In order to create that wow experience we have to know the specific outcome we can produce. We need to know exactly how we’re going to produce that result. And then we need to know the care system that we’re implementing to support people. An extraordinary coach has to know the specific result they’re going to get for somebody, and the pathway to get that result, including how long it is going to take, and what we are going to have to do to get that result.
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 Joey Klein.
Joey Klein is the founder and CEO of Inner Matrix Systems, a personal mastery training system for high achievers. He is the author of “The Inner Matrix: Leveraging the Art & Science of Personal Mastery to Create Real Life Results.” He has been interviewed by Self Magazine, INC.com, Yahoo Finance and NBC. Klein has coached leaders from some of the world’s top companies, including IBM, Coca-Cola, and the World Health Organization. Learn more at https://innermatrixsystems.com and www.JoeyKlein.com.
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?
I grew up in what appeared to be an ideal middle class family, but was actually filled with anger, conflict, resentment, pain, and suffering. As I became a teenager, I began to realize that many people around me seemed frustrated, disconnected, and unhappy. I always knew deep down that a better, more fulfilling life was possible. When I left home, I started pursuing it — first, through introspection and internal dialogue, and later with teachers who could show me other, better ways of living and being. I met a best-selling author on healing modalities who agreed to let me train with him. Over time I met and trained with masters in a variety of disciplines, from psychology and neuroscience to martial arts and meditation. From them I learned the power of managing my emotions and channeling my thoughts. I spent years studying and traveling the world as an executive and senior trainer with an international personal transformation company, teaching practical spirituality and self-mastery programs throughout Japan and Europe. In 2005, I was invited to speak at the International Peace Summit for the United Nations. I also deepened my study of martial arts, which I’d begun as a kid, winning three consecutive world championships in Hwa Rang Do. For 15 years I trained with Dr. LaWanda Katzman-Staenberg (Dr. Lu), a prominent clinical psychologist in Los Angeles. She taught me about psychology, and I taught her meditation and internal training techniques I had learned. I interviewed and studied the work of several Harvard-trained neurologists on the brain’s impact on patterns and behavior, after which I embarked on a deep study of several ancient wisdom traditions. I also studied the science behind how inner training techniques such as mindfulness and meditation can help us rewire our brains so we can experience states of calm, joy and peace regardless of what is going on around us. As I came to experience transformation for myself, and see it in those around me, I started collecting data points to create a reliable system for inner training and personal transformation. My mentor, Dr. Lu, began to refer me some of her high-profile clients, including actors, actresses, movie producers, executives, and entrepreneurs. Soon I had a thriving practice. As clients began to experience meaningful change, they began to ask me to hold seminars so their friends, family members, and coworkers could learn my approach. I began offering weekend seminars where I could interact with many people at a time. Today I teach roughly 40 weekends per year all over the United States and around the world and still maintain my private practice.
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?
Selflessness, service, and relentless commitment. Selflessness is a trait that I am always training and expanding. I train selflessness in my ability to provide value for people, caring about them, giving my time and my energy and my money and my resources to something that I feel is important, or making somebody’s life better without the expectation of anything in return. That has probably been the most important thing that has contributed to where I am. As I’ve trained selflessness, I’ve found that when I really show up in that way, and care about people, the environment and making the world a better place, it has become a part of who I am and expanded. Selflessness has given me more energy to develop my skill, talent, and ability to serve people, because I’m not constantly worried about what I will get in return. As a coach, leading with selflessness is critical to support people in a meaningful way.
Service is imperative. Especially if you’re looking to build a coaching business from the ground up, there’s likely going to be a long period of time before you really succeed. When I first started my business, I committed to a service-first mentality and prioritized making a difference for people. This mentality drove me. A service-first mentality means you’re living for something that’s more important than yourself, something that’s worthy of your time and the energy you’re going to put into it. If that’s what’s driving you, then if you don’t make the money right away, it’s not relevant because your action is cause-driven. That is sustainable in a completely different way than if we constantly need some kind of reinforcements to stay in action. For individuals who are driven by money or self-interest, they are going to try for a while, and when they don’t get that self-interest fulfilled, they’re going to quit and go on to something else.
The third trait that has been instrumental in my career journey is relentless commitment. What I mean by relentless commitment is that when I name an outcome that I want to achieve, I am committed to that outcome in an absolute fashion. Essentially, I say yes to the outcome I name and I say no to anything else until I’ve achieved that outcome. This means on the front end, before I even get started, I commit to doing whatever is required to produce the result, period. If I look back at the outcomes I’ve created in my business over the last two decades, it takes a little more time — or often, a lot more time — to produce that result that I’ve wanted to achieve. And if I hadn’t been inside of being absolutely committed to achieving the outcome and being unwilling to deviate until that occurred, I wouldn’t have been able to lean into challenges and see myself through them when things got difficult and the natural tendency was to quit.
How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?
Every extraordinary thing I’ve created in my life was the result of consistent behaviors over time that produced an outcome I intended. What I know now is that these consistent behaviors — essentially conscious routines (or what people refer to as habits) — were the impetus to the success I know today . For instance, I trained several hours every single day for many years before the three years where I started winning martial arts world championships. The key to developing habits for success is to name the outcome you want to achieve at the outset, then train your behavior with that in mind. I constantly study and read up on how I can improve — whether it’s emotionally, physically, or in my business skills — and devote several hours each day to bettering myself. Those habits make sense because I’ve named the outcome I want in my life; to see what I’m capable of. I have structured my life so that I show up every day looking to discover how to transform the challenges people face. I started out doing this by engaging with people one-on-one in a very intentional routine over the course of years. That gave me the blueprint to teach weekend programs and to build a company and a movement around personal mastery I was willing to show up and do the often not fun or fancy work every day over many years to develop my talent and capacity to help others grow. Developing conscious routines (or habits) that support the outcome you’re wanting to create is crucial to success.
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?
We are creatures of habit, including our internal experience. Our internal experiences tend to be habitual and drive how we respond to external forces. Habit drives all of our behavior and gets us all our results, both in terms of our internal experience of life and the external outcomes that we produce. Once we understand that, we can start to consciously design habits that support us instead of unconsciously engaging in habits that are not aligned with what we want to achieve. Every worthwhile outcome in your life is the result of consistent behavior over time that produced the result. I teach people to determine the outcome they want and then develop conscious routines that will compound over time to produce the result they seek.
Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?
Developing good habits begins with focusing on the outcome you want to create. Whether you are looking to create a new habit or stop an old one, you’ve got to be clear why you’re doing it. Next, name the first step you will take that will guide you toward what you want to accomplish. Emotionally connect with the outcome you envision. Then put the first step you named on your calendar and execute the new behavior. So if the habit you’d like to adopt is to put $500 every month into savings or investment, get clear on why that’s important. Perhaps the outcome is that you’ll be financially free so you can spend more time with your loved ones and do the things you aspire to do. Connect that love and passion with the outcome to saving the $500 and then make a plan to put that money away each month.
Likewise, if there is a habit you want to stop, spend less time focused on the behavior you want to stop or the problem you want to solve, and instead ask yourself: What outcome do I want to create? Begin by asking yourself what you’re aspiring to fulfill and why. I want to have an athletic body. I want to be healthy. I want to build wealth. I want to buy a house, or take a vacation, or provide for my family in a certain way. If we name what we’re wanting to create, then that gives us motivation to establish new healthy habits to replace old unhealthy ones.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
Bruce Lee said: “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” I go back to that quote time and time again, because people gravitate toward instant gratification and astery is not about trying a lot of different things, but is created by getting really, really good at something. One thing that is important to me is really seeing what I’m capable of in this life, and to me that means mastery of myself. This quote reminds me of the importance of focus and commitment
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
One project that is finally coming to fruition is my second book, “The Inner Matrix: Leveraging The Art & Science of Personal Mastery To Create Real Life Results,” coming out June 25. This book is a complete rewrite of the first one. My vision for this book was to provide a manual and guide for people to have access to the training system I’ve created to use in their lives to create results. This book has updated science, case studies, and results that support and help the reader to understand why these specific techniques and strategies work inside of the area of personal transformation. It’s really focused for high achievers — high achievers being defined as people who are willing to make a change for themselves. They want their lives to get better, and they’re willing to take action toward that. It really is a compilation of the 20 years of research, experience and development that I learned from my mentors, tested myself, and ultimately culminated in a training system that creates results. So that’s something we’re excited about in terms of being able to just get people access to being able to train themselves if they really want to.
Another thing that has been really fun and was mission critical for us last year was creating a virtual offering that hit the mark for people. My business used to be entirely contingent on in person live events. Last year, we had to pivot out of necessity but it ended up being an awesome opportunity to offer the training system to more people across the globe. It’s one thing to leverage the energy of a live crowd to support transformation, it’s quite another to have an impact and support people to get a result over video. We aren’t perfect at it yet, but I’m really looking forward to refining and nailing the virtual programming so that more people have access.
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?
Successful coaches do three main things that differentiate them from less successful coaches. First, coaches who succeed aren’t just talking about something or regurgitating information that they’ve read in a book or that they’ve heard somewhere. Successful coaches have actually produced the result in the area in which they’re coaching and become an expert. So, if they’re coaching CEOs, then they’ve been a CEO and have run successful businesses. If they are coaching around emotional well-being, they’ve studied psychology extensively and have a high proficiency inside of emotional intelligence. They actually have a high aptitude in the specific area that they’re coaching inside of.
Secondly, successful coaches don’t try to coach people inside of everything. It’s not like they are coaching inside of relationships, and nutrition, and health and well-being, and business. They usually have a niche in which they have a really high aptitude and they stick to their lane of expertise.
The third thing is they’ve put in the time and they’ve worked with many people and they’ve developed a system that they’re following to produce a result. Successful coaches take people through a proven system and engage specific strategies and techniques and concepts that work and have proven out time and time and time again.
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.
Number one, you have to have high talent and aptitude in the space in which you’re planning to coach or train people. I know that sounds obvious, but so many people today are looking to hang their shingle as a coach because they don’t like what they’re currently doing, or they’re struggling inside of what they’re currently doing. And so they look at coaching as a way out. But the reality is, coaching and training people and looking at building that as your career and business is much harder than building a career or developing yourself as an employee for a company. So you’ve got to develop high talent and aptitude within the specific area that you want to coach and train people in. As an example, I predominantly train CEOs and executives. And when I look at how I built that talent, I trained as an assistant to CEO’s early on, and then as the number two to several CEOs in different businesses. I really got hands-on expertise on what it takes to bring a business from making $100,000 or $200,000 a year, to scale that to a multimillion-dollar company. And I did that over and over again with different CEOs and different business niches. Then I took that information and knowledge that I learned, and I built my own successful company to scale, right to that multimillion-dollar reality. So now when I take on a CEO or a top executive or a business owner who’s just getting started, I know firsthand exactly what needs to happen to produce the result that they’re aspiring to get, and what’s going to be needed to get that result. I can show them the path, so to speak. So regardless of what we’re looking to coach or train people inside of, we’ve got to develop an extremely high talent and aptitude within that specific niche so that we’re able to provide value and support others to do the same. This is true most especially today, because the market is flooded with everybody who wants to be a coach or a mentor or whatever that has no experience or talent to support others. So you can’t just know a little bit about the subject. You’ve got to be better than the competition and better than other coaches out there. And the way to do that is to develop a high talent and aptitude within the areas by way of experiential knowledge, study, research, and action .
Number two, you’ve got to be clear on the result that you can produce, not just as a one-off, but with repetition. So when I coach business owners, I know that I can support them to scale their company from wherever they are to maybe double or triple or quadruple the revenue, while creating a vibrant culture so that its an enjoyable process. I feel confident I can support my clients to create that result because I have multiple examples of doing that for them. Now I can communicate to a prospective client the exact result that I can support them to produce and what will be required to get that result. That’s imperative because, you know, people hear the word “coach” and, unfortunately, it’s not a meaningful label today because so many people are trying to do it. So if you can identify the clear and specific result, and outcome that you can produce, that lends credibility and will give somebody permission to opt into working with you. And if you’ve not gotten that result yet, that takes us back to why it’s so important to build talent you can rely on.
Number three, you’ve got to have a clear system and process, step-by-step, of how you produce the result that you’re claiming that you’re going to get. This helps to give the potential client an understanding of what’s going to be required of them in order to get the results. Are they capable of showing up for what’s necessary to get the results? And is there a willingness to do it? Because if you take on a client who’s not capable and willing to do what they need to do on their end, ultimately they’re going to be upset and feel let down because they didn’t get the results. And that can create a not-great reputation for you as a coach.
Number four is qualifying the client and really making sure that they’re able to do on their end what is required to get the result is so very important. So when I take on a client, I know the system and the training that I’m going to take them through. I always vet them, so to speak. They’re vetting me to make sure I’m a fit for them, but I’ve got to vet my clients to make sure they’re a fit for me. Because if we don’t do that on the front end, then we’re not going to position ourselves for success, and it’s a bit of a wild card as to whether we’re going to get the results or not. Really successful coaches are specific about the clients they take on, and they know the characteristics that they’re looking for that qualify them as a great client. One of the things that I do to qualify clients is I have a pre-interview and I ask, “Hey, are you willing to give me a year minimum? Because if we’re looking to scale a business, that doesn’t happen in two or three months.” That first year is just basically positioning us for a longer-term relationship where scaling the business is just the first step to what’s possible. And if the client is willing to show up inside of a consistent commitment for a minimum of a year, then I know they are more likely to create the outcome they’ve named for themselves. I give specifics that are expected of them up front before we engage so that we ensure that result. And if they’re willing and showing that they’re capable of showing up for that, then we’ll take that next step. This is why the coach needs to know their system very clearly around what they’re going to guide the client through, so they can have that qualifying conversation. If they don’t have that clear system and they don’t know exactly how they’re producing the result, then they can’t have that qualifying conversation. And they don’t know if they’re going to get the result or not.
Number five, study sales and marketing. It’s not enough to just have a high level of skill and talent within a specific area, hang a shingle up as a coach, and expect people to run toward us. We have to get as good at marketing and sales as we are in our specific areas of coaching to show people what we can do. There’s a variety of different ways to let people know you exist so that they can give you a shot, by way of networking, social media, and advertising. Some people tend to be uncomfortable with getting inside of marketing or sales, but it’s the only way that we’re going to grow and succeed as a coach and create a business of passionate clients. As you get results for your clients, ask them what their referral process is. It can be as simple as asking “Is there anybody else that you know of that might benefit from this type of training?” Let them know that you’re available to work with other people. A lot of times individuals assume that if they do a good job for somebody, that they’re just automatically going to refer other clients, and that’s not always the case. Sometimes it’ll just happen automatically, but you’ve got to ask for referrals. If you’re working with a specific niche, like I do with business owners and entrepreneurs, they tend to hang out with other business owners, entrepreneurs, and executives. And so if I let them know that I’m available to take on other clients, then they’re thinking about me to send people my way.
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 biggest mistake is they generalize themselves. They call themselves a life coach or something of that nature, and they believe everybody to be their client, as opposed to naming the specific niche that they’re going to work with, the specific problem that they’re going to solve, the specific challenge they can help people overcome, and becoming an expert in delivering that. If we specialize, we immediately are ahead of the game and we can know exactly the types of clients we’re looking for. But when we generalize ourselves, people have no idea who we are, what we do, or if we’re a fit for them. Terms like life coach and business coach are too general. But if we get very specific, like “I coach C-suite executives to scale their business,” or “I coach people in romantic relationships and support those relationships to thrive,” then people are going to know how we can support them.
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.
In order to create that wow experience we have to know the specific outcome we can produce. We need to know exactly how we’re going to produce that result. And then we need to know the care system that we’re implementing to support people. An extraordinary coach has to know the specific result they’re going to get for somebody, and the pathway to get that result, including how long it is going to take, and what we are going to have to do to get that result. You have to manage expectations, and it’s always better to be more conservative on the front end when you’re naming the result that you can get. So if you’re saying, “We’re going to get this result in six months,” it’s best if you’re pretty confident you’re going to get it in three. But you say six so that you exceed expectations.
The system of care that I’m speaking about is knowing how you’re going to support that individual in between. So as an example, if you’re meeting with them once a month, or once a week, are you touching base with them in between just to see how they’re doing? It’s also what you do to make the business process seamless and easy for them. Do you have your payment processing system clean and obvious? For example, my clients put a credit card on file and they know exactly how everything is going to occur in the front end. I find a lot of coaches don’t have their business system and their customer care systems really dialed in. And that takes away from the coaching that they’re doing with the person. They might be giving great advice and coaching, but if they accidentally double charge the client then all of a sudden the person’s upset and the relationship is disrupted. It’s little things like how is the payment going to work, and can you automate that? What are the rules of engagement up in the front in terms of rescheduling? If they don’t show up for an appointment, what are the steps after that? It’s all the expectations up front so that you can focus on the training and the coaching that you’re providing.
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?
In terms of coaching, the best lead generation system is results — finding that client within the niche that you’re specialized in, and getting an extraordinary result for that person, because they’re going to talk about it and that’s going to lead to more clients. The number one way I see successful coaches build their businesses is through referrals, period. That’s the number one way that we grow those businesses. The next piece depends on the type of coach that you are, what method you should be using in terms of marketing and outreach. Essentially you’ve got to go to where your clients are. So if you work with entrepreneurs, you should probably be joining an entrepreneur group where you can network
You can be better. Especially today, so many people just throw out ads, or create a Facebook account and they start throwing content out there, but there’s so much of this happening. People look at less than something like 3% of their emails. They just delete stuff because most of the email is junk mail anymore. This presents a great advantage if we know where our clients are so we can interact with them in person and have that high-touch contact with them. Wherever you can build relationships with people is where you’re definitely going to be able to get those first clients. And it’s a compounding effect. If you work with one person and get a great result, they talk about you; now you work for two people and get a great result. They’re talking about you, and all of a sudden a lot of people talking about you translates to a very successful business very quickly. Because at the end of the day, if you’re looking to build a one-on-one coaching business, you’re not going to work with more than 50 to 80 people tops in any given month.
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?
Two things. One is you have to manage what I call the non-negotiables. If these are on point and you focus on these first, then you’re going to have a ton of sustained energy to do whatever it is you need to do to grow your business and be successful. The non-negotiables everyone has to manage are rest, nutrition, movement, internal training/emotional management, and making sure you fill your battery. How each of us fills our batteries is a little different. For me, I go on an hour-long mountain bike ride, or I take an hour in nature. And that fills my battery. For other people, they just take an hour or two a week and they spend focused time with their family or their kids, or creating art or reading a book. You’ve got to know what fills you up that you genuinely enjoy. You don’t need a lot of time to do it, but you do need to engage it consistently. If we’re taking 30 minutes to two hours a day to really nail those things, and we take care of ourselves first, then we’re going to have the energy, the vitality, and the passion to do the things that we need to do from there.
We need to schedule and manage our time. A coach needs to name the hours in which they’re going to actually facilitate coaching work with people one-on-one, and then they need to schedule time when they’re going to be reaching out to new prospects and engaging in the selling and marketing of what they do. Often people get into this conundrum where they’re spending a majority of their time doing outreach and networking and sales and marketing to get clients. And then all of a sudden they have so many clients, they stop doing the sales and marketing, and now they’re just working with clients and then they lose some of their clients, which is natural, and they need more clients. Now they focus back on the sales and the marketing thing. They are constantly going back and forth. So as important as it is to create that system where you’re working with people one-on-one and getting the specific result for them, you need to create an efficient system, a funnel of clients. We need to make sure we’re scheduling the time where we’re consistently focusing on the acquisition of new clients, as well as tending our current clients.
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 educate people about the ghost in the machine: Emotion drives all of our behavior, our choices, our decisions, and actions. And although people have this idea of emotional intelligence, very few people really understand how to condition and train the emotional blueprint that is necessary to drive the choices, decisions, and actions we need to take to produce the outcomes that we want in our life. So training people and really showing them how to see the ghost in the machine, these unconscious emotions that live within all of us, and how we can make those conscious and become aware of them and train a new emotion blueprint — that would be the key focus I would take on.
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.
Ray Dalio would be the one that would be really great if that could be made possible. I have read every book by Ray Dalio and consider him a mentor even though I’ve never met him. I admire the focus, determination, and drive he honed to create what he’s created, even when — especially when — people doubted him. He created a culture that is second to none through his “radical transparency” which ultimately led to the most successful hedge fund of all time. Wow, he would be cool to have lunch with!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!