Value in Planning and Positivity

Creating courses ain’t easy.

I guess nobody said they would be. But I didn't think they'd be this tough!

It’s fair to say over the past few months weeks of asset creation, cobbling together cue carded talking points and generally trying to make something valuable for people, I’ve developed a new found respect for all the tutorial and MOOC creators out there.

It turns out it takes a lot of little planning to make a valuable course.

More planning than I thought it would.

More planning than I’ve done for a very very long time!

You see, we’ve got a “ship it” mindset at HelpDocs. If we wanna find out whether something works, we try it.

If it works, great.

If it doesn’t work… 🤷‍♂️

At least we’ll only lose the small amount of time we spent actually doing the thing.

But you can’t do that with courses.

You can’t do that with something where the success relies on the quality of the content being delivered.

Where shit has to be good in order to not be, well, shit!

Stop Shipping, Start Planning?

I found out pretty quickly that getting out of the “just ship it” mindset was going to be super tricky.

When the better part of a year has been focused on doing without a whole lot of emphasis on planning going against that winds up being super anxiety inducing.

After a couple of weeks planning I felt ready to create my first course. The focus was customising knowledge bases. Something I feel I’ve become quite adept to over the past year.

I’d created assets and scripts. I knew how many videos I needed to produce. I even had the engineers knock together a HelpDocs template where I could show off the course when it was complete.

But I became anxious.

Not just because the process was so slow.

But because my imposter syndrome kicked in again.

What if it’s not good enough?

What do you even know about customising knowledge bases anyway?

Who the hell wants to listen to you?

Congratulations, you’ve just spent 2 weeks on something that’s gonna be shit!

It was the last one that really knocked me down. The idea that I’d wasted so much time. What if what I ship doesn’t reflect the amount of time I’ve spent on it.

I started placing pressure on myself. I needed to do everything. But do it better, and quicker than I had been. 😬

It was arbitrary, of course.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, all this pressure was adding a mental block. Pointless hurdles that needn’t be there.

And I was stressing! 🤷‍♂️

This wasn’t just another ranty blog post where I spew some inane thoughts about how hiring was making me feel.

It wasn’t just another live session or a workshop where my purpose is to answer questions and try not to screw things up too much.

Something far more educational than we’d embarked on before.

Something designed to bring some hardcore value to people. I guess people would say it was content to position us as “thought leaders”.



I hate that phrase.

I cringe every time I hear it.

An awesome creator said something funny about this the other day. That most thought leaders are really thought repeaters.

And it’s true.

So many people seem to regurgitate the same tired thoughts and claim them as their own.

And I really, truly didn’t wanna do that with our courses.

They Who Plan Longest Ship Latest…But Maybe Bestest?

It was during my vacation—camping for a week in the New Forest, far from screens or decent wifi—that I had my epiphany.

Sat in the car and staring out across the rain battered heathland. Cat was napping beside me. Woody was curled up asleep too. Damp and swathed in towels on the back seat after our brief foray into the wild heather.

And I just sat. Watching. Thinking. 🧘‍♂️

Sometimes it’s ok to take it slow.

My mind wandered back to the courses. But it wasn’t in the usual stressed out “must do work” kinda way. It was more contemplative that that.

I thought about the value we would be creating. The knowledge we’d be sharing that many of our customers would benefit from.

I turned to my phone which’d been off for a few days. I’d finally found the charging cable—#Camping!—and just wanted to check in. Even though I said I wouldn’t. (Don’t tell Jake and Jarratt! 🤫)

As it blinked to life I ran through expected battle with notifications.

Spam. Facebook. Spam. Spam.

And then I saw a Twitter DM.

It’s rare I get DMs on Twitter. And if I do, their usually just more spam letting me know about some webinar or something.

But this was different.

This was from a customer.

I opened the message with trepidation. What have you forgotten to do you absolute tool?! But to my surprise it wasn’t to tell me I’d done something wrong.

In fact, quite the opposite.

It was sweet.

It was heartwarming.

And it gave me a gut-punch of feels even as I read it back now.

You are awesome, and immensely brave for even daring to try.


Never Underestimate Your Impact

A simple DM reinvigorated my confidence. It was reassurance. Direct reassurance. From a real, living breathing customer. One that felt animated enough to tell me that what I was doing was valuable to them.

More than that, it was a reminder. A reminder of the things I’ve already delivered on. The live sessions. The workshops. The blog posts and newsletters. And how that’s helped build my confidence in front of camera.

It was a swift middle finger to my imposter syndrome and I returned from the holiday raring to go. Excited to record and finally edit the videos that I’d spent so long envisioning.

That DM reminded me I can never really know the value the things we do might bring. I can’t know who’ll place value into something like a video course, or a live session.

And regardless of how much time’s spent planning it, if it brings value to a single customer it’s worth it. 🙂

This has also given me a new perspective on how I view and use things like social media.

Instead of treating places with standoffish disdain, or as a place filled and fuelled by hate I wanna share positivity. I wanna build people up.

Tell them when I appreciate their content.

And maybe one day my encouragement will land at the right time for someone else. And will lift them out of a stress bubble.

No harm in trying, right?! 🤷‍