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E-Gurus: Online Guides to Personal Growth

By Vivian Wagner E-Commerce Times ECT News Network
Oct 25, 2019 9:10 AM PT
life coaches and personal growth counselors are finding rich opportunities to help clients online

The personal and professional growth coaching industry is exploding, thanks in part to the accessibility afforded by the Internet and digital technologies. People who want to improve themselves are flocking to Skype sessions, online classes, Facebook groups, and other venues to work with life and performance coaches, get career advice, and network with other seekers.

"Coaching has become much more common and has less of a stigma attached to it than it did 10 years ago," observed online life and performance coach Kris Verlé.

"What started off as an intervention only open to the elite is now widely accessible across the corporate environment and on an individual level," he told the E-Commerce Times.

The Internet and the proliferation of digital communication technologies have made coaching and other personal growth services more accessible than ever before, creating a new world for those who want help and those who offer it.

"One of the main benefits of online coaching is its accessibility, which is particularly relevant for those in rural areas or parts of the world where coaching isn't yet commonplace," said Verlé. "Instead of being limited to the few coaches and interventions available in their local area, people now have access online to a full spectrum of interventions."

Good Connection

One of the keys to successful personal growth is to have clear and supportive communication with a coach, teacher or other professional, and digital technologies have been opening up new types and forms of this kind of communication.

"I've been adding ways to use new technologies for connecting with clients ever since 1979, when I joined The Source, the first online service for the general public, before AOL and CompuServe," recalled life coach and author Barbara Sher.

"What a treat—I could reach out to prospective coaching clients and discover what they needed without first writing a book, waiting a year for it to get published, then waiting for snail mail letters from readers," she told the E-Commerce Times.

Since those early days of her career, Sher has migrated to newer forms of communication, always striving to stay ahead of the technological curve in order to facilitate her connections with clients.

"My ancient phpBB Sher Boards are still up and chatting, but so are my WordPress-based Idea Party and my Facebook-based groups," said Sher.

"I'm also on Twitter and Pinterest and LinkedIn, and I have a newsletter that uses Constant Contact to reach all of my past, present and future clients. BarbarasClub.com, the home for all of my online programs, is a WordPress site using Digital Access Pass to handle registrations and password-protected access to individual programs."

With every new iteration, group and platform, she keeps in mind that good, clear, and straightforward communication with clients must be central.

"People crave connection and being heard, and it is all about the relationship and engagement," said Sher.

Far and Wide

New technologies allow coaches and other gurus to work from just about anywhere there's a reliable Internet connection, from London and Bali to the remote corners of Ohio, and also to connect with clients who themselves are based all around the world.

"As long as you have access to a decent Internet connection, you can be based anywhere in the world," said Verlé, who splits his time between Bali, London, Berlin and Stockholm. "In theory, that gives you access to an unlimited client pool."

In addition to increasing the accessibility to coaching services and fostering an ever-expanding client pool, digital technologies create a particular sense of intimacy.

"Many people experience less of a barrier when speaking to someone if they know it's unlikely they'll ever bump into them in real life," noted Verlé. "As a coach, this then allows you to create a really interesting dynamic during a session -- one which encourages true intimacy but is bounded by the confines of an online space."

Online video is a favorite of many coaches and their clients, since it allows an interaction that at least approximates the experience of actually being in the same room.

"Skype, Zoom and other Internet video conferencing tech is key for me," said executive performance coach Dan Beverly.

"I work remotely with the majority of my private clients, 40 percent of whom are outside the UK -- my location -- anyway. To be able to see a client's facial expressions, their eye cues, their gesturing is hugely helpful," he told the E-Commerce Times.

"Aside from increasing the 'safety of the space,' building rapport and generally connecting, in coaching, we work with the whole person. We listen and observe at all levels. These added dimensions are powerful elements of the coaching work," Beverly explained.

Though perhaps nothing can substitute exactly for meeting someone face-to-face, improvements in digital communication technologies have been key to the explosion in long-distance coaching.

Technology also can erect barriers between a coach and a client, Beverly acknowledged, but advances that have made it easy to connect and to create and share content "have really served my work."

Personal Touch

Key to making a tech-mediated coaching relationship work is personalization of the communication and content for particular clients or groups.

"Our long-distance training is very personalized to the client's physical needs and goals," said Alicia Fiammetta, co-owner with husband Tony Fiammetta of the Magha Method, a health and fitness coaching business.

"Tony is very invested in every one of his clients, whether it's in person or long distance. He full-heartedly jumps into helping to change his clients' lives, and I think they truly feel that," she told the E-Commerce Times.

"Life Cleanse, our online program, focuses more on general mental and emotional issues that every human, most likely, can improve on," Fiammetta said. "We have clients who also schedule phone appointments throughout the program to focus more on their individual needs, or who want to see faster results."

Regular individualized communication can make all the difference for clients who value one-on-one support and advice. That kind of personalized approach facilitates a client's process of transformation and change.

"We offer online courses and group coaching programs that allow our clients from all around the world to connect and learn the advanced social skills necessary to grow their network, strengthen their relationships, and advance their careers," said AJ Harbinger, CEO of The Art of Charm, a business focusing on social skills training.

"We love products like Zoom that enable us to use video to connect and coach our clients," he told the E-Commerce Times. "We know that accountability is a requirement for growth, and WhatsApp allows us to keep track of our clients' progress and mentor them personally."


Vivian Wagner has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. Her main areas of focus are technology, business, CRM, e-commerce, privacy, security, arts, culture and diversity. She has extensive experience reporting on business and technology for a variety of outlets, including The Atlantic, The Establishment and O, The Oprah Magazine. She holds a PhD in English with a specialty in modern American literature and culture. She received a first-place feature reporting award from the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists. Email Vivian.


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