Episode 153

Simplicity Entrepreneurship and Coaching Concepts For Course Creators with Milana Leshinsky

This episode of LMScast with Chris Badgett of LifterLMS is on Simplicity entrepreneurship and coaching concepts for course creators with Milana Leshinsky. Milana has a lot of great experiences with online business and working as a coach. Chris and Milana discuss all kinds of different aspects of what she does, and what simplicity is all about in business.

The idea of Simplicity entrepreneurship is focused on building and growing your business, but keeping it simple and stress free. It is possible to have success without sacrifice, and that is what Simplicity is all about. Milana surveyed her community to find out what simplicity meant to them in business. She found that people see simplicity as how they want to feel in their business. They want to have a sense of peace and balance, no sense of urgency, and results that come with ease. This is what Simplicity Circle is built around.

Milana is an immigrant from Soviet Ukraine, formerly trained as a classical musician. She came to America and moved away from music, and turned into a web designer and web programmer. She realized that being a technician was not her thing, so she started a business in coaching and online marketing. She shares her story of how she went from making the same amount of money at a business that didn’t make her happy to how she ended up making the same amount working less hours at a business that did make her happy.

It is important to balance work and life, or create a stress free work environment all together, because disease emanates from dis-ease. Chris and Milana discuss this in depth. They also discuss how you own all 24 hours of your day, and if you fill them with work, you are more likely to be stressed and not enjoy what you do.

In order to be successful as an online educator you need four things. You need to have expertise, the ability to create digital products, curriculum, and you need to be able to build a community. Chris and Milana talk about these points and how to approach each one and make the process for course creation as simple as possible. Creating a clear starting point and a clear ending point in your online content will keep things simple and help you stay focused.

There is not a clear right and wrong way to do things in business anymore, because it evolves so fast. Integrating customer response and a Q&A format into your course will help keep your students engaged and attentive. Keeping your content brief will also help them digest the content easier and apply it in their lives.

To learn more about Milana Leshinsky check out SimplicityCircle.com/GetStarted. There you will find an assessment to see where you are in your business and how much complexity you have right now. You will find some tips on how to get connected with the Simplicity community, and how you can get started with creating a business that gives you the shortest path to the result you want to accomplish.

You can post comments and subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Chris: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. Today I’m joined with a special guest, Milana Leshinsky from SimplicityCircle.com. She’s all about simplicity entrepreneurship, and she has a lot of awesome experiences in her life and has done a lot with online business over the years and worked in developing as a coach. We’re going to get into all kinds of different aspects of what she does and what simplicity is all about, but for Milana, thanks for coming on the show.
Milana: Hey, Chris. It’s awesome to be here. Thank you.
Chris: I’m super excited for this LMScast and the LifterLMS audience to meet you. I really enjoyed meeting your crew over at the Simplicity Circle.
Milana: Hope you had a lot of fun.
Chris: That was a lot fun. We did a Facebook Live together, and I’m sure we’re going to be doing more together. We’ll have to do a Facebook Live. I’m actually signing up for Blive and doing it for something else soon. You got me going down that train, but we’ll have to do a Blive with our Facebook group one of these days.
Milana: My favorite part, Chris, was when I was looking for somebody to test Blive with, and I posted a message on my Facebook group and said, “Will somebody test it with me? I’m interviewing Chris tomorrow,” and then there you were. You were willing to test it with me.
Chris: I was actually just getting ready to ask someone else to test it with me. I was like, “Well I guess great minds think alike, right?”
Milana: Yeah, that was awesome.
Chris: For those of you listening, I’d encourage you to head on over to SimplicityCircle.com/GetStarted. What can people find over there, Milana?
Milana: The whole idea of Simplicity entrepreneurship is focused around building a business, growing your business, but keeping it simple. Keeping your independence, your sanity, your lifestyle that you want. You can grow your business and you can scale it, but you don’t have to sacrifice. Like some people say success without sacrifice, that’s kind of what it is. The cool thing is that Simplicity is different for everybody. I actually did a survey of everybody who was joining my Facebook group, I have a community on Simplicity entrepreneurship on Facebook. Before you can join, I asked you a question what does simplicity mean to you?
I noticed a pattern that some people see simplicity as how they want to feel in their business, like peace, balance, no sense of urgency, results come with ease. It’s a hustle-free business. It’s a stress-free business. You get clarity, you feel efficient. It’s low maintenance. People were using words like staying focused, effortlessness, spaciousness, freedom of time. It’s like how they want to feel. Then there’s a whole other category of responses is that where people describe what their business should look like when it’s a simplicity based business. Some people will say things like, “I want a step by step system for getting clients or having a team to delegate all the crap to.” Working no more than 20 hours a week, lots of space on my calendar to think. Clear vision, not haven’t to have 10 funnels centered around passion.
Working with clients more and doing everything else less. That’s more like what the business looks like when you have applied simplicity. Neither one of these categories or responses have addressed the thing that I address in my Simplicity Circle, and that is how do you get there. That’s what I focus on in Simplicity Circle. That’s what my Facebook group is all about. The ultimate goal is to get rid of 80% of stuff and the 20% remaining will have the highest payoff, both financially and emotionally and that’s what people want. Whether they realize it or not, that’s what we all want. We want simplicity. We want more ease. We just don’t necessarily know how to get there, and a lot of people don’t believe they can. A lot of people don’t believe that you can have simplicity and have a profitable business, and I can tell you yes you can.
I have had two businesses. One was based on simplicity, working four hours a day, raising two small children, making half a million dollars from home, and then I had another business making about the same amount of money but I was working three times as long every day and I was miserable. Yes you can, if you understand the simplicity principles.
Chris: That’s really cool, and that contrast I’m sure is helpful to be like, “Oh same results, but one with a lot more ease.” That makes a lot of sense.
Milana: I guess I didn’t answer your question. What people will find at that link, SimplicityCircle.com/GetStarted is you’ll get started with simplicity. It’ll give you an assessment to see where you are in your business, how much complexity you have right now. It’ll get you into my community on Facebook. It’ll give you some tips on how to get started with simplicity principles in your business.
Chris: That’s awesome. As somebody who’s really into online education, there’s a lot of talk about great things like simplicity or less chaos or more manageable life, but what people need is they need help getting there. They need the steps. They need the how-to. They need tools to help them.
Milana: And the mindset.
Chris: And the mindset. I love where you’re going with all that. It makes a lot of sense to me. We’ll talk about it in more detail a little bit. A community swell is happening around this concept with you because you’re producing results for people and you’re taking them on a journey. Tell us a little bit before we get into more of the simplicity stuff, just about you. If you run into somebody at a cocktail party or whatever and they’re like “What’s your life story in two minutes?” What makes you what you are.
Milana: An immigrant from Soviet Ukraine, formerly trained as a classical musician. Coming to America, moved away from music and turned into a technician as in a web designer, web programmer, realizing it’s completely not my thing and started a business in coaching and online marketing. That wasn’t two minutes.
Chris: Wow. That is good. That is really good. That was one of the best I’ve ever heard. That’s incredible.
Milana: As I took a break between my two businesses, because I walked away from my $1 million business last year, it was generating $1.4 million in revenue. I was meeting about the same as in my previous business, and I just wasn’t happy. I actually tell my story a little bit on a deeper level is I started having panic attacks as a result of being in the wrong business or being overwhelmed, being surrounded by the wrong people, the wrong ideas. Just something just didn’t work for me, and so I walked away from the business. I had a break, and during that break I realized that I am still creating music. I actually wrote and recorded my first piece of music officially, a professional recording. It’s on my website at Milana.com/blog. I’ve always wanted to have a music tab at the top of website, and so far I’m getting really good feedback.
It’s a different kind of music. It’s more like cinematic versus a diddly song.
Chris: That’s really beautiful. I always like to say that the body has a lot of wisdom in it. It will revolt, and in my experience I like to think of disease as coming from dis-ease. Having things going on in your life or stressors, that’s where a lot of …
Milana: Lack of ease.
Chris: … yeah, a lot of health issues come from. Losing touch with yourself, I’ve definitely as an entrepreneur and just with young kids making things happen, making life happen, building a business, building a team, marketing, getting clients, making systems, I actually started a habit. For those of you watching in YouTube, you can see I’m in an attic. I’m actually between locations. I’m in the process of moving into a new house that hasn’t closed yet. Normally behind me in my office I have all these whiteboards, I have notebooks, I have journals where I’m working on my business ideas and stuff.
In order to help, like what you’re doing with music, I ended up keeping this little black book, for those of you watching on YouTube, that whenever I have a hint of an idea of stuff that I think about that I used to enjoy as a kid or things that really matter to me or that I just enjoy that have nothing to do with my work or my business, I write it down. That way, I’m not letting all that stuff just constantly get buried or prioritized over. That’s been really helpful to me. I’m guilty as charged of having let that stuff pile up. Then sleep starts getting affected and so on, and then all of a sudden I lose touch.
Now I actually make a conscious effort to just make sure I keep tabs on those things that I enjoy outside of work.
Milana: For sure. That’s interesting. I had two small children. Now they’re grown. They’re 17 and 22, and I noticed that the older they got, the more free time I started having in my life. The dangers of that is that you can end up filling that free time with work. I did that I would say for many years. I was like, “Oh my god, my daughter can now stay at her friend’s house without me. That means I can work,” or “My son is now spending the night at his friend’s house. That means I can actually be on the computer at midnight and not worry about that.” I started filling up my days with more work. I don’t know how it happened. I think I was trying to lose weight or do something more active, and I called a local dance studio and asked them, “Do you teach hiphop? It sounds like fun.”
You see, this is why I’m attracted to your baseball cap. I was like, “I always wanted to do a hiphop dance wearing a baseball cap.” They said, “No, but would you be interested in cha-cha?” I thought that sounds pretty cool. I saw cha-cha when I was growing in Soviet summer camps. Kids were dancing. I was really intrigued by that, and so I signed up. Ever since then, my free time has now been filled with things like dancing, writing music or just playing piano, which is literally standing behind me, my lovely instrument. I started doing a little bit more yoga, I started biking. In other words, I don’t even know how single people do this or people without children because you do own your entire day. 24 hours a day are yours to do whatever you wish with.
If you choose to, you could fill it up with work 24/7. When I became aware of that, I realized, “Whoa, wait a minute. I really don’t want to be working this much.” I started finding other things, like life beyond business.
Chris: Awesome.
Milana: I think that’s important.
Chris: I’m sure a lot of people listening out there can relate. Maybe you’re struggling out there with being a little bit of out of touch with yourself or you’re in that hustle mode and you’re just wondering what’s happening or why you’re not happy or whatever. This is some important self-inquiry to do, no matter what stage you’re at. Let’s shift over to, in honor of simplicity, a lot of the course creators and membership site owners out there listening have heard me say that it takes four things to be successful as an online educator and building a business around that. You need to have expertise, you need to be able to create digital products or instructional design, create curriculum, videos, and package all that into some kind of course concept.
You need to use technology to actually deliver all that and accept money and that kind of thing. Then you have to be a community builder. It’s very rare that all those skills are just naturally in most people. People are sometimes good at one or the other, or they build a team around their weaknesses. There’s all kinds of strategies for coping with this. Let’s run that through the lens of simplicity. If I’m an expert, and let’s say I’m a fitness trainer, and I’m really good at teaching some really niche form of fitness in my local gym, but I want to experiment with making courses online, how do I think about my expertise? How do I simplify just this concept that I’m good at something? How do I wrap my head around expertise?
Milana: You can think about it in many different ways. I like to think about tangible topics that have a tangible outcome. That’s the biggest challenge I’ve seen, a lot of people in the coaching author speaking expert information marketing industry have encountered, and especially true for years up until recently, is that they will attempt to download the entire knowledge bucket that they have into a product. I did that back in 2008. I remember it like it was yesterday. I created a program called Coaching Business Mastery, and I charged $5,000 for it. I enrolled eight people, so that was really, really cool. What happened next was absolute insanity because every week I would walk people through a module. Through this is how you use your website to build your coaching business.
Theoretically, or actually more practically, this topic could be a separate course of its own, how to use your website to build your coaching business, right? It was only one module of an eight-week program, and then the next week I would talk about how to create a membership site as a supplemental income to your coaching practice. It would be just one week. Now later on, I developed a separate course just on the topic of membership sites, but you se what was happening is a lot of people will say, “I know all of this. This is my subject area, so I’m going to put all of that into a course or on paper,” and not only are they overwhelming the potential customer, they also overwhelm themselves. There’s just too much to teach, too much to deliver, too much to include to wrap their mind around everything.
I would suggest when you’re creating the course in your area of expertise, choose a smaller outcome.
Chris: That’s great.
Milana: That would be my expertise, my advice.
Chris: I really love that. The example that’s popping in my head as you were talking, I was just imagining the Dalai Lama creating a course.
Milana: On personal growth.
Chris: Right. Really if I was going to advise the Dalai Lama on course creation based on what you just said there Milana, I would say, “Well maybe not just a course on personal growth, but let’s start with a course on forgiveness or let’s start with a course on meditation.” That’s a really good point.
Milana: Exactly. Then what happens once you determine what topic you want to focus on or what outcome you want to focus on, then you just create a transformation trajectory, so to speak. From A to Z, these are the steps required to achieve this outcome, and when the outcome is specific and measurable and small, it’s a lot easier to market this course and it’s a lot easier for people to consume and get results, which means that you’re going to get testimonials, you’re going to get customers to buy your future courses. It’s just a good way to look at course development overall, is focus on a smaller outcome.
Chris: That’s great. You just got into the second area, which is instructional design or developing a curriculum. If you have a clear starting point and a clear end point, that’s what it’s all about. I think that’s actually one of the biggest issues is not having a clear starting point, not having a clear finish line is just such an important part of instructional design. What would you advise people in terms of, okay, I have a character arc or a trajectory that they should go on to achieve this outcome. How do I know if I should be making video or audios or get transcriptions or do webinars? What would your advice be or experience around which forms of communication do I use?
Milana: Assuming that you want to reach all kinds of different learner types, you would probably want to offer all of those. What is the starting point? The starting point should be whatever format that you are most comfortable with. If you like to write and that is your primary form of expressing concepts, if that’s how you teach, then you start by writing and then you can turn that into an audio by recording it or maybe a video by reading a transcript in front of a teleprompter. The starting point would be writing. For me, what I’ve done is my starting point are slides.
Chris: That’s cool.
Milana: I don’t know if it’s my background as a music educator, but somehow I was always thinking in terms of slides and I would have the main idea and three teaching points, the main idea and three teaching points. I would just narrate each slide, and bam, I would have a little video that is slide based. Then what I would do is I would have it transcribed and offer it in written format because I hate writing, and I’m very slow as a writer. I can interact and I can communicate my ideas by looking at the slide, reading the bullet points and elaborating on each one. That’s my starting point.
There are people, especially if you’re creating a course that requires more of a visual component like if you’re teaching martial arts or dancing or anything like that, then it makes sense really to probably start as a visual component. I will say that there is a general, I don’t know if it’s a rule or it’s just a habit that I have developed as a way of creating a curriculum, and that is keep your content to a minimum and allow people to then discover more of what they need by asking the questions. I know we’re talking about course creation as in you create a course, you put that out there and you sell it. The way I’ve always created my courses was I would develop a cheat sheet, an outline, and I would deliver that. Then I would pause and say, “What kind of questions do you have?”
Over the years, the ratio between the content and the Q&A has evolved in my life. I used to deliver 75 minute, 125 slide presentation for each module, and then I would be like five minutes, “Any questions?” Now 2017 I’ve been in business for 17 years, micro learning. I think you said those words too. Micro learning has become a trend. People don’t want those long, content rich modules. Most people don’t I should say. Maybe if you’re a newbie, you’re looking for more of a comprehensive approach to content. Most people just want, “Give me what I need. Allow me to discover things for myself and then ask you questions.” Now my training courses are like this: 15 minutes of content, and then I pause and I say, “What did you hear? Any insights? Any observations? Any ideas? Any questions? Any obstacles that you foresee in implementing this?”
The rest of the delivery involves me answering questions and opening new potential topics that I should have included but I didn’t think of it, which is great because now it’s part of it and I didn’t have to work hard at coming up with that content.
Chris: That’s awesome. We’re all about feedback loops and how important it is to have a dialogue there. I love this concept you’re really bringing up about some of the most powerful teaching. This is, if I look back at my own experience learning, when the light bulb goes off inside my own head, more than just learning the right stuff or telling me how to think or what to think, that’s where the real learning happens and where it sticks, when you create an epiphany inside somebody, and that’s often done through questions and setting up the story or whatever. It’s a different way of teaching them here is the best material, absorb that, have a good day. That’s not really how the best learning works.
Milana: Actually the way that I designed my simplicity program, I’ve always had these training courses, here’s step one, step two, step three, how you do things. What I’ve been finding is that everybody’s so different, everybody has different natural abilities or what I call super skills when you do something and the results come easy, those are your super skills. Everybody has different learning style, implementations now, communication style. Why would I force somebody to do things in a certain way, and that’s the way you do it? I decided that when I would create my program for this new business that I started this year, I would respect and honor the differences in each entrepreneur, in each business owner, in each course creator or coach, author, speaker.
Helping them discover what works for them and then implementing. That’s why I developed a series of tools that tell you are you a teacher, builder, connector or champion? What type of business owner are you? Based on your response, this is how you market yourself. This ish ow you price yourself. This is how you create your offer. If I simply told you that you need a $5,000 coaching program, you would probably resist. You would probably feel inadequate, a lot of self-doubt, feeling like you just can’t do it and you have to force yourself. If you come to that conclusion yourself based on your natural abilities and your lifestyle goals, then you will be a lot more motivated. You’ll be on fire because it came from you and it fits your natural abilities.
Chris: Beautiful. Personalized learning. That’s such a great tip there. Let’s look at the technology piece a little bit. How do we as education entrepreneurs bring simplicity to our relationship with technology? The Internet’s awesome. There’s all these tools and apps and softwares and marketing services we can sign up for. How do we keep it simple?
Milana: It’s funny because I remember when I first started my business there was this really big area of information marketing, and that is digital security where people are really concerned that if you create your course and you put it out there, somebody else is going to steal it and sell it. That was probably the biggest question I got back in early 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005. Up until that point people were really concerned. You know what, every single product I created was stolen and sold on eBay for $1. It was a legitimate concern. For that reason, people were trying to create barriers for access. You have to enter this password, and when you do that, it’ll email you the actual password to open up the file that will give you a link somewhere on the website to actually access the course and the materials.
That has become a challenge for a lot of people because they would buy your product and they couldn’t open it, and they would ask for a refund. I think people get smarter since then. Here’s what started happening. What started to happen is that please go ahead and steal my product. It’s okay. What I’m going to do is I’m going to plant a whole bunch of links into it to my other products. People stopped worried about the digital theft as much.
Chris: Now it’s free marketing, right?
Milana: It’s free marketing, right. Hey something is selling on eBay for $1? Hundreds of people have bought it? That means that hundreds of people have seen my links to my website where they can buy more. People got smarter about that. The way that I approach technology today is I try to use as little of it a possible and only when I absolutely must. For example, there is this thing about membership sites where you get recommendations for what kind of platform to use. When people would come to me and say, “I’m not a technologically savvy person. That’s why I cannot start a membership site,” I would tell them, “That’s okay, don’t use a membership platform of any kind. Simply email your customers the content. Then email them the conference line if you’re doing Q&A calls.” That’s it.
They were like, “Whoa.” I just blew their mind. Use technology as you must and no more. In fact, that’s what simplicity is all about. Keep things as simple as possible, but no simpler. If you need a platform to achieve a particular goal, at least you know that that’s the goal that you’re looking for. There is a social media software that was recommended to me, and when I looked at all the features, I realized it’s great. It has high rate of use, but I don’t think I really need this because my way of using social media does not align with the features that they’re offering. I would say don’t start with technologies or tools, start with what you need to achieve and then look for the software or the platform that allows you to accomplish those goals. I think that’s a much simpler way to approach technology, don’t you think Chris?
Chris: I love it.
Milana: As the creator of LifterLMS?
Chris: Yeah, I spend a lot of time talking people out of using certain features of our product. Maybe you don’t need to use the memberships, you’re just doing courses, and that’s cool. What I’ve noticed in this industry is a lot of times, especially new education entrepreneurs get hung up on the technology and it’s failure to launch, failure to start because of technology. The reality is and this would be my advice to people, and I think Danny [inaudible 00:28:45] is a big champion of this idea of doing a pilot version of your course. If you want to teach online and you think technology is getting in your way, all you need is a PayPal account and email and a Skype or a conference line or whatever. That’s it.
You can start and do a high touch version of your teaching live online. You can collect the money through PayPal, which allows you to send invoices or whatever. That’s like four pieces of technology: PayPal, email and then some kind of Skype or conference call, or maybe even meet them in person. Before you get fancy, try that.
Milana: What’s that going to allow you to do is actually generate income before you’re invested to any technology. Once you run your membership site or membership program or your course, you’re going to make money. You’re going to generate revenue from all the customers, and then it won’t feel as, “Oh my god, I got to learn the technology. I’ve got to invest into maybe some support. I’ve got to invest in the technology itself.” It feels overwhelming, and like you said, failure to launch due to fear of technology, that’s the most inefficient, unproductive reason not to launch whatever content, whatever product or course you want to put out. That’s not a good reason.
Chris: Absolutely. Let’s shift gears into one of your strong points, which is community building. You’ve had a lot of experience in this industry over the years. You’ve seen others build communities. You’ve built communities yourself. How do we apply simplicity entrepreneurship principles to the concept of community building? There’s two sides to that coin. The first side is the marketing side or just I’m building an audience or a community, I’m giving free value, there’s that community. Then there’s the community that becomes your inner circle or your paid members or the people who bought your thing. I always think of those two sides, but just building that initial audience or building the email list or building the Facebook group, how do we think about all this?
Milana: Not only have I built communities, I’ve also done a lot of research as how to grow a community because I was really interested in bringing people together. Let me tell you a little bit about the company that I left because that community was phenomenal and that was probably the biggest reason I regretted leaving. Not that I wanted to stay, but that’s the one thing that I felt really proud of playing a major role in creating or co-creating that community. What was happening is that we were selling a training program, and that everybody would get into the program and immediately into the Facebook group, which is like an instant community. What was happening is people were starting to implement, which is a huge key to building a community. You want people to get implementing.
For course developers, it’s community and a course is a match made in heaven. You have an instant reason for people to interact and support each other, give each other feedback. Yes, you are the leader of the community as the creator of the course, but it doesn’t mean that you are the only person giving feedback and managing that community. People are going to start self-managing and giving each other support. The other piece that we’re doing is we were inviting people to a live event. We immediately noticed that when people would arrive at a live event, they were hugging each other. Meeting for the first time, they were hugging each other. It was a complete love fest. I wondered how did we do that? How did we facilitate this love fest? People who have never met suddenly running into the room, into each other’s arms, like, “There you are.”
How did we do that? What I learned is that that online community and bringing people together, so implementation and having each other’s support, sharing challenges and giving each other advice, it brought people together. They did that not only online on the Facebook group, but also our live group coaching calls. We haven’t touched a lot of coaching conversations, but that’s part of what can not only help you create a community but also help you monetize your expertise even beyond a course. If your average course is $97, I’m not sure how much courses are sold for just based on my experience.
Chris: It depends. I would say a low end course is like $20. A high end course is like $2,000, and that’s going to have some kind of community element in it. A lot of courses are around the $100 to $200 mark.
Milana: If you wanted to monetize it further, just realize that people will take your course and they will still need some hand holding, advice, feedback, coaching. You can do that as a one on one coaching or you can do that as a group, and that’s what we did. That bonded people so well together. As I’m creating my new company, my new community of simplicity entrepreneurship, what attracts people to my community is the idea of simplicity, so that common idea, common goal of wanting to create a simplicity based business where there’s no push, no chaos, no force and grinding. You’re not forced to hustle to achieve results, but instead you’re looking for areas of alignment within your business, you’re looking for areas where your passion meets market needs, you’re looking for more alignment as opposed to pushing and forcing.
A lot of people are attracted to that idea. I was in a program that teaches how to build a big business with a big team, with a big org chart, and at that time I thought that’s what I wanted. The more I piled up on my business, the more overwhelmed and unexcited I became, so I scaled back down. Not necessarily in terms of income, but in terms of how I was building my business, and therefore, Simplicity Circle was born. A lot of people are just loving this idea. The community that I am building now, they are attracted because of this idea that brings them in. It’s implementation. It’s idea. The other piece as a passionate leader, you and I talked about that a little bit in our live, right? You have to have a leader who’s passionate about it, who maybe is striving like I’m striving for simplicity, but I don’t think I’m fully there yet.
I’m willing to be vulnerable and discover simplicity alongside of my members in my community and share my challenges with them. Then the other piece is just engage. I think a lot of people will start a community and think, “Oh yeah, let me put all these people together. They’ll just play around together with each other. They don’t need me.” That’s not true. People always need a leader to feel first of all protected because if people don’t feel safe in their community, they can’t sure. They cannot be vulnerable. My people, I hope, feel safe that I am watching everything. I’m slapping any negativity out of my group because I think there’s enough of that online. I want people to really focus on building a simplicity based business and what it takes and how to get there.
I would say those things, implementation, a great leader who is passionate and engaging people, and the common goal or message that brings people together.
Chris: Beautiful.
Milana: I’m sure there’s more of that, but I’m still learning as well.
Chris: That’s a treasure trove of ideas and concepts there. What do you tell the course builder out there who wants to build a community, and they’re quite frankly just scared because they’re starting a zero? They might write a blog post, but they have no email lists. They might create a Facebook group, but that group doesn’t exist yet. How do you start building a community? How do you just get that initial momentum? I just want to say I remember starting the LifterLMS Facebook group, which is also just a general online course and membership site group. I remember what it was like when I had a zero person email list and nobody in the group, and I invited the people in my company into the group.
Milana: And your mom and dad.
Chris: They’re not even in it.
Milana: Oh no.
Chris: Ultimately this was one of my greatest pleasures and joys in watching the community grow is I remember this moment where it just took off, and all of a sudden people started helping each other without not just me leading, but there was all this value just coming. People are offering, like, “Hey, I’m looking to hire somebody for this,” and then somebody would get a job. All this kind of stuff started happening in there. I was like, “That’s a great accomplishment.” I remember there was, it started at zero. It started at email list of one, a Facebook group of one, and I’m an explorer type guy so I’m known for charging into the unknown a little bit. What do you tell people that are like, “I don’t know how to start”?
Milana: I just thought of something as you were asking that question Chris. My previous company was not the first community I built. My very first one was back in 2005 when I literally invented the concept of a tele summit, which is very popular today or maybe beyond popular. I think people are now starting to get sick of it, but tele summit brought people together. It’s a virtual conference with multiple speakers conducted over the telephone, and now with a lot of social media involved because it’s available. It built community and it brought people together. The reason I thought of tele summit is because a tele summit, just like an online social media challenge, just like a product launch, it’s a ninja tactic.
What I’ve always done to build my community, build my list, build the size of my audience is I would always do some sort of a ninja tactic. For example, right now I’m ramping up for an online challenge. I think I might have shared that with you privately, but coming up with some idea that will attract other people. I’m an introvert, just like you are. We talked about that. It’s not easy for me to reach out to people personally or to go out networking or build all these connections. Some people are very natural at that, “Oh yeah, you should talk to this person and to that person.” Our friend Charles Bird is like that, he’ll immediately think of people. He’s like this mega super connector, which is how you and I connected in the first place.
Chris: Thank you Charles, if you’re listening.
Milana: Thank you Charles, yes. If you’re not a connector, if that doesn’t come easy to you, you want to find a different way of attracting people to you. What I found works for me is creating some sort of a platform for people. When I invented the tele summit idea, essentially it was a platform. I gave people a platform to become visible. Would you participate at this as a guest speaker to speak about passive income for coaches? Would you speak about the five-seven reasons how people might fail as coaches. People were attracted as a platform. Then in my previous company, we created a platform for people for visibility or to find promotional partners for each other.
I feel like if you create something exciting, something worthy of talking about, something that is newsworthy, attention worthy, I think that is one way to grow your audience. For example, you could run an online challenge that is related to the topic of your course. You could connect with people who are running Facebook groups and those groups are filled with people that might be potentially your customers or people in your audience. I’m still learning how to use social media to grow my group, but I feel like if you are doing something exciting, just start talking to everybody about it.
A friend of mine, David [DiGiorgio 00:42:06], who actually arranged my music composition that is on my website, I love what he said in my interview with him. He was saying the mistake that a lot of people are making is they’re trying to get speaking gigs. He trains speakers, by asking for a speaker gig or by focusing on getting a speaking gig. Instead, what they should be doing is just sharing what they’re passionate about. Just talking to people what they’re passionate about. What’s going to happen next is somebody’s going to hear you and say, “Oh my god, I love that. Can you talk about that to my audience?”Then bam, you’ve got an interview or you got an opportunity to share your message through an article or a podcast interview or a Facebook Live or some other way. Teach a class, do a workshop.
I would say have an exciting message and then talk about it.
Chris: Beautiful.
Milana: Message or mission. Some people will say, “I have a mission to do this.” Talk about your mission.
Chris: It’s more about focusing on an active creation and attraction and giving instead of how do I grab or get access to. It’s more just put it out there and attract it. I love that. That’s really good. You have a lot of expertise around this area of coaching. After LifterLMS, we just rolled out a new add-on to our product where people can essentially have private hosts and private discussions between the teacher and the student on an individual basis in addition to their more passive automated course.
Milana: That’s great. That’s great.
Chris: You can have a course, but you can also have the coaching as an upsell or it can be a totally different product. There’s all kinds of different ways to structure it. Before the course creator, let’s say I’m a book author or I’m just an expert and I got into the world and I got my online course launched and I’m really happy with it, and now I’m a digital successful entrepreneur person, but you know what, I miss interacting with live people and I also see untapped value. If I could just work with people one on one in addition to courses, but do it through the internet and offer some high end coaching, how do I transition or add that into my offer? How do successful coaches in the early stages construct their offer? How do they think about it?
Milana: First of all, you can test it. I don’t know if your platform allows for an upsell, but one of the ways that coaches are monetizing coaching after they sell a program or a course is they do an upsell. Let’s say they’re selling something for, I don’t know, a $50 course and then when the purchase is complete or somewhere in the middle of the purchase they’ll offer, “By the way if you want some hand holding as you implement this, or if you have some questions or if you want a strategy session around your implementation, I’m available for one on one conversation or coaching session or consulting.” That would probably be the simplest way to add in some coaching.
Of course, you could always have a coaching program created around your course. Here’s a $50 course, or you can choose a live group implementation program based on the very same course. You basically expand the concept of your course into a coaching program. I would say those are the two ways to start with and see what works.
Chris: That’s awesome. One of the ways I like to explain that too is the course is the do-it-yourself. Coaching is more done with you.
Milana: Yes.
Chris: Then the whole done for you thing, that’s a whole different service or whatever. Courses and information products, they’re basically for the do-it-yourselfer, and then you can start layering on with the coaching. Milana, this has been a really treasure of a conversation. I really appreciate it. It just shows all your experience, just your insights come through and a lot of them as we go through the various topics. Thank you for spending some time with the LifterLMS crew here. We really appreciate it. I’d encourage people to head on over to SimplicityCircle.com/GetStarted, and check out what Milana’s up to. Check any challenge she’s got going on or any of her stuff.
If you were to bull down your simplicity entrepreneurship message to its core, what is it?
Milana: Simplicity is about creating a business that gives you the shortest path to the result that you want to accomplish essentially. It’s the simplest way to achieve a goal. In business, it means finding the shortest, most simple way to a profitable business by removing everything else, everything that creates complexity, any unnecessary steps, tools, projects, activities, mindsets and sometimes people. Eliminate those that add to complexity in your business.
Chris: Awesome. Milana, thank you so much for coming in the show. We really appreciate it.
Milana: Thanks so much for having me, Chris.

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