Conditional vs. Unconditional Leadership

Conditional leadership means I’m a leader if you follow, if you do what I want, if you treat me right, if it’s fair, if it’s fun, if it’s easy, if it feels like it should.

A conditional leader can only lead when the conditions are right, sort of like a fair weather fan.

An unconditional leader chooses to stand as a leader, chooses to stand in a place of leadership, chooses to be their commitment in the face of all conditions. It doesn’t mean the conditions don’t impact them, they certainly do. Conditions can motivate, enrage, confuse, frustrate, inspire, distract, and compel an unconditional leader, but the unconditional leader keeps returning to the place they look from.

It reminds me of my favorite GB Shaw quote:

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

I would love for you to consider what your stand is as a leader? What is your vision for how you interact with the board? What is your vision for the possibility of that relationship? How might you start being that? What would it look like to be that in the face of them showing up exactly how you expect them to show up?

You Don’t Have To Be An Expert To Be A Great Coach

How can I help someone build a multi-million dollar business if I’ve never done it?
How can I help someone with their law firm if I’m not a lawyer?
How can I help someone have a dope relationship if I’m still single?

I hear this kind of thing a lot from coaches. I get it. I mean I wouldn’t want to learn how to cook from someone who couldn’t make toast. I wouldn’t want to learn guitar from someone who can’t play basic chords.

But coaching isn’t like cooking or guitar.

To be a good cook you need to do cooking. Because you have to learn the nuances of making food in order to teach it to someone else.

With coaching you’re not teaching someone a skill. You’re using a totally different set of skills to help them improve their skills.

Skills like:
– Observation
– Curiosity
– Contextualization
– Empathy
– Analysis

Just to name a few.

But even more important than those skills… you’re being someone for your client.

You’re being a stand for possibility. Which just means you choose to stand in a place where you can see that so much more is possible than your client realizes.

In the movie, a Star is Born the famous singer sees a young singer with talent performing somewhere and takes an interest in them. The famous singer is standing in possibility. They see that so much more is possible for this young singer then they even realize. More so, they have the ability to draw it out of them.


And you don’t need to be a famous singer to do it.

What you need is an intimate understanding of possibility. What you need is an experience of someone standing for your possibility.

What you need is practice in the art of being with someone, finding out what they want, figuring out what’s in the way, and supporting them to take on the steps and beliefs. It’s a whole different set of skills than building a million dollar business or running a law firm.

And it’s why I coached a CFO at Nokia.
A CEO of a digital marketing agency in Peru.
A writer with work in the NYTimes
without ever doing ANY of these things.

The skill they needed to do their job was irrelevant to the skills I needed.
I never let a client’s desire for something I can’t do, stand in the way of what I see as possible for them.

If you’re wondering how you can help these people.
The deeply felt confidence you get when you realize you can choose to stand for anybody’s life, and possibility is irreplaceable.​


PS The Spring Dojo is already over half full. If you want one of the five remaining slots. Please let us know. It’s the ONLY dojo we’re running in 2021 right now.

Is This The Year?

You’ll become the coach you dreamed of . . . making a living, doing the work, hiring that coach you admire?

You’ll become the leader you pretend to be . . . empowering others, stepping outside the pocket and taking a risk, putting yourself on the hook?

You’ll become responsible for not just who you want to be, but who you are right now, fame and flaws?

It may be and it might not . . .

But one thing is for sure, it won’t happen through grand pronouncements or resolutions. It won’t happen because you made a big post about it on JAN 1.

It will happen through a thousand little choices, a thousand little practices. And perhaps the most important practice of noticing when you’re not being it, without shame, without judgment, without avoidance, and then choosing to return.

Performance is NOT morality.

Failure is not a sin. It’s not even that significant.

I wish for you a year of practice, more than victory, or success, or millions of dollars, or followers.Because there is no separation between Practice and Mastery. Practice and Success. Practice and Liberation.

Practice is mastery, success, and liberation.

It’s all the same.

May you practice well.

And thank you in advance for supporting my practice and very often without even knowing it, for being my practice as well.


The Origin Story of the Dojo

I remember the second coaching intensive I ever attended. I was full of myself. I had just crossed the six-figure threshold. I was a member of the high-level mastermind everyone wanted to be a part of. I had expensive new shoes. 

And I noticed something. There were a lot of coaches around me who didn’t feel that way. Coaches who had been coaching for a long time, years more than me, and yet they were stuck. I couldn’t figure it out. Part of me thought well I’m just hot shit that’s why I’m doing so well, but another part of me knew that wasn’t true. I knew I was good but I didn’t think it’s because I was super good, I figured there had to be a reason, but I couldn’t figure out why. 

Until we did speed coaching. 

We sat in opposite rows, we coached, one row got up, moved down one seat, and we coached again. It took me three sessions to realize that most of the coaches were not great. I mean they were fine. They asked interesting questions, they leaned forward with a tentative eager look, but beyond that, there wasn’t much. 

Each session felt formulaic, heavy, constructed, and boring. There were a few highlights but mostly I was blown away that the majority of the coaching I experienced was at best, mediocre. Yes, I was being cocky. Yes, I had absurdly high expectations (especially then). Yes, I know fast coaching isn’t the same. But the impact was the same and I had my answer. 

The reason why most coaches were struggling was because their coaching was just fine. Not bad, not great, but fine. 

And I started to wonder how I could fix it. 

After all, the enrollment techniques most of us were using—sometimes called relationship selling or the prosperous coach method—put A LOT of attention on your coaching. 

The idea was that you connect with people, find an opening, invite them to experience coaching, and then sell them based on that experience. Which works great if you 1) have a super charming personality and/or 2) you create a really incredible coaching experience. 

If you don’t do either your results will end up being as mediocre as your coaching. 

So I started to think about how I could help people get better.


The Motivation of Debt

A few months later I formed a small mastermind group focused on retiring debt. The 3 of us all had built up a fair amount of credit card debt investing in various programs. So we started to meet on a monthly basis to talk about our money, how we spent it, and what we might do to earn our way out of the hole we had found ourselves in. 

I noticed that I was mostly focusing on signing one-on-one clients, which was fine, but I was only paying off debt slowly. I wanted to pay off my debt fast. So I came up with the idea to build a program, something that would allow me to pay off a big chunk of debt all at once. 

I thought about creating something for coaches. A short group program that would have a big impact on them. I wanted to help coaches get better. I wanted to give coaches a taste of what I had experienced at the monastery, but I wasn’t sure how. 

I shared the idea with the group and they liked it. My partner at the time, Christina (who was also a member of the group) said she’d be down to collaborate with me on it. 

At first I just wanted to have people practice coaching. I also wanted them to meditate daily and learn to study their own mind while simply sitting. It wasn’t much more than that. Just meditation and practice. 

But Christina pushed me to create more structure. So we started talking about what had helped us become better coaches. We remembered some of our conversations where we had traded sessions and spent a long time afterwards talking about what did and didn’t work in the sessions. 

We shared feedback with one another and that feedback, which was honest, kind, and curious helped us so much. 

I had encouraged her to be more forceful, to tell clients that she wanted to work with them, and to add more structure to her sessions. She had invited me to be more playful and to bring more joy and laughter into my sessions which could often feel very heavy and serious. 

This feedback grew over time and became more precise as we got to know each other’s coaching. 

We considered how we could combine this element with my monastic experience. Soon we were riffing on ideas. We talked about the icons of Zen and which icons invoked this kind of practice. That was when we started talking about Samurai and how they were both rooted in the zen tradition while also focused on improving their skills in community. 

It became the seed of what would become the Samurai Coaching Dojo


Happily Ever After? 

Of course that’s not the end of the story. Christina and I spent years refining the dojo. We learned a lot each time we ran it. Christina left the dojo, and Matt came on as a Sensei.  Matt and I have continued that tradition of simplifying and clarifying the message. Finding new ways to express this simple idea that it’s through practice and feedback that mastery is created. 

But it all started with a simple observation and intention to help coaches while also helping myself. 

I still believe deeply in the core of what the dojo is: an idea rooted in Zen. In Zen they call sitting Zazen. It’s often called practice realization because they don’t see any difference. Practice is enlightenment, enlightenment is practice. 

And that’s what I’ve always tried to keep at the center of the dojo. It’s not about the teachers, or the other students, or the model of coaching, or the tools and techniques. It’s about the practice. 

When you engage in the wholehearted practice of coaching, you can’t help but get better. You can’t help but feel more confident and deep. The trick is the wholehearted part. 

Most things simply engage your mind, but I’ve always tried to make sure the dojo engages every part of each coach that steps inside it. I haven’t always succeeded, but the core of the mission feels just, if not more, important than it ever has been. 

So that’s the origin of the dojo and that’s why I keep choosing to do it every year. 


10 Things Wrong With Your Coaching Website

So you want to know how good your coaching website is? 

Well I ‘m here to tell you it’s fine. Not great, not horrible, but fine. 

Websites are like personalities, everyone has one, but most of them are unremarkable. And that’s ok. You need one. Or you think you need one. 

You want your website to portray a vaguely professional image. 

You want to make it look like you’re a little (or alot) more successful than you are. 

You want it to not be embarrassing. 

And so your website mostly serves that purpose. It achieves a vague sense of mediocrity and a basic sense of style. 

Your website is like a blue oxford button-down. 
Your website is a polyester dress from H&M
Your website is the LL Bean catalog from 1997, but with worse graphic design. 

And I don’t want to freak you out because that’s fine, but the truth is it could be better. 

After doing a review of some websites for some coaches I know I noticed that most coaches websites are bad in the same way and so I’m going to break down what’s wrong with your coaching website  in simple clear so that you can make yours better. 


1) You’ve got too many calls to action 

Each page is like an invitation. So imagine receiving your website like an invite to a party. Where would you go? 

Are you clear on the address of the event? The time? What about the attire or whether there will be food or not? 

When I look at most coaches webpages, their sites ask you to do several things at once Sign up for an e-book, book a call, check out my three different services (which is really just coaching vaguely packaged in three different ways) 

You want each page to be a clear invitation. An invitation that makes sense to why the person is on your page. Not many people are going to book a call right after they meet you. But they might sign up for your mailing list, or download a free resource. If you really just want them to book a call, cool. 

But make the invite interesting…

What’s the call about? 
What will they get?
What questions do they have? 
How might you answer them?

One page, one call to action. 

2) Your ‘stock’ images are also overused by everyone else on the internet –

Look I get it. I like Unsplash too. If you look at my Facebook or blog, you’ll find images other people have used. It’s not ideal but it happens. Enough people searching the same archive with similarish tastes are going to produce a similarish result. 

But for your website it helps if you try and find images that are truly unique.  Basically you want stock photos that don’t look stock. 

My advice is to start by branching out – there are other photo sites on the internet you can check out. You can even reach out to photographers and ask them about using their images. 

Next, search deeper – If you want a forest vibe for your site, don’t select the first image that pops up. Dig deeper into the archive you’re searching. Find something compelling and interesting. Challenge yourself. 

It’s not something to spend a ton of time on, but it is something to pay attention to. 


3) You have too many pages for people to click on –

Most coaches really need 3-4 pages on their site. A welcome page, an about page, a blog page, and a ‘work with me’ page. 

Each page should have its own purpose and a specific call to action. 

Your welcome page should be all about letting people know what you and your site are about and maybe inviting them to get more engaged with you, either by downloading something or signing up to your list. 

Your about page should be about you, your story, how you found your way to becoming a coach, and why you keep doing it. 

Your blog page should be about your writing and art. It might direct people to the best posts you have or it might just be a roll of your blogs. 

Do you need more pages than this? No, in fact, you could probably have less. 

So many coaches have lots and lots of pages all in an attempt to make themselves look like their businesses are bigger than they are. This probably isn’t necessary and generally may detract from the purpose of your site. 

The purpose is to help people answer the key questions they have when coming to it. 

Is this for me? 
Can you help me? 
Do I want to learn more? 

4) You offer a ‘free consultation’ without giving any context for that consultation –

For some people wandering up to or messaging strangers and asking them if they’d like to have sex might work. But from what I’ve heard from women who are approached this way, the results aren’t great. 

The reason this doesn’t work is that the invitation to get intimate doesn’t have any context or enrollment. And yet most coaching websites have a sort of immediate offer of intimacy.  

Speak with me! is a common theme. You know that your coaching is your best asset, but it’s a big leap from ‘I just came to your website’ to ‘Sign up to share your deepest fears and dreams with me’ 

Which is why it’s important that you create some context and a reason for them to get on a call. What will happen on the call? What will they get? What problem is it going to solve for them? 

If your offer is clear, then go ahead and make it. If not, you’re likely to get into trouble. 

In general, I think email is a better way to offer a consultation. Get in people’s inbox, build value, offer something worth paying for, establish some credibility, and THEN offer a free call. 

But if you have to offer it on your site, make sure you’re giving people a reason to say yes, in just the same way you might if you met them at a networking event. Or if you were trying to pick them up at a bar.


5) You don’t take any risks –

The goal of your website should not be to just have it look ‘adequate’ or ‘professional’ it should express a bit of who you are. 

If you try to front like you’re a well established business you’ll likely end up looking boring. Instead, be willing to take a risk and express something different. 

Tell people what you are about. Share a personal story 


6) Your testimonials don’t have pictures – 

Words are great, pictures are better. It’s a simple thing to add and it makes a big difference. When I can see the people who you have worked with, it helps me know they are real people. 

7) You try to add too much information –

This happens because you want to establish authority, you want your site to seem legit, so you add a lot of information. You don’t need to. 

Keep it simple, less is more. 

Ask yourself:

What is it for? 
Why is someone on your site? 
What do they need to know? 
What step or action do you want them to take? 

Provide just enough information for this and then cut everything extra out. 

Importantly though, publish your crappy website first and then edit down. 


8) You spend too much time on graphics and not enough on copy –

The most important design element on your website are your words. Written, spoken, or video.. It’s all about your words. 

Keep the graphics simple, incredibly simple, and let the words shine. 

Spend 80% of your time on the words you use and 20% on the graphics or pictures. 

Not that pictures don’t matter, they totally do (see #2). 

People connect with what they read about you and the words invite them deeper. So use your words to deepen the connection. Use your words to create possibility. Use your words to enroll them. 



9) You don’t tell your own story in a compelling way –

Your story is interesting. I know you don’t think it is, but it is. People want to know about you, they want to know how you became a coach, they want to know about the challenges you’ve faced, they want to know about what you care about. 

Assume your story is interesting and tell it like that. If you’re not sure how, ask a good friend to tell your story and write it down or tell it to someone you trust and have them record it. 

Your story is part of what people hire when they hire you. Don’t worry about your lack of experience or that you haven’t worked as a fortune 500 CEO. Tell your story! It will resonate with your people. 

Oh and don’t just tell your story once, find a way to tell it over and over again.


10) Your URL is too long –

I know that soulcoach as a URL is taken, I know that is taken. Finding a good URL is hard, but in general if you want people to come to your site it’s better to come up with a short name. One that’s easy to remember. 

So many times I try to go to a coach’s site and I type in the name and get it wrong. I try again. Wrong again. I go to their email and finally click on the link. 

This is something you should test, call someone up and ask them to go to your URL, tell them what it is and ask them how it went for them if they got it wrong your URL is too long or confusing. 

It’s not the end of the world if this happens, but it’s important.. 

The best URLs are short, simple, and easy to type in. 

I even think samuraicoachingdojo is too long and have plans to shorten it to coachingdojo when we do our next redesign. 

A URL should be easy for the user first and exactly what you want it to say second. I get that this can be hard to do , but it’s worth putting some time into. And of course if you need to start with your name and go from there. You can always change your URL later.


The Bottom Line

Ok ok I know you probably hate your site now. Interestingly enough I don’t love my site either. I saw a BUNCH of these problems on my site. 

And my business is doing just fine. 

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t publish your site. It doesn’t mean you should spend years on it. Take a weekend and get your site up. Try to work on the things I listed above over time, you don’t need to spend hours making a site, keep it simple. 

While these things will help your site appeal to your customers, getting into conversations with people matters WAY more. 

Everything I listed above are the things that annoy me about coaching websites, but none of them are fatal. Mostly you should enjoy the process of creating your site. You should try not to take yourself too seriously and you should speak from your heart. 

If you do that, you’ll probably be ok. And of course I hope these suggestions help you create a site that is simple and shows people an aspect of your heart. 


Are You Committed or Defaulting?

We all default to things: fear, insecurity, or old ways of being. These all naturally arise in us and will likely continue to do so throughout our lives. Most people operate from default, from the past, or from their dysfunction most of the time. The goal is not to erase your default mode, but rather to operate from it as little as possible. 

The first part of this is to notice when you’re operating from default mode. Once you notice it, you should then learn to see it clearly, to forgive yourself for coming from that place, to be authentic about where you’re being inauthentic, to clean up any impact, and to get back into leadership. 

Leadership is simply an act of choosing to be responsible and to bring something into reality. Responsible leadership is responsibility for both your own actions and the actions of others as you move along that path. 

It begins with you getting clear on what you’re creating, and then declaring that you will create that. Then, being with and choosing what shows up on the way to creating it. 

Your default is part of what shows up. It’s normal, natural, and incredibly powerful. 

The choice for you is moment to moment, default or commitment. 


You don’t owe anyone an explanation:

Explanations are great, they help people learn, help us feel heard, and create community and connection, but you aren’t owed explanations. Our mind likes them because they present an understandable world to us, but the world is mysterious and your job isn’t to save people from that. 

If you think someone is open to hearing you, or if you’re ok offering an explanation knowing it may not be heard, you can offer an explanation but you don’t owe it to anyone. 

It’s an offering of love when done well. It’s a defense of a choice or a false sense of security when done to placate or take care of others. 



  • Conditions Of Satisfaction for relationship
  • Choose one place where you ended to draw a boundary and consider doing it without an explanation. 

What You’re Worth as a Coach

We tend to think about worth in relationship to what we do for people.

Beyonce deserves to make a ton of money because of the singing and performing she does. I can charge a thousand dollars per hour because of the kind of coaching I do. A brilliant programmer deserves to make $100k+ a year because of the code he writes.

But looking at worth as a function of the value of our doing isn’t truthful.

  • If you have children how much would you pay in ransom to get them back from a kidnapper? Assuming you were confident they’d be returned to you.
  • If your partner needed a life-saving procedure and it cost $50k or $100k what lengths might you go to get that money?
  • And yet if you look simply at what the people closest to you actually do, it’s often very simple.
  • Children draw crayon drawings, they snuggle, they play.
  • Your partner talks to you about your day, maybe cooks a meal or two, and gives you affection.

What makes them special isn’t what they do.

What makes them special is who they are for you.

Your children are the only people who can BE your children. If I came over and drew with crayons for you it wouldn’t be the same.

Your partner is the only person who can BE your partner for you. You won’t feel the same level of depth with a house cleaning service or assistant even if they do a better job cleaning your home and helping you manage your life.

It’s who we are for people that matter most. So much so that it’s almost impossible to replace.

Yet coaches forget this all the time.

As a coach, you live in fear that you won’t do a good job coaching your clients. How could you charge twice as much without doing twice as much?

What matters is who you are for people.

As a coach who you are for people is possibility, love, and a stand for their greatness. 90% of what you do, 90% of the magic is being this for other people. 10% is what you do as you be that.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking your greatest value is in what you do.

Your real value is who you are for other people.

Learn to BE great for them.

Am I Compromising Too Much?

From time to time every coach gets caught in one of three binds. In some ways, these binds are completely made up by us, in another way they align with the way the humans have always created the world. 

You can’t get free of these binds really, they will show up in one form or another as long as you’re a coach and have a business. But by understanding them and learning to see them you can choose how you want to be with them, rather than secretly being trapped by them. 

Over the next three posts, I’m going to break down the three binds and share how you can notice how you’re caught. 

If you’d like to see an example of how I work with these binds you can watch the first episode of Coaching Dojo Live – where I coach the amazing  Sarah Mastriani-Levi


Bind 1 – Compromise VS Stand

The world is always asking us to compromise, to be realistic, to lower our standards, to give in and give up. Anytime you take a stand you immediately invite polarization, criticism, fear, admiration, and resistance. 

As a coach, this shows up in a bunch of places: your fees, the kinds of clients you work with, even your investments in programs or coaches. 

But the first place it usually arises if with your fee. There’s often a sense for coaches that if they keep their fees low, they will sign more clients. And keeping your fees low or lowering them will often create some results. 

Every one of your clients has a context of affordability they live into. And if you lower your fees you get closer to the level they feel ‘comfortable’ with. You also have a context of worth you live into and the lower your fees are the easier it is for you to believe that you’re offering something of value to the world. 

*The problem is that the more you compromise the more you start to believe compromise is the answer.* 

So much so that you begin to ignore what you need to survive. 

You miss the opportunity to provide your clients with a real barrier to commitment that would have they confront their fears, self-doubt, and resistance. Basically, all the things they need in order to actually change their lives and show up to life differently.

This is why compromise is a dead-end road that leads nowhere and why coaches that do it so often either feel a sense of constant dissatisfaction or spiritual bypass as they struggle to pay their rent. Maybe, after all, you were just made to struggle? How heroic? 



The escape out of this bind is to simply take a stand. To set your rates and learn how to create the commitment required to get there. To be clear on the clients you will and won’t work with and be with the breakdown of not knowing anyone like that. 

The irony of this is, that when you do take a stand, it’s easy to think standing is the answer and become rigid and arrogant. You’re WORTH your fee, your clients are saying no because they don’t BELIEVE in themselves enough. 

So again you find yourself in the bind. The escape is to soften, to let go of the need to stand as an answer, and to allow yourself to be more flexible and compromise from time to time. 


Neither end of this bind is the answer. The key is to notice where you are and try to not get stuck at either end. 

If you’re a new coach you likely need the medicine of stand. If you’re an experienced coach you may need the medicine of compromise. Both have something to offer. 

Again slow down and let go of the idea that either compromise or stand will solve all of your problems. If you tend to compromise learn to stand, if you feel rigid and arrogant learn to soften. 

And if you need help, let me know. I’ve worked with dozens of coaches with these binds and helped them find something that worked for them. 

The next bind is Selfish VS Generous keep an eye out for that post soon. 

You’re BAD At Hiring Coaches

Here’s what you want when you hire a coach:

  • You want to hire the best coach you can possibly hire. 
  • You don’t want them to cost TOO much
  • You want them to help you become more than you imagined. 
  • You want to be able to afford to work with them and be happy to refer them. 
  • It wouldn’t hurt
  • You want them to be inspiring

And yet, most coaches feel completely lost when it comes to finding a good coach to work with. They poke and prod, they guess around, they hire a celebrity (and are usually disappointed) they hire someone affordable (and you’re highly underwhelmed).


How do you avoid this? How do you hire a good coach you ‘afford’ that helps you get to where you want to go? 


It’s one of the most important and most challenging things you can do as a coach.


Let’s look at a few important ideas.

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3 Questions To Ask This Year For Successful Professional Growth

Each year when we launch the dojo, I talk to dozens of coaches with one question on their mind:


What do I need to invest in and commit to growing professionally, become successful, and really make it as a coach? 


And each time I have that conversation, I can feel the pain and confusion in them as they try to choose. The amount of time most coaches spend trying to select the RIGHT program or coach is staggering because . . . Read more