You may have seen Mike Bayer in photos with celebrities on E! or TMZ. He’s a sober companion, a recovery manager, and he’s on tour with Demi Lovato.
But Bayer is also a CEO, a personal development coach and a mental health and addiction counselor. He’s on a mission to explain to the world that mental and emotional health are important for everyone, not just those in recovery. He wants everyone to incorporate mental health into their daily lives just as they do physical health.
After a residency at the Hazelden Foundation, Bayer spent five years at a mental health company, and he became one of the leading interventionists in the country. Soon he was bringing in more clients organically than were being assigned to him.
In 2010 he founded CAST, a clinic and network of professional support, including counselors, instructors, doctors and psychologists. Lovato became a client of his years ago, crediting Bayer and her manager for “saving her life.” She believes in his mission so much, she invited him to join her on her FutureNow tour, where he facilitated pre-show wellness seminars for the performers themselves and a few hundred concert goers.
If you’re interested in building a successful business helping others as a life coach, therapist or counselor, take note of these insights from Mike Bayer.
1. Clean your slate.
If you want to be an effective life coach, therapist, counselor or even mentor, Bayer says that you need to make sure you know what’s going on inside yourself first. In order to be sure you’re not projecting your own issues onto your client, you need to know what those issues are and work through them. This allows you to focus on finding the best solution for your client.
“You need to be honest with yourself," Bayer says. "I think for me, [I knew I was ready to counsel others] when I realized that it wasn't about my story, it's about, 'How do I help the other person?'”
2. Trust your gut.
From traveling the world with someone 24/7 as a sober companion to leading pre-concert seminars, Bayer has his own way of doing things. He’s learned to trust his instincts, and it’s paid off. He was going to go back and get his masters in counseling, but the morning before taking a prerequisite test, something stopped him.
“I just had this moment: 'Why am I gonna go back to school again?'" Bayer says. "And it was weird. I didn't show up for the test, and the next day someone reached out to me and said they were looking for someone to open up their West Coast office.”
3. Learn your industry.
Learn the rules -- so you can break them. Bayer was a young interventionist in an industry full of 50- and 60-year-olds. While most interventionists were set in their ways, Bayer was out learning as much as he could and trying things others weren’t.
4. Become a resource.
Bayer’s policy from the beginning has been to “work with people you love.” If he doesn’t feel the right chemistry with a client, or if he believes their staff can’t provide the necessary help, he’ll let them go. He doesn’t believe in the “I’ll treat anyone” philosophy, even at the expense of revenue and possible referrals.
But he never simply turned people away. Instead he’d find the right resource for them, becoming a valued connector in the industry.
“What I found is, if I was a resource for anyone looking for help I could refer, I could collaborate, and my name would be on the radar a lot more," Bayer says. "I just wanted to be the best possible resource in my industry.”
5. Build your self.
It’s hard to help others recharge if your own battery is on empty. Bayer still hires coaches for himself. He travels solo to other countries to unplug and tap into his emotional and mental habits.
“I think everyone has blind spots, and if you don't have a coach, from my experience, or a mentor, you're going to get into a car accident at some point," Bayer says.
6. Expand your vision.
Did Bayer ever envision himself on tour with pop stars doing wellness seminars? Definitely not. But he continues to stay flexible and see opportunities others may have missed. Connecting with Lovato’s young fans is a logical step for CAST, since Bayer’s goal is to move into schools. Our schools have physical education classes, Bayer notes. Why not emotional education?
“For us [the tour is] an opportunity," Bayer says. "I eventually want to have [a course in] public schools on self-empowerment, self-awareness.”
7. Build your brand.
You’re hearing about Bayer and CAST Centers now, but he’s been working with Demi Lovato for more than five years. Bayer’s celebrity clients were fine being “name dropped” and would talk openly about his help and send him clients. Still, he kept quiet.
Many people read the phrase “build your brand” and assume that means gain press, grow a following, etc. But Bayer built his credibility and reputation quietly, behind the scenes, until finally his clients and colleagues practically pushed him into the spotlight. Is he comfortable on stage in front of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of Lovato fans? No, but she advised him on how to get over the stagefright, as well as the potential for ego.
Lovato told him, "Every single time I make it about the crowd and 'How do I actually help people have an amazing evening?', I know I did a good show. If there's some ego in it for me, it's not a good show.”
Bayer sums it up: “It's not about me.”
Watch more videos from "The Pursuit" on the show's YouTube channel.
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