For Every Problem, a Personal Coach


Got a problem? There's probably a personal coach to help you tackle it--for a fee, of course. The search for self-improvement these days has spawned an army of personal coaches--there's a personal coach to help you trust your intuition more, find courage, sustain a long-distance relationship, gain career satisfaction or get a newborn on schedule. And that's just the beginning.

The Washington, D.C.-based International Coaching Federation, which has 4,000 members, adds about 200 a month, according to its president, D.J. Mitsch, who is also a coach. In addition, Coach University, the 9-year-old Colorado-based online school, estimates that there are 10,000 coaches who help people sort out their personal and professional lives.

"Everybody loves having an advocate, having a partner-mentor, whether that person is 50, 40 or 18," said Sue Seel, who has been coaching since 1996. Stony Brook, N.Y., financial planner Dennis O'Sullivan, one of Seel's clients. He met Seel, who also lives in Stony Brook, at a local chamber of commerce meeting in June 1999. By August, O'Sullivan, a partner in the Island Financial Group-Mass Mutual, a financial planning firm, had hired Seel and has met with her regularly.

"My business was growing and I wanted it to grow even more," said O'Sullivan, 39. His goal was to scout more rainmaking partners and to increase his client roster. But other duties chipped away at his schedule. "A lot of times I found myself doing administrative work, and it was costing me money."

Seel helped him delegate and focus. Now, O'Sullivan said, if he has spent "80% of the time doing what I was supposed to be doing, it was a thumbs-up day."

The two get together three times a month for about 45 minutes to an hour to talk about O'Sullivan's goals and progress. In line with most coaches, Seel said her fees range from $75 a month for group meetings by phone, up to $500 a month for individual and group telephone sessions.

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