Ep #189: My Role in Perpetuating Shitty Practices

It’s time for a hard conversation, that’s been months in the making.

I can’t change the past, but I can take accountability for it, learn from it, and make the future better. This week is just an honest conversation and apology from me, to you.

Click here to review the new Amy Latta Coaching Values, Practices, & Privileges

Some previous podcast episodes referring to many things in this episode:

(If you only listen to one, this is the one.) Ep #164: How Not to Get Duped by Your Coach https://www.amylatta.com/duped-by-your-coach/


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Full Episode Transcript:

You are listening to episode 189 of The Confident Coaches Podcast. This is the one without a big introduction and with an apology. There’s no intro, no outro. Today, guys, it’s just me having an honest and raw conversation with you because it’s time. This is about my role in perpetuating bad practices. I’ve been working for months on a plain-speak disclosures page. What can you expect from me? Whom I’ve learned from, what I no longer do, the values of my business, and it will be in the show notes for you to click on. It will also be on my about page on my website so that you can see it at any time. What’s not discussed at length is my apologies, and what I’m going to share with you today is an email that I actually sent. If you are an email subscriber, I’ve already sent this to you, and I’m going to be sharing it here today so that everybody, whether you are an email subscriber or not, hears these words because this is important.

I thought the coaching communities that I hitched my wagon to couldn’t be a bad thing. There are tons of people there. You know they’re smart, I’m smart. We’ve paid so much to be here, and here’s the thing: these coaching communities changed my life. This is true. I now handle whatever comes my way. I’ve done amazing things that I for sure would have thought were impossible once upon a time, and I do have a self-love and a self-trust that I honestly never had before. I was so dang happy to continue to invest more.

I happily invited other people because I wanted those changes for them too, and I was genuinely confused when people I invited did not want in or when they left, and even when I saw things that I did not like – the COVID response of my coaching community, the BLM response of my coaching community, and that little cult-like vibe. I honestly believed that I could just take what I needed and leave the rest on the table. I became very neutral. I’m very neutral about it, and here’s the thing: my corporate life, where I came from, was so soul-crushing that I deferred to the online marketing tactics being modeled for me over how I actually learned how to do business.

Now, I rejected some of the tactics, but I definitely ran with others, and I coached that. Any discomfort that you feel, it’s just a thought that I can help you with, and I for sure would come across wishy-washy sometimes because my gut suspected that there was more at play than just your thoughts. Yet, I was often told that I didn’t coach my clients hard enough. I was letting my people off the hook too easily. Show them their thoughts. And here’s the thing: my business made a lot of money in those communities. Though outside of my modest salary and I go into income disclosures in the link of my values, practices, and privileges that’s in the show notes, most of what I made went to pay for the business. It went right back into the business. I was working really hard to make sure other people got paid. And I finally listened to this nagging voice inside me last spring.

I really did want to see who I was outside of these coaching communities. I’d had that voice for a while. It took me a long time to finally listen to it. And listening to that led to the end of relationships. My revenue did decrease. I have suspended my salary. I have taken on some debt. It’s like I didn’t see what I couldn’t see until I saw it. Like the entire space kind of lifted up and shifted. And you’re like, holy shit, was it like that the whole time? And I didn’t see it. And it really sucks that I didn’t see it, in part due to the privileges that I have. And I own that. I go over all of what those privileges are in that Disclosures page that you can link to. And it really sucks that I didn’t see it until harm landed directly on my shoulders. And I take full responsibility for that. To people who saw harm before I did, I’m sorry I didn’t hear you. To the people who experienced harm because of my recommendations, I apologize, I didn’t know until I knew. To the people who experienced harm from me, my coaching, I am sorry. I am sorry you were unheard and that you felt unsafe. Now, I definitely considered no longer being a coach who coaches coaches on selling coaching.

Yeah, I can see it’s a “little pyramid.” I also believe this. We can and we should hold ourselves to a higher standard, not just what the lawyer says is legal because if the ones who are doing really good and the ones who are willing to correct the wrongs, if we all leave, then who’s going to be left to coach coaches? I’ve purposely sold less this past year to get it right. I’ve reorganized the cost structure. I’ve removed some of those teachings. I’ve reworked some of those teachings. I’ve deconstructed the overt and the subtle. You’re just not thinking hard enough and the capitalism at all costs out of these programs. Our focus here is on collaborative, inclusive, and empowering business for you, for the client, for your audience, for everyone. Building relationships, being human to one another, and not making every interaction transactional. And, finally, using a marketing degree and a career to help you build a profitable business, not a business that just makes as much money as you can but actually provides an income and a profit that helps you. The ends do not have to justify the means. We can create competent, self-loving, self-trusting humans without gaslight coaching and blaming you for your thoughts. We are making the comfortable, scary shit fun and playful, not traumatizing and harmful. No one should have to do anything that they don’t want to, period. It took a year to finally accept that I’d experienced harm actually throughout my entire 10-year coaching career, and it took a non-coach friend to help me finally let go of my need to only focus on the lessons learned and say, you know what? That shouldn’t have happened, period. It is okay to have our hurt and not have to change the story. Trauma or harm should not be the price for transformation. Now, if listening to this just isn’t landing for you if this is just too much if you’re like what the hell is Amy even rambling on about? Like I get it? No hard feelings. Seriously, I’ve always valued transparency and I always wear my heart on my sleeve. That’s been true the entire time. 

So, in my show notes and on my about page on my website, you will find a link to values, practices, and privileges. It’s six pages long. I’m not going to read it all here; instead, I’ll highlight some key points. But I ask that you take a look at it. In a way, it serves as a non-legalese terms and conditions, though the actual terms and conditions need to be updated. In all honesty, they were created with a lawyer that I would not recommend. So I still need to make some tweaks so that what’s in the terms and conditions matches the values and business practices laid out in plain language in that document.

If you have no idea where this email or podcast episode is coming from, that’s totally fine. Now you know me much better. You understand my willingness to course-correct and not be perfect. You also know why. I really do love working on being super cool and very human people. Again, I’m not going to read all six pages of values, practices, and privileges, but I will touch on a few highlights. First, the values. What we value here. I believe I’ve done a podcast episode on this, and I’ll include in the show notes previous podcast episodes that touch on some of the things I’m discussing in this session. If you’ve been listening the whole time, this probably isn’t coming out of nowhere. If you’re a brand-new listener, it might sound like this is coming out of nowhere, but I’m going to link to past episodes that refer to what we’re talking about today.

So, my values are non-hierarchy, non-judgmental, transparency, inclusivity, and implementation. Non-hierarchy means this isn’t a monarchy; this isn’t a cult. Critical thinking is encouraged. I have a ton of experience, but I don’t know better than you. I’m not a better authority on your life than you. My job is to teach you business strategy, identify obstacles, and help you overcome them. I’m non-judgmental because it’s not my place to dictate what your life should be. I have no idea what your experience should look like. I’m not going to force growth or transformation on you, and I won’t tolerate judgment from other people in the group. Transparency means I’m an open book if you don’t know that by now, but I’m not going to hide from you the hard parts, the scary things, and the ups and downs in the business. I absolutely believe we can normalize the realities of what is and isn’t happening while also dreaming of impossibilities. I’m going to approach our coaching with my mind focused on you, in full honesty, I ask the same of you.

My top priority is ensuring safety in your space. I have learned that some people did not feel safe in my space because I lived by the coaching credo that every discomfort is a thought that I can coach you out of. I honestly felt like I was not honoring your dream if I didn’t coach you through that. This is how people felt unheard and unsafe in my rooms, and that’s done. I invite the weird, the wonderful, and the awkward here. I invite conversations if you start to feel unsafe. Everyone is welcome here, and your voice is important and needed. Critical thinking is encouraged, while groupthink is not.

Honestly, the only reason you’re not going to fit into one of my rooms is if you think this entire thing is ridiculous and woke, or you think anything is woke. If you don’t know by now, I’m a tree-hugging hippie. And maybe you just can’t hang with me. I’m a sarcastic, movie-quoting, music-loving, inappropriate, f-bomb-dropping Gen Xer with a loud, gregarious laugh and ADHD. If that’s too much, I get it. I’m not everybody’s cup of tea, and that’s okay. I’ll love you anyway, and I know there’s a room for your version of weird and wonderful someplace else.

The last value is implementation. We’re having deep conversations about what’s going on in your mind, showing you your thoughts, and discussing how the industry is shifting, but then we also have to go and do the thing. We need to create and implement marketing strategies and business strategies because the transformation only comes in the doing.

As for how I do business, hiring, pay, and contribution, it’s essential to know that I pay my contractors fairly, as well as my guest instructors who work on coaching calls. My contractors earn a minimum of $25 an hour. I don’t ask anyone to work for free or expect experts’ time and expertise without compensation. I don’t pay people to be on my podcast or take payment. If someone’s a guest, it’s because I highly value them. I might suggest books, products, or programs, and while it’s rare, if there’s any affiliate agreement, you’ll know upfront.

My company is an S corporation with only one full-time employee – me. My company pays payroll taxes that the government requires. I don’t currently offer myself any benefits. When we have a profitable year (last year, I did not turn a profit), 5% will be donated to charities. I personally donate to 10 charities every month, regardless of the company’s income.

Amy Lata Coaching made $1.3 million from the 10 years between January 2013 and 2022. Most of that was earned in coaching rooms that I connected with and paid for. Most of what I earned was reinvested into coaching, certifications, systems, personnel, technology, business travel, home, and office taxes. I personally drew a salary of $60,000 in 2021 and 2022. Through traditional payroll, my take-home pay was $4,200 a month when I was making $425,000 a year. We’re going to talk a lot more about that and why the priorities have shifted in this space.

Accessibility: I offer my knowledge for free every week on this podcast. You all know that I also have a brand new, not necessarily brand new, but I’ve resurrected a past free Facebook group, plus all the free trainings I offer. As you know, my content is not just hints of my knowledge, but I actually give you coaching tools that I deliver in my paid program. In the paid programs, you’re going to have me to help you implement that.

I currently have three offers that mix business strategy and competence building. I go over what those are and what the price points are. I have a program for $1,000, a program for $5,000, and a program for $10,000. And no, not everybody, not each one is appropriate for everyone. Every program comes with an interest-free payment plan. I do not currently have scholarships or sliding scale payments. They are on the radar as I look at more options to increase accessibility.

Practices revolving around selling: I no longer sell. You will receive this specific result because I’ve learned in 10 years. I’ve learned in 10 years. Lou has something to say here. There are multiple pieces at play, and not everyone is playing with the same pieces. My job is to coach you through those pieces, help you put them into place so that we can move the needle as far as possible in the time of the program, in the time that we’re working together, and the focus of these programs is creating revenue with minimal expense so you can create income. I don’t want you all working really hard to make sure other people get paid, even when those other people are me. You get my expertise and my knowledge, 30 years of business and coaching, through set weekly calls, unlimited access, and Facebook groups, one-on-one calls where applicable. I am not available to you 24 hours a day, but you will know exactly how I am available to you. It’s really important for me that you deserve an environment where you are left empowered in your decision of whether or not you’re going to buy from me. If it’s extractive and exploitative, we aren’t doing it, even if it makes a lot of money in a short amount of time.

I will, at times, launch or engage in sales pushes, but no longer use income claims, hype, and FOMO to get you to buy. I no longer share client experiences with their name or anonymously without express permission or screenshots from inside private spaces for marketing purposes. And listen, this is not a cult. You’re not required to renew with me to stay in my good graces. I welcome constructive feedback because I either want to use that feedback to make the programs better or get better in my explanations. I don’t hold favorites. No one gets special attention from me. I’m never going to shame you for not purchasing, and I’m never going to say yes when it’s clear you aren’t a great fit. My programs come with a 14-day cancellation policy. I am open to situations that might arise outside of that initial time. I always want you to know I have an open door, open heart. Let’s have a conversation.

I go over my credentials and where I learned from my marketing degree, as well as all the jobs I had in the 10 years post-college in marketing and the at-home businesses I ran as a stay-at-home mom. I’ve worked as a coach for quite some time. As for who I’ve learned from, I think there are around 25 people. I list every paid coach and program I have invested in over the past 10 years. I don’t list the people I’ve stalked on social media or the books I’ve read, but there are about 20 to 30 of them listed. The list is not an endorsement of any coach or program, and I purposely no longer use some of what I learned in these programs. You will need to pull up the document to see all the programs I’ve been in. By the way, Lou has joined me on my lap.

I then give some shout-outs because this episode, the email I sent, and the document on values, practices, and privileges came from a couple of people who I feel need recognition. They are modeling higher standards. This is not an exhaustive list. I will include some links in this episode or the next one. Shout-out to Erica Reitman, my last business coach, for showing me different ways of doing business. My former CFO, Mark Butler, whom you’ve heard in a podcast, Trudi Lebron for teaching about inclusive communities, Maggie Patterson, Kelly Deals, and Tarzan Kay for modeling businesses that don’t suck.

I then go over privileges that work in my favor. The point of sharing these privileges, which is a whole page and a half that I’m not reading in its entirety, is that going through the process of identifying these privileges helped me see the limitations of thought work only. It also helped me bring more awareness of how I can’t possibly understand everything everyone is going through, as I have never had to overcome certain obstacles. By identifying what I know about myself and the obstacles I’ve never had to overcome, it better helps me serve more people and know where my limitations are.

My upbringing, education, career, family and support, faith, body, mind, and health have all played a role in shaping who I am today. However, I have never faced housing or food insecurity. Even when we were on government assistance, I never had to worry about those things. Even when I experienced layoffs in my career, I had the financial backing of either my spouse at the time or my family. I was able to go to college on scholarships and not have to worry about student debt. My family may not understand what I do, but they fully support me, which is amazing. I have kids, a husband, and a family who help me run the house and allow me to run this business. I’m not religious, and I don’t experience any persecution regarding religion.

I’ve never been made fun of for my appearance in any way. I don’t hold myself back in any way because of how I appear. I think you all know I have ADHD, which does create a low level of anxiety. Additionally, I have amazing access to healthcare, including outstanding health insurance, counseling, coaching, therapy, energy work, and anything else I need to help me with that, as well as the past trauma that I legitimately experienced when I was a child. Health-wise, I have a life-threatening food allergy and some autoimmune disorders, but nothing that affects my daily ability to function.

By going through that, it helped me identify that not everybody brings the same experiences to the table, so it allows me to increase the safety in the room for people who don’t have access to the same resources. Because my awareness is there, I can better handle those conversations and activities, which, to be honest, took a really long time. That was one of the longer sections that I took the most time with, because I just kept coming back to realizing all the things I’ve never had to worry about. Having those experiences doesn’t necessarily make things easy, but they aren’t obstacles I have to worry about. Not having those experiences doesn’t mean you can’t achieve whatever you want, but there might be some obstacles in the way that need to be worked through that someone else may not need to deal with. As coaches, being able to hold space with compassion for everyone is the most important thing.

This is me sharing with you my role in perpetuating harmful practices and coaching, my awareness of it, my acknowledgment of it, and what I am doing to make that change. Yes, this is a difficult conversation. It’s never easy admitting mistakes, owning up to them, and discussing how I’m going to change. That’s why it’s taking me this amount of time to create this and put it out there. In the next episode, I’m going to talk about how not to build a cult and build a life coaching business instead, and I am going to discuss deconstructing some of the harmful aspects of the industry.

I want to be clear: I’ve never been in a cult, but there have definitely been some things that are a little cult-like in the coaching world. We’ll discuss that in the next episode. For now, I’m truly honored that you are here. I love the work that we are doing together, and I love all the good that we have done together. I am excited to have you here as we do this work together, move forward, and really take this industry that we all love so much and make it the most amazing space for all humans to be in – a space that is safe for everyone who wants to be here. Alright, my friends, it’s truly an honor to have you here.

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