041: Serve Clients So Powerfully That They Can’t Shut Up about You

041: Serve Clients So Powerfully That They Can’t Shut Up about You


Strong for Performance Podcast


041: Serve Clients So Powerfully That They Can’t Shut Up about You

by Adam Kawalec

What if there were a simpler, easier way to acquire new clients? My guest Adam Kawalec is a Life and Leadership Coach whose approach results in 83% of his potential clients saying YES. These days, he invests no money in marketing his services. Instead, he asks for and receives referrals on a continuous basis due to the transformation his clients experience in their work with him. Adam is based in Sweden and coaches clients virtually around the globe. You’ll be inspired by Adam’s passion for his work and commitment to his clients’ success, and you’ll hear specific ideas for expanding your own business.

You’ll discover:

  • Adam’s alternative to traditional marketing approaches
  • What Adam does in his initial conversation with potential clients to cause them to want to work with him
  • An approach to asking for referrals that really works and doesn’t feel sleazy
  • The world’s simplest coaching model in just 3 steps
  • The role of curiosity, questions and genuine caring to connect on a deep level with a client

Watch the episode:


Connect with Adam

Get this free PDF.

Give it to the leaders you work with!

039: How to Partner with Other Consultants and Make a Ton of Money While Growing Your Businesses

039: How to Partner with Other Consultants and Make a Ton of Money While Growing Your Businesses


Strong for Performance Podcast


039: How to Partner with Other Consultants and Make a Ton of Money While Growing Your Businesses

by Dr. Kevin Gazzara

Do you find it hard to make time for marketing and sales because you’re busy delivering your services? My guest Dr. Kevin Gazzara has found effective ways to keep his firm’s pipeline full. Kevin is co-founder and Senior Partner at Magna Leadership Solutions based in Phoenix, AZ. Since founding his company 12 years ago, Keven has consistently done five things to grow his business. Take notes to keep track of all the nuggets Kevin drops, and stay until the end because he shares a BIG idea that’s free to implement and could impact your visibility on Google searches.

You’ll discover:

  • What Kevin learned from 10 successful consultants about building a successful business
  • One of the most important decisions you can make up-front to be sure you get in front of your best clients
  • The benefits of writing a book in positioning you with potential clients
  • Why you need to invest the time in building a solid network and delivering value without looking for reciprocity
  • The Task Quotient Assessment, a free quiz you can take to identify the kinds of work activities you enjoy the most

Watch the episode:


Connect with Kevin

Get this free PDF.

Give it to the leaders you work with!

037: How to Network to Get A Steady Stream of Introductions, Referrals and Sales

037: How to Network to Get A Steady Stream of Introductions, Referrals and Sales


Strong for Performance Podcast


037: How to Network to Get A Steady Stream of Introductions, Referrals and Sales

by Steven Crawford

Want to find out how to network so effectively that you regularly get introductions to your ideal clients? Come prepared to take notes as you listen to my interview with Steven Crawford, as he reveals many of the brilliant strategies he uses to land more clients. Steven is the Director of Sales and a senior consultant with McGee Productivity Solutions based in Denver, Colorado. He manages a team of 12 consultants who have responsibility for sales in addition to the delivery of their consulting services. You’ll love Steve’s approach to getting introductions, asking for referrals and building a powerful relationship in your initial conversation with a prospect.

You’ll discover:

  • How to replace a selling mindset with one focused on relationship-building
  • One question you can ask to open a conversation that’s guaranteed to engage the other person immediately
  • Two obstacles that can hold you back from making appointments…and how to get past them
  • Steve’s very effective process for requesting referrals, researching the referred person and then following up with both people
  • Innovative ways you can use LinkedIn to become known by your potential clients

Watch the episode:


Connect with Steven

Get this free PDF.

Give it to the leaders you work with!

010: Add a New Revenue Stream to Your Coaching Services

010: Add a New Revenue Stream to Your Coaching Services


Strong for Performance Podcast


010: Add a New Revenue Stream to Your Coaching Services

by Shohreh Aftahi

Have you been looking for a way to scale your business without putting in longer hours and more effort? When she transitioned from corporate executive to business adviser, Dr. Shohreh Aftahi found that she needed to get creative in order to serve her audience of small business owners. She developed a special program that brought her 50+ coaching clients in the first 6 months! In this episode she reveals the elements of her blueprint.

You’ll discover:

  • How to create a profit center focused on small business owners
  • Ways to scale your business without increasing hours and effort
  • A powerful tool and process for impacting more leaders
  • How conversations at Starbucks and on an airplane led to 6-figure contracts

Watch the episode:


Connect with Shohreh

Get this free PDF.

Give it to the leaders you work with!

Read the Transcription

Welcome back to another episode of Strong for Performance. I’m Meredith Bell, your host and I’m so pleased today to have with me Dr. Shohreh Aftahi. Welcome Shohreh.

Thank you, I’m so glad to be here.

Well I am just delighted to be able to have a conversation with you and share with our guests some of the great insights you have about developing and building your own business.

Shohreh is the founder and CEO of ThriveVance a business advisory group and she is a very skilled growth strategist. She knows how to go into an organization and identify where they are and what they need to do to grow to the next level in their business. But Shohreh one of the interesting parts of your journey is your years in the corporate world and how they prepared you for what you’re doing now. So, tell us a little bit about that story.

I’ve spent the majority of my professional career in the corporate world, up until about four years ago. And I led very large teams, nationally, regionally, locally, depending on which assignment. And I’ve noticed a few things, number one, the best way I could get my teams to perform was to coach them, because I wasn’t on top of their head everyday seeing what they do. They were mostly remote. And coaching became really second nature to me in developing high performing teams.

Secondly, in corporate it’s very easy to understand and recognize how the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing, and there is no congruence. So, as I’ve come in working with organizations that’s what is the one thing that I focus on to make sure everyone’s on the same page. So, the activities that we have with them, the engagements that we have with them, produce results that truly matter for the organization.

So, I’ve taken about 17 years of professional life and now used that experience and knowledge in helping organizations and small businesses. I do feel that small businesses are the cornerstone of success for our economy. I truly believe that. And as I came into the coaching and consulting, I quickly realized the one segment of people that I really couldn’t help at the beginning, with the setup that I had, with the fees and the way the coaching and consulting was structured, were those small businesses, because it was just out of reach for them.

So, as I’ve segmented my services, it’s always been a great focus for me to have something, a service that is of value that helps small businesses. Whether it’s perhaps an individual contributor, meaning a business owner who’s an individual contributor, which in a lot of ways, small business owners are that because they’re the visionary, they’re the technician, they’re the manager, they’re everything all in one. So, from a time perspective as well as cost perspective, for them to be accessible to them and be able to utilize it and be even more successful than they could’ve been without the services that we offer.

So, when you were just leaving corporate and deciding to get your business started, who were you focused on and did you have any kinds of challenges as you were getting started?

Absolutely. So, when you come out of a corporate world, at the beginning you probably don’t think how much or how useful, I should say, the corporate checkbook is, right? When I started going solo and starting my organization, I immersed myself in networking like I’ve never had to do in the corporate world. I had gatekeepers for people not getting close to me, but now I was trying to break through those gatekeepers to go deeper in the organizations and connect with the decision makers. And as I immersed myself in networking, I quickly realized that a majority of people that I met could not afford the time and cost of what I offered them.

Usually executive coaching and development programs are in thousands of dollars per month and hours spent in a month, which is not suitable for the people that I was talking to most every day. And that’s what prompted me to create a revenue bucket, as you may call it, to offer those people that I was talking to the most. The ones that I could offer my elite program, the executive development programs, I did not speak to everyday. So, then I found myself marketing and selling to people that did not fit the services that I offered.

So, in that perspective I created a program based on my conversations and qualifying, I’ve been in the sales world most of my life, qualifying and really asking these people, “What would you like? What would suit you best?” And came up with a program which I called Coaching on-Demand and was able to offer them a service that is more of what you may call membership, an annual fee. It did not require very specific face time from me on a regular basis and we really utilized a lot of content that I had developed, I had access to throughout the years, that I had available, I could make it available to these clients and they could utilize it as their time allowed them to. So, it’s not as though you have to finish this assignment in a week, in two weeks, in a month or six months even if you wanted to, but it is your time. So, reduce that stress, but have it available.

But I also was able to tailor it to these clients because not every single one of them had the same need. In conversation, as I met with them for talking about their business, we identified what is their need. For some of them it was, how do I market? Some of them was sales. For some of them, time management and personal care. And depending really on what they needed, I could tailor the content that I offered them, that suited their needs. So, it really quickly, and it was to my surprise, it quickly became a very nice steady revenue bucket for me, without me having to spend so much face time on a regular basis.

I never believed in chopping down, per se, my services just to get a client. I had a lot of colleagues, several of them, that embarked on the same type of services and when it came to coach and development and training, they kept offering reduced fees for three months and after three months it would go to the normal fee. And guess what, they got clients for three months, but not longer. And I didn’t want, and I don’t believe in reducing the value of what we offer. I never want to reduce the value of what I offer.

So, it became … I did an experiment and it worked. I wanted to offer services and truly genuinely been wanting to help this segment of people that I met in my coaching, in my networking group for my coaching services and some led to consulting. And that’s important to mention because when I, for example, had a loan officer that became my client in Coaching on-Demand and she’s been with me three years now in that service and she has been able to open doors in the company that she works for even though she’s an individual contributor as a loan officer, it has opened the door for corporate engagement for me for consulting services.

So, one leads to another and the people that I met came to me from … I’m open, I meet people and conversations we strike, it just leads us to different places. Some of these people I met in networking group, I actually got a very large consulting project meeting one of the senior VPs of this very large organization at Starbucks.

Tell us more about that, because I think that’s a fascinating example of how to keep your marketing and sales antenna up at all the time-

All the time.

Because you never know where an opportunity will arise for you. Tell us how that happened.

Yes, so I was getting coffee at Starbucks and I have a very specific coffee that I actually, coffee drink that I order and I’m very specific about it. So, it’s not just a cup of coffee. So, it has a long name, I usually say I like to get a triple shot of espresso macchiato, which is simple, it’s just three shots, lots of foam and no milk. But believe it or not, because not many people order that, they mess it up. So, I’m very specific how I order it.

So, one day I’m ordering at Starbucks. I had a meeting scheduled so I was there an hour ahead. This gentleman that was standing next to me ordered another somewhat complicated order. So, we both laughed and said, “Yes, this is a science, how to order coffee.” And as we’re waiting for coffee, he asked me what I do and I said, “I’m a consultant. I’m a growth strategist.” And we talked about business and re-engineering processes and such and-this gentleman is a Senior VP of one of the largest home builders in the United States. And they actually had a need. So, he started asking me more questions about re-engineering processes and as such, and that conversation led to $560,000 agreement that we fulfilled last year.

So, conversations come up anywhere. You meet people everywhere. And believe me, I’m not a social butterfly, so I don’t walk around and just talk to anyone. But I am open when conversations come up to see where the similar interests are and take it from there. It is really important to always be alert. The environment that you’re in, and what opportunities may be available. You know, airplanes are other marketing opportunities. You never know who’s sitting next to you. I did meet a CEO of a company, manufacturing company, 250 employees on a plane. And they have been my clients ever since. And we’ve done a variety of programs. They, of course from a consulting perspective we’ve done several projects with them. But, development, HR… just several different things that we’ve done that they are continuously using my services. And, he was just sitting next to me on a plane.

That’s great. I love both stories because it just shows, when you demonstrate an interest in someone else by asking questions and giving them an opportunity to share with you, it really does open the door for you to be able to talk about how your services could be of benefit of them.


Well, let’s go back to the Coaching On-Demand, because I think this is something that our listeners may want to think about adding as a revenue bucket as you called it. Because if I’m not mistaken, you’ve got a pretty good number of clients this way in a period of about six months, which came up to almost six figures, just for that one aspect of your business.

Yes. As I mentioned, it was… it actually, the idea came to me from a colleague of mine. So, I have to give credit to Johnny. But the idea was to offer a service that individuals can benefit from. So, I structured it. It’s basically, I offered $2,000 a year. However, the one on one meetings are very limited to 30 minutes at the beginning, the one time for needs assessment. And thereafter, when they complete their assignments, we meet again for 15 to 20 minutes. And of course, you’re in charge of it. This is how I structured it. And really drive it through the content that I have… I had developed and I had access to. So, I use content that I developed, others developed that I have access to and have permission to use such as Harvard Business Review. It’s a… and I’ve been a subscriber and I reached out to them. I understand that I could offer some of the articles and videos that they offer. So, all of the content that I have access to.

Books are another resource I use. I’ve had clients that reached a point that I recommended a book. They needed to read a book, and we would discuss it based on their needs. So, that’s how I structured it. I made a flyer. I went and tested it in one networking group that I was participating in. And I said, “Let me just test it and see what happens.” Obviously, every idea we have, we need to test before we embark on the larger project. So, I offered a 50 percent discount for the first 10 people that signed up. And, I quickly, within two weeks had 10 people. I said okay, so then I started offering it in all my networking groups, and within six months I had enough people… I had 56 people enrolled, and then I was not offering discounts. 10 percent discounts of some of them. I did offer a 10 percent discount if they were a networking group member. You know, within the groups that I was attending and participating. And, quickly really from… in that six month’s time frame, revenue, with all the discounts, that I generated was over $86,000.

So, I decided this is testing well. In anything we do there are those that sign up and never do anything with it. And those that sign up that have been with me for three years. At this point, I have to say I limit that bucket for me, because now my organization has grown to a point that I want to make sure when I commit to someone, I can deliver truly what they need. But, even with the limitation that I put on it as to how many people I would take as someone that I would coach and develop, still it’s a nice six-figure outcome that is just coming. And we are so in-tune together, because a lot of these people have been with me now for three years, our conversations are limited to a text message or an email. Because they have grown so much. They know what they’re doing. And they just… they just see me as being their trusted advisor, if that makes sense?


It has developed to a very nice bucket for me, and it’s growing. And people are getting benefit out of it. And I’m happy because… the only way I’m happy is if I’m producing results. I’m an over-achiever, and if what I do is not developing results, then I don’t feel good as a person.

Well tell us a little bit about results that some of your clients have gotten from this approach. But before you do that, let’s just recap. So, what you’ve created is a one-year program where they, up front, have a 30-minute call with you or conversation to determine what it is they really want to focus on?

That’s right.

And then, you start giving them assignments, and they have to complete the assignment before they’re eligible to have that 15-minute call.


So, you’ve put requirements in place, and depending on how quickly they want to work through the assignment, they could potentially have contact with you very often? But what you’ve seen in reality, because these are very busy people in their respective jobs or businesses, you’re not finding that to be a big drain on your time. So, you’ve really leveraged your time in a very smart way to work with more people. And get still, very positive results with them. So, it allows you to then serve even more people through that structure.

That’s correct. And the material you mentioned… the content that I offer them is extensive. So even those that are over-achievers, and when we first got going, they said, “Oh, I can set as many 15-minute sessions as I want?”

I said, “Absolutely. As long as…”

And I have dedicated chunk of time on my calendar for this. So, they can’t just book any time. But the link that they have to my calendar is for this specific event that has… it’s dedicated time for this event. So, my answer to them is, “Yes, absolutely. There is time open, you can book as many 15 minutes as you like as long as you have finished the assignment.”

And of course, they can come back to me. They can reach out if they have a problem or a question with the assignment. But outside of that… so she’s an over… one person comes to mind. She’s an over-achiever. She said, “Oh, my God. This is phenomenal. I can probably do four a week.”

I said, “Just do the assignment.”

Well, by the time she got done with the first assignment was two and a half months later.

These are not simple, quick, easy little exercises that they’re completing.

Correct. So, I have videos that I’ve created. Workbooks that go along with the videos. And different things that they have to do. It’s not easily done, so they can’t just sit down in a ten-minute session and complete that. It takes time. But the beauty is it’s on their own time. It’s not on my time.


So, it works. Because they can take the time, but since they are doing the work, they see results. So, you mentioned some of the results. I’ve had clients in Coaching On-Demand, that they have doubled their business within the first year that we’ve been working together. Now… statistics, sometimes words are cheap. How did this happen? Right?


When people learn how to leverage time to be most effective, to get most done, they will quickly see results. A lot of us don’t know how to leverage our time. And we think that if we throw 10,000 things at the calendar, and every minute is booked then we’re very organized about what we do. But the problem is maybe we’re organized, but we’re not leveraging because are we doing the right things at the right time? And that’s… if I’m working with an organization or an individual, it doesn’t matter. Are we doing the right things at the right time? And that’s how we can maximize our business. Maximize on time and make more money. Grow our business. Grow our organization. So that’s key, and a lot of the material, at first, really that most need, is how do I leverage my time? How do I focus on doing the most important things? And more importantly, how do I identify which things are most important to focus on?

And this is a challenge particularly for small business owners, because they’re involved in doing everything.


Yeah, you and I can probably relate to that, right? We all are small business owners, or we have been small business owners.

Or we have been in business as small business owners that we had to do everything ourselves. As we grow, how do we organize ourselves to get better? So that’s where the result comes in. It’s not just the magic and it’s not a magic of the content. It’s how the content is helping these individuals

So, for example, the one individual financial advisor that I’ve been working with since I started this program, we just went over … Every year we go over their numbers. So, she has had in this time span, she realized that the second year we worked together, she had 230% growth, revenue growth.

I do this because it’s important for them to realize what they’re investing in. And afterwards she said, “I never knew I had grown my business this much.” And I said, “Well, it’s getting harder because it was a little. Now it’s at a sum that growing, get another 230% is not as easy, but nevertheless.” So, or someone who’s a loan officer, there is one with me. She has achieved, she wanted to do x number of loans a month and in a year. So, she’s been able to achieve that. So, she has achieved that revenue and now she’s growing it even further. It’s really basically learning what to focus on, how to focus on it, and also the competencies they need to develop. So that’s the where the development comes in.

Right. I would suspect knowing you and your work with them that another part of that is simply expanding their belief in themselves and their capabilities, because that is a universal challenge, I think, for people to really step into what their actual abilities are versus having a set image of what’s possible for them. Do you run into that a lot?

Pretty much everyone. Pretty much everyone. Last week I was meeting with a client, and she has gotten to a point that she … I said, “Okay, so what’s the goal now?” I said, “Well, do you realize the confidence you have in yourself?” Now I’ve got to tell you, we had a lot of challenges with this one particular client, all internal. They were all in her. The way she viewed herself, the way she viewed challenges or how overwhelmed she got. So, this is all of our self-perception and how we deal with those challenges as we grow our business, because the higher or the more we develop our business, the busier we get. There is more to do. Guess what? We are now at a different wave length. It’s a different energy. It’s rhythm that we’re not used to and how do we deal with it? How do we deal with us and our families and that rhythm? So yes, a lot of it goes back to the individual and who we are, how we see things, and how we deal with these different changes.

Well, one of the other things, because I know we’re getting close to time here, I wanted to be sure to mention is one of the reasons Shohreh and I ended up forming a joint venture partnership together. We were in a mastermind group together, and she was struggling with how to organize all this content that she had for this particular program. We have a platform called strong for performance for development, which has its own content but allows a lot of custom content to be added as well. So, it turned out that that was a perfect platform for Shohreh to use to basically distribute her material.

It just made it so much easier. At first, I call it, it was clumsy. I used ever Evernote and I used links for videos and the communication, the Dropbox, this, that, and the other, and I was looking for a platform to make this now a more robust process for me and for my clients. So that’s where when you, Meredith, and I, when we met and we talked, it just was a marriage in heaven, I guess, partnership in heaven, because this strong for performance allowed for all of that. It became very streamlined as I assign things to clients or how they can kind of dabble into the content. And it was that it made it even better, because there is already content embedded that now I have access to, my clients have access to. So, it just made it that much easier.

The other piece that I found very beneficial to clients, and they agree, is that piece of being able to reflect because sometimes when I read the reflections that my clients share with me, I find things that just unravels something we’ve been working that in conversation doesn’t come up. But when they are naked with their thoughts and experiences is the best way actually I can put it, and they’re writing just to themselves and they choose to share with me, it unravels something that just pushes them forward, that allows me to help them in a better way and pushes them forward in their success. So, I really, really like that combination, that strong for performance software. So, I’m grateful for that.

Thank you. I am continuing to learn from you in every conversation we have, including this one, where you shared so many really good tips about how to think about your own business and how to look out for opportunities that are there that we may say, “Oh, I don’t want to be pushy or I don’t want to be salesy.” And yet if we turn it around and say, “Where am I overlooking opportunities to really serve?” I could have the answer, but if I don’t let them know, how will they ever find out I could be the one to deliver that?

I just love your Starbucks story and your plane story, because we often think we have to get so fancy with marketing strategies and this and that. If we can slow down, relax, and just be present for the opportunities that are there, it’s amazing what presents itself. So, thank you for sharing those experiences along with your unique coaching on demand approach, because I think that there are a number of folks listening to this. They could see how they could adapt that kind of approach, even within a corporate setting where they might provide coaching on demand to a group of leaders who the company might not want to invest in an individual coach for some of the supervisors, let’s say, and mid-level managers. They may be able to structure something like this where it’s more economical for them to do.

Right. You can leverage. It’s a matter of leveraging the information, the content you have developed, you have access to for years. Now, if you can get the content and leverage that in helping those people that need your help and you can dress it up. You can obviously do group coaching, which I’ve had occasions that I’ve done, and I do. There is a lot of … Group coaching in general has become a very nice revenue bucket in coaching and development and training. So again, the best way we if you’re one individual offering coaching and training and development services, there is so many hours in a day that you can sit one-on-one and have these conversations. And if you can leverage your time and the content and drive it through the content to minimize that face time for you, then you’re maximizing the revenue you’re creating within those hours, within those minutes.


And that’s where it’s at.

So Shohreh, tell folks how they can find you and connect with you to learn more about you and what you offer.

Absolutely. Obviously, you’re welcome to visit my LinkedIn profile. Messaged me that way. You can also go to our website, which is ThriveVance, which is thrive and advance, ThriveVance.com, and look at the variety of things that we do, as well as you can send me an email, which is saftahi@ThriveVance.com. If you would like to reach out, learn more, and I love helping others, so if I can be helpful to you, don’t hesitate to reach out.

That’s great. And we’ll also put in the show notes a link to the website where you can learn more about this combination of coaching on demand and the strong for performance. I’ll just give that URL right now. It’s Thrive, and that’s T-H-R-I-V-E, Vance, V-A-N-C-E, dot com/codinfo. Shohreh, just because you have such a unique first and last name, I want to just spell that for folks that are listening only, and its S-H-O-H-R-E-H, Aftahi, A-F-T-A-H-I.

That’s right.

So, look up Shohreh on LinkedIn and connect with her. She’s just a wonderful person to know, and I want to thank you so much for being my guest today.

Thank you for having me. Hopefully this is a benefit to some people.

I’m sure it will be. Thank you.

Thank you very much.


Episode 006: Build Relationships with the ABCDs of Giving and Receiving

Episode 006: Build Relationships with the ABCDs of Giving and Receiving


Strong for Performance Podcast


006: Build Relationships with the ABCDs of Giving and Asking

by Ana Melikian

As a coach and consultant, you probably find it natural to give. You may find it more difficult to ask or receive. Dr. Ana Melikian shares a powerful set of actions steps that can strengthen relationships with your core network in a meaningful way. She explains the difference between nurturing your core network of 100 and doing outreach to 20 people you want to know and add to your network. Ana is the host of the MINDSET ZONE Podcast and Founder of Tech Tips for Coaches. She works closely with coaches, consultants, trainers and speakers to help them achieve their big goals.

You’ll discover:

  • The benefits of sharing relevant information with your network
  • How you can become an effective connector
  • Why it pays to cultivate positivity and relate on a basic human level
  • How to put your “Ask” in gear to generate new business


Watch the episode:


Connect with Ana

Get this free PDF.

Give it to the leaders you work with!

Ana’s Website

Learn about her services and sign up for Tech Tips for Coaches:


Read the Transcription

Hi, welcome to another episode of Strong for Performance. I’m your host Meredith Bell and I am so delighted today to have with me Dr. Ana Melikian. Ana, welcome.

My pleasure to be here.

Ana is very special guest because I met her… It’s been at least three years ago…when I got involved in a program that she had co created called More Clients More Fun, which helps coaches and consultants do more business on LinkedIn. It was such a valuable program and Ana has been dedicated to working with people who are coaches and consultants. She has so much great value to share with us today. I want to not delay any further and get started. Ana, so that our listeners who aren’t as familiar with you and your work, so they can learn more about you and your journey, tell us a little bit about how you came to work coaches and consultants.

So keeping it short. As people can tell by my accent, I was not born in this country that now is my home. I live in Arizona, in Phoenix. But originally I’m from Portugal, and all my background was in academia and in psychology. I was a clinical psychologist before I moved here to the United States. And when I moved I also, by reasons of the art, I met my husband, then when we decided to get married, he was living here, so I moved here. And I had an opportunity to restart my professional life too, and I decide to become a life coach. And from a life coach, I did all the training, I got all the certifications. I saw many coaches out there, in what area of expertise they have, and then where are the clients?

I was wanting to have an online business, and so then I started really to study the online marketing. I see other people succeeding, so I knew that was possible. And I found this system called the Book Yourself Solid. And I started to apply it, I start to see results. To make a long story short, I connect with the creator of the system Michael Port. He was to do some training, I got into the training, I became a certified coach, I became an elite certified coach. I became the director of education for the Book Yourself Solid School of coach training. And I transform a from a life coach to a business coach.

That is what I do now, helping other coaches and consultants to have their online business and attracting their ideal clients.

That’s great. And of course, that is the goal of everyone who’s in business, is to be able to attract and work with your ideal clients. And I know over the years, you’ve evolved that Book Yourself Solid system into your own framework that’s uniquely yours. And that’s what you teach now, and that’s what I’d really like to focus on in our conversation today. Because I think what you’ve created is a very powerful and effective way to have people draw in the right kind of folks that they want to work with. I believe you call this now A, B, C, D, is that right?

Correct. ABCDs of giving and asking to have conversations that create opportunities. And it has a lot to do with, when I think about it, my background in psychology, I was a psychologist, I still am. And everything is really, and even in relation to marketing, that honestly coming from clinical psychologist, I looked down with marketing and industrial psychology, to be honest with you, marketing is. And then I realized that marketing is just a way of communicating, of taking a message to people that need that message.

So when I start to see things as a communication, and really that is what also attract me to the Book Yourself Solid system that is all about relationship, creating relationships. And there’s two elements communication – effective, relevant communication – and relationships. And our marketing as service professionals such as coaches, consultants, speakers and trainer, we can have our marketing, our way of self-expression and creating relevance that we exist and what we have to offer mainly then through good communication, and creating solid relationships. And it’s from there that the ABCDS of giving, asking to create that opportunities for business comes from.

In a nutshell, it’s just a way to memorize a menu of actions that we should be doing to communicate effectively and cultivate the relationship. So the A, of ABCDs is always share information. So I’m going over them and then we can dig in each one of them and maybe we can give examples that.

Okay, excellent.

That sounds good?


So the A, always share information. B, be the connector, connect people there to really benefit from knowing each other. The C, cultivate positivity, is about gratitude, empathy, fun, so bring some positivity to the mixture. The D, is the direct outreach, reach out to someone that you don’t know yet, but you like to know. And then always give referrals, testimonial support for review. And then ask too, we have to put like a colleague of mine always say, “We have to put our ask in gear.” We have to also develop that muscle of asking for referrals, for testimonials reviews, to people that can help us. We manage to ask, we are going to be helped. So it is really important.

And then all that, creates opportunities to have conversations. That’s where the magic happen, when we start to have these beautiful coffees in person meetings, and we start to have real relationships that can lead to business.

I love that model. And I do want to go deeper in each one. Just thinking about … Tell me if this is accurate based on your own experience working with coaches and consultants, because I’ve worked with hundreds of them over the years, as they’ve used our software products. And they are extraordinary givers. They’re always looking for how they can be of service. More of them have challenges with asking.


Does that resonate with you?

Totally, they identify as the helper. They don’t like the position of being the one that needs help. So it’s meant for them to give, then to ask. That is why in these ABCDs of giving and asking, I put the giving first because it comes more naturally. We have to balance with the asking. It’s like if we think about as a service professional, as a professional out there, people have to know that you exist, otherwise they will never buy from you. That is the reality. And after they know that you exist, they are going to check you out. They are going to see if you have a solid foundation.

But this is just the beginning. Very few people just with that are going to buy your services. There is like a gap, if you can imagine, they know that you exist, they know that you have a solid foundation, that what look they like is like you, you specialize in helping people like them. And then on the other side is your service, the opportunities that you can help them with. But you have to build trust and credibility to bridge that gap. And the way that you bridge the gap that you create the connection between the two sides, is a lot by giving. But by asking too, and if you only give and you don’t ask, you are going to have an unbalanced bridge. If you only ask – there are many people out there that only ask – and don’t give, it’s an unbalanced bridge. And who is going to cross that? But if you give and ask in a balanced way, you really shorten that reach and make it a very solid place for people that feels comfortable to cross and to try your services.

I think one of the things too that what you’re bringing up makes me think about is, often we do like to give, and we don’t think about how others enjoy giving too. So we put undue pressure on ourselves to be the one that’s always giving. And in a way, we’re robbing others from being able to give back to us. And I’ll give you a quick example. I’ve been a guest on dozens of podcasts now over the last few years. When I launched my podcast, I thought, I’m going to reach back out to some of these hosts, and I decided to contact about 18 of them.

Do you know 90% of them said, “Absolutely. I’d love to help you.” And they remembered a thank you gift that I had sent them after being on their show. And in some cases, it’s been three or more years. But it’s that whole thing of when you give, and you give in a way that’s thoughtful, people remember that. And so if you go back to them to ask for something, they’re more than willing to help you in some way.

And I love, because you are a master of that. You are a master of network in general, and the small attention to the small details. Because that is what is memorable. Nowadays for good and for bad it’s not difficult to become memorable. Just writing a hand written note stands out. Writing an email, of course, will be something that after podcasts is easy, that is almost expected. If somebody doesn’t do that, maybe we don’t think too much about, but we notice that the person didn’t email us. But if we receive their little thank you card by the regular snail mail, that is much less overwhelming than our email inbox. And you have that kinesthetic thing in our hands, so powerful.

This person took time to put pen on paper and write, it’s really powerful. And you take that to the next level, because sometimes you send something more three dimensional and that makes it even more memorable. And I remember when you sent me that beautiful glass with my first thing initial there. I use it quite a lot. And every time that I take that glass out in the kitchen, I think of you.

Well, thank you. And that’s something that if everybody listening takes just this one idea away, it’ll make a difference, if they implement it. Which is, number one, how many thank you notes or handwritten notes have you written in the past month or quarter, to people to let them know you appreciate them, because they keep these notes? And also small gifts that don’t have to be, outrageously expensive, but they’re things that are not consumed by the person. And so in your case, it was a glass. In other cases, that might be a tumbler. But something that people use regularly and they will think of you in a positive way. If you just say, “Thank you.” for something that they’ve done.

And sometimes giving a book, if it is the right book for the right people. The book is tricky sometimes because some people have a pile of books that they want to read, and it’s just another book to read. That sometimes giving the right book that is relevant to the person and tell them, “Okay, read just chapter number or just the introduction.” Make their life easy, makes all the difference.

Yes, that is excellent. And so what you’re really saying is, a thoughtful gift that they will realize you put some effort into considering what would be meaningful to them?


So let’s go back to the ABCD, so we don’t get focused just on the giving and the asking. Go a little bit deeper with each one of them now.

So always share information, relevant information. That tells a lot about the giving, but like for instance when we do a post in LinkedIn, or in Facebook, with an article that we read that we thought, “Oh my gosh, this is really good information.” It can be our things, but it can also be other things that we come across or video or pep talk. So we can send that in an email to a person that when we are seeing the video or the article, we thought okay, this is relevant because of that, or even in a post we can tag people on LinkedIn or Facebook, as a way of saying, this is relevant for you. And if we do that one-on-one connection to the person saying, “I read this and it reminds me of the conversation that we had. And I think you are going to find it helpful because of this and this and that.”

Again, the person will think, “Oh, that person was listening when we had that conversation, and she still remembers.” It’s the one of the ones that always came easy for me.

The second, the B, is be the connector, connecting, introducing two people who benefit from each other. And this one honestly was a little bit more difficult for me to create as a habit. It was easy when I was in a live event speaking with people because I was like, “Oh, I think I should introduce you to someone.” That after live events, I didn’t have any problems doing introductions. But on the day to day, in front of my computer, it was not easy. And by practicing and really making that effort in the beginning of thinking, “Who will be relevant to this person or to that person?” Now, I do it very easily, and I have my template, I adapt for some people that I introduce to more people, I even have a blurb of them about what they do or I ask them, ‘I would like you to introduce to so and so. How do you want to be introduced?” If we don’t know, we ask and we are training our “asking” process.

So that is really powerful. And then the cultivated positivity I see it more as an article or again, the thank you card. It’s a way of practicing the gratitude, the impact because if we know that somebody is going to surgery or has a cold or the flu, if you send them something, gosh, that is going to stand out. Or if they are going through a hard moment in their lives or a celebration, they publish their first book. How can we be there as people, be there as authentic people? You and I had the pleasure of meeting in person in Hawaii. But before that moment, we already had a solid relationship, because of cultivating a relationships through the waves of the internet.

And it’s all about having some fun in the process, because I’ll just say, why not enjoy the process, because I think that’s the best way. So those are the basis of the ABC. I don’t know if you’d like to add something, because you practice these things too all the time.

Yeah, I want to go back for a minute to the B, because be the connector. I don’t know if it came as naturally to me, maybe it did. But I know I’ve practiced this a lot. And so it’s like your radar gets tuned in to noticing if somebody is saying, “Here’s something I’m looking for.” You can immediately think, “Oh, this? Well, Ana, you did it to me recently.” When you and I were talking last week and I was mentioning … I forget now what the item was that I mentioned.

But you immediately had a book that you went to grab then said, “This book will be very helpful to you.” So it can be connecting someone to a resource, not necessarily to another person. But all of your four elements really are interrelated ,too.


Because it’s this always be sharing is this whole aspect of connecting people to information, to people that could be valuable for them. And I had a chance to do it just this morning, I had a podcast host, one of the ones who said, “Yes, I’d love to support you.” And she wrote back and said, “I’ve promoted this here.” And then she said, “Do you know somebody that might be available to be a guest on my show on Friday?” Hers happens to be a live show. And so she had to scramble and I immediately connected her with somebody that I knew would be an ideal guest, and she emailed me just before our call and said, “Thank you. We had a great conversation and he’s going to be on the show on Friday.”

So it’s that responsiveness to situations where someone may not reach out to you like she did to me. But you sense there may be a way that you can add value to them.

And the couple of things…you show there that sometimes one action can meet some different letters in the ABCD here, and that is totally okay. The important thing is to cultivate this mode, because in the always sharing information, be the connector and cultivate positivity, these are really actions that we are doing to strengthen our relationships with our core network of people. And people can say, “Oh, this is like the book Love Is a Killer App.” Yes, yes. That is a great book to be read all about cultivating their core network in a meaningful way.

We also need to be expanding our network with new people, because some people move on to other projects or other things. So we always have to bring some new blood in. And that is the D, the direct outreach. So who can I reach out to? In Book Yourself Solid, we call it the list of 20. Who are the 20 people, the 20 companies, the 20 organizations that we have in our list to reach out in a meaningful, relevant way because we’d like to have them as part of our core network?

And let’s talk a little bit about that, because that may be a new concept for folks. This core network of 20.

That I call the outreach, I call the list of 20. The core network, if you want to put a maximum number, no more than 100 people in the core networking, in the group of people that you want to develop one on one relationships. And there is scientific evidence about this, the 100 to 120 in your tribe group. But the reality is we have limited time in our day to keep strong one on one relationships, so it has to be a limited group. That is totally different than a mass email or an email subscriber list. These are people that we want to keep relationships one on one.

So talk a little bit about the difference between the 20 and the 100.

So that list – what I call the core network that I say maximum of 100 people – it could be just 20, if they are the right 20. Quality is really more important here than quantity. These are people that already know you. If you write an email, they identify your name and they are going to read that email. For most of them, you even have their phone number and you can phone them. These are people that already know you, they know what you do. And they are willing to help you, to make it a mutual relationship.

The outreach is to people you know, or most of the time sometimes you have an idea will be great to know somebody in that organization, that there are people that you want to establish a relationship, want them to be part of your core network, but they are not there yet. So you have to outreach to them in a relevant way without being spamming, without being annoying, of being relevant and being of help. And then you start to cultivate that relationship with them. When they see your email, they smile, “Oh, she’s writing me.” Or they start to remember your name, and you start to cultivate that relationship.

And I am guessing that when you think about or when you’re helping coaches and consultants to identify who those 20 are, one of the steps after they’ve identified them is, what’s the best way to reach out to them? So talk a little bit about strategic introductions, because I know that’s something you advocate. And that’s a very effective way to get known by somebody that currently does not know you.

So here’s the question, once we identify the institution, for instance, if you are a speaker, or if you’re a coach, consultant and you’d love to work with a certain company. The question is who is in that company, who is the organizing of that event? You will identify that person. So you have a name, you have a face, and then you can ask, who do I know that knows this person?

And LinkedIn is wonderful for that, because of the common connections and even Facebook if you see them communicating with each other. And of course, mainly in LinkedIn, sometimes we are connected with one person and we don’t know the other person. So we have to ask, do you know this person well? That is the opportunity to make that connection. And if you have somebody that can make that email or their luncheon, or coffee or whatever, that allows you to invite to that situation now. I would like to present you to this person, I think you are going to enjoy each other. That accelerates the process.

Absolutely. Because I think that’s one of the things that causes those in the service industries like coaches and consultants to cringe, when they think about cold calling. And when you’re talking about outreach, you’re really not talking about cold calling


You’re looking at different ways that the person can become known without having to make this cold phone call.

You have to warm up even if you are going to cold call, warm up the relationship, warm up for instance by connecting on LinkedIn, commenting where people are, following the people on social media wherever they are active – it can be LinkedIn, Tweeter or Facebook. And share their content that is relevant, comment on it. Put some thought into it. If they are an author, write the review of one of their books. You are going to get on their radar. That’s how can you get in their radar in a relevant way for them, by adding value to them. Then when you outreach to them and say, “Hey, I’d like to connect on LinkedIn or I’d like to-” then they will be much open to that. For instance, just to give a concrete example.

I’m part of the National Speakers Association, there is on a chapter here in Phoenix. And they do amazing meetings once a month, and they bring incredible speakers. And if I’m going to the meeting, when I register to the meeting, I like to put something on Facebook or LinkedIn saying, “I just registered for this event. I’m really thrilled that I’m going to listen to so and so speaking about this topic.” And of course, I tag at so and so, most of the time, they have a LinkedIn profile. And if they are active on LinkedIn, they see the notifications, and they say, “Thank you.”

And then I look a little bit more at their material, and I say something like, “I really I’m looking forward to listen to you speak about that.” Something that is relevant, and then I send them an invitation to connect to them. So now, they already saw my name and most of the time, they are going to accept that invitation, and now they are a first degree connection on LinkedIn. When I’m in the live event, I go say, “Thank you so much for accepting my invitation. I really appreciate that.” Now we are connected there, and now they remember you, because they saw you there. And this applies to association events and conferences. So many things we can do to warm up the relationships even before we go to the event, and then to follow up afterwards.

And that’s such a key piece that’s often missing. But you know, as I’m listening to you describe that one example of what you’ve done. What you’re talking about there is really being strategic. And so when I think about being strategic around the outreach for these 20, is to take time to slow down. Too often, we’re just moving so quickly from thing to thing, but to stop and think, who are the 20 people? That if I connected with them, if I became known by them, it could make a huge difference in my business.

Totally, we have to be strategical. And we have to be authentic. The two things are totally possible at the same time. Because we want our core network and the people that we will outreach that brings to our core network. We want them to be people that energize us, that we love to be around. Because if we love to be around those people, it’s going to be much easier to keep in touch with them.


So when we strategically are thinking of the list of 20, the people that really can take our business to the next level, if we cultivate that relationships. Yes, we are being strategical in calculating that, that we want if we find somebody that drains our energy, let it go.

But if somebody, I love the energy, I love the values, I love their work. That book was really transformational for me when I read it. Those are the ones that you want to put there, because this allows you to be strategical and authentic and even go beyond the business. Because I was seeing my doggy in the background, this is a home office and see sometimes my husband passing, my dog is also coming by. And sometimes even in the sharing information being the connector and cultivating positivity, we have to start to go beyond business, beyond the professional. What are their hobby? Do they like outdoors? What do they like? Because in terms of gifts and presence, we can be more relevant if we know that information.

That’s such a good point. I think too often we think we’ve got to be all business. But we’re all human. And we all have interests and it’s amazing how a person’s whole physique and facial expression can change when you ask them, what do you like to do outside of work? What’s your passion away from the office? And getting them to start talking about that, they can become so animated and you realize, oh my gosh. And you hit on something really important here.

And you are seeing them as a three dimensional person, not just the … And there if you look … Oh, sorry, speaking about three dimensionally and the aspects here, the dog is barking. So at the moment, I can bring it here. I’m going to introduce your audience, my little dog that is fluffy and he’s a sensation in Facebook. But hopefully will not bark more. But it is how can we use these things, if I know that somebody is a dog person, they are going to understand this totally. If somebody is not the dog person, of course I have to excuse the interruption on all of that. And even if somebody is just listening to the audio version of this interview, again, some of them are going to find this endearing, because they are dog person, they have an online business, and wow, other people are, “Huh.” That is okay, we are going to connect with some and not connect so much with others. That is the reality of things.

I always think about that video. I don’t know if you remember of the BBC interview, that was this expert in politics that was being interviewing by the BBC in England. And yeah, the home office was set up, and the kids come into his office in the middle of the interview.

Yes, I remember that.

First one, then the second and then the poor wife running in. And you can see him metaphorically sweating saying my career as a commentator is over. But he was trying to keep, I’m still here, controlling all the chaos around, the wife takes the kids out and the poor guy. But because now so many of us have our online business, a big percentage of people were drawn in. And it became a viral sensation and then he was brought back to be interviewed about the experience. This is being human, how can we be human online? How can we be human on TV? On YouTube? To connect with people is everything. It goes back to real people, real relationships and how can we communicate in a relevant way with people?

And that’s what I love really in wrapping up, because we could talk for another hour I know. But these principles that you’ve laid out here in very clear terms, that’s really what they’re all about, is valuing another human being. Because when we feel valued, when we feel understood and appreciated, we want more of that person who’s giving us that kind of appreciation for who we are as humans. And so I think that while it’s helpful to have a framework that you’ve given, we don’t have to get hung up on exact steps. It’s looking at how can we be our authentic selves, and connect with other people in a way that causes them to want to continue that relationship?

Yeah, this is totally right. It’s the thing about … This is like a template, like when we have a template for an email or a template to talk, is the starting point. It’s just to avoid that feeling of the blank page. What should I do? If we have that, we have a menu of options to inspire us. But then we have to bring our voice there. Otherwise, we are just another thing, but it’s just nice.

So I think in summary, as a way to give people an action step, is to take a few minutes when you’re not driving or involved in some other activity, to make a list of those 20 people you want to reach out to. And then the other hundred or whatever number it is, it could be 50. But whatever number that is, identify those individuals, because these are people that will respond to you. And that you can have as a base of support in building your business. And I think that that’s really valuable. So Ana, I’m confident many of our listeners are going to want to know more about what you have to offer. So tell us how they can find you online.

So the best way is my name, Ana, just with one N. And then Melikian is, M-E-L-I-K-I-A-N.com. So my first, last name.com is the easiest way to find my website. And then from there, you can go to where I have the social media presence in Facebook and LinkedIn. That are my main stopping spots, I also have a Twitter, but I’m not very active there. So even if you Google my name, Ana Melikian, you will find me there in the first page of the Google results. And I would love to hear from any of you, if you have a specific comment, a specific question. I would love always to say, “Hello.”

Yes. And let me just add that, Ana is one of the most generous people I know. She is always looking for ways that she can help. So you’ve been very generous today, Ana, with all the things you’ve shared with us and I really appreciate your openness, and your wisdom in life and in business, and what you’ve brought to us today. So thank you very much for being my guest.

My pleasure!