hands above head turned sunset

I used to work for an Italian man when I was a sophomore in college. His name was Lucky. He and his wife owned two Italian restaurants in the small town where my university was located, and I remember that we used to get calls and personal visits at least once a month from large restaurant chains interested in buying Lucky’s secret sauce. He would always decline the offers, no matter how lucrative. He was so proud of it that he didn’t want it being “watered down” by large corporations and losing its roots. He wanted it to remain unique, special and authentic. His secret sauce is what made him and his pizza stand out.

Metaphorically, the same goes for health coaches. No matter what ingredients you use, or how many, it’s life experiences, talents, passion and special gifts that make you who you are, and your coaching services valuable. To help you identify and brand your own secret sauce, you’ve got to gather your ingredients. These include your skills, training, interests, personality, intuition—everything that differentiates you from the next health coach. So how do you discover your secret sauce? Let’s take a look.

What are your gifts and talents?

Ben Franklin famously wrote, “Hide not your talents, they for use were made. What’s a sundial in the shade?” When you were younger, did you ever have teachers or adults tell you that you are naturally gifted at something? Maybe public speaking, being a leader or writing? Or maybe you were told that you were creative or had innate abilities to put puzzles together. Health coaches all have unique gifts and talents that lead them to work in specific settings. This could be writing, speaking, project organization, or education. Do you have a strong sense of empathy? Or a knack for understanding people for who they are and where they came from? Identify your gifts and make those a focus of how you present yourself as a health coach and how you approach coaching.

What are your life experiences?

Life experiences shape how you interact with others and perceive the world around you. All of the places you have been, people you’ve met, things you have experienced have colored the way you live your life—your thoughts, feelings, values, and passions. Use these things to add spice to your secret sauce. Alan Moore once said, “My experience of life is that it is not divided up into genres; it’s a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel.” Wisdom comes from experience, so add up all those years and all of your experiences and what you get in the end is a bucketful of wisdom and your own personal mark in the world.

What are your skills and training?

Your health and training doesn’t have to be exclusive to health and fitness. Maybe you came from a background of nursing or teaching, music or law enforcement. How would any of these mingle with health coaching? Amanda Klimczak, LMT is a massage therapist and colon hydrotherapist who also teaches at the Cortiva Institute in Chicago, IL. She received her training when working in an NYC spa and eventually began to do health coaching along the way. “Being a colon hydrotherapist puts me in front of a lot of clients who can benefit from health coaching. As a massage therapist and teacher in massage school, it’s the perfect platform to share the knowledge forward. Most of my clients have either chronic pain or chronic digestive issues, so health coaching is a way for me to advance my practice and therefore the experience my clients have long term,” she says. No matter your professional background, undoubtedly there are skills you’ve picked up along the way that are applicable to coaching.

What are your interests?

What are your favorite interests and activities? Do you play indoor soccer once a week, love to travel, volunteer with animal shelters? What do you daydream about? For instance, ever since I was little I just wanted to know “why” for everything. Ultimately, it led to an undying curiosity about the universe. Anything can trigger this curiosity on a daily basis. This need to know and explore and discover is what makes up my secret sauce. When working with clients, I like to observe and learn about them inside and out. I am curious about where they came from and where they’re going. It helps me piece together the best program for them. Understanding and listing out your favorite interests and predilections can help you zone in on the ingredients it takes to whip up your secret sauce and invite clients to your practice that match your specialties.

What is your personality type?

Knowing your personality is important for branding purposes, and for attracting the right clients. If you’re not sure what your personality type is, ask those closest to you or individuals you have worked with in the past. You can also take a personality test. One popular test is the Myers Briggs test. There are sixteen personalities in Myer Briggs. Let’s say you score in the “analyst” category and are described as “the architect”. Popular “architects” include Elon Musk, Vladimir Putin, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Architects are creative thinkers, and they have a plan for everything. Given your penchant to create detailed plans, a perfect client for you is someone who is seeking a new direction, novel ideas, and a comprehensive and specific program to follow. By applying your personality to your branding, you will naturally attract clients that fit your coaching style, and both you and your clients will be more successful.

What makes you different?

This can be a hard question to answer because in this day and age we are often conditioned to be alike, to fit in, and to abide by social norms. So ask yourself this: if you didn’t care about the norms, what music would you listen to? What would you wear to work? Where would you live, what would you read, what would you talk about? Dare to differ, as they say.

There’s a quote that goes something like this, “what makes you unique is the clue to what you will excel at,” and this simply means that we are all given something unique about ourselves that we can use to deliver good to the world. What kinds of problems do you enjoy solving? What kind of people do you love being with or around? What makes you unique is the key to what you can offer others.

When you put it all together, you’ve got your secret sauce. Be true to who you are as a whole. Never make guesses about what you should do, what clients may want to hear or know, or how you should design your practice in coaching. You will only attract experiences and people who are not lined up with who you are and what you have to offer. Many coaches will spin their wheels for years because of this. Finally, remember what Rumi says, “What you seek is seeking you.”

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