Happy, Healthy, Wealthy

A Conversation with Jim Bunch, creator of the
"Happy, Healthy, Wealthy Game"

By John David Mann

Jim Bunch began his career working with Anthony Robbins and later joined Bob Proctor to head up LifeSuccess Institute's sales program. He then dove into Internet entrepreneurship, creating a business that married technology with listing homes: the virtual tour pioneer Bamboo.com (currently Ipix.com) grew from a tiny start-up to a 1500-person market leader in less than 15 months. After completing a highly successful NASDAQ IPO, the company merged with Ipix, another virtual tour company. Jim went on to found two successful technology companies and Happy Healthy Wealthy Enterprises, a personal development coaching company focused on bringing balance into people's lives.

Jim also had the good fortune to work closely with coaching pioneer Thomas Leonard, founder of CoachVille, Coach University and the International Coach Federation (ICF). When we originally began planning a Coaching issue, we had hoped to feature Leonard as our lead story; alas, those dreams were not to be, as Leonard died at home on February 11, 2003. Jim, as you'll read, was the one (and only) student whom Leonard was privately coaching in his last months. Some say he was being groomed as heir apparent.

-- JDM



Jim, what brought you to coaching?

I was at a point in my life where I had accomplished a great deal, and looked like a super-successful person, on the outside. Yet it felt empty. How could it be that with the $100,000 Porsche, the million-dollar beach house and the Rolex and all that stuff, how come I wasn't happy?

Through a friend, I met a gentleman who was a personal coach. I had no idea what this thing "coaching" was; I thought I was a coach! I'd been involved in personal development for years; I'd worked with Anthony Robbins and Bob Proctor; I'd traveled and done my own seminars, teaching people how to become successful. And I had all the trappings of success.

My conversations with this coach started to shift my focus onto who I am. The truth is, I love to surf, snowboard, play volley ball and tennis; I like to be with friends, to travel, to have fun with life. And I'd gotten so consumed by the success mentality that I'd lost touch with all that. I suddenly imagined myself at age 90, looking back on my life and asking, "Have I really done what I wanted with this one most precious life?"

I think this is where a lot of people tend to get into trouble, especially in this industry: they're sold a vision of "freedom" in the future, so they spend most of their time dreaming about the future and trying to recover from their past. What they're not doing is taking care of the present.


What has happened that made the idea of "life coaching" become so popular?

Any time you see something take off as quickly as this has, there are environmental factors in play. Today, especially in the US, people are more stressed out, overworked and under-fulfilled than ever before. I think September 11 had a lot to do with revealing this; people started saying, "Wait a second--do I really need another Mercedes or a bigger house? My kids don't even know me, they think the nanny we hired is their parent--and I'm off working all day and night to raise my family?"

Another factor is that people were getting disgruntled with the seminar business, wanting a more personal relationship with a teacher or mentor. Although that's not really the right term. What people were looking for, in fact, has been around for years in business. Upper-level managers and CEOs have always had somebody they could go to who was outside their company, someone with whom they could say what they needed to say--"I love my company, but I hate my life," or "I love my life, but I hate my company," or "I hate my company and I hate my life," whatever--and simply be supported.

We have also made a shift from the past approach to psychology, which studied those things that blocked people from success, focusing on problems and wounds, to a new psychology based on studying people who are happier, healthier and wealthier and seeking to identify how they got that way. People who used to be into therapy and "fixing" people are now transitioning into coaching.

These factors have all come together to create this mainstream phenomenon.


Give us a quick thumbnail sketch of what coaching today looks like.

Today, we have a community ofabout 40,000 coaches whose life purpose is to help others live the way they want.

Thomas Leonard, one of the pioneers of the industry, founded the International Coach Federation (ICF). This is a self-governing body, put in place so we wouldn't end up going the route of therapy and become state-regulated. Thomas' purpose was to keep the intention and the energy of the coaching profession clean. He also founded a other coaching and training schools.

Thomas died a little over a year ago, but his work is going strong. Today, there are something like 50 training schools; new coaching companies are also popping up, and of course there are tons of private or individual coaches.

A lot of professional speakers are looking at this and saying, "Maybe I should partner with a coaching company to give my customers more support after the seminar's over."


What was your relationship with Thomas like?

Through CoachU, which he also created, Thomas was coaching 35,000 to 40,000 people at a time; he was no longer working with anybody one on one. But I didn't know this, so at one point, in late 2002, I asked him if he would coach me. He said, "Nope, I don't coach anybody privately." Then about a month later, and emailed me and said, "Look, I've been thinking about you--and you're the one private client I would take on at this time."

I coached with Thomas privately in the days before he passed away. Some people said he was grooming me to carry his vision and his mission, and a lot of what I do is very similar.


Such as?

His mission was for everybody to have a coach at some point. Our mission is: "To coach a million people a month to happiness, health and wealth."

Thomas had found a way to coach all these coaches, who were in turn coaching more people. I founded a technology company and have been involved in building global companies, so I naturally think on a global scale and could immediately relate to Thomas's way of thinking.

We're now building a coaching company through which we're on track to fulfill our mission!


What is the distinction that makes coaching coaching, and not training, teaching or counseling?

There are quite a few distinctions. Also, you'll find that it's a little different for each coach, based on his or her background and experience.

One great thing about coaching is that we're typically not tied into the client's agenda. We're there to champion the client and be a mirror for them.

Clients will often come to us wanting specific results. "I want to go from earning six figures to earning seven figures, working part-time--but I can't see how." We recognize and honor those results. We ask, "Who does this person need to become in order to accomplish those results and live life in alignment with his or her values?"

I was talking this morning with a super-achiever; this guy's driven, he's got six different businesses going, yet he keeps telling me how important his family is. I look at that and say, "Okay: your goals are driving you in one direction, your values are driving you in a different direction--you're going to be in conflict if you continue to hit these goals. How do we align what you truly want in your heart with what your ego is telling you that you need to be successful?"

Are there coaches who work only on the personal side or only in the business arena?

Some, but many of us recognize that this is all the same individual. I believe you can be successful in both areas, personal and business--except people tend to go at it in reverse.

I called the game the "Happy Healthy Wealthy" game, rather than the "Wealthy Healthy Happy" game for a reason. Most people are trying to get to happiness through the wealth door--and that's backwards.


Like "Fire, Aim, Ready."

Exactly. If we can get people happy, they're going to be more attractive; if they become more attractive, their wealth is going to grow.

Here's what sometimes happens for leaders in network marketing when they pursue the "wealthy" part first. They're excited, they get pumped up, get a lot of people around them by promoting "freedom"--and suddenly what they've built has just brought them more stress. They have this concept of financial freedom, but they didn't build an exit strategy into their system. Now they are their system, because their ego built it up around them.

Now they have no free time, they're on conference calls constantly, and they're not doing what they loved to do in the first place. They've become managers, and the moment they did, they lost the inspiration and excitement--and they forgot that this is what attracted people to them in the first place.

They're making good income and want to continue to grow, but the way they got to six figures is not what they need to get to seven figures. If they keep trying to simply put more energy into their businesses, they'll end up killing themselves.


Say that's the path I'm on: how does a coach help me avoid that trap?

Identify the future pitfalls and handle them up front. The coach's job is to help you see what's coming, so you can avoid the pain of going through the transition from one business phase to the next. The skill sets it took to build your business are not the same skill sets it will take to get you to the next level, having thousands of people in your organization all running their own businesses independently.

Making that transition doesn't have to be painful--but it will be, unless you see it coming.

The people I work with are already overachievers, it's just that they're running into these invisible walls they've put up. And while they look like they are doing great, in reality some are confused and frustrated--and in this state, either they'll sabotage themselves or their downlines will self-destruct, because they're not having fun any more and they're not inspiring their people.

For many network marketers, the problem is that they design their businesses so that they are the support system for their downline. They're trying to manage their activity, but haven't created leaders. They haven't created a business, really: they've created a job. It's classic E-Myth stuff. [In his classic book The E-Myth, Michael Gerber talks about building a business you can walk away from versus building a job that entraps you--Ed.] I see this a lot with coaches, too: they build up a great practice, but then they're trading their time for money.

I'm working with a network marketing leader right now who's making good money, mid-six figures--and he's still balancing his own checkbook, still paying his own bills, running errands, typing up documents. He puts on his email, "I'll respond to you within 24 hours." That's insane--he's got more then ten thousand people to answer to! He's got no structure around him to allow him to do what he loves in the business, so he's doing everything in the business. And he's so caught up in the day-to-day operation of his six-figure business, he can't find the space to see what he needs to create a seven-figure business.

So we put in place the support systems that would allow him to outsource many of these tasks. Week one, he hired two assistants, one local and one virtual. He's outsourcing his bookkeeping; we hired someone to come in and organize his office. We'll have him off the day-to-day emails. He's putting coaches and the Happy Healthy Wealthy Game into his company so he doesn't have to coach all the new people and can focus on working with his leaders.


It sounds like your role as a coach is not to come up with mysterious, magical answers so much as to help identify problems and solutions that are really fairly obvious.

Right; the solutions are right there in front of us, but the client needs a new perspective to be able to see them. He knows the problems are there but can't see how to fix them. The mindset that created the problem is not the mindset that will fix the problem.

It's the same for me. The reason I have and will always have a coach is that a coach will look at me and at how I'm doing my life and say, "Hey, did you see this? Did you see that?" And I didn't! But now that I do, I can make the shifts I need.

There are three main principles to coaching, which I call the three A's.

1)Awareness. If you become consciously aware of the way you're doing your life, you can make the shifts you need. A coach often helps provide that insight or awareness.

2) Action. If you're taking action, you're going to move towards your goals and will eventually get where you want.

3) Accountability. If you're willing to look at the truth of what you're actually doing--versus what you think you're doing--then you will make the changes you need to make.


How do you bring that awareness to a client?

There are multiple ways. Asking questions is one. Sometimes it's simply by creating that safe environment, where they can call you up and talk on the phone. You'll hear them talk and then suddenly say, "Oh my gosh, you know what, I got it!" They'll talk themselves into their own solution.

I also use a lot of metaphors and examples; I paint pictures for people.


Can you give us an example?

When you're driving a gas-powered car and stop at a stop light, you can hear your engine idling and know that when you step on the gas, the car will take off. When people first drive electric cars, they're often uncomfortable at stoplights, because they don't hear that engine idling. "There's no noise! When I go to step on the accelerator, how do I know I'm really going to take off and be safe?"

The gas engine gives you security because you hear the familiar noise--but guess what? It's not nearly as clean a fuel source as the electric one. Many of us are running our lives on gas engines, pouring more and more energy into our lives, even though it's less efficient. Perhaps you're running on adrenaline, and while the feedback feels "right" to you, because it's the noise you're used to hearing, it's not actually working for you.

A coach can also be a mirror. I might say, "Based on our last four calls, here's what I'm noticing in your language. And I know that if it's in your language, it's in your thinking--and I can tell you your result." In the last eleven years I've coached thousands of people; I can listen to people's language and pretty much have an understanding of where they're currently at and where they're heading.

There are a lot of different tools a coach might use. Sometimes people just need a slap on the side of the head. "You know, you think you're Superman, your ego's driving you, you're about to kill yourself! And you're a façade--you're lying to yourself and everybody else that you've got this great network marketing business, and the truth is, you're worried about losing it!"


To what degree is a sponsor a coach?

There are people in network marketing who are working with the coaching model, and there are some great things happening there. Many of them have the knack or skill for it. At the same time, the truth is, most don't, and don't really want to be coaches, either. I'm seeing a lot of network marketing leaders who want their people to have coaches starting to outsource it to professionals.

We have leaders who are now telling their people, "Hey, if you want to work with me, you have to go through this coaching program," because they believe in these principles and know that their people need to learn how to structure their lives so that they do what's right for their personal lives as well as their businesses.


So these leaders would rather align themselves with professional coaches than be coaches themselves?

They're realizing, "I don't want to be a coach! What I want to do is what I love in the business." You have to take an honest look at people and ask, "What's their natural gift? How do we build this person's business around this person's natural gifts, and have other people's natural gifts doing everything else?"

Some people are born recruiters or born promoters; they are happiest when they're going out there and talking to other people about what they're excited about.

Some people are great managers. They're the ones who will take a new distributor, once the promoter's brought her in, and walk her through the next 12 months, teaching her all the particulars and details about how the business works. They'll spend hours and hours on the phone with people getting their skills in shape and showing them the ropes. If the promoter had to do all this, it would do nothing but piss him off! He's sitting there saying, "Hey, you know what, I just want to go get more people!"


What do you see coming in the years a-head in the relationship between network marketing and coaching?

I see a great integration happening. One reason I love network marketing is that people so often come into it with very little experience, really eager to learn and to grow.

I think the model for network marketing businesses is starting to change. As people stop looking at it as a self-employed opportunity--in other words, a one-man show--and start looking at it as a real business, they're going to be more successful, people will be happier, and the industry will come to be more respected. And I think the coming together of network marketing and professional-level coaching is going to have a lot to do with that evolution. n