Coach Interview Series: Tim Long

by Brandon

Tim Long

Founder, Tim Long Consulting

Our main objective here at the National Coach Academy is to enable aspiring coaches to reach their full professional potential. One of the most effective ways to educate students about the world of coaching is by offering them a window into the world of real, practicing coaches and showing them all the different ways coaches make a difference in the lives of their clients.

We hope today’s interview adds another insightful glimpse into the dynamic world of coaching.

Today we are interviewing Tim Long. Tim is a coach who specializes in relationships, communication, and technology. He is the founder of Tim Long Consulting based in Murrieta, California.

NCA: Can you describe your coaching practice and the kinds of clients you typically work with?

Tim: My practice actually started on the eve of my own personal divorce. I had lost everything — my home, my job, my family — all of these in the span of about two and a half months and I attempted suicide. My wife at the time called the police so I had to be taken to the hospital and evaluated.

It was in that moment where I actually woke up. It was a very profound moment for me.I realized that I was going through all kinds of pain that I knew I could help others with. I had grown up overseas and had worked with kids my entire life so I knew a little bit about teaching. After I went through that divorce, I decided I wanted to help people in relationships. That’s how I started.

I went through a lot of different experiences and experiments with that. At one point, one of my clients called me the “love guru” so I ran with that for a little bit. I found out later that a lot of people actually associated that with some sort of sex expert. It was kind of funny because I never associated myself with that, but the name apparently made that something that people thought about. It never crossed my mind.

I later changed it because I wanted my business to just be my name. Then I had people tell me a year later, “Oh, yeah. We totally thought you were doing something in that realm.” And I’m like, “No way.” [laughing] It was a surprise to me and I just laughed about it at the time.

And then about two and a half, three years ago, I officially started my current practice which is Tim Long Consulting. The first part is I specialize with relationships — specifically relationships with children or where the communication is really tough. I worked in a lot of retail and I got known as the guy that would handle tough customers — the customers that were pissed off, the customers that just would not take No for an answer. I grew a really thick skin. I’ve worked in pretty tough situations so things don’t really scare me, especially when it comes to relationships and emotions where I think a lot of people shy away from that kind of thing. I will get in the thick of it.

I remember I stayed with some friends. They gave me a place to stay for a couple of months while I was transitioning between homes. They’re best friends of 10 years. They have three kids and I found out as I moved in that they were going to go through a divorce. I spent three months with them in the midst of their fights, protecting their kids from it, making sure that as soon as they start getting into an argument, I literally would tell them, “Hey, go in the garage.”

It was probably one of the coolest experiences in my life because it gave me an idea for a possible offering. If people are in real dire straits, just go live in their home for a month and be there with them. It’s a bit off-the-wall but it gave me an idea and I don’t mind it. I don’t mind tough situations and it’s the same thing I do in business. I specialize with businesses who are having tough times communicating between two or more parties. The bigger thing is people just don’t understand what each other is saying and I will do a good job of helping translate that.

I’ve also had a love of technology my entire life. I grew up with my dad building computers, so I offer a technology piece as part of my consulting. I worked for Apple. I worked for high-end tech companies in the past, so I bring that in here.

Then with my love of people, I also fell in love with photography this last year. I love capturing people in a portrait/video sense, and so I’ve added that now in the consulting practice. That’s why the name changed, as it allows for a little bit broader services that I can offer.

I had a conversation with my dad in recent years and he said that I’ve been that kind of way my entire life, and it started with animals. We had at one point probably like 40 different animals at our house. We had snakes, dogs, fish, quail, rats — all sorts of things. Dad loves animals and so I took care of them and told me, “You just instinctively knew how to take care of animals.” And that translated to people later and he was like, “Your younger brother, he could be told once and your older brother I’d tell him 500 times and he never got it. You, I never had to tell.”

That was a very interesting thing for me to hear. He’d never told me that before and I recognized everything I’ve done ever since I was a kid is around people, around leading and teaching and organizing large groups and helping people communicate between parties. I just didn’t see it all until he told that to me. Then all of a sudden it seemed like my entire life all made sense. Why I had the jobs, all that stuff.

I tried to pursue acting at one point because I like the flamboyant nature of acting and that kind of thing. That was alright, but I ended up fizzling out. Then I thought I wanted to be a teacher and I tried to go to the accreditation process in the States and I couldn’t stand what people were saying. Because I’ve been in the classroom for seven years in a different country. This is not how you teach kids. I didn’t have the stomach to sit through and get that.

This took me a lot of years but I’m so, so very fortunate that the industry picked up and people started to see the value of life coaching and thought to themselves, “Hey, coaches make sense in the physical world and in sports. Why not in the mental and emotional world?”

For me — because I’ve almost died several times in my life — the most valuable currency I’ve come to realize is my time and I won’t fuck with mine or fuck with yours. That’s my thing. I have come to value every minute of my life and I don’t worry if people have a problem with that. They value their life differently. For me, it’s my time. I have no problem with “No.” I have no problem with honesty. In fact, I demand it.

NCA: What would you say is the most rewarding part of your career and on the flip side of that, what is the most challenging aspect of the work that you do?

Tim: I think the rewarding part for me with coaching is the little A-ha moments along the way. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned about this kind of work is that it’s rarely gratifying right up front. It’s not like you win a prize when you coach somebody. You really have to want to see the whole picture come about. Otherwise, it just doesn’t matter, at least not in my book. When I start to see the picture take shape, it’s really rewarding for me. And it’s the picture that they’ve chosen.

The most frustrating thing actually took me out for about a year. I had a set of clients — a couple with two kids from different families. It was a real challenge. I found out at the end of the engagement that the gentlemen in the relationship thought I was full of BS the entire time and just basically wasted my time. I lacked the fortitude to see it. I lacked the training. I should’ve stopped it when I noticed it but I doubted myself. I think I needed the money for whatever my life was doing. That was frustrating — having my time wasted because I’m like, “I don’t have to be here.” He could’ve just said “No, we don’t need you here, either.” But the allowance happened. I didn’t see it and it kept going.

Situations like that where my time is not being considered or valued really frustrate me. He was disrespectful.

For me — because I’ve almost died several times in my life — the most valuable currency I’ve come to realize is my time and I won’t fuck with mine or fuck with yours. That’s my thing. I have come to value every minute of my life and I don’t worry if people have a problem with that. They value their life differently. For me, it’s my time. I have no problem with “No.” I have no problem with honesty. In fact, I demand it.

That was a real turning point for me in terms of the way I was with clients. I got sharper. I got real pointed and I don’t take on a whole lot of people now. I’m very selective.

NCA: Can you think of a mentor or a coach in your own journey who was the most vital to your success and in what ways did this mentor help you thrive in your career?

Tim: It’s interesting you asked that; I actually called this person a week or two ago and thanked him for this one thing he told me. The gentleman’s name is Michael Waldman. He’s a professional consultant. He’s a genius of a man and he owns a brilliant home in Laguna Beach, California. Amazing, right? I met him through my former girlfriend and he and I stayed friends.

This was several years ago when I wasn’t doing very well and I thought I was putting out all of this excellent content and providing all of this value. We went and had some food and we sat down and I asked him a few questions about all of these different things and he said something to me that forever changed my perspective. He said, “Tim, money follows value.” And he stopped. I said, “So it’s the assertion that if there’s no money, there’s no value?” And he was like, “Yes.”

It hit me like a brick but it shifted everything about what I did. Literally in the last three years, I’ve made more money by myself working and providing value for people where it’s needed than I’ve ever had in my entire life. Shifting to “What is the value with the person over there?” That’s it. It can’t be about what we think is valuable because we’re not the ones paying for our work. We have to think about the person in front of us.

Value can be found everywhere and if you have the right skills, you can provide value to anybody. It’s just a matter of whether or not you want to. I got interested in providing value in the way that my clients needed the value. Not it the way that I perceive it.

That’s why I joined the therapy group. It was full of professional practitioners, a lot of whom had been practicing longer than I have even been alive. I felt like I got a wealth of resources around me from people who knew way more than I did. That’s where I got clear on value. You just gotta say what’s there for you because your story is important. Some people might sit there and say, “No, there’s nothing different about my story.” No, there is…if you look. Most people just don’t want to look. That’s what I’ve done.

NCA: What is one piece of advice that you would give to somebody who is in the beginning stages of their coaching career?

Tim: I got offered a job doing executive coaching in Canada for people who had ADHD. They wanted to hire me and they were going to pay me a decent amount per client, but they didn’t like my image. They didn’t like my relationship coaching image at the time and they asked me if I’d be willing to change it. I was destitute and without work — and I said no.

That was the most important decision of my life. I wasn’t willing to compromise who I was for the sake of money. That’s what I would say to anyone reading. If you’re just starting out, trust me, it is a tough world. I wouldn’t lie to you there. But I guarantee that if you get clear about what it is that you’re offering, what it is that you’re putting out there for people and stick to it, it’ll be like a plant. It’ll grow and you’ll get stronger each time. But you’ll never get anywhere if you let yourself go to the next thing every time and that’s something I learned. I have to stick to it.

People want to know that you’re going to be who you’re going to be and not that you’re just going after the money. It’s easy to want to go after the money because some coaches get paid a lot of money, but that’s because they stuck with whatever it is that they’ve stuck with for as many years as they have. That’s where the money is. If you want the money, you go after the craft and the money will come from the craft. I know a lot of people have said that and it could sound cliché to someone reading, but I promise you, it was absolutely true for me.

Previous post:

Next post: