The $5,000 decision

by Jack Warren, editor and host of the Top Coach podcast

Recently, one of the young coaches with whom I’ve done career coaching contacted me to let me know about some good news. Seems that the volunteer position he took with a college baseball program at the beginning of the summer had, by the end of the summer, turned into a full time position. He was thanking me because of some advice I had given him.

I do a lot of career coaching and consulting with young coaches so, frankly, I had to consult my notes to see what specifically I had passed along to this coach. Here’s the story, summed up very briefly. This was a young high school coach who wanted to get back into college coaching. One school was offering him a small stipend to come on as a part time assistant. I encouraged him to look at the bigger picture and not to base his decision on a very small short term gain. The key, I pointed out, is opportunity.

Opportunity comes in many shapes and sizes and doesn’t always have dollar signs attached. It’s the ability to identify long term opportunity that is key to your future. Don’t be distracted by a relatively small stipend, that in the overall picture, means relatively little. As I put it to this young coach (and many others like him), “What’s the difference between $0 and $5,000? One Saturday evening delivering pizzas or a short shift driving for Uber each week.”

Here’s a job posting that popped up the other day. It’s a part time assistant softball coach at a prestigious university. Now, I don’t know the details. I only know that they went out of their way to list the job as “unpaid”. Is this a good opportunity or bad? I don’t know. That really depends upon the individual and the fit of this particular opportunity. The greater point here is that if you’re in the market for this type of opportunity, you shouldn’t hit the delete button just because of the word “unpaid”.

Here’s a few things to consider when looking to get your foot in the door of coaching or make a move. First of all, put yourself in a position to move (as in MOVE). Got some student loans or other obligations that you’ve got to take care of? Forget the coaching for a year, get two or three jobs, pay off those bills and then get ready to make things happen.

Next, identify a region of the country where you’d like to get started. The region doesn’t matter to you? Skip to the next step.

Finally, identify ten programs (or head coaches) — regardless of level — that have a track record of success and developing coaches. Then do whatever you can to be some part of that program. Yes, even if that means you’re not officially on the staff. Get your foot in the door! Get yourself a job in the area with flexible enough hours to make yourself available to the program.

This was not meant in any way to be a comprehensive guide to landing your dream developmental position, but you get the idea. The key here is to not base your decision on the fact that a program is willing to write you a check for $100 each week. Always consider the big picture.

Jack is available to speak to your team or organization or at your next function. He also provides individual and organizational coaching and consulting. You can get more information on these services at Jack’s professional services site,

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