Having a clear definition of success. Success looks very different for everyone. I think some people just start a business and look to be ‘successful’ without any clarity on what that means for them personally. If you don’t get clear about that you’ll be building your business on someone else’s principles of success. For me, success is about impact. How many lives am I touching and changing on a daily basis? How can I continue to grow and evolve so my impact can be greater? Success looks like fulfilling my purpose which is so much larger than me. What legacy am I leaving relationally, spiritually and financially? My business is a vehicle to that success.
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 Leticia DeSuze.
Leticia is an expert mindset coach and business strategist. Having coached more than 1200 people her work spans multiple industries. She works primarily with C-level execs, established entrepreneurs and minority women in law who desire to break the 7-figure barrier. Leticia has an innate ability to identify her clients’ blind spots and identify opportunities for accelerated growth. With her tough love approach and straightforward guidance she helps her clients create the lives and businesses they’ve always wanted. (https://mindsetstrategypartner.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 have always been innately curious and fascinated by human behavior but never knew it was tied to my life’s work. At first I wanted to be a hair stylist and open a string of salons. Then I wanted to be a lawyer. I didn’t pursue either of those but I think serving humanity was always my path. I tried various things looking for the right fit. In 2009 I thought I’d finally figured it out — becoming a real estate broker and starting my own firm. I had been selling real estate as an agent for 8 years so it made sense. But shortly after starting my firm I can remember telling a friend, “I don’t love this. I want to be a coach.” A few months later the real estate market crashed right along with my business. To survive while I figured it out I started doing consulting work with a company that gifted me (4) coaching sessions. I can remember the coach telling me she made $125/hour working from her home in the mountains talking to people all over the world. I couldn’t imagine this was possible for me — even though I desired it. She sent me all of her templates and everything I needed to get started but I wasn’t ready. So I started coaching within an organization and did so for 9 years. I traveled the nation working with senior execs who were let go from Fortune 500 companies. I was certified as a business coach and left in 2018 to work with a law firm coaching company. There, I served as a fractional CEO for 30+ law firms for a little over a year. I loved the work but not the culture of the company. I resigned in early 2019 to start my business and never looked back.
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?
Self-trust. I trust myself. I didn’t always. I had to grow into it by making small commitments and keeping them. Then I made larger commitments and ultimately built a track record with myself. Now I believe that I can handle whatever comes my way because I will always act in my own best interest. Trusting myself has allowed me to follow my intuition in building my business even when it went against the grain of what others advised. When I initially started out I was advised that I needed to be omnipresent. I needed to be doing ‘all of the things’ including Facebook lives, joining Facebook groups, posting consistently and seeking out every podcast and platform available to get the word out about my business. It didn’t feel true to me. I tried it for a very short while and decided to do what felt right. What felt right was focusing on impact over income. What felt right was serving my existing clients with my whole heart and soul. As a result, I built credibility very quickly and my business grew exponentially by organic referrals. If I didn’t trust myself, I wouldn’t have gone against the advice of experts and gurus.
Resilience. Being able to bounce back from challenges is important. Having challenges or even failures and not making them mean something about you personally is a part of that resilience. I study my clients’ success or lack thereof, for example. I had (3) clients who were not seeing as much success as I would have liked. While clients are ultimately responsible for their own results, it made me look more deeply at what I was doing and how I might show up differently. What I found was the clients — — although I liked them a lot — had certain challenges in common and were ultimately not the right fit for me or where I wanted to go in my business. It was initially disappointing because we had great relationships. However, it was that resilience that allowed me to take the learning, apply it and niche down to clients who were a better fit. And I now have those kinds of clients in my business.
Authenticity. I bring my whole self to my work and my clients get a consistent experience. I’m real and relatable but I’m also very straightforward and no-nonsense with a great sense of humor. During my client meetings they might cry or laugh or get upset with me depending on the day. But they can count on me being true to who I am all the time. I show and share my own humanity. Because I show up authentically it allows me to connect with them at the deepest levels and form bonds that go far beyond our coaching relationship. It also allows me to work with people who are truly the right fit. When you show up authentically, others are free to do the same. So often people compromise or hide certain parts of themselves for the sake of getting clients. It never works in the long run.
How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?
My habits allow me to continually grow and evolve into better versions of myself and it shows up in my work. We upgrade our technology regularly, but oftentimes continue to show up as outdated versions of ourselves. Some of my greatest habits include:
Being an avid reader and learner. I read at least a book or two a week but I am always studying something. I will dive deep into topics that interest me which right now happen to be childhood trauma and all things money. It’s not unusual for me to be studying two or three things at a time. As a result, I’m always growing and evolving which allows me to contribute more to my clients. They get so much more than they signed up for because of my commitment to my own growth. In fact, I believe my own personal development is the greatest gift I have to offer them as a coach.
Having a morning routine.My morning routine is usually from 5am to 8am. There are days where I sleep until I’m finished because I need more rest but most days I’m up at 5am. During that time, I pray, meditate, workout, read, shower, get dressed and everything else I need to do to set myself up for the day. By the time I’m meeting with clients I have devoted three hours of uninterrupted time to my own well-being. It makes a huge difference in my energy and clarity of mind and just in how I’m able to show up overall. If for some reason I deviate from my routine I can always tell the difference. Always.
Prioritizing self-care. For some people self-care is shopping, a manicure and pedicure, or a day at the spa. While I do all those things and they’re great — for me self-care is so much more. It involves what and who I’m listening to and feeding my mind. It involves exercise, eating well and resting. It involves a lot of solitude and being in environments of peace and tranquility like being in nature and near water. It’s doing regular life audits where I see what’s working and what’s not. I also spend a lot of time being vs. doing. As a coach I hold a lot for people so it’s very important to be my own highest priority because at some point the lack of self-care will show up and that’s never good.
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?
The thing that comes to mind is congruence. You want to be a follower of your own advice. It’s easy to offer solutions to others. It’s a lot more difficult to put those things into practice in your own life. However, when you are congruent and doing the things you advise others to do you will have greater credibility and create more trust capital. And for coaches, a feeling of trust is a huge part of the way people decide to work with you.
For example, I am a huge believer that as a business owner you need to be intimate with your numbers. I look at my bank accounts daily. I look at profit and loss statements. I know YTD revenue. I know monthly revenue. I am well aware of everything that’s happening in my business because I measure everything. However, I work with so many clients who don’t know their numbers. So when I am emphasizing the importance of it I am not advising them to do something that I myself don’t do.
I can also remember years ago when I took my mom’s taxes to her accountant to be prepared. While I sat waiting at his desk I saw a cut off notice for his electric bill. I immediately thought to myself, “There is no way he would be handling my money if he can’t handle his.” Whether we like it or not people make snap judgments and form conclusions. When you’re not congruent, those conclusions won’t usually be in your favor.
Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?
I think the best way to develop good habits is to be realistic. You know you. Sometimes we attempt to do things very quickly as opposed to growing into them and don’t see sustainable success. Start small. Stick to it until it becomes your new normal. For example, I would ideally like to work out 6 days per week. Rather than commit to 6days I started with 3 days and then ramped up to 4 to see how I would do with that. I will ultimately work my way up to six but it wasn’t realistic to begin with.
To stop bad habits, I think you have to assess what the habit was doing for you. Was it filling a void? Was it changing your state? (i.e. caffeine, nicotine) I stopped drinking coffee 7 months ago. When I assessed what coffee did for me I realized it was the routine I was attached to — — not the caffeine itself. I didn’t need it to wake up because I am a morning person who is naturally energetic. So in the absence of coffee I created a new routine. I have a smoothie and/or herbal tea every morning in place of coffee. It serves my health goals and keeps my routine in place. I don’t miss coffee at all.
I think people make a huge mistake when they don’t plan for the fallout of stopping the habit even if it was a bad one. It served some purpose in your life and you will feel the void of it so it’s important to plan accordingly. In using the coffee example I knew from stopping coffee before that it would come with headaches as part of the withdrawal process. I prepared myself mentally and with lots of hydration and pain pills when needed to get through it.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
Absolutely. I have so many but one of my favorites is a scripture found in Proverbs 19:21which reads “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” My faith informs my work and through this scripture I’m always reminded that what I do is in service to a much larger purpose than my own. Sometimes when things don’t go according to my plan I can trust that God’s plan is in place. It helps me to keep things in perspective.
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 project I’m working on right now is my podcast — The Winning Mind Podcast.™
I share so much wisdom, insight and perspective about human behavior and the effect of our childhood wounds and trauma. I believe they’re at the core of most problems whether life or business. The podcast allows me an opportunity to share parts of myself with people that are not always shared during coaching. The exciting (and scary) thing about it is that I literally open my mouth and allow my stream of consciousness to flow. It’s not scripted out which allows it to be real and raw but it’s amazing to me how it always comes together. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. People often send me their notes and takeaways. It confirmed what I have always known to be the case — — humanity is hurting. My podcast allows me to be a voice and a vessel of healing. I can’t think of anything more interesting or exciting.
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.
- Having a clear definition of success. Success looks very different for everyone. I think some people just start a business and look to be ‘successful’ without any clarity on what that means for them personally. If you don’t get clear about that you’ll be building your business on someone else’s principles of success. For me, success is about impact. How many lives am I touching and changing on a daily basis? How can I continue to grow and evolve so my impact can be greater? Success looks like fulfilling my purpose which is so much larger than me. What legacy am I leaving relationally, spiritually and financially? My business is a vehicle to that success.
- Treating coaching as a business as opposed to a passion project or a side hustle. Coaching is quite rewarding and a lot of people get into it because they genuinely want to help people. And they do a great job. However, when it comes to treating it as a viable business I find a lot of coaches to be lacking. Passion alone is not going to build your business. You have to understand marketing, sales, financials and so many other things if you want to see it be as successful as it could be. You have to invest in your own growth and be willing to learn things that you don’t currently know and/or hire people with expertise you don’t have. For example, I find a lot of coaches to be underpriced. They price themselves by the hour which is a huge mistake. Whenever you price yourself by the hour, the better you get at something the less money you make and the more volume you need. The hourly pricing model is an absolute disservice in my opinion. I believe pricing your services based on results and impact is a far better way. When you establish trust, credibility and expertise your people will pay your prices. In fact, the higher my price points have gotten the higher caliber of clients I have attracted. But you have to be invested in growing this as a business to continually learn and implement these things.
- Working with the right clients. You are not the coach for everybody. This can be a hard pill to swallow because the zealous coach wants to help everybody! And so many people are drawn to this work that it’s hard to say no. However, determining the best fit for you is crucial because it will allow your work with people to be so much more effective. You may do a lot of things and be great at them. But there is something you do far better than everything else you do and your business needs to be based on that. It will save you tons of time, energy and attention in the long run. For example, I am a coach to minority women in law who desire to break the 7-figure barrier. I recognized that those who have never worked with a coach and/or those who are still on a revenue roller coaster are not the best fit for me. I discovered that the clients I work with best are those who are more established and believe coaching is a no-brainer and a necessity and they have a consistent pipeline of clients to pay for it. When I made this discovery my business grew in a completely different direction. Now I’m laser focused on that group of people.
- Prioritizing impact over income. This is really important. The best coaches can focus on impact over income because they have figured out the revenue piece. They have their prices set appropriately and are clear on the best ways to generate clients. If this isn’t the case you will be more focused on money because your business isn’t meeting your needs. As a result there can be a desperate and needy energy that comes from you because of your lack. Now everything becomes about you instead of the best interests of your clients or potential clients. People can feel it even if they can’t pinpoint exactly what it is and will often be repelled by it. Furthermore, you couldn’t possibly be fully present to serve your clients when you are distracted by your own needs. And you will be more likely to compromise and work with whoever comes your way because you need to get money in the door.
- Focusing on the right things. The best coaches understand the importance of service delivery and creating a wow! client experience but they also understand where they need to be laser-focused in their businesses. They focus on things that will move the needle. For example, I know a ton of coaches who have the best websites and social media pages you could imagine but they have no clients. They have poured money into the aesthetics of having a viable business but without clients there is no business! Focusing on the right things would be focusing on sales. When you have sales, you have money to invest in your business. Until you do that should be your only priority.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen coaches make when they start their business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
- Magical thinking. Some coaches that I know thought that they would get a certification and let people know once or twice that they’d started a new business and the clients would start pouring in. When it didn’t happen they got discouraged — some giving up altogether. Based on the premise of ‘effective frequency’ there’s a certain number of times people need to hear your message before taking action. The number is conflicting and ranges from 7 to 14 but clearly repetition is the name of the game. So if you make a couple of cute social media posts and reach out to 3 of your closest friends and think it’s marketing it’s not. It’s magical thinking. You’ve got to gain a basic understanding of marketing and date the possibilities until you see what works for you.
- Following trends and shiny objects.Every strategy is not for everybody. It’s important — especially early on — to focus only on what you do well. Every trend is not for you to follow. When I started my business, I was advised to be on every platform and to show up consistently to build my brand. It never sat well with me. I decided to focus on what I did well which was nurturing relationships. I made that my sole focus and it’s how I built my business. Had I continued with the advice I was given, I would’ve been spread too thin. I would have been visible but I wouldn’t have been effective. Most recently with the phenomenon of Clubhouse a lot of coaches joined and made a lot of money. I joined for a short while but it wasn’t my thing. It felt noisy, crowded and scattered and it was hard on my inner introvert. At first I almost felt like I was doing myself a disservice by not participating. My coach said, “Let’s focus on what you do well and don’t deviate from it regardless of what’s happening.” I did just that and it’s allowed me to be laser-focused on my business in a way I’ve never been. It’s hard but you’ve got to figure out what works for you and stick to it but know that there will be temptation and pressure along the way.
- Not having a plan. Within four months of starting my business I booked a VIP day with my coach because I knew I needed a framework and a plan if I was going to really do this. I had arbitrary goals that meant nothing. I was all over the place. My coach helped me to gain clarity on what I envisioned and the path to get there. I left being quite clear on how many clients I needed and at what price point to get to my goal. The rest was up to me. Many coaches start and don’t lay solid foundations. As I said before, “Things don’t go wrong they start wrong. If you build it right from the beginning you make less mistakes. Mistakes aren’t bad because they’re how you learn. But unnecessary mistakes can be costly and also avoided with proper planning which usually requires expertise outside of your own.
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.
Depending on your coaching model that might vary. For me personally, that includes:
- Knowing your clients intimately. I take the time to get to know my clients. Not just their businesses but also their personalities. I know their likes and dislikes. I know their strengths and opportunities for growth. This allows me to be more of a partner than I am a coach. I almost intuitively know what needs to happen in their businesses because I’m so attuned and my work with them isn’t limited to when we’re on a Zoom call. When I see resources or opportunities, I send them. When ideas surface, I send them. Before challenges arise, I can see them afar off. That is a honed skill and it’s how I do amazing work with my clients. Because I’m also trauma-informed I can see when it’s the driving force behind actions they take — or not and work with them accordingly.
- Being very generous. I am very generous with my time, energy, attention and resources. When my clients start to work with me they receive gifts. It could be books, Jo Malone candles, wine glasses from Tiffany & Co or my personalized wine. It just depends. When my clients send referrals my way they receive gifts. Sometimes they receive gifts ‘just because.’ I have a client who loves big earrings. I know someone who makes them. I ordered her a pair ‘just because.’ Even when people are not my clients my goal is to leave people better than I found them. I had someone reach out to me regarding my services. I spoke with her via phone and shared some strategies she could use immediately. She was shocked because she wasn’t a client and she hadn’t paid. I said, “If my free strategies are this impactful, imagine what you’ll get when you’re a paying client!” A few months later she became one.
- Going above and beyond When my clients need more time or need me to look at something outside of our scheduled time I do it. I am wholeheartedly invested in their success and they know it. Right now, I am planning trips to work on-site with some of my clients. Outside of our regularly scheduled Zoom meetings, I am going to work with them in person to accelerate their results. I’ve already done it locally in Atlanta. Next up are Charlotte and Miami. My eye is always set on their goals even when life happens and they lose their way. We are going to get to the goal if I have anything to do with it.
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?
There are three that come to mind:
- The power of ‘Who.’ Who do you know?The best way for a coach to find customers is within their own networks and spheres of influence. Who have you impacted already? More than likely you’ve been coaching long before you started to do it officially. Can you ask for written and video testimonials that share your impact? Can you enlist those people as your ambassadors? Who do they know that needs your services? Ask and it is given! But you’ve got to ask!
- Creating a wow! client experience. When clients are wowed by you they will share your services organically. This is the strategy I use to build and grow my business. In fact almost every time someone reaches out to me for coaching services they have been referred by an existing or former client in a group on social median or in ‘random’ conversation. It’s such a privilege to have your name mentioned in rooms and spaces that you’re not in and to have your clients think so highly of you that they share your services without you asking. That happens because of the level of whole-hearted commitment I have to them and their businesses.
- Niching down. Sometimes people feel like if they target their clients they will limit themselves. I find it to be the best way to empower yourself. Nobody says you have to do this forever, but it allows you to become an expert and specialist who targets specific problems for a specific group of people. When you are targeting a specific niche, you are speaking specifically to them and their unique challenges vs. casting a wide net. We all want to feel as if we’re understood so when you can provide that through your targeted approach it will pay off. It took me a long time to get this but once I did my business changed dramatically in both the caliber of clients and income. In fact in my studies of many companies, they focused on doing one thing well. I think we should follow suit.
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?
I’m a HUGE believer that things don’t go wrong they start wrong. I would therefore recommend that they build their businesses the way they want them to be from the beginning or begin with the end in mind. I have never worked extremely long hours or worked to the point of exhaustion. Nor do I intend to. I think it’s a myth that you have to burn yourself out to be successful. I set my hours and price point to serve my goals and created my services and packages around that. I am never exhausted. I always have time for me and the things that contribute to my mental and physical well-being. As I grow and scale this will continue to be the case. In fact, I was ok with growing at a slower pace because my mental well-being and quality of life have always been my priority. When you don’t take care of yourself it shows. It will show up in your client meetings. It will show up in your energy levels. It will show up in your clarity of mind. The best gift you can give to your clients and your business is a very healthy version of you.
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 am a single mother of a 25 year-old daughter. I started a nonprofit, Beyond Potential, Inc. because I want to help100 single mothers heal from trauma and prepare them with everything they need to be successful in life. In my coaching work I find that the most of people’s problems in adulthood stem from childhood. I want to house them and their children in the most beautiful environments for 12 to 24 months because I understand the importance of environment in a person’s success.
During that time they will receive therapy, life coaching, classes on financial literacy and entrepreneurship; health and wellness coaching to include nutrition, yoga, organically prepared meals and cooking classes; nurturing and development of their creative ideas so when they leave they have full-fledged businesses and everything they need to take care of themselves and create an incredible future for their children.
It’s been said that when you educate a woman you educate a nation. What about when you educate and heal a woman?! With this work, I envision these women bringing about incredible change in their families, communities and society at large and breaking the chains of both generational trauma and poverty. They will be unstoppable!
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.
Boy are there so many! In this moment, it would be Sadghuru. I’m fascinated by his wisdom. Although I have never practiced Buddha his words and wisdom are deeply resonant. For example, he recently said, “Do not hold back your love, your joy, and your exuberance. Only what you give becomes your quality, not what you hold back.” Before I’d ever read that I’d recorded a podcast episode about loving without conditions and without holding anything back. I would love to explore more of the depths of his spirit.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Readers can connect with me and my work @Leticiadesuze across all social media platforms. My website ishttps://mindsetstrategypartner.com. They can also tune in to ‘The Winning Mind’ podcast on Spotify, iTunes, Pandora and Podbean.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!