Even coaches need coaches – in the 9 years since starting SixFigureStart, I have invested over $100,000 in personal and professional development.
It is difficult to see the picture when you are inside the frame. – John Doerr
The above quote by venture capitalist, John Doerr, captures why. When you’re in the thick of the situation, it’s hard to take an objective and high-level view. In addition, everyone has blind spots, and they’re called “blind spots” because you can’t see them. So outside help is critical. Connie and I certainly coach each other. I also have trusted coaching colleagues and friends who I rely on for feedback and ideas.
But I’ve also hired individual coaches, enrolled in group workshops and programs, attended events and conferences and purchased self-study programs. The most expensive program was a $40,000 Mastermind. The cheapest is free (books from the library, intro classes). Here’s how I’ve decided to invest in personal and professional development and what I’ve learned along the way:
Topic/ Subject Matter
When I was first starting, I invested mostly in sales and marketing training. I had a general business and HR background, and being in business for yourself is all about sales, so that was definitely my first stop. More recently, I am investing in programs outside my direct business for diversification and also reflecting a new life stage (I’m an empty nester in just 3 more years). Right now, I’m taking two finance-oriented programs. In the last decade, I’ve also had training in niche topics from social media to teaching to meditation to Pilates.
Medium/ Mode of Learning
I’ve always found it tricky to know what the best medium is to deliver the learning or coaching I’m looking for because it varies based on the teacher/ program, how much time I have to invest, how much money I’m willing to invest, and what else is vying for my attention at that moment. I’ve enrolled in 3 long-term mastermind programs – these are combinations of 1:1, group work, conference-style retreats, even DIY self-study. This is the most intense and expensive (in time and money) of the mediums. I haven’t been too impressed with my development results here, but that could be my own style of learning. I have gotten results from 1:1 and group, live and virtual, audio and video, expensive and free. I try to mix it up.
Like medium, duration has been really varied over the years. I am always reading a business or self-help book so I get regular training that way. I also have blogs I read weekly. I don’t go to the same live events or conferences year-over-year but I go to at least one multi-day event every year. For one-off programs (e.g., a 4-week teleclass or 8-week live class), it really varies based on availability (mine and the program). I prefer the very short (one time only) or the very long (6-12 month terms). It could be my way of learning, but I find that a medium-term class is too short for me to get enough depth but too long for me to fit into my schedule easily. So in recent years, I have seen a huge decrease in my participation in those middle-term classes.
Having spent so much time and money over the last decade, what would I do differently? I stay away from Masterminds – I find the environment too cultish and the value for the money isn’t there. Before deciding on a paid program, I read a lot about a subject and experiment with as many low-cost tools as possible before increasing my commitment. If I do opt for a more expensive and time-consuming program, I make sure to block in additional time to apply the learning – and in fact, I budget much more additional time than seems necessary because I build in that I’ll be inefficient in trying new activities and strategies. That’s probably the biggest takeaway for me – I need to plan to go more slowly, to remember I’ll be inefficient and build in more time.
What about you? What have you learned about how you learn?