Friday, March 01, 2013

W09.05 Case Studies: Eileen Troberman in San Diego, USA. Part One

Eileen is a personal friend, a wonderful teacher and one of BodyChance’s visiting teachers. She came to Japan in 2011 for our annual school residential and was a huge hit with the Japanese students - who soon started talking about trekking off to San Diego if Eileen could organise it. Not every visiting teacher gets that request. Rather than spill the beans here, keep reading as I have a little surprise for you - and especially for Eileen - who I will meet up with next week in person. What shall we talk about…


Step 1 – Recognize Success Drivers
Hurray! Eileen is the first of my case studies who manages to get the phrase “make more money” in her first sentence! Eileen is a tried and true workhorse of many years, who sees through her ideological sparkle into the practical necessities of making a living from helping others. The clarity is there, what is lacking is a plan. That part is easy – so let’s get to it…

Step 2 – Find Your Niche
Eileen is a seasoned, multi-niche teacher with deep experience. Like Marj Barstow, one of her significant mentors, she has experience of teaching everything, just about. However, what she fails to add here – which is significant – is that fully 80% of her clientele are long-term students!

She writes: “I keep my old students, but don't get that many new students.” So Eileen is entering a financial crunch moment as these students do not supply the money she needs to stay conveniently available for them to visit her.

My take on this: Eileen is a back-end business waiting to happen.

Step 3 – Location of Community
San Diego is accessible directly by plane from anywhere on the West Coast of USA, that’s a lot of people who could fly down given enough reason to. So how convenient is she from the airport? I will find that out my Self next week when I visit her domicile while in USA for my Katie workshop. Within San Diego - where is the most convenient location? Eileen is currently seeking out new premises, but isn’t sure how to decide.

Decisions become easy when there’s a clear plan guiding them. Eileen knows that from her teaching, so the first job is not finding a place to move to, it’s generating a vision that dictates a place to move to - is it even San Diego?

This is where the personal meets the professional, and I am all for the personal trumping the professional. It’s the principle of our work - take care of your Self first, then your business will run better. So business structure reflects your personal preferences, for example “I want to live in San Diego.” or “I am happy to live in any sunny, sea-side location.”

When structuring what your business will look like, first prioritize what you want for you. So Eileen - what do you want for you?

Step 4 – Develop Service Product
Eileen wants to teach, of course. Eileen’s describes her niche as: “Performance improvement (music, sports, focus) and pain and stress relief.” Is there anything left?

This is not a well-defined Service Product in the way I have been defining those two words during my free, three month online course, which started from Jan 1 if you just landed here. What is Eileen’s defined Service Product that can clearly lead us to her students?

What fascinates me is why Eileen does not take the step of educating teachers in the Alexander Technique? My guess is this Service Product is too overwhelming, but I wonder which part? After all, Eileen has been stable in one place long enough to develop a faithful clientele who keep coming to her for… what? Years? These are potential candidates.

It therefore comes down to Product, not Service.

Step 5 – Put Together Your Team
Why doesn’t Eileen open a BodyChance school in America?

This goes to my thinking that Alexander Technique is industrial – the idea that one person can do it all alone is slightly archaic. I am not boasting when I say that BodyChance is the most successful corporation in the history of Alexander Technique, because, sadly, the truth is that BodyChance is the only corporation in the history of the Alexander Technique that has seriously sought to build an Alexander Technique Teachers Education College. Can you name another?

Why is that? I think one reason is that Alexander Technique teachers as a whole are fiercely independent creatures. To make the almost insane decision to spend up to $50,000 and 3+ years of your life studying something that only 5% of you will actually make a living from needs a certain kind of person. A very independent thinking person, not so well disposed to working with others.

However, in today’s education milieu, building a college for teachers that meets basic requirements is a complex undertaking. To do well, it requires most of these elements: a professional, full-time administrative person(s); a talented, diverse (and opinionated) teaching faculty of full and part-time teachers; a detailed examinable curriculum; clearly defined subject modules; elective options, multiple classes and times for both full-time and part-time study, and ultimately a bureaucratic relationship with governments at many different levels (Degree status, work safety, insurance etc.)

Who is their right mind wants to take all that on?! BodyChance, that’s who, because a lot of that work has already been accomplished. Our student manual, for example, is two inches thick. Hundreds of pages.

So how about it Eileen - interested to open BodyChance’s first American school?

TOMORROW: Concluding Eileen Troberman’s case study with Steps 7 ~ 12 by taking this wild idea and seeing what it would look like…

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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 Eileen Troberman to go ahead? It is nothing of the kind. It’s intended to demonstrate a way of thinking, not a set of proscriptions, even when they read as proscriptions! My true intention with these case studies is to provoke you into finding another way to understand the same ideas.

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