How a Life Coach Changed My Life

Bahar Etminan

Founder and Editor of

I was 22 when I first met Dr Fred Grosse. He was my boss’s personal and professional coach and was training up the top directors in the business, which was property, to overcome the personal limitations between them and success. A lot of the players in that business were making very serious money, they were success stories on paper, but these high-achievers and top cats were freaking out at night that it was all just a lucky streak and it could crumble any time.

By Bahar Etminan

FredGrosseDr Fred is not an ordinary life coach – he’s phD in clinical psychology, he’s a Gestalt practitioner, an ordained Rabbi, a marriage and family counsellor. I paid attention as he unpacked all of their mental and emotional ‘stuff’ while systemising the secrets of their success. He showed them how it wasn’t a mistake or a high in the market – their success was self-made and the strategies could always be replicated and would always make them money.

I took notes as he analysed the top performing folk and broke their systems down to teach the up-and-comers about the source of super success. Dr Fred believes that if it’s been done in the universe anyone can do it.

I was ambitious for 22, too young to know what to do with all that ambition.

Dr Fred, what he teaches, gave form to that extreme ambition. He gave me a way to direct it forward. It’s the advice that has sustained, lifted and sometimes saved my business since.

The aha-moment that started everything…
In one of the first conversations we had, Dr Fred said to me:

“You dress like the young secretaries. You don’t dress like the leaders.”

I was so young it was especially crucial – if I wanted to be taken seriously as an executive, I had to look like one and no executive is going to turn up to work in a strappy top. At my next job, I was only 23 and suddenly had 15 staff, some of whom had a lot of years on me, working under me.

The first thing I knew I could control on day one was how I physically looked and that would carve the impression of me. So I showed out and set visual cue and expectation that I was ready for this – then I could zero in on really performing in my job.  Appearance gives form to your function.

Mimic habits of operators you admire
Achievers start by observing successful people who are doing it how you’d like to. Notice the habits people really set store by. It’s the simple genius-moves that really count, like sending a hand-written note to say it was really a pleasure to meet someone, mentioning you enjoyed the film they recommended.

That will make you indelible upon someone’s memory in a truly positive way. Dr Fred says you should be sending 500 hand-written notes every year – you should be meeting, moving, shaking and stamping a good impression on that many people. If you’re not, why not?

The power of the pow wow
Dr Fred has what he calls a Mastermind Group. He reminded me that that people don’t get together and talk about what made their day, week, year or decade great.

We talk about our problems, but we rarely distil and the good things. He creates this space in which for two days every three months, people who can learn from one another sit in a room and trade detailed experiences of what works and ask questions.  It’s a think tank what but everyone has written take-aways to action. It can’t remain as magic in the room with no strategy to make it happen.

A magnificent life by numbers
Probably the most practical and life-changing strategy for happiness and success Dr Fred taught me was this:

What you do today builds your tomorrow, lots of tomorrows form your future and lots of futures form your entire life.

There are little goals and ‘big rocks’ and absolutely no day is unimportant.  True happiness is living in small things that give you joy and big ones that totally blow your heart.

There’s a system of numbers, like scores to hit, that put having uniquely magnificent life completely within your power:

10s are the little things – a bunch of peonies, a coffee from the ultimate joint, a fresh pillowslip, a spritz of your perfume, starting the day with your favourite song – that can elevate every day into a good day. Make a list of 500 things that are 10/10 for you. It’s about knowing that when you’ve bottomed out for a moment, been in a bad sales meeting, someone has gotten under your skin, there are things you can give to yourself to transform that moment or day. You don’t have to cure the big things every day to be happy or fulfilled.

25s might be something special you’ve been working toward. Maybe it’s something you’ve planned to buy or treat yourself by doing alone or with someone important to you. You should have them all the time, at least every few months, and have a long list of them.

50s are the highlight you have to have at least once every year. For me, that might be spending a month with my daughter. We went to the US recently. We stayed at all my favourite hotels, I took her to Disneyland. A 50 for you might be going to a Michelin-starred restaurant, getting the best table and the chef coming out to say hello or signing up to gymnastics then finally executing a triple somersault. The scale’s different for everyone – but a 50 is always soulful and meaningful.

100s are the ultimate mind-blower that is your idea of absolute perfection. It might be first-class tickets for your entire family to surprise an overseas grandmother at Christmas. You might save for it for years but you plan it to the minutia: which airline, what will you order from the first-class menu, which hotel will you stay in, every aspect of what it feels, smells and tastes like. You’ll get to live your ultimate moment.

Only excellent relationships
Relationships are either green and growing with lot of fresh juice and life, or ripe and then then rotting.  Relationships have an expiration date: ripe can be delicious but then it rots… And if you’re still in it when it goes off it can become poisonous. We don’t talk like that with our girlfriends or our mothers, culturally we’re not told that because it’s not ‘romantic’.

But framing relationships that way, I think, has given me courage to make tough decisions because I understand the natural life-span a relationship can have. It helps you see you’re not failing.

Know when you need it
You could be transitioning back into work from maternity leave feel you’ve lost your mojo or come out of bad relationship and forgotten what your own 10s, 25s, 50s and 100s are. You can have ambition that needs sharpening or to find your ambition. You know, I had a period of years there when I didn’t see Dr Fred. And they had been horror years – I’d closed a business I loved in the GFC and left a husband.

The day I went to see him I saw this bookmark, a bookmark he’s had for 20 years, on the door. It has a list of sub-personalites. Dr Fred says that a lot of us operate from their sub-personalities: the Catastrophiser will come out in a stressful scenario, or the Worrier, or the Noble Person… You just have to figure out who’s operating and take charge. When I saw that bookmark, I just knew my life was going to change again. Within 6 months my life turned around. It was crazy miraculous and fast.

Dr Fred’s Mentor Fast Class

10 mantras from Bahar’s ‘black belt of the mind’

  • You don’t have to be wealthy – you have to be willing. You can control happiness, time, the ability to be loved, and to find your natural talents.
  • A magnificent life is the ability to make every day 10/10 and align it with your goals and your particular talents.
  • Make your soul your partner. Your hopes, dreams, talents, life experience, your software is your soul. It’s your air traffic control, from which you take direction. When you team up with that primary partnership and use it to unfold what you do with time, how you spend money, who you hang out with, you then are on a destiny-path of sorts.
  • Listen when your soul talks. Your consciousness is ready to share if you’ll prompt yourself. Your soul talks through night dreams, day dreams, creativity and intuition.
  • Find a teacher. It’s hard to hear your soul unless you have a tuning fork. It helps to get a guide. Do some meditation and get used to the reality of your inner voice. Many people think that when an inner voice talks it’s crazy or stupid.
  • Build your world around what comes naturally to you. Sort the toxic, banal and inane from what makes your heart sing. If you know you really don’t like people who lie but love riding a bicycle, we have a start.
  • Outsource what’s not natural. It’s just good business: hire someone for $20 an hour to fix what you’re not good at but needs to be done and make thousands doing what you’re good at.
  • Soul needs structure. The human spirit is like gas or liquid – it takes the shape of any structure you put it in. By planning an ideal day, through blocks of time, which could be built for dollar productivity or spending time with family, you give the spirit form. Then you can go with the flow. If you just go with the flow without the structure, you have a puddle.
  • Life will be wiggly – if it’s not, it’s boring. Your job is to master it. No matter what the quality of the day, know what you can add to it to make it 10/10.


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