Sounds Like A Cult - The Cult of Life Coaches

Episode Date: September 12, 2023

Why does it seem like certain "life coaches" are exactly the kinda folks who shouldn't be giving life advice? The unregulated life coaching industry is perfectly set up to turn culty: It's rife with N...ew Age quacks charging thousands to tell others how to live, but also... hiring a brainstorming partner to help you work through sh*t during times of uncertainty *does* sound beneficial? Tricky!! This week, Amanda and Isa are joined by comedian and host of the Self-Helpless podcast Kelsey Cook to unpack how much of a "cult" the life coach space has really become. Click here to get tickets to Isa's NYC comedy show September 22nd or to tell her where to perform next! To check out Amanda's new book, The Age of Magical Overthinking, click here! Follow us on IG @soundslikeacultpod @isaamedinaa @amanda_montell Thank you to our sponsors! Go to to cancel unwanted subscriptions! Go to for 15% off your first purchase. The Cotton collection and more are available now at

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Starting point is 00:01:08 If you break your bone and your doctor treats it badly, that's malpractice. But if you like go to a life coach being like, help me get a new job, help me come up with a plan to go on more dates. And there aren't tangible positive results. It's like, okay, I guess I just sunk like 10 grand in the hole. Yeah.
Starting point is 00:01:33 This is Sounds Like a Cult, a show about the modern day cults we all follow. I'm Issa Medina, a comedian touring all over the country and currently in New York City. I'm Amanda Montel, author of the forthcoming book, The Age of Magical Overthinking. Every week on our show, we discuss a different culty group or guru from the zeitgeist, from non-profits to the bachelor franchise to try and answer the big question. This group sounds like a cult, but is it really?
Starting point is 00:02:08 And if so, which cult category does it fall into? Live your life, watch your back, or get the fuck out. For our new listeners, a Live Your Life level cult is like a baby cult, definitely fanatical, but mostly harmless. A watch your back level cult is borderline dangerous, checks off some of the culty boxes that isn't totally destructive. And then we have a Get the Fuck Out Level Colts, which is like, Q&N level, Mance & Vibes, aka one for your life. After all, what classifies a Colt is up to interpretation?
Starting point is 00:02:36 You know what Italians do not need? Life coaches. Yes, we all learned watching White Lotus, the Italians have it that down. But Americans famously need life coaches because if they're not paying for something, how are they going to do it? How are we going to know what to do if we're not paying for something? Let's get into it. So right up top, we're going to cover a couple of things about life coaches that are really culty, how they started, pros and cons,
Starting point is 00:03:05 and what the heck is wrong with them? But we are going to talk to an amazing hilarious guest today who knows all about self-help. Kelsey Cook, she has a podcast called Self Helpless, where she dives into all things, self-improvement, and we are so excited to get into it with her. But to begin, we're going to talk about sort of the background of life coaches. We're going to talk about how it's so excited to get into it with her. But to begin, we're gonna talk about sort of the background of life coaches.
Starting point is 00:03:25 We're gonna talk about how it's so easy to build a cult of personality phenomenon surrounding individual life coaches. And we're also gonna be talking about how they're kind of a double-edged sword because the landscape is completely unregulated. It is totally full of culty quacks. But there are these sort of certificate courses and trainings.
Starting point is 00:03:45 And apparently the industry is somewhat aware of the issues and is attempting to become more professionally legitimate. But girl, the cultiness up in the life coach space, it's just bubbling over. Have you ever been to a life coach? Why do I feel like you have not? The thing about life coaches is I didn't really even know they existed truly until I wanted to go to therapy
Starting point is 00:04:09 in college, because I was like, am I gay? I need to talk to somebody about this. And I went online to look for therapists, and I found one, and she looked really cool and whatever, and I went to go meet with her in person. And she was like, I actually don't have a degree and more of a life coach. And I was like, I actually don't have like a degree, more of like a life coach. And I was like, interesting.
Starting point is 00:04:27 He said, this same thing happened to me. When I was 22, I was like, should I break up with my abusive boyfriend? And so I googled therapists in Los Angeles and the first person that popped up in my SEO searches. And I didn't know how to find a fucking therapist at 22. Now people, I think, are more aware, but even so, the landscape is so fraught. But yeah, I did the same thing.
Starting point is 00:04:49 I just clicked on the first search result, and then I went to this woman's beautiful little home in Chevy At Hills, where she had these, like, Bernese mountain dogs, and I was like, oh, therapy's so glamorous. Oh, I love Bernese mountain dogs. Yeah, and then it turned out that she was not a therapist, which she didn't disclose to me until the end of the first session.
Starting point is 00:05:10 And I didn't go back to therapy for another four years. Yeah, and it's kind of wild because they charge just as much or more than actual licensed therapists. And I think mine told me up top, but like to tell someone at the end of the session is insane, but also to not tell you before you show up physically because in this day and age, we are doing online meetings and maybe it's not that big of a deal
Starting point is 00:05:32 to jump on a Zoom and then realize that the person is a coach vibe, but if you physically getting your car go somewhere, waste half your day, scheduling this thing, and then you don't even get to take a dog home with you. That's like what? It made me feel really silly for not knowing the difference.
Starting point is 00:05:50 You know? Now you know it, you're not the only one that's happened to. Yeah, that's actually, thank you for validating my experience. Together we stand. That's inspiring. But I also think it's interesting, and you just said it, that life coaches call themselves coaches, drop the life part of it. Yeah, and it's like they're not even wearing a Dita's sweatpants.
Starting point is 00:06:10 I know. At least walk the walk. It's like, where's your whistle? It's like I say something and that was like breaking the rules that they set for me last time. They like blow the whistle like, no, go to bed at 10 p.m. If I was a life coach, I would literally do that. Actually, I want to do that right now. Don't get your megaphone. I know you have a megaphone. Do not get it.
Starting point is 00:06:31 I don't have it with me right now in New York. It's an L.A. I also feel like it's really important to mention that we did already do an episode on the Cult of Self-Help. But I feel like, like, life coaches is like a subcategory of self-help that we wanted to talk about in more detail. And we also did our Instagram therapy episode, which is a little companion episode to this one. But I've been itching to do the cult of life coaches if for no other reason, then I know a few people who I really like and respect who've worked with
Starting point is 00:06:59 so-called coaches and I'm like, why? I wanna understand. So out of the gate, let's attempt to define what is a life coach. It's a harder word to define than you might think because everyone has a slightly different definition due to the fact that it is not regulated. There is no accredited degree associated with it and all the definitions that we were able to define online sound, not only contradictory, but culty.
Starting point is 00:07:28 So here's one definition that we came across, according to license therapists and life coach, Lisa Marie Bobby, get you a girl who can do both. A life coach is an, I quote, a professional dedicated to helping you achieve your most important personal and professional goals and prove your relationships, increase your life satisfaction and happiness, and grow as a person unlike therapy,
Starting point is 00:07:49 coaching focuses less on analyzing the past, and more on creating new self-awareness, an action-oriented plan to move forward. So they're telling you what to do. Oh, okay, so when you read that definition, I actually felt like it didn't sound that bad, which is probably why we both got duped online. I'm like, okay, that sounds amazing.
Starting point is 00:08:10 Like in this day and age, I don't wanna burden my friends with my problems and sometimes therapy takes 100 years to be like, oh, that's what happened. So improving relationships, increasing life satisfaction and happiness, I mean, that all sounds fine and dandy. Yeah, no, it does sound fine and dandy. The problem is that literally anyone can claim the title of life coach.
Starting point is 00:08:33 I will say there are coaching certificate programs like the board certified coach BCC credential and the International Coaching Federation and according to the latter, there are over 23,000 practicing life coaches in North America, but that's only according to that organization that think of all the Instagram girlies who like wear Palazzo pants and say they're a life coach. And as we know, just because something is an organization doesn't mean that it's legitimate.
Starting point is 00:09:00 Anyone can make a website on Squarespace. I feel like if I did want to go the life coach route, I would have to see like examples of people that they have coached because a life coach can very easily like dive someone's world into like the wrong direction with bad advice. Easily, and as we discussed in our Instagram therapist episode, there are so few ways
Starting point is 00:09:21 to hold people accountable in behavioral health, and that's talking about accredited license therapists. There is virtually no way to hold a life coach accountable for giving advice that could cause psychological damage because it's not a real accreditation. I like that this woman Lee Summary Bobby is a licensed therapist and a life coach because if I wanted a life coach,
Starting point is 00:09:42 I think that's cool that they know what not to do, but they also are taking a different approach to giving advice. Yeah, that's fair enough. I mean, I'm being so cynical and roasty about the life coach space, but I actually can see the value of, I'm just thinking of a therapist who has glasses on and a blazer and talks to you for an hour about your past. And then she takes off her blazer and takes off her glasses, puts on like a paisley bandana and a keftan and is like,
Starting point is 00:10:12 now we're in life coach phase and we're gonna talk about your future. Yes, it reminds me of, have you seen the show shrinking on Apple TV? No, but I know you like it. I like it because my friend Wally Baram writes on it, which is amazing, but it's pretty much
Starting point is 00:10:25 about how Jason Siegel is a therapist, and then his wife dies in his world falls apart, and then he just starts telling his patients what he actually thinks. So essentially, he low-key becomes a level up because he's like, I'm not gonna slowly walk you through this for you to figure it out. He's like, you're in a toxic relationship,
Starting point is 00:10:43 and you need to leave your man. Mm, interesting. Instead of you figuring it out. He's like, you're a toxic relationship and you like me to leave your man. Instead of like you figuring it out on your own, he like tells them and then obviously like the show unravels of like why that can be bad. That's an interesting case study and when someone goes from therapist to life coach and how that can go off the rails, I want to move through a few other life coaches definitions of what a life coach even is. So we can sort of compare and contrast. According to interviews with Oprah Daley for an article titled, A Life Coach Is An A Therapist, but here's what they do.
Starting point is 00:11:12 This life coach, this woman who's a member of the ICF, Kate Bathress, she said, a common misconception is that life coaches provide advice. It's not a coach's role to impart wisdom, but rather to facilitate the client's own process of connecting their inner wisdom. In that sense, a coach is an unbiased brainstorming partner. You're still the one doing the heavy lifting. But then this other woman named Test Bringham, who is a licensed therapist, and also a life coach who is board certified by the BCC,
Starting point is 00:11:40 as opposed to the ICF. Akron M's, Gulti. She says, a coach looks at your present to help you create a future you desire. Well, a therapist looks at your past to help you manage your present. So while coaching is action oriented, therapy is insight oriented. And I feel like there are some contradictions between those two interpretations
Starting point is 00:11:58 because Kate here is saying that life coaches don't give advice. They're just a brainstorming partner. But Tess is kind of saying, yes, they do don't give advice. They're just a brainstorming partner, but Tess is kind of saying, yes, they do give you actionable advice. So I'm a little confused. Me too. It's giving that the advice that they give
Starting point is 00:12:15 is like live laugh love, but they think that it's advice, but it's very, it's maybe it's like mantras. So let's go into a little bit of the history of life coaching because I feel like that is illuminating. Yeah, I mean, life coaching began in a small suburban gym. I'm just kidding. Life coaching is pretty new, actually.
Starting point is 00:12:40 It did grow out of the self-improvement cults of the 60s and 70s. Everything from certain self-help programs that we won't name because they're very litigious to psychedelic therapy to synonym. Synonym shout out the alternative drug rehabilitation cult that my dad grew up in. We should just start calling synonym daddy. No it's daddy. It's not fun to say daddy when it's actually your father. It's not my father. So lifecoaches really came out of like daddy's sitting on 60s vibes. But then some say that the idea of lifecoaching really got on its feet because of a guy named Thomas Leonard.
Starting point is 00:13:21 He was born in 1955. Leonard started as a financial planner in the 1980s. And while he was successfully helping his clients grow their assets, according to his New York Times obituary, RIP King, he was drawn to the, quote unquote, bigger questions about life, success, and happiness that he and his clients would also discuss. So in 1992, he created, sorry, I'm laughing
Starting point is 00:13:45 because it sounds so culty, coach university. I mean, immediately it's giving like, Trump, which is giving MLM, like your coaching coaches, that is the definition of an MLM. So coach you trained thousands of coaches working in nearly 40 countries and was the first of many.coms devoted to this concept of life coaching.
Starting point is 00:14:08 Thomas Leatherd actually sounded the International Coach Federation ICF in Washington in 1990. Is that your birth year? No, your bleep. Bleep out my birth year right now. Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry. I was born in 2005. Okay, so King Leonard developed 28 different curriculums for personal and professional development.
Starting point is 00:14:29 His books currently in print include Working Wisdom, Top 10 Lists for Improving Your Business, and the Portable Coach. Ooh, okay pocket size. Something I really like about Mr. Leonard is that he was openly gay and he was really beloved in the community. In 2016, the gay coach's alliance named a humanitarian award after him. And the fact that he was born in 1955 is so long ago and he was openly gay and then went on to become a live coach, I do feel like that was probably something that the community did need.
Starting point is 00:15:03 Like not to be like a devil's avocado vibe hardcore here, but that is really cool. That is a safe space for people to go to in that time period. The vintage time period of the 90s. I don't want to be too hard on the entire blanket industry of life coaching and say that it's pure quackery every single time because just because something is unregulated doesn't mean that it can't be beneficial like I'm sure that there are positive figures and you know largely in the life coaching space Leonard is thought of as an example of when coaching goes right so okay yeah it has these MLM vibes
Starting point is 00:15:36 and coach you is cringe and etc but it does seem like he was helping people and that's lottable at the same time it's just always worth staying skeptical of anyone who is aiming to help huge swaths of strangers become their best selves for money based on some bullshit that they made up, you know what I mean? Yeah, and I also feel like there was a lot of time between him and present-day coaches to get to where it's gotten, and it has gotten colty for sure.
Starting point is 00:16:02 Let's talk about how coaching went mainstream. So basically it was the 90s when Leonard's model was starting to first be applied to businesses, think of HR bonding and productivity seminars. IBM was the first major name to sign on to a sort of life coach training program. And this is where widespread coaching and the true coltiness of the industry got its start.
Starting point is 00:16:27 Now, in the age of social media, influencers have really flooded the life coaching space. We were able to touch on this a little bit in our Instagram therapy episode, but the danger is that they spread this absolutist horoscope wisdom for how to live your life, you're living your life wrong. If you're not happy, it's not because of anything systemic
Starting point is 00:16:49 or anything going on with your brain chemistry. It is your fault and you can 100% life coach growl boss your way into happiness. Yeah, I mean, you can growl boss your way into happiness, but growl bossing includes like medication, licensed therapy, exercise. Yeah, and what about community care? I mean, for me, it's the over complicating
Starting point is 00:17:10 and commercializing of support that we would be able to get naturally if we as a culture weren't so, you know, like lonely and overwhelmed and convinced that the solution to these really existential problems can be bought. Now, what's especially dangerous about the marriage of social media and a life coaching is that it's not just these in-person seminars
Starting point is 00:17:34 that might be happening in your corporate office anymore. Now, millions upon millions of followers on Instagram or TikTok or life coaching podcasts are marketed these courses where you might pay literally college tuition to learn how to become a life coach from someone who is literally nothing more than an influencer and that certificate you get at the end means didily squat. Wow, sorry I keep saying this this episode but it is just like giving very MLM. We want to tell a little story about when coaching can go really, really wrong. And this is the story of a woman named Candace Silver's. She is a Hollywood acting and career coach. We found
Starting point is 00:18:22 this Hollywood reporter expose talking about the damage that Candace Silver's has wreaked as a life coach. This piece called The Guru of Taluca Lake accolides a ledge. A Hollywood acting coach became a false prophet by Gary Baum is where this story and the allegations in it are coming from. And while it is just one of many similar stories
Starting point is 00:18:42 about the quote unquote cult of life coaching, we think it's especially juicy. Basically she is an acting teacher who pivoted her business into life coaching. And what's interesting about her is that she has left like this long list of celebrities damaged in her week. Yeah, and celebrities are already damaged in their own right mind.
Starting point is 00:19:03 Like they've already gone through the collective and as Colesprout says elective trauma of being Famous but to damage a damaged person you really have to do some damage She markets herself on her website as this like business consultant. It's the wording that gets me like the use the most insane words She says to find where the unconscious behavioral patterns are holding back growth and alter them to create unprecedented success.
Starting point is 00:19:31 And to say that, when you're already starting off working with celebrities, which means they're already successful in some capacity, is already kind of a mind-fuck. All of these like poly-celeamic words are classic self-help gobblediga. Like it is what Sarah Edminson from our self-help episode would call word salad. It's basically the new age version of corporate terminology. It's there to make you feel like you're gaining access to some kind of transcendent wisdom
Starting point is 00:19:59 because this person knows how to use all of this fancy malarkey. But really under the surface, it doesn't mean anything. I mean, it's the cult of marketing, Lingo, essentially. Yes, exactly. Her ex-falers said that she would manipulate them, provoke them, name call them, and harm them on purpose. To me, it reminded me a lot of Tiel Swan.
Starting point is 00:20:20 Like kind of retraumatizes you to then make you like emotionally attached to your new guru, coach or guide. That's right. So from what I can see, something that Candace Silver's does, that Teal Swan kind of weaponizes at least during her in-person retreats and that was definitely done in synonym is this sort of attack therapy model, get a group of people together and cause them to insult one another. And that creates this level of chaos beneath you so that you just get to reign supreme above them. It's very clever actually to pass off outright harassment
Starting point is 00:20:58 and psychological abuse as therapy. Yeah, it also reminds me a lot of like the cult of toxic relationships because that's what an abusive partner does They like bring you down they put you down and then they say like oh, but I'm here for you And who better to fall prey to this type of bad coaching than actors and performers who go through like a hazing process Themselves even in acting class you're doing all of this ritualistic, sometimes traumatizing and aplunding. Exypzapzop!
Starting point is 00:21:30 I know it is literally the psychologically harmful version of Zypzapzop. It just sounds so toxic. I mean, she also, according to students and taginizes her, mostly left-leaning crowd by defending Donald Trump and being racist towards her clients and saying racist and homophobic slurs at them. She says she does, and I quote, everything I can do to piss you people off
Starting point is 00:21:54 as she puts it, she wants to trigger her followers so that she can see how silly their minds are. That is bullying, that is outright hate speech and bullying. So one celebrity that was actually affected by Candace Silver's was Jessica Sada, a former pussycat doll. She met Silver's in 2006 right as the group was like peaking to fame. Pussycat dolls we were like all singing it in our shower. Pussing up my butt in space. So Jessica was a client of hers for five years. And she said, she brainwashed us in it, your drunken love out of it,
Starting point is 00:22:28 you're just like holy shit, how did I fall for that? I recalled ever. And Jessica said that Candace manipulated you, fed on your insecurities, knew how to control you, and she makes it feel like you can't live without her. Mm-hmm, there you go. That's the exit cost phenomenon when there is truly no exit strategy
Starting point is 00:22:46 for leaving one of these life coaching programs. That just sounds exhausting to be a life coach because it is a toxic relationship but you are doing it for a bunch of people and that's probably why they think they deserve the money because it's a lot of work to be toxic to a bunch of people at the same time. Like she is working, Candice Silver's is working hard,
Starting point is 00:23:05 but it's like on the wrong thing. I mean, it also is like murdering people and disposing of bodies is really hard, but that doesn't make it like a good idea. And it defines their passion. That's true. Yeah. Hard work alone is not valuable.
Starting point is 00:23:21 It's just like a good lesson to say, come. Now we're gonna talk to a really, really funny and amazing comedian and life coach, which Mark not just kidding. Just a friend and podcaster, Kelsey Cook, who knows about those tangible consequences because she is in the entertainment industry giving advice.
Starting point is 00:23:41 And also, Kelsey has covered life coaches on her podcast. She's a self-help fan herself and she knows at least one coach pretty intimately. But she has her own reservations about the industry too so we're excited to pick her brain and talk over some of the pros and cons here with a friend who has a different perspective than ours. But before we hear from Kelsey we're going to tell you about today's cult-fallollowed sponsors. Are your subscriptions draining your wallet and no, they're draining mine, or at least they wear before rocket money? The average person has around 12 paid subscriptions, and they might not even remember subscribing to half of those. If you have no idea just how much you're spending each month,
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Starting point is 00:27:36 Thanks for coming on the podcast Kelsey. Yeah thanks for having me. Could you introduce yourself to our listeners? Who you are and maybe what you have to do with the Cult of Life Coaches? I'm Kelsey Cook. I'm a touring comedian and I also co-host the self-helpless podcast. So in terms of life coaches, we've done episodes in the past on the show about Tony Robbins and my co-host Delaney actually has transitioned over the six years of doing the podcast from being a stand-up comedian into being a business coach. But when she started it was like a little, I think, in the life coach space, but she quickly kind of like zoned in on being more of like a business coach. I'm going to need to hear about that transition.
Starting point is 00:28:25 Yes. And how much she charges? No, no. So you are a host of self-help list, very into self-improvement stuff. Where did that interest first develop? It started in late high school. I was at an age where a lot of my friends
Starting point is 00:28:42 had started to have their first serious relationships and I didn't have a boyfriend yet and I was just feeling super left out and my mom had in that maybe you're two gotten pretty into Feng Shui. She had a book called Move Your Stuff Change Your Life which was a little bit like Feng Shui for dummies. Amazing title though, how could you not?
Starting point is 00:29:01 All right, I mean, those self-help book titles, they really do know how to like grab you at your lowest and be like, well go get a book of gas, I'll try this, you know. Yeah, so I read it and it was talking about how in Feng Shui, the idea is that so your living space can be broken down into nine guas, they call them G-U-A GUAS, and it represents the nine areas of life, basically. So it's like prosperity, fame and reputation, love and relationships, creativity, skills and knowledge, career and life path, helpful people in travel, family and health.
Starting point is 00:29:40 Who I can't believe I just remember that. Wow, oh my god, it's so embedded. I actually really impressed. I can't even remember my just remember that. Wow, oh my god, it's so embedded. I actually really impressed. I can't even remember my social security number. Thank you. But it really, that to me made sense that within your living space, you could start to foce on, okay, so if I make an inventory list of what's happening
Starting point is 00:30:00 in each area of my life, like how am I feeling about prosperity in my life right now? How am I feeling about my love life? And then if you look at that corresponding area of your living space, there are a lot of times you're like, oh, well, it kind of looks like shit over there. And that feels like that's what's happening in that part of my life.
Starting point is 00:30:20 I think it's a slippery slope. It's like I have hats, and I did have a thought at one point where I was like, well, where am I supposed to do the litter box? I don't want shit in that area of my life and then you become a lunatic because it's like, what your cat's hot? Really shit. Yeah, your cats have to shit somewhere
Starting point is 00:30:33 so you can't live like that. But I think if people just become more aware of what the want in life and even putting, you know, I've got like my work calendar up on the wall here. And I think it's just good to have you're like a visual representation of the goals in your life. Yeah, it's more like manifest. Yeah, I think you're more likely.
Starting point is 00:30:57 Like your bed isn't in the middle of your living room because it faces you. Yeah, yeah, no, no, no. I can't. I mean, listen, I have so many thoughts about manifestation because it's the sort of tricky thing where it is true and any therapist will tell you that like your beliefs about yourself can change outcomes.
Starting point is 00:31:16 And you know, there is a power in optimism and such. But the sort of fundamentalist attitude toward manifestation, like if you don't have the thing that you want, then it's your fault is something that I think some problematic life coaches have really weaponized, especially when you're taking ancient Eastern practices and westernizing them and and putting a catchy book title on them for profit. Like the negative side of it, when it doesn't come true that you're the problem, I definitely don't really associate with, but the fact that our podcast is doing well is because I put it on my big report.
Starting point is 00:31:56 Like that is the type of manifesting that I'm talking about. Yeah, I agree. I think you both make such a good point that it's important to keep some separation in your mind of like, it is not just that you set a hundred dollar bill in one corner and that if you're not a millionaire by the end of the year, that like, your defective, I think everybody has to take it with a grain of salt and I just like to use it more to keep my space organized to keep it looking nice.
Starting point is 00:32:26 I think there's a real thing in the energy of your space that if your living space is always in disarray, dirty dishes everywhere, clutter everywhere, you're probably not going to feel great in your living space, which then might make you less likely to be productive that day or whatever it is. Yeah, I mean, it also really speaks to like our very profound craving as humans to assign cause and effect. Yeah. Because I mean, we want the world to feel predictable and thus manageable. We want things to make sense. And so if we can say, okay, I like, fungshade my house and then I got a boyfriend, that makes the world feel very comfortably predictable, even though there was like some random,
Starting point is 00:33:08 different coincidence, but we don't like that. Of course, oh yeah. How do you think that like, a life coach differs from therapy? I have been in therapy for many years and absolutely love therapy, big proponent of it. I'm not sure what sort of credentials you need to become a life coach,
Starting point is 00:33:27 as far as I know you don't need any, right? Because it's just, like I think you can wake up one day and be like, I think that I can help people. So I'm now going to start charging for that skill set. To be a licensed therapist that requires school, that requires that license, all of that. So for me, there can be less credibility with a life coach. I do think that there are some fantastic ones
Starting point is 00:33:50 out there. I just think that if somebody wants to spend that money on that, that it's somebody who should be doing it for like a really long time, like somebody who has a lot of experience, a lot of positive testimonials. We were just talking about that like there's nothing wrong with going to a life coach, but if you want to go to a life coach, maybe like look at their past clients. I'm also thinking that life coaches cannot take insurance, which for people financially, that might be hardship.
Starting point is 00:34:16 That's actually a really good point because it does seem like life coaching is kind of a rich man's sport. Yeah. It's like sometimes we cover cults on this show that really appeal to people who are financially struggling. And then there are certain cults like the cult of fall street or the cult of fine wine that attract people
Starting point is 00:34:37 who have money to spare. And why would a cult not want a population that has money to spare? Because that's really going to benefit it. So yeah, that insurance point is a red flag, I think. So obviously like there is a lot of need for therapists right now, but what do you think is the appeal of becoming a life coach? Why would someone choose that career path?
Starting point is 00:34:59 Well, if you're somebody who you're approached off and by either friends or family as somebody who is just like Oh man, you give such great advice or Oh, you just made me feel you really turned my day around. I think that can be a really powerful feeling and For some people it's like well shit What if I can help people enough that I could start charging for this potentially and I think that's the part that you have to be careful about if you want to become a client of a life coach is just making sure that it isn't somebody who just has no experience, I suppose.
Starting point is 00:35:34 But what I think can be helpful is somebody who becomes more specialized in coaching. Life coach makes me a little nervous. When somebody's like, I can just help in your life. Yeah, you're like, mm. Yeah. I like the way you put it that like, first, you start giving advice to people like for free
Starting point is 00:35:51 and it's kind of just like you're getting really positive feedback and then you're like, oh, well, maybe I can start charging for this, but I feel like the reason it becomes toxic a lot of times is because it kind of happens in the opposite order where people are like, I wanna make money off of like giving advice and they start charging before they have the experience. Exactly. Yeah. My co-host Delaney, her testimonials are so incredible. She has really helped people get businesses off the ground. Like she has clients that are already super successful and then she
Starting point is 00:36:22 takes them to this whole new level of income. It's just amazing to watch. So I've really enjoyed watching her business grow and be somebody who's reputable. I love that her like coaching is like business oriented because you can track improvement, whereas like when it's someone's like mental health, it's so personal. I feel like someone could get away with scammery and quackery much more easily when the product they're selling is so Intangible you can't peer into someone's soul and be like wow the fruits of this lifecoaches labor or like Written right on their heart. There's no way to track that it's so cerebral
Starting point is 00:37:00 I completely agree and even a website where they do have tons of positive testimonials, then you're just trusting that those are real testimonials. Like verified purchase. Right, right. Yeah. Before we started researching this episode, I like literally didn't know what a life coach was. I thought it was just another term for a scammer.
Starting point is 00:37:18 I thought a life coach is just somebody who wanted to like fast track their way to becoming a therapist without having to go to school. And I think that maybe sometimes it is still that. But now that I realize that it's someone who's trying to help you brainstorm your future, I do see the merit there. The way that I think about it and the way that I knew what a life coach was, and I also knew that that's not what I needed at the time, is that it kind of reminded me of like when my friend wanted to go to therapy.
Starting point is 00:37:44 He was like, I need to go to therapy because I've been having a tough time So he went to therapy for like three months and then he left therapy and he was like I'm fixed I did it and I was like what okay that was giving more Life coach because maybe he figured it out his insecurities weren't like deeply rooted in like the fundamentals of like your family And like your belief system. And does that make sense? When I needed to go to therapy, it's because I had internalized homophobia.
Starting point is 00:38:11 It's like a life coach isn't gonna help with that because we're not gonna take apart my family lineage. Where's a life coach is like, here's a to-do list. Sure. Clean your room. wash your face. Yeah It's so hard like I do think that we can't know what your friend's experience was in terms like how that made him feel And even though that's not deep-rooted Maybe that was really all he needed was like three months talking to somebody about how to work through that
Starting point is 00:38:41 So therapists can do things that life coaches can also do. I think that life coaches aren't necessarily qualified to do things that therapists can do. It's like a square, it's a rectangle, but not every rectangle is a square. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Exactly. Have you ever heard or experienced the life coach
Starting point is 00:38:59 giving harmful advice? Oh yeah, I mean, we've seen testimonials and stuff online like negative testimonials of like I gave this person a ton of my money and they kind of just like disappeared off the face of the earth or their advice really wasn't that helpful. So there's a reason why we all do have a bad taste in our mouths over certain life coaches because I think it just it does happen. It's so tough because even in therapy, it's tough to institute regulations about like what to do when a therapist sucks.
Starting point is 00:39:29 What do you do? Like, maybe that therapist just wasn't for you. I always talk about how like therapy is like dating, and a lot of times people complain about, oh, this isn't a good way to get a therapist, and it's like, there's no right or wrong way to get a therapist, but there is a time where you like have to ask yourself, is this the right therapist for me?
Starting point is 00:39:50 And from every therapist you learn what you do like and what you don't like so that then when you go find another one, you're like, this is what I am looking for. Definitely. And I know that that's so hard. I switched therapists at one point after I think three sessions. And that was really hard for me because I'm such a people pleaser. I hated the thought of the confrontation of like the email saying,
Starting point is 00:40:10 like, hey, I actually feel like I need to go a different direction here, but it's just not worth it. And this is again, I'm saying this as a people pleaser, it's so hard for me to do something like that. But you're paying this person money. If this isn't the right fit for you, if you don't feel like whatever their specialty is is not the thing that you need help with,
Starting point is 00:40:30 then you can't waste your time. Yeah, it's so expensive, especially if you're off insurance, which all life coaches are. Yes, yeah. It just sucks that so much of the personal responsibility is placed on the patient or the client, and that it's not like in medicine where like if you break your bone and your doctor treats it badly, that's malpractice.
Starting point is 00:40:53 But if you like go to a life coach being like help me get a new job or like help me come up with a plan to go on more dates. And there aren't tangible positive results. It's like, okay, I guess I just sunk like 10 grand in the whole. I also feel like with therapy, it's almost easier to be like, oh, like this wasn't my style of therapy.
Starting point is 00:41:16 Like there's family counseling or there's like relationship therapy or there's like EMDR therapy. And so you can be like, this isn't my style of therapy. Whereas like with life coaches, you can complain to the life coach and then you can be like, this isn't my style of therapy, whereas like with life coaches, you can complain to the life coach, and then they can be like, we can switch it up,
Starting point is 00:41:28 and it's like, no, I just don't like your lives. Yes. How do I say that? Or they might just say, like, this is the system, and if it doesn't work for you, there's something wrong with you. Yes. Yes.
Starting point is 00:41:37 What do you think Kelsey or some of the green flags versus red flags to look for in a life coach, to tell if someone is legit or not. Do that free consultation that I feel like most life coaches offer? Yeah. Because again, it's like really try to feel out in that session. Does this feel like somebody who's being pushy, who's like really pressuring you to take on their program and spend money and all the stuff? Like just use your instincts. I think the best you can. But you're right. I mean, some people
Starting point is 00:42:08 are super manipulative and it's hard. And also, if you do decide to move forward with the life coach and pay like the fee for the first session, don't think of it as like, oh, I'm in now. I might as well stay in. Think of it as like a cost towards finding the right person. Because then you can leave and you can be like, I learned a lesson from this and I know what to look for. But not like, oh, now I'm $120 in and I need to stay in until I like makes myself. That is such good advice.
Starting point is 00:42:35 Should I be able to let go? I'm really good at giving advice. First of all, you are good at giving advice, but I think it has a lot to do with the fact that you aren't afraid to give advice. Yeah, which is something that I did learn with my live alone now, but with my last roommates, I always gave them unsolicited advice, and they were two years younger than me, and I think we got to a point where they were like, shut the fuck up. That's so funny.
Starting point is 00:43:02 But I will say that is good advice that you can't allow sunk cost fallacy to dominate your mentality and that goes for any cult that we cover on this show. Like your intuition is so valuable and don't let anyone else's bullshit about limiting beliefs and programs and subconscious blah, blah, fuck any blah
Starting point is 00:43:23 talk you out of what you know in your soul. Yeah. So now we're gonna play a little game. It's very simple. It's called What's Cultier. So we're gonna read two culty scenarios, and you're very simply just gonna tell us what you think is cultier.
Starting point is 00:43:39 Okay. So what's cultier? Career coaches or relationship coaches? Hmm. I think I'm going to say relationship coaches. There's something about love that like a relationship coach can just wiggle their way in there when maybe they're not qualified to be giving advice. Okay, next round. What's Coltier? Life coaches or Hollywood managers? Oh. I mean, I'm gonna say life coaches. Again, I think I hate to use the word desperate because it's, to me, that has a negative connotation.
Starting point is 00:44:15 I just think that if you're in a place where you're not like totally securing yourself, it can be easy to be negatively influenced by. People who might not have your best intentions in mind. I feel like in a way, like managers are life coaches because they're coaching you how to like live your life to succeed in your industry. Especially the ones who take a really personal approach. They're like, ask me anything like I'm here to help. And so it's like, they do seem really life coaching.
Starting point is 00:44:40 Yeah, that's what I would caution people against though. And I know it's a very personal thing, but I have found my best relationships with managers have been more business-focused ones where they are helping me manage my business, not my life. I think that's a boundary that you have to be careful with. But I know some people who have a very personal relationship with their managers and they love it. I just think that can get a little messy.
Starting point is 00:45:05 Yeah, I agree. Okay, which is cultier, a coach who keeps coming up with reasons why you need to continue your work together, aka providing no exit strategy, or a coach who invites you to attend their in-person retreat with all their other clients. I think the first one, somebody who's not giving you an exit strategy,
Starting point is 00:45:23 that shouldn't be the goal. The goal should be that you do at a certain point go, okay great, I have now taken your advice, I've figured this out and I can move forward. Unless you feel like the person's services are something that you want to use continuously, that's fine, I mean, I've been in therapy for years because I like to continue to get help in that way
Starting point is 00:45:44 and just get the cobwebs out of my brain and talk to somebody who's an objective person in my life. Yeah, I like saying it like that. Cobwebs, I have a lot of cobwebs right now because my therapist is on maternity leave. Oh, back. Yeah. It's such a wide spectrum of like absolute talkery to people who can truly transform somebody's life, I think. But yeah, you've got, I do think you have to watch your back. It's like listen to your intuition, make smart choices. Very much that. Okay, amazing.
Starting point is 00:46:13 That's our interview, that's our game. If the culties wanna keep up with you and your work and your podcast, where can they find you? Yes, so my special is out on YouTube now. It's called The Hustler and my podcast is self-helpless, so you can listen to that wherever podcasts are available. My website is for all tour dates.
Starting point is 00:46:34 Follow me on Instagram, TikTok, all the things at Yes, thank you. Thanks for having me guys. Thanks for coming on the podcast. Thank you. It's just so fun! So Amanda, out of the three cult categories, live your life, watch your back, or get the fuck out.
Starting point is 00:46:59 What do you think the cult of life coaches is? Classique, watch your back. Classique. Oh really, I actually don't know why I had not been thinking of a verdict this whole time. I'm like, oh, that's a good answer. Yeah, I mean, listen, like it's again, it's one of these things that I don't personally prefer.
Starting point is 00:47:19 I don't love an unaccredited brainstorming partner, and yet I do see the value in paying someone to do something that you don't want to burden your friends with. And I've been also thinking of it as like, you know, maybe a therapist is your agent and a life coach could be your manager. Oh yeah. Just also make sure you have a lawyer. No matter what. No matter what. Yeah, I do think it's a watch your back as well. There are points in my personal life where I've reached kind of like a new height
Starting point is 00:47:48 in license therapy where I've been like, oh, like we covered that. I think I would benefit from a life coach as long as I knew that their advice wasn't like all encompassing, you know? So like you're watching your back, it's just like you're treating it as kind of like someone to bounce ideas off of.
Starting point is 00:48:01 I do like that. I agree. I mean, you definitely have to sort of evaluate every coach individually because there is no higher body. And even people with certificates as we know in various professions can become illegitimate. So yeah, it's kind of like reading the news. It's like just make sure you check out different sources always. And then like we always say, you know, it can be compared to dating apps because these figures are meant to be deleted.
Starting point is 00:48:28 You're not meant to be working with these people forever. So whenever you have a life coach or even an accredited therapist who's not really coming up with an action plan for you to kind of spread your wings and strike out on your own using the advice or the tools that you learn from them, that's kind of a red flag. Thank you on your own using the advice or the tools that you learn from them.
Starting point is 00:48:46 That's kind of a red flag. Thank you Diane, that's a really good point. Well, that is our show. Thanks so much for listening. We'll be back with a new cult the week after next, but in the meantime, stay culty. But not too culty. Sounds like a cult was created, hosted, and produced by Issa Medina and Amanda Montel. Our theme music is by Casey Colt. To join our cult, follow us on Instagram at Sounds Like A Colt Pod.
Starting point is 00:49:18 I'm on Instagram at Amanda Under Square Montel and feel free to check out my books, Cultish, the language of fanaticism and word-s, a feminist guide to taking back the English language. And I'm on Instagram at Esa Medina, I-S-A-A-M-E-D-I-N-A-A, where you can find tickets to my live stand-up comedy shows or tell me where to perform. And if you'd like our show, feel free to give us a rating on Spotify or Apple podcasts.
Starting point is 00:49:40 And if you don't like our show, rate other podcasts the way you'd rate us.

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