Today we’re going to tackle the wonderful world of coaching with Jason Billows.
Let’s start with a question……If the highest and most accomplished actors, musicians and athletes all have coaches, why is it that you don’t have one? Is it because you don’t want to find out there are things you can do differently? Or is it you just don’t want to have to face areas that you could do better that would bring more value to your company and life?
Today’s guest Jason Billows will help us understand the world of coaching and why you need one in your life. Here are some things we’ll be talking about:
- How a coach can help you think about your activities in a more productive way.
- What the difference between a coach and a consultant is.
- How to get your coach to respect who you are and what your wishes are.
- Learn about the concept of the consultant as a coach and why that’s different than just hiring either.
- How to successfully hire a coach or any outside advisor to work with you.
Narrator: Welcome to the Sustainable Business Radio Show on podcast where you’ll learn not only how to create a sustainable business but you’ll also learn the secrets of creating extraordinary value within your business and your life. The Sustainable Business is all about creating great outcomes.
Here’s your host, certified financial planner, student, entrepreneur and private business expert, Josh Patrick.
Josh: Welcome to the Sustainable Business podcast where we ask you this question, “What would you be doing differently if your business was to be here 100 years from now?”
Today’s guest is my coach and friend, Jason Billows. He has a pretty colorful past that includes working in the film and television industry, writing theater, fundraising, event production and even as a juggler-magician-comedian – I’d love to ask him about that. Throughout those experiences, he’d worked both in private and public sector and as an entrepreneur with a few different businesses. But for the past five years or so, he’s been working as a coach. He currently spends his time helping entrepreneurs and executives to succeed at business without compromising the other priorities in their life. I know one thing Jason mentioned to me recently is that he works on integration not balance which makes my heart just sing.
I can tell you that Jason is very good at what he does. And, you know, full disclosure always requires that I let you know that Jason is my coach. I can tell you that he does a great job helping me focus on what’s important and he helps me stop chasing bright shiny objects which is something I just love to do. Today, Jason’s going to help us learn why you need a coach. He’s going to answer the question which is always at the top of my mind about coaching is, “Why is it that top athletes, musicians and actors – they all have coaches but almost no business owners do?” So, I hope that at the end of this podcast, you’re going to believe that if you own a business, you need a coach also. So, let’s get right to it and see what Jason can tell us about the world of coaching and why you need one.
Hey Jason, thanks for joining us today.
Jason: Hey, Josh. It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me on the show.
Josh: Oh, it’s my pleasure. Let me ask that first question to you. I find it’s really kind of amazing, the best performers who get paid lots and lots and lots of money – they’re certainly experts at what they do. I mean, there’s no question that an Andre Agassi or a Michael Jordan is an expert. There’s no question that Trey Anastasio may be one of the best guitar players in the planet but they both got teachers and coaches. Why is it business owners don’t?
Jason: Well, I actually don’t think that the world of athletics and that the world of business is all that different. In both athletics and in business, we have high performers, we have mediocre performers, and then we have those people that fail miserably. And so, if you look at the athletic world–yeah, we have these athletes that go out there and they work with coaches to excel at really high levels. And when we talk about coaches – sure, there’s the coaches that will help athletes excel in the physical way, through the training, through skill development. But we also see really high-end athletes who are working with sports psychologists and coaches like—even Tony Robbins works with top-end athletes.
And so, one of the reasons I think those people are high performers is because they have coaches. But, let’s face it, there’s a lot of people who are involved in athletics who don’t have coaches. I mean, how many people do you know that decided that they’re going to take up running? “I want to lose a little bit of weight. I want to get in shape so I’m going to out in the weekend. I’m going to run and I’m going to run a couple times a week.” And then you talk to him a month later and you say, “Hey, how’s it going?” And they say, “Oh, I had to stop because my knee hurts or I blew up my back” or something like that. What would have been different if those people had been working with coaches?
Now, not everybody wants to excel and get to that elite level but I don’t think that there’s any doubt about it that working with a coach to help you see those blind spots and to help you, not necessarily take shortcuts, but at least to take the shortest and most effective path from point A to point B – to get from where you are now to where you want to go. I think that it’s a really smart move. In the world of businesses, the same thing applies. When we look at really high-end performers in business, those people are either working with coaches, they’re working with mentors who have walked that path before, or they’re working with a peer group in some way that allows them to sort of hear it like it is, to get the straight goods, to learn from others but also to help you see your blind spots. So, whether you’re a weekend warrior athlete, whether you’re a business owner, if you work with a coach in some capacity, I think that you’re going to see improved results as a result.
Josh: Obviously, I’m using you as a coach and I’ve had coaches mostly on—when I don’t have a coach, I’m usually looking for another coach – from 40 years I’ve been in business so I’m a believer. Here’s something I always get questions people ask me a lot and I’d like to hear what your comment is about this. “Isn’t a coach just a consultant in a fancy word?”
Jason: Yeah. Oh, that’s such a good question. I’m glad that you’ve asked that. The answer is “Maybe, yes.” Here’s the way I look at it. First of all, we need to define what are these terms “coach” and what are these terms “consultants”, right? How do we define those words? There can be different definitions, but the way that I see it and just to put it in the simplest terms is a consultant is somebody who is going to be telling you what to do based on their area of expertise, based on their experience. And so, it’s more of a prescriptive approach. Whereas, a coach is going to be asking you questions and helping you to see things from different perspectives so that you can make the best decision for you.
One of the common things that we’ll hear a lot of coaches say is that “nobody knows your life or your business better than you”, because you’re in the trenches. You’re living it and you’re working in it every single day. A coach does not want to be presumptuous of showing up and saying, “Hey, you need to do this, this and this” when perhaps they don’t see the whole big picture. But what I can do, as a coach, is I can ask you some really powerful questions to have you consider more possibilities than perhaps you’ve considered thus far so that you can make the best decision for you. But ultimately, if you think of coaching consultants as being on either ends of a spectrum, I believe that every coach and every consultant plays somewhere along that spectrum. You can move. You can shift. I know that when I’m working with my clients, sometimes I’m very prescriptive. I’m very much playing that role of a consultant. And other times I’m more in the coach role where I’m asking the questions but I’m not really giving any advice.
So your question, I think that people can be both coaches and consultants. And sometimes it’s a lot of gray area. But it’s important that you decide what is it that you’re looking for from somebody before you hire them, just because somebody calls themselves a coach or call themselves a consultant. Don’t just take that at face value. Have a conversation with them and find out “What does that mean? How does that influence the way that you work? Is that really what you’re looking for?”
Josh: So Jason, I’ve got to ask you this because you just hit a real hot button of mine, the word “expert.” Not that the consultant or coach is the expert but the person being coached is the expert on their life and too many consultants just don’t respect that. I’ve talked to lots of consultants who say to me, “You know, if business owner XYZ only will listen to my advice and do what I said, the world would be a much better place.” A coach who’s good would never say that. They would always ask the question, “Gee, I wonder what’s preventing my client from doing this?” and that’s just about respect with experts. And the other thing is the word “why.” You almost never see a consultant use the word “why” because they already have all the answers, at least in their brain they do. So, can you talk about those two things for a second because they’re just so important in my experience?
Jason: Yeah. Well, I think that that first point that you just made goes back to the spectrum that we were talking about there. I do agree with you to that consultants will be very prescriptive and they will say, “Gee, you know, just do this and your whole life is going to be better. Your business is going to improve.” But they’re not necessarily seeing that big picture that the expert, in other words their client, is perhaps seeing.
On the flip side to it, sometimes taking the coaching approach isn’t best either because sometimes, as a coach—I mean, yes we would love to be able to ask those powerful questions and have our clients have the epiphanies for themselves so that they can configure it all out and be able to answer those tough questions and really learn in that process. That’s great if you have the time to take that kind of an approach. But a lot of the times in business and in life, people are looking to make substantial change in a short period of time. And so, this is where playing in the middle of that spectrum becomes helpful, I think. And that’s where I spend a lot of my time, where I may say to my client, “Look, based on what we’ve discussed, what if you took this approach?” I’m not attached to it. I’m not saying that “you must take this approach” but what I am saying is “Look, out of the last ten clients that I’ve worked with, nine of them did this and had huge success. Do you want to do this?” And majority of the time they’ll say, “Yeah. Okay, let’s try this.” But if my client comes back to me and says, “No, that’s not really landing for me.” I’m not going to stay in that consultant mode and say, “Well, if you did it, it would be successful.” No, I’m going to switch over to coach mode and I’m going to say, “Okay, well, what doesn’t work about that for you? Or what could work? Or what do we need to shift and tweak so that we can make it your own? So that we can really make it work for you?” And so, that’s where I kind of play on that spectrum a lot.
But yeah you’re right in that it’s not helpful to simply sit there and say to a client, “If you just did what I was telling you, you would be successful.” I think that that’s why we’re seeing the emergence of more and more coaches these days because people are tired of having consultants say that, “Hey, this magic formula’s going to work because it worked for this company.” But hey, guess what, my company is not that company so it might not work.
Josh: You know something? A thought just occurred to me, which I never really thought of before which is really cool. I always like that when it happens. But the idea of a consultant as a coach, that’s something I’ve really never thought about before. That’s actually what you just described is that consulting really needs to have a coaching component to it and, too often, consultants forget that. I love the fact that you’re bringing that to the party. It really makes me unbelievably happy.
Jason: Yeah. And it’s not just happening in the business world between coaches and consultants. It’s also happening in more of the, for lack of a better term, I’ll use “in the life coaching space” where we’re finding that a lot of psychologists and therapists are starting to really embrace coaching models as well. I know a number of psychologists and therapists who have moved to more of a coaching model than a therapeutic model because they’re finding that their clients are having more success with it. But again, they will play on a spectrum there as well.
I think that this is one of things, is when you’re looking for a coach or a consultant to work with, in your business, you need to make sure that it’s a good fit. Some people just want somebody to walk in and say, “Do these five things” and then walk out. Other people want to be involved in that process and really make it fit for their company and that’s where a coach is going to be more helpful. So, finding a coach who has a track record and a way of working that really resonates with you is so important.
Josh: You know, you just brought up another one of my little favorite things – private business owners, as a rule, do a terrible job of hiring outside advisors. The reason’s really pretty simple. They don’t have a process. I’m assuming that you think there should be a process for hiring a coach. And if so, what would that process look like you?
Jason: Yeah. Well, I’m Canadian so I just want to be clear, are you talking about a process or a pro-cess?
Josh: Well, you can choose. You can choose your—you guys speak funny up there, you know,” ey”.
Jason: Yeah. I think that when it comes time to working with somebody, where when you’re trying to find somebody to work with, first and foremost, you need to get really clear about what is your end goal. I mean, what is it that you’re hoping to get out of the relationship? Is it just that you want to increase your bottom line? Do you want to improve engagement with your employees? Do you want to win back some more of your free time so that you can integrate your business life into your personal life more? I think that that is the first really important step, it’s figuring out what is it that you want to get out of that.
The next step I think would be to start looking for a coach or a consultant that has a proven track record. And so, a great way to do that is to ask people in your community for referrals. So, find folks that have worked with a coach or consultant that they liked. Find out why they like them and look for those referrals. It certainly can’t hurt to hop on Google and look for a coach that you can work with and start interviewing people and working with them.
I’m not a really big fan of doing sample coaching sessions because I don’t think that you can really get a true sense of what it’s like to work with a coach just from one coaching session. But what I do think you should do is, you should have those one or two, at least, initial conversations to find out “How do they work with their clients? What are the processes that they use? Do they use assessments? Do they not? Do they come into your business or your life? Is it all done by phone?” and find out what’s that fit that really works for you. And don’t be afraid to say, “You know what? Here’s what I like about you. Here’s what I don’t. Can you recommend somebody else?” because you don’t want to go into a coaching relationship that is not a good fit right from the beginning.
And the final thing is, I think you need to look for somebody who has a track record. I mean, one of the great things about coaching these days is that it’s becoming so much more well-known. We’re really starting to get some legs now as far as the awareness around coaching and what a coach is, is really taking off. The downside to that is that the International Coach Federation is not the single governing body. There’s no one governing body out there that says, “Here’s the minimum credentials you need to be a coach.” And so, anybody and their dog can call themselves a coach these days and many of them do.
So, you want to make sure that you talk with your coach about the results that they’ve got for their clients and get referrals. Find out who are the people they’ve worked with. One of the questions that I’d really like to ask, if I’m going to be working with somebody new is, “Who are the clients that it didn’t work out with and can I have a conversation with one of them?” because what I’ve found is that for clients that it didn’t work out with, a lot of the times it’s simply a matter of—well, maybe it wasn’t a good fit or the way that we worked together wasn’t clicking but it doesn’t mean that the coach was a bad coach. So, the more you can talk with their previous clients and get some recommendations or referrals, the much better off you’ll be.
Josh: And sometimes, those former clients – you’ve done what you two could do with them and it was time for them to move on to somebody else.
Jason: Yeah. You know, I think that we’d like to think that Hey, we are the one single solution that somebody needs in their life or in their business and I can give them everything that they need but that’s rarely ever the case. More often than not, you’re going to outgrow your relationship after a period of time. And when you do, that’s fine for them to move on. And so, that’s actually another great place that you can look to, to get a referral is, who is somebody that you worked with in the past, who you’re no longer working with who—maybe you split up with them for that kind of a reason, that just you outgrew the relationship. That’s one of the things with my clients is that I hope that—
I do a lot of work with people who are solopreneurs, who are trying to find that balance between building a successful business without having to compromise all those other priorities in their life. Some of my clients kind of graduated eventually and they started growing their business and they’ve got employees and what have you. I can help them for a period of time but once they grow over 10 employees or what have you, I’m probably going to be referring them to somebody else. I love it when that day comes. I love it when I’ve been able to help somebody succeed to that level and then they can move on to somebody else who has more skill in that other area.
Josh: It’s so cool that you recognize that you have limits and what you’re good at and you have the integrity not to try to do stuff that you’re not good at. I wish more visors would do that sort of stuff. So, I have a question for you and you said you have some pretty interesting stats. Does coaching really work?
Jason: Oh, yeah. The thing with that question is, so much of the time coaching – the results are so qualitative versus being really quantitative, right? It’s difficult to put a number on things. That’s certainly the case when you’re looking more on the life coaching kind of world. It’s actually—with me, I work with primarily my clients in business but if I go to my clients and I ask them “What are some of the biggest results that you’re getting? Where are you most happy with the results?” I mean, sure, I’ve helped them to grow their business. I’ve helped them to get more clients but where people usually come back to me and say is like, “Wow, it’s like my business is succeeding but I don’t have that same pressure. I’m actually spending time with my kids. My wife and I actually have a relationship again.” Things like that. And those are the things where I really get lit up and I’m excited about. But at the same time, it’s not as powerful as sometimes when you can attach numbers to it.
And so, that’s why I was really excited when the International Coach Federation did a study a few years ago. They did surveys with both coaches and with clients in both the individual world and in working with organizations. They came back with some really interesting results. I actually have an infographic on this that I can share with you, if you want to post it onto your website. The study came back and said that “99% of all clients are satisfied with the overall experience of coaching.” I was like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay. Sure, 99%, that sounds a little bit far fetched. Let’s dig down into the numbers a little bit more.”
Here’s some really interesting stuff. So, when you look at the increased productivity. So, what was the productivity of somebody when they were working before they had a coach and then after they had a coach? 70% of people improved their work performance. 61% improved their business management. 57% of the management, in general, of the organization – the time management improved. So those were some of the numbers that really started kind of catching my attention. Here’s something that I really like seeing though, 80% of the people that received coaching said that their self-confidence improved. That was a huge one for me because I think that our self-confidence influences both our personal life and our business life. 73% of people say that their relationships improved. 72% of people said their communication skills improved.
I’m just kind of giving you some of the highlights but this final stat here is what I really thought was a really telling result, is that 68% of individuals that received coaching said that they’d made back at least their investment. 68% of people that said that they had worked with a coach, said “Yeah, I got back my investment. I would work with a coach again tomorrow.” When you look at that from an organizational point of view, 86% of organizations said, “Yeah, we got back a minimum of our investment and probably more.” That was just in looking at the numbers that they could actually measure. That’s not even taking into account the softer numbers like what does it mean for engagement of employees? Relationships in the workplace? I mean, you look at that kind of stuff. I mean, there’s no question about it – coaching works.
Josh: I’ve got time for one more question. The question is really about you. Who is your perfect client? And if one of them happens to be listening, how would they find you?
Jason: Ah, okay. Yeah, so my perfect client is somebody who is probably a solopreneur, or maybe has a small partnership, or just a couple of employees working with their business and people that work with clients. So, they’re not building widgets and selling widgets online. They’re actually working with people that are working with clients. That’s kind of the circumstances that they would be in. But as far as the individuals themselves, the people the people that I really love to work with are people that want to make a difference and want to have an impact in this world. And if you tell me that “Hey, I’m a plumber and I’m going to make the world a better place because I think the clean pipes are important.” If you believe that and you think that’s going to make the world a better place, you’re the kind of person that I want to work with. And if you tell me that you’re a business coach or you tell me that you’re a consultant or a financial planner and that there is a purpose behind your work other than just simply bringing a paycheck through the door. Those are the kinds of people that I want to work with. Those are the kinds of people that light me up. And those are the kinds of people that light me up and those are the kinds of people that I want to help succeed. Those are really kind of my ideal clients. I tend to work with a lot of other coaches. I tend to work with a lot of consultants who are looking to grow their businesses.
Anybody who’s interested in learning more about me and wants to find more about my business and the work that I do, a couple of places that you can go – one of the places is www.jasonbillows.com. That’s kind of my home base for a lot of stuff on there and you’re going to see on the homepage, right front and center, it says that, “I think that business should be about more than the bottom line.” There’s a button there that you can either click on to agree with me or click on it to disagree me, at which point I implode your computer – no, I’m just kidding. But yeah, go there and vote. I’m curious to see what you have to say.
And then the other place that you can learn more about me and the way that I can work with people is over at www.constantclients.com and I work with people in a few different ways there. I have an online course that you can do with me. You can join what I call my constant clients alliance which is a combination of one-on-one and group coaching. And then I also work with people one-on-one if they’re the right fit. But I don’t work with too many one-on-one clients these days.
Josh: Jason, this has been really an interesting session. Thank you so much. I’m sorry we’re out of time but we might have to continue this conversation in the future.
Jason: Josh, I love talking with you. I’m really flattered that you had me on the call today. Thank you so much. Anytime, I’d be happy to come back on. If anybody has any questions for me, they can always fire off an e-mail to me at email@example.com. I’m happy to answer to questions for anybody at any time.
Josh: You’ve been listening to the Sustainable Business Podcast where we talk about what you need to do with your business if it was to be here 100 years from now. If you like what you heard and want more information, please contact me at 802‑846‑1264 ext 2 or visit us on our website at www.stage2solution.com or you can send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is Josh Patrick and thanks for listening. I hope to see you soon for another edition of The Sustainable Business.