Big Brother Blog, Little Sister Coach

Coaching and Blogging; could this be a match made in Business Heaven? They surely seem to be siblings growing up together in the same household.

Greg Balanko-Dickson did a posting at Joyful Jubilant Learning yesterday that got me thinking: Coaching could very well be an industry that will owe many of its growing points to the emergence of blogging, a little sister reaping the benefits of tagging along in big brother’s footsteps.

It would actually be the other way around I suppose, with an older sister not getting her big break until little brother and his generation broke through a glass ceiling for her, for coaching is a much older industry. When I first started as a coach, the industry was nowhere near the degree of credibility and respect it enjoys today, and I am certain that blogging is one of the catalysts that has helped this happen.

Greg’s article is called Coaching, Manipulation, or Collaborative Learning? and it’s a great case-study of how a coach works with a client. It’s also a good read whether you consider yourself coach, manager, or executive, for Greg wrote it specifically for Joyful Jubilant Learning from the collaborative learning inquiry described in the article’s title.

It’s also a very honest and transparent coach’s record of how he does what he does.

Coaching is close to home for me, and I wonder: Can you think of another industry which has so totally embraced blogging as a way to freely publish their case studies and strategic philosophies, opening up ‘comment conversation’ to a critical analysis of their business models, incorporating all they receive in near instant feedback loops?

This has happened very naturally in coaching for a couple of reasons.

  • We seem to be a profession with little to no concern about competition. Coaching is a very personal relationship between client and coach, and that will always be the defining factor in whether or not a ‘booking’ happens. If there is no personal connection, and no trust between you, it will not work: Coach and client choose each other as people first. Therefore much can be freely given away online without any fear of infringement on your business.
  • Coaches are obsessed with learning, and especially real-time current learning about the human condition. Besides the fact that we don’t view other coaches as competition, we understand that we need to learn from each other for the sake of helping our clients in the best possible way, fulfilling the profound responsibility we have in coaching them. Best place to learn about coaching that works well is from other coaches publishing online, and blogging has created a kind of coaching university for us. No tuition, class is always in session when you have a period free to catch it, and you can switch between being teacher and student at will.
  • Writing is probably a primary or secondary strength for all coaches. Many will tell you that they have had journals for as long as they can remember, and that those journals eventually started to create some intellectual property for them, and an understanding about how people are not meant to live alone: We can help each other in a wealth of different ways. Then too, the more we write in other forms, the more we improve our communication skills, and blogging is an exceptional skill builder!
  • Blogging has given coaches the voice they needed to become credible and valued, way more than any coaching certification could. Many of us who have been coaching for a while remember the early days when customers would make us promise not to name them on client lists, for everyone else would think they were problem children who were desperate.

My goodness, we have come a long way.

For instance, and for another great read, visit Arnie Herz of our Ho’ohana Community at his blog Legal Sanity (have always loved the name of Arnie’s blog!) He recently posted a short called Finding the right coaching approach wherein he shares some of his coaching results:

In a recent ABA Journal article titled Coach Me, Jenny B. Davis profiles the work of three professional coaches and their lawyer clients. I’m one of the featured coaches. The interesting thing about this inaugural run of the ABA Journal Coaching Project was it’s time frame. The coaches had just one month to help our clients “achieve peak performance.”

Coach Me takes full disclosure to a whole new level! Something to ponder as this was published by the American bar Association… What I especially liked about the article, was reading what the clients felt about their results – how do we get more of them to blog?!?

This is what lawyer Larry Koch had to say about his experience with Arnie’s coaching:

“I think most people need this type of assistance—someone to help them with planning, execution and accountability,” Koch says. “Especially with activities that don’t come naturally and for which you haven’t been trained.” Herz likens it to a golf swing that feels somewhat awkward at first, but that eventually becomes very natural.

The experience, says Koch, “made me think about other relationships, other possibilities—and then take a disciplined approach to it all.”

So much has changed in three short years. When I started Talking Story in August of 2004 I did a search for other coaching blogs and they were hard to find, particularly in business – most of my searches took me to lifestyle coaching. Today you have a wealth to choose from, and anyone can enroll in our online coaching university, sampling our ‘open source’ curriculum. For starters, visit these coaches in our Ho’ohana Community:

An extra bonus for you: These are HC bloggers who don’t call themselves coaches, but they sure have been coaching me with the writing they offer on their blogs in such genuine expressions of aloha shared with us …

So much learning (and free coaching) just waiting for you! Grab their RSS feeds when you visit.

…some Archive Dipping here at Talking Story:


  1. says

    Hi Rosa, thanks for this interesting piece. I was initially surprised there weren’t more (UK) coaches blogging, but as my discovery of new sites widens I am finding more and more.
    Perhaps of greater significance is the number of people who coach through their blogging (including those who don’t call themselves coaches). As you say I guess this is because of the close connection in values and approach – commitment to learning, the importance of trust and rapport, the realisation that “people are not meant to live alone”.
    I think that last point is maybe what drives my writing. It’s an interesting thought.
    Thanks for the mention of my Confident Writing site – I’m glad you are enjoying reading it, I’m having great fun writing it. And I’m looking forward to learning more through it about how to write with aloha :)

  2. says

    Joanna, you already are writing with aloha! You’ve very concisely summed up what I said in a very long post (I really need to work on brevity …) when you say, “this is because of the close connection in values and approach.” That’s exactly it!

  3. says

    Rosa, you always find the most interesting perspectives and observations.
    When I started coaching in 1990, consulting was more mainstream and coaching had more of a new age image.
    Is coaching now mainstream?
    I think we still have quite far to go. Certainly we have come a long way and will know when we hit the mainstream, when it is common for companies to retain or employ their own in-house coaches.

  4. says

    We may have a long way to go Greg, but the possibilities get brighter every day. That said, I do wonder about the struggle ahead of the in-house coaching you mention, for there exists the assumption that managers are supposed to be coaching as part of their jobs right now, so “fix” that, when in fact both initiatives would deliver a powerful partnership working toward in-house talent creation.
    Coaching seems to be enjoying a slight cachet over ‘training’ and yet optimizing that cachet is still challenging. SLC will get far more requests for ‘Train the Trainer’ programs than we will for MWA Coaching Certification programs. It might sound like semantics at first, but there is a sensitivity to which one people feel they can get more easily approved by their budget parameters. Coaching is still considered a luxury.

  5. says

    I think what is between mainstream and where we are today is a closer examination and scrutiny of the Coaching profession.
    IMO, the Coaching profession has not done a great job of identifying new opportunities to integrate coaching, training, and management.
    I think the rise of peer-to-peer business owner groups illustrates the gap between traditional life coaching and the unique needs of business owners.
    As a founding member of the Professional Business Coaches Alliance I can tell you that we are working hard to bring more trained ‘business’ coaches to serve the market.
    Your point that coaching is considered a luxury illustrates that we have a ways to go to move coaching from the expense side of the ledger to the revenue/asset side.
    I think part of the perception that coaching is a luxury is that as a profession we have not coordinated our marketing efforts to emphasize how the outcomes from coaching actually become assets and not liabilities.
    In other words we do not fix people, we help people become more effective, focused, and passionate.

  6. says

    Now you’ve done it Greg, got my mind racing! There are several posts possible on these thoughts, and as you point out, “identifying new opportunities to integrate coaching, training, and management” is the stuff of which new business strategies are born! This is Greg the Business Performance Coach in action!
    It also strikes me that we have these asset/ not liability viewpoints in every proposal we’ll submit which outlines what we’ll provide in our coaching programs, and all our contacts need do (to start) is pass it along, but they get lost in all the other stuff that’s there too.
    A coach must be part ‘business coach’ no matter what our specific expertise is.

  7. says

    Now THIS has been an interesting debate!
    As I have gained confidence in my coaching abilities and headed out there to network in my community, i have watched with frustration the loose use of the term “coach” predominantly in business consulting settings.
    This is not about me being precious about the title “coach” but rather frustration that potential customers would so fervently believe that the business consultant they were paying was coaching them!
    There was plenty of valuable business advice coming there way but little development of the “person” as business owner or manager.
    I have had many people wonder why I have not included business coaching in my services when I can/do clearly coach business men and women to be the best business owner they can be.
    My focus is on developing the person and nurturing a capacity for these people to source education to build specific skill sets. That’s what I do in relationship coaching. Develop the person, nurture the awareness and the desire for skills development and voila the beginning of growth and change nets results.

  8. says

    It’s amazing to read about all the powerful things a coach can be, and yet, some still wonder of their legitimacy.
    Tiger Woods has a coach. Michael Jordan had a coach. Lance Armstrong had a coach. Why not business people? That trusted third party who can help you look through a new lens, at the same old vision, and see something new. Asking great questions to help us see the light inside of us is another thing a coach does well.
    Thank you Rosa, and Greg, for being my coaches. You both help me FAR more than you know. Just knowing when I get stuck I have someone trusted to turn to means the world to me!
    And thank you for including me in your list. I am honored to be among the great ones you’ve listed.

  9. says

    Love your comments that coaches are continual learners, and that many have a gift/passion for writing. Blogging has indeed provided a platform for coaches to naturally display their credibility. Wonderful post, Rosa.

  10. says

    Mmmm… the growing happens as we speak of it! This is a discussion we will need to continue as time goes by. Chris, Phil, and Deb, I am so happy you have jumped into the conversation.
    Chris, I think there is the possibility for both good and bad practice in every profession, and clearly coaches and consultants can learn from each other as both seek to improve. In my own area of expertise I make a distinction between the two to clarify the coaching arrangement I’ll get into with a client, for our work together will invariably involve both disciplines; each has its place and time. Like you, the ultimate goal for me is to help the person I coach grow within their strengths: I know I am successful when they no longer need me and I have coached myself out of the job!
    Phil I think part of the confusion for people is that coaching is such a big word with so many applications. Yet ironically, people have to open their minds to even more possibilities once they decide to engage in it personally. Letting someone into your business thinking can be much more difficult than the skills (and mental) training that goes into athletics.
    Deb, forgive my oversight, for you should definitely have been one of the coaches on my list! I have learned much from your wonderful book and blog.