What Pay What You Choose Pricing Is Teaching Me About Coaching and Business

IMG_1161Last month I stopped charging set fees and announced Pay What You Choose pricing. Here are some of the things I’ve learned so far.

1. You don’t have to know step three before you take step one.

I have wanted to try PWYC pricing for at least two years. One reason I hesitated was that I didn’t know how it would work. Then I realized that I didn’t need to know how it would work in order to run an experiment.

As I set it up, I wondered what kinds of systems I might want or need. Should I screen clients before agreeing to a session? How would I handle payment?

I decided not to try to screen prospective clients before accepting appointments. Instead I ask folks to make one initial appointment. This lets me meet the client and have a conversation with them about subsequent work. It seems simpler and more effective than trying to screen people.

I use acuityscheduling.com, which enabled me to create a simple intake form that pops up when someone makes a PWYC appointment. I ask what calls them to work with me, what their previous experience of coaching is, and what else they would like me to know.  At the same time I ask what they want to pay. As soon as I receive an email notifying me of the appointment, I send a PayPal money request.

That has worked beautifully. Many clients find that a single session is sufficiently transformative, and they go away happy. If and when they want another, they are free to schedule again. Other people have turned into weekly or bi-monthly clients.

And, in case you are wondering, there’s no correlation between the amount people are paying and whether or not we agree to ongoing work. Read on for more about how little money appears to have to do with the quality of the experience.

2. There is no correlation between the amount a client pays and their readiness for coaching.

One of my thoughts going into this was that I could end up with a slew of people who saw themselves as needy, broke and/or broken, and victimized, which some might expect to indicate that they are not ready for coaching. I certainly see and hear a lot in coaching circles to support that.

But that’s not how it has turned out.

Yes, I have had a few people show up who seemed to be in a needy or broken state of mind. But here’s the deal: I know that they are not broken. After years of holding that as an article of faith, I finally see deeply that it is true. And it appears that when I see a client as truly and inarguably whole, it doesn’t matter a great deal whether or not they show up as needy in their own minds.

Because a funny thing happens when any of us is held with true, loving regard. We begin to wake up to our true nature, which is whole and resourceful. That holds true no matter how much a client pays.

It distresses me that this is not more clearly and widely understood in the coaching world.

3. There is no correlation between the amount a client pays and the degree of engagement we experience or the pleasure I get from the session.

I also wondered if knowing what someone had paid might influence my coaching. Would I feel pressure to perform with a client who paid in multiples of a hundred dollars? And would I be less enthused or energized or have any number of thoughts about coaching someone who paid in multiples of ten?

As it happened, the first week I was far too busy to even think of looking up what a client paid before I showed up for the session. In week two, after a particularly satisfying session, it occurred to me to check. I discovered that the client I had enjoyed the most had actually paid the least.

After that I decided there was no benefit to paying attention to what people choose to pay, so I don’t.

4. Lowering the barriers to entry won’t help you get hired by folks who don’t know you exist.

21 individuals have signed up for PWYC coaching since I announced it in early September. As I write this on Friday, October 2, apart from a few sessions with folks who have become repeat clients, I don’t have any PWYC appointments for October. My conclusion? Even if you have been coaching for 20 years, as I have, your work is not front of mind for your prospective clients. No matter what your pricing model, you need to find a way to make your work visible and accessible to your just right clients on a regular basis.

5.  Lowering the barriers to entry doesn’t change anything for folks who don’t know why they would hire you.

Being visible and accessible is not enough. Your just right clients need to see a reason to hire you–a reason expressed in terms that match their own values, needs, and priorities.

I’ll be working on this in the weeks ahead. I’m starting by asking recent clients to let me know what they got out of our sessions. I’m not talking about getting testimonials. I’m talking about listening carefully to how my clients talk about the value they received, the difference it made in their lives, and how it helped. That way, when I write a new description of my services for this ezine or the Web, it will be from the perspective of the client, not the coach.

This perspective shift is crucial. It is one thing to say to prospective clients: “I have seen something that could be really useful to you.” It’s another thing entirely to be able to report exactly how other clients have found it to be useful.

What folks have reported so far includes:

  • Actually being excited about marketing their work.
  • Feeling really, deeply good about themselves for the first time in ages.
  • Looking forward to “loving up” their significant other after having months (or years) of relationship tension.

6. It can be difficult for people to hire you if you don’t name your price.

Most of us have a lot of thinking about money, and that can make it very difficult for someone to hire you if you don’t give them a number. They get lost in their thinking about what you really want or expect. They can get lost in their thinking about taking advantage of you or being taken advantage of.

Sometimes clients are reluctant to book again because they don’t feel they can afford to. In their minds they are locked into a price because they chose it once and hesitate to scheduled additional sessions for less money. When this emerges, I explain that I want is to coach people who want to be coached at whatever price they can afford to pay.

When people make an appointment, the intake form offers them a range of prices and “other.” I give the range to give some context and a starting point, and I’m really okay with “other.”

7. I have no idea how this will work over time, and that’s okay.

I need to earn a certain amount of money in order to keep the business going and contribute to the household. The costs of ongoing professional training, renewing my International Coach Federation membership, insurance, utilities, equipment, and a few hours each month from the office angel do add up.

In September I brought in a little less than half of what I need to earn in an average month. Right now I’m undergoing radiation therapy and working about half time. I am hopeful that as I get back to full time in the months ahead–and as people come to know about and trust this offer–the numbers will work out.

If they don’t? I’ll punt. I’ve been at this for 20 years, and I certainly know how to create and enroll programs. I’m mulling over a couple of groups now, in fact, that might have set fees and might not.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep my eyes open, pay attention to what is unfolding, and make new choices as the needs and opportunities arise.


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Photo by pixabay.com

The Value of Honest Doubt

The Value of Honest Doubt

500_honest_doubtHave you ever run yourself mentally haggard trying to convince yourself to see a spiritual truth more deeply or clearly than you actually do?

It’s easy to do. After all, the fundamental principles behind the human experience are quite simple to articulate. According to Sydney Banks, Mind is the infinite formless intelligent energy behind all things. Consciousness is our ability to know reality and our ability to understand how our reality is created by thoughts. Thought is a source of all mental activities and source of all feeling, actions and reactions.

Our experience in any given moment is created by the interplay of these principles.

When I first came across Syd’s teachings, I was frankly underwhelmed. I didn’t disagree; I just didn’t see anything earthshaking. I had studied intensively with Byron Katie, and the notion that thought generated our experience seemed obvious.

Still, I kept returning to Syd’s work because of the profound changes I saw in people who had been influenced by him. And one day my own understanding shifted, deepened, expanded, and what had seemed obvious and verging on trivial started to blow my mind.

I’ve shared many of the insights that have emerged from that in previous blog posts and videos, but I want to take a little different look at things today.

You see, there’s a way in which we can become addicted to knowing. We can chase insights as if our wellbeing lies in having more of them.

When actually, our wellbeing is nonnegotiable. Invariable. Innate.

Our essential wholeness does not depend on our moment to moment experience of life. As I’ve written before, we don’t have to feel okay to be okay.

But damn! I don’t know about you, but sometimes all I really want is to feel okay. Which last week had me wrestling with this notion of essential wholeness. I was frustrated by feeling fragmented and, frankly, stupid. Where was my innate wellbeing? Where was wisdom?

How could I get there from where I was?

What good does it do me to have a theoretical understanding that I am okay when I feel cornered by the limits of my current thinking?

And then something funny happened.

It occurred to me to simply doubt.

To drop the gospel.

To quit trying to feel or believe or find wholeness and wisdom.

To drop my story that I should trust it.

And to drop into my honest in that moment experience of WTF? Where is it?

To ask in an open hearted and abandoned way, are we really whole? Does God or Mind or whatever you call it have our backs?

Where is wisdom? Is it really always on, only sometimes obscured?

I dropped into the questions, which had a whole different feel from struggling to believe in the answers.

And I can’t account for just how or why, but as the days passed, I started to get a glimmer.

A felt sense of something beneath the surface.

Not an intellectual understanding, but the barest shimmer or breath of a feeling that something is there.

Dim. As yet unknown. But palpable.

I don’t know what, if anything, that does for you, but it did a lot for me. Somehow out of my honest doubt I had touched bedrock.

I don’t know what the bedrock is. What it means. How to talk about it.

But I know down to my toenails that it is there.

Thank you, doubt.

Your turn: What’s your experience with what Byron Katie has called trying to live beyond your current level of evolution? What might doubt have to offer you?




Photo by HebiPics via pixabay.com

How Big Should a Life Be?

How Big Should a Life Be?

how_big_should_life_be_1095860966_a03c9cb69c_zShould it be as big as possible? And big in terms of what? Money? Prestige? Power?

I’d like to suggest that bigness is at best a poor measure of the value and import of a life. Rather than size or scope, I suggest we look to characteristics such as grace, relatedness, peace, generosity – even, and this is my favorite, joy.

A few weeks ago I listened to Juliet Stevenson’s exquisite reading of George Eliot’s Middlemarch. Stevenson’s beautiful voice and nuanced interpretations animated this beloved classic. There were so many things to love in the novel and in the performance that although it was a whopping 35 (!) hours long I’m looking forward to listening again.

What on earth could compel me to devote that much time to listening to a novel? The simplest way I can explain it is that the writing and reading left me with a nice feeling. The kind of nice evening that is profoundly orienting, that points us in the direction of our best selves.

Ringing in my ears and in my heart even now are these closing lines. This is for everyone who has ever thought that they need somehow to live bigger, be more, have more, or do more in order to make a difference. It all counts, people, even, or perhaps especially, the small stuff.

“But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

Would you like to explore the immense practicality of joy?

The following quote about joy landed in my inbox last week, and it resonated deeply with me and how I see my life and work these days. It has everything to do with what I am up to as a coach.

“As one of the seven factors of enlightenment, joy is not only a fruit of awakening but also a prerequisite. Joy creates a spaciousness in the mind that allows us to hold the suffering we experience inside us and around us without becoming overwhelmed, without collapsing into helplessness or despair. ” ~James Baraz, Lighten Up! from a post at Tricycle.


I have come to see the joy is always available, even in the midst of dark hours. Joy is closely allied to insight and wisdom. We can use our sense of the presence or absence of joy as a navigational aid in life.

As a coach I help my clients explore the immense practicality of joy. I point them to the spiritual principles behind the human experience. As their understanding deepens, their joy increases. They act with greater ease, creativity, grace, and wisdom.

I have room for two new clients in March. If this resonates and you’d like to have a conversation to see if we are fit, visit my coaching page and schedule an interview, click here.


What Are We Trusting When We “Trust the Process”?

What Are We Trusting When We “Trust the Process”?

egg-414174_640_trust-the-processI’m writing this post a few hours after being the guest master coach for the Moore Master Coaching program. Coaching in front of an audience is the perfect setup for self-consciousness. Naturally, I think, thoughts arose about how to produce a result, whether or not we were making progress, and if I was making a good impression. Such concerns with performance are human nature.

While such concerns are natural, they also inhibit presence, authentic curiosity, and access to wisdom, which gets in the way of good coaching. (One might argue that it gets in the way of any coaching at all.) What’s more, trying to quell those concerns can set up an internal struggle that makes things worse. What’s the coach to do?

Whether or not we are coaches, everyday life presents us with similar challenges on a regular basis. Frequently we experience insecure thinking that, if we give it significance, inhibits access to the guidance we want and the well-being that is our birthright. The self-help literature is full of suggestions for managing insecure thinking, but the very idea that we need to manage it adds to our anxiety.

If insecure thinking blocks access to guidance and well-being, and if strategies and tactics for managing insecure thinking amplify it, what the heck are we to do?

The answer is simply and always that we are to trust the process. But what does that mean?

In today’s coaching call, what that meant for me was trusting in the innate creativity, resourcefulness, and wholeness of my client (whom, by the way, I had not met prior to the call) as well as the greater space of Intelligence in which the coaching conversation took place. I trusted that those things were present irrespective of the ebb and flow of my insecure thinking.

This is such an important distinction. It is not necessary that we get beyond our insecure thinking in order to access wisdom and well-being. All that is necessary is that we not take that insecure thinking personally. We can trust whether or not we feel trusting!

When we don’t take our insecure thinking personally it becomes background noise. The example I used in debriefing today’s coaching session was the sound of a television playing in the next room when you are trying to read. Whether or not the sound is a distraction depends far more on how much attention you give it than on the actual volume.

When we trust the process, we trust not only that there is a greater source of Intelligence at work in the world than our personal thinking, but also that this source is available to us in real time and in real circumstances independent of our moods. Yes, it helps to have a quiet mind. But that doesn’t mean that guidance only comes to a mind perfectly free of doubt and distraction.

In a very real way, the less we insist that we achieve some perfect state of receptivity and quiet in order to receive guidance, the more readily and frequently we will notice it as it arises.



What’s your understanding of trusting the process? Share it!

Relax! A Better Idea Will Be Along Shortly

What can you do when you’re just plain stuck? When you understand what’s actually going on, the answer is quite simple.

The origin of Shaboom and an invitation to apply for individual coaching

The name of my company, Shaboom, is taken from a tune written and recorded by The Chords in 1954. The refrain, “Life could be a dream” captures the promise and impermanence of dreams. It calls us to be bold, visionary, and creative. It honors intuition and alternate ways of knowing. And it reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously.

It’s exactly what I want for myself and for my clients.

I have room for a couple of individual coaching clients before the end of the year. This is an opportunity to work with me at a deep level to get unstuck, hook up your genius, and take bold action to create your dreams. I’m interviewing prospective clients now. To learn more and apply, please click here.

Can You Really Trust the Process?

Fractal ripple image for going with the flow and trusting the processWhy and how can you go with the flow, especially when the stakes are high?

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in life and business has to do with trusting in something infinitely larger and more creative and resourceful than my limited thinking. This Thursday, I’ll be Julian Freeman’s guest in a Google Hangout that explores that trust.

We’ll look at questions like these as well as questions you share with us by chat or email:

  • What are we trusting when we “trust the process”?
  • What does trusting the process look like when you are in business?
  • What about when other people are involved? Does that make a difference?
  • Can you trust too much? When does trusting the process turn into apathy?
  • What can you do when trust seems elusive?
  • How can you live in trust more often?

Here are the details:

Julian Freeman
WHAT: Google Hangout on Air (watch live online or catch the replay)

WHEN: On Thursday, October 16, 2014, 10:30 Pacific time (1:30 EDT, 6:30 GMT)

Click here to watch the Hangout

If you’ve got questions about any aspect of trusting the process and living life in the present moment, email me, and I’ll be happy to raise them with Julian.

I hope you’ll join us!


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