Our Guest Today: Margo Aaron
I met Margo Aaron ( @margoaaron ) through Seth Godin’s altMBA course in early 2017, a transformational experience that helped me realize my potential and grasp where I want to take Feisworld. Most importantly, I was able to meet lots of likeminded people. Margo was one of them.
This conversation was brutally honest and invigorating to both of us. Nobody tells the truth, the behind-the-scenes stories of early entrepreneurship. That’s precisely what we are here to do.
We might offend some of you, who believe climbing the corporate ladder is the only way, or prefer sitting in meetings rather than getting things done.
Margo and I opened with the unfortunate phenomenon of women bullying other women at work (what we can do about it), the vicious cycle of constant travel, long hours and extremely poor dietary choices.
Watch Our Interview
Okay. Hey, everyone. This is Fei Wu from Feisworld Media. I’m here with my homegirl. Margo aaron from. That seems important.com. Margo is also running a very kick ass workshop called the Copy Workshop by Seth Godin’s Kimball workshop. It’s one of the suite of things that we’re also eager to learn from. And then Margo, recently and recently, as in and I think in the past year or so, moved to a whole new city and young mother, and there’s just a lot to kind of go.
Over, a lot to talk about. I think we actually met through a kimbo. I was trying to remember how it was all but you weren’t in my cohort. Right?
Oh, my goodness. You’re right. I wasn’t in your cohort. But we were part of that section. I’m Ruby, by the way. So I think that’s what yeah.
What were you? I have no idea.
I still remember Ruby for some reasons. Yeah. And you’re like, a superstar from our cohort. You’re, like, the award winner. There are many different awards, but you stood out. Your writing just stunned me. So this is how it works for people who don’t know. We get assigned to not only do our own homework, but part of ltmba is really about providing feedback, positive feedback to other people’s assignments, which is just as important. And I stumble upon Margot’s writing for the first time, and I still remember so much of that story for some reason, and it’s very, very touching. Ever since then, I subscribe to your newsletter. You know, we stayed in touch ever since. I mean, as of the beginning of 2017. So it’s coming up five years.
Yeah. We fell in love when I went on, like, a little before your podcast. I feel like we must talk more. But, yeah, that’s a perfect segue to our topic today on cohort learning, because that’s what Ultimba was, and I had never experienced it before. Have you?
No, I didn’t. So for people who don’t know what the heck is, like, cohort learning yeah. What is it? Yeah.
So traditional online learning and traditional learning in general is kind of like a teacher lectures to an audience, and most of it is really passive. So this is how I built courses in the past where I would record a video, I would send it out to people, I would give an assignment, but it was, like, recommended. So this is why you hear of the I think it’s 92% sorry, 8% completion rate. 92% of people fail to complete all nine courses. And it’s in part because of this structure where this lecture to student model works in person. Not well, but it works. Cohort totally changes it on its head, and it has something like a 96% completion rate. It’s ridiculous. So instead of you coming in, me giving you information, then testing you on whether you retain the information. So, like, your ability to regurgitate what.
I told you, you actually have to.
Learn and contend with the information. It’s so much worse. You basically can’t and you can’t not have homework. So what happens in a cohort based model is instead of coming in as an audience and being this amorphous blob, you come in a group of students who know your name. And it’s not about your relationship with the teacher. It’s about your relationship with the students. And you guys work together on prompts that help you apply the lessons the teacher is trying to teach you and the skills that you’re trying to learn. And that’s the thing that makes it the most different, is that there’s student interaction. And before everyone here has questions, if you have the questions I had, I hate group programs. I don’t know if I ever said this publicly. I don’t because my first response I don’t know if y’all first response to.
This, but this is mine.
I want to learn from other students. I want to learn from the teacher. That is my bias. I don’t want the blind leading the blind. I want to know from someone who knows more than me, and that’s how I want to learn. So I was really skeptical of cohort models and cohort learning until I got in and realized, oh, not bad at all. And they said earlier about feedback, does everyone know how feedback works? Because I didn’t. This is a really key part of cohort learning.
I still don’t know what is the feedback loop for cohort learning.
If anyone has ever studied writing and you get notes from fellow writers, it’s one of those things where, to a hammer, everything is a nail. So they are defined problems even when there are none. Which is why I always hated getting student feedback, because it’s always so personal. Someone’s like, oh, well, that is so derivative. And it’s like, okay, well, that’s not a useful piece of feedback. Like, give me something good. What they teach you in a cohort model, especially in the Kimbo format, the way we teach is there are three types of ways to provide feedback. There’s praise, there’s criticism, and then there’s feedback. We all like praise. That’s the thing that encourages you to keep going, but often it’s abusive and sometimes a little gratuitous. And so it doesn’t always help you get better, but it does help you keep going. Criticism is where you get the trolls. Criticism lives on the Internet. That’s not always helpful. People will say things like, well, I’m just being brutally honest, or, you know, my opinion is DA DA DA, and you just be really mean, and guys.
Are trying to be smart.
And that’s always also not entirely helpful.
Guys trying to be smart.
Feedback actually helps someone, and it evaluates where that person is. So what I mean by that is there are some points in the writing process where the person doesn’t need to know stylistically, if their grammar is correct, what they need to know is to keep going. The idea is strong and they’ll figure out the rest. There are other points where the idea is strong. They are now on draft five. You need to get that grammar right. Part of being good at giving feedback is identifying what the person you are giving feedback to needs to hear. How do you make it better? So one of the things we teach in a coffee workshop, what cohortbased learning is all about is being able to take we call it a copy posture, but being able to think about what someone else’s work is and the feedback that you have, how do you frame it in a way where they could actually hear you and it makes the work better. Not about you sounding smart as someone who gave really good feedback, right? You’re not running.org for good feedback. What you want is someone to hear you. You want someone to feel seen and you want to help them make their work stronger.
And so that’s the kind of feedback you get in a cohort based learning model. And there are trainings for this. We have a whole framework for how to give feedback in the copy workshop. So it’s not people who have never written copy before giving you bad advice on copy based on their opinion.
I love to break that down a little bit because I realized that as a consultant, I treat my clients, we do the same, but yet differently in terms of giving them feedback. So by the way, feel free to use me as a guinea pig. I love it now that I just don’t care. I actually love it. So how do you actually go about giving different feedback to different people? Like how do you get to know them so quickly too? You know, you’re meeting some of the students for the first 2nd time, especially at the beginning of the program. The program itself is pretty short. Like how do you tailor the feedback to students?
Yeah, well, I think the first thing we have to start with is letting go of that idea that we need to sound smart and that we need to somehow display our own ego through the way we give feedback. It’s not about us. The second thing is how you frame the questions. So most people when they ask for feedback say what do you think? Or they send you an email that says thoughts question mark. Those are bad questions. You’re always going to get bad feedback. Do you know what it is? Okay, y’all know this. If you’ve ever been in a Facebook group, someone has posted hey, anyone have any feedback on my logo? I would love to know what you think. A, B or D?
What do you like?
You are never going to get anything sold from that ever. Before I was teaching, I say knows this is how we bonded. We both worked in it we have an agency background. And so I watched the same did you see the same thing with clients where people would be like, they say this to the client. Do you like it?
Yeah. No way.
Everyone’s an expert in their own opinion.
Never ask them if they like it. That’s the wrong question. So let’s use an example of a logo. If you’re looking for feedback on a logo, the wrong question is, do you like it? The right question is, does this logo embody the values that we discussed that your business represents? Does it represent integrity? Does it represent trust, camaraderie, innovation, leadership? Whatever it was that was part of your brand values? Does the logo exhibit that? Then you’re contending with a different question. Now you’ve gone from the emotional with my opinion side to the rational and intellectual. Like, now I have to match, does this line up with the value system? So now you have a different framework from which to give feedback. That is where we ask people to start in the coffee workshop. So to your point, like, how do you know what someone needs to hear? Well, you start with a different question. You start with a different question. So you might not know in the beginning at what stage that they are at, but you can be useful before giving feedback saying, hey, who are you targeting with this piece of copy? What would you like this copy to do?
Because I can give you my opinion, but I’m not the market, so if I give you my opinion, it’s not going to be useful.
I feel like this is so targeted. What we’re talking about is, like, quite targeted at me too. Like, I’m writing, for instance, I’m creating a course right now, and I was at the beginning, I was like, Why am I creating a course? But, okay, now, like, I need to do this. And I’m like the Zoom Zoom webinar tutorial queen on YouTube. And then I kind of started this course. I want to say, for instance, I’m just using myself as a case study. Like, I don’t want to target the course at just everybody, because for people who are watching, there are a lot of Zoom tutorials and courses floating out there since 2020. And now I’m thinking, like, what’s the point? I have to convince myself that there is value. So I look at a situation to say, Zoom is updated regularly. Zoom doesn’t confront its own limitations. It’s just not designed for certain things, and people start spinning. And thirdly, I was thinking, Marco, I kind of want to get your feedback on this, whether this is a good question or not, which is maybe I’ve had success targeting more specific cohorts of people such as Zoom for artists, Zoom for musicians, zoom for fitness dance instructors.
I’m able to build more awareness and much more interest that way. As opposed to Zoom for all. Yeah. What are your thoughts on which part?
There’s two things I would identify there. One, you are always going to get better reception with meaningful specifics. And part of that is I’ll give.
You an example using the Coffee Workshop.
Have you watched Rogue One?
So almost none of us, I would say actually none of us are aliens from another planet. None of us have fought intergalactic warfare. Most of us, I would say, have not been fully abandoned by parents who we saw murdered in front of our eyes. We do not have that experience. And yet you relate to the protagonist of Rogue, what, like, almost all of us, like, you’re rooting for her, you’re in with the emotion. You can relate to the emotional undercurrent. And part of the reason that happens in fiction is the same reason it happens in advertising, is that when you are meaningfully specific, it actually becomes more generalizable. So we would work with human psychology. So when you say zoom for zoom, but teachers, pretty much every dancer is.
Going to be interested in that.
And so you’ve broadened yourself by being more specific. So meaningfully specific positioning is always going to get you further in terms of penetrating an audience. And it allows people to feel seen because you’ll be able to address some things that are more specific to them, but they’re also generalizable beyond just stamps.
Yes, very much so. Oh, that’s great. I mean, that’s great feedback. I’m glad we’re able to jump right into it. I have the pleasure of chatting about the Coffee Workshop with you just a couple of weeks ago, and there’s certain things I picked up. I think I was like, laughing zarakly, like, during our call, for a variety of reasons, but I love how you approach this and you’re being so, like, brutally honest about the fact that you’ve run more than one session and you as an educator teacher, you’re able to learn a lot from your own experience, and I wonder if you could share something about that too.
Y’all, I have done this so many times, a mutual friend of mine and I kind of sat down with like, are you ready for cohortbased learning? Do you want to make this Akimbo workshop? Because I was running the Coffee Workshop as Headline School like four years ago and I was like, no, I don’t like cohortbased learning. I’m a genius, so I know better. And I basically shut it down and continue to just record videos because I decided that there was something about the way I could explain that would be better. And I had videos that were like an hour long and I tested it with students and I got wonderful feedback, by the way. I mean, people were really, really effusive. They were like, this is so great. We’ve never seen anything like it. I feel so confident, blah, blah, blah. And then I asked to see their copy. We had all the same problems we had with traditional learning. People didn’t finish, people didn’t do the homework, and their copy didn’t improve even though they felt better. So I had a choice, and I think a lot of content creators have a choice. Like you can decide what your course is for, is to put the information out there, and it’s up to other people to decide what to do with it.
I think that’s fine. I did not feel satisfied with that. I was really frustrated because I wanted people to go through my courses and get the skill at the end. And so there were a few things I learned. One, there’s an element of being able to fill your head with information. That’s great, but there’s a gap between when you learn something intellectually understand it and then your ability to do it. And it is within that gap that I wanted to live. That is where I wanted to live. And so I couldn’t, without cohort learning, bridge that gap unless I was doing one on one work, which is not scalable and I couldn’t do. So here’s how cohort based learning changed everything I was able to. Let me think of a good example here. If I ask you a question like, who’s your target market? Most of us are like, oh, that’s really basic. And obviously I know it’s like women who love dogs that are shopping for gifts during the holidays and we really like candles. I don’t know, some psychographic they give you and they think they know. And so you’re like, great, write something to them.
People don’t realize where their blind spots are. So if you ask a question that’s really straightforward that they think that they know, they’re never going to contend with that uncomfortable tension of learning the skills. So instead we do something like this. I need you to write a letter to someone who keeps violating parking rules in the parking deck. Here’s what you know about the person. How would you write the letter differently if you are writing it to a 16 year old versus a 60 year old who’s leaving work and in a rush? What changes that’s? When you discover how to apply the skill. And cohort based learning allowed us to do that. Because if I gave you that prompt and you were writing by yourself in your room, one, you will never know if you did it right or wrong. Number two, you won’t know what you’re trying to learn. Number three, you need that interaction with the market to go. Why did you use this approach? What were you thinking when you use this line? Why was this helpful? Why was it not? And you have coaches that can reflect that with you and sit in that space of I don’t know.
So part of what creates the ability to learn is to do things badly and do them wrong. And almost no courses allow you to do this. You have to be in cohort based learning, especially at a kimbo, because failure is basically what we’re good at.
I like that. Failure is what we’re good at. Allowing yourself to fail is something that we talk about kind of casually to say, oh, I know we all make mistakes. It’s not going to be my best writing, my first book, won’t be my only book or my best book yet, but somehow that’s something that we repeat ourselves and we believe that it’s now popularized in mass media, yet it just it is so freaking hard for people to actually take that step. And I couldn’t believe so many of my videos that are driving traffic are still like, how to get started, how to start something. I’m like, Why are we so hesitant to start anything? Start writing, to start experimenting.
It’s the hardest part.
Yeah, why is that?
It’s the hardest part? I think because there’s a tremendous amount of noise in our heads. Like, even you said it before. Why? What’s the point? Why there’s so many zoom tutorials out there? Like, why should I do it? And having that beginner’s mindset is we don’t have a culture that really rewards it. We have a culture that’s obsessed with exceptionalism and expertise and top performance and going above and beyond. And so a lot of us don’t want to face that disappointment that comes with learning. Because learning, I can basically guarantee you, if you’re trying to learn copywriting, no matter how good a rider you are, your first few takes are going to suck. In the same way that you’ve never learned how to ride a bike or you’ve never gone to the gym, you’re not going to be running. Like, we seem to understand that physically, if you have to run a mile and you haven’t run in a year, you’re not going to be able to do it. Well, it’s going to be very difficult. And so instead, what we have is sorry, I keep getting phone calls. This is the problem being here.
This is the problem, is that we tend to have more compassion for ourselves. Like, if I tell you, okay, you’re not going to run a nine minute mile if you haven’t been to the gym in the year, but what we can do is run a 15 minutes mile or maybe even, let’s walk one, and you would be like, that’s reasonable. That makes sense. But if I tell you the equivalent with coffee or some sort of higher level skill that you think you should be able to come out of the box running, then you have to encounter your own feelings of, like, I suck and why am I bad at this? And why aren’t I better? And like, you expect to be running out of the gate because that’s one of the myths that we propagate in this culture, and that’s just not how it works.
It sucks to be at the top.
Of your game on one level and then have to try something new. It’s a sucking feeling. So you need those safe containers. Which is why I like cohost, cohort based learning. Because you’re not with people who are better than you. You are people who are learning with you that are also running slowly until you finally figure out how to get better.
So I would love to explore the topic of, you know, like we talk about active versus passive income. To me, I know some people are watching this right now, probably thinking, oh, I would love to develop a digital course. People kind of self paced, they pay, they abandon. It doesn’t matter. I know most of us don’t want to see our work being abandoned, but you get paid. But retention is not good and they probably won’t spread the word just because they haven’t really gone through the experience. So yeah, it is probably more even though it’s more passive income. It sounds to me like cohort learning is very active on both the teachers part as well as on the students part. How do people kind of weigh in terms of pros and cons? How do they choose which format they should consider for their content?
I think it depends what you want and what your people want. So if you are a PhD history and you know that most people just want to listen to you talk, then doing something seriously, like master class, that’s their model. And the same outlier, I think is what I call Outlier.org is there like offset with the more academic version. It’s literally just listening to professors. And if you are someone who is intellectually hungry, then like, you probably aren’t so concerned with retention rates because you’re like, I just want to package the content and have it live somewhere. I know that I have made courses where I am less concerned with people finishing it because I mostly made it that people stop asking me certain questions because then I can be like, here you go, I answered it and it takes care of that for me and what it’s for is for that. And so that’s one way to think about it. For skillbased learning, if you actually want people to walk away with the skill, you can’t do traditional learning and you can’t do super passive. There’s just no way. There’s no way. People don’t follow through the basic psychology.
It just doesn’t support it. But I wouldn’t say I don’t want to put him in a hierarchy of like, one is better or worse. I think cohort learning is better, but that’s for the outcome I want. I also love just listening to lectures. Like sometimes I just want to listen to someone. I don’t want to do any of the homework. I just want to feel smart. And there is utility to that that is okay. And so I think you have to decide for yourself what the role of your content is, what your people want, how they like to receive information, and what part of the customer journey they’re on. By the time people get to me, usually they’ve tried other coffee courses and they’ve been disappointed and they’re like, why am I not better? That’s different than someone’s first interaction. You might need to read a book. You might need to watch a few courses on YouTube before you actually do it. So I think it really depends as far as the passive versus active, though I will say cohort based learning, it’s active, but it doesn’t have to be you. I’m not in the coffee workshop, so it’s all of my contents and it’s all of my prompts and all of my curriculum coaches run it.
And so, like, do you have to oversee the coaches? You have to train them. Yes. Like, all of that is pretty active. But I would this is a different topic, but I would go ahead and argue that there’s no such thing as passive income. Right? It’s not really passive and that’s just sorry, guys.
Yeah, nothing is truly passive.
So you got to decide where you’re relative. Yeah.
And you mentioned about coaching people. This is interesting. This question has come up a lot. I mean, throughout my 30 day live, I talk about hiring for help, I talk about training other people to do part of what you do. So maybe to elevate your work into more strategic thinking and execution could go off to someone else. Anything that’s trainable. It’s really sweet. For those of you who haven’t explored, like, productizing your services. Yeah. Repeatable work is amazing. But with that said, Mark, I would love for you to maybe chat about how you effectively train these second brains or trainers. Coaches for you. What are some of the things that you’ve done that worked well versus not so well?
Yes. Yes. I love this question. This is the hardest part, like curriculum building because traditionally if I was running something, I could put out prompts that have right and wrong answers and then I can come back through and say, hey, guys, this is the right and wrong answer. Here’s your answer key. You cannot do that with cohort based and you cannot do that with coaches. It’s not about right or wrong, which is a very strange thing to say when I just told you this about skill building. Where there are there is effective and ineffective copy. So how am I supposed to be teaching you that if there’s no right and wrong? Great question. And so this is where your job as a curriculum builder and subject matter expert really matters. And I’ve learned this the hard way. I didn’t know how to do this in the beginning and I think everyone is going to have different outcomes. I’m just going to give you my experience for certain prompts that we’d watch the students do them and the coaches really couldn’t do their job because the students were looking for right or wrong answers. And the coaches aren’t subject matter experts.
And so that’s my failure as a curriculum builder. I needed to set them up for success. So to answer your question, we have to first define for each person what is a coach for? What are they there to do? Are they there to be like a Ta in college? No. Are they there at least not in a chembo. That’s not their function. They’re not there to help you with tutoring. Coaches are more for the, like, getting you back on, like to use the running metaphor to keep you running and to go, okay, yeah, maybe you broke your ankle, will take a few weeks to let it heal, but you can still do this and you can still do this and to reflect questions back at you to help you figure it out for yourself. And that requires one finding a really, really skilled coach, which a commotion for me, so I didn’t have to do that. That was awesome. But that’s a hard thing to do, to find someone who has the skill of asking good questions and helping people arrive at the answers for themselves. That’s what we wanted. That’s what we wanted. And so then after that, the only things I really needed to train the coaches on was what is my course for?
Like, where do people start and where do we want them to end, what are the, AHAs, we want to facilitate? What are the things that we expect from them and what do we anticipate will be difficult. And that’s all I tell them and they sort of do the rest. It’s really cool and it’s hard. You have to have a lot of trust and sometimes we get it wrong. That’s the part that really sucks. There have been times where I’ve seen coaches I’m like, oh, that was not what I would have told that student. But when you have two or 300 students, you can’t micromanage all of them. You need help. And so you have to be really careful. But yeah, you do your best. But coaches are not there to be subject matter experts. They’re there to help you through the journey of learning.
I love it because I kind of see the same way with people I work with. I have a small team of three people. Each person has a slightly very different function at the end of the day, right? Like, yes, I could edit my videos, but I choose not to so I can focus on content creation. And you sort of have to put a lot of trust in the other person and you can’t it’s interesting, right? Like the frequency of feedback matters too. If I tell them every day what to do, what not to do, they cannot really think independently. So I love the fact that, you know, encouraging people to allow them to make mistakes and. Have a way of asking them, asking the coaches questions so they can reflect on their own feedback and then kind of just improve from there. Yeah, that’s really fascinating when you just shared it’s really good.
The other thing that’s helpful, not just with coaches, but also with type of learning is really sitting in integrity about what is your failure as a facilitator and what is a student failing to engage with the content adequately. That was always my biggest question, like, when like, could I have written that lesson better or could I have written a better question? Or are people not doing the work? Are they not doing their homework? Which one is it? And I have found that you really just have to put it out in front of your audience and see what happens to be able to know. So one of the things we learned, for example, I thought that giving questions like, okay, go out in the world and find me three examples of ethical urgency, something like that would be really straightforward and probably not that hard. No one could do it. It was so hard. And people were really, really struggling with how to identify what we were learning in class in the real world. So I flipped it to a reflective question. So we switched it to what’s uncomfortable about using urgency for you? And then that demands that they understand what urgency is and how to use it in order to reflect on it.
So I got all the skills I wanted, but that was on me, right? That was something that I couldn’t have figured it out until we tested it.
I love these examples. Oh my goodness. I feel like we’re talking even not directly at some of the things I’m working on, but it’s giving me ideas as to how I should approach it and think about it. For instance, going back to some of the content I created, one of the things that I guess is a question, sometimes people are like, is that even a question? But you know, if you’re like, this is our little coffee chat now. But I think we started this conversation even years ago about one thing, trying to teach the other, trying to change people’s behaviors and habits. And it’s so often that, for instance, in my videos, I tell people, look, it’s 20 2021, and now we’re living in the omakron age and it’s not fun, and a lot of people have to work from home, all that jazz. But since the very beginning, I’m always trying to tell them, and they agree that zoom as a platform is just literally just a platform that’s not enough for you to build a business. Knowing virtual is part of what you do. There’s everything else. There’s zoom for host, for moderation.
There’s body language, there’s a way of how you write and how you convey your message, even simple things looking into the camera and have a very friendly background. They’re like, of course these things matter. Then it comes to the monthly Q and A discussion. Everybody is so focused on the platform and the technology, and they’re kind of just sometimes I feel like I’m being used as, like, a Zoom customer service support that they don’t have. So what are some of the things for us to think about shifting people’s attention and really changing behaviors?
Well, do you mean shifting, like, for you? The conversations that you’re having? How do you move them through that stage?
Yeah, move them for them to realize, oh, there is more to zoom than the platform, than the buttons and what doesn’t work, and there’s so much more to it related to business.
That’s a great question. So you have touched on why I don’t teach tactics. Yeah, it’s really hard. So one of the other reasons the first few tries of this didn’t work was until I did cohort based learning with Akimo, because it literally gave people the answers. I was like, Here you go. Here’s how to write a headline. Here are the 25 hacks you need to do it. I gave them everything, and guess what? They didn’t do shit. I didn’t do anything. They didn’t know how to apply. It was the problem. And so my question to you would be, what’s the real reason they’re not Zooming? Like, what’s the real reason they’re not launching their courses? Because it’s not because they don’t have the right audio, and it’s not because they don’t have the right technique. I was building content with this thing. This is nothing. And look at that. Nothing. Right. It took me a really long time before I had a proper setup, and I don’t even have it fully set up right now. Right. So we know that that’s not the reason. And I think what we have to get to the heart of what’s actually holding someone back from doing the work they want to do and addressing that in our content.
But sometimes you have to do a little bit of a bait and switch because people don’t always realize, like, they don’t know. They think that really what they need to know is, am I using the right microphone? Right? And so someone who has that question, what are they actually asking? That’s what I would want to know. Are they actually asking, am I good enough to be here? Can I hide behind good technique if I just have the right lighting? Are people going to take my content more seriously? Do I even know what I’m saying? Like, what’s really going on? And I think if you can address those emotional undercurrents and those unspoken fears, you will have better conversations.
I love this so much. And that’s when I realize exactly to your point, Margo, it’s not so much about, like, participants. Sometimes there are people who are only as participants to Zoom meetings, and they don’t really care, and they’re going to hide their video. They’re mute themselves and they’re there because they have to be there and they leave. But I notice a lot of my audience who follow me throughout multiple videos are what I call them zoom hosts or Zoom moderators. Especially since like the past year I worked with a lot of really big companies. And when you spend thousands of dollars on Zoom hosting these events, or 5000 people, you can’t afford to have things go wrong. And that’s when they come in and hire me and hire me to train their moderators. I realize it’s such a different level of different desires. Competencies. Yeah, that’s really interesting.
That’s really important to the who it’s for, because I’ve noticed why someone signs up to learn copy. We’re going to have a real different conversation. If you are a middle manager at a company where you are responsible for writing collateral, but you report to a boss versus you having your own solopreneurship journey that you’re just starting and you need to write your about page, there’s different. Now the same principles apply to both, but for someone who has a boss, like, you have to please the boss. So even if you know what to do, part of what we need to contend with for you to be able to produce effective copy is how do you negotiate with that boss to make them realize that you know what you’re doing. So that’s a different conversation than the person who is encountering. My guess, if you’re writing an About Page and you’re struggling imposter syndrome and also the kitchen sink. I know the first time I had to write an about page, I was like, do I tell them about like when I was seven? I love GEOS and I also really like whales and like but what about now?
Who am I? You go into this existential crisis nightmare and so that’s a different issue. And so to your point on how to address this in content, if you’re working with bigger companies where you’re training a staff who doesn’t necessarily want to be there, the undercurrent that I think you would be plugging into is, how do I look good in front of my boss? That’s really what you’re answering. You’re not actually teaching them Zoom. Google the answer to most of these things. That’s the thing that always got me. You can Google how to write a good headline. What I want to know is why you’re not.
Yeah, interesting. Oh, actually you brought up something really interesting about teaching or identifying students who may be a good fit for the copy workshop. Am I hearing or assuming correctly that maybe those who write for their bosses are not a good fit for them?
They are good.
They are good.
Yeah, we have both. It’s been really interesting. It’s a psychographic. It’s more I was shocked by this because I wasn’t sure either when we first started, but now we’ve had about a couple, 300, 400 people go through. And so it’s been pretty divided across the board, which is cool, but they love interacting with each other. So in terms of cohort, they’ve enjoyed the diversity of seeing what other people do. We’ve seen some people who are like CEOs of their own financial planning firm, so that is sort of solopreneur. But you also have a staff and then you have people who are middle managers inside of a bigger corporation. Then you have some people who are just like, I’m a coach and it’s just me. And so we’re watching all of them engage with each other and they make their work stronger. They’re like, oh, in my world is this, in my world it’s this and that’s been really cool. But no, what really unites them is this desire to do good work and to want to do something like to have your word, really have an impact and help you be more effective as a writer.
Whether that motivation is to make you look good in front of your boss or whether that motivation is to actually have an impact with your client and customers. Most of the middle managers that we attract want to reach the customers and can’t because they have a boss. So they still fit that Psych aerobic. And they also a lot of them have side hustles, which I’ve learned about too. So maybe you’re right in your assertion. But yeah, no, we have both super cool.
Wow. So I’m learning a lot and then I want to kind of explore another kind of adjacent area quickly, which is a lot of content creators and people in general struggle to maintain a kind of nurture a community after. It’s one thing for people to be actively engaged with you for four, six, eight weeks, learn a tremendous amount, but it’s not always easiest. We have seen with several communities or Facebook groups tailored to a group of people who have graduated from the same program yet it’s kind of cricket. People are not really engaging, not really activated post workshops, core, whatever. What can we do to maybe engage with them more or like kind of maintain build a community in the long run?
It’s really hard. It’s really hard. I think Akimbo has done the best job of anyone and they struggle with it a lot. I try to encourage the participants while they’re in it to get each other’s information and build those friendships and relationships. Because one of the secrets in life is you need creative allies at your level. And so I’m always telling people, like, whoever is in this course with you is your creative ally. They are the person that you can lean on and so build those relationships. But how do you encourage it at scale? I mean, this also depends on your revenue model because for some people, if you’re not charging for community post workshop, it’s not worth it because it’s so cumbersome and so labor intensive and actually you need to hire a staff, like, member or you have to do it. I have found some communities, the ones you and I are in, in terms of like, Alton Bay and some of the freer ones. You can have students that are self organizing, which I think is the best way to do it. But that’s a crapshoot. You don’t know if you’re going to get those people.
One of the things we do in the coffee workshop is we have cohort captains and we assign people like, you are the ring leader. Like, you are in charge of getting everyone together, encouraging them, making sure they’re getting what they needed. And we hope that those relationships continue afterwards. I don’t know that they do for how long they do. I know some relationships have stayed in pairs. Like, you and I are friends, but never in our Facebook group. And that has nothing to do with the failures of the community. It has to do with the fact that I hate Facebook and I no longer go on.
Right, but actually there’s a good point. How do we sustain a relationship? I even have this conversation with my mom, like, last night of realizing that because I came here to the States when I was 17, I look at my high school, college, especially college experience and pose graduate experience of my colleagues and all that. I sort of don’t really I haven’t been able to build the kind of childhood relationships, the ones I had with my friends, like elementary school, middle school, that sort of thing. So I don’t have friends like that anymore. But on the other hand, I’m like, do I want friends like that? I don’t know. I’m kind of like free flowing, floating, whatever the phrase is. Kind of like, I have people I’m really close to to be able to learn from, but also to be able to grow with and then to be able to welcome different people into my life depending on the face of my life that I’m currently in. I don’t know how you feel about that. You just move too.
I am tracking with you. I mean, this is one of those myths I think we see on television of like, the core four best friends and they’ve known each other since they.
That you grow together all at the same time, almost have no other friends. I found that weird and that you, like, remain in constant contact. Like, that’s just not real life. First of all, if you’re not growing and changing and outgrowing the people you know, that is something that I would want you to look in the mirror for. But I don’t know. We pride ourselves. Like, I’ve known this person for 20 years and nothing’s changed. I’m like red flag. If nothing has changed since I was 13, I would be a problem. But you hope that people grow and evolve with you and the Sarah Pak. If you guys follow Startup Parent, fantastic company, she’s the founder and CEO, but she is a good friend. And we were talking and I remember when we first became friends and I was so excited and I was like, wanting us to be friends forever, and she was like, well, our friendship might evolve and that’s okay. Like, we’re still, like, actually that’s really beautiful. That like we talk every day, but there will be a point where maybe there’s life circumstances as to why we don’t or maybe she moves in a different direction.
I move in a different direction. Maybe like, we’re going through life things and I don’t understand what she’s going through anymore and I can’t provide that support anymore. But you still like, friendships evolve and we don’t always allow for that. So I think, you know, for me, I try and keep friendships in different categories. I have those friends where it’s really superficial and we no longer judge that as bad. It’s like that’s what it is. We’re going to talk about, like, celebrity gossip and what to bring to Kate’s birthday party. The friendship. Yeah, exactly. And then you’ll have other friendships. Where my favorite kind? We just start with tell me about your childhood trauma. And then there’s friends that you can debate, like religion and philosophy with. I mean, you need all the different types of people in life and then you have professional colleagues. I mean, it’s so rare that you can find people who fit in more buckets than one.
True, you’re right.
I mean, you can count more than.
Two people who do that.
You hit the lottery.
Yeah, that’s interesting. We do need different people in different buckets and to be able to turn to them. And frankly, there are certain people, you know, like, we both know a lot of people who have done really well businesswise or whatever, make a lot of money or have a lot of influence. I mean, they’re never available, they’re always busy, they’re always on the road. And we need like a girlfriend or someone to go shopping with or where did you have yeah, exactly.
100%. You need those categories. If you guys really want to get out on this, check out Esther Perel’s work. She’s the one. I love her deal, mating in captivity, but she talks about this in romantic partnerships. But I think To Sam rules apply across the board where she’s like, it doesn’t make sense to expect one person to be all the things. Like, why would the person who represents stability to you also represent spontaneity? That doesn’t make sense. Yeah, sorry, go ahead.
That book is incredible. I think she wrote another book I forgot something about Infidelity.
Yeah, she did. I haven’t read that one yet.
And it’s incredible to hear from her and then just the amount of wisdom. I love the fact that she speaks like eight different languages and you know, with that slightly, I don’t know, like a French accent and her command of the English, French or whatever language. I can’t really speak to all of them, but just amazing. Just like light bulb moment every time she talks. Yeah. And I couldn’t believe it. I’m like, I need to give a shout out to one of my really great family friends, Gordon. I actually interviewed him on the show years ago, and the other day he texted me, he’s like, oh, Faya, you seem to like Esther Perrell’s book, but she’s one of my good friends. Mom, I’m like, what? You are just telling me this now? Oh, my God, I need to get her on the show. But anyway, without, like, taking up too much of your time, Margo, I want to make sure I let you off the hook in 5 minutes or so. What are some of the things I haven’t asked? And then there are people who are watching, want to know what you’ve been up to, whatever you feel comfortable sharing.
I would love to get a little personal here.
Well, this is the people watching you guys. Are they existing content creators or are they thinking about kind of starting something?
So there are a lot more people doing the start creating journey, but this current audience is a little wide. They’re on YouTube mostly, what I just described. But also we’re connected on LinkedIn and Facebook, so there are some closer colleagues, friends, and family network as well. So whatever you feel comfortable. Awesome.
Okay, awesome. My people. No, I think the thing I would leave you with is it’s really hard to be at that intersection of business and art and creativity. And one of the things I think makes the biggest difference is when you stop studying frameworks and start learning to trust yourself in the creative process and forgive yourself when you make mistakes. Like what I mean by the creative process. We all have our own version, and it took me a really long time to respect what I needed to write a really good piece and to know, okay, I’m going to need this many days away from it. I’m going to need this many hours of uninterrupted time. And not to be like a diva, but to be able to just take that work seriously so the product can be good and then detach myself from that outcome and go, okay, let’s see what happens. And nine out of ten times, I have no idea how the market is going to respond. I always think I do, and now, what? Ten years into this and I finally am like, okay, I think I get what my people like now.
But you keep after throwing things out and I think relish in that I think there’s too much emphasis right now on, like, how do I scale? How do I get viral, how do I engineer this? And it’s like, don’t engineer virality, engineer connection. Who is the person on the other side that you’re talking to and what do you like to talk about? Because they’re still going to be better if you’re writing about the things that you know. And then from there, you’re playing with the framing. I can tell you right now that I spent years writing about marketing and giving people answers, which I was told.
Crunchy solutions is what everyone wants.
Put it in a list. None of that shit went viral. You know, it did when I started giving my opinion. Edited, very edited, but saying, here’s my point of view. I don’t know if I’m right. Here you go. And those pieces did better. I did philosophical long pieces, and people wanted more. And like, well, that’s the opposite of what everyone said. So you just you don’t know until you know your people. So stop judging yourself by how everyone else is doing. And even if you have 202,2000 people in your audience, remember each one of them, there’s no such thing as a broadcast. Nobody is sitting, connecting their brain to someone else and listening and receiving your content as a whole. Right? Everybody is consuming it individually. We call this the rule of one in the coffee workshop. But, like, one person, one at a time, is contending with your content. Talk to them. Talk to them directly. And that’s what’s going to give you that connection. And then forgive it when something doesn’t work. Remember, people are going to forget right on down the road. There’s plenty of interviews I’ve done that I don’t look like, and nobody knows.
What a great reminder. My goodness, I love that engineer connection. And virality. This is wonderful. And then I just realized that as we spend a lot of time talking about the copy workshop that it is accepting, it is enrolling students right now. So could you I’m going to display the link here. It’s also in the description below. But yeah, Margot, who should apply to this workshop?
All right. If you want to use words to inspire action, you want this workshop. Copywriting is different. I’m going to tell you. Copywriting is different from creative writing. It’s different from storytelling. It is the strategic use of words to inspire an action, whether that is click, donate, buy. Come to my fundraiser, show up to my performance. I used it to get people to RSVP to my wedding. So whatever you need to do, or if you have a birthday party you want people to come to, if you own a restaurant, all the copy is everywhere. And so if you want to know how to be more persuasive but ethically, this is for you. Effective and ethical. And I will tell you right now, we are accepting students, I think until January 24. No, it starts the 24th, I think car closes on the 17th or 14th. I have to check.
It should be on roll by January 17.
It’s a little confusing, but I will tell you guys, so if you’re listening to this, if you go to that link, there is a tiny purple circle in the menu bar that has no words around it. If you click that link from this page, you will get a discount.
Cool. That’s your link, right, Margot?
Yeah. Through this link and I can give you the one with my discount on it, but whatever’s on the screen right now, you can click and it should show up.
Yeah. Also the link in the description, I think that’s the Margo special link. So definitely check it out. And it’s been such a pleasure to reconnect Margo no matter where you are and just love following you, your work, subscribe to your newsletter and just really have fun. It’s a very eye opening each and every time I read it. So energizing and it’s fun and yeah, I’m just so thrilled. Let’s keep this conversation going.
You too. Y’all, it’s so cool to have people like Faye in your corner. Wait, here you are in your corner and I highly recommend, you know, people in this world, if you take her courses, connect with the people in them because this is what comes out of it. I miss you.
I miss you too. I’m going to take us offline, but.
Please don’t go anywhere just yet. Bye.
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- Connect with Margo Aaron
- Margo’s leading Seth Godin’s Copy Workshop: https://akimbo.com/thecopyworkshop/rfrmha