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A conversation with Oprah… with Karl Bryan

by | Ask Karl Bryan, Karl Bryan

Last week I posted about Tony Robbins and the “Me too” controversy. As expected… it got rather polarizing responses (I apologized to one person and she replied that she didn’t like my apology LOL. Never going to keep them all happy folks).

In honor of all the amazing and beautiful women out there… I am going to talk about one of the most incredible ppl on the planet, Oprah.

Oprah Winfrey is an iconic and incredibly influential figure in the coaching world. While it’s a tad unrealistic to assume everyone is going to have success like Oprah (can you say multi-billionaire… and by the way, she’s the planets first African American Billionaire!), her career provides some incredible marketing and business lessons when you look at her 30 years of uninterrupted success.

Here are five coaching lessons I’ve learned from Oprah.

Success is a slow burn

Coaches often go into business thinking that they’ve got the contacts and experience to launch their new coaching business and blow past $100,000 in revenue. There are certainly some unicorns out there and several of our coaches have done it. Jason Economides, Glenis Gassmann, and Andy Turner come to mind, but even for them, success didn’t happen overnight. It will likely take a couple of years to build up the referral network and successful strategies to generate new clients consistently en’ masse.

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When Oprah started the Oprah Winfrey Network, it took three years for her to create the right strategy. And to get her winning foundation in place. As usual, the press was quick to prematurely call her network a failure.  The lack of short-term success is not a failure. It takes time to form the right team, create the value proposition you’re comfortable with and create a winning coaching program.

If it took the icon we call Oprah, who had every resource imaginable at her disposal… millions of dollars, Rolodex, millions of loyal followers, and all else imaginable – three years to build a solid foundation, then expect it to take you a similar time frame to get going and growing.

Do not become disheartened as you get started and you’re not an instant success. A career coach knows that hard work will pay off for many years to come. Hard work and providing massive value will lead to success, clients and financial prosperity. 

In the words of Oprah:

“You can have it all. You just can’t have it all at once.”

-Oprah

Getting Started

If you’re just getting started as a coach this will be helpful (once successful there will be no need to use this. But the new coach working for you, will)… When I started coaching I’d do a scaled pricing model to help close the deal and show I was dead serious and confident. I was charging $997 per month for my coaching (Cheap!!) and I’d do it month 1 for $100. Month 2 for $200. Month 3 $400. Month 4 for $800 and Month 5 for $997 per month. Closed a TON of clients this way (all I needed was a payment of $100 to get started and it doubled each month) and showed my certainty of long-term success. I kept many of my clients for years so the first 3 months didn’t matter.

I also successfully experimented with a “puppy dog close”… If they wouldn’t close I’d offer to coach them free of charge for the first three weeks… and week four they start paying (my full fees – not the discounted rate mentioned above). One of the stipulations is they’d need to pay for my books and binders to be mailed to them (I’d get their credit card number which is CRITICAL) for roughly $30. The magic here is that in week 4 I didn’t need to get a credit card for my fees to go through… they just went through automatically. Worked a treat, provided I did a great job and once again many clients stayed for years after this Jedi coaches sales trick.

Your clients need to be certain you can help them

The above tactics will help provide or increase, that certainty.

If you think the above pricing models are a bad idea… consider this. How long did Tom Brady throw a football for no charge before he started getting paid by the Patriots? How long did Serena Williams swing a tennis racket before she started getting paid obscene amounts? It’s OK for you to do a little work short term to gain the valuable skills required to become a highly paid Business Coach.

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Exude Humility

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.

Oprah was the most watched television host for 20 years running. One of the primary reasons she grew her media empire and stayed on top for two decades was her ability to maintain an emotional bond with her audience despite her incredible power and wealth.

When I got started as a business coach I was a pretty young guy. I had a lot of early success, placed millions of dollars through bank accounts that I wasn’t quite ready for, got a little too big for my britches… and frankly paid a heavy price. Cough… can you say “self-sabotage.” Good news: lesson learned and there is no question it’s super important to stay grounded and connected with your clients and team members as per Oprah’s advice.

When you see a professional speaker you’ll notice they always “tear themselves down” in order to come down to the audience’s level and not have them think “ya, well that works for you because you have millions or you’ve been doing this for 20 years…” What you need your audience to be thinking is “If this idiot that failed grade 8 math can work it out… surely I have a shot if I follow the system?!?!”

The art of the deal

With fear of bringing up Trumps name… love him or hate him he put out a great book. My guess is that Oprah read this book a time or two because there is no question she’s a master at crafting winning deals. Many years ago when she had a falling out with her network, rather than going back to the table to negotiate a salary… she negotiated ownership of her TV show, the studio where she produced it and the distribution!! Rather than just become a spokesperson for WeightWatchers she negotiated a piece of the company (for a cool $43MM). Note: both of these deals could have ended VERY poorly for her.

These types of “deals”, and her willingness to back herself, are the reason she’s a multi-billionaire today.

As a business coach, rather than negotiating a higher monthly fee… back yourself in the right situation, and take a piece of the upside. Or offer to coach the client for an insanely discounted rate (free in some cases, see my example above under Success is a slow burn) to prove your worth and lock in a long-term coaching client.

Two things will happen:

One, you’ll get very good at coaching regardless of the outcome. Trust me, you just will and it will be AMAZING for your career. Two, the big wins will be worth their weight in gold.

Humility is a lot like philanthropy. The more money you give to worthy causes… the more that will come back to you. Subsequently, the more humility you show (combined with hard work) the more people will want to connect with you and the faster your coaching business and network will grow.

Promote yourself

When you become a self-promoter there is a pretty good chance you’ll attract some flack.  But the reality is that if you’re not comfortable and willing to promote yourself and your coaching services… why would anyone else?

Oprah is a rock star in this area.

She’s built her personal brand and the Harpo name as a self-promoter. And if you want proof… she has made herself the cover model for each edition of her own magazine!! I bow to you Oprah.  

This maintains her ‘brand consistency’ and obviously her promotions work… she’s a billionaire and marketing rock star. Take a page out of Oprah’s book here and be willing to shamelessly promote yourself, your coaching services and your programs. Others just might follow suit.

Okay… this is getting a little long so I’ll break it up and post part 2 and the other lessons for you tomorrow.

Thanks for tuning in,

Karl

Karl Bryan gets clients for Business Coaches...period. He is the editor of The Six Figure Coach Magazine and Chairman of Leader Publishing Worldwide, home of the largest private community of Business Coaches (24 countries and counting) in the world.
His goal is straight forward… to help serious coaches/consultants get more clients and to start using the internet effectively.

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