dealing with a bad life coach?
May 16, 2018 2:38 PM   Subscribe

Last year, I met a talented and bright life coach who seemed to have it together to help me. We worked on a business together and made a lot of plans. Then, a few weeks ago while I was experiencing some major job changes, she tried to get me to join a multi level marketing programme called MOBE. I was sceptical but she knew me and kept pushing my buttons until I finally stopped responding.

Since then, nothing. I was ready to invest in working with her and I can't help feeling her bold MLM approach was her way of letting me down. What is the best way to move on, and, how should I proceed with the business ideas we worked on together? We had no contractual arrangements in place but I worked on a business plan which includes her. Should I assume she has no interest in the business going forward
posted by parmanparman to Grab Bag (9 answers total)
Whether she has interest or not, she clearly has poor business sense and terrible judgment. (Or else she’s just playing a long, evil game.) I would write her off proactively, in order to find someone whose judgment is more sound. I’m sorry.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 2:49 PM on May 16, 2018 [14 favorites]

Go on with whatever you were going to do, but you may need to dial up the skepticism in your character-judging sensor if you don't want to be taken advantage of going forward. Life coaches are for helping YOU get YOUR stuff in order/done, not for jumping on the coattails of their clients' business ideas. That never should have happened, for all the reasons you discovered with the MLM.

You should decide you have no interest in doing any further business with her, and then not do business with her. It doesn't matter what she wants.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:05 PM on May 16, 2018 [10 favorites]

Take whatever steps you can to lock in those business ideas, before she realises that MLM is a con, and looks to those ideas for her future income. Note, the ownership of those ideas may be moot, so you need first mover advantages.
posted by GeeEmm at 3:08 PM on May 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

You should not be making business plans or getting life coached by anyone who thinks MLMs are a good idea. Be thankful you saw this side of her before your business formally included her. Just walk away.
posted by phunniemee at 3:21 PM on May 16, 2018 [23 favorites]

I tend to think of life coaches as people who should be focused on helping you focus on your goals, and help you succeed.

My husband did some life coaching in the past, and he wasn't involved in any of MLMs, nor would he have thought to go into business with a client. It was more like, someone who had an office job and wanted to write their novel, helping to set realistic goals and clarify the steps needed to get there. It stemmed out of his hypnosis practice, where some people wanted more help to attain their personal and/or career goals.

Oddly, he was targeted by other life coaches to buy their products and spent tons of money on a $9,000 weekend seminar several states away (he declined). It was sort of like MLM on a bigger scale, "if you attend my seminar, you can be making lots of money as a life coach because I know all the secrets" sort of thing.

The problem is, life coaches aren't regulated like therapists, so you have to look at professional organizations (and even then, it depends). The blurring of lines between helping you, then being involved in a business idea with you, then trying to sell you a MML marketing scheme, that's kind of yucky to me.

In short, I wouldn't continue on with her. What I'd do is find something like SCORE or a local small business planning non-profit in your area to help you with your business idea, if you want to do it on your own. Your state government's website should also have a small business development section (we do here, and non-profits dedicated to advising small businesses, with seminars, etc.).

If you do seek out another life coach, ask for referrals, and ask how they work with clients in general, because you are paying someone for their expertise, not to suck you in with ideas and then flim flam you with bs. Also look at their professional background, and make sure it is in line with what you want to accomplish, so they can advise you appropriately.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:35 PM on May 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

I’ve been trained as a life coach, and this is absolutely against the ethics of the industry. It’s pretty much life coaching 101, actually. I’d also question someone who thought MLMs are a good idea. It may be time to move forward with someone new.
posted by MountainDaisy at 3:53 PM on May 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

It was sort of like MLM on a bigger scale, "if you attend my seminar, you can be making lots of money as a life coach because I know all the secrets" sort of thing.

This is definitely a thing that is out there and I've now had more experiences related to MLM "life coaches" than ones that are not. (Note, I've never worked with a life coach just been approached/had contact with a few people calling themselves such.) So, I'm not too surprised that this would be the case. It's possible that they got sucked into that because life coaching as a business may not be working out for them or it's possible they were always an MLM life coach. I don't know.

But a person who would choose "life coach" whether legit or not is probably someone who is fairly entrepreneurial and thinks of themselves as someone who can dabble in lots of things. Otherwise, that kind of career wouldn't interest them! However, having dabbled in starting a few businesses, here's something I had to accept about myself and about the people around me, you've heard it before: ideas are cheap.

Ideas are cheap! I can have a hundred great ideas but they are literally worth nothing until someone does the hard work to make them a testable reality. Go figure out what the minimum viable product is of your idea, the most minimal way to float your idea out there in reality in order to get actionable feedback and then see how it goes. It's hard work. And it's great to have a partner but I've had people totally into my ideas and we've gotten all jazzed up but when it came time to put up or shut up, they were gone.

It's hard and it's scary and it often doesn't work! I have a feeling there's lots of things that you are eager and ready to learn about starting a business or creating a product or whatever but you really don't owe this person anything. You aren't likely to "make it big" or create something large enough that this person will want a (free) cut of the pie. So take your enthusiasm and go learn. Go do the hard work.

And, sorry, the MLM thing is a major red flag. If you can't approach them about your concerns with that and how it would relate to your business interests then you have no business partnering either because business partners need to be very open with each other. It's like a kind of marriage and open and honest communication is key.
posted by amanda at 4:05 PM on May 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

Even though you don’t have a legal contract, she might be able to make a claim - or tie you up in court - if your business becomes wildly successful. IANAL, but I’ve spent $6000 in legal fees in the last year - with more to come - dealing with a totally bullshit threatened lawsuit by an unscrupulous person (who has zero chance of winning in court). Maybe consult an attorney.
posted by FencingGal at 4:27 PM on May 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

As a Life Coach myself, I can tell you that this is NOT what Life Coaches are for, are about, and should be doing. GOOD LORD, PEOPLE.
I'd run like the wind.
Did you sign a contract with her for a certain amount of time/certain number of calls?
If so, I'd certainly follow that up with a written communication telling them that you will not be moving forward with them as your coach, and that you'll be taking the business plan with you.
Each coach has their own rules regarding refunds, but I'd certainly consider any leftover calls payment for the above business plan.
Also, any Life Coach that would try to steal from a client, needs to be reported to the governing body (International Coach Federation). Membership and adherence to their Code of Ethics is optional for coaches, but I'd certainly keep them in your back pocket in case of future trouble.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 11:23 AM on May 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

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