That’s Liz. Laughing hysterically at my mom jokes. We have a pretty great relationship.
The TLDR $2500 is a fuckton of money to pay, for a “mentorship” that focuses on “doing your chores and being appreciative towards your parents.” This is a cookie cutter modular program, not something tailored to your teen. My personal opinion: The RJ Life Coaching Program known as Life Scholars Academy is severely overpriced. And what you are sold on, is’t what you actually get.
My main takeaway is that $2500 for this program or what they call “mentorship” is GROSSLY over priced. This is a $599 product at best, and that’s even for the “difficult parent/child relationship and household dynamic.” This was not just MONEY WASTED, but TIME WASTED. Not only will I not receive a refund (because I did inquire), but I can’t get time back. Time lost for myself, time taken from Josh, and time stolen from Liz. Plain and simple this program wasn’t a good fit for what we originally were looking for, or were sold on.
Now let’s get to the real talk. I saw an ad online for Dr RJ’s teen life coaching mentorship… know as Life Scholars Academy. I was intrigued. Watched a few of his videos and thought, “This seems pretty high energy and motivational.” So I set an appointment, paid $39 to have a “screening” to see if the program would be a good fit for my teenager. And really, a mentorship is priceless… but this one has a pretty hefty price tag for what it actually offers.
Just a heads up, your mentor and life coach won’t be RJ unless your child in the older teen (18-21) ages… so that should have been a red flag from the get go. For $2500 to have private group sessions with someone successful, ok I could kinda understand that. But we didn’t get small groups with RJ, we got a trained facilitator for weekly teen sessions. More on that below. In essence, we’re those types of parents that want to give our kiddo whatever opportunity that we feel will benefit her overall growth. They totally saw us coming!
Dr RJ Jackson is an Orthodontist who’s passion is to make people happy. He likes to create smiles on the inside and the outside. This experience doesn’t give me inside smiles. RJ’s been certified by the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching as a life coach for teens, but I’m unsure if that means he has a doctorate in child development. If he does- LMK send me the link. Also, from what I understand RJ doesn’t have teens of his own, YET… his kiddos are under 8, and although we’ve all once been teenagers, the world itself has changed and shifted, especially during these past few years with covid. RJ has a life long mission of spreading happiness. I like that mentality. I’ve watched some of his podcasts, and he mirrors a lot of what we’ve already read in many personal growth books. (I’ll link those at the bottom if you’re looking for some good reading.)
SO back to us, just to give you a peek into our family dynamic: Josh and I both have a pretty great relationship with Liz. We talk about a lot of different life things, no subject is off the table. Josh and Liz have their weekly hang out where they chat about life and stuff, and they create those “you just had to be there moments and inside jokes.” At night Liz and I have a nightly convo at bedtime and just chat about whatever is going on in the world of Liz (sometimes it’s a 5 minute chat, some nights we’ll be chatting for over an hour)… Let’s just say that we’re pretty dialed in as parents. We haven’t really had to deal with major “behavioral issues”; We don’t have screaming matches or fights. We’re just not that kind of family. We actually like each other and get along. Liz takes care of all her own stuff. I don’t do her laundry or clean her bathroom, and haven’t since she was about 10 or 11. I don’t manage her online schedule for classes that she’s taking. You may ask, “Why?” Because she’s grown up with a sense of ownership and responsibility for herself. Liz helps out with dinners through out the week, does things most of the time without having to be asked, most of the time. If she sees something that needs to be done, or that she can help us out with, she just takes it upon herself to do it.
So when we presented RJ’s program to her, it was under the understanding that it was an actual mentorship with an strong emphasis on a peer group that would foster a sense of friendship, and also give her insight on life planning through high school and beyond.
What we were sold by COACH A, during our interview (which comes at the price of $39 – just to book the interview) to see if WE would be a good candidate for the program, was not what the program actually ended up being. Plain and simple, we saw the hook, took the bait… and didn’t get exactly what our personalized sales pitch actually offered at the time. Well… let me put it this way, as long as you have the money, they will be more that happy to take it, and sell you whatever you’re asking for. And then just hope for the best. Read the fine print.
Now, Josh and I asked a ton of questions during our screening interview with COACH A. Our main goal and focus for this program was that Liz would be not only having a dedicated mentor to talk with, you know, someone who could offer guidance with life planning and navigating the upcoming years through and beyond high-school, but to ALSO have an active “dedicated peer community and group” that would foster a sense of friendship. Cue the high-school musical song “We’re all in this together.”
Her actual “mentor/life coach” was swapped once or twice, due to scheduling and illness… onboarding and scheduling wasn’t really crystal clear on my end. And let me be frank- this person wasn’t a mentor, they were more like a facilitator of the peer group get together. The facilitator of her peer group sessions was lack luster. Like low energy and fairly meek, just not super engaging. I walked by L’s room week 5 and heard, “*Timmy, do you want to turn on your screen this week? – no response, “OK well maybe next week.” Very unlike the RJ experience in the videos and modules, and not COACH A who has a high energy sales pitch that is super positive and promises the moon. It’s hard to engage kids, if you aren’t an engaging person. Maybe you need you to down a few pixi sticks and a double espresso and then meet these kids with some ENERGY! (*name changed to protect the innocent. #TIMMY)
This program COACH A and RJ’s team just wasn’t that. 100% satisfaction guarantee, nope not really… but I’m like 20% satisfied. And that’s being really generous. The kicker is, not every person with money to spend is a person to turn into a customer. And their one size fits most program, just really wasn’t a good fit for us. But hey, we can’t always be 100% happy with every choice or decision we’ve made.
OK so here’s a loose overview of the program. I’m not going to discuss his “secret sauce” or share what the modules actual until or what Liz worked on. That wouldn’t be fair to RJ.
The first 4 out of 8 modules, had some decent refresher information for Liz… But after that the program really fell short. She of course did all the exercises in the modules, because she really wanted to gain something from this program, but in the end, she didn’t feel like she gained any insight or knowledge that she hadn’t already heard from us. AND… At the end of her 8 weeks she was “graduated” and set on her way.
During the 8 week course parents are supposed to send in a progress report every 2 weeks. Not once did I get any info about what the program was actually focusing on. The kids are autonomous. Which is great for my self sufficient kiddo who actually talks and shares with me. But I was still underwhelmed with the parent check in, because the modules don’t really correlate or change based on your child’s needs. After the first 2 check-ins I didn’t continue the follow up. I didn’t see the value or benefit. This might be because the correctional path that they focused on, was not at all what we were sold that the program focus would be. And for $2500 this is a cookie cutter program. Not individualized. If Liz could have opted into a group that was, “Yeah I do my chores and like my parents and talk to them about more than 75% of my life.” That might have been better. But still, not.
Weeks 1-4 Liz wrote out 2-3 paragraph answers for the modules, but they weren’t turned in or really responded to. They were used as a conversation started for the topic for the weekly group sessions. But hey, most of the time, the facilitator talked, kids barely gave detailed answers, and most complained about homework and wanting to play video games, pretty typical stuff. Liz said the conversations weren’t really deep, the kids weren’t really opening up, and she really didn’t jive with the ho-hum energy. But we also thought this program was more about life planning and more individualized. Oh and the facilitator kept addressing Liz as “IZZY” which is not her name. Liz corrected her on 2 occasions, and decided that if the facilitator couldn’t get her name right after being reminded, then this person, Coach C really didn’t have any interest in her as a person. YEP- interested in the $2500 but not in building confidence. If you can’t address a child by their proper name, you pretty much loose credibility.
Parents are asked to attend a parent check in online with other parents, sometime in the first few weeks of the program. Our facilitator talked about “how times have changed and how kids spend a lot of time on YouTube, but that it’s beneficial because they learn so much stuff there.” That meeting went over time by like 15 minutes, but really didn’t go anywhere. The few parents that engaged, asked about how to correct their child’s attitude and behavior, and how to get them to do their chores and homework without talking back.
DUDE, back in my day, if you sassed back, you got a mouth full of soap. But I grew up during the times of wooden spoons, hairbrushes and belts. I also went to private Catholic school where we learned from nuns with rulers in their hands. Discipline. Guidelines. Expectations. Fortunately, Liz has been a relatively easy kiddo. She has been given perimeters, and understands them, and when she doesn’t she’s pretty logical and asks about it. My wooden spoons are for stirring the pot, not spankings! Most importantly, Liz has been brought up with RESPECT, which goes both ways in our family. Sing it Tina!
Part of RJ’s parent sessions on Sundays take about how we react to things. Yeah RJ, I know all about stimulus and response. It’s kinda like when you deal with a dog. You can say the same thing in a different tone, it’s the tone that creates the effect, not what you say but how you say it. YEP. Also, that over reacting, usually creates a blockade, yep, I totally know that too. Yelling at a kid, usually doesn’t get the same result as lowering your voice so they’re forced to listen to the words coming out of your mouth. I didn’t need to be taught how to amend my ways of cause effect or reaction and response. I read! (Seriously, I’ll link some book below.)
Graduation, comes and goes and I get no word for like a month after the program other than the auto-generated invite to the parent sessions and the Invite for Liz to attend the Sunday session with like 300 kids online to listen to RJ’s topic of the week. Did they even know she “graduated” from their program? Yeah a whole month, and during that time I had been sitting on an email that I didn’t want to send, because I kinda wanted to see what their customer service, support, feedback department, dare I say retention or upsell department was going to do… I’ll get to that in a bit.
End of 8 weeks, kids are “graduated” and asked, “What are you going to do to celebrate?” Liz thought the facilitator, was joking. She came out of the last session and said, “So that’s done? I graduated and they asked about celebrating. What a joke, and a waste of time, oh and she still kept calling me I’m IZZY even after correcting her.” See, my kid is fairly aware, no I take that back, she is FULLY AWARE.
Again this program is not a mentorship in the traditional sense. This program might be great for kids who have behavioral issues or for families that don’t communicate well with one another. Also Liz said the verbiage seemed a bit young… maybe better for the 9-12 age range. Again, that’s not our dynamic, not what we were sold on by Coach A… so we were NOT a good candidate for the program… but boy oh boy- they were quick to say all the right things and take my CC info.
So here’s the kicker. ONE MONTH LATER, ( 9 JULY) I get a voice message from the original sales person COACH A “Just wanting to touch base and get our opinion of the program, and see how happy we are with the progress.” Remember, I had been waiting to see if they would ever actually follow up? After a phone call that was 30 minutes long, where I opened the conversation with, “What we were sold is not the program that we wanted or needed, and not every potential candidate should be your customer.” I got a response of, “I’m sorry the program didn’t meet your expectations.” Oh! and an offer for 4 weeks of one on one life coaching for Liz. Thanks, but no thanks.
I would say there were a few key points and takeaways that in weeks 1-4 L said gave her some insight and different ways of thinking about things. Most of which parroted what Josh and I have been already telling her (seriously I’m going to add a book list)… but we all know that sometimes you have to get the same pearls of wisdom from someone else other than your parents, because surely you’re parents can’t know everything, can they?
Now for the nuts and bolts of my review: The RJ program is an 8 week module. Teens log in and watch the module. Then they think about how it pertains to them. They answer some questions, that are to be discussed at the weekly check in. Now let me say, week one, L did the module, wrote out a 3 paragraph answer to the module, really gave it some thought and put in the work. The next few weeks she wrote a paragraph answer to be prepared. But they don’t turn in this work. During the sessions L mentioned each participant got a few minutes just to discuss what they wrote. It’s just not very granular or personalized. For the $2500 price point, I was expecting rainbows and unicorns. If you have a hard time getting your kid to open up, it MIGHT be helpful, but the price is not reflective of the actual product, and the product is geared toward a younger audience, IMHO.
Each week the teens do the module, attend their 30 minute session with a facilitator. There’s a Sunday teen class that’s an hour long- Thats’ the RJ group meeting with 200-300 kids. Parents are asked to send in an open ended email to “report any changes or progress” every 2 weeks, also to let them know if your child is going through anything difficult. We had our Pug put down and I noted that in the beginning of signing up, but I’m not sure if the facilitator mentioned it to Liz in any of their weekly group meeting. Ya know like a, “My condolences on the loss of your pet.”
Parent participation. Parents are to send in a progress report, or really just an open ended email about what’s going on in your kid’s life, good or bad. But it didn’t seem like the modules or the course was geared towards anything that related to the emails sent. Meaning that the course was already set in stone regardless of whatever your child was or was not experiencing in life during those two weeks. I stopped doing them, to see if I would get pinged for an update after missing the 3rd and 4th “check in emails” – I wasn’t. To me it seems like we were just another number and part of the growing vanity metric of “happy customers sold.” Again our number is $2500.
Speaking of selling. We attended one of RJ’s Sunday parent online sessions (there had to be about 200 of us online on Mother’s Day- yeah Mother’s Day) and part of the session was about how to talk and react to your teen, and about family dynamics and how to improve them. OK, great for people who chimed in about their kids yelling and screaming at them on the daily, or for giving these moms their worst Mother’s Day ever… and I sat there, with Josh in the background and just counted my blessings. Of course there was some sort of gentle nudge to the parent course, I don’t even know if it was free or had a price. I’ll be honest I tuned it out.
So that’s our experience with the RJ Teen Life Coaching Program. Would we do it again? NOPE!! ABSOLUTELY NOT! Definitely not for $2500, it’s a $599 program at best.
Oh and I saw a some BBB reviews of RJ’s program. One parent wasn’t happy and was charged $1500. I wonder why I was charged an extra thousand dollars for the same modular program? Since I’ve posted my complaint, a few 5star reviews have trickled in. Probably hoping to get a better rating.
BUYER BEWARE: What we were sold, was not what we got. We paid $2500 for RJ’s program, GROSSLY over priced. This is a $599 product at best. Plain and simple this was a cookie cutter program to get kids and parents to have better attitudes towards one another. It wasn’t a good fit for us, and what we were sold, didn’t exactly mirror what we received.
Now for a little bit of positivity. During this time, Liz also attended an online weekly teen group. They meet once a week for 45 minutes. They talk about life, the world, what’s going on, and how they’re feeling, the weather, whatever. Her instructor is super engaging, has great energy and gets all the kids talking and participating. Liz has made real connections with a few of the kids, and they chat outside of the class throughout the week. The class is about 8-10 kids and she actually looks forward to it. Oh and it’s not $2500, it’s under $25 a week. LOL
BOOKS TO READ: I’ll get links up in a bit. I really will!
Here’s a list of some great books (with AMAZON affiliate links because if I can make a few pennies back on the books, that would be swell). These books have been helpful with self improvement, self awareness and personal development and growth. Much of which can be applied to your daily life. Josh and I tend to read a lot of different things. This list is a combination of what we’ve both read that we felt has been interesting and insightful.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Very much a book about how “less is more”. Good take away about the value of “play” in your life to balance out the “productivity” in your life. Work/life balance is important for everyone: Professionals, homemakers, and even children.
Become an Idea Machine
Writing prompts for coming up with ideas. Often when we’re “bad” at something it’s because we haven’t put in the time to work the “muscle” to get “strong” or good at something. It’s also a great way to remind yourself that practice makes you get better, and to not get discouraged the first time you try something new.
Bit of fiction to break things up. Not the most complex story but teaches a valuable lesson about how the grass can oftentimes be better right under your feet. Everyone in our family has read this book. It’s interesting that we all had different things that resonated with us. We’re all on our own path and journey, so we all see and experience things differently It was great to chat about the book together, gave us all insight on how we each view things.
The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right
Sometimes it’s as simple as writing stuff down. Make a list of steps that you know will help you accomplish your goal. Making the process repeatable can help improve precision. Sometimes the “list of things to do” can be overwhelming. Some people thrive with a daily to be done list. Others like a running list of GSD (get sh!t done) and others like to prioritize their list. Everyone is different, knowing what works for you is helpful in getting to the task.
Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win
One of Josh’s favorite books. Taking ownership is extremely important in life, and even more important in war. While our day to day lives aren’t necessarily life or death, taking ownership and owning up earns you mad respect from folks. Same thing can be applied with parenting and parent/child dynamics: RESPECT IS EARNED. Respect is a 2 way street.
Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
Habits, good or bad, are formed a certain way in those crazy brains of ours. Discusses how to approach building and breaking habits in small pieces to make things easier. For me I tend to run a spreadsheet when starting a new habit, or trying to get into the habit of something. I plan out 30-90 days of how I want to build that habit, and then track my progress, good and bad. I also have a note section for each day where I can write a line to remind myself what was going on that day, to reflect upon later.
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo
Adding a bit of fluff to the list. If you haven’t heard about the “KONMARIE” method of decluttering, where have you been? I really loved this book. I actually made notes in it- to Marie- which is funny because I’ve lent my personal book out 3 or 4 times and my friends said my notes made it even better! The take away from this is that having less clutter in life allows you to focus on the things that are important. Bonus was that Liz really likes to have a clutter free room. I don’t have to ask her to clean her room because she is surrounded by the things that are important to her, which gives her a sense of pride and ownership for her space in the house. Hence, it’s always clean and tidy.
The Little Book of Hygge
One more piece of fluff is the Book of Hygge. This philosophy comes from the Danish, also known as the happiest people in the world. Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) is all about creating personal spaces that are inviting, welcoming, that evoke a sense of comfortless and togetherness. I think it’s important to have a house, feel like a home. That doesn’t mean run out and buy all new furniture and spend money on crappy wall art. But to be mindful about how you live. I feel that having a calm feeling in the house, generates a sense of calm throughout the house. That then affects the overall mood of the house and those who dwell within.
The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It
We’re so quick to blame stress for things, but stress can actually be beneficial. Once you acknowledge what’s going on, and understand how this can benefit you, you can use it to your advantage. Some people work better under pressure or with a deadline. Knowing how you react to stress helps you to cope and overcome that stressful feeling.
The Miracle Morning
Admittedly, I haven’t read this one YET, it’s on my list. Josh has read about it by way of other books on his reading list.. The gist is that waking up early and practicing a morning routine can help you get into the right headspace and really crush the day. It’s kind of like setting up your day for success. If you start the day in the right frame of mind, you have better control of what the day might throw at you along the way.
Bonus, blog posts from the hubs: Seriously Click the links and read 2 of Josh’s blog posts.
Oh yeah- I need to do an “allowance post” although we don’t call it allowance. Liz is on salary here at the Sherman house. She became a “salaried member” on her 5th birthday. At that time we were learning about the first American colonists. Perfect timing to instill the Capitan John Smith, “If you don’t work you don’t eat.” mentality. Which means, you have to be a productive member of the household because we all live here under the same roof and all have responsibilities and expectations to be met for things to run smoothly.
Oh yeah- Liz can actually cook! We started with her in the kitchen when she was younger, because cooking is vital if you want to live. As she’s gotten older, she’s actually been able to take one night a week to make dinner for the family. I think it’s empowering when a kid can make dinner and everyone enjoys the meal. It’s also great that she has ownership of what she wants to cook, and she has the option to play it safe or get creative. It also taught Liz that making dinner every night can sometimes be WORK. She’s definitely appreciative when food is put in front of her because she knows what it takes to put a nice meal together. Most nights when I’m cooking she’s along she of me helping out and learning. It’s great for bonding. She’s honing her skills and at least she won’t starve when she moves out in a few years.
I think that’s a decent list of stuff to read. 🙂