In today’s special live episode, I’m thrilled to celebrate our one-year milestone with an exceptional guest, Fay Wallis, a career and executive coach with a top 2% worldwide rated podcast, “HR Coffee Time.”

Fay has generously agreed to share the valuable lessons she’s learned from launching and running her successful group coaching programme, Inspiring HR, six times over.

[00:01:00] Introduction to Fay Wallis

[00:06:00] The Genesis of Inspiring HR

[00:12:00] Trial and Adaptation

[00:19:00] The Power of Connection Over Content

[00:25:00] Incorporating One-to-One Coaching

[00:30:00] Marketing and Promotion Insights

Key Takeaways:

Thank you for joining us on this journey. Fay’s story is an inspiration to the impact of specialisation, the power of community, and the importance of resilience in marketing.

Whether you’re considering launching your own group programme or looking to refine an existing one, there’s much to learn from Fay’s experience.

If you’d like help with making your programme as brilliant as Fay’s, I’m launching a programme called Elevate to help you to do just that. We start on Wednesday 13 March and the closing date to sign up is Friday 8 March. Here’s the details to jump in quickly as I won’t be running this programme for at least another 6 months.

Useful Links

Elevate: Online Course & Group Mastery Programme

How to secure more coaching clients’ free training

Download the 12 ways to get clients now

Learn about The Business of Coaching programme

Connect with Jo on LinkedIn

Rate and Review the Podcast

If you found this episode of Women in the Coaching Arena helpful, please do rate and review it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

If you’re kind enough to leave a review, please do let Jo know so she can say thank you. You can always reach her at: joanna@joannalottcoaching.com

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Transcript
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Hello and welcome to Women in the Coaching Arena podcast. I'm so glad you are here. I'm Jo Lott, a business mentor and ICF accredited coach

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and I help coaches to build brilliant businesses. I know that when you prepare to enter the arena, there is fear, self doubt, comparison, anxiety, uncertainty. You can tend to armor up and protect yourself from vulnerability. In this podcast, I'll be sharing honest, not hype, practical and emotional tools to support you to make the difference that you are here for. Dare greatly. You belong in this arena.

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Hello, welcome to the 52nd episode of women in the coaching arena. I am so glad you are here. To celebrate this one year milestone. I'm super excited to have Fay Wallis here. She is a career and executive coach. She has a top rated podcast, one of the top 2% of all podcasts in the world. And there are three and a half million or so out there. Her podcast is called HR coffee time. And today she is sharing her learnings of launching and running her group coaching program, inspiring HR, six times now. There is so much gold in this conversation. She joined part of a private Facebook group of a five day challenge I've been running but fortunately she has agreed. I can share it on my podcast as well. So thank you so much, Fay, for sharing all of your amazing learnings. I feel blessed to have you in my world. And I'm super excited to share this conversation with you today. we are live in the group. Thank you so much Fay for being here on this last minute live. My last minute Lott formula as usual came in in the end. Do share a bit about yourself. Oh, thank you so much for having me. I've been following the challenge all week. So it's a surreal but exciting feeling to be in the room with you and to tell everyone a little bit about myself. So I'm Fay. I have had my business Bright Sky Career Coaching for nearly eight years, which I can't believe it's just gone so quickly. And I started off as a career coach to All professions. I resisted niching for so long and it made such a difference when I finally niched. So I only actually niched about a year and a half ago, but that really is when I just saw a dramatic difference for my business. So Jo, I completely agree with the advice you've been saying all week. So I niched to become a career and executive coach for HR professionals. So that's what I do now. And I have a group program, which I think is. the main thing you wanted to talk about today, but I still do one to one coaching as well. Yes, you do. Exactly. And Fay has some amazing, exciting news. She probably is far too modest to share it, so I will share it for her. But she has a podcast which is in the top 2 percent of all podcasts, and there are about three and a half million podcasts out there. Is that right, Fay? Yes, I, I honestly can't believe that I found out yesterday, actually. So I have a podcast called HR Coffee Time, and it was really after starting that podcast that I started to explore niching. And when I started it, I had no idea if anyone would listen. I remember the first week, the first episode came out, it showed like, you know, two listeners, me and my sister. And yeah, so I've been really blown away by how well it's done really. It honestly doesn't feel real. When I saw that statistic yesterday, that it's in the top 2 percent of all podcasts across the world. It's just, It's just odd because I record it from here, which is like my spare bedroom slash home office. So in my mind someone with a huge podcast is someone like Stephen Bartlett who's got you know Is a millionaire slash billionaire already and has some fancy recording studio. So yeah, that's my exciting news Yeah, congratulations. Yeah, it's an amazing podcast. I'm excited. I featured in the early episodes. You were only a little while in when I was on there. So yes, your podcasts are amazing. And it was great inspiration for me to start mine as well. So thank you so much and huge congratulations. So tell us what inspired you to create a group program to start with and how you got the idea of what program to launch. There were probably a few different things that inspired me to do the group program. One is probably seeing you in action Jo, because you were just amazing with your group program. But I think other things were, I hadn't niched yet until that point and I was a career coach for all professions. And as part of that, I was doing a lot of outplacement work. So for anyone who's not familiar with outplacement work, that's when an organization is making redundancies and they hire in an external person or a company to support all of the people who are losing their jobs. with moving on to their next roles. And what I found with the outplacement was, although I'd spent a long time building up my reputation in that area, and I had regular clients, it was very unpredictable work, and I would just suddenly get a call from an HR director saying, Oh my gosh, Fay, we're letting all these people go, and we hadn't thought about outplacement. Can you, can you put some in place for Friday? And what it meant was that I just felt under pressure quite a lot of the time to just have to work really, really hard at the last minute. And then I found myself on holiday with my family working every single day to stay on top of the outplacement work where I had new inquiries coming in. So at that point, the business was doing really well. So I had other coaches supporting me with delivering the work, but I still had to be, the main point of contact with the client. And I just thought something has to change. I just can't carry on working like this. It's not really fair on my family. And I thought, well, what can I do? Like, it's, it's, it's really difficult. What do I do about it? And I started thinking. Well, actually, if I had a group program, then I could say how many people I wanted to help at once. I could set the date that it's running, so I don't have this nightmare of having to work while I'm on holiday, or having clients suddenly booking in when it's school holidays, and I've got kids and things. The juggle is just really difficult, but also from having the podcast, from having some other resources for HR professionals, I'd started naturally attracting HR professionals towards me to have coaching. And I should say at this point, I have an HR background before I. became a coach. I was an HR professional and I suddenly started to notice similar themes coming up. So the same things, the same challenges kept coming up again and again and again. And although I could help the people with the coaching and it was very rewarding, I really realized the benefit in actually bringing a group together. Because a lot of people in HR, especially if they're in a standalone role where they haven't got a team, but I later discovered this still impacts people, even if they have a team, particularly if they're senior, is they can feel very alone and that they haven't got anyone to talk to about their challenges at work. And it can be a very tough job. It can be very emotionally draining. If you are in senior leadership, there can be conflict you're having to deal with. It can be hard to get buy in for your ideas. And so I thought, gosh, actually, if I created a group program where it's not just coaching, there's also an element of training in there to introduce them to some concepts and frameworks that I knew would help them. And by having a group, I, I work really hard on trying to get the group to bond and connect because it was my dream that once the group program was over, they would continue those relationships. I know that throughout my whole career and as a coach as well, just what a difference relationships make if you're having a bad day or you're stuck on an idea. So that was the inspiration behind starting it. Yeah, amazing. And I love the way, Fay is the best researcher ever. You really do go into your ideal client in such detail and it's really inspirational. So things like, polls on LinkedIn as to the topic, the name. Tell us more about how you made your decision on what program to create. Oh, it's so funny you should say that. I feel like it's something I could be much better at, the research part. Yes, but it's a good point. I suppose I have done quite a lot around that. I'd really learned from learning about marketing over the years that if you just say here's my group program Isn't it great, but can't everyone everyone thinks man, whatever scroll past Whereas if you involve people in the decision and you have a lot of this in HR work if you want to get by and You need to involve people in what you're designing if you involve people in the decision. They're far more likely to notice it, to pay attention to it and to be engaged with it, but also even more importantly, you're far more likely to create something that is useful and that they like. So I've tried to do that with a lot of my marketing, not just the group program. I would share, for example, when I started the podcast, I shared different images and said, These are two images for the podcast cover art that have been designed for me. Which one do you prefer? And it was fascinating seeing what people put and the reasons behind it. So I was then really confident in what podcast cover I chose at that time, but I did similar things with the group programs. So I was very stuck on a name and I shared some different ideas for names and said, what do you think? And again, it was great seeing the feedback. I ended up using a completely different name to the ones that I suggested from seeing the feedback. So yes, definitely at the creation stage. You're right. I do actually involve people quite a lot and do that research. And before I designed the program, I also had research calls with quite a few HR professionals to try and check that I was on the right track and see, are these really things that people are struggling with? Yeah, you did. And it's a great reminder every time when people launch something, they, they just want to go out there with their thing. It's that impatience of just like, I just want to tell everyone about this thing, but it makes such a difference, that kind of pre sale bit of the creation and getting people on board. It makes such a difference because, you know, I'm standing here eight years into the business. At the beginning, I spent hours. Days, weeks creating an online course thinking oh, everyone's gonna love this. Like I've put so much work into it and I can't wait to share it with the world I didn't tell anyone I was doing it. I didn't do any research to see if anyone wanted it I just thought this is an area I know about and that I can help people with I launched it And I think I had like, you know two people buy it in the first couple of months or something and it was just So demoralizing and depressing. I bought into this whole, lie that you see online, not from you, Jo. You're the opposite of this, thank goodness. But from this lie that actually anyone can create an online course and, you know, it's going to be a huge success. Actually, that kind of research part and the pre promotion part is just, it makes such a difference. So I've learned the hard way to do it that way. Totally. Yeah, me too. And, and I think that's why, even though it doesn't do my sales very good, I want people to learn that there's things that we need to do before launching and it's all possible. And, and that's what you're sharing with us today. But you know, you can't just whip this thing out there next week, if you've got zero audience. And if you haven't really checked that it's what people want. So please share more about your program, Inspiring HR. I couldn't remember if it was six or seven times you've launched it now. Yeah, so I'm just in the midst of running it for the sixth time. So I've been running it for just over a year and a half. And when I very first launched it, I did it as a trial. So again, learning the lessons from having launched online courses and it being a dismal failure before. I made sure I did the research to try and involve everyone in the, you know, warm up to it and the design and delivery of it. And then I Launched it as a, I never know if you say beta or beta, beta slash beta. Maybe I'll say pilot. So I offered it as, it was half the price than it is now. I said if you'd like to join it, this is what I'm planning on creating. I'll be creating it week by week for you. These are the different themes that we'll be covering each week and in exchange for getting it for this low price, I'd like to ask for your feedback. So that's how I filled it the first time. And I was really surprised actually, it filled up quite quickly. I think probably because the price was low and people knew that there's no way I was going to offer it like that again. And I did have an audience by this point. So I launched it and what's really interesting. So much of the program now is different to how I ran it that first time. So what used to really hold me back when I first started working for myself was this idea that I had to get things perfect. I couldn't launch it until it was absolutely perfect. And although I was still trying to create it to a really high standard, I just had to say to myself, actually, there's no such thing as perfect, Fay. You just have to try and make this as helpful for this group of people as possible. And because I was asking for feedback every week, it was just phenomenally helpful. They told me such great things about what would have made it even better, like what I could do to improve it, what they were really enjoying about it. And I could also see what was working, what wasn't working. So, I learned so much from running it. as a pilot at that time, and it gave me the confidence to experiment. The fact that everyone knew it was a pilot. They did have it as a cheaper price. And then I've just tried to, every single time I've run it since, improve it and change it. So if you attended Inspiring HR now, and then attend it in three years time, it will probably be a slightly different experience. There are certain things that I have kept the same, but there are lots of little things I'm doing to just tweak it and change it. But I think also that's what keeps me really interested in it and I love it because I really enjoy learning. So it's quite exciting when you learn new stuff, being able to incorporate it into the program. Oh, it is. Yeah. Again, another thing I admire about you is that continuous development and making your program even better. Do share in the comments if you have questions for Fay. I will keep going, but if you've got specific questions, do share in the chat. Let me see where to go next. Should we talk about the challenges? So what were the biggest challenges you, you're like, not really? No, thank you. What were the biggest challenges and how did you overcome them? Oh my gosh, so many challenges. So I think I talked about some of them around, you know, the design and the promotion up front, which is where I had learnt the hard way, not what to do. So they were kind of challenges from before. But I still had challenges with running the programme, so it'll probably be helpful to explain what happens in the six weeks. So it's a six week intensive programme. We meet once a week for two hours. Over Zoom, during that time. And as part of the program, they also get to have some one-to-one coaching with me as well as the group sessions. And each group session covers a different topic. So the first one is about setting yourself up for success, and that's the one I changed the most, although it's stayed the same, the last few cohorts, and that is because the first group didn't really bond. And I was like, what, what, this is my, this is my whole point at the, you know, one of the big selling points of the program is to help everyone bond. And the mistake I had made was, I was just so keen to get straight to the helpful content. So the other weeks look at building confidence. There's another week on being strategic, another one on building key relationships at a senior level, and another one on influencing at a senior level. And then, we move on to planning for the future. And so I just thought, right, okay, I've got so much to share with them. I mustn't miss anything out. Let's dive straight into it. So I had everyone introduce themselves. We have a private WhatsApp group as well in the WhatsApp group. And then I didn't really give anyone time to get to know each other properly in that first session. And I also didn't set any clear expectations. So I'm someone who really needs accountability and I hadn't really realized how many other people need this as well. So there was pre work to do every week, but I would just say, Oh, and here's some pre work. I really hope it helps. And then if people didn't do the pre work I wouldn't really say anything. But what happened was it was a nightmare because I'd then turn up to the group session and some people had done the pre work and so they were quite far along in their learning journey and other people hadn't. Some people were turning up late where they were saying they were busy. I kind of felt like people just hadn't really gelled. There were a couple of people who had really gelled, but not the whole group. And so I learned a massively valuable lesson and a book that helped me with this that I know you love as well, Jo is called the art of gathering by Priya Parker. So really recommend that read. It's just fantastic. And. As part of that book, she really talks about how important it is to help people transition into your group. And I can't remember if it was definitely in that book actually, or if I've got it from somewhere else, but about helping people gel. So now almost the whole first session is about helping everyone get to know each other, to relax, co creating a learning environment, I call it. So I say what does everyone in this room need to be able to feel you are getting the best out of this program. And so things like confidentiality, empathy, listening, support, honesty, all this stuff comes up. But if you don't ask people to share it, they worry about speaking up or giving an opinion or being vulnerable because you haven't laid out the the ground rules. And so it's not me saying, okay, everyone, you've got to be nice to each other. You've got to be supportive. Instead I go around everyone and say, what's going to help this be really good for you. And it's, it sounds such a small thing, Jo, but it made such a big difference. And I introduced other things as well to try and help the group bond and over time I stripped out more and more of the content that I was sharing with the group because I realized the real power came in them being able to talk to each other and to share experiences and to think about the challenges they had instead of me teaching them like, you know, the ABC of influence, like I still have parts of that in there, but overall the bonding stuff is just so important. Yeah, it's so true, isn't it? And it's a great reminder for me. Cause I think I used to do that a lot. And I, we used to talk all the time and you used to be going well, what you don't just rock up at the session and not have a, you know, loads of training. And I used to be like, yeah, it's, it's absolutely fine. And then now actually I often deliver training now and. And you've gone the opposite way. So it's a great reminder for me to sometimes go back to a bit more free flow because people need that space. And we're up to here with knowledge. It's about connection and all of the other things as well. Isn't it? Yeah, I think it's about getting that balance. So I do still. introduce content. I still do training as part of the session, but it's making sure they've really got time in the breakout rooms. I was cramming so much in. I'd be like, and you've got three minutes to talk about this. And people would be like, what? That's not long enough. And I wasn't giving enough time for people to really think and work their way. through and think about how does that content apply to me? How could I use it? I was just going, here it all is, here it all is. So, yeah, that's been a huge lesson and I'm sure you are naturally much better at this than me. Oh, no, no, not at all. But like you say, it's a great reminder because I think all of us have that tendency to want to give so much value that we can end up overwhelming. So it's a great reminder for everyone listening. And there are some questions now in the chat. So Emma says, how long did it take you to do the research before your launch? Well I'm quite a, Jo knows this, I'm quite slow at taking action. Once I get going I'm okay. So I don't want you to at all base what you do on me. Because I don't think, I'm probably an example of best practice. I probably spent a good six months thinking about the group program, worrying about the group program, doing some research on the group program, reading up on content to use in the group program, and I didn't need that long. Also I actually had to educate myself quite a lot on some of the stuff I was teaching. I didn't know a lot of it. I might have known about it on a shallow level, but of course when you're doing what I'd call pure coaching, you don't have to have any expertise. You just have to have the great questions and the being able to hold the space and everything. And I thought, Oh my gosh, I'm actually introducing content. And it's not just about. You know, job search or changing career, which is what my main focus is had been before. So if you're watching and thinking of launching a group program, you probably have a much deeper level of expertise than I did at the time. I was really having to learn this stuff, which is partly why it took me a long time. Yeah, interesting. And I guess your podcast helps you to learn as well, though, doesn't it. Because then you're constantly having to research for your podcast. But I can't remember if you had your podcast going at the time you launched your program. Yes, I did. I had already got the podcast going. And you're right, Any sort of mechanism where you're having to put content out into the world every week in like a long form, whether that's an article or a video or a podcast, it really makes you up your game because you, you have to keep learning all the time. And with a podcast, it's great because you get to learn from the guests as well. So I've learned so much from guests who have come on the show. I always ask for a book recommendation at the end. That's been brilliant. Hopefully for the listeners, but I've been able to come across all these books I haven't heard of before and learned lots of new concepts. Yeah, exactly. I bet you have. So Liz has said she's launching her first group coaching on the 15th of March. Not sure whether to make it four or six weeks. Have you got any insight into how you decided your program length? That's a great question. Because as part of the research, I spoke to loads of people who I knew, had group programs or knew about it. So I remember talking to you for ages, Jo, and I spoke to someone else as well, who at the time, she doesn't do it anymore, she was specializing in group programs, and she said, Oh no, this sounds like it should be a six month program, Fay. Why are you doing it in six weeks? Six months would be much better. But I just, at the time, I, I didn't have the confidence to really say, okay everyone, you're stuck with me for six months. I just thought, oh my gosh, you know, what if it doesn't work? Like the inner critic was going mad, you know, what if it's a disaster? You're going to have to see these poor people every single month with them, you know, not enjoying the program. So I probably designed it as six weeks for bad reasons, which was my own confidence. But I also did it as six weeks because of, Having a family and what I had realized also the very first time I ran it was that one of the weeks overran into the school holidays, and only half the people showed up for that session. So I really thought, Oh, actually, this is quite helpful because most half terms are at least six weeks. So I could slot it into my calendar that way. I did worry it wasn't long enough. So I think if you're thinking of four weeks or six weeks, it's going to really depend on what your focus is and what the transformation is that you're hoping to get for people. With my six weeks, the first week, as I mentioned, is very much about helping the group bond, setting them up for success. Setting the expectations. So, you know, now everyone gets their pre work in, everyone turns up on time, everyone really bonds because I've laid that groundwork. And then the very final week is really about saying goodbye to everybody. I read another great book. I think it's called The Art of Community or something like that. I can share it with you afterwards. In it, the author has researched groups and what makes them successful in communities and what helps them bond. And he talks about how important it is to have a goodbye and have like a ritual at the end. So people really feel like, Oh, that was great. And it's come to an end and I feel so happy about it. And actually really, I'm only have four weeks that are properly focused on the topics that are going to help them in their careers. The First week is really onboarding them and that last week is offboarding them. So that's my experience, you know. You might just have one topic and actually you think, Yeah, that's fine. I can, I can do some nice onboarding and saying goodbye. And I've still got plenty to cover off in the other weeks. So I think it's a really individual thing. Yeah, it is totally. And Emma's asked a good question and I'm interested to know the answer now. So do you include one to one coaching in your program? Because I know you used to and I can't remember if you do anymore. Yeah, so I did. So we started it off saying everyone got to have two one to one coaching sessions, one at the beginning and one at the end. And then, one person gave me feedback saying, Oh, it'd be nice if we could have three, Fay. And so I went, okay, because I just wanted to do anything that anyone asked me to try and make it as good as possible. So I introduced three sessions, and I said, You can have one at the beginning, one in the middle, one at the end. But what happened was everyone booked in the beginning one, and then they thought, Let's save up our other two sessions for when we really need them. And it meant that I got overbooked with sessions. So I remember just being so stressed out at one point because I had all my regular one to one clients. I had a new cohort of inspiring HR starting up. Everyone was booking in for their meet me sessions. I had all these people from previous cohorts had saved up their sessions and suddenly started booking them all at the same time. And I just thought, Oh my gosh, actually, I really want to make this valuable for people, but I've also got to think about how is this working from a business perspective, like financially, I haven't got time to do other work and starting to feel really stressed. And I also noticed that, very few people used all three sessions where they would save one session up forever. And, and then I thought, well, that, that just that doesn't seem right. So for my latest cohort, I thought, you know what, I'm just gonna take the one to one coaching out. I had put the one to one coaching in because at the beginning, I didn't have confidence in myself. I thought, what if the group program doesn't work? What if it's not good enough? What if people don't get enough value? And I'd been doing one to one coaching for so long, I knew that people would get value from it. I'd worked so hard on my skills with that. So I thought, okay, if the group program's a disaster, at least I know they're going to be getting this great value from the one to one sessions with me. But what I learned along the way is the power of the group. And I had, in my heart of hearts, I had thought one to one coaching was better than group coaching. It was more valuable as a service. But what I could see as I progressed with Inspiring HR was I was wrong. And actually group coaching, when you get it right, it is just so powerful for people. It's so life changing that I suddenly realized that I didn't really need to be including it. So I stripped it out completely and then no one signed up for, the latest cohort. So I went, oh no, I better put some back in. So, I've put a session back in. So when they had several one to one sessions, they were just 40 minute sessions. And now that I have added, I've added one session back in and that's a one hour session. So I feel like. Okay people clearly do actually still want the reassurance of knowing they can have some one to one time with me And actually I enjoy doing the one to one coaching still but one session feels like it's manageable for me Hopefully it's manageable for them. Hopefully every single person will use that session and then i'll really feel like oh i've got this right But this is the sixth time of running it. So i'm hoping that shows everyone who's watching right now that About it. It helps reinforce that idea that there's no such thing as perfect. You just learn and you change and you adapt each time you run it. Yeah, totally great learning and I've done exactly the same because I used to do the same and everyone saved up their sessions and stayed stuck rather than book the session because what if they got more stuck. Well, also with that, Jo, what happened was, because the program is all focused on the like, confidence and influencing skills and strategic skills, so the things that I knew a lot of HR professionals struggled with, people would turn up to the one to one session and they'd say, I don't really know what to talk about, Fay, because I signed up for the group program because of what you're covering, and you've covered it, and I'm feeling much better about that now, so watch me use this for, and that's really when I realized, oh, that's a real power in. The way I've structured this anyway. So, um, yeah, I thought it just might be helpful to share that as well. Oh yeah. Super, super helpful. So Sandra has said, love the point that Fay made between content and balance. I always worry about content. Maybe I need to trust the process myself. So true, Sandra. Debbie said, great reminder about output versus input. Because that's always a tendency, isn't it, for the value? I'm so pleased that's a helpful message to hear. I had that advice from someone who runs, uh, group programs in corporates and had done it for a long time. And I said, what would your advice be for when I'm doing my group program? And she said, just Keep it as content light as possible. And I remember thinking, Oh, she's wrong. Um, I need to make sure I'm really giving them a bit of value. I need to make sure I'm telling them everything they need to know. And then after running it, I'm like, Oh, she was right. Again, I learned the hard way and even when I'm running it still now, I keep questioning, should I strip a bit more out? Should I include that content as an optional extra for them? It is hard getting the balance right. Oh, it is totally So Lisa said that's really helpful. I know the value of giving the space to the group, but this conflicts with me wanting to offer so much value. Totally. Balance is key or keep this in mind. Sandra said, how many times a year do you run your group program? That's a great question. So it's varied. But on average, three times a year is what I'm aiming for. And that's partly a fear that I won't be able to fill it if I run it more than that. So I can normally fill it, running it two to three times a year. So I don't know if that's just like a limiting belief that I wouldn't be able to fill it more than that. Um, or if it's true, but I quite liked the fact that I, I do a launch and I talk about the fact that programs coming up and people can book on and, I have a whole launch phase and then it's just quite nice coming out of that launch phase, for me personally and doing other stuff and not selling all the time and then I'm able to share my podcast more. So that's really just down to me and my inner workings probably, rather than cold hard logic. So who knows in the future, maybe I'll run it differently. I've had a few people approach me in the last couple of weeks saying, would I run it for a more junior level of HR professionals? Which has got me thinking, cause I hadn't really thought of doing that, but then that would mean running it in a slightly different way, but more times a year. So yeah, I don't know. I'm still thinking about whether I should change the frequency or not. Yeah, exciting. And so tell us about how you fill the program in particular. Again, lots of learning the hard way. So, there was only one time when I had a low uptake. The first time I ran it, I had a maximum of six people because I was nervous about how I'd be able to manage a group, but then I increased it to eight people and I was quite comfortable with that. So normally I have between seven to eight people on the group program, but when I ran it in September last year, I only had five and I got really upset about it and started really questioning myself like, oh no, you know, no one wants to do it anymore. And, this is all a disaster. And I remember saying to you, Jo, Oh God, I'm feeling really rubbish about this. And you were like, how many times did you promote it, Fay? And I was like I don't like bothering people. You know, I've talked about it so many times before. And you went, how many times Fay? And I went, well, I did two emails and one social media post. And you were like, uh, I think you might have to. Promotes it a bit more. So it just goes to show how much our Oh, I don't know. It's us, isn't it, who hold ourselves back a lot of the time. And it's not a service, I have a product, that I sell as well, which is called the HR Planner. And I sell that once a year in the run up to Christmas. And I had a social media person help me with selling it. in the run up last Christmas and she really pushed me outside my comfort zone. So she said, right, Fay, you need to do another post. And I went, I only like doing one post a week. I don't want to do more. And she's like, Fay, you have a 15, 000 pound printing bill that you have to pay to the printers. You've got to sell the planners. You've got to post more than once a week. So I was like, okay, okay. Hopefully that won't bother people. So, did some more posts. And then she said, Fay, you need a testimonial post. I'm like, oh, I hate testimonials. It's so uncomfortable asking people for them. And she went, go out and ask for a testimonial. So I asked someone for a testimonial. She posted it for me. I sold a load of planners. Every time she posted, I sold planners. She posted in different styles to how I would sometimes and pushing me to do things I didn't feel as comfortable with. Um, and so I learned a lot from that. So this time with running Inspiring HR, I, tried to just take those learnings. So I didn't just do one social media post and two emails, Jo, I did a lot more. So I was looking yesterday, I think I sent five or six emails over a five week period. And I posted about it every single week over that period. And it, I also, promoted it on my podcast as well. So I had a pre-roll, it's called like a little advert you post at the beginning. And it made such a difference and it really made me realize, gosh, you've gotta listen to the wise people like Jo and follow the advice and just keep on going with it. Because I'd feel like, oh gosh, people don't want to hear about this again. But then someone would book on, you know, there were, I think I had one or two emails where people didn't book on, or I had one or two social media posts where people didn't book on, but you just never know. People are so busy. They often don't notice the emails landing in their inbox and they're not sitting there on LinkedIn waiting to see my post. So, that's how I did it. And I made sure I mixed up the content I was sharing as well. So. I shared a testimonial, even though I hate doing that. You know, I checked with the person first and I shared the testimonial. I also did quite a lot of work on my sales page as well. I found the very first time I launched it, I didn't have a sales page on my website. I literally just sent an email saying, would you be interested in doing the pilot for my group program? And I did social media posts. Would you be interested in doing the pilot? And if anyone said yes, Can I have the information? I just sent them a PDF that had all of the information. And I filled it that way the first time. So again, for anyone watching, who's thinking, Oh no, I have to build a sales page and I've got to find a way of taking money and all of these other things. You don't, you can start it off in a really easy way, but because I've run it lots of times now, I've been able to learn from each time. So also I've been able to see which social media posts. impactful before. So for the very first time, I've actually done some content repurposing, which I'm rubbish at normally. And so for this launch, two of the posts I shared, I had shared about a year ago, but they had done really well. So I just, you know, changed the dates in them, copied and pasted. No one said, hey, didn't you send this post before a year ago? Um, instead people looked on, which, which was great. That's so, so brilliant. And I think we do need to promote way more than we feel comfortable. And hilarious enough this week, Kate Hill, who spoke on Tuesday, she messaged me saying, she's been filling her group program easily every month. And this month she wasn't, and she's like, you know, the world is ending. I'm like, yeah, how many times have you mentioned it? So anyway, last night, she messaged going. Fill the program. Good idea. You and Kate are very lucky because generally you send one message and fill the program. But most people have to do a tiny bit more than that. So exactly. Anytime you're thinking this is not going to work. Yeah. Just take more action. Yeah, and you can get creative with it as well. So, um, I remember saying to you when I was panicking with filling this one as well because in the first week I only had one person booked on and I'm like, oh no! I'm only going to have one person on the programme! But, you know, it's all fine, thank goodness. And so I sat down and I recorded 24 individual videos that I emailed to people who were on my waiting list. So once I've filled Inspiring HR, I normally then just change the button on the website from sign up now to it's full or I'm not running it at the moment, join the waiting list. And so I had this really big waiting list, but no one on it was signing up, which was really frustrating, just from regular emails. So I sent the ones who were the most highly engaged, or who had signed up the most recently, I just made them a little video saying, Oh, hi, it's me Fay. And I used their first name. So they knew I was making it for them. And I said, you know, I know that you're on the waiting list and it'd be lovely to have you in the group. Can you please let me know if you'd like a place? Because they just weren't replying to my emails. And then I remember saying to you, Oh no, no one's watching the videos. I spent a whole day making them and no one's watching them, but slowly people started to watch the videos and that was a good lesson for me, but I'll send an email going, you know, the deadlines next week, but people haven't even picked up the email for a week sometimes. So what's happened from doing that? Because I did the video so close to the deadline is that I started having all these people replying, going, Oh no, I've only just watched the video. And you've filled the program. Can you put me onto it next time? So for the first time ever, I have actually got people. It's forced me to be organized and set the exact dates for when it's running again and update the website and say, this is when I'm running it again, instead of just having a wait list. And I've got one definite person booked on and I'm pretty sure I'm going to get a couple more. So you just learn every time you do it, you learn. You do. Lester has said one of the main messages I am getting from both of you is that marketing is important but it also sounds difficult to keep track of. Do you use some kind of CRM Oh, that's such a good question. Yes, not very well, is the answer. So, I've tried all different kinds of CRM software over the years, and the one that I like the most is called HubSpot. And it used to be extortionate, but then a couple of years ago, um, they introduced a kind of like entry level pricing band that's About 30 pounds a month, I think. So you don't get access to the full incredible functionality, but it is so good and you can really keep track of everybody. Having said that, I'm not that great at using it for the group program. I'm better at using it for tracking where I'm up to with podcast guests and also tracking where I'm up to with one to one clients. But with that software, what happens is you can get people to fill in a form on your website or online and then they'll magically appear. in the software. And then if you email them and they reply, all of that is trapped in there as well. So it just means you're not, you know, frantically scrolling through your sent items to see what you sent your last client. So I really like that software, but actually, just because I'm not disciplined enough with it for the group program, it ends up being a bit different. I normally end up creating myself. a spreadsheet of who's booked on, how they're paying, when they've paid. I send everybody now an onboarding, really short survey. So, you know, why have you signed up? What do you want to get out of it? Have you got any concerns? And also from an inclusion perspective, to make this a really great learning experience for you. I can't remember what the question is that I actually asked, but it's to, you know, they can then share if they have dyslexia or they're worried or there's a disability or a nervousness about attending the session. So, you can have all of that information as well. So yeah, because the groups are, you know, eight people, I tend to just keep it on a spreadsheet. If I don't, I start to worry I'm losing track, but I could easily. Track it in HubSpot. So maybe if you ever do this challenge again, and I'm on cohort seven, Jo, I might be able to say, woo, I've got all organized and it's in HubSpot now. But I don't use HubSpot emails because I have, I'm very lucky to have built a large, um, email list and it would cost a fortune to host that in HubSpot. I think once you get over a thousand people on your list, it's like extortionate. So I actually use. convert kit for my email software. And it's really, really good because you can tag people. So as soon as someone has booked to come on the, this is all, I don't want to scare you because you know, this is six cohorts in. At the beginning. I just said to people, here's the PDF document. And then I put their name in a spreadsheet. They've asked me about it. And then I would just send them an invoice. Pay that way. Whereas now that it's progressed, it's really changed. So on my website, I use a plugin called ThriveCart, which is brilliant. And people can use that to book. So they can either pay for the whole thing up front, or they can choose to pay in five installments. And then. That then tags them in ConvertKit and says, Inspiring HR Cohort 6. That then automatically takes them off the waiting list in ConvertKit if they were in there already. So it's all become a lot more sophisticated, but it's taken me, you know, pushing two years to get to that point. So don't feel you've got whizzy and sophisticated. And there's still loads more I could be doing to make it even better, to be honest. Wow. Well, I'm impressed by it. It's a great reminder and I sold from my PDF Word document for years. And I think actually in a way I sold this program that I'm selling now through a PDF prior to this launch and it works just fine. People can just read the information and say yes, and then you invoice them. So, you know, whilst it's. amazing when you get to the point that they just hit that and then it tags them and then it gives them entry and all of that. It's not always required right away, is it? But it's, it's a great inspiration for where we're all wanting to get to automation. how did you ensure your course was engaging and valuable for participants? By obsessing about it? Is that what drives everyone mad? Who, uh, who I know who is in this world? Uh, I built up to it. So, when I first met Jo and Jo' said, Oh, I love doing groups. And I thought, really, really? Oh, no. How terrifying. Like, I only like doing one to one. That's where my skill set is. And then that really held me back for a long time of doing groups because I just thought I couldn't do it. But actually, I just hadn't had any practice at it. So, what happened was I actually got booked as an associate coach by another company who had created a series of workshops and they asked me to co run the workshops. I was so nervous about it. So I, about 15 people in each workshop and I thought, oh my gosh, this is so nerve wracking. But I was running it alongside a far more experienced facilitator who had designed the workshops and she was the loveliest person in the world and she was just like, you're going to be great. You're going to be great. I was like, I don't think I can do it. I'm going to be terrible. I can only do one to one. It's going to be a disaster. And she's like, you're going to be great. And then I did it and the feedback was amazing and I really enjoyed it. I mean, I felt like I was having a panic attack before I started. But by the end of it was, oh yeah, I thought that's quite good actually. You know. The world didn't stop turning. It wasn't a disaster. I've had great feedback. It was lovely seeing the group interact. So I was quite lucky that, I kind of fell into having to do it. And then I started being asked to run workshops for the outplacement support I was doing. And so then I was presenting on topics I knew really well. So, I felt a little bit more confident and I always wanted to make it engaging because of my own experience of attending workshops and webinars where someone just talks at you and you start just being so bored and thinking, I'll just look at my phone or, you know, turn my camera off. This is horrendous. So I started really watching and learning from the things I was experiencing myself. So I've attended other sort of type group programs or masterminds or group coaching things myself. And whilst in them, you think, oh, that was really good. I really liked the way they did that. Or that wasn't so great. I'm not going to do that in my group program. So it's invaluable. I think going out and actually joining, other programs that are going to help you professionally, but you see the facilitators in action. When I ran the first group program, I had just done workshops before, and I hadn't had any particular, you know, group coaching training or running workshops training. I was just doing it from feel and experience. And then as I've got more into it, I've become a bit obsessed because I now love group coaching. Anytime I see, oh, there's a masterclass or some training or there's a book about it, then I just, I book onto it. And even if I just learn one tiny little thing that I think is going to help make my program engaging, it's worth having done it. So, but I love learning and doing this stuff and the Priya Parker book, you know, I'd highly recommend that. There's a fab other book called, the two hour workshop. Blueprint which is by Leanne Hughes. She's got a great podcast, Flourishing Facilitator. That's fab, and that's really helped me to run some great sessions as well in Inspiring HR and outside of it. It is so good. So I ran, you know, outside of the Greek program. I run workshops sometimes, and I get myself all stressed about them. Oh, why have I agreed to do this? Oh, it's going to be so hard. Oh, I know nothing about it. Oh, it's going to be a disaster. And, um, and then it's all fine, obviously. But I used the two hour workshop blueprint for the last one I ran, and half, uh, the last two that I ran, and I really felt like, oh my gosh, this has, like, pulled me up to. another level now of facilitation. Like the feedback was just so good. You think, well, maybe all I should do is run workshops. Yeah, I'd highly recommend her book and her podcast. They're both great. So it's called the flourishing facilitator podcast. Podcast. Yeah. And the book is called the two hour workshop blueprints. Amazing. They are on my list. So what would you say are your top three lessons that you've learned from building and launching your group program? I think it's about going for it even if you feel terrified, even if your inner critic is saying, you're rubbish, this is never going to work. Like, I think people are always surprised if they ask me about this and I say how nervous I get beforehand. But I've really learned with the confidence. Oh, there's this great quote, confidence is fuel for action. So real confidence doesn't mean that I can stand here to you and say, I've got the best group program. I know it's going to be great every time. It's not that. I feel incredibly nervous every single time I run it, but I don't let that stop me from running it. So for anyone who's watching this thinking, Oh, I don't think I'm good enough, or I haven't got long enough, or what if everyone hates it, or, what if I pass out from fear part way through, whatever it is, I would just say the lesson is just. Keep going you can do it. It's going to be fine. Everyone gets nervous. That's normal That shows you're a human not a robot and actually your nerves are just trying to really prepare you to do your best in that Situation. So I mean I so I ran it for the sixth time this sounds so gross this week. So you'd think I'd be wildly confident by now. I got like 10 out of 10 feedback last time I ran it. I had video testimonials for the first time. It was already glowing. I was so nervous, but no one would have known, but my body was giving me away. I was like sweating like mad. I had to change my top after running it because I had got myself so nervous before. So I really hope that's reassuring for people watching because people don't believe me. If they hear me on a podcast interview, say I get nervous, they're like, What? What are you talking about? You, you seem so confident, but on the inside I'm not, but I'm making myself do it and it's, it's, it's just been, I'm so pleased to do make myself do it because the end results are so great and I do end up really enjoying the process. So that's my very long answer for the top one thing I've learned. I can stop there Jo, if you want. No, no, it was amazing and I absolutely loved that one about real confidence is. is doing it anyway. And I think we all need to be more authentic with that and not pretend that we have this all sus because like, I think everyone in life is just trying, trying their best. And if you are challenging yourself, you're going to be nervous. You're going to be scared. And, so yeah, I really feel you on that. And it's the best advice you could have shared for your, for your first one. Now I'm going to try and try and get two more out of you. That was such a good one. So yeah, so your biggest learnings, your first one was feel the fear and do it anyway. The second one is progress over perfection. So instead of thinking, it's got to be perfect. I've got to have done all the research. I've got to have ticked every single box. I've got to have it all planned out beforehand. I'm just thinking I'm going to try my absolute best to make this as good as possible. And, I'm going to get feedback and then I'm going to make it even better. So it really switching from that mindset or that can hold us back so much. If it's got to be perfect, it's got to be perfect to, thinking actually, it's an iterative process. You can't get it perfect the first time. It's just not possible, because there isn't any such thing as perfect. So, yeah, and actually I've been surprised by how much I enjoy adapting it each time and putting in little new things here and there and tweaks. So it's more, it's a more enjoyable process if you Drop that perfectionism, but that's probably my second one. Another great one. Yep. I hear you. And I do exactly the same in my program, always changing things and always thinking, Oh, I'm spotting this. I'm spotting that. So yeah, just a great reminder. Cause I think at the beginning, no one will do anything unless they know it should be. Five sessions or six sessions, or, you know, like, we just don't know. We're going to have to take our best guess and just go for it. And then we'll see. And so I suppose the third one that really leapt out from talking to you today is about the, the research part and not really the research for the content, the research from potential clients or your audience. I was so nervous about reaching out to people to begin with, to ask them if they do research call with me. And I was then really shocked by how lovely people were and how happy people were to help. So I just sent out an email saying, I think you're putting together this program and if you have 15 minutes just to talk to me about your challenges at work so I can design it as well as possible. I'd be really grateful. And in return, I can give you a 15 minute laser coaching session. And, um, Yeah, and it was great and it was just so invaluable and actually from the research, some of those people on those initial calls then went on to book me for one to one coaching later, which was really interesting. And then one person, she ended up booking me for her colleagues for one to one coaching and then she joined Inspiring HR. So again, it just goes to show the power of longevity with any of this stuff, like work you do now. Even if you only managed to half fill your program the first time or you think, Oh, that could have been better. Or, you know, you're doubting yourself, the foundational work you do now, you're still going to reap the rewards in the future as well. you don't know yet. Oh, that's such a good one. And I think it's something we all need to remember. And certainly me mid a launch now, because sometimes it's not the right time. And then September will be a great time for people or, you know, you can't always think, Oh, it didn't work because I've had people. Years after attending a webinar or a discovery call, join my program. So I think that's such a great reminder that that work will pay off and you just have to trust that it was all worth it and everything you're doing today is going to pay off in the future. Absolutely. Thank you so, so much. There's been loads of comments saying, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experience. Loved it. And it's been amazing. And I've learned so much myself, Fay, from you joining today. So thank you so, so much. Oh, thank you so much for having me. It's been really great. Yeah, you're so welcome. Speak soon. Isn't Fay wonderful. I feel so privileged to have had this conversation with her and to have learned so much from her generous learnings. So if you would like a step-by-step guide, as well as the love and the care to make this happen and help you to build, launch and deliver your own amazing group coaching program or online course. Then I'm starting a program on this on Wednesday, the 13th of March. The closing date though is Friday the 8th of March. So if you are interested in signing up, you will find the details in the show notes. I appreciate as my last minute formula, I am not giving much time, but if you hear this prior to Friday, the 8th of March and would like to join, please sign up and I look forward to seeing you the following week to start your online course or program creation, launch and delivery. And like I say, at the end of every episode, trust yourself, believe in yourself and be the wise Gardner who keeps on watering the seed.

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Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Women in the Coaching Arena. I have a mess of free resources on my website joannalottcoaching.com. That's Joanna with an A and Lott with two T's. joannalottcoaching.com. And I'll also put links in the show notes. Let me know if you found this episode useful. Share it with a friend and leave me a review, and I will personally thank you for that. Remember to trust yourself, believe in yourself and be the wise Gardner who keeps on watering the seed. Get into the arena dare, greatly and try.

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