July 7, 2002

The MOBILE COACH

 
In response to many request from coaches who run a practice while on the move, I thought I might share a few things with people about how I manage this type of lifestyle, whether it is from my RV (35,000 miles in 48 states) last year, or from someone else's home (thanks to everyone for putting up with me) or from a foreign country (Europe and South America) in the past two years.  The essential key is a developmental one, hence why I'm choosing to contribute.
 
This developmental key is to create capability in your clients, whether it be in 3-way sessions with you and their manager, or coach--sometimes supporting them with their clients or conducting coaching sessions with clients in one place, coaches in another and their manager/CEO in another--anywhere in the world.  My most favorite connection so far has been to work with a person in London, on the phone with a person in Hong Kong, with a manager in NY and me being somewhere else, what a world this can be!
 
Being able to "funnel" all communications through a single source is important as well, hence you "move" your email behind the scenes to come to you, whether it be hotmail (international/internet cafes), dial-ups in different "bases,"  or different email addresses you use when traveling because of connection issues.  Your clients are unaware and your "movement" is transparent. 
 
The phone should always be answered by someone, voice mail merely postpones the work, having someone answer and triage is often the best thing.  I personally have all my phone calls converted into email messages that find me wherever I am.  I use a web-based fax service (www.efax.com) so I always have a fax machine wherever I go.
 
The other thing is IM or Instant Messenger.  My clients find me JIT through IM because to them, I'm mostly always around, even though around might mean somewhere else. 
 
Time zones can be difficult, but if you manage according to ONE ZONE, I use ET, notice I leave off the "S" or the "D," which bothers some, helps others, but keeps me from being corrected about whether I'm in D or S, or like Arizona, Bogota, CO or Indianapolis who don't recognize daylight savings--wow, it can get overwhelming!  I leave my computer clock set on ET, no matter where I am I use that time which at times causes to me wake up and sleep at odd times.<G>
 
I usually get my clients to call into a third-party number, so I can dial in from wherever I am and I don't have to give them the variety of phone numbers.  Cell phones don't work, unless you want to carry a dozen of them for the different locals around the world (Come to Nebraska & Wyoming and I'll show you why cell doesn't work well for coaching<G>), so I do conduct lots of coaching sessions from pay phones, truckstops and on occassion the cell phone or airplane phone (although it better be important!)  I am an advocate of short sessions (5-20 min), so phone expense is usually a small fixed cost, although my phone bills runs about $1000 a month for all of the above<g>.
 
I like to coach on email if possible and most of the people who work with me, don't mind--many as I said use IM, it is ideal in my view for my lifestyle of JIT and JIC (Just in Case).  I also don't "schedule" as many calls as I used to and I don't give out my cell phone or voice mail, unless you want to go through the service, which translate your need into an email.  I find I don't need a pda, or other gadgets because I can almost hook the laptop up anywhere and everything stays in one place without the need for synchronization, which I'm not good at and don't care to do--somehow the thought of doing things twice bugs me.<VBG>
 
Often , if my client can't reach me, they take the time to reflect on the problem or issue as we might together and of course, that's building capability.  I learned a long time ago, if people can't get a hold of you, they often make pretty good decisions--at least I have found this to be true if you train them to be independent rather than co-dependent on you.  Once they get it, they find using me JIT is far more efficient because problems don't have a schedule.  I admit, it does make me always on, however most of the time, I am always on anyway except when I'm chasing my girls around the country for one thing or another.  My wife travels with me, so she sees me "plenty."
 
The last big thing and the hardest to master is to set up automated-web-based systems (so you can operate them from an internet cafe in London or Singapore, or in the middle of the Andes) and create client "systems."
 
To give you an example of client systems:
 
  • Online orientation system
  • Online Assessment Center
  • Online Shopping cart , database
  • Several websites for "holding" generic info
  • Autoresponder Systems (I currently have about 100 different ones)
  • Several Client Pipelines (for generating continuous flow of clients)
  • ONLINE BANKING--this is a must!
  • 24/7 live answer
  • Online faxing
  • Online website management
I do use several VAs who are specialized in certain tasks! (Thanks to you all!).  Also, include a CPA, pre-paid legal, a good insurance person, but manage your own travel, it is costly if you don't, that is if you like to "change your mind a lot and adapt to cool opportunities."
 
So, let me summarize:
 
  1. Teach your clients to build capability and become independent--use you for feedback, sounding board, development, ideas.
  2. Funnel all communications into one--if possible--medium and work the medium, so you're not considered a flake--I resemble that at times.<G>
  3. Train your clients to use IM.
  4. Get some VAs who are good at working independently!
  5. Enjoy your life and work as you integrate it--at least I do.
 
Now, to couch this all, I'm far from perfect, I make lots of mistakes but my lifebusiness continues to be rich with opportunity and relationships around the world.  I'm not saying do it like I do it, but at least you know how I do it and perhaps if something I said helps you, then all the better.
 
Maybe this will help someone, if they/you have a question about something specific, drop me a note at coach@leadwise.com
 
mike
 
PS  Some people have said the INTERNET is the application, for a mobile coach, that is the key distinction.  BTW, if you haven't read Netocracy yet, it describes the future--possibly for coaching.
 

    Subscribe to http://www.coachingedge.com
  If you're considering coaching systems,  we can help!
   Standardized coaching model--experienced coaches
   Virtual & f2f coaching development and training
Integrated approaches @ www.b-coach.com or 877-901-COACH
Join http://www.1coachplus.com for KNOWLEDGE and DEVELOPMENT!