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How a Business Coach Is Like a Good Fishing Guide

When my youngest son Brennan was in high school, he and I would schedule a trip together just before summer ended and the new school year began. If at all possible, our journey would include fishing.

On one such occasion we went to the White River in northern Arkansas near the Bull Shoals Dam. I had heard about a fishing guide there named Johnny - who was said to be the best- and so we booked him, our hotel, and we headed north. The experience turned out to be one of the best ever and we caught fish everyday.

When I reflect on that experience, it occurs to me that a business coach is a lot like a good fishing guide. As a business coach I guide my clients on not only how to catch more fish (customers,) but I know all the best spots (best business practices) so they will succeed in business.

A good fishing guide usually has four qualities; experience, knowledge, passion & teaching skills.


Johnny had fished in Northern Arkansas his entire life. His real life experience in all conditions taught him what bait to use, where to look for the big ones and exactly what tackle was best. The first day on the river, all five generators at the dam were running. The river was high and fast. Johnny came prepared. We limited out on Rainbows and I caught a five pound Brown that was a keeper. It was an exciting first day!

Overnight the generators were turned off and we awoke to a totally different scene, the river level had fallen four-feet. The dramatic drop exposed boulders everywhere. I was concerned, but not our guide. Based on his experience, Johnny changed our fishing style and we still caught our limit of Rainbows!

A good business coach comes from a solid business or executive management background with real life experience. Based on this know-how he can navigate the dicey rivers of business and he knows where the dry holes are. He truly understands that as business climates change, his coaching will change as well.


Although Johnny was an experienced guide, he never stopped learning. He kept current on the hottest lures. He knew the best bait for the situation. He also stayed up-to-date on the best tackle and equipment that would maximize his time in the water. Johnny stayed abreast of all the latest rules and regulations making sure he and his clients were always on the right side of the game warden.

Your business coach likewise needs to be fully trained and certified in a coaching discipline. He needs to be a student of business principles always keeping current with trends and the best practices.

In order to guide his clients, the coach must understand all phases of business: sales, marketing, accounting and production. His comprehension of how a business works and what makes it successful is paramount!


One thing everyone knew about Johnny was he loved to fish! Not only did he love to fish but he loved the river. He loved the area and most of all he loved to share his passion with others. As we traveled the river we learned many things, not only about the fish that were native to the White River, but many interesting facts about the area. His passion for his craft was contagious!

Any successful business coach must first have a passion for helping people. His passion must also be for business and how to run one successfully. The best business coach understands that he must clearly help align the client's goals with those of his family and teach him the importance of maintaining balance.

Teaching Skills

One of the things I enjoyed about our time on the river with Johnny was his patience and skill at teaching us about the art of fishing. He took the time to show us how to cast based on different fishing styles. Whether we were drift fishing or trying to hook a big one in a still pool, he was careful to teach us the best technique.

The greatest business coaches are also great teachers. They know how to make the most complex principles understandable. They are experts at helping their clients realize the importance of understanding their individual values and setting clear goals. They thoroughly comprehend how to work with different personalities. They understand that all clients do not learn in the same way.

Changing Conditions

Like Johnny a successful business coach will use these four skills and many more to help clients reach their goals and objectives regardless of the business climate. Whether the river is running fast and high or low and slow - a good business coach will help his client maneuver the waters and always catch the big ones!