FAQs

 Practical

1. What happens during a coaching session?

I lead a structured conversation that helps you think about your thinking, and embed new insights as you have them. We notice and deal with impasses, and create systems to cultivate new habits. The content of the conversations is always entirely up to you. You have permission at every step to pursue only topics and actions that seem useful and appropriate.

My clients often tell me that they find our sessions a refreshing change from their usual activities and other forms of personal development they have tried. They leave each session excited and clear on what they want to do and the next steps to take.

2. What methodology do you use?

I primarily follow the NeuroLeadership approach pioneered by David Rock, with whom I’ve trained. I find that this science-based, structured, and transparent approach builds trust with clients, focuses on quick results, and unlike many forms of talk therapy, is designed to keep both sides of the relationship free from dependency.

Of course, the success of any coaching intervention depends not just on the method but also the personal style and skillfulness of the practitioner. My personality and background significantly inform my coaching. You can get a sense of my background and the other coaching resources that inspire me, beyond NeuroLeadership, here on my website.

3. Do you guarantee results?

No, and be wary of any coach that does.

A foundational principle of coaching is that the athlete, or the client in this case, does the work. I create an external context that clarifies what you need to do to accomplish your goals. As a result, your “intrinsic” or internal motivation increases. This powerful combination creates the highest chance you’ll succeed. But you’re still in charge of doing the work.

Also, sometimes life throws us curve balls—e.g., you’re training for a marathon and then suddenly break your leg. Obviously, it wouldn’t make sense to push yourself over the finish line in these circumstances. At the same time, some of my clients have had their biggest breakthroughs while pursuing goals that suddenly and unexpectedly become unfeasible. Staying in relationship with your goals as the content of your life changes can build powerful skills and insights.

All that said, the vast majority of my clients achieve and exceed what they set out to do. I only work with clients on ambitious goals that they can realistically achieve in three to six months. And I’ll be fully committed to your success from day one.

Logistical

4. Are coaching projects and the content of sessions fully confidential?

Yes.

The one exception is that I have a legal obligation to break confidentiality if I strongly believe that you imminently intend, and have the means, to physically injure yourself or another person. This is a purely hypothetical situation that has never come up in my work, but please be aware that all coaches and therapists are legally bound to this code of ethics.

I keep records in Asana, Evernote, and in paper files. Asana records are secure and are yours to keep or destroy at any point. I shred my paper files and delete my Evernote records at the conclusion of every coaching relationship. These records never include your name.

5. Do you use Skype or other kinds of video calls?

No. This is a matter of taste, but I personally do not find them especially effective. In fact, here is an article I’ve written about some of the relative benefits of audio-only coaching sessions.

I keep an office in San Francisco and try to meet with clients in-person whenever possible, particularly if they are in the Bay Area or cities I frequently visit (Seattle, LA, New York, London).

6. How will we communicate between coaching sessions?

The coaching sessions create the “container” for our work together. Maintaining that structure is important for ensuring the power of the coaching. That said, I recognize that issues can come up between sessions, and so I am available to you via email at any point. I will use personal discretion whether to respond to these emails as they come in, or reserve them for deeper discussion in our next call.

I sometimes propose managing coaching projects using Asana, a web-based, collaborative task management and communication system. It’s free, and in line with Getting Things Done (GTD) productivity principles and sound neuroscience. For clients who choose to use Asana, it’s one more (faster/more efficient) way for us to communicate.

7. Do you work with clients outside the U.S.?

Yes. My international clients find having a coach in the U.S. helpful particularly if their local business culture lacks coaching or other career development opportunities, or if their local currency trades favorably with the US Dollar. I conduct all coaching calls in English between 8 AM and 6 PM Pacific Time.

8. How do I pay for your services?

I currently accept United States Dollars (USD) via check, Paypal or Google Checkout and bitcoin using Bitpay.

9. How much do you charge?

My pricing structure varies depending on the content, client, and complexity of the coaching project. I try to charge so that all my clients receive the same value per dollar and per hour. I do not use a sliding scale or offer discounts because I believe they unintentionally result in lower value.

For reference, my typical rate for a 12-week individual coaching series is currently $6,000 USD. My typical rate for a single, 60-minute coaching session is $350. Initial sessions may last up to 90 minutes but are also priced at $350.

Longer-term coaching engagements for enterprise clients are sometimes priced higher based on:

  • Content: the nature of the business challenges or professional development goals
  • Client: an “executive brain” that is more sharpened but also more distracted with competing responsibilities
  • Complexity: the need to integrate with existing performance management systems or other work external to the coaching relationship itself

Philosophical

10. How do I choose a coach that’s right for me?

The coaching space is filled with bad actors and bad practitioners. It is an industry with few professional standards or meaningful credentials. Many coaches are charismatic advice-givers who offer one-size-fits-all solutions for addressing your unique issues. They are often blindly uncritical about their own methods and impact. Cost and value are not always correlated. The customer has every right to be skeptical.

Rather than forego professional development altogether, you can succeed by being selective in who you choose to work with and how you measure the success of your coaching.

Coaching works best when:

  • You set the goals.
  • The goals are measurable, ambitious, and time-delimited.
  • The goals are met.
  • Rapport with your coach is strong—the relationship feels good and builds trust.
  • You feel “comfortably uncomfortable” as you work with difficulties and practice new skills in a supportive environment.
  • You feel in control to end the relationship at any point.
  • The process and boundaries are mutually clear.

Whether you decide to work with me or not, I encourage you to choose a coach based on your overall rapport and their general skills over specific subject matter expertise. Coaching expands our mental maps; advice is filtered by our existing mental maps. Both are useful, but they aren’t the same. If, instead of skill development, you’re looking for actionable advice about a specific topic, you may benefit from a mentor, consultant, or even a book more than a coach.

11. Do you have an ideal client?

Not really. The clients I have worked with, and the goals they’ve chosen to tackle, have been varied.

That said, many of my clients have shared the following characteristics:

  • They are highly motivated self-starters looking to achieve specific goals or new general levels of performance.
  • Their goals are very often related to long-term career planning, success in the context of their current job, or grappling with big life and career transitions.
  • They have the disposable income to invest in personal development.
  • My personality, language, and experience resonate with them.
  • They have often reached a plateau where they are ready and willing to take a different kind of risk.

12. Do you ever turn away potential clients?

Sometimes. If I sense in our first session that I am not an ideal fit for you, I will say so and direct you to a potentially better resource.

When this happens, it is usually for one of the following reasons:

  • You are in a state of overwhelm, grief, or trauma recovery, without the available energy or mental clarity to commit to coaching. This happens to all of us at times. For clients in this situation, I typically recommend alternatives to coaching that are more effective and less expensive. Coaching requires a certain degree of available energy and existing stability. It’s good to attend to and cultivate your energy and stability before committing to a new growth path.
  • Your primary goal at this point is to be fully seen, understood, and heard. I offer all my clients an empathetic and supportive environment. This in fact is a key ingredient of effective coaching. However, if this is a new experience for you, then spending some time here, perhaps quite some time, can be a necessary step before you become restless, then eager, then committed to pursuing new goals. Coaching can be an effective place to do this work, but it’s expensive compared to other alternatives.
  • Your drive to succeed on someone else’s terms is overriding your own instincts: i.e., your goals are not your own. I can only help you achieve goals that you truly and deeply want to achieve for their own sake. We all, at times, get caught up in other people’s agendas, and I don’t judge clients who are in this situation. I just don’t have a high-value service to offer.
  • You are looking for advice. I am happy to share my subject matter expertise and specific recommendations in the context of our coaching relationship. But coaching requires that we focus first and foremost on what you think, not what I think. If instead of skill development, you’d prefer to receive advice in areas where I have subject matter expertise, I would be delighted to work with you as an advisor or consultant. In my first session with many clients, we often spend some time discovering which kind of relationship will be most fruitful for you now.
  • Your development exceeds my own in ways that would negatively affect the coaching relationship. We can all learn from anybody, but generally speaking no coach can reliably take you past his or her own level of expertise. Although I aim to offer a superlative service, I will let you know in our first session if any shortcomings in my own abilities as a coach would prevent me from me from providing you the value you deserve.

13. Do you have an ideological bias in your coaching work?

I try not to. In my life and in my work, I deliberately create “traps” for myself that reveal and dismantle ingrained thought patterns that might interfere with me being fully present for my clients.

I think many experts in the scientific, business, and spiritual communities have come to similar conclusions about what is effective, what is known, and what is knowable with regards to personal development. The resources section of this website includes the voices that most inspire me across many disciplines. I find I can coach most skillfully when I don’t limit myself to a particular language or school of thought.

Of course, since I am human I do have biases. Here are some disciplines and activities that have a significant influence on my work:

  • A sound understanding of complexity theory informs all my professional work. Human brains, bodies, and relationships are all complex systems, as are financial markets, competitive environments, businesses, and digital media ecosystems.
  • I practice daily mindfulness meditation to strengthen the brain regions that prevent me from getting caught up in my own story.
  • I have found the language and imagery of Jungian analysis to be useful at times in coaching relationships because strong visual metaphors engage deeper parts of the brain than clinical descriptions of the same mental phenomena.
  • I am an amateur bass/baritone singer, which I enjoy for its technical and creative challenges, and as a “full body / full brain” activity. I am more likely to use anecdotes and metaphors related to singing and the performing arts than team sports.

I am suspicious of any coach with a strong ideological message of any kind, in particular highly positive ones like “you can do anything!” and “just believe in yourself!” Although these kinds of messages are galvanizing for some people in some contexts, they can just as often be disabling. Happiness, wellness, success, and meaning are different goals, and not all are equally possible at all times.