In this episode Anna
and I talk about
What a treat we have in the new episode today. Shannon chats with an evolving, almost former coach who’s on a mission to highlight the unethical practice in the self development world after her own awakening. Meet Anna Squelch.
Shannon and Anna talk through Anna’s realisation regarding common practices in the coaching industry and how Anna has educated herself and is passionate about highlighting inequity and unethical practices so as to educate others.
Anna is a determined soul fuelled by sharing the raw truths she discovered for herself and now can’t unsee. Anna could have ignored the call to shine the light on her discoveries but instead decided that the light not only deserved to be shone, it deserved to be bright.
Connect with guest Anna Squelch here;
You’ll hear about
2:36 The importance of ethical business practice.
7:47 How the pandemic has changed the coaching landscape.
11:29 Spiritual capitalism
21:54 Learning about cults in the coaching space.
27:32 How to ask for a refund?
31:46 Fear-based marketing and fear-based messaging.
37:03 Why is it not enough to stop doing unethical business practices?
47:48 What role does leadership play in your life and business?
49:20 How do you know when you’re thriving?
52:11 Final piece of wisdom from Anna
Connect with guest Anna Squelch
Anna Squelch is a women’s life coach and business mentor guiding women through compassionate self-discovery, and self-leadership.
She is the host of The Full Circle podcast, a trauma-informed breathwork facilitator and gal on a mission to bring slow, sustainable and ethical practice back into the coaching industry.
She Lead She Thrives, the home of inspired conversations, practical and creative wisdom, expansive leadership and business insights, abundant Bragaudacious moments of celebration and useful info you can actually do something with.
You’ll hear about mindset marketing, money, magnetism, self awareness and the Thrive Factor Framework, it’s Archetypes and more. Amplify your role as a leader, a self led soul. Tap into your effortless success zone. Turn your ingeniousness and wisdom into profitable income streams.
From solo shows to guests you’ll definitely want more from, there’s something for every ambitious ingenious soul.
I’m Shannon Dunn, a true OG of the business coaching space, with an obsession with thriving. You are so welcome here. Let’s dive into today’s episode.
Visit ThriveFactorCo.com/links for all the latest news and offers.
Great big hello, everybody. I’m Shannon Dunn, your host yet She Leads She Thrives podcast and a leadership and business coach from way way back. I have another amazing guest to introduce you to today. And I’m very excited to see where Anna and I end up talking about. We connected only recently, it was really only a year or literally a few weeks ago from when we were actually recording this episode to share with you all. But I think I’d seen a couple, at least two or three people in a very short space of time Anna, share your content on Instagram. Because like, you know, the curious me like who is this woman like what I read was like, oh we’re so on the same page here. Who is she? And that’s where I kind of went and looked in sticky beaked in more of your content and reached out to you, right? Yes, this is great. So very, very cool.
Shannon Dunn 02:01
So let me share Anna’s bio, and then we’ll dive into a conversation so you can get to know why she’s here. I think you’ll work it out pretty quickly. We’ve got a lot of things in common in terms of our beliefs and thoughts about the coaching industry. So Anna Squelch is a women’s life coach and business mentor guiding women through compassionate self discovery and self leadership. She’s the host of the Full Circle podcast, a trauma informed breathwork facilitator, and a gal a mission to bring slow, sustainable and ethical practice back into the coaching industry. Very, very excited. So should we just dive straight in? Do you want to tell everyone like first where you are in the world?
Anna Squelch 02:36
I am in Auckland, New Zealand. So you may, depending on when you listen to this podcast, you may have heard that we’ve just been underwater. Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve had some sort of unprecedented rainfall, but most of the time, it is a beautiful place to live.
Shannon Dunn 02:50
Yeah, definitely. I would love to spend a lot more time in New Zealand than I actually have. So. And I love this kind of notion of connecting with so many incredible businessmen around the world. Because there’s going to be so many cool people to visit the next time I get traveling more. So yeah, but very strange for you you guys to have the flooding that you’ve just had. So this may be you know, a few weeks to months away when you’ve listened to this. But if you haven’t, go on Google, Auckland floods, and you’ll see some horrific images of what happens.
Shannon Dunn 03:21
So. So kind of line of sight, which where do we start, because it’s so many things to dive into. But in looking at your content and connecting with you or just chatting that we’ve done, I can see that you’ve really changed your focus in terms of your coaching, to talk more about ethical business practice. And that is again, huge thing that I’m like, yes, we need more of this. So much more of it needs to come. And that’s definitely one of the things that made me kind of connect and as I said, want to know more about you and who is this woman behind these really awesome posts and content, sharing this and highlighting this, but I’d love to know kind of in the background, like what activated this for you as this needs to be talked about. Yeah.
Anna Squelch 04:03
I don’t even know you know. You know how you come to this point of realization you’re like, how do they actually get here? It feels like how did I never know this? And how was I never this version of myself. And it was I would say so I’ve been in the coaching industry about five and a half years and I’m actually semi on my way out at the moment. I’ve made the decisions. Yeah, made the decision to go back to the corporate world where I started, where I was before I started my coaching business, but I still plan to use my platform to educate other you know, entrepreneurs around ethical business.
Anna Squelch 04:40
And just as a disclaimer, I don’t have a background in ethics. I didn’t even know what ethics was until the last sort of year when this conversation started to become really front and center. And it was probably about six months ago when someone shared some content with me around. I think it was I don’t know if you know Seeking With Ser by Margerit, incredible account. She’s taken a bit of time away from social media at the moment. And then also Eva Collins from Why Don’t You Say Something. And I started seeing these accounts. And this was the first time that I’d ever seen any accounts, and people, sort of critiquing the coaching industry and standing to talk about effects. And so I was consuming this content as all of these sort of pennies were dropping, and I was thinking, Oh, my God, like, this is why it’s felt so icky for so long. And it had felt that way for probably, I would say, 18 months, I’ve just been sort of gently stepping back and thinking this just doesn’t feel right.
Shannon Dunn 05:40
Right, it’s right. And I’d noticed the same thing and as so much so I, in conversations I was having in my own life. I’ve been a coach for over two decades, but in my own business, 18 years, you know, a lot of shit, a lot of good stuff and a lot of real crappy stuff over the years. And I would say its been about the last 18 months or two years, and here we are, like early 2023, where I felt very almost disenchanted with something that I loved and like this is weird, what is going on. So again, those of us that are guess maybe hopefully the ones that are going to really lead the charge with the change I’ve paid attention to kind of how we feeling about stuff. And spoken up about it. So yeah, it’s definitely that last couple of years for sure.
Anna Squelch 06:22
Yeah. And it seems to be around the pandemic where things really sort of ramped up in terms of the insane pricing, the financial, the predatory pricing practices, the Yeah, just all of this, the dysregulation in the industry, people not having any qualifications, let alone a coaching qualification. People without trauma certification, saying that they’re now trauma healers. To answer your question, it was just, it was actually through other people sharing this type of content on Instagram, and it just landed with me so…. it was just this real moment of validation of I had been gaslighting myself for so long thinking that I was the problem, and I just wasn’t getting it. And I wasn’t trying hard enough. And I wasn’t, you know, having these six figure months, and I centered myself in that problem of like, it’s a me thing.
Anna Squelch 07:13
Yeah, just this real moment of validation of I’m not the only one feeling this way, there’s actually hundreds of people and there’s this entire community that’s building. My – not that this is the point – but my engagement and my followers and I have had so many new followers in the last six months after sharing this type of content. And that has not been, there has not been the plan because I’m not actually selling anything. But there’s so many people out there who are ready for this type of awareness and this type of conversation. So I’m so excited to be having it with you.
Shannon Dunn 07:47
I know. And I’m so excited that there are people like you to have this conversation with because for a long time, as I said, I wouldn’t necessarily say that I was getting myself but I was like, where do I have these conversations with people? And agree with you that the pandemic changed the dynamic in the coaching landscape, for sure. And I can understand it, right, you’re looking around and you’ve either been made redundant or made very aware for yourself and made a choice that the maybe paid employment you were doing previously is not for you moving forward, or you just need something extra and you start kind of the side hustle business. Coaching is a very easy thing to look like you just go into because you kind of when someone tells you, you’re good at something, and they’ll tell you, you could be a coach and teach others to do it.
Shannon Dunn 08:29
Well, coaching teaching is a whole another thing, another conversation, but I can see how the rise of coaches was so rapid, but agree with you about the predatory pricing, the insane amounts of money that people are charging, and the messaging that’s going along with that, the luxury lifestyle. I’ve shared this a lot with some of our guests, and the conversation is very much been a very topical thing for lots of people that have come on, which is great. Because I feel like again, a growing community talking about it.
Shannon Dunn 08:55
But it was only in my memory maybe three to four years ago that having a six figure business was the pinnacle, from a coaching mentoring even though some of the consulting work out there, and now it’s if you’re not having a multi six figure month and you’re not a success, it’s like you know, don’t want to swear but you know, what’s probably going through my head the same as yours, right? We keep the podcast clean if we can so I don’t have to stick a profanity label on an episode but yeah, it was it’s definitely been a you serious like what that and where are the people that they’re paying the kind of money that is supposedly being claimed as being invested in coaching.
Anna Squelch 09:36
And I think the biggest thing around this conversation of money and six figure coaching and now its seven figure mentors and every coach, you look on Instagram that has in their bio, how much money they make, and we are the only industry in the world that predicates our title and job title with our salary which is wild. And what has become more apparent is the divisiveness of the industry and how coaching really is sort of appealing to just one particular type of person. It’s very white. It’s very female. It’s very privileged.
Anna Squelch 10:11
And we’re forgetting about a bunch of people who could probably benefit the most from our services, throwing them in the trash heap because it’s not, you know, sexy, it’s not trendy. It’s not, you know, Instagrammable in your nice beige, aesthetic. So that’s even a bigger conversation, learning about trauma, learning about trauma-informed business and how we can make coaching more accessible to more people not even further away and more unobtainable.
Shannon Dunn 10:37
It’s a shift that needed to come I think, for such a long time, but there was not as many of us perhaps aware of this. I think that the evolution with DEI has definitely made a big impact is to some of us. I spent a lot of time last year and I’ve continued I’ve invested to work, again with DEI specialist Annie Gichuru, who’s based in Australia, from Nigeria, originally, who was on the podcast, episode seven, maybe, Anyway, she’s been on before to talk about leading a more racially inclusive coaching practice or business. That is definitely I think, opening some people’s eyes to that perspective and true inclusivity and true equity, not equality, because they’re very different as well. But yeah, the whole pricing aspect of things is just another dimension entirely, right. Yeah.
Anna Squelch 11:29
And you’ve talked before about self awareness, and you know, self awareness as coaches, we come into this work through our own sort of spiritual journeys, I imagine. And self awareness is such a big part of this journey that we go on and it almost becomes it almost the pendulum swings too far that way, in terms of we become so self centered, and so self aware, it’s all about the self, we forget about the community. And so what we’re seeing now is a lot more of the hyper individualism and the individualistic practices, and messaging and beliefs and doctrines that are coming out of this industry, where it’s just all about me, me, me, me, me, me, me, how much am I earning? What am I doing for myself? Am I flying on a luxury jet? And we’re forgetting about, like, helping the community,
Shannon Dunn 12:15
Right? So it’s, it’s really there’s, there’s been a shift from client focused to I’m promoting my lifestyle, so people will desire to have the same and therefore pay me to show them how. It’s not outcome driven. And it’s not client or human human centered, like the human to human. That whole notion of needing to remember that people buy from people, is a person and all of their life and family and everything else, their values, their beliefs, that is on the other end of every transaction that has ever made, whether it’s a few cents, or whatever crazy numbers that you know, are being asked for by some coaches out there for sure. Yeah, yeah. Let’s see where we can go next. Well, I’ve seen you using the phrase spiritual capitalism in your content, right? It’s a let’s just…
Anna Squelch 13:07
In my head. I was just about to say spiritual capitalism. Right.
Shannon Dunn 13:11
Tell us what you mean by this. Because I know I have an understanding of it doesn’t mean that the listeners do so tell us what you mean by this. And let’s talk a little bit about that.
Anna Squelch 13:18
Yeah, so again, disclaimer, not a capitalism expert and I am still learning.
Shannon Dunn 13:26
You are, at least you’re learning. Yeah.
Anna Squelch 13:29
I’m learning quick. And I’m applying quick as well. And I think that’s a really important piece of this is like, what are we doing to actually integrate these lessons and learnings into our business and changing behavior?
Shannon Dunn 13:39
Conversations are great, but if you’re not taking action, did the conversation even happen. What do they say, if a tree falls in the woods…. and various other versions of that. But like, if you’re only just having the conversation and nothing else is happening, is this conversation useful? Probably not really. So yes. Tell us about, like your view and your understanding through your own research. Spiritual capitalism was a really powerful phrase.
Anna Squelch 14:09
Capitalism itself is very much growth focused, it’s about more money, it’s about growing GDP, it’s about, you know, essentially profits over people at the expense of the environment, at the expense of relationships, at the expense of our social well being and our welfare. And the wellness and self help and spiritual industries and communities have really picked up on this capitalism and running with it, which is where we’re seeing the it’s all about how much money you’re earning. And it’s all about more, more, more, more, more. And there’s this real lack of satiety or this feeling of enoughness. You’re not seeing coaches saying, Actually, I’ve earned enough right now I’m just gonna give back or I’m just gonna sit back or I’m gonna focus on something else for now. It’s this real trajectory of this uptick.
Shannon Dunn 14:58
That aspect and then the other thing that I see that, again, gets me very riled up is a standard response from a coach, particularly in the business space. Let’s remove whether they’re qualified or not, and or have business qualifications and expertise, anything credible to offer, but that if somebody is, wherever somebody’s at the immediate kind of solution to everything is raise your prices. Raise your prices, it’s kind of feeding into this way. Yeah, that not always a solution.
Anna Squelch 15:31
No, and this is whole rhetoric around charge your worth. And yes, somewhere along the way, we’ve equated I say, we, because I’ve been in this industry, and I’ve probably been part of it. But we’ve equated our self worth with our net worth. And this business coaches out there – sorry, my dog is just starting to have some noisy dreams. That or she’s agreeing with us. Where it’s all about, raise your prices, because it’s going to show how much you value yourself and how worthy you are. But nowhere else in business does this really exist. It’s about charging what you can actually command based on your own professional experience, your qualifications, your expertise, the evidence that you’ve been able to get through your own client case studies or testimonials, and then also what the market can bear. And people are kind of forgetting that last part of like, just because people are paying it, it doesn’t mean that it’s right or ethical, or it’s you know, what you should be doing.
Shannon Dunn 16:33
Equally not that I’m ever going to suggest, I like to believe people are truthful, I know that that’s also a very naive view of the world. But I like to start there and believe that until proven wrong. But the prices that are supposedly being paid, none of us know if they are actually being paid on a consistent basis. If you had somebody transact large five or six figure amount to work with you as a coach, if that happened once is that something to use in your marketing forevermore, that you get paid that amount of money?
Anna Squelch 17:09
And allegedly, allegedly, allegedly, there are certain coaches who are paying their mentees to put up a screenshot of how much they’re paying them just to kind of create this image of the first person paid it, then everyone else will. So going back to the spiritual capitalism piece, it’s the astronomical pricing it is. And also the extractive nature of it. So extracting from resources. All of these coaches flying business class just for a holiday, and all of the resources… the luxury cars…
Shannon Dunn 17:48
…the handbags, we would call them in the Southern hemisphere, purses in the northern hemisphere. Yeah, just kind of what I’ve got.
Anna Squelch 17:55
And then we look at the people as well, the exploitation of overseas cheap virtual assistants and so when we start to look at this big picture of how these coaches are really exploiting people, they’re exploiting the environment they’re exploiting, everything they can put their hands on. That’s where spiritual capitalism, for me, that’s where I’m seeing it sort of transpire.
Shannon Dunn 18:18
Yeah, yeah, for sure. The other thing that I think that relates to that is the whole association with MLM, so multilevel marketing, and the coaching industry, right. I probably first saw it mentioned, probably about 18 months ago, but I see it more frequently these days. Yeah, let’s talk about that a little bit, because it kind of made complete sense to me when I saw that reference. And when you spend time in this industry, either as a coach or as a consumer of coaching, I don’t think if you’ve got your eyes open, that it’s very hard to work out kind of the food chain, if you like, the where it’s kind of driven from and who’s working with who, based on how brand, like the visuals, the language, everything changes. There it right very quickly. Yeah, like it’s take me two seconds to work out where someone’s learning from or who they’re coaching with, whose programs they’re doing. MLM, in coaching.
Anna Squelch 19:19
I mean, it seems to be like quite the short pipeline from MLM to coach to business coach to wealth coach to and what we are discovering is that a lot of these high ticket coaches do come from an MLM background. And there’s a reason why MLMs forever have been under scrutiny and have had a lot of legal cases against them. And, you know, a lot of MLMs have been sued. And it’s because of this cult like predatory culture that exists with any MLMs and that’s just sort of trickling down into the coaching industry and like you described before, it does look like a pyramid. There’s a big dog at the top, and then there’s all of the little flying monkeys underneath. And it’s priced accordingly. Yeah, the big dog at the top has to have the highest prices, and then it’s kind of trickles down. And yeah, we it’s just a cookie cutter version. Like you said, the branding looks the same, they speak the same, they do the invisible offers the same, their entire business model looks the same.
Shannon Dunn 20:27
I think one of the funniest moments I had was with my mastermind group, it would have been early 2021. And one of the women in that space, because I will not use the word container because this relates to the use of the word container. And she said to me, like none of these none of my clients I work with maybe 20, or less than 20% of my clients are actually coaches. Yeah. But she said none of them were I think maybe we were maybe there was one anyway, small group of women in this mastermind and one of them said can I ask you a question because I feel weird asking it. But what the hell is the use of the word container in relationship to coaching. And honestly, we had the funniest conversation. And then she said to me, when I read that, I feel like someone’s sticking me in some piece of plastic and slamming a lid on the top. And if I’m lucky, I’ve got a lid with an air hole so I can breathe. Right? And I kind of understand the use of the word potentially. But again, so that’s again, the languaging is coming from a certain place. There’s so many words I did I wrote a blog article and publish it last year around the commonly seen terms in the coaching industry and what they really mean. So if anyone’s listening to that and you want to go and read it or can’t find it, message me or send you the link. It was quite fun to create. Even so it’s like and I’ve sent it and so when people are like now, now I get what I think they’re on about because it’s like just made no sense. Yeah.
Anna Squelch 21:54
And part of my part of my sort of education around this unethical coaching space last year was learning about cults. I started going down the cult rabbit hole and listening to A Little Bit Culty, Sounds Like a Cult, I read a book called Cultish. I watched The Vow. And once you learn more about cults and about cult behavior, it’s like they have their own language, like container and quantum leaping, and, you know, all the codes…
Shannon Dunn 22:23
yeah, codes, transmissions, downloads…
Anna Squelch 22:25
entire coaching thesaurus. They have their own language, because it makes them feel more exclusive. And it makes people who speak the language feel like they’re on the inside, and someone who doesn’t understand the language on the outside. And so the use of the ridiculous word “container”, and all of these other words are just another way that they’re essentially creating a cult.
Shannon Dunn 22:50
Very much so. I found that some of the words kind of penetrated the language in the industry so quickly, which also fascinated me as someone who’s nerded out on human behavior and kind of behavioral response for most of my life. It’s like, Whoa, this is like, it’s so rapid. But again, that’s the impact of a cult. With that, like you said, the dynamics and the definition of it is a very, very common practice like that, where everybody starts, you know, to adapt, to belong, the language has changed. Ww see it and again, through branding and things as well. So, yeah, so interesting.
Shannon Dunn 23:29
So let’s talk about those people out there. And I don’t necessarily think that there’s necessarily an increasing number, but I feel like maybe they’re speaking out more, who have had a terrible experience, with coaching, in some regards. Coaching guidance, mentoring – all of the different words that various people use for what really is a form of,potentially a form of coaching. Not usually, because they don’t actually understand what coaching is, but you know, we get we’re on the same page, we understand that. But you know, where do we start with recommending to someone who feels like they’ve been harmed by an experience that is with a coach or a coaching group or coaching organization, and not receive what they signed up for? You know, where do we start in terms of those people knowing that they have a right to speak up and ask and hopefully get a resolution?
Anna Squelch 24:24
Yeah, so my first recommendation would always be to seek someone out that you can speak to and have that person validate your experience. So that might be a therapist, that might be something like what Eva Collins is doing with her Patreon group, where we are all together in this Facebook group in this community, where we get to share about our experiences and validate each other and say, Yeah, that was messed up. So either talking to a therapist. Depending, well, yeah, depending on the level of harm, but harm is harm is harm. And so it’s up to the individual to decide whether they’ve been psychologically harmed.
Shannon Dunn 25:01
Such a personal experience. And I think one of the biggest things is that if you feel like something’s not right, you trust that no matter the gravity of that you trust that as a starting point.
Anna Squelch 25:13
Yeah, so therapy, having someone who is completely outside of the industry outside of your experience, who can just hold that space for you to process what you’ve actually been through. Because for, well from my own experience, it was five years of working in the industry, but it was probably eight years of being in the self development industry and working with coaches. So seeking that support and giving yourself space, and with that space piece, I would also say creating distance from that person. So if there’s a coach that you’ve been harmed by unfollowing, them, blocking them, deleting them, unsubscribing from their newsletter, and
Shannon Dunn 25:48
..and their minions, and the kind of people who are replicating and looking like them.
Anna Squelch 25:54
Part of my healing process with this was just unfollowing all coaches and just spending way less time on social media, not reading self help books, not listening to self help podcasts, like, really, just completely detoxing from that entire world so I could hear my own thoughts. Because when you’re constantly listening to other coaches, and this is what the industry does, it’s very hard to hear your own thoughts.
Shannon Dunn 26:16
Yeah, so difficult. And then if you are trying to tune in and trying to follow people that you hopefully do feel you can trust and you feel some affinity with, then they start contradicting each other, and then you start questioning yourself. So you lose that ability to have that discernment. And to know that, I guess what you think and feel is, right
Anna Squelch 26:37
Yeah, yeah. And that part of it, you know, regaining self trust and regaining your own self discernment. Because we can often blame ourselves for investing in the coach and paying that money and not seeing the warning signs, and there can be a lot of self blame. And so I think self care is such an important part of this. And obviously, that would take place in therapy, but then also, alone, like really coming back into self trust, getting back into what makes you feel like you, grounding, getting back into nature, connecting with your self care practices outside of other people. And then seeking reparation. And this is the part that scares people the most, because many of us are conflict averse, we don’t want to ruffle feathers, we don’t want to rock the boat. And from my own experience, I also questioned whether I was right to be feeling this way. And so there was a period of…
Shannon Dunn 27:31
I think that would be a very regular, I don’t like to say normal, but a regular response to have that questioning.
Anna Squelch 27:38
Yeah. And I have so many people reach out to me, and they say, Oh, my God, I got messed over by this person. And I, you know, this happened, and this happened. And this happened. And I say, Well, have you asked for a refund? Yeah, um, I couldn’t do that, I couldn’t, you know, it’s been so long. And I just, I feel bad. And so this is real, like, want for justice. But this, like, just this lack of ability to follow through with that. And so I hope that the more conversations we’re having with this, and the more we’re validating people and saying, actually, that was messed up, you shouldn’t have you shouldn’t have been harmed. And that way, I hope that it empowers more people to seek that reparation.
Anna Squelch 28:16
So first port of call would be reaching out to that coach and requesting a refund, saying, I wasn’t happy with this, this wasn’t delivered on, whatever the reason is, and trying to have as much evidence as to why you’re requesting a refund as possible, this is what it says on the sales page. This is what it says in my contract. This wasn’t delivered, this wasn’t fulfilled. Or it’s simply you know, what the entire course was just fluff. And that can be a good enough reason.
Shannon Dunn 28:46
Yeah, it’s a tricky one, isn’t it? Because we see so many examples share where, I certainly have, of people either there is no contract, which again, is a huge red flag, don’t go into anything, if there is no Terms and Conditions clearly displayed, and available for you to keep a copy of. And all there is maybe a contract or terms and conditions. But they say things like no refunds available in a lot of countries that’s actually illegal to not offer a refund, some countries might be different. So again, you need to be mindful. We don’t need to all step in and become legal experts on terms and conditions and contracts. But and have someone in your own country that you could go to to ask about what you’ve signed and whether or not there is you know, somewhere because I’ve certainly I’ve had people say to me, but the contract says and I couldn’t go against that. No, the contract may not actually be legal and ethical.
Anna Squelch 29:43
And a lot of coaches as well are putting a non-disparagement clause in their in their contracts as well so that you can’t talk negatively about them online.
Shannon Dunn 29:51
That just fascinated me when I saw that coming up. If you dare to have an experience that’s not exactly as I’ve told you you will have, you cannot say anything. So again, it’s that shut shutting people down and putting their kind of the gag on them, quietening them, irrelevant of who they are. And thank goodness, people are like, No, you cannot do that to me. We need to speak up and putting themselves into a space of visibility and potential threat in some regards on different levels for saying this is not okay.
Anna Squelch 29:56
Yeah. And then the final piece, if you don’t get any, I’ve heard of a lot of clients being blocked and deleted and the coach just doesn’t respond to them when they’ve requested that refund. And so the next step is that you can go to your bank or your merchant or Paypal or Stripe and say that the services weren’t rendered, or the services weren’t what you paid for and you can request refunds that way. And I’ve heard of people getting refunds two years later through Stripe or PayPal.
Shannon Dunn 30:51
Yeah, that’s good to know. I’ve never had to do it. I don’t even think I’ve been close. I think I just it’s pure luck after this long in the industry, as a consumer of coaching as well as delivering it. But I think it’s important for people to understand that you are not alone. And you do not have to sit there believing that you just have to suck it up and deal with it and go into self blame and self shame around your decision making.
Shannon Dunn 31:16
But again, I think it’s very easy to understand why people go to that space, because again, you look at the messaging that comes from a certain part of the coaching industry is telling you that if you don’t commit, then ie. invest in X thing that I’ve got available for such and such and whatever, that you’re not truly committed, that you’re not all in, you’re not going to be a success. You’re not this, you’re not that, you know, it’s all this negative, again, telling people that they are not enough, it’s creating that sense of the scarcity and the FOMO. And there’s so many different variations of it, which just breaks my heart when I say that, and its like, awww – you’ve gone down that path, and that’s your messaging.
Anna Squelch 31:57
Yeah, it’s real fear based marketing, and the people who are on a journey and the people who are seeking coaching are usually in a vulnerable space anyway. We have all of these coaches putting themselves in this position of authority, this position of power, because of their lifestyle that they’re flaunting. And so it’s easy to create that unhealthy power dynamic, where you’re giving that person the power to tell you exactly what you need, and losing your own sense of discernment in the process.
Anna Squelch 32:25
And so I think one of the most problematic – I mean there’s so many – but one of the most problematic pieces of this conversation that we’re talking about with coaching is a lack of informed purchasing decision or lack of informed consent in the purchasing decision. We’re seeing a lot of coaches who don’t have sales pages, who don’t have an e- learning platform that sort of explains exactly what you’re going to going to get and how to use it. We’ve got coaches who are hosting their programs on YouTube. And there’s this real taking people’s power away by not giving them enough information. We see that with the invisible offers, that people don’t know what they’re buying.
Shannon Dunn 33:13
If you really trusted yourself, whatever this X amount of money, I’ve stuck on this invisible offer that I didn’t even know what it is yet that’s why I’m not telling you. I know when I first started seeing those, like are you serious, like….
Anna Squelch 33:26
Shannon Dunn 33:26
…and people were excited that they bought them. Like, it just made me think about you in a whole different way.
Anna Squelch 33:31
Yeah. And there’s so much anecdotal feedback of people buying those invisible offers, and then feeling just so dissatisfied, and so upset with themselves for trusting, for handing over this money. And it’s illegal in many places.
Shannon Dunn 33:45
Right!? Again, that’s just as a side point of importance. It is illegal in many places. Having seen messaging marketing, kind of related messaging, it’s evolved. But I feel like there’s still the underlying kind of tones or themes that have come through since I’ve certainly first been in business. And a lot of it does draw on people’s sense of missing out. So the fear of missing out, that scarcity, the shame, the labeling the judgment, if you don’t take action, and then you see those things like invisible offers, or the pricing where the prices go up every hour or every half hour, I’ve even seen a version of this price will go up every 10 minutes. So the more you wait, right, I didn’t even know how they’re even managing that in their back end, but anyway, because I haven’t seen a system yet that could do that. But those kinds of things are just really challenging to see that. And you see people fretting because they are not sure how they’re going to create some money to even get a first payment. And other thing that I find really challenging is the penalisation for payment plans. That if you you take a payment plan because it works better with your cash flow, feel safer, you feel more secure to be able to pay over a period of time, that you’re paying an exorbitant amount more than if you pay in full upfront.
Anna Squelch 35:05
Yeah. And what the underlying messages is that you’re rewarding people with privilege, you’re rewarding people with access to that money right now. And privileged people are already privileged, they don’t need more rewarding, they don’t need more head pats. So that was that was one of the first things I implemented in my business was taking away those payment plan penalties. And now the price up front is the exact same as the payment plan, no matter how long that payment plan is.
Shannon Dunn 35:31
Yeah. I’ve done the same Anna.
Anna Squelch 35:31
It’s just managing cash flow, like a business does.
Shannon Dunn 35:32
Yeah. I guess the the other thing, the awareness of the nervous system, and particularly in relationship to money, I think that’s even more important than having, I don’t know if you’ec had, but I certainly had my own experience where making an investment that wasn’t going in the way that I hoped it would for my business. So it became very hard to pay every month and the impact of that on me personally, mentally, emotionally, physically, and therefore the way that flowed through to my business was not okay. I didn’t know as much as I do now, about what clearly what was happening to my nervous system, and that threat of how do I make sure I can make this payment? Where is the money coming from? Yeah, and that we see happening a lot.
Anna Squelch 37:03
And it’s almost talked about as if it’s something to be celebrated of the more dysregulated you feel on the purchasing decision, that means that it’s the right thing to do. You’re on the edge of a breakthrough. And people are almost being conditioned to believe that the more anxious they feel about something, the more right that it is for them, which is just simply not true.
Shannon Dunn 37:24
No, that’s it, not true and not okay, definitely not. So another question that you shared with me that you said you’d love to be asked, why is it not enough to just stop doing unethical business practices, like what needs to come first? So I’d love to get your view on that about what has to proceed to seeing more ethically in business and practicing more ethically in the coaching industry? Because I think they yes, they related, but they are different things to consider.
Anna Squelch 37:53
Yeah. So a lot of people will maybe listen to this conversation that we’ve had today and say, oh, okay, I just need to remove the penalties for my payment plans and then I’m done. And I just need to, like, do a few different things in my business and stop using, you know, fear based marketing, and I need to whatever it is, do a few of these tactics, and then I’m good. And that is one very small part of it.
Anna Squelch 37:53
But what we need to do first is really understand why these practices exist in the first place. Why are we using scarcity and FOMO? Pricing? Why is there price gouging? Why is there all of these different things that we’ve deemed as unethical, and why did they exist in the first place? What is the culture that’s created this. And so from my perspective, learning about capitalism, learning about trauma informed care, learning about systems of oppression, learning about the patriarchy, white supremacy, like all of these different kinds of systems of oppression that have created this monster in the coaching industry. Just having more of a grasp and an understanding of why that exists in the first place. So it’s going to the real roots rather than just sort of like slapping a Bandaid on a problem, because then it becomes more behavioral cultural change, and it becomes industry change, which is what we’re rooting for, versus just some more kind of like, great tactics that we’ve slept on something.
Shannon Dunn 39:17
Yeah, I completely get where you’re coming from there. And while we’ve both talked about a time that we were very aware, that is similar, where we noticed changes. This is just the symptoms of something that’s been brewing for a very long time, as you said, it’s about what is the actual, systemic cause of what we’re seeing? And yes, I don’t doubt that things happen in other industries. But you and I not in those industries to know the ins and outs of what’s happening. What I hear is that it doesn’t happen on the same scale because it’s so many other industries where services are provided where there’s a kind of a notion of helping others are regulated, whereas the coaching industry is still unregulated. There’s no pricing guide, there’s no expectation about what is and isn’t okay for a lot of things. And I think that we’ve also had a rise of people into the industry that have looked at what they can see online and decided that that must be how you do it. So not taking that time to educate themselves, like said on the origin of some of the messaging and the pricing structures and different things like that, that are actually evident out there. And using it as inspiration or motivation to inform the way they work as a coach, realizing how screwed up it is. Or they’ve been a consumer of it and think also that that’s normal. Yeah, they’ve been okay as a consumer of it and gone. Well, this is what my coach did for me, so that must be what we what you do.
Anna Squelch 40:47
Yeah, and if I can plug a couple of really valuable resources – Rachel Kay Albers podcast, which is called Marketing Muckraking. And she goes into the history of marketing and advertising and like right back to the roots of marketing and advertising and why it is the way it is. And she has some incredible conversations.
Anna Squelch 41:05
And then Ash Rising on Instagram, she has a blog called Sacred Space. And she just puts out some incredible research, researched resources and blog posts on her blog, I’ve learned so much from her. So those are two really great places to start.
Anna Squelch 41:20
And then there’s a book called Degrowth by Jason Henkel, which is all about anti-capitalism. So those three that I would really recommend and something else that I just want to tack on here as well. What we’re seeing a lot of in the coaching space is this overly sexualised messaging. We’re going there. We’re seeing woman sort of stripping down on Instagram and getting naked and overly sexualized messaging and, and which is all well and good, I’m sex positive, I’m sure you are as well, and when it’s not about that, but we’ve got these women who are co-opting the women’s empowerment, the Women’s Liberation Movement, without realizing that what they’re doing is actually just another form of patriarchy and and acquiescing to the male gaze, the male patriarchal gaze, and they think that they’re being liberating. So there are so many movements that we think, Oh, this is just new, and it’s, you know, it’s tantra. But if we look at the roots of it, and where that came from, it actually came comes from a not so great place.
Shannon Dunn 42:33
Yeah, totally. And you’re right, that again, this has been something that I feel has been a sudden rise in the number of coaches, female coaches is that I said, don’t see any male coaches doing this, but female…
Anna Squelch 42:44
Can you imagine, right,
Shannon Dunn 42:46
Lingerie, in kind of half naked posing, that seems to be covering up but there, you actually see an awful lot more than I would I need to see on a coach that I’m going to hire my business using phrases like climax to catch, talking a lot about the more orgasms you have, the more money you’ll make, these kind of things. And, again, I truly believe some of them think that that’s the reality. But what is it actually saying to so many other people who have got a whole lot of other things that that just may be activating and triggering a whole lot of stuff for them. And yet, as you said highly likely claiming that they’re being body positive and being empowering and liberated as women, but yeah, oh, really? Yeah. It’s it’s not business. And we need to be all straight and tied up in suits and ties and things to be considered professional and ethical and credible in business either.
Anna Squelch 43:49
Yeah, yeah. And it goes against informed consent. You’re scrolling on Instagram, looking at business things, and then oh someone’s naked, and yet ones writhing around having sex with their partner on Instagram stories. And it’s like, where’s the consent in that? And like you said, if a male coach was saying your dick should be hard thinking about your offer – we’d be up in arms about it.
Shannon Dunn 44:16
Right? I know. There are definitely a, can’t even say double standards, its just very different. And not even diversify, because that’s even a wrong word as well. But standards that if again, if it doesn’t feel right to you, to consume that content, stop consuming it. For whatever reason, that is, yeah, definitely.
Anna Squelch 44:40
Shannon Dunn 44:42
We can go into so many different things. So I’ve asked every one of our guests to share what you think your superpower is. And I’ve loved the different answers that have come up and you shared with me Anna that you feel like you’re seeing the bigger picture and in what you’re doing and how you’ve evolved as a coach and even the consideration to step away from the industry, really, to me affirms that, you know that it’s like, it’s like yeah, made complete sense reading that. But tell us more about why you feel this is your superpower and how it’s supporting you to get this message out there.
Anna Squelch 45:13
I feel like I can just really zoom out of things and see, I don’t know, just see the bigger picture of things and see all of the pieces and why they kind of fit together and, and also see the longer term impact of why if we kept going this way, what that would look like. So I’m a projector in human design, it’s apparently quite a projector trait where we are like the bird that’s up on the power line looking down at things and kind of seeing that bigger picture. And I’m an Aquarius, as well. And we have real sort of like long vision. And we also think and see outside of the box. So I forgot that I answered that. But I would say that’s what it is. I actually had my birthday a couple of nights ago and everyone who was at my birthday shared something that they really valued about me, and the one that kept coming up was authenticity as well. Yeah, yeah.
Shannon Dunn 46:04
In the cornerstone of my work, which is the Thrive factor is an Archetypal framework that I created for women around self leadership, I’ve been using it in my business 14 years, and there is one Archetype in the 12 in that framework, that is called the Visionary Creator, it’s one I have, but of the over 1000 women that I’ve profiled using that archetypal framework, there would be under 30 Visionary Creators, it’s a very rare archetype. But she also has that gift for seeing the big picture, and understanding the futuristic impact of it and how to kind of bring the lessons from the future into the present. So highly likely you could have that Archetype with that gift. Also, the Liberator Engineer is another Archetype that can see the big picture and understand how all the moving parts fit together. So yeah, just for some little insight there into potential Thrive Factor Archetypes you may have because we all have between three and six in our own unique Thrive Factor profile. So I do see projectors have those kind of Archetypes showing up from from that, if I map it across to Human Design.
Anna Squelch 47:07
Loe that. I’ll have to do it.
Shannon Dunn 47:09
I’ll send you the link.
Shannon Dunn 47:12
So I’ve got some questions I want to ask you now that I’ve been asking every one of our guests and it’s been great to hear again, the diversity of the answers that’s coming through, and also some of the similarity which feels to me like such a great thing that we’re expanding our understanding of certain aspects to do with leadership and thriving, but we still are claiming our own uniqueness around it, which is a big part of what I stand for is that we are who we are, we don’t get swayed and lost in the bigger voice of the universal world, or whatever we call it. So the first question I have for you is what role does leadership play in your life and business?
Anna Squelch 47:48
Oh, what role does leadership play in my life in business. Self leadership is a term that I started and a practice I started sort of learning about in the last couple of years, and it’s something that I have loved diving into of, and I think it goes hand in hand with self awareness, like really knowing myself, knowing what drives me, knowing – and I’ve done a little bit of NLP in the past, but I know that that kind of has its roots in some bad places – but learning about hinging points and what are the hinging points that need to be in place in order for me to kind of thrive in order to meet in order for me to be in my leadership. And for me, it’s about spending a lot of time alone.
Anna Squelch 48:31
So yeah, I can’t even remember the question that was around leadership. Yeah.
Shannon Dunn 48:38
What role does leadership play in your life and business?
Anna Squelch 48:41
So that’s the projector, I’m already like…
Shannon Dunn 48:43
Exactly I’m out there in the future somewhere, it’s alright, I have that archetype, so I actually know what that’s like. It’s like bringing it back, grounded to the present moment.
Anna Squelch 48:53
I think for me, it would just really tie in with authenticity. Like really knowing myself really attuning to my own needs. And yeah, just, I don’t know what that’s gonna look like in my business next, because I don’t know what my business is going to look like next and how much of it I’m going to hold on to. But leadership for me is just going to be in this next season, it’s just about authenticity, and truth and sharing more of that.
Shannon Dunn 49:20
Beautiful foundation to start with, as you then evolve into whatever their next kind of expression is of you in your business and in your place, and using your voice in the world. Yeah, it’s very cool. That Thrive Factor Framework is actually talk about it as a self awareness and self leadership framework, so made complete sense when I read that you shared those those different things in your bio as well. The next question I have for you, honey is how do you know when you’re thriving?
Anna Squelch 49:51
I don’t feel anxious. Yeah, I feel grounded. I feel like I’m meeting just my basic needs. Drinking enough water, exercising, seeing my friends. And a lot of the time in my coaching business, I was not switching off. Everything was to do with my business, creating content, podcasts. I was just giving all of myself to my business and not really keeping anything for myself. And it was this real sense, feeling of resentment. So when resentment isn’t present, when dysregulation and this anxiety and this constant sort of go, go, go, go go overwhelmed, isn’t present. When I just feel grounded, and at peace, that’s when I’m thriving.
Shannon Dunn 50:34
Beautiful, love it. Alright, so anyone who is listening is ready to walk on that journey with you, as you do, like kind of, I guess, evolve into whatever that next iteration from businesses, where can they connect with you? I know you’re big on Instagram, or that’s really the only place I’ve seen you. So there, how can people connect with you?
Anna Squelch 50:55
Yeah, so Instagram, which is Anna Squelch. I have a podcast called The Full Circle podcast, but it’s about to be deleted, and then I’m starting completely fresh. But I’m gonna keep the name so it will still be the Full Circle podcast. But I plan to share a lot more about how to access self help and wellness and coaching safely. So that will be coming very soon, once I find a little piece of time. And my website is undergoing a revamp, so that’s annasquelch.com.
Shannon Dunn 51:25
All right, brilliant. So by the time this goes live, I’m sure all of that will be in place. And if not just hang in there. Anna’s coming, she’s on her way. She’s gonna be sharing. But we always share all the links in our show notes anyway, so people can find you very easily. So yeah, very, very cool.
Shannon Dunn 51:41
And I think, you know, with the different numbers of people that I follow, that are talking more about ethical business practices and ethical coaching, as I said, your content for me was very easy to understand, I have an understanding of this through my own lived experience and my own desire to kind of not call it out, speak about it. But compared to some content I’ve read and listened to where it was like, you kind of just make it even more confusing. What you’re sharing is very straightforward, and very easy to digest.
Shannon Dunn 52:11
So if anyone is kind of like, I’m not really sure where to start, I would definitely encourage you to follow Anna and go back and look over her posts from some time ago. Not just any current content that she’s sharing through Instagram, for sure. And before we wrap up for today, thinking about what we’ve talked about today, and what’s really important to you, and I feel like what you’re really illuminating and bringing the truth to – what’s the final piece of wisdom that you’d like to share with ambitious, impact driven souls that are tuning in today?
Anna Squelch 52:45
My gosh, I would say do less. Like do less of the consuming. We can consume so much information and kind of going back to that point that I mentioned before, the more that we’re plugged into lots and lots and lots of different voices, the less that we can hear ourselves, and the less that we can hear ourselves think. And I think that you know, after the three years that we’ve been through, it’s busy. There’s a lot going on in the coaching and wellness and self development space, I think it’s a time to really just unplug, get back to simplicity. And just hear yourself think.
Shannon Dunn 53:21
I love it. That’s so cool. And I think anybody who has, if thats just resonated with you, if you felt that in some kind of bodily space, then even consider that you may not need – I think the word “need” anyway something to be mindful of – a coach or a mentor or a guide, right now. This is me saying and this is my business. People pay me to get coached, and more really to learn and be supported in different ways. But if you feel like coaching is not for you for a period of time, go for it. No one’s ever said that you are going to be more of a success, or less of a success or whatever your definition of how you want your life to play out, because you did or didn’t invest a certain amount of money or work with a certain person. So trust yourself more, I think, yeah, when you’ve got the space, you can learn to do that. You can learn to be more discerning, you can challenge when there’s like no sales page, so you really don’t know what you’re signing up for and follow the bodily instinct that says something’s not right about this. That is a guide to say no.
Anna Squelch 54:26
Yeah, so many of my clients at the end of last year when we came to the end of our program, I said, don’t do anything else. I don’t think you need anything else. I want you to go and have fun, go and have a break. Go and watch some reality TV, read some fiction, like just go and live your life. You don’t need to constantly move on to the next thing. This is real fear of losing momentum. And I don’t think that that’s a thing.
Shannon Dunn 54:49
No, no, but I can see why again, because it’s perpetuated by the messaging out there why people think that and I certainly see that for some people they can accelerate what they want to achieve with the guidance and support of actual genuine coaches. But not everybody, some people don’t. Some people get so distracted, which I would also see as a sign that the coaching that they’re investing in is actually not coaching as well. If you’re not progressing, with whatever it is that you are working towards, or wish to achieve, or change or do or whatever, then it possibly that person or that program, or that thing is not right for you. Might be for others, doesn’t mean it is for you. Yeah, it’s not one size fits all. Never, never, no quick fixes. That’s another whole episode, right. No quick fixes, empty promises, we see too many of those out there.
Shannon Dunn 55:43
But anyway, I have loved talking to you, as I knew I would say thank you so much, Anna, for joining me, and for co-creating this conversation that we’ll be able to share with as She Leads She Thrives listeners. And listeners, thank you for tuning in, I hope that you have really received some great insight and really challenging yourself to think and consider differently about what you’re doing moving forward as you do either if you’re a coach, or you’re investing in coaching, because I think this kind of a conversation is as useful for consumers of coaching, as it is for those who actually coaching out there in the world. And I’ve said that with a few of the solo episodes that I’ve shared earlier in 2023 and will continue to say it. So thank you for listening in though you follow Anna, as I said, go and digest all of her great content. And I look forward to staying in contact with you and sharing this with the world very soon.
Anna Squelch 56:32
Yeah, thanks for having me.
Thanks for tuning into today’s episode. You are so valued and appreciated.
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