Dr. Cheryl Fraser is known to be sharp, frank and fearless. The Buddhist sex therapist, psychologist, author, and speaker is a rare combination of academic credibility, humor, straight talk, and life-changing advice. She has helped thousands of couples jumpstart their love life and create passion that lasts a lifetime.
Dr. Cheryl has taught for industry leaders such as Tony Robbins and Jack Canfield, appeared on television and renowned podcasts, as well as been a featured columnist for multiple publications. Dr. Cheryl’s online immersion program for couples, Become Passion, brings her work to your own living room.
Learn more and get on the waitlist now. Listen to her wildly popular podcast Sex, Love & Elephants here or grab your copy of her book, Buddha’s Bedroom: The Mindful Loving Path to Sexual Passion and Lifelong Intimacy. To take the first step towards resuscitating your relationship or to learn more about Dr. Cheryl, visit her website or check out her videos on YouTube.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Cheryl Fraser: Well, if a Buddhist nun and a sex therapist had a baby, that’s kind of me and my work! I’m Dr. Cheryl Fraser, psychologist, sex therapist, Buddhist teacher, and the creator of the online immersion couples program, Become Passion. Under the umbrella of my company Right Speech Inc. (that’s a Buddhist term that means to use your communication as a tool to teach, heal, and learn in an ethical, compassionate manner), I teach, write, coach, and seek to inspire couples to renovate their relationship and fall in love, over and over again, with the one they are already with.
I give away as much free, science-based, relationship & sex advice as I can on my Sex Love & Elephants podcast and by sending weekly LoveBytes (short video teachings) to my email list and my youtube channel. I’m also an international speaker. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching for Tony Robbins at his Platinum Sex and Relationship intesnsive, for Jack Canfield of Chicken Soup fame, and more. I’ve had an interesting past that includes stints as a university psychology professor, an improv comedian, an actor, and a talk radio host. I was a Fulbright scholar who turned down Harvard Medical School to focus on the big question—Why are we not more happy, and why is love such a hard gig?
My book, Buddha’s Bedroom – The Mindful Loving Path to Sexual Passion & Lifelong Intimacy, created a few waves because I combine tradition Buddhist teachings and sex therapy techniques as I regularly spend a few months in deep silent meditation retreats here in Canada or India or Tibet.
As for the income generating part of my business, that’s my online couples program. Become Passion – Create Love that Lasts a Lifetime allows couples to do deep work on their relationship from the privacy of their own home. There is weekly live coaching and Q&A with me, a ten-hour curriculum of course lessons and couples exercises, and some killer guest expert masterclasses. My completion rate and engagement rate is way higher than a typical “online course,” and that’s because this is not a typical program. There is built in accountability, the support of other couples, weekly access to me, and, frankly. some deeply important information that every couple needs to know.
For example, did you know 30-40% of longer term couples (that means together for more than about 2 years) are in what is clinically defined as a sexless relationship? And in surveys only about 11% say they are still “in love” with their partner? There is a huge gulf between how we feel when we fall in love and how we feel some years later. I’ve always wanted to figure out why, and then work to change that.
My company mission statement is to Awaken the Planet, One Lover at a Time. For when we can communicate, love, and grow as a couple, we can do a much better job of taking these skills out into the world.
2020 and 2021 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2022? What lessons have you learned?
Cheryl Fraser: Weirdly, the global pandemic was absolutely great for my business.
My one concern when I decided to build an entirely new way of reaching and helping couples, one where I could help hundreds, even thousands of couples a year, instead of ten or so per year in my private practice, was that I expected resistance to the idea of doing deep, psychologically profound work “online.” I had a steep hill to climb if I was going to be able to help couples see that my model could actually be more powerful and effective than traditional couples therapy.
I’d been working on the Become Passion program for four years, and I finally launched it as planned in February 2020, and then the world stood still. Learning pretty much anything online quickly became the norm.
So, how can businesses thrive in this new landscape as we finish out 2022 and head into 2023? Embrace the online learning model. Deliver amazing content in a way that gets results.
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2022? What advice would you share?
Cheryl Fraser: I truly believe in the online learning model for a focus in 2022.
But for goodness sake, if you are going to teach online, become excellent at it. Take a professional speaking course. Get vocal training. Learn to be the best in your field. Be a brilliant teacher and also be entertaining. Learn to hold your audiences’ interest. Now, I’d been training in all those skills for many years as a live event speaker, so it was easy for me to transition those skills to the online space. But, oh wow, is it rare I see anyone online who is bloody great at it. Train, rehearse, learn, grow.
Here’s an example. I do a live launch model when I sell my couples program. Once or twice a year, I offer a free couples workshop in a webinar format. I teach live and I offer the live webinar four-five times over ten days. The webinar format is 55 minutes of teaching my core concepts of the Passion Triangle – the three keys to exceptional relationships. Next, I provide a 15-20 minute program offer (where we open the cart and people can then buy the 12-week Become Passion program and join me when it kicks off the following week). Then, I offer an extensive Q&A, answering the viewers love and sex questions.
Now, industry standard is changing rapidly, but studies suggest most webinars aimed at a cold audience (as mine are) lose 60% of their viewers in the first 45 minutes (in other words, a 40% retention rate). For my sales webinar, I have a 95% retention rate at 55 minutes and an 85% retention rate at 90 minutes and approximately 80% of my live viewers are still there at 120 minutes when I wind up my extensive Q&A.
Why? Because I’m a really good presenter, my information is killer, and I infuse the experience with humour, stories, interaction with the audience, polls, and more.
I’ve learned that even as the live webinar is declared dead, and the viewing audience is, of course, inundated with almost endless choices (compared to February 2020 when I began), being excellent still matters and the audience is still there. They are still eager, and it is up to us to deliver them incredible value. So simply, be the best. Your audience deserves it.
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Cheryl Fraser: As you see above, I was already well ahead of the curve (in terms of my role as a couples & sex therapist) when the pandemic exploded. I’d been creating my online couples program for a few years and perfecting my live launch model. I was already looking ahead and visualizing how couples therapy, which is such an important field but one that has fairly dim success rates, could be offered in a new format.
A format that would be:
– Easily accessible (anyone with an internet-enabled device can join)
– Flexible and could fit into the busy schedules of real life couples (I mean, c’mon – how can you possibly arrange your work lives, your kids’ schedules, the babysitter and more to get to an appointment together for 90 minutes every week for a year?!)
– Could offer couples unlimited access to everything they learned so they can return over and over to those skills, exercises, coaching classes, and more (instead of having a breakthrough in a therapy session but then heading home and never revisiting it or rehearsing that insight or exercise or making it intentional)
– Empower the couple to be their own captains—they do the work together with live access to me, a place to ask their confidential questions, the opportunity to hear from other couples who are also struggling, and so much more.
Other therapists thought I was nuts. That there is no way this could work. You simply can’t take couples off the couch. But I did. I helped them on their OWN couches.
But has my industry—that of couples and sexual advice, or even mental health and behaviour change as a broad industry—changed a lot over the last 2 years? I’d say not as much as I’d hoped. There are not many people doing what I am doing, and there is a vast, deep need for it. I’d like to see immersion programs on topics from managing anxiety or depression, to dealing with addiction, to parenting your ADD child, and more.
NOT simply online courses, but rather multifaceted programs that include the various elements I’ve built into Become Passion. Because the research indicates that most folks never finish an online course (some studies show successful completion is under 10% of those who purchase), and I have no interest in selling something, even if it is wildly successful at generating money, that will not lead to results. That’s why my program has built-in accountability, support, community, and weekly access to me. That’s also why I will only do a drip model, never an evergreen model.
My couples all begin together with me and we work together for 12 consecutive weeks. I do not simply throw all this awesome content at them and say, “good luck with that,” in the way so many course creators do. When we conclude our 12 weeks, my couples get lifetime access to all the content including the recordings of the live sessions with me. They also have the opportunity to join my ongoing membership and continue to implement all the skills they’ve learned.
So hey, after answering this question, I guess I’d say the industry hasn’t changed as quickly as I’d hoped. People everywhere need exceptional programs to help them with a variety of issues and problems. Hopefully, in some small way my program can introduce a new model, a new way health professionals can do just that. Then others can take that model and run with it, improve it, take it further, and together we can all serve each other and all the wonderful people who are hungry to suffer less and to live and love more.
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2022?
Cheryl Fraser: Oh how I wish I’d been told to hire a great team from the beginning, to trust my vision, and invest in the future success before the program was up and running. I was too chicken to take a business loan! So instead, I was seeing lots and lots of patients in my private practice to fund the creation of Become Passion. I was effectively working two full time jobs as a psychologist and as a solopreneur. I was poised to explode, I was ahead of the curve, but my launch was slowed by 2-3 years because I was going it alone.
In 2022, I’ve been improving on this. I’ve hired two amazing team members. This is allowing me to begin to work ON the business instead of always IN the business. It’s freeing up time to plan ahead, focus on growing, and to have some room to contemplate the big picture. It’s also going to allow me to focus on my “zone of genius” as they say—spending my time on what only I can do—actually serving the couples by teaching, creating content, designing programs, recording podcasts, writing articles, and more.
The other thing I’ve recently done is hire a boutique PR firm to pitch me to podcast hosts, TV, print, and more. I’ve always had an excellent but small media presence, but I had no time to pitch myself. If I’d invested in a PR firm two years ago, I suspect my audience would be 4x the size it is, but better late than never!
Thanks to this interview and my answer to the question above, I can now see one new aspect of the business I may create in 2023. I may help other health professionals create impactful, effective programs and, perhaps. even host their programs under the Right Speech Inc. umbrella.
Online business surged higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for 2022?
Cheryl Fraser: For my own business, I expect significant growth in 2023. With the greater PR presence, I expect to increase my audience size by 4X or more. I’ll keep serving my audience with amazing free content and helping as many couples as I can. When I launch my program twice in the next 12 months, I expect to increase my program sales 4X over last year.
I am currently selling only B2C, but this year I am moving into B2B by looking at licensing my program to companies. I just did a beta test where I offered my couples program to 100 police officers and their spouses. I hope to bring my work to many more law enforcement groups, military, veterans, and more. This could increase my growth by 10X where I am currently.
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen?
Cheryl Fraser: I don’t actually know! But given that the majority of my work is now onscreen, all the backend running of the business, then of course I teach onscreen, record my podcast onscreen, and write content onscreen! (Wow, what a change from 2019 when I sat across from flesh and blood humans in my office all day!)
I’d say I spend six to eight hours on average, but as I work at home and much of my day I design myself, I am able to build in a fantastic flow. A typical day might look like:
7a-8a – Meditate, tea with my husband, connect, set our relationship aspirations for the day (yes, I practice what I preach!).
8a-9:30a – Work on my most creative project—the one that needs my fresh, alert, juicy morning brain like writing an important article, filming a video, recording a podcast, etc.
9:30a-11a – Dog hike in the woods here on Vancouver Island, and jumping on the rowing machine.
11a-1p – Work on running the business, interviews, etc.
1p-2p – Lunch while watching some stand up comedy.
2p-5p – Work on a mixture of things.
Then dinner, personal time, another dog hike, and some nights when the creativity is sparking, I’ll do some more content creation!
I shut it all down by 8pm, and I protect my time and energy in general, all the time, by avoiding social media, never watching the news, and reading actual paper books at night.
The majority of executives use stories to persuade and communicate in the workplace. Can you share with our readers examples of how you implement that in your business to communicate effectively with your team?
Cheryl Fraser: I use stories extensively in my business with my team and particularly with my clients. After all, my business is about teaching couples how to communicate, how to share their inner world with their partner, how to resolve conflict, how to keep the spark alive, and how to cultivate a passionate, satisfying sexual life. Nothing helps my audience feel understood better than hearing their own story reflected in the stories of other couples I’ve worked with.
My sales webinar and all of my other work is full of stories of couples who have recovered from affairs, stepped back from the brink of divorce, revived a boring relationship, finally learned how to fight fair, began making love after decades of a sexless relationship, and more. I also have started using video testimonials from couples, which are super powerful for my clients to hear stories from couples just like them, in their own words.
I weave in stories throughout my work. In fact, I’d say one of my superpowers as a teacher and communicator is taking incredibly complex material and making it understandable, then relatable, and even inspiring. I provide actionable tools, solutions or practices to help my clients create meaningful change.
Even more powerful than stories about real life couples are couples my clients can see themselves reflected in. The multiple stories I tell about my own relationship life from “I Do,” to Divorce, to meeting my second husband while researching an online dating article matter to my clients.
For example, here’s one simple story that always resonates. My husband and I joined two other couples on a wilderness kayaking trip in 2020. Now, my sweetie and I had only paddled solo kayaks, but this trip we were placed in a double. Problem is, the guy in the back has the pedals so he steers, and the person in the front (control- freak Cheryl) cannot steer. Now, I assumed my 6’1″ husband could see above my 5’4″ head. But he kept steering us into the kayak in front, or the rocks, or in a dangerous turn of events, into a pissed off (and 2000 lb) sea lion. So we started whisper-fighting. “Turn LEFT!” I hissed. “Can’t you see that ROCK?!”
During this story, the chat box is blowing up with couples sharing their own whisper fights, talking about how they didn’t speak for a day afterward, how it ruined the trip/dinner party/wedding, and how ALL of us somehow think no one around is can hear a whisper fight—BUT THEY ALL CAN!
Next, I continue the story. It turns out he couldn’t see over me (the kayak design prevented it). I then use that story to illustrate the teaching point: Until we can see the partners’ POV, we are arguing from a blind spot. Successful conflict resolution has to begin with, “Tell me what you see? I see it differently.” Until we know each other’s reality, we cannot reach understanding or resolution.
PS – shout out to my husband for letting me air our dirty laundry so we can help other couples grow! But when couples see the so-called love expert screwing up, it gives them hope that they, too, can learn, grow, and build love that lasts a lifetime.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Cheryl Fraser: A fun challenge that I hope is coming as we speak is competition. I hope other healthcare professionals and others in my field of couples work will create online programs and there will be more and better ways to serve people. To some degree, I guess I’ve blazed the trail, at least for my rather rigid and traditional field. Maybe that can inspire some other leaders to improve on what I have done, bring some great ideas to the online program space. I can then benefit and we can all do a better job of helping reduce suffering and helping increase growth and well being.
One obstacle, or as I like to call a freaking growth opportunity (FGO), is being heard through the noise. Then, when I am heard, to then help my audience understand that real change takes time. I teach complex material, and there is no quick fix to relationship ills. So though I’m good at sound bytes, creating short relatable content, and catching the interest of my ideal customer, the challenge is to then help that couple see that if they want to create meaningful change, they need to invest time, resources, and commit to really doing the work.
I’m also working on expanding my audience reach by creating an audio book of Buddha’s Bedroom and re-launching the book, giving a Ted talk, and more.
In 2022, what are you most interested in learning about? Crypto, NFTs, online marketing, or any other skill sets? Please share your motivations.
Cheryl Fraser: I’m most interested in increasing audience reach (lead generation), learning new ways to reach couples, applying new methods to increase the impact of my Become Passion program, such as adding a text-based accountability piece, and more.
My motivation is pretty simple. As my audience grows, I can help more couples with my free content. Then, for those who choose to join me on a 12-week couples journey, I want to improve the program effectiveness by improving the accountability, check -in, and community aspects. Why? Because research on behaviour change shows those components predict higher success, not just in the short term, but over time, and that’s what I’m after for my couples.
I’m also in the process of learning about licensing my programs and selling them B2B. As mentioned, I’d like to expand my ability to serve police officers, military, veterans, and more with this material.
My team and I are committed to always be learning, always asking the questions “How can we improve? How can we continue to deliver a world-class learning and transformational experience to couples in trouble?”
A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September in 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation. 47% of people plan to leave their job during 2022. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. Do you think leaders see the data and think “that’s not me – I’m not that boss they don’t want to work for? What changes do you think need to happen?
Cheryl Fraser: Hire people who demonstrate ethical and spiritual alignment with your company values and missions, and treat them well. Create a model for healthy workplace communication and conflict resolution so everyone from the top to the bottom feels safe and empowered to communicate freely and openly about the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Support flexible hours, shorter work weeks, and a mix of at office and at home work. Implement a wellness program that incorporates mindfulness training, physical fitness, and mental health support. Have fun together often.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Cheryl Fraser: Oooh, that one’s easy. I’d have a magical ability to get both members of the couple to actually do the work so they can create the change they crave! While my engagement and success rates are high, there is a proportion of my clients, maybe 10% – 15%, where one partner is all-in to do the work, but the other won’t participate.
I wish I could reach through the screen and touch the reluctant heart of the partner who won’t participate and help them see that they only have three choices in their relationship: 1. stay the way it is (unhappy, unsatisfying, or worse), 2. break up, or 3. stay and create change for the better. If you want more happiness, connection, ease, and yummy sex, you gotta do the work.
I’d choose that, and the ability to keep up with my emails, in mere seconds and stress free!
What does “success” in 2022 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Cheryl Fraser: More than a decade ago I created my company vision—To Awaken the Planet, One Lover at a Time. Back then, I was teaching live events and then offering a couples weekend to the audience. Now, I can reach and serve more couples online than I could have ever imagined.
So “success” at the business level looks like helping more couples. The clients who take the Become Passion program have become better partners, better lovers, and most importantly, better human beings. My vision is to have them apply what they’ve learned about compassionate communication, forgiveness, seeing the perspective of those we disagree with, and more with their kids, co-workers, community, and the world.
I’d also like to create enough company income that I can offer the program for free to disenfranchised groups, low income couples, teens and young couples, and more.
Personally, success looks like always remembering the vision and why I do this work. Remembering the elephant, that seed of awakened compassionate wisdom inside each of us that simply needs some water and some love so it can grow, and so it can overcome the confused ego that only wants to care for itself.
In my home when I consistently practice what I preach and am kind, funny, loving, and passionate with my husband all of the time instead of only at my best moments, that will be success, indeed.
Jerome Knyszewski, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Cheryl Fraser for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Cheryl Fraser or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
Disclaimer: The ValiantCEO Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.