Online Teachers and Imposter Syndrome – Interview with Zsuzsanna and James

Today we are joined by two guests, Zsuzsanna Bekesi Smith and James Green.

They are co-founders of a new service The Teaching Community which aims to assist solo online teachers.

Our discussion today is around the issue of “Imposter Syndrome”, a state of mind which studies how shown affects a large majority of people at some point of their professional lives.

In the podcast we discuss:

  • What exactly is Imposter Syndrome
  • How Imposter Syndrome can be self-managed
  • Environments which can be supportive for teachers dealing with Imposter Syndrome

Zsuzsanna and James also talk about their new project and how it is designed to specifically help teachers who want to build sustainable and profitable online careers.

To get in touch with either of today’s guests go to:

Zsuzsanna’s Facebook Group: Teach and Thrive Online

Zsuzsanna and James’ new project for independent online teachers at The Teaching Co.

Teacherpreneur Marketing



[00:00:18.670] – Paul
Hello everyone, and welcome to the third edition of the BabelTeq podcast, where we talk about tips and tools for teacherpreneurs. In today’s episode, we’re going to discuss the issue of impostor syndrome. So what is it? How does it affect teachers, trainers, coaches and educators? My name is Paul Sallaway and I’m joined today by two amazing guests. I’m with Zsuzsanna Bekesi Smith. I hope I pronounced that right. And James Green, who are the co-founders of a new online service which is designed to help online educators The Teaching Community. Zsuzanna is also the founder and the administrator of a popular Facebook group, which is how I got to know her initially.

[00:01:04.540] – Paul
So hello, Suzanne and James. So welcome to the podcast. So Zsuzsanna, could you tell us a bit about your background and how your Facebook group came about?

[00:01:15.500] – Zsuzsanna
Yes, hello, everyone, I’m glad to be here, thank you for having us. Thank you very much. Actually, I have been an educator forever. I could say that I grew up in a family full of educators and I have been teaching my soft toys lined up on the bed at the age of 10 already.

[00:01:35.300] – Zsuzsanna
So that was sort of a giveaway that this was going to be my future. And I have been a teacher trainer for over 11 years, which was an absolutely stunning experience. But when I moved to the States, that particular career had to change. And that’s when I decided last year, almost two years ago, actually to move entirely to work towards online education, because it really excited me. And I believe that online education, it has a huge part in our future and it helps to revolutionize the educational system.

[00:02:12.860] – Zsuzsanna
Without huge and drastic changes, it will probably become a gentle revolution which will give way to mentorship and I would say a personalized educational approach that will be possible. And it’s already happening as we speak. That’s what I think. And I wanted to create a safe and and a very authentic space for teachers and educators, instructors, tutors who ever works in education to be able to share and let’s say, educate each other, educate ourselves, ask questions that are not always comfortable to ask and to generally have a safe space where we can share those things that we have to deal with in this online educational arena.

[00:03:05.720] – Zsuzsanna
So that’s that’s the story of the Facebook group. And it’s growing beautifully. And I’m very proud of it and very happy with the people, it’s a community that has people from forty eight countries so far and counting. So it’s international and and a very positive little community.

[00:03:25.250] – Paul
And I think you did a rename of that group recently, is that right? So what’s the current name exactly.

[00:03:32.390] – Zsuzsanna
The current name is Teach and Thrive Online. And the original name Teachers Get Real was a really cute name, but it didn’t really give away what we were doing. So very few people stumbled upon it and actually clicked on it to join us. And now that opened up a lot.

[00:03:51.020] – Paul
OK, great. Well, let’s let’s bring in James. So hi, James.

[00:03:57.030] – James

[00:03:58.730] – Paul
Thanks for joining us. So how about you? So I understand you come from a bit of a different career background to Zuzana. So tell us about that and how the two of you got working together.

[00:04:12.080] – James
Sure. I am the imposter. I have nothing to do with education at all and couldn’t possibly teach, which we’ll talk about later. I what did I do for a living is managed startups for venture capitalists.

[00:04:27.560] – James
So really nothing to do with education. I take companies that are small, I grow them, I make them bigger than they get sold. Companies… you probably wouldn’t know of any of the companies that I’ve run, but you would know some of the products that we’ve done. So, for example, if any of you ever watch American football, I used to run a company called PBI that invented the first down line that you see on a football game.

[00:04:54.620] – James
So it’s owned by ESPN today. So that little yellow first down was superimposed and the other things that are imposed on television that aren’t really live in the stadium, that’s what the company invented. So that’s, you know, maybe we’ve seen that the World Series of video games of the very first EA Sports Company. And sort of when we want to get evil, I ran a company that did something called Search Retargeting and sort of pioneered the ads that followed everyone around the Internet.

[00:05:26.690] – Paul
So you’re the one people should blame?

[00:05:28.250] – James
Yeah, yeah, I’m totally when you’re pissed off with your invasion of privacy because of advertising, you should totally call me up. It’s my fault. Sold the company Deloitte for … And it’s so. Yeah.

[00:05:40.400] – James
So you can see a lot of teaching in, in, in my background.

[00:05:45.500] – Paul
Um, so I have the two of you get together?

[00:05:49.790] – James
Yeah. So Zsuzsanna and I met, I was doing some consulting work for a company called Spitball, an Israeli company, and they had done something fantastic and they asked me to help sort of grow it and make it bigger.

[00:06:04.460] – James
And they invented a teaching platform for live teaching. And it was great. So it was, but. It was really designed for only the live component of teaching, and my job was to get people to sign up to join it and we got I think in a few months we got like three or four thousand people signed up to join.

[00:06:26.600] – James
It was pretty successful, except it wasn’t. So we got all these people to sign up to it. But then they would join and then they they said one of two things. They said number one, they said, what do I do now? And number two, they said, how do we get students and no, almost no one actually taught on the platform because we were not there to do those things.

[00:06:51.490] – James
And and so I’m like, oh, my God, I got to go and find some way to teach people how to teach online and how to get students. And so I searched around the Internet with the team of other people and I found Zsuzsanna and she was like, she’s literally teaching people how to teach.

[00:07:09.240] – James
And I went fantastic, fantastic. Let’s do it.

[00:07:12.600] – James
Except, you know, Spitball didn’t work out because its core thing was to have the platform and not to teach courses. So when that stopped working, I called up Zsuzsanna and said you were going to help me teach people how to teach on Spitball but how about we collaborate and start a brand new company and just teach people the two problems that we saw that they had.

[00:07:35.400] – James
Number one, how do you teach online? How is it different?

[00:07:38.670] – James
What you do? How do you build a curriculum, how do you engage with students? And number two, how do you get students, how do you keep students? How do you build a business?

[00:07:46.530] – James
And so whereas I don’t know much about teaching, I do know a bunch about building businesses

[00:07:51.810] – Paul
I see. So that was that was the the genesis of your project that you’re working on now The Teaching Community.

[00:08:01.740] – James

[00:08:03.270] – Paul
OK, well, so the headline topic for this podcast is Imposter Syndrome.

[00:08:12.000] – James

[00:08:13.100] – Paul
For online teachers. How to how it affects them. How it maybe applies to them. So could we start with defining, first of all, what Impostor Syndrome is, Zsuzsanna? Because I believe that some of your professional acquaintances have done quite a lot of work in this area. So could you just educate us a little about what it actually is?

[00:08:34.500] – Zsuzsanna
Yes, thank you. I actually came across this terminology when I was collaborating with a beautiful coach whose main topic is Imposter Syndrome, and she mainly works with online entrepreneurs. And the whole idea behind this Imposter Syndrome topic is that we all have it. So actually, the name Imposter Syndrome is not really correct, if almost everybody in society faces it from time to time. It’s not a syndrome in a medical sense and nothing is wrong with you if you experience it.

[00:09:08.770] – Zsuzsanna
So I like to call it Imposter Experience. Everybody has their own name choice, yeah? And the imposter experience encompasses everything that comes with that, not enough statements. I’m not young enough. Old enough, experienced enough. Educated enough. I don’t have enough certificates. I don’t have enough. Of anything. Yeah. Or too much. Too little. All those statements. And even if we don’t say these things out loud, we often face these fears and anxiety that comes with not believing that we can, that we have what it takes.

[00:09:48.840] – Zsuzsanna
And I do believe teachers and entrepreneurs, equally face this and teacher entrepreneurs definitely face this from time to time. We jokingly say sometimes with James, that we should run the podcast, because it would really, really give a well-rounded background for both business people who have the imposter syndrome about not being able to teach like he sometimes says it, right? And about teachers who are not sure about their business abilities like I often have it. So this is what brought this whole topic about that.

[00:10:25.980] – Zsuzsanna
We could give the two very different sides of this issue. I do believe that everybody’s a teacher, something very radical in this time. So when he says that I’m not a teacher and can not teach, I like to argue that because I do believe we all teach everybody who sells anything online teaches about it first, because that’s the only way to get people on your side and to get to know you and to get to love your product. And it involves a lot of teaching.

[00:10:58.590] – Zsuzsanna
We can call it different things, but I do believe it’s teaching. And obviously I never went to business school. So I face a lot of insecurities around that part, especially when starting out like a lot of other entrepreneurs and teachers do. So that’s that’s the story behind the imposter syndrome topic.

[00:11:17.550] – Paul
I see, yeah. So I think there’s a there’s an interesting statement you made in there when you said James said, “I am not a teacher”. That’s been my observation of imposter syndrome as well. Maybe there are like two ways it manifests itself. So the first is that people maybe feel like they they don’t have the training or they don’t have the degree or they don’t have the experience or or all of these all of these kind of like badges of achievement.

[00:11:48.600] – Paul
So that’s one aspect of it. The other is that it’s more of an existential thing. People don’t believe that they are the thing that they want to become so like saying “I am not a teacher” or “I am not a business person”. So that’s that’s kind of different aspect, I think, of the whole imposter syndrome situation.

[00:12:08.070] – Paul
So I have a how about you, James? Like, how can you give us some examples of how Imposter Syndrome has been in your life?

[00:12:15.180] – James
Yeah. So I, I think I’m probably like a lot of people, I’d heard the phrase imposter syndrome, but I hadn’t thought about it a lot. And the first time I really dived into it was when Zsuzsanna said, “oh my God, you have Imposter Syndrome”. I’m like, “What?”

[00:12:34.770] – Zsuzsanna
We both do!

[00:12:36.920] – James
But opposites and and she’s right. I mean I have I’m sure there are more parts of my life that I have, but I have it in teaching. And I think it’s interesting for this particular group because I’m in many ways the opposite probably of a lot of people who are listening today. So I have no problem selling things, growing businesses.

[00:13:02.850] – James
I’m good at it, I’m a businessman, I know how to do that, but I am terribly nervous and insecure about teaching others because it’s it’s not who I think I am. And and and I think that’s fascinating because it’s just the mirror of what we hear from people in our community who are teachers. They just say, well, I’m not, I’m a teacher, I’m not a business, but I don’t know how to get… That’s not me. I could possibly do that.

[00:13:34.170] – James
And and and really, because apparently Zsuzsanna says I can teach and I’ve been persuaded that perhaps she’s right. So if she can persuade me that I can teach, surely then everyone else can do the things that I do. And it really is about it’s much more about do you want to do it than can you do it? And to me, that’s the that’s the imposter syndrome. If you really want to do it, then you you and you and you do have this Imposter Syndrome like you want to do it. You feel you can’t.

[00:14:04.890] – James
I’m here to tell you that you can because I’m doing it. And I see a lot of other experiences where people have gone and done things they hadn’t done before. And by gosh, they can do it. And I have other experiences in my life where, for example, I was brought up as a chellist, you know, clearly I stopped doing that and now I’m doing something else. So there’s plenty of evidence, both within my own realm of experience and I think in the world at large, where people say, I’m going to do something different now.

[00:14:37.230] – James
And one of the barriers to that is Imposter Syndrome. So I think getting over it is is is really, really important.

[00:14:44.310] – Paul
So so so you think that that getting getting past that is it’s largely a mind frame where you’ve got to maybe catch yourself …

[00:14:53.120] – James
A hundred percent

[00:14:55.740] – Paul
When you hear yourself saying these things like I am not this or I’m not good enough. So it’s kind of like a so you have to do a bit of cognitive training with yourself then to to realize that, you know, those messages that you’re telling yourself aren’t necessarily true.

[00:15:09.120] – James
Yeah. One hundred percent. I mean, you know, human is certainly the most versatile creature on the planet. And to think that you are capable of teaching someone another language, for example, but that you yourself are not capable of learning a tool that’s been created for the masses like Facebook?

[00:15:28.740] – James
Yeah, I think that’s not right. I’m pretty confident that’s not right. You just haven’t. Have you not spent time thinking about it? Oh, I could buy into that. Right. So you totally need to spend time thinking about doing it and practice makes you … less imperfect. But yeah.

[00:15:51.810] – Paul
Suzanna, how about you? Do you have any advice and any practical tips for people who might be experiencing Imposter Syndrome with what they’re doing?

[00:16:02.460] – Zsuzsanna
Yes, thank you. James said it pretty well, even though he said pretty much what I was going to say in different words. But I would say to people, if they experience this, first of all, that it’s OK, just embrace the fact that only those experience Imposter Syndrome who actually try to achieve something, who try to grow, who are ready to leave the comfort zone that they they could say, and yet they decide to venture into something new.

[00:16:33.870] – Zsuzsanna
And this is a really important attribute that only those who try to achieve something and mostly high achievers have like imposter syndrome on a daily basis. If you experience that, the very first thing to do is to acknowledge it and be OK with it. “Yes, I’m facing this insecurity right now” “Yes, this is how I feel about what I’m doing or about myself”.

[00:16:58.410] – Zsuzsanna
The next thing is to find the what I would call the Direction of Least Resistance.

[00:17:03.970] – Zsuzsanna
Like what’s the first baby step I can take that gets me a little bit closer to feeling comfortable with this thing. If it’s a certificate issue I need to explore, do I really need that certificate to be able to do what I do, what I would like to do next? Or can I take a couple steps forward and then decide if I want to invest in an education or and of course, that often times cost a lot of money and takes a long time to complete. How important the title is for me.

[00:17:34.860] – Zsuzsanna
Like start exploring this uncomfortable arenathat , you may have hesitations and you’re not really willing to venture into. Do something. Action is the first thing that is really going to make it. Anything that’s uncomfortable will become comfortable only if you start doing it, right. There is no other way. There’s no way around that. I was dreading the Live Broadcast on Facebook. Today, I was laughing because I had three or four different glitches coming up in the Livecast that I did today, and I didn’t even blink. Before I would have ripped my hair out.

[00:18:16.500] – Zsuzsanna
Why is that? Because I did 50 of them already. And that’s why I could get to the level of, like, not worrying about those details that would have gave me a heart attack before. So start taking baby steps in any direction that you think you can do something about, whatever you are so scared of or uncomfortable with. And it’s going to get better. I promise you. It’s going to get better.

[00:18:42.390] – James
Yeah. And I’d love to I’d love to double down on one thing that you said. So I’m literally just going to restate things. You’ve taught me. Sounds a little funny, but that it just really resonates with me, which is that the smartest people have the worst case of imposter syndrome. Because what what happens is you see it, you see the thing you can’t do and you’re like, oh my God. Other I know other people that do it. And you immediately understand the breadth of the things that someone else understands and you don’t.

[00:19:15.000] – James
And so you’re like, oh, I can’t do that because it’s going to be obvious to everybody else that I can’t do it. And so then you don’t.

[00:19:25.020] – James
But but in almost all cases, what you will find is if you take a couple of steps down that line, you will get better than 80 percent of the people almost immediately. It’s incredible. Like these few things that you think you don’t know. All you have to do is do a little bit of research and a little bit of study, and you’re going to know more than 80 percent of the people. And there’s a whole ethic out there that says that if you know 10 percent more than your students, you’re going to be much better educated than if you know one hundred percent more than the students.

[00:19:59.450] – James
I’m quoting more stuff that I’ve been told by by the way, obviously, my teacher, because I didn’t know these things before I met her, but because you can relate to them so much better. So then you can it’s so you really .. Smart people look at it and start worrying about all the possible what ifs. But really, you just have to start doing and start being less intelligent and start actually executing.

[00:20:28.650] – Paul
One of the one of the things I came across when I was doing some reading about this, this topic of Imposter Syndrome is that it seems to me well, I think the whole term came from an initial study that was done in the late 70s that looked at like women who were high achievers who felt this these these feelings of inadequacy and what they and what they found is that people from certain backgrounds who don’t have a lot of role models often experience these feelings as well.

[00:21:00.630] – Paul
There’s a saying that you can’t be it if you can’t see it. So if you don’t have a good role model or if you don’t see someone who’s doing what you want to do, then sometimes it’s hard to get a visual model in your head of who you are or what you want to be. So would you agree with that? Do you think that do you think that having a role model or finding positive examples of what you want to become is helpful as well?

[00:21:30.630] – Paul

[00:21:31.610] – Zsuzsanna
Oh, me. Ok. Yes, absolutely like I do believe that we agree that teacher .. Originally when you become a teacher, you have been through apprenticeship and and the whole mentorship model is still my favorite of all. You know, it’s so important to be able to see others do what you want to do and see how you want to be similar and how you want to be different. What do you want to do? Exactly the same way, because it works and it will work for you and how you see those things that you can do uniquely differently.

[00:22:08.580] – Zsuzsanna
But for that, you need a reference point. And this is why I do believe mentorship is also in the future of education, because it’s definitely an organic part of getting better at whatever craft and skill set. And teaching is a craft and an art and a skill set. I may be biased, but this is how I think about my profession.

[00:22:31.730] – Paul

[00:22:32.240] – James
Yeah, I think there’s there’s another aspect to that, which is not only do you need to see it, but you also need to be told that you … You need to be NOT told that you can’t do it. So, you know, there’s a lot of things in the world that people like, oh, “You can’t. You can’t do that”. And in many societies in the world, if you’re grown up, I’ll use the caste system in India, but no reason to pick on Indians.

[00:23:00.950] – James
I mean, it’s there’s all sorts of them all around the world. If you’re grown up and you’re like, well, you should be in this box, you can’t possibly do that. That’s the other thing that is is hard to overcome both of those things. So if you can’t see it, I think that’s certainly one of them. But then if you’ve been told since a young age that people like you do this, it’s equally hard, maybe even harder to overcome.

[00:23:27.060] – Paul
Right. So when you’re when you internalize the expectations of others, whether that’s people in your circle of friends, maybe in your family, even that also becomes part of the part of the issue.

[00:23:42.200] – James
Yeah. For example, I mean, there are plenty of places in the world where women aren’t expected to do certain things and aren’t expected to get a lot of education. And now imagine that person’s transplanted to another place where they are expected to do it. That’s going to be harder for them. You know, it just is for sure. They’re going to need support.

[00:24:00.040] – Zsuzsanna
Well said, James. Yes, absolutely, and educational systems around the planet, obviously, and I’m also counting the family structure here because we are educated by our family primarily, right.

[00:24:12.070] – Zsuzsanna
That they the influence of what their belief system is and their norms, it’s enormous. And first becoming aware of that and understanding how it affects us. I think that’s really a crucial step of the awareness of how can we actually deal with all this and what can we do about it if we want to change anything. First, we have to be aware and then we can change it. Right?

[00:24:38.350] – Paul
Right. Yeah, I was I was kind of surprised that there’s a lot of very famous people out there who have who have struggled with this Imposter Syndrome, like Tom Hanks was one. Jodie Foster, I think, after she got her Academy Award for whichever movie. I can’t remember, but she she actually said she felt as though they made a mistake. They gave the award to her. And the next the next day someone would be knocking on her door saying, sorry, we actually meant to give this to Meryl Streep.

[00:25:09.190] – Paul
So can we have… Can we have that trophy back, please?

[00:25:13.000] – Zsuzsanna
Such a good story. Absolutely. And it’s good to see, I think, why it’s comfortable for us or it feels good to see how those people who we a lot of us actually admire and think they have their life is perfect. Right. We see that they struggle with the same thing that makes them so relatable. And this relatability, I think, is at the core of teaching well, that you as a teacher, you as a person who is there for the other one, the mentor.

[00:25:44.560] – Zsuzsanna
Yeah? Is absolutely able to relate to how somebody in an earlier state of life of my own, let’s say I look at my I look at my teachers now who are my students. And I know exactly how they feel because I felt like that before. And that’s the 10 percent that’s just to come around in full circle that James has mentioned before. And if you have done it already and you have overcome this difficulty and you see someone who is struggling with it, it is so relatable and so easy to feel what they feel and help them the way how they need help now.

[00:26:22.870] – Paul
Because you have that empathy for the path that they’re taking, right?

[00:26:26.890] – Zsuzsanna
Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

[00:26:28.990] – Paul
Yeah, I, I remember I, I heard about a guy in the States who I think he was a I think he was a bodybuilder and and his business was teaching people how to get in shape. But he’d been a really fit guy, a fit dude his whole life. So he thought, well, I don’t really know the path that my customers are going through. So he went through a process of like eating six Big Macs a day.

[00:26:58.390] – Paul
And like he just packed on all the all the all the pounds, all the weight, all the fat. And then he went through the other process of becoming fit again. And so he wrote a book about it, I think it was called Fit to Fat to Fit or something like that. And it was it was like just a hugeseller, but it was a seller because people knew that he could identify with them. So he he obviously he was showing he was demonstrating that that he went through that that journey, that is that his customers were also going through.

[00:27:32.640] – Zsuzsanna
So that’s a really good example.

[00:27:35.620] – James
Yeah, yeah.

[00:27:38.370] – Paul
All right, well, maybe this is a good point, perhaps the segue into the project that you guys are working on now, The Teaching Community and and how you see that supporting independent teachers to build sustainable, profitable careers. So could you talk a little bit about what you guys are working on now?

[00:27:58.620] – James
Yeah, there’s a there’s a couple of things that that we think are super important. And I’ll mention two of them and then, Zsuzsanna, go and add all the others. The two that strike me as being super important. Number one is actually the community, so. I’ve run companies before, and now I’m working a lot with people who are companies but they are one person, and when you run a company, you get to hire a marketing specialist and sales specialist and tech specialist and, you know, an organizational specialist.

[00:28:39.840] – James
And you may even hire someone to do a teacher program, training programs and you have someone to do the finances. And and but, you know, the reality is for a lot of teachers that they’re building their own business and they they have to do everything. And and our observation is that people are social and they want to share and they enjoy being part of groups. And you want to be able to be in a place where people understand you, people understand what you’re going through and and they’re prepared to help you.

[00:29:14.220] – James
And so one of the most important elements we think is community. We think it’s very, very hard to be an independent teacher, a truly solopreneur without some community support. And that doesn’t, I mean, that’s not supposed to add or subtract from people who are solopreneurs without the community support. It’s just, I think, a bit easier if you have someone to say, oh, my God, I had a hard day, you know, or does anyone know how to do this?

[00:29:40.770] – James
I tried to do this. I built my website like this and I can’t get it to do anything. Anyone here know how to fix that. But there’s whole messes of reasons why community is so important. It always has been for humanity. And there’s no reason why to think that you should be forced to do this alone.

[00:30:01.260] – James
And then the second thing is, as we’ve been exploring with teaching online, there’s been lots of people who have offered courses where you sort of download and consume them. There are others that do exclusively online teaching, sort of mirroring the tutoring model where you teach all your students one on one. And we’ve really come to believe that the way to scale your business is a mixture of the two that you you need to have some prerecorded course material. And it’s a little different if you’re online exactly what that is.

[00:30:38.400] – James
But you can think of it as a textbook if you want to be traditional. And then when people have studied the textbook, in our case, they’re all videos, but they’re specifically broken down into chapter like things where you learn one thing and then but then you need the live components in order to make sure that what was supposed to be taught was actually received. And my favorite example of that is something completely off topic, which is skiing, if you could ever imagine consuming a bunch of videos that taught you how to ski.

[00:31:10.530] – James
And now I’m going to put you at the top of a steep mountain and say, “Well, you’ve taken all the courses, you should just be able to ski! Which is ridiculous because you’re going to do it a couple of things wrong.

[00:31:22.350] – Paul
Yeah, that wouldn’t have a good outcome.

[00:31:25.200] – James
That would NOT have a good outcome.

[00:31:26.760] – James
But that’s true of everything. Right.

[00:31:28.580] – James
So this idea that you can just read it or you could just watch a video and suddenly you’re going to become an expert? You don’t even know what you’re not doing right. Unless you are in a lesson. Live with someone saying, oh, no, no, no, that’s not what they meant. They didn’t mean to do that that way. Here’s how you do it. You know. And so those two components I think are the two biggest things that we have in The Teaching Community, which is we’ve developed these courses, which are, which you can watch, but it’s complemented with live lessons.

[00:31:59.700] – James
And then we have a community which will support you once you’ve taken them to make sure that you have somewhere to go.

[00:32:09.120] – Zsuzsanna
That was so good, James. Wow.

[00:32:12.630] – James
Well I am in sales and marketing, so I, I should be good at this.

[00:32:18.410] – Zsuzsanna
That’s your zone of genius. Absolutely, absolutely. My zone of genius is to actually make people feel very comfortable with what they are doing, with what they are capable of doing and give them the most pragmatic backgrounds to to be confident and to understand that they have a solid foundation for what they are trying to build. So that’s what I love doing the most. And and I’m so happy that I can finally put everything together in this absolutely wonderful community.

[00:32:50.100] – Zsuzsanna
And as James said, this is a really important aspect that I didn’t have when I started out. I was the the lonely cyber superhero, you know, wearing the same yoga pants every day because who cares, right? And just trying to make everything work. I was the marketing person and then I was the social media outreach person. And then I tried to do video editing until I ripped my hair out. And and then it was overwhelming and it was scary.

[00:33:19.280] – Zsuzsanna
And I knew a lot of other people went through it. This is how the community, the Facebook group was born originally. Right. At the same time, I also understand that, that we need to see those who are a little bit further ahead of us to be able to actually believe it, to know that it’s doable, to see what’s possible. And one of my favorite quotes from Seth Godin is “People like us, do things like this”. It’s an absolutely beautiful essay that is actually downloadable from one of his blog posts.

[00:33:54.920] – Zsuzsanna
I forgot which one, but we both like him, a lot. Paul and I. And I know we already had this discussion.

[00:34:00.935] – Paul
He’s one of my heroes, too.

[00:34:04.190] – Zsuzsanna
Absolutely one of our superheroes.

[00:34:06.380] – Zsuzsanna
We’re all a bunch of geeks here I think. My superheroes are Maria Montessori and Rudolf Steiner and Seth Godin and Zig Ziglar and those names that are really big for those who are in these circles. Yes. So I’m proud of that. I’m absolutely proud of that. Others have Superman and Batman and we have these guys,

[00:34:30.560] – Paul
Not all, not all superheroes wear capes. So..

[00:34:35.750] – Zsuzsanna
Exactly. Exactly. So my point is that now I have walked this road alone and now I’m doing it in a community and in this particular community that we already have a bunch of teachers in. There are people who are further ahead. And there are people who are a little bit they have more to catch up in particular segments, but they see each other developing and they can support each other, not just us doing it. They do it for each other.

[00:35:03.020] – Zsuzsanna
And they want to belong to this community primarily because they have a goal, a dream and desire that they share and they can help each other along the way to achieve it. And that’s a beautiful component that I just love about it.

[00:35:17.260] – Paul
Oh, OK. All right. Well, well, twenty, twenty has been a crazy year.

[00:35:23.990] – Paul
I think we’ll all agree on one thing. One thing that might have escaped a few people’s attention is that we’re just a few weeks away from starting a new decade of the twenty twenties.

[00:35:38.510] – Zsuzsanna
And I never thought of that Paul. You are absolutely right.

[00:35:42.470] – Paul
Sorry, sorry if I just made everyone feel a bit older, but so but I think that for anyone out there who’s just thinking about like really pushing ahead into an independent online coaching or teaching career, what are your thoughts about what the next decade holds in store for this whole industry? So I have some thoughts about that, which I’ve talked about in my first podcast episode. So I’d like to know what you guys think about the next decade and how that’s going to play out for the online teaching industry, online education and coaching industry.

[00:36:22.310] – James
Well, is it OK if I go first?

[00:36:28.910] – Zsuzsanna
Go James, go.

[00:36:30.320] – James
I think there are some very big trends outside this industry that this industry will be affected by. So they are, number one, the gig economy, so that the number of people the first thing that happened is this will happen in my life. When I when I graduated from university because I’m old, people, still had careers with one company for their whole lives. And that broke down in my career where the idea that you would have one career with one place fell apart.

[00:37:01.520] – James
And now people have careers where they go from company to company. And that’s perfectly. It’s important to remember that was not normal until the 80s. It wasn’t. Now, we’ve going to another whole level where people are not even having real jobs with people like they’re just becoming consultants, and in fact, one of the things that Covid has accelerated is the hiring of independent people as not as employees to come in in some fractional role to go and do things. So this whole trend of splintering into smaller and smaller units is is is absolutely going to run rampant through education.

[00:37:46.860] – James
Whereas if you look at if you look at traditional education in the West where, you know, you went to schools through K through 12 and then university and then you typically didn’t take any education after then, which is kind of insane. If you think about it. That whole thing is is just going to fall apart and that that there’ll be lots and lots and lots of alternatives to going to “the school”, whatever that is. People will homeschool. People will hire independent people to do things.

[00:38:23.040] – James
They’ll they’ll find other ways to get their kids through life. And universities are going to change dramatically. They already are. You know, people have suddenly woken up and said, oh, my God, in the United States, anyway, university is a very, very expensive, so typical university education costs about forty thousand dollars in tuition a year on average. It’s kind of crazy. And so, you know, it’s a four year degree. So talking about one hundred and sixty thousand dollars in tuition, probably another hundred thousand dollars in food and lodging, so a quarter of a million dollars in tuition.

[00:39:00.850] – James
And that’s usually debt.

[00:39:03.090] – James
And people are suddenly realizing, oh, my God, you could get that same education on the line. And then what am I spending the other thirty nine thousand dollars a year on, like, … Please can explain that to me? I’ve done math. I should have brought it here for this podcast. I haven’t got it in front of me. But I did math about what the average university professor makes and how many independent teachers that they could have in order to make independent students they could have in order to make the same amount of money.

[00:39:34.970] – James
And it this crazy numbers. I mean, teachers can make so much more money with vastly less students by teaching online without the institution because the institution is just expensive. Something like ninety five percent of of of institutions is spent not teaching people. They’re just doing the other things that keeps the institution not. So clearly what’s going to happen here in education is the independent solo person is going to be vastly more important. They’ll also group into smaller groups and education will also become lifelong learning.

[00:40:18.650] – James
So that’s happened more in Asia than it has in the United States and it’s happening more in tech than it is in the arts. So, for example, if you’re a software developer, you already today are expected to learn the new software languages that come out. So you may graduate from the university, but throughout your career you’re going back and you’re learning the new Scala language or the new whatever it is, you know, and but but in the Arts, we sort of are doing that so much.

[00:40:50.900] – James
But that’s going to change. So the idea that education is going to be part of someone’s life for a long, long time is going to change the lives of both of those things, benefit people becoming solo practitioners, getting into small groups and starting little teaching practices, because that’s the trend. And then you can have all sorts of different opportunities. And this is why you have someone like me. I’ve grown, you know, six startups and they’ve they’re all still around in one way or another.

[00:41:25.670] – James
We’ve sold them. They’re doing other things. What is attracting someone like me to this space? Because, you know, it’s the future. It is absolutely the future.

[00:41:35.730] – Paul
And I think it’s worth pointing out, too, that, like historically, the the whole concept of mass education is is is not the way education has typically being done. If you go back, I think I think mass education is actually a product of the 19th century. But up until that point, like anyone with the means to do so, like hired a private tutor, private teacher for himself and for the children.

[00:42:01.080] – Paul
So in a way, we’ve kind of we’ve kind of gone full circle back to the way things were done before the industrial era.

[00:42:08.100] – James
So a hundred percent, I mean, there’s still little things in England for those of you that are English, you’ll know this. For those of you that aren’t, you may not. Public school is actually Private school in England. And the reason for that is because it was for the first time you didn’t have to hire a private tutor.

[00:42:23.880] – James
You could go to anyone from the general public, could go to an institution. So it’s whole public school, the private school.

[00:42:32.070] – Paul
I’ve often wondered about that contradiction in terms. I now understand that.

[00:42:36.150] – James
That’s why, because it was only royalty and the aristocracy that could afford the private tutors. So they they they’ve got these private institutions and said they were “open to the public”. And so that anachronism still lives on so you’re one hundred percent right, Paul.

[00:42:51.090] – Paul
How about you Zsuzsann, how do you think the twenty twenties are going to play out for online coaches, teachers, educators?

[00:42:58.390] – Zsuzsanna
I’m immensely enjoying this conversation. This is one of my favorite topics. And what I quote mostly is the stats from Forbes that in twenty twenty five the online education industry is supposed to be worth three hundred and twenty five billion US dollars. And that was a pre pandemic prediction. That was before actually we have Covid. And while I’m absolutely mindful of the detrimental effects of Covid on the world, I do believe that it’s time to see the positive side, which is that it accelerated a lot of different things that were happening in education already on a much slower rate because people had no choice in getting out of their comfort zone, especially when things have been done forever in one particular way.

[00:43:50.040] – Zsuzsanna
And we have a tendency to believe that because it’s been done like that since the 19th century. That’s how it has always been. It’s not true. It’s not true. As you say, Paul, we will re-explore old ways. Which are going to be the new ways of teaching people and learning things that we actually want to learn and we are good at and cater to those things more than try to push everybody through the same actual garlic press and just make sure that everybody comes out. Somehow at the other end. Who cares about the efficiency and the effectiveness of the whole system.

[00:44:27.240] – Zsuzsanna
It will be a lot more personal and it will be a lot more catering to bring out the best potential from everyone. And I think that’s what the home schooling movement is trying to do. That’s what the mentorship movement is trying to do. And I do believe that what’s happening in the world today is speeding it up enormously. And that’s that’s when the late adopters have to just conform.

[00:44:53.970] – Zsuzsanna
They must because we don’t have a choice right now. And that’s not only a bad thing. That’s all I’m saying.

[00:45:00.840] – Paul
I have a I have an analogy for this that I’ve often thought about, and that is during the war, Second World War. A lot of women suddenly entered the workforce. And that really was out of necessity, and then after the war finished, a lot of them went back to what they were doing before, but not all. And that was kind of like they those that kind of became like the the tectonic shift in a lot of ways that led to increased female participation in the workforce.

[00:45:37.470] – Paul
So so I think, as you said, Covid is kind of like this, this event in our lives that’s going to accelerate this process of people doing more and more online, people doing working more online, shopping more online, learning more online.

[00:45:54.560] – Paul
So so I think that Covid has really just added fuel to to a process that was already there.

[00:46:02.610] – James
So what you’re trying to say, Paul, is that in order for humanity to learn something awful have to happen first.

[00:46:08.280] – Paul
Sadly … Well, I’m not sure … I would …

[00:46:12.730] – James
Have a world war, a pandemic, but THEN we’ll get better.

[00:46:16.710] – Paul
Well, there’s a saying. There’s a saying. Somebody said, never let a good crisis go to waste. So, yeah, I think that events like like twenty twenty and the virus have, I think, shifted the way society sort of organizes itself. In many ways.

[00:46:35.410] – James
That’s 100 percent true, I like I like the thing that people are saying, which is that what it has done is it’s accelerated things that were already in place. So if things were going to get worse for you now, they’re going to get really bad, really fast.

[00:46:47.340] – James
If they were going to get better for you, they’re going to get better really fast. It hasn’t actually changed anything it’s just accelerated what was going to happen anyway. And I found that in most ways to be true. I’m sure there are some exceptions, but it’s sort of insightful way of thinking about it.

[00:47:06.510] – Paul
OK, well, is there anything that we haven’t talked about in this podcast that you specifically want to want to add before we wrap things up?

[00:47:15.690] – James
I think I would just say one other thing, which because I hear it a bunch, which is just people complaining that online just isn’t the same as in person. And I would just encourage everyone that that was that’s true. It misses the point. You know, when when books were invented, people bemoaned the fact that people were not either not seeing things in person, that you couldn’t you couldn’t experience the live…, but suddenly so many more people could read stuff like it’s such a powerful thing being able to be immediately transported into someone’s living room and and to learn something and and the time savings.

[00:48:03.150] – James
And there’s so many things you can do with the medium that next time someone says that to you that, you know, online is just not the same as in person. I wouldn’t argue with them about whether they’re right and wrong, because there are things that you definitely cannot do online that you could do in person. I have a hard time giving Zsuzsanna a hug, for example. Not that we’re allowed to in Covid times anyway. But but that misses the whole point.

[00:48:32.820] – James
Now you’re comparing these two things that just should not be compared there. There are some amazing things that you can do. And if you’re looking at it through that, through that rubric, then you’re missing the opportunity entirely.

[00:48:48.010] – Paul
OK, thanks, James. Zsuzsanna, do you have any final pearl of wisdom that you’d like to give the listeners to take away?

[00:48:56.260] – Zsuzsanna
I don’t know if we can call it wisdom. It’s a lot of collected experience, but I realize that authentic connections are possible online, offline. You know, it was possible during times when people could only exchange handwritten letters and they kept relationships going for decades through that medium. It was possible during incredible difficulties to build and to maintain authentic human connection. And that’s the whole point here with teaching, with with with being friends, that we are a social species.

[00:49:30.580] – Zsuzsanna
We need that. Try to see how is it possible to do that instead of seeing what is not working exactly the same rate at work before. Is that right? So I call this the virtual fireplace effect and we can create that online. And we joke in our team. We have two other beautiful team members. We are a team of four and there are a bunch of beautiful teachers who are learning with us as we speak. And what we say that there are two things we cannot do online for sure besides the hug.

[00:50:01.750] – Zsuzsanna
We cannot know how tall we are how tall the other person is and we never know what shoes they wear. Those are the two missing elements. But everything else can pretty much bridge and we can figure out creative ways to make it work. And that’s what I believe in, to make it work. And and I’m an absolute optimist about this, that it’s going to enrich our lives and all difficulties are going to bring about more creative solutions than peaceful times do.

[00:50:33.400] – Zsuzsanna
This is just the fact. Just to reflect back to James’s joke about what do you mean, we need a detriment to grow? Sometimes that’s true. Maybe not in a drastic way, but discomfort creates the need to to make something work and to make something else work and to come up with solutions. So, yes, I do believe that this is absolutely the right time to start an independent online teaching business. I think we are on the brink of a boom.

[00:51:01.210] – Zsuzsanna
This is the next Silicon Valley, as I say it. And whoever is with us now and whoever is ready to actually embark on this journey, we have what it takes and we can help you go through that. Absolutely. Thank you, Paul.

[00:51:18.940] – James
And just to underline that, Zsuzsanna and I have NEVER been in the same physical space. Ever. We met online. We are growing a business online.

[00:51:32.950] – Paul
That’s a great example. OK, well, guys, so if anyone wants to get in touch with either of you, what’s the best way for them to do that ?

[00:51:45.180] – James
For me, If you can remember my name, James. And you can remember our website, which is, the teaching co. I’m and you can email me, but you can also go to the website and click that help thing. And I will be there too and you can find me all over social media. Just message me that way if you prefer. James Green.

[00:52:06.660] – Paul
OK. Suzanna?

[00:52:08.220] – Zsuzsanna
Thank you. Yes, I wholeheartedly recommend the Teach and Thrive Online Facebook Group to everybody. I know it’s on your website, Paul. Thank you so much for that. And people can just join us there and take it from there. There will be free trainings there that they can access immediately. There is a community on hand and we can definitely figure out ways so they can actually start taking their own journey and we can help them along the way.

[00:52:37.620] – Paul
OK. All right. And and don’t forget, guys, if you want to complain about those retargeting ads, it’s … what was that email address again?

[00:52:47.160] – James

[00:52:48.870] – Zsuzsanna
What would some people do just to get the attention?!

[00:52:54.670] – Paul
All right. Well, thanks, guys.

[00:52:57.060] – Paul
Thanks for making time today. And so, listeners, don’t forget that you can hear more of these podcasts and read blog articles which deliver tips and tools for TeacherPreneurs at, that’s b-a-b-e-l-t-e-q dot com.

[00:53:15.090] – Paul
And feel free to go there and sign up for our newsletter if you don’t want to miss any more great podcasts such as the one today. So thank you, Zsuzsanna. Thank you, James.

[00:53:30.270] – Paul
Bye for now. Till next time. Bye-bye.

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