Description: Interview with Danny Iny, author of Teach and Grow Rich and creator of Course Builders Laboratory. Danny discusses the huge shift from “information products” to true “online education,” and how you can take advantage of this shift as an authentic expert.
Key Points & Takeaways
- Danny started his business by doing coaching and consulting — a great reminder that you don’t need to have a whole curriculum of courses just to get started.
- Being a good teacher is about seeing patterns in complexity, and making these accessible and understandable to other people. Danny immerses himself in a topic, read books, spend tons of time, and in his excitement explains what he learned to people around him. It’s a natural form of teaching.
- Everything we do in business and teaching involves two people in relationship. Authenticity is about being true to the real human dynamic that is in play. That means being honest, being vulnerable, being sensitive to those human sensitivities and drives that matter there. You’ve got people on both end of the transaction: people don’t fit into cookie-cutter molds. A good teacher takes into account the different needs of different students. Likewise in business, it’s about being honest with your story as a seller, and where people are coming from as buyers.
- The real purpose of why we’re doing things: it’s larger than making money. It’s a twisting of what business is really about to focus on money. Business is about finding a sustainable way to achieve outcomes. In an education business, it’s about empowering people to improve themselves.
- “If you care that much, why don’t you give it away for free?” Because free isn’t sustainable. By charging sustainable prices for courses, Danny can build a team to deliver really impactful education.
- There’s an information vs. education divide. In the publishing model, you sell information and you have no real responsibility to the buyer beyond the sale. In the education model, it’s a partnership between the buyer and sell, the teacher and student. You can’t just buy a diploma: you can only buy the opportunity to earn one.
- Broadly speaking, information is cheap and education is expensive. It’s more expensive to deliver and the outcomes are more valuable. Imagine the value of learning CPR from an instructor versus just reading about it in a book.
- Many marketers have defined an “online course” as a bunch of videos with a membership area. That’s really just information — but it’s being sold at prices that are only justified for education. When prices are misaligned with value, either the prices must drop or value must increase. So the market will split in two: low-cost information (a few dollars to a few dozen dollars for an ebook) and high-value education. It will actually become easier to charge higher prices for real premium education as people realize that information and education aren’t the same.
- This represents an enormous opportunity. There is a “long tail” of thousands of course topics that can only be addressed by independent entrepreneurs, who can provide personalized support.
- A key idea is “piloting.” The first time you build a course, you’re not going to get it all right — no matter how well you know the topic. So it’s important to give yourself the flexibility to deliver the course in a way that’s rough and unpolished, so you can see where the common questions and challenges are. Then you can address these better and better in further versions of the course. Over time, students get a great learning experience, without you needing to spend a huge amount of one-on-one time with each student.
- You don’t need to make that much money to get the flexibility and income you want. In the Firepole survey of course creators, many people expressed their motivation in terms of having autonomy and freedom by controlling their own income.
- What excites Danny most about this opportunity is that value can be created, and money made, by having a truly positive impact on the world.
How to learn from Danny’s new book, Teach and Grow Rich
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Danny’s #1 tip to move forward with your online course business
The advice that investors give to early startups is to “do things that don’t scale.”
Danny has the same advice for aspiring entrepreneurs and course builders.
When you’re just getting started, don’t invest in high-quality video and super-scripted lessons.
Let it be rough around the edges.
Charge a little less, and tell people that’s in exchange for their feedback.
Do something you can deploy quickly and adapt on the fly, so you can learn from the experience of seeing how people respond to and absorb the material.
It’s great for you: you’ll make money and have in impact faster.
It’s better for your students: you can adapt on the fly and create a better educational experience for them.