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Course Boundaries that Honor Self, Students, & Families with Mat Casner



Recently, I got the opportunity to sit down with Mat Casner. He's the host of the Freelance CEO podcast, and the founder of Ignite Business Academy and accelerator. And in this episode, we talk about a lot of things. But really what underpins everything that we talked about is boundaries, boundaries that honor, self, that honor students, and that honor families. And it is really such a good episode jam packed with reminders about just how important boundaries really are, it is something that you definitely want to listen to.

But before we do that, there are a couple of things that I would like to share with you. If you're a new course creator, and you want to dip your toes into the AI world, I have a really cool guide that I have developed and is available through email, you can get this email guide downloaded to you. It is a guide on using chat GPT. When to use it, how to use it. It has a list of 30 prompts. It's really cool, you can access that at my website.


The other thing that I want to share with you is that I am developing my own course is called Course Design 101. And it teaches my very specific and proven step by step framework for developing a more engaging, and more effective course that is streamlined and focused and data driven, and really focuses on client experience. That is currently open for a waitlist, both of those things you can find on my website at www. ericanash .com. And yeah, I highly recommend that you check them out. But for now, let's get into Mat's episode.



Erica Nash 2:00

Welcome to next level course creator, my name is Erica. And this is a podcast about creating premium online programs that participants never want to leave. If you want a program that serves the whole person satisfies participant needs, and creates brand ambassadors who tell all their friends about how awesome you are. This is for you. Listen in as we go beyond conversion numbers, sold out launches and five figure months to get to the heart of the matter. Taking care of the people who have already said yes. Let's go.


Erica Nash 2:36

Joining us today on the next level course creator podcast is Mat Casner, founder of freelance SEO and ignite Business Academy. Mat, thank you so much for saying yes. And coming on the show. Please tell us a little bit about you, your programs, just what you bring to the world in general.


Mat Casner 2:56

Yeah, no, thank you, Erica. It's a it's a privilege to be here today. And I am excited because of what you're doing and helping course creators become more effective teachers. And for me, I'm a, I'm a career graphic brand and web designer, I've been doing this for almost 30 years, I spent about 10 years in my corporate career, or really growing my skill set. And then decided about 15 years ago to step out and become an entrepreneur become a small business owner. And for me, that was scary. I had a young family at the time. And I but there was also some pressures to to be closer to home, that was a high value for me. And then to reduce some of my workload, my corporate career was very demanding lots of long hours, lots of time away from home. And that just didn't sit well with me.


Mat Casner 3:50

Money was not the biggest issue for me, it was my time. So becoming a small business owner, for me meant taking the skills and talents that I had. I knew that they were valuable because I was using them in corporate America, I was using them in agency work. And I knew they were valuable. So just finding out how to reposition myself as a business owner. To be able to earn an income. So that was a 15 year career that I've been on 15 year journey. As a as a freelancer, I am a solopreneur. I work by myself, I have a few partners that I work with from project to project, but by and large, it's just me. And so it's been a lot of fun. It's been kind of scary at times. It's been challenging at times to try to make it all work but you know, 15 years now, later on, I'm happy to say that I'm in a really great place. And recently and I'll say within the last five years I have I have started working with other creative business owners and so really just trying to engage people kind of where I was 15 years years ago, trying to figure out how to become a business owner.


Mat Casner 5:05

But I'm doing it now to try to help people, you know, shave some time, and maybe some pain off of the learning process. And so I started coaching. And then as a result of that, I really realized that the people that were coming to me were coming to me from lots of different backgrounds, they had some had good experience freelancing, maybe it was a good site. So for them, others were just trying to get out of their corporate nine to five and really had never explored business ownership. So you know, when, when you're trying to give someone a leg up, it really helps to have a common language, it helps to have like a common foundation of how to, to structure and run a business. And so for me, creating a course became that became a great foundational starting point that everyone could get, and then from then on learning became related to that core content.


Mat Casner 6:03

So for me, that course, has become very, very important and has allowed me to, to help my students get better progress, faster progress. Without a lot of downtime. People want to move pretty fast, when they're when they're starting a small business, and it can, it can, it can get pretty, it can get pretty stressful, if you're needing to earn an income, and you spend a lot of time in the learning process. So getting people to a point where they're, you know, finding clients sending invoices, and starting that business for me was was really important.


Erica Nash 6:40

That's so good. And I love that, you know, one of one of the things that you have talked about before and really focus on is getting them results quickly. And like you said, That's absolute, that's why people are doing it in, you know, this sort of online container, rather than going to get a degree or whatever, like they want to do it, they want to do it. Now they want to do it quickly. And so that's one of the things that I focus on in my work as well. And so I really love it. You know, that's kind of what you talked about, we'll probably dive into that a little bit later, as well.


Erica Nash 7:11

So you talked a lot about, you know, your family being a priority. And over the span of a 15 year career, I imagine that that that has looked very different over you know, the course of your time in the online business world. And one of the realities, right of being a next level course creator, that serving students at a really high level involves an incredible time commitment, it requires, you know, a lot of mental energy, a lot of emotional energy. And with your family being a priority, I would love to talk for just a little bit about how you balance caring for your family, and caring for your students or other clients.


Mat Casner 7:57

Yeah, that's a that's a great question, Erica. Yeah, balance is tough. Because I mean, as a parent, I, like I said, it's a high value for me and my wife, for us parenting is we are engaged, we want to be engaged. And we feel like that that's part of our responsibility as parents, but then also, as a business owner, you can't be less engaged, you have to be dialed in, it's a daily practice, to develop relationships to do the work. And for years, you know, for me, having an agency meant serving clients and doing things for them. But how do you strike that that balance? That's a That's a fantastic question. I think, for me, one of the things that I had to learn very early on was just what that separation looked like, and how do I create real boundaries that protect my time with my family? And how do I draw boundaries that protect time with my work with my students?


Mat Casner 8:55

So you know, one thing is that I did have an office in my basement. And, you know, that was great for a period of time, but I learned that the it was, it was very messy. I would be, you know, I would be working. And then there would be a lot of distractions, and I say distractions, they're cute little distractions, and they would want to hop up on your lap and, and they would want your attention. And that would be tough, because when you're working, it's hard to give focus to things. So one of the things I did was I found a I found an office not too far from my house, I live in a very, very small town. And for me, it was something where I was close, but at least I could be when I'm at work, I'm at work. And then when I'm at home, I'm at home. And so, you know, for me communicating with my clients with my students. And, and I would say in addition to creating those boundaries, is good communication. It's making sure that your that your work, your clients, your students You know, when you're available, when is it, okay?


Mat Casner 10:03

I use the term office hours from college, I remember my professors would have a specified set of hours on their door. And they would say, Hey, this is when I'm going to be available. This is when you can come talk to me. And so that was just something that I could put on my calendar. And if I had a question, I knew I could go there at that particular time. And that was really smart. Because that professor was really guarding their time. It's not that they didn't want to be available, they just knew that they couldn't be available all the time. So for me, that's, that's, that's literally one of the strategies that I use, to give students time is to have carved out times on my calendar that are dedicated to helping them with problems, answering questions, helping them brainstorm, helping them to make progress or get unstuck. Maybe it's a mindset thing, and they just need some encouragement. And so that would be probably another big tactic. So you know, number one, set some boundaries. And number two, just just communicate effectively when you're going to be available.


Erica Nash 11:06

I love that. I love that advice, even just like for myself, because I my husband is a teacher, and I homeschool my teenager, and my teenager is not a distraction. But whenever my husband has holidays, he is a distraction, and I love him so much. But it's just when he's here, it's like, I want to enjoy that time, you know, like, he's out of that out of the house more than more than our daughter is. And so I get so distracted, and find that I do have to create some of that separation with myself. And so I totally understand that that's a really, really great suggestion.


Mat Casner 11:50

Yeah, and I you know, what, as, as a, as a business owner, I always understood holidays were hard, because that's when my kids are off from school. And believe me, when my kids were on their holiday breaks, I wanted to be out hanging around with them. And so yeah, there's a tension there. And so but the good thing about being an entrepreneur is ultimately I'm in charge of my calendar. So you know, whether it's blocking off my Fridays, and don't take appointments so that I could spend that extra quality time with my kids who are available. And you know, now my kids are either grown and married, or they're in college. So it's a different scenario for me right now with time, but I remember not too many years ago, when they they would be around and, man, it's hard.


Erica Nash 12:35

Yeah, I and I certainly, you know, probably some of the listeners have little kids. And that's certainly going to be very different than like, even in my situation now with a teenager at home. You know, I honestly I you know, I admire the ones that are doing this with really little kids. And I imagine that the boundaries put in place that you of course, they're going to look very different. But I imagine that they have to be held just that much stronger. In kind of like you were talking about, you know, just like planning ahead, really looking at the calendar and kind of making those plans with the knowledge that things change quickly when you when you have kids and a family and people that depend on you. So I would love to talk just a little bit about the emotional load that comes with serving students at a high level, and also caring for your family. Have you found? Like, are there any strategies or systems or processes or supports that you have in place to help you kind of carry that emotional load of like serving this group of people that have said yes to you, while also like saving and honoring the commitment you have to your family?


Mat Casner 13:53

Yeah, that's a fantastic question. Erica. You know, as a parent, externally somedays, you give a lot of energy, you give a lot of emotion. And and it can, it can be tapped out of you pretty quickly, and then maybe have to turn around and be able to spend energy with maybe a client or a student. And I would say what I do. Number one, self care is important. I think that as business owners in general, I think self care is important when we're wearing a lot of hats when we're wearing the parenting hat. When we're wearing the entrepreneurial hat when we're wearing the coaching or the teacher hat. We just have to realize that those are activities that can drain emotion and energy very quickly. So what's the what's what's the key? I mean to me? I guard pretty quickly like my evening time i I guard my morning Time pretty, pretty strictly those the morning time specifically is my time, that's kind of where I spend, you know, any any personal time quiet time, that's, that's that's my time and that is kind of where I I kind of get my my tank topped off for the day.


Mat Casner 15:20

But I also have to realize that you know the sleep that I'm getting and and making sure that that I have some like good quality downtime, I love taking naps, I love getting outside and as as business owners who are in our houses a lot I will go out and take a walk I it's kind of a it's kind of an afternoon ritual for me, as long as the weather's good. Right now in Kansas, our weather can be a little bit iffy. But you know, getting outside fresh air, just a chance to walk around and stretch for me mentally gives me a lift. If I'm if I'm kind of in a in a drained state of mind, if I've been working hard if I've been coaching people and, you know, working with with with students that are really maybe could be taxing, just be honest. To me that afternoon walk is therapeutic. You know, it's exercise, I think, I think that there's some science behind that, but just the emotional lift that I get from doing that. And then, you know, I think it's important to have fun. If you don't have some time, some fun planned in your week, you know, a date night, or maybe maybe just doing something fun in the neighborhood or something, you know, just it doesn't have to be expensive, doesn't have to be elaborate, just something that is on your calendar that you're looking forward to. Because that also will help you kind of push through some of those harder days, where you're really feeling rundown, and you know that okay, something funds coming down the pipe, and I can be excited for that I can look forward to that with some anticipation. So I think those are just maybe a couple of suggestions that I use, it's, it's it's real, dealing with that expenditure of emotion is something we just have to always make sure that we're watching the gas the level on the gas tank, and making sure we're not running on empty.


Erica Nash 17:23

Yeah, no, those are great suggestions. And I totally agree with you. And as course creators, most of the time, I would say 99.9% of the time people are in this because they want to help people. And when other people are involved, things just get really complex, and they get really heavy really fast. And it's it tends to be in our nature to give, give, give, give, give without really taking care of ourselves, or accepting help from other people. And so I think it's super important kind of what you're saying these things that seem small, but are not small, going outside, seeing the sun experiencing the outdoors for 10 or 15 minutes, even when I think sometimes we are so bogged down in what we're doing that that seems like it's not attainable, like 15 minutes is is too much time and I can't and so then we kind of have to look at our systems that we have in place in our own boundaries and kind of like, Oh, if this is if this feels like too much, where have I not taken care of other things? Or where can I you know, move things around. So that that becomes something that doesn't feel? I don't know, so out of reach, because I kind of agree with you. And well not kind of, I do agree with you that sometimes there there are students that are more taxing than others. And it has nothing to do with the kind of person they are it has nothing to do with, you know, any sort of like anything, but it's not a bad thing. It's just that sometimes the emotional load that people bring in is different. And that also talk speaks to like our own emotional load and like do those things clash or interact in a very specific way? And being aware of those things, I think is just so important.


Mat Casner 19:23

Yeah, I 100% and I just thought of something else that I'll share. And if you've done courses before, and you know that that some some people can be Emotional Vampires. And they can they can be the people that are requesting your time all the time, and seem to have a never ending list of questions to ask and or you need you for something this or that. And so then this is a specific type of person that I just have to be careful with. And this is you know, everybody's different. And so try to just value the person. But I will say that as a coach or as a, as a course creator, you know, we have to, we have to understand that that giving someone the information, the encouragement, the direction that they need to go, is important. But we can't assume the the results are going to be ours alone, we have to acknowledge that a student is going to succeed or fail based on their level of commitment, their level of implementation, their ability to, to do the work, and, and I tell my students that a lot, sometimes I'm like, you know, I'm not giving you a magic pill, I'm not giving you a, I'm not waving a magic wand, I'm giving you a direction, the results are up to you. And so I mean, sometimes you gotta tell even adults to put their big kid pants on and, and, and that's okay. Otherwise, we can find ourselves spending a lot of time spending energy, trying to maybe nurse a client, a students that that needs to just be an adult and, and do the work.


Erica Nash 21:10

You were talking about, you know, these these students that, you know, sometimes will, are Emotional Vampires kind of take take take. And and you said, you know, like that they have to do their part essentially. And, and that's absolutely true. And I think it's so important to remember, like, you know, like, as you said, as course creators, we can't take all of that on. And we have to remember that the course journey is, is a give and take on both parts. You know, like, we as course creators are responsible for creating the best course that we can in this moment with the knowledge and the resources that we have now, and create an experience that, you know, is engaging and informative and like, gives the information that goes to the promise that we made them. But on the other side, the course takers are responsible for showing up for putting in the effort for engaging in the material, and for taking all of the opportunity that they have to get support to engage to be present, you know, whether it's a group coaching program, or one on one program, or whatever it might be, there is a responsibility on both parts to fully engage. And then, you know, that's when we start to see the results that are just kind of like snowballed into this huge, like, wow, we didn't even know that was possible.


Erica Nash 22:42

So switching gears just a little bit, and this will kind of go into, you know, this idea of boundaries and not taking on, you know, responsibility that isn't necessarily yours. And this idea of you know, being at home, essentially and working from a place of, you know, you getting to decide your own schedule. And, you know, when you go out amongst the people or when you're at home alone, you talked a little bit about how you're an introverted extrovert, that you love people, but you also love your quiet. And that's something that really resonates resonates with me personally. And I feel like will resonate with a lot of listeners as well, just being in the online space, I think we tend to gravitate towards that type of interaction with people. And I think oftentimes, we try to create programs and systems that work in extroverts favor, because that seems to be most acceptable and widely shared, like on social media. And so personally, I'm in a season of life where I'm trying to honor my natural tendencies and create systems that work within that. And so I am extra curious, I'm starting to see that shift online as well. People are trying to create systems that it's like, oh, I don't have to be this other thing that I am just not in starting to not necessarily work against themselves but work for themselves. So I'm extra curious, you've been in the online business game for a bit, how have you set up your your program specifically, but also we can talk about, you know, your systems in business in general, but to work with your introverted extraversion?


Mat Casner 24:34

So I think for me, I know, when I'm with a group of people I have, I have no problem being a part of the group, but unlike maybe a fully extroverted person, it takes a lot of energy out of me. And so I find myself after those encounters after those engagements, really needing some downtime, or really wanting that that downtime, I'm not the person who craves a, you know, interaction 24/7 I'm not I'm not that person. I'm a people person. I love people. So for me, what I've learned is, and I've learned what some of my strengths are. I'm not really a cheerleader rah rah. But I am an encourager. And so for me, one of the things that has really helped me identifying that I'm kind of this introverted extrovert is that to me, being able to get in a group with my students online, is a great dynamic for me. Because it allows me kind of in a limited space, to be to be together with a group of people. And to be an encourager, something that I'm, I'm gifted with, that's just one of my, one of my talents, I wouldn't call it talent, it's just something that I really am a natural encourager, I want to encourage people I want them to succeed. But then I know that, you know, with my online courses, I again, it's, it's about that communication and setting up boundaries, I create those opportunities, where I can share I can give I can, I can be what people need for me to be at that time, just knowing in the back of my mind that it's, it's not an all day, every day, I don't have to be on, you know, in that serving in that capacity for hours on end, it's going to be a window here, a window there. And having it having it my business setup like that, really is is great for me, because they're durations that I can sustain. You know, if I'm in a room for more than a couple of hours with people, I'm kind of looking at my watch going, okay, are we about done with this yet. But you know, for a good hour, I can be really dialed in engaged. So for me, that's just kind of knowing what my capacity is. And knowing that I may have a couple of these sessions scheduled on my calendar. And knowing how much I really enjoy them, I look forward to them. But I also know that they're not going to go on forever either. So I know that there's that they're kind of just like that sweet spot for me, in terms of how I can serve my, my my course audience in a way that honors kind of who I am yet gives me the opportunity to be the best I can be for that point in time.


Erica Nash 27:30

No, that's great. You said you enjoy them, but you know that they won't go on forever. And I think that that is such a beautiful way to put it because like both can be true at the same time. We can enjoy things, but they can also make us tired, and that's okay. And so, you know, creating this space, and like you said, you know, meeting over Zoom is really such a great way to kind of put some controls around that, like, you know, I mean, it probably wouldn't even necessarily be possible to meet in person. But it is a totally different dynamic than when you're in an in person meeting. And so it it does allow you to kind of reserve some of your energy in a way, which I think is really fantastic.


Mat Casner 28:12

Yeah, and I just think about I know you've got experience in a in a public school classroom. To me, to me, that's those are the people that are my heroes, because they are they are in front of life, people from eight until three. And that's, that's a special special gift.


Erica Nash 28:32

Well, I appreciate that so much. I am no longer a teacher, but I still kind of identify and, of course, have a heart I mean my family. I have a family of teachers as well. But I will say just kind of on that. I didn't realize how much energy I was using until I left the classroom. And when I look back on it, I don't I don't know how I sustained it. But I will say that, especially I was in the classroom for 10 years, and especially later in my career, I was recognizing how much of myself I was giving in the classroom and how little I had left when I got home. And so you know, family is a big priority for me as well. And quickly recognize how much I was giving to my kids at school and not giving to my daughter at home. And so that like figuring out how to put my energy in the proper places, and learning how to navigate a world where my job didn't take up every ounce of energy was really it was challenging, but it was also just really really freeing in a way that I didn't know that I needed.


Mat Casner 29:54

Yeah, I can only imagine.


Erica Nash 29:58

It was fun, but it was exhausting. So, to switch gears just well not really switch gears, but red flags are a current buzzword, I'm gonna lean into that for just a little bit. Let's say that you notice some red flag behavior in yourself, you know, your family is a priority for you. And you can kind of see that maybe your work is starting to encroach on some family time, or maybe even vice versa, where you're not fully engaged in, you know, your meetings with your students or your coaching or whatever. At that point, when you know that you need to tighten up your boundaries, whether it's to honor your family time, or your work time or your introverted extraversion. How do you approach that with your students who have maybe been exposed to the sort of precedent that you've set? And that needs to go away?


Mat Casner 30:53

No, that's it. That's a fan That's a fantastic question. I think that I got, I got caught early on in some of my of my coaching by overextending. And, like you said, creating a bad precedent where people were assembling that I was available. You know, 24 by seven, I, again, it kind of comes back from a cultural standpoint, when I was working in corporate, I had this little thing on my hip called a pager, and people listening to the podcast, may not even know what that is. But it was pre cellphone, it was like, it was like a digital leash. And it was basically someone had permission to reach you at any time of day. And, you know, I had that mindset, even going into becoming a business owner, that I felt like if I'm, if I'm going to serve my customers, well, I have to be available 24/7 and be totally on call. And that was such a bad way of thinking. Because you mentioned that it created all kinds of hardships, with family with commitments to my kids.


Mat Casner 32:01

And even when even when I was with my kids, if I felt like I had to respond to that email, where if I had to respond to that text, while I'm in the middle of a family event, guilt, you've got all sorts of emotions that come along with it, and my, and my love and my family will and my and my serving my clients. Well. So for me, yeah, I mean, hard lessons to learn. But when when you encroach, either, you know, the boundaries on either side? Number one is, is this acknowledge it? And, and, and understand that, you know, again, I mentioned that word guilt, you know, that can, that can be an energy drain as well, whether it's with family, or whether it's with your, your your clients, or your students carrying that around? No, good. So number one is you've got to identify, you know, hey, where is this? Where is this red flag? What's prompting this? And is there a way that I can make an adjustment to prevent that? So, I mean, though, no, no secret, the Office Hours concept that I created for my coaching students was a direct response out of how do I create availability, without letting people think that I'm just reachable? Whenever, wherever? And that I'm just going to answer every email whenever somebody sends it.


Mat Casner 33:28

So setting up that communication, and letting people know, is very freeing. It's It's very liberating, to know that, when I'm with my family, I'm, I'm with my family. And if the email comes, and it's, you know, it's during office hours, I'll take care of it. But if it comes in the evenings, or on the weekend, or whatever, yeah, that'll wait till Monday, I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm going to spend time with people that I care about right now. And not that I don't care about my students. But, you know, most of my students know my heart too. And I'm very transparent about that. And so, you know, I'll share I'll share with them what's going on. And, you know, I think that gives my students a little bit of a, you know, clue into what my priorities are. And, you know, I know that for a lot of my students, they appreciate that. And, you know, as I'm creating boundaries for myself, and learning from those hard lessons, you know, it's their teaching moments for my students, because they're going through the exact same thing.


Erica Nash 34:30

Yeah, absolutely. I love that you said that, because I was thinking the same thing that you know, by you, being transparent with them and letting them know, Hey, this is going to have to change and here's how we're going to navigate that allows them I mean, it's just modeling. It allows them to see like, oh, maybe I need to think about doing that as well. And I don't because a lot of people are going to come in from some sort of nine to five with that employee mindset of have, I have to be on this digital leash with, you know, being at my boss's beck and call for whatever. And that it doesn't have to be that way we get to, we get to be a little more free with our time, which is so beautiful. And it's amazing.


Erica Nash 35:23

One of the things that you said talking about your pager was that anybody had permission to reach you at any time of day. And this is something that, I think is I think it can be really detrimental to our journey as entrepreneurs, but also just to ourselves in general, you know, we still have these digital issues, right, we're like we are attached to our phones, and people have more access to us than ever before. And access that they don't necessarily deserve. And I just want to encourage anybody that has notifications of any kind emails, going to their phone, and whatever, that it's okay to take those notifications and turn them off, it is okay to set a time of day where you go in and you go into that one specific app, or your email or whatever it might be. And you get to check that nothing is an emergency. While most of the time it's not an emergency, it can wait. And we get to enjoy our lives, we get to be with our families, we get to be present with whatever it is that we're doing. We don't have to be beholden to anyone for any reason, especially not our phones. So I just had to throw that out there.


Mat Casner 36:49

Yeah, I when when iPhone released this focus feature, you could put the do not disturb or the focus setting on it's been a game changer for me. I love it.


Erica Nash 37:02

Yeah, same. And I think it was, I guess it's probably been almost a year now. I was having so much anxiety over my email, I would wake up in the morning. And it was like, you know, there would be notifications on my phone. And so I would see the previews. And immediately, I would like fill it in my chest and my gut. And it was just like, just causing so many problems, because then immediately I was already like in this mode of, I don't know, high tension. And I decided, You know what, I am going to turn off all my notifications for all of my email, and all of my any kind of work, Stephanie, if any clients were coming to talk to me, all of that was getting silenced. And I put just a calendar space in my day, or like a spot on my calendar where I could go in and you know, check email or check notifications or whatever. And that made such a huge difference, I still haven't turned them back on. It's beautiful. I still have the apps on my phone, so I can go and check them when I need to. But not having the notifications is so nice, because it doesn't feel like people are in there sending it at a time when they're available. Right? Like they're not expecting me to answer right away.


Erica Nash 38:13

But I was feeling the pressure on myself to answer right away. And so it was creating this cycle of like, I was just allowing them to interrupt everything. And then not that it was creating resentment, but I could see how down the line maybe that could begin to develop. And so we just took that out of out of the equation, just turn it off. And, and it's fine. No emergencies in sight.


Mat Casner 38:42

Good for you.


Erica Nash 38:45

So switching gears just a bit, when I favorite things to do is strip the fluff away from courses. So I could really get on a soapbox about this, but I will keep it very brief. Adding fluff to a course is what I've referred to as the bonus stuffing trap. And so oftentimes it does more harm than good. But because course creators are in their heads about how much they're charging, they feel like they need to add a bunch of bonus type things to make it worth their price or they want you know, it's just it's in the spirit of giving. It's it's all coming from a really good place. But a lot of times it creates a lot of overwhelm. And I know that you have a fluff free approach as well. So how have you been able to recognize when something is considered fluff in your curriculum? And how do you allow yourself to let it go rather than stay married to it and hold on?


Mat Casner 39:45

Man, great question. I probably when I started when I started writing my course I it seemed like I was putting everything in that kitchen sink and and I was like oh my gosh, if I do this thing If I set this thing out, it's gonna be months before people get. I'm like, This is ridiculous. No one's gonna last with me that long. And so you have to understand, you know, Erica, I, you, you you have a, you have a background in education I do not know I have, I've been to school and I have been I've taken a lot of people's courses. And for me, for me, what I ended up doing was I realized at the end of the day, that that people are, are going to be successful by the outcomes that they achieve, not necessarily what they learn. And so this is kind of the this is kind of the roadmap that I used, I started with the end in mind. I'm like, What's, what's the end goal, okay. And then I kind of started working my way back from the end goal, what are the benchmarks that you need to cover as you're working your way toward the end goal. And it was those benchmarks that I keyed on. And that was allowed me to reduce this huge course, curriculum monster I'd created into something that was more succinct, more straight to the point. And it worked really well, because each of these benchmarks that I was able to identify, were like links in a chain. And they took people down this chain, step by step to the point where this is they get to the end goal. And so that was that was literally my philosophy, or the framework that I followed, when I was when I was revising my, my curriculum, because I want people to be able to get through my curriculum in in eight weeks, without a lot of burden and without a lot of overwhelm. And, and I want people to be able to get through the course with, you know, 80 to 90% completion.


Mat Casner 42:11

And, and I think as course creators, I think we have these vanity metrics that the people that get in our classes, and that they start, it automatically means that we've done our job I, to me, I think that the effectiveness of a course creator, is how many people end up with you on graduation day. With you know, 80 to 90% of the work that they've done completed implemented. It to me that to when when I can get when I can get a student who who hits those benchmarks, when they can be with me for the entirety weeks, and, and they've been able to do at the 90% of the of the work and implement it. Almost almost 100% of those people are successful. And I know that overwhelm happens when we overload people with information, or we overload them with requirements. Sometimes it's necessary, but a lot of times it's busy work. And you probably have seen this this metaphor before. But you know, you take a, you take a bucket, and you fill it with sand, and you try to put these big rocks on top of it, and there's no room, but you put the big rocks in the bucket first and then you sprinkle the sand around it. And magically, there's room in the bucket for everything. And for me, it's these benchmarks that I work back with from the goal working back and find these benchmarks. Those are the big rocks, those are the big nuggets of content, that have to be they have to they have to understand that to implement before they can move to the next link in the chain. Those the big rocks, and then you know the rest of the rest of us just sand. The rest of it's not necessarily bad, it could be good. But it's not essential. I want to make sure that the big rocks get in the bucket first. And then we can work on filling the sand in later on.


Erica Nash 44:07

This makes me so happy. I could nerd out about about I nerd out about curriculum a lot. You said you didn't have any experience in education. And I'm going to say that that doesn't matter you have gone about that's the exact approach that I take to developing a course curriculum. And that's exactly what I do with my clients. And that's what you have to do. Right you have to figure out what is the overall goal and then you work backwards and you remove anything that doesn't serve that goal. And that is a really challenging thing because as course creators we we do become married to these ideas and it's hard to kill your darlings, right? Like it's hard to like this thing that you thought like would be super great. And maybe it is great. But it may not directly serve that goal.


Erica Nash 44:55

And so I love this. It's amazing. I haven't seen your curriculum, but I know just the way that you're talking about it and the way that you've approached this, that it's really strong. And I think that it's, you know, you talked about these vanity metrics. And there is a lot of that, that happens in you know, we, we get these ideas in our heads about what a successful course is. And it's so important that as course creators, we decide what those metrics are. And we get, we get to determine, you know, what it looks like to be successful in a specific course, because it's going to look different for this audience over here, and this course, over here, and this thing that, you know, we're trying to accomplish over here.


Erica Nash 45:42

And so it's totally okay to, and I'm gonna go out on a limb, and say, and this might be kind of risky, but I'm gonna say that completion doesn't necessarily matter as much as what people are learning and how they're able to implement it, and are they taking what they need, and going forward and creating the results that they came to you to create. And that's a beautiful thing.


Erica Nash 46:14

And the other thing I'm going to say is that, and I wish I could remember who I heard this from, because I thought it was so brilliant, and it really stuck with me. But recently, well, I say recently, it was probably a year and a half ago or so somebody said, when you're creating a course, you if you are creating a course about popcorn about how to make popcorn, you're not going to tell your students the history of developing popcorn and growing popcorn, you're going to teach them the steps of how to make the popcorn, they don't need to know the history of how popcorn was grown and discovered. Right? And so we kind of have to take this approach is like, you know, is this the history of popcorn? Or is the steps of are these the steps of making popcorn? To get the popcorn to then eat and enjoy the popcorn?


Erica Nash 47:08

All right, so I have one final question. If you could go back and chat with course creator, Mat, from a year ago, what advice would you give him?


Mat Casner 47:19

That's, that's a great question. I can I can tell you, Mat, a year ago was going through this refining process. And I would tell him, early on, I would say, quit trying to tell people what you know. Quit trying to tell them everything. You know, tell them what they need to know. Just give them just give them what they need. I used to be pretty proud of everything that I've done I am.


Mat Casner 47:52

But you know, strip stripping down and making it easy to understand making it less overwhelming. Has Has has brought a lot of benefits. And so yeah, that's probably what I would tell the younger the younger Matt is quit, quit, quit trying to tell everybody all that, you know, nobody cares. Just Just give them what they need to be successful.


Erica Nash 48:16

That's amazing advice. Thank you for sharing that. I knew that this episode was going to be good. I love to talk about family. And when you said that was a priority for you. I knew that this was a topic that we really had to had to jump on. As well as all of the other wisdom that you shared with us. It's much appreciated. If people are not already in your universe and are not in touch with you, please tell the listeners how they can find you online.


Mat Casner 48:47

I'm absolutely sure. www. freelance ceo.com.


Erica Nash 48:54

Awesome. I will tag or link everything up in the show notes as well. Matt, thank you again. I appreciate you so much.


Mat Casner 49:05

It was my pleasure, Erica, thank you for having me.


Erica Nash 49:09

Well, I hope today's episode brought a little clarity and community to your next level course journey. If you enjoyed listening, please consider subscribing and leaving a review. And if you'd like to connect, be sure to find me over on Instagram at Erica Nash design or on my website at Erica nash.com I would love to hear from you. Alright, you guys go forth, educate and change lives. I'll see you next time.


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