My coaching practice is rooted in the assumption that people have an infinite potential to grow, improve, and reach for greatness. For me, that means living that assumption, day-by-day, with integrity. I’ve met coaches who thought receiving their certification meant they were done with learning. I believe exactly the opposite. A certification is just a starting off point. About once or twice a year, I work to integrate a new habit or personal growth tool into my life.
The coaching industry is now tremendous. It is a 15 billion dollar industry. Many professionals have left their office jobs to become highly successful coaches. At the same time, not everyone who starts a coaching business sees success. What does someone starting a career as a life coach, wellness coach, or business coach need to know to turn it into a very successful and rewarding career?
In this interview series, called “Five Things You Need To Create a Highly Successful Career As a Life or Business Coach” we are interviewing experienced and successful life coaches, wellness coaches, fitness coaches, business and executive coaches and other forms of coaches who share the strategies you need to create a successful career as a life or business coach.
In this particular interview, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Chana Mason.
Chana Mason is a Coach with a unique ability to turn complex ideas into easy-to-access tools for rapid transformation, many of which she includes in her books: The Size of Your Dreams, Hold That Thought, and The Cash Machine. Through her straight talk, open heart, and addictive joy, Chana helps clients shift the beliefs getting in their way and take massive action in their lives and businesses.
Her varied experience in technology, education, business, and publishing nurtures her spirited connection with clients and students globally.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and what brought you to this particular career path?
My family fled Bogota, Colombia when five armed men threatened to kidnap my sisters and me. We moved to Miami to protect our lives, but I was totally traumatized and unable to express how frightened I was. I’d come to the conclusion that not only is the world a scary and dangerous place, I was on my own to fend for myself. My five-year-old mind still believed that the bad men who pursued us in Colombia would track us down in the US. And when they did, they’d stop at nothing to snatch me away.
The overwhelming tide of fears sank me into a mesh of anxiety and depression, waves of which would overtake me for the next two decades. I was too scared to show up, to speak up, to be myself. I lost the ability to be playful, adventurous, or curious.
I threw myself into academics, thinking if I could only work hard enough, I could at least control my future. But even when my scholastic success landed me in an Ivy League college, I couldn’t escape the horrors of my mind.
When I wasn’t avoiding my professors, I was hiding in bed with my daily pint of Ben & Jerry’s. I got fat, depressed, and sluggish.
I tried to outrun my demons by taking a job in Sydney with a top management consulting firm, where I was all go-go-go, but never stopped to rest, to breathe, to simply be.
I didn’t take care of myself; I didn’t think I deserved to.
Less than a year later, I was on the move again, this time to Jerusalem, where I sought refuge in spiritual salvation. But instead of peace, I experienced one near miss after another as explosions rocked my new home during the Second Intifada. My body went into full lockdown to the point that I could barely walk.
My rock bottom moment came when my fiancé broke off our engagement because he didn’t want to be with someone who quote “didn’t love herself.” That was when I realized that it was time to get myself together.
I made the choice to take ownership and become the guardian of my mind, my body, and my life. I devoured books on personal growth, health, and nutrition, attended seminars and lectures, watched hundreds of videos. I insisted, no demanded, to find fabulous mentors who could guide me to find healing and wisdom from within.
Eventually, I experienced a dramatic shift in mindset. For the first time, I understood that my thoughts did not define me, that I could take ownership over my mind, that I didn’t have to walk through life afraid. But in order to undo decades worth of ingrained thinking and habits, I had to engage in disciplined training. I attended weekly masterminds, practiced with a journal, and applied new tools with a partner every day. Over time, my awareness grew. Old patterns fell apart and new ones emerged.
And then a funny thing happened. People who’d seen my shift sought me out. The number of those coming for help exploded.
I’ve channeled my passion for teaching into workshops and books. I share techniques I’ve learned and developed for getting your head straight, building your business, and publishing your ideas.
I’ve reached tens of thousands around the world, from 60-year-olds fed up with their baggage, to entrepreneurs blocked by imposter syndrome, to business leaders seeking to magnify their impact, really to anyone ready to say, “Life’s too short, and I need to show up. Pronto!”
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- Curiosity — At a young age, I learned that I needed to take my physical and mental health into my own hands. Books, videos, and courses have become a passion for me. One example is when I first started purchasing fennel root in the market here in Jerusalem. I dug online to find out not just how to cook the thing, but also what it’s nutritional and healing properties are. Every time someone in my family gets sick, I’m searching for home remedies that can help them. And I’ve devoured self-help books and courses to learn how to improve, grow, and help others. This spills over into my practice. If there’s something I don’t have expertise in, I find myself doing a ton of research for clients to help them in their healing or business journeys.
- Resilience — I mess up. We all do. But I get back up again. If that’s in making a mistake with a client and owning up to it or struggling in my personal life or relationships. My most sensitive place is in my health. I struggle with migraines and when I get them, can sometimes crash emotionally. Then I think, “I don’t have it together. I’m an emotional wreck, doesn’t that make me a hypocrite?” Then my husband will say. “You’re not perfect, but you help people make massive shifts in their lives. You don’t need to be perfect to do that.”
- Honesty — This leads me to this trait. I’m super real with my clients. Recently, I had a fight with my teenage son and a few hours later met with a client who’s dealing with her own teens. I held space for her to find clarity in her process, while at the same time laughing and commiserating about how I’m in a similar struggle. The biggest way that honesty comes in, though, is in telling clients how I see it. I cut to the chase and don’t mess around. I don’t let them avoid the ugly, uncomfortable stuff. I don’t say the nice, politically correct thing that keeps everything sweet. I call them on their BS. And that’s what they love about me. The people who want to be coddled are scared of me, which makes it easy to identify my ideal clients.
How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?
I aim to practice what I preach. I teach clients tools I’ve used many times in my own life first, techniques that I’ve found to be tried and true. I invest in my own personal growth by continually learning, taking courses, journaling, eating healthy, meditating, exercising, doing yoga, etc. I teach people about taking ownership over their lives, engaging in self-care, listening to themselves. And I live this too. Not perfectly, but I work towards that daily. I try to live with integrity. For example, I don’t just believe that a plant-based diet is healthy. I spent hours in the kitchen making that a reality for my family.
People think success habits are just about how you work, but I believe in living an integrated life. So to me, it’s about how you live as a whole person.
This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?
Habits free us from having to make choices all the time. We theoretically want to make good choices, but often struggle, in the moment, to actually do so. For example, from when I first started college, I kept thinking that yoga would be really good for me. But first, I’ll have my Ben and Jerry’s. I’ll do yoga tomorrow. You guessed it: “tomorrow” never came. I tinkered with a bit of yoga here and there, but it wasn’t until I was 38 that I identified my biggest obstacles to a yoga practice: fitting it into my schedule, schlepping to a studio, and changing before and after. So, one morning, still in my pajamas, I threw a mat on my living room floor, opened a Yoga with Adriene video on YouTube, and began. The next day I had to drag myself to the mat, but within a couple weeks, my body just went to the living room without my having to think about it at all. Five years later, I have a daily yoga practice that feels almost effortless and is the sweetest way to start my day. I don’t have to choose to do yoga just like I don’t choose to brush my teeth. These things happen without any thought whatsoever.
Habits are the physical manifestation of your highest ideals. They are how you show yourself what you really believe about yourself, live, and what you want out of it. The more serious effort you can invest in building killer habits, the more fulfilling your life will be, the more you’ll like yourself, and the easier your choices will get.
Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?
Do whatever you can to push, prod, or bribe yourself to start. Once a habit is ingrained, you don’t need that extra motivation, just like you don’t have to reward yourself with a candy every time you use the toilet, though it’s likely someone gave you a treat for going number two in the potty when you were a toddler. I find that consistent daily practice at the same time and location for three weeks really helps to nail things in. I needed that when I first started my yoga practice, but now I can miss a few days without worrying, because my neural network will bring me back to the mat. Plus, I’ve come to love it so much, that I really miss it. Just like my mouth feels gross when I don’t brush my teeth, my muscles whine when they don’t get a good stretch!
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. — Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
This quote is actually the basis for the title of the book I cowrote with my husband, Dave. It’s called The Size of Your Dreams and teaches people how to clarify and manifest their dreams as well as to build an identity that supports them. I love this quote because it inspires me to dream big, even when I think the dream feels impossible. Life is boring and lacks luster without great visions to dream for. That’s why JFK set America’s sights towards getting a man to the moon, which seems absolutely absurd in his day. He inspired a whole generation of scientists, students, and children to imagine something greater than themselves. And they made it happen! Even when we don’t hit our version of “landing on the moon,” just the reaching itself pushes us to grow, learn, explore, and become greater people.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
The most exciting recent development in my business is Power Publishing. Over the past five years, as my husband, Dave, and I have published book after book, we’ve honed-in skills for creating novels and non-fiction tomes that people not only gravitate to and love to read, but that draw them into our sales funnels. The strongest example of this for my coaching practice has been Hold That Thought, which has been downloaded over ten thousand times globally and which has added thousands of readers into my mailing list, courses, and one-on-one services. The investments I made into the planning, writing, and design of this book have reaped many-fold rewards. Entrepreneurs in my network started coming to me for advice a year ago, and I found myself coaching them through the process, many times for hours. It wasn’t until I shared my knowledge and experience that I realized how much I knew. After much prodding by a mentor of mine, I finally opened up Power Publishing, so I could guide others through the process of taking their expertise and packaging it in a way potential clients can easily absorb.
I’ll share my biggest tip here: a book is a fabulous way for readers to see you at work, to position yourself as the expert, to deliver value while making yourself the star of every success. Feature yourself in your book. Do it a lot. Don’t hide!
Ever since I started writing a decade ago, I’m always in the middle of writing multiple books. They tend to slowly stew like a good soup, which means I have no idea when they’ll go to print, but over time they do seem to go to print, very successfully, so that inspires me to keep going. I’m working on a couple of personal growth novels with my husband right now and self-help non-fiction books that help people shift their mindset from one of stress to one of peace. Both Dave and I are creating courses and uploading them to our sites that teach people everything from manifesting a life of their dreams, gaining mental clarity, and building financial independence. Taking complex ideas and delivering them in ways that are easy for people to learn and apply is a huge passion and talent of mine, so it’s exciting to continue to create courses and books that can reach people globally!
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Many coaches are successful, but some are not very successful. From your experience or perspective, what are the main factors that distinguish successful coaches from unsuccessful ones? What are your “Five Things You Need To Create a Highly Successful Career As a Life or Business Coach”? If you can, please share a story or an example for each.
- Cast a Wider Net — If you’re like me, your clients experience such rapid transformations, that you can easily serve your local network quickly. So what do you do then? How can you let people know you exist? Offer products and services that reach a much wider range of people. I know no better way of doing that than publishing a book. When I published HoldThat Thought, I suddenly had tens of thousands of people downloading my book, people in Pakistan and Ottawa and Australia I would never in my wildest dreams otherwise meet. I used a back door do make my book a free download on Amazon and other portals, which increased my reach dramatically. I was no longer one of the million coaches out there; I was now a published author with a unique voice and a unique package of tools to share with the world. That has made me an intriguing podcast and blog interviewee, which has allowed me to reach even more people than I could through Amazon or other book sales channels. I’ve booked a number of clients from around the world just because they listened to one podcast interview.
- Have a Medium to Bring ’Em In — It’s one thing to get a book out there, it’s a whole other thing to turn readers into clients. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never reached out to my favorite authors, despite reading dozens of their books and blabbing about them to all my friends. Why? They never asked me to. They never offered me a compelling reason to visit their website. So how do you turn that lady in New South Wales who doesn’t know you from beans into a paying client? First, recognize that trust and rapport need to be built. Be generous with what you can offer and guide readers to your website with attractive bonuses. And use those freebies to build your list. Then stay in touch with your list consistently and offer them free live events where they can engage with you live and feel even closer to you. Understand that as with any relationship, building trust takes time. It took years of watching free YouTube videos to get us to buy Tony Robbins CDs to then attend his $10,000 live events. But because we consistently got great value from him and built a relationship over time, we’ve become very comfortable forking over our hard-earned cash to get even more time and value from the guy!
- Offer Different Tiers of Products — A coaching package is not a small purchase. We’re asking people to invest not just in themselves, but also in us. Some people might not have the money for that, some might not have the money yet, and some might not have the money for you yet. They have to be convinced you can offer them what they’re looking for. The easiest way to solve all of those challenges is to offer products at multiple price points. As I mentioned earlier, I use a backdoor at Amazon to make my books free so that I can reach as many people as possible. I’ve gotten letters from readers in third world countries who will never be able to afford my services. Being able to gift them with a life-altering book feels incredible! Yet another client came from France. He’d gotten a hold of my book from another coach’s website. He couldn’t afford one-on-one coaching at the time but jumped at the chance to join a live course which was within his budget. A reader in New York found out about me through a podcast, read one of my books in one sitting, and got in touch with me because she loved what she was reading and would love more. She eventually turned into a private coaching client. Having offerings for all potential audiences allows me to serve as many people as possible (my heart’s desire) while also increasing the likelihood that I can continue to bankroll my business and lifestyle.
- Build a Solid Sales Funnel with Attractive Lead Magnets —The key to building my business has been in casting a massive global net of readers into more focused pool of course-takers, group coaching participants, and one-on-one clients. My books have been downloaded or purchased tens of thousands of times everywhere from London to Singapore, but readers don’t turn into paying clients if you don’t have a solid plan to bring them closer into your circle. That’s why I teach my book coaching clients to design their books and other products with a funnel in mind. How are you going to get people onto your mailing list, excited about your offering, eager to give you money for your fabulous services? One tip: create bonus materials to go with your books and consistently point readers to your website to download those bonuses. Once they do, they’ll be on your list, and you can continue to build rapport with them and offer them higher ticket services.
- Be Generous with Your Knowledge — I often hear people ask why they should give away for free what they could charge for. My experience is that the core tools I teach my students and clients take time, practice, and repetition to learn and integrate. The first time they hear about them, their eyes are opened, but they in no way own these techniques. So why not make that first time free? It gives you a chance to show people what you can offer them, while at the same time inspiring them to believe something greater is possible. If they really want to get this stuff into their bones, though, they’ll likely need your support through courses, workshops, or one-on-one coaching. Sharing your knowledge generously will create a grateful audience eager to be just as generous with you when you’ve got paid products and services to offer.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen coaches make when they start their business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
- Letting Imposter Syndrome Beat You to a Pulp– We’ve all got it, from first timers to those in any industry for decades. We’re all hampered by the fear that we don’t know enough, aren’t good enough, won’t live up to our clients’ expectations. I’ve mentored so many starting entrepreneurs whose hands were tied by Imposter Syndrome. They were so scared of rebuffs, that they shied away from serving those who needed them the most. The first thing I help them understanding is that every human on the planet trying to do something more aspirational than flipping burgers is going to fear not being enough. Admitting we have Imposter Syndrome just like everyone else, allows us to tackle this beast head on. How? Lots and lots of evidence to the contrary of his nasty words. The more clients you’ve helped, the more people whose lives you’ve transformed, the tangible results you record, the easier it is to slash the beast with the sword of confidence. I mentor entrepreneurs just starting out to work with as many people as possible as quickly as possible, even if that means working with people for free. You might not be getting paid in cash at the beginning, but you’re building ammunition, which is just as valuable. He’ll never fully go away, but the bigger your arsenal, the easier he is to brush aside.
- Letting potential leads die — I have to admit, this is my Achilles heel. I sometimes forget to follow-up with potential clients who’ve expressed interest but missed a discovery session or an existing client who suddenly dropped off the map. I know that I need reminding to go to for a dental cleaning, cut my hair, get my taxes in order. Despite these things being important to me, I sometimes push them off. Getting a call from my dentist, hairdresser, or accountant is incredibly helpful. They’ve relieved the stress of my having to remember to always be on the ball. Give your leads and clients the gift of reminders. They really help. And if you’ve closed a relationship, check in with them once a quarter. You’d be surprised how many of them suddenly realize there’s something else they’d like to work on and proceed to book you for another coaching session!
- Not Practicing What You Preach —Those looking for a coach are usually serious about their personal growth. If they think you’re full of it, they’ll run the other way. I push my clients to engage in thoughtful journaling practices that include gratitude, inquiry, and reflection. I teach them key investments they can make in their diet and lifestyle to shift their physical and mental health. I introduce many of them to the manifestation tools in our book, The Size of Your Dreams. Do I do these things myself? You bet! Perfectly and all the time? For sure not. But I’m always aiming to reach, to grow, and to live with integrity. Otherwise, I couldn’t look my clients in the eye. One of the things my research has led me to learn is the massive impact a whole food plant-based diet has on reversing inflammatory diseases such as depression, heart disease, and diabetes. So, I don’t just share this data with my clients, it shows up on my plate at every meal.
- Ceasing to Learn — My coaching practice is rooted in the assumption that people have an infinite potential to grow, improve, and reach for greatness. For me, that means living that assumption, day-by-day, with integrity. I’ve met coaches who thought receiving their certification meant they were done with learning. I believe exactly the opposite. A certification is just a starting off point. About once or twice a year, I work to integrate a new habit or personal growth tool into my life. For example, last year I was introduced to a modality called The Journey by Brendan Bays for healing past traumas. I thought this could be a good tool to integrate into my coaching practice, so I hired a Journey practitioner to guide me through the process a dozen times, read the book, and applied the tools with clients and students. This technique is now an integrated part of my practice, one I can easily access when it best serves my clients to do so.
- Being Too Shy — When building a coaching practice, it really helps to expand the reach of people you know, so you have a higher likelihood of meeting your ideal clients. This requires that you think strategically about who you network with. So, for example, I absolutely love mentoring people in their twenties as they figure out their journey in life. We have an open home and welcome young people for meals and chats often. Because I adore them so much, I assumed they’d be my target market, but it turns out that most kids that age have little disposable income to invest in a coaching relationship. So although I continue to invest in those relationships, I don’t network with young people for my business. To build my coaching practice, I’ve joined mastermind groups, taught courses and workshops in different communities, and made an effort to let key people know what it is I do. My favorite strategy for getting connectors on my team, so to speak, is to offer them a free coaching session. When they’ve gotten a taste of rapid transformation, they have me on the tip of their tongue when someone they know is looking for a coach.
Based on your experience and success, what are a few of the most important things a coach should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Follow up! Just writing a follow up email after every coaching session summarizing what you covered, what the client learned, addressed, and overcame, and reminding them of their next steps makes a huge difference to clients. For me, this has led me to close prospective clients after a free discovery session more than any other step I’ve taken.
- Call Them on Their BS! If they want pandering and to stay in their patterns, your clients can call one of their friends. They’ve come to you to get a bit of a kick in the behind, to be reminded of their greatness, to stay on track. Don’t allow your desire to be nice get in the way of this great service you can provide.
- Offer Added Value! I often give new clients freebies they’re not expecting, like access to one of my courses, or a hard copy of one of my books. They love that extra touch!
Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business, and particularly in coaching. What are the best ways for a coach to find customers? Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?
To me, lead generation is at the center of any coaching practice. That’s why I cover it in detail in the above sections.
I’ll add one thing. Networking is KEY!
When building a coaching practice, it really helps to expand the reach of people you know, so you have a higher likelihood of meeting your ideal clients. This requires that you think strategically about who you network with. So, for example, I absolutely love mentoring people in their twenties as they figure out their journey in life. We have an open home and welcome young people for meals and chats often. Because I adore them so much, I assumed they’d be my target market, but it turns out that most kids that age have little disposable income to invest in a coaching relationship. So, although I continue to invest in those relationships, I don’t network with young people for my business.
To build my coaching practice, I’ve joined mastermind groups, taught courses and workshops in different communities, and made an effort to let key people know what it is I do. My favorite strategy for getting connectors on my team, so to speak, is to offer them a free coaching session. When they’ve gotten a taste of rapid transformation, they have me on the tip of their tongue when someone they know is looking for a coach.
Coaches are similar to startup founders who often work extremely long hours and it’s easy to end up burning the candle at both ends. What would you recommend to your fellow coaches about how to best take care of their physical and mental wellness when starting their business?
It takes most people time to build a coaching practice. I recommend that you start it as a side hustle, so the burden of having to pay bills with coaching doesn’t overwhelm you. Or if, like me, you’re not the primary bread winner, you can ease into building your business, which I have. I think my values of integrity have kept me in check. How can I tell my clients to take care of themselves if I don’t?
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would love to see the world slow down, for the globe to experience a total sabbath once a week. No cars, no phones, no buzz of business. Just pure and simple stillness, connection with ourselves and the Divine. Covid has pushed most of us to slow down some, but many of us are rushing to get back into the rat race. What if we could fall passionately in love with just being, with our magical souls, with the sweetness of quiet, the beauty of nature, the wonder of living in a world we know oh-so-little about.
We are blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
Tony Robbins. No Questions Asked. He’s been a huge influence on my personal life, my marriage, my family, and my life path. I’ve attended a number of his events but sharing his presence with thousands of people can’t compare to a quiet one-on-one conversation. I’d love to chat with him when he’s not aiming to sell himself and can just be real and vulnerable about his current struggles, his vision for the next decades, and the fears he’s faced since his divorce and marriage with his second wife.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can download free copies of my books at ChanaMason.com/Books
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!