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What Do You Do?

 I still struggle with how to answer this question. It can get me tongue-tied and confused. And I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the answer over the past ten years.

But I rarely say I’m a coach because that reply seems to shut down a conversation.

You see, most of the time, people want to put us in a neat little box.

Oh, you’re an… accountant, lawyer, doctor…

When I say I’m a coach, people most often respond, Oh, a life coach… And then they talk about something else.

Or they look confused because they have NO idea what a coach does.

If you’re a coach immersed in a world of personal growth it can be easy to forget that most of the planet has NO idea what a coach does.


I’m interested in one of two EMOTIONAL reactIons to this question.

And I’m looking to share a STORY that has the questIoner respond:

Either: Wow!

Or: How do you DO that?

It’s a bonus if they say, Wow! How do you do that?


I’ll often begin with these words because they prepare the listener for a more unusual response.

And then I’ll go on to share a client success story.

I’m looking for a story that STARTS a conversation…

Here’s an example:

– What do you do, Rich?

– Well, it’s kinda hard to explain… But a client of mine recently raised 3 Million Dollars for his non-profit after a challenge I gave him over a lunch break.

– What do you do, Rich?

– Well, it’s kinda hard to explain… But recently a client of mine began coaching one of the leaders of a global 15,000 person organization. And another client transitioned from being a therapist (at  $100 or so an hour) to having a coaching client who paid $86,000 to work with her.

– What do you do, Rich?

– Well, it’s kinda hard to explain… But a year ago I coached a Presidential candidate. She had three Masters degrees and a PhD and she ran a seven-figure business. And she was a mum to three kids. I love to coach the kind of people who DON’T need a coach.

All of these are real examples for me. And they are Conversation Starters.

And even so, sometimes the person I’m talking to will still just say, That’s interesting. And then walk away!

I’m (still) learning to be less attached to the response than to have fun trying to connect with MY kind of people. THEY are the ones who can’t wait to find out more.


But what if you’re a coach who doesn’t YET have a selection of client success stories?

In my early days of my coaching career I’d often respond as follows:

– What do you do, Rich?

– I help men who want to create more passion in their relationships with women.

This wasn’t a success story. This was me noticing a pain in many relationships. (Especially my own, to be honest).

It turned out that women who heard this response would often ask, “Do you ever work with women, too?”

Later, once I’d founded The Confident Woman’s Salon and I was immersed in researching the distinctions between what drove forward and what held back really powerful women, I’d often respond in this way:

– What do you do, Rich?

– I’m interviewing the Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women, and those on their way.

This turned out to be a fascinating conversation starter.


You may be a new coach but you ARE a coach. So don’t dismiss the power of questions in your response.

It’s a little provocative and you’ll need some confIdence for this but it’s quite ok to respond to a question with a question…

– What do you do?

– Let me answer that with a small question. What’s the single biggest challenge that you faced in your business today?

[You can replace ‘business’ with relationship, life, finances, health or the specific field you work in].

If someone isn’t willing to answer this question – for some people it’s a little too provocative – frankly that means they aren’t interested to have a deeper conversation, so they probably aren’t the kind of client I love to work with.

And that’s a great thing as I’ve just filtered out someone who’s not a dream client.

When they DO respond with a specific issue, that’s when you can have a little fun based on how YOU work with business owners.


Staying with a business example, if they reply,

– My biggest challenge is employee turnover…

You could respond as follows:

– I work with CEOs on the 3 factors that impact employee turnover the most.

Next comes the FUN part. Because you only need to know TWO of the main factors that could be impacting them:

“The first is the persona of the Founder. If the CEO isn’t willing to do their own deep, inner work, no external strategy will have the impact they desire.

Second, I work with leadership teams on communication. Communication between executives. Communication with customers. And communication between internal teams.

The third issue is always highly personalized. I’d need to sit down with you and ask a few more questions to find out what that third issue might be for YOU and your company…”

Then go SILENT and wait to see what they say next.

Your dream people will want to know more.

[Just pick the two biggest issues for YOUR dream clients and replace them in the example above].


A coach once wrote to me:

“I am still trying to figure out the statement, ‘I help women who ________ to ________.’

What I do know is women come to me feeling low, unhealthy, etc. and after working with me they feel better.

What I SEE happen is they come in with their light on the Dim setting and leave with their light 10,000 times brighter.

Here are some words I have heard from my clients: Lighter, more positive, relieved, free, energized, relaxed, empowered, inspired.”

My response to him was simple.

Stop trying to create an “elevator pitch”.

You see, he already knew the answer.

The next time someone asks, What do you do? He can simply respond:

“Well it’s kinda hard to explain but women come to me feeling low and unhealthy. They come in with their light on the Dim setting and leave with their light 10,000 times brighter!”

They leave feeling lighter, more positive, relieved, free, energized, relaxed, empowered and inspired.



Love. Rich


PS. More transparency here: almost 20 years into my coaching career, I still get nervous every time I launch a new program. When the first person signs up, it always feels like a fluke! And it’s only after the second person is in that I believe it’s real.

Well, the first two people have already signed up for The $100K Club, so strap in, we are ready to fly!!

There are now just 13 spots left at the early bird price. They include a gift ticket to my four newest programs (a $3,686 value bonus). Don’t miss this opportunity to join an exclusive group of coaches committed to growth and success.

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