October 4, 2013
Last Updated:
March 4, 2021

Surprise! The Secret to Health Coaching Success is... McDonald's?

I know what you’re thinking. McDonald’s? Really?

But this is not a story about beef, rainforests, or supersized fries.

Many people think that the only thing that McDonald’s and health coaches have in common is that movie from a few years back--Supersize Me--starring an Integrative Nutrition grad and her boyfriend.

Well, that’s not the case. It turns out that there’s a lot more in common than you might think. Let me explain…

Putting aside whatever you might think about the food, there’s not much doubt that when it comes to empowering people to run a successful business, McDonald’s has been rocking the house for the last 50 years.

In fact, McDonald’s holds the key to why some people in the health and wellness field struggle to make it while others build thriving practices.

To understand what I mean, let’s look at what happens when someone decides to “buy in” to the McDonald’s system and become an owner of a McDonald’s.

(Please bear with me for a moment.)

Say you want to start a McDonald’s…

The first thing that happens is that you get trained for nine months in how to run a successful McDonald’s business.

They teach you everything you need to know. You learn to do what they’ve been doing and refining for 50 years. From managing the finances to working with the customers, they teach you EVERYTHING.

Once you finish your training, you’re ready to open your restaurant. (Yippee!)

Fast forward to opening day…

You follow every single step in the system you’ve been given to run your Mickie D’s to a tee, including how many seconds to nuke those burgers and what to say to customers… “Would you like fries with that?”

Are you with me so far? Good.

So how well does this “system” work?

Let’s put it this way... when was the last time you saw a McDonald’s go out of business?

That’s right…it works really, really well. In fact, as long as you follow every part of their system, it seems that it’s almost impossible to fail.

Remember, they’ve been at this for more than 50 years. So no matter what obstacles you might face, they’ve already worked them out, and all of the solutions are already built into their system. Fancy that!

And that is exactly the appeal for someone who wants to start their own business: Get trained, follow the tried-and-true system, and succeed with little risk of failing.

At this point, you’re probably wondering…

“What in the world does this have to do with health coaching?”

It turns out it has everything to do with health coaching (and just about any other practice in the world of health, nutrition, and wellness.)


Because no matter how well you’ve been educated in your field, if you’re not following a proven system that you’ve been trained in, your chances of success are much too close to ZERO for comfort.

But there’s good news in this, because the flip side is also true… If you follow a proven system that you’ve been trained in, your chances of success are much, much higher.

Think about it… who is more likely to succeed: the owner of Joe’s Burgers or McDonald’s?  (Hint: it’s not about the meat.)

Makes sense, right? If so, then here is what’s surprising (and disturbing):

Most training programs in the health and wellness disciplines don’t include a real practice-building system. That’s like giving you the burgers and fries without the McDonald’s.

And, sort of like fad diets, there are all sorts of here-today-gone-tomorrow programs that try to teach client attraction systems but aren’t linked to any discipline. That’s like giving you the McDonald’s, but you have to invent the menu and supply the food yourself.

If they don’t give you both together, in an integrated system that’s been field tested and refined over many years, then how are you supposed to integrate these pieces by yourself after you graduate?

Here’s why this is even more disturbing:

That means that there are way too many professionals--smart people with good hearts, willing to work hard, who want to make a difference--who struggle to practice in their field while trying to pay off hundreds of thousands of dollars in school debt.

They struggle… to have good websites (many still don’t have one at all), to have good newsletters (without losing days creating them), to leverage social media for new clients, and even to have nice logos, branding and brochures.

They struggle… to keep track of their clients and manage their payments without a system.

They struggle… when they go to networking events but don’t know how to describe their business in a way that draws a crowd.

They struggle… every time they have a chance to meet a new client without knowing what to say to close the deal.

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And so they leave lots of “money on the table” by missing opportunities to work with people because they simply don’t have the steps to follow and systems in place that are needed for success.

Sadly (and most disturbingly), it’s not just about the money and their careers. In many cases, they could have been a great help to their potential clients…maybe even saved their lives.

But because they didn’t know exactly what steps to follow and didn’t have all of the tools they needed pre-made for them, they couldn’t close the deal.

Often, they didn’t even get to open the deal. Instead, they got stuck trying to reinvent the wheel on everything.

For most people, that’s just not going to work out very well…especially those who aren’t business experts. There’s only so much that one person can be expected to do.

It’s not realistic to expect that one person can do all of these things--and do them well--while creating them from scratch.

You see, it’s taken me more than twenty years and almost 40,000 students to refine the systems at the school to a level where I feel good about them, and we’re not done yet. Everyday there is new tweaking in some little part of the system to make it even better.

So I just don’t get it…how can one person be expected to do all of this on their very own…all by themselves?

And that’s exactly why I set out to make Integrative Nutrition a system….

When I saw Students struggling to make their business cards, we hired a designer to do it for them.

When I saw students struggling to make a website, we hired a team of experts to make them better websites than they could have bought themselves.

When I saw students fumbling with how to close the deal, we gave them a script that was field-tested and helped them understand exactly how to use it.

When I saw students spending days on their newsletters, we gave them a stack of pre-made newsletters created by professional writers.

When I saw students struggling to keep track of their clients and sessions, we gave them client forms, session outlines, handouts for their clients, and tracking sheets.

The list goes on and on. There are thousands of things we put into the “system” over the last twenty years, each of them field-tested and refined.

And so you can see that there is a lot a health coach can learn from McDonald’s… which leads me to a very important point:

There are two rules that make all the difference between struggling to survive and having a thriving practice:

Rule #1:

Don’t invent everything from scratch--follow a proven and tested system: A system that shows you what to do each and every step of the way… a system that gives you as many pre-made tools as possible that you can use “right out of the box.”

Rule #2:

The system only works when you actually follow each step of the system.

That last rule is super important. Graduates of the school laugh about how I always remind them to “follow my simple instructions.”

It’s true, I do remind them a lot. The reason is because the number one way to fail is to decide to make up your own instructions.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with personalizing your practice, but most people will do best when they first follow simple and easy steps that have been proven to work… proven by tens of thousands of people over more than twenty years. (If it ain’t broke…)

It’s easier to become good at something new when all you have to do is follow simple steps, isn’t it? Just like learning to drive a car, or even starting a McDonald’s.

Then, once you have the basics down, you have some paying clients, you’re encouraged by their progress (and your income), it’s easy and fun to start experimenting with new ideas to evolve your practice.

In fact, for many people that’s where the fun really begins. And that’s also where McDonald’s system is no longer relevant because...

…owning a McDonald’s only leads to owning more McDonald’s and--let’s face it--there are already a lot of locations. Health coaching is growing--exploding--and there are more opportunities every day.

…owning McDonald’s means paying fees forever to the corporate office. Integrative Nutrition grads get peer support for life with no fees.

The worst part is that owning a McDonald’s means doing the same thing over and over again, with no room to get creative and expand.

As an Integrative Nutrition grad, you can do it so many different ways…

  • choose from so many different target markets
  • do it in person or online
  • do individual, group or corporate programs
  • or totally shift out of health coaching and join other grads who’ve become producers of health products, public and motivational speakers, television personalities, authors, chefs, caterers, consultants…even app developers!

Once you get the basic formula down and build your confidence, the list goes on and on of what you can do with the training, the support of your community, and the skills you possess.

That's because there are literally hundreds of millions of people. I'll say it again: hundreds of millions of people! in need of love and support to transition to a healthier, happier way of living... to shift away from medications and operations... and move towards education and prevention.

But it all starts with the system that we teach in the training program, and so I thought you might enjoy this video by my friend and open house host, health coach Sharon Stevens.

It’s a neat 5-minute inside look at what you experience as a student in the program.

Check it out, and remember to “follow the simple instructions” :) and answer the important question posted below the video…

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