#268: The Behavior of Success with Karin Nordin PhD

the behavior of success - michelle leotta thinking

What does it take to build a successful health coaching business? Well, just like our clients reaching their health goals – it’s all about behavior change. Karin Nordin is a behavior change expert joining us to talk about intrinsic motivation, growth mindsets and discomfort and failure tolerance. A must-listen!

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The Behavior of Success with Karin Nordin PhD

Health coaches loooove some good behavior change, don’t we? 

But it’s not just about behavior change in our clients! To find success in this industry, you have to work on your own habits and mindset. Buckle up as Dr. Karin Nordin spills the beans on what it really takes – simplicity, consistency, and embracing discomfort along the journey.

Unraveling the Overnight Success Myth

Karin is clear when it comes to social media, especially Instagram. Forget the idea that it’s a cash cow; she sees it as a skill-building playground. And get this – her business blew up because of regular, no-nonsense posts. Turns out, consistency is the name of the game.

And here’s a fun fact: Most coaches are not earning multiple six figures. That kind of success is rare. (But then again, how do YOU define success?)

Embracing the Messy Bits: Failure and Awkwardness

Now, the uncomfortable stuff: failure and discomfort. Dr. Karin’s advice? Face your weaknesses, learn from them, and use them as stepping stones. Consider the parallels between leveling up in business and leveling up your health game. It’s all about owning your mess and turning it into progress.

Goal-Setting for the New Year Reality Check

With the New Year coming up, it’s goal-setting time. Dr. Nordeen cautions against vague aspirations and overly detailed plans, urging coaches to break down their objectives into manageable, quarterly milestones.

And it’s important to find that sweet spot in your hustle. That means not going overboard but not being too chill either – extremes can backfire. So, find that Goldilocks zone of motivation, and you’ll be on your way.

A Treasure Trove of Advice

Karin’s journey exemplifies the power of simplicity, consistency, and a willingness to confront challenges. Success, as she articulates, is not just about reaching a destination but about the transformative journey taken to get there. 

Full transcript:

Hello there, health coaches. We are in the middle of our five day jumpstart over here and it's so much fun. I'm having so much fun. We have like 1000 health coaches who've registered and now everybody's planning their own five day jumpstart, and the energy is just fantastic. But with everything that's going on this week, I've decided to share an interview that I recorded with Dr. Karara Nordeen. You're going to love what she has to say about motivation, growth mindsets, getting to six figures in a coaching practice, and the reality of that and my favorite discomfort and failure tolerance. When she said that, I was just like, oh, you need to say that again. What is your tolerance for discomfort and failure? Let's say you're offering your coaching program or you're offering a five day jumpstart, there is an inherent risk involved with that. You need to put yourself out there. It can be uncomfortable for sure, and you know what? It might not be a huge success right out of the gate. I mean, that's the reality of running your own business. It's normal and we are going to talk about it. But first, this episode is brought to you by Practice Better, which is my very favorite practice management software that many, many coaches in our community use and love practice better handles all of your billing, your scheduling, it even hosts your online program. So basically it streamlines your entire practice. Sign up now and for a limited time get a bonus kitchen cleanout program built right into the practice Better platform. You can get started with it right away and use it with your own clients. Plus you'll get 30% off your first three months of practice better when you go to healthcoachpower.com/pb to get started and all the details will be in the show notes. Okay, so Cara Nordine is a behavior change expert. I first came across her on Instagram. She has an amazing Instagram and she's awesome. I just love talking with her. We did this interview a couple of weeks ago, very excited to share it with you. Share. Let's get to it. Hey Karin, thanks so much for being here. Welcome to the show. Karin:
Hi, I am really excited to chat. Michelle:
I'm so glad to have you here. As I mentioned just before I hit record, I know you do so much work around behavior and habit change and sometimes you talk about your own health and the things you're doing in your own life today. I think that's really interesting for health coaches, but I wanted to discuss how we can implement the habits that we need in our business to be successful. Before we get into any of that, can you just introduce yourself to our audience and let them know why you are the go-to for this topic? Karin:
Yes, absolutely. So hi everybody. My name is technically Dr. Karin Nordine. I have my PhD in a field called health communication, which is really the study of the way communication impacts health behaviors. I did a lot of research on growth mindset when I was doing my PhD and I did a lot of research on behavior change generally. And so shortly after I did my PhD, I actually got a job working full-time at Precision Nutrition, which some of you may have your PN level one or any of their certifications if you have their SSR or their L two. I was one of the authors on those because I was a subject matter expert for PN and did some curriculum design stuff for them. And during that time I started my own behavior change coaching business, grew that from essentially $0 to, at this point, three years later, two and a half years later, we've hit over a million dollars in revenue. I have some coaches that work for me and I really just help people change their behavior. So I'm a coach who's been there, I'm doing the thing, I'm doing the online business thing, but I'm also uniquely positioned because I actually understand the psychology behind all of it. Michelle:
Yes, and I love the content you put out there. I mean, obviously I think your personality and just the way you present the information is what makes it so easy to listen to because sometimes science can be dry and boring, and we're always talking about that with the health coaches. Let's make nutrition fun. How can we make it something people actually want to talk about? You mentioned your own business growth, which has been fast and furious. What do you have to say? I just want to start here. What do you have to say about what it takes for a coach to hit six figures? Because my God, everybody comes out of coaching school and thinks they're going to hit six figures in that first year. Karin:
Yes. So I will say that my rate of growth is not normal by any means. I think that a lot of times in the coaching industry, we hear about people like me, we hear about the exception, but the norm and the majority of the coaches that I work with and mentor and help, they are not hitting six figures or seven figures in two and a half years. That's not the norm. I will say though, is that what I see is that coaches want to overcomplicate the way to six figures in very much the same way that clients want to overcomplicate their way to fat loss. So clients will come to you and they think they need advanced protocols and carb cycling and a super specific macro split, and coaches come to me and they think they need a hyper-specific marketing plan and they need Facebook ads and they need to do social in just this way with just this specific strategy. And it's like, no, no, no, you need to talk to people and tell them you're a coach. First of all I did to hit six figures was I post it on Instagram every day. That was the one behavior I could control, and that was the one thing I committed to, and that for the first year and a half of my business was what built it. So I think a lot of people just overcomplicate it when they really need to simplify. Michelle:
So are you saying, and my tongue is in my cheek, are you saying that if our coach is posted to Instagram every day, they too will have a massive explosion in their business? Karin:
No, I don't think that's guaranteed. However, I think that it is an action that you can control. The results are out of your control, but the actual act of posting every day is, let me actually clarify there. I did not post on Instagram to get clients. Instagram is not a transactional thing where if you put in a post, a client shoots out, and if you fit it like that, if you have a transactional relationship with Instagram, you're going to be off to a rocky start. Why I chose to post on Instagram every day for the first year of my business was because it was an action I could control that was going to develop the skills that I would need copywriting, understanding the language that my students were going to be using, teaching skills, the things you learn by writing, by putting yourself out there over and over again by articulating and re-articulating your philosophy and your beliefs and your approach that is so valuable regardless of what the analytics are on any of those given posts. Michelle:
Totally understand, and I like how you said that everyone should hear this. Social media is not a transactional space. You're always giving value, giving value, and when you do it around to selling something, people are like, I want that. Of course, I want that. They jump right? Karin:
Yes. And I think what people forget too is that even if you have the best marketing team in the world, 95% of your audience is not going to buy from you. That is just the way social media works. And so you really have to approach it as both an altruistic thing. I'm here to give free value simply without expecting anything in return. And also I'm here for myself. I'm here because I like posting, and to this day I still run my own social media account because I actually like posting. And I think if you learn to something that's going to build intrinsic motivation, which we know is related to sustainable long-term behavior. Michelle:
Great. So let's say somebody hates Instagram. They don't want to be doing that, but they hear you say an action that I can control. Oh my God, what can I control? I feel so out of control. I'm starting my coaching business. I have no idea what I'm doing. When I started my business, which was back in the dark ages and basically blogging had just been invented, I started a blog because it was something that I could control. It was harder to get that corporation to agree to have me in for a lunch and learn possible, but it wasn't like a definite yes. But yes, I could blog. I had a blog post going out every single day. That is how I built my initial following. So what else might be actions that our coaches can control? Karin:
Yeah, I think contacting a corporation every day and pitching yourself is another great example. This one is from, this is not my thing, so I'll credit, it's from Stacy. She teaches life coaches how to make money essentially, and her philosophy is talk to people. Tell them you're a life coach and make offers to help them. So I think actually talking, introducing yourself as a nutrition coach in the real world is another daily action that can go a long way, especially everybody's so focused on online these days that we forget that we have real communities and grocery stores and PTAs and daycares and libraries. There are real places in your community and reach out to one place in your community every day and ask if you want to set up some sort of partnership with various healthcare places. So it's really anything that can be distilled down to a specific behavior. Think about it as something that you can check a box off every day. Michelle:
Right? You're not relying on the other person to say yes or to give you permission. You give yourself the permission, you get it done. And like you said, there's that intrinsic motivation when you like the thing. So if we are very, very, very painfully introverted, we might just rather die than introduce ourselves to somebody at the grocery store. What else can you say about personality types and what it takes for them to succeed? Karin:
So what I would be careful of is mixing up personality types with a fixed mindset. Because if we start to default to our personality as like, oh, I am this way, therefore I cannot get what I want, what that is, it's a belief that there's a quality that we have that cannot change. That is the classic definition of a fixed mindset. And I will say personally, I am absolutely an introvert. Before I did this online business thing, I never posted on Instagram. I once dived behind an actual trash can to avoid a photo of me being taken. I hated pictures. I once hid in the bathroom at a socializing networking event that I had to go to as a college student. You're talking painfully introverted. I am your girl. But I had decided that I wanted to run an online business, and so I had to believe that that characteristic could change and it could change with time and effort, and now it is something that I enjoy. So I think that there's sort of this balance where it's number one, it a business based on who you are. If you hate social media and you hate posting pictures of yourself and that's not something you want to change about yourself, then don't build a social media based business then go out in your community and do it other ways. So you should build a business that's based on your desires and the way you want your life to look and your personality traits. But if there is something you desire and you're telling yourself, I can't get there because of this specific personality trait, that's where I think we need to get into some mindset coaching to nudge that towards more of a growth mindset. Michelle:
Just so that really hits home for everyone. Could you parallel it to what we might experience with our clients when they're working on their health? Karin:
Yes. Okay. So I think a great example actually is a sleep, because a lot of clients, they'll come and they'll tell you like, oh, I'm a terrible sleeper. It runs in my family. It's genetic. I've never been a good sleeper. So if your client comes to you and says, I'm a terrible sleeper, I'm just, I don't care. It's fine, whatever you're going to let that be, you're going to focus on something else and you're going to help them control everything else that they can control besides that sleep issue. But if they come to you and they say, I've struggled with sleep my whole life. I don't believe I can fix it, but I really, really, really want to feel more energized in my life. I really, really, really want to even out my nutrition patterns, you're going to say, well, learning to sleep better might be part of that. So is that something that we can work on and we can at least see whether it might improve? And I think that is the parallel I would draw between the nutrition part and business part. Michelle:
Sure. It's sort of gauging our clients, engaging ourselves. Are we fixed on this or is there even a 1% chance that we could improve, grow change? And there almost always is. I mean, I'm with you. I much prefer being behind the computer screen and blogging or posting or whatever to being in public. The first time I had to introduce myself as a health coach, it came out with a question mark at the end. I'm a health coach. Terribly awkward. And that's the other thing, when we go out and we finally do that thing, that's a stretch. You might be terrible at it the first time. Is there anything that you've done in your business that now you're good at? But the first time was a disaster? Karin:
Well, I will tell you that my first three months of posts on Instagram were just really closeup shots of my food with one word captions. So I vividly remember a picture of this plate with some cucumbers and a Reese's Peanut butter cup on it, and it was like, this meal has all the macros check. Something like that. That literally meant nothing. But that was, I wanted to start posting on Instagram, and that's what I had at the time. And so I had 10%, I gave 10%. That's a hundred percent. And so there have been so many things, and I like to remind people that if you actually want your business to grow, you're just going to encounter more and more and more and more things that you're terrible at. I had to learn how to manage people and run a team. I had to learn how to set up an email marketing system. I had to learn how to run a membership. All of those things I was terrible at first. And so that's actually a psychological skill, which is discomfort and failure tolerance. And the more you build that in the beginning, the more it's going to serve you later on. Michelle:
Discomfort and failure tolerance. I have never heard anyone put a term to exactly what it takes to succeed as HealthCo. I'm going to use that forevermore discomfort and failure tolerance. We are going to experience that in all aspects of our life. So can we pull from other areas where we're better at discomfort and failure tolerance and have it inform what we're doing with our business? Karin:
Yeah, I think a lot of us have examples of things that we have been bad at first, and sometimes it just takes us drawing parallels between those two experiences and realizing almost like moving into acceptance. So actually what we follow this four stage compassion first change cycle in our coaching program, and it's awareness, acceptance, adjustment action. So before you can change what you're doing and take action differently, you first need to become aware of where you are and you need to accept where you're at. And so I think that's the stage that a lot of coaches are missing is to just be like, yep, right now my coaching skills are not great. I went in, I got my certification, I learned all this information, and then I absolutely knew nothing about how to apply it with real people hard. So I'm aware that I'm struggling and I'm accepting that I'm kind of bad at that, but that acceptance informs, okay, then what is my plan to adjust where I am in pursuit of where I want to be? And the fundamental step there is just being okay with not being good at something for a while. Michelle:
Which might be different than coaches who are like, oh, yeah, I am using social media and I have an email list. I do that. But honestly, if you looked at the actions, they're not posting regularly. They're not emailing regularly. So acceptance would be like, no, I'm not really making the most of these things and I see that and I can get there. And so maybe that takes some repetition and maybe it takes getting outside help. Anything else you'd add to that list? Karin:
No, I think the third thing actually that I would add is what's called scaffolding. So we really want to move step by step through the process. So if you're bad, you don't want to say, okay, on a scale of one to 10, I think I have level one skills when it comes to social media. How do I get to level 10? You want to be like, okay, I'm level one. How do I get to level two? So shooting for that sort of incremental and the scaffolding piece comes through because really how we make incremental change like that, how we go from what we cannot do to what we can do is we go through this stage in the middle of the process where it's what we can do with help. And that's where coaching programs, that kind of thing comes in. Michelle:
So every time a coach says, I'm just no good at marketing, which I hear 500 times a day, let's think about our clients who just aren't good in the kitchen. They're not going to jump to cooking French cuisine, but maybe they can cook their eggs a different way than the one way they know. Karin:
Yes. Well, you can't be good or bad at something you are not doing. So I'm terrible at snowboarding. Have I ever been on a snowboard? Yes, once I think, right? But I can't sit here and complain about how I'm so bad at snowboarding if I'm not snowboarding regularly, because that's where actually the improvement will come from. Michelle:
Yes, exactly. So this episode will air sometime at the end of 2023, and everyone's going to be starting to look towards 2024 and what they want to accomplish and what they want to do. What do you think the biggest problem is with the way that coaches start thinking about the new year and their goals? Karin:
I think there's two problems really. And it might be one or the other. So normally when people, and especially coaches set goals, I see them fall into one of two camps, and the first camp is they pick this vague mindset goal. So they're like, I'm going to step into my next level CEO self. Or they go fully down the smart goals route, and they're like, okay, every day at exactly 9:00 AM I am going to post on social media. Then I'm going to spend 30 minutes interacting with others, and then I'm going to do my, they get super, super, super granular without a connection to that bigger picture. And so the advice that I would give is you need direction in both areas, just like our clients need direction with why they want to change their bodies, why they want to evolve with their nutrition in some way and what that looks like on a daily basis. So as an entrepreneur, you need to know what is your bigger purpose? What do you want your life to look like? What do you want your business to look like? Are you creating a business because you want a profit machine or are you creating a business? You want to help people because those things have very different approaches. So you need the big picture, and then you need the day-to-day, and you need really the how do I get there? I will also say in the beginning, it's probably a better decision to set quarterly goals, at the very least in addition to a yearly goal. But at the very beginning of your business, things can change so rapidly in a year that you might just not know. And so setting a goal for, okay, in 12 weeks, I want to sign five clients because I want to be living this life where my schedule is set up this way. And so in order to sign five clients, these are the three actions that I'm going to do every day. You got to have both, but I would break it down even further. Michelle:
Yes. Well, that makes an awful lot of sense. And exactly what we would do for our clients. We're not going to talk about what their weight is going to be a year from now. We're going to break it down or whatever it is that they want to achieve. Recently I had Stephanie do on, and we were talking about women in business, women asking for money, women having to step up to the plate. And I wanted to just ask you one of the questions that I had asked her, which is, do you notice that coaches who are women and who maybe do not need to earn money because their spouse, their partner, earns plenty of money? Do you notice a correlation between their levels of success versus someone who is either single or the breadwinner in their family? They're more motivated to make it happen. Karin:
So yes, I actually see this as more of a bell curve than anything. So at the beginning, there's this sense of like, oh, there's no need for me to succeed in this business. It's totally fine no matter what I do. And around that time, you also get women in particular who are very altruistic. They're very much like, I'm doing this to help people. I'm just doing this because I love it. And so as a result, they don't charge what they should be charging, and they're spending reinvesting all of the money. Their business is not profitable. And what I always remind people is that you have a responsibility to have a profitable business because businesses that are not profitable die. So every single one of your future clients is relying on you right now to keep your business profitable. So I think there's that. There's the beginning of the curve, and then there's this middle spot where you're operating in a place where you feel good. There's not a ton of pressure, but you're motivated. And those are the people I see doing really well. And then there are the people I see who have maybe quit their nine to five, maybe partner or whoever has the bills completely covered, but they have put so much psychological pressure on themselves to make money now that they go into complete paralysis. So I've worked with several women who quit their job to go all in on their business, and they spent 40 hours a week doing absolutely nothing because they're so crushed by the overwhelming idea of I have to make money. So I really think it's a bell curve, and we want to be in this sweet spot in the middle. I tell people all the time, if this is a ride or die situation and you need cash tomorrow, go down the street and get a job as a bartender, because nutrition coaching is not the way to make dependable money. But at the same time, if you have no stake in this at all and you're just kind of dilly dallying, well then you might need something to sort of push you up into the middle of the curve. Michelle:
Yeah, I agree. Because when we're talking about why, what's your purpose? If it's not that I have to cover the mortgage this month, well then what is it? It better be something pretty good. Are you just going to kind of languish in that first part of the bell curve, like, nah, something I'd like to do, but not really going to do it? Karin:
Yes. Well, and one of the things that my business coach last year actually had me do that was very useful is she was like, I want you to imagine that your salary was doubled, and I want you to literally write out how you would spend and save that money. So I could actually see how my life was going to be different when I made the money that I wanted to make in my business. And don't get me wrong, we do tons of community engagement. We're very advocacy focused. We donate, we do all these things, but I'm also allowed to want to make money and vividly picturing what that money is going to do for my life and my family is a powerful motivator. Michelle:
Oh, well, that's something that we can all walk away with. It's the end of the year again, so you want to look at your end of year totals, double it and start applying it. Oh my gosh. And is there any rule about how much you've reinvest or is this pure your life, your personal spending? Karin:
No, so this is just, obviously I'm at the point in business where I actually get a salary. I have a W2 for my own business, so this is my personal salary. All the business expenses are taken care of. All of the donation we do goes through the business. Everything is there. So this is just what am I spending? Where am I? If I want to invest in stocks or real estate, what does that look like? It's really that stuff. Michelle:
Yeah. Okay. I love that you guys, we all have to do that with you. I get a W2 and it's a little bit easier to separate church and state because there is this separation, but just for everyone else, think about the money that I'm going to use in my life, not I'm going to buy that 4,000 certification course. Karin:
No. Spending money on your business with your personal money. Michelle:
Yes. Right. What a great tip. Moving into the new year. Karin, thank you so much for joining us today. It's been really pleasure getting to know you better. Karin:
Yeah, it was really fun to be here. Michelle:
Oh my God. I am still sitting with that idea of discomfort and failure tolerance. If there was one thing I could say has helped me build the business that I have today, it's being able to deal with discomfort and many, many, many failures along the way. I just love how Karin described not being good at snowboarding, but also not snowboarding regularly. We have to be willing to be terrible at something before we can become great. This episode is sponsored by that clean life, which is an amazing resource for health coaches. If you're looking to create recipe books, meal planning, you, any kind of diet, they support any kind of diet that your client is on. We love this service, and I think you're going to love it too. And for a limited time, I have a discount to share with you. You'll get 20% off your first four months when you join at healthcoachpower.com/tcl. That stands for That Clean Life. health coach power.com/tcl. And I'll see you all next week. Have a good one.