According to a 2021 report from statistics site IBISWorld, “Life Coaches in the US - Market Size 2003–2026,” the business of life coaching has become a nearly $3 billion dollar industry. Perhaps most telling is the market has actually declined during the Covid era, reportedly due to a decrease in potential new client disposable income.
Clearly, those who oversee such businesses foresee a brighter future once the Covid-19 pandemic subsides. Or, at least, such optimism is what they are attempting to sell.
The following conversation occurred in the spring of 2021 between me and a recruiter who had asked a mutual friend for an introduction. He had seen some of my NewsBreak articles, and wanted to meet me due to, he said, my interest and experience in the field of mental health. In the midst of an in-person sales pitch, I asked if I could remove my cell phone and record some of what I was being told for “research” and a possible article. I was granted permission. This is what I recorded, beginning with my words:
“So once Covid passes —”
”Or becomes manageable,” the recruiter corrected.
“Or becomes manageable,” I repeated, “the life coach industry will earn me a likely six-figure income above and beyond my writing, and I’d only have to do it part-time.”
”Exactly,” he said.
My first thought was I was being swindled. My second thought did nothing to move that needle.
“How much will my training cost?” I asked.
”I’d get you on the fast track with a Gold Certification for $500.”
The price seemed excessively cheap for a life-altering course. “Why so inexpensive?” I asked.
“Would you like to pay more?” he asked with a straight face.
He quickly completed his sales pitch. “Most clients prefer the $500 monthly rate —”
”You didn’t think it was only $500? You’re going to earn six-figures by the end of your first full year.“
”What’s the real fee?“ I inquired.
“I gave you the real fee. But just so you understand, we finance $12,000 for your Gold Certification for a period of two years. If you want to complete your training from there, we have other levels, including DIamond, for global life-coaching. The sooner you begin, the sooner you’ll earn. When do you want to start?”
I did not want to start anything nor was I planning to, but as a writer I am always open to exploring unfamiliar matters, including those of which I am innately skeptical. I knew nothing of the ”life coach” industry, and so my proper research began.
The Life Coaching Industry
The aforementioned IBISWorld report states that the success of any life coaching endeavor tends to increase based on the amount of stress on the part of an individual. This is in line with various sales techniques for related businesses. For example, other words of my prospective recruiter not printed above alluded to a post-Covid world where money would become more plentiful and the populace at large would be actively looking for ways to deal with new everyday stressors, inclusive of successfully implementing strategies to return to so-called normal ways of life.
Refer to this March 26, 2021 CNBC report, “What is a Life Coach?” for further information on this matter.
Strategies to Groom Prospective Clientele
For some who share my skepticism about certain aspects of the coaching business in general, where thrice-married individuals coach and build cottage industries about marriage, former federal convicts can become acclaimed sales coaches, and ponzi schemes and other scams run amok, the issue becomes one of whether we are immune from organized pitches.
Some of us may be. Others of us, not necessarily.
As with my recruiter, many clients are introduced via personal contacts. Still others are tagged online via email, or some simply send for further information from a website, before frequently being invited to an in-person meeting.
My own brief meeting was not the end of it. I received calls from the recruiter for months, who eventually gave up on the effort as I did not call back. However, my curiosity was piqued enough to months later visit a local meeting of an organization that sold themselves as an international life coaching entity.
The purpose was to complete this article, and I was not disappointed.
The meeting took place in a veterinarian’s conference room next store to a Van Nuys, California 7-11. As with other recruiting efforts, men and women of all ages attended, offering alleged true-life testimonials about their invaluable experiences, and how they were now taking training courses to help future generations maximize their lives’ potential.
The applause was over-the-top for the small crowd of maybe 40, as was the enthusiasm among both the presenters and the clients. No doubt they all worked for the company, but for those on the outside who attended this free seminar far too many of them immediately signed-up.
We were asked to sit at individual tables for an hour, as the staff of coaches rotated and met us all. Each coach then proceeded to not only deliver stirring speeches about the process for us to change our lives and earn an immense income doing so, but they also asked penetrating questions as to what we would most like to change in our lives.
This was all calculated. If one answered “career,” the questions would focus on getting to know the person’s concerns in that arena. If one answered health, they would ask if the person was on any medications and try to convince them any illness they suffered was psychosomatic.
I had been through this all before during a Scientology seminar, and then again for an Herbalife sales meeting, both of which I attended for much the same reason.
About 90 minutes later, I left the meeting. No one had sold me, as I would not allow it to happen. For my troubles, though, my car was impounded and it cost me over $200 to retrieve it.
One’s temperature may vary, but success stories like Tony Robbins and others rake in multi-millions of dollars yearly between personal appearances and ancillary material. Life coaching came of age in the 1980s, many following Robbins’ motivational speaking exploits.
My takeaway is this: If any of these efforts truly help one person, terrific. Otherwise, the way most are earning income in the process is to sell those very same courses that are supposed to cure you.
Many will sit and gather dust on bookshelves. Some will earn you small commissions while making increasing the net worth of parent companies.
Caveat emptor. Let the buyer beware.