Ivanna Chubbuck chats with Entrepreneur Network partner Kelsey Humphreys on how to be an effective coach, grow a massive coaching business and achieve success in both business and life.
You may not know of Ivanna Chubbuck, but you have heard of her students. Her clientele, such as Charlize Theron, Brad Pitt and Halle Barry, have won multiple Academy Awards, Emmys, Golden Globes and Tony Awards. She is the multimillionaire coach and founder behind the Ivana Chubbuck Studio. In addition to her personal one-on-one coaching, her Los Angeles-based studio has 16 ongoing classes, and Chubbuck regularly facilitates classes overseas. “The celebrity whisperer” has been featured in The New York Times, People, USA Today, Paris Vogue and various television shows in the U.S. and abroad.
Chubbuck is also the creator of the cutting edge and widely adopted Chubbuck Technique which is taught by accredited teachers in over 16 countries. Her book explaining the technique, The Power of the Actor, is an international bestseller. Her methods spark change in the participants’ lives, not just their work, and have been so effective for so many that Chubbuck has recently begun facilitating corporate workshops in addition to acting intensives.
I was excited to get to interview a member of Hollywood royalty about how to be an effective coach, grow a massive coaching business and achieve success in both business and life. Here are my top eight lessons from our conversation.
Figure out what you enjoy.
As you know as a reader of Entrepreneur, finding a niche is vital in business. Once you realize you want to be a coach or consultant, narrow down on your favorite topics. Chubbuck had great advice for figuring things out.
“When things are really interesting to you, time goes really fast. But, it’s the same amount of time but it feels really fast, so an hour becomes a minute and an hour could also feel like 10 hours, depending on your enthusiasm, your passion and your connection to whatever it is you’re doing … when I was teaching actors, the time went by super-fast, and when I was acting it went so slow,” she said. She added that even her 12-hour intensive sessions fly by. Ask yourself when time speeds up for you as a guide for where to place your focus.
Be willing to sacrifice.
Chubbuck explained that for years she “lived small.” She didn’t expect to get paid large fees at first, since her struggling actor clients were surviving on ramen noodles, sometimes even living out of their cars. But money, to her, was the gravy. The work itself was the steak, so she didn’t mind the sacrifices.
“I skipped meals, I walked to places to save on gas. I mean, I’ve lived very small, and I was fine with that because I was following my passion.”
Her first big break was about 10 years into coaching, but before that she explained it was “a slow and steady incline.”
Be willing to let go.
Chubbuck’s method is now a certified program for other coaches. She has coaches and schools teaching her technique all over the world. How did she achieve that kind of scale? “You have to give up control.”
You may not want to license your materials, but if you want to grow your practice beyond what you alone can coach each month, for example through self-study online programs or hiring support staff to take on some of the load, you’re going to have to give up some control.
Chubbuck also mentioned the importance of letting go of what others think. She said she would consider this one of her keys to success. “Don’t care what people think, you just keep plugging along and follow your passion. Your passion is infectious …. You may have a down time, but you’ll get back on top, and I’ve seen this happen a whole bunch of times.”
She also advises that you let go of your specific path to success. She initially thought she was going to be an actress, but listened to her intuition and stayed open to the possibilities. “If you contain yourself in any shape or form — to a certain aspect of things that you think that you want to do, or that you [believe is] the dream — you’ve also contained other things from coming in. You … basically took away the possibility of success.”
Capitalize on momentum.
“It’d been 10 years before it got to me, and all of a sudden Halle Berry says my name at the Academy Awards and it went ‘Booooooom!'” Chubbuck recalled the frenzy of business after that night. She knew she needed to capitalize on what was happening, so she wrote her book. I went, ‘Now I’m gonna do something with that.'”
Chubbuck’s book spent weeks on the Los Angeles Times Top 10 Bestsellers List and has now been translated into 12 languages. In my personal experience growing my brand, building up The Pursuit, getting more speaking and writing opportunities, etc., this tactic has been critical. The second you catch a break, ask yourself how can I ride this wave? How can I make the most of this? How can I use this to take myself to the next level?
Talk with people, not at them.
I asked Chubbuck what she believed caused coaches to fail with their students or as a business. She answered that too often coaches take a “mountain top” stance, shouting down to everyone what they need to do. But, no one likes being talked down to. She also shared the importance of vulnerability with students.
“If they feel that you, too, have the same issues, all of a sudden they feel more open, not alone … as a team, we are going to learn … both of us are going to grow as a result of this relationship,” she said. “The other thing: Never judge.”
Chubbuck went on to share that she sees the coach/student relationship as a symbiotic one. “When I feed them and I see greatness happen out of them, you know what, that feeds me.”
Embrace your business sense.
As an artist who coaches artists, she has heard the “creative” excuse many times. She says that this excuse is denying one’s business sense, which most people can find and improve. Personally, I started my career as a musician and graphic designer; I have learned the value — and fun — in strengthening the “left side” of my brain. Chubbuck embraced both sides of herself early on.
“I start off with this concept of how to make the business plan work, and I go, Well, this part’s working, but this part’s not …. I’m gonna change the part that’s not working … it’s a creative process if you choose to look at it that way. This is my business cap, now I take that off and put my creative cap on. And I like them both, because they both connect the dots together for me.”
Never stop learning.
Want to be a millionaire coach? How many books are you reading? How many courses are you taking? Actually, in today’s information-saturated world, maybe the better question is, are you regularly absorbing and implementing new things? Like almost everyone I interview, Chubbuck places a high importance on learning and personal development.
“Educators should always learn … if you stop learning in your process, and [this is for any and every job] if you stop learning then you stop living. Living is all about education. Raising the bar, meeting the bar, raising the bar.”
Choose to overcome.
I was inspired when I researched Chubbuck’s methods because all of her work focuses on not the hardships or the feelings, but on the overcoming. As entrepreneurs, we understand how devastating setbacks can be not just to the bottom line, but to our morale as well.
“You have a choice to make. [When bad things happen you can] say, This is something that I’m going to self-destruct with, bad things always happen to me, be defeated by it, and stop. [Or you could say], You know what? I’m gonna win in spite of it, because people said I couldn’t.”
She shared that most of us face many bad things in life, but they aren’t all bad if you choose to see the circumstances as fuel.
“It’s fuel to inspire you … I’m not ever gonna let this happen again, and that person’s never going to do that to me again, and this is how I’m going to succeed. Without retribution, without being mean or trying to get comeuppance, but just to prove them wrong.”