It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And I’m not just talking about the holiday season, I’m talking about all the cool and inspiring stories we’re getting by checking back in with all the folks who’ve been coached on AskPat. I’m loving these Where Are They Now episodes because they give us a chance to take a look at “step 2,” if you will, and see what happens after you take that first leap. And for Connie Neal, who we last heard from in Episode 1062, getting started on her idea actually made her realize that she needed to make a major pivot.
When we last heard from Connie, she wanted to take a concept she used to help her children set goals and achieve their dreams and share it with a wider audience. It was called the Dream Box. When last we spoke, I was encouraging her to follow the Will It Fly? (Amazon link) model to validate the idea with key people. She even sent one to me so I could try it out with my family, and I give her some feedback in the episode. As she was iterating on the concept, she decided to work an event to see her target audience and talk to them, and that was when she realized she needed to make a much bigger pivot.
In this episode, we talk about when it’s OK to put something on the backburner. You don’t want to back off of something just because you’re in an uncomfortable place and you have to do the hard work. With Connie, I think it’s different. Listen closely to the way her voice lights up when she talks about Grandma Goodie. I’m really excited by this new direction and I can’t wait to check in again and see where it goes.
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Pat Flynn: What's up, everybody? Pat Flynn here, and welcome to Episode 1098 of AskPat 2.0. We're closing in at the end of the year here. And this is my favorite time of AskPat because we get to ask how people who have been on the show earlier in the year how they've been doing, what have they been up to, where are they now? And today, we're speaking with Connie Neal, who was coached in 1062 way back in . . . Let me see when this published. This was back in April.
April 4th, her episode came out, and we are now in November, and some stuff has happened, some really interesting stuff. And she's making a pivot, and we talk about this pivot, where it comes from and why. In this case, it makes sense for her to pivot away from what she had been doing, which for a reminder for those of you who might not have heard about that episode, and we do go over a little recap in the beginning here about where she was and what she had done and what advice she took, and she did get some results and did a lot of things.
But Connie had created this thing called a Dream Box. And it is a physical box with a number of things inside of it that parents can bring to their kids to help them dream and dream big and extract all the imagination that they might have about their future. And a really neat idea, and Connie had actually sent me and my kids . . . Well, just my kids, but she sent them to me. I would love a Dream Box too though, but she sent my kids a couple. And you'll hear some of the feedback that I had for her in this episode as well, and then that big pivot like we talked about and really made me smile at the end when we discovered her new path. So I hope you enjoy this episode, catching up with Connie Neal.
Hey, Connie. Welcome back to AskPat 2.0. I'm excited to catch up with you. How are you?
Connie Neal: I'm doing well, and I'm really grateful for this opportunity because boy, I have questions to ask, Pat.
Pat: Well, this is why we're here. This is why we're here. So why don't you give us a quick update since episode 1062 when you were talking about your Dream Box. I also have something in my hands related to that that I'm sure you'll get to. So why don't you tell us what's going on?
Connie: Okay, I presented an idea to you last time that I was very enthusiastic about and that I want to share with families of young children. And your homework assignment to me was to be able to turn it into one sentence.
Pat: Yes, which is difficult.
Connie: And so I have my one sentence, which would be a good way to summarize that. The Dream Box is a special box designed to bring your family together to dream, to encourage each other, overcome obstacles, celebrate victories, and achieve worthwhile goals.
Connie: I did okay on my one sentence?
Pat: Yeah, how does that feel to you? Because I know that was a challenge because when you explained the Dream Box to us last time it was like, “It does this and that, and then there's this thing over here.” And so how does it feel to have that all encompassed into one scribe or sentence?
Connie: That was so difficult and so helpful, so clarifying. And the other thing you told me to do is make it as simple as can be. And so I thought, “How could I do that?” And the process of doing that really helped me clarify my thinking, but I boiled it down to a two minute, forty-eight-second explainer video with little stick figures and music. So I actually boiled it down to its essence so that I can now say to someone, “If you want to know what it is in under three minutes, here's what it is.” And so I did create that, and I tested it, and that helped me clarify my thinking on that.
Pat: So you say you tested it. You shared it with others, and what was their response?
Connie: I shared it with a few others. I put it on my personal Facebook page, sent it to my trusted advisors. I have about five people, my family and best friend, and got their feedback. And my daughter Neal, who is the most critical but the sharpest eye on things with the internet, she's like, “Mom, that is the best description of the Dream Box I've ever seen. Anybody can understand it.” So I felt like, “Yes.” So thank you for forcing . . . Not forcing. You didn't force me, but—
Connie: Directing, yes, encouraging me.
Pat: That's great. Well, that's wonderful news because that's one of the most challenging things is to get that messaging right and to make things simple for people. And then also new is I have this instruction manual or instruction guide in my hands as well, and you were so kind enough to offer a Dream Box to my family. So I have one for Kai, and I have one for Keoni. And we recently cracked it open, and we just loved exploring all that was in there. It would have been helpful to have this guide, which I got later from you. But all things considered, I love the vision still, and I'm excited to see what you do with it. So where are you at now? What on your mind? Things are going.
Connie: Yes, well, I've hit pause for the moment. And what I'm wanting to explore with you is the question, at what point do you pivot and put something on a back burner and move something else to the forefront? And I wanted to get the heart of the people that I want to serve. I wanted to look into the eyes of parents with young kids and really try to get my head around I want to serve them. I want to help them and stay true like in Superfans. I read Superfans, and I really found it so helpful.
Pat: Thank you.
Connie: And it was that part of, I want to give these people . . . I want to help them meet their felt needs, so I needed to know what they're feeling. So I volunteered to work at a Dave Ramsey Smart Parents event. I was the greeter, and so I got to watch these parents come in. And they were concerned, and they were eager to learn, but they looked so tired and so busy and frantic. And I really got a sense of that pace. I looked at it, and I realized what I'm giving them with the Dream Box, I think it's maybe too complicated. It's maybe too complex still. How can I make this less pressure? Not one more thing that they feel like, “Yeah, well if I did that, I'd be helping my kids, but I'm too busy, and it's one more thing on my guilt list.”
So I thought, “No, I need to make this easier.” That's where I got to discussing it with my family, and they said, “Hey, when we first started the Dream Box, we did it as a family, so there'd be less pressure.” If you're the only parent helping this one child reach their dreams, that's a lot of pressure. So I revised it a little bit and created a family Dream Box game where I treated it like a game. And then I wrote an instruction manual that I put up on Kindle and CreateSpace. Although, I don't know that I've made it public yet, but I just created it. It exists. You hold the paperback in your hand, and that I thought would make it at least easily accessible.
Pat: Got it. So that's what I'm holding in my hands. It's actually the game instruction guide.
Pat: Which is why it says, “How to play,” and, “This is not a competitive game, it's a . . .”
Pat: I really like that rework. And I think the beauty of this, and you're going to have to go through the same process of testing and sharing and getting feedback with this new direction, but number one, this is a good sign because you're pivoting as a result of you listening and paying attention. That's huge. And it also seems like that your gut is involved with this as well, which is your intuition with what is needed and where things should go and how things should be a little bit more refined. So how much of your gut plays a role in these decisions that you're making versus what you're noticing out there. I know they play together, but what does your gut tell you?
Connie: My gut tells me that I need to do some more refining before . . . We talked last time about finding influencers to promote this. My gut tells me, “Wait until it's ready to give them a quick win.” And I feel like there are stepping stones. I've created the online course, so I have the end of the road. If you want to really learn all the concepts and the parenting ideas behind it, I have that part. But the stepping stones to make it easy to start and get there . . . And so my gut and my conversations go together. But I'm really seeing that, for example, my best friend is a grandmother and totally wants to support me. She's had a Dream Box. Your two kids, my kids, and my best friend Kim has her Dream Box. She hasn't been able to get to it. And so I'm like, “You know what? I've got to figure out what that problem is. And solve it.”
And so my gut is just telling me take the time this needs to make it easy for people to succeed and to do what you said of giving them that quick win. On that one, just a little note, a little question, one of the ideas we had to give a quick win would be to give the kids a stack of cards that would be sample dream cards like, “Would you like to dream of building a model of the Millennium Falcon? Okay, here's the stops. Here's the go’s,” kind of a starter, so they don't have to just pull it out of the air or reveal things that they might be afraid might not be . . . A dream is a very personal thing.
Pat: Right, right. I like the idea of handing something to the kids early to just have them at least think with no worry of having to make a decision. I think that's where the beauty of the Dream Box is is there's no right answer, right? It's based on you. So having these talking points or cards to just get kids to think is really cool. So to have the kids share, “Oh, that would be awesome,” and then parents can come in and say, “Well, tell me why like being an engineer on the Millennium Falcon would be awesome,” or you might find a kid that says, “No, I have no interest in that,” well, tell me why.
And through all of this, I imagine self-discovery and parental discovery of a child's personality of what they enjoy, what they don't enjoy, and that's the whole point here. And I'll be honest with you, when my wife and I cracked open the Dream Boxes for the kids, we were a little overwhelmed. And I'm sure you're getting this kind of feedback too. It's like, “Okay, where do we start?” So you're taking care of that. Here's what to do first. And then it was like, “How long is this going to take?” Because like you said, we're so busy with other things, and is this going to take six hours to do, to get started? And then it's upkeeping another hour every week.
If you could give us some guidance on how, number one, easy this is to start with and making it easy, but number two, it's like, “What's the time commitment?” This is why you see on every single board game, twenty minute game, or Monopoly is, I don't know, four-hour game because you know the board game space would be very interesting for you to do some research on because they are competing against so many other people and so many other games. And not that you're competing with anybody because your product is very unique, but they are mastering the idea of making it so simple for a person to understand what this game can do. And that's where you can learn from.
Even to the point where the instructions . . . We got a game the other day called Acuity, which involves pattern recognition and stuff like that. And it was just a one-page instruction manual with pictures, and it was just like, “Oh, this is so easy, and here, let's set it up.” And we were able to play a game in fifteen minutes, right away. So taking a lead from those people who are putting loads of dollars in research into that, you can piggyback off of that and model this game. And again, I love the idea of it's a game because games are fun. Kids want to play games, and this way, you get the kids excited about it too. There's so many things to unpack here. What are your thoughts on what we've discussed so far?
Connie: I think you've confirmed to me exactly what I concluded, and because I trust you and April, and I know that you're the exact personification of my ideal end user. So you've affirmed to me that yes, I need to do what you just said. And I have ideas of how to do that, but it's going to take some time, and it's going to take some reflection. So meanwhile, something else emerged or burst into my world.
Pat: Uh oh. This could be good. This could be good though.
Connie: So my question is going to be, should I pivot now, keep the Dream Box on the back burner, and keep doing the research and development, but go with this new thing that serves the same audience, but it gives them immediately what they need? And what it is . . . You were talking about telling stories, and one of the things that I've been told back when I was a youth pastor, I was always great at telling stories. And I believe if you can keep the attention of junior highers who don't want to be in the room, you can tell a story to anybody. So I have developed this character called Grandma Goodie, and Grandma Goodie loves the kiddos. There's only two things in the world she loves. She loves kiddos, and she loves to tell the kiddos the Bible stories, but she tells them in a fun way, in an interesting way.
So anyway, I was congratulating an editor I had worked with on a project back in 1990 for thirty years at the publishing house. And I happened to say to him, “Hey, I had this idea for a character that could turn into a kid's Bible project.” And he's like, “Hey, funny thing, we're looking for ideas for kids Bible projects right now.” So he and I hopped on Zoom. I just introduced the character. I let her be her, and he just loved it. I mean, he responded. So then I ended up deciding to start a YouTube channel, Grandma Goodie's Bible Stories, and I have a sample of Meet Grandma Goodie, one sample of an exciting daytime story. And then the other thing parents need or want is bedtime stories when the kids are getting ready to go to bed. And I had also run into, when I was doing the research on the Dream Box, the biggest concern I kept reading in the forums was about screen time and our kids being negatively influenced. And so I thought, “Well, this is a way this could be good screen time.”
The response I've gotten with Will It Fly (Amazon link), like what you said, is . . . For example, I was getting my eyeglasses fixed, and I was talking to the young man. He was twenty-five. And somehow, the idea came up, and so I just pitched him the Grandma Goodie'll be there if you want your kiddo to have something good to listen to, and then we'll have an Ask Grandma Goodie so that if they have a question, she can answer it if you don't know how, from the Bible. And he was like, “Really?” And he got so excited. He's like, “I have a four-year-old daughter. The other day, she just asked me, why are we here?” He's like, “I wish I had Grandma Goodie that I could have you tell her.”
So anyway, the response has been . . . And I shared it in a very limited way. I just said, “Hey, I have this little friend out here, Grandma Goodie. Why don't you see what you think?” And I put it out to maybe, I don't know, my small Facebook personal group without any hype or saying, “Hey, help me get this out there.” I just wanted to see. Out of the maybe, I don't know, twenty people who saw it, four of them shared it immediately. So it's the kind of thing where if I switch to Grandma Goodie, what I wanted to do was to have a countdown to Christmas because you said give them a fast, easy win. Get them going.
And so I thought between Thanksgiving and Christmas, there's twenty-seven little stories where I tell little bits of like, “What's the Christmas star?” Just little bits of the Christmas story but actually tie each one that points back to the real Bible story and show them where to find it. So I'm not putting spin on it other than to make it interesting. I'm not focusing on a denomination. I'm just pulling out little bits of the stories from the Bible and making it understandable. It's like a cross between Mr. Rogers and Mrs. Doubtfire.
Pat: I was literally thinking of Mrs. Doubtfire just now.
Connie: That's exactly it. And so I had some connections with . . . I don't know if you're familiar with cbn.com. They're the Christian Broadcasting Network, and I have old connections in this market because I worked in it for twenty years. And so I contacted the guy who does their digital content and talked about giving him Christmas content that could have a link to this. And he's like, “Yeah, let's do it. I would take—” because I'd written a lot for them in the past, and he's like, “Yeah.” And he goes, “And by the way, we'll put it on our Facebook, and our Facebook group has three million followers.” I'm like, “Whoa, that's a lot.” And so I'm thinking, my inclination, my gut says pivot since this is really hot right now. And the response across the board, every single person that I've shared it with has immediately . . . Their eyes lit up. They laughed, and our dog Beau comes into the pictures too, and they just get . . . It's immediate, instant, infectious joy.
Pat: I love that. I love that. And this is a unique situation because usually when we talk about pivoting, we talk about a person with a product switching to a different product or a person with a course switching to a different audience for example. You're speaking to the same audience, but this character is the one that is coming out. And I can just hear in the tone of your voice that this—and correct me if I'm wrong—but this is something that would give you so much joy and passion. It would be something that you would just love to be a part of, and it would not feel like work to you.
Connie: Well, and the fun thing about it is it is joy. It's not work. But it's also that immediate sense of I keep remembering the faces of those parents when they were coming out of the parenting conference, which was on a Wednesday night so they had worked all day and they were tired. And I thought, “They need someone to come alongside and help them.” Yes, I do agree it can be dangerous if kids are just on the screen too long, but this would give them an immediate help. It would be parent relief, parent encouragement. They could trust someone to fill in some of the gaps if they don't have a grandma nearby. It just felt like a gift.
Pat: Yeah, I think you're saying all the right things to me, and I think that my gut tells me that that's the direction you should go. Not that the Dream Box is something that needs to go away forever. It, like you said, is on pause right now. And what's really neat is you could build this brand up with this character and build a following and gain more trust with more people such that maybe the Dream Box comes back, and it becomes a little bit more refined and simpler at that point. And now, you'll have even more people to test with and validate it with.
Connie: Pat, I'm laughing because my husband, Pat, is sitting here, and he just handed me a note that said exactly what you were saying as you were saying.
Pat: Yes, the Pats are on point right now.
Connie: I've got Pat on two speakers here. Yes, is that's my sense is that I can start serving the immediate needs of this audience, getting to know them, getting them to know that they can trust me, refining it, and then when it's ready to be something that won't be a burden but will be a fun game that can be something easily added. And one question I thought to ask you about that is, I thought it might be a good thing maybe to switch it to where it's a once a year thing like, “Let's do our Dream Box checkup before we go back to school.” So it's a one time a year thing without it feeling like, “Oh, I'm not doing it. I'm not doing it. I should be.”
Pat: Yeah, I mean, having it be an event where a number of people are participating in this together, you have a community that can all connect with each other to help each other and support each other and share wins with each other and encourage each other often works very, very well. It's a lot more work, but it is something that can be even more fulfilling. And if it is the community aspect that's on top of that, that could work out really well.
Connie: Yeah. And you gave me the idea with how you handled 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever. You just held their hand to get them started, and so I'm thinking, okay, but for now, Grandma Goodie is just . . .
Pat: Go with Grandma Goodie. I love that.
Connie: Yeah. And so for Christmas, it will be up. I've already mapped out the twenty-seven Christmas stories, and I have the three samples up so people can see it and get to know . . . And I'm going to be putting out at least two posts a week, one bedtime story, one daytime story.
Pat: And this is going to be on YouTube.
Connie: It's up right now.
Pat: Okay, good.
Connie: It's Grandma Goodie's Bible Stories.
Pat: That's going to be your platform. That and if you combine that with an Instagram account for this character where you can even connect and speak to people directly through direct messages, I mean, people are going to be blown away when they get a response from Grandma Goodie. And maybe somebody has a sick child, and they would just want to hear words of encouragement. You send that child a quick video, “Grandma Goodie here. Just want to say I hope you feel better.” I mean, wow. I mean, that's going to spread this message faster too.
Connie: I love that. I'm just excited. And so it's okay to pivot, right?
Pat: It's always okay to pivot as long as you're not doing it because you're scared of where you were. That's the big issue with pivoting is you pivot because you came to a hard place, and you're scared of taking those next steps even though you know what those are. You know what the next steps are with the Dream Box. You've discussed them. We've already talked about that today, but this thing is lighting you up. It's going to light more people up.
And this Dream Box can come back. And I imagine that if you wanted to throw monetization on the YouTube channel once you get over a thousand subscribers and however many hours of views that you need in order to do that, you could and already begin to start supporting yourself monetarily through YouTube and the channels there before the product even comes back. So I'm just excited for you, Connie. I hope we can connect again in the near future to check in on Grandma Goodie and . . . What's the YouTube channel? Is it Grandma Goodie or . . .
Connie: It's Grandma Goodie's Bible Stories, and Goodie is G-O-O-D-I-E, so Grandma Goodie's Bible Stories.
Connie: And you've been so helpful. Thank you. I really appreciate it, and I hope that Keoni and Kai will check out Grandma Goodie and enjoy her during Christmas.
Pat: We're excited for it. I'm definitely going to check it out after my calls today. But it's good to connect with you again, Connie. Keep up the good work and just be that character and enjoy the interactions with the people who are going to love you for it.
Connie: Well, thank you. And our family loves you, Pat, and we appreciate you.
Pat: Take care, Connie. Thank you.
Pat: Alright, I hope you enjoyed that catch up with Connie Neal. Connie, I know you listen to these. Big kudos to you for the big moves that you're making. Big shout out to the other Pat over there on your side for confirming a lot of the stuff that I was saying, as well. I think that validates the new strategy, and I'm excited for Grandma Goodie and all the good things that are going to come out of that and just looking forward to it. So we'll have all the links in the show notes. And again, just look her up on YouTube. Just what an amazing, amazing new era in your life and the lives of those who you're going to help. So Connie, I'm so proud of you. Thank you so much for coming back on to share this info with us and what you've been up to and hope this was inspiring to all your listeners out there.
By the way, if you haven't yet subscribed to the show, please do that because we have a number of these in the can already recorded for the upcoming weeks. We're actually going to bleed a little bit over into 2020 with some of the Where Are They Nows because they're just so good. So many great stories and a lot more results, a lot more traffic coming your way, a lot more money coming your way, like literally 5Xing people's businesses since they've been coached here earlier in the year. I mean, this is what it's about, and I absolutely love it.
And I would love to coach you as well perhaps if we get a chance to do that. And you won't have a chance unless you fill out an application over at AskPat.com, which will redirect you to a page on the website. And by the way, if you haven't checked it out yet, the new website is looking good. Big shout out to the team over at Authentik with a K and Rafal and all the amazing people there, Darrell, who've helped to make that happen because it's just a beautiful experience there. And I'm just very proud of what we have to share with you, so check it out, AskPat.com.
And finally, I appreciate you so much everybody who during the year has picked up and supported Superfans. For those of you who have attended FlynnCon by the way, flynncon2.com if you want to see if there are any tickets left for next year's event in San Diego during the summer in July. And just thank you. Thank you so much for the support. I appreciate you. Team Flynn, you're amazing. And as always, Team Flynn for the win.