Coaching Transcript: A Life Coach, Niches and Unusual Intensity

People often ask me what I do in terms of coaching. What my approach is. Well, today, I ended up doing a consultation on facebook chat with Sue Burness (pictured here). And she agreed to let me share the conversation with you.

We talked a lot about target markets and niches.



Hi Tad: do we have a call? or can we do this on FB?

12:18 Tad

on fb?

12:18 Sue


12:18 Tad

in the chat window?

12:18 Sue


12:18 Tad

ok! let’s do that so why don’t we start with you telling me a bit about where things are at for you

12:19 Sue

okay, so I’ve realized I want to focus on what couldbe called “crisis coaching”-for people in crisis

12:20 Tad


12:24 Sue

A friend of mine suggested I market my services to parents of gay and lesbian folks who are having trouble accepting it. I also think I’d love to help people who work in high-stress medical situations (this came out of being with my grandson in infant intensive care for a couple of weeks and watching what the nurses live with. Also, clearly want to support people who’ve been hurt by the legal system (although I concede there’s probably not much money in that. So what do you think about targetin a couple or three of these groups and having “lifecrisiscoaching” as a domain or is that too general?

12:25 Tad

ok. here’s my take.

first – a niche is a community of people that share a common set of needs. so, all three of those kind of fit that.

second – there are three criteria of a solid niche. 1) Clarity – people get who it’s for. 2) Enough who can afford to pay you 3) Hubs – you can find them.

out of those three – how do you feel your target markets do?

12:28 Sue

Parents of Gay/Lesbian-it would be easy to convey it to them, so they’d have clarity. I assume there are lots of them who can pay, but maybe not enough to be my only market. Hubs-easy

Nurses-again easy to make it clear, they make pretty good money, hubs-I’m not sure where I’c start-maybe post flyers along “hospital row” in Toronto. People who’ve been affected by the prison system-easy to find, easy to relate to, no probem with clarity, but there’s usually no money.

12:31 Tad

and how do you feel about each of these three? let’s rate them in order of how passionate you feel about them.

12:32 Sue

okay on a scale of 1-10 (prison folks -10, nurses 8, families of gay/lesbian folks 9 okay, am I still stuck on wanting to serve EVERYBODY?

12:33 Tad

nope. these are clear.

you’re doing great ;-);-)

12:34 Sue

yay!! words of praise from the master.

12:34 Tad

can you tell Tad about your personal connection to the gay/lesbian crowd? where did that one come from?

(and i’m also curious about what happened to the relationship coaching you were wanting to do? has that fallen off the radar entirely?)

12:38 Sue

hmmm I’ve been in love with two gay men, one of whom is still a good friend. I have a couple of lesbian friends. I relate to people who’ve made largely unpopular choices. I can also relate to more conservative types, so I can “mediate” a bit. Also, out of the blue I got this call today from a friend wanting me to do a session for her and we discovered there are lots of ways we can help each other. The relationship coaching I just don’t feel is “pushing” me enough. I want to develop my skills and it’s sort of boring to do that now. Also, I’m struggling with the fact that my husband is back in prison and I’m sure there are people who’d say”well what right does she have….”

Plus I’ve noticed that when I do “crisis ” work, people get amazing results.

12:41 Tad

got it. so you’re attracted to things that are a bit more intense, envelope pushing, potentially unpopular – it seems like some of the heart of this is supporting people in making choices that might be unpopular, uncommon, unreasonable etc. having the courage to do that. can you tell me more about those themes? and what it is about ‘crisis’ that you love so much?

12:45 Sue

you got it. I don’t love crisis per se (I’ll be happy when there is no crisis in MY life for instance) I love that when we’re in crisis, given the right tools and support, we can survive and perhaps even thrive. I love that I can be part of that. I’m proud of my ability to be non-judgmental when people are in unusual circumstances, cause at some point in our lives, most of us will be and if we’ve done it before we’ll have the tools to manage. I also think I’m in the minority because I can stay calm in alot of situations that freak people out and I can pass that along to my clients.

12:46 Tad

got it. this is great. i want you to google ‘crisis coach’ and see what you find. while you’re doing that – some thoughts:

12:47 Sue

already did. some behavioural therapists, medical types. Also a bunch of people doing “mid-life crisis” coaching.

12:48 Tad

1) with crisis coaching you’re going to be dealing with less ‘long term’ hubs. for example: when i got bed bugs i went on a mad search online for answers. but since the situation resolved itself i’ve not looked for anything. there’s no community i’m a part of around it ongoingly – no bed bug support group. so search engine optimization will be uber critical for you.

making it easy for someone to find you the SECOND it happens for them and they hit google in a blind panic

2) the parents of gay/lesbians are far more likely to have ongoing groups. i also imagine there are a lot of resources out there for them already. but this could be perfect – if you gather that info together for people.

3) nurses could be a great target market. and i’m curious what kinds of problems you see them facing.

4) people affected by the prison system – what are the hubs for them?

5) the thing that jumps out at me and strikes me most authentically is the ‘unusual intensity’ you work with people in. people who find themselves in situations that most people can’t understand or relate to and likely have some strong judgment of. so that feels like a potentially strong piece of this, ‘how do you deal with the judgment of your community?’

12:54 Sue

So if you had “bed-bugs” and called me I would help you release any fears, shame, anger you had around that. And you’d feel so much better. I’d also network with some natural pesticide company who’d be spraying your house with environmentally friendly stugf while I did energy work on the phone with you, THEN, if you had residual emotional trauma that was triggered by the little critters, I’d help with that in subsequent sessions. But I get your point.


nurse-they’re overworked, underpayed (their perception), work long hours, have to deal with the feelings of parents, children, doctors AND do medicaal stuff

12:56 Tad

and hospital politics. gossip of other nurses. seniority issues. aggressive communication styles.

1:00 Sue

Prison people-there are some support groups for families

1:01 Tad


1:01 Sue

so where were we? Is “” too bland?

1:05 Tad

ok. so yes. that’s too broad.

but here’s the interesting piece that shows up for me  in all of this.

people going through bizarrely intense and unusual things that a normal therapist or life coach might not ‘get’

things that aren’t always ‘socially acceptable’

there’s something really powerful in that for me

so there are two levels here.

1) those three niches. they are technically all doable. in order of technical/by the books priority i’d say it’s 1) nurses 2) parents of gay and lesbian kids 3) prison group

2) the deeper level: i feel like something is emerging about the core theme of your work. the part that lights you up. the part that authentically emerges from your own life.

1:08 Sue


1:09 Tad

so that’s great! ok. so let’s look at next steps on all of this.

1) i want to invite you to write about this deeper theme and come up with every situation that you can imagine that might fit this theme of ‘unusual intensity’

make a list

2) i want you to pick ONE of those target markets (for the moment) and articulate the problems they experience, results they want and the major hubs for them.

1:11 Sue

okay, so for now I need to get a site up and a domain, so I can start to make some money again

1:13 Tad

ok. so homework there – i invite you to jam on URL names like, or or


try to come up with at least 25

ideally the URL speaks directly to their situation and either the problem they’re experiencing or the result they most want

or to the target market they’re in. they should hear the URL and think, ‘that’s for me!’

or at least be curious.

like, ‘’

or ‘’

or ‘’


it can take some fiddling to figure it out

1:15 Sue

Got it. So I’ll do that and then book another session (after I’ve paid you for this one:) and I’ll bring you a couple of URL possibilities?

1:16 Tad

exactly. a question for you – would you be open to me sharing this chat on my blog. i could do it with your name or without it.

1:17 Sue

I would definitely be open to it-yes. Use my name I think this conversation would help a lot of folks

1:18 Tad

wonderful. and what contact info for you should i give in case people are intrigued and want to reach you?

1:20 Sue

Suegently (at) gmail (dot) com or 647-831-4348. Thanks so much Tad. I gotta go now-will be in touch soon. Should I send you the ideas for URL’s or wait til our next session?

1:20 Tad

feel free to send them to me

talk soon!

1:20 Sue

Thanks again. You’re such a dear.

1:21 Tad



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