Note: Recently, I published a post about blowing things up.
That post literally got more comments than any other post I’ve ever received on this site.
Clearly, I’m not the only one frustrated by the system as it exists. I’ve been getting a lot of questions and comments via email and social media about that cliffhanger in my previous blog post. Sorry about that.
There’s just so much to say, and I was already close to 2,000 words last time. I didn’t want to push my luck with you.
When I began my marketing career over 20 years ago, I never dreamed I’d have the opportunity to impact so many small business folks. And not just as a consultant, but as a teacher.
It’s truly been a gift to help hundreds of entrepreneurs like you find clarity about your ideas and brands, create marketing and business plans you could implement wisely, and most of all, facilitate an understanding of the right tools and resources that could help you realize your visions.
I can’t tell you how touched I’ve been by the thank you notes and gifts some of you’ve sent me. One student recently emailed to say she’d been racking her brains about how to afford a plane ticket to the West Coast so she could meet me in person at an event I’m attending today. She said I’d made quite an impact on her.
I don’t take that kind of feedback lightly. Nope. It really means a lot. But not nearly as much as hearing about how things “come into focus” for you. Or how what you’ve learned in my class has made all the difference. That’s the kind of stuff that makes it all worthwhile. Yes, teaching (and coaching) are the reasons I’m here. But I know I can do better.
Here’s the BIG announcement
That thing I’ve been working on? It’s called Prosperity’s Kitchen. And I truly believe this will shift the paradigm of online learning and make BIG things happen in all of our businesses. Here’s why: The Accountability Factor.
Think about it: When are you most accountable to your goals?
If you’re like most of us, it’s when you’re sharing face time with a partner or a group of people. You show up for that walk when you’ve got a buddy who’s waiting for you. You write that blog post when you’ve committed to someone else’s deadline (e.g., guest posts!). You follow through when you know your mastermind is waiting to hear your good news.
We all tend to show up more often and more completely when there’s someone else watching. Looking us in the eye and witnessing our progress. I know it’s the reason why the engagement rate of my offline courses is so much higher. Because I’m there every week to say, “I see you.”
This Can Happen Online, Too
Consider the efforts of Johnny B. Truant and his time spent with Naomi Dunford of IttyBiz.com in The Johnny Project. For those of you who missed it, Johnny approached Ms. Dunford back in 2009 with the idea to create a case study of him and his new online business. He was just learning the ropes of marketing online and so he volunteered to be her guinea pig. But in a public way. She would coach him. He would implement. And then he’d blog about his results.
This was the story of the average Joe learning how to blog and promote his business on the internet. If she could teach him how to do things — and he succeeded — they would both go home happy.
“I suggested it as a mutual win. Luckily, she agreed that it was. But she already knew my stuff and liked it. I doubt it would’ve worked AT ALL if my pitch had been cold,” he told me.
He didn’t pay her and she didn’t pay him. All told, the project lasted about 3 or 4 months. In the end, both of them gained a whole lot of new eyeballs on their websites (and new revenue, too).
When I asked Johnny why he thought it worked so well, he said, “…because I implemented like a motherfucker.”
I would also venture to say, that his story of implementation made for great drama. One that drew in hundreds of thousands of readers. Those people rooted for him. They cheered his successes. And they sympathized with his struggles. They were engaged in the narrative.
Now, if you know anything about Johnny B. Truant, you know that he would’ve become the A-list blogger he is today with or without Naomi’s help. He’s got something special, that guy. But the Johnny Project certainly helped him grow his business a lot faster than it would’ve otherwise. And THAT is my point.
We tend to give things our all when people are watching
And when people are watching, we grow. Bigger, better and more brainy. We grow into the best versions of ourselves.
Want another example? Take the contestants of “Biggest Loser.” Those folks rarely give up on their goals to win the ultimate prize: a healthy, fabulous body. Okay, so $250,000 doesn’t hurt, either. In fact, the combination of public accountability and a humongous prize is highly motivating, wouldn’t you say? And not just to those who play on t.v. Nope. There’s also a chance for fans to play along at home (and win $100,000).
Games + Public Accountability = Big Time Engagement
Can you see where I’m going with this? The project I’m working on (Prosperity’s Kitchen) will be modeled after a cross between The Biggest Loser and Hell’s Kitchen — but for entrepreneurs. And delivered on the web.
The idea being that folks who participate — whether as public contestants or those at home — will learn and take action in a public way.
And if you play, you’ll get some kick-butt advice and coaching, plus tools and the mentoring to IMPLEMENT. And you’ll commit to creating real change in your business in a way that will keep you motivated, engaged and most of all accountable. To yourselves. And to us.
To that end, Kim and I have begun recruiting guest experts and sponsors. (And yes, Johnny Truant will be one of them!) But there’s still a lot to figure out.
We have to understand what kind of prize (beyond building an awesome business) would keep you moving toward your goals. We’re pulling a focus group together, but even if you can’t spare the time for that, we still need your advice.
If you have a second, please leave a comment and share your thoughts on the project. Because we’re not doing this half-way. It’s got to be the full enchilada, baby. Is this something you’d be interested in participating in? Would you “tune in” each week to watch a web series like this? What would you want to learn? Who would you want to hear from? Make your voice heard! (And if you’d like to get in on the focus group, let us know that, too.)
I really like this! When you’re just starting out, you can sometimes feel like people that are successful are super human somehow and trying to figure out how to get where there are can be overwhelming. To be a successful entrepreneur, you need vision and a path to implement. Many have the vision, not all understand which direction to move in and often wander. Knowing where to start and having a group to help you along is half the battle.I’m currently participating in the 10×3 group Jon Morrow put together and having a team of 10 other people to provide feedback and support has been really helpful. (It doesn’t hurt that Jon is brilliant too.) It’s also very motivating to see someone else in the group succeed because it makes you feel like if they can do it, so can you. So, not only do I get the motivation because they are watching (as you pointed out), I am motivated by seeing that none of us are superheros – just “implementing like motherfuckers.”I’d be happy to help with focus groups, interviews or guest posts — whatever you need to get you there. I’d be happy to share my experiences with growing my own business and sharing what I’ve learned. It’s the community that makes the internet awesome.
Great idea. I’d be happy to participate in your focus group.
Like Flora, I’d be keenly interested as a contestant, Tea. But as long as I get enough time to get ready, I’d participate in the focus group as well. Will the format allow for offline work as well? Those kinds of groups have been gaining in popularity online of late, because they allow participants to make a more thorough input.
First of all, WOW what a comment. You’ve already got me thinking about my next follow-up post for this (so, thank you Zeus). Second, I have to agree with you about intrinsic motivations/rewards. My struggle right now is to find the right balance between both inner/outer. And find the secret to helping folks find and nurture whatever it is that gets them fired up and ready to accomplish their goals. Really looking forward to our chat!
Coolbeans, Kelli. Will get you an invite to the focus group meeting.
First off, WOW. This is a great comment and is already sparking a follow-up post (so, thank you). Second, I agree with you about the motivational thing being internal much of the time. The more I study game mechanics, the more I realize that a lot of what keeps us playing them has to do with intrinsic emotional rewards — even though they are often triggered by something external.There will always be a certain something that separates the go-getters from those who continue to struggle with implementation. I suspect that something consists of many variables, making it that much harder to nail down. But the question remains: why is it that some people seem to find the inner motivation to accomplish their goals and others don’t? It is just that they don’t “want it” strongly enough?Can’t wait to chat with you about this.
Love this idea and I would love to help out. It’s interesting that you talk about accountability. It’s lacking out there, even in the real world. I attended my women’s business mastermind last night just to find out that more than half the group wasn’t coming. We started in May and 3 didn’t show up for the frst meeting. We cancelled June because it was going to be just me and the moderator. These women don’t care about the group and really don’t understand the whole mastermind concept. It’s pretty sad because I’m paying for this. Looking forward to hearing more.
I suspect you are devoting quite a bit of your time recently to Prosperity’s Kitchen. I read the above piece, and I have to both strongly agree and play devil’s advocate by saying there is something else also going on here. [Serendipity warning: Turns out much of what I want to talk to you about fits right into your Prosperity’s Kitchen collaboration and concern with getting your clients toward effective implementation.]First, let me reaffirm your own surprise observation about yourself: You are a teacher and not just a consultant. You are a very good teacher, at that (I can say that as a former professor and teacher educator). But more intriguingly you occupy a rare space in online consulting and teaching that I don’t think you fully recognize that has BIG value. It is the space between the technicians (nuts and bolts) and the motivational “framing” gurus (big picture, “make your bliss” types).Few people are willing or able to stand in the middle between the two and enact well the application, relationship, and conversation needed to create successful implementation. Techs say “do this” and gurus say “be this”. You say, “Bring this about.” That is also what I do as a learning consultant. Teachers and gurus on one side say “do this” (method, etc.). Educational therapists say “be this” (kind of person, etc.) to do your best work. I say, “Who are you and how can you connect with yourself with the material in a way that works and produces for you.” I am successful at doing this in learning consulting, I just helped a student write a 20 page semester research paper in about 3-4 days, but I have a lot to learn in transferring this ability to an online environment. That is the key– connection, and connection is between both internal and external and between client and consultant. External is what I call the “rah rah”. In your formula this is: Game + Accountability = Success, i.e. pressure vs. procrastination. It works, but…. it works better (in my case anyway) when connected with the internal.Internal is what I call the “hoo ah”. Here the formula is: Diary/working notebook + Mentoring/personal relationship = Success, i.e. support vs. bewilderment.Depending upon the person, especially if they are introspective, the latter may play a greater role, and hence be underserved in the burgeoning but increasingly generic market aimed at budding bloggers. Much like the great teachers I know who did not do that well in school, introspective entrepreneurs have a more non-institutional character that needs to be linked up in unusual ways with the conventional tools of teaching or online business. In learning consulting I can make this link, because I am one of those unconventional learners myself. This “rah rah” stuff, for me, is useful only insofar as it lays out the ground and helps me avoid pitfalls. For me, mentoring, sharing specific choices and reasoning and getting personally informed, coherent, integrated advice is what greases successful implementation. I am a ready and prolific producer of high quality content. My time management is decent. However, I lack that “rubber hits the road” knowledge component about effective delivery, one that allows my concept to hit audience habits, needs, and desires in a user-friendly and continuously developed way. The best, most mature form of this mentoring is what I would call mutual mentoring or simply collaboration, you and I professionally exchanging our “wheelhouse” skills and knowledge to help each other succeed. (By the way, I am willing to volunteer to be a guinea pig in your Prosperity’s Kitchen experiment). I think it was much more the mentoring Johnny B. Truant received then the accountability that spelled his success. It certainly is that way for me. I can accomplish almost anything with almost no barrier to implementation with competent mentoring. (In this sense, both Johnny B. and Jon Morrow kind of overpromised.) I don’t personally need the pressure of public accountability or motivational speeches. I feel drawn forward by seeing people benefit from my public writing, and that motivates me, and successfully setting up and problem solving my delivery. I think it might be the same for many of your clients. This does not have to be purely one on one. I could benefit immensely from good, adaptable material delivered in a personal, fun style which integrates of information and requirements for different stages of my online business development, growing concentrically bigger from the basic web packages to the add-ons and higher capacity services I need as I grow. (If it were well produced, it could be video mentoring.) You’ve gone through this concentric development successfully with your own site and work. If you simply packaged what you’ve done (as an integrated, overall package that brings your various products together in a developmentally “scaffolded” way), and are able to train others, I think you could have not only a great influence, but make significant money filling a gaping hole/niche in the online consulting market.
Okay, Laurie! Look for an email from me in about a week…
Sign me up for the focus group, I’m happy to commit to the time to something that will help me grow my client base. That’s a topic I would love to learn more about, particularly as it applies to freelance writing if that is pertinent to your plans.
xoxo That means the WORLD to me, Pace! (Here’s to being a world-changing writer!)
Great, Loran – thanks! Look for an email from me in the next week or so.
Accountability is key. Without it, it’s easy to put things off and wait until later to get something done. I’m in a small Mastermind group. When I say I will do something, I feel more compelled to do that something. I don’t like saying I didn’t get it done. The thought of public accountability is a little more daunting but if there was a really fantastic prize for motivation then going public would be a little easier to bear.Laura Roeder had a launch party this week and was giving away half-day coaching sessions for free! I was coveting that prize, for sure.Sounds like a great project. I’d be willing to help with the focus group.
You know I’m going to support you in this however I can, right Tea?
This is fascinating. I’m certainly intrigued :)I think seeing other people doing things, just seeing some practical examples, is a great way to learn and adapt. This should make for an amazing seriesMatthew (Turndog Millionaire)
Oh, yes, the having other people’s P.O.V.s to draw upon can be HUGE!!! :>
Oop! “me” is nancy meadows
Hi Tea. I say ditto to what Flora said !
Thanks for all these ideas, Birdy! Will be happy to add you to the focus group. Look for info in about a week or so.
Sounds good, Flora! I will certainly do that once we’ve nailed it all down.
Love this idea Tea. You’re so right that we tend to step up when folks are watching us and holding us accountable. But even better, when you have sharp minds take a look at your endeavors, they can see what may be foggy for the business owner. Because I’m working on taming a number of projects I think I’m better suited to be a contestant than part of the focus group. Let me know what you’re looking for in contestants.
Yes! Yes! Yes!!! That’s why Bold Kitten Brigade & all its lovely pieces-parts happens every week, without fail – because I have peeps who I’m accountable to, both because of their membership monies, yes, but also because I believe in them & what they’re doing, and I don’t want to let them down.So, yes, I’d love to join the focus group, with the caveat, of PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE include meeting-reminders for both sets of peeps – the day-aheads & the 15-min. befores. What would I love to learn??? While it may not be obvious, what I’m loving most, and getting HUMUNGOUS value from ‘Secret Sauce’ right now, is the wide-open space for learning & application of said-learning that has been created.So, having that space, and then having within that space the ability to explore on a personally-felt as-needed basis, would be wonderful.Some kind of time-line-based thoughts would be lovely: as in, I’ve been hitting the wall uncomfortably from both sides of it now, about when to create & when to promote.Being a caregiver to a person-in-pain as well as having my own health+energy challenges to deal with, makes it hard to do both at once, which I gather is the ideal.So, yeah, how to do/implement these stuffs when you have these extra burdens would be lovely too. Kids, aging parents, negative neds & nellies, etc., etc., etc.Who to hear from: Johnny B. Truant is, of course, a must. 🙂 :>Catherine Caine is delightful+helpful.Nicole A. Fende is wondrous for making finances approachable+understandable.Charlie Gilkey has a wondrous combination of kindness+solid-get-it-done that I adore.Mark Silver has a wondrous way of combining the spiritual & the practical sides of biz.Jenny B. Bones has a spirit that is amazingpants at putting some spine into your day, while still being understanding of where you are now.Tori Deaux has a wondrous way with communities, and wondrous wisdom to share about same. I’m sure there are more, but this is being huge already, so I’ll pause for now. :>Eager to see what you two are cooking up! :>
I love this idea! With several colleagues, I have a writing Accountability Group. We post our intentions for a writing session on a private FB page, cheer each other on, and then write what we actually did. It is so motivating. I would be eager to participate!
I think it would be great to see a variety of small businesses working hard to get that much bigger. It’s always very motivating for me to see other people pull through and make it, like, I can do it too! I can’t wait to see where this goes, and I would totally be interested in participating in the focus group!