#PASSION2PROFIT: Demystifying the coaching business in Africa with Steve Harris [+Live Interview]
Our Passion2Profit series showcases amazing creators turning their passion to profit, we talk to them about how they got started, their journey so far, and get lessons that could help the next creator.
On this episode, we had an instagram live session with Mr. Steve Harris, one of Nigeria’s leading Business Strategist, high performance and life coach. He helps high performance individuals and institutions, bridge the gap between their performance and potential.
Mr Harris has been featured on Forbes Africa, and was once listed among the world’s top 100 business coaches to follow on twitter. Popularly called the Ruthless Execution, he has authored different books, he is also one of the most wanted, most downloaded, followed and quoted personal development trainer in Nigeria.
For anyone looking to get into the coaching business, relax enjoy this interview and draw lessons from Mr. Steve Harris.
Why the name ruthless execution?
Steve Harris – Thank you for having me, my name is Steve Harris, a lot of people call me Mr Ruthless Executioner. When I started coaching entrepreneurs, because of my methodology, and the way I tend to work, I am very big on execution and on results. People say don’t tell Steve your plans because he is going to make you do them. Don’t tell Steve your ideas, because he is going to force you to do them. There is no excuse big enough or fantastic enough that lets me let you get off the hook.
I Like to think of myself as the special one when it comes to coaching. That is just me being mischievous. I am passionate about helping people succeed. I don’t take no for an answer. A lot of them don’t like though love, but it is all love, as long as they get result, I am happy.
Excuses are not good enough. One of my client lost an extended family member and was going for the funeral. My clients know that if you don’t do the task that I give, you are going to get fined. She tried to make an excuse about loosing someone and going for the funeral, but I said you know what, the person is dead and we cant change that. You are living and you have to get the task done. She has a deadline and she needs to get it done. I am really passionate about helping people get result without excuses.
At What point in time did you know you were going to be a coach?
First of, my very first epiphany concerning personal and business development, came when I was in the university, I had gained admission to study industrial maths. I wasn’t really passionate about maths, so in my spear time, I was always reading a lot of personal development books, I started reading business books. At the age of 22, I was reading books like Michael porters- Competitive advantage, books from Tom peters, I was reading books in management consulting and it was forming my thinking, I was reading books by Brian Tracy, Tony Robins and expanding my mind beyond the course I was doing.
I had a note book where I wrote down the kind of things and career that I wanted. I knew it was a career that has to do with impacting and inspiring people. To me that sounded like being a pastor and I was like there is no way on God green earth I am going to be a pastor, but I always knew I wanted to help people and my coaching journey began after my successful stance as a motivational speaker. I always wondered why people don’t always get results. When people say perspire to aspire, I always say they don’t know what they are talking about.
Motivation is critical and important. Your pastors and imam are motivational speakers, the only difference is that they get to use different books. I use to wonder why people were not getting results, so I realized that the next level on personal development, in terms of motivation, which is now coaching, is important as it could now help me hold people accountable and drive them to perform and just bring out the best in them. My coaching journey began in October 2010.
Who exactly is a coach and what are the various types of coaching there are?
I know there are a lot of Coaches out there, a lot of people passionate in making a difference in people’s lives and businesses, but I will give a caveat here; No matter how many episodes or seasons of grey anatomy I watch, I am not a doctor. I can watch the entire seasons of suits, and I will never be Harvey Spector, I am not a lawyer. My point is; Passion is not enough, coaching is like mental surgery.
You can be passionate about medicine, it doesn’t mean you are qualified to hold a scapular. With Medicine, if you kill someone, you can be sued, you can be liable for malpractice. If a doctor forgets his scapular in your stomach during a surgery, it can be found with an x-ray, but coaching is mental surgery, because when you screw up someone’s mental faculty, you are going to start that person down a part of self destruction. The person will never know it was the interaction they had with you that screwed them down that part.
When it comes to coaching, a lot of practitioners can cut you open, but only coaches can put you back together again. When you are hiring a coach, look for trusted authorities. There are many people I can recommend right off the top of my head, people like John Obidi, Tricia biz, Jimi tewe, Bankole williams, Stephanie Obi, Victor Bassey, these are people I know I have worked with and I trust, you cant go wrong with them.
There are other people, but these are the ones I can remember right the top of my head. Most importantly, you are hiring a coach to help you win! Many times, the best football coaches may not necessarily have been football players, but they understand tactics, they understand strategy, they understand the things you are supposed to do. If a top football club like Manchester united is looking for a coach, they look for coaches who are winners and have track records.
If you want to be a winner, be coached by a coach who is a winner with track records in helping other people win.
Did you ever imagine that people will pay to listen to you?
To be honest, yes I did, but my motives were different, so I never really thought of it from the perspective of having the fancy cars. When I started my career in the coaching practice , I didn’t have any success. At the time, the most dominant voices were Fela durotoye , Niyi Adesanya, Kunle Sorinyan, These are some of our elders, I like to call them the Originals in our industry, they were talking about their amazing successes.
I didn’t have any success, so I was talking about my failure. I don’t have the cars or houses, but this is where I am coming from, I dropped out of School twice, I am not exactly where I want to be, and I am hoping that my story can resonate with you. So I was just telling people about my failures, not knowing that was competitive leverage. I realized that talking about my failures resonated with so many people. It was an authentic message, which raised the demand for me as the case maybe.
How much was your first paycheque?
My first paycheque as a speaker was 250,000 naira in 2010
Have you suffered rejection and how did you handle it?
Oh yes, I get rejected everyday. In 2016, I was handling a meeting with my team, we were doing an end of the year review, and we found out that our company had reached out to 1563 organizations, to do business with. At the end of the year, we had only done business with only 85, you can imagine getting turned down by the rest, but we took that rejection as feedback. For us the strategy is anytime a customer says no, usually they mean not now, so how do we make it urgent and important to them? but I get rejected all the time.
I tell people “you have got to be willing to fail, more times than others are willing to try” So if I am willing to fail more than you, I am going to beat you all the time, because I have a high threshold for failure. So be willing to fail more than other people are willing to try.
What was your First, Worst and Best Experience Like
My best experience happens all the time, especially when I get a new client. Each time someone takes a leap of faith to trust me with their business, it is heart warming and gives me a great sense of responsibility. Each time I have a client, I always pray for my client. My reliance is on God to direct me and give me the wisdom.
My worst experience in Coaching, I wont really saying is a bad experience per say, I remember I was promoting one of my courses and did an article on instagram 4 or 5 years ago, titled be like Bobrisky. I remember I had met him at the mall. A dude dressed like a lady and I did an article “Please be like Bobrisky” this dude owns his brand, he isn’t apologetic about it, because as an entrepreneur you need to own your brand. I put it out there and did a lot of caveat and disclaimer; saying I am not endorsing his lifestyle, I am not his pastor or speaking for his fate. I am looking from the perspective of a business man, as an entrepreneur, these are the things this guy is doing right and I think you should do same in terms of owning your brand.
I don’t think people read beyond the first line which was be like Bobrisky and people just came after me. Thank God it wasn’t twitter, but it was on instagram. I had so many insults from people, but I on the flip side you know what they say in marketing; all news is good news, I trended, blogs carried the gist. Even Bobyrisky sent me a message to say this people don’t know what they are doing o, let me just be cashing my cheques.
On the Flip side, it wasn’t really a bad experience as I got paid, because at the time i was promoting a course, some people sent me a DM saying if you can come up with this type of attention, you should definitely be my coach. I was feeling bad that people were abusing me, but I was using their money to dry my tears.
When did you decide it was time to go digital and what platforms helped you do that?
To be honest, I have been digital for the longest, I did podcasting as far back as 2009, I have been doing webinars as far back as 2010, this was before tech came to Nigeria and people were long aware. I said to myself If I want to be a global brand, I need to find a way for the world to come and meet me. so I need a vehicle that can accomodate the world to meet me.
so podcasting was the first thing I started, thenm webinars, then email listing, BlackBerry Messanger, so as far back as 2009, I used a bunch of platform, some of them I am still using. I have used podcast, webinar jam, kajobi, I use Selar. These are some of the tools I use.
What Advice do you have for anyone going into the coaching business?
Be yourself, everyone else is taken. Find what makes you work. If you try to copy me, you are going to make a mistake. I am who I am. My point is find and own who you are. Don’t apologize for who you are. most importantly, serve your clients. Out perform, give the very best of yourself. Help people get results.
Is it the Grace of God or your mindset?
Clear disclaimer, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, but I also recognize that the bible says each of us have been given the same measure of grace. So the same grace of God that I have is the same grace of God that you have, but then again after the grace of God, then your mind set is next. If you have a scarcity mentality when it comes to business, you will always suffer. The sky is big enough for every bird to fly, the ocean is deep enough for every creature to swim. The earth is large enough for all of us to thrive.
So first, your mind must expand. You have got to go beyond where you are. God operates with global thinking. God asked Abraham, do you see the stars out there and can you count them? Thats how your blessings iis going to be. We all need refrences. Another thing again is that alot of us are not skilled, we are passionate and motivated but not highly skilled. If you put on the stage with Tony Robins, I will hold my own and I will bring the house down.
So you can have a generator that is passionate like I better pass my neighbour, no mater how passionate the generator is, it cant power 5 bedroom duplex. It is passionate, it will start, but the moment you start putting load on it, the generator will start shaking and explode, because its capacitor has burned. It does not have the capacity to carry the load that is put on it. The generator is passionate, has fuel and engine oil, but it doesn’t have the right capacitor.
There is a second type of generator which is the 50 KVA generator, the silent type. that generator operates with load, it can power a house easily, it is not stress, the real stress and value of that generator is when you turn on the load. It has great capacity. so there are 2 types of people, there are people like the I better pass my neighbour generator, they have passion but they don’t have capacity. there are the 50 KVA generator type, they have capacity, but they are too lazy to carry the load. They don’t want to challenge themselves. Then there is a 3rd type of generator, which is guys like me.
How is it that most people in the coaching industry look out for others?
We have an abundance mentality, the sky is big for everyone to fly. I can rep John obidi, stephanie, tricia, they are all phenomenal. There are 200 million people in Nigeria, we cant serve them all, so we are going to need all the help we can get. For some of us, we are deliberate about promoting and supporting other people’s work. If I am following you Uju and see something that is nice, I will share it and put it on my Instagram story.
Also like my brothers; Jimi tewe, Bankole williams, we are incredibly close. For us we will tell each other that we are going to be the biggest “baddest” boys on the block, so lets just help each other and promote as many people as possible. When Jimi or Banky are on IG live or have programs, I will be there to support, same for them. We have the brothers mentality, we are not intimidated by anyone.
This is a transcribed version, of the interview, for full video experience, jokes cracked, games played and question answered, kindly check out this link