Stop Calling Yourself a Life Coach, Start Doing More Good Shit

I read a cheeky article last night (thanks Steve) that had me rolling. It made me think about something I’ve been wanting to write about for awhile now.

I can’t stand life coaches and lifestyle designers.

There, I said it. I even had a lengthy Facebook chat about this with a friend the other month. I told him, “I’m a coach and even I hate the term life coaching.”

I mean, c’mon. Isn’t the world already flooded with enough nut jobs claiming to have the magical solution to help you build a billion-dollar business overnight “for only 3 easy installments of $39.95″?

Dude, that’s so not how I roll.

And don’t even get me started on how much it pisses me off when I get introduced as a life coach or motivational speaker before I’m about to go on stage to give a kick ass presentation. Especially when I swear I specifically wrote “The Shin Kicking Life Spark” as my title in my bio.

I mean I know I’ve been told by folks who love my work that I resemble a “Midget-Sized Tony Robbins” or that I exude massive charisma disguised in an alter ego named “Dope-rah Winfrey.” Even though I’m somewhat flattered by that sentiment, I’m not okay with becoming the 75th rate edition of these fine thought leaders.

They’re already taken.

But I’m not hatin’. It’s kinda my fault.


Let’s digress for a minute. I’ll give you a quick back story.

Back in 2007, I really really really wanted to be a life coach. Like, really. It was a new concept to me. My coach at the time–who had left corporate sales to become a life coach herself–helped me out of one of the darkest times in my life when I was still married to a corporate sales job that was quickly killing my spirit every single day.

Less than one year after that revelation, I graduated from a coach certification training program that completely changed my life. And, in what seemed like an overnight effort, I became… drum roll please… a life coach.

I grew up Catholic so if you would have told me some day I would “find my calling,” I would have scoffed at you and maybe pointed a little behind your back. But the day I graduated from my coaching program, I truly understood what that expression really meant.

I finally knew my definite purpose in life.

But, like any other bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and very naive person new to their calling would do, I made some major epic fails right out of the gate. Such as vomiting all over everyone with this unspoken ideology that read “I’m a life coach and I’m going to fix all of you miserable, damaged souls… bow to me you filthy scoundrels!”

Or something to that effect, if my thoughts could talk.

I kept showing up that way for the first few months, actually quite possibly the first year or more, dismissing anyone who didn’t get my offering. Thinking  you know your shit when you’re really a novice can make it easy to get caught up in your own hype.

Biiiiiig mistake on my part!

When you don’t really know what you’re doing and you emulate other people who don’t really know what they’re doing either. What you end up with is the blind leading the blind. And the life coaching logorrhea gets passed from one naive coach to the next and the next.

It’s a shame really because the work life coaches and motivational speakers do (I can’t speak for lifestyle designers) for people is some really amazing shit.

But the stigma that has become attached to life coaching is often compared to satanic cults, which has made it problematic for many good coaches to get taken seriously these days.


As my purpose deepened and I evolved as a solopreneur, I realized later that it wasn’t really the title “life coach” that bothered me so much. I was more irked by the number of unqualified and inexperienced people out there who were building overnight businesses after completing a 3-hour class certifying them to sell pipe dreams to naive customers that were fond of taking short cuts.

If I am to be completely honest here, the primary reason I stopped calling myself a life coach is because I was selling myself short with that single title. If you’re doing other awesome-sauce work outside of coaching such as blogging, writing, giving inspirational talks, collaborating on philanthropic projects, or volunteering as board of directors of non-profit organizations, how can you sum that all up in “Hi, I’m a life coach”?

So, I made up my own job title.

It took me over two years to own “The Shin Kicking Life Spark” because at the time I put it out into the world, I was afraid I’d get rejected. What if my clients see me in action and think, “Pfft… she’s not really a shin kicking anything”?

To get even more personal here… I have abandonment issues.

My first coach cut me loose with little notice and left me to fend for myself when I was still a budding life coach. And I’m not just talking severing the professional relationship. She let our friendship fizzle to nothing with no explanation.

My second coach helped me write some of my greatest digital products at the time I was first learning how to create compelling content. Then one day out of the blue, he changed his last name and disappeared off the face of the earth. I didn’t realize there was anything wrong until one day I went to his Facebook profile and found out he had unfriended me.

This is not a sob story by any means.

When you divulge personal and vulnerable information to people you idolized and trusted who lifted you up to transcendent places during some paralyzing times in your life and they reject and abandon you more abruptly than some of your fickle exes, it’s hard not to take it personally and become skeptical.

And “how does that make you feel?” It made me very scared, and validly so. Afraid I’d turn into the kind of coach who would abandon or reject people the way my coaches did to me.


What happened was bittersweet. You learn to find some pretty amazing lessons in every experience, good and bad. If this shit had never gone down, I honestly believe I wouldn’t be the fuckin’ shin kicking life spark you see before you today.

As Phil Gerbyshak, my good friend, co-host and fellow coaching partner says,

No regrets, but no repeats.

There is no short cut to success. There is no magic pill to become an authority in that thing you want to be known for.

The secret to being an awesome coach, speaker, writer, entrepreneur, leader, lover of animals, changer of the world, or whatever label, is to simply be a good human being. Someone who actually gives a shit about people. It’s also your job to work damn hard at becoming really good at it.

If you have trouble wrapping your head around that massive idea, have a look-see at what I put together here just for you:


  • Over promise and under deliver.
  • Call yourself an expert in anything.
  • Use titles everyone else already uses.
  • Emulate people you want to be like.
  • Follow best practices.
  • Fake it till you make it.
  • Be a douche.


  1. Love yourself.

  2. Care about and help others.

  3. Show up. Every fuckin’ day.

  4. Do good whole-assed work when you do.

  5. Rinse and repeat this process until it becomes your daily religion and never stop doing this.

Stop calling yourself a life coach (or whatever label society has given you). Simply start doing more good shit and don’t stop until you own your corner of the world doing that good shit.


shin kicker

p.s. if you need help sniffing out your good shit, I know someone who puts out a kick ass private newsletter every Sunday and she might know a thing or two about shit :) ewwwww… (I’m 12, so what?!)


Photo credit: exfordy

Goodbye New Year’s Resolutions. Hello Clarity!

Yesterday I was asked, “What’s your New Year’s resolution?”

I answered, “Nothing, I don’t do resolutions.”

To which they replied, “Well, I’m going to start eating better and be nicer to people. You seriously don’t have any resolutions?”

I clarified myself, “I don’t believe in resolutions. They set us up for failure. I do themes. I choose 3 words to guide my year. Throughout the year, I live and work to honor that theme.”

I got the idea for this framework from my cousin Chris Brogan back in 2011. Since then, I’ve been calling on my spiritual adviser Theresa Reed to help me choose 3 words at the turn of each calendar year.

Every year, the results have been absolutely amazing! Check this out:

2012: 1. Forward 2. Compassion 3. Worry

My theme for 2012 was to keep moving forward despite the obstacles and pitfalls…to remember compassion when I am compelled to stay stuck in anger or resentment…and to embrace the worry-some side of me and transform it.

  • traveled to New York City and re-enacted my favorite scenes from the movie, Serendipity
  • moved away from my home of 20 years to move forward with my dreams
  • took my business 100% virtual and became location-independent
  • presented at the first annual gang violence prevention convention in Los Angeles
  • drove through 5 states on a road trip to camp in the Rocky Mountains with my son, sister and nephew
  • alienated from my adult son and spiraled into a depression
  • accepted the unconditional love and support I was receiving from my family whom I hadn’t lived near for over 20 years
  • chose compassion as my weapon to overcome the anxiety and worry

2013: 1. Hope 2. Service 3. Celebration

My theme for 2013 was to offer hope to others, be of service even when I believe I have nothing to give, and celebrate how far I’ve come along my journey.

  • launched a blog series to give alienated parents, family members and children a voice
  • launched a podcast to offer entrepreneurs hope, inspiration and support
  • collaborated with a project benefiting depression and suicide prevention
  • helped plan my parents’ golden anniversary party
  • helped raise $20,000 to build a windmill in Gambella in Kenya
  • helped raise $15,000 to build the world’s first philanthropic coffee roaster in Laos
  • found healing through writing and published over 52 essays on speaking up, standing out and changing your world
  • wrote a blog post about why I can’t stand life coaches that went viral and put my writing on the map
  • presented as the opening keynote speaker at Fashion Week
  • coached at a retreat for Hmong women in non-profit, working towards social change
  • traveled to Monterey Bay and celebrated my emotional, mental, physical and spiritual journey one year of being cut out of my son’s life

2014: 1. Brilliance 2. Luxury 3. Revolution

My theme for 2014 was about stepping into my brilliance and radiating with my gifts and craft, investing in myself even if it felt like a luxury item, and embracing the feminine leader in me as I built a new revolution.

  • wrote the entire manuscript for my first book in a single Saturday afternoon in January
  • hosted The Life and Times of a Remarkable Misfit book tour in Milwaukee
  • attended my first Misfit conference (changing the world with fellow creative entrepreneurs)
  • traveled to Portland to celebrate my sister’s 40th birthday
  • spoke on stage at my first Misfit conference in Fargo
  • launched the Brave Bear Revolution
  • published my first book, The Year of the Brave Bear: Speak Up. Stand Out. Change Your World.
  • co-hosted Strong Inside Out Tour in Milwaukee (benefiting depression and suicide prevention)
  • helped a fellow coach and author publish her first book
  • successfully launched an Indiegogo campaign to build 2 clean water wells in Laos
  • traveled to Laos for a month to return to my motherland and help oversee the clean water mission
  • traveled to Austin to help a coach and author write a book proposal that will be accepted by a major publisher in 2015
  • received Reiki attunement on my 38th birthday and am now a certified practitioner
  • learning how to read tarot cards to incorporate spiritual guidance into my coaching

My 3 words for 2015

1. Truth

2. Motivation

3. Balance

The theme in 2015 will be about seeking and telling the truth…leading my brave bear revolution with the inspiration, motivation and support to tap into the stories they want to tell…and to keep my energy in balance as I tackle the biggest year ahead of me.

  • I’m already planning to return to Laos in October 2015 to host a 10-day retreat for people who want to join me on a spiritual, writing journey to speak up, stand out, and change their world as we author our memoirs together.
  • I’ll be announcing a new coaching service soon for change-making authors.
  • I’m working on my second book, which I plan to publish after August 2015.

What are your 3 words?

Do you have a theme to frame each year? If so, comment below with your 3 words!

If you need some clarity and insight into crafting your 3 words for 2015, I just launched this today.



P.S. If you’re a newsletter subscriber, check your email for an exclusive discount code.

Shin Kicking Mondays – FREE Coaching Series Premieres April 2014

Shin Kicking Mondays is a new FREE weekly coaching series I’ve produced as a spin-off of The Shut Up Show that will air every Monday to support brave entrepreneurs who want help kicking fear to the curb, shutting up and making shit happen.

Shin Kicking

During the FREE weekly coaching series, I will read selected questions and then broadcast my coaching feedback LIVE via Google Hangouts On Air every Monday at 12pm Central Time. The episode will be recorded and available for replay at

*You do not have to be present to have your question featured.

**Depending on the volume of submissions the show receives, your question might not be featured or may be used for a subsequent coaching episode.

Ready to play along? Click here for more info.

Let the shin kicking begin!

20 Days of Purification (February) – Day 20


What tickles my fancy is challenging myself to do something different. Stretch my imagination. Push myself out of my comfort zone. This gives me something worth writing about. So, I’m breaking the rules. Going against marketing advice. Choosing myself. I’m going to blog here for 20 consecutive business days in the entire month of February. To celebrate the month of “Purification.” [According to Wikipedia the Roman month Februarius was named after the Latin term februum, which means purification.]

So, if Wikipedia says it’s true, it must be. Here goes nothing…

Day 20: Stop giving a shit about things that don’t matter and start doing more good shit that does

On day one, I willed one thing. On day two, I found out what people think “PURE” looks like. On day three, I got my friends to play my 12-year-old-ish games finding 4-letter words starting with “P” and ending with “E.” On day four, I helped you find your PURE genius. On day five, I turned a humidifier into art. On day six, we played “I spy.” On Day 7, I shared my favorite book that helped me gain personal freedom and tap into my pure and authentic voice. On day 8, I covered my canvas with pure art. On day 9, I spoke the pure and raw truth on one of my favorite radio shows. On day 10, I shared PURE gold with you (a list of my top 5 favorite podcasters).

On day 11, I revealed 5 things you probably didn’t know about me that might surprise you. On day 12, I found it a pure pleasure to watch and listen to Idol contestant MK Nobilette. On day 13, I threw myself out of my comfort zone and recorded a LIVE video demo helping my community set up an online store in under 10 minutes using Selz. On day 14, I shared my story about some of the most raw and revealing things I’ve overcome in my life on Connected Creatives Podcast with Ozeal DeBastos. On day 15, I differentiated between a fake and real smile. On day 16, I watched one of my favorite movies, a truly clever ’90s flick. On day 17, I seamlessly perfected my photo image with a new app. On day 18, I watched the last season of Breaking Bad and was disappointed Aaron Paul did not win an Emmy. On day 19, I shared a mantra that helps bring me back to center on days I might want to go off on a mean person.

As we close out #20DaysOfPurification, I realize it wasn’t a dumb idea after all. The fact that I committed to writing here on this blog (which I’ve neglected for five months before starting this 20-day writing challenge) means a lot to me. Especially since I almost didn’t go through with this project after being told it wasn’t a good idea. I want to share my end-of-experiment feedback with you before we dive into today’s final challenge.

Why #20DaysOfPurification wasn’t a dumb idea after all:

INTEGRITY: I wrote for 20 consecutive business days (without fail), which means I delivered on my promise.

CREATIVITY: I stretched myself creatively because I had to come up with a different way to express the theme of “purification” and many times it ended up not being such a literal interpretation.

COMMUNITY: I discovered new things about my existing friendships that got brought out from this experiment. I also met a bunch of new friends who found me through this project. Many of these people stuck around to see how it evolved and connected with each other in the process.

ENGAGEMENT: In 20 days, I increased my page views 1000% <– Yes, one thousand percent!

PLAY: I didn’t write to sell or try to convince anyone of anything. I simply had fun.

Today, on the final and last day of #20daysofpurification, I asked my Facebook community this question inspired by my defiant attitude the past 20 days:


It was a thought-provoking question apparently because I got 21 comments:


Of the 21 comments, these were some of the recurring themes (reframed):

“When I stopped giving a shit about what other people thought, my life got better because I could be the real me.”


“When I stopped giving a shit about extrinsic rewards, my life got better because I realized all the gifts I already have.”


“When I stopped giving a shit about the available options in front of me, my life got better because I gave myself permission to create my own option.”


What did you stop giving a shit about and how did it change your life?