Friday, November 30, 2012

4. Building Up You Is How You Build An Alexander Technique Business


I woke this morning anxious and depressed - ever happened to you? (5.47am)

I don’t know what to do, so I just lie there thinking. Eventually I Skype my daughter, but she is unhappy and in my current state, I don’t know how to help her. (6.32am)

Depression is common, but it is a brake on success. In my case, the success I have is not enough, because I am not achieving what I set out to achieve, so I start weighing down (get the connection?) on my Self: recriminating, viewing my Self through a prism of failure and incompetence.

How in any way whatsoever can that help me build my Alexander Technique business? Only by coming to terms with the self-hate that drives all depression. How do I do that? Wait. Now I stop writing (it is 7.20am) and figure out a way…

First - my room was messy (my mind is messy) so I cleaned it. I put the clothes away, washed the dishes, created an environment around me that spoke back positively about me. (7.31am)

I sat down quietly with my Self and listened. Eventually I found a voice - desperate, pleading, telling me “I can’t do it. I can’t do it.” Oh so there it is. And I wondered about that. What’s my reality right now? If I use Alexander's discoveries, I can ask the question: what are my conditions of use right now? In that question, I include my whole life. And my whole life is good. I can do it, I am doing it. Suddenly, when I gave my Self that information, I felt much, much happier. Now I need more nourishment. I will eat…(8.11am).

While I eat I watch my teacher on YouTube. Now I look for inspiration, I look for guidance. I find it - first in tears (no surprise to me) then in understanding: I see my situation - once depressing me - as a wonderful opportunity to apply my creativity, my awareness, my ability to seek and receive support. It is what it is, and it will only change when I change. So make a plan - what constructive action can I take to move the situation that had been troubling me? (8.41am)

Now I have a plan - 8 steps, 6 of them today, another two that lead on to further actions. Actions bring inspiration, inspiration brings action. When in a depressed state - move. Move into action, seek inspiration, undo the beliefs that won’t have you being as magnificent as you truly are. Today will be a wonderful day - I feel hopeful, happy and ready to meet new challenges that put me on the learning edge of being me. (8.54am)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

3. Four Short Case Histories of Building an Alexander Technique Business


Last night was a lot of fun. I got together with a clutter of my BodyChance students to explore how to make a successful Alexander Technique career…

One was an actor - he started a blog just two weeks ago specifically for actors. I had written in my blog that actors make great pupils but lousy paying clients - they either have time but no money, or money but no time. Not a good match. He was discouraged. However, I pointed out there is a high end to go to, a place where coaches are needed to support A-list actors get better performances. Cirque du Soleil had actually approached BodyChance for this very thing only a year ago… We decided - that’s where he needs to aim. It suits who he is: it creates a lifestyle he wants.

The second was a woman who has been working in a company all her life: she was just told to retire early. He boss negotiated with head office to give her an extra year - but the clock is ticking. She was in shock, wondering: what is life like when the salary is no longer coming in? She thought about making an Alexander Technique career… “…but I have nothing to give,” she lamented, “I am not a musician or an actor - who wants to learn with me?” So I asked the question: “You have nothing to give - is that true? Really!?” After deep investigation and a few tears, we came to realize that she has a huge niche: office workers! She was a “salaryman” (Japanese term for office worker) for 27 years! Of course she deeply understands the stresses that people in this situation endure in Japan. She started describing to us how since she start studying at BodyChance, she became calmer, productive and happier at work. Nothing to give? We soon pulled that one down!

Next was a student who was about to perform a ballet piece in front of 200 people. “I am going to place an add for my first workshop in the program,” she happily declared “What do you think?” What I thought was this: out of 200 people, there’ll be 160 interested in Alexander Technique if they think it will help with their ballet strain pains, 40 of them will have a schedule that matches her actual dates and 2 might actually book. So what does she want - 160 emails or 2 participants? Better to take out an add offering a free booklet or DVD on her experience with eliminating ballet strain pains in exchange for their name and email. Once you have their emails, you can sell a workshop again, and again, and again…

Next was a violinist who claimed to be “low power” wondering how he can energize himself into making a career. He had just started to study at BodyChance… “Do you learn things in class?” I asked. “So much!” he answered. “Do you share that with anyone?” He looked a little puzzled: “What do you mean?” I answered: “Are you writing about that?” He wasn’t, but we soon made a simple plan that he gets him started using his lessons at BodyChance as fodder for a newly emerging blog niched to amateur violinists, of which there are many in Tokyo.

And so it went on - a practical evening discovering simple ways to develop the skills, day by day, to build a successful career as an Alexander Technique teacher. 

What did you do today to advance your career?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

2. How A Japanese Washing Machine Reminded Me How To Build An Alexander Technique Business.


Who would think a washing machine could wake me up?

But it did this morning, while I was meditating. It’s been bugging me, but my new Japanese washing machine starts singing an alarm mid-way through the washing cycle. “What’s your problem?!” I demand. “Get just on with washing my clothes will you!”

But it bugged me - why does he do that? So I started to gather information. I discovered why: so I could add fabric softener. Oh.

So this morning, off goes the alarm mid-cycle and I am thinking “I know! You want fabric softener. Well, you’re not getting it!” Then I began to wonder - why would anyone do that? I mean, for thousands of years we managed without fabric softener - why the big deal now?

Then, I started to wonder: what would motivate me to add fabric softener? Hmmmm. Maybe there’s some wonderful benefit that I don’t know about? Maybe there’s something that irritates me about my clothes, that fabric softener would cure? Can I see any benefit?

Benefits. Yes - that is what motivates me, you - all of us. When you have a stressful emotion, and you are told “this will go away if you do this” you get highly motivated to do it. And that spoke to me about yesterdays’ blog post: how to unify the process of building your Alexander Technique business.

It’s all about focus, about purpose, about intention.

Strong intention only comes about when there is a vision of the benefit that will accrue from taking action. So what are the “benefits” that would come to you if you did build a sustainable, Alexander Technique business?

It’s worth taking time to write that list down. As you write it, notice what lights you up, what inspires you. It’s not words on paper that will get you out of bed in the morning - it is emotion. How can you fire your self up? Do you know how? This is number one - seek the passion that would have you do the thinking that would keep you on task day to day in fulfilling a vision you have of your Alexander Technique business/mission.

Have you ever written your life mission? Maybe it’s time you did that too…

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

1. What does mind-body unity have to do Building an Alexander Technique Business?


What does mind-body unity have to do Building an Alexander Technique Business?

Everything. Here’s how it works…

You know from your Alexander Technique lessons or teaching, that it is easy to fixate on a part. Your back is sore, or you have pain in your wrists, so that draws your attention. You try to soften, you massage, you “think Alexander” and it just doesn’t go away. What’s wrong?

Your focus is one part, not the whole. Of course you want to consider the part - that is good - but consider it  in relation to that rest of you! That is critical. You know that when you fix your attention exclusively on “parts”, not only is it not successful, it can actually lead to more pain and suffering.

I knew this from my Alexander Technique work, so when I ran a campaign to attract belly dancers to BodyChance, why didn’t I use that insight to figure out why it was not working? I mean: I had an interview with the Editor of the only magazine in the field, I run an event that was attended by over a 100 belly dancers, I made flyers, meet people in the industry - but in over a year of working at it, only two (two!)  Bellydancers joined our public program, and one joined ProCourse - but she left after only a few months. Sigh.

What was I doing wrong?

I was sticking to a part, while not seeing the whole. The “part” I was fixated on was promotion - and in that I succeeded wildly well. Go to any Bellydancer in Tokyo today, and the likelihood they have heard of Alexander Technique is quite high. So in that - success. But why, oh why did not they come for lessons?

The answer was there to find, if I had only been thinking holistically. What are the steps of any marketing enrollment campaign? Yes, IT IS TO ENROLL. I got the marketing part right, but I failed to think through the whole process - to see it in its unity. If I had, I would have discovered a glaringly obvious, in-my-face problem that explained why they didn’t enroll…

They were spending all their money on belly-dancing!

In Japan, a secretary at an office is doing well if she is earning 200,000yen a month - that equals about $460 a week. (And that’s only if she has a full-time job, which a lot of people don’t.) Take away your rent, your travel, your fun and your belly dancing lessons and what’s left? Not much. To study at BodyChance, it costs a minimum of $37 a week. It doesn’t sound much, but a bellydance class only costs $12, so if you start Alexander Technique lessons, that’s three bellydancing lessons you can’t afford any more. When you have to choose between your passion, and something that can help your passion, what do you think the decision will be?

I see it everywhere in the Alexander Technique community. People doing wonderful “parts” of marketing - a great website, some nice blog posts, a flyer sent out to folks - but the holistic picture is simply not there. There’s no “sales funnel”, no clear concept of the path you are guiding a person along.

So what to do?

Make a list of everything you are doing to build your business, and ask your self: “What’s missing from my list?” Imagine you are the stranger you want to attract - is there a clear journey for you to travel along? Are there gabs in that journey, assumptions that are simply wrong (like - they can afford my lessons!).

Think of them, not you. What is their problem? What is their need? Had I asked those questions, I am sure I would have built a very different looking business that bellydancers could have joined. Subtly, my actual problem was not just that they were short money of money, it was also about the way I wanted them to spend it. That’s another whole conversation.  For now, what I discovered, is that bellydancing is my niche, NOT.

Ask: where are you wasting your energy chasing students who can not support building the kind of Alexander Technique business you want to build?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Truly Surprising Essence Of Marketing Prowess


Peggy Williams, a wonderful Alexander Technique teacher now long gone, came to Sydney to teach on the school I started back in 1983. As she was teaching, I asked her who she thought was responsible for the outcome of the lesson?

“Oh that’s simple,” she said “I am 100% responsible.”

I was rather shocked by that, and quickly shot back:

“But what about the student?!”

“Oh…” she smiled coyly, “…the student is 100% responsible.”

***

I’ve made a lot of mistakes: embarrassing ones, expensive ones, divisive ones - you name it, I probably did it once. But I love making mistakes, because every time it happens, it tells me to rethink, to collect more information, to deflate my oversized ego and ask for advice. It is a moment when the universe speaks back to me: “Jerry, you are being delusional.”

Delusional?

Yes. Most of my mistakes happen when I am “being creative” rather than “being present”. Being present to what? To you, my partner, friend or client. What is it you want? How is that I can help you? If I don’t serve you, I don’t serve me. We are in this together, and I am the only one who can make this work, just as you are the only one who can make this work.

A victim doesn’t think that way. A victim never makes a mistake, is never wrong, is inflating their ego, inflating their sense of righteousness. And a victim never learns. When you refuse to be responsible for your mistakes, you are going to war against the world. The world is trying to tell you something, and your response is to say “No. I am right, you are wrong.”

Where are you blaming some-one for your experience right now?

You may be right, but if you don’t receive what is happening, you will continue in the same way. As W. C. Fields loved to say: “If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it.”

So at the core of your marketing skill is this ability to quit carrying on the same way, to humble your Self, to listen, to be ready and willing to be wrong, to make mistakes. When you are afraid to make a mistake, you are afraid to take a risk. What is a risk? It is doing something you have not done before - going towards the unknown. How are you doing that right now?

Alexander's discoveries are all about how you travel from the known to the unknown, and marketing is a fabulous endeavour to apply this work. When you open your mind to communication with strangers, to people who need you (though they don’t know it yet) , you are putting yourself in this place of the unknown. This is the work. This is marketing.

Marketing is not something you add to your skill set once you finish your Teacher Education - it is integral to it. It is essential. It is about developing the ability to match your need with another person’s need. This happens in the context of one lesson, and it happens in the context of a global community.

A critical difference between belly-to-belly communication and long distance communication, is that your mistakes are exaggerated in long distance communication, because you don’t get to see how people react, and there are a lot more of them. When someone is standing in front of you, it is easier to notice when they are engaged by you, when they are not. But with multiple numbers of people on the other side of a website - how can you gauge their reactions? When you know the person who is listening to you (niche marketing) you are far more likely to gauge their reactions, which means you are more capable of matching their need. You understand them.

The most successful marketers are the ones who are honest, who are true to who they are. Your first work, which happens in BodyChance, is to know who you are, to know what you need. From the truth of that arises a person secure in their true Self. A secure person is willing to take risks, willing to be wrong, willing to make mistakes.

Today is a good day to start.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

I Breath, I Market - That Is Who I Am



Many in the Alexander Technique community think of marketing as disingenuous hype, and feel an aversion to it. They think marketing has a false feeling, a lack of genuine concern and authenticity. I know because I have been that way my self. I eventually discovered that marketing works best when harnessed with my organically or naturally driven desires. As you study Alexander's discoveries, you come to know this easily: consider these parallels between the process of breathing and the process or marketing…

Successful breathing works organically, it arises from natural mechanisms, and is driven by a deep, biologically wired wish to live. There’s no conscious effort involved, it just does itself.

Successful marketing works organically: it arises from your true self, and is driven by a deep wish you have recognized as being your primary driver. There’s no conscious effort involved, it just does itself.

People are born breathing - it is one of life’s essential tasks. Without the ability to find the air you need, you can not develop and grow.

People are born marketing - it is one of life’s essential tasks. Without the ability to find people you need, and who need you, you can not develop and grow.

As you get older, organic breathing is almost never sufficient for the demands of certain professions. When you want to sing opera, run a four minute mile, or play the French horn in Britten's Serenade for Tenor, organic breathing needs to be harnessed to conscious intention: you need to develop skills to manipulate and control your breath in all kinds of unexpected and original ways. You need to study breathing.

As you get older, organic marketing is almost never sufficient for the specifics of your business needs. When you want to launch a new product, build a back-end business or capture the elite 1% of your market, organic marketing needs to be harnessed to conscious intention: you need to develop skills to manipulate and control your marketing in all kinds of unexpected and original ways. You need to study marketing.

Get the idea?

Marketing is about finding people who need each other - the teacher needs the student as much as the student needs the teacher. Both win - that’s ideal. This is organic - both parties are fulfilling a need, no-one is losing. It is life’s natural movement.

If you are surprised to read people are born marketing, just think of some childhood experiences. Children are the most ruthless sales people you could ever meet - if they want something, and they feel secure in their wish, they will sell you on their idea tirelessly, relentlessly - finding different ways to convince you of the merit of their wish. I know, I have been on the other end of this salesmanship, and I usually give in. Why? Because I ultimately see their point - they truly convince me.

Your problem with marketing, if you have a problem with marketing, is that you most likely don’t know your true need. To clearly communicate who you are, and what you need, you need to know who you are and what you need. If you are not clear about that, all the techniques and strategies of marketing will not solve that basic disharmony. Instead, you come off hyper and false and don’t connect with the people who actually need you.