Earlier this year I decided to invest $100,000 to hire a legit CEO coach.
I believe that this $100,000 investment is going to make me more than $8M back… that’s an 80x return!
In this post, I summarize everything I’ve learned from spending $100,000 on a business coach, so you don’t have to.
(But if you want to, you can hire the same business coach I hired: Ken Coleman).
I Spent $100,000 On A Business Coach So You Don’t Have To
How does spending $100,000 on a business coach even make sense?
Hypothetically, let’s say AppSumo is going to be making around $80 to $90 million this year, top line.
That’s pretty damn good.
But let’s say that Ken works with me on how to improve the leadership, or hire better, or on structuring and planning more efficiently — and his changes help make us an extra 10% more money.
10% of $80 million = $8 million dollars.
How much would you pay to have $8 million more dollars?
The $100,000 seems more than fine, right?
Who Is My Business Coach?
So who is this business guru I’m paying all this money to?
I’m sure you’re thinking that he’s got a huge YouTube channel, and he sells a Shopify dropshipping course, right?
Nope. Not this guy.
He’s been a chairman and wisdom in Silicon Valley for the past 40 years, and that’s what I was looking for. Whenever I want to do something, I look to the people who have done it before. So when I’m going through new experiences and things are brand new to me, it’s not a new experience for Ken and he can help guide me through it.
It’s the same reason why I make content for all y’all. I’ve been in the same place before that a lot of you are probably in now, and I can help guide you through what you’re going through.
All right, now let’s get into some of the million dollar lessons that Ken has taught me.
Business Coach Lesson #1: Coach Teammates for Excellence
One of the most important things as a CEO is how are you keeping your team motivated?
Especially nowadays. There are so many options for people to work in a bunch of other companies. So if you’re de-motivating people and you’re not inspiring people, they can easily go find another company at the snap of a finger.
For example, a while ago in one of our YouTube channel team meetings, I was telling Jeremy, the channel producer, that I didn’t like the video titles, I didn’t like the thumbnails, and I didn’t like all the videos that we were making.
And later that day, Jeremy messaged me and said, “Hey, that was pretty de-motivating what you just told me.” And so that’s something I’ve talked about with Ken — as I’m approaching the situation, how am I actually making the other person feel?
And yeah, you’re probably thinking that’s super obvious.
But a lot of times if there’s a problem or something’s not going well, I can be kind of negative and just say things like, “That sucks. I don’t like it.”
And you might not be the same… But maybe you are.
And so one of the things that I’ve talked about with Ken is, how are you coaching up or coaching out?
That’s not excusing underperformance. But instead, if something isn’t going well, how are you facilitating a solution?
One of the phrases that we talk about is…
What is my dream scenario?
Using that phrase helps me define what I’m looking for in that moment, so I can figure out which solution I ultimately want to get to.
And the other question that frames situations in a helpful way for me when something’s not going well is, what’s the teachable moment?
For example, if you’re working with another person and they mess up or could have handled something differently, let them know what the teachable moment is. Lead them through it: “Here’s my thought process, next time I think you could have worked it through this way…”
And if they’re having trouble accomplishing something, you could ask them, “What’s getting in the way of your accomplishing X? I’ll help you solve it.”
Business Coach Lesson #2: Celebrate Wins But Keep Pushing
We had a leadership summit a few weeks ago, and the feedback that I got from the team was that I gave disappointed dad vibes.
(I’m not a dad).
It’s true though — one of my phrases is kind of like the Drake song, “Okay, next. Okay, next.” so I’m always wondering what the next thing is, and I don’t really recognize all the things we’ve accomplished.
But you have to have a balance of looking at the positives to help people feel appreciated. Especially when you get to higher levels of success in any career. It’s not always about the money at that point — it can just be about acknowledgment.
So you need to make sure that you’re telling people they’re doing great and that you appreciate the things they do, but at the same time, let them know some of the ways that they can improve on things.
One of the CEOs Ken worked with before was a CEO of a huge bank and during 2008, it was one of the only banks that didn’t lose money. And the way that CEO was able to keep things balanced was by celebrating the wins but still pushing for excellence.
So as I’m working on AppSumo, it’s not about giving rah-rah BS, it’s about saying, “Hey, I really appreciate these things that you’re doing, genuinely — and here are some things that I’d like us to work on.”
Business Coach Lesson #3: Optimize Time in Meetings
When I worked at Intel, there were literally meetings from 9 am to 5 p, and it was the worst.
So in a lot of my talks with Ken, we work backward from the outcomes that we’re trying to have.
Think about it this way: If you have a meeting with 10 people, what’s the hourly cost of all those people and the opportunity cost of the other things they could be doing?
Maybe it seems silly, but we talk a lot about time in our conversations. We cover things like:
- What are you doing in the meeting?
- What did you try to get out of the meeting?
- What was the structure of the meeting?
- How often do you have the meeting?
The lesson for you is, how is your calendar looking?
When you’re having a meeting, what’s the context? What’s the goal? And ask yourself that right at the beginning of your meetings. Or what we do is we start our meetings by outlining that, and it sets the tone for the meeting.
So for example, if I have a meeting scheduled with the Sales team on Monday, we need to figure out ahead of time what the goal of that meeting is. Is there a reason why we need to get together or could we just send a few Slack messages about it?
If there is something we need to have a face-to-face conversation about, we need to focus on making that happen during the meeting.
Business Coach Lesson #4: Make Decisions Fast & Move On
I actually started talking with Ken before I came back as the CEO of AppSumo again, and one of the things he said was, “Noah, you have a guy, Ayman, who is phenomenal. He doesn’t want to be CEO anymore and you’re just kind of waiting around to find someone else. You need to make a decision and move forward.”
I know a lot of you aren’t going to like hearing this, but a lot of the time, we simply like being told what to do.
As the CEO, my job is pretty much to hire the people who make all the decisions, and only when the decision is not being made, do I make the call.
Most of the problems that happen in our life —especially in business — are because we’re being indecisive. And honestly, inaction is probably the worst decision you could be making. So it’s better to make the decision, have something happen, and then just fix it accordingly afterward.
Business Coach Lesson #5: Focus, Focus, Focus
As CEOs how should we spend our time?
One of the things that I talk about with Ken is that you can literally do whatever you want.
Me, you, Ken… All of us can do whatever we want.
So what are the areas that you are excellent in that you wanna spend a lot of time doing? For me, one of them is making YouTube videos talking about AppSumo, and sharing lessons with y’all?
I love it.
So I’m gonna spend more time doing it.
Secondly, I like marketing. So I spend time in the marketing world.
When it comes to running a business, what are the most important things in the business and how do you make sure it’s either getting done by someone else, or if it’s something that you want to be doing, you make sure YOU get it done?
And I think that’s another simple, obvious lesson.
But this is the valuable stuff.
Sometimes it’s not about finding some crazy secret in some book no one else has ever read. Sometimes, it’s about doing the obvious thing that you’re just not doing yet.
When it comes to your own business, there’s probably just a few things that really matter. Let’s just say, 5 things.
Maybe it’s hiring a person, maybe it’s a marketing activity, maybe it’s removing a person, maybe it’s trying out a new product line… Whatever it is, find the 5 things and then figure out if it’s being done by someone else, or if it’s an area that you really like to spend your time, then figure out how to spend more of your time in that area.
Business Coach Lesson #6: CEO Review Template
One of the things Ken also taught me is the CEO review template.
This means, at the end of each week, I review myself as the CEO.
I think a lot of times, we don’t actually measure ourselves. So I have key criteria that I rate myself by every single week:
- Was my behavior consistent?
- How did I do as a leader?
- Do I know my partners, our customers, and our team better or worse?
And then I talk about what the next things are that I want to work on to improve.
This makes self-reflection and self-awareness a habit, which is literally a superpower that you can keep improving over time.
Business Coach Lesson #7: Know The Destination
Where is the business going?
What is each person and their team’s responsibility, and how are they being held accountable for it?
And how do I back off and let them be their own CEOs, so they have the power to choose how to spend their day and I can spend mine in my zone of awesomeness.
So the number one lesson from this video…
Hiring coaches can be damn great.
But being able to invest in a coach and find someone that’s actually a great coach is super valuable. And try to find someone who’s actually good at coaching. Just because someone is the fittest person at the gym, doesn’t mean that they’re gonna be the best trainer — and the same thing works with business coaches.
Just because someone has been a great business person, doesn’t mean they’re going to be a great business coach. I would try to find a business coach who’s also done the things YOU want to do, just like I hired Ken who has been successfully running businesses in Silicon Valley for 40 years.