If you ever come over to our place for drinks, you’ll learn something fantastic about my husband Z:
He makes basically the best margaritas in Brooklyn.
(Granted, he makes the best pretty much everything. He’s a fantastic cook and cocktail maker and I am HASHTAG BLESSED.)
Now, as you can probably imagine, this spoils me terribly.
What A Margarita Should Be
Most nights all I have to do is sit on the couch and select whatever we’ll be watching that evening, and perfect margaritas simply appear — presented by a very handsome man, made with real lime juice, and rimmed with kosher salt the way the good Lord intended.
(It also makes me judge-y of the varying quality of margs at the bars we visit. “Sour mix!?” I exclaim with disappointment. “How dare they.”)
However, in order to maintain balance in the spousal force and show some gratitude, on very, very occasional occasions… it’s my turn to treat the huzz, and make the margs myself.
Cocktails (and cooking, generally) are not necessarily my forté, but if you were to ask me at any given time, I’d tell you:
“I know how to make ’em, I’m just not as good as Z. So why mess with the master?!”
Anyway: when these glorious Hillary-makin’-the-margs moments arrive, I rise from the couch and scan my crowded-with-polaroids fridge for the post-it I have with the margarita recipe scribbled down.
“I can do it!” I insist to Z as he teases me good-naturedly. “You’re just better at it.”
Is this not always the excuse of we, the less-good-at-stuff?
“Technically I couuuld,” I tell anyone who’ll listen. “and I know how. But I just don’t wanna.”
It’s a simple recipe, I assure myself. The classic margarita 3, 2, 1.
Three oz. tequila, two oz.’s triple sec or Cointreau, and one oz. lime juice. Ice. Shake. Salt rim. Done.
But the last time I made the margs? It, uh, didn’t go so well.
Could Have Used A Little Help From The Count On Sesame Street
I was a little sun drunk from a long day at the park, and as I stood with my post-it, surrounded by bottles and limes (and the good, hard-to-find triple sec, I might add), I was chatting with Z as I poured the booze n’ juice into the shaker.
About halfway through, Zach told me a joke from the living room, and I snorted. I said something back, gesticulating with the measuring cups, before returning to my task.
Oh no. Oh no.
Oh no no no no no.
Y’all. I lost count of how much I was mixing into the marg concoction.
Had it been two shots of tequila, or three? Had I added the triple sec yet!? Shoot, it looked like half the bottle was gone. Uhhh…
Hearing my distress, Z entered the kitchen to help and realized… I had also been using the TWO OUNCE pour measuring cup, instead of the one ounce.
My count wasn’t just off. My measurements were so out of whack, the margaritas weren’t drinkable.
And that’s the story of how I accidentally used up almost all of the good triple sec, and got myself temporarily barred from marg duty. 😬
Theory Is Good But…
And this, is a shining example of the struggle of theory vs. practice.
We can technically know a lot of stuff.
How to make a decent marg.
The way launches work.
The strategies that lead to sales.
The importance of showing up consistently in order to build our brand, and get seen as the experts we are.
But knowing and doing? Those are two totally different experiences.
And the doing is often very, very tempting to avoid — because if we’re in action, it means we might make mistakes.
And if we make mistakes, it may puncture the vision we have ourselves as being able to do that thing, actually… we just don’t wanna/can’t right now/will get to it later/don’t see the point when someone else does it better.
This gap between knowing and doing is dubbed “the blind spot”. And today, Margo and I wanted to do a lil’ episode on it for y’all.
So allow us to serve you up an ice cold concoction of today’s HAMYAW, where we relay more of our theory vs. practice tales, and what we’ve learned since.
- Margo’s ah-ha’s from a recent course launch that humbled her perfectionism into submission
- And me, sharing how my judgment and criticism of others came crashing right down on my face when I found herself in a situation where I did everything “right” – but nothing was working.
Knowing Is Only Half The Battle
Because the gap between knowing and doing is wiiiide.
And we only discover how wide when we’re… actually doing the thing.
And it’s kinda the worst.
But if we wanna learn and get better?
We’ve gottta do it anyway.
Head over (or clickity click below) to catch today’s short n’ sweet ep (just 18 minutes or so!) and let us know in the comments:
- What’s YOUR theory vs. practice story?
- What happened then?
- And what happened next?
Come share your tale of woe with us, and we’ll catch you over there. ;)
Your friend and humbled margarita mangler,
I want to talk about the self-awareness thing too because it’s been, as you know, so big for me just being like, oh, I had no fucking idea. Wow, it’s like childbirth so I’m told.
You can go to all the classes, you can read about it, you can do Lamaze, but at the end of the day, it’s you and whatever’s coming out of your vagina.
(upbeat music) Welcome back marketing nerds of the world. It’s time for another episode of HAMYAW and on this day, we wanna talk about theory verse practice.
What happens when you think you know how you would react, respond, strategize, make your next move in a situation, and then the situation happened and you’re like, oh no, everything goes out the window, all bets are off and suddenly you can see for miles and miles about why so many people have made so many bad choices in the exact same scenario.
We have so much meat to dig into about this, especially because as Margo and I continue on the trajectories of our businesses, we are learning just so much, folks, about this theory verse practice idea, but before I spill my tea, Margo, how’s your theory verse practice goin’ today?
I literally thought you were gonna say, “you think you know, but you have no idea.’
That’s what I should have said! We’ll have to do a redo, whatever, continue.
See, we’re learning right now y’all. Folks, real time.
Margo, speak your truth.
It’s so hard to see your own blind spots. There are things that–
That’s why they’re called blind spots.
Blind spots, I’m so good at pointing them out in others.
We’ve done episodes on knowing what your blind spots are.
I think that with theory verse practice, there are certain things there, I’ll speak for myself. I felt like I was doing them.
So when people would give me the advice, I’d be like, no, I got it. Yes, that’s fine.
And it reminds me of when clients used to say to me, “Well we’re doing email marketing. We’re doing social, we’re doing this. It’s just not working.”
And I’d be like, okay, well, those are words. Those are a lot of words. Tell me how you’re doing it.
And you dig below the surface and like they sent two emails in seven months or they sent one every day and it was just like screaming at people. And so I’m like, I don’t know that I would qualify this as email marketing. I would qualify this as yelling at people or abandoning them.
And so I feel like it was really clear when you dig below the surface, but for myself, it’s really hard.
And it also depends where the advice comes from, where the theory comes from and who says it to you and how, so I’m thinking in particular more recently, I think the viewers know that I have shifted from like service-based to product-based.
And it’s been such a huge like letting go of the reigns at a certain point because with service-based, you could really touch every single aspect of the customer experience and with product, you kind of have to let it go.
And it’s very hard and I hate it!
I’ve had the privilege of working with a team and partnering on a product, so there have actually been things I couldn’t touch, and I couldn’t do customer service. I couldn’t do tech glitches. I couldn’t change the curriculum as it was launching. And so I just had to watch the product go.
And it was in that moment of letting the product be its own thing where it’s no longer mine or a reflection of me, but it belongs to the students and it’s now their experience and I can’t affect it anymore that I realized how much I was affecting shit and how much I was getting in the way when I was like, no, no, no, I’m not getting the way. I just have high standards.
I’m doing really, really good, high quality, high customer service. They spent a lot of money. I got to do all the things.
We’re making corrections as we go. We’re not sure if there are problems but we’re correcting them, just in case.
That’s a hundred percent right. And I called a friend of the show, Michelle Warner. I called her up and I was like I see something that’s driving me crazy. It was like a formatting thing in the course. And she was like, do not touch the formatting.
It is, the train has left the station. The people are in, they’re enrolled. They know what’s going on.
Unless you see like a giant problem and students really don’t understand what’s happening, they will understand if the bolding is wrong or if there’s too much text in that paragraph.
They’re smart humans. They’re humans actually.
And I’m like no! And so just divorcing that from my identity and being like it’s a reflection of me and I did a bad job and I’m cutting corners. And then also realizing when we tested this beta run of the coffee workshop, it was just with the Kimball alumni and the pitch was vague and it was vague by design because we were testing positioning and demand.
And so there were a lot of things that like, I would’ve never in a million years gone to market with.
I would’ve never gone to market without telling you when Zoom calls are going to happen. I wouldn’t have ever gone to market without giving you very specific dates of start and end times.
And like things that I would’ve considered non-negotiable, and I was like, oh, these are negotiable, because guess what? So many people signed up without this information. What? And like the few complaints weren’t even complaints.
They were like clarifying questions.
People figured it out.
And I’m just like, wow, wow.
There are so many things that I thought I understood when I was like ship it, go, do things that are imperfect. It’s okay. You can iterate. And I really wasn’t allowing those things to happen at all.
It’s so interesting. Especially the ship it and let it ride and see what happens. We kind of tell ourselves that and the addendum is always like ship it. And you can always tinker with it endlessly on the back end as it’s in flight, because you have access to everything.
It really is such a powerful thing to set it all up and let it go. I think that I know in your case with a lot of people watching the show that this is Margo’s case, this is my case, where you’re terrified of that one person seeing the wonky formatting, hear you misspeak on video, and they’re going to come find you and they’re going to tell you what they think and they’re going to shout it from the rooftops.
Fortunately, most people just don’t have that much free time.
But I think that a lot of what holds us back in this theory verse practice is that also it’s safer to stay in theory zone. It’s safer to be like, here’s what I preach. This is sort of what I do.
And then when, I think, the stakes are higher, and I think in your case, this practice is so different because you’re doing it on a larger platform with a larger organization and you are actively being barred from making those changes and doing the thing that you told so many other people to do, which is just let it ride and fighting against all of those compulsions to try to change a million things to correct it, to obsess.
And then I think to realize at the end, all those things you were always so stressed out about don’t necessarily matter that much anyway.
How does that feel?
On one level it’s freeing, where I feel a bit of an exhale and then I also feel really stupid for spending so much time in the trenches, tweaking things that didn’t matter and not realizing that’s what I was doing.
I really thought it was a commitment to quality and a commitment to service and a commitment to like, oh, what’s your biggest flaw. I just care too much. You know, — like that kind of thing.
I work too hard. I care too much. And sometimes I’ll put the good of the company ahead of my own well-being.
What is the most noticeable change when you think about going forward, creating new programs, doing new stuff?
What do you think is going to be the biggest shift for you?
Staying in my lane and allowing–
So one of the things I have learned, and it’s an akimbo concept called tension. And when you’re teaching and when you’re coaching, it’s really important to let students squirm and to let them sit in that tension of not understanding something and asking questions or being uncertain, even if that means they’re projected on you.
Like, oh this is a stupid, what a dumb question. They phrase it this way. I’m not gonna get anything out of this. Like letting that tension happen, where they squirm.
And I am historically very, very bad at this. I can’t handle it, especially when I was working on one-on-one I learned this because you have to learn to like pause and let someone work their own stuff out.
I would be like, here’s the answer. This is what I was trying to get you to connect. Connect this to this, this goes here, that’s the answer.
And the thing is I have given the answer so many times and nobody changed and I’m watching students now sit in tension and they figure it out for themselves and their mind is blown.
And I’m like, well, wait a minute.
So when I mean stay in my lane, it’s like once you build the curriculum, let them have it. You’re done. I am staying in curriculum and marketing lane.
I am not coaching.
I’m not micromanaging.
Once that train has left the station, it’s theirs. It’s their revelation to have.
That’s so interesting because I think part of where our mindset goes here is because we know there’s such a large failure of courses in the online space where, you know, sit with something like 6 to 60% of people finish. And then on the creator side, it’s like, well, the students are on their own journey on the student side. It’s like the creator didn’t give me enough information.
80% of people.
80% of people, that’s it.
What’s interesting about this to me and as I sort of continue down my creator and coach road too, we talk about this a lot on the show but I think that that’s part of what drives that anal retentiveness, that desire to catch everything, is where, like I don’t want to be one of those people sort of from either side of the fence, you know, and also what drives maybe also an embarrassment and frustration over the courses we don’t finish as well ’cause it’s like, oh no, I’m the problem student.
But I think that more this is a great lesson here is that when the rubber really meets the road, it is about letting your clients and students take the journey for themselves because that is what cements the information like the ability to connect those dots, it sounds like.
That’s exactly right. And it’s so hard to do.
I’m not good at leading a horse to water.
I’m just like drink, the water’s right there. It’s right there. Why are you not drinking? You’re not thirsty?
Come on, hydrate.
Yeah, I’m learning that like my lane is to go, “Well, water’s really good for you. And when I drink water, it was. –“
You know, like go in different directions.
Or just let it go entirely. Their lessons are their lessons. And sometimes it’s incongruent with what even the course promises.
I think that’s the part that’s really hard because with this one, it’s a specific skill-based course, right? It’s a copy course. And it’s so I like want them to be better at copy, but I’m like actually if you have different takeaways, that’s fine. You’re allowed.
And the perfectionist in me is like, “No, they must improve on this, this, this, and this.”
Or else they’re not getting the value. Yeah.
I think disconnecting your worthiness too from the success or failure of a product is a really important mental health journey that we should all be on.
Yes, and talk about it. Absolutely.
I think that we kind of take so much responsibility because we feel that there are so little responsibility in this like across the industry for results, but at the end of the day like it’s always this push pull.
It’s just going to be that way no matter how prepared you are. And I think sort of sitting with that and learning what your lane is, what’s your brand of quality education is, what is the most effective way for your students to learn. And you can’t figure that out until you give the space to do that.
And I think that’s going to serve you so beautifully long-term and I’m taking notes over here too. ‘Cause I will bug and change things and update things.
For me, the theory verse practice, the biggest one, I think, ’cause it’s been so interesting, going from being on the contractor side of like a big client launches to being the client behind the big launch.
Children, let me tell you! It’s been definitely an interesting journey and I think most recently the theory verse practice was I had like, was coming on the end of like a super intense launch period. And I was in the middle of a launch and things kept going wrong and I was very frustrated. I didn’t let it out on anybody, but I was like I think it was pretty evident to my team that I was losing my mind.
And I remember being on the contractor side and watching clients that go through this stress in the launch and like losing their minds and just like being so upset over ABC thing and then apologize and be like, I’m so sorry. This launch is just so stressful.
And my answer was always like you should have prepared better.
Like if you’d thought to hire the right people and you just gotten all your work done and dotted your I’s and crossed your T’s, this wouldn’t be happening.
What a crock of bull shit. Woo. My goodness gracious me. Human error folks like get into it.
It was very interesting because for all intents and purposes, I did everything right. And I think that was the most frustrating thing.
There were humans that were supporting, there was tech that was solid that we spent a lot of time deciding on, there was like a big strategy push that really smart people weighed in on, and at the end of the day, things still went wrong in ways that I was not expecting.
It always does.
You know, I’ve done lunches before with my small team but this was, I think the biggest one that I’d ever done with the most bodies on it and it really threw into such sharp relief how fucking difficult it is to scale a business like y’all, business is hard, period. It’s just difficult.
It’s the reason why we have this whole culture of the guru on the mountain top who has all the answers and the reason why people follow like we’re taking stabs in the dark, right? A lot of us. And if anyone has any kind of flashlight, we’re like, I’ll follow you.
What we really need is people to tell us how it really is, which is business is hard and some things are going to go right and things are going to go wrong.
I just really thought that because I had my self care on deck, I had the team, I had a good product, I put in the work to update everything, like everything was ready to go.
And yet there were still a ton of obstacles. It’s a style of launch I’m not sure I would repeat just for that reason. But it was so interesting being on the other side of the chair.
It’s so easy to blame the other person who is on a trajectory of growth for making what you perceive to be huge GAFS.
And then all of a sudden you’re like, you know it’s really simple. These folks, they just don’t know their blind spots, blah blah blah.
Maybe it’s ego. Maybe it’s this, maybe it’s that.
And then all of a sudden you climb into the car yourself and you hit the gas and you’re like, oh, I get it now. How interesting.
So that’s definitely my theory verse practice story. The most reason one, because there have been many.
I love this so much. The limitations of strategy–
-And preparation, the fucking limits of preparation people. That’s the most unfortunate reality I have come across of late. It’s not for want of trying or planning sometimes. Sometimes shit just goes belly up and there was not a lot you can do.
So there’s something also, I think really important, what you just said, which is why people in the arena will never criticize other people in the arena. It’s like, I see you.
You know, you’re actually out there shipping, no one can understand that better than someone else shipping. We get it. So you get the GAFS.
So I think something that can be a check, I’m going to use this as a check, is that if I’m starting to get really critical, really in the theory of like, well, and you start to get self-righteous, that’s a check that you haven’t necessarily been in the arena on this particular issue.
If there’s like a simple solution–
– Yeah, I shut the hell up so hard now y’all, let me tell you.
Sometimes I see things happening or people disagreeing or like complaining about something or someone and it’s just really to a point where I’m like, well maybe this is true, but I literally do not know. Like I’ve never been in this person’s shoes. I’ve never been in this situation.
Maybe I would behave the same way.
It’s definitely also I think calmed me down a little bit because it’s really easy to assume that everyone who’s making wrong choices has ill intent or didn’t prepare properly.
But in reality, we go through this theory and practice thing at every single level.
Every time we level up, we’re going to run into it whether that means charging more for your copy, whether that means stepping into a new industry, whether that means serving people at a higher level, and charging a lot of money, from the coach or consultant side, there are always theory verse practice things you’re going to run into.
And that’s the reality. And I think the further along I get, the more almost agnostic I am about certain patterns and best practices that I’ve seen.
Yeah, because honestly, a part of me is like, all right I understand that this is the wisdom but I’m going to try this and then you come back and you’re like I understand now why that was the wisdom. You know, there’s so many things that we just don’t know until we try them.
And I think that there’s such tremendous risk in trying them so often that it’s no wonder that some people just don’t want to touch that dial. But overall it’s been so eyeopening to me, who has been a critic of the space and will continue to be, like it’s my nature, y’all.
But who’s been a critic in the space for a long time like it’s just been so fascinating, finding out like what universe is on the other side as we continue to grow.
Oh, I love that so much. Yes, okay, y’all. I like this conversation because it disconnects between theory and execution. Is the space where you grow, where you learn, where the good stuff is.
And so I really like what Hillary said about we get often stuck in theory. And when we get stuck in theory, that’s where we get stuck in perfectionism, that’s where the overthinking happens. That’s where we fail to actually ship and throw our things out and do the work.
And so I invite you all to tell us how you are moving from theory to execution, where you are realizing your own blind spots. I know for me, an essential thread for a part of this is self-awareness and like being ruthlessly honest with myself about what I don’t know and what I’m doing.
And that’s hard.
That’s hard because you can be humble about what you don’t know but to be honest about your own behavior, like I can’t tell you how many times I have bragged to myself about my good boundaries and then completely violated them.
And then I’ll like, take it
– Hi pot, I’m kettle.
Now, at least like, this is why self-awareness is important. Now, when I can see a boundary violation coming, I can pause and make a different choice. Actually, as early as today, I texted Hillary and Sarah and I was like, how do I respond to this thing? I’m going to
– That’s true.
Violate my boundaries.
That’s true. We have receipts.
They gave me a script.
Sarah did. I was just along for the ride, but yeah.
But it’s important to be able to realize that like I could’ve easily gone down the road of complaining, feeling like a victim, feeling like I was self-righteous and in the right, when really like, no, you can see what’s happening. You can recognize your own behavior and you can amend.
We want to hear from y’all.
What series did you think you understood and were executing upon? And where do you find that you sort of fumbled the landing? Fumbled the landing, is that right? Anyway, I fumbled the landing.
It’s definitely right.
Metaphors, words are hard.
Someday you’ll do a football, Margo.
Tell us what is going right. What’s going wrong.
Where are you cultivating self-awareness? Where are you realizing that something isn’t working? Where have you been humbled to find out that you were wrong or not doing something that you thought you were? Tell us in the comments below.
And as always, if you liked this episode, please like it below, subscribe to our channel and share it with your friends.
As always, I am Margo Aaron.
And I’m Hillary Weiss.
And we will see you in two weeks.
Bye for now, y’all and remember, nobody gets the theory perfect in practice every time or maybe ever. Go forth and be chaotic.
Photo by Juliet Clare Warren