Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Long-term Clients and the Value They Receive by Judy Feld

We are happy to share an article from our friend Judy Feld, who has been working with business and professional people since 1995 to support them in creating strategies to achieve their goals and maintain an optimal work/life balance, titled Long-term Clients and the Value They Receive.

Long-term Clients and the Value They Receive

Coaches have a choice of many evidence-based instruments, tools and methodologies to measure the effectiveness of our coaching over time. For time-specific engagements we can measure at the beginning, middle, and end of a coaching engagement.  But what if there is no established middle or end? Let’s take a look at coaching relationships that are working “in perpetuity”, i.e. no end date. I’d like to add and examine an additional variable in the measurement mix. 

One clue to the value executive coaching clients receive is longevity. It’s a different kind of measurement of effectiveness,  and points to the benefits of working with a trusted sounding board and strategy partner.  ForLong-Term Clients example, my longest-continuing client is a leader I have been coaching since 1999, every month without interruption. What makes those long-term relationships work, from the point of view of the client and the coach? I started to answer that question by extracting some of the principles and common patterns I have noticed in my work with long-term clients–those I’ve worked with ranging from ten to more than 20 years.  Then I decided to ask four of them why they continue; why they stay.  With their permission, I share some of their responses. 

Coaching is an ongoing strategic partnership.  A coach can provide an “auxiliary brain”.

I have worked with Judy Feld as my coach for 21 years. She knows more about me than my closest friends, and keeps up to date on the many factors that have an impact on me. Most of our time together involves her listening, processing and then responding, clarifying, and gathering data about me. Judy coaches me regularly regarding timely challenges I have faced based on this knowledge, and supports me in developing both strategies and tactics. I haven’t needed time-limited, focused, goal-setting. I can and do set realistic goals which have enabled me to achieve and master many things. What I have needed is an objective, knowledgeable and effective coach to assist me in my life journey. An additional benefit in this relationship is the occasional monumental insight she has provided on a specific issue I faced based on her extensive knowledge of me. I have fondly referred to her as my auxiliary brain

Ralph S. Smith, Jr., MD, Brig Gen (Ret.) USAF
CMO; Medical Director


“Compounded interest over 10 years adds up to a lot of value.”  The benefits of unbiased coaching conversations increase exponentially.

When I initiated a coaching relationship some 10 years ago, I had the opportunity to thoroughly explore a job transition and I was taking the time to do a drains-up review of what I wanted to do with my time.  I knew I had structure & drive to get the bulk of the work done, but I wanted someone who could ask the right questions in the hopes of reframing, & ultimately help me get out of mental locks; someone who could “help me figure out that last critical 5 to 10 % of an issue”.   I later learned this was not an easy coaching assignment.   Judy demonstrated the intelligence, practical business & people sense, as well as the gentle accountability to fill that role spectacularly.

I maintained our coaching relationship when I took over my CEO role about a year later.  I wanted and found I needed…someone with whom I could have an unbiased conversation to help me think through intense work required in company turnaround. Everyone else had their bias.  The issues I faced were broad & changed week to week, so working with someone who knew me & was willing & able to work with that changing, demanding mandate was critical.  Judy was my sounding board for 6 years and helped me sort through those business and personal issues so I could be the best version of myself.  The evidence of that included her reflecting my words back to me for self knowledge, role playing difficult conversation, learning concepts like boundaries & standards, & providing connections to people where I needed help.  What is better than spectacular?

For the last two years, I/we are doing it again.  I am transitioning & starting a new company.  I did not expect to maintain a relationship for this long, but compounded interest over 10-years adds up to a lot of value.  During our weekly hour, I have the luxury to step out of the day-to-day & get perspective on that “last critical 5 to 10%” on the issues old or new with all their subtleties.  Driving to be the best at any role has to benefit from professional feedback, consistently applied.  Even Roger Federer has a coach!  I know my relationship with Judy has made me a better executive & person.

Todd C. Hart, CEO


A coach provides a rich set of tools that grows through the years to support a client in each new opportunity and challenge.

I am a walking example of the value of long-term coaching.  When we launched the coaching journey in 2005, I was already quite senior in my career.  Each new leadership step I took came with a myriad of new experiences for which my existing set of competencies needed to be stretched.  Judy has supported me in the evolution of my skills, insights, and talents to successfully meet each new stage. She’s helped to extract what was deep inside me and expand it; I think about it as a tool bag that has grown and grown through the years to support me in each new leadership challenge.

Carla Smith, MA, CNM, FHIMSS


I leave the final summary comment to Caroline Miller,  best-selling author of Creating Your Best Life, Getting Grit and My Name is Caroline.

 Continuity and longevity bring perspective to the shared work.  A coach with a good memory can “see around the corners.”

For over 20 years, I’ve worked with Judy Feld as my coach, with only minimal breaks to accommodate family needs. She has always brought wisdom, cogent coaching and empathy to our work, and still sees around the corners in ways I cannot do for myself. I am a huge believer in creating a long-term relationship with your coach. They watch you grow and evolve through a huge variety of settings and challenges, and have the continuity and longevity to bring perspective (and a great memory) to the shared work.

Caroline Adams Miller, MAPP:  Speaker*Author*Educator*Coach  


The value of noticing…

For those coaches who want to increase their proportion of long-term clients (whatever that means to you), I invite you to ask your clients what factors contribute to their longevity. When I asked that question I was intrigued by the consistency  of some of my clients’  responses and delighted by the variety in others.  The ability to articulate the value you provide is a great benefit in creating a long and sustainable coaching career.


How does it apply to you and your life?
Let’s continue the conversation by connecting with your colleagues on our Facebook page

How does it apply to you in your life?
Let’s continue the conversation by connecting with your colleagues on our Facebook page

If you are not already, click here to subscribe to choice Magazine.