Topics in the wind

Topics, topics, topics & don’t discount yourself

Last week, I mentioned that I joined a mastermind group.  I’m not sure I’ll blog every meeting, but, for now, it feels right to write.  I want to listen to my gut, and go with the feelings.

Topics in the wind

This week, we were supposed to claim our topic.  We had some exercises to flush out our topic, and help us to decide what our cornerstone content will be about.

If I graded my assignment, I’d give myself a C-.  I didn’t really follow the directions.  The assignment, was really to identify 5 things that you know about your topic.

Now, I’m not sure what path my focus or passion should take next.  I’m torn between a few different routes I can take.  So instead of talking about 5 things I know about my topic and flushing out the details, I decided to brainstorm my topics.

The idea is to identify a topic that I can do with Elegant and Ease.  This topic must combine my innermost passion with my existing skills and knowledge to create products and services people will buy.

So, Here’s my assignment that I did:  Identify an Idea you have passion and knowledge around.

If you have more than one idea, pick up to three different ideas and complete the assignment using those ideas.

Here are my three ideas:

1) Train the Trainer: The Three T’s: Teaching Simplified
Use my 11 years expertise as a trainer and a former training manager to help others to become trainers/leaders in their own departments/businesses.  Teachers are not born, they are made.

2) Technology: Personable Training Online.
Use my expertise as a technology consultant to build some online classes to help others solve their business problems. Specifically related to Google Analytics, Search Engine Marketing, Search Optimization, Websites Development, Windows Server Administration, and SQL Server.  (Feels like a crowded space. Doesn’t everyone who needs to know, know how to do this stuff yet? )

3) Fitness, Food, Money: Habit forming
Describe the dynamics of competitive challenges and how group social pressure improves the likelihood of achieving your goals. Use this topic to drive users & traffic to my still in genesis-staged project:  dogdare.us a habit forming website.

4) Decision Making Alone.
The art of making decisions in today’s crowd-sourced society. Quick, decisive decisions are more important than ever.  At the same time, most of us don’t make a decision without consulting our friends, family, facebook, twitter, and web research.  How can we improve our decision making skills to improve our lives and businesses?

5) Read, Experiment, Implement, Repeat.
Becoming an expert in any field. It has been said, that 10,000 hours is the required practice time to become an expert. However, aimless practice will only make you an expert at aimless practice.  10,000 hours of practice must be deliberate. So, What is Deliberate Practice?  How can I figure that out for myself.  Read, Experiment, Implement, Repeat.

6) Parenting – Its hard.
A retrospective from a work-at-home father.

51% time, parenthood is the most sublime joy you’ve ever felt.

49% time, parenthood is an incredible pain in the ass.
That one percent makes all the difference.
via:  http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2011/10/on-parenthood.html

 

I totally agree with this assessment of parenting.  I think most of our parenting articles, blogs, and books are written with females in mind.  With more educated fathers staying at home and/or taking a more prominent role in the parenting process, I think there’s a great opportunity for a parenting book that’s both humorous and informational regarding parenting from an active and involved male perspective.

How’s that for three topics?  Doh!  Did I forget to count?  I have six topics.  See.  if I wanted to, I could keep going and going with topics.  Now granted, I have to say a few of these ideas would require a little bit more research to flush out into large topics.  I understand now, that was the point of the exercise.  “Five things I have learned about…”insert topic here.  I didn’t really do that at all.  I just thought of topics and didn’t really follow it.

So, how do I narrow my topic chose so I can complete the assignment?

Now, There is one topic that I do with total ease and elegance.  The topic is Technology Training.  This topic is a mental battle. On the one hand, I read about lots of gadgets.  I read about the latest websites and follow hackernews.  I follow Apple, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, and whoever else’s latest advances.  I aim to be on the cutting edge and technological futurist with business in mind.

Here’s the dilemma: the minutiae isn’t as passion driven these days.  In the beginning, I would code javascript just for fun.  I’d set-up networks just for fun.  I’d build my own database-driven web applications just to test out the new database or code that I’d just discovered.  I’m not doing that as much these days.  Granted, and I have a lot of different responsibilities now rather than when I was starting out in technology.

Yet, the more things changes, the more I feel they stay the same.   The minutiae and the individual details are the same.  Once you know the inner nitty gritty details of one web development language, you can learn them all.  Once you learn Windows 7, Windows XP, Windows 2000,  you can learn them all.  Once, I’ve learned SQL Server 7, 2000, 2005, 2008, mySQL, and others, I feel like I’ve learned them all.  I know I’m generalizing here and over-simplifying it, but really that’s how I feel.  I’m bored with learning the depth of technological details.  Its almost like been-there-done-that feeling.

See my dilemma is that my personal passion is waning on the details.  I tend to enjoy the bigger picture these days.  The grander scope.  In my consultancy practice, I do that just.  I get to dabble in the details while applying large vision of technology solving problems.

So, if I’m less passionate about the details I need to know in order to be a successful technology trainer.  Why even list this topic as a possible cornerstone content area?

First, I can do this with ease and elegance.  Learning new technology, passing technology certification exams,  using the new stuff in real-life where applicable, all comes easy to me. It merely takes a little bit of time.  Even then, if I needed to and the students were okay with the idea, I know I can teach a technology class even if I didn’t know the technology.  I’d learn the technology as I was teaching it, and the students would be learning too.  This is how easy technology training comes to me.

Second, I wonder if I’m discounting my talent.  Not everyone can teach and not everyone can discern technology.

Third, when I’m teaching a technology class, no matter how many times I have taught the class, I still get jazzed and fired up during the class.  My students’ love that passion.  I always say, if the students are bored listening, then I’m going to be bored presenting.   I don’t like to be bored.  So, I bring enthusiasm to the class. My Passion brings out the best in the students.

Why am I not sure still?  Competitors, Competitors, Competitors.

There are so many competitors in this field: I can list off a few just here

  • http://codeacademy.com/
  • http://peepcode.com/
  • http://teamtreehouse.com/
  • http://www.codeschool.com/
  • Tons of Technology Training Centers across the Country
  • Not to mention Universities and other Institutions.
  • http://trainsignal.com/
  • http://railscasts.com/
  • http://www.learnitfirst.com/
  • Oh yeah, who could forget all the free content at http://Youtube.com & http://Vimeo.com & http://www.ustream.tv/

Then there is:

  •  http://www.about.learnopia.com/
  • http://www.litmos.com/learning-management-system/sell-online-courses/
  • http://www.liveperson.com/experts
  • http://www.wiziq.com/courses/create/
  • http://www.odijoo.com/
  • http://www.prfessor.com/
  • http://edufire.com/
  • http://tenbux.com/

If I keep researching, I could find tons of competitors. It seems in this crowded and commoditized field that marketing and sales tactics will matter more than the content.

Another reason, I’m not sure about technology training: I just wonder how long I can keep learning new things and staying a head of the curve.  At some point, it seems, that the technology passes an instructor by. There are plenty of information technology employees out of work only because their skills were diminished due to the ever increasing cycle of innovation requiring increasing quantity and quality of technology skills.

As you can see, I’m really battling internally about using technology training as a cornerstone topic.  On the one hand it seems like the natural and best fit.  On the other hand, I’m not sure my passion lies there.  Is my passion diminished due to the competition?  Is my passion diminished due to my desire to move on and try something new?  I’m not sure.  So, its really difficult to complete assignments when I’m not sure about the topic to pick.

What do you think?  What’s the most marketable & best niche topic I have listed?  If you know me, where do you think my passion lies?

  1. Train the trainer
  2. Technology Training
  3. Fitness, Food, Money: Habit Forming
  4. Decision Making Alone
  5. Read, Experiment, Implement, Repeat
  6. Parenting – Its Hard!
  7. Other: