Skype, Siestas, LifterLMS, Focus, Designing your Business and Singing with Kate Cobb, the Course Creation Coach
What We Recommended:
Tools & Apps
Skype for Coaching Calls – “When I moved to France and I still had my clients in the UK then, generally, it was telephone really more than Skype but clearly we couldn’t have a face to face coaching session so it was almost that I was forced to do it. Then when I was forced to do it I really found how powerful it was. I think it’s a bit like, I don’t know if you’ve had this experience, when you’re driving along with someone in the car, they’re sitting next to you but you’re not looking at them. Sometimes, you can have really deep conversations with people and they’ll reveal things that they wouldn’t normally if you were face to face.”
LifterLMS – “The learning management system I’ve been trialling at the moment is called LifterLMS, which is a free WordPress plugin. I’m always looking for no cost or low cost solutions for people as well. That’s one worth looking at.”
Teachable – “is another learning management system that I’ve been looking at recently.”
“I like Jeff Walker’s Launch where he takes you through his wonderful system. I’ve got a lot of time for him. I think he’s a person with lots of integrity.”
“I like things like the Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. He talks about using meditation in companies. He interviewed lots of CEOs and they didn’t necessarily call it meditation but that was absolutely what they were doing and where they were really tapping into their creativity and getting great. In ‘The Big Leap’ he talks about us getting into our zone of genius as human beings and that’s tapping into that while we’re working and I just love that idea. Yes, worth looking up if you’ve not come across that one.”
“I love the radio as well. I love radio plays. In English, I have to say, not in French. I love plays on radio. Radio 4 Extra is my absolute favourite radio station.
Taking naps – “I have a siesta after lunch. Which is, we would probably, call a power nap but, obviously, in France we call it a siesta. That is really for 20, 30 minutes and I go quite profoundly asleep sometimes to have the rest to then come back and start working.”
Building in Flexibility – “The thing that I enjoy about being my own boss is having flexibility. If somebody says come out for coffee or come for lunch, and it’s a Wednesday, and I can fit that in because I’ve got nothing else planned then I will do that knowing that, probably, I’ll be making up for that by working Saturday morning but that’s okay with me. I’m happy to work in that way.”
Designing Your Business – “I’m a great believer that we’re in business for ourselves and therefore we need to design a business that really works for us. That may not work for anybody else in the world but that’s fine. I’m always saying that to clients, ‘This is your business, what do you want to do with this?’”
Focus on 3 Things – “The thing that I do do first thing in the morning, and I normally am quite consistent about this and, it’s almost as if as I’m waking up I will ask myself a question which is more often than not, “What 3 things can I do to move my business forward today?” I write them down. If I’m doing it as I’m waking up, I think, that’s a really good time to be in touch with your intuition anyway. I’ll ask myself a question and then I’ll just wait and sometimes the ideas come up immediately and sometimes they need a bit longer to come up with the 3 things. I write them down and I make sure I work on them. If I work on nothing else that day I do those 3 things. Sometimes, if I am up early and working early on those 3 things can be done by 10 o’clock.
Structuring Projects – “I tend to, I suppose, organise myself more around projects. As you know, I’ve just been running a 7-day challenge to my Facebook group to design an online programme in a week. I’d set this up quite legitimately but purely selfishly because I wanted to get this done. I thought if I don’t have people saying, “Why aren’t you doing this?” Or I’m not conscious of it then I’m not going to do this in a week so let’s ask some chums to join in on it. For my online project for that then I’ll make a plan so I’ll write up the modules, I’ll have a structure. I have to work from a structure and that’s the way I design programmes and get people to design their programmes too is working from a clear structure.”
Strategies to Finish Working – “This did work for me, is to set an alarm on my phone, I don’t know, something like [9:30] which is then the time to prepare to go to bed. It’s not to say I go to bed at [9:30] but that means closing down the computer, not doing anything else online after that time, and really getting into a state where I can go to bed at a reasonable time and get to sleep.”
Learning – “I like trying things out for myself, that’s the way I learn best. I do participate in webinars and I read stuff online about new tools that are coming in for learning. I tend to have to practise it myself. For me, the visual is really important as well so it needs to look good, it needs to be quite simple to use, and the only way I could judge that is actually signing up for a free trial or whatever and going in and playing around with it for myself.”
Singing to Relax – “I sing, I’m in a choir. I’ve been in choirs since I was at school so forever and ever. I find singing is the best way to switch off because when you’ve got a score in front of you and you’re in rehearsal for 3 hours the only thing you can do is focus on that.”
To Contact Kate
“The best place, at the moment, is to like my Facebook page That’s the place, at the moment, that I’m putting my stuff out on, certainly, to coaches and to individual trainers who are looking for help.”
“People can always email me, email@example.com”
Jo Dodds: Today I'm interviewing Kate Cobb. Hello Kate, thanks for joining me.
Kate Cobb: Hello Jo, it's a pleasure.
Jo Dodds: You're joining me from a another country aren't you?
Kate Cobb: I am indeed. I live in South of France, just outside Nice.
Jo Dodds: Oh lovely. Is it sunny? We're recording this in April, is it sunny?
Kate Cobb: It is beautifully sunny. Blue sky, no clouds ...
Jo Dodds: It's very dull [out here 00:00:22].
Kate Cobb: Oh is it? I'm sorry. It was dull here yesterday. It does get cloudy at times. No, it's getting into a really nice period of Spring and soon it could be summer.
Jo Dodds: Lovely. Tell me a bit more about you, what you do, and where you do it. Apart from the French bit.
Kate Cobb: I work from home and I've lived in Nice for 20 years this year. It's 20 years so I've been here quite a long time, I just love being here. It is a lovely area to be and I really do appreciate the sunshine most of the year round. I don't think I could ever live in the North of Europe anymore so I'm very happy to be here.
I have 3 cats who found me. It wasn't my idea but they turned up...
Jo Dodds: Do they speak French or English?
Kate Cobb: I hope they're bilingual. They get shouted at in both from time to time. I think they understand tone of voice anyway. They’re my constant companions. In terms of work I've been working been working as a freelancer for, I don't know, 30 years. Very happy to be running my own show, I think that's an important thing to me. I help and support coaches and trainers as well. People who want to run group events, and group activities either online or telephone. Group coaching, for example, or face to face programmes like VIP days because my background is in training so I absolutely love helping other people design, what I call, training events. That could be, as I say, planning an online programme, running a 1 day programme, or a telephone training group, something like that.
Jo Dodds: How do you work with your clients? How do you deliver your own version of that? It's a bit of a concentric circle type thing isn't it? That you're helping people do something in the same way that you're doing it.
Kate Cobb: It's true because there are basic principles in the way that people learn so that's what I'm trying to pass on. I know for coaches, for example, they're through marketing, and I can see why, put under pressure, I think, to come up with their very own programmes to work in a group way rather than 1:1, as we know, for good economic reasons because you can only work with so many people 1:1. It's difficult though because they're not trained to work with groups ... necessarily anyway, they're not the same skills and therefore they'll come across some big blocks and difficulties with people in the group but not quite understand why. That's what I try to do to support them and I do it, I suppose, in 3 main ways.
I can work with an individual who knows that they want to put together a programme but they just can't get the clarity of what that's going to be. I find the people I work with have established businesses. They've already got a client base, they're already working with clients but it tends to be 1:1 rather than group. They've got loads of experience but the difficulty's actually finding 1 thing to put in a programme. What people tend to do is they want to over deliver, they want to put far too much content in, for example, to an online programme. With the result that people just get overwhelmed even just, maybe, looking at publicity for it they're overwhelmed and they don't sign up. Or they may sign up and then give up soon because there's just too much in there. I help them to work out what they're going to leave out and that's the challenge for most people is not what to put in, it's what to leave out.
We can just do like a 3 hour audit session working individually 1:1 over Skype and really get clear on what the programme's going to be, what the content's going to be, what the target market is, and really clearly what you want people to learn as they go through that programme. That can be a short thing because then people might then go off and design their own programme, they feel happy to do that.
With others I can work with them to produce the programme. If they want to do it on their own I can help them to do that, look at different learning platforms and ways in using technology to do that. Or I could do it for them and that's what I do with some people I work with. I just take their idea, I know exactly what their objectives are going to be, and then I design the whole course for them. I write things like templates, and checklists, and any materials that they need to support that process. Basically, it's done for them, I brand it up so I can deliver it back so that they can just start running it. It works in different ways with individuals.
I also still do corporate work so I'll work, obviously, within organizations where there you have trained departments and they need learning materials developing and, particularly these days, looking at using technology in learning because there is so much of it. Most companies are trying to ... for different reasons but 1 is financial. They’re looking at better ways of delivering these things that they've delivered, probably, face to face over the last 'x' number of years. There are so many ways to do it now that that could be quite a challenge.
Jo Dodds: Of course, you're doing all of this from the lovely South of France. I have this idyllic view of where you're working. Do you have a particular room in your house that's your office? Or do you work in different places? Tell us a bit more about the logistics.
Kate Cobb: I have a designated space which looks out onto the terrace. I have a very small apartment so I can't say it's a whole room but it's space where I can look out onto the terrace which then there's a communal garden beyond that. I just look out on greenery, and blue sky, and sunshine. It's just lovely.
Jo Dodds: Of course, you do most of your work via technology, I think, you've mentioned Skype already. How do you connect with your clients?
Kate Cobb: Yes, I do everything from home so everything I do is by Skype or by telephone but largely by Skype or similar platforms. I've never ever found any problem with doing that. I've been coaching for years as well as training, doing the training design work and I've actually found that coaching by telephone is extremely powerful and that, sometimes, even if we're working on Skype we'll switch the picture off because people just can get much more deeply into coaching when they don't have the visual stuff to derange them. Skype is 1 and, of course, internet is fabulous.
When I started writing books ... I can't remember the first one I was commissioned to write. It started about 20 years or so ago, I suppose, that was the days when we would receive the printed manuscript through the post. It would be in a big brown envelope, and you had to go through it, and do the changes, and then put it back in the envelope, and send it back. Now, fantastic internet, of course, everything goes by email. It's been a big difference to the way that I work with people.
Jo Dodds: It's interesting what you say about not having visuals. I'm quite a sociable person when I'm in real life, if you like, but video, I really hate video. I know I need to do it. I'm constantly saying, "Oh, I should do more," but I am that person that when somebody says, "Can we Skype?" I go, "Yeah," and I always mean Skype meaning just the audio version not with the video. Then it traumatises me when they want the video to be on.
Kate Cobb: I understand that too. I don’t like seeing myself on video.
Jo Dodds: I do think it's distracting though. I did a video interview with a guy, a year or so ago, and it was quite a lengthy interview, probably, sort of an hour and a half or so and it was very distracting having to look, I don't know, interested, aware, intelligent, all of those things throughout the whole the interview when really it was about what I was saying not about how I looked but because I knew it was being videoed I had to worry about that as well. I can see what you're saying about turning the video off can get you into a much deeper conversation.
Kate Cobb: It is really interesting. Obviously, when I was in the UK and I was coaching I would do it face to face because that's what you do and lots of people still work that way of course. When I moved to France and I still had my clients in the UK then, generally, it was telephone really more than Skype but I was forced ... Clearly, we couldn't have a face to face coaching session so it was almost that I was forced to do it. Then when I was forced to do it I really found how powerful it was. I think it's a bit like, I don't know if you've had this experience, when you're driving along with someone in the car, they're sitting next to you but you're not looking at them. Sometimes, you can have really deep conversations with people and they'll reveal things that they wouldn't normally if you were face to face.
I think, there is something in there about ... almost what you were saying, you're saying you've got to look good in front of the camera as it were, look attentive. Whereas, if we don't have that we're not play acting the person we think the other person expects us to be.
Jo Dodds: Yeah. It's interesting I did one of these interviews with the video on thinking it might help to be more engaged in the conversation and I don't think it worked. Either way, it was a great conversation that I had with the guest but I've not felt the need to do it since so that is really amazing, yeah.
Kate Cobb: Yeah.
Jo Dodds: Yeah. Tell me a bit about your working day then. Do you do things in a certain order? Do you have a 9 to 5 mentality? Or is it very much see what happens on the day? How does that all pan out for you?
Kate Cobb: That's a good question.
Jo Dodds: I'm hoping it's going to be very French and very flexible but I don't want to put words in your mouth.
Kate Cobb: Definitely. I do try to get to my desk by 10 o'clock in the morning, we don't start very early here and I do have a siesta after lunch. Which is, we would probably, call a power nap but, obviously, in France we call it a siesta. That is really for 20, 30 minutes and I go quite profoundly asleep sometimes to have the rest to then come back and start working. I tend to, probably, work far too much and far too long. I'm not good, I never have been ... I've been self employed most of working my life, I suppose, and I've never been very good at allowing myself to have days off and holidays. I'm, certainly, not structured around I only do Mondays to Friday.
Within that and the thing that I enjoy about being my own boss is having flexibility. If somebody says come out for coffee or come for lunch, and it's a Wednesday, and I can fit that in because I've got nothing else planned then I will do that knowing that, probably, I'll be making up for that by working Saturday morning but that's okay with me. I'm happy to work in that way. It's more difficult, I think, when you've got families and your family needs some of your time too to be that flexible. That's one of the things that I really enjoy.
I get to my desk at 10 and then it depends what's in the diary really. I do set aside regular times each week to have conversations with people who, perhaps, have an issue that they want to discuss about a programme that they've got coming up, or something that maybe they're thinking about doing so I make sure that I've got calls in for that. They, of course, can turn to potential clients so you could call those sales conversations. Often they're not but I'm very happy to help people if I can so I keep those at certain times of the week.
Jo Dodds: Right. I was going to ask you if you did that because quite a lot of my guests do, they stick to certain days for certain types of work or conversations ...
Kate Cobb: Activities. Yes, I do try to do that. I'm not good at sticking rigidly to any sort of planning system. I've looked at different ones and I've tried different ones, they don't really work for me I have to say. I'm a great believer that we're in business for ourselves and therefore we need to design a business that really works for us. That may not work for anybody else in the world but that's fine. I'm always saying that to clients that, "This is your business, what do you want to do with this?" I suppose, I'm a bit like that myself. If someone can come up with a tool that would help to get me more organised that might work but I've not found one yet.
The thing that I do do first thing in the morning, and I normally am quite consistent about this and, it's almost as if as I'm waking up I will ask myself a question which is more often than not, "What 3 things can I do to move my business forward today?"
Jo Dodds: Yes, so immediately you've reminded me of Wendy Kier (show #16) who talked about 3 things in a day and also Amanda Alexander (show #4) who only tweeted that very question this week which was one of the ones she talked to me about that one of the regular questions she asks herself is what can I do to move the business forward sort of thing. Interesting.
Kate Cobb: Sometimes it's what can I do to bring some money in today? Or what can I do to help my existing clients more? Depending on the circumstances at the time. It, obviously, comes within the business world.
Jo Dodds: How does that then ..?
Kate Cobb: I find if I do that then ... I'm [sorry 00:15:17].
Jo Dodds: Sorry, I was just going to say how does that then, how do you actually then get them into action..?
Kate Cobb: Right. I write them down. If I'm doing it as I'm waking up, I think, that's a really good time to be in touch with your intuition anyway. I'll ask myself a question and then I'll just wait and sometimes the ideas come up immediately and sometimes they need a bit longer to come up with the 3 things. I write them down and I make sure I work on them. If I work on nothing else that day I do those 3 things. Sometimes, if I am up early and working early on those 3 things can be done by 10 o'clock.
They are really clear action steps it's not like I'm going to complete this whole project because, again, we do tend to set ourselves tasks that are just impossible so I'm looking at very specific activities.
Jo Dodds: Yeah.
Kate Cobb: Then I, probably, will do work the rest of the day but the rest of the day is a bonus.
Jo Dodds: Yeah exactly. How do you manage that other list of things that need to get done? You've said there's not really a tool to help you do that. Is it just a simple pen and paper job? Or is it just what comes up for you in your head? Or ..?
Kate Cobb: No I tend to be, still, pen and paper person. Now I will write up lists on a computer but I still enjoy the satisfaction in crossing things off. A bit pathetic but I find that's really satisfying, to see a long list and then go to the end of the day to cross, clearly, 3 off or more things off. It does make feel that I'm getting somewhere and making some movement forward so it tends to be paper and pencil.
Jo Dodds: I add things I've done to my list so I can cross them off, I know exactly what you mean.
Kate Cobb: Oh yes I do that too. Yes exactly, yes unfortunately. If I can cross something off, yes. Yeah. I like that. I tend to, I suppose, organize myself more around projects. As you know, I've just been running a 7-day challenge to my Facebook group to design an online programme in a week. I'd set this up quite legitimately but purely selfishly because I wanted to get this done. I thought if I don't have people saying, "Why aren't you doing this?" Or I'm not conscious of it then I'm not going to do this in a week so let's ask some chums to join in on it. For my online project for that then I'll make a plan so I'll write up the modules, I'll have a structure. I have to work from a structure and that's the way I design programmes and get people to design their programmes too is working from a clear structure.
I'll do that but I'll design some kind of table in Word and then, again, cross things out or change the colour of the things once it's done so that I can see progress.
Jo Dodds: It's almost like creating a template so that you've got gaps to fill in. Once you've got the gaps filled in you know that you've done the job sort of thing.
Kate Cobb: Yes exactly. I do use things like Trello and Asana but that's more for if individuals, clients are using it than that's, if we're sharing documents, that sort of thing's quite important. I have to say, I don't use it on my own. I have used them but I've not thought, "Oh, this is a wonderful tool, I'm going to use this now for myself."
Jo Dodds: No. You mentioned when you're creating programmes that you use checklists sometimes. Do you use checklists for your own work?
Kate Cobb: The fact that I've got to think, clearly, it means the answer's going to be no. I would use it if it's included in a programme, yeah I would design one for end users.
Jo Dodds: I tend to use ...
Kate Cobb: In a sense my table is a bit like that.
Jo Dodds: You're what is? Sorry.
Kate Cobb: The template is sort of like that, I think.
Jo Dodds: Yes. Yeah. That's how I use ... I wouldn't say I've got checklists but I've got processes. I admit I don't have to actually think through the process each time I just literally do the list of things that I did last time because I know that will get me to the end result. Yeah very similar, I think, to the template, as you say. Yeah.
Kate Cobb: Yeah.
Jo Dodds: You mentioned that you've never been very good at stopping work and taking time off. How does the end of the day play out to you? Do you just keep going until you fall asleep? Or do try and bring it to a close?
Kate Cobb: Sometimes I do. What I try and do and actually it's good that you asked me this because it's reminded myself. This did work for me, is to set an alarm on my phone, I don't know, something like 9:30 which is then the time to prepare to go to bed. It's not to say I go to bed at 9:30 but that means closing down the computer, not doing anything else online after that time, and really getting into a state where I can go to bed at a reasonable time and get to sleep. That did work and interestingly enough, and I don't know why I stopped doing that but, I stopped doing that. I think I should put that back in because otherwise I will carry on working. It depends. I do coaching calls, I'm sure you do, in the evenings either with my own coaching group, of which I'm a part, or with clients. There are sometimes things put in in the evenings anyway.
I'm not good at saying, "Right, that's it for today, 6 o'clock, pens down, finished."
Jo Dodds: No, I agree. Neither am I.
Kate Cobb: No it's, possibly the thing that I don't have family clamouring for a meal. It's different for other women who have to go and cook something ...
Jo Dodds: Yes, I have an alarm at 9:30 it's called Little Doddsy and time for her to go to bed.
Kate Cobb: There you are. You see? Exactly.
Jo Dodds: I've decided that carrying on working afterwards doesn't work because she won't go to bed. In lots of ways I've just decided that I will go to bed too. Which means, as you said I don't go to bed at 9:30 but I certainly start to think about it. It takes a bit of negotiating at times. She's a bit of a night owl like me and we'd, probably, stay up all night given half the chance.
Kate Cobb: Right. You have a natural prompt then?
Jo Dodds: Yes. Exactly.
Kate Cobb: In your home.
Jo Dodds: Yeah. We talked about a few tools that you've used as we've gone along and that you don't particularly use one for managing your time. I know you do use tools and, maybe, some apps for some of the work that you do. Have you got some recommendations for us?
Kate Cobb: I don't get very excited about technical stuff in a general sense but I get very excited when it's technical things that are about learning. I spend quite a bit of time investigating and trying out different learning platforms to deliver online programmes, for example, because I use them with clients and they expect me to recommend things to them anyway. It's really interesting to see what is out there. What's happened, of course, is technology is now that if you want to run an online programme and you want it to run it from, I don't know, your WordPress website, for example, there are so many possibilities that you could put that online programme together that people don't know where to go.
The one I've been trialling at the moment, this very week, is called LifterLMS which is a WordPress plugin, free. I'm always looking for no cost or low cost solutions for people as well. That's one worth looking at. Teachable is another one which I've been looking at recently. There are lots of other platforms. Some are paid for, some you pay a percentage when you sell a programme, some you have a monthly subscription fee to. It depends really. There's a financial cost too as well so it depends a bit about what your budget is, I think, too and what suits people.
Jo Dodds: These are the sorts of apps or tools that will allow you to reveal content over a period of time? Perhaps, that'll do a group discussion, group chat? What sort of ..?
Kate Cobb: They tend not to be. They tend to be online programmes so it would be you can upload text, video, audio. Obviously, you can put in there downloads, you can set people exercises but they tend not to be interactive. There are some around that are a bit more interactive but the ones that I've been looking at, certainly, recently because they're either free or very low cost they don't have that functionality.
Jo Dodds: They’re more about delivering the content
Kate Cobb: Exactly. Absolutely. What clients can then do, of course, is set up webinars to go along with that. They can have a Facebook group to go along with that so there can be interactivity in it or built around it rather than it actually being in the platform itself.
Jo Dodds: Yeah. Cool. You've mentioned learning a lot because clearly that is your business. What about your own learning, improving yourself, and how you go about learning new things? What do you do?
Kate Cobb: I like trying things out for myself, that's the way I learn best. I do participate in webinars and I read stuff online about new tools that are coming in for learning. I tend to have to practice it myself. For me, the visual is really important as well so it needs to look good, it needs to be quite simple to use, and the only way I could judge that is actually signing up for a free trial or whatever and going in and playing around with it for myself. With technology and the uses of technology in learning it is important to keep up to date. I do that through different groups, I'm networking with colleagues obviously who are doing this sort of thing all the time, and reading about it but reading about it online. I don't have a list of books or a pile of books even to get through.
Interesting enough I love reading, I tend not to do it so much for work. But it's partly because the technology's changing so much all the time that I don't see the point really.
Jo Dodds: Yeah. Books quite often are a bit out of date aren't they? Even once they've [been 00:26:46] published?
Kate Cobb: Yes, exactly. Absolutely, yeah.
Jo Dodds: I get excited about a book and get halfway through them and then I get bored and move on to the next. I never finish them.
Kate Cobb: Yes, I know. I've got some key books that I do go back to from time to time.
Jo Dodds: Anything you'd like to share?
Kate Cobb: I like Jeff Walker's Launch Pad where he takes you through his wonderful system. I’ve got a lot of time for him. I think he's a person with lots of integrity.
Jo Dodds: Absolutely. I was a member of one of his initial groups with the ... I can't think of what his programme's called, the Product Launch Formula
Kate Cobb: [inaudible 00:27:29], that's it.
Jo Dodds: Yeah and they have continuity on it so it was a monthly payment. I can't remember what it was now but, I don't know, it was £40 or £50, I think, quite a long time ago so it wasn't particularly cheap. 1 month he just wrote to everybody and said, "I don't feel I'm offering enough value to keep charging you so we've cancelled all your memberships." I'm going, "Wow, how unusual is that in the online world?" I agree I think, he has good integrity, certainly, from my own experience of him all that time ago.
Kate Cobb: Yes, absolutely. I suppose, I have possibly the most up-to-date one. I like things like the 'Big Leap' ...
Jo Dodds: I've never heard of that. [crosstalk 00:28:08].
Kate Cobb: 'The Big Leap,' now you're going to ask me who it's by and I can't remember.
Jo Dodds: I'll look it up don't worry.
Kate Cobb: Yeah. Very well known. It's quite nice because he talks about ... was it Gay Hendricks? I think so. Gay Hendricks, I think, was years ago, he was talking about using meditation in companies. Although he interviewed lots of CEOs and they didn't necessarily call it meditation that was absolutely what they were doing and where they were really tapping into their creativity and getting great ideas so followed him ever since. In 'The Big Leap' he talks about us getting into our zone of genius as human beings and that's tapping into that while we're working and I just love that idea. Yes, worth looking up if you've not come across that one.
Jo Dodds: I definitely will because I absolutely agree with that and that's partly why I'm here with Power to Live More now. Perhaps I need to read about it after I've made that leap. Lovely. What about other recommendations? You talked a bit about books, you said you read but not normally for work. Have you got any fiction recommendations? Always on the lookout for a good book.
Kate Cobb: No. It's always detective stuff for me.
Jo Dodds: Oh and me.
Kate Cobb: I love a good detective story. I think it's the problem solving in it because, I think, what we do, as entrepreneurs, is about problem solving. Certainly for me working with people and helping find solutions to learning challenges it's about that. It's always that sort of stuff, detective stuff.
Jo Dodds: Yeah. No, I agree. I've just started reading a book ... there's a series. I think, it's Nora Roberts that writes them all that's the pen name for it and they're called 'Death In ...' I can't remember which one I'm reading at the moment but like 'Death in Certainty' or 'Death in ...' something, I don't know. Those are the titles anyway. It's set in the future with some really whizzy ... I don't know, they can go to space at the drop of a hat. They can go on holiday to Mars and things like that sort of thing. It's all very futuristic but it is about detective and murders, and of course with the added complication of it being in the future with all this extra technology.
Also things like, when they secure a scene they have ... I can't think what their technical term is for it but, oh sweepers, I think, they call them. Literally they secure it so nobody can go in it, and then they do some amazing process, and then of course they get loads more information out of it than they would in the modern times. It's quite interesting. I've quite enjoyed those. I like it when you get into a series and there's tons them because then you can just keep going. I think, it was one of things where good old Amazon hooked me in with a free book or a 99p book. They're not that cheap now.
Kate Cobb: I've never heard of that, I should look that up.
Jo Dodds: Yeah.
Kate Cobb: I love the radio as well. Love radio plays in English, I have to say, not in French. I love plays on radio. Radio 4 extra is my absolute favourite radio station.
Jo Dodds: Lovely. Do you listen to them when you're working? I do when I'm doing ...
Kate Cobb: No.
Jo Dodds: On my couch and stuff I listen to things because I don't have to concentrate very much but I can't do anything else and listen because it puts me off.
Kate Cobb: Yeah. No, this is, certainly, under siesta time. Or perhaps, when I go to bed I'll listen to the radio so that's definitely outside work.
Jo Dodds: One of mine, I've mentioned before, is Desert Island Discs, I really like that every week.
Kate Cobb: Yeah. I can't listen to that going to sleep because I get too interested in the music. It's music that's really important to me.
Jo Dodds: You can't listen to it on time and a half which I do in most of my podcasts so that I can listen to more because the music sounds silly when it's played too fast.
Kate Cobb: Oh right. Okay.
Jo Dodds: Top tip if you speed up your podcast to at least one and half times your brain doesn't actually really have an issue with it once it gets used to it. Most people speak so slowly that it works fine. I don't think you can speed me up because you, probably, couldn't understand me but it does work for most people.
Kate Cobb: That's really interesting.
Jo Dodds: Before we started recording you mentioned music being really important to you. What sort of music do you listen to?
Kate Cobb: I sing, I'm in a choir. I've been in choirs since I was at school so forever and ever. I find singing is the best way to switch off because when you've got a score in front of you and you're in rehearsal for 3 hours the only thing you can do is focus on that.
Jo Dodds: Do you know I could've said that sentence myself? I say that so much myself because I sing in choirs as well and I always say it's so mindful, as you say, you can't be doing anything else, you have to be paying attention, your mind can't wander because you'll get lost and it all goes wrong. Of course, physically with the diaphragmatic breathing it's good for you to do that as well. I took that as an alternative to yoga or meditation because I didn't fancy doing either of those things but I read it was as good as.
Kate Cobb: Oh yes, a great alternative. Absolutely.
Jo Dodds: What sort of things do you sing?
Kate Cobb: I've always sang traditional choral music and actually I have been president of the choir I sing in now which I started with the conductor 6 years ago. Before that I was president of the choir for 6 years and the president in France is somebody, obviously, who does the admin organizing and not the artistic person at all. I love that, I just being involved in the organizing side. I've worked on operas as well as choral stuff and orchestral organization. I just love all of that. I think in a past life or maybe this is just a missed opportunity in this life, I would have done this. Could happily have been a person who worked in an opera house, for example, to organise. It's just fascinating, the whole process of opera, it's completely fascinating but not something I knew about at all before I started seeing and working with this particular conductor.
For singing it's ... the choir we have , at the moment is a chamber choir so there are normally, let's say, 12 to 16 of us singing. We're singing things like Bach motets and that kind of thing, a lot of acapella stuff so you really have to be on the ball because you might be the only person singing in your voice part or you might have one person with you, it's never more than 2 on a voice part. Boy, do you have to concentrate on that, not to show yourself completely up as an idiot in front of everybody else. It's a really good standard for choir. There's something about being in the South of France is the Mediterranean doesn't have the same choral tradition that we have in the UK or that they have in Germany, for example. Down here it's much more opera and operetta so we're up against it really a bit but it's just wonderful to have this choir whereby I can carry on doing that sort of singing.
Jo Dodds: Yeah, that's sounds lovely.
Kate Cobb: It's been challenging because it's a good level so I've got to get better. It helps you get better when you're working with people who are better than you.
Jo Dodds: Yeah, definitely. I'd love to sing in a chamber choir. I sing in a big choral society there's like 100 and odd of us so we get to sing the big works which is great but, as you say, I love the challenge of singing with few people so you are exposed. Although it's quite stressful as well.
Kate Cobb: Yes. Very scary, absolutely. I think, again, in the UK I'd be in big choirs like you and it is fantastic because you do get to do wonderful works with orchestra. It's a different sort of pressure, different sort of way of doing it. We're lucky to have this, I'm very lucky to be involved in it.
Jo Dodds: That's your main form of relaxation then? The fact that you're in the sunny South of France and you're singing?
Kate Cobb: Exactly. Absolutely. That's it in a nutshell, definitely.
Jo Dodds: Lovely. What about days when things don't go right? Do you have any of those stressful ones? I'm just imagining it's all blissful in the South of France but I'm sure there are times ... when the internet goes down, maybe. How do you deal with those traumas?
Kate Cobb: It isn't always wonderful in South of France, of course, as anywhere. I do try to learn from things. I'm the glass half full person. I do think everything that happens to us happens to us for a reason, it happens to teach us things. Even the worst possible things in life actually do that although they may not feel like it at the time. If I'm having a bad day at the office, as it were, then I would try to calm down, not panic, and think about what's this about because there may be specific actions I can take to turn things around. I think, there always are ways that we can turn things around even if it's only with our way of thinking about something. I'm not saying that I always achieve that 100% of the time but it doesn't take me long to get back into a much more positive frame of mind and to see what is working. We seem to constantly concentrate on what isn't working. We forget all the things that are working, the things that we are doing, and the way we are contributing.
Jo Dodds: Tell me, do you sing ...
Kate Cobb: I have to sometimes focus to get back to that .
Jo Dodds: Yeah, do you sing when you're feeling bad like that? Sometimes I do.
Kate Cobb: I don't. That's a really good idea. I think, if I've got a really bad day and don't feel I've got anywhere sometimes I'll take out my music and start work because obviously, we prepare for concerts. I'll start working on a score that I need to prepare so yes, that's true. I could do more of that, that's good idea.
Jo Dodds: Yeah. I think, physically it sometimes just really helps to, as we've said, be mindful about something else anyway but also just that whole relaxation piece, I think, can be really helpful. I certainly do do that specifically if I've had one of those days. Maybe not when there's people in the house though.
On a day when you've finished the day knowing that you've had that chance to live more, that I talk about, which is about doing the stuff you really want to do not necessarily the stuff that you need to do or you should do. What does that day look like?
Kate Cobb: The day itself?
Jo Dodds: Yeah. What have you done?
Kate Cobb: What I've done? I’ve worked on some training design work for somebody. This morning, I was doing some work, I'm actually designing some questions for somebody who wants to use them in his training and I just love that. I know that it's contributing. What I do now is very much a kind of back room activity and there are lots of people who don't even know that people like me exist. Or coaches I know, apparently, who are looking for people like me because they don't like designing. Or trainers too who don't like doing the design side. They like the delivery but they don't like the design, or aren't very good at it, or don't have the time but don't know that there are people like me who could help them. That's an interesting thing because we're all skilled in different areas.
Really to know that I've achieved something, it's to know that I've put together a really good programme that I know is going to help the people who will be using it. I have a really clear way and a really clear picture in my head of how to take them from the starting point of the training, whatever that may be, right through to the end. Whether it's an online programme, self study, or face to face, or whatever it is. I feel that I'm really good at helping people through that journey.
If I can do that even though I don't see the people to whom this is delivered, I don't get immediate feedback from them, I feel that that's really contributing to other people's learning so that makes me feel very satisfied. I'm just very creative, I love coming up with ideas for group activities, or role plays, or case studies. I just find it a really creative process, I just love it. I'm very happy.
Jo Dodds: Lovely. We've just come to the end of the interview now. It's gone by in a flash as ever. How can people find out more about you? They'll people, I'm sure, listening who are exactly the people you've just talked about, who don't like doing this stuff, need somebody to help them with what they want to deliver for their people. How can they find out more about what you do?
Kate Cobb: The best place, at the moment, is to like my Facebook page which is called Share Your Passion or, the long version, Share Your Passion with the World. That's the place, at the moment, that I'm putting my stuff out on, certainly, to coaches and to individual trainers who are looking for help. People can always email me, firstname.lastname@example.org and that message will get through to me.
Jo Dodds: Lovely.
Kate Cobb: I have a corporate website which is, obviously, for people more in organisations called The Learning Design Studio.
Jo Dodds: Lovely. We can put that on the show notes and I think you're working on a new website or 2 so we can add those on and link to that as well. Lovely. Thank you so much for joining me.
Kate Cobb: Pleasure Jo, it's been wonderful talking to you. I wanted to thank you for reminding me of some things like setting my alarm to go to bed.
Jo Dodds: Yeah. I'm going to start doing that if Little Doddsy doesn't keep doing it for me. Yeah it's been great interviewing you. Thank you.
Kate Cobb: Thank you Jo, it's really kind of you.