Thursday, January 24, 2013

W04.04 A Universal Dilemma: When To Talk And When To Touch?

If you have been following my blogs this week, you understand two simple ideas:

1. Alexander's discoveries have no fixed form

2. Touch is a teaching methodology innovation

These two ideas open us up to “inventing” a new version of Alexander Technique based on using touch to explore Alexander's discoveries within movement forms that your niche-based community are obsessed about. Steven Shaw, not me, leads this new wave of Alexander Technique niche-based teaching-business approach. Sharon Jakubecy in LA is innovating this approach by niching her business into “body language” so you can impress and influence people. What a great business model for Los Angeles – home of Hollywood – where how you look is almost an obsession.  Location is beautifully woven into Sharon’s niche model.

The possibilities, if you open your mind, are stunning. Infinite. There’s no limit to what you can create other than your own imagination. However success relies on deep practice, it relies on affinity and experience with your niche. You can get there, but you’ve got to decide first.

So, once you have decided, what’s the path to building your Alexander niche-based business? Here’s a model that may both appeal and repel you simultaneously:

1. Dumb Alexander
2. Mystery Alexander
3. Real Alexander

A politer way to list the three:

1. Alexander Verbal
2. Alexander Touch
3. Alexander Real

Step 10 about Marketing and Selling Your Service Product will get into more details about the mechanics of this progression, but this week is about your content. You need to produce the components of your Dumb, Mystery and Real Alexander Service Products.

Dumb Alexander
You won’t like this, but your Service Product initially needs to be dumbed down to the market. You can’t really tell people straight off the bat what you are doing – they won’t get it. Even if they do get it – they don’t want it. How do I know? Just take a look around at the sorry state of our profession. How many Alexander Technique teachers are actually in an A job? Most are in B jobs, some in no jobs. Sorry if I am talking about you, but hey – I am here to help and you need to recognize the problem before you can do anything about it. Recognition is critical in teaching Alexander Technique, so why would this situation be any different?

The problem is that the market is dumb. Don’t agree? Look at politics – how dumb is that? We even know they don’t mean what they say, but we still want to hear it. (Not you, I know not you.) But the market, the consumer market – that’s what it is like. Don’t shoot the messenger (me) for pointing this out with a dose of cynicism. At heart I am an idealistic person, but I am also love reality, I love what is. This is how it is.

Alexander Verbal
The first piece of your Service Product is communicated verbally, not kinesthetically. This is how you attract people; this is how you convince them to come to you. To succeed, you need to cast a wide net. I am not talking hundreds of people, I am talking thousands of people. Yes, thousands. You won’t get there in a day or a week or even a year – as I wrote previously, this is a lifetime thing. But use your life well – end up where you want to end up. It all starts now. Your personal story will be an important verbal element of your Service Product – I’ll get to that in Step 7 – “Writing Your Story.”

Your Service Product also needs some simple “things to do” (this is the dumbing down bit) because that’s what people expect and want in the market right now; including magazines, who you can leverage to connect with thousands of people at very little expense to you.

I have written about this “exercise” thing previously. Once you have your niche, start thinking of some simple “teaching procedures” or “exercise forms” that you can offer people in your niche, that work a little magic for them. This is possible. Put me in a room with you, show me your niche movements, and I can invent some exercises without too much trouble. I do this in some training sessions at BodyChance these days – partly for fun, but also to support my students thinking this way in developing their Service Products and business plans.

You can too – I am sure of it. This isn’t rocket science, this is plain common sense. If you are having difficulty getting your head around this, I recommend you sign up for Steven Shaw’s “Art of Swimming” workshop, or watch some of the videos that Sharon Jakubecy is offering for free on her new website (location, location, location).

Mystery Alexander (Alexander Touch)
Touch is the prize, it’s the mystery, it’s the thing you “can’t explain.” It’s what you dangle in front of your prospects to convince them to come meet with you.

I often think Alexander Technique has two aspects: one is logical, systematic, scientific. This is Alexander Verbal. All good. In the Introductions I do in Japan, when I just talk, people nod and think “Yes, that makes sense to me.” There are no difficult concepts - you don’t need a university degree to understand it. Then I touch them, and the whole dam thing falls apart.  This is Mystery Alexander. They forget everything I just told them, and fixate on the experience they just had…

STUDENT: What was THAT?!!! What did you just do to me?

JEREMY: I didn’t do anything. You did it. That’s something you can do if you want. It’s what you’re here to learn.

STUDENT: Eeeeeeehhh???!

(In Japan, some of them even scream – Japanese have this delightful sub-language of squeals , screams and moans that often manifest at this point of my Intro.)

Logic doesn’t help me any more, because the way touch works seems to defy the logic I just communicated. All they are thinking is: how can I get this back? What happened? They wonder how a touch they can barely felt could dissolve a lifetime of pain: how is that possible?

This is the “switch” moment where you go from Dumb Alexander to Mystery Alexander. Once they sign up – and we will have a discussion about what they sign too in Step 8 about your back-end business – you move into Real Alexander: finally, finally, finally you get to teach what you really wanted to teach from the start. It does happen, but you need “street smarts” to get there.

TOMORROW: Eleni Vosniadou put through the hoops of my 12 Step Plan For Financial Success As A Teacher Of Alexander Technique.
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