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Coaching Crimes No One Talks About (and a request)

I bit into the taco shell and everything fell out of the taco on to my plate… and my lap. I’m not known for being a graceful eater, but I had a good reason for losing my taco stuffings that day.

I sat across from one of my favorite clients at a little hole in the wall Mexican restaurant in Encinitas. He had published his book with me a few months back. I was in town and wanted to hear how things were going.

“Good,” he said. “Real good. I’m starting to get clear on how I want to use the book.”

“What?” I thought. This guy created a beta program BEFORE he wrote his book, and before he even wrote the book I knew he had sold the program to 10 clients for $1,000 each. What did he mean he was starting to get clear?

The way I work with clients is pretty simple. Before they start writing, I want them to make at least $10,000 from their books. So we craft a program that they will sell to readers of the book. It could be something they already have in place, or something new we put together based on what’s going in the book. Then, before their pen touches the paper, their job is to announce the coming book to everyone they can think of who might be served by it, and in the process find beta-testers for the program. This generally leads to a handful or two of clients and at least 10 grand. This way, I know they will always be able to use the book to get clients, and it helps to pay for the cost of my program.

Greg had followed the process with perfection. He had 10 clients signed up for his beta before he wrote the book and if I remember correctly, the beta clients came from one email to a small list of a couple hundred past clients, friends, and folks that had joined his newsletter.

“What do you mean you are just starting to get clear? Did something go wrong with the beta?” I asked.

I’d love to tell you he looked sheepish as he replied. But his demeanor didn’t change at all.

“Oh, I only did a couple classes of my beta and then I just stopped teaching it. It was really hard to get to the scheduled appointment times and I wasn’t sure what to say, so I just kind of ghosted,” he explained.

“UMMMM!!!!!!!!” My eyebrows furrowed…. “You just bailed? Did you give them all refunds?”

“Nah, they didn’t seem to care if I refunded them. I just told them when I decided to teach something again, I’d give it to them for free. They know I’m busy with the new baby.”

What. The. Actual. Fuck????

I watched the taco fixings spill from my mouth like an avalanche. My heart sunk and I half expected to hear police sirens.


Had I done this?

A lot of my teachings come from the book The Lean Start Up, by Eric Reis. The idea behind that book is to create a Minimally Viable Product and sell THAT as a beta before you get fancy and get everything polished. This is what I have taught hundreds of new authors and I watch client-after-client, develop a beta, find people to help, collect money, make a difference and fund their movement.

But this was different. This was criminal. I had taught this guy to sell a product before it was created but now he had run off with $10,000 and wasn’t following through.

It had, quite honestly, never occurred to me to teach my authors that if they took money from a client, they needed to follow through and deliver what they promised. It seemed obvious to me, I guess. I tell this story now, with great fervency, but I’m sharing it with you today for a specific reason.

If this sounds like something you would do — take people’s money and then ghost on them, not delivering what you promised — can you do me a favor and remove yourself from my list?

I have a new suite of products in development (and yes, a beta launch is coming soon) and I just can’t risk having people like Greg on my list or in any of my programs. My products and services are for people who are 100% committed to helping others and making a difference. Yes, part of how we do this includes charging others to help them get the results they are looking for. And yes, it can sound a lot like money coaching or business coaching. But money is an energetic tool for creating change – nothing more, nothing less. And when money is abused in the way the author abused it in this story, the chain reaction is detrimental far beyond this guy or his circle of clients.

The coaching and consulting industries are filled with mistrust. When one person commits a crime like this, it brings us all down. We have vital, live changing, planet saving work to do. There are people in tremendous pain, that together we can help. But as a community we must start to self-police this industry. If someone is making promises and not delivering, please call them out on it. If it’s one of your clients, cut them off.  And if you take an honest inventory of what you have promised versus what you have delivered, take action now and make those injustices right. Refund people or deliver on what you promised. And if you aren’t willing to do that, please, Kindly, get the hell off my list.

35 thoughts on “Coaching Crimes No One Talks About (and a request)”

  1. I loved this post Angela! I’m in 100% agreement with this and how money absolutely is energy. I’ve found myself wondering about some of the unethical coaches, coaching schools or people out there I’ve heard about that could bring blow back onto the coaching community. I’m glad you wrote this!

  2. I question the integrity of this guy and I certainly would never work with him or utilize his services. This was a total disregard for the people who helped him – they gave him a lift up, and he let them down!!!
    I want to help people, if only I could have the hand up this guy had. I don’t feel I can write, but I know I can and do help people mentally, emotionally, and spiritually through my Tarot and Inspirational Advising.
    For you, I am sorry – I can tell you are a woman of integrity and would never not deliver on your promise. We certainly are fortunate that the writers you have helped, have been honest and delivered on their promise. Let’s not let one bad (rotten) apple spoil the whole bunch.
    Thank you for posting this eye-opening post.

  3. Traci Bissonette

    Number one that’s Criminal. Number two how could he live with himself? He let himself down his fear stopped him his lack of Interest stopped him , his lack of follow-through, his lack of helping his client see through to the end of what their issues were. He’s not a coach he’s not prepared for this. That is just so sad to me that he didn’t see his end result and feel great about helping that client get to what he or she wanted. Something dropped out in him within him that created this massive detour. I feel that’s where many so-called business coaches stop., I’m so sorry this happened to you Angela. And even more importantly to his customers

  4. Wow, Dr. Angela, i hear, hear you. what you have written is is very powerful and i truly agree with you. I like your guts. So good to know there a people in this world who can speak their mind for the truth and stand for true life values. You are a voice of inspiration.

  5. Wow, Angela, that is a rocking story. I mean, it’s awful, but I am so pleased that you wrote it. I couldn’t agree more. When I read your story, I felt a big sense of relief, honestly. Yesterday a friend of mine was suggesting a homeopathic rememdy for feeling nervous when stepping in to teach a program. Happily, I told her “While I may still be growing and learning (and healing my blocks) around how to get clients in the door, once they are in front of me I am so excited to be used for the purpose for which I was designed, that I am golden. No nervousness at all and a clear sense of exactly what to do.” I will never ghost on a full program. It’s my biggest dream! So I will stay on your list!!

  6. Thank you for the great tale. I absolutely agree that we have a global responsibility to, not only change the world ourselves, but also to hold accountable people who “add to the bad,” so to speak. Especially when they do damage under the “hood of doing good.” (haha, I just made those sweet rhymes up). Thanks for your good work and inspiration!

  7. Shocking story, Angela. It’s curious how people can interpret our teachings in their own ways. We have to be really clear, and then even clearer. I never thought you would have had to clarify being ethical, but some people are just inclined toward immoral behavior.

  8. Dear Angela,
    Yes my dear, “What the actual fuck???!” I am so glad you are sharing this story because it is truly an example of someone falling out of integrity, and the impact of reach it can potentially have on those we serve.
    This issue falls under one of the first rule’s of spiritual law as a Teacher; your integrity must be intact and shadows exercised to the best of your ability, before serving other’s. These are the places where we have seen great teacher’s fall. No?

    But this is really what I wanted to say. I know your program work’s! It is in fact the only reason I am on your email address. It’s why I stayed. I did apply to the program and even got a second interview with the fabulous Cal! But somehow there was a block to the communication and I could not reply to him…. It’s okay though, because EVEN during all of the prep and discovery of not knowing exactly how your program worked yet, I learned where my own personal “block” was in receiving this opportunity to work with you. And it is an absolute must that it go before walking through the door with you. How powerful is that!?

    Your program is valuable, worthy in it’s structural system, and well quite honestly, my Angelic Team gave me the go!! Sweetie, it doesn’t get better than that.

    Many blessing darling you are in the right spot! Thank you for being there and thank you for the work you do!
    In gratitude,
    Lisa Kiehn

  9. In the Masters class I am just finishing there was a section on ethics that had to be discussed in each segment of our papers: cultural, ethical, and legal issues. I am grateful to be a part of Applied Behavior Analysis because the well-being of the client and individualized treatment are upper most in the work. I would not want to be a part of any less than rigorous adherence to loving others by treating them as I would like to be treated. Thank you for your timely article, Sincerely, Kathy

  10. I have found all industries, coaching included, to have an element of flakiness, but it truly comes down to people and how clear and conscious they are….I suppose you cant screen for that? Commitment to anything seems key, yet we assume it is in place, along with integrity.

    I have recently worked with one of your authors, and I can say it was not only a great book and program, the author had total integrity and fully embodied her teaching. I know that gives you the credibility you strive for in your business, so I understand your emotional response. You seem so passionate about your work.

    I think you are the new improved version of Hay House. I applaud you! Kudos, and one day soon when I get clear on what I want to commit to and write, I am quite sure I will work with you. After working for one of the largest publishers in the world ( Pearson Publishing ) I know excellence and you are rocking that in the free world.

    Thank you!

  11. I would give almost anything to be able to be in the spot he was it. I can’t believe that anyone would treat people that way. To be put in the position of those people, and be blown off like that would have had me so pissed.
    I may not have wanted my money back either, but I sure wouldn’t be going back for his service. I can also guarantee that a lot of people would know about it.
    He really takes away from all of those authors truly want to give of themselves.

  12. Constance E Clemons

    You MAY want to remove me from your list…but not because of any underlying immoral practices waiting for opportunity! In the story you were shocked by the revelation of his character! You expressed that by the written words, What. The. Actual. Fuck???? I mean, REALLY? Well…I said, What. The. ACTUAL. Heck???? about your language! It took me away from his behavior to wondering who YOU really are! If I really wanted “foul language” to invade my space set aside for morals or ethics in so-called “professionalism” I could easily tune in to the political arena! Needless to say, but I will…you were offended by him and I was offended by you! Wrongdoing is wrongdoing! Immorality is immorality! Unethical is unethical! That’s by-law…Universal! And on a softer note in humor and in layman’s terms…
    One size fits ALL!

    1. Thank you! I don’t make excuses or hide who I am – what you see, what you hear, is what you get! There’s an unsubscribe button at the bottom of the email you clicked to reach this link.

  13. Thanks for sharing this story, Dr. Angela. Pretty scary that ethics can run amok like they did with Greg in your story. The entire basis of your teachings (which echo my philosophy) is to give value.
    In fact, we want to give so much value that the clients are thrilled about what they paid for the services. I will never ghost on a full program. I will stay on your list.

    All the best,
    (Still shaking my head….)

  14. Hello Angela,
    Your intention has been to impact and inspire…people with the same intention will come to you, and when the time comes, to us too. One slipped through the cracks…maybe that day you had an off vibration day…. :-)….no matter, all is good and will be good.
    We will make you proud. (even if you no longer need this type of approval from anyone, it is always nice to know)
    And we will make ourselves proud and will become who WE REALLY ARE yet still don’t know and don’t believe we are now.
    *So be it*

  15. I love that you admit to being an “ungraceful eater!”. SO AM I! Sounds like that might be the first and last 10k he might make in the coaching process. Being your word and in integrity is pretty critical to long term results. Making a difference is not a flakey proposition in the grand scheme of things.

  16. Wow This is a day where there’s is accountability, thank you for your honesty. Integrity and the practice is very important this is very important to me.

  17. Keep me on your list. I may not be able to work with you, but everything you offer helps me (and I now serve as a member for a non-profit organization’s Speaker’s Bureau).

    As for ethics…you learn that at your mother’s knee. It’s called knowing right from wrong (I’m old school).

    I’m very sorry this happened. It is not a thought in your mind to check for integrity of character because you expect, and safely assume, that everyone you work with naturally operates truthfully….this person is the exception.

    Thank you for blessing us to bless everyone in our sphere of influence, Angela!

  18. Wow. Stunned. I would never have been able to take someone’s money and then *assume* they’d be ok with it. Integrity is important to me and I would’ve had to deliver. I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but still it does surprise me when people do that.

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