Episode Description

Ep. 79 – Could you use cohort based courses in your current business model for more growth and transformation? In this week’s episode, Chris discusses cohort based courses, with special guest Wes Kao, as well as a variety of other important topics for marketers and course creators. Wes is the co-founder of Maven, the first platform for cohort-based courses. This conversation provides a wealth of insight around positioning yourself and standing out in the market.

Check Out Our Show Notes

Narrator 0:00
You’re listening to the All systems go podcast, the show that teaches you everything you need to know to put your business on autopilot. Learn how to deploy automated marketing and sale systems in your business the right way with your host, the professor of automation himself and founder of automation bridge, Chris Davis.

Chris Davis 0:32
Welcome to the All systems go podcast. I’m your host Chris L. Davis, the founder and chief automation Officer of automation bridge the place online to learn about small business, marketing and sales automation, where we focus on turning digital marketing professionals and automation service providers. And if you’d like to become one and find out more about becoming an automation service provider, please visit please visit automation bridge comm forward slash ASP. In this episode, I get to discuss a variety of important topics for marketers and course creators alike with West kao. And Wes is the co founder of Maven the first platform for cohort based courses and before that she was the co founder of the alt MBA with Seth golden and co her base courses are the growing trend of online courses that are both live and asynchronous, participatory and done with a community of like minded learners she’s Wes is very well decorated and has helped build courses for David Perel, Tiago forte, Professor Scott Galloway, the morning brew the list goes on and on. Wes is somebody who I would deem a friend, she is somebody that I was able to connect with at my time elsewhere and we have just stayed connected. Since then savvy marketer you’ll hear you’re hearing all of my intro for her as we get into the to the podcast, but just know if anything that I want you to get from this podcast is the idea and start to ideate around. Could you use cohort cohort based courses in your current business model for for more growth and transformation? But before we jump into the podcast, if you’re no let me say welcome, welcome. I’m glad that you have found all systems go podcast again, I’m your host, Chris Davis. And I am personally telling you Thank you for listening. Do me a favor, listen to this episode in its entirety. At the end, if you like what you hear what I’m sure you will, make sure you subscribe, leave a five star rating and review. Okay, you can subscribe to the All systems go podcast at an apple podcast, Google podcast. You can subscribe on YouTube or wherever you get your podcasts. So if you are a listener, and this is not your first time and you’re not subscribed, what are you waiting on? Come on, let’s make it happen. And and and let’s join forces so that I can ensure that every Thursday, you get a fresh new episode. And while you’re at it, please again, remember, leave your five star rating and review if for whatever reason you cannot figure out how and where to do that. We’ve got you covered automation bridge.com for slash review, leave your review there and we’ll handle all of the heavy lifting for you. All right, time to jump into today’s episode.

Chris Davis 3:29
Wes, welcome to the podcast.

Chris Davis 3:32
I would say I’m glad to have you on but i’m, i’m i’m beyond that. I’m beyond glad I’m beyond excited. Let me just say I am extremely with the highest level of excitement and anticipation.

Wes Kao 3:49
Looking forward to this podcast. How you doing? Wes? I’m really good. Thanks for having me on, Chris. Yes, yes. And I have to warn my audience. Before we get going. I have to give a marketers alert because I know I’ve told you this personally, but Wes is one of I have a small circle of marketers who I trust like when they talk I listen, you know, not in a like egotistical way like I’m so smart. But they’re just a certain level of metal and testing that somebody has to exude where I’m like, wow, they’re they’re the real deal. And Wes you are that so listeners just prepare yourselves I know you’re used to taking notes on the on the podcast, you may need to listen to this one at like 1x speed instead of 2x. Because there’s gonna be such immense value coming. No pressure when you just show up like you are I did but I just want my listeners to understand there’s a difference, you know. So with that being said with that being said was tell us a little bit about yourself, your background in your business.

Wes Kao 4:55
I’m the co founder of Maven. We are the first cohort

Wes Kao 5:00
Based course platform. So what that is, is cohort based courses are a new breed of online courses. So usually when you think online course you think of a video driven course, right? So you watch a bunch of videos. And we’ve all at this point probably purchased some Udemy courses, Skillshare courses, I know I have, and they’re sitting gathering digital dust, because I watched two videos and then said, I would go back and then never did. And that’s pretty common. The completion rate for most video driven online courses is six to 7%. So core base courses are a reaction to that it’s flipping the script and saying, What if, instead of learning alone, in your room by yourself, trying to watch videos trying to stay motivated? What if we learn together with a cohort of peers, like minded people who are excited about the same things who nerd out about the same things, and there’s a set start and end date. So over the course of three weeks, we learned together over the course of six weeks, or eight weeks or two weeks, whatever amount of time,

Wes Kao 6:02
we’re focused on learning together and doing it in a much more hands on way with our exercises and projects, there’s debating there’s discussion, there’s feedback that you’re giving and getting from a group. So it’s much more interactive, it’s much more community based. And we’re seeing this trend in last few years towards courses of this kind. And so our platform is making it easy for anyone to create a course like this, and make a living teaching what they love. I love it, I I myself, you know, run cohort based, a cohort based program, and I have to say, 100%, everything that you said, was was the reasoning why, you know, like, let’s go through this together. Let’s have a time. So So I found that even allowing people to know, hey, this is the start, this is the end, here’s the amount of time that you should, you know, set aside for the day, a schedule, this is when we meet this, you know, just respecting people’s time and making learning, learning easy, easier and straightforward. Now what tell us a little bit about your journey to cohort based courses, because you’ve got a really interesting background in terms of marketing that that led up to this.

Wes Kao 7:17
Yeah, so I’m a marketer by trade. And before starting this business, I co founded the alt MBA with Seth Godin. And that really kicked off the category of cohort based learning. At the time, it was this crazy experiment, we thought, you know, could we get people together on zoom? And could it be as transformative of an experience as when people get together in person, they’re breathing the same air in the same room. So it was a crazy idea back then it worked. And since then, we’ve seen a lot of other corby’s courses pop up. So the last couple of years before starting this business, I was consulting, working one on one directly with clients. So I know a lot of your listeners are small business owners, freelancers, creators. So you know, you all are near and dear to my heart, because I was one of you for a couple of years. And for me marketing, I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t excited about marketing, even when I didn’t know what marketing was, you know, when we’re kids. It’s like, what do you want to be your teacher, firefighter doctor, right? No one’s like, I want to be a marketer.

Wes Kao 8:21
But as long as I can remember, I have intuitively

Wes Kao 8:27
realize that the way that you present information, the way that you tell a story, the way that you share a message or position an idea can drastically change the way that people receive that Idea. And for while I think I fought that, I think I was

Wes Kao 8:46
I didn’t like that. I thought that that, you know, if we’re all logical creatures, then the facts alone, the idea alone, the merits of something, the inherent merit would be enough to convince someone of some whether something was a good idea or not. And when I came to terms with and acknowledge that you know what, that’s not the case that people are irrational, we make decisions emotionally, and then we justify as fast as possible afterwards. Something that we already want the we’re already excited about, that we already dislike. When I came to terms with that, that’s when that’s when I like the skies parted. And it was like, Yes, like this is this is how people make decisions to sell customers make decisions. This is how I make decisions, right people, you and I’m and I think the more that all of us acknowledge that the more that we realize that marketing is a lever, and a powerful tool that is available to all of us. And if we stopped resisting so hard and just acknowledge that it’s our responsibility to get people to care, then all of a sudden, this entire world opens up for you to think about, well, how can I get better at this? How can I get better at getting people to care? Yeah, yeah.

Chris Davis 10:00
Absolutely, I

Chris Davis 10:03
I didn’t have, I would say, naturally, I was a marketer. But I didn’t know how to do that, you know, until I was put in certain positions. And you know, like, I remember in college creating my resume, and there was a static way that you did a resume. And I remember doing it that way. It was just like, I just don’t feel like I’m getting the attraction. You know, like, I don’t feel like I’m getting the attention. And I went against the grain. And I believe that was like my first version of copy, when I realized,

Chris Davis 10:37

Chris Davis 10:39
And I submitted it, and I got it, I got a response within days. And that actually led to my first job at Lockheed Martin. And so at that time, if I was intentional, I would have known like, Hey, Mike, my resume is marketing, it’s like a sales letter. For me, you know, I am the product. And the resume is, is what’s marketing me, I felt like I was aware of some of the elements without knowing what it was. And then, of course, when I got into the startup space, it became apparent how to harness you know, those skills to produce results in in the small business space. So So Wes, you have, and we’ll get more into it. You have Maven cohort based learning platform, the first of its kind, right, so Well, congratulations on that, by the way, congratulations on that. Looking forward to you empowering course creators. And and as you mentioned, you also have this exhaustive experience as a marketer, you know, those pains, and you know, what, how crowded it could be in the market, and how hard it is to stand out. When you feel like you’re just one of the Son, right? And just like, hey, everybody’s doing it, maybe I’ll just change my logo color. You know, so you have an interesting take on how to stand out and be more memorable. You call it the the stick, the spiky, the spiky point of view? Can you walk us through through that, that, that,

Chris Davis 12:09
that that mindset there.

Wes Kao 12:13
We live in a very noisy world. So whatever it is that you do, there are 1000s of people who do something very similar, with a similar background, similar work experience and skill set. So the challenge of how do you stand out is a very real challenge that all of us face. And I loved your example, Chris, of applying your copywriting skills to your resume, because a resume, the job hunt process is a great example of that. You’re literally compared to 1000s of other candidates write one paper look very, very similar. And consultants, specialists, everyone is really facing a similar situation. So a spiky point of view is a reaction to that a spiky point of view is a way for you to stand out and distinguish yourself from everyone else in the sea of sameness. And so spike point of view is a belief that you feel strongly about, and is your thesis about your realm of expertise. So it should be something that is defensible and rooted in evidence and rationale. But it’s not something that has to be a proven fact, it’s something that another you know, if you’re marketing, another marketer could disagree with you. Market research is a great example. So there are some marketers who, who believe that market research, customer development interviews are the way to get customer insights and to know what product you should build. And then there are other marketers who are the opposite. So, you know, there’s the that famous Henry Ford quote that we’ve all heard, were you fired, ask them, they would have said faster horses. And there’s that great Ogilvy quote that we looked at the other day.

Wes Kao 13:57
If I have that somewhere, yeah, let’s see. Oh, yeah. So so all we said, The trouble with market research is that people don’t think what they feel. They don’t say what they think. And they don’t do what they say. Right? So that’s, those are problems. So we hear you have two camps on market research that are the opposite, right? So those are examples of spiky points of view where it’s not like some marketers are stupid, or don’t know anything, it’s that they have reasons to believe based on their experience that one way is better than another. And so a spiky point of view is your way of showing that you’re rigorous thinker, that you are synthesizing your lived experiences and, and your work and your background and your intuition to create these ideas that that show that you think about your work and can add value to your clients. So it’s my point of view. One, a couple notes on it. It shouldn’t be controversial for the sake of it. So it’s not something that is just

Wes Kao 15:00
stirring the pot a hot take to get people riled up. It should be something that you really believe is the best way. And so a lot of times that comes across as

Wes Kao 15:11
you know, as you know, I wish more people knew this. Or like I, I don’t know why people don’t get this thing yet, right? We’re like, I can’t believe more people don’t think about things this way. So the ideal, the ideal reaction when you share your spiky point of view is that someone says, huh, I hadn’t thought about it that way. Yes. But I believe you. And that’s, that’s interesting. Yes. And, Wes, I’m trying not to get too excited when, as you’re saying that. Another byproduct of it is the positioning, when you have a really strong spiky point of view that people like, Huh, it positions you higher, because you’re the one that brought it to the table. Right? Like for me, there’s a couple spiky point of views that that I’ve used to position myself in one was at a time where everybody in digital marketing was all about the best tool to buy this, oh, did you catch this sale? Oh, look at what you can do with this, too. Everything was focused on the tool. I came in with the spiky point of view, that strategy should precede you picking a tool. And people were like, Huh, that’s amazing. Great example, was my point of view. Again, it’s not that the people who think about tools are wrong. It’s that from your experience, you believe that it’s overrated, and that the strategy is underrated. And here’s why. Right? And then you could explain why. And the beautiful thing about that is, it takes a certain level of confidence, to present a spice point of view, right? Because you could get kicked out of a room. That is something that, that if we think about why don’t more people share spiky points of view? Well, it’s because going against the grain can be a little bit scary, right, that the hordes the mob could come after you. Right? It’s it, Chris, like you don’t, you clearly don’t understand tools, if you’re saying something like that, right. And so when you present a spiky point of view, you’re you’re exposing yourself in a certain way you’re putting yourself out there, but that’s what you need to do to be able to stand out. So there’s a little bit of an edge, there’s a little bit of risk that comes along with being willing to share something you really believe in. But the payoff of that is incredible. You know, and it’s either you you stick with the crowd, and you kind of blend in and and you keep your spiky points of view to yourself and no one ever knows about them, or you take a risk, you open yourself to being a little bit bold, and share that point of view. And you then become a beacon for all the other people who had this hunch. Right? They had a hunch that tools probably can solve everything. But it sounds like everyone cares about tools. So maybe I’m missing something. Right? So maybe that’s what they’re thinking. And here comes you know, here you come right saying that tools are overrated strategy needs to be more front and center. And you you become a beacon for everyone who thinks this way to to flock to you to want to learn more to want to learn your way of automation, not just any way of automation but your unique way. Yes, yes, absolutely. And to your definition of it, it’s defensible. I can I can show why I’m saying what I’m saying. I’m not just out here. splurging something to get your attention. That’s what entertainers do, right. We, we, when I was growing up, they they call them battle rappers. And you know, they would come out and just write a whole verse against another more well known rapper just to get attention, right. It’s not that we’re not seeking attention. We don’t want all the likes and everything because we said something nice, or something controversial or you know, whatnot, we’re introducing a point of view that is uncommon, but once heard, will resonate with a particular audience. And we can provide evidence and why we feel that way.

Chris Davis 19:04

Wes Kao 19:06
If you think about a Venn diagram with with two circles, it’s surprising and true. The spiky point of view is that overlap, it’s just surprising. You’re a tabloid article, you’re a BuzzFeed article. listicle. Right? Not even an article listicle. Right. You’re just out there trying to get attention. And if it’s just true, then it’s a fact. It’s something everyone already knows. It’s there’s nothing fresh or new about it. But it’s really that overlap of surprising and true. That is your fresh take that is defensible that’s rooted in experience and evidence and rationale, but still challenges your audience to think in a different way and see their world in a different way through that one. Yeah. And it does it and what it is refreshing in a sense because it’s

Wes Kao 21:55
article that you wrote, technical in nature, but it applies so strongly to us as human beings and how we show up in the world. And it was entitled turn bugs into features. And you share, you share with me a very interesting take on that, I know you’re going to update the article on how we can take that approach personally, and and make that correlation for our audience on how that ties into the spiky point of view of standing out in input and presenting yourself with confidence.

Wes Kao 22:30
We spend so much time looking at other people looking at other competitors, brands, peers, and wishing we were more like that wishing well if I had that, then I would be able to do this or Oh, I wish I were less of an introvert and more of an expert or I wish I had this skill set or this background. And whenever whenever you start to feel

Wes Kao 22:56
sorry for yourself and start to think like, Oh, I need to gloss over this aspect of my personality and Nick gloss over this aspect of my background. Think about turning the bug into a feature.

Wes Kao 23:10
And what that means is anything that is a downside, a pitfall a disadvantage, a thing that you wish weren’t the case about your background or skill set? flip that around? And think about what if I emphasize this and made it a selling point? What if my being an introvert, instead of it being a bad thing, it was a great thing.

Wes Kao 23:33
What is that is what allows me to serve my clients even better than all the other people out there who are extroverts. So this is a mental hack, to get yourself to think about what are things that you now perceive as weaknesses that are actually strengths. Because if you think about it, you got to where you are today, because of your unique package combination of strengths and weaknesses. And I always think about strengths and weaknesses as two sides of the same coin. So it’s a trait. And when it’s applied in the right situations in the right way. It’s a strength when it’s applied in the wrong ways wrong situation or too much write severity wise, it’s too much or you can’t turn it off, then it becomes a weakness. But there’s nothing inherently bad or wrong. Or,

Wes Kao 24:23
or you know, something that you need to gloss over about your background or the way that you you approach work. And I think one good example of this is let’s say, let’s say you’re an automation specialist, and you’re a perfectionist. So you might think like, Oh, I wish I could ship faster. I wish I wasn’t so hung up on all the details. Like I see someone’s over there and someone’s over there. They’re just shipping stuff. They’re there thinking idea tweeting it out or shipping it.

Wes Kao 24:49
And instead of kicking yourself about that, what if you turn it into into a strength and you sold that as a strength your clients and said, You know, I’m affectionate so I’m not going to let things fall.

Wes Kao 25:00
through the cracks, I’m a high strung AF. And I’m not going to let detail slide, right you want someone who’s, who’s a perfectionist working on your automation, because it’s complex, there are a lot of parts that will have to join together, you have to think about second order effects. Right? So the fact that you are a perfectionist and a logical thinker and you’re obsessed, is a good thing. Right? So stop, think about as, as bad thing, turn it into a feature. And then we’ll strike the other way, right, so so truly, we’re gonna flip flip that now. So let’s say you’re the opposite of that you are not a perfectionist, you’re you’re not really good with details. You’re kind of a big picture thinker. You’re more chill, vibe wise, right? Maybe your spiky point of view is that, you know, people are too, too stressed about making automation. Perfect, right. And so your stance is that automation, like building anything new is an iterative process, you have to get v1 out the door, to get to be to to get to be three to get to be foreign to whatever eventual automation that you want to get to but but getting started and not being afraid to set up that initial automation, make it small, keep it small. And not being not not being too serious about it is important. Right? So so here we have two opposite views. And both people could have been wishing they were the other beating themselves up about how they wish they were more of a perfectionist or wish they were, you know, able to ship faster and be more chill. So turning a bug into a feature is is basically this great mental hack where you embrace all the things about yourself.

Wes Kao 26:37
The minute you you feel yourself starting to spiral or you feel sorry for yourself, you pause, and you think about what if I turn this into a selling point? I aggrandized it instead of trying to gloss it over. And in doing so, a lot of times by the end of thinking about it, you’ve convinced yourself that you know what, like, this is great. I’m great. There’s a reason I approach things this way. And I bring all that to my clients and my clients get to benefit from the way that I think. Yep, yep. And it’s all connected, right? Like when you when you own you, right? And when you’re confident in you, and you say no, okay, this this person, this industry may view that as a flaw, but this trade is valuable to this industry. And you operate in that industry, you’ll see how operating in that the spiky point of views start to just become apparent, you’re like, well now, now that I’m I know, I am detail oriented, and I know I’m not the person, I’m not impulsive, so I’m not going to act quickly. So I’m going to give it a thorough thought. And this cup this fast moving company is lacking that and I bring stability. So now that I do that in I’m empowered myself in in who I am my traits are strengths. Now I’m okay with being different with having a different point of view because I could defend it right because of how I’m deciding to show up. And and Wes as much as much tactical that we see marketing being it’s it’s all about building a landing page and high conversion this and revenue that and MRR arr

Chris Davis 28:19
these are things that sneak in and hinder your growth. Right? These are things where I call them the invisible stumbling stumbling blocks. Because these are the things that you keep tripping over, you don’t realize they’re there, but you keep finding yourself on the ground.

Chris Davis 28:37
Like, how do I know how to walk? In fact, I know how to run, how do I keep falling? And it’s this this mindset stuff as a marketer that is so haphazardly glossed over today. And a lot of the questions that I get from people who either I mentor or are just in communication with, I’m like, you know what, that’s not a conversion problem. That’s not a that’s not a marketing problem. That’s not even a revenue issue. Honestly, that’s mindset stuff. That is straight my system somewhere you’re not giving yourself permission to operate in your true identity, like who you truly are, and turning those hangups are traced whatever somebody else wants to call them into strengths, your that’s your job to communicate that you cannot wait for someone else to say, Hey, you know what I see you’ve been down on yourself, but you’re really good at this. Don’t let them talk about you negatively. If you don’t own it, and you don’t exude it. It’s not going to exist consistently and in a long it for longevity in the marketplace. So I love those two, and I want it and I’m glad you spoke on them because, again, I see a lot of marketing automation consultants really struggling like how do I position myself as as if the

Chris Davis 30:00
market is flooded with automation consultants that know what they’re doing. It’s not. So an easy, spiky point of view, for a lot of them is to just talk about results. Everybody’s talking about, hey, you can automate this. Why don’t you give somebody some detail into the results that you’ve that you get for your clients? And talk about your how, just why don’t you lead with that, right? Instead of trying to just take some templates, and oh, this person is doing that. And they’re charging this, so I’m going to charge it. And I was on, I had a podcast, I can’t remember when I recorded this, but it was Michael Hunter of spiffy. And we were talking about serving, providing an excellent service. And I told him, I said, you know, it’s only when you provide an excellent service, that you can trust the results that you got, right. And you know, these are the strongest results that I produce. When I do that in a problem is a lot of people just don’t strive for that level of excellence, because excellence does not always equate to getting paid more, does not always equate to making more. That’s an internal thing. That’s you knowing I showed up at 110%. So at the end of the day, when you look at that result, you know that that was the best, that was the best that you could produce. And that’s yours, and you can own it and become intimate with those results, and then start to communicate that outwardly. So there is no yeah, with most things in marketing, right? There is no one answer. There is no Hey, do this. Hey, how do I position myself differently? Oh, sure. Just go post on Facebook every day, then make sure you write a LinkedIn article and then record videos, you’ll be positioned perfectly. Now there’s a whole lot of mental and mentality stuff that you have to work through. And and get your confidence. You know, like Wes, I’ve been attacked online, by by many.

Chris Davis 32:02
Right? But it comes and guess what it goes, I am for who I’m for some people here in the second day. Listen, they’re like, oh, who is this guy? I’ve got to find more. And then other people listening. They’re like, what a joke.

Chris Davis 32:18
Right? I could care less. I really could because I’m authentic. I can defend my points of views. And and my results speak for themselves. Hmm, I think the fact that you’re polarizing is a sign that you’re doing something right? Yes. If everyone agreed with you, you are way too middle of the road, your edges are weighed around it. So people disagreeing with you is a good thing. And I think there is a certain mindset and level of internal groundedness that you need to have to be okay with people disagreeing with you. I still struggle with this. I struggled with this more in the past, and I’ve gradually come to terms with it more. But I before I used to really dislike when someone

Wes Kao 33:08
disagreed with something that I said, and then it’s pretty much it’s pretty much

Wes Kao 33:14
that would that is going to prevent you from sharing anything, right? Because there is always going to be someone who disagrees with you, especially for tweeting something right in 280 characters come on, like there’s not enough nuance to describe the edge cases. And boundaries have an idea that the outliers

Wes Kao 33:34
and the disclaimers that you want to say with everything right? Like if you know something, well, you know that when you were saying something, it’s there’s not enough detail in it in a very short tweet to be able to say the full idea. And I used to get really bothered by people, you know, then commenting and, and

Wes Kao 33:52
disagree. And now I just like everyone’s comment, if they disagree with it. That’s That’s great, right. I like that. They’re thinking, right, whatever I said, got them to think. And that’s awesome. And I think that as marketers, as consultants as business owners, we have to be okay with people disagreeing with us and not being for everyone. Yep. Yep, it’s perfectly fine. And I had one last thing and I want to jump into some Maven stuff. I made a mistake on LinkedIn the other day. And on LinkedIn, you when you get notifications, you can say like, show less of this type of notification, because it was notify me of everything somebody posted, somebody got a job. And I’m just like, okay, too much, you know, so I was one by one, removing the notifications. And I must remove the wrong one because all of my notifications disappeared. So I wasn’t getting notified of anything because I would like to get notified when someone likes my stuff or you know, follows me or whatever, right? But I was too lazy to go into my notifications and figure out how to turn it back on

Chris Davis 35:00
Well, Wes, after a few days, I found a level of comfort in it. Because often times just unknown a subconsciously you go, and you measure the value of what you’re saying.

Chris Davis 35:16
Like that every day, and I couldn’t see any of it. And I was like, this is really how you should produce content. Like don’t get high on the likes, and don’t get low on the lack of them, but just produce what you know, is valuable. And let it live, let it breathe, and let it exist. And don’t feed into that the drug of social approval.

Wes Kao 35:40
Yeah, I love that you brought this up? I think there’s there’s such an interesting tension here. Because on the one hand, you when you’re when you’re sharing your ideas, it’s it’s a creative process. Yeah, it there’s, it’s, it’s creative work.

Wes Kao 35:58
And you want to speak your truth. And then on the other hand, you also want to know what engages people and what they find useful. But I think the challenge is that most of us spend way too much, trying to guess what people would like, and then getting stressed when when something doesn’t perform as well, or doesn’t get as many likes, as you think it will. And then and then we get really reacted. So I tweeted something yesterday, I was laughing when you were saying that because this literally happened to me yesterday, I tweeted something that I thought was pretty insightful, you know? And, and, and it performed worse than my average tweet. So I thought that that was interesting. And, and I felt this temptation to then be like, Oh, well, maybe that wasn’t an interesting idea. Right? Or, you know, or maybe I didn’t phrase it, well, whatever. And it’s like, there are all kinds of reasons why that might not have landed, and I looked at it, and I realized that I could have tweeted, I could have tweaked something, if I were to adjust the copy, I would do it differently. But there’s nothing. It wasn’t like the original idea was bad or like, you know, not smarter or anything. And so for me, it’s balancing this feeling of equanimity, where it’s like, okay, I do want to know what people are finding useful. But I don’t want to get sucked into pandering or being overly reactive too soon. From one data point. Yeah, you know, it could have been the time day, it could have been, you know, the phrasing could have been just anything, there’s so many variables. If there are trends over time that this kind of thing is more useful for people, this kind of thing is less useful for people. I do want to know that. But I agree with you that that the the minute by minute notifications and alerts of whether people are liking something is utterly unhelpful? It is it’s so unhelpful. And it it, it I think it pulls us into too much of a reactive

Wes Kao 37:56
into into a reactive state. So I completely hear you I try not to check.

Wes Kao 38:02
You know, notification, I have all my notifications turned off. That’s that’s one thing. So all my notifications, push notifications are turned off. And I tried to check Twitter, you know, only a couple times a day. So not like every hour, I don’t know, maybe a couple times, it’s a lot for some people. But you know, check, I don’t check every hour, you know, and constantly refresh. Because I don’t I don’t want that to direct my content or my thinking.

Wes Kao 38:30
Too much I should say. Yeah, it’s a dichotomy, right? We have to

Chris Davis 38:37
it’s as marketers, you need data to make decisions, right? So on one hand, we love the data, what are people saying?

Chris Davis 38:46
What are they doing? And then on the other hand, is just like, oh, wait a minute. If I drink that same juice over here, I’ll get drunk. And I’ll start making terrible decisions. So is good in this aspect. Okay, I want to see the trends West, I really do. I am so nervous to make a firm decision without data, you know, just experience has taught me better. I am not a trust your gut. No, I’m just not that type of person. Let’s, I want to look at his feature, not a bug. It’s a feature. And everybody knows. grit. Don’t, don’t you look for my gut, give me some numbers. My gut is saying something but it doesn’t have a voice until I see some numbers. And and I get that. So I love data in that respect. But then on the other side, it can really be detrimental. You know, if you’re if you’re creating content, and your main thing, and I learned this actually, when I was doing art when I was producing art, and I was publishing it online, and as some there were some pieces that I would draw was drawing characters. I’m like, Man that looks just like the person and the person would hate it. They’d be like, this is terrible. I’m like, do you look in the mirror every day?

Chris Davis 39:58
What are you see? And then other

Chris Davis 40:00
pieces I will create. And it will be like, ah, I’ve really missed it on that one never like this is great. Can you draw my whole family? And I was always stuck out before I drew something. I feel paralyzed Wes, because I’m like, I hope they’ll like it. But what if I draw the nose too big and, and then I had to come to myself and say, Listen, my art is great, because I said it is. It’s not great, because they said it. It is. And it’s not terrible, because they said it is I have to be confident in myself what I’m putting out there and not lean and live off the opinions and and feedback of others. So it is this balance because we can’t ignore it. That’s a good example. Right? It is what it is. But I think what you when you say balance, that’s what brings it all in. It’s like, Okay, I’m leaning a little too minute too much on these likes. Let me lighten up some Okay, I’m not looking at the data enough. Let me look at it. So I love it. And speaking of data, I want to close out on this. I want to talk more about talk more about Maven, because and here’s why, Wes, I have a community that is listening right now have consultants that work for coaches. And these coaches probably have never heard or never thought of turning this course that they have into a more court cohort based taking a more cohort based approach to it, as well as people who, who create programs for themselves and do the automation for themselves, that could benefit from a cohort based approach. So I wanted to give you the floor before we close out and talk about some of the common mistakes that you’ve seen people make when they are approaching, you know, creating courses, and and some of the trends that you are seeing.

Wes Kao 41:49
Yeah, I’ll start with trends. So one of the trends that I’m seeing in education is people are wanting to learn in a more interactive way. So one directional content, just reading articles, by yourself, just watching videos of a sage on a sage, sage on stage expert, talking about something is not enough. And it’s not engaging, especially with COVID. And with zoom, more people are realizing that learning Live Meeting people meeting people online, connecting with people online, is a really engaging way to to challenge themselves and build relationships and learn with the community. And so I think that’s really exciting for coaches, for consultants, who have a lot of knowledge to share with their audience, and might not have a place where they can teach it in a bi directional way. So bi directional, meaning your audience can ask you questions, they can, they can debate amongst each other, they can debate with you, you can give them exercises and activities and projects for them to put into practice the things that you’re teaching them. So this is really, really powerful, especially with coaches where, you know, if all it took we’re reading a book on something, then then these coaches wouldn’t exist, right? We wouldn’t need these coaches. It’s it’s the act of being present with someone. And that back and forth interaction that sparks ideas in us. So especially with coaches, I think there’s a really interesting opportunity here to think about what can I what course can I put together to teach my audience, all the things that that I preach and care about and believe will improve their lives? And how can I do it in a way that is interactive, where maybe you get a group of 20 people together 50 people, maybe 100. And it could be a one week course or a three week course.

Wes Kao 43:49
And you go through different mindset shifts, or different frameworks or mental models, instead of just you teaching it in a one directional way. You share those models and those ideas and mindsets with everyone. And then everyone gets a chance to practice with your oversight and with your guidance. So you can see if they’re applying it in the wrong way. Right? You can see if they’re if they took the wrong lesson from something that happens a lot, right? All of us when we explain concepts, and someone’s like, Oh, I get it, and they do something to bring it back to you. Like actually like that’s, that’s literally the opposite of what I meant. But I can see now that the way you describe it that you could have interpreted that way right and so when you are in a course you have a chance to help your students course correct you to help your clients course correct. So it’s a really powerful way to to add another product to your repertoire of you know, ways of making revenue if it’s consulting coaching, maybe you’re selling ebooks or selling a video driven course. Certainly Kobe’s course is a premium product that you can add to your the range of services and products that you offer. Yeah, and another thing is it it Garner’s community

Chris Davis 45:00
You know,

Chris Davis 45:02
entrepreneurship, as exciting and fulfilling as it can be, if there’s always a level of loneliness. You know, always, even if you have a company, you as the owner, the owner and operator CEO, you can’t always connect with your employees the way that you truly need to you need other CEOs, you need other people on the on your level. And we see those impacts at every level of entrepreneurship. And I think that people have really under undervalued the power of community. B because it has more than just this, this quanta fiable value, where you can say, Okay, now that I’m in this community, these these these these and these things happen, or I learned these things, right, I can quantify that. But there’s also this, this these intangibles where maybe you’ve got some mental mess going on. And somebody says something that inspires you, right? Or you read of somebody’s success that they posted, because they went through lesson one, the same way you did, but look at how they applied it. I hadn’t thought of that. And, and as an instructor, Wes, it, it takes the load off of us to be the sole educator, the soul light bulb turn on her. That’s afraid that the sole person to solve your problems. And now this community comes in. And as they learn the quality of that brain trust increases.

Wes Kao 47:44
having that inspiration, having like minded people, or going through something similar, learning together, be inspired, really accountable, holding other people accountable. Right, not just Hey, they’re, they’re here, making sure I show up, but I’m here making sure they show up. Like that changes you do when you are helping someone else be accountable. So from the student side, from the instructor side, there are so many benefits of getting a group of people together who are I like calling it weird in the same ways and nerding out about the same things like about automation, like most people don’t care about automation, just be clear, like 99% of people don’t? The 1% who do that’s awesome, right? Like getting getting those people together. So you can nerd out about the same things and have this little world show a universe where you can challenge each other and really dive deeper than you normally otherwise be able to. I think it just is. It’s such a an incredible, priceless experience. Yeah, yeah. So I love I love the your, your new company that your your path, you’re found. You found it. I love the angle. And I love that it’s providing I think it’s ahead of its time, right? The market definitely hasn’t caught up, but now they have a means of catching up to, to these resources in this way of doing learning, you know, online that is truly transformational. And collaborative. So I, I can’t, I was always a cheerleader of yours, you know, from the side. So I get to cheer even louder. Just to see your growth in your your progression is great West. So for anybody listening to this podcast, and was like, oh, my goodness, I need more of her in what she’s talking about. Where should we send them? My website is West kayo.com. And I write a newsletter about once a month diving into a lot of the topics that we talked about today. And then my company’s website is maven.com. So you can learn more about courses, how to start your own course how to use our platform on maven.com. Great, so we’ll have both of those links, everybody that’s weskao.com . If you’re on your phone, you’re like

Chris Davis 49:59
Can’t wait. Go there and Maven maven.com for the platform. Wes, thank you

Wes Kao 50:09
so much, Chris. I always love more conversations, you know that. So yes, you

Chris Davis 50:13
know, what’s good about this is everybody else got to partake? You know, we’ve had so many conversations, we’re like, oh my gosh, and the light bulbs go off.

Chris Davis 50:23
And now we get to share that experience. So thank you so much, Wes. I appreciate it. And I look forward to getting this into into the ears of our viewers. Thanks for us.

Chris Davis 50:35
Thank you for listening to this episode. Did you enjoy Wes? Did you enjoy her insight and, and her intelligence around positioning and standing out in the market? I have to say that again, a lot of the the things that you desire, a lot of your frustrations that you you may have in business right now is founded in some lack of mentality or embodiment of a stronger mindset, or mentality. And the marketing tactics and strategies have have gotten too much of the focus. Right. So I love discussing that. And by the way, we’re going to link to all of those articles, we talked about three of them on this podcast that Wes has written we’re going to link to those in the show notes. And then lastly, I hope it’s clear to you what cohort based courses are, and hopefully you can start to see how they could play a role in your current business models. For some of you this may have been the missing piece, this may have been the missing piece. Hope I hope that is the case for you. So if you are connected with somebody that you know has online courses, make sure you share this podcast with them. Also, if you are connected with a marketer or a digital marketer, digital marketing professional, or a community of digital marketing professionals, do me a favor, share this episode of the podcast in that group, so that they can listen to this and understand how to more strongly positioned themselves to their spiky point of view and turning their traits into strengths. If you enjoy today’s episode, this is my time for you. First time visitors is the time for you first time visitors to get my official invitation now now if you haven’t already, now’s the time subscribe, hit subscribe in the app that you’re listening to this podcast and and make sure you leave a five star rating and review. I welcome you. I welcome you to the All systems go family. Every Thursday, a fresh new episode comes delivered directly to your podcasting platform. Here at automation bridge. We’re dedicated to training digital marketing professionals to become automation service providers. These are people who create a living a lucrative living, taking strategy being strategic and marketing and understanding the technical lot the technological landscape of software available to aid in executing that marketing strategy. and building a system to do that for the small businesses so that they can experience rapid growth. Okay, if that’s you bet description that I just said, if you feel like your name should be right, your face should be right next to it just smiling. Like that’s me. I want to invite you to go to automationbridge.com/ASP to take the next steps to talk to someone on my team or myself to assess if you’d be a good fit for any any of our current program offerings. But most importantly, our automation service provider program that has a it gives you a proven, structured framework to work through and learn and guess what it is cohort based. So you’re connected with other digital marketing professionals along the way to collaborate and have the feedback and the higher brain trust that West described on this podcast. If that’s you, we do have a program for you digital marketing professional professionals to become an automation service provider. Also, we’re accepting guest for the podcast. So if you’re a SaaS founder like Wes, have a marketing or sales software platform, we would love to discuss your software and your journey. You can’t tell me you you all have not been enjoying these CEO interviews and founder interviews. They’re great and a lot of them you know since they were marketers to you get to see both sides. But I will say this is not just limited to founders. We’re also taking marketing automation consultants who are in the field delivering the service of automation and experiencing any level of success with your clients. Right, the larger the better. And you’d like to come on and share your collective results. You share your results with the collective audience. founders and marketing automation consultants go to automationbridge.com/guest , the time is now to help the small businesses navigate this digital space. Okay, help them navigate digital this digital space with respect to automation so that they can achieve the scale and the insurance that their business truly deserves. Okay? I don’t want to do this alone, I’m not doing it alone. And I would love for you to join forces and see what you could do with a career in automation. Alright, so again, if, if that’s you go to automationbridge.com/ASP. All of the show notes and podcasts are accessible at automation bridge.com for slash podcast, you can subscribe there and listen to all the other episodes at your leisure. So until next time, I see you online. automate responsibly, my friends


You'll Learn

  • [5:00] What cohort based courses are and the benefits of this growing trend
  • [7:17] Wes’ entry into marketing and her journey to cohort based courses
  • [12:13] Spiky Point of View – Wes’ interesting take on how to stand out in the market and be more memorable
  • [22:50] How to turn a bug into a feature – an eye-opening perspective
  • [28:19] How invisible stumbling blocks could be hindering your growth
  • [32:35] “If everyone agreed with you, you are way too middle of the road. Your edges are way too rounded.”
  • [41:49] Current trends as well as common mistakes that are happening in the online education space
  • [47:43] The underrated power and intangible benefits that community provides
  • [52:44] How to become an ASP™

Today's Guest

Wes Kao is the co-founder of Maven, the first platform for cohort-based courses. Before that, she was the co-founder of the altMBA with Seth Godin. Cohort-based courses are the growing trend of online courses that are both live and asynchronous, participatory, and done with a community of like-minded learners. She has helped build courses for David Perell, Tiago Forte, Professor Scott Galloway (Section4), and Morning Brew.

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About the Show

On the show, Chris reveals all of his automated marketing strategies he has learned from working in fast growing marketing technology startups so you can put your business on autopilot quickly and without error.

Discover how to deploy automated marketing, sales, and delivery systems to scale your business without working long hours to do so.

Chris L. Davis - Chief Automation Officer

Chris L. Davis

Chris is an Electrical Engineer turned entrepreneur who is the Founder of Automation Bridge, an international speaker and facilitator, and startup consultant