Lindsey Lathrop of Lindsey Lathrop Coaching: “You can do this first in your pre-coaching questionnaire”

When it comes to your client’s experience, you need to know what will make it an ultimate win for them. Make sure you know what they hope to walk away from the experience with. You can do this first in your pre-coaching questionnaire. Then during every call, return to the goal to make sure we’re […]

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When it comes to your client’s experience, you need to know what will make it an ultimate win for them. Make sure you know what they hope to walk away from the experience with. You can do this first in your pre-coaching questionnaire. Then during every call, return to the goal to make sure we’re staying on target. If the goal changes, explicitly change your goal together so you know what you’re working toward.


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 Lindsey Lathrop.

Lindsey is a Durham-based coach and gender equity consultant. She created Promote Yourself Professionally to help ambitious women advocate for their value and advance their careers. Her expert advice on negotiation and self-promotion has been featured on HuffPost, The Cru, The Ladders, UpJourney, Trello, and YourTango.


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?

Every morning my dad would give me a ride to school in his beat up truck. The floorboards were so rotten that I could see the road beneath us. What I remember most about those rides are not the conversations (my dad is a man of few words), but the books on tape we’d listen to. Rich Dad, Poor Dad. The Millionaire Next Door. Self-help. I was very drawn to how motivating it all was. Even at a young age, the possibility of changing beliefs and circumstances excited me.

Growing up, we didn’t have a lot of money. We were clothed, housed, and fed. We went on camping trips. We were fine. But I always felt like life could be more than living for the weekend. School came easy to me so I realized college could be a doorway to opportunity. Since no one in my family had gone to college, I figured out how to apply with the help of my friends and their parents. I am forever grateful for this.

During high school, I worked at a local resort. This is where I met my first mentor, Sandy. She noticed my work ethic and asked me to come work for her in the Human Resources office. Every summer, you’d find me managing new hire paperwork, onboarding, and absorbing as much as I could. This experience solidified my interest in people’s careers. In 2007, I earned my MBA with a concentration in Organizational Development from Clarkson University.

Graduating in a recession was my next challenge! With no job prospects, I pursued AmeriCorps in Vermont and was assigned to a non-profit focused on helping high school students explore careers. What I didn’t know was this position would change my entire life. Over the next 8 years, I advanced my way to the role of Assistant Director. It’s during this time I witnessed and experienced non-profit burnout. All around me, I saw (mostly) women giving everything they could to help the people around them for little pay and recognition. Yes, I had negotiated increases and even a paid sabbatical, but I saw the writing on the wall. That’s when I knew this was not going to be me and I had to make a change.

Around that time, I found myself on a spin bike introducing myself to my bike mate who turned out to be a career coach! Coincidentally, I had been informally coaching friends and colleagues on resumes, negotiation strategy, and job searches. Our common interests led us to work together. I left my job in 2014. Amy was instrumental in me not only leaving but building my coaching skills and confidence. With her nudge, I earned my coaching certification. I have been coaching for 7 years now and I don’t need to chase the weekend. I’ve intentionally designed a career I don’t want to escape from and that’s what I help other women do, too.

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?

One of the three character traits that has been most instrumental to my success is being an activator. I love getting started. I’m the person you want around if you need a good nudge to try something. To me, the best way to get data and feedback is by putting it out there. You could call it “failing fast.” And sometimes it turns out really well! For example, I had an idea to create a job shadow program for young women in high school. I went to an energy company I knew well to see if they’d be interested in hosting the students. They did! I developed curriculum on the fly, which included training the company mentors to engage with the mentees and share about their careers. It went so well that we ran the program for five years. I also sold the toolkit. If I hadn’t believed in the idea enough to try it, the program never would’ve existed. I know a few of the young women went on to study environmental science because of their experiences. One participant opened a Roth IRA because of our personal finance lesson!

Speaking of investing, the second trait is my ability to be thrifty. Did you know that the word “thrift” comes from the word “thrive”? In my case, that’s exactly what happened. By saving money, I had enough to say goodbye to a job that was holding me back and take a chance on myself to start my own business. I knew financial stress was the number one reason many entrepreneurs fail. I didn’t want that to be me. I wanted to know I could cover my life and businesses expenses (and not just the bare minimum) and invest in professional development and retirement. How did I save money? By making my rent as cheap as possible! My partner, Colin, and I had a roommate for two years that dramatically reduced the cost of our apartment. I think I was paying $350 a month. Did I love having a roommate when we got married? NOPE. But it allowed me to increase my savings in a short amount of time. Colin and I also made the conscious decision to talk about our money. As two entrepreneurs, really what we were talking about (and still talk about) is our freedom to manage our lives how we want.

The third trait is follow-through. When I say I’m going to do something, I do it. And I do it really well. This has allowed me to built trust and credibility with anyone I work with. If I can’t meet a deadline, I communicate that. I’m an over-communicator. I keep everyone in the loop so they are part of the process. For example, if I say I’m going to get you a draft of your resume by a certain date and there’s even a slight chance something could get in the way, you’re going to know about it. I’d rather keep our relationship in good shape than put us both in a bind. Communication is always the answer.

How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

Habits make your (and my) life easier. Establishing a habit is like putting your brain on autopilot. That way, you can expend energy doing high impact things. My success habits are foundational. Meaning, they relate to my health and wellbeing. I workout every day at 9am because I have to show up on Zoom with my workout friend. I drink at least 3 liters of water because I have an app to track it. I know how I’m doing financially because I have a money date night with myself at the end of the month. I establish habits through accountability partners. Apps and people. They get you to do things! Design your environment so you can’t fail. That’s the trick. President Obama intentionally chose to wear the same gray suits everyday so he didn’t have to waste brain power choosing his outfit. He wanted to save that power for more important things — like the wellbeing of the country!

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?

Good habits are anything that makes you feel like your best self. They support you in being the best leader you can be. Habits can be shortcuts that save you time and energy so you can face the big stuff.

Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?

The way to establish a habit is to anchor it to another habit you already have down. Like brushing your teeth. You already do that well. If you want to start taking vitamins, take them after you brush your teeth! Attach the two.

I once had a client call every Wednesday at 3pm. I wanted to establish a habit of checking my Google Analytics weekly, so after I was finished with my client call on Wednesdays, I made an appt. with myself to check my analytics. By attaching the two together, I was able to make it a “no brainer.” They went together.

When it comes to bad habits, we have to ask ourselves how this habit is serving us. We do things because we get “positive” reinforcement. It makes us feel a certain way that we like in the moment. For example, people pleasing is a habit I’ve been working on. It’s something that has been reinforced by society as a good thing for me to do as a woman. Most people expect women to be likeable and agreeable, even at their own cost. I get “rewarded” for people pleasing by people liking me and not having conflict to deal with. The downside is that I face a high cost of saying yes all the time. And I’m training the people around me to treat me in a way that disadvantages me. I’ve been chipping away at this one and have made lots of progress. I’m no longer scared of “conflict” because I know I can deal with it and ultimately I can’t manage other people’s feelings.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

“There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt.” — Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde’s words are my strength anytime I don’t feel “original enough” or “expert enough.” I know both of these feelings hold women back from sharing their perspectives. What I try to remind them is that it’s more important to be relatable than it is to be original. Share your experience and see who connects to it

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I am excited about my coaching program Promote Yourself Professionally. It’s for women who are feeling doubtful about how to step into their expertise and don’t know where to begin. It includes 1:1 coaching, live Q&A Support sessions, and the tools and ready-to-go examples on how to get started with professional self-promotion. And folks can join at anytime. All the information is at lindseylathrop.com/pyp.

I’m also working on a program called the Pay Equity Exchange (PEX) for senior leaders and HR professionals of small to midsize organizations (20–500 employees) who seek to be on the cutting edge of pay equity. It is designed to empower companies with the knowledge, skills, and tools to examine their own gender pay equity situations and to design strategies for achieving and maintaining equity. Equitable pay is one of the main drivers of employee recruitment, engagement, and retention. The details are at genclusive.com/pay-equity.

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.

As a self-promotion and negotiation coach who helps people define success, I know one thing for sure: success is extremely personal. All day long we are inundated with confusing and conflicting “should” messages — from family, our social feeds, from our own thought-factory brains. Life and Business Coaches are no exception to this. It’s a full-time job to sort through the noise of what it means to be “successful” and it can change minute by minute. The five things needed to create a highly successful career in this industry are:

1. Understanding your values. At the end of the day, you need to know what is most important to you. You can’t separate your career from your life. It’s all one experience. How do you want to be remembered? I want people to remember me as someone who knew her value and used it to help others find and communicate their own to leave the world a better place.

2. A measurable definition of success (and no — this can’t be separated from your life success. It’s all integrated.) When you lay your head on your pillow, how do you know it’s been a good day? That you’ve accomplished what you wanted to? You have to know your metrics. Otherwise, you can slip into not feeling like you did enough — ever.

3. A consistent practice of checking in on your success metrics. A great habit to establish is a weekly and monthly check-in with yourself. This is sometimes called a “post-mortem.” It’s where you do an objective review of how things went during a specific time period. What this does for you is take you from the subjective to the objective. This gives your brain something tangible to work with instead of the stories it will make up in replacement to sabotage you and keep you safe.

4. An understanding of your inner critic and how you want to respond. We all have an inner critic. It likes to tell us stories to “protect” us from rejection and anything else we’re scared of. These stories keep us from taking risks that could be helpful to our careers and impact. For example, my inner critic likes to tell me to “not annoy people.” So anytime I go to email my list and post on social media, I know to expect this voice. Which means I get to respond! No one has ever told me I’m annoying (at least not to my face). I have no data to back up my inner critic. So I post.

5. Hiring your own coach. You can’t ask someone to spend money with you when you’re not willing to spend the money to get the support you need. There are no shortcuts to this. Even if you’re a DIY’er, you have to be willing to pay for help. And it’s a whole lot more fun to partner with people who know what they’re doing!

What are the most common mistakes you have seen coaches make when they start their business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

The most common mistake I see coaches make is not getting the help they need. Many coaches go to coaching school only to find out that they don’t teach you how to run a successful business. If you’re an entrepreneur, you know how much of your time is spent on marketing! And if you’re a service based entrepreneur, you’re likely marketing yourself which brings up a whole lotta feelings. Often about worthiness and whether what you’re charging for your services is worth it. The thing is, your price isn’t a burden on anyone. It’s wound up in your own money mindset. I am very debt averse. I remember the first time a client needed to charge my coaching services to her credit card. My stomach turned. And it wasn’t even my debt! I was forcing my own mindset onto my client. Not good!

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.

When it comes to your client’s experience, you need to know what will make it an ultimate win for them. Make sure you know what they hope to walk away from the experience with. You can do this first in your pre-coaching questionnaire. Then during every call, return to the goal to make sure we’re staying on target. If the goal changes, explicitly change your goal together so you know what you’re working toward.

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?

When you’re first starting out, one of the ways to find good, qualified leads is through your pivot email. This is an email you send to your trusted friends, colleagues, and family to let them know you’re pivoting from your past career to launching your coaching business. You want to explicitly let them know you’re looking for new coaching clients. You want to be forthright about who your ideal clients are, what challenges their facing, and how you can help them. People aren’t mind readers so make it super clear who you’re looking for and ask for their help in finding them.

Another proven strategy to gain clients is by doing free workshops for existing groups where your ideal clients hang out. What’s a subject you could teach endlessly about? Offer a workshop! You have to add value first before offering anything that is “pay to play.” This is the way to build trust and familiarity with who you are.

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?

Often what is driving the “burning the candle at both ends” behavior is a scarcity mindset. Feeling like you don’t have enough money, clients, etc. Instead, get clear about the bare minimum you need to make in order to cover your expenses.

Starting out, I knew I had to cover a $40k/year budget. This is about a $3,300/month gross revenue goal. And then I could crunch the numbers to find out how many clients I needed in order to meet that revenue goal. By setting my bar low, I was able to take care of my business and myself at the same time. I made sure to protect time to work ON my business as well as IN my business. I still block time for reading, working on projects, and reflection time. From my past experience in non-profits, I knew that setting myself up for burn out wasn’t going to help me have a sustainable business.

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. 🙂

If I could start a movement, it would be to break down gender modesty norms. Women are expected to play small. I want us to play BIG! I want us to achieve whatever it is that makes our hearts sing. I want all women to have influence and power so we can create a world that supports all of us, not just some of us. When we see a woman advocating for herself, we don’t scoff and say “who does she think she is?” We join her and say “thanks for setting a new standard!” This isn’t about acting like men. This movement is about finding and using our voices so we can do big exciting things in our lives.

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.

I would love to have breakfast with Tara Mohr. I’m such a fan of how she approaches women’s leadership — our inner worlds determine what we do in our outer worlds. The other person is Kara Loewentheil. Her coaching on our thoughts and mental models has totally transformed how I think and navigate my relationship with the world.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Readers can find me at lindseylathrop.com and on Instagram at coach_lins. I also have a private Facebook group called Remarkable Wednesdays that folks can join to practice bragging on themselves!

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!

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