I bit into the taco shell and everything fell out of the taco on to my plate… and my lap. I’m not known for being a graceful eater, but I had a good reason for losing my taco stuffings that day.

I sat across from one of my favorite clients at a little hole in the wall Mexican restaurant in Encinitas. He had published his book with me a few months back. I was in town and wanted to hear how things were going.

“Good,” he said. “Real good. I’m starting to get clear on how I want to use the book.”

“What?” I thought. This guy created a beta program BEFORE he wrote his book, and before he even wrote the book I knew he had sold the program to 10 clients for $1,000 each. What did he mean he was starting to get clear?

The way I work with clients is pretty simple. Before they start writing, I want them to make at least $10,000 from their books. So we craft a program that they will sell to readers of the book. It could be something they already have in place, or something new we put together based on what’s going in the book. Then, before their pen touches the paper, their job is to announce the coming book to everyone they can think of who might be served by it, and in the process find beta-testers for the program. This generally leads to a handful or two of clients and at least 10 grand. This way, I know they will always be able to use the book to get clients, and it helps to pay for the cost of my program.

Greg had followed the process with perfection. He had 10 clients signed up for his beta before he wrote the book and if I remember correctly, the beta clients came from one email to a small list of a couple hundred past clients, friends, and folks that had joined his newsletter.

“What do you mean you are just starting to get clear? Did something go wrong with the beta?” I asked.

I’d love to tell you he looked sheepish as he replied. But his demeanor didn’t change at all.

“Oh, I only did a couple classes of my beta and then I just stopped teaching it. It was really hard to get to the scheduled appointment times and I wasn’t sure what to say, so I just kind of ghosted,” he explained.

“UMMMM!!!!!!!!” My eyebrows furrowed…. “You just bailed? Did you give them all refunds?”

“Nah, they didn’t seem to care if I refunded them. I just told them when I decided to teach something again, I’d give it to them for free. They know I’m busy with the new baby.”

What. The. Actual. Fuck????

I watched the taco fixings spill from my mouth like an avalanche. My heart sunk and I half expected to hear police sirens.

Had I done this?

A lot of my teachings come from the book The Lean Start Up, by Eric Reis. The idea behind that book is to create a Minimally Viable Product and sell THAT as a beta before you get fancy and get everything polished. This is what I have taught hundreds of new authors and I watch client-after-client, develop a beta, find people to help, collect money, make a difference and fund their movement.

But this was different. This was criminal. I had taught this guy to sell a product before it was created but now he had run off with $10,000 and wasn’t following through.

It had, quite honestly, never occurred to me to teach my authors that if they took money from a client, they needed to follow through and deliver what they promised. It seemed obvious to me, I guess. I tell this story now, with great fervency, but I’m sharing it with you today for a specific reason.

If this sounds like something you would do — take people’s money and then ghost on them, not delivering what you promised — can you do me a favor and remove yourself from my list?

I have a new suite of products in development (and yes, a beta launch is coming soon) and I just can’t risk having people like Greg on my list or in any of my programs. My products and services are for people who are 100% committed to helping others and making a difference. Yes, part of how we do this includes charging others to help them get the results they are looking for. And yes, it can sound a lot like money coaching or business coaching. But money is an energetic tool for creating change – nothing more, nothing less. And when money is abused in the way the author abused it in this story, the chain reaction is detrimental far beyond this guy or his circle of clients.

The coaching and consulting industries are filled with mistrust. When one person commits a crime like this, it brings us all down. We have vital, live changing, planet saving work to do. There are people in tremendous pain, that together we can help. But as a community we must start to self-police this industry. If someone is making promises and not delivering, please call them out on it. If it’s one of your clients, cut them off.  And if you take an honest inventory of what you have promised versus what you have delivered, take action now and make those injustices right. Refund people or deliver on what you promised. And if you aren’t willing to do that, please, Kindly, get the hell off my list.