Some Thoughts Re: New Year’s Resolutions

I love the idea of clearing the mind and setting those all important goals but I’m weaker when it comes to following through.

I have so many interests and ideas that I  tend to feel overwhelmed. So it’s better for me to break things down.
Resolutions are about the spirit of the resolution and not the goal. But goals are important too.
Here are a few ideas
Fluent
  • I will publish 3 new written or course based collections of what the blog already contains.
    • I will work with a ghostwriter who drafts this.
  • I will recognise my own value and charge for my own time.
    • Goal 1: estimate how long something will take me and set an income goal based on that
    • Goal 2: estimate how long the promotion will take and plan it all out in advance
    • Goal 3: triage every single Monday
  • I will be on top of understanding my income streams every month.
Teaching HQ
  • I will not give up on the Teaching HQ
    • I will publish a blog post every two weeks and explore making video a key part
    • I will give every product the promotion and attention it deserves
  • I will feel adequate and qualified for this
    • I will continue learning the things I need to know and sharing what I’m learning
    • I will enjoy sharing without worrying if people think I’m good enough, because I am and because me doing it means I am good enough
  • I will stop worrying how much money this makes and remember that I’m investing and I can get booked for consultations.
  • I will not fear the other people in this space. There’s someone for everyone.
    • Like one of my fitness instructors says “not everyone’s preferred instructor but that’s ok cos there’s room for us all”
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I can’t even..

Today I’m skittish. I keep switching my attention from one thing to the next, unable to hang on to any thought for very long. There’s a lot going on. I’ve been wanting to update on this blog for a little while now, so maybe this is a great opportunity for me to bring order into the chaos that’s going on in my mind.

Often this works. Writing about what’s going on helps me make sense of it, as I go through the process of making sense of it for other people.

So first of all, let’s just face the fact that you won’t get a full update on my wedding. It’s too long ago! It’s already been 3 months on Sunday since the German celebration. I want to acknowledge that it happened though, and perhaps give you a very quick summary.

It was super hot, there were lots more planning voices to consider, it ended up being beautiful, but also it was more emotionally exhausting. That’s a good summary of a wedding at home, I suppose? How do you think it would go if your mum played a big part in the event? I am very happy that we were able to make my parents the proud hosts of such a day. But England was ours, we played the hosts. Does make a difference.

Moving on from that, our honeymoon was exactly what the doctor ordered. I can’t tell you how much joy it brought me to spend a few weeks travelling around Europe with this guy. We spent a week exploring hammocks and beaches on an Italian island.

Retrospective of My Business

In terms of business, the year is coming to a good conclusion at this stage. I’ve been able to put out several products, most recently two German language courses. And it feels like for now I’m done with that part, and I’m looking to move on. The progression of how I work is clearly visible in retrospect, even if it sometimes feels I’ve no clue where the next corner is going forward.

I started as a 1-to-1 tutor offering lessons in English and French. Didn’t have a clear idea of who I’m tutoring, just pretty much anyone who was up for it. The first 18 months were full of experimentation. Group classes, local promotions, and my first learning videos.

I quickly found a clearer idea of my audience, and learnt that Fluent’s blog (and my enjoyment of blogging) attract a nice big bunch of people. So this is how my business started shifting to more online activities, I realised that making more products is a way to satisfy my creativity and joy of writing just as much as starting to take the pressure of lessons as the only thing that helps me earn money.

And this year felt like the shift to more online products was a significant aspect. I’m not yet able to do anything super special as a result of my blogging, but the philosophy of Fluent has become clearer. As I write my books and create my courses, I get closer to how I want them to be. The answer to “why do I make what I make?” is the idea of a business philosophy or motto or whatever you want to call it. This really helps me put new projects on the map and work out where I want them to fit into the big puzzle.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t take on things, ideas, projects, deals, that don’t align with the goals. Not quite, not yet. But it does mean that I’m better at setting priorities.

Prospective to 2016

Is a pro-spective the opposite of a retro-spective?

Anyway..here’s where I am at.

I feel more closely aligned with why I’m doing this “solo business” thing than I have felt in a good while. Financially, there are many more corners to turn but at the same time my confidence in why I make specific choices is high. Just hope I can keep this up.

It’s challenging to put my goals for the next period in writing. It’s even more challenging to publish those goals and tell everyone on the internet about them, so this section won’t be the largest one yet. But my idea right now is that I want to make diary entries to see how far I’ve progressed in each sector once a month.

The core business goals, as in “things that would make me happy in 2016” are:

  1. To run German Language Retreats – events where I can dedicate the right amount of time to German learners who want an intense, unique and fun week in Germany. I’ve already made some big steps towards this. Next step: Set the dates.
  2. To double Fluent’s revenue and traffic, so that I can spread my core philosophy of slow, enjoyable language learning.
  3. To run more offline and online events like I did in the first half of this year, before wedding madness.
  4. To become a uni guest lecturer.

And that’s the four, for now. What are your goals for 2016, internet?

When a Plan Comes Together

In the writer’s chair today, you may imagine a woman whose brain is just taking the break that she seemingly needs. I’m kind of unproductive today a state that always bothers me. There’s a lot to be sorted out and a lot on my mind, and usually I’m able to create a lot of content and value at quite a clippy pace so maybe it’s time to take that break and view what’s going on.

  • Personal Life is going on, yo!

Today it’s 9 days until my wedding day, which means there are 8 days to get everything tucked away and ready, and the sense of tension is rising hugely. This morning I posted the invitations for our second wedding which is taking place later this year in Germany. They look awesome, C really did an amazing job designing them and they’re bilingual too. With such an important event looming on the horizon, it’s almost too easy to get lost in worrying ahead and forgetting about the big event that’s right in front of me! Of course I’m also keen to work hard and produce everything I want to produce, and the to-do list is one higgeldy piggeldy chaos of wedding things, work things, life things. It’s BIG STUFF.

Right now, hang on..I just have to take a second to add a few to-dos.

Just in case you’re interested, we planned our wedding ourselves and used Trello and Google Docs extensively.

  • Savvy Brand Bounced Back

In my last post on this blog that follows my personal and business and both journey, I shared the experience of an unsuccessful launch and how I ended up moving on from it. I created the Savvy Brand Toolkit because I wanted to keep offering the value and helpful notes that I know my course offered, but without freaking out about no one turning up on a specific sign-up deadline. Overall, the sales have been pretty positive for the last 2 months. I organised a live Facebook event to support more teachers and also shared my knowledge of practical teaching matters over at Udemy in a new course called Live Lesson Strategies for Online Teaching. Both of this had two really great effects on me: First of all I felt a return of my mojo and enthusiasm for helping online teachers through my experience. Secondly, I felt that sharing more of my knowledge and experience really helped me consolidate the brand.

The most important move I conducted was a shift back to Fluent, my core website about language learning and personal development. I simply took the Savvy Brand Toolkit and started talking about it on that website, and the teachers in my audience were very grateful, and AFAIK none of the language teachers took offence. This helps me become a more authentic language blogger, since I’ve been writing from the tutor’s perspective for years.

  • I’m an Educator, Still

Of course live services still form the heart of my work, and I’m feeling a strong pull to online education. I want to keep supporting live teachers and reach out to the thousands of people who are currently creating online courses about all kinds of great topics. After speaking to an inspiring friend who confessed to taking weeks of agonizing over a simple workshop, I realised that this is an area where I can and I want to help people! I’m a pretty good knowledge organizer and project manager, making me suitable for working with books and online courses. Obviously, I’m on number 6 of those in just over 2 years by now, and I don’t want others to stand in their own way when they could be reaching out and teaching already. In the past, I was very curious about becoming an online course consultant but I was intimidated by established big names in the field. But now the time feels more suitable, and I have a better sense of the market holding a little space for me. I have some packages and test clients ready, and a wonderful strategy for them that the amazing Audra Wilke helped me build. I’m ready for business and feeling pretty positive about this, so watch this space and contact me if you want to get in early.

That was kind of my speedy update. The challenge for this month is still course production and marketing, boosting my Udemy portfolio and revenue and looking into the best options for selling courses in the future. I’ll keep you posted..

Feb Recap: A Month of Decisions

I know there’s lots to do. I really do know this, and I also know I should just get started on something. But it’s Saturday and I feel like I’ve not written for days and also the new series of House of Cards has just come out. And the other thing? Oh, the wedding! Yes, I’m also still preparing for a wedding. This blog tends to be mostly focused on my business goals and struggles and successes, and I don’t want to drive it away from that too much. But on the other hand, it’s so evident that your personal life can totally affect the results and successes in your business. So here is a quick February recap:

  1. I made a new friend through this blog, even though I don’t publicise it very much at all. Tammy runs a language school in Shenandoah Valley and interviewed me for her podcast. I love Tammy’s transparent, open, positive approach to business and I’m so glad we connected.
  2. I fell out with my seamstress, learnt something about how I want people to communicate with me (and what can go wrong when they don’t) and finally decided that I have to take some drastic wedding dress action. Within the course of the last week I put my original dress up for sale, visited four bridal shops, tried on every sample going and bought another dress. It’s been stressful, but again it taught me something really valuable, which is this:

    When it comes down to brass tacks (an expression I only have just learnt) I can totally make a decision. Decision making is what I got completely stuck on when purchasing dress 1, and it generally is something I do not do well. I hate excluding options, I hate trusting my gut, I don’t know how to say no. But when you have a week to buy a wedding dress because you simply do not want to go on looking, you get on with it.

    I used to have this technique of scoring my options on made-up categories, which I dug out again yesterday. Totally works for me. LISTS. Also, this might be the world’s greatest worksheet. And come May, I am going to look like I’m wearing a cloud.

  3. My Savvy Brand Academy launch isn’t succeeding in the way that I would like it to succeed, so I’m having to adjust here and go with plan B: A cool self-paced option, adjusted messaging to return to my original target group, and again basically making a decision. The amount of times I say that appealing to everyone means connecting with no one! Time for me to make a stand.
  4. Taking action is cool! I’m challenging myself to speak in public 10 times before the start of June – so far 2 webinars are done, and the third one is running on Monday. I’ve also held a workshop on Blogging and have interest for a second one that I’m bringing out later in March. I’ve learnt how to run Facebook ads, and I love how this is growing my community and saving time. The problem that I do run into right now is that a lot of my activity on visibility becomes disjointed as I haven’t got a clear product or programme to promote. Savvy Brand Academy is closing its doors next week and going self-paced, which requires a good bunch of work behind the scenes. If you happen to be someone wanting to build your online teaching brand, contact me and let me use you as a guinea pig.
  5. Another decision made: I’m going to face up to VAT MOSS. I’m going to get a VAT number. I’m going to take those damn hurdles that were thrown at digital entrepreneurs and try to make it work. Bastards. I’m also going to keep campaigning, writing to parliamentary representatives and raising my voice because just because the law hasn’t changed yet I still think it could be improved. In fact it must be improved. Please keep an eye on this awesome blog.

For the coming month, I am not really ready to set goals as such. I have no new initiatives, instead I need to take this time to ride out the ones I set in motion earlier in the year. Adapting Savvy Brand Academy, running the planned workshops and figuring out my 1-to-1 offerings will be enough to handle in one month. And that’s just the business side before things really do get wedding-serious and exciting.

What have you got planned, and how was your Feb?

Goal Update: My first month of 2015

Well hello there ambitious people, once again I find myself catching up on my personal blog on a Monday, and it really is a good time for a review. The first month of the new year is over, time to revisit those goals and ideals and see where it has all led to. And to take a deep breath, remember that everything coming up next is possible. Like many others, I have that dooming sense of panic when I glance at my to-do list and the scribbled notes that add up in a busy week. It’s important to put in days like today. Officially I’m not working at all, but of course that’s kind of out of the window within minutes. I want to spend my day focusing on “wedmin” and find I have to force myself to do this. It’s hard to think “table decorations” and “Pinterest” when you constantly worry that your income depends on how good a marketing campaign you can come up with for your latest endeavour.

So there. Time to look at how them goals went.

Not Working More than 5 Hours a Day

This was a late addition to the resolutions, added during the peaceful relaxation I felt in my winter holiday. I was able to pull this off without suffering productivity letdowns for the earlier part of January, but as the month end and the deadlines came closer I was unable to stick to my limits. Lesson learnt: Self-control breeds productivity, and 5 hours a day is more than enough but only when you do focus.

Language Book Club

After “March to a Bestseller”, an online event run by and from independent authors, made a big impression on me last year I was keen to try out running a language-focused version. I went with my plan, roped in a language podcasting colleague to co-organise and actually pulled this off last week. Language Book Club was an 11 hour Facebook marathon, intense and at the same time wonderful for all the content we created in a short period of time. My core goal was book promotion for my slightly fledgling second book The Vocab Cookbook, which I gave away for free on the day very successfully. With 255 free copies claimed, I want to generate more reviews during February and show Amazon that the book really is very good. Lesson learnt: Bigger projects are better done with others, video chat is exhausting and events like this one are what makes you stand out from others. Oh, and this stuff is more work than you think.

Ending my First Online Course

My first online course for independent online teachers wanting to build their brands was very successful. I gathered lots of positive feedback and reassurance that both the concept and the content are worth a lot to people. 6 graduates, and hopefully more to come. Main lesson learnt: When running an online course, build in live elements for extra value (the live calls were awesome) and allow “reading weeks” to allow everyone to catch up with the content.

Running the next Online Course, Milestone 1

Really this should be right at the top, it’s the next goal going forward anyway. In January, I wanted to complete all Case Studies, the Sales Page and the Full Concept for my second run of the online course. I achieved most of this by creating the copy and info page for Savvy Brand Academy, a course I am super proud to promote. The case studies are a little slow (because the course finished 3 days late?) and I am experimenting with different versions of them, i.e. video interviews, email interviews and a survey. I’m excited to be featuring my successful participants in the marketing for my next course and to have their support. Main lesson learnt: DO NOT put a major goal milestone deadline into the same week as a big event like Language Book Club.

NEXT GOALS 

My big goal is to sign up at least 15 participants to Savvy Brand Academy in February. 

I was glad that I ran a smaller pilot group for this course in the first instance and now that it’s legit, it’s time to kick things up a notch. The registration period is officially open right now but I’m behind with my marketing and really do need to spread the word a little more here, so February will be focused on helpful guest posts, interviews, challenges and other things I can run to help people for free and tempt them with my course.

Launch Period

The launch period starts on 9 February and will run until the end of the month, and feature a bunch of promotional events. I’m speaking locally and running a few workshops, and will also contact more people on a 1-to-1 basis to see whether they are ready to get involved. The hardest thing here is to reach the right people. I have been asked if the course is for online teachers only, and in spirit I want to say “no, it’s not”. It’s for people who believe in their own brand, their independent spirit. People who are sick of working for others and want to start running their own show. I want to have artists and coaches in this course, but the key really is to hit those people who want to understand the concept behind marketing and brand building. It’s not about what you do, it’s about what you want to learn. This is my big challenge, to communicate it right.

Phew, and now to go hunt for a wedding dress appropriate bra…

Hey, It’s Ok…

Welcome to the new year, and in addition to a first check-in on my professional goals or growth or news I also need to focus on my personal feelings today. Last week, I lost a grandparent, for the first time in my life. He was the youngest out of the lot, and an all round happy, smiling, peaceful and friendly person. Everyone in my family is in pain. We are deeply shocked and I think it’s hard to believe that this has happened. So here I am now, sitting down on a Monday afternoon to do some work and my whole mind is refusing to put itself to the task. This is damn difficult. I am unsure what I can share that would be of interest to other people, except that I am once again fighting my own tendency to keep truckin’ and work right through anything that hurts. I feel guilty because I can’t concentrate. I walk downstairs and end up watching a Buffy re-run. I stare at pictures of this wonderful person and the hurt comes right back. Well, what can I say except to share that this is how I am feeling and every day from now is going to be different, but I’m sure it will be fine eventually. Have you experienced anything similar, and found yourself unable to focus as a result of such a bout of grief? Here is a reminder, hopefully as valid for you as it is for me:

It’s okay to focus on recovering without work, to let a few tasks lie and put them to one side, and come back to them when you’re ready. I am reminded of the Hey, It’s Ok… campaign by Glamour magazine. Of course they’re going about it in a light-hearted way, but the magazine has an underlying message in there about anxiety, sadness and feeling inadequate. They bring it out now and then when it’s Mental Health Awareness Week. So here are a few Hey, It’s Ok… thoughts that I need to give to myself today.

  • Hey, It’s Ok…to sit at your desk, zone out and stare at the picture of a loved one and admire their smile. That’s more important than work right now.
  • Hey, It’s Ok…when you need the third cup of tea and you wish someone else was in the house. Where is that cat!
  • Hey, It’s Ok…to cancel an appointment until you are ready to tackle it with your usual verve and power.
  • Hey, It’s Ok…if on the other hand working makes you feel better during a tough time.
  • And Hey, It’s Ok…to be grateful and sad at the same time. They were awesome – yay. They are gone – not yay.

No matter how you are feeling right now, I hope that these thoughts make sense to you and give you a bit of positivity in your day. It’s okay. No matter what.

And if you’re still with me and curious about the business, why don’t we take a deep breath and go focusing on those goals and processes for a bit!

First of all, I am getting a great sense of what exactly I’m about and how I’m helping out other people as I go along and start working with the first few bunches of them. I am always the kind of person that discovers and learns by just jumping into the process instead of spending a lot of time maturing ideas and getting “ready”. I sort of jump in before I’m pre-ready, and then learn as I go along. This process is certainly messier and it does lead you along a few pretty stupid detours, but I’ve learnt that if “throw it at the wall, see if it sticks” is my style, then I’ll take that.

So in that spirit I have learnt and benefited LOADS from the pilot run of my course, and I’ve also gone ahead and renamed the whole thing. Or maybe not, I’m not quite sure yet but I think now I’ll just run with it. It doesn’t matter what it is called in the end. I am getting rewarding and encouraging messages from my participants who say “thanks, this helped me loads” and that is EXACTLY what I did this for.

My person is feeling discouraged, apprehensive, worried, and my materials and what I do is meant to encourage and sort of help them build some wings if flying is what they’re dreaming of. And most people don’t. Most people only want 2 more clients or perhaps 100 more dollars – come on people. We can TOTALLY do that.

2015 Goals, Edition 1

This has been a year of discovering and planning, exploring and producing, and working and failing and sometimes even succeeding. I know we’re not quite at the end of 2014 yet, but to be honest I actually feel like it’s time to turn over a new leaf now and I don’t see why we need to wait for a calendar to tell us to do this.

One of my favourite podcasts, the completely out-of-my-industry Evolve Your Wedding Business podcast actually agrees with me. If you are also in a position of wanting to plan your 2015 right now, then I recommend you start with these helpful questions. I’ve worked my way through them to my best abilities in the notebook, and kind of want to spare you most of my thoughts and rambles.

But in the spirit of clearing my own mind through writing this blog, here goes:

Top Accomplishments of 2014

  • Writing (editing) and Publishing two books: Fluency Made Achievable and The Vocab Cookbook
  • Shifting my personal brand from “language teacher” to “online business mentor”, very slowly and gradually, but visibly.
  • Adjusting the first instance of my Compass course. I had first envisioned this online teacher training course to be a big, all-encompassing 3 month programme with lots of attention and a premium price tag. After it launched to polite declines from lovely people, I refused to give up and instead broke it down into four modules. The first one is recruiting well right now, and each still makes plenty sense.
  • My language blogging identity really grew this year, I got featured in the UK Guardian, wrote guest posts for bigger blogs (Fluent in 3 Months being the standout one, but not the only one) and put more of my own angle on things.

Things I Didn’t Accomplish in 2014

  • I spent so much time agonising over “rebrand” that I forgot, once again, to actually make money. Financial freedom it ain’t.
  • I also got caught up in “my videos have to be awesome” thoughts, and basically made hardly any videos at all this year. That could have been another Udemy course.
  • Some other business avenues weren’t explored properly and might have worked if I’d committed more, but ah well.

Things I Recommend You Try for Your Own Business

  • Do a 100 People Project or 50 Calls Project. It’s great fun, it helps people out and it grows your network. And it’s market research, which we all overlook way too much.
  • Listen to your customers when they complain about what’s difficult.
  • Go along with what you enjoy doing, even if Mrs Guilt Voice tells you not to. For example: I love public speaking, but was not brought up to put myself into the centre of attention. This next year will be the first year I will actually suggest myself for lots of speaking gigs AND ask to get paid, eventually.
  • Allow 48 Hours of Cooldown after any lightning strike genius idea. I wasted some good money on impulse ideas this year.
  • If you don’t want to use WordPress, don’t use WordPress.

And finally, here are my goals for the next year. I’m trying to be bold here, I will break them down later.

  • I have an earnings goal, which I’ve broken down in lots of different ways. I don’t want to share it online. It’s more than twice of what I made last year. Even if I just qualify for paying tax, it will be great.
  • Write all four modules of Compass, deliver four courses
  • Then create this amazing online library as a membership website, where online teachers can simply access the resources and study in their own time for a smaller monthly fee
  • Be a kick ass public speaker – give 20 talks or workshops next year!
  • Launch another Udemy course
  • Attend Pioneer Nation again. This is obviously connected to my earnings goal. Pioneer Nation is taking part in November next year, allowing me a little more time to grow both my airmiles account and my bank balance.

Oh, here’s another one

GET MARRIED ❤

I would love to hear from others about what they have planned and how they fared in 2014. How’s the year been for you? I tell you, it’s difficult to be so public about my goals in this way but I hope it will encourage you to share your own ideas, hopes and achievements.

To do lists and perfection and decisions

Ahh, I know it’s been a little while since I posted another update on here. It is difficult to post, even on a truly personal blog, because I still know that you will be reading this. I worry about being judged for my insecurities and confusions. I carry around a ton of anxiety, and hide out watching Gossip Girl for hours. It makes me ineffective, and then I get frustrated and…well, less effective. Recently I’ve been experimenting with this idea of the “morning pages”, that’s three pages of writing to just empty your head out when you wake up. I noticed that my mind is often very full before I get to sleep as well and have been writing before my sleep too. It’s nothing that makes much sense, just a bit of externalised thinking to try and break the loop that goes around your head when you’re trying to solve a problem. But either way, it can’t be blogged and shouldn’t be. A bit of private writing for no one’s eyes but your own is good for you. On the other hand, I like how this blog makes it clearer to me what I’m ready to declare to the world and what I want to keep to myself.

I’ve been feeling more accomplished with smaller to-do lists recently, especially at this time where my emotions and the weight I put on my decisions has become a bit paralysing. Yesterday I thought back to when I first started working for myself. I had absolutely nothing to lose. Great place to be, that. Worth getting back to!

So here’s where I am at: I don’t want to let go of Fluent yet. I want to work with it for at least a day a week, and will be starting a fundraising campaign to get paid for it. I’ll keep working on a few books and products (Oh god, I can’t help going into “I’m writing a book!” mode again, can I?), reduce my teaching hours to one afternoon a week and run a little blog that doesn’t go looking for ads and sponsors. If more money starts coming in, I’ll assess doing more Fluent work. Easy.

The other time will be spent as a freelancer, finally taking advantage of all the business stuff I’ve been neglecting. Right now I’m making lists of things I like doing, and figured I should treat this like a great restaurant and make a service menu. Yes. With like starters and desserts and things, and then see what sells! I know for a fact that there’s a good bunch of stuff that I don’t want to do, particularly design and some aspects of teaching. I do really like brainstorming, phrasing and communications, running projects and seeing things through to a point where they’re finished.

I always like sharing and recommending other stuff I’ve been working on, so for the benefit of other confused people, try out the Trello website for project planning. It’s great because it lets you move everything around as many times as you need to work out what is happening. And I’ve also used the Post-Its app for moving things around in the same way. That’s about it for wisdom. I know none of these blog posts are perfect, and typing them for you to read automatically makes me self-censor a bit. But this is about accountability and knowing I’m moving forward. My impatient nature makes it feel like nothing’s ever progressing in the right way, but it’s nice to have a record and remember that we are going somewhere here. Just wish I was standing in my own way a bit less.

Decison Making, Commitment, Masterminding

Ahh, here is part one of the post I wrote a week ago. I was really in the flow and about to write more about what is next when this HUGE ENORMOUS SPIDER ran across the office, meaning I had to instantly drop everything and call in the cavalry of man and cat. Now, time has flown so much that it’s finally time for me to go on holiday. Away. For a week. Without the laptop. A wholly new experience, and I can’t wait to bounce around in the Welsh forest and laze around in their spa.

My mind is flitting today, tired after a week of emotional moments. On the “smaller things” side (perhaps), my absolutely amazing Zumba teacher conducted her last session with our wonderful, happy group of zumberers yesterday. She announced her zumba retirement about 3 weeks ago and I definiely wasn’t the only one who is devastated. Although Zumba is a franchise and the music and steps can be recreated by many instructors, it’s definitely not the same with everyone of them. In this class, we had really tough aerobic work combined with smiles and fun to keep us going for ages. I honestly won’t know what to do without my happy hours spent dancing to Pitbull, hopping around and sweating like a maniac. The search for Lancaster’s next zumba Master starts here. I did consider just getting a Zumba license and doing what I love with it, but decided against it in the end. The time investment would be about a day a week and since I have no ambitions in fitness training…it might not be the right thing right now.

So here’s what I can add quickly on a sleep-deprived mind:

It is as if I have made more progress in the last week than I did in the whole year before, which is of course not true. Things have been building up: confidence, knowledge, connections, research. I’ve finally taken the step I was planning to take for so long and started talking to the new audience: online teachers, language professionals, people who need help with marketing and setting up and courage and selling themselves. I did some Maths to help me work out how much money I really need in order to make a living. More importantly, something is coming that I had not yet realised, and that’s a feeling of being able to provide exactly what a person needs so much better when I just present myself as me out there. This sounds weird and hippy, right?

What I mean is this: I can set up a company or a website or a brochure or an agency or an anything that is focused on what kind of service it provides to people. I can guess ahead at what they need and have a product. That’s all good. But I can also be just me and separate my services and my personality and have people come and work with me because I’m awesome. Once I know I’m cool at the heart of it all, the right people will just click with it, right?

I want to present something that is so close to who I am that I’m not trying anymore. I want to stop trying to attract people by doing better work. My work is good, it’s part of me, I’m committed to quality. So I focus instead on my commitment to quality, my integrity and my love of yellow and sunshine…and you’ll so want to work with me if you’re the right person.

This thought is half formed. Does anyone think this makes sense?

The Dark Side Of Thinking You’re Smart

I am writing this down because it is important to tell you how something made me feel this week, and to point out just how much help I personally needed to see it for what it was. I am a pretty confident person when it comes to my own knowledge and opinions. I make up my mind considering more than one angle for any issue, no matter if it’s Gaza or Ferguson. What I try to do is take a neutral position in the middle and accept the fact that all participants are probably right, in their own ways.

What recently happened to me online was the opposite of this. It started on Twitter, a platform that I have never perceived as anything but very positive so far. People sometimes kick off short discussions, but the 140 character limit keeps opinions to a minimum. The constraints of having to be so concise encourage people to make their point without a lot of waffle. This is how I see it. And because it’s a cool open forum, I like to participate in quick language discussions. One tweet I saw concerned the question of language learning: Is there a natural aptitude? Is it a talent? It’s obvious how many views and perspectives make for a rich debate here, and an interesting one too. I replied to the wrong person, apparently.

Haven’t You Read This Article I Wrote?

As part of the twitter dialogue that would not end, I was shown just how obviously I was wrong. I was accused of having business interests behind my opinion, and helpfully educated through links to more articles Mr Smart had written for the internet. The debate ended with what I thought was “let’s agree to disagree”, except the next day I received a 2000 word bombardment in my email telling me all the ways in which I should be acting. I was assured by my newly self-appointed teacher that he was “a trained linguist”, obviously disregarding the fact that, you know what, so am I.

Please don’t take this as critical of you personally; I don’t know anything about you as a teacher or tutor, so I don’t know what you already say to students.

I was told “this is no personal criticism to you” as if it was a given that I could only be wrong. I was even reassured that he does not really know anything about me, so he can’t be sure just how wrong I am. I was truly schooled, or so he thinks. Helpfully all this was underlined with a note that I am “not to reprint it” as it’s an editorial for “the publication I edit”.

Mate. I am not reprinting it because it is not science. It is egomania.

I have found this type of behaviour most rude, to be honest. The presumption of writing to me, proclaiming “published and trained” as if that made you a more valuable person by default, is truly beyond the pale. If the email and tweets had truly been addressed to me rather than being a semi-public demonstration of his own perceived status, they would have opened a dialogue. As it was, I got steamrollered with way too many words, with a lecture, putting me into the rule of a pupil when I had not opened up that door to that particular person.

Undermining Behaviour Patterns

This type of behaviour is often highlighted when men talk down to women (and no, I am not saying “all men are like that”). As you can see above, there’s a clear presumption from the person that I need to be educated, that my opinion is inferior to his, and that all it takes for me to agree with him is to show me how truly smart he is.I could have waved my experience and qualifications around in defence, but it’s really pretty pointless. Some observers have coined a term for it: Mansplaining.

Here’s the danger: I took it all! The self-references to “an article I wrote in the NY times, and here’s one in a respected qualification” did work at first. I doubted my own convictions, my own expertise, I thought maybe I’m wrong and this guy is clearly smarter than me. Someone writing a long article must know what they’re talking about, right? But the more this went on, the more I was bombarded with further references to the person’s greatness. He even assured me that he was the core research source in this field – no need to consult anyone else, this is the wisdom source. That’s when it dawned on me that my role was not even to use my intellect – it was to open my eyes as wide as I could, and stand in awe of the greatness I was witnessing.

I mentioned my experience to a supportive friend, and she instantly pointed out what’s going on here. Mansplaining is undermining, it is hurtful and it is extremely impolite. The experience I have just had is not one I wish on anybody because it’s extremely rude.

If you are someone experiencing this type of communication, no matter if you are a woman or not, remember that you don’t have to take all that rubbish. Remember that your opinions and knowledge should always open to the possibility that you are wrong, but not the certainty that you are wrong. Don’t let someone convince you they are right just because they like to self-aggrandize.

As I am leaving it, I can’t engage in this type of behaviour. I found his point quite interesting, at the start. Do you have any recommendations for what comes next?