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Becoming An A-Lister In Your Field With Laura Berman Fortgang


TRANSCRIPT AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED [00:00:00] Hey, Hey, today's guest Laura Berman Fortgang has spent more than 25 years in the personal coaching world. She's a best-selling author and speaker, and between all of that, she helps coaches and consultants my methodology to grow their income and impact. Hey, Laura, welcome to the show. Laura: Thank you so happy to be here, dad. let's Diane: let's start with a quick intro to you and your business. Laura: My goodness. Well, I, I'm starting to call myself the OG coach because I have been coaching since the nineties. I was in my mid twenties then, and I was one of the founder, founding members of the international coaching Federation. I was one of the first 16 students that coach you. I really had a hand in seeing this profession go. Nothing to everything that it is today, including getting to travel the world to spread the good news. And I've enjoyed a lot of great opportunities. I've been on the Oprah Winfrey show. I have five books. My TEDx talk has 1.7 million views. And, you know, I never thought of myself as anything other than a coach, meaning that many time when coaches. A certain A-list status. They stop coaching because they're speakers and they have other opportunities. But I always felt like if I didn't have my laboratory, if I didn't have my coaching clients, then what am I talking? Like, who am I? Right. Like, I built my reputation on the results that I create. So now the results that I create are twofold. I've been known for helping people figure out what to do with their life. And I've used that same methodology with entrepreneurs and coaches to really sharpen who they are as a coach and what really is their thing. That is their zone of genius. And then building that to an A-list reputation. So I kind of corner, you know, coaching out in the real world and coaching in the coaching world. I love Diane: I love that because what I always say to people is, you know, we're so encouraged to be like, you should coach people one to one and then you should have a group and then you should have a course and not talk to anyone. Laura: And Diane: And I always think then all you're left within the world is new coaches, Laura: but I Diane: You don't, you lose the [00:02:00] expertise level of, of. Laura: Right, Diane: right. The people who can look at you and in five minutes flat go this is where you need to focus and I think as you grow as a person, the expertise level you need from your coach also needs to grow with you. And if everyone's just doing courses then, where do we find that? Laura: Oh, I, I so agree with you. That is a great observation. It's it is one of the things that makes me sad. So I was a late adopter to the scaling model because I was like, but you're not a coach anymore. You're a teacher. You're you're teaching your principles. So I've always maintained. I always have to have one on one clients, even if it's just a handful, that's fine. And, and I still have scaled and I still have created programs and I still have put things out in books, but I've always looked at it. Less as people should have less of my time because I don't wanna trade hours for dollars. I've thought of it more as how do I reach people at every price point? How do I bring that years of experience that you cannot get by anything else other than doing it to every price point? So it's like, ah, the book is 15 pounds and the, you know, the course is this. So I, I that's how I've looked at. It always is how do I reach more people through the right price points for them? Yeah. Diane: And I think that's such an important clarification for people who are thinking about scaling is to actually take that step back and be like, is this in service of me? Or is this in service? I want to be able to reach more people at their price point, versus I just don't wanna work as many hours. Laura: Well, I love that you look at it that way because I, I, you know, my husband has often looked at me and gone, you know, if you didn't have so much integrity, you'd be a lot wealthier. And, and I share this with a couple of other colleagues of mine. It's like, where's the integrity, where's the integrity. And that's not. Poo poo people making fabulous dollars, but I think you can do both, you know, and not just be elitist. It, it depends where you, where you put your attention and your spirit. Yeah. Diane: Yeah. I feel like it's been this thing of like, you know how [00:04:00] sometimes like entrepreneurial land kind of looks at corporate land as like, oh, shame for you. Like, you're like, you're in a job. And then I feel like within the entrepreneurial land, there's like, if you're still providing a service after years of being in business, it's almost like you, you must be doing something wrong. Don't you want to like lie on a beach while you earn passive income? Not that I have anything against anybody who's teaching something that earns them passive income, but I think we are diluting our skill pool Laura: massively in Diane: in all areas, not just in coaching. Laura: Get someone to do your Facebook ads. They wanna put you in their course on how to do a Facebook ad. You know, it's like, no but, but I hear like, oh my you're just speaking to my soul with this because it's one of the things that makes me sad about this industry. And also just you know, it's, it also goes back to do you know, the old book. Michael Gerberg the emo. Right. So the reason why most business failed with five within five years. And one of the reasons why most businesses fail is that people keep working in the business, not on the business, however, part of why the businesses also fail is because the person who went into it for the craft, let's say you were a wood Smith, or you were a coach, or you're a writer. You went into it for the craft. Then you turn it into a business and you get further and further removed from your craft. Now you have to worry about shipping. Now you have to worry about, you know, can the book go to the right publisher, whatever the, or the coach wanting to scale and never, you know, I'm just gonna sit in my, by the pool, like you said, and not talk to anybody. So we, we are diluting the crafts when we just get away from doing the craft and worry about the business. So I think there needs to be a happy medium if you, if you're an artist, if you're a craft person. And I don't mean that just from art in the fine arts, I mean, anyone who works, people. Anyone who wants to reach people? It it's a form of art. You're moving people. You're making them think, feel, and change. And to me, you're an artist and, and this echoes a little bit of Seth. [00:06:00] God, if you know him, the marketing guru, Seth, God, I went to A small seminar. He did. And he was talking, how about how, you know, we're artists? And he was asking people what they do. And I stood up and I said you know, I raise consciousness for a living and you probably, you didn't hear that in my introduction. Right. That's sort of like my, you know, behind the scenes answer is that I raise consciousness for living as a you're an artist. It was like one of the highest compliments I ever got paid was that, you know, if you're doing anything that moves human beings, Then it's an art and the further we get away from our art, the less people get that depth of your experience. Diane: And the, and I think the less joy you get in the day to. because I do think people think I can step back from the business and life will replace the joy. I feel in the business. Right. I can give up all the things I love doing in the business, do the stuff I don't really like in the business in order to get more life. And somehow that will balance each other out. Whereas I think they're missing that you still, as a human, have that desire to, as you say, create. Laura: Well, I, I do get entrepreneurs who are burnt out, who come to me and they've lost the spirit of what they were doing. And what do we need to get back to is like, well, why were you doing it in the first place? Right? You didn't do it to have a team of 30 people doing your social media. You did it because you saw something that spoke to. How you can move people, right. So how do you get back to that? And it may be a new iteration. It may be a different business, but you know, ultimately we're human and ultimately we care if we're like how our reward is not just the money it's like, did we do something that mattered? Like, you know, the, the deer who come to eat bushes in my backyard, don't think about. If they matter I wish they did. So they stop eating my bushes, but, but human beings care if they matter, it's just a very strange phenomenon. That's why people are like, I need to do something more [00:08:00] meaningful with my life. What does that, you know, what does that mean? It means that you need to feel good about it. You need to feel like you've done something that, that moves the planet forward. That's a human dilemma, you know, that's the conundrum of being a human being. Diane: We see it like where people retire, their job's been this whole part of them. And then they retire and they're like, I'm so bored. Laura: I board and depressed I do have a cousin who I'll give him this. He, I think he retired at 50 cuz he, you know, double income, no kids and both lawyers. And now he does his music, you know, his first love. And so he, his days are full and he's great, but I see so many people retire or semi-retire. To get lost, just, you know, there's only so much golf and waking up late. You can do before you start introverting and feeling like life doesn't have meaning. Diane: A hundred percent. So before we dive into how to get on the A-list as a coach, a consultant, an expertise based business, Can we clarify what the A-list means? It's Laura: Let's. I do have a show business background. I CA I was a musical theater junkie who turned it into a career for a decade. So to many people they'll think that, I mean, by the A-list like an A-list celebrity. Right. And I don't think of it in terms of celebrity, as much as I think of it in terms of the people who don't have to audition. right. So, right. So if I go, okay, I want Tom cruise to do my movie. No matter what you think of him, I did. Maverick top gun and it was excellent. And I'm not a big fan of his, but oh my God, his movies are good. So anyway, I'm gonna, I'm gonna name my a Lister, right? They don't have to audition for me. If you ask Tom cruise or Emma Thompson to audition for you, they'll be insulted. So for those people that have been coaching a long time or. Been a consultant for a long time and you have a certain reputation. It's like, you don't expect people to audition. You. You're just like, oh, you heard about me. You're interested. Great. Let's work. So, and do you have, and to build a reputation where you're asking for my name, do you have to be a celebrity?[00:10:00] I don't think you have to be a full out celebrity coach. I just think you have to have some habits that a lot of those people do. And that's some of the things we're gonna talk about, right. Diane: I was, yeah. My next question was, is there a strategic path or some mile markers we can look for, but it sounds like it's habits. Laura: right? I mean some, okay. If we look at we'll look at habits and then there's principles too, I suppose, but like a habit you can't be afraid of. Self-promotion you know, like I said, I'm not saying, I mean, I know people who paid tens of thousands of dollars to have videos made of them and do all the right things and it got them. You know, and they came to me and was like, why didn't you tell me it would, it doesn't add up to anything. I said, you never asked me, you never asked if you'd asked me, I would've told you don't waste the money, but if you have opportunities, if things are organically coming to you, how do you leverage that? So even in my early days, when I had a paper newsletter folks, paper got mailed if I was on, there were no podcast then, but if I was on if I was mentioned in the wall street journal, I would let my clients know. Right? Why would my clients want to know? I don't need them as new clients. I don't need to impress them in any way, but my own clients started to see me differently because I was in the wall street journal. They're like, I made the best choice in the world. I have the best coach, you know, look, look at me. I'm so smart. So. Not being afraid to self promote a little bit, not from a bragging point of view, as much as from a, a mile marker. A, you know, I did it, you can do it point of view. So leverage is really important. That's a habit leverage. Isn't a habit actually, when you do a sales call and someone says, yes, that's the perfect time to go and make another call to someone who ha was a maybe or pick up the phone and make a cold call or scary call because leverage is everything. When you're coming from a positive win, it's a much different conversation than when you're coming from lack. So that's one habit is leverage while you have the. And don't be afraid [00:12:00] to self promote. Another habit is just really thinking. Thinking of your client's experience. Right? So a lot of people think, oh good, got a new client, sign them up. They paid, yeah, we're gonna have a strong start. And then, you know, we just get into this mode. How do you treat your client? Like they're the Alister because they are working with you. So when they have a topnotch experience and you keep caring for them as an, as a top ideal client, That's how they're gonna talk about you too. That's they're gonna send people like them who are gonna enjoy that experience. And it's so if we're gonna turn that one into a habit, I'm actually turning the habit into a two part or one part treat your clients like A-listers. But on the other hand, don't say yes to UN ideal clients. It it's a tough one. It's a tough one, especially if you're in a, like a needy place. And like, you need to make that nut that month, but. UN ideal clients only will refer people like them. Diane: Oh, it's the double whamy. we all know how much it sucks from you to work with an, an ideal client, but I never actually thought about the knock on impact Laura: send you their good friend. I used to say it more harshly used to say, if someone's a headache in your practice, they're gonna send you other headaches. So. Try not to take on a headache. If, you know, if you see it in advance, don't be tempted. don't be afraid to self promote, leverage treating clients like A-listers and avoid. Non ideal clients, and then an important factor that I don't know if we're gonna call it a habit, but an important factor for consultants and coaches in a very crowded field is for you to eventually mine your own methodology. And that's really at the core of the a. Situation is again, it's not about your celebrity. It's about your reputation for results. So if your results speak for themself, they probably come from a certain domain. Like I, I created my longest 16 year stint. At first it was helping people get ahead and get promoted. Then it was work life [00:14:00] balance. Then after nine 11, Just found myself with a specialty of helping figure out people figure out what else to do with their lives. Cuz so many people were questioning the meaning of their lives. At least in the United States, when something we never thought would happen in our lifetime happen. So. Diane: And I guess we're seeing that repeat again now with the pandemic. Laura: We, we hear it for the great resignation, right. People really re-looking at, what am I trading my hours for dollars for is, is it worth it? That's a whole other conversation. Back to mining your methodology back to your reputation. So if you're, so if you're not gonna be building reputation on celebrity, look at me at me, look at me, you're building a reputation on results, and this is where most newer coaches or consultant struggles, cuz you don't have those results yet. So you've gotta go and get them. But once you have a series of results, then looking at like, okay, how do I do my special Juju as a coach? Like for me it was a career. Decision career clarity trajectory. And then I have a different methodology for coaches to get on the A-list, but you have to look at like, what have you done repeatedly? Where have you gotten results repeatedly? Who's your ideal client who get results for repeatedly. And now you niche. Now you have a methodology and that's what you start building your reputation on going. So again, it's not your beautiful personality and how gorgeous you're on your pictures. It's your reputation for results. That's what makes the phone ring. My TEDx talk is thank goodness. My greatest source of referrals. And I did it, you know, in 2015 and the phone, I have two people today who contacted me, who wanna become clients, I have many, many fortuitous stories in the course of my luckiness over my career. And that was another one. Like someone who knew of me years ago had forgotten about. Was speaking to another coach who uses my methodology. And they were like, oh my gosh, I know Laura. So a conversation with me she'd made the article was about her conversation with this other coach, but she put my TEDx talk as like a resource and it [00:16:00] went from 3000 views to 50,000 views in a month. And then it's just been climbing. So now it's one, almost 1.8 million. So thank you. Thank you. There's that leverage? There's that leverage? Diane: you spoke about how, like your career trajectory has changed. Like you looked at different things. So I'm also a big pivot. I come from a really long corporate background. Then I wanted to save everyone from corporate. Then I wanted to save everyone from systems. Then I wanted to save individual CEOs from Bernard. And now I'm like, how do I really like help teams integrate all of that? Right. So it's kind of all come together. And one thing, how do we take that aimless reputation with. Laura: from our Diane: From our one pivot or growth or expansion to the. Laura: they're probably not as they're not disparate, you know, if one of the things that I I do with. Career stuff. And with the coaches do is to say, okay, look at all those things you've done at the core. There's probably a theme to them. There's probably one core tenant you hold or one core. Belief for hypothesis that really ties all of them together. And they totally feed into who you are, right. And who, what you are here to change on the planet. So you're just really changing the packaging around him. Like you, you're not changing, it's the packaging. So the, your reputation stays intact because of the results you've created before. And then you have to create that great bridge story of how, you know, you work with the CEOs and your work with this has means that, you know, teams inside. Yeah, right. Diane: Yeah. It's, interesting cuz I haven't connected any of. Until you said to me, what's at the core of all of them. and for me, I had a really bitter end to my corporate career. I like burnt out fully burnt out, went traveling for two years. Couldn't think straight kind of burnt out. And I think what if I look through the thread of all the things that I've tried to do is I've tried to make people happier and their jobs, every single piece. Laura: Oh, [00:18:00] I'm delighted. And that's, and that's, that's, that's a problem for so many people. They think that they're all over the place, but no, there's a core tenant. There's a through line. And if you can name that, you've got your bridge to any. Any of the pieces you wanna express it through. Diane: yeah. I love that because I think. We do think about, oh, I could pivot to this and you think, oh, everyone's gonna think it's just a shiny object versus like, how can we position that as a development of what we already believe and already working towards this is just The next expansion of it. Laura: you know, it's it's evolution because when people talk about reinvention, it's not reinvention for the sake of reinventing. It's not like I used to like purple and now I'm gonna like yellow. It's like, even if you look at Madonna, who's reinvented dozens and dozens of times, I like to think, you know, probably sometimes it's something she puts on from the outside in, but most of the time. It's appealing a way of the onion. Like she discovers a new layer, right. So she went, when she went through, like her Hindu kind of like goddess phase, like that's what she thought was true for the moment. Right. That was the next peeling of the onion. And then when she did that and dug deeper, then there was another one, you know, and sometimes, you know, your record label, whatever, be like, oh, bring back Madonna with the cone boobs, you know, so, you know, you're gonna have outside influences, but I don't ever think of reinvention as a. Outside anything. I think of it as an inside, out peeling away another layer till something new evolves and is made known. Diane: that really resonates for me, cuz it does feel like that's kind of what I've been doing is getting closer and closer. Laura: exactly, exactly. So it gets pure and pure instead of it feeling like you're getting further away from something you're obviously getting closer to the core. Diane: So we've got our habits. Laura: We have our methodology. Diane: What are Laura: strategies now? How do we put that methodology and those results out in the world. Diane: How do, how do we now we're onto the Laura: and, and you know, now you can see why people come to me. Like, I've never, I've been asked for years and years [00:20:00] to like, how do you write a book and how do you get on Ted talk and how do you do this? And how do you get on Oprah? And it never interested me. To like, advise on that because I don't there's ways to do it. That could get you no result whatsoever, you know? So you can put your mind to that, but I always like to think of it as like, how would you, what would be the highest use of your gifts to serve? Right. So I love to speak, like I was a performer first, so that I built my business through speaking. And at first for no pay. You know, so if I were to catch myself more mid-career if you're somebody who you know, has a methodology or is thinking, I have my methodology, what, what is the first avenue you would take to put it out in the world? Like, do you love books? Do you love writing? Do you, you know, do you wanna have a course? Do you wanna have a, you know, a video vault, do you want to do speaking on this topic? Do you wanna train, you know, like I've trained. Many corporate groups on how to use coaching skills as a management skill. Like that was one of my iterations. So what would just light you up as the first way to share that? And you can't do all of them. Like people like, oh, I'm gonna write the book and that's gonna lead to like, no, just pick, don't think of it as like one will lead to another. Just think of which one you just can't wait to do and start. You know, once you have a book or the methodology or the course, like it can become all the other ones, but you'll see that it, it becomes more of an organic process. Like you don't need to plot and plan every single little thing. Just pick which way to get out in the world first. So it should be organic because if it's gonna be something you're gonna stick with, it should be something that you're gonna enjoy doing. And that's the other thing, you know, when you try to create it from the outside in it's like, well, I should have this because that's the thing. That'll get me that it's like, if you hear yourself talking that way, you're already going down the wrong. and that's part of why I avoided teaching, how to get any of those things over the years, even though I could speak to how I got it, but that doesn't mean that's how it's gonna work. It's like luck and synchronicity. When you show up 100%, [00:22:00] it's not something you can predict, but when you show up 100%, my experience is that good things happen. Diane: The methodology is essentially to pick your thing, pick your route to the ALIST, whatever that is for you. Podcast book, speaking, teaching, whatever, and then focus on that with the intensity of a thousand sons, without thinking about all the things that could possibly lead to just show up and do Laura: 50%. And I do believe that it will have a ripple effect. Diane: Oh, my goodness. I can just picture like all of my incredibly detailed listeners being, I don't know how to make that a task list. Laura: of my soul Sometimes you just have to trust that task meeting universal energy equals pleasant surprises. You have to be prepared for anything. And the only way you can be prepared for anything is just to be fully present in the moment. And the way that you can be fully present in the moment is that you know that you have it in your body and your soul in your cells, cuz you practiced it enough and now you just show up. So I get the task master people, and then I get the people who wing it and there's just needs to be a combination of the two. Diane: So I do think we have covered a lot and we've, gone fairly deep on some stuff. I know you have a great resource for people to be able to refer back. Laura: great Diane: they weren't following our thread through the many Laura: talking about this. Yes. For the linear people today, behind curtain. Number one, we have our six steps to go from solo practitioner to a sensational brand. So that will give you more of a six step linear trajectory on how to do some of the things that we've been talking about today. Diane: I'll make sure we link that in the show notes so that everyone can find that. So to finish up, I always like to ask my guests the same two questions first up. What is your number one lifestyle boundary for your. Laura: my number one lifestyle boundary for my business. I stop earlier and earlier now, but it's 5:00 PM right now. [00:24:00] It's just like over and I don't come back. I don't, I used to come back 10:00 PM, 9:00 PM, blah, blah, blah. But I'm just, and my children are grown now, but they, this, I have 2 21 year olds at home, but I probably work less now that they're older than when they were little, but yeah, lifestyle boundary days over it's. Diane: Amazing Laura: What time does the day start? Not as early as you think. Nine. I mean, I get, I get up way before that, but yeah, it's a nine Diane: Yeah, it's a, and again, there's that consistency, right? Laura: the Diane: the hours that I have. Okay. Finally, I think you'll enjoy this one. What is the worst piece of cookie cutter advice you've been given as an. Laura: goodness. Diane: You're like, let me think back through 25 Laura: that advice. Oh this is what comes to mind. Hire me. That's the worst advice I've ever gotten? that the people who were ballsy enough to like be in my face and go hire me. I. And I will never follow that advice again. And I only did it because they were people who had such, such confidence in themselves like, wow, who does that? But in each I think I did it three times and it worse mistakes ever made. So there Diane: And I think that's often disguised. Like it was really blatant to you, but I think that's often. Well, I always say to people, if somebody's going, you should have a membership. You should have a membership. You should have a membership and they have a product that helps you have a membership. you have to have like Laura: multiple grains of salt, Diane: of salt. Laura: the source, consider the Diane: the source. Exactly. Ah, on that note, this has been amazing. Laura: I feel Diane: I feel like I've had so much clarity out of our conversation. Laura: Well, that makes me very happy Diane: Thank you all for coming to listen to my private coaching conversation. Where is the best place for people to find you on the socials? Laura: Yes. Find me at Laura B Fort [00:26:00] gang. That's Instagram and Twitter. Laura Berman, Fort gang. And you'll find me cuz there there's no other Laura Berman Fort gangs. There is Dr. Laura Berman, the sex doctor. I am not her. Diane: just before we go on a Laura: completely Diane: tangent. Laura: Yes, Yes, is Diane: awesome. thank you so much. Laura: much. Wonderful. Thank you for having me. It was really fun.

If you’re more interested in doing the work than selling the work but you still have to eat so… This might be the solution you’ve been looking for 

Laura Berman Fortgang walks you through the power of being an A-lister and how to set yourself up as the go-to in your industry.

Key Takeaway

Pick one way to get your message out and go all in. Don’t become overwhelmed by the ecosystem of possibilities. 

We talk about

  • Setting up A-list habits
  • The core of your A-list status
  • Turning your results into a framework
  • How to take your reputation with you through evolutions in your business
  • How to take your reputation to the public
  • Laura’s lifestyle boundary for her business
  • The worst cookie-cutter advice Laura’s been given on her lifestyle business

About Laura

Laura’s professional life is anchored by her international reputation as a pioneer and 25-plus-year veteran in the personal coaching field. Only one expression of her years supporting people to find meaning, purpose and satisfaction in their lives, Laura is also a best-selling author, sought-after speaker, TV personality (Oprah and All National Morning Shows), corporate spokesperson, interfaith minister and performer. Her TedX talk currently boasts over 1.7 million views. Laura’s five books are now published in 13 languages. She has addressed public and corporate audiences in many parts of the world on topics such as Reinvention, Career Satisfaction and Change as well as bringing coaching to diverse clients ranging from homemakers, celebrities and Fortune 500 companies to NASA and the Army Corps of Engineers. She’s best known for her unique career transition “Now What?®” methodology and The A-List Coach Business Mentoring Program which supports coaches and consultants to mine their own methodology to grow their income and impact.


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The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this podcast episode and article are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article or episode. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article. Diane Mayor disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article.