who called me for a chat around seven years ago. At first, told me how much she hated my Prosperous Coach approach! Then I offered to coach her. Then I shared some ideas with her and I invited her to an intensive. She came to one. And then another. And another. Finally, she started to create incredible artwork to illustrate my ideas. Eventually, she was the very first founding member of 4PC. And at the present time we are friends to this day. 

Here’s one of my favorite ever pieces of Allison’s work. It beautifully illustrates the power of inspiring your clients to dream big:

Artist's rendition of Thinking about Becoming a Successful Leadership Coach
Art by Allison Crow

I’ve been creating fascinating experiences for years. At a wolf sanctuary in California. At a horse ranch in New Mexico. In a 300-year-old building in London. At hotels on the beach and in high-end spas in the desert. 

I love to thrill and surprise people. That’s how you build community. Ultimately people will want to come back for more. 

As Priya Parker wrote in her book, The Art of Gathering

“Gatherings that please everyone occur, but they rarely thrill. Gatherings that are willing to be alienating—which is different from being alienating—have a better chance to dazzle.”

6. Have something to sell

To summarize sell your very best work. 

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe in perfection. I believe when you’re 80% ready, it’s time to go. 

But don’t sell too soon.

You must sell the experience of your coaching before you try to sell your coaching.

Likewise, if you want to sell a product, create something remarkable—in the literal sense of the word. It is imperative that you give people something to talk about. Preferably something you have built in front of an audience. In time you will then give something your dream clients love.

Where are you on the Arc of Fascination?

Leadership Coaches and the Arc of Fascination Scorecard

In conclusion, where are you today? Or even better , where do you want to be in three years? 

Love. Rich

P.S. If you’re interested in learning more about the success of other leadership coaches and how you can become one of them, then I implore you to join our Facebook community, connect with us on LinkedIn, subscribe to our YouTube Channel, and follow us on Instagram.

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