Dr. Alessandra Interviews ActionCOACH John Cottrell
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Transcript for Dr. Tony Alessandra Interviews John Cottrell
Tony Alessandra: Good morning! John, please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit more about your background, prior to becoming a business coach.
John Cottrell: Ok Tony, so I’m --consulting company. We used to travel all over the world, turning companies around. And prior to that I was an executive in a large corporation and I turned that around for that division anyway. The reason I joined ActionCOACH was because I was actually, told a lot of people -- and I was never at home. So, going in was all about doing what I love doing but doing it in a way that worked for me and my family.
John Cottrell: Ah, November 2007.
John Cottrell: Yeah. This must be my 9th.
Tony Alessandra: Your 9th. And of course your background in being a turnaround specialist with businesses I think dogtails that well to being a business coach, right?
John Cottrell: It does to a degree Tony, but what I learned from Brad fairly early on is that if you fix things you've done very, very quickly. And then you leave the client feeling slightly frustrated like, is that it? What you have to become is dream builder -- so we’re looking at the bigger picture but then --just--getting good in that kind of level -- bigger world out there
Tony Alessandra: So when you do your information gathering with a client or even a potential client, you really wanna find out where they’re at right now, what you’re doing right now and then what is possible.
John Cottrell: Yeah. I mean, it’s simple question. We’re having a coffee, I’d be saying to you, well, you know, if you and I were to meet in three year’s time what would happen--what would happen would be drinking champagne.
Tony Alessandra: Excellent. That’s a good question to determine what their expectations are, and with you. (Yeah.) Excellent.
John Cottrell: Some of those days you have to dig for the vision because some people feel they they shouldn’t want almost. Okay. If you had a vision, what would it be? I remember one prospect took me half an hour of questioning to get the vision out of him. (Hmm). It’s the --nice car, she would have done anything else. She like -- but both of them felt a bit guilty for wanting stuff.
John Cottrell: I’ve been--two things. I think ahm--community? And there are a lot of mechanisms within the community that encourage all kinds of positive behaviour. So we have monthly KPIs so everybody can have themselves against anybody else. So there’s a lot of competition out there. Every year the bar is raised (audio fluctuates) . Somebody’s done bigger, better positive somewhere else. There’s loads of evolution within the community and also the (audio breaking). You know Brad will always say keep going--I’ve seen a coach --in a conference and pick their brains. What’s good about ActionCOACH is (audio breaking) they’d do anything for beer (?). You know? And I’ve learned a great strategy from an old Australian coach that in a global conference in China, ah--that must have made me nearly a hundred thousand pounds in revenues. Just implementing the idea over a beer in a bar. And I’m not the only one, there’s loads of us in that conference.
Tony Alessandra: When you go to these meetings, these ActionCOACH meetings, and you’re rubbing shoulders, you know, over a beer or ah, you know, in the hallways. What have you discovered are the key traits that make a great business coach.
John Cottrell: I think the first one is courage. You gotta have the guts to ask the question to the prospect of a client in a right way that takes them to the place where they need to go. Whether they want to or don’t want to, where they need to go. You can’t chicken out at that. You have to be brave enough to do it. Not be alluding. You gotta do what’s best for them. I think the second thing is, you gotta be a quick study. You gotta be --situations well and quickly. So that you know what the next question is gonna be. How good a listener are you? Can you be present for the client? These things all really really count.
Tony Alessandra: Excellent. Ah, I know that ah--for many years, I have been a keynote speaker and I speak for you know, maybe a hundred times a year, to different companies, and different industries and I have to study them, be that quick study that you mentioned so that I can relate my material to a particular situations. Being a coach is doing exactly that.
John Cottrell: YEAH.
Tony Alessandra: Do you have any clients that ah--you know, for me there are certain clients which i’m not gonna mention that are types of clients that I would say, yes I wanna do those clients and others were, they called me for a speech, I sort of cringe--I don't wanna do it. But are there any clients that are your favorite types of clients? And if so, why?
John Cottrell: Right, so so, DISC profiling is probably the easiest way to categorize. D always, I get along very well with. They make decisions quickly, we actually have a relationship. We get on and they want to move quickly and that’s great. The Cs I find more difficult because they’re not so expressive. They want everything to be correct and they make decisions much more slowly. So those made it more hard work.
Tony Alessandra: I just -- so our listeners would know what you and I are talking about. It’s an assessment model called DISC. D-I-S-C. D stands for dominant behavior. The I for influence behaviour. The S for steady. And the later, amiable type behaviour. C for the more conscientious, analytical thinker style. What’s your style?
John Cottrell: Ahm, I hope, I’m relatively DISC (tony laughs). I’m going to see in order for me to understand something. I do have to be extremely--other people might say, “My god, he’s got a high C” “No i’m just applying myself to the problem at hand. My natural would be I.
Tony Alessandra: Your natural is I.
John Cottrell: Very loud, I star. I like to focus and join in and be on the people side of what happen.
Tony Alessandra: You know, what you’re mentioning with DISC is that, you’re a little bit of D, I, S, C, when you’re dealing with a lot of people, sometimes I jokingly call that a quite refined schizophrenic. But that’s not true. (John laughs) But what you’re doing is practicing behavioural adaptability which is really the mark of a great relationship with the person. You speak the language (audio overlaps).
John Cottrell: Yeah. That’s the aim. My wife might disagree with that. Well at least you have the right guy for this discussion, right Tony?
Tony Alessandra: That’s right. Let me ask you this: How do you use a systems like DISC, Motivators, Learnings Plus--how do you use that both in your business with your clients and conceivably in your prospecting first.
John Cottrell: So prospecting is all about to trying to match the prospect. Trying to be that person that can connect with them and understand what’s going on. I make a call private with this person. Can I work with this person. Can I help this person or not. So that’s relatively straightforward. And in a client environment, i use it extensively with teams. So I very rarely do an individual debrief out of all the -- in a team environment to get people talking. And I’ve had significant breakthroughs with suddenly, they would look at each other and they’d go, oh my goodness! Ah, isn’t it? And like, when they realize that what they might think other people’s problem are bad problems. Because they are making judgement about each other without understanding each other.
Tony Alessandra: So when you do this team--or group sessions, everybody in the session will have a DISC assessment--
John Cottrell: Absolutely.
Tony Alessandra: You have their scores, you know who’s who. (Yap.) Then how do you run the session? How long is the session? What do you do?
John Cottrell: They are typically 90 minutes. So let’s say from the coffee break in the morning to the lunch time would be a classic one (Ok). Introduce to them some of the basic concepts and we make fun of it. So we always have to have a joke about who has what character. Somebody, somewhere would say can you have a look at my profile. And then I’ll ask them questions. Based on what I've read. I use what I call the spider diagram in the beginning. And based on the spider diagram, I ask them questions. So I’ll take for example a secretary might show me hers and I’ll say, your desk is really tidy and she’ll smile. Other people laugh. How did you know that? And--and -and you know, we’ll just have fun with that. Always respect people-- but some of them would say--I don’t understand this. Some point rather, just ask him a couple of questions, well is this true? Is that true? Yes. Yes. So, Ok. this is not quite accurate. It’s not as I imagined as I supposed it is. And it’s always done with a bit of humor.
Tony Alessandra: Absolutely.
John Cottrell: People have this humor, they realize that they it’s not something that you keep secret. Because then a lot of people approach assessment as an idea there might be something wrong with them.
Tony/John: Actually that’s just true with all human beings. That it’s all ok --. I'm ok, you’re ok. Once they understand that, then they open up a bit to each other.
John Cottrell: Right. Then the barriers come down. The communication we can start dealing with whatever the challenges are that face the team. The DISC is a really really useful way of breaking down barriers.
Tony Alessandra: Excellent. I wish more people have the same approach (John laughs) . The DISC in team building, as you did. I don’t hear them as often as I should. Let me ask (audio breaking) a few aspect (John: sorry I miss that) Do you go out looking for new business? And if so, how do you find new clients?
John Cottrell: Most of mine in the past years have been what was known as referral? The one that arrived yesterday, the wife of a client and said, my husband has changed so much in the past year. I’ve gotta ask you to help me in my business. That was last night. Ah--today I bumped into someone who I had seen at a business lunch before --wanting to talk -- he still --someone will call it a gentle networking. I not a serial networker as I used to be but I found out I haven't got the right. --Like a little coach (audio fluctuating) --coaching and then I the target reached in group coaching had--the product-- big mistake.
Tony Alessandra: What types of -- when you’re talking to these referrals, these warm needs, let’s call them. What type of objections, if any, do they bring up about dealing with you in a coaching environment?
John Cottrell: That’s two very good questions. Ahm, I don’t know there’s any common traits there and I think some of that is because I became more flexible, than the wife could -- the first objection is to anticipate it and make you sure you work it with clients, with appropriate product at no point offering that one man band, who's turning over less than a hundred thousand US dollars a year, ahm ah, you know, a coach--one to one coaching product which is three thousand a month. It’s just I don't have the cash with. But if you’re a much much --group program, i’m offering a discount but they get in--their perception is much more of value. And that’s something they can sign up to. Sometimes with the smaller ones who insists they won’t want one, I’ll say, “Then well, what do you think is an appropriate price for you to pay? And now I tend to be more flexible with them and say, “Look, this is not my normal price, but you’re not a normal client. So you can have this program, you can have it at this price, but if I still up my capacity, you know, that’s gonna give me a problem. Because that is starting to cost me money, quote end quote. And that’s why. When I’ve taken on one last year, who is a long way away from me, he saw me speak. so I can’t afford one to one, I can’t do a group to two but I want you to be my coach. What can we do? And fortunately enough, in the year I’ve been, I’ve doubled his business and now put up his coaching fee.
Tony Alessandra: Very good.
John Cottrell: Yeah. I’m quite happy, I stand by the deliverable and be flexible to get that client on board.
Tony Alessandra: How many clients at one time?
John Cottrell: Ah, if you can see behind me, that is all the client files in the wood frame --if you have one, i’ll say it’s about 10 live ones at any one time. (tone sounded off) 15:09 Obviously the high C know the exact number, (laughter). I had to count on my fingers in front of me to tell you exactly how many.
Tony Alessandra: And how much time do you typically spend with your client during a given month?
John Cottrell: Ah-- I tend to work out a week because I have a repeating pattern. It’s about an hour a week.
Tony Alessandra: An hour a week, per client. So 24 hours--- What do you do with the rest of your time?
John Cottrell: So, some of that is travelling. So some of those clients are face to face and some of them are through skype, like what we were doing now. So other guy--there’s tuesday for me, generally speaking, always in office. So, 8am til 6pm just on skype. Ah, then some of them are travelling. Ahm and the rest of the time, I develop my own products. So, you know, I got a pile of stock here i’m studying. And i’m telling you about ActionCOACH at the end of business day bringing ahm, a group approach through national breakthrough. So I like developing product and service that how my mind works. So I do a lot of that. Ahm, and I do a lot of reading.
Tony Alessandra: Do you ever have any clients that you exclusively do the sort of screen to screen coaching?
John Cottrell: Ah, yeah.
Tony Alessandra: The face to face and do they pay a lesser price or the same?
John Cottrell: The same.
Tony Alessandra: ‘Cause obviously what you’re selling is value.
John Cottrell: Yeah. Value and insight. Not time.
Tony Alessandra: Right, exactly. Ah--one last question. And I won’t direct it specifically at you. Again, you rub shoulders with a lot of coaches and you talk to a lot of coaches, why do you think, a client stops doing business with a coach? What reasons do the clients give?
John Cottrell: I think that’s a number. Sometimes the client will outgrow the coach. So in other words, the client was able to get the coach’s comfort zone. Sometimes I have one of these where the clients achieve lifestyle beyond his wildest dreams and just want to get off the escalator and enjoy it. But for me i think you can go so much further with--you know what, I’ve realized where he was coming from particularly where his wife is coming from and this is a --that live in a small flat. And the only thing on his dream cap is his wife wanted a hammock in the garden. Because she didn’t have a garden. And getting them to the place where they have that hammock in the garden, was to them amazing. Sometimes I think you just have to let go sometimes you don't wanna go further. That’s ok. And then I think what else would be their reason? Ahm, sometimes relationships get stale. And those relationships that are not actually--nobody had done anything wrong, but it’s maybe time to change. And i think that’s one of the greatest strength about our community is, we can introduce our clients to another coach. And so you’ve done your stage me but we’re sort of losing our edge here, rather than jeopardize our relationship, why don’t you check a couple of my colleagues out? Maybe one of them maybe better able to help you at this stage you’re turning? (u-HM) I should have the guts to say that kind of conversation.
Tony Alessandra: Excellent. I see ah--sort of--at the end of our interview here, I really get the feeling that you help people truly accomplish their dreams. You --you talk to them about where they’re at right now and what they’re achieving right now. You allow them to see a picture of themselves or of their business or a near state of life down the road and you guide them through that process just like the person who got the garden with the hammock. So you know, it’s a great--you must feel really good about what you do with and for your clients.
John Cottrell: Yeah and I--I --I’ve created my own luck in a way. I took 12 of my clients to last years BEF. The Business Excellence Forum that we’ve run all over the world. When there were slightly--let’s not use the word, they did have few drinks, tongues have loosened up a bit -- about the difference of between me and other --let’s call them advisers or coaches. And they said, the only thing they really like is I focused on their life. The business was a tool to get them the life they wanted. (U-hmm) I appreciate it. It wasn’t just about the money.
Tony Alessandra: Now, I think that’s a very noble thing and it’s a great compliment to get that. That you go way beyond just business into that side of it. Well, John, we’re out of time right now, I wanna thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to talk with me and hope our paths crossed at future ActionCOACH meetings.
John Cottrell: Yeah, likewise Tony. Take care and thanks.
Tony Alessandra: Thank you