Coaching Skills: Take a Page from Mother Goose

Think back to when you were a young tyke facing that dreaded time of day: Bedtime.

You grasped every excuse to get out of going to bed: I need another glass of water, I need to brush my teeth again, I forgot to give my little sister a night-night kiss. Really?

But mom and dad, shrewd operators that they are, often replied, “How bout a story?”

It’s true, we’re hardwired to love a good story, whether it’s a Mother Goose classic, a chilling tale around the campfire, a gripping page-turner or a spine-tingling movie. And we enjoy listening to a good storyteller, so a well-crafted, well-told story can help you connect with your client in surprisingly profound ways. 

An effective coach spends time learning how to be a good storyteller, knows when telling a story will serve to illustrate a specific point, and why the stories she tells will resonate with her client. Your success as a coach will rely on your ability to tell moving and authentic stories that help connect you to your client as the person who can help guide them to achieving their authentic goals. 

The stories you tell should be credible and relevant. Whether you use real-life examples, allegories or metaphors, the stories must demonstrate that you are in the moment, you are actively listening, you’ve heard them and you understand what they want to get out of coaching. You get it, and you get them!

Irrelevant stories sound concocted and forced, square pegs to the round holes. If your choice of tales, and your ability to tell them sound inauthentic, the coaching session will be a bust, you will lose credibility, and you will be deemed just another money-grubbing fake.

Storytelling is a tool, one of the many in the professional money coach’s bag.

It’s one that doesn’t come naturally to most of us, but one that must be cultivated as a leading communication device, one that connects in a meaningful and believable way.

A good place to kick start your learning is StorySelling for Financial Advisors, by Scott West and Mitch Anthony, Kaplan Publishing, 2000.

First published in 2000, the book was written for licensed financial advisors, but the two decades-old reference can help money coaches get a good start on understanding the importance of being a solid storyteller, how to become a skilled at the art and how to make the stories you tell relevant to your client’s situation.


Great Coaches Ask Great Questions

Coaches ask questions. 


Because a coach is not a teacher. A coach is not a trainer. A coach does not tell a client what to do. 

A great coach asks lots of questions to help their clients find the answers within themselves. And they help their clients discover how to keep moving forward by staying accountable to achieving their greatest goals in life.

It’s not only important to know which questions to ask, it’s equally important to know when to ask them. That is, which are the most relevant questions to ask at this moment.

Being in the moment is an essential skill for the professional coach, and while all of your past coaching sessions are relevant to the client’s here-and-now, and each session should build on the previous ones.

But it is today’s session that keeps your client moving forward.

If you are a coaching client, ask yourself: Have you slid back or lost momentum since your last session? Or have you taken an important leap forward in your self-understanding? Have you remained accountable to doing the work required to find a better path?

A coach does not tell a client what to do.

Only by being in the moment, only by being present at today’s session can you and your coach assess where you are right now. Staying grounded in the moment requires your coach to ask, and you to respond to the many deceptively powerful questions that can move you forward, for instance:

What’s changed since last we spoke?

What’s on your mind today? Anything else?

What would help you right now?

What’s been the most useful thing that we’ve talked about so far?

What do you want to get out of today’s session?

What has been the real challenge for you so far?

You seem to be holding back a bit. Can you tell me more?

As you can see, none of these questions are about money. Each question focuses on you, the client, not the money. How do you feel right now?  What are you thinking right now? What’s bothering you or making you happy, right now?

As strange as this may sound in the context of personal finances, as we explore each client’s relationship with life and with money, knowing you is far more important than knowing about your money!


Always be closing?

It’s a tense and iconic scene.

The lives of four deceptive Chicago real estate salesmen are thrown into chaos when sales manager Blake (Alec Baldwin), the literal angel of death, is sent in by his bosses, Mitch and Murray, to execute a special evening sales meeting, an intervention and final warning for the losers at Premiere Properties. Only Ricky Roma (Al Pacino) is lighting up the sales board because he’s the top closer (or is he?).

The entire meeting consists of the highly offensive Blake unleashing a torrent of abusive epithets and threats if the loser salesmen don’t start closing sales. When the laggards complain the leads are weak, he merely engages in more humiliation, name calling and threats. “The leads are weak? You’re weak!”

Weakness, and one’s innate ability to spot it and profit from it, is a major theme of the story.

The good leads, the Glengarry leads, like the office coffee, he coolly explains, are for closers. “Only one thing counts in this life! Get them to sign on the line which is dotted!” he says, and then follows with the existential credo, “A-B-C. A-Always. B-Be. C-Closing. Always be closing!”

If you’ve ever had a sales job, you have undoubtedly had to endure some ham-handed, second-rate sales manager attempting to fire up the troops by quoting liberally from Baldwin’s scene-stealing oratory in Glengarry Glen Ross, but to address his assertion that you should always be closing, should you?

I maintain that a solid business developer should switch from an A-B-C mindset to an N-B-C mindset: N-B-C.

N-Never.  B-Be.  C-Closing.  Never be closing!

“Wait, how can I get sales if I don’t close?” you may ask.

If you’ve researched your chosen niche, and if you’ve qualified your prospect who resides in the niche, if you ask powerful questions that elicit heartfelt answers about their wants and needs, and if you create small agreements along the way as you travel down the initial path of relationship building, if you did all that correctly, then you will never have to close. 

Easy, right?


Deception has no place in coaching.

Manipulation has no place in coaching. 

Why is Ricky Roma the top closer at Premiere Properties? Because he isn’t closing at all. Roma is a predator. He sizes up a room and then stalks the weakest mark. Closing techniques.? Leave them for the losers.

Look at what he did with prospect/prey James Lingk (actor Jonathan Pryce).

Roma harnesses the power of his own preternatural instincts to snare his prey, who reveals his weakness, a deep seated inferiority complex. And then Roma pounces so smoothly that Lingk never saw him coming.  Roma exploited the man’s insecurities, and got him to sign on the line which is dotted.

Every scene between Roma and Lingk is a masterclass in deception and predatory behavior (and acting). I won’t say anything more about this multi-award-winning David Mamet stage play-turned-film, because I would spoil the joy of seeing it for yourself, and if you haven’t, rent it immediately. Glengarry Glen Ross... | Blended coffee, Coffee humor, Art pictures

Like Roma, a great coach understands how to find what makes their clients tick, but in an honest and caring way. She makes it her business to know what gets them out of bed in the morning, what makes them want to repeatedly face the world’s challenges every day. But a strong coach, it should go without saying, is never digging deep just to get a sale.

Deception has no place in coaching. Manipulation has no place in coaching. 

Genuinely wanting to help someone get to a better place is the only goal of establishing a professional coaching relationship. Money coaching is a world where sales manipulations and closing techniques will out your prospective coach as just another charlatan, someone just in it for the money. 

So, some tips to my professional coaching colleagues:

Never be closing.

Always be caring.

Always be listening.

Always be asking powerful questions.

Always be the person who can help your client change their future.


New! How to Preserve Your Assets and Make Money in a Recession.

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An angry bear market, inflation raising prices on everything, interest rates still rising, a huge tax bill embedded in your retirement accounts, and income taxes that never go away. If you’re retired, or still in the “red zone” (ten years or less away from retirement), inflation and recession can stop your dreams in their tracks. Joseph Grieco, CFP® will teach you how to position your assets to protect them from inflation and market risk.. The goals of this class are: limit the risk of principal loss from your portfolio, reposition your assets to maintain safer inflation-fighting growth, and generate the income you need.

To review and enroll, click below:

How to Preserve Your Assets and Make Money in a Recession March 8, 2023, 6:30-9:30 PM, Online Class through Community College of Allegheny County (YCH-071-1215)

Striving to eliminate ESG from my portfolio and my life!

I am no longer a Series 7 registered representative, so I am not making a recommendation.

But I am a private investor, and my personal Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) portfolio improvement today is focused on the energy sector.

Sell: State Street Global SPDR XLU

Buy: Strive Asset Management DRLL

Rationale: Move my personal funds out of ESG-infected funds.

Have a great day! ??

Joe G.

I’m just your average Joe money coach striving to eliminate ESG from my portfolio and my life!



Money is deeply personal.

Money is deeply personal. 

An individual’s unique emotional connections, experiences and values all help to shape their own personal relationship with money.

Financial coaches have the opportunity and responsibility to understand their client’s values, biases and behaviors, and make personal finance truly personal by encouraging clients to share their experiences and deepest concerns, especially when they relate to their financial circumstances.

It is these priorities that make it incumbent on the coach to connect with clients emotionally, and earn genuine trust to be able to identify, understand and collaborate on achieving their client’s goals, in other words, the things that matter most in life.

Coaching models, coaching methods, coaching skills and coaching experience all vary from coach to coach, however every coach must endeavor to help their client contemplate how reaching their financial goals will improve their lives. Coaches must help clients believe that a more financially rewarding life is not beyond their grasp.

Building trust, sharing values, making an emotional connection, enjoying the benefits of collaboration are all keys to a successful coaching relationship, however, none of it matters unless and until the client takes action.

Action is make or break.

Helping clients attain their desired quality of life through helping them understand their behaviors, overcome inertia and hurdle their roadblocks is the coach’s highest and best value.

When the elements of empathy, understanding, curiosity, and open communication are combined with the coach’s technical financial expertise and ability to motivate the client to take action are all present, then the client should feel they are in the ideal environment to confidently take the required steps toward meaningful, life-changing action.  

The Secret Language of Money

If my country were my client…

If my country were my client, I’d tell her its time to fix her family finances, before it’s too late.

I’d tell her it’s long past time to put together a serious budget.

I’d tell her to stop spending foolishly, as if she was able to print an unlimited supply of money down in the basement.

I’d tell her to stop borrowing, cut up her credit cards and pay back who she owes.

I’d tell her that throwing serious money at childish charades and flights of fancy is not “investing,” it’s dangerous.

I’d tell her it was time to play the long game with financial determination so fierce it would ensure the future of her grandchildren’s grandchildren.

And finally, I would advise her to stop hiring dishonest and unskilled employees who will deliberately destroy her standing in the world economy.

She has problems beyond money, but she’s strong, and brave, and good, so I give her my best advice with due respect, loyalty and love for her and her whole family, because they deserve better.

I can dream, can’t I?

Fix the money. Fix the future.


We are taught from an early age that money doesn’t equal happiness, and that’s generally true.

But when we think about money, we generally want to know a few things: How can I make more? How can I keep from losing it?  How can I be a better investor? How can I best manage my life, financial and otherwise, so that my family and I can live a healthy, worry-free life?

These are big questions, often uncomfortable questions, but they must be asked. And answered.

We’re fortunate to be a highly educated and informed society, but regardless of what we know, or what your education prepares you to do, most Americans need help with money. Why? Because our educational system has failed to realize that “money skills” are something every student from K to 12, and the graduates of higher education, should possess.

Whether it’s your inability to balance your checking account, your feeling of helplessness when your credit score is plunging, the terror you experience as you watch your 401(k) balance plummet, or on the flip side, you believe you’re smarter than the market, even when your returns are regularly in the tank, these are signs that you may need a money coach. 

Many people don’t recognize the warning signs that they should seek help organizing and optimizing their financial life. Others may be so embarrassed by their financial situation that they avoid seeking the help that can get their life turned around.

If any of this strikes a chord with you, you may be a candidate for money coaching, so to get the juices flowing, here’s a short and incomplete list of warning signs that professional money coaching may be a solution for you.

  1. You’ve not set clearly defined and articulated goals. “I want to be rich,” is not a goal, it’s a wish. “I want to accumulate $1 million before I retire in 28 years.  I make $80,000 a year, so I will need to save $10,000 a year at a 7.5% desired rate of return.” Now, that’s a goal.
  2. You don’t know what you own, you don’t know what you spend. This is big. You need to know where you are so you can get where you want to go, right?  A Personal Income Statement (how much you earn minus how much you spend) and a Personal Balance Sheet (assets you own minus how much debt you have equals your net worth).

    You don’t know what you own, you don’t know what you spend.

    These two statements will give you an accurate snapshot of your current condition.

  3. You’re saving less than 10% of your earned income.
  4. You don’t follow a financial plan because you don’t have one. Savings, investing, emergency funds, insurance, reducing debt, raising your credit score, tax minimization, retirement preparedness, having a will…all part of a cohesive plan. Be honest: did you wince after reading one or more of these? Don’t worry, most people do. Time to get help.
  5. You skipped the free money window! In other words, you are not participating in your employer sponsored 401(k) that matches your contributions. This is a huge mistake, and one that can be rectified easily.
  6. You don’t know the best ways to have your money make you money for you. It’s not about the “best investments,” it’s about the “best investments for you.” Big difference.
  7. Once you’ve made money, you don’t know how to keep it. Making money is half the battle. Keeping it is key to your future financial health.
  8. You lose invested money. You continue to do the same things, and you lose money again. A qualified, credentialed coach can help you break this destructive cycle.
  9. Handling money can be scary and overwhelming. We all have biases and behaviors that determine how well we handle money. These inherent biases often allow us to succeed with money, but too often they manifest in potentially damaging behaviors.

    Handling money can be scary and overwhelming.

    An experienced, credentialed coach can plug that drain so you can make smarter, informed decisions about your overall financial wellness. When it comes to money, we all have the potential to be our own worst enemy. Low financial literacy, bad habits and wonky behavior will kill even the best laid plans.

  10. Your IQ is higher than your credit score. There are steps you can take to improve your credit score that will pay dividends in your overall financial health.
  11. You think CDs are a safe investment. If you are reading this the day of publication, CDs are paying less than 1%, but inflation is running at 7% (or more). This makes every dollar in your CD worth about 94 cents. CDs may be “secure,” but they’re not inherently “safe.”
  12. You keep making the same mistakes. You want a coach to help you avoid costly mistakes, and most experienced money coaches have made those same mistakes. It’s called “earning your stripes the hard way,” and hard knocks are the best teachers of all. If you work with an adviser, coach or planner that hasn’t made mistakes, fire them! 
  13. You have a difficult time visualizing and understanding the four necessary elements to a beneficial money coaching relationship, namely: Historical Context (the past), Daily Events (the present), Forecasts (the future), and most importantly, Your Personal Info (critical, first-hand life experiences, behaviors and biases). 

To enjoy a productive and collaborative coaching relationship, these four elements each require examination in the context of two worlds: the world at large and your world.

The signs that you may need a money coach are virtually unlimited, and the signs from your own life may surprise you, and this list of 13 (a really ominous number, I admit!), is simply a starter list; broad, general strokes to get you thinking.

Money coaching is a relatively new and unusual concept to many people, but don’t you owe it to yourself to take a look at the warning signs in your own life and seek the help you need?