My work tends to attract a lot of naturally high-achievers. People who reject a hack-first mindset in the pursuit of craftsmanship.
People who are driven by a desire to do greater work. To consistently and constantly improve. To exceed expectations – every expectation.
The people I work with have high standards and even higher goals, refusing to compromise on quality, and relentlessly seeking remarkability. They work tirelessly to help, encourage and support everyone around them to achieve great things.
And yet, so many of them report feeling a lack of pride in their work. More than just battling the Imposter Complex, these successful business owners feel that their best just isn’t quite good enough.
Why is that?
More importantly, when you find yourself in that situation, what can you do about it?
To help answer that question, I want to introduce you to Natasha Vorompiova of SystemsRock.
Natasha is a consultant and coach who excels at developing systems that help microbusinesses run more smoothly, more effectively and with less heartache.
But when it came to her own flagship program, she felt like it was missing the mark.
It wasn’t going smoothly. It was only moderately effective. And it was causing her a lot of heartache.
Natasha felt as though she was having to pull people through the program. She was spending far more time and energy than she ever imagined, trying to get people to do the work, never mind finish the entire program. And all that cajoling, encouragement and support wasn’t something she’d planned on when she designed the course – or when she set her pricing.
It just wasn’t adding up.
What was going wrong?
The problem wasn’t that Natasha’s course was bad. She was attracting the right people, providing them with great materials, and giving them incredible value.
But still, she was feeling burned out, overstretched and frustrated.
Her deep compulsion to have students see results was pushing her to go the extra mile. To give more of her knowledge, more of her expertise, and more of herself. Natasha wanted so desperately for them to be successful, and couldn’t bear the thought of letting people down.
Her compulsion was getting in the way of her craft.
“Give Them What They Need”
Cognitively, we all know that we can’t make people be successful. But it can be so dreadfully hard to accept.
That’s why, when Natasha came to me, one of the first things I told her was this:
Some people will not complete your program. It sucks, and I hate it when it happens to me as much as I’m sure you hate it when it happens to you. But your job isn’t to force people to completion. Your job is to give them everything you can; everything they need to be successful. What they do with that is up to them.
The key piece of this is knowing what it means to give someone everything they need to be successful.
It doesn’t mean giving every part of yourself. It doesn’t mean being on-call to answer every question, anticipating every challenge, or getting it perfect the first time.
But what it does mean is that you have to first be completely clear about what your perfect participants want. Then, you have to examine how what you have to offer gives them what they need, to get there.
As Natasha and I collaborated on redeveloping her program, we came back to this perfect participant many times. Here are just 3 insights from the process:
Refine Your Focus
Originally, Systematic Success took clients through developing 12 different systems for their business – from client intake and lead generation, to financial management and team building.
But as she dug deeper, Natasha realized a critical insight: the people who came to her with struggles about lead generation were not likely to also need help with team building.
They were at fundamentally different places in their business, with fundamentally different needs. In creating a program that tried to serve both of these audiences, Natasha had inadvertently spread herself too thin. There was no way she could bring both audiences to the level of success she wanted, because they weren’t all ready for what she was trying to offer.
The Fix: In the redesigned program, Natasha chose to focus in more on business owners who were struggling to set up the very earliest of systems: client intake, social media, lead generation and blogging. These areas were the ones that her perfect participants were most commonly struggling with. As a result, they were low-hanging fruit: areas in which she could help them see fast results.
The Result: By cutting the number of topics she intended to cover (down to 1/3rd!) Natasha was able to create a much more relaxed pace for participants. They no longer needed to rush from system to system, but are instead able to dig into each system and actually implement it before moving on to the next one.
Plus, the messaging and marketing around the program was much more streamlined. This wasn’t a “systems for everyone” course; it was a clearly intentioned, highly focused program designed to get specific results for the right people.
Natasha says: “I’m now certain that a higher percentage of my students will be accomplishing their course goals.”
Break It WAY Down.
Once Natasha removed 2/3rds of the course materials, things were already seeming more manageable. But there was still more to be done.
Natasha recognized that while she had all the materials, she needed to find ways to engage people and actually get them doing the work of building their systems. And that meant building in exercises – not busywork worksheets, but actual, practical hands-on systems work – without overwhelming people with content.
The Fix: The redesigned program is one of the best examples I’ve ever seen of the 80/20 rule for curriculum.
Every module is broken down into bite-sized mini-lessons that can be done throughout the week. And each of these mini-lessons is structured similarly: a very brief reading exercise, followed by a more in-depth chance to apply.
Just how brief is that reading exercise, you might ask? Check out this example:
Yes, you read that right. This lesson has less than one minute of reading.
The vast majority of the learner’s time is spent doing the work and getting results, rather than mindlessly consuming content. They have no choice but to do so – the program compels them to do so by it’s heavy emphasis on action taking.
The Result: Whereas in the first offering of the program, Natasha reported that people started dropping off or falling behind by the first call, this time was different. Action was being taken. Homework was being submitted. And all without her having to exhort, cajole and remind.
The structure of the redesigned program ended up doing all of that for her. By setting in place a clear vision, and giving step-by-step action plans with only a minimal amount of content consumption, Natasha kept her clients focused on what matters – doing the work – rather than distracting them with what doesn’t.
Natasha says: “I no longer feel like I have to pull my students along. The course is pushing them and making them want to do it.”
Forget The Fancy Website
Once the materials were broken down and refocused on actionable learning, Natasha had one last challenge ahead of her.
In the first iteration of the program, she had gone all out on the technology front. Fancy website, membership software; it was like an end-to-end learning platform. It looked and worked great … except for one thing.
Natasha’s students had a heck of a time translating what they were seeing in the membership site, into actual systems that they could use for their business.
The Fix: The most genius move that Natasha made in Systematic Success 2.0 is one that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before.
She abandoned the membership site approach altogether, in favor of delivering her entire program inside the software she wanted her students to use.
No longer did her clients have to log onto the course platform, go through the material, and then figure out how to translate it into Evernote or Asana (Natasha’s top recommended tools). Instead, the material was delivered straight to their Evernote notebooks or Asana projects and they could implement it immediately.
For participants who hadn’t ever used these tools before, Natasha provided a free bonus with enrollment: copies of her popular Asana for Small Business and Evernote for Small Business products. A great “sweetener” on the program sales page, a huge value-add for her students, and a fantastic way to repurpose her own materials.
The Results: What had once been taken for granted – of course a membership site is the obvious choice! – was turned on its head and became a unique selling point of the course. Natasha was able to clearly communicate how Systematic Success 2.0 was different from other courses on the market, because it wasn’t just about learning systems … it was specifically delivered in a way to make implementation a breeze.
Her students noticed it, too. One in particular commented that the course structure was not only really well prepared, but it made it “really, really easy” to do the work.
Natasha says: “Building the course and delivering materials in Evernote and Asana is significantly more time consuming than having everything sit on a membership site, no doubt about it. But I’m sure I can optimize the process over time and ultimately spend significantly less time managing the course than what I was spending last year.”
This is Where Pride Comes From
Systematic Success 2.0 launched in January 2015, and Natasha couldn’t be more proud.
Whereas before she felt compelled to pull people along so that they could get the most of the program, she now can look at what she’s done and realize that she has given her students everything they need to be successful.
Sure, there will be things she can (and will!) improve and iterate on. There are always improvements to be made; adjustments and changes that will make the experience even better.
But fundamentally, the way that Natasha feels about the program has changed:
“I’ve never been more proud of an offering I created and confident that I can deliver the results I promised my students.”
When you know what you’re promising and have confidence that your materials will deliver, pride naturally follows.
And that’s the sign of a true craftsman.
How have you been enjoying this recent discussion of craftsmanship? Has it resonated with you? Brought up new questions or challenges? I’d love to hear about it all. Leave a comment and let me know.
PS: Coming Soon
In March, for the first time ever, I’m going to be publicly opening up my most exclusive, highest-value consulting offer: Legacy Builder. There will likely be only one slot available for this multi-month, high-level strategic coaching-meets-consulting service.
I’ll be sharing the details with my email subscribers soon, so sign up below if you’re not already. And then start thinking about whether this is the right time for you to take a big step forward in your business.