Friday, February 01, 2013

W05.05 Case Studies: Christie Johnson in Southwest Riverside County, California. Part One


Christie is a teacher perfectly focused on the Alexander Technique niche, who has finally exhausted herself from the endless pursuit of multi-niche clients. How about you - are you tired enough yet? Christie is, so she’s embarked on a daring journey to transform a profession. I am not sure she knows that yet, but it is abundantly clear from what she’s already told me about her. Read on…


Step 1 – Recognize Success Drivers
Christie is finally getting the money driver coordinated with her passion driver, but she’s not quite there yet. She writes:

“This year will mark my 10th year as an Alexander Teacher and I feel like I am not where I’d like to be in the amount of students and income capacity.” And: “However, I am feeling the need to service a larger population than the top 2%. I feel like the skills are valuable to all people.“ Hmmm…

As we get older, money appears less idealistically, more practically as in…

“My current intention is to work at least part time in Occupational Therapy to be able to have health care benefits for myself (a very expensive option in the United States)…”

Yes, well, your money driver says this: don’t be too fussy about who you teach, be fussy about whether they can pay. Passion driver says this: let’s be fussy, but OK, we’ll stick with the 2% payers until the health insurance is covered, the mortgage paid, there are savings in the bank and time and money for a nice annual holiday to an International Congress. Let your money driver have a say in your decision making process!

If you are a beginning teacher, please, please follow Christie’s lead in engineering your Alexander Technique expertise into creating your own real, paying job. Don’t wait 10 years to get it done.

Step 2 – Find Your Niche
If I have anything to do with it, Christie is going to transform Occupational Therapy (OT) in the United States, and make a lot of money doing it. It’s so obvious, yet Christie writes things like:

“Ideally I’d love to find my niche in an integrative center or workplace that appreciates the complete skill sets that I have.”

Oh really? You will settle for that? What a waste! For my readers, here’s the vision that really calls her, in Christie’s own words…

“In my first level my supervising OT was astounded at the level of my capabilities and marveled at observing me with the client education process. In his 28 years of OT practice he was amazed that I could work with someone and get such connection and results in very little time.  He said that I could quickly become a mover and a shaker in the OT field.”

Well, her supervisor knows it, even if Christie doesn’t yet. As if that isn’t enough evidence, here’s what her clients have been telling her…

“Many times I would get students who came to me as a last resort after surgeries failed and they tried OT and PT types of therapies.  Then they would come to me and discover Primary Control and Direction and say, “Why didn’t I learn this in PT or OT?”

Why? Because until now there’s been no Christie in their professions making the Alexander wake-up call that needs to reverberate into all main stream rehabilitation arts. An industry is about to be revolutionized, and they don’t even know it yet. What do you think Christie – isn’t that a life worth living?

Step 3 – Locate Your Community
So I am going to keep on with this vision – Christie’s “location” is all over the United States of America. There is no end – in her lifetime – to the size to which she could develop this business. The starting “location” of this business are the conferences, trade journals, online forums, local chapters of the OT profession. This suits Christie no end – if her past is any indication, she loves to network and meet new people, have a different project every week, continue creating ways to alchemize her prospects into new ventures. What’s been missing up to now is a spine integrating all this activity: that would be the OT community.

Step 4 – Develop Service Product
Up to now Christie’s Service Product, like most Alexander Technique teachers, has been her version of Alexander's discoveries. She has an elegant and poetic way of putting it together: “My primary service is teaching people about their form, function and flow.” I like it - but for building a niche business, it is next to useless.

What Christie needs to do is start thinking of how she will pitch Alexander's discoveries for Occupational Therapists (OT). What are their biggest problems? What do they worry about at night? As I wrote in one of my blogs in the Service Product blog series, the first Service Product is a dumbed down version of Alexander Technique that offers simple, 5 step solutions – THAT ACTUALLY WORK – for the problems that OT people feel they have.

You can’t develop these sitting at home. They are not really “dumb” – they are quite the opposite. They are genius – distilling the work into an uncluttered essence for a specific, time-challenged person. You develop these in Alexander Technique activity lessons focused on the niche activities – they arise spontaneously I discovered. When they do, it is important to journalize them for use in future introductory processes.

Christie should talk to her Supervisor about offering her peers a free “client education information session” about how she got to be so quick at connecting and helping patients in her clinical trials. I wouldn’t focus on ‘Alexander Technique’ in these sessions – or even mention it? - I would instead focus on the skills of observation, experimentation and analysis she is using to make her choices. They will want to know all about that. That way she can initiate the process of both developing and marketing (the two are strongly related) a Service Product to launch on the National stage. Christie has already experienced how to leverage groups this way:

“One year I went from teaching the local music teacher groups, to the state music teachers and then to the National level of teaching as a workshop option at conferences.”

OK! Now do that in the OT industry…

Step 5 – Put Together Your Team
Her Supervisor is probably a place to start – he knows the industry, marvels at Christie’s abilities, and probably secretly wishes he had some of her juice. Plug into his desire to share the credit for her success – he may be thrilled to set her on course to be the “mover and shaker” he believes she can become. I mean – why did he even say that? We all like to say “I knew her when…”

Obviously this is a Pooh hunt, where one name leads to the next, but this is a skill set that Christie could give me advice on…

“I found that I was working over forty hours a week regularly with networking, writing, phone calls, lunches, emails, creating business cards/brochures/flyers and introductory workshops at vitamin stores but potentially only having a half dozen paying students.”

This girl is a networking queen!

TOMORROW: Concluding Christine Johnson’s case study with Steps 6 ~ 12.
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CAVEAT: Remember what Alexander said: “They will see it as getting in and out of a chair the right way. It is nothing of the kind.” Is this case-study about the “right way” for Christine Johnson to go ahead? It is nothing of the kind. It’s intended to demonstrate a way of thinking, not a set of proscriptions. My intention with these case studies is to find another way of presenting the same ideas in a different light.

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