Holger Eckstein: Self-discovery as a business

Top-notch university, a stellar business consulting career, a brilliant apartment in Munich, a beautiful girlfriend… Everything was going according to plan in Holger Eckstein’s life when, all of a sudden, it just wasn’t enough for him anymore. He started to feel overcome by existential doubt. At first, he just followed his impulses and completely gave himself over to his work and to consumerism. As the internal emptiness widened, he realised that he had to look for a different way. He took time off, read, researched and travelled a lot. After months of active self-discovery, he finally had his much-needed insight on a lonely beach in Hawaii. Ever since, he has seen it as his calling to accompany people on their transformation into their new self.

Holger Eckstein has been active in the German coaching market for 20 years. His clients are businesses, self-employed persons and private individuals; his foci are vocation, self-realisation, finding one’s purpose. He sees himself as someone who accompanies people out of their existential crises and to their best inner state (“superstate”). In the interview with Digistore24, he discussed his own existential crisis and transformation, and offered a peek behind the current of his coaching business:

According to recent studies, 88% of Germans are dissatisfied with their job and fall into an existential crisis sooner or later.
This is how Holger Eckstein explains what causes existential crises and why the responsibility lies with the company culture:
  • The superficial way to explain an existential crisis:
    “A person arrives at the point where they ask themselves: “Is this job really what is going to fulfil me for the rest of my life? You lose your sense of why you do what you do and what used to make you feel fulfilled in life. The exact circumstances don’t actually matter: One person may have built a whole career, another may have taken charge of the family business – it’s irrelevant. What truly matters, is that inner feeling that it’s no longer enough, that you’re capable of much more or that you have something completely different to offer to the world.”
  • The profound way to explain an existential crisis:
    “88% of people being dissatisfied is a devastating number: 88% of people can’t find any joy or satisfaction in what they do. I am firmly convinced that this isn’t necessarily always due to the actual content of their respective tasks and duties. The main reason is much more profound than that. Oftentimes, it is a corporate culture that neglects aspects like the human touch and interpersonal relationships. My experience based on 20 years of coaching shows me that people suffer massively from a lack of relationships. People are viewed as mere productivity factors and think of themselves as interchangeable cogs. Companies often value profit over the well-being of their employees. People can feel this, and it has drastic consequences. This is why more and more people drop out of the game due to burnout or an existential crisis.”
  • My own existential crisis:
    “I didn’t immediately recognise the neglect of interpersonal aspects as the more profound cause of my own existential crisis when I was 29. Back then, I just stayed on the surface level for many years, looking for the key to my problem in the content of my work, rather than in my relationships with other people.”
Self-discovery as a business - this is how Holger Eckstein built his coaching sales funnel:
  1. “Prospects make it into my funnel through several different ways. All of of them contain a free and high-quality sample of my content: a video, an e-book, a blog article.”
  2. “All free contents include a link to my opt-in page, which is a landing page with a lead magnet: People provide their email address in order to receive more relevant content, such as a self-test with a quick self-diagnosis, or a video series.”
  3. “By registering via email, people also agree to receive my newsletter.”
  4. “The newsletter, through which I sell my live webinars, is my main distribution channel. To complement the sales funnel, I also make appearances as a speaker at many conferences centred around vocation and self-discovery and give interviews in order to increase my reach.”
This is the biggest conflict of interest for self-discovery coaching and this is how Holger Eckstein solves it:
  • Conflict of objectives:
    “When it comes to coaching on topics like vocation and self-discovery, there is a lot of work to be done on the issue of interpersonal relationships. This includes formats like one-on-one coaching, on-site events or live webinars. For scaling purposes, these formats need to be automated and digitalised. This, however, leads to interpersonal relationships falling by the wayside.”
  • Holger Eckstein’s solution: 
    “Why do I count on live webinars instead of automated webinars? My years of experience in the self-discovery business have shown me that there is a significant difference between the two formats that clearly favours live webinars. The reason is that intimate change processes require trust. This trust can only be built during the course of human interaction. People want to be able to really feel these encounters. With the help of online courses and automated formats, I can transfer the right knowledge and know-how. I offer these products to help people prepare for the coaching. However, the personal transformation is what it’s really all about, and this is only possible in the context of real-life interactions.”
This is Holger Eckstein’s advice to any coach who wants to carry out significant scaling of their business:

“It is crucial to define the avatars of the target group as precisely as possible. Reaching out to a broad and faceless crowd is not very effective. In that case, you would be targeting past the true needs of your target group.”

This is the error in reasoning that Holger Eckstein made for many years and now wants to warn every aspiring coach about:

“When developing my products, at the very beginning I first spent many years just developing my products and then looking for the right target groups. In the end, I realised that you have to start with the needs of your target group in order to be able to offer custom-tailored solutions. From the awareness of the target group’s pain points and desires, a customer journey will naturally arise. This type of entrepreneurial mindset requires empathy. However, I would recommend going even one step further: Putting vocation into practice means putting love for customers into practice. Although this sounds rather poetic, it does correspond to the reality of business. Customers should feel that you are in it for them, that you understand their problems accurately and that you are going an extra mile to help them. It’s exactly at that point that they will become loyal to you and buy your products.”

Holger Eckstein deliberately forgoes branding and positioning.
But how does he compensate this abstention?
  • “My approach to consulting is deep transformation and not just a little bit of coaching and knowledge transferring. However, even deep transformations are just a means to an end. What it is really all about, is a feeling of deep fulfilment. This results from the knowledge of having helped a person out of a crisis. I see the foundation of the success of my business in the successful interpersonal relationships with my customers. As soon as that kind of connection is made, one is no longer expendable.”
  • “The significance of these feelings also applies to businesses outside of the coaching industry. Take Apple: Apple is a feeling into which I dive and which binds me to the brand. Other companies frequently underestimate this phenomenon.”
  • “You can only communicate this feeling of attachment if you are also authentic. It’s only then that people start building a relationship with you. Reductio ad absurdum: I don’t even need a positioning strategy, I simply have to be myself as a coach and that’s more than enough.

The stages of Holger Eckstein’s transformation:

  • 17 years – high school diploma
  • 21 years – overseas stay (two years in Morocco)
  • 26 years – graduation with an MA in business studies
  • 29 years – successful business consultant; unexpected existential crisis
  • 34 years – exit from his stellar career to self-employment as a coach, consultant and trainer
  • 35 years – first “superstate” moment marked by a transformative self-realisation on a lonely beach in Hawaii
  • 45 years – founding of the online business centred around meaning and vocation
  • 53 years – successful author, speaker, coach for self-actualisation and personal integrity

Holger Eckstein’s favourite Digistore24 features:

AUTOMATED BOOKKEEPING
“Bookkeeping may at first sound like a minor chore – but only if you don’t actually have to handle it yourself. Digitstore24 takes care of unpleasant tasks like that and makes sure that I view bookkeeping as a solution and not as a problem.”

AUTOMATED OVERDUE NOTICE MANAGEMENT
“On a spiritual level, it is essential that the energy flows in both directions. Human nature simply dictates that people only value and fully utilise things that have cost them resources. Here, monetary resources have an especially strong energy. For this reason, I regard scheduled payments as something that is of as much value to my customers as it is to me. Digistore24 offers me the assurance of automated algorithms which are arranging and executing punctual payments.

CUSTOMIZATION OF SHIPPING COSTS
“I like to offer free books as an entry to my sales funnel and only charge for shipping. Digistore24 allows me to disclose the shipping fee as such and customise it depending on the particular target country. This corresponds to my values of being as transparent as possible towards my clients
.”

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