Some thoughts on the Business Coaching Pyramid Scheme, and how to avoid being part of it

Marsha posing with handwritten on her fingers yes yes Marsha

(AKA behind the scenes of my ethical dilemmas, and a list of the systems I’m putting in place to try and solve them.)

This is the kind of blog I always slightly regret posting (but that I often get a LOT of emails about, because it gives (my) people some VERY! STRONG! EMOTIONAL! RESPONSES!).

Here’s the context:

The other day, I was on a call to my friend Katherine (she off’ve Declare Dominion) and I started having that conversation with her. The one I have with almost all my online business friends whenever we start talking about courses and other lower-priced offerings.

“The thing is…” As I said the words, I wasn’t actually twirling one of those curly landline phone chords, because it’s 2020 and we don’t use them anymore, but that was my vibe. “I just worry that I’m being part of what my friend Sam calls ‘the Business Coach Pyramid Scheme’. You know, where you hire me as a business coach, and I teach you how to be a business coach who coaches business coaches how to coach people on being business coaches that coach business coaches… and there’s no actual end product.”

The reason I felt safe enough to say this to Katherine is because she knows I’m not trashing anyone who is a business coach per se. For years, being one has been a huge part of my own income (whether it’s through showing people with a website how to tell stories and be more themselves online or teaching you how to write sales pages with soul so it would be a bit hypocritical if I was slating everyone else who does this work.

But where I start to get itchy is when I see customers being sold the promise of making millions of dollars, AND where there’s not enough vetting going on, when it comes to who is buying. Meaning those courses and classes often get bought by people who will never make a lot of income from their endeavour.

Back on the call to Katherine, I told her, “I just don’t want to take someone’s money if it’s going to be wasted. Like, maybe you’re buying my course but you’re actually not going to make a success of making money from the thing you want to apply my lessons to.”

Katherine — charismatic enthusiast that she is — said, “You should do a Facebook Live on that! ‘Should you even start a business? An honest look from someone with integrity’”

I liked that idea for about two seconds until I realized that I’d never be bold enough to CRUSH ANYONE’S DREAMS TO THEIR FACE.



5 Things you need to ask yourself before you write a sales page

Marsha Looking at you

This might be a silly idea, BUT:

In today’s blog, I figured I could either tell you all the reasons I think you sign up for my Sales Pages With Soul 4 week class at the Early Bird price before Tuesday…

…OR, I could just write in the actual email the stuff I’m planning to teach. That way, you might not even need to bother paying for the class.

Which is mostly the way I do my free 15 minute consults; I just get on the call, coach the prospect I’m talking to until 5 mins before the end, then ask, “Got what you need? If not, here’s what hiring me would look like, and here’s how to do it.” This both gives me a very high closing rate AND makes sure I’m not taking money from anyone who shouldn’t be spending it on me.

Anyway, if you are someone who ever needs to write a sales page for anything… you’ll want to save this email somewhere for future reference.

Here are the 5 Things you NEED to ask yourself before you write a sales page:

1) What do you know about…


I would bet MONEY you’ve done this in the last few weeks

Marsha looking at her laptop and trying to figure out something

Do you have this? Where there’s a thing that you are really good at helping other people do all the live-long day — but doing it for yourself makes you want to stab yourself in the neck with a fork?

Sorry if that description was a bit disgusting, but it’s HOW I FEEL, MAN. Anyway, I’m going to tell you about my one of these things, and what I did to deal with it.

About a month ago, I realized I needed to write a new page for my website. On top of helping people like you sell your services, products and talents to dream clients who desperately need them, I also work with corporate, NGO and non-profit organizations. I run workshops on how to use storytelling for better communication, more innovation and to ramp up your leadership skills.

Or rather, I ran them.

Then we went into lockdown, the world lost its mind and I knew I had to tweak those workshops. I knew that companies who were used to doing everything in person were suddenly having to adapt to their staff working remotely, with everyone communicating over screens and emails. Handily, I have some Charismatic Communication workshops that are perfect to help people with this. I didn’t yet have a sales page for them. But it’s ok — I teach people how to write killer Sales Pages with Soul. So no problem… right?



So here’s what I did.

I reminded myself of one of my favourite mantras (and one that, I recently discovered Denise Duffield Thomas quotes me on in her book Chillpreneur!)…


How to get close to a famous person, online dating tips and more — it’s the YYQ 14 Review!

Love Sign with love 24h written on it

Yes Yes Questions is my quarterly live advice column, that anyone can join for free. The questions I answered at the last one (and in this blog/recording), are: 1. How do I get close to someone who is semi-famous or famous in their field?2. I am single and I don’t want to be anymore and…


“If I died, no one would notice for 3 days”


Eleven years ago, on a Tuesday night in North-East London, I was running along small path by a big body of water when, in the middle of my torso, I started to feel sinking dread.

What was I thinking??

Even though I was in the city, all I could hear were a few birds and the wind in the reeds. The sun was going down. And I was starting to worry…


5 Ways I’m coping (and the celebrities that are helping with that)

Venus in the early evening sky glowing at Marsha

Every day, something else, isn’t it?* But we soldier on. Here are the five things I’ve been doing to get through:

1) Recognizing my privilege
Let’s start with the most fun one! Jk recognizing your privilege is the worst. I mean, it’s the best in terms of the impact it has, but it usually feels like garbage. It’s really difficult not to feel hard done by in a time like this.

Is this going to affect my business and my income? Of course!
Do I miss my friends and feel stir-crazy in my house! Definitely!
Am I constantly worried about my mum and all the other (many) septuagenarians in my life? Incredibly!

AND, I’m not currently close to anyone who’s dying or has died of this virus, I’m not worried about being put to live out on the street (or already living there!), I’m not part of a demographic that is being hit harder by Covid-19 than my own.

What we’re going through feels AWFUL for almost all of us. And I’m trying my hardest to remember the ways I’m doing really, really well compared to a lot of other people.

2) Feeling my feelings

I’m not the best at this. But I’m trying to remember that I am in low-level grief for my normal life and all the things I thought this Spring would bring. And, you know, the physical freedom I’m used to.

I’m trying to cry. I’m trying to hold both my privilege, and that fact that I feel this REALLY, REALLY SUCKS FOR ME RIGHT NOW. I’m not shouting the latter from the rooftops (because: see (1) above). Privately, I’m trying my hardest (and it is SO HARD!) to let myself feel all the awfulness instead of pretending it’s not there.

3) Resisting the productivity guilt…


The sentence that is getting me through this

Helen Keller post stamp

An old, true story that is suddenly relevant Scrolling through Facebook, I saw it. That quote. Under my breath, I muttered, “F—k you, Helen Keller.” I’d first read those words about ten years before. Helen Keller — educator, humanitarian and co-founder of the ACLU — wrote 12 books, but this is her most famous quote:…


Which stories should you tell on your “About” page?

Glowing quote-we are all made of stories

I don’t love being rude. But when someone asks me, “Marsha, how do I tell MY story on my About page?” — and that happens a lot — I’m always tempted to say,
“Um… what makes you think anyone cares..?”

Ok, so that’s a bit harsh. But generally, when business owners (who want to get clients via their websites) tell me they want to tell their story on their about page, before I give them any advice on how to do this, I lovingly remind them this page’s function:

It’s to tell a new reader whether or not this website (/business/person/service) is meant for them.

So the first part of your About page should be spent on making it clear what it is you do and for whom. Ideally, it should be directed at the reader. Laying out who they are, what’s going wrong for them and what they want that you offer. Here’s an example on the website some random lady you’ve never heard of.

Then, you introduce yourself as the solution. And if you want to do this with stories…

Here are the ONLY three stories you need on your About page:

(1) A Pain Point moment

(2) The Transition moment

(3) A Desire moment

The most important of these is (1), followed by (3), followed by (2).

Let me break these all down for you…


Why the first 30 secs & the last 2 mins of anything are the most important parts (aka how to rescue a very public disaster)

DJ woman playing music at a bar

Standing in the booth, looking out at the ten people awkwardly dancing in a space that was built for 400, I felt sick.

I’m about to tell you one of the most important pieces of information I know. Then I’m going to tell you the rest of that story in order to prove it’s true and to help you hold it in your brain (because that’s what storytelling does!).

Here’s the fact:

The most important parts of any talk, blog, presentation or podcast is…


How to… run great workshops; switch to doing work you love; get testimonials and more — YYQ #13 Review!

Repair Center Sign

Yes Yes Questions is my quarterly live advice column, that anyone can join for free. The questions I answered at the last one (and in this blog/recording), are:

1. When running a workshop, what are the most essential elements to make it brilliant?
2. Do I have to prepare before I speak on stage?
3. How do I brag about myself online without feeling like I need a shower afterwards?
4. Do you ever feel like you have too many stories to tell, and do you have a formalized process to choose which ones you tell?
5. “Content batching:” do you do it? If so, how?!
6. How do I go from doing work I *don’t* love that brings in money, to doing work I DO love that also brings in money?
7. What’s the best way to get testimonials from happy clients?

The next one is next Monday, April 6th at 2pm EST and you can come along and get free coaching by popping in your details on this page. But in the meantime, listen to the audio of the last one (where I answer all those questions) or read on!

1. When running a workshop, what are the most essential elements to make it brilliant?

Almost all of the time, it depends on…