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You get the clients you deserve


But let me take this statement a step further:

You get the clients you deserve because you teach them how to treat you.

This important life lessons came into sharp focus for me a couple of months ago when a client left one of our programs after making $30,000 in four months, letting us know that they didn’t think we’d added any value to their business.

I’d made the ‘mistake’ of asking them for a testimonial – what I received read more like a testimonial for them than for us. It was full of ‘Leela and Gulliver want me to tell you how they made it happen but that’s not true’ –- functionally useless as a testimonial but a valuable lesson.

You see, my partner Gulliver and I have a tendency to heap praise on people -– in no small part because an early mentor was so harsh on us and refused to ever admit we’d done anything even partially right. But the problem with telling people constantly how awesome they are is that they have a tendency to believe you.

Look, it’s not that said client isn’t awesome. And it’s not that said client doesn’t have a great deal of value to add in their niche.

But the fact that they’ve decided to completely and conveniently forget the work we’ve put in for and with them to the point where they couldn’t even be gracious enough to give us a usable testimonial… well… I take full responsibility for that.

It that tells me that we don’t spend enough time pointing out the value we add.

The mentor mentioned earlier used to do this all the time.

“Do you see what I did there? Do you see what I gave you? I just added another $30,000 to your business.”

At the time we’d all roll our eyes and be like, “Okay, Okay, we get it!”

But now I really understand why.

Your clients can’t hear what you’re not telling them.

People, naturally, want to believe that they are the cleverest, that they can do everything on their own and don’t need any help.

If you’re not constantly showing them what you’ve done and what’s next you’re not just going to lose them, they’re going to live in a fantasy world where they knew it all before you taught it to them.

Do not assume that just because you’ve gone out of your way for them, they’ll recognise that.

Rather, they’ll respond to all your hard work and insight with comments like, “Yeah, but that was obvious.”

Sure it was… after I showed it to you… and once I made you implement it and you got the results.

Hindsight is 20/20.

But memory isn’t always.

Leela Cosgrove is a speaker, author and information product specialist. She is also a firewalker, has a black-belt in Tae Kwon Do, a penchant for tattoos, and enjoys bands such as Rammstein, Lai Bach, Marilyn Manson, Pennywise and Bad Religion. She is also hosting the upcoming Renegade Rockstar Conference. Rock it out!


  1. Wow. Bitter much?

    I've taken a look at the rip-off “services” and “coaching” you offer. It's nothing more than snake oil and hot air. I'm not surprised you lost “the client”.

  2. Wow – Michael is on a rampage today! lol

    Fantastic article – you're absolutely right. I've experienced the same before as well, especially in the coaching arena. Your direct advice towards my marketing changed the way I not only wrote articles but sold people in written word. Only last week I picked up a client worth $1,600 from one article I wrote after speaking with you directly.

    I say give credit where credit is due.

    Sounds to me like Michael has been sniffing the snake oil and blowing hot air too much himself!!!

    • Hi Ben (or should I say Lela)

      Actually Michael's thoughts abruptly, but accurately reflect many views of the readership here.

      Who cares how much your client is worth? No one. You've been conditioned and trained to brag dollar values by your MLM buddies.

      I'm sure 12 months ago, the bunch of you were the ones sticking the “Earn $10,000/month WORKING FROM HOM” posters on telegraph poles.

      You can smell scam a mile away. Lela and her advice reak of it.

      • So Brandon what makes you such an expert? I'd love to hear – do you have a website we can all checkout?

      • LOL – Nice try – but Ben is actually a columnist on this website … if it WAS me posting false stuff under his name, I'm pretty sure the REAL Ben Angel would take a huge level of offense and let us all know …

        • Well, Jena, First you need to get a fake online profile.

          Then, you need to sit in your day job and flame people while your boss pays you to be totally unproductive.

          Because that's about what we can expect from looters.

      • Seriously, Ben! Who cares if Leela helped you make money in your business! That is NOT the issue at hand! The issue at hand is that Leela can't do what she says she can do … which is to help people make money in their business!

        Only people involved in MLM care about making money in their business, didn't you know!!! Everyone else involved in business does it as a charitable act. Because we live in communism land where the strong produce for the weak, not for their own horrible, greedy, selfish needs!

        Good show, comrade. Good show!

      • Hi Brendan – Please note that nowhere on this website will you find any articles about multi-level marketing. Nor indeed, will you find stories even on franchising. We believe that entrepreneurship is about the process of creation and not 'wealth creation.' We hope that if done well, the creative venture will flourish. But most business builders, in our experience, are driven by passion, not the almighty dollar.

  3. Ahhh yes – Michael goes by many names, always attacks and never gives his real name. I'm so bored of it I can't even be bothered reacting anymore. There'll always be small, petty-minded nobodies who want to try and tear down the people who are actually doing – I have better things to do with my time.

    Thanks Ben – awesome to hear you're getting the results! That, of course, is a result of DOING stuff … so go team you!

  4. Ahhh yes – Michael goes by many names, always attacks and never gives his real name. I'm so bored of it I can't even be bothered reacting anymore. There'll always be small, petty-minded nobodies who want to try and tear down the people who are actually doing – I have better things to do with my time.

    Thanks Ben – awesome to hear you're getting the results! That, of course, is a result of DOING stuff … so go team you!

  5. Ahhh yes – Michael goes by many names, always attacks and never gives his real name. I'm so bored of it I can't even be bothered reacting anymore. There'll always be small, petty-minded nobodies who want to try and tear down the people who are actually doing – I have better things to do with my time.

    Thanks Ben – awesome to hear you're getting the results! That, of course, is a result of DOING stuff … so go team you!

  6. Note to self…Remember to keep telling clients how much value we add! Thanks for this reminder. I am guilty of “running silent, running deep” all the time, so much so that most of my clients don't see how much work I do in the background to keep their businesses ticking over. Time to get 'in their faces' a bit more… 🙂

    • Is this what you really meant to say? Isn't the client your customer? Your language (choice of words) surprises me…

      • No disrespect or anything negative here – by 'in their faces' I meant that I had to make my work a lot more visible to them, so they can SEE what value I am adding to their business. I am also guilty of not saying what business I am in, and it is in software development, so we design databases and information systems that help our clients run their business. When things are running well (as they normally do), nobody notices or remembers to say 'Great Job', but when something goes wrong, well – all of a sudden they cannot live without our systems, and we have to pull out all stops.

        Luckily the second event is very rare, which means that our clients don't really think about us, or appreciate us in meaningful ways on a day to day basis…

      • …I am assuming 'Fellow Coach', that your response was directed at my comment? Or was it directed at the main article in general?…

    • It's true – a lot of us aren't as good at this as we need to be … but they'll forget otherwise! Perhaps we don't need to be quite as militant about it as my mentor was – but I think a gentle reminder every now and then will do a world of good!

  7. Michael is a bit harsh lol.

    Having said that I am getting bored with your approach Leela, the blogs are always confrontational. I get that this is your angle (did enjoy the flame wars articles but as I said it is wearing thin). The message aI am getting is that it seems like it would be hard work being your client.

    Yeah I'm posting as a guest. Flame away 🙂

    • I actually fail to see how this article is controversial. I merely pointed out a well known business tenant – people can't hear what you're not telling them. That's hardly mine … the world's best marketers say it all the time … 🙂

  8. Self praise is better than none, and best directed to the person in the mirror.
    Many are sick of your continual raw approach to society, in which you obviously don't fit.
    So get real, grow up – or get out.
    If Anthill continue to publish your diatribe, then people will contiue to be turned off.

    • Couldn't agree more.

      It's very cringeworthy to read her posts – it's all a thinly veiled attempt at self promotion. I visited her website and literally laughed at the course training video. Then I saw the price and laughed even harder.

      It's a shame that Anthill continues to tarnish itself with “advice” from so called experts who are nothing more than amateur MLM-style shock jocks.

    • Be turned off? My articles are consistently the most highly read and highly discussed articles on this website. They generate a great deal of traffic. Thanks, mainly, to my many haters … no seriously – you guys are the BEST! If you took all of the flame comments off this article, I'd be nowhere near the top of the most viewed or discussed list! I would not generate even nearly the amount of traffic I do for a website who makes money from selling advertising based on the number of eyeballs who come through the site.

      You guys ROCK my world – that's why I love to razz you up and keep you going … every time you post I generate that much more traffic … I move that much higher up the list of most viewed and most discussed … every. single. time. you guys post something it makes me smile – because you're helping me win.

      I LOVE you for it!! THANK YOU!!! I couldn't do what I do without you …

      • 1. You're generating traffic that (1) Increases Anthill's page impressions: Good for them.
        2. You're generating traffic that (2) Highlights what a diagreeable person you are to do business with: ???

        But as an expert in the field you'd have figured that out already and been OK with it.

        So good for you. You have good SEO for being a jerk. I think we can all learn something there.

        • LOL. I get it Ed – you'd never buy anything from me because you think I'm a jerk … and that's EXACTLY why I don't care that you think I'm a jerk.

          I polarise. It's what I do. Some people hate me with a passion – others love me just as passionately. I don't cry about the people who don't want to do business with me … but I totally revel in the way they behave on Anthill. Because they make themselves look like jerks … and any jerky qualities I may have evidenced tend to be blanked out by a landslide of vitriolic posts unrelated to my post every time I post something – thereby making me look sane, balanced and incredibly reasonable by contrast.

          Meanwhile, I love how dedicated you all are to me – to spending all of this precious time in which you could be working on your “businesses” to bump my traffic – every one of these posts makes me money … product sales, event sales, etc. … so YAY and THANK YOU.

          What you define as being a jerk, others define as being sales-worthy – and guess out of the two whose opinion actually matters to me??

          • This would be a great comeback if it were true. maybe it is? I doubt you sell much. Sounds like one of those run from home hobbies on the side.

          • You are MORE than welcome to drop into our Renegade Rockstar Roadshow from August 27-29 at the Marriott Hotel in Melbourne and see the 100+ people who've paid $997 to be in the room … 🙂 – and that's without backend sales.

            If you have the guts to be a real person – you're also welcome to join me on Facebook and speak to a large number of my current clients who are on there.

            You're also welcome to watch my testimonials on YouTube … and I should TOTALLY have the video and written ones on my website – so thanks for reminding me of that – and they'll be on there tomorrow … feel free to read all of those too …


  9. As coaches all we can do is remember everything happens for a reason. If you have done your best, that is all you can do. Whether or not they see/recognize it is irrelevant. There is no point getting too attached to the client or the result per se. Clients come and clients go.

    It would be interesting to see where they go from here. Everyone knows that we all suffer from blind spots in business and can benefit substantially from an outside perspective and guidance. Coaching is an integral component to helping a business (and the owner) grow and develop. He who chooses to assume they don't need help, probably does so to their own detriment. Which is sad…but unavoidable in some cases…

    • I must say, a good friend of mine pointed out that, as this person is working in the coaching arena, there's a good chance they'll face a similar issue in the not too distant future – and that the upside for me is that I won't have to be there to pick up the pieces!

  10. Dear Flamers – when you stop acting like the pathetic, frightened children you are and have the courage to face me with your insults, I'll respond. Until then, you've made it clear you're just scared. I'll meet with any of you – face to face – and respond to any accusations. But I won't throw my time away on shadows who lack the guts to be real people and who, for all their noisiness, don't have the courage of their convictions – who are too afraid to state what they think under their own names. Until then – condemn me as you must – but I, at least, have enough courage to speak my truth in my own voice – rather than throwing rocks while hiding behind my mothers skirt. xoxoxoxo

    • hahah waste our time and meet you? Lela, this is the INTERNET.

      You choose to participate it in. You choose to put yourself out there. So choose to deal with consequences. Instead of deflecting criticism, step up and take responsibility for yourself.

      Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. All you are experiencing here is a reflection of your overpriced, inaccurate, misguided advice, shamefully fuelled by your over-inflated desparate ego to be “great”.

    • as i said, Aggressive. Even though i said i liked some of you stuff it is wearing thin so I think I'll tune out. Everyone should really as lots of comments means she created interest of some sort. Just dont comment at all then it will look like what it is.

    • This much is true – I think it's why I dislike coaching so much! Definitely more than one lesson in here for me!

  11. Oh, this is priceless. You didn't really give a glowing testimonial for your OWN mentor here did you Leela, and in fact inferred that your own 'awesomeness' overcame his brutal style. Now your own client is doing the same to you…

    Karma is a bitch neh?

    • Actually – I've given a number of excellent testimonials for my mentor – and in this post I've mentioned traits that I've discussed with that person – but I've also not named that person.

  12. Peronsally, I think if you have to ask for a testimonial you don't deserve one.

    “Please tell me how awesome I am!”. C'mon. If you *were* awesome, they'd have told you already.

      • Sure I am. I have a number of repeat customers who are happily recommend me to THEIR clients. And I don't need to bug them for “testimonials” to put on my website in order for them to do so.

        But if you ask someone for feedback and get negative feedback, then go to the trouble of writing a rant about ungrateful customers-cum self-promotional piece thinly disguised as an article, then you've not only missed the mesasage they're giving you (eg: you suck) but you've positioned yourself – as others have pointed out – as someone who thinks that when someone else disagrees with them, the other person must be wrong.

        There's being disagreeable, and there's being closed minded. Guess which you appear to be?

        • Hmmm. Perhaps you have a point.

          Tell me something – would you ever buy anything from me?

  13. Wow Brandon,
    Clearly you're one of those business owners who shouldn't bother reading Leela's work – clearly you know it all already.

    If that's the case – go out, get a business, and do it quickly while you're still clearly omniscient – and have a chance of succeeding!

    Leela, mate, keep posting, I keep learning!

    • Ah Yes – Another dropkick who thinks he knows it all.
      Tattoos, (Drugs ?)and Drink. Thats where the money goes.
      Do you think your daddy would be proud of you now Leela?
      Look at how you talk down to people just because they don’t agree with your point of view, instead of agreeing that everyone is entitled to one!
      You might actually get some agreement from others.
      Grow up or get out! But most of all – get real!

  14. Robert Akeroyd

    Anyone who can't understand what Leela is saying has never had any valuable information that provides them with real benefit, to share with someone else or is an extremely selfish person who is to give it away to someone. For if you have you'll of experienced a similar reaction for it is the rule rather than the exception. When someone demonstrates their gratitude in a tangible manner you know you have a warm caring wonderful person in your life for they not only count their blessings they focus time and energy into their blessings. Their gratitude is more than a momentary thought that is soon forgetting or barely thought of.

  15. If we're allowed to get back onto topic and have an adult discussion, the tendency for clients to forget the value you've added has also been documented in the franchise industry.
    When first starting in the franchise, the new owner is only too happy to pay the on-going franchise fees to the franchisor for having created a simple, easy to follow system for making money. But around the 2-3 year mark, once the system is no longer new to them and has become 2nd nature, the franchisee begins to resent the continual fees being paid back to the creator of the franchise, and seek to get them reduced or removed.
    It appears to be a constant point of discussion amongst established franchisors on how to effectively minimise or nullify this human tendency.

  16. There's a pretty good book, 'Profitable Partnerships' that gives some really great ideas on how to deal with the franchisee/franchisor relationship and work through the three stages of this relationship. Def. worth a read for anyone in the franchising industry – or consulting to it.

  17. You failed to agree on measurement and remuneration terms, Leela, which is a pretty basic thing. How you motivate, encourage, advise and manage your customer relationship should not have a direct result on the outcome for your business.
    Contracts, even a handshake one, would have avoided your distressing situation.

    • Really?? I don't have a written contract outlining measurement and remuneration terms?? That's news to me … I thought all of my program members had signed said contract on entering the program.

      This isn't about not getting paid – I did and said client paid happily, after all they were getting the results.

      I agree that the entire situation, however, was my fault – that's the whole point of the article – I didn't manage the expectations and understanding of the client. That was my fault – and that's the lesson to be taken away.

  18. Based on your attitude and approach in this article, Leela, I would not approach you for any reason, to assist my business. The comments regarding your attitude and approach seem to be well founded and you then come back for more.
    Stop digging now…

    • And that is PRECISELY why your opinion doesn't matter to me … you'll never buy from me – why do I care about what you think?

      Besides – to care about someones opinion you need to respect them.

      People who throw rocks from behind screens and cowards.

      And I don't have any respect for cowards.

      • If I may chime in with my 2 cents worth here…

        Leela, Anon Ymous said that he wouldn't do business with you based on the article and the follow up comments you posted here. For all we know, he could have been the perfect client with some great ideas that could have been one of your most profitable clients ever – one day previous to him reading this.

        How many other potential clients here have been turned off without posting anything? You're pretty much skipping the entire pre-qualification step of a sales process IMO.

        I'll admit that I don't know you in real life at all Leela, so I am not sure if you are just putting forward an online 'persona' here for effect and to draw eyeballs to this site, or whether this is you being 'authentic' and is really how you do things on a day to day basis.

        I am assuming though, that this is just one avenue that you use in order to generate work and awareness of you and your business. Do you think the approach you are taking here is getting you the best results?

        Talking about assumptions, which we all know are dangerous, and to pre-empt any flaming or judgements on myself, I will disclose that I currently run a real business (http://www.blaze.com.au), and have worked for myself for over 20 years now.

        Oh yes, and because you have said that you will only deal with 'real' people – I am a real person, as evidenced by: http://www.facebook.com/devan.sabaratnam and http://twitter.com/dsabar

        However, please bear in mind that you have chosen to engage clients and prospects here on the internet, a vehicle which is essentially anonymous by nature and design so you cannot convincingly use that excuse when you fire a volley off into the dark and then experience some return fire.

        • Before I get into this Devan – for the record – even if you hadn't posted links to your accounts to prove you're a real person, I would never have “flamed” you just for bringing up valid concerns. If you look at my responses you'll see that the comments always dictate the flavour of my response – I only “flame” people who go immediately on the attack. They have no interest in a discussion (I heart a good debate) – they have issues of their own (many of which actually have nothing to do with Anthill or the blog posts I write). I shouldn't get into a tit for tat with trolls, even though it amuses me – and in fact my partner made me take a vow that I will only respond to people who, like you, may have a differing opinion but who don't have to couch that in talking BS about my business or me personally.

          Now – to your questions.

          I really am like this in real life, I'm afraid. I'm a polariser .. I'm actually working on a future blog post right now to give background to this … I'm known for doing things differently – for being over the top, challenging and confronting (for instance, check this out: http://sweatequitybiz.wordpress.com/2010/06/19/… – I've never met or spoken to the dude who wrote it, but he's clearly got our number).

          This “persona” IS my pre-qualification … people who don't agree with me, who don't like what I have to say or how I say it, are never going to be my clients. It's the same thing on Facebook – I've had people unfriend me because I swear too much – they tend to give me lectures about how it will cost me clients. I sell seminars – we're a seminar promotion company before all else – and at the moment the main speaker is moi. If people don't like my ideas, the way I talk on Anthill and Facebook, my tattoos – whatever – online … they're really not going to be clients.

          I don't want to sell everyone. I only want to sell to people who read my stuff, like my style, get what I'm driving at and want in.

          We are predominantly an event company – we sell events which predominantly star me. Can you imagine having any of the flamers from this website in a room when you were trying to work?? What a horrible thought.

          The most telling part of your question is the “could have been one of your most profitable clients ever”. Yep. Maybe could have been. Do you know that old saying – “a woman who marries for money earns every cent”? I feel that way about my business. When I take jobs just for the money, I end up paying dearly. When I choose to work with people who I love my life is better. Don't get me wrong – I'm a capitalist. I love money. I just choose to earn it working with people who bring me alive rather than making me feel like killing myself (I've had those clients, as I'm sure you have).

          The very fact of being turned off by what I write or my “persona” means that person is not my client. I'm good with that. I'd rather weed them out now in a free forum before I spend the money on courting and selling them.

          My issue with the anonymity is only with people who feel they have the right to make personal attacks on me based on nothing. Why do it anonymously? Want to say something about who you think I am? Have the guts to use your name. What are they hiding? Well – one of them inadvertently gave himself away on Facebook last night. His issues have nothing to do with the article or with anything said on the blog. He just wanted to have a go at me and wasn't man enough to do it under his real name. That is weak.

          The volley's I fire off are NEVER personal. That said, when I write an article saying I don't like PR I know the PR peeps are going to come in and defend themselves – fair enough, I would do so in their position too. They're going to say why I'm wrong. Cool. They're going to call my industry into question in retaliation. Okay. It's when it goes from “I disagree with you” to saying stuff about me personally and telling lies about my business to try and get the upper hand that I have an issue. Look at this latest post where some anonymous poster brings my father into the issue. My father. What gives him the right? And the other things he's saying … I won't get into it because I've flagged it as inappropriate – it makes SLANDEROUS allegations and adds nothing to the conversation. Oh it's the internet so people don't have to act like human beings – so they can pretend like there are no ramifications for their actions? They're cowards, the lot of them.

          As far as how my approach is working out for me – I grew my business by 400% in 2009 in the middle of the “GFC”. We consistently fill rooms while other companies are complaining that the industry is dead. We make a good $3k$4k per week from social media platforms on which I am myself just as I am here. While we have the occasional issue, on the whole my clients f'ing rock. I'm working with kick arse entrepreneurs who get where I'm coming from. People who I love and who love me.

          Life is pretty bloody sweet, to be honest! 🙂

          • Thank you for a well thought out, well explained and respectful answer Leela. I clicked 'Like'… 🙂

  19. Urrr … I think a lot of you have missed the point here. I am NOT blaming the client – in fact, the whole way through this article I take the blame on myself.

    The issue that stands here was of MY making.

    I got the clients I deserved.

    I didn't manage my clients expectations = a FATAL business mistake.

  20. The way the author has conducted herself in these comments, removes all credibility.

    I've found the article and many of her responses to negative comments quite immature and petty.

    Anthill has a long way to go, if it wants to be taken seriously as a portal for business insights.

    • Hi Sarah – I personally find the idea of being taken seriously abhorrent. 😉

      But to actually get serious for a moment, our editorial policy has been, for as long as I can remember, guided by this quote from George Bernard Shaw:

      “The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him… The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself… All progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

      We actively seek unusual opinions. Often these come from unusual minds. Reasonably frequently, we present an opinion that is deliberately designed to spark debate. Surprisingly, this article was not one of those. In fact, I'm personally surprised at the level of interest. The positioning article is simply about making sure that your clients understand the value you provide (i.e. sensible advice). However, 'unreasonable minds' seem to have converged en masse in this instance, most probably encouraged (or 'lured' might be a better word) by the 'unreasonable' author's now widely understood approach for getting attention (explained above).

      In short, please expect more pieces from unusual and unreasonable minds. Although, next time, we'll keep closer track of the comments, to ensure they meet our already liberal guidelines (It's ok to attack the views but not the person). We've decided to shut down this debate. For reasons explained in my other comment.

  21. While we are obviously not afraid of open and often heated debate on our website (and have an extremely liberal moderation policy), we have decided to shut this discussion down. Last night, a personal and anonymous attack were submitted as a comment below, clearly made from a perspective outside the boundaries of this discussion. As a general rule, it is ok to attack the opinion. But it is not ok to attack the person. We try to avoid interfering in our online discussions (and, in this instance, probably should have stepped in earlier). Our online ENGAGEMENT POLICY can be found here: https://anthillonline.com/terms-conditions/#Enga….

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