Best coaches, instructors, lawyers, etc don’t do this

Alexei Sorokin
3 min readFeb 15, 2022

When I say “best” I’m not referring to the above-listed specialists being “nice”. I’m talking about the actual outcome you can expect from the work of these people.

In my experience, this pattern has been so strong and consistent that I’ll let myself make a few generalizations, though they are of course subjective.

The most prominent example involves my kids. They are competitive athletes. We are a tennis family. Over the years, we’ve met dozens of instructors from different walks of life, visited and worked with many different clubs and academies, developed relationships with many coaches and mentors.

I will simplify the description of our experiences but it comes to these two scenarios. In scenario one you are offered an assessment or trial of some kind and you have to pay a hefty price upfront — hundreds of dollars. In scenario two the instructor spends time with your kid without asking anything in return. Whether they try to monetize their first encounter with you has nothing to do with their prominence. You can have a famed instructor spend hours with you without asking anything in return, or in fact, rejecting any reward when you offer.

Don’t get me wrong. There is no free lunch. Everyone has bills to pay. Ultimately you will of course end up paying hundreds and thousands to any coach. However, I’m talking about the very initial interaction or two.

In my experience when someone tries to monetize you right away, it never ends well. Your relationship never lasts, even if you decide to pursue it for a little while. And the other way around. You develop profound, value-creating relationships with those who don’t seek to charge you right away.

This is not about the more generous type using some clever marketing ploy to get you hooked. My hypothesis is that when someone has a genuine intention to create value for you, they want to get to know you and they give you a chance to get to know them. They truly want to help you. Yes, money will become important at some point in the relationship, but there is a genuine intention to help, to create long-term value. That’s why these relationships last and the outcome is mutually fruitful.

I’ve had similar experiences with lawyers and tax advisors.

When someone tries to monetize during your first interaction (“assessment” or “consultation”), it never ends well…

Alexei Sorokin

A Russian immigrant in America, father of 4, Cambridge and Harvard Business School alum. I run and write every day. More here: