Michelle Kuei, Creator and Founder, Elevate Lifecoaching
Michelle Kuei is a business visibility coach, content marketing strategist, international speaker, and author. As the Founder of Elevate LifeCoaching, Michelle mentors women to use the power of storytelling as their secret sauce in attracting clients and turning their passion for coaching into a profitable business.
Clients who work closely with her start their coaching business confidently and courageously through the Attract Clients Through Storytelling online course. They get clarity on their message and implement marketing strategies that are profitable and authentic.
What's your industry?
For people who don't know you, can you tell us how you ended up sitting where you are today?
My coaching journey started when I wanted a six-pack. I got out of my car one day, looked down at my tee-shirt, and thought, “Why on earth is it all dirty in this one weird spot?” (Seriously! This is how it ALL began!!)
Horrible lightbulb moment: My belly had been rubbing against the steering wheel.
We’ve all had a small but awful moment where we think, “That’s it. SOMETHING has to give.” That was mine.
I decided to take my abs to the gym (and my ass, too.) I was determined to get strong and fit...except for only one problem.
You see, I am permanently disabled because of a car accident when I was 11 years old.
I was playing small and used to being invisible all my life.
Suddenly everyone I knew was going to Machu Picchu to climb the 26-mile vertical summit. I wanted in on that trip!
For 8-10 hours a day, I hiked up the 26 miles of ascending trail. I had to bandage my wrists so they wouldn’t break as they took a load of my body weight with every step I took with my crutches. Each day I averaged 40,000 steps, according to my FitBit.
The last thing U wanted to do was go back. It would have been more shameful to go back than to fail trying (or die on Machu Picchu)
When I returned home, my life was changed forever. I was inspired, and I wanted to tell the world how a positive mindset, determination, and our ability to bounce back from adversity can change the way we see things in our lives.
I started out as a life coach helping negative self-talkers have the confidence to take massive action towards achieving success in life, but as I was getting myself out there and creating content to get my business seen, I realized that my real superpower is my ability to captivate brand narratives, painting pictures that captures the hearts of my dream clients and want what I sell.
Becoming a business visibility and marketing coach was something I would have never thought I would be part of.
I mean, who would? I used to cringe every time I heard of the word marketing.
It just sounds sooo greedy!
I wanted to change people's lives! I didn't want to sound like I was begging people for money! But I realized that in order to have a sustainable and thriving coaching business, you have to get out of your comfort zone and start talking about your business so you can get seen, get heard, and get clients.
So there I was...completely torn between making a difference in the world by pursuing my dream coaching life or having the ability to sustain myself and pay my bills. Do I give up? Or do I keep going?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned through this process is that being visible in your business isn’t the same as being selfish. On the contrary. It’s about being of service to those who truly need your help.
My coaching business took an unexpected turn right before the pandemic. I noticed that more and more coaches who were struggling to build an online coaching business needed my help. And that’s how I got to be here: a visibility and marketing coach helping introverted women coaches turn a passion for coaching into a profitable business using the power of storytelling. I literally wrap up everything I know and help them get their businesses out there. I want them to have the business of their dreams instead of feeling like the best-kept secret!
What does your daily routine look like?
My day really begins at 6 am. I have this habit of listing all of my to-dos for the next day in my notebook so that by the time I wake up, I have a clear idea of what needs to be done and what my priorities are.
My work day typically starts officially at 9 am, which is when I start taking client calls. I love connecting with my followers on Facebook. So I start by answering and replying to any unanswered messages from my followers. I make sure that I reply to every single comment that someone has taken the time to leave for me.
(One tool that I would recommend to every entrepreneur is Michael Hyatt’s Full focus planner. I came across this planner a few years ago from a digital course I took from Amy Porterfield. I fell in love with the planner ever since then, and it’s always been part of my daily routine to keep track of my tasks which helps me accomplish my weekly, monthly, and, ultimately, annual goals in both life and business.)
One of my non-negotiable routines is blocking off time for a workout hour. What started as a fitness journey for me actually transformed my life. So maintaining my physical health is definitely a big part of my daily routine. It also helps to keep me grounded, and I find I am most creative in my business after a good workout.
What excites you most about what you do?
Getting a text at 2 am from a client living abroad with exciting news to share: she signed up her first PAYING client.
This is just one example that excites me about my work.
I work with women coaches who struggle to get clients, grow their audience, and have their unique message heard. They are heart-centered, service-based coaches who know nothing about marketing in the online world. What they DO have is a heart full of loving and compassionate energy to help people who struggle in life.
So hearing from them and seeing their texts with lots of exclamation points makes my heart warm and brings a smile to my face every day!
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you on your journey in business?
The best advice I received was from my mentor. I love to help everyone and anyone who struggles in their business. But my mentor said to me, “Michelle, you have a secret awesome sauce but not everyone is going to need your help. There are people who will be there in the beginning, and there are people who will show up much later in the game. Who is your secret awesome sauce for?”
She made me realize that my superpower shines the best for someone who is looking to scale and grow their coaching business and NOT for someone who just freshly came out of a coaching program expecting an instant fix. My work is for those who have tried a few things but haven’t found the magic in marketing their coaching business.
This is something that I teach my students:sometimes things change, and it’s possible to create the most impact in a different place from where we originally started.
Recently I had a VIP client who spent a few 1:1 coaching days with me. She made a real breakthrough in realizing that her clients are not just professional women in HR. Her real clients are those who are mid-level management HR professionals looking to further their leadership skills.
Since getting this clarity, she signed up two big projects and delivered a successful retreat for 11, mid-level management professionals through her work.
What's been the hardest part about the path you've taken and how would you advise someone facing a similar situation to overcome it?
I am in a “story-selling” business.
Years ago, when I first started my coaching business, I was struggling to get the word out. I have a doctorate in pharmacy, and I’m really good with what I do as a pharmacist and filling prescriptions, but when it comes to starting a business, I was clueless. I had zero social media following, and I had several heartbreaking moments when no one showed up to my events.
What I’ve realized was that my audience wasn’t connecting with me because they couldn’t SEE me for who I am. They weren’t able to connect with me on a personal level— to relate to any of the beautiful, life-changing outcomes that I was experiencing after coaching.
Was it easy? No way!
“Nothing worth doing is easy!”
In 2019, I published my book, “Perfectly Normal: An Immigrant’s Story Of Making It In America” in 2019, with no marketing background or experience on how to launch a book. I went door to door in my neighborhood to promote my book.
I went from one networking event to another. I was exhausted and didn’t have much success in breaking into the “business” world because I just didn’t know how to sell my book and promote myself.
I remember sitting among a group of business women at a networking event one day feeling completely discouraged and ashamed while wondering how the heck they were able to do this. I felt like my business was a beautiful book sitting on a coffee table, with everyone walking by but no one picking it up.
Since then, I began to incorporate storytelling in the way that I connect with my audience.
Storytelling came naturally to me. (I used to tell myself a lot of stories …even though they were mostly negative ones.) The truth is that storytelling is deeply hardwired in humans.
Just think about how your grandmother used to tell you these stories of princesses and princes, kingdoms and dragons, and witches and wizards. People relate to stories more so than dry, boring facts and data.
Brands and companies that infuse personalities behind their stories tend to do a lot better than those who aren’t clear about their brand story.
I love what I do. I know how to craft messages that speak about core values, express personality, and share beliefs. The three things that I hold dear to my heart and guide how I serve people is this: Authenticity, Bravery, and Connection. This is the receipt for my success.
In a world where people are constantly being sold to, I believe there’s a new way of marketing your services. Empathy is a superpower in authentic marketing. And I also believe what makes me stand out is my ability to bring people together. Think about it this way: how would you want to be treated?
On the surface, the business world seems like it’s dog-eat-dog. In reality, it’s all about collaboration.. If you want your business to thrive and be sustainable, building relationships with other business owners, forming mutual collaboration, and facilitating global conversations are essential.
I want the world to know that my brand stands for Bravery. There are so many challenges we face, but I know we can do better. If success to you means you did better than yesterday, then you are capable of doing it again and again. Be Brave!
Are there any well-known Books, Podcasts, or Courses that you credit your current success to?
Rich Litvin’s The Prosperous Coach really helped me get my life coach business going. I was so passionate about getting started as a life coach when I first got certified, but I didn’t know what I needed to do in order to get clients. This book gave me really great insight and perspectives: To be a coach, I needed to have the opportunities to coach.
The first thing I did was take every opportunity to get people to have a conversation with me.
I would literally enter an elevator and pitch anyone who was willing to strike a conversation. These weren’t even sales conversations, but rather, a normal conversation you would have between people.
From there I started to build my audience online and on social media.
Have you ever used a business or executive coach?
This is the first thing I did when I started my coaching business: I worked with a business coach. I wanted to learn the “How-To’s”. This was something I’ve never done before, so I knew I needed to learn how to start and run a business and, in order to do so, I needed a coach.
It seems like there are a lot of people offering business coaching these days. In your opinion, is that a good thing?
I look at it as supply versus demand. When there is a need, there is going to be supply. I believe this is a trend we’ve seen, especially after the pandemic as people were either forced out of one industry or took this time to make a change and pursue other passions.
I believe it is a good thing that people are taking control and wanting to get more out of life, but I also see many business coaches pushing people to create and sell high-ticket packages or use strategies that no longer work in today’s marketing world. To be honest, it scares me, and it also breaks my heart to see startup coaches fall for the idea that all they have to do is create high-ticket offers. I hate watching them jump from program to program, trying to figure out why they don’t have any clients.
People can sometimes confuse a coach with a mentor. Can you help us clarify the difference?
I am an International Coach Federation Accredited coach, and I believe the best definition to explain this is through the ICF guidelines.
A mentor is an expert who provides wisdom and guidance based on his or her own experience. It may include advising, counseling, and coaching whereas a coach does not include advising or counseling, and focuses instead on individual settings and reaching their own objectives. A coach does not have an agenda about where the clients need to go, but helps guide him or her in achieving their goals.
For any entrepreneurs or executives looking to work with a coach, where are the best places to find a great one?
The best place to look is the International Coach Federation. You want to make sure the coach has been certified and is practicing within the code of ethics under International Coach Federation regulation. Check their credentials and associations with organizations that provide a clear standard of practice.
What 3 qualities would you say separate a great business coach from a bad one?
I believe that empathy is one's most powerful quality as a coach and as a human being. When I look for a coach, I want to know if this coach is someone who is relatable and reliable. This is particularly important if I’m looking for a mentor coach from whom I seek advice and experiences. Can they relate to what I am going through and offer suggestions on how to get unstuck?
Here are some other attributes I look for:
Coaches who stay current and up to date with their knowledge on current market trends.
Coaches who are creative and help brainstorm new ideas and share insights to what works and what to avoid.
Coaches with a track record of helping their clients with success stories that don’t feel like a fluff or seem unattainable.
Do you think someone can be a great business coach without having many years of experience?
I do. I believe someone who has a successful business in a relatively short amount of time is a person who coaches well. It shows that there’s something that just clicked for that person, and there’s something about their methods and strategies that hit the mark. So it’s not the years of experience that equates or defines success: it’s the skills that got them there that matters.
What do you think the world of business coaching will look like in 20 years' time?
I think the coaching business is going to reach a point of balance in 20 years. Those who didn’t stay on top of the market news and trends will slowly fade out of this industry. But those who are willing to be open and incorporate technology into their business will continue to thrive and become in higher demand as they’ll seek ways to expand their reach globally.
I also believe that the coaching industry would be a lot more regulated than what it is now. There's code of ethic and standards that coaches need to follow and be compliance to safe guard and protect the wellbeing of our general public.