From Poor Coach to Rich Coach

Willemsen, Anne-Johan. 2021. From Poor Coach to Rich Coach. The Netherlands:

In the opening of this book Willemsen quotes Marshall Goldsmith: “Coaching is a wonderful profession and a very difficult business. Many coaches provide great service and receive very little income. I hope that coaches from around the world can use this book to help themselves, in the same way that they work every day to help their clients.”

That is the premise of this book. While most coaches are motivated by authentically wanting to help people professionally and personally, many cannot make enough money to adequately sustain a living. Anne-Johan, being in that situation, shares his process of a ‘both/and’ solution: doing good work AND making enough money for his family.

In the first part of the book Willemsen shares his own journey coming to a decision point about the future. Readers will identify and connect to his story. So, what do you do? The remainder of the book describes Willemsen’s pathway to managing this both/and result.

Another feature I like is that at the end of each part, Anne-Johan writes an executive summary. That is a good teaching strategy as well as a quick reference guide and makes this book more user-friendly.

Most of us know that ‘coaching’ is being practiced and written about in many professional situations and to deal with personal issues. The issues are elevated especially in non-profit sectors. Non-profits have more limited resources to support coaching and might have a great need for coaching.

Several coaches describe the reason they want to coach others is that it is their calling. It feels right. It is their ‘WHY.’ See Simon Sinek (2009) for his book titled, Start with Why. Another resource can be found at

Anne-Johan makes a great point that we spend time, money, and energy trying to become physically fit. How about applying some resources to getting behaviorally and emotionally fit? Many leaders use charisma and personality to accomplish their goals. Results, however, are viewed by those who are direct reports, and those who the leader reports to, based on how they behave. Far more leaders get fired or released on the so-called ‘soft skills’ rather than the ‘hard skills.’ Consider the ‘soft skills’ ARE the ‘hard skills.’

Herb Kelleher, deceased CEO of Southwest Airlines said, and I paraphrase, ‘I hire for attitude. I can teach someone to take tickets. I can’t teach people to be a good person.’ Of course, having a license to pilot an airplane is a different level of competence. Richard Sheridan, Menlo Innovations has said, ‘we hire based on Kindergarten skills. Do they play well with others?’

I, Bill, have said, “Knowledge is important and insufficient.” Willemsen makes the same point when he writes ‘smart does not equal good or profitable.’ Coaches can know all kinds of research and strategies. This issue comes down to can they help others with that knowledge. There are many coaches. The question is, are they living well? Again, are coaches doing good work AND making a reasonable living?

Anne-Johan makes the point in coaching, ‘it’s not about you, it’s about them.’ As a principal for thirty-five years, while interviewing I would look at the transcripts from college. If I saw straight “As”, in math for example, I would say, ‘you are really good at math.’ That is not what I am hiring you for. I make teaching decisions to hire based on whether you can add value by teaching students to be good at math. Adding value to others is a different skillset. I would then ask them to teach me something about math in the moment.

Another important point is that coaching is a contact sport. Talking once a month might work in some contexts. Willemsen supports frequency and effectiveness. I agree. Without follow-up and follow-through coaching is malpractice. In my mind it is not about accountability. It is about responsibility. Do you do what you say you will do? If not, why be in a coaching relationship?

Here are the 7 Ps of closing the gap between doing good work and making a living:
• Position – Pick good clients. Think of your ‘dream’ client. What are they saying? What are they doing? Without knowing what you want, focus and direction becomes a major obstacle.
• Package – What are your offerings? Make it easy for your dream client to choose and therefore for you to deliver. What’s the attraction to be coached?
• Price – What is your fee? Do you have an hourly, monthly, and yearly rate? Keep it simple. Stop your hourly fee, you don’t sell potatoes. Will you negotiate? Having different rates for different people is a short-term solution with long-term problems. People will always find out you are reducing your rates for some and not reducing fees for others. I, Bill, do have a different rate for non-profits than profit making organizations.
• Process – Complexity is a killer. KISS theory (keep it simple stupid) fits here. What is the frequency, follow-up, and commitments the person being coached is willing to make?
• Proof – What does the company/CEO want? How will you know results are being accomplished? The more specific the results are defined, what you see or hear, the greater the chance of meeting the goal.
• Pair – Relationship first, relevancy second, and then look at improvement goals. Stop the monkey mind, considering so many options. Focus on one or two goals. If the person being coached can’t do one or two, they will never do five or six at the same time. Listen to what they tell you. What they say is usually most important.
• Promote – First, do good work. Consider publishing an article of what you, as a coach, are learning. Share your experiences with others in multiple arenas. Ask for referrals. Active word of mouth always works best for coaches.

Find your niche. Willemsen says, “riches in the niches.” There are usually opportunities in other professions. I, Bill, longtime educator, have found application to developing leaders in the food industry. Lateral thinking may be very helpful to building a business.

Pick good clients. Coaching is NOT psychotherapy. It is helping good people become better at what they do. If there are psychological, addiction, or a need for therapy, refer them to get help. Be clear about what coaching is not as well as what it is.

Keep adding value. One of the questions I ask many times at the end of a coaching session is, “what are the one, two, or three learnings from our conversation?” This is feedback for me, Bill. It helps me know what is speaking to them and it helps to know what is valuable to them and probably others.

What’s next?

Contact A.J. Willemsen, the author and a certified Stakeholder Centered Coach.
Name: Anne-Johan Willemsen
Order the book with a SCC discount at: (Discount code: SCC)

There are more specific steps presented in this book. So, if you are coaching and doing good work, and not receiving enough compensation, ‘From Poor Coach to Rich Coach’ will provide many answers for you.

READ. As Richard Sheridan, Menlo Innovation says, “Leaders are Readers.”

Bill, the author of this summary is a certified WHY.OS facilitator and a Stakeholder Centered Coach. See Bill’s website for more:

For further information on SCC coaching checkout SCC has a 95% success rate with business leaders.


Sheridan, Richard. (2018). Chief Joy Officer. New York: Portfolio/Penguin

Sinek, Simon. (2009). Start with Why. New York: Penguin.

Sommers, William & Zimmerman, Diane. (2009). 9 Professional Conversations.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin