What is one investment you've made in the past that you're grateful for today?
In 2011, my financial planning practice was thriving, for the most part. It had been three years since I left my old firm and co-founded Alliance Investment Planning Group, and this blog was doing very well.
In spite all of that, I felt like something was missing.
It wasn’t about the money, because I was making more than enough to support my family. It was more about how I was spending my time each day. There were certain parts about my day that I absolutely loved, but there were other parts that I absolutely dreaded.
I remembered that the mentor who had first hired me to be a financial advisor once told me that he had gone through a few different coaching programs. At the time, I didn’t get it.
Why would you ever spend money on a coach? But I slowly started to realize that I needed someone to help me figure out what exactly I wanted to accomplish, and how I was going to do it.
Through a contact I met on my blog, I learned about a program called The Strategic Coach. This online entrepreneur I met had been in the program for 12 years and suggested that I check it out. I decided to investigate their website.
Then I saw the cost. <insert jaw drop>
Based on my income bracket (they have different price ranges depending on where your income falls), it would cost me $6,900 per year to be a part of the program. If that wasn’t a tough pill to swallow, I then learned that the program only consisted of four workshop days per year.
Newbie To Coaching
The whole coaching concept was new to me, but something just seemed peculiar about $7,900 for four days of coaching. If it wasn’t for the testimonial of the online entrepreneur that had been in the program for 12 years, I probably would have quickly dismissed the whole idea, but it made enough of an impact I at least approached my wife about it to get her feedback.
I don’t remember the exact conversation we had, but I’m pretty sure it went something like this:
Me: “Hey babe, I’m thinking about joining this coaching program that costs $7,900 per year.”
Her: Gives me that looks like I just told her that I don't like her cooking.
Me: Puts my head down and sheepishly exits room.
Okay maybe it didn’t go down exactly like that, but I do remember her questioning me and asking, “why do you think you really need a coach? You’re already self-motivated. I just don’t see the point in paying somebody $7,900 to be even more motivated.”
She had a good point.
Why did I really need to spend the money for a coach? I was already a proven self-starter, so would a coach really benefit me any more?
But deep down inside, I knew that I still needed something. I would spend a lot of my days doing a lot of stuff that I now recognize I shouldn’t have been doing. I knew that I needed direction, and I was hoping that The Strategic Coach would be the answer. We reviewed our budget, and my wife gave me the blessing to move forward. #mirraclesdohappen
At the time of me writing this, I will soon be completing my third year of The Strategic Coach. The program recently increased their rates so this past year I paid $8,900 to be a part of the program. The ROI of Strategic Coach has been so high that I don’t even think twice about writing that check.
I often get asked why I love The Strategic Coach, so much so that I thought it would be helpful to put together these reasons.
What is Strategic Coach
Strategic coach is a coaching program specifically targeted toward entrepreneurs helping them develop a self-managed company. Created by Dan Sullivan, the program is designed to help your business grow 10x. This program has been extremely beneficial for over 16,000 entrepreneurs from 60 different industries over the past 20 years.
As I have gone on in the program, I’ve identified what tools are most important for my business and now I use them almost on a constant basis.
How Much Does Strategic Coach Really Cost
I’ve already mentioned my enrollment fee of $7,900 (now $8,900). While there are no hidden costs when it comes to the program, there are additional costs with some travel. Presently, my work group meets on Wednesdays, so that's when I go, and they are located in Chicago, which is a 5-1/2 hour drive from where I live. In the past I used to drive, but now I take the train. I typically leave the night before, on Tuesday, and take the train up. Amtrak rates can run anywhere from $40 to $80 depending on availability. There are two hotels that are within walking distance of Strategic Coach Headquarters, and those rates will usually run me anywhere from $120 to $150 a night.
The program concludes around 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday. While I could take the train home that evening, I typically stay an additional night to digest everything that was offered that day. Usually other entrepreneurs will stick around and we’ll have dinner and drinks that night. It is Chicago, so typically dinner will run anywhere from $60 to $100 just for myself, with another booked room which is another $150.
Since their office is away from downtown and I take the train, I don't have the luxury of just driving over to my hotel, and unfortunately the train station does not run towards O’Hare, which is near where Strategic Coach is headquartered. I have a few different options, though. I can take the Blue line of the El, which will run me about $4, but takes me an hour and a half to two hours – I know because I did it once. I can also take a cab or Uber. I took a cab a few times, but that was $45 one way; now, I much prefer to take Uber, which runs me anywhere from $25 to $30.
Strategic Coach does provide a light breakfast and an amazing lunch, so there’s no additional cost there. All in all, it runs approximately $400 to $500 per quarter just on the travel expenses. For others in the program who have to fly in, their cost could vary as well, depending on how long they stay.
What You Get From Strategic Coach
So what exactly do you get for the $7,900 fee? Let's take a look….
Four full-day workshops – The workshops are led by a coach who not only talks the talk, but has also walked the walk. My coach has been an entrepreneur for over 20 years and has been in the Strategic Coaching program for almost the same time. She is amazing. At each workshop, we reflect on what transpired over the past quarter, as well as dive into new materials. What makes those days even more powerful is the breakdown groups, where we’re able to talk and connect with other entrepreneurs who are going with the same struggles. That part is invaluable.
— Jeff Rose, CFP® (@jjeffrose) October 9, 2013
Quarterly focus call with your program advisor
Between each workshop, you have the opportunity to talk with the program advisor. This is the individual who works directly with the coach and they can help you evaluate your business as well as identify areas in your business where you can improve. They’ll also answer any questions about Strategic Coach and identify any tools that you might be able to use and apply to your most pressing need. For whatever reason, many people in my class don’t utilize the call with the program advisor, but I have also found that invaluable. It’s also good to help you keep on pace to make sure that you’re focusing on your strategic goals for that quarter.
Connection with other entrepreneurs
At first I was a little worried that many of the entrepreneurs wouldn’t be able to relate to some of the things I was focusing on with my business. After attending a few sessions and having some great conversations, I realized that we're all wired almost the same. We’re all entrepreneurs and we’re all dealing with the same struggles of getting to the next level. It doesn’t matter our background, and it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in; we’re all dealing with the same feelings of complexity that are limiting our potential growth. Having that connection has been an added blessing.
Weekly booster calls
The program also offers weekly boosting calling that shares insights and strategies that Strategic Coach offers. This is something that I took part of when I initially joined the program, but I found myself a little too busy to attend these on an ongoing basis. These booster calls though are great if you have team members that you'd like to expose to the principals of Strategic Coach but you're not ready to pay the extra fee to have them go through the program.
Tons of resources and online tools
Strategic Coach is not light on offering resources that can really help grow your business to the next level. In the beginning it can be a little overwhelming because they literally have so many tools, it’s hard to make sense of what you need. That’s where the program advisor comes in to play.
Below are some of the immediate takeaways that I learned after doing coach in the first few sessions. They are quite remarkable.
Kolbe Index- Understanding my personality.
Before you attend your first workshop, you take a personality test called the Kolbe Index. There are several personality tests that you can take, but Strategic Coach is a big fan of Kolbe, and so am I. Kolbe gives you a four digit score that measures FACT FINDER, FOLLOW THROUGH, QUICK START, and IMPLEMENTOR.
My score was an 8-3-8-2. As you can imagine, I had no idea what that score meant, but that’s what my program advisor helps me understand.
I scored an 8 in both Fact Finder and Quick Start. That means I’m a high research person. I like to know everything about everything and understand how it works.
Quick Start means I’m a big idea guy. I’m a visionary and can’t stop the big ideas from flowing. I scored lower in Follow Through and in Implementation. What that means is that while I enjoy getting the big ideas, actually putting them in action is much more difficult.
Basically, I’m excited about the idea, but when it gets down to doing all the work involved, that’s where I lose momentum. A low implementer means that I’m not quite good at building things. That came as no surprise to my wife, who always has her dad come over and build stuff for our house, ha ha.
What does this all mean?
What this means is having a FactFinder score means that I need to protect myself from spending too much time doing research. I need to set time limits on myself doing the research and focus on getting the task done. Being a high Quick Start is great, but it also means I’m easily excited about a lot of different things. Often times, I have committed to projects and made promises to other people, and I end up finding myself over committed.
Now that I recognize that I’m a high Quick Start, I purposely make sure I take time to ponder if it’s something worth pursuing. I also use a tool called the Impact Filter, that helps you sort out if this idea is even worth pursuing. This is also helpful in hiring team members, because it would be pointless to hire someone who has a similar Kolbe Index as I do. Instead, I would want to find somebody that is either across the board or higher in the follow through and implementer scores.
Anyone that I ever hire to work with me or my team now takes the Kolbe Index, so I have a good understanding of how we will match together.
Strategic Coach introduced to me the concept of the entrepreneurial time system. In that system, you will have three types of days: your focus days, your buffer days and your free days. Your focus days are where you spend a majority of your time working in your unique ability (which I’ll discuss next). Buffer days are where you spend a good chunk of your time working in your unique ability, but also spend part of your day cleaning up messes and putting out fires.
That means not checking your email, working with clients or reading anything that would be work related. In our first session, we were asked to tally how many free days we had taken in the past year. Talk about a question that went straight to my soul. It’s not hard for me to unplug from my financial planning practice; I’m at a point in my career where I don’t see clients on the weekends, or even weeknights, so that wasn’t an issue. What was an issue was with my blog and my online businesses.
Since the internet is open 24/7, I was always working on my blog weeknights and even on the weekends. When I thought long and hard about the last time I had actually taken a free day, it wasn’t hard to add up and that’s because the answer was zero. It took me a while to get used to the concept of taking a free day, but I'll tell you, they're some of the best days I’ve ever had, not only for my business, but also for my personal life. It feels good to unplug completely from your business and to focus on other things in life that are usually much more important.
Identifying my unique ability.
Your unique ability or abilities are the things that you enjoy doing so much that you lose track of time in doing them. These are things that you’re passionate about that do not feel like work to you, but most importantly, you get paid to do them. When you’re in your realm of your unique ability, life feels great.
Strategic Coach has helped me identify exactly what my unique ability is, and helped me focus on spending as much of my time as I can working my unique ability. That means spending more time doing the things I love, and finding good team members to take the other things off my plate. For me, I was able to identify that my unique abilities, which consist of me writing blog posts and doing videos, recording podcasts, meeting the clients and constructing those funnels to bring new clients in. These are the things that get me most jazzed during the day, so much so that I structure my week where I spend most my time doing those.
More from GFC, Below
— Jeff Rose, CFP® (@jjeffrose) April 23, 2014
Connect with other entrepreneurs.
I mentioned this above, but it’s worth mentioning again. Being in a room with 30 other entrepreneurs who are all at similar income levels as you and going through similar struggles is worth its weight in gold. It’s inspiring to hear other entrepreneurs who are having record income years on top of taking more time off than they ever had in their business.
For example, I remember hearing a success story of one of the entrepreneurs in our group who hadn’t taken a free day in the last 10 years, but had recently gotten back from a month-long vacation with his family. Hearing stories like that inspire me, and I look forward to sharing a similar story here soon. Hawaii, here we come.
Allows me to dream big.
Before starting Strategic Coach, I alluded to the fact that I was probably making around $250,000 a year living in southern Illinois. There is nothing horrible about that, but on the same token, I felt like that I wasn’t growing. I felt very stagnant in what I was doing during the day, and I also didn’t feel like I was serving a bigger purpose.
Joining Strategic Coach was never about the money, although it’s definitely a nice benefit, but it’s more about doing the things you love and inspiring others along the way. I have big dreams of helping over 1 million people start investing, helping married couples have a long and fulfilling marriage, and making millions of dollars along the way that I can donate to our church and other amazing charities. Before joining Strategic Coach, my mind never even went that far, but now, thanks to the principles that it has introduced to me, I dream big.
How to Measure ROI
Any time I share how much money I spend on Strategic Coach, the immediate question I always get is “Is it worth it”. No, I’ve just been spending $7900 per year for something that’s totally not worth it (sarcasm).
But seriously, there’s no way that I would continue to spend the money, and I know my wife wouldn’t let me spend that money, if there wasn’t an ROI that I could actually calculate. Here are some of the areas where I’ve seen the biggest improvements:
Show me the money.
As I mentioned previously, joining Strategic Coach wasn’t all about increasing income, but it definitely doesn’t hurt. When I first joined Strategic Coach, my gross income was just north of $250,000. We just filed our taxes for 2013, and my gross income from all my businesses was just above $500,000, and for 2014, I’m on track to be somewhere between $650,000 and $700,000.
My goal in the next few years is to crack the seven figure mark. Like I said, the income that I was already making was more than enough to take care of my family, but I knew that I had the potential to make more, not because I needed it, but just because I wanted to see if I could do it. We intend to use a lot of that money for a greater good. I can’t wait to share what we’re up to.
Quality time with the family.
One of the core beliefs behind Strategic Coach is doing more of what you love and taking more time away from your business. Quite simply, it's about making more while working less. It almost sounds too good to be true, but most people who believe that aren’t willing to change their mindset.
This past year, I’ve been able to take two trips that I probably wouldn’t have thought would be possible in years past. In early January, my wife and I took a trip to Cozumel, Mexico. It was only for five days, even though I pushed for seven, but it was still amazing. It was our first kid-free vacation in 9-1/2 years.
We followed that vacation up with a two-week RV trip where we drove to the Grand Canyon with the entire family. To take two weeks away from the office had previously seemed impossible. Guess what happened while I was gone for two weeks? Basically nothing. My business still ran, and everything was just fine.
What’s even more exciting about that month is that shortly after we got back from the RV trip, my wife and I took a trip to San Diego to give our first keynote talk together, and then, shortly thereafter, we attended our summer conference at our church. All in all, I was in the office for five days in the month of June, and I had the highest revenue month I’ve had in my entire career. As Strategic Coach says, make more, work less. I’m all about it.
More defined processes.
There’s no way that I could have left the office for five days in January and then again two weeks straight in June if I didn’t have clear processes in my practice and in my business. It’s also important having the right team in place to make sure that these processes get done. Strategic Coach has helped me hire the right people and helped me convey to them the processes that need to get done so that I can either focus on other things that are more important, like my unique ability, or spending time with the family.
When you’re working in the realm of your unique ability, I can’t tell you how good it feels that a majority of my week is spent doing the things I absolutely love. When I’m doing the things that I love, I feel more confident and I feel good about myself. This might be a little bit on the fluffy side and much harder to measure the ROI on, but when I wake up each day with a smile and look forward to what the day brings, that’s a far cry from when I talk to those who are in a job that they actually hate and cannot wait until 5 o’clock so they can clock out. For me, I wish there were more hours in the day so I could spend more time doing the things I love and serving others.
Specific Results: We talked a little bit about how I measured ROI; Now let's talk about some of the specific things that I have been able to accomplish by being a part of the Strategic Coaching Program.
1. Launched Alliance Wealth Management, LLC
When I co-founded Alliance Investment Planning Group, it was much easier because I had three other partners, but to actually go off on my own completely and start my own wealth management firm, well, that was another scary step in my career. I knew it was something that I needed to do, because to run my blog the way that I wanted to, I had to drop my Series 7 license. Even though I was giving up income to do so, I was confident that with the new direction and the freedom to be able to focus on my unique ability, it would pay off. It most certainly has.
2. Launched other successful websites.
After joining Strategic Coach, I started to realize that one of my unique abilities was developing other websites that I could monetize. With this blog, however, I spent a lot of time developing it and it took me years for it to gain the traction that it has.
I launched another website that was able to produce over six figures of income, and the best part? I was able to delegate much of it. That same website generates anywhere between $5000 and $10,000 a month, and I spend approximately two to four hours a month maintaining that.
Could I have launched that website without Strategic Coach? I'm sure I could, but I am also positive it would have taken me years to do because I would have felt I had to do most of the work.
3. Launched multiple podcasts.
Besides my Good Financial Cents podcast, we also launched our Dollars and Roses podcast, and I launched a life insurance podcast. Producing podcasts takes a lot of time, but by hiring a virtual assistant who does a bulk of the editing, I am able to produce the number of episodes that I do. Once again, I recognized what my unique ability is, producing great content, and outsourced the rest.
4. Established a unique process for my firm.
In addition to unique ability, Strategic Coach also talks about creating your unique process. This is the process that you work with. Your unique process is the particular way that you service your existing clients that separates you from the competition. By having a unique process, you are able to differentiate yourself and make you more referable.
It took me awhile to grasp this concept, but because of Strategic Coach, I launched what I am calling the Financial Success Blueprint, which is how I work with my clients from now on. For anyone interested in working with me, they must go through this entire process, and it has helped immensely in identifying my target clientele, and also makes me referable to others.
5. Published my book.
I had worked on Soldier of Finance for over two-and-a-half years, and while I made some progress, I still felt like I was spinning my wheels. Strategic Coach taught me that you don't have to be a great writer to be an author. Because of that, I hired a writing coach to help me put my words on paper and to get the book done. After making that hire, I was able to complete my book in less than six months, and I also got a book deal out of it. If it wasn't for Strategic Coach, my book would still be an idea, and I would still not have it done.
6. Expanded my team.
I was always worried to hire somebody because of the money that I would lose on having to pay their salary, but I recognized that if I wanted to grow, I needed to take things off my plate. Hiring virtual assistants is one thing, because most of them are paid on a by-project basis, but actually hiring a full-time employee is a scary thought to digest. I did it, though, and I'm so glad I finally made that jump.
I have hired a junior advisor and also an office manager, and doing so has been a blessing. My junior advisor is no longer with me, but I have a dedicated office manager who runs the show when I am not there. I have also worked with her in identifying what our unique processes are behind the scenes, so that in the event that she were to leave, someone else could step in and hit the ground running. Once again, none of this would have been done had it not been for Strategic Coach.
7. More time away from the office.
I have already talked about the RV trip and the trip to Cozumel, buy now I also don't go to the office as much as I used to. For example, Tuesdays are my focus days where I typically work at home producing blog content, recording podcasts or just strategizing about my next business venture. I am also not afraid to take a few days off and travel, which was not the case several years ago.
8. More focus with goal setting
Setting goals is something that I had previously done at the beginning of the New Year. The thing I realized though was that by January 14th life had taken over and I lost track of what those goals were. Can you relate?
With Strategic Coach I now review my goals each quarter and I make my goals for the next 90 days, 1 year and 3 years. One crucial item that Strategic Coach had me do that I had never done before was write down my lifetime goals. That was a difficult exercise for me but it proved super helpful. By going through that exercise and recognizing what my lifetime goals are, I can make sure that my 3 year, 1 year, and quarterly goals are all working towards that.
What do Others Say About Strategic Coach?
I promise I'm not the only one that has drank the Strategic Coach Kool-aid. 🙂 Over 16,000 entrepreneurs have gone through the program. Here's a small sampling of the praise that people have for it:
“Unique Ability was foreign to me before I joined Coach. Now, I spent 90 percent of my time doing the things I love both personally and professionally. Life has never been so good.”
Investment Planning Counsel of Canada
“When I started at Coach, I was successful but burnt out. I learned what a Free Day was and took more time off in one year than I had in the three previous years, and my income went up substantially. Coach is the best of the best—why do anything else? They always have creative ideas and materials every 90 days. It allows me to stop, reflect, and adjust in my business and personal life.”
Jamieson & Associates
“Strategic Coach has provided me with the tools I needed to successfully job-share my company’s CEO role with my business partner so both of us could be present, hands-on mothers to our young and active children. As a driven woman, it’s a powerful gift I’ve given myself.”
Pediatric Therapeutic Services, Inc.
“Strategic Coach has made such a profound change to my business and life that it is difficult to express my appreciation. There is no doubt in my mind that if you follow the strategies that Dan Sullivan has developed, you will massively increase your company’s profitability and the richness of your life.
In my first year with Strategic Coach, I increased my free time by 51 days while increasing my business turnover by 35 percent. Over the last seven years that I have been in the Program, I have increased turnover tenfold and more than tripled my profit. I cannot recommend Dan Sullivan and the coaches from Strategic Coach strongly enough. If anyone doubts that joining the Program will make a change in their lives, then I would just urge them to take the plunge and see what the ‘good life’ really can be.”
Wills & Trusts
Complete Mindset Change
Strategic Coach has changed my perspective on business and, even more importantly, life. I've never had more fun trying to grow a business than I have right now because I'm working on the things that I want to be. I owe that all to this program.
So when it game time to renew for a 4th year and I had to write a check for $7,900, I didn't have to think twice about it. 🙂
Interested in 10xing Your Life?
I've had several people contact me about coaching them and I tell all of them that they need to join Strategic Coach. Period.
It's been that much of a game changer in my life, than any entrepreneur that's looking to 10x their business and 10x their personal life needs to enroll today.
If you want some more info, be sure to download their free guide “How To Get To The Top And Stay There” which gives you 10 strategies from the Program that top entrepreneurs use to develop a Multiplier Mindset™
Find out more about Strategic Coach and get access to their free Starter Kit.
Here's a video that I recorded while at one of my Strategic Coach session in Chicago.