It started when the same ad kept coming up in my Facebook feed after I became a certified coach.  A self-described master coach continuously invited me (and many others I’m sure) to her free seminar.  She offered participants the “secrets to client acquisition success using sales techniques she learned closing customers while selling mops at a big box retailer.”  And no, I’m not kidding!  This was the culmination of my fascination – or perhaps call it what it is – my Love to Hate relationship with the myriad of gimmicks and tools aimed at professional coaches.  They dangle magical and oh so top-secret shortcuts as an alternative to offering real service as the key to creating value as a coach.  

But I don’t want to single out this individual coach.  The truth is you could spend endless hours (and $$) plowing through get rich quick books, seminars, and workshops geared towards making success seem like something you can grab for three installments of $39.99 (or fill in some ridiculous price).  As long as you ACT NOW!!

Don’t get me wrong.  There are many fantastic individuals out there offering very real support in helping individuals like me develop their coaching and consulting practices.  In fact, I’m incredibly grateful to be working with several of them such as my wonderful mentor-coach Angela Cusack of Igniting Success.  I’m also thrilled to be joining Melissa Ford for her Game-Film group coaching program.  Melissa’s book Living Service: The Journey Of A Prosperous Coach has been an absolute game-changer for me in the way I approach creating clients.

As an aside, this experience takes me back to my early days in the nonprofit industry when I was getting my start in fundraising.  I was bombarded with invitations to programs that would teach me how to be a better fundraiser, craft the perfect ask and opportunities to mingle with other fundraisers.  I have absolutely nothing against learning and networking.  Yet, I wasn’t quite clear how I was going to become a better fundraiser without spending the bulk of my time well, fundraising! 

Here’s my point:  Whether you’re a coach, consultant or fundraiser – or pretty much anything else, You’ve Got To Do The Work.  Yes, it’s worth capitalizing.  No matter what you do, there will always be someone – or several someones – telling you there’s an easy way to do it.  There will always be distractions from the real essence of what you do.  But remember: reading and talking about coaching isn’t coaching.  You become a better coach by coaching.  Similarly, learning about and networking with those who fundraise isn’t fundraising.  

As for me, the only way I know how to do this is the following (spoiler alert: a lot of this is crazy obvious but still worth staying)

  • Be in love with what you do:    Why?  Simple, you’ll want to do it more.  You’ll naturally design your day and life in such a way that allows you to spend more time doing it.  If you want to be a great coach, you’ll spend those hours you’re not coaching eagerly looking for people that can be helped by coaching.  If you want to be a great fundraiser, you’ll spend the time you’re not talking to donors looking for donors to talk to.  
  • Always be striving for better:   I love reading, listening to passionate professionals (the real experts!) and learning.  You’ll get better by a combination of doing what you do i.e. coaching, fundraising etc. during client facing hours and learning during the non-client facing hours.  PS – It’s never a bad idea to start your day with a few pages of something that adds to your knowledge base.  
  • Share what you do with as many people as possible:  It’s been my experience over the past 30 or so years that many people hate sales and selling.  I happen to not be one of these people.  Nevertheless, the cool thing here is that if you’re coaching because you love – and actually get a natural high – from watching people get unstuck, chase and catch that big vision and so much more – you’ll never be selling.  You’ll just always be looking for others to share that experience with.  Share it with anyone and everyone you can.  


  • Robert Grabel

    Executive Coach

    Nonprofit Now! and Forward Is Forward

    Robert Grabel is an Executive Coach committed to serving others with a career that has included work in both the for profit and nonprofit sectors.  After growing his practice in in financial services, he spent nearly two decades in the nonprofit arena doing everything from launching his own start-up charity to serving in senior leadership roles where he helped raise millions in support of a wide range of causes.  Robert writes and speaks on a range of topics, volunteers, writes, plays music, runs and loves his time with his family and dog.   You can learn more about him and contact him at or his dedicated nonprofit site: