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Photo by Daan Stevens on Unsplash

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.

— Joseph Campbell

Before Covid, and before I fled the City for the hills a couple of hours south of San Francisco, I would often meet my clients at La Boulangerie, a café about a ten-minute walk from my apartment in Noe Valley. I liked meeting clients in cafés because people usually talk about personal things over coffee. I wanted them to feel comfortable talking to me about personal things — like their most authentic dreams. …

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One client is an architect who wants to create his ideal firm.

Another is a business development executive searching for his next career opportunity.

Another is a creative writer and designer mired in self-doubt about the upcoming marketing campaign for the new product launch.

My first intention is always to understand the story my clients are weaving. I become inquisitive, drawing them out, and demonstrating my understanding by summarizing what I’m hearing.

I listen carefully to the language they are using to describe their situation. I listen for how they see themselves, what they believe, what they value. In the…

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When I coach entrepreneurs and leaders of early-stage companies, the topic often turns to what they need to focus on to create a successful enterprise. It really comes down to a handful of critical things, what I call The Five Creations of a Leader.

First, you have to create a product. A product is a promise. You have to have a real solution to a real problem, and you make a promise to the customer that you will deliver that solution. In investor jargon, you need to be selling pain killers, not vitamins. Everyone will pay money for a pain…

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I wrote this draft more than three years ago, in the fall of 2016. I didn’t have the courage to post it. I’m publishing it now, exactly as I wrote it because it has a happy — a very happy — ending. And because I love you.


I was poking around in Facebook and found the draft post below. My first impulse was to delete it, but then I was struck by how different my life is now.

Let me begin at the end.

On September 14, 2017, I met my beloved, Michele Taipale . It was a MeetMindful date…

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I have an incredible coaching practice, full of clients I love.

It wasn’t always this way.

A few years ago, I accepted every client who came my way, whether or not they were a good fit. I kept a professional distance in my work. It wasn’t very satisfying.

Now my practice is full, I’m doing more powerful work than ever (client feedback), and I love — love — my clients.

What changed?

About three or four years ago, I completely reinvented the way I work as a coach.

Until then, I hid behind professional distance. I was halfhearted. …

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Photo by Lê Tân on Unsplash

“I want you to help me find the shortest path to becoming an extraordinary leader,” my client said, setting down his coffee cup.

“That’s great,” I said. “What do you want to lead?”

“I don’t know.”

“Then you’re not on a path,” I said. “You’re on a quest.”


All we ever really do as coaches is help our clients get from A to B. …

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I like to coach in cafés. Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash.

I’ve been reading a few posts and comments about doing “discovery” sessions. I don’t think of the first session as a discovery session. Here’s what I do:

What to listen for in the first session (and every session)

The first thing to understand is what your goals are for the first session.

One is to establish rapport and build trust.

The second goal is to hear their story. There are specific things that I’m listening for, including their identity (their beliefs about themselves), their beliefs about what they are trying to create, and their values.

Third, and most importantly, I’m also listening for their essence, their way of being in the…

Robert Ellis

Make a list of everything you really want but think is impossible. I coach leaders. I coach coaches who coach leaders.

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