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, November 26, 2002 

Have you ever wondered...

Why coaching has come along when it has?

Why you're attracted to the idea of being a coach?

What your high-end clients are really using you for?

Why the therapist vs coach vs consultant thing is really a moot point?

Wondering what you'll be coaching clients on 10-50 years from now, if not sooner?

Why CoachVille has become so popular so quickly?

Well, so have we.

And, one possible explanation is below. I call it the 7 Economies and the focus of this issue of Today's Coach is on the Inspiration Economy.

PDF  version of above graphic is at

Dave Buck and I were chatting about coaching and he shared with me his idea that perhaps we are moving toward what he terms the Inspiration Economy -- where people earn their living from what inspires them.  Imagine an entire economy around that?  Wow.

The basic idea is that coaching -- given it brings out the very, very best in people -- is the perfect partner in higher-tier economies.
I've been wondering for years why coaching continues to be popular.  I knew that it was more than a fad; yet I have been impressed with its staying power.  True, coaches add value and whatever service or product adds value is going to be popular in the marketplace.  

But the rapid development, evolution and customization of coaching to serve a wide number of markets and in a variety of guises has been most impressive.  Almost like coaching is being pulled forward by something.  There is an eagerness for it.

Could that eagerness be that humans are now ready and able to move on from the information/experience economies and into a higher-tier economy, such as the creative/inspiration economy? 

here are six points that I make below (with the help of Dave Buck, originator of the Inspiration Economy idea).  

Point #1
Economies evolve with innovation and awareness.
The 7 Economies Chart above identifies that economies we've had and points to several possible emerging or forming economies.  Economies are important because they are the basis of prosperity.  

Economies have evolved over time from a farming-based way of living/earning a living to the industrial/manufacturing age (which started in England) to the now-omnipresent economy called the Information Economy.  Nothing new here, except that the rate of evolution from one economy to the next has accelerated.

Point #2
The developed countries are currently in the middle of the information economy, transitioning into the experience economy
The term "experience economy," popularized by writers B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore, describes the idea that people are buying experiences not just a product or service.  People are buying an experience at Walt Disney not just rides.  People are buying an experience at the Rain Forest Cafe, not just a meal. People are buying an experience at a Virgin Megastore, not just records or books.  Which means that the more you can provide folks a sense of an experience/feeling, the more they will bond with you and return for more.  That stores have music running in the background and free tastes is a simple/low-end example of this.  Whatever one can do to convert a commodity to an experience keeps the buyers intrigued and buying.  
Coaches, too, are providing an experience, not just professional services.

Point #3
The very early adopters, such as coaches, are already actively engaged in the top 3 economies.
And, as would make sense, there are future economies under development, yes?  the 3 that make sense are the creative, inspirational and spiritual economies.  My colleague Dave Buck shared with me his idea around this called the Inspiration Economy where people make their living and have a life built around being inspired.  Not just 'creativity' per se.  And much more than commitment.  And even more than passion.  Inspiration. Hmmm.  Love it.  And, perhaps, THIS is why clients are coming to coaches -- to enter the age of inspiration and for help in earning their livelihoods via something they are inspired to do.  And perhaps coaches are the perfect partner for these clients, because most coaches are already examples of this economy, yes?

Point #4
A bit more on the creative and spiritual economies....
With the rise of the 50 million "cultural creatives" (Paul Rey's work) and with the cultural freedom to be creative in general -- along with new tools that help anyone tap into the ways in which they can create, I think we'll see an explosion of creativity over the next 20 years, which will lead to innovation, a stronger economy, etc.  We're already seeing this in the coaching community as individual coaches are driving innovation, not as much the institutions of coaching.  As individuals are empowered to create and get access to the tools of creativity and the markets that want new products/services, everybody wins.  Slow down that process and we all become stagnant, as does the economy.

Any, my wild guess is that at some point -- perhaps 50 to 100 years from now, we'll be seeing the Spiritual Economy even it that does sound oxymoronic. 

Point #5
I believe that coaches are both key players and catalysts in the natural evolution toward the Inspiration (and other) economies.
Long-term, coaching is SO much more than goal setting and accountability. Sure, that sells in the marketplace, but there's a much larger, richer game and dynamic at work here, isn't there?  

My best guess is that coaching -- and the work that coaches do, whether formal/commercial coaches or when coaching occurs between anyone is catalytic, transformational and evolutionary.

1. Coaching
catalyzes people to strengthen themselves from the inside out, build the muscle of achievement, and to increase awareness.

2. Coaching
transforms a person's relationship with themselves, others and ideas.

3. Coaching
evolves a person by helping them to design and perfect both physical and virtual environments that stimulate them in surprising ways.

Point #6
It's just a matter of time until the public finds its way to these higher-tier economies.
Meanwhile, coaches are living in these top-tier economies (creative, inspiration and spiritual economies).  My friend and colleague Dave Buck explains it this way:

--As coaches, we are leading the way toward the higher tier economies and will thrive/prosper as a result.
--The higher tier economies will each have their own set of proficiencies -- as coaches we will thrive and clarify the proficiencies of the Inspiration Economy
--As more people move into the Inspiration Economy, the demand for coaching will increase as a direct byproduct.  This, because coaching is perfectly suited to helping people discover what inspires them in life and then building a life, worklife and lifestyle around that.  Just as coaches have done for their own lives.

Remember, what we're saying here is that, for an increasing percentage of the population, life won't be life unless it's inspiring.  And, to be fair, not everyone will buy into this notion.  But our guess is that many will.  And coaching will be there to serve them. (And coaches can serve folks who prefer a different focus in life; inspiration is just one of the 7 economies.  All are valid.)

Why does this matter to you?
The role of the coach continues to evolve.  Initially it was to hold clients accountable, or to ask questions or to be a personal cheerleader.  But over the past 5 years, the sophistication level of coaches and coaching has been increasing significantly in order to meet the demands of the marketplace.  One of the emerging roles of the coach is to help clients live an inspiring and inspired life, not just a traditionally-defined successful one.

That one word -- inspired -- makes all the difference. 

Way to go, Dave Buck!

Do you have a comment/addition to the above?  If so, and if you'll let us run it next week in the Today's Coach, please email it to We'll run a representative sample of comments received and we'll need to include your name as the contributor.

The Inspiration Economy is a timely topic. And it explains so much about coaching and the popularity of coaching.

Dave will be speaking on this at the CoachVille Conference in May 2003 in San Francisco at the Future of Coaching Conference.

Now what?
If you are intrigued by this topic, here are some ideas...

Ask your clients about this...
Next time you have a discussion about what you do or how you work with a client, bring up the notion of the Inspiration Economies and see what they say.  A PDF of the 7 Economies is available at

Pass the word...
Pass this issue around your network and ask for ideas/feedback from your colleagues. Just hit 'forward' and send it to your network.

Join Dave Buck's Inspiration Economy R&D Team
Find this topic really intriguing?  Join Dave's R&D Team on this...
Address an email to:  It's as simple as that!

Add your thoughts on this topic at the Discussion Board...
To add your thoughts and read the thoughts of others (no log in or password needed), visit: You can create an account if you wish to post or just ignore that step and post a comment or reply by clicking on New Thread after you click on Future of Coaching: Small Business Coaching.

Join us at the Future of Coaching Conference in San Francisco...
Three days and 20 futures of coaching; all yours for the learning.  Initial details at 


Thomas J. Leonard


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