Tarzan Kay


October 4, 2022

to you

What you're reading is a copy of an email my subscribers received. This is an archive, so it's possible some links are missing or expired. If you want to stay in the loop, make sure to jump on my email list and get these delivered direct to your inbox!


coaching, colonialism and christopher columbus

I shared this meme on Instagram the other day:


A cascade of DMs ensued, mostly from people nodding their heads in agreement. 

For a lot of people, especially those who’ve been burned by the coaching industry, this meme needs no explanation. But underneath the chorus of loud and (rightfully) angry naysayers, I suspect there was a much larger category of confused people who had no idea what I was talking about, and were scared they might be doing something wrong/bad. 

“Hi, I’m one of your students and I’m also a coach,” one message said. “How can I learn more about this?”

Where to start? 

Honestly, we would need at least one whole book to tackle the topic. As someone whose last coach is currently behind bars, I don’t feel super qualified to tell you how to choose the right coach, let alone how to be the right kind of coach. 

But I can tell you that anti-oppression work is a good place to start. 

Please stay with me.

Taking a bird’s eye view of the coaching industry, I see a lot of white people serving white people, marketing themselves on the strength of their charisma and good looks. Many of these providers do not hold any certifications or training, and a lot of their advice and strategies don’t apply to people with more marginalized identities, those who are fat or Black or disabled or trans or hold other non-dominant identities. 

As part of their business training, unqualified and inexperienced coaches are often told that they have imposter syndrome. It’s a convenient theory, and so they’ll forge ahead with their snappy Instagram reels and 3-part video series’ and write off any subconscious objections or discomfort as insecurities to be overcome. 

Some coaches become wealthy this way, though most do not. 

But when they do, those hefty coaching fees often get poured right back into the hands of some other coach; The coaching industry is very good at keeping large sums of money in circulation, making coaches feel rich without ever actually accumulating wealth. I’ve never met a high-ticket coach who doesn’t have their own high-ticket coach helping them get to the next level of expensiveness.

But now I’ve digressed. 

If someone told me that I had a right to be standing at the front of the room, to be seated at the head of the table, this was not such a big stretch for me. As an attractive, slim and well-educated white woman, I see people in positions of power who look like me every single day. I believed I had an automatic right to a position of authority, whether or not I’d earned it. (This is called “colonialism” in case you don’t recognize it.)

If any of this sounds like you, let me first say that you were indoctrinated into this system without your consent

Hardly anyone chooses to voluntarily immerse themselves in white supremacy, but we don’t have to because life does that for us. It’s everywhere you look. It’s the stories we read in our history books, the faces who occupy boardrooms in movies and television and in real life, and the names we tick off at the ballet box. 

It’s Christopher Columbus. It’s Trump. It’s Jordan Belfort in The Wolf Of Wall Street preaching, “Act as if you are already a tremendous success, and as sure as I stand here today – you will become successful.” (“…if you look like me,” he really should have added.)

So where does that leave us?

In conversations about justice, especially with people who are unfamiliar with the topic and embarrassed by how little they know, you’ll see many throw their hands in the air and ask, “Okay fine, but what do I do?” 

Doing is the wrong place to start. It often causes more harm. A better place to start, if you haven’t already, is listening

It takes a lot of time. Like, a lot a lot. 

You are not going to wake up tomorrow morning with well formed ideas about disability justice and what you personally can do to correct and repair issues around accessibility. I’ve been learning about justice, equity and liberation for nearly three years and I still feel like a total baby. I’m Ruth from Ozarks: I don’t know shit about fuck. 

But I’m listening now and I’m learning more every day. 

For coaches, being able to offer solutions and strategies that can hold more than just the privileged few, well, it isn’t just a question of how smart you are or how many figures you made. 

I don’t know which student it was who asked me, “Where can I learn more?” but I hope this email finds her. 

Step one is don’t turn away. No matter how uncomfortable and confusing it may be. It’s sitting with discomfort, being honest about what you don’t know, and being willing to fumble around for the way forward. 

It is a rich and beautiful and terrible and painful and rewarding and gut-wrenching and awesome experience. 

When you listen deeply, you will not be able to do capitalism the same way. You will not be able to write off your clients’ real issues with a song and dance about limiting beliefs or having the right mindset. You may think twice about taking someone’s credit card when you know deep down it’s a Hail Mary and that this client needs a therapist, not a life coach. 

You might lose money. 

You might lose confidence in yourself.

You might find yourself on a brave and unexpected journey of figuring out who your ancestors were, what your lineage is responsible for, and what legacy you want to leave for your descendants. 

It is so hard but so worth it. It’s what gives depth and meaning to my work, and it is essential in order for me to participate in capitalism. 

A lot of you are already walking that road with me. Thank you for that. 

For the rest of you, well, consider this your invitation.



I’m loving the book American Detox: The Myth of Wellness and How We Can Truly Heal by Kerri Kelly, which basically says that we can’t heal ourselves until we face the toxic systems around us. 

If you are in wellness or personal development, I’d add this to your reading list pronto-tonto. 

Reply to the email


All-time most popular emails right here

(read ‘em and weep, literally)

I slowed way, waaay down on buying courses about four years ago, once my business started churning out a

Feb 21, 2023

“Finish this sentence,” Eman said to me. “The biggest mistake I made in my business was…” It was no small ask.

Jan 27, 2023

If you’ve struggled to get quality emails out to your list consistently, or had long lapses between communications

Nov 22, 2022

I shared this meme on Instagram the other day: A cascade of DMs ensued, mostly from people

Oct 4, 2022

Cascades of angry-looking waves push up against my kayak, threatening to tip me into the cold black water of

Sep 27, 2022

It’s been two weeks since my last email, and I hardly ever miss a weekly email. I have written thousands of emails

Sep 6, 2022

In my first year of business, I made $61,833 in gross revenue. After expenses, I took home just over half. 

Aug 16, 2022

I’m moving like a superhuman these days, doing it all until my body literally quits on me, as it did this morning. 

Jun 7, 2022

There’s this guy Parry who I follow on LinkedIn. His industry-disrupting 30-word diatribes about PR are crisp AF.

May 27, 2022

People think we are super great for offering low or zero markup on our payment plans. I’ve also been

Apr 12, 2022

Start writing consent-based copy and prioritize people over profit 


You can make money without being a greasy promise-pusher, slapping "70% OFF FOR ONE DAY ONLY!" all over your website, or putting giant red countdown timers in every email. Here's how. 


The easiest ways to Tarzan-ify your emails and launch copy


The Course Launch Copy Kit ($27)

Copy Caboose Digital Program ($500)