Here’s a scenario I see playing out over and over: an expert is passionate about teaching others how to do something by teaching a “how-to” skill (a type of learning which educational researcher and theorist Robert M. Gagné calls “intellectual skills”).
But it soon becomes apparent that before people can learn how to perform this new skill, they are going to need a mindset make-over.
It’s true for everyone: before we are ready to learn the steps that go into performing a new skill, we need to be motivated and in the right frame of mind to believe we can do it.
Can you relate?
How’s YOUR mindset doing these days?
If I’m honest, my mindset has gotten a bit frayed around the edges by the events of the past year.
Can we talk here?
First of all, those of us in the online education space are, I think, among the luckiest people on the planet.
In sharp contrast to many businesses, ours have been impacted POSITIVELY by the Coronavirus pandemic.
One definition of learning is that it involves adapting to our environment in ways that promote survival.
The pandemic has literally thrown the issue of survival into high relief on a global scale.
People are hungry to learn new skills, new attitudes, new ways of learning and being.
And the pandemic has pushed the location of that learning online.
So all of us are in a position to benefit from that.
But we can’t benefit if we don’t know how… if we don’t have the skills. That’s what the Course Design Formula® helps you do. It helps you develop the skills needed to teach effectively, online.
In addition to my high-level mastermind, the Course Design Formula® Master Course, which just launched for the fifth time with a wonderful new cohort of experts and entrepreneurs, I’ve created a short, fast, effective (and much less expensive) self-paced course, Streamlined Course Creation, to help anyone outline their course and plan all their lessons in just a few days.
Can we talk business here? I absolutely adore what I do… and am incredibly grateful for each of you... my wonderful community, readers, clients, students, supporters, family and friends.
It takes a village not just to raise a child but to support a business, and I’m incredibly thankful and grateful for the village I’ve built over the past 7 years since founding Learn and Get Smarter, Inc.
Each of us as entrepreneurs is like the catalyzer who provides the “stone” for the “Stone Soup”: we provide an idea, an incentive, a spark…something that energizes a community around an idea in order to turn it into a reality.
In order to do that well, we MUST have a strong, positive mindset that not only keeps US inspired to turn a vision into a reality, but inspires others as well.
A positive mindset is essential to make a business work. It doesn’t matter how many skills we have... if our mindset is not steady, strong, and positive, our businesses are not going to work.
Why do we need a positive mindset? Well I’ll be honest here. I worked incredibly hard this past year. It was my first year of making real revenue in the business, and I am so grateful for that. But the business costs a lot to run. There are payments for platforms, hosting, infrastructure, services, security, training, accounting, the list goes on. So even though I had a great revenue year, my actual profits were very small. In order to have a successful ongoing business that really makes money, I need a way to SCALE my business so the profits are large.. so that revenue coming in far exceeds the annual cost I must pay to keep the business going and online.
But as you know, my passion is teaching, not selling. I’m not really a businesswoman. I’m an educator, and from what I’ve seen over and over again at conferences and from talking to others, the mindset needed to succeed in business and the mindset needed to teach effectively are not always the same.
If I want to be able to KEEP teaching effectively in the online space, though, I have to do more than make revenue. I have to make a profit. A GOOD profit.
And in order to do that, I have to be able to scale. My experience over the past 7 years has shown me that my coaching and Master Course, while wonderfully successful from a TEACHING point of view, are not going to be able to scale.
Coaching by definition is not scalable because it’s limited by the coach’s time, and we all have limited time.
My Master Course works so well as a teaching and learning experience because it’s limited to small batch cohorts of about 10 new people each. That means I can devote a lot of time and attention to each new student, which is what I love to do.
The Master Course is scalable in terms of IMPACT. If each new student goes out into the world and teaches in highly effective ways, which my Master Course students ARE doing, the global impact of effective online teaching using the Course Design Formula® will grow.
But if potential revenue from the Master Course is capped at about $20,000 total revenue twice a year, that’s not a scalable (or even successful) business, because it costs me more than that to keep everything going.
So I created Streamlined Course Creation, a self-paced evergreen course that sells for $497. And now I need to figure out how to sell that course in a scalable way. And (can we talk here? I know I’m among friends) I hate selling. I hate it with a passion. Which is NOT the right mindset for an entrepreneur, at all. Which means I need a mindset makeover.
I’m sharing my story here in the hopes that it will resonate with you, and help you to examine your own mindset too.
What are your mindset blocks and limiting beliefs
that are stopping you from growing and succeeding in YOUR online course business?
And more importantly, how can you address them?
The way to bring about effective mindset change, based on Gagné’s research into how people learn, is to follow a five-fold process.
Let’s review that now:
Mindset change is different than other types of learning because it involves our emotions, not our intellect.
One of my students shared a very deep piece of wisdom, when they reflected that even though I as the teacher had EXPLAINED how to do something, it was a very different experience for them when they actually tried to DO that same thing.
It’s one thing to remember what was taught and understand how to do it (the two lowest levels of Bloom’s taxonomy) ... but another thing entirely to actually APPLY what was taught.
Applying learning is hard. It takes us out of our comfort zone. And that requires a strong supportive mindset in order to keep us motivated long enough to master the new skill and succeed. This is true of all learning, of any kind.
Now take the kind of learning that will enable us to succeed as entrepreneurs running our own businesses… requiring many complex skill sets and the overcoming of constant challenges. If we don’t have our mindset dialed in, nothing beyond that point is going to work.
I need a mindset makeover right about now, and I was wondering if you might too.
Let’s look at the five-step Mindset Makeover Method™ and see how we can apply it to our own situations.
I’ll go first, by way of example
(See what I did there? Being a role model!)
and I hope you will share your situation too via email
(See what I did there? Creating long term ongoing support).
THE MINDSET MAKEOVER METHOD™
Step 1: identify what’s not working
People ask me… “Rebecca, you’re trying to bring about a POSITIVE mindset change, so why are we starting by focusing on the negative?”
It’s a great question, and the reason is, that mindset change is a CHOICE.
People always have the option of continuing their current mindset.
So it’s important to be clear about why that’s not an EFFECTIVE thing to do, and what the long-term consequences of making that choice will be.
That said, the learner always has the option of continuing the ineffective mindset and the behaviors that go along with it.
(But if they choose the ineffective way, there’s not much point in going farther into a mindset change experience, is there?)
So what’s not working for me?
Hmm. I’ve been allowing myself to dwell on the negative, to think about all the reasons why I might NOT be able to successfully scale my business, why I don’t really want to, telling myself I’m an educator not an entrepreneur, rehashing cultural trainings about why money is the root of all evil and so on. I’ve been visualizing myself living down by the river in the homeless encampment. (Energy follows thought, so this is an especially unhelpful practice to follow!)
I’ve been wallowing in ancestral teachings about how women shouldn’t bother their pretty little heads about making money. I could go on and on.
So basically, I’ve been renting out space in my brain to all the energies and forces that DON’T want to see me succeed.
Once I put that down on paper like that and share it with you, I can see how extremely unhelpful those habits and practices are. All of that has to stop NOW.
In addition, I can see that I’m succumbing to a bit of pandemic fatigue. I’ve been slipping on daily habits of self-care, home care, and so on. It’s like, who cares, why bother, it’s all too much. I’ve been working 18-hour days for the past 12 years, made good money this year but only made a tiny profit, and then got hit with a $10,000 tax bill because I’d made revenue.
So it’s understandable that all of that is quite demotivating… plus the post-pandemic landscape that’s emerging shows that many things I loved and found sustaining... from my weekly Pilates class to local venues for relaxation and fun… are not returning in the form they were in before, or in any form at all.
All work and no play becomes demotivating for anyone.
So perhaps one of the helpful things I need to do going forward, is find NEW ways to relax and have fun, so as to be able to work in a sustainable way.
There’s an elephant in the room whose presence it’s unhelpful not to recognize -- and that is that while we don’t yet know what shape life will take in the post-pandemic landscape, life as we knew it is never going to be the same.
I think it’s time to acknowledge and face that now, and I think one reason I’ve been feeling down is that I need to process my grief about all that we’ve lost.
Whether that’s actual people that so many have lost this year, ways of living and working and being and doing and sharing, travel, human connection, the list goes on.
I’m realizing that we are not just in a temporary interruption to our ongoing way of life. We are in a new reality, whose nature is still unknown... and that means that the loss of our old reality needs to be mourned.
Facing that loss, and dealing with the feelings of sadness and loss it brings up, is an important part of being able to let go of what was and move on to creating the most positive vision possible of what can be.
Step 2: Identify what would work better
So let’s explore that. What CAN work better than these unhelpful ways of thinking and behaving?
Working our way up Maslow’s hierarchy, I need to start with positive self-care habits every day. I lost almost 30 lbs. last year by writing down everything I ate using the Weight Watchers app, but lately I’ve had a “why bother” attitude towards doing that. I need to start writing everything down again because I still have another 30 lbs. I want to lose. That’s an achievable long-term goal to work towards, and it starts with tiny habits practiced every day.
I need to say NO to any of those negative thoughts and all that negative self-talk about business and money and marketing and sales.
Just got off a call with a wise business mentor, which made me realize that what I’m doing is not even about ME, it’s about YOU, and the people you serve.
There are several areas out there in the world of online business that do not always work as well as they should. One is the business of helping people SELL things online. Some people are good at selling their own marketing services, but not everyone is as good at promoting the services of those they market to. The same is true for the business of TEACHING online. Many people are good at selling online courses, or selling the IDEA of online courses. What I’m here to do though is help people ensure their online courses are WORTH selling because they actually teach effectively.
I need to find the people and organizations for whom knowing how to do that would make a critical difference. I need to stop thinking about what I need to GET, and start figuring out who I can best SERVE with my Streamlined Course Creation Course.
So I guess one of the things that would work better, mindset-wise, would be to adopt the mindset embodied in the Allegory of the Long Spoons. (You can read about it here.) The gist of the story, and the point of the mindset shift, is that everyone benefits when we use our tools and resources (the long spoons) to feed and nourish others, rather than focusing on "getting all the things" for ourselves.
Step 3: Find inspiring role models to emulate
I started watching a wonderful reality TV show called “Undercover Billionaire”. I found it by accident, just browsing for something to watch, but it’s actually the perfect thing that I needed, and you may find it inspiring as well.
The premise of the show is that a highly successful self-made businessperson gets dropped off in a community where they don’t know anyone. They can’t use their real name, their connections, or their money. All they have is $100 in cash and a cellphone with no contacts, and they have to build a business worth one million dollars in 90 days.
The show is fascinating as it reveals the mindset that successful entrepreneurs use to bring about societal change. I won’t reveal the details because I hope you’ll watch it yourself and find it as inspiring as I do…but the point I want to make here is WHY I find it so inspiring.
The people in the show did not have to do this. They are all highly successful people living comfortable lives. They did this because they wanted to challenge themselves (which is one of the things that we all share as entrepreneurs, I think... a desire to challenge ourselves) and they wanted to make a difference and show that the American Dream is still alive and still attainable.
One of the things that makes entrepreneurs so fascinating is that we are each unique. We are groundbreakers and disruptors who bring in new ideas. My secret sauce, for example, is that I help you turn your mind into money, in a way that makes the lives of the people you serve, better.
The TV show makes me realize that it’s worth it to do hard things and get out of my comfort zone, not for the sake of making money (which is not something that motivates me very much per se) but for the sake of making a difference for people (which DOES motivate me, a lot).
The show also demonstrates how each entrepreneur (there are multiple entrepreneurs in Season 2) uses their OWN unique skill set to create value for others. This inspires me to keep going in discovering what’s unique and special that I offer, and how it can make the world a better place.
Step 4: Find your WHY
This is the most important aspect of mindset change. If you don’t know WHY you need and want to change your mindset and behavior, (or worse, if you don’t even HAVE a why for doing so), then there’s no incentive for getting out of your emotional comfort zone and doing things differently, in ways that are often painful, hard, and new at the beginning.
First you need to find your short term why, and then your longer term why.
The short term why will keep you motivated to get over any initial resistance to changing your mindset, and the long term why will keep you going for the long haul.
What’s MY why?
My short term why is that I need and want to find the ideal target market for my Streamlined Course Creation course, this year. I need to get proof of concept: to prove that a self-paced evergreen (and therefore, scalable) online course can be highly effective at helping people apply the Course Design Formula® to their unique subject matter in ways that work for them. I need to figure out who would most benefit from this self-paced evergreen model, and start reaching out to them.
My long term why is that unless we can ENSURE that self-paced, evergreen online courses actually WORK to teach effectively, the market for online courses is going to dry up. We will still be able to teach online in live synchronous ways (such as Zoom meetings), and coaching. But those are not scalable business models that take advantage of the affordances of the online learning space to provide asynchronous instruction: anytime, on demand.
Many people are making money selling online courses, but my goal is to ensure that everyone who does that is also making a lot of DIFFERENCE with their online courses -- because the courses really WORK to provide the promised transformation.
Everyone I talk to has stories to tell about online courses they’ve paid good money for, that didn’t deliver the promised results.
Most of us have experienced for ourselves that we’ve paid for a course and then not taken it.
Maybe some of that is on us. You can’t blame the manufacturer of a treadmill if the person who purchased the treadmill never takes it out of the box.
But if the box is hard to open or the treadmill is hard to set up or doesn’t work as promised, then it IS the manufacturer’s fault.
My goal is for every online course creator who WANTS to create a high-quality learning product that really delivers, to have the skills they need to do so, in a way that is fast and effective for them.
My long-term why is to be able to make that happen for everyone in the world who wants to do it, in a scalable evergreen way... so that we can all prove that online learning really WORKS to help people learn and get smarter.
And my deeper why behind THAT is to preserve the market for online courses, which is going to dry up (its already happening, and we need to turn that trend around FAST).
Because if too many people buy too many online courses that DON’T deliver on their promises, people will simply stop buying online courses, and who can blame them?
We need to make sure that doesn’t happen, and as online course creators, that is up to us.
My long term why is to make sure that doesn’t happen to YOU.
Step 5: Get long term ongoing support
Mindset change doesn’t happen in a vacuum. This is where your “village” comes in.
I notice that the Undercover Billionaires all made finding people to connect with, one of the first things they did when plunked down in the middle of an unknown city.
Building connections is essential to building a business, finding a target market, and selling a course.
Along those lines, I’d like to give a shout out to Sophie Lechner. Using her LinkedIn Magnet Method, Sophie helps entrepreneurs increase sales by building meaningful relationships with clients and influencers across global markets. Her secret sauce in helping people build meaningful connections and community is truly amazing.
I’m learning so much from Sophie’s LinkedIn coaching. That said, my mindset in using LinkedIn is one of the things I need to change. I’ve been much more familiar and comfortable with Facebook. LinkedIn works differently, and I’m grateful to Sophie for helping me understand how to navigate the platform and build meaningful networks for mutually supportive business connections.
Mindset change is an ongoing process.... that’s why you need LONG TERM support, and why you need a LONG TERM “WHY” to keep you going.
I think the main thing I need to realize (and perhaps you do, too) is what makes my products and services unique. Each of us occupies a specific niche in an online ecosystem.
We provide products and services that no one else does, to a specific market that no one else serves (or that no one else serves in exactly the same way we do). In fact, one thing that I find effective is to find other entrepreneurs who DO serve your same market, in ways that are complementary to what you provide. That way you can refer the same clients to each other to provide added benefits that your target audience needs.
Case in point: I’m grateful to Kim Garnett aka “Brainy Girl” who helps online course creators get their courses set up on Thinkific. Kim’s self-paced Thinkific Bootcamp is an AMAZING, one-of-a- kind resource you can use to optimize your Thinkific site. Kim and I provide complementary services to similar audiences, and I’m grateful for the synergy created when entrepreneurs can support each other and their respective target audiences through mutual referrals that provide expanded areas of expertise. (The links in this paragraph are my affiliate links for Kim’s programs).
How about you?
What unhelpful mindset and behavior habits are YOU engaging in, that are holding you back from your business potential and growth?
Has the pandemic gotten you down in ways you need to get up from?
How can I be part of YOUR long-term ongoing support community?
Drop me a note to Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com and tell me about YOUR “mindset makeover” and how you plan to accomplish it…I’d love to hear!
Come to the Learn and Get Smarter
Where we talk about how to survive and thrive with online courses and online learning
in these challenging times
Saturday, June 26th, 2021
9 AM Pacific/ 12 Noon Eastern