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A Special Report from CoachVille
Instant Messaging Technology and Coaching


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January 21
, 2002                                          

Dear Readers:

About a week ago, we asked the CoachVille R&D team to tell us how they're using Instant Messenger (IM) Technology to add value to their clients.  In this Special Report from CoachVille, we share with you a compilation of their insight and experience.

From time to time, we request input of this sort from CoachVille members so we can share real-life examples of how Coaching is evolving as a profession.  6 of the 7 stories below are from active Coaches using Instant Messaging technology today, to benefit their clients through Coaching.  We also include one story from a successful coach who chooses not to use IM.

New to the concept of Instant Messaging? Here's a link to an article on Instant Messaging from How Stuff Works:

Also in today's issue is information about the third version of Intentional Coach's Practice Management Software.  See below for details.

Happy Reading,

Andrea Lee
GM, CoachVille


Special Report

Instant Messaging Technology and Coaching

by CoachVille © 2002

Integrity Day via Instant Messager instead of a Bridge Line made me a better Coach
Heidi Costas

I must've "lucked out" a couple of months ago when Thomas introduced Instant Messaging to his R&D team; we were going to use it instead of a conference bridge line on an Integrity Day ( You got it, I got paired up with none other than Thomas himself <g>. What an experience! Trying to keep up with him that day felt like chasing a comet, if you know what I mean ... However, after only a few hours of work and occasional, brief chats I relaxed (quite a bit) and started to notice some truly incredible changes in the way I worked and felt. I'm sure much of it was due to the direct interaction with the "master", one cannot but feel coached extremely well around him <g>. In any case, I accomplished twice as much with half the usual tear and wear, that day. And, I'm still going ....

Here are some of the benefits of using the IM as a tool to significantly increase your (or your clients') productivity, effectiveness AND well-being instantly <g>.

1. Instant Response/Result.
The very structure of IM doesn't allow for "long" messages. Messages are fast and pointed. You ask for what you want in 2 words not 3 paragraphs. This practically eliminates the danger of falling into lengthy chat mode, a skill that I'm still learning <g>. On one occasion, I was having trouble finishing a project. I had no clue that I was stuck. It only occurred to me by comparison: Thomas had finished 3 or 5 bigger items while I was still chewing on mine. After a two sentence back-and-forth, he just said "it's called typing, Heidi" (I was writing something for my 5 Day Program). This may sound strange, but it made a world of difference. I finished my project within 5 minutes, mailed it out, finished, done, thank you, applause... next.

2. First hand, real time experience.
Nothing "teaches" better than experience. I never knew I could (or even should) work faster until I found myself in the middle of it. Your IM partner can help, he/she is always "there", virtually, that is, to help you adjust your expectations by modeling what can be done.

3. IM is extremely versatile.
You can send/receive links, files and info and get instant feedback without having to change software programs or pick up the phone. (virus check is in place, at least for MSN messenger). Less steps, better workflow, more momentum ... things get handled when they occur and the interruption is minimal (a few seconds here and there).

4. Instant, live "tune-ups" relieve pressure.
A 30 second chat can bring light back to a dull project. Sometimes, just knowing you can ask and get an answer (support, a push, etc.) instantly reduces strain. Then, your own solutions come more easily.

5. Competition is good for you, when done lightly.
Integrity Day via IM is like a game. Ready, set, go! It's a win-win and lots of fun. Check-in time is about 5 seconds every 30 minutes or so and well worth the interruption.

6. Your Integrity Day partner's pace and rhythm is contagious.
I found myself typing, thinking, planning faster (and better) with no added adrenaline, well maybe just a little from the thrill of the experience. In a team, the one who works better, faster, gets to pull the other, then you switch. No conversation necessary on this one, it happens naturally and no one gets drained or anything.

7. No more wiggle room.
Setting closer deadlines (and telling someone about it) eliminates wiggle room and increases focus, things get done faster and with less effort. When you have someone to set them with, you won't be tempted to make excuses.

8. No more time to "overthink" or procrastinate.
That was a biggie for me. Doing something is better than "thinking" about doing lots of things. Being able to celebrate an achievement with someone when the joy is fresh is
invaluable and keeps the momentum going. Anticipation of the joy of celebrating becomes bigger than fear of failure.

9. Cheering for Integrity Day partner is inspiring, too.
When things work well, connecting via IM is like a dance; synergy is created. The team has a life of its own, bigger and stronger than each participant's input. A very cool thing!

10. Instant Message can make you a better coach.
As a coach, I now realize IM is the perfect medium to force the essence of the issue at hand to the surface, due to the brevity of the interaction.  It is a perfect opportunity to hone your personal and coaching skills, from listening to setting boundaries, to improving language skills. Maybe not for everyone, but it certainly is for me.

IM is in no way a substitute for personal interaction, yet it significantly changed and enriched my life. I now have a virtual environment that has living beings in it and the collaboration is very real. Thank you, Thomas.

(more information about how to conduct an Integrity Day, a Coaching structure/service you may wish to consider for your clients, is free, at  ---ed.)

Coaching from a Developing Country made possible via IM
Linda Mason-Hahn

I’ve used Instant Messaging with clients since 1997, when my husband took a job in a developing country. At the time, the quality of phone calls to/from that country was suspect and the cost restrictive, hence IM.

A lot of my work is with expats, folks who live and work abroad, so most of them are familiar with IM. But even today, some clients are more familiar and/or comfortable with IM than others, so a bit of quick education may be required when you first start.

Instant Messaging allows for real-time conversations, connections, spontaneity, and immediate reactions, in the same way phone calls do. There’s less filtering & editing than in regular email. Some programs allow you to copy and file the content.

I continue to travel, as do my clients, and IM allows me to stay connected with clients, family, friends, colleagues, and to continue my coaching practice, no matter where in the world I am. And when you set the appointment and log on, no phone number updates are necessary!

A word of caution, once you get started and you build up a network of IM contacts, be sure to block the others out during appointment time with your clients! 


Coach, Create, train and become more profitable,
all using IM
Blair Hornbuckle
or AOL Instant Messaging: dvAnswers

I offer clients support via Instant Messaging, which is just one of many electronic collaboration tools I like. I started using IM with friends, and it's morphed into another way to respond to my coaching clients and video customers. I have clients and friends who actually prefer IM over a phone call.

Unlimited Access between Coaching Calls
I try to be super-fast when replying to email, so IM is a natural. I love to be able to offer unlimited access between coaching calls, and these electronic tools are a low cost way for me to be available. And now we're doing video online too.

Transferring sample video files for sale
I urge all of my clients to subscribe to a broadband Internet service, usually cable or DSL. Using the Internet, IM and telephone, we can work together on creative projects. I also use online movies as a way to offer samples of video training products I create and sell at one of my web sites.  Transferring these files via IM means I can send the exact file I want the client to see, at the exact moment it's appropriate.

Playing QuickTime clips simultaneously, then training and creating
Sending QuickTime movies back and forth via IM is also quite powerful. We can play the clips at the same time and talk about what the client has created. I can offer feedback, and send them examples of my movies. They then use these new files to learn new techniques and help generate ideas for their own projects.

Reduce your Clients' costs by Coaching via IM;  open a CyberCoaching dialogue
Lea Brandenburg

In April, I will have been using Instant Messenger with clients for two years. I started using it as a way to create a “real-time” coaching experience for my international clients. IM is a great cost-effective solution for clients who simply don’t want to pay international phone rates every time we have a coaching session.

As many coaches do, I coach via e-mail. What I’ve found with “cybercoaching” is that e-mail is more of a monologue, rather than a dialogue or conversation. A client writes me with a challenge, query or win and then I respond. It is a one-way form of communication. With IM, we can have a conversation – a dialogue with give and take. IM enables me to be with the client in the present moment and to coach from that place.

I’ve also used IM when co-teaching TeleClasses. It’s a great way for me to connect with the other teacher, build on points s/he has made and make or get gentle reminders that we may be moving away from our lesson plan or going off-topic. All this, and we continue to lead the class without disruption or inconveniencing the class participants.

IM may not be a viable tool to use with all clients, but it is a valuable tool in any coach’s toolbox. The ability to type quickly is necessary for making IM an effective coaching tool. If a client types slowly, IM may not be useful in his/her coaching process. When coaching an international client, the client needs to be fluent in English in order for an IM coaching session to be valuable for his or her needs. Without fluency in the agreed upon coaching language – searching for the appropriate words when communicating can slow down the “real-time” process. Simply, IM is another tool a coach can use to meet the unique needs of clients and for some clients or coaching groups it is a highly efficient and successful tool.

Pro-bono Coaching via IM
Marta Reily
Personal Development and Enlightenment Coach

I have one pro bono client that I coach using IM exclusively
. She is a mother and housewife, snowbound now on a ranch in the northern plains, unable to leave the house to work because of three children. She finds her outlet in playing on the internet. We are using that interest and ability, working together to construct a website that she can maintain herself, and that can generate some income. And until income starts to come in, we use IM so the phone bill doesn't add up.

Everything I have learned from CoachVille, from Thomas, and from Dave, about websites, attraction, passive income, ezines, ebooks, the whole drill, is coming into play in coaching this lovely woman. We have set boundaries, when it is and is not appropriate to IM, set regular appointments to IM, set fieldwork and due date assignments, and our fingers fly. Her horizons advance, her envelope is pushed, her awareness enlarges; this process is blowing her away. Rural Wyoming will never be the same again! And I have such a deepening respect for technology, and the access now available to anyone.

Benefits: instant access, low cost (only the ISP service), all IM and chat abbreviations available <g>, no points for good spelling.

Drawbacks: unable to "hear" the client as deeply as one can on the phone, less formal method (and pro bono status) may make coaching service less valuable in the client's estimation.

I have very little IM contact with most of my other clients.


IM would make me too accessible
Ernest F. Oriente
CPBA {Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst}

With 300+ clients, if I was using IM to support/guide/coach them, I would lose the balance/reserve of time/fun in my life.

Yes, clients do email me...and yes, I do reply/respond within the same day with 400+ emails arriving each day. This has worked wonderfully for six years.

On the flipside--it would seem to me that IM would reflect my "lack of success" as a coach, because I'm soooo readily available/accessible...

Instant Messaging Technology helps us be more Adaptive
Mike R. Jay, Master Business Coach and Founder

or 1-877-901-COACH

I would much rather answer a quick instant message than an email. I can also GET to the issue much faster with IM. And because it allows you to file and save the interaction, an Instant Message keeps on providing value, either through information, ideas or connections to the client's issues. In fact, sometimes it is much easier than fully synchronous  coaching. Of course, it also provides the client as well as the coach with a transcript, if that is important which it sometimes is.

I've found that I keep some of my IM exchanges, whether it's the ones I have with peers, clients or students, because of the ideas I can generate in the moment when I'm not coaching. IM Technology also helps our students recover quickly from bridges that are down, lost numbers, misplaced pin numbers, etc. (We've integrated Instant Messaging into our Coach/Leadership Training Programs)

AND, what's cool is that it helps you become more adaptive. The people you serve become more adaptive too, which to me is the key in today's fast economy. If we can adapt on a moment's notice, provide a file, a solution, an opportunity to someone in 10 seconds, why not?

It does require you to review your fee structure though. You'll want to use a retainer system while using this system otherwise it's not fair for you or your clients. I don't worry about client's overusing me because of the retainer and remember, it takes two to tango, so you can set the contract very quickly. Here's an example:

Mike are you there?


Can we visit about something?

I have about 5 minutes. Can we do it within that time?


Here's another one example of an IM dialogue:



What should I charge for ...?

What's the value of your time?


What's the value of your service to this client?


Do you know what to charge now?


I thought I'd throw that last one in there because I love to make coaching fun and test my client's ability to do critical thinking. Most of the time, they just need some help "figuring" things out. If I have my ego in check...and you better have it in check when you use Instant Messenger, you can really have a lot of fun in a very short period of time--while providing a very valuable service to your clients!

end special report

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