Teaching Transformations Podcast Episode 3: The Key to Community

Teaching Transformations

The Key to Community

Many of us underestimate the power of community in our lives. Engaging communities creates thriving individuals, something both Ryan and Tim have experienced in their lives. Listen in as they talk about why community is so important for personal growth.

The Teaching Transformations Podcast. Join Tim Desmond Ryan Wooley as they help teachers in their late forties or fifties to design a post-academic life.

Seize the Day!

Transcript:

Ryan  0:00  

So what have you been up to this week?

Tim  0:02  

Oh, you know, in the writing community, helping people out, answering questions, some writing. I don’t know if I mentioned it here, but I have a project I’m doing. I’m writing a short story a week, every week for all of 2021, and that’s been really interesting, so I was working on that story a little bit this morning.

Ryan  0:28  

Wow. That’s ambitious.

Tim  0:31  

Yeah, yeah. It’s, uh, it was something. I think Ray Bradbury had mentioned it in a commencement speech at one point, and he said something to the effect of, if you write a short story a week, for a whole year, at least a few of those won’t suck. It’s that idea of like, you just show up, and you can’t overthink it, you can’t be a perfectionist, because next week, you got another one coming, so you just have the best you can. Then over time, some are gonna be better than others, but it’s more about forming the habit than the outcome.

Ryan  1:10  

Yeah. Well, you’ve referred to Stephen King’s writing a lot, that was one of the things that inspired you, and I know he talks a lot about habit, I mean, really daily writing.

Tim  1:24  

Yes, and there are times like, as a writer, there are times in your life where you can’t write daily, and there are other times where you have to write more than that, but I think, generally speaking, and anything that you do on a regular basis, you’re going to see improvement. I mean, it’s why we’ve decided to have a standing podcast recording once a week, like we’re going to show up every week, and some weeks, we’re not going to feel like it and we’re going to have stuff going on in our lives that complicates things, but like, over time, showing up every week, we’re gonna get better and better at it.

Ryan  1:55  

Yeah. Well, I feel like it today.

Tim  1:58  

Yeah. So tell me about what you were dealing with this week.

Ryan  2:02  

Oh, just the normal stuff. We have a couple of our staff that are full-time staff out on quarantine. When that happens, there’s a lot of shuffling around and sort of multiple people dropping everything that they were doing to fill in. So, that’s during the day, and then I had this bathroom project that I finished last night. It’s hard when you have a family, a busy household, it’s hard to have like a bathroom be out of commission, so I feel good. I feel energized like, okay, now have some time.

Tim  2:44  

Nice.

Ryan  2:45  

Yeah. So, you started off by mentioning some of the time that you spent in your communities, and I know you’re really plugged into a lot, and you and I are both in a couple together, but you do way more of that than I do, and I think that would be a great topic today to delve into because there’s so much there. I wonder if you could just talk a little bit about what kind of communities you’re plugged into and what they do for you, and I’ll just leave it open ended.

Tim  3:26  

Yeah, I’ve been part of learning communities for as long as I can remember. Both, you know, in the job, for the job, but also for other passions and pursuits. We didn’t call them this, but do you remember like the old school bulletin boards online?

Ryan  3:45  

Yep.

Tim  3:46  

Those were communities of a sort, weren’t they?

Ryan  3:48  

Sure.

Tim  3:49  

Yeah, I used to be in one. I think it’s still around. It’s called VS Planet, and it was in the mid to late 90s. Roland came out with a whole line of digital recorders like completely in the box standalone, and they recorded to a hard drive, so you could take it to a band practice, and you could record on separate tracks, almost like you know, studio quality. I remember I bought one in 1997. I bought a Roland VS 880 EX six track digital recorder, and I paid $1,700 for it, and yeah, it was crazy. I mean, it’s crazy at the time to think about the recording capabilities now but uh, soon after that, I bought it. I found this online community called VS Planet, and it was, man, it was great because it was like everyone there had the same device. I had different threads based on the device and then you could go in and post questions about your specific device or a problem and it was like you almost felt like I never had to call Roland tech support. I would also go to VS Planet first, and there was always someone who had the problem, had the solution. That was really exciting, that was an exciting time, and I think that’s kind of where the seed was planted for me as far as passions or interests or hobbies that learning communities are not just for school.

Ryan  5:19  

Yeah, I actually tapped into a lot of those older communities and forums, actually, quite frequently. You know, we’ve talked about, and I know that you consider yourself a dilettante, I certainly do consider myself to be one as well, and I mean, anything and everything that I need to know, I find out there. I find people talking about it, so for me, I find a lot of it is kind of searching for a conversation that’s about something specific, like a couple years ago, I was looking at my guitar amps. I had a loud buzz on one of my older amps, and I went searching, and I found this forum, and everybody was talking about the exact same issue. That’s how I figured out what I needed to do, so I bought a couple of capacitors and soldered them in, and my amp was as good as new. But, that’s really different, you know, not only have times changed, but that’s kind of a different relationship to a community. I think a lot of those experiences, I almost feel like a lurker like, um, yes, people who are really passionate, who spend a lot of time talking about it, and they happen to sort of let me into their conversation by just leaving it published out there. That’s a different kind of relationship than sort of an active participatory community, or at least my relationship to it would be, and when I see what’s happening in the communities that we share and certainly just the other ones that you’re plugged into, I mean, there’s a lot of activity there. I know you make use of that a lot in your professional life, so what are some of those communities that you’re plugged into, and what do you take away? What do you contribute? What do you take away from those?

Tim  7:28  

Yeah, it’s, um, I think you touched upon something there I kind of want to circle back to which is like, what is it? What are we talking about? What is a community, right? There were the old school bulletin boards and forums, and then over the past, say, five to seven years, it’s been more of the Facebook group. That’s sort of what the online community looks like, but I think what I’m talking about and what you’re talking about, and what we’re part of, is the next generation past that. I run something called the Author Success Mastermind which is a community for authors and writers, and it’s a paid community, so it’s more like a membership site. I’m going to come back to that. The idea of being in a paid community, I think, that is very significant, and I’m gonna come back to why I think that’s the case. Getting to this idea of what is a community or how are we defining it, I see it as a group of people with a shared purpose or a common passion, and it really could be about anything. It could be about books that you read or hobbies that you have, but it could also be related to your professional industry, like if you’re a chiropractor, you can be part of a community of chiropractors where you discuss the newest techniques or billing methods or, you know, whatever chiropractors talk about, I’m just riffing here.

Ryan  9:05  

See four.

Tim  9:06  

Yeah see four, right, see four and two. I don’t know what those are, but yeah. You in sort of our notes that we share, you asked this question about is this a tribe or is this tribalism, and I think, too, like that’s even evolved. There’s been some more discussion around the term tribe and is that derogatory in some way, but even that aside, I’ve always approached it more as a clan, I feel like tribe’s too big. I would be part of communities where it’s a clan, where there’s a small group of people like an extended family that really get to know each other and really support each other, and those are the kind of communities that I’m both part of as a participant, but I also lead on my own. We call it tasm, layouts or success mastermind, but tasm is a good example of that.

Ryan  10:04  

So, smaller is better.

Tim  10:06  

I think one example is I hate Facebook groups, and I’ll talk about why. I think Facebook groups are a good way to get a feel for what an online community can be, but they’re terrible for a number of reasons. I’m part of one called Twenty Books to 50K, and this was started by Michael Anderlay and Craig Martell. It’s a great group, those guys are great–I’m not saying anything bad about them. Their theory was, if you publish twenty books, you could eventually make $50,000 a year, that was the goal, so they call it Twenty Books to 50K, and they built conferences around it. It’s a movement, and it’s wonderful, but I was in the Facebook group from the beginning. In the beginning, there were a few dozen people, it was great, like you knew everyone, everyone respected each other, there were really helpful conversations. Now, I think, I’m gonna say there’s thirty to 40,000 people in that Facebook group, and it’s like hoping to have an intimate conversation at a sporting event, you know, it’s just too big. I think when it gets to be that big, it’s just not really effective. You have people in there who are trying to take advantage of the situation or take advantage of other people. There’s a whole host of things that go wrong. They have dozens of admins, just admins, so I think at that scale, it ceases to be as effective, and it’s not really the type of learning communities that we’re talking about or that we value.

Ryan  11:52  

Right. Yeah, it seems like there are two parts. There’s the size part of it, you know, how big is the community, and what are the implications of that? Also, how tightly is it defined? I think that’s kind of a more interesting question in a way. You and I both had experiences with Startup Weekend I don’t know how many years ago, and I don’t know if that’s even still an active thing.

Tim  12:19  

Oh, me neither, I haven’t thought about that in a while.

Ryan  12:24  

For those who have never heard of it, Startup Weekend was a concept that was in vogue for a while. There was an actual organization that promoted these events all across the world, and it was kind of like fifty-some hours, fifty-six, let’s say, hours of concentrated time. The structure of the event was people would get in line and pitch an idea, and you could pitch multiple ideas in terms of a startup concept, and then the participants, in a sense, would vote by gathering together around some of those ideas. Some of those ended up becoming the kernel of a sort of a startup. It could be a delivery business, it could be an online app, but the idea was to try to get it launched by the end of the weekend. You and I did a number of those. The reason I’m thinking about that is just because the organizing principle was everybody who was there was interested in entrepreneurship which is kind of a broad topic. You didn’t know if you were going to find people who were interested or passionate about the very thing that you were proposing. I think the problem with that concept was that you just didn’t know if you were gonna run into the right people, you didn’t know if you were around people who were really going to care about your specific idea. I think that’s part of what you’re describing, too, with these communities you have, it’s more by design, and it’s more tightly controlled around specific ideas. In a sense, there’s like a pre-selection process that funnels people together.

Tim  14:22  

Yeah. The way I think about it is that there’s both a common language and a shared mission, and I’ve found there are some authors who co-write with their spouses, or their spouses are part of their business, or their spouses care about what they’re doing. My wife doesn’t.

Ryan  14:45  

I’ve noticed that. I think that’s really funny.

Tim  14:47  

Yeah, she’s never read any of my styles like she doesn’t have any idea where money- I could be dealing drugs for all she knows. She just comes home, and I’m here. I’m being facetious, but in all honesty, you know, there are many authors who love talking about stuff that average people just don’t care to hear about or they’re not interested in. I would think that’s the case in any industry or profession where you have a certain language, you have certain concerns and things. When we get into author communities, authors nerd out, we’re word nerds. We talk about different elements of storytelling and books that we’ve read and television shows that we’ve watched. Most people don’t care about that, and I think that’s one of the benefits of these types of communities. It naturally filters out everybody except who’s supposed to be there, and there are a couple real, real strong benefits of learning communities. That’s one. Another one is what I call beyond the video expertise. We’ve used this example before where you’re trying to figure out how to change the brakes on your car. You know how to do it, you go to Google, or you go to YouTube, and you watch a video, and you’re like, okay, that’s how I do it. Then you go down to the garage, you get your tools out, you take the wheel off, and you pop the caliper and then there’s this metal washer there and you’re like, what is this? At that point, you can’t go back to the YouTube video and ask it a question., so if you’re part of a learning community, let’s say you’re a mechanic, and you can take a picture, you can say, hey, has anyone seen this? What is this? Then you get help that way, so I think that beyond the video expertise is really important. A third sort of general benefit that I find is especially true in the author community, and I think works well for fitness and wellness, is this idea of accountability. You have members in there who are holding each other accountable to certain tasks, certain goals, aspirations, that they have. Now, in the tasm group, it’s really important for writers to write on a regular basis. We have several members who formed their own accountability group, so what they do is they go into Slack, and there’s a way in Slack you can pop open a Zoom-like window, and they have writing sessions, and they don’t talk to each other. They’re like, you just come here, you get on the call, and we’re all working. Let’s say they type for forty or fifty minutes, and then they’ll spend five minutes just chatting, but the idea is you’re accountable. People are expecting you to show up and to work on your words while you’re there, so those are the elements that kind of grow organically out of groups, but it’s really helpful to hold people accountable.

Ryan  17:41  

I need some of that.

Tim  17:44  

It’s odd at first. If you’ve never done it, it’s odd, because you’re on a Zoom call with everyone. You’re seeing them, and no one’s saying anything–they’re all typing, but it works. It gets people to show up.

Ryan  17:57  

Well, I mean, I’ve never used an athletic trainer, but I’ve seen people who use them, and it seems like that’s part of the same concept because their role is not just to help you develop a plan and give you some goals or whatever, but to hold you accountable. They’re sort of standing there, like, okay, it’s time for your workout now. When somebody else is standing there with that expectation of you, it’s hard to not do it. That’s part of it.

Tim  18:27  

For sure.

Ryan  18:32  

So, can you be plugged into too many communities?

Tim  18:40  

Oh, yeah. I think that’s especially dangerous for dilettantes and academics which we were both. People, I guess, love doing the research. That’s so much fun. What most people see is like a punishment is a joy to us. We love going to libraries, we like looking stuff up, we like making connections, and I think communities can feed that. You can never get off the starting line because you’re always preparing, you’re always researching, you’re always planning and prepping. And yes, you have to do that, but at a certain point, you have to do the thing that you want to do. You know, many of us have this little saying in the writing community, but only writing is writing. Yes, you have to plan and you have to think about what you’re writing and you have to revise, but if you’re not writing the words, you’re not a writer, like writers write. It sounds so obvious, but I think it can lead to procrastination. It can challenge you in good ways, but I think it is possible to spread yourself too thin and to be part of too many communities because then you also feel the pressure to be engaged everywhere. That’s the same problem that a lot of people feel with social media. There are a lot of people who use social media for their business, and they feel like they have to be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok, and Pinterest, and they don’t because they’re not going to engage in all those places. I think it’s probably healthy to have one or two or maybe three communities where you’re really plugged in and give those your all and not be so concerned about others.

Ryan  20:32  

How do you find a community to plug into?

Tim  20:37  

Well, let’s come back to Facebook groups for a minute because I think Facebook groups are a good place to start. Most people our age are on Facebook. They’re probably not on Tiktok. I don’t know, maybe you’re dancing. I haven’t seen any videos of you on Tiktok. But yeah, I mean, most of us are on Facebook. Facebook groups are easy. You type in an interest, and there’s gonna be a Facebook group for it. Again, I don’t like Facebook groups for a number of reasons long term, but I think getting started and getting a feel for what a community is like is good. Here’s the problem with Facebook groups, and I think this is endemic of not just Facebook groups but other types of free communities like the old school forums and bulletin boards. If you are a free member, you’re not going to be as engaged as you are if you pay for it. You got to have some skin in the game, and that’s just a universal human thing. If you’re not making some type of investment that’s causing you a little bit of a pinch, you’re just not going to get the most out of it. You’re not going to contribute. I see that with my own behavior. I’m in communities that are free, I’m in communities where I pay to be in there, and I can tell you, I am much more plugged in and engaged in the companies where I pay because I feel like I have an investment and like I want to get my money’s worth doing this. I think a good starting place to get a feel for it is to become part of a Facebook group, and then once you’re in that group, you’re probably going to find or discover similar groups that are out of Facebook that might be paid. The good thing about the paid groups, most of the legitimate ones, there’s no long term commitment. You can join a group for a month. Most of them bill on a monthly basis, so you join a group for a month. If at the end of the month, if it’s not your thing, you just cancel your subscription, just like you would canceling Netflix or Hulu or something. It’s quite easy to do, so that would be my recommendation for getting started.

Ryan  22:37  

So you have to pay for it?

Tim  22:40  

I think so. Even a little bit, even if it’s just a few bucks a month, I think.

Ryan  22:44  

Yeah, that’s interesting. I agree. I know when I pay for something, I definitely am more apt to spend time on it, so I agree with that in principle. What are we talking about? I mean, how much was it? You probably know a whole range.

Tim  23:07  

I do. When I was building my author community, I did a lot of research, and this is funny, this is a bit meta. I joined a paid group for people who build paid groups, so they were from all walks of life, all various interests, but the commonality was we’re all building paid communities. I learned a ton being in there, and I think I pay fifty dollars a month to be in that. I think that’s towards the high end because the people who are in that group can draw a direct line between their efforts and what they’re paying and their return on investment, whereas some groups are more hobby based, and you’re not necessarily going to see that. They’ve surveyed thousands of membership group owners, and what they find is that the sweet spot that people are willing to pay is usually fifty dollars is like the top end of the sweet spot. Most people won’t think twice about like a fifteen to twenty-dollar a month membership. Most working professionals I should say, not most people. Most working professionals can and will purchase that. Once you get to like the $100 a month and up, those are typically more specialized. I have a friend who is in a realtor group, and they call it a mastermind which is a slightly different thing which I’m sure we’ll talk about at some point. He’s in a mastermind group for realtors, and I think they pay like $200 a month to be in this group, but what they learn in that group earns them tens of thousands of dollars every week, so it’s a no brainer, like 200 bucks is nothing. I think it depends on what you want to do and how you want to do it, but generally speaking, if you’re looking to get into like a weightlifting community or you want to get into a community for pregnant mothers or something like that, I’m guessing around fifteen to thirty dollars is probably what you could expect to spend per month.

Ryan  25:17  

Yeah, so kind of like the price of a few Starbucks lattes.

Tim  25:23  

Yeah. I mean, Netflix is like, what, $12.99 or $13.99? a month now.

Ryan  25:29  

Right. It’s a subscription.

Tim  25:31  

Yeah, it is a subscription. That’s exactly right.

Ryan  25:33  

It seems like that’s kind of the way the world has gone is that we have a lot more smaller subscriptions. A lot of people are dropping Cable and Dish because those are the ones that are expensive, and they include all of these features that you may not want. I see a lot of people that are doing that stringing together the smaller ones like Netflix, Hulu, and all of those kinds of streaming services, to get exactly what they want and not be paying for a bunch of stuff they don’t need.

Tim  26:07  

I mean, it ties into an episode that I want to do that I’m kind of chewing on in the background which is this idea that we’re no longer in an information deficit society. We have everything at our fingertips instantly, and it’s now flipped, and that’s a problem. There’s just too much information out there, so I think what people are doing now is they’re sort of reverting back to okay, what are the core essentials that I really want, and who do I trust? That’s where I’m going to spend my money. Cutting the cable is a good example. There was a time when I was like, oh my God, 250 channels, I want that. Now I’m like, no, I just want the five I’m gonna watch. I don’t care about the other 245, and I think that’s kind of the mindset that we’re in right now. That’s the moment that we’re in, where I think people are gonna be willing to pay even a little bit more to sort of put that cone around them and be like, no, this is all I want to do, whether that’s entertainment, or information, or some combination of both.

Ryan  27:17  

Yeah, it is crazy how much information there is out there. If we don’t develop ways of filtering and really sort of narrowing down what’s coming at us, it’s really hard not to just, you know, be overwhelmed by that. I think it was John Milton, I’m pretty sure, is who writer-blocked from life loss. The legend about him was that he had read everything that had been published during his day.

Tim  27:51  

I read I’ve seen that, too. Yes.

Ryan  27:54  

And I think he was blind too, so that makes that even more remarkable, but think about that. There was a time when you could have done that. Blind or not blind, like somebody could have done that. I mean, I don’t think any one of us could keep up with the words that have been produced between, you know, 9:00 and 9:15 today, right?

Tim  28:18  

Right. Yeah, and you see that everywhere. They’re staggering statistics on YouTube about how many hours of video are uploaded, like per second, and it’s mind numbing. It’s so much more than we’re even capable of processing, not the information, just the idea of it is hard to process, let alone the information itself, so I think communities are for the foreseeable future. That’s where people are going to get a lot of their information, their values, their entertainment. I think, too, there’s a place for them in more professional places, like you were doing communities at Kent State, right?

Ryan  29:01  

Yeah, that was a big part of what we did in the faculty professional development center there. I worked in that department for a couple of years, and at the time, that was one of our primary projects, to sort of seed and develop these communities, and we had, I want to say, we must have had twelve or fifteen at the time I was there. These were communities that were focused on specific topics. There was one that was specifically about teaching and learning in large classes and what are the challenges that go along with that. There was another one that was a little more general but was focused on assessment, and I think now, you’re seeing a lot of them now that are focused on things like cultural competence and diversity. It’s a way that you can sort of bring focus to your professional life in collaboration with others who care about the same thing, and I think it did a lot of good at the university when I was there. I was really convinced that it helped a lot of faculty really shape their careers and become better at what they do, and that’s kind of the feedback that came back to us about it. Some described it as kind of life changing for them, like, wow, my career felt really different until I ran into these, so it’s pretty gratifying. That’s kind of, you know, the first time I started paying attention to community in the way that we’re talking about, and as we’ve discussed, the shape of the landscape has changed a lot. I do think things are getting more specialized. We have different ways of connecting to people. I want to circle back to a couple of things that you mentioned, just because we’re talking about being more specialized. You talked about the mastermind groups, and I think that’s a specialized kind of community. I don’t know much about that, and I think you speak very highly of them. I don’t know how many you’re into, but at least the one that I know of that you’re plugged into, how is that different from other communities that we’ve been talking about?

Tim  31:35  

Yeah, that’s a good question. I run one, and I’m a participant in two. I think the biggest difference with the mastermind is that there’s a designated leader. In a more generalized community, there’s typically someone who is the administrator or who’s managing the community, but they’re not necessarily setting the direction. They’re providing the space. It would be like if you went to a park to see a concert, you know that the person who runs the park isn’t necessarily determining who the act is going to be or who you sit next to, they’re just providing the venue, so I think for groups in general, there’s usually someone who does that. What’s different about a mastermind is that you typically get someone who is leading the group and providing some kind of direction, so I’ll speak to the one that I run. Within the Author Success Mastermind group, which is a membership site that anyone can join, there’s a subset. There’s a small group that, and there’s an application process, and I picked these people, so it’s not open to everybody because it’s not right for everybody. It’s only twelve people, and I cap it at twelve. There’s no magic around that, but typically, you want the amount of people you can fit around the dining room table at Thanksgiving, that’s sort of your visual for a good mastermind. The idea with a mastermind group is you have someone who has, maybe they have a little more experience, maybe they’ve had the certain level of success that the other members are aspiring to. This person then sort of directs a little bit more. For my group, because I have edited literally thousands of pages of novels, I walk them every week on the mastermind. I walk the participants through a live scene analysis, we take someone’s writing, a scene or a chapter, and we go through and we break it down, analyze it, and make suggestions. Then we do a hot seat. People will bring a business problem they have like they’ll have a marketing challenge, or they don’t know if they should publish their book on this platform or that platform. Well, I’ve been a self-published and independently employed author for four years. I’ve gone through some of these exact same problems, so I can help shape that conversation. Generally speaking, the mastermind is a smaller group. It can be a subset of a bigger community, and it’s typically run by someone, for lack of better words, more of a teacher, and has sort of some direction as to where they want to take the group. It can be based around a particular goal, or it can be ongoing, so it could be a mastermind group for people who want to publish their first book, or you could have a mastermind group for people who want to just continue to publish books and deal with those challenges as they come up, so it’s more intimate. It can be more frequent, more structured, and that’s how I run it anyways.

Ryan  34:49  

Yeah. So you have a schedule you need at a specific time each week?

Tim  34:54  

That’s right, and there’s accountability there, so there might be things that people have to complete from one week to the next. There’s an expectation that everyone shows up every week. I mean, life gets in the way, and that doesn’t always happen, but the expectation is there. That and the bonds that form, they’re pretty powerful. I’ve been doing my mastermind group online, but in 2019, and hopefully again in 2021, I had a weekend where I invited all the mastermind people to Cleveland to hang out for a weekend and have sort of weekend retreat, and most, if not all, of those people came in real life. It was a wonderful experience to see these people on Zoom for six or nine or twelve months and then get them all in a room together. It was very powerful, and I think it’s no surprise that many of my original mastermind participants from when I first started are still in the group.

Ryan  35:51  

Right. Wow. Deeper connections and more sophisticated work, probably, I mean, if you’re being that selective about who’s in there, you’re really setting the table for very specialized conversations, you know, it’s going to be people who have this specific set of problems, or a specific set of goals.

Tim  36:20  

It’s very individualized, so every week, I know what to bring to the group based on the group. I think that’s what they deserve because the cost of the mastermind versus the general membership is like ten times the cost, so I think too, I want to make sure they’re getting their money’s worth. I want to serve them as best that I can. It’s a big investment for most of these, for all of these people, it’s a big investment, in not only time but money. They need to see some results from that, so it’s a little more intense but in a good way, like in that there’s a lot at stake for all of us.

Ryan  36:59  

Do those typically come with a longer term commitment? Is it kind of like a year, you sign up for a year?

Tim  37:05  

Yeah, you know, I’ve been doing my smaller mastermind group with authors for, I guess, coming up on two years now. I started out with three months, and then I moved to six months because three months didn’t feel like it was enough to move the needle. Then I did six months for a while and then realized that, as I worked, as I get deeper into my business, and learn more about being a solopreneur and how to run a business, I could see a twelve-month program kind of emerging out of what I was doing, so now I have it set up where it’s a twelve-month program. I know there’s ongoing stuff that’s just part of our practice, like the live scene analysis that just happens all the time, but there’s also almost a sort of curriculum for lack of a better term, but there’s a journey that I want to take these people on, and I’m structuring it over over twelve months. If being part of a mastermind is a deep commitment, I think that’s an even deeper commitment. You’re really saying, I care about this, and I’m really saying to them, I really care about you because we’re gonna spend a year together.

Ryan  38:14  

Yeah. After that year, too, is there any opportunity to continue, or is it sort of like, no, we’re gonna accomplish what we need to in that year, and then it’s over and you move on?

Tim  38:29  

I don’t know yet. This is the first year I’m doing the full year. I have ideas. I have ideas about how I could sort of create the next level for the people who are in it. I have ideas about changing it and getting all new people. For me as an organizer, it’s a bit of a challenge because I know I can only work with twelve people at a time. That’s just what I’m capped at. That’s the nature of the work that I’m doing, so it’s like, do I want to continue with those twelve people? Do I want to try and help twelve brand new people? I don’t know yet. We can definitely revisit that deeper into 2021, but as of this point, I’m not sure.

Ryan  39:14  

Yeah. You’re a participant in a couple of masterminds, and you’re the leader of one. Can you ever move back and forth between those roles, or is it pretty clear? It sounds like that leader role is very kind of distinct In a mastermind group.

Tim  39:35  

In the mastermind groups, part of it is. The ones I’ve joined, I’ve joined because of the person who’s organizing it, like I want to learn from them. I want them as a mentor. They either don’t offer one on one mentoring or I can’t afford it, so that’s how I learned from them. I think too, I don’t know if it matters if I mentioned these people or not, it won’t mean anything to people listening I’m sure, but there’s one guy. I’m in his mastermind. I’ve shared some of what I’ve learned from him with you, but he was a guy who was doing what I want to do. That is, for me, that’s the big takeaway. That’s what I tell people who come to me when I interview them for my mastermind. I ask them, what do you want to accomplish? What are you trying to do here? If I haven’t done it, I’m like, I’m not the person for you. You’re not gonna get anything out of this. I’ve had to learn that on the other side, and now I’m very selective. When I’m looking for a mastermind to join, I look to see the person running it. Are they doing or have they done what I want to do? If the answer is yes, then it’s a no-brainer because they’ve not only built it, but they’re going to give me the insider knowledge that I’m going to need to build mine.

Ryan  40:50  

Yeah, and presumably shortcut your process. You don’t have to learn all the painful lessons that they’ve probably spent the past ten years learning.

Tim  41:01  

exactly, exactly. Yeah.

Ryan  41:09  

Have you ever been part of a group and then walked away from it? How do you know when to do that?

Tim  41:17  

Yeah, I think if you’re not engaging in the community on a regular basis, like if you’re like, oh, wow, it’s been two months, I haven’t signed into whatever group this is, that’s probably an indicator. Sometimes you outgrow a group, sometimes you reach a level of mastery or understanding of what you want to learn, and new people always come into the group. When they’re starting to ask those newbie questions, and you’re rolling your eyes, that’s a good sign that it’s not them, it’s you because they’re there for the right reason, you’ve just now outgrown it. Sometimes, and I’ve had this happen, leaders will just decide to end it. They’ll end the community in the mastermind. For whatever reason, that happens, but it’s tricky because there are some things that are highly goal oriented. lf you’re a pregnant mom and you join a group for pregnant moms, it’s probably not going to be there past nine months. There’s a certain thing like, okay, I’m no longer pregnant. Now, if you got pregnant again, maybe you go back and rejoin, but there are certain things that are very goal oriented, and then there are others that aren’t. If you really enjoy photography, maybe you’re part of a community that is for photographers. In that case, you’re always going to be interested in sharing your photos and commenting on other people and talking technique, so yeah, it depends. But I don’t ever feel any sort of guilt or anything about leaving a community. Typically, when I start thinking, should I still be here? It means I shouldn’t, and that’s okay. That happens.

Ryan  42:59  

Yeah. Well, we started with this conversation–it’s time commitment. You only have so much time, and you can only spread yourself across so many communities, so you really, I think all of us, need to be selective about that process.

Tim  43:16  

Yeah. I mean, it goes back to our conversation about just the firehose of information that we have at our fingertips. The same thing is true for communities. They’re just a billion communities, and you have to be very selective about where you’re going to spend your time because you can always make more money, but you can’t get more time.

Ryan  43:34  

Yeah, I wish we could.

Tim  43:38  

People have tried, I don’t think it’s possible.

Ryan  43:40  

I would so buy that if there was a way to double your time. The whole thing about leveling two is relevant, and it’s making me think about when I used to play tennis, and I’m actually angling to get back into playing this year, but it’s been a while. There’s always this thing in tennis where I had a very casual conversation with a colleague a couple years ago when I was starting to think about playing again. I was like, hey, would you want to get together and hit a few balls? And he was drilling me about what level I was at because, you know, you don’t want to be out on the court if you’re like, master level, whatever, and this is the first time somebody’s played. It’s going to be hard to have a volley out there, and I get that, but I do think there’s something to be said for being at the right level for you. You were saying if you’re starting to hear those newbie questions, and there aren’t too many advanced questions being talked about, they’re like, that’s a good sign you’ve outgrown it, and maybe there’s a more advanced group out there that it’s time to go find.

Tim  45:04  

Right, and in well thought out and intentional communities, they build that in, so there are opportunities to move or grow within, but sometimes you do just have to walk out of one. You just have to leave.

Ryan  45:22  

Yeah, it’s sad. Everything comes to an end. Speaking of which, we probably ought to wrap it up here. You have any final drops of wisdom?

Tim  45:38  

I think the big takeaway is that learning communities are the future, and for educators, that’s great. I mean, it’s in your wheelhouse. If you’re thinking ahead a little bit and thinking about what you might do with your time post-academic career, it’s sort of a no-brainer, and hopefully as we go on, we’ll start planting some seeds about things that teachers can do, but even, it doesn’t necessarily have to be teachers. I think if you’re a good coach, or you’re a good communicator, learning communities could be a very fulfilling future for you.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Links:

The Author Success Mastermind community – https://theauthorsuccessmastermind.com/ 

Transformations – The free weekly email with the best personally curated resources to help teachers in their late forties or fifties to design a post-academic life. – https://teachingtransformations.com/ 

Teaching Transformations Podcast – https://teachingtransformations.com/podcast/ 

Intro and outro music by Penthouses. “Come to Ohio” from The Weatherman album available on most music platforms.

*Full disclosure: Some of the links are affiliate links.

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