A new era of mentorship is upon us. High achievers have specific goals, and they know they can reach goals much faster alongside experienced collaborators.

Today we are actively seeking out therapists, personal trainers, life coaches, and skill-specific mentors like never before. It’s a wonderful trend, but to generate results, it helps to know what you want.

Save time and money by hiring a great coach who can help you reach your goals faster. Check out this list of potential hiring criteria as a start.


1. DEPTH OF INTEREST. You want your coach to have deep personal experience with the subject at hand. The coach should be able to offer a system and proof of ability to catalyze results. In addition to formal credentials, look for someone who has a deep curiosity about the subject they coach and a never-ending thirst for knowledge in a broad array of topics. You’ll see better results.

2. A COMPASSIONATE APPROACH. Look for someone who makes you feel really cared for as a client, and who wants to see you succeed as a whole person. It will be evident when you work with a coach who authentically cares about you and wants you to reach all your goals.

3. EXCELLENT LISTENING SKILLS. Your coach should listen to you, intently. Not just pause while you are speaking, but actively listen and reflect back what you say… and adjust for accuracy when you seek to clarify a statement. While some coaches may know to use “active listening techniques”, they can’t fake true interest.

4. A RELIABLE SYSTEM. Look for a coach or mentor who uses fairly straightforward, evidence-based tools and techniques that work, and can explain the “why” behind the choice of tool. Some experimentation is okay, but nothing should feel overly forced, fancy or convoluted.

5. PROVEN RESULTS. Seek out someone who has offered tangible and consistent results for current clients. Yes, client compliance is important, but the best coaches will be able to encourage people to follow their program.

6. A GOOD PERSONALITY “FIT”. Find someone who respects your starting point. Your coach should be highly relatable and should be willing to walk a mile in your shoes. If your viewpoints are being challenged, that’s okay, but if you feel you are being judged, pushed, or belittled, move on. You have options.

7. CLEAR COMMUNICATION. Scheduling, face-to-face explanations, and communications via various mediums should be clear and enjoyable. It may take some time to get on the same page about expectations, but the coach or mentor should be willing to work with you to get there.

Beyond that, there will be other things you may like or dislike, and you’ll have to feel those out for yourself. Starting with a clear list will make it easier to find what you need and achieve your goals faster.

Heather Bowen Ray is an avid fan of coaching and a PN Level 1 Certified Coach. Find more at thehabitswhisperer.com/services. 


  • Heather Bowen Ray

    Consultant and technical advisor for behavior-related health and wellness programs. Insatiably curious about social psychology and social change.

    Thrive Global

    Heather is a healthy habits coach and consultant to behavior-related health and wellness programs. She works with inspiring individuals who are working hard to overcome specific barriers to change. Heather's experience includes in-house and on-call work for advertising and communications agencies and stems from a 15+ year social change career based in Washington DC. She has instructed university-level communications courses and has trained hundreds of professionals and university students. She earned an MS in Marketing at Johns Hopkins University and a BS in Journalism from the University of Kansas. She contributes to Thrive Global and is a Precision Nutrition certified level one coach (PN1). Heather lives and works in Boulder, Colorado.