Facilitator + Trainer + Creative Coach |
Based in Connecticut, Working Worldwide

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Justine Ickes

Read This Before You Create Your First Course

Read This Before You Create Your First Course

Lately, I get lots of inquires about my “Launchpad” package for folks looking to create in-person and online workshops and courses. 

And you know what? I think long and hard before taking on new clients in that program.

Yes, you read that right: I sometimes turn down that type of work.

Why? Well, first off, it’s about my own integrity and what I know based on decades of experience as an instructional designer, trainer and coach.

Here’s the thing: While live workshops and online training can be perfect for some businesses, one size for sure does not fit all.

Sometimes your clients are better served by your staying true to your core services and offerings.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I understand the lure of creating a signature learning program. I get where you’re coming from. I really do.

* You’ve made it as far as you can with your current business model.
* You’re excited to reach more clients and make a greater impact.
* You’re looking for a way to package the tools, tips and strategies you’ve worked long and hard to develop.

And now you’re thinking, what’s next? How can I grow my business, create a new income stream, and reach even more clients? 

So you take a look around and see lots of other people jumping into creating and selling e-courses, webinars, and the like.

And then next thing you know you’re lost down the rabbit hole of online learning — Adobe Connect, Zoom, and a host of other platforms.

My advice? Before you start, get crystal clear on what will best serve your clients. Get in the habit of asking yourself these questions:

  • What is the real reason I want to create a course? 
  • Will a course truly serve my clients?
  • Is what I have to share better delivered in another medium or format? (Podcast, anyone? Printable worksheets? A mini learning sprint delivered by email?)

So the next time you feel the urge to cook up an e-learning program, make sure you’ve got the right recipe for your clients. Need help figuring out what makes sense for your business? Schedule a consult with me to learn more about my coaching and consulting services.

Justine Ickes workshop facilitator

Need to Know, Nice to Know

Need to Know, Nice to Know

Where do you do your best thinking?

In the shower? At the gym? In the checkout line at Whole Foods?

No matter when or where your creativity sparks, it’s important to capture your ideas so you can create engaging and effective learning programs.

When you’re an expert in your field, it can be tempting to pack your webinar and your course with everything you know. 

But smart course designers realize that it’s not enough to simply churn out a laundry list of topics. You need to be selective, too.

Identifying your core “need to know” content and prioritizing it over other information that’s merely “nice to know” is the first step in developing your signature learning program


Because in a live webinar or online course you can have too much of a good thing.

Cram too much information into your learning event, and you run the risk of giving students (and prospective clients) a serious case of information overload.

At the very least, they might exit the webinar or not complete the course.

Worse, learners might be so turned off that they don’t enroll in your other courses, buy your products or services, or hire you for other work.

Let’s say you’re developing a basic course for people new to photography. You’re passionate about the history of the art form and your bookshelves are bulging with biographies of Robert Capa, Annie Leibovitz and other legendary photographers. You can talk a blue streak about lens and editing apps and your Instagram account is ginormous.

Your ideal learner, however, still hasn’t taken her point-and-shoot camera out of the box. 

See what I mean?

When you’ve got oodles of ideas, scaling back on your curriculum is a good approach. But you need to make sure you trim the right content.

Skimp on the core learning and your students will leave feeling hungry and unsatisfied.

So, how do you serve up the right content?

The key is to select the essential information and skills practice and deliver it in a way that keeps your students sated. 

Ask yourself:

  • Does the learner need to know this?
  • Is this essential information?
  • How will this content help meet my course objectives?

Want some support figuring out your key content so you can develop, launch and sell a course that’s just right for your clients? I’ve spent decades designing courses for clients large and small and I’ve got a proven system to get you in the learning game. Check out “The Launch Pad”, my hybrid coaching + consulting program here. Or contact me for a consult to find out how I can help.


Justine Ickes online training trainer coach facilitator

Are you ready to create an online course?

Prospective clients often ask me, “Do I have what it takes to create an awesome online course?” 

My answer?

Of course you do!

With today’s user-friendly e-learning platforms, you can have a course up and running fairly quickly.

But don’t take my word for it. Read on to see if you’re ready to create your own online course.

You’re Able to Commit.

Let’s be honest. Developing an online course takes a large investment of energy, time and resources. 

From crafting your course outline to writing learning objectives and from sourcing images to editing videos, you’ll need to juggle a variety of tasks before your course goes live. 

Add all that to what you’re already doing to run your business and you might find your head spinning before you’ve even started on your course. 

Does that mean you should put off your course until the time is right?

No. But you’ll be much more effective if you’ve got realistic expectations and have a plan in place to keep your business running while you dive down the course creation rabbit hole.

You’ve Got Friends and You Know How to Use Them. 

Ringo Starr got it right when he sang about the importance of friends. In e-learning, too, things are easier when you’ve got support. 

Plus, as far as we know, no one’s figured out how to extend the day beyond 24 hours. That’s why it’s important to figure out your strengths and then seek help for everything else.

Are you great at writing copy but easily frustrated with technology?

While you don’t need to be a tech guru to create a successful online program you do need to have some basic technical skills and be comfortable navigating online. 

So if words like “jpeg”, “metatags” and “bandwidth” send you scurrying, consider hiring someone to help you with the tech-side of your course.

Do you have an eye for layout but stumble over spelling and grammar? Then delegate the copy-editing to your company’s resident grammar geek.

You Know Your Learners.

No doubt about it, online learning is an ever-changing environment. What’s popular today might not exist a year from now, or even a month from now. 

The good news is you don’t need to be up on the latest app or have the skinny on the newest technology coming down the pike.

When it comes to great e-courses what matters is that you know your target audience. What e-learning tools do they like to use? How do they prefer to learn? Will they be happy to follow along with a slideshow? Or do they love on-line chats and discussion boards?

How do you find out? Ask them! 

So, how’d you do? If you can answer yes to the three criteria I’ve outlined above, you’ve got a good foundation for creating a course that your clients will love.

Want some support to get your signature learning program up and running? Check out The Launch Pad, my hybrid coaching + consulting program here. Or contact me for a consult to find out how I can help.



The # 1 Reason that Cultural Fluency Matters

Ever been to an aquarium?

It’s such a cool experience, watching the aquatic parade. 

The sharks glide by.

The sea anemones do their funky slow-mo dance.

Even the guy in the wetsuit fits right in — Okay, maybe not him.

But you know what I mean. The whole aquarium thing just, you know, works. 

What do fish have to do with culture?

Culture is like the water in an aquarium. And we humans are the fish.

As we paddle along, culture keeps us afloat. It’s the shared values and beliefs we live by, the rituals and traditions that say “this is how we do things here”, the taboos that tell us what behaviors are out of bounds.

For people born and raised in the U.S., culture is things like:

Just Do It © or “Been There, Done That” (values)

Always singing the “Star-spangled banner” before a ball game.  (traditions)

It’s rude to ask someone how much money they make. (etiquette and taboos)

For someone from Japan, culture might be expressed this way:

You always accept a business card with both hands and study it carefully. 

When you’re a guest in someone’s home, it’s rude not to eat all the food your host offers. 

Is either one of these cultures better than the other?

Nope. They’re just different ways of being in the world.

Are these differences ever cause for confusion?

You bet.

That’s because, like the fish in an aquarium, we’re all immersed in our own culture and that can make it hard to see, let alone, understand how the world might look to other fish, er, people who are from another culture. 

But, as long as you’re safe in your own cultural waters, life usually goes swimmingly.

Something Smells Fishy Around Here

But let’s say you have a change in life circumstances.

You decide to study abroad or you’re assigned to a global team at work.

Or maybe, like me, you fall in love with someone from another culture.

Now you’re in unfamiliar, maybe even murky, waters.

Out of the Fish Bowl and Into the Fire

Getting dumped out of your cultural fish bowl, whether by force or by choice, is shocking, to say the least.    

After all, you’ve got a whole new set of cultural behaviors and norms to sort out.

Which leads to lots of questions and maybe even some frustration.

Why can’t I get a straight answer from my Korean colleague? 

My Spanish girlfriend is never on time! 

This meeting with our Brazilian clients is really dragging on. What’s with all the chit-chat?! I mean, let’s get to the sales pitch, already! 

Ever felt this way? No worries, confusion, frustration and exhaustion are part of developing cultural awareness.

But, if you want to stay afloat — be happy in your new home overseas, get along with your colleagues or make your cross-cultural romance work —  you’re going to have to learn some new strokes. 

Three Tips for Staying Afloat in Cross-cultural Seas

  1. Resist the urge to succumb to stereotypes. Sure, it would be easier to just label the other culture as “lazy”, “crafty”, “just not like us” or any number of unflattering adjectives. But does that really make it easier to get along?
  2. Educate yourself about basic cultural differences. Read books. Ask questions. That way, you can anticipate where misunderstandings might arise and you can build on cultural traits that you and your new friend, colleague or soul mate might share.
  3. Remember to take off your own goggles. Pretend you’re an anthropologist and try seeing your own culture as someone from another culture might. 

Need support navigating your cross-cultural relationship? Could your team use some training in effectively communicating across cultures? I offer coaching and training for individual and groups. Schedule a consult with me and let’s explore how I can help.

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