Monthly Archives: April 2014

Thrust Into Entrepreneurship, Part 3.

I was learning one of the facts of entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurs are resourceful.

Terry let me use a computer in an empty classroom, if he had an empty one. As a newly-launching business, he had a high priority on having both classrooms occupied by paying students.

So I used a privilege I acquired during my engineering job.

As a new employee with a Bachelor’s degree, I was tasked with earning a Master’s degree. Most of the people I worked with had one, or even a Doctorate. I had been taking engineering classes in the evenings at the University of Southern California, which included use of the personal computer labs. You betcha I kept my student ID card in a safe place.

Gradually I made the transition from employee mindset to running the business of Lynn As A Computer Trainer.

After a year, I was getting offers from other computer training firms to teach as an independent contractor. In my heyday I was juggling at least 4 contracts, scheduling as many days as I could.

Each contracting firm had its own set of training manuals, so I rehearsed each book’s exercises, both keystrokes and what to say, figuring out the best way to train the material as well as noting any flaws in the material or places the students might get stuck.

I taught beginning and intermediate levels of Windows, Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint. My engineering background came in handy while teaching the mathematics and functions inherent in the Excel spreadsheet software.

Why didn’t I just have one “generic” way to teach each class?

Because if you don’t teach using the book’s layout, the students don’t have a resource to use after class. And you can imagine how lost they would feel if they had to rely on their memories after a 6 hour immersion in a new software program.

Of course, if they showed up for the intermediate level without reasonable comfort with the prior level skills, I would have been blamed for not teaching well and would lose priority in the training bookings– and eventually lose the contract altogether.

So I took the long-term view and thoroughly prepared for each class.

It’s the way I roll.

Thrust into Entrepreneurship, Part Two.

After attending the first trainers’ networking meeting, the phone was silent.

Bert and Mario both told me I had to be more assertive, and don’t take their word that they will call me. Get their cards and call them.

At the next month’s meeting I connected with Terry, who was opening his location of a computer training franchise, and needed to find the trainers for the range of classes that would be offered.

I was candid that I had no formal experience as a computer trainer, and I sensed the hesitation in his gaze.

When I mentioned my nearly-two-years’ membership with Toastmasters, he smiled and said, “Toastmasters was one of the best things I ever did for myself.” Right then I knew I had a chance to interview.

The day of my formal interview, I was climbing into my pantyhose, and they tore. So I grabbed the next pair, and … same result.

With an anxious glance at the clock, I grabbed yet another pair from the drawer. I managed to put on the third pair without mishap– then realized I was wearing them backwards. Oh well! At least they were on, and run-free.

At the interview I learned… Terry was willing to take a chance on hiring me.

And he revealed that I would not be hired as an employee, but as an independent contractor paid only for days that I conducted a training session.

My dreams of restored health insurance benefits and predictable cashflow disappeared in an instant.

Grateful for Terry’s willingness to give me a chance, I signed the contract and focused on preparing for my first class.

I didn’t own a computer. Neither did Bert. So how would I work my way through the exercises and plan my lessons effectively?

(to be continued…)

–Lynn Selwa, “The Rocket Science Coach” ™