Coaching Blog

Is the International Association of Coaching Headed the Wrong Way?

Posted by Julia Stewart

International Association of Certified Coaches

Yesterday, I got an odd email from the International Association of Coaching (IAC) President, Bob Tschannen-Moran.

Maybe I misunderstood, but it seemed to me that Bob was trying to tell me that a recording that I made with Natalie Tucker Miller and Elizabeth Nofziger, who are both IAC & SCM Certifiers, and using systems that belong to my company, actually belongs to the IAC to do as it sees fit, regardless of my wishes. Hmm...I think U.S. Copyright and Freedom of Speech laws would differ with that.

[Update: I just received a note from Bob, saying of course the recording is mine. I did indeed misunderstand. This post isn't an attack on Bob or the IAC Boards. I just disagree - or misunderstand. You're invited to add your thoughts in the comments section, below.]

If you know me well, you're probably chuckling, because I'm somewhat famous for my temper. It’s my worst weakness. On the up side, I always learn something valuable when I get mad. Here's what I'm learning from my latest tempest:

My loyalty actually lies more with Thomas Leonard's International Association of Certified Coaches (See the original logo above) than it does with the current IAC.  Today's IAC is the organization that evolved from that over the past seven years and of course, it is different. The problem for me is that I'm not okay with all of the differences.

If you’re curious, check out Thomas Leonard's original announcement about the IACC here. Is it better or worse? That's a matter of opinion, but here are some of my thoughts:

Thomas' vision for improving the quality of coaching worldwide was huge. He saw a skills-based coach certification as the vehicle to bring about this worldwide upgrade to coaching excellence and the IACC was the organization to oversee it.  It could only be accomplished if large numbers (most?) of coaches got on board. With a big mailing list of devoted followers and a willingness to put up $25,000 seed money, Thomas had the tools to make it work.

Given Thomas' tragic death less than five months after he announced the IACC, it is a triumph that it survived at all. His estate was tied up for over a year. His company changed hands and took a different path. However, the IACC already had thousands of passionate supporters. Many of whom, like me, were donating their time to make it happen. Still, it was a disturbing sign that his vision was already being watered down, when not long after Thomas' passing, the International Association of Certified Coaches' name was changed. It's now the International Association of Coaching.

What about the commitment to Certified Coaches? Read on.  

The IAC retained the Certified Coach brand. Although it no longer uses the Proficiencies, it still certifies coaches using a process similar to the one Thomas and the original IACC President, Michael 'Coop' Cooper, laid out. It is a very rigorous certification process that only about 25% of coaches pass on the first try. It does indeed raise the quality of coaching for many who attempt it.

However, the IACC's sister organization, the Coaching School Accreditation Council, announced at the same time by Thomas, doesn't exist. This organization would decide if a school could teach the intellectual property on which the Certified Coach designation is based and thereby prepare coaches to get certified. 

Is there an IAC coaching school accreditation process? No. Rather than a coaching school accreditation as rigorous its coach certification, the IAC has chosen instead to make its IAC Coaching Masteries(TM) available to anyone via a commercial license. It doesn't matter if you're a coach, a dentist, a plumber or a marine biologist, if you want to be an IAC Licensee and teach the Masteries, all you have to do is pay the IAC some money. What?

The IAC doesn't even require its licensees to be IAC Certified Coaches. Funny, they have one of the world's most rigorous coach certifications, but apparently anybody with a credit card is qualified to train coaches to prepare for it. Where is the consistency of purpose?

Worse, the IAC website doesn't clearly communicate this to visitors. Most people (in the U.S. anyway) assume that a license means some kind of test has been taken. If you want a license to practice medicine, you have to pass a test. If you want a license to drive, you have to pass a test, etc., etc. But if you want a license to teach the IAC Coaching Masteries(TM) all you need is some money. Good for the IAC, not so good for coaching.

A commercial license is the type you agree to if you want to use software by Microsoft or Apple. It's a bunch of legalese you must accept in order to use their intellectual property. It doesn't imply approval, it simply protects the organization that does the licensing.

The IAC license protects the IAC from risk, but it offers no leadership to the coaching world, not the sort that the IACC was founded upon. An organization can't lead without taking risks. 

Although I'm really not okay with the IAC's commercial license, I was the first to buy one. Why? I still believe in this certification. I'm just disappointed that so little attention has been paid to HOW coaches will upgrade their coaching by seeking IAC Coach Certification. The IAC says it is not in their mandate to teach or accredit. But this is an important need and leaving it unaddressed leaves a big crack in the process. The result is that only a fraction of Certified Coaches exist compared to the original intent. 

Numerous coaches have told me privately that they think the commercial license is a big mistake. However, the membership has virtually no way to fight it. Because although the original IACC granted voting rights to all Certified Coaches, the current Board of Governors (BOG) and Board of Certifying Examiners choose their own replacements, not the members. This means they can change the rules without even notifying us.

Don't get me wrong, many Board members are my close friends and colleagues. There are some dedicated people there working hard on the IAC and I think their intentions are good. But if you want to get on the BOG, you have to be recommended by a current BOG member and then voted on by the other BOG members. That can block certain people from ever being able to serve.

The current voting structure leaves the BOG unaccountable to anyone. It's easy for a comfortable 'group think' to set in and for board members to agree on rules that work for them, but not for the whole membership. If the IAC were to become the huge worldwide organization that Thomas envisioned, a small group of people and their friends would have too much power over this fast-growing billion-dollar industry.

Even though I've been invited to join both Boards, I'm not comfortable with the current process. I think IAC members should be making these choices, themselves. Give them the vote! Members of an organization who have voting rights tend to be more engaged and invested in it. Because there’s a disconnect between the board, the members and the mission, many of the original supporters have fallen away.

Is it fair for me to expect today's IAC to act like the original IACC? Probably not. But some elements that I think are critical to its mission, the mission that I still care about, have been lost over the years and that makes a big difference, at least to me.

That leaves me wondering whether School of Coaching Mastery's IAC license is still a fit for us. Without it, I'd have greater freedom in developing my own intellectual property and there wouldn't be disagreements over who owns my recordings.

Don't worry, if you're an SCM student, we're not going to make any changes right away and regardless, we'll keep our agreements. Even if we drop the license, we can still help you get certified. I've been helping coaches pass IAC Coach Certification since 2003 and the past two years since we first bought the IAC license (It wasn't available until then) haven't helped us do that any better.

What do you think? Should the IAC's Board be voted on by the IAC Membership? Should the IAC continue to license any and all comers? Is there any reason to stay faithful to the original IACC mission? Should members have more power? Or should we just quietly go on paying our dues?

By the way, if you're curious about the recording in question, it's available for free to members of the IAC North American Virtual Chapter, a free service for all coaches that we offer and that is aligned with the IAC.

Join the coaching chapter


Join the IAC North American Virtual Chapter for free here. 

Topics: Coaching, School of Coaching Mastery, SCM, Thomas Leonard, certified coaches, IAC

So Many Blogs So Little Time - What's a Coach to Do?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Blogger on Fire

What's the real reason School of Coaching Mastery is sponsoring the Best Coaching Blogs 2009 contest?

It's the same reason we started our own "Find a Coach" social networking site, Mastery Coach Exchange. 

We're doing it because it gives our students a real-world laboratory in which to learn how to leverage the Internet's most powerful marketing tools, so when they leave SCM, they don't flounder trying to find coaching clients, but have hands-on experience - and success - at finding their ideal clients and coaching them to transformation.

That doesn't mean that our students are the only ones benefiting, though. Everyone is winning. In the case of Best Coaching Blogs, the coaches who write the blogs are getting read much more than usual. They're creating new fans and new subscribers. Some of those new readers will become clients, and so on. And winning will give them distinction and bragging rights!

And of course, the readers get to learn great stuff from the bloggers, like how to set up a successful coaching business, how to transform your life, and a lot more. By putting the best of the coaching bloggosphere in one place, with votes and comments from the readers, we're making it easy for you to find the very best coaching blogs efficiently and you can help the bloggers out by reading, voting and commenting. Plus it's free. Great stuff!

But the benefits don't stop there. The bloggosphere is one of the most powerful tools for both learning and marketing, but that does not mean you need to be writing your own blog. Actually, unless you like to write and really have something to say, I would advise you NOT to start your own blog. That doesn't mean you can't leverage the bloggosphere to grow your coaching business, though. 

If you want to be more successful as a coach, start with other people's blogs.

Here are six steps to get you started:

1. Start reading several good blogs every week (Better yet: Everyday).
2. Start subscribing to the best ones.
3. Start commenting on the posts that really speak to you.
4. Start developing relationships with the writers and readers at your favorite blogs.
5. Those relationships can be nurtured into joint ventures, linking, opportunities and clients.
6. It's a way to learn and a way to market, all at the same time, and it's fre*e.

I'm teaching students at SCM a whole lot more about how to leverage the bloggosphere, but I've put together one very awesome tool for everyone, including you - gratis - and that's the Best Coaching Blogs 2009 Contest is going on, on our website, right now. Some of the best blogs in the coaching industry are already entered.

So you don't have to spend hours searching down the best blogs for you to read. You can pick the ones your friends are voting on and even read the comments they left, so you know which ones you want to try out.

Because they are all in one place, you can bookmark the page and return again and again, when it's convenient to you, while the contest continues, and read more blogs, cast your votes and add your comments (Be sure to add your website address to your comments).

Commenting on blogs is one of the smartest ways you can use Web 2.0 to market your business. Do you comment on blogs everyday?

While you're at it, don't just read the front runners. There are some real gems in this contest that not many people have heard of. You can help bring them to light by reading, commenting on and voting for them.

Approximately 1,000 people have already participated in this contest. Are you curious what brought them there?

Visit the Best Coaching Blogs 2009 Contest page now and bookmark it, so you can return, read, comment and vote at your leisure.

Winners will be determined by both votes and comments.

Oh and if you have a great blog that you want to enter, we're still accepting entries through Sunday, but the sooner you enter, the more votes you'll get.

Have fun and keep being great!

Topics: coaching business, Coaching, Best Coaching Blogs, blog, coaching blogs, School of Coaching Mastery, SCM, coach, School of Coaching

Coaching Schools: Why Money-back Guarantees Are Bad

Posted by Julia Stewart

Pros & ConsEvery week, I talk to people who want to choose the right coaching school for them...

And of course, money is always an important concern. Recently, the topic of money-back guarantees came up in a couple of conversations.

A few coaching schools offer money-back guarantees and they're a bad deal for several reasons.

For starters, they give new coaches the illusion that they have nothing to lose and boy, is that not true!

Reason 1: The Opportunity Cost is Far Higher Than the Tuition

Months ago, a coach contacted me who was attending a coaching school that I used to teach for, which offered a money-back guarantee when he joined in 2003. After years of taking zillions of classes, he still doesn't  have a coaching business.  Now he realizes he's in the wrong coaching school, wants his money back and thinks SCM may be the answer. He'd been contacting the other school for months to get his money and so far, has just gotten a run around. He told me he'd join SCM as soon as he has his money back. He's still waiting.

Result? Most coaches can put together a professional coaching business within a year or less, with the right support (Yes, even in this economy). And a moderately successful coaching business can easily earn $50,000 per year. (Some coaches earn six figures, some coaches, a lot less.) So if this coach had been coaching full-time since 2004, making $50,000 per year for five years, he'd have made $250,000 by now.

Not only that, he'd be spending his days doing what he loves instead of putting in thousands of hours at a job he can't stand.

So for a "no-risk" investment of a few thousand dollars, he's cost himself hundreds of thousands and years of his life.  

Reason 2: No Risk No Reward 

As I said, I used to teach at the afore-mentioned school. With low tuition and a money-back guarantee, it grew quickly. There were some highly-talented coaching students there - and there were a bunch who probably should never have gone into coaching. With a low entry barrier, many people who had heard you could make big bucks as a coach had joined. Still others had lost their jobs in the last recession and joined that school because they wanted out of the rat race and thought they had nothing to lose. If we make starting a coaching business sound too easy and coach training, no-risk, people join without being sure they really want to become coaches.

Result? Lack of commitment. And unfortunately, lack of commitment usually leads to lack of success. (Ask any successful coach. We're in the business of success.) In addition, the coaches who don't belong are unhappy and their lack of success becomes an energy drain for the whole community. 

Reason 3: The School May Not (Be Able to) Return Your Money

The man who started that school was good for it and he was extraordinarily talented and completely sincere. However, he passed away suddenly of a heart attack, leaving the school to one of his colleagues.  By the time the estate lawyers were finished with it, the school's resources were depleted. And many of the students were unhappy with the change of command. They wanted their money back.

Result? Student requests for refunds went unanswered for months. Some gave up; some took legal action. No fun for anyone. 

Reason 4: You Don't Really Want Your Money Back

Nobody joins a coaching school hoping it won't work out and then they'll have to ask for their money back. What they want is to become a successful coach. If you sincerely want to become a successful coach, look for something better than a money-back guarantee. Look for a school whose students are succeeding. Not just an exceptional few, but the vast majority. That school will require you to put your "butt on the line" as my coach would say. They won't accept just anybody with a credit card. They'll check you out, to make sure you're serious about coaching, even while you're checking them. And they will guarantee value: Effective class material, the best instructors, a proven path to success.

Result? You get what you really want: A successful career as a coach. 

Reason 5: Getting what you pay for is way better than getting your money back. 

You want to get it right the first time, don't you? So, look for a school that guarantees the value you really want. That's a Value-Back Guarantee. 

You've probably guessed that SCM doesn't offer a money-back guarantee. But we do have a Value-Back Guarantee. What does that mean? If you put your own butt on the line by taking advantage of all the resources we provide and do your best to follow our instructions - and it doesn't  work out for you (Ex: You don't pass certification or you can't find clients) we won't offer you a refund, we'll bust OUR butts to give you what's missing (like, individual attention, new course material), because our job's not done until until you have everything you need to be successful. 

Our coaching students are building successful businesses. And not after years and years of stuggling. They're building coaching success in their very first year - even in this recession! 


Copyright, Julia Stewart, 2009 

Topics: coaching business, coaching school, become a coach, free coach training, coaching success, SCM, coaching schools, get certified, coach training program, six-figure coaches, money-back guarantee

Coach Training Schools: Does Yours Measure Up?

Posted by Julia Stewart


Here are just a few ways we think we surpass other coaching schools. Does yours compare?

1. All of our instructors are IAC Certified Coaches (considered the Gold Standard in Coach Certification). They are all masters in their unique areas and most importantly, they are incredible teachers. Other coaching schools staff their faculties with recent grads and uncertified coaches who are new to coaching and a few schools even have volunteers teaching their classes! SCM pays our instructors more than any other school we know of, because masterful coaches are worth more.


2. We prepare our student/coaches for IAC Certification. The founder of the coaching profession, the late Thomas J. Leonard, founded the IAC in 2003 to raise the quality of coaching worldwide. Up until then, there was no independent certifying organization that was certifying coaches at a standard that Thomas believed was necessary for coaching to be highly effective. Why would you prepare for anything else?


3. We prepare our student/coaches for mastery, not just competence. As Thomas said, “Competence will keep you from getting sued. Mastery will attract people, opportunities and success to you like a magnet.” Most coaching schools prepare you for competency. Why stop there?


3. Our classes are limited to just 12 students each, because that allows every coach to practice coaching in class and get feedback from their peers and their master instructor (both written and verbal feedback from the instructor). You won’t get lost in a crowd at SCM.


4. We use the best technology to deliver the best teaching, learning and coaching. Most of our classes are virtual and combine the ease and convenience of teleconferencing with the up-to-date benefits of online learning. We can do anything in our virtual classrooms that you can do in a live classroom, except shake hands. Plus virtual learning saves you money and time and it is way kinder to the environment than traveling to meet in person.


5. Our students are amazing. You can imagine the level of passion, dedication and talent it takes to commit to coaching in front of experts day after day. If you want to join a community of peers who are smart, talented, fast learners, you’ve found it. And if that sounds like you, we need to talk.


6. All our classes are recorded on audio and some on video, as well. You can listen as often as you like and hear yourself coach - a priceless way to learn. Plus, class recordings are posted to our private, members-only area, so you can hear each class, taught by every instructor, 24/7. You’ll learn something different from each one. This is an amazing value add. (download to your iPod to make it even more convenient)


7. All our original written materials are included with your live training package in the form of written Coaching Guides (.PDF format). There are no text books to buy, as there are with some coaching schools. We also share materials in the form of audio and video recordings, power-point presentations and coaching demonstrations and practice. Regardless of your personal learning style, you’ll find options for maximizing your own learning, here.


8. Our Full Coach Training Program includes three levels of training: Foundations for the new coach, Mastery training for the intermediate coach, and Advanced training for the masterful coach, who is ready to create the next iteration of coaching mastery. We also provide personal development training and business training, so you master yourself, as well as your business.


9. We’re here to speed your learning, not just keep you busy. If you ask master coaches, most of them will tell you of the hours of unproductive time they spent in boring coaching classes that they were required to take in order to graduate or qualify for a particular certification. None of our classes are required for certification, because our certifications are based on the quality of your coaching, period. If you want to take them all, that’s great. If not, that’s fine also.


10. Our one requirement, if you want SCM Graduation, is that you complete our Mastermind Seminar after becoming certified.This is where you spread your wings as a master coach and invent, integrate, connect, deliver, share, streamline, upgrade and/or teach your unique coaching brilliance through a final coaching project that will establish you as a true master in your unique area of coaching and will launch (or re-launch) your coaching business.


“Becoming a masterful coach is like diving off a cliff over and over until you grow wings. Fortunately, there are never any broken bones!” – Julia Stewart, SCM President


Still curious about School of Coaching Mastery? That’s a good sign. Call 1-877-224-2780 or email to make an appointment with our Enrollment Advisor, Elizabeth Nofziger, IAC-CC , or with SCM President, Julia Stewart, IAC-CC

Topics: become a life coach, School of Coaching Mastery, become a coach, Coach Training Programs, SCM, Become a Certified Coach, coach training schools, Mastery Coach, what does it take to become a coach, IAC

Is Time Running Out For You to Become a Certified Coach?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Certified CoachToday I got a call from a coach I knew years ago.


He was trying to access the IAC website to finish their online certification test on the old Proficiencies before it's taken down on January 1st and wondered if he still had time to get certified.

Yes, there's still time - three days. So, if you haven't gotten certified in the Proficiencies yet, then it's probably time for you to begin studying the Masteries! ;-)

Are the Masteries just the old Proficiencies with different language? No.

I taught Thomas Leonard's Proficiencies for years. They were a big upgrade in coaching technology at the time. Teaching them was priceless learning for me AND now that I'm teaching the new Masteries, I'm quadrupling what I'm learning.

I'm also shocked (and thrilled) to see how fast new coaches are learning mastery, using SCM's unique approach to coach training. When I reflect on the teleclass format we used at the schools I studied at, as well as those I previous taught at, all I can say is "WHAT WERE WE THINKING??"

Of course graduates of those coaching schools got stuck in limbo, neither masterful nor successful, when their primary way to learn coaching was to get on a phone line and listen to somebody else talk about coaching (while students answered their email, cleaned house, or - like me - worked out)!

That's crazy.

You need to be fully engaged in class, using new skills as soon as you learn them and getting precise feedback right away from an expert, so you can step into mastery immediately. Otherwise, you could spend a lifetime in triads and study groups without ever knowing if you're getting it right or not.

I've been preparing coaches for IAC certification since it came into being, because it's based on the one thing clients care about: masterful coaching. And these current newbies are going to coach better than us veterans pretty soon. Exciting - and kinda scary!

Anyhow, if you missed the boat on Proficiency-based certification, don't fret. You can still get certified in the Masteries and if you want to blow the top off your own coaching ability - and make sure you actually get certified this time - then take this opportunity to join SCM's Certified Coach Training Program. 

It's for experienced, trained coaches who intend to be the best at what they do. You'll be challenged, your skills expanded, your confidence solid, your mastery unquestioned. (And we'll pay your certification fee!)

Have questions? Call here: 877-224-2780

Are you a new coach? We have a program for you too!

School of Coaching Mastery

Let's do great work together!

Topics: School of Coaching Mastery, SCM, Thomas Leonard, Become a Certified Coach, IAC, certified coach, Masteries

Coach 100 at SCM

Posted by Julia Stewart

SCM Ad Hoc Advisors are asking that our Full Coach Training Program offer business, marketing & sales training for new coaches. This is a huge piece in becoming a successful coach (unless you are an in-house or affiliate coach). That's why the Coach 100 Business Success Program will be included in the FullCoach Training Program.

Coach 100 absolutely works. I just spoke to a new member who tells me that she's signed on seven new clients in the past month with it and that's not an uncommon story, BUT I plan to stick to what I know best with SCM and that's training great coaches and helping them achieve IAC Certification.

That's why I'm partnering with the top business, sales and marketing coaches to bring SCM the best training from the masters. SCM coaches have an opportunity to master the best coaching skills and develop the best business practices, because until they're making a living at it, coaching is just a hobby. Stay tuned for some exciting announcements!

Topics: Coach 100, SCM, sales and marketing coaches, sales training for new coaches, coach training program

Masterful Coaching: Distinct and Succinct

Posted by Julia Stewart

Certified Coach Training

You know you're hearing great coaching in class when the both coach and client are so intrigued that they can't wait to set up another coaching call! It's happening a lot on the SCM Module calls. Each mastery is covered in four two-hour eClasses. Each class covers an one aspect of that Mastery with a Coaching Guide, discussion and demonstration by the instructor, followed by the coaches dividing up into triads for an hour of practice and observation, with the instructor dropping in to each triad for additional feedback. All of it is recorded for review and each Module gets its own web page with graphics for the students to follow in class.

After eight hours on a Module, they know that Mastery!

We've just finished Either/Or Questions, followed by Distinctions and the Ad Hoc Advisors are jumping in to help me create SCM's own "distinctionary" for future reference! Next we're onto Zeroing In On What's Really Going On, a path of inquiry that uncovers what's important, followed by Taking It Deeper, looking at trends, dynamics and patterns.

I think I throw them sometimes, because I expect them all to fully participate and some of them are used to taking sleepy teleclasses while they read their email! This is the School of Coaching Mastery, afterall, not just another school on coaching. Of course I expect more! That's why the classes are small and we have so much practice ~ So people actually know how to coach when they get done!

Copyright, Julia Stewart, 2007 

Topics: School of Coaching Mastery, SCM, Certified Coach Training

School of Coaching Mastery: 1st Update

Posted by Julia Stewart


Jump for JoyThe very first SCM eClass took place on Thursday, June 7th and I'm very pleased! Fantastic coaches have joined up for the first beta Module and we heard some great coaching during their practice sessions. It's clear that many of these coaches are ready to move into mastery ~ Whoopee!

Speaking of which: One of our SCM members just found out that she passed IAC Certification, the day before class started! I can't claim SCM prepared her, obviously ~ I'm just proud to be attracting coaches who have such high standards for the quality of their own work.

From talented beginners who are ready to be "thrown in the deep end" as one coach put it, to excellent veterans ~ a dynamic mix, ready to do their best work together!

Now the website is under way, with plans for 3-4 more beta Modules/courses this summer and a full program launch in the Fall. Check back to see what programs have been added. There will be some discounts for the beta programs.

In the meantime, I invite you to join the SCM Ad Hoc Advisors (it's free) and weigh in on what you most want to see in the way of coach training. Live/virtual/recorded? Teleclass or webinar? Practice or theory?

Get in on the ground floor and help design your own coach training and/or help shape the future of coaching ~ and the impact of coaching on the world! Active members of the Ad Hoc Advisors get discounts and free admission to programs and products ~ just to say "Thanks!"

Join Ad Hoc Advisors here

Copyright, Julia Stewart, 2007
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Topics: School of Coaching Mastery, SCM, IAC

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