The Teachers Path Sustainable Success on the Teachers' Path with Jen Louden Sun, 01 Mar 2015 23:24:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 An Open Letter to All Teachers Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:00:48 +0000 A few weeks ago I wrote a post about my history around creative shame and a wonderful reader named KJ left this comment:

“I honestly did not realize I was sitting on a volcano of this until I read this post. I love serving people, but I am SO TIRED of being told that EVERYTHING – every post, every class, every session, apparently every stroke of the toothbrush – has to be concluded with pithiness. Tell them why this is relevant! Tell them how this will help them solve their problems! Tell them why they should care!

I feel like a dancing bear, terrified that if I stop waving my paws the right way there will be no more food…

Is there something about the world of serving people that means that creativity must be a slave to value? I know what you describe applies to so many of us in this world (and in many others) and I’m curious why… “

When I read what KJ wrote, I thought, “Hell yes, so many of us feel that way! Running on the same hamster wheel, a wheel made of keeping up, of getting attention, of showing our students they should take classes / programs / retreats from us. Pick me! Or doing the same for whatever company or administration we work for. That there is no time for play, self-expression, and creativity – let alone goofing off – because we have to keep waving our paws to get the attention, make the sales, get published, keep the school board happy, etc.

I, for one, am sick of this thudding drumbeat of desperation, of the hectic, breathless headlong rush to keep the fuck up.

Artists and teachers have always been rabble-rousers, have always been the leaders of change. It’s part of our job to point out what is not working. Now we need to point out – at least to ourselves – that all that matters is marketable value and pithy takeaways. Or test scores. Or page views, Facebook shares, articles published only for peer review. That some kind of bottom line is all that matters.

We have to take back what we love about creating & teaching, about learning and sharing what we learn.

In Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 1912, mill workers went on strike for shorter work hours. During the strike, the mostly female workers sang, “Yes, it is bread we fight for, but we fight for roses, too.” Brigid Schulte, in her excellent book Overwhelmed, writes the workers meant they wanted time for family, for joy. We need our own kind of strike.

We have to strike against the “faster, bigger, better story” and allow ourselves the rest and deep creative learning and thinking time we need to survive. Yes, survive. Roses are not a luxury because beauty and meaning are not either.

We have to say, “I will stand for the stories I need to tell, the genealogy I want to study, the sweaters I want to design.” Just because.

I’m not saying this will be easy, nor am I saying we shouldn’t care about making a living. But we must stop thinking being of service means being everything to everybody in pre-cut, easily digested squares. We must stop thinking that to be successful we have to be a dancing bear.

Yes, hive mind hums just a click away, where you can immediately feel out of date, failing, falling behind. You can find a thousand people telling you what you should do to be successful, make money, stay in front of people, be of service, be relevant.

Marketing is not evil or wrong, whether that is marketing yourself to a tenure committee or your slice of the planet. I’m not saying go live in a cave and create just for yourself, never share what you are learning. I’m saying that deep within each of us is a creative heart that needs protection and expression and we must never EVER let the marketplace destroy or own that part of us. And that includes the marketplace of productivity and checking things off your to-do list.

You decide. You break away. Then you model this for others.

You refuse to abandon your best self’s creative truths on the altar of value.

You and me and KJ and every single one of us reading this are the keepers of what is sacred. We are artists of learning, students of life.

I say no more dancing bears. Or at least, not all the friggin time!




But the learning continues with a twice-monthly, super-concise, actionable TeachNow e-tip – Sign up below to get those AND The Fab Guide to Course Creation and Better Participation (PDF).

Sign up now to be the first to hear when enrollment opens (plus, get in on all the early bird specials).

]]> 0 Embrace Beginners Wed, 09 Jul 2014 00:57:16 +0000 I struggle with back and shoulder injuries, and I have for six years.That means the rigorous asana (physical yoga postures) practice I’ve enjoyed for the last 20+ years is not available to me anymore. Maybe someday, but not right now.

I now attend a much gentler yoga class where I focus on alignment. My butt might not be so toned anymore but the benefits of a more mindful yoga are great for my injuries, calming for my mind, and have brought me back to the fundamentals I learned long ago. Which feels grounding and good.

This enjoyment of “beginning yoga” (I use quotation marks because there isn’t any such thing but that’s another topic for another time) got me thinking: where as teachers do we forget or dismiss beginners? Maybe because we think they’re already being served by other courses/teachers or because we think teaching them will be boring?

Beginners are a huge market segment, but you may overlook that truth as you become an expert in your field. You don’t see the beginners because you aren’t hanging with them. But they are there.

Questions to stir your marketing and teaching mind:

  • Do you have classes and courses aimed at beginners? Do you make it extra safe for them to join, allay fears of “not getting it” or “looking dumb”?
  • Do you engage with your beginners as a teacher to remember what it was like? That’s a fantastic way to energize your teaching and your own learning.
  • Are there opportunities to invite your “advanced” students back for a refresher class? (A summer income source.) Or do you need to extend yourself to students who don’t feel “advanced” enough? Is your marketing inclusive and jargon free?
  • Could you offer a beginning series – say for 4 or 6 weeks – to get more students up to speed so they can take your more advanced classes?

It’s often harder to teach beginners because it requires you to truly know your subject matter and be able to explain it or demonstrate it discreetly and clearly. It’s usually the opposite of boring – it can be terrifying (my first yoga class I ever taught had a blind person in it!), although once you master a subject, teaching the 101 class can become repetitive. In which case, tap into your own beginner’s mind to refuel your passion or start training apprentices to teach parts for you. Or move on.

Your homework: how can you serve and welcome beginners? What does being “a beginner” mean or look like for your subject(s)? Are you afraid of beginners? Where and how are you embracing being a beginner?

Do tell!



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How to Get Started Creating a Course or Retreat Fri, 18 Apr 2014 01:00:11 +0000 TN_pin_beginning_is_not_600

Thanks for reading this little “teaching love letter” to help you confidently create courses and retreats. You have wisdom to share with the world, and I know the world will be better for having that wisdom + teaching is a great way to grow almost any business and diversify your income.

Creating a course is similar to writing a book–you need a beginning, middle, and end, a “narrative arc” or flow that reaches a satisfying conclusion. How to find the arc and know what to put into it?

Here are some ideas to get you started!

  • Beginning is not the same as the beginning. Forget beginning at the beginning. Begin where you feel the most passion, the most juice or where you know a little tid-bit that makes you think, “I got this,” and then rinse and repeat, creating out of sequence for a bit.
  • You will create out-of-sequence best using a tool like Evernote. Work in small chunks so you can move about and thus see the flow. Paper and pen person? Get thee post-it notes and a wall. Go!
  • Get familiar with how you design best. For me, it’s through a little bit of teaching or coaching, a little bit of reading/research, and then being alone, thinking and designing the course or retreat. I need to be in dialogue with people – both mentors ahead of me on the path and students beside me. But not too much dialogue for too long – I need to go away and design when the energy starts flowing.
  • What helps you create new insights and what schedule gives you time to capture them and build on them? For example, if you get all hot with ideas after a coaching session, leave yourself time to create your course or retreat right afterwards. Have your writing materials or video camera at hand, and riff! Grab the insights. You can also record coaching calls and re-listen for your “wisdom bits,” and then build off what you said. Quote yourself!
  • Try writing your sales page first and then create the course to the spec of the sales page. We did this for the first round of TeachNow and now 1,006 students later, we’ve built a very robust and powerful course. Starting with a sales page will help you know what you want to deliver and then you can ask, “If that’s what I want people to walk away knowing, what’s the last, middle, and first things I will teach to help them arrive there?”
  • Find some “accountability partners.” If the idea of creating your course makes you quiver and quake, write the sales page but only show it to a few friends. Then ask them to hold you to the date the class starts. In other words, deliver!
  • Beta is your friend. Refine as you teach. Don’t wait to teach.
  • Steal structures: What learning structures do you like from other teachers’ courses, workshops or retreats? Use those and pour your content in. Not sure? Study for structure. Start with courses languishing on your hard drive.
  • One of your biggest obstacles to getting started might be believing that what you have to teach has all been done, and who cares what you have to add to the conversation? Well, that is just your mind on “mind crack.” What if what you have to teach – and, more importantly, the way you teach it – could save a life? A marriage? A creative soul? What if? Create from that “what if.”
  • Remember, most of the world lives in the McDonald’s paradigm and has no idea what you know. Find the students who don’t know what you know. It can take time, but it is completely and utterly possible.

Stop trying to get it right or to create what you think you should create for the marketplace. Follow your deepest, simplest joy first and then refine from there.

I hope this gets you off the ground creating, and if you like this, join us for TeachNow 2015. Registration opens on March 19th, so please click over here and give the whole course a gander. It’s been a powerful learning experience for so many. I’d love to have you in this year’s round.



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Craft Your Personal Introduction & Get Clear on Who You Teach Wed, 09 Apr 2014 13:00:38 +0000 TeachNow offers you an incredible bonus of 5 live calls with me, Lianne Raymond, Pixie Campbell, Dr. Kelly Edmonds, Jennifer Lee, and Andrea J. Lee to discuss and deepen what you are learning.

But it also includes 55 interviews with incredible teachers as yet another bonus – yes, bonus, not the main content of the course! – and those interviews include last year’s guests, so you get double the learning.

Listen in on the call with Alexandra Franzen and craft your personal introduction to help you zero in on who you serve and how to connect with them. You’ll learn who you serve and what you do for them, and a glimpse of your future offerings – as well as getting a taste of the “bonus” part of TeachNow.


Listen in here:



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The secret to being a more successful teacher (and human being) Wed, 09 Apr 2014 02:30:52 +0000 TN_pin_it_is_your_600

What I’m about to tell you is the most overlooked key to being a successful teacher – as well as a successful business owner, parent, writer, athlete, and all around happy human being.

It’s the precursor to more sales, to repeat business, to turning customers into raving fans, to your ideas having a lasting impact on the hearts and minds of your students, readers, and clients.

It’s also how you unlock your own potential to thrive.

Really it can do all that, and more.

The secret? Feeling safe.

You can’t make decisions, take risks, or learn when your nervous system is on high alert. Your brain’s learning and decision-making functions slow or shut down. That’s why people click away from your sales page, stop attending your course, or never sign up for another one of your classes. They’re afraid. And they probably don’t even know it.

They’re afraid they won’t get it, they’ll look stupid, they’ll waste their money and time. In a nutshell: they’re afraid they’ll fail.

You’re afraid too and you can signal your fear to your students and potential clients. Do you worry if you have what it takes to be a great coach/web site designer/Pilates teacher? If anyone will buy your services? If you can keep learning and growing to stay current? Of course you do! We all have these worries.

But this low-grade state of fear can keep you stuck, and it can keep your customers from buying, and from learning growing. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Safety is something you can experience – and offer – starting right now.

Nothing is Going to Eat You
My favorite in-the-moment safety move is to stand up, stretch, exhale with a long “ahhhh.” Then I look around my studio and tell myself, “Nothing is going to eat me.” Yes, it makes me laugh but it also signals to my reptile brain that a stressful day does not equal death. You need a similar trick up your sleeve to calm yourself in the moment of freaking out. Use mine or one of the many relaxation tricks you already know.

Make Feeling Good a Priority
Remind yourself resetting your nervous system is not a luxury, it’s non-negotiable self-care, like exercising or drinking water. Become a devoted student of what relaxes you, both in the midst of a stressful situation and when you have an hour or a weekend to unwind. Weave more pleasure into your day – music, a tea you love, three squares of dark chocolate. Nourish your senses.

Extend Hospitality
Welcome your students warmly. At live events, greet people at the door, put them at ease. Online, say hi as people dial on, by name if possible. I always include a short video welcome inside my online courses where I also repeat info about how the course works for visual learners who might not read the welcome emails. Make it easy to navigate your website and sign up for your services; otherwise prospects feel dumb and unsafe, and they run away. Brainstorm simple ways to be a good host from the moment your customers and students come in contact with your business and you.

Where’s The Bathroom?
Clear driving instructions, sending the phone bridge number for each session, telling people what to bring to be comfortable – be meticulous in this area. Your student is looking for reasons to back out. Making her feel safe by taking care of basics can feel like cheating – it’s so easy, you’re not showcasing your brilliance – but I’ve seen simple details and tiny gestures of care prevent drop-outs, increase participation, and convert customers for life. Don’t overlook it.

Include the Body
A few moments of calming yourself and your students opens the space for learning and creates trust. It need not be woo-woo. You can joke that pro-football players practice mindful breathing before the SuperBowl, then invite a few full, relaxed breaths and long exhales.

Preview Your Material & Review Parameters
I always want to skip this step because I think it’s boring. But many people need to know what’s going to happen next or they can’t relax. Remind them how long the session or class will be, when questions are welcome, how many revisions are covered in your contract, how long it takes you to answer emails, the nuts and bolts stuff. Do this often. You may think it’s overkill but that’s only because it’s obvious to you.

Less is More
One of the biggest shifts I see in teachers who take my course TeachNow (1,006 students to date!) is understanding that information overload shuts down learning and hurts your bottom line. Too many teachers and business owners think being generous means flooding their customers with information and options. A big part of your job is make the hard choice of what to offer and in what sequence. Master this and your business – and impact – will soar. Discernment and focus is your friend.

I have a thousand more suggestions but then I wouldn’t be following my own advice! I’ll stop here with the invitation to become curious about what feeling safe offers you, and the people you work with. Investigate these suggestions and find your own ways to use safety as a path to growth. May it be fruitful!



P.S. Join TeachNow this round by TOMORROW AND RECEIVE two excellent bonuses:

  • Bonus #1: Top 10 Teaching Questions + Answers. This document is gold!! Several students told us it was their favorite part of the course.
  • Bonus #2: After the Retreat Is Over: Energy Alchemy for Teachers. This is an exclusive audio created JUST for TeachNow by the amazing Hiro Boga, master teacher. It’s a half-hour audio meditation to clear your energy body and energy field.

These bonuses go away after tomorrow. Join TeachNow today and get your bonuses AND start learning with Module 0, which begins tomorrow. Dive into the Master Teacher Interview library. This course is called TeachNow for a reason. What are you waiting for?

]]> 0 Interview with Randi Buckley About Creating Interactive Exercises Sat, 29 Mar 2014 03:00:17 +0000 TN_pin_own_what_you_600

Randi Buckley is one of my guests for the live integration calls that are a bonus in TeachNow.

I chose Randi because of her incredible experience designing interactive learning experiences and translating big ideas into teaching that sticks. Randi is a writer, coach, and course creatrix creating exceptional, experiential courses that don’t suck for coaches and creatives of all ilk. Deepak Chopra called her course design work for him “shining genius.” This summer she celebrates 25 years at the Concordia Language Villages.

Here’s what we cover in this chock-full 11-minute interview:

  • How to organize all that you want to teachRandi-Buckley
  • How to tell the story of your course to find your focus and flow
  • Borrow from children’s games to help you create experiential activities
  • Ways to create activities online to bring your teaching to life
  • How to engage the 7 multiple intelligences
  • The huge importance of building moments for stillness and reflection
  • And lots more!

The additional integration live call guests are Jeffrey Davis, Pam Slim, and Tara Gentile – all geniuses in teaching, writing, and marketing. You’ll be able to ask them anything. And dig this – these live calls are just the bonuses NOT the main meal for TeachNow. Another incredible bonus? 48 Master Teacher interviews indexed by subject matter – it’s like having the best personal mentors you can imagine at your fingertips. TeachNow is a feast that has galvanized 1,006 teachers in so many fields to get into action and to earn more money. And it’s super affordable.

Test-drive the course for free on April 3rd to see if it’s a good fit for you. Sign up here.



PS: Yet another extra bonus to TeachNow this year is an extended free trial of Ruzuku to test-drive during the course. If you think it’s the right platform for you to create your own course, you can register for their Up-and-Comer plan at a 50% discount. They’re also including a teleseminar training for TeachNow alum to walk you through step-by-step.

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Today become a story hunter and gatherer Wed, 26 Mar 2014 13:00:32 +0000 3.26_post

In TeachNow, we define four levels of teaching:

Information, Experience, Inspiration, and Transmission. Stories are THE super-powerful way to incorporate all four levels.

But perhaps you don’t see yourself as a “story teller” or feel you don’t have any stories to tell or that you don’t have ‘teaching stories’ that make your point.

I used to feel like that, too. I wanted to be a honeyed-voice raconteur keeping you spellbound with my stories… but I wasn’t. So I gave up on telling stories.

What a fixed mindset and what baloney. We can all be good enough storytellers. We can all learn to spin a yarn!

The fact is you tell stories ALL THE TIME. Our brains are structured to live in narrative. We are all master storytellers – we just need to start seeing those stories and polishing them up a bit.

To do this, STOP being so literal about what a story is or what purpose it might serve in your teaching.

Instead, put your story ears on and collect every story fragment you read or hear or hear yourself saying for the next week – every little thing that happens to you or that you find interesting. It can be one line, “The bird hit the window and the dog jumped up to see what it was,” or a story you hear on NPR, or a story about you hearing a story on NPR!

Be sure and write your story bits down!

Then come to the free class on April 3rd at 4pm Pacific and raise your hand when I ask for one story gatherer. We will work with one person’s story bits and turn them into something you can use to teach your next class. And that lucky person (maybe you!) will win a free spot in TeachNow.

Here are few more ideas for story gathering:

  • Review your day for stories and jot down brief notes to remember what happened. Every day something happens that makes a good story.
  • Convene a story gathering circle with a friend or your family. Trade stories you’ve gathered over dinner, during your morning commute, or via email.
  • Do a free write for 10 minutes using the prompt, “The stories I most love about my life include…” Don’t edit out the hard or ugly ones. Collecting them does not mean you have to use them, only that you are letting them feed your teaching imagination.
  • Yes, it is okay to collect other people’s stories, but PLEASE credit them.
  • Get inspired by listening to the “Moth” or “Studio 360” podcasts.

Stories are teaching’s lifeblood — they can illustrate information, create shared experience and suggest experiences to “unpack” the stories, and they inspire and transmit emotion and energy.

Go get yourself some stories and then bring a tidbit or two to class on April 3rd. Sign up for the call right here – that’s the only way to can get your reminders and the replay.



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Write Your Ideal Student a Love Letter Sat, 22 Mar 2014 13:00:18 +0000 Ever consider writing a love letter to your future students? It’s a powerful way to release your doubts and fears and get clear on what you want to teach. Michele – whom I co-created TeachNow with – wrote one that I’d like to share with you as inspiration for your next course creation and marketing efforts.

My dear student,

I used to bang my head against the wall, thinking it was difficult to connect with you. I thought you were indifferent — or even hostile — to my offers. I thought I had to convince you or exhaust myself with over-giving in order to make you want my work.

I realize now that you have been looking for me, as much as I was looking for you. Now, I’m relaxed, focusing on making sure I share plainly what I offer, sharing little tastes of my work, and getting the word out in fun, easy ways so you will run across me easily in your search.

When we begin working together, I resolve to give you the just-right amounts of information and transformation so you’re neither under-stimulated nor overloaded. May I be sensitive to your capacity — and to my own enthusiasm. May I remember that the things I’m learning right now are NOT the same as the things you need to learn from my program right now. And that you may learn best from your peers in the program, from other resources, or from tools I set up online or in audio or video or pdf formats. What a relief to remember I don’t have to be the source of everything.

When your questions and needs bring up something I hadn’t thought of yet, I promise not to go into one of my funky freak-outs: it doesn’t mean I’m not a good teacher or that I “shoulda thought of that!” – just that I am lucky enough to be in learning from you.

Thank you for learning with me,


Now it’s your turn. Write a letter to a student you want to serve. Picture him or her as you write. Just one student for one offer. Stay focused. (I know, that can be hard. This isn’t about everything you will ever teach, just this class or course.)

Share your fears and frustrations. Imagine your student answering back, helping you focus on giving her what she needs and wants. Allow yourself to release being a “helicopter teacher” and paint a picture of how you would love to work with your students.

Hope to see you on March 19th  for a sample taste of TeachNow – I’ll be talking about helicopter teaching, learning to love negative feedback, and other juicy topics. This is actual class, not a sales call, so you can see if TeachNow is a fit for you. Sign up here.



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Get Zen with Teaching and Marianne Elliott Mon, 10 Sep 2012 04:10:53 +0000 This is one in our series of four case studies discussing the new face of teaching.

We love Marianne Elliott, whose participation in our very first cycle of TeachNow introduced us to her work (Thank God and Marianne for 30 Days of Yoga!)

Over the ensuing years, our friendships have deepened. Jen loves her yoga and courage work so much she invited Marianne to be her guest yoga teacher at her Taos Writers’ Retreat and co-taught The Creative Joy Retreat with her both last year and this year.

Marianne’s background sounds like something it would take three lifetimes to amass (and she’s still a pup!) She’s been a human rights lawyer, an Oxfam policy advisor, a traveler, a UN Peacekeeper, a best-selling author, a yoga teacher (and guide for other teachers in taking their yoga off the mat into service work,) and restauranteur.

Listen in as Jen and Marianne talk about:

  • How Marianne draws on human rights, the law, memoir writing, and yoga in her teaching heritage
  • How Marianne got clear on her core teaching message through teaching
  • What comforts and nurtures Marianne as a teacher
  • How Marianne gets the most out of courses like TeachNow and turns them into a nurturing fest

Right-click to download and enjoy listening to our 20-minute romp:

Check out all Marianne’s courses!

What exactly is the TeachNow program?

We will be talking a lot more about the future of teaching in our next session of TeachNow, which will open for enrollment in early 2014.

Please sign up below to be notified when enrollment re-opens.

You will also receive twice-monthly, super-concise, actionable TeachNow e-tips – AND The Quick and Fab Guide to Course Creation and Better Participation (PDF).

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Listen to the other interviews in this series:


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Rave Review for TeachNow Fri, 07 Sep 2012 01:07:48 +0000 by Leesa Renee Hall

What exactly is the TeachNow program?

We will be talking a lot more about teaching in our next session of TeachNow, which will open for enrollment in early 2014.

Please sign up below to be notified when enrollment re-opens.

You will also receive twice-monthly, super-concise, actionable TeachNow e-tips – AND The Quick and Fab Guide to Course Creation and Better Participation (PDF).

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