Learn about a course creator’s journey from depression to mindfulness coaching with innovative business misfit Dale Berkebile in this episode of the LMScast podcast hosted by LifterLMS. Dale is from Hellagood Life, a site dedicated to helping people find happiness and fulfillment through meditation, practices like journaling, and building habits.
Dale has been around the LifterLMS community for some years now, and we’re really excited to share his journey with the course building community and with WordPress. Dale describes his purpose in life as to challenge everyone to become innovative leaders so we can change the world together.
Being in business for over 22 years, Dale has learned a lot about hiring people and bringing people on who can help him while doing work for clients. In 2013, he created his own course and pre-sold it as he scrambled to learn how to develop the curriculum, put everything together with an LMS, and all the tech side of things. Dale made one sale on that course for $3,000, which was awesome to see that sale come through. But he was working 60-70 hours per week and was doing a lot of exhausting work for just the 1 student.
Living in Texas at the time with a 3-month-old son and his business on the rocks, Dale had to find a way to support his growing family, and so he wanted to try to create a more evergreen program. While clearing his driveway of ice, a guy stole Dale’s car and pulled out into the street, and Dale tried to chase down his car, but the guy got too far away.
This traumatic event and all the frustration surrounding it caused Dale to fall into a 2-year depression, and for six months he was an angry man and was always pissed off. He realized he needed help and struggled to get any sort of medical help, so he found his way into meditation. And through that he found sympathy for the person who stole his car, and he came out of his post-traumatic stress situation.
To learn more about Dale and his story and course/coaching programs he offers, check out Hellagood.life/imposter where you can check out some content around dealing with imposter syndrome and get into more of what Dale has to offer. You can also connect with Dale on LinkedIn and Facebook.
And at LifterLMS.com you can learn more about new developments and how you can use LifterLMS to build online courses and membership sites. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes here. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us!
Chris Badgett: You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking to create, launch, and scale a high-value online training program. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of LifterLMS, the most powerful learning management system for WordPress. Stay to the end. I’ve got something special for you. Enjoy the show.
Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. I’m joined by my good friend and colleague, Dale Berkebile. He’s from hellagood.life. Dale, welcome to the show.
Dale Berkebile: Hey, man. Thanks for having me. Yeah. I’m excited to be here.
Chris Badgett: I’ve seen you around the LifterLMS community for some years now, and we’ve become friends and connected. I’m really excited to share more of your journey with the course building community and with the WordPress professionals and the marketing professionals that support that community. You’re kind of a mix of all three of those people, so I think your story will be particularly interesting. We’re going to do something really special at the end of this episode. So if you’re listening to this in your earbuds or you’re watching on YouTube, be sure to stay to the end. In marketing, we call that an open loop. So you’re just going to have to hang on for that. Dale, one of the things you’ve helped me with a lot is thinking about my why. What is your why for life and business?
Dale Berkebile: Okay. So my purpose in life is to challenge people to become innovative leaders so that we can change the world together. That is one of those things that is a personal thing as well as a business thing. So if you know me personally, I’m challenging you to step up and change the world. If you’re in business, that’s something that it’s always good to be a leader and step up, and that’s something that we’ll talk about at the end as well. But, yeah, I’m all about trying to make impact, trying to change the world. And so I’m looking for people to help me. And so I challenge you to step up and become that innovative leader so we can work together on making some good stuff happen.
Chris Badgett: Your story, you’re open about just how life happens. Tell us a little bit about your story in terms of challenges and struggle and also your journey into this idea of course creation.
Dale Berkebile: Right, right. Okay. So in April, it’ll be 22 years that I’ve been in business. And so I’ve had an interesting journey in the marketing, sales training space. One of the things that was interesting was I was always looking for a way to grow a business. And so hiring people and bringing people on to help me scale and do these different things so I could get bigger clients once I was really good at sales was kind of a challenge. So I kind of struggled with bringing people on or keeping them on. So when an employee left and I’d sell a big project to a client, guess who gets stuck doing the work. This guy.
That was okay for a while because I’m really great at what I do and I think it’s a lot of fun. However, scalability was not there. I was struggling with that piece. So then I had a couple of partners that I was sort of working with and someone was like, “You know what we should do for some lead gen or for the training is just instead of doing coaching, create a course that we can train people on.” And so I worked with some people where we were doing that for a little bit. Working with partners that aren’t in your business but just are sort of aligned with your business can be challenging and seems great until you get into the thick of things. Then you’re dealing with clients and creating courses and all that kind of stuff. Everyone has different levels of quality and branding and all these different things. It can be a little challenging to do a group thing.
And so after I kind of washed my hands of that mess, that was where I first got into trying courses. I created my own course, and that was 2013. So what I did was I pre-sold the course. It was a 90 day course, and I was scrambling to learn… I wanted to do it better than my previous interactions with my partners. And so I was trying to teach myself how to learn to be an online educator. Then I was trying to write curriculum, which I had no idea how to do. Then I was designing everything. Then I was looking for an LMS to build it, the whole nine yards. I was doing everything. That was a course that I sold one. I was excited about that. That was a £3,000 course, so it was kind of a decent size sale. However, I was working 60, 70 hours a week and I was running myself-
Chris Badgett: Supporting one student on that?
Dale Berkebile: For one student, yeah. Well, because the goal was, this was going to be my goldmine, man. Like, “This is the thing that’s going to allow me to scale. I’m going to be able to sell this. Even though I just have one now, they’re paying for it, but then the next ones, it’s all going to be profit,” all that kind of stuff. But, yeah.
Chris Badgett: But you’ll record it, so you were kind of doing it raw the first time and then you would have a product at the end, right?
Dale Berkebile: Yeah, yeah. Well, I pre-recorded it. But the thing was it was kind of in the marketing space and it was kind of talking about social media and different things like that. But once I got through it, after all the work that I’d done, I was like, “Oh my God. Facebook changed,” or, “LinkedIn changed,” or whoever. And I was like, “Damn, now I have to go back and rerecord this content,” because things changed. That was a really valuable lesson to, “Next course I create, I want to create one that’s evergreen, that I don’t have to continually go back and update the content all the time.”
If you’re in the tech space and dependent on other companies supplying your knowledge, whether it’s, I mean, heck, it could be, if I was doing Lifter promotion, Lifter changes, Lifter evolves. Any software of technology company kind of evolves, and that was a valuable lesson for me to say, “Yeah. I don’t want to kill myself like I did for the first course and then have to keep going back and updating, updating, updating.” So I kind of scrapped the course because I was struggling to resell it once it was done, and I was exhausted at the end.
I’ll tell my little story here, if you want. So I had an interesting thing, a life thing, that happened. So I was dealing with that. My business was sort of in a downturn. I was excited about this course. I thought this was going to be the way out. I had my son right around this time. So he was probably about three months, four months old or something like that. First kid, and I’m older, so it was kind of like, “Okay. So how are we going to make ends meet?” My business is kind of on the rocks right now. Now I have this kid that I’ve got to try and support.
Anyhow, I live in Texas, and at this time there was an ice storm. So in Texas, ice storms shut down the city. I’m originally from the East Coast, from Pennsylvania, so I’m familiar with snow and ice and all that kind of stuff. But they don’t have the tools to clean things up, and I don’t have the tools to clean things up, and our whole driveway was a sheet of ice. It was like a half inch thick or so. We were cooped up. My mother-in-law was with us, and she was staying with us for two weeks and then got stuck for another week because of the ice storm. I’m working from home and I’m trying to record things, and she’s banging and making noise, and I’m going crazy.
I have a new life. All this stuff is driving me crazy. So I’m like, “You know what? We’re going out. And I’m going to get my car out. We’re going to go get some food. I’m going to bring it back.” But I needed some space to breathe because I was working myself to death. And I don’t have any tools. I don’t have a shovel. I don’t have nothing like that that’s like winter gear because in Texas you don’t need any of that stuff. So I grab a sledgehammer, and I start going out into my driveway, and I’m like… Busting up the ice. It took two hours, two and a half hours, something like that, to get a trail of driveway that I could drive to get my car out.
The streets were kind of melting off. And so I was like, “We’ll be good when we get out in the streets. I just need to get the car out.” Well, I turned the car on. I was warming it up and melting off the windshield and stuff like that. My wife was going to go with me, but she went in the house for whatever reason, and I got out and I’m looking around. I’m trying to wave to her to say, “Hey, let’s go.” Right then I hear wheels squealing and I’m just like, “What the hell?” I turn around and there’s a middle-aged black man in my car in the street. He’d pulled my car out, got into the street, but hit ice. And so that’s the spinning that I heard.
Mu window was down, and I go running after this guy, and I’m just trying to grab onto the window. I looked the guy right in the eyes and I’m just like… He hit the dry spot and was out. I’m like, “Oh my God. I can not believe this shit just happened to me.” And so the interesting thing is my life stress that I already had and then this total traumatic experience happens and I was totally pissed off, right? I was pissed off at myself because of letting the keys in the car. I was pissed off at the guy, right? I was super angry. I was just like, “Man, how did this happen?” Right?
Called the police. It took them about an hour and a half to get there. That pissed me off, right? We want instant insta-cop showing up to save the day. Then they grilled me and kind of treated me like it was insurance fraud, like I did it on purpose. Now, if you’ve ever been in a traumatic experience, I mean, I was already shaking. My hands are shaking. I’m just furious. I was an angry man. At that point, I’m just livid with these cops. Anyhow, long story short, this pushed me into two years of depression. For six months, I was an angry man, just an angry man. I was pissed off at this guy, pissed off and, “Why has this happened to me?” You go down this downward spiral kind of thing of negativity and all this garbage.
Anyhow, so I realized I needed help. I struggled getting any sort of medical help or anything like that. So I happened onto meditation. And so I did meditation. I did Headspace for seven days, meditate every day for seven days. Then it turned into a 30 day challenge or something like that. Then it’s been me meditating pretty much every day for the last… what is it? … seven, eight years. So I got into meditation to get over things. Anyhow, I moved from saying, “Why me?” to, “What is it that caused this guy to make this guy think that it was okay? What kind of situation does this guy have to be in to do this?” Right?
And so I go down this path, this rabbit hole of just like, “Oh, man. This guy probably didn’t have a decent job. He’s out walking in the cold so he probably doesn’t have a car. He maybe doesn’t have positive role models.” I go down all this stuff and I’m just like, “Yeah. You know what? I think I need to try and help the people in our community not be someone that steals cars,” is kind of what it came down to. So anyhow, long story short, I now teach meditation as one of the things that I do to try and help people because it really helped me get out of my dark, deep place. But I’ve done a lot of other things that are kind of tied to… It changed me for the better. It was a good thing. Now, I mean, it’s horrible to talk about, it’s horrible to think back, but that’s part of the reason that I do the courses that I do now and just who I’ve become. There’s this whole theory of post-traumatic growth. So instead of post-traumatic stress syndrome like you would hear in-
Chris Badgett: Combat, yeah.
Dale Berkebile: … the military and things like that, right? So post-traumatic growth is when you have a traumatic experience and you turn it into a positive outcome and then you do something good with it. I do a lot of volunteering in the neighborhood, helping kids learn to read and different things like that. It’s all really based on trying to level up our neighborhood and fight crime. So anyhow, that’s kind of an interesting little side note, I guess, on my journey in the course creation space and why I do the courses that I do now, and we can talk about that in a minute or whatever.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, yeah. Well, thanks for sharing your story. I love that idea of trauma going in an upward spiral of growth. I mean, sometimes we end up in a downward spiral and that happens, but using it and going the other way is really awesome. If somebody were to go hellagood.life, what’s your most recent course about there?
Dale Berkebile: Okay. So I have a mindfulness based course that’s called Self-care. That is kind of my big push now that I finished off last year. But it’s introducing people to mindfulness. And so some people know about meditation, and some people use apps like I did. All that stuff is good, but what I’ve found is, boy, it’s a heck of a lot easier if you know someone that knows something about this stuff. And so I also offer mindfulness coaching as well to make sure you’re doing the meditations right and just to dig into the deeper, more psychological side of things, I guess, than just sitting and meditating, which sitting and meditating isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but, yeah, sometimes there’s-
Chris Badgett: What is mindfulness?
Dale Berkebile: So really, at the end of the day, mindfulness is about awareness. It’s being aware in the present moment in a non-judgemental way. So, yeah, I mean, that’s kind of the quick answer.
Chris Badgett: What are the benefits of being in that state?
Dale Berkebile: Oh, man. So the funny thing is, there’s so many things that we run into in life. So stress, anger, depression, anxiety. The funny thing is, it’s sort of like a cure all for everything, which is horrible to say because then everyone gets skeptical like, “Oh my God. Yeah, okay. You’re just trying to sell everything.” Right? But it is something that can help a lot of people in a lot of different areas. The things that have been wonderful for me is, obviously, I’ve been able to get through a horrible experience like that and turn it into a positive. That’s something I don’t know if I would have been able to do myself.
Chris Badgett: And that’s like getting through anger and depression?
Dale Berkebile: Well, yeah, so it was depression and anger. Those were some of the big things, for sure.
Chris Badgett: What gave you the confidence to not only help yourself with mindfulness but overcome the imposter syndrome of, “Who am I to teach this stuff?”
Dale Berkebile: Well, that’s a funny thing for course creators in general, I think. Because, I had that struggle in the other courses that I was doing too. It’s like, I mean, today, courses, online courses and things like that, are really popular compared to 2013 when I did my first one by myself, 100% by myself. It wasn’t quite as popular as it is now. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. But I didn’t know how to teach. I knew my stuff inside and out, whatever I was going to teach, right? But I didn’t know how to create curriculum. I didn’t know how to sell a course.
I didn’t know how to deliver a course so that clients can get results because my big thing for my previous business was getting results for clients. And I’m like, “Okay. So how the hell do I do that in a course, have my students go through the course and actually have results?” I think I would bet all course creators, before they have a couple students go through the course, have a little bit of imposter syndrome where they’re like, “Shit. Is this going to work? I mean, I know my stuff, but, yeah, am I going to be able to deliver this so that they can get results?”
So part of it is just dealing with that and, I mean, you got to take it head on and push on through. So if you stay there, I mean, it’s similar to the trauma thing, if you stay there, you never launch, right? You just kind of keep going back and forth. I think that’s another problem with course creators sometimes. We want to be perfect. And so we want to make the course perfect. So we do all these things to do that. And so it’s just like we keep spinning our wheels, spinning our wheels, spinning our wheels and never launch because we’re like, “Oh, just one more thing. Oh, this is going to be the thing.” Yeah. So imposter syndrome, it’s pretty legit. It’s real. I think, I don’t know for sure, but I would say everyone probably has it, and I’ve dealt with it myself, for sure.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. What attracted you to WordPress but more specifically LifterLMS? And what keeps you invested in that tool?
Dale Berkebile: Okay. So here’s the thing. I’m one of those guys that believes that you got to spend money to make money. I wanted to be perfect the first course out of the gate. So I went with an expensive sort of LMS that was probably for industrial strength superstar online course creators because I wanted to be a superstar online course creator. So I was spending a lot of money every single month. It was cool, and it had lots of bells and whistles and all those kind of things, but I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. Do you know what I mean?
So on top of everything, I had to learn all these different things. After that, I started getting training courses and different things like that. And so then I tried programs that were affiliated or pushed by educators that I was being trained under and things like that. Again, I started getting into things where I was just burning cash. Yeah. So I got tired of doing that.
Chris Badgett: You got tired of burning cash.
Dale Berkebile: I got tired of doing that. So I was looking for another way. I had a course that I was kind of working on. And so I was in this place where it was burning cash every month as I was trying to build because it was taking too long and it was a monthly kind of program. And I was like, “I got to find another way. I can’t afford this until I have clients or until I pre-sell it or whatever.” I had to do something. So I just dropped out of some of the stuff that I was using and started looking around. I think I probably did some Google searches or whatever. Then I think I probably watched a podcast of Chris talking to someone else, and they were talking about course creators, how to create a course and this and that. And it was like, the thing that I loved about it was this was a long time ago, and so it was kind of low budget. It was like just a couple of buddies talking, bullshitting about course creation.
And so I kind of resonated with it. The thing was, I could tell you knew your stuff. And so I was like, “Oh, I got to check out this Chris guy. What’s he up to?” I mean, he was giving some good advice. And so that was part of it. Then I’d dug around, done some research or whatever, and then I was like, “Oh, man. I can create my own course on WordPress? All right. That sounds kind of good.” I think one of the things that you try to do is create a really solid… You joke about the Frankenstein sometimes, all these different pieces of software and plugins and all that kind of garbage.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Dale Berkebile: I think you were trying to minimize that, which, at the time, was appealing because I was also burning cash on eight different things, trying to build my course and whatever. I’m like, “Oh god. We got to try this.” And-
Chris Badgett: I heard somebody else describe that as, “Death by 1,000 cuts.” Like all these monthly subscriptions and this tool, that tool, it’s a lot. I know what you mean.
Dale Berkebile: Right.
Chris Badgett: I’m sure the audience, you out there listening, smash the like button or do something if you have spent too much money in your course creation journey on stuff that you didn’t need or it didn’t work together.
Dale Berkebile: Yeah, yeah. The things that didn’t work together and all the research, the wasted time researching all this garbage and stuff like that. I mean, it can be a real beatdown.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. That’s cool. Well, before we move on, what do you love most about Lifter?
Dale Berkebile: Oh, man. Honestly, I think the thing that I love most is… Well, man, there’s a lot to say. But really, I think early on, because I was moving into a new industry, I liked the fact that you have the free course and then I could add on the payment gateway and [crosstalk]-
Chris Badgett: So you ease into it.
Dale Berkebile: What’s that? Yeah, yeah. So I could just get started at a pretty low cost. That was pretty cool. Because I think if you are new to this space, there’s a lot of learning that goes on. The next thing that I upgraded after a little while, was I bought your Office Hours by itself because I wanted help. I was struggling, and I needed to talk to people. And so your Office Hours was awesome, man. I got in there, started talking to you guys, sharing, “Look, this is what I’m struggling with, guys. What do I got to do?” Right?
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Dale Berkebile: Everyone jumps in and pitches in and gives you ideas and advice and stuff like that. And so I really thrive in that kind of space. And so it was a little bit different than the high dollar things and all the other things that I was doing. I had no personal contact at all with the company. I guess I could do tickets or all that kind of stuff for tech support, but I like the personal connection. First, you’re always doing stuff, you’re out in front, and then second, there’s a community there that I could talk to, both on Facebook as well as in your Office Hours.
Chris Badgett: That’s cool. Since you’re here and you’re a sales and marketing pro yourself, if somebody out there is a expert in something… I know a lot of meditation and mindfulness people. Many of them do not have a sales background or marketing background. But let’s just pick any niche or whatever. If somebody has no sales or marketing experience or they’re a WordPress professional who’s really into the tech but not necessarily into marketing and sales, and they’re trying to get more LMS clients or whatever, what’s your best piece of advice for somebody who’s really looking to do a better job at marketing, or selling, or both?
Dale Berkebile: Well, I think the first thing is really dialing in who you’re trying to sell to. The more specific you are with your target audience, the easier it is. Some of the mistakes I’ve made over the years was being too general. I kind of joked about the whole mindfulness thing. It can serve everyone, so that’s great, right? Everyone is a client.
Chris Badgett: Solves everything. Yeah.
Dale Berkebile: Yeah. What the downside is, you can’t sell to everyone and you can’t market to everyone because that costs billions of dollars. Most startups don’t have billions to do that marketing. So the more niche that you can get, the more tightly focused you can be, I think that’s really an important thing. The other thing that I think is really helpful is find something that you can commit to doing, whatever it is, whether it’s sales or whether it’s marketing. I mean, you have to look at it as a consistent thing.
So if you’re doing it every three months, you’re going to have really limited results. So if it’s sales, I mean, a sales guy would just be prospecting every day, picking up the phone and pounding on it or however they do their sales. If it’s a marketer, then find some sort of medium that you can do where you’re consistently doing something. Old-school, I used to do quarterly direct mail. Nowadays you can do a podcast, or you can do blogs, or there’s a whole lot of different kinds of things that you can do. Find something that you can commit to and just make it a part of business.
Chris Badgett: I love that. Some solid tips. Well, you’ve got something special for the audience today that we should get into. Before we do, where should people go or where do you want people to go after they listen to what we’re about to do next?
Dale Berkebile: Okay. Well, if you want to you can check out hellagood.life. Okay. That’s the website. If you want to go to hellagood.life/imposter you can check that out and we’ll have some stuff there related to what we’re talking about today. It’s kind of a little bonus. But, yeah, I think that’s the easiest way to find this stuff. If you want to find me, you can look me up on LinkedIn or Facebook. I mean, I’m active on Facebook and stuff like that. I’m a little old, so I don’t do all the cutting edge stuff but go back to the core of LinkedIn and Facebook.
Chris Badgett: Nice. All right. Well, what special treat do you have for the listener or viewer today? Let’s do it.
Dale Berkebile: All right. So I thought that maybe I would try a meditation. So the interesting thing is I’m trying to help course creators also add mindfulness to their toolkit because we talked about a whole lot of things, stress, and patience, and anxiety, and imposter syndrome, and the whole list goes on and on and on. But I think when we say mindfulness or we say meditation, sometimes we don’t fully grasp what that is. What we think is maybe you have to go sit in a cross-legged position and you’re like, “Om,” just kind of getting in this whole monk thing. That’s not necessarily the case. You can do that. There’s nothing wrong with that. But the media has kind of hyped things up a little bit for what we think meditation is.
What I have here is a meditation that I thought might be helpful for this community. So it’s exploring yourself as a leader. With my why, I’m always trying to challenge people to step up to be innovative leaders, so here you go. Okay. So, Chris, if you’ll join me and everyone that’s listening. We’re just going to go through this here. Exploring yourself as a leader. Let’s begin by taking a moment to allow your body to settle into a comfortable position. You can close your eyes or keep them slightly open, allowing the spine to lift and the shoulders to soften.
Today, we’re going to explore leading with purpose. Regardless of your position, whether in an organization or a family, you’re called to lead at some point. The best leaders have a sense of clarity and purpose in how they engage with the world and in how they lead others. They connect with people at a very human level. Begin by taking a full breath in and a long breath out, letting your attention rest on the breath. Now I’m going to ask you a series of questions, but instead of thinking about the questions or coming up with the responses, I want you to allow the questions to just sink in like pebbles being dropped in a still pond, and I want you to be sensitive to any ripples that you notice.
As a leader, what is most important to you? (silence) What are you aiming to achieve as a leader? (silence) As I ask these questions, just noticing the thoughts, feelings and images that come to mind as you breathe in and as you breathe out. What are the values that guide you? (silence) What may be preventing you from living your values each day? (silence) Now continue breathing in and breathing out, bringing attention to your body, noticing if the mind is wandering or if it’s attaching any particular thoughts or feelings that arise. (silence) Now imagine yourself leading with purpose. What does that feel like? (silence) Now, as we begin to reemerge from this reflection, notice how you feel in body and in mind. Finishing with a deep breath in and a long breath out. At the bell, you can open your eyes. So there you go. There’s a little sample.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. Awesome, Dale. Well, thank you for that. For those of you who watched that or listened to that, you can always come back to this again. So thank you for giving that to the listeners of LMScast, Dale. That’s awesome. I feel better, lighter, more clear, more relaxed. So thank you very much. That’s Dale Berkebile, ladies and gentlemen. He’s at hellagood.life. He’s got something special for you over at hellagood.life/imposter. Any final words for the people, Dale?
Dale Berkebile: Well, all I can say is just like in this meditation, take some time and be patient. Just sit with things. It is our initial intention to just go charging forward and want to kill it, but sometimes the most clarity comes from just taking some downtime and really leading with intention as opposed to just trying to attack things. Anyhow, so, yeah, take some time, do some meditation, and just get after it, man. There’s a lot of opportunities out there in this world, and the pandemic has opened things up even more for us, so take advantage of that and make some impact.
Chris Badgett: That’s Dale Berkebile, hellagood.life. Thanks for coming on the show, Dale.
Dale Berkebile: You bet, man. Thank you.
Chris Badgett: That’s a wrap for this episode of LMScast. Did you enjoy that episode? Tell your friends, and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next episode. And I’ve got a gift for you over at lifterlms.com/gift. Go to lifterlms.com/gift. Keep learning, keep taking action, and I’ll see you in the next episode.