Okay, can we get real for a second? I’m scared…
I’m coming up on 15 years of owning my own business as an academic coach in 2023 and I’ll be turning 50! ??As exciting as all that sounds, I’m nervous because instead of focusing on celebrating these major milestone, I’m preoccupied by a looming surgery and a major shift in my business.
Let’s cut to the chase. I’ll be renovating my skull in just a couple of months and this surgery/sabbatical is forcing me to reimagine my business as I step away for FOUR MONTHS!
Major changes are coming to the Anti-Boring Community and I can’t wait to share them with you in this video. We’ll explore the progression of my business up to this point and how our community will transform in the coming months.
I can’t wait to pull back the veil and share a peek into the backend of my business as well as where we’re headed as we leap into the next five years together.
Snuggle into your favorite seat. This is going to be a good one. Watch the video below … or read on for the transcript.
I’m scared. I really am. Let’s get cozy, shall we? I am going to use this video to tell you all, super straightforwardly, what’s going on in my personal life and my business life in the year of 2023. And it scares me, but I want to share it with you all, because it’s my reality. And I don’t want to be alone with it. So here we go.
If you’ve been paying attention to the channel, you know that I’m wearing braces. Now, you might also have tracked that I look a little different, because of the braces, than I did a year ago. In side-by-side pictures, you’ll notice that my mouth used to be more narrow, and now it’s wider. You might know, too, that I’m going to be having a really big deal surgery on May 24, 2023. And it’s scary. I was first told I might need the surgery back in 2021…and I resisted…and I resisted because I had no idea whether my insurance would pay for it. And becuase it sounded big and scary.
So here’s the deal. It’s a double jaw joint replacement surgery. I have really advanced arthritis in my jaw joints, and just so you know, there’s a ball and a joint. They’re supposed to work really well together, but mine has been stuck. And as I’ve been talking and chewing throughout my life, the joint has been ground down so that there’s no bone left. and I’m not in any pain, which is why it’s been weird to be told that I need this big deal surgery. I now understand, after two years’ worth of orthodontics and myofunctional therapy (which involves lip and tongue and cheek exercises that I’ve been doing sometimes up to an hour a day), and a bunch of physical therapy because, it turns out, there is a jaw – pelvis connection, so my pelvis is out of joint perhaps because my jaw is out of joint!
The whole thing that got me into all this was in 2020, the good old year of the beginning of the COVID pandemic where we were all stuck in our homes and more sedentary, I developed some really excruciating neck pain–which is not excruciating anymore, but has not gone away. It may go away with this jaw surgery, though we don’t know. So I have been experiencing a lot of difficulty in my body over the last few years. I’ve committed to the surgery. Thank goodness, I figured out how it’s going to work financially, and knock on wood, that appears to be pretty much handled.
My face is going to have a major renovation before the end of 2023. And how interesting that all of this has happened the year that my business turns 15 years old, and the year that my body turns 50 years old. Wow. So that is a really big deal, and it means that I’m going to be gone for my business for about four and a half months– oh, my stomach just did a little flip flop! This is the scary part–being gone for my business is the scary part. You all are going to continue to see me because I’m going to make a bunch of videos ahead of time, but I’m going to technically be on surgery and sabbatical for four and a half months from the end of May through to my 50th birthday in October. So, sometime after that, I will be back in business, as they say.
To get the business ready to be without me, I’ve needed to consider doing a major business renovation, as well as skull renovation. So, in the rest of this video, I want to tell you a little bit about what some of the changes to the Anti-Boring Educators world are going to be.
[But first…if you stay until the very end I’m actually going to share some pictures of me when I was 16, because I actually had a jaw surgery back then, that apparently didn’t go so well because it created the problem that now has worn away the joint. I’m going to show you before and after pictures, so stay to the end. But I will tell you now that supposedly, my smile from the surgery is going to get even wider. My nose might get wider, and my chin is going to come forward, and there’s going to be less tension in the muscle. So I just don’t know how I’m going to look afterwards. Isn’t that weird? The other thing I want to show you–if you’re squeamish, a little trigger warning–I’m gonna get close. Do you see, there’s a gap in that area right there? And on this side, I don’t know if you can see, but there’s a gap there. We’re intentionally putting those gaps in, because that’s where the surgeon is going to go up and create some shifting in the things I don’t understand at all, but it’s going to be wild.]
Before I tell you what changes are coming this year–and you better believe I’ve made a couple of whiteboards about it–I want to show you a little bit about where I’ve been because it’s kind of interesting. For me and my business, the number five is kind of a big deal, as you’ll see as I break the history of my business down into five-year increments.
It starts with 2008 to 2013; 2008 is when I got fired from my teaching job–they just didn’t contract me for the next year, and I had to figure out what to do. That’s when I discovered academic coaching. And the major theme of the first five years is “oh my god, here’s this thing that I’m really good at. And I like and it feeds my aliveness and my creativity…” which leads me into the second five years of being an academic coach.
In 2013 started like, “Oh, I’m good at this, but how do I earn a full living at it?” I still had a part-time job during this whole five-year timeframe from 2013 to 2018. Here, I took a marketing training. I developed my YouTube channel. I solidified a worldwide presence. I created the Anti-Boring Approach and I started training educators. And that was all centered around brain science. So this was a powerful five years…
…and it transitioned me to this third five years that I’m just now in the process of completing, from September of 2018, to June of 2023. Where I’ve been, I noticed how stressed I felt. It’s very stressful doing an online business, particularly when you are marketing one-to-many as you do with courses, rather than just one-to-one as I did when I was working only as an academic coach with students.
So this five years represented not just the intervention of a global pandemic, but me really thinking about who do I really want to be? And how do I want to do it? I got more streamlined. I got more simple, not quite simple enough yet, but more simple. I did a lot of learning here about my own whiteness around racial equity in our country, around white supremacy culture in schools. I took a really incredibly eye-opening course about late-stage capitalism, and the kind of world we’re going to be moving into as capitalism potentially dies. And all of this helped me solidify that something really new is coming for the fourth five years of my business.
I’m going to share with you some of the newness–I don’t actually know all the newness right now, I just have some clues about what needs to change. I’m really committed to putting my focus on training coaches and educators–training other people who work with students in a one-to-one or a group capacity–and helping them have this Anti-Boring Toolkit that I’ve developed over the last 15 years. It is powerful. It is transformative. It is making schools and classrooms and households a better place because it’s giving the tools of learning to students so they know how to use them themselves. And it’s ready to take the next leap.
Oh, wow, I felt inspired by what I just shared. I’m not scared anymore, at least in this moment!
But how are we going to get there? That’s the question. Okay. So here’s what’s coming in the transition from 2023 to 2024.
First of all, we are moving all of my courses into a new structure on a new platform. I’m really excited about this first piece. One of the problems with the platform that all of my courses have been on is it doesn’t create community engagement. And what is clear is that the people who have joined my Anti-Boring Educators Club and stay inside the Anti-Boring Educators Club, really dig each other, and really lean on each other for support. Oh, my goodness, did we lean in during the pandemic, and in these, whatever you call this time we’re in now, post-pandemic time, folks are really wanting to have more connection with other like-minded educators. So I’m choosing a platform that will allow people to be connected to each other without having to go through me.
I’m also restructuring all of my courses. Right now, they are big. I have The Art of Inspiring Students to Study Strategically, which is an eight-module course, which you can get graduate credit for. And you can still in the future, get graduate credit or international Coaching Federation credit for taking it. But we’re going to most likely restructure it into lots of little mini-courses so it feels a little bit more doable. Right now, I think fewer educators are choosing to take the course because it is it is an F-load of work, y’all. It’s good work because you are transformed; you are a different educator at the end of it. But let’s break it down into some more bite-sized chunks that people can move through at their own pace, while we’re lifting up the presence of community. So we’re going to make it a little bit easier for folks who are learning my tools to come live and soak in the beauty of a community of like-minded coaches and teachers community, so we’re not so alone, and so siloed.
We will also build a new website to make it easier to to inspire people to join us on the new platform. Right now, as I’m shifting to focusing on mostly academic coaches, and onclassroom teachers who see themselves as academic coaches, we need to change the structure of the website. We need to simplify, simplify, simplify, to make it easier for y’all to identify that my tools will really help you. We will still have trained coaches, and we will still have a place for students to be able to get all the tools that y’all need and the support y’all need through Anti-Boring trained coaches. So that will still be on the website, but we’re going to be shifting a lot of the language to be a lot more educator focused as well.
As I’ve said, I will be gone from May 24 to around October 11ish–but that doesn’t mean things are stopping! In fact–and this is the part that feels really vulnerable to me–I will be giving way to others to share leadership inside the community. I know I’m pretty awesome, and a lot of people who come into my community want my wisdom, but the truth is that people who are attracted to the Anti-Boring Approach are so awesome in their own right and have so many skills to share in community!
Even though I feel scared, I feel really excited to have other community members help co-lead calls. I feel very excited about the support I’ve been getting from my Office Manager/Program Director Kristine and my YouTube guy/tech guy/”all things marketing strategy” guy Edward, and I feel so lucky that my community is gathering around me to say, “We got this, Gretchen! We can still make all of this run while you’re gone.”
And I need to earn money while I’m gone, too. I don’t quite have enough savings, because I’ve been channeling all of the profit back into the business, to support me while I’m gone. So this is also good, actually, because it’s forcing me, this year, to make some changes I probably should have made five years ago at the beginning of this current five-year chunk…but the pandemic got in the way and distracted me and everybody and scared me and everybody. So now the surgery is a blessing because it’s forcing this major restructuring of my skull and my business life.
On the other end of this time with the big question mark, my vision is that, with these new structures in place in my business, I will be freed up to have more time to do more creating, because I love to learn about the neuroscience of how students learn. I love to research tools and strategies. And I love to figure out how to present those to educators and to students in ways that save everybody time and free up everybody to teach the content we’re really good at teaching. This work is about giving students the ability to take their own learning and run with it because they’ve got the theory and they’ve got the strategy. So I’m looking forward to having a robust team keeping the business afloat even after I come back so I can do more creating.
That’s it for now about the business…and I promised you photos! So here we go. Here are my before and after photos from my surgery when I was 16. You can see that before this original surgery my chin was way far behind my lips and my nose. The surgery did bring me forward a bit more, but they didn’t do enough. They only did my lower jaw. They didn’t do the upper jaw.
And here’s a picture of me right after the surgery. My mom came in and I had bandages all over my head and she was like, “You look like you’ve had brain surgery. Can I take a picture?” I was 16 and I was like, “No, you cannot.” And now I wish I had allowed her to take a picture. But anyway, that’s the picture that we have. And this little dog. Do you see him? Who was that? Does anyone know him? He was the Target dog from 1983, I think, or 1984. Target called him Kris Kringle, and unfortunately I have since lost him. When I saw this picture recently, I realized I needed a new one, so I got myself a new Kris Kringle so I could have his companionship back when I have surgery. I’m looking forward to sharing pictures from the other side of the surgery with you all, and you’ll be able to see Kris Kringle at my side.
This was a long video, if you’ve stuck it out to the end. I appreciate you so much. And I appreciate your time and attention, your love, your tracking, your care. And here’s to a beautiful year of reconstruction and resurrection.