Q: How long have you been in the coaching industry and what changes have you seen since you founded ManAfter?
Laith Saud: We started the company in 2017 specifically focused on executives going through divorce. With time we achieved more scale by developing a suite of services and incorporating business-to-business clientele.
I still think, in spite of the long-term success of someone like Tony Robbins, personal coaching has not yet achieved cultural mainstream acceptance, like therapy for example.
But the time is coming. Culture moves in cycles and self-help has, at least for the last six decades, often been associated with healing, i.e. therapy. But sometimes people do not want to heal or do not need to, they want to win and coaching helps them achieve wins.
Q: How do you explain the cultural shift or identify the cycles of culture?
Laith Saud: Well, I did my PhD in history at the University of Chicago and history is the oldest study of human behavior. Ibn Khaldun, the 14th century historian identified 4 stages that every civilization goes through, I’m being a bit liberal with the application of his theory but it nonetheless holds up; the early generations are strong, resilient and industrious and later generations are weak, spoiled and entitled, leading to decline, they are then overcome by the strong and hungry.
Another version of this theory is the “strong men make good times, good times make weak men, weak men make bad times and bad times make strong men” idea. In America, a certain kind of pessimism has set in and the curtain has been pulled back on the socio-economic structures of the American economy. In turn, people feel a sense of urgency on ‘making it’ and ‘winning.’ Now life is much more than money, a person must fulfill a host of interrelated roles in order to find some sense of happiness, but the idea of conquering over healing is gaining sway as a personal value again.
Q: Do you think that men, in particular, are feeling this sense of urgency?
Laith Saud: Absolutely, from Jordan Peterson to John Gray to Jonathan Haidt, these psychologist are tapping into a whole host of issues that are not more important to men than women, but, for certain reasons, are more appealing to men than women.
Now the way those reasons interact to produce that effect is too complex to explain here, but generally speaking men feel loss of a role, but they cannot claim victimhood, the moment they do, it becomes the end of their value to themselves and those they love, so they are becoming more committed, in these difficult times, to find mastery in themselves within the context of the new environment.