Anne is a teacher who dreams of a world where there's someone at every school who can communicate with Spanish-speaking children (and their parents) in their native language. To make that happen, she's created courses, both online and in-person, where teachers can work with her to learn Spanish, with a particular emphasis on useful vocabulary like “report card” or “field trip.” You can find her at mybilingualheart.com and on Facebook. The problem she's encountering, however, is that while it's clear that this needs to happen in every school, it isn't clear who should be paying for it.
Anne's problem is interesting and one that a lot of people run into. She's found a niche that has a really clear problem she can solve for them. The difficulty is how to get paid to do that, and hopefully in a way that's scalable so she can help even more people and truly change the world for the better.
Where we get to is an exciting discovery. Even though teachers aren't necessarily the best people to hit up for money (although I certainly wish we lived in a world where they were), there are other ways we can use their positive experiences to influence the people who are able to make those decisions. Together, we figure out where she can look for funding and how to reach those key decision makers. We also talk about how starting with a small trial program is a great way to prove value to those people, which sets you up to grow. I'm really excited to see where Anne takes this, and I hope you get a lot out of this episode, too.
Pat Flynn: What's up, everybody. Pat Flynn here and welcome to episode 1075 of AskPat 2.0. You're about to listen to a coaching call between myself and an entrepreneur just like you, and I'm here to serve them and, by them, allowing us to share this with you and hopefully serve you as well. Today, we're going to be speaking with Anne, who is a teacher who specializes in language development, and what's really cool is she's now helping other teachers learn—specifically—Spanish so that they can communicate with their students and especially parents related to school items that sometimes Spanish-speaking . . . it doesn't matter what language. If English is not your first language, communication with the parents, especially with important school-related items, can be huge and it's just an underserved niche that Anne has found and has an expertise in, and she's looking to develop programs and courses and membership sites.
What we're trying to do in this episode is figure out: how do they all play together? And specifically for her niche, where does the money come from, and how do we go and make this a success and a win for everybody? Because teachers, as we all know, in the US, at least, unfortunately—which is just disgraceful—don’t get paid what they deserve. And that's a whole other topic that I could go off on because teachers should be some of the highest paid people, in my opinion. And imagine, they would then have the resources, the money, for programs like this. So, if they aren't going to be fronting the money, where is that money going to come from? Let's talk about that.
But before we get to that and the conversation with Anne today, I do want to just thank everybody who's been checking out the Podcast Cheat Sheet. It's so exciting to me to see loads of people wanting to start a podcast. The podcast has changed my life. AskPat is a podcast, obviously, you're listening to that. My other show, Smart Passive Income, has over 60 million downloads at this point which is just mind-blowing, and I'm literally just sitting in my home office right now producing this content and making these connections on a scalable level. I once heard that podcasting is the best way to scale intimacy, and online, developing those relationships is really important. For me, podcasting is my number one platform of choice, even though I have a YouTube channel, even though I have a blog, and I recommend people look into starting a podcast as well, and if that's you, definitely check out and download my free podcast cheat sheet. It's a checklist of items that go from start to finish to get your podcast up and running. And it's just a super helpful thing, so you can just check off the boxes as you go. So, go ahead and check that out. Go to askpat.com/podcastcheatsheet. One more time, askpat.com/podcastcheatsheet, all one word. Thank you so much, and let's get to today's conversation and coaching call with Anne. Here we go.
Hey, Anne. Welcome to AskPat 2.0. Thanks so much for being here today.
Anne: Thank you so much, Pat.
Pat: I'm excited to learn more about you and how I can help you, so first help us understand a little bit about who Anne is and what you do.
Anne: Sure. So, I would say that I built my career around my passion for language exchange and cultural exchange. I'm currently a teacher and before I started teaching I worked for non-profits at various times in college and afterwards in Mexico in Central America, and I really loved those experiences. And then in the States, I’ve been a teacher and administrator for ten years. I'm currently teaching English as a second language, but I taught elementary subjects in Spanish to native Spanish-speakers, to, in English, to native Spanish-speakers, in English to English-speakers, and in Spanish to English-speakers. So it's kind of been all over the place. And, about almost four years ago, I moved to St. Louis from Texas and there is a Spanish-speaking population in St. Louis that's very underserved because, being in the Midwest, there just aren’t the people power, the infrastructure, built up yet to support them in their native language, like there is in Texas. So, a year or two into my role here, teachers just started asking me if I would teach them Spanish. It was about the time that I was thinking about starting like a side-hustle, and so a light bulb went off and I said, “Okay, there's a need here, there are lots of teachers who want to build relationships with families, families who need to be able to talk to more people in their schools.”
And the more I thought about it the more I realized it really is a true niche because when I started teaching in Spanish, which was on the border in South Texas, even though I was both fluent at that time, there was this whole set of vocabulary that I had to learn in teaching that you don't have to know unless you're a teacher. Things like “field trip” and “report card” and all sorts of things. So, it was kind of a shock to me, even speaking in Spanish, so I realized that there was a really good path to go there. So, almost a year ago, so eleven months ago, I first started validating the idea and did an online-based course with four of my colleagues. And then this Spring, kind of January through March, I ran an in-person class with 10 of my colleagues, and so I'm kind of looking for where to take it next from here.
Pat: Cool. So you've already beta tested information online and then took that in-person and have done a little . . . a workshop. How did those go?
Anne: They went well. I would say that the in-person one was so much better than the online one, probably partly because I had actually done it once before, hence I knew a little bit about what to expect. But having ten people as opposed to four people was great because even if a couple of people didn't show up . . . If two people don't show up in a group of four, it's kind of a let down. If two people don't show up in a group of ten, it's still much better. But I really enjoyed the in-person aspect and being able to be there to listen to their pronunciation, listen to them make attempts to put sentences together and correct their mistakes right in the moment, and it was also just so much more fun. We had a lot of chances to build relationships at happy hours and we did some Spanish immersion field trips and things like that. So, I really preferred the in-person one.
Pat: That is so cool. What an amazing niche, and what a service you're offering to these teachers who . . . and I'm in San Diego, so we're pretty close to Mexico and there's a lot of Spanish-speaking families around here as well. And I can imagine just having that in your toolbox as a teacher can be so valuable, especially when your goal is to help ensure that the students are learning in the best environment and part of that is communicating with the parents. That's amazing. Congrats to you for finding that and owning that and leading that. For people who are interested already and are like, “How do I find more information?” Where should they go?
Anne: Sure. So, at the time that this probably airs I'm going to have redone my website, and that will be at mybilingualheart.com, which is also the name of my Facebook page, My Bilingual Heart, but I also have a Facebook group for teachers specifically, which is just called Spanish Help for Committed Teachers.
Pat: Spanish Help for Committed Teachers and mybilingualheart.com. Amazing. So before I ask you some questions about trying to figure out what we can do to help you, what I really want to understand is where do you want to take this? What are your goals for this?
Anne: Yeah. That's such a good question. My goal, I think, down the line would be . . . I mean, I would love for our country to be in a place where there's at least one person, if not more people, at every single school who can speak Spanish. And other languages too, but Spanish is the part I can help with. And, eventually, I'm thinking I might also broaden into families because I've gotten some requests from moms who want to learn Spanish with their young child, but that's a little bit down the line. So I was trying to think about what I would ask you because I could ask you a million things, Pat, but probably isn't the best use of a half hour. So, I was thinking of sharing with you the course that I'm thinking, right now, as a first step validating whether that sounds like a good way forward. Because with the in-person course, for example, I really, really liked the in-person but marketing and charging teachers individually really limits my income potential because I'm not going to charge a ton of money to teachers. No way with what their salary actually is. And I'd much rather offer this as professional development to schools and districts which have larger budgets which would allow me a lot more sustainable income, and it would still be just a drop in the bucket for them, and then teachers would get this for free.
So, my next step that I'm thinking is that I would start reaching out to schools and districts in the area just to see if this is something they would be interested in. I kind of already know this is something they would be interested in because a colleague of mine told me that a school approached him wanting a class for basic Spanish for teachers. But then I’d like to move online after getting some more in-person group experience, either doing online courses or a membership vault type of thing where there are all sorts of videos to help people learn whatever they're working on, whether it's pronunciation or present tense or how to practice in a parent/teacher conference in Spanish, for example. So, that's my current path forward, but I don't know if that makes sense.
Pat: Yeah. To me it sounds like it's a perfect combo. You'll have in-person stuff happening and that's great because that is higher value, higher touch, and there are people who will only want to learn in that sort of environment. However, there are people who just can't attend or who would rather—on their own, sort of DIY, and sort of like done with you it's DIY, do-it-yourself—and that's where the online course can come into play. It's very common in all kinds of niches to have those two play against each other where you have one and then you kind of anchor it with a certain price point or certain limitations in terms of when it happens, and it's like, “Hey, by the way, if you can't make this or you can't afford it, we do have something that we can offer you so that you can get started right now.” And it works the other way, too. You have people who see the online course and they get excited about it, or they even join, but then the sort of DIY aspect is, like,
“Oh, wow, I just don't have the time to stay in this for too long,” or, “It's not the kind of learning environment that I want. I wish there was something in person,” is often what people say. And you go, “Well, guess what, we do have stuff in person.”
So, you fit the bill there on both sides, which is really nice, and the biggest thing that I would recommend going down this path, which I do see, envision in your future, is to start with one and kind of get the system down, master it, and learn how that works in the way that you want it to go. I was going to actually take you to . . . Because I've talked about this on AskPat before, not related to teachers, but it was another niche that related to schools. And schools have budgets for these kinds of development programs, and that's exactly where I was going to ask you to go, to see, and even just validate with them, that would be your next step would be to . . . And it's so great that you already tested this because you have an idea of exactly how it's going to be run. You have an idea of the outcome. You have people who can vouch for it, who you could refer for these principals or other decision-makers at schools to go, “Hey, I have ten teachers here who you can speak to and here are their phone numbers.” Or, “I can put them in contact with you via email to show you just how valuable this was.” So, your job is essentially to sell now, but not to the teachers but to the decision-makers at the school. I don't even know who the decision-makers are, and you're a teacher, you might have an idea. Who are the decision-makers at schools for things like this?
Anne: I think typically it's the principal.
Pat: It's the principal. Do you have any relationships with principals in the nearby area at the moment?
Anne: No. I mean, other than in my own school district, which I'm a little bit shy about approaching with something like this, even though all the teachers I've talked so far in my school district . . . But I do have contacts with the directors of the ESL programs at those schools and some of them might be wiling to connect me with their principals.
Pat: I was going to say, a referral or a connection as opposed to you just kind of cold introducing yourself and then pitching something. Like, nobody likes when that happens, right? It's like you're at a party and then you meet this person and they seem kind of cool, but then all of a sudden they're like, “Hey, you know, you should buy my Cutco knives.” And you're like, “Wait, I didn't . . . that's not why I'm at the party.” Right? But if your friend goes, “Dude, like I just bought these Cutco knives and there's the one who sold them to me. You should talk to him, because these knives are like changing my life.” You know, you're not selling knives, but those recommendations go a very long way. So I would actually start there. Like, who knows that principal, and you already know the teachers who know that principal. And if they can step up and sell for you, and just recommend that the principal talk to you, it could be huge, especially if they start sharing, “Hey, I attended this workshop with Anne. She's also in our district, and she's doing this really cool thing where she's helping us learn how to communicate in Spanish with not just students but with the parents of these students, and it's been so helpful. Here's like a story of what happened since I've learned these things. You should talk to her and see if there's a way that she can offer this to some of the other teachers here. Every teacher at this school should be attending one of these things.”
And then a part of the process of doing this or selling anything is, for the decision-maker, figure out what those objections will be ahead of time. So, if you can put yourself in the shoes of the principal and go, “Okay, what are the likely objections that they will have?” The earlier that you can figure those out and come up with a response, the better, because then it's going to be like, “Oh, wow, Anne's prepared. She knows exactly what I'm going through and why this would be helpful and why it's worth this much money and why . . .” You know, just any objections that they might have. So, maybe we can brainstorm a couple right now. If you were to go to a principal with this idea, what are one or two objections that you can probably assume that they might have right away?
Anne: Yeah. Well, I think that the first question they would ask is, “What is the concrete way in which this will benefit the relationships with parents?” And they would want to know what are they going to be able to say to parents at the end, and how will that positively impact the school? And I think—
Pat: You likely have answers for those, right?
Anne: Yes, I do, although I need to refine them based on my most recent experience.
Pat: And also, if you can, not in a brown-nosey kind of way, but in a way that also paints that principal as somebody who, if they make this decision, will be leveled up or look better, or, you know . . . Just people in general, humans in general, we're a very selfish kind of creature. Whenever you're selling anything, it's not about the product, it's about what the product can do for them. And in this case . . . and any good principal, they know that it's about what it could do for their students and the teachers, but also, like, how's this going to help them? What are some of that individual principal's goals? There are likely some other value-adds that you can offer in addition to just the obvious. So you might find out through just knowing this person or knowing about this person, that they have aspirations to join the Board at the district, for example, and I don't know how this all works, but I'm just making this up. But maybe that's their aspiration and you happen to know somebody who is there, who can either just vouch for you or you can even mention, like, “These are the kinds of things that if you want to step into the Board, these are the kinds of things that we're seeing that are very interesting.” And now you've peaked that person's interest to go, “Oh, there's other things that this can benefit me, that this will benefit me for, beyond just the normal benefit.” So, getting a little bit into that, I mean, this is going to be an individual sell to the person, and the more that you can consider, A, these objections but, B, how else will this help them based on what their goals are then it's almost a no-brainer at that point.
Anne: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
Pat: So it's going to take a little bit of research, if you will, to do that sort of thing. And then in terms of the online course, the beauty of this is, if you start doing the workshop a couple of times, like if you do it a couple of times more—which I would recommend doing no matter how it ends up being sold—that gives you amazing practice for, “Here are the common things that I can include in my online course that are going to be coming out of the workshop.” And not only just content, but also the testimonials that come from those in-person workshops. Those can be used online. You know, you don't want to have them lying, say, “I took the online course,” when they didn't take the online course. But they can say how helpful you were, Anne, and the care that you've had and the results that they had as a result of being a part of the workshop. I mean, you're teaching the same stuff. And those are things that, especially with an online course or a membership in certain niches, and teachers are one of them, it's still not normal. It's still a little bit like, “Uh, this is like an online thing? This isn't . . . I'm not used to this, I'm more of an old-school person who likes to learn in person. But this online course thing, I don't know.” But the more they see other teachers like them saying that it's been helpful to learn from you and this online course solves the problem of, “Hey, you can do this on your own time, because you can't travel or spend money to be with me in person,” well, then, it's an obvious next solution for them.
And then what I would do is, when you launch this thing for real, I would launch it with a group of beta students, which you already know how to do, especially if it's a membership. And really, your early members are exactly what are going to start to mold what this actually becomes because then you can listen to them, have them speak up, and talk about how you can best serve them in those courses. You don't even necessarily have to have the full course done or content in the membership yet when you launch it. It's about the ongoing content that gets pushed out to them and over time this library starts to form. It's those initial early members that are going to feel like they got in early and they're sort of charter members or champion members. I wouldn't call them beta members because in certain niches outside of entrepreneurship and outside of sort of tech, beta just means like, “This is just a crappy version of something.” Right? So call them something that will make them feel good about being a part of something early, and just listen to them and answer as many questions as you can. And yes, you'll likely have a curriculum in there, but then, outside of that, how can you fill in the holes that they have and the questions that they're asking you. And that's really exciting. I think a membership site could do really well, not only because it's like community, and like you said, even at the in-person thing, there are elements outside of the content that bring people closer together.
The same thing can happen with the membership site. It's a less likely to happen with just simply an online course where you download or get access to something that's the content. It's kind of like, yes, you can still have a Facebook page or places where people can communicate, but it's not the same. Even just the idea of calling them members makes them feel special because then, “Oh, I'm a member of Anne's membership, I’m a member of—” and it should have some really great name to go along with the membership because then what happens is, your fans in there, and your people who are getting value, they're going to start inviting people like them into it, too, and it just becomes this awesome thing. And that's also something that, perhaps, schools may also pay for, as well. “Hey, I'm going to give you the workshop which we do, so here's the price of the workshop normally, and here's what it is when I do it in a group for teachers at your school. But we also have an ongoing . . . I mean, you could kind of combine both. You can either do one or the other, or, you go to the workshop and they get access to the membership and, in addition to that, your teachers are going to get three months free membership into this ongoing program so that they can keep up. Because we all know that you've got to keep practicing in order for this to be real, but also a place and a forum where people, when they have questions as they are going through the year, they can come and ask them even later. And this is how much it costs and I do special group deals for entire schools, so if you want to get your whole school in here we could talk about that. And I can give you a good rate for it.” So, I think focusing on the principal and the school districts are going to be huge. And the membership to sort of double up on the workshop is going to be awesome. So, can you see yourself living in that world where you have both the workshop and the membership playing with each other?
Anne: Yes. And you actually went into the next kind of set of questions, which was, how to make them work together and I think the way that you described it, it sounds . . . I think it would flow really nicely mainly because of the point that you brought up that you have to keep practicing in order for it to stick. Like, something that I've been struggling with is, learning a language is somewhat linear in that you advance as you go along, but it's also not linear at all because you're just like soaking things in and language is so dynamic. So I've been wondering, like okay, well, do I just do a bunch of beginner classes and get people started and get really good at that? But then I feel bad just like leaving them hanging and being like, “Well, you got started. Now there's no way for you to continue on and can keep advancing.”
Pat: Yeah. That brings me to the idea that you could create micro-pieces of helpful content, like a single page or a short eBook on the most common things that people need to know. And you could even sell that, you could give it away for free, knowing that this is just scratching the surface of what they actually need. What they need is practice. What they need is these other more immersive pieces of content and they need that ongoing work and they need a little bit of help from you, from an expert. And so the cool thing about the membership site is you can include and bake into that a bi-weekly office hours session. And the cool thing about the world today is we have these tools that allow us to interact with people in real time and see and hear them and coach them using tools like Zoom. Zoom.us is a great tool for doing such a thing where you can have your members come on, and the cool thing about the membership, too, is like not everybody will be able to call on every single time, but, knowing that they could if they needed help, is great.
And so you have on your time specific days of the week, or a day of the week, where you come on and you go, “Hey, if you have any questions let me know.” They show up on video and you ask them to say certain things and then you correct them if needed, or they might have questions about other things, and you can just be right there in real time. And what you could do is, you can have everybody who wasn't able to make it there live still get access to the replay, and that way . . . The cool thing about this, even beyond what I'm doing, like, so I have online courses and I have office hours, but I don't have them come on camera because they don't need to. But the beauty of having the need to do that, in your world, is that your members are going to see all the other members in person. They’re going to hear them, they're going to feel connected, and this is what keeps them staying and paying every single month or annually, every time that billing cycle happens.
I hope that . . . it kind of gives me goosebumps to imagine where, if you have like a call with fifty people, and there's a few people going on and they're asking for help and then you see the chat, and they go, “Oh, my gosh, that was so helpful,” or, “Oh, I didn't know that. Thank you, Anne,” and “I can't wait to see you in a couple of weeks on our next call.” And somebody saying, like, “Hey, thank you so much for that new module on field trips. That was really helpful because we just had a field trip last week and I wasn't exactly sure how to share this with a parent.” I hope that makes you smile. This is the kind of stuff that you're creating right now. It's a slow process and it's one step at a time, but that's how . . . I mean, I'm just getting stoked for you. I don't know if you feel it, but I hope you're just as excited, too.
Anne: I am. I'm super, super excited and just to share a little story about why I think this is going to be so impactful . . . At the beginning of the school year, we got a new family that came to us with four siblings who speak Spanish. And very early in the school year the younger son, who's in kindergarten, got a fever and needed to be picked up early. So the nurse called me to call the dad. I called the dad and told him, “Your son is sick, needs to be picked up.” And I cannot even replicate how grateful he was. First, that someone called him, and he said to me, “This is the first time in ever that a school has been able to tell me important things like when my son is sick.” And that both broke my heart and showed me how important it is. Because, yes, his oldest is in high school, which means she went through all of school without him being able to communicate with his school.
Pat: That's incredible. Wow.
Pat: Yeah. I mean, you have to do this, and that's a beautiful story and that should be included in your deck, if you want to call it that, or whatever you use to pitch this. Because those are the things that are important, and that's the why. And the why is just as important as the what. So, what do you believe your next steps are at this point? Now that we kind of have an idea where we want to go, which is absolutely key. I mean most entrepreneurs dive into this without any thought of really what they want to create and they just work busy and hustle and grind and sometimes work backwards—or move backwards—as a result. So I'm glad that we've discovered the address that we're putting in the navigation menu, so that even if we get off track, we can make a U-turn and come back. But what is that first step? What's the first step for you from this point?
Anne: Yeah. So, I'm thinking about what I should do first is start to do some research to come up with what principals' objections might be, and I can start by talking to the principals, like, “Do you know anyone in my district,” not necessarily trying to sell to them but just saying, “Hey, if someone approached you with this, what would you be concerned about?”
Pat: Yeah. I mean, I would even say, “Hey, I'm thinking of doing this, and I'm not here to sell it to you right now. I'm here to just ask questions about whether or not you feel this would fit into your school curriculum. I just want to hear from you, what's coming into your mind right now when I tell you that I'm looking to create a program like this? What are your objections?” Like, literally, just ask them. Like, “What are your objections?” Because that's just going to get straight to the point. You don't have to beat around the bush.
Anne: Great. Okay. So that, I think, my first step, and then my next step after that will be to use the connections that I do have at other schools to see if I can get some recommendations, referrals, introductions to principals, and then start talking to principals to see if this something that they would be interested in.
Pat: Another thing that you could do is do a little bit of research on, well, what programs are they paying for, and how are those structured, because then that will give you an idea of already, like, the language to use, I guess you could say, if this is the first time you're doing something like this. Like, the deal structure could be very unique in this situation versus like, “Hey, will a teacher pay this much and you get this.” It's a little bit different, likely, in this situation. So, if you consider what other things that they are using for personal development or staff development, that will give you some good insight on how this might be structured and what the price point might be, and all those kinds of things.
Anne: Great. That's a good point that I'm writing down right now. Yeah, great.
Pat: Cool. I'm excited for you. It sounds like you're excited, too. Do you mind if we check in with you later in the year, just to see how things went and how things go? I know the one thing about school-related stuff is it can be very seasonal sometimes, so that might play a role in when certain things happen, but I'd love to connect with you later in the year to see how things go, if that's okay.
Anne: Oh, my gosh, I would love that.
Pat: Awesome. And one more time, Anne, can you let everybody know where they should go to learn more about what you've got going on?
Anne: Yes. Mybilingualheart.com and also the Facebook group for educators is Spanish Help for Committed Teachers.
Pat: I love it. Anne, thank you for what you do. Look forward to hearing about the results, and good luck to you.
Anne: Thank you so much, Pat. I really appreciate your time and your help.
Pat: All right. I hope you enjoyed that coaching call with Anne. I'm so excited to check in with her later in the year about how things went. I'm just so thrilled for people who I meet on the show who are doing things to help others in such unique ways. And I think Anne, she's going to be creating something amazing here, and I would love to see this be something worldwide and imagine the impact she would have if she reaches her final goal which she can aspire to through the means that she's building right now, to have at least one . . . I mean, it just boggles my mind that this isn't a thing already. One Spanish-speaking person who works at every school, who could communicate with those families. And not just Spanish. Like what about other languages as well? This is just blowing my mind. So, Anne, great job. Kudos to you and I look forward to hearing from you later in the year when we chat to you to see how things go and we'll have you back on the show.
And for everybody else listening, if you want to get coached just like Anne did today, all you have to do is go to askpat.com and find the application button there. You can also see other episodes that we've done in the past as well, and like I said, there's 1075 of them now, and there's another one coming next week. So, if you haven't yet subscribed to the show and you like what you hear, here at AskPat 2.0, just hit Subscribe. That's all you have to do. Thank you so much and I look forward to checking in with you next week with another coaching call with an entrepreneur just like you. And until then, keep crushing it, Team Flynn for the Win. Cheers.