How to Choose a Coach

Last week I received an email asking if I would like to review an eBook called The Smart Consumer’s Guide to Money Coaching and Financial Education.  I’m not a money coach, I’m a career success coach, but I’m always looking for good career advice for this blog, and a sound mony management plan is helpful for career success so I said “sure.” 

While The Smart Consumer’s Guide to Money Coaching and Financial Education focuses on helping readers find a money coach, I found some great career success coach advice inside. 

It contains a section called “3 Steps to Choosing the Right Money Coach.”  I’m sharing these steps here — edited slightly for space — because they apply to choosing any kind of coach – a life coach, money coach, or a career success coach.  I think they are great common sense advice.  Check them out…

1) Define what you want from coaching and mentoring.

  • What do I want from the coaching relationship?
  • Why do I need a coach?
  • What level of accountability do I want?
  • What specific things do I need to learn?
  • How do I like to be supported?
  • What support styles drive me nuts?
  • What specific technical knowledge does my coach need to have?
  • What are the character traits of my ideal coach? (i.e. wisdom, integrity, intuition, judgment, intelligence, sense of humor)
  • Do I want process coaching to achieve breakthrough personal insights and growth, or do I just want “how-to” type education?
  • What role do I want personal growth and development to play in my coaching?
  • What are my goals?
  • How much time can I devote to achieving my goals through the coaching process?
  • What specific obstacles are holding me back from success right now?
  • What experience should my coach have?
  • What background issues are important to have in common with my coach?
  • Do I want coaching open ended or just a specific number of sessions?
  • Do I need face-to-face interaction or is the telephone acceptable?
  • What skills compliment my natural learning style?
  • What personality style would I prefer my coach have?
  • What price am I willing to pay to get the help I want?

2) Research and screen potential coaches

  • Credentials/Training: Don’t hire a hack. Determine if the coach has credentials and experience to help you. 
  • Full-Time Commitment: Look for a full-time coach. You want a specialist. You wouldn’t trust your health to a part-time brain surgeon, would you? You want someone who is passionate enough about his profession to pursue it with full-time commitment and not someone who treats it as a sideline afterthought. Why settle for anything less?
  • Depth of Coaching Experience: Experience matters… probably as much or more in coaching than other professions. I would weigh this criterion heavily. Longevity in the profession on a full-time basis can be a very good indicator of quality.
  • Published Articles: Read the published articles on the coach’s web site. Does the information indicate this person can provide the next few steps in your journey toward your goal? Do you see any red flags in the writing that raises fundamental concerns about compatibility? Do you get good value from what you read?
  • Search the Coach’s Name: What do you find when you search his name? No public person survives on the web without some naysayers so take this step with a grain of salt. Anybody can criticize anyone, but is there a pattern to the problem? Do the critic’s comments have substance or are they just gripe-fests? What positive information do you find? Sort the facts from the fiction and weigh the accumulated evidence.
  • Testimonials: A full-time coach with years of experience should have a solid testimonials page. Do the testimonials address the same needs you are trying to meet? Does it appear the right kind of value is being created compared to what you are looking for?
  • Fees: Are all fees clearly spelled out up-front so that you know exactly what you are getting into? What sort of commitment is required? Beware of long-term-pay-in-advance contracts that lock you in when you may want to exit. Long-term contracts for individual coaching are a marketing gimmick designed to separate you from your money during the sales process so that you cannot back out later if you are dissatisfied. They serve no useful function for the client and should be avoided.
  • Style: Does the coach demonstrate a life that you respect by setting an example you would like to model? This is relevant because coaching is a personal relationship where many aspects of life crossover. You can’t separate your business life from your personal life, or financial success from life success. It is all connected. What message does his life convey?

3) Test drive their coaching services.

  • Does the coach establish good rapport with you from the outset?
  • Is the coach an unusually effective observer bringing surprising insights into your life from this short conversation?
  • How well do the coach’s words resonate with you?
  • Does the coach challenge your thought process, broaden your perspective, and help you break free of limiting beliefs and assumptions?
  • How good is he at listening and really hearing the message behind your words?
  • Does he answer your questions clearly? Can you tell from his answers that he is qualified to mentor you?
  • Does the coach show a sincere interest in addressing your needs during the test-drive or does he spend most of the time talking about himself and pitching you on his services? In other words, is he focused on you or his marketing?
  • What kind of energy was on the call? How engaged were you?
  • Is the coach supportive by acknowledging what is going right in your life as well as areas that need improvement so that you feel enrolled to take the next step forward?
  • Does the coach have a unique process that fits your reasons for seeking a coach in the first place?
  • Does the coach challenge your thinking in a non-combative way so that you are enrolled to change?
  • Does the coach position himself above you like an authority figure sitting on his regal throne, or does he position himself like a teammate walking side by side with you on a parallel journey?
  • How comfortable are you with this person? This is important because coaching involves sharing your deepest desires and vulnerabilities so there needs to be a sense of trustworthiness.
  • Does the coach come from “right/wrong” as if he knows all the answers, or does he respectfully articulate the consequences of various behaviors and leave you at choice to make decisions that best fit your needs?
  • Beware of coaches where you agree with everything stated. How much learning can you really expect if they just confirm what you already know?
  • Similarly, beware of friendship playing too big a role in the conversation. The proper role of a coach is to help you get what you want – not be your friend. He must have the strength and courage to push you out of your comfort zone, get under your skin, and cause a little friction to produce maximum results.
  • Does the coach have an accountability system to help you follow through?
  • Does the coach have a clearly defined process or does he just wing it?
  • Is he able to pinpoint the exact constraints and obstacles that are holding you back? Does he have solutions you can implement?
  • Was the coach able to isolate the few behavior changes offering the highest payback for your unique situation?
  • Was the coach able to effectively teach the subject? Knowledge doesn’t necessarily equate to good teaching ability. The coach must be able to articulate ideas and concepts clearly.
  • Finally, imagine what an ongoing coaching relationship with this person would be like. How does that feel?

This is a very comprehensive list of questions that can help you choose the right coach for you.  If you’re serious about hiring a money coach, or a career success coach – or any type of coach for that matter — I suggest you give them some serious thought before you begin your search.

If you’re interested in money coaching, you can get a free copy of The Smart Consumer’s Guide to Money Coaching and Financial Education at  It’s a very comprehensive eBook that is worth your time to read.

The common sense career success coach point here is simple.  The right coach can help you create the life and career success you want and deserve.  Hiring a coach is a big decision that should not be taken lightly.  The Smart Consumer’s Guide to Money Coaching and Financial Education provides some great advice on choosing a money coach.  I think it is a valuable resource not just for selecting a money coach, but for selecting a life coach or career success coach as well.  Get your free copy at

That’s my common sense career advice on finding a coach, as put forth in The Smart Consumer’s Guide to Money Coaching and Financial Education.  What do you think?  Do you work with a coach?  How did you choose your coach?  Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment.  As always, thanks for reading my daily musings on life and career success.


PS: If you haven’t already done so, you can download a free copy of my latest book Success Tweets Explained.  It’s a whopping 395 pages of common sense career advice explaining each of the tweets in Success Tweets in detail.  Go to to claim your free copy.

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