Interview with Tony Stubblebine, Founder of Coach.me
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I played a ton of role-playing games. That experience inspired me to think one thing as a child but to do a completely different thing as an adult. As a child, I thought that if I liked the rule books for these role-playing games so much it must mean I’m destined for a job where you read a lot of rules. So I thought I was going to grow up to be a corporate tax attorney. That sounds funny to me now because it’s so far away from what I actually do. Instead, the part of that childhood that stuck with me was a curiosity about leveling up. That’s how I found my way to coaching. There’s just nothing else as powerful as a good coach helping you level up.
What was home like?
My mom is very detail-oriented, but also artistic. I think that’s where I get my creativity. My dad works in the music industry and showed me a career pattern that I followed. First, he mastered his craft, then later he used that craft to become an entrepreneur. I ended up doing something similar. I was a full-time software engineer and then I used those skills later to build my own products and turn those products into companies.
Coach.me has been around for 10 years. What inspired you to start?
Don’t we all deserve to be the best versions of ourselves? I was inspired by both wanting to level up and knowing that I needed tools to help me. I remember the moment of the original idea. I realized that we could use mobile apps to deliver positive reinforcement to all parts of a person’s life. By doing that we could all shape ourselves in amazing ways. That idea sort of shook me and I stopped doing anything else until I had built a prototype. That prototype later became the nucleus of Coach.me.
Who are your biggest influencers in coaching?
I learned coaching from Jonathan Rosenfeld. He’s one of the elite executive coaches working in tech and has worked with the founders of Dropbox and Twitter. One thing he taught me though was how important referrals are to a coaching business. I don’t think Jonathan even has a website. He gets all his clients from word of mouth. I learned a lot about habits from BJ Fogg and the work we do in habit coaching was motivated by his enthusiasm for habits. In our own community, there was one coach, Kendra Kinnison, with an incredible drive to master habit coaching and she ended up coaching more than 1400 one-on-one clients. We track success rates of all of our habit coaches and she managed to be both the most prolific coach while maintaining the highest success rate. I probably learned the most about coaching from her.
Is there a message you want coaches or clients to grasp?
Yes, I want all people to take away a message of hope. It might not sound hopeful on the surface, but it really is an optimistic view of what any person is capable of. The message is that success is more work than you want, but less than you fear. For clients, they have big goals, and thousands of people trying to pitch them shortcuts. Well, if success was as simple as a few words of advice then you’d already be successful. The reason coaches exist is because your biggest challenges are going to need you to both upgrade your knowledge and your psychology. That’s a lot of work, but a coach can help you do that work and get where you want to go. For coaches, the business of coaching is hard and yet thousands of other coaches figure it out. A successful coaching business requires that you be both good at coaching and good at business. You can learn both, but there is no shortcut.
FIND the CLIENT focuses on sales & leadership issues. Talk to us about some of your favorite blogs and websites you visit for information.
Because I come from tech, I love advice from technical leaders. I think LeadDev is the company that publishes the most cutting-edge information on leadership. On sales, I learn a lot by example. So I love Ramit Sethi both for the message his I Will Teach You to be Rich business puts out and the way he sells it. I really look up to him as a business leader that I would want to emulate.
Finally, any advice to coaches starting out?
Always explain coaching in terms of the success your clients are looking for. Say that they will become a better leader, close more sales, rekindle their creative spark. Don’t put the focus on your methods. Then be realistic about how fast you need a coaching business to grow. The best way is to keep your day job and let your business grow from word of mouth. The second best way is to pick a single marketing channel like writing, video, public speaking and devote half your time to it. Don’t dabble in multiple channels. Just pick one and focus.
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