Marie Poulin - Making a business from Notion Mastery

Marie Poulin drops by to talk about - a topic whose demand dragged her along to create a business around teaching Notion at a premium level! Marie and her husband are killing it - listen to hear how!

# 10 - Marie Poulin

**Chris:** Can you hear it

**Marie:** a little bit. Okay. Good. Nice. That's good. That'd be nice. Like ambient, I gotta leave it down. I love it. It's real life.

**Chris:** Okay. I'm here with Marie Poulin whose last name? Or just butchered up? And you made, um, I'm going to say the notion of mastery course, but it's also a lot more than that. , and okay.

Here's the part where I figured out how to do a podcast. Do you want to talk about like, um, I I'm interested in how you like started this course and how you like got to even make. Um, but do you want to, just to quickly say in a better words than I just used what it is?

**Marie:** No, that's great. Yeah. So the course that is kind of become our signature course.

That is the biggest part of our business. Right now it's notion mastery and it is a year long program that people have access to, to learn how to use notion to basically run all of their life in business systems. So deciding their workflows, uh, improving their knowledge management, all of that stuff.

**Chris:** Cool. Okay. A few things there. Like it's a real business, not just like, Hey, I made this chorus, which is awesome. And then also a year long. So it was like cohort.

**Marie:** It's kind of a unique hybrid. Um, and I mean, we can dig into this a little bit from a format perspective because I'm not a huge fan of the cohort-based courses.

I think they have a time and place, uh, but I wanted to do something a little bit different. So it is an evergreen course. People can join any time and we do regular live trainings throughout the year. So again, people can kind of pick it up whenever. They joined the course. So it's sort of a hybrid self study cohort based course with sort of supplemental live events and office hours to support people.

**Chris:** Neat. Okay, let's start kind of from the beginning though, like, what were you doing before you made it? How'd you how'd you lead up to decide to doing

**Marie:** this thing? Yeah, like early on in my career, I was doing web design and development. I was making websites for people and then started getting into more of the digital strategy side of things.

So I think a lot of designers can probably relate to this, that you start doing people's websites and then inevitably you're. Oh, yeah. I'll hook up the payment integrations for you and then, oh, your marketing campaign and you start to kind of touch all of the different parts of somebody's business. And so the more and more people that I was working on and probably a little bit of people pleasing to where I'm like, oh, I don't know.

I'll figure out how to do that for you. Cause I just really loved working with my clients in a more long-term way. So just started learning about marketing. I'm learning about funnels, learning about all these other pieces and then it was. It's starting to become more like a consultant for those clients.

And then I was able to keep bringing that wisdom to every new client that I was working with. And I really liked the strategic piece a lot more than the execution piece. So I was like, okay, what is like, can I get paid to do that? Can I get paid to just charge for strategy? And so I feel like my career has kind of meandered over the years from a, you know, starting as a bit more of that design technician and then moving more, a little bit into the tech and then a little bit more into the strategy.

And then I started realizing the people that we were working with that really had the budgets to invest in their websites and strategy where people that already had online courses or communities, or some sort of digital products or software, they were people that were pretty savvy and kind of early for their time.

I think in terms of doing these, uh, these more, um, evergreen and like really leveraged offers. And I was like, I want to know what these people are doing because I, you know, I got to see the revenue that was coming in from some of these folks. And I was like, Ooh, these folks are. Generating a serious income from just online materials that didn't require them to, to be there, you know, trading their, their hours for dollars.

And I was like, okay, I want to, I want to learn from these folks. And then, uh, eventually integrated it into, into my own stuff, but there's, there's lots of pieces along that path. I'm happy to share too, because we've done the software thing. We've done our own courses. It's been. Hilarious, meandering Verde.

So happy to happy to go into any of that.

**Chris:** Cool. So you had a lot of clients who had courses and stuff,

**Marie:** and all that sounded like courses, communities, eBooks, you know, and then people would start integrating products and stuff. So I was just seeing all of these different formats and these different models.

And I was just kind of observing, like watching what was working for people. A lot of women in the entrepreneur space and, uh, teaching online and stuff. I was behind the scenes. I never really saw myself as someone that could pull that off. Cause there was like, that seems like a lot of work and don't you be a personality be online, always having to make content.

It seemed kind of exhausting, but at the same time there was something kind of alluring about it. I was like, okay, this is, this is pretty interesting. And from this, yeah. Yeah. Cause I mean, there's, there's lots of other, other parts of that too. Like at, at some point partnering up with my husband and then seeing this opportunity in the core space and then him saying.

I feel like we could build a platform for this. Like instead of us manually integrating, you know, PayPal and working with all these different API APIs to make the process really smooth. Husband's like, oh, we could make our own course platform at the time. You know, companies like teachable, they weren't as big.

It wasn't, we couldn't find. The same amount of people in that space. So we thought, oh, let's, let's make our own. So we actually spent some time in the software side of things for a while. And I was like, well, I guess if we're going to be in this space talking about online courses, I should probably know a thing or two about.

So I started learning about learning design and teaching and just from like an adult learning perspective as well. So I was just coming at it from all different angles. I had clients that I was working with it and my husband worked on the tech side. So we spent years doing. You know, our, our own SAS called Duffy.

We actually just shut it down this year and made the dis and like it did it did. Okay. You know, it would bring in like a few thousand dollars a month kind of at its height. It wasn't ever enough to kind of go all in. And I don't think either of us was excited enough. Like how many articles can I keep writing about online courses?

Like it wasn't actually that exciting to me. To me it's more like a format. But I guess what's interesting is what you're actually teaching the nature of what you're teaching. So, um, that was a pivot. I think we ran it for about three years or so, and then it wasn't until 2018 when I found notion and doubled down on it and was like, this is amazing.

This is actually helping me get so organized and started to shift my client work more toward. This sort of teaching model, but it was definitely a bit of a transition and people were like, if you made a course on notion, I would, I would give you money. And I was like, okay, there's, there's some traction here.

Okay. Yes.


**Chris:** the, uh, Saas app, it sounded like you'd want a constant marketing,

**Marie:** you know, it's exhausting for sure to do the content marketing is a long-term thing. So I think to come out of nowhere and have a software without really knowing the space very well, like we made every classic software. We mistake.

I think, you know, not doing user testing and just like, if we build it, they will come like literally made every mistake. It was an incredible learning opportunity. But at the end of the day, I don't think either of us knew enough about even paid marketing or, uh, we're going to excited enough to talk about the actual fundamentals.

And we, I think the thing that we discovered too is when you're dealing with something like online courses, it takes so damn long to really build an online course as a creator. If you talk to anyone who's created an online course, They'll tell you it's taken half a year or a year to like really actually get it finalized.

So people would sign up for the software with their course idea, but then they're like, oh wait, can I extend my trial? Could I extend my trial? It would take them, you know, six months or a year before they were really ready. And so we realized that the time to value with the particular SAS that we had chosen to build was like, wow, we, we really decided to play at hard mode, right from, that's a very good

**Chris:** point.

The beginning. I wonder how teach you believe it does that. And those course platforms, cause that's gotta be a problem for her.

**Marie:** Well, they've got tons of summits, right? Like they're always running summits. They're getting people, they're getting free courses and content out there to help creators get to shipping as fast as possible because they know that people will not, they're not going to use your product and they're going to usher and really fast.

And so even if you look at Teachable's numbers and other companies that are in the same space, the revenue comes from the top percentage of users, right. They have so many users that sign up for the thing and we'll pay for it. And actually now. Use the product. So really when they talk about our teachers make X amount per month, like they're talking about the very, very top percentage of those users.

So some of those numbers can be misleading when people are like, oh, of course this is the answer for me making a ton of money and, you know, working from a beach. But it it's, it really does take a lot of work to run a core sustainably, for sure. Yeah. That makes sense.

**Chris:** I've never had a course that just like a year later, it wasn't, you know, And he gets some spurts in the black Friday, but like, that's kind of, it,

**Marie:** it's a constant, uh, it's not set it and forget it.

And you're always kind of at the whims of a technology changing, right. I'm teaching a course around a software. Of course, get new features ships suddenly we have to update screencaps and it's kind of a never-ending project in a way. Yeah, I think some tech or some projects probably lend themselves more toward that where you're like, oh crap.

That, that, that was hot for a season, but now nobody uses that anymore, right? Yeah, for

**Chris:** sure. Oh yes. I get emails a bunch like, Hey, is this thing relevant? It's four years old. I like, well, mostly. And actually sometimes it is, and sometimes it's not. So you started using notion for clients basically to organize yourself and then that's how you dug into it.

, so what, what translated into, I'm going to make a course.

**Marie:** I think it was, it was probably about six months of using it really regularly. And I was mostly. Or I'd rather, I started using it mostly as I'm storing my research. So I was taking a permaculture course and there was no online portal for the materials.

And so they were giving us handouts and emails and there was just, it was just chaos of information everywhere. I Al I have ADHD. I didn't know that at the time, but I'm already a chaos monkey by default. And so I needed some structure for myself and Nosha was so flexible. Uh, and I remember a friend had told me about it.

I didn't quite. What it was good for yet. I'm like, I keep hearing about this tool. I don't really know what to do with it, but finally I had a project to, to use it for. So I started with, again, putting my course information, started storing all the, the notes about courses that I was taking. I was like, oh, this is kind of interesting.

What else can I do with this? Started moving toward my task management, quarterly planning, things like that. So I was like, okay, it's this is kind of story. That's becoming my external brain, you know, it's all of my tasks, it's personal stuff. It's business stuff. Everything started to go to move into notion.

And then really I had to convince my husband cause we were working together at the time. And I think we might've been using teamwork and a sauna. We had tried a couple of task managers and I was like, I knew. Going to get buy in from my husband, that I would have to kind of rebuild what we were doing in Asana or teamwork inside of notion to be like, Hey, look, we could use this as a task manager too.

Cause I just wanted everything to be in one place so that I wasn't, you know, pulled in so many different directions. So I showed it to him, convinced him. I was, I went all in on it and of course I'm telling all my friends about it, all my, my clients, I'm helping my clients learn how to use it. And I was sharing it in a couple of forums and a few folks were like, this sounds amazing.

It seems really overwhelming and intimidating. Can I, can I pay you to teach me how to do this? And so it was just sort of these little consults here and there were, clients were kind of hiring me to do it. Friends were hiring me to do it. And then when someone made the comment about, if you bought a course around this, I would like take my money.

And then people were like, don't take my money, take my money. And that doesn't happen very often. Right? I think when the market is it kind of like the market was yelling at me, like there's traction here. There's like a magnetism. And I thought, okay, well, worst case scenario, I try this for a chapter. Of my life.

Let's, let's try it out. Let's double down. Let's create this product. Let's see what happens and you know, worst case I can, I can switch gears. I have so many other skills that I can use in different ways. And I thought let's try it. Where were you

**Chris:** online to talk to people, to get people to say that.

**Marie:** In that case, there were a couple forums.

Um, a lot of like tech forums. I think it might've been Chi Davis's community at the time. So the same way we got, you know, uh, bootstrap business, uh, slack groups and things like that. And party town, there's, there's a few slack groups that I was pretty active in with other solo founders. And, uh, Twitter, I think for me was, was my biggest channel that I was, um, you know, kind of putting myself out there.

**Chris:** Right. It's kind of like that luck surface area

**Marie:** idea. Yes. Absolutely. You never, you never know. And I think given that people were asking me so many questions, I started up a YouTube channel and I think it was, uh, Joel from egghead that recommended that to me. He's like, this is a lightning in a bottle. You need to, you need to make a YouTube channel and this, and it was like, ah, do I, do I want to make a YouTube channel all around notion?

Do I want to do that? Do I want to be known just for that tool? I was, I was pretty hesitant at the time, but I thought again, whatever, let's just try it. It's a chapter. And I started, uh, committed to doing a video every single week for 12 weeks, which is very unlike me. I'm incredibly inconsistent in every part of my life and marketing.

Like I don't send regular email newsletters, like. Everything's kind of like on a whim of how I feel it's sort of like do, as I say, not as I do, but, uh, when I started making these videos consistently that. Numbers on the videos and the traction was so fast. Again, I had never had this with any other product that I'd ever made.

So I was like, there's something here. And I kept at it. And the traffic and the sort of following that I was able to grow from YouTube was getting me known. It was sending people to my, my free templates, like list signups were exploding. I thought, oh my gosh, there's, there's a rocket ship here. And I'm going to strap myself to it and see where it goes.


**Chris:** And you have free templates

**Marie:** like before that. I did. I just was experimenting. I'd make a YouTube video about a thing. And then I try and include a free template that kind of, you know, connected to it. And YouTube comments was really the way I was able to learn, um, like what people wanted and needed and what they were asking for next.

And it was kind of a never ending idea stream of, okay, there we go. There's a new idea for a video. And I think because I've been using notions so long and in such an advanced way, I kind of figured. What beginners got stuck with. And so they'd be like, that's really nice, but how the heck did you do that?

And you know, this is so confusing or, you know, people were kind of frustrated and I thought there was a market here because the product is so big and so confusing for beginners, that there was kind of an endless pipeline of content. That's great. That

**Chris:** really helped. To make in your course, I'm guessing big time.

**Marie:** Okay. Yeah.

**Chris:** All right. And then you decided to do a course, not YouTube, I guess. Right? So not YouTube being like a free stuff. So you can, I don't know, like looking back, maybe it was so you can say you do was regenerating excitement about it. Definitely. And then what, so you decided, I guess that helped you decide what to do in the course, and then you started making the course, I'm guessing around that time.

**Marie:** Yeah. And I mean, my, my approach to courses is probably a little different than many people, but I, I pre-sold the course, so I didn't have any content created in advance. And I said, Hey, I'm, I've got this concept for a course. It'll be six weeks. And I mean, which is hilarious, looking back six weeks. Oh my gosh.

I realized just how much. You just can't teach someone what's possible in six weeks. I mean, I could, I could have done a beginner course for notion in six weeks, but I, I really struggle. And I also don't find it super exciting to teach only the basics. I'm like, I want to take someone to a much deeper level with their organization.

That's more exciting to me. Right. So I just had this concept of what I thought it would look. Uh, guests on the timeline, a guest on the price, and I was going to be available for a call every week for six weeks and just see how many people took me up on the offer. And within a week it sold $10,000. Um, I think I sold it for 300, $300 at the time.

And then you could pay an extra, a hundred dollars to get a one hour consult. And then I, oh, I mean, I didn't have. A set number of those. So everyone's booking an hour call with me. And so for weeks I was like, oh no, I had to do all of these one hour consults and my weeks were just totally eaten up. So it was a pretty, oh, one-on-ones plus the course.

So it was a pretty intensive time, but I was, it was like free, free research or I was getting paid to basically hear where people were struggling screen share with them and, uh, just, yeah, learn. Hear people describe their struggles and their needs in their own words. And, uh, so I did the beta in November.

And then I'd say by January it was bringing in $10,000 a month. Like without any more, like, I wasn't talking about it, I wasn't marketing about it. It was just whatever initial thing I had put out there. And I was like, oh my gosh. So now I have this unfinished course that keeps growing and keeps evolving and people keep signing up for it.

I'm like, oh no, what have I done? And so I had to hire some support to help me with that, you know, customer support and. Um, just helping send out email reminders, setting up zoom. There were just so many pieces that I was so used to mostly being on my own that suddenly I was like, oh, this is not a one-person job anymore.


**Chris:** oh, it's amazing how the market's the market was just like pulling you a lag there.

**Marie:** And I feel like that's happened so rarely, like it's so rare to find that type of traction, then I thought, okay, like I just got to follow this and see where it goes and just fell down the rabbit hole. Yeah.

**Chris:** So, uh, I was struck how you priced it. You started at 300 bucks, which is, uh, I think a great price and also strikes me as like something I wouldn't do at first. I'd be like, okay, let's play at $99 or something. Like, I think you actually.

Well, like valued yourself and the skill side, like how'd you how'd, you know, to do that or how'd you get to 300?

**Marie:** I think, because, so for the years leading up to that, most of the services or work that I had been doing was a little bit more on the coaching and consulting side of things. So, because I knew that there was a live component with me.

Every week for six weeks, the fact that people were getting time with me and really tailored time with me, I think just comes out in more of a premium versus a course where you're just passively consuming it. And so, because I was exposed to so much group coaching and these different types of models, and I had run mentorship programs before.

So the big course that I. Launched in 2015 was digital strategy school. And it was a six month mentorship program for designers to teach them digital strategy. And that was a $4,500 like coaching program. And so to me, that's my jam, like coaching and mentorship and that consulting work and being with people.

That's my sweet spot. If I can meet someone, like see where they're at, I can. Dive in really quickly and solve that problem. And so I didn't want it to be this totally passive experience. And so I think you can, you can charge more of a premium when there is that access to you. And I thought let's just, let's try it and see where it goes.

And, uh, and it's obviously evolved so much since I first

**Chris:** launched it. Let's talk about that. Like what, what's the current state.

**Marie:** If you'll look a course that will never have a completion date because notion is always changing. So we like map out the curriculum, deliver the lessons, and then notion announced this big change to their features.

And we're like, whoa. Okay. So now we have to do a. I don't want to say overhaul, but inventory, like let's audit the course and make sure any of those old screen caps aren't the same. So, uh, the format obviously is it's a lot longer now it's a year long. Um, we're always kind of adding workshops and trainings that kind of get really specific.

So someone's like, how do I do content marketing in this? What's your content marketing process. Great. Let's develop a workshop that shows people. How we go deep on this process and what it looks like, and, and that there's prerequisites, right? You have to have done the level zero, the level one. Um, and I'll also say I worked with the curriculum designer, probably several curriculum designers, because again, it's not my.

Curriculum isn't necessarily my forte, but I know the product inside and out and I can build anything you can imagine. And my strategy background gives me, oh, well, here's how I would solve this. So for me, it's the problem solving piece that I think probably comes natural to me and how to optimize dashboards to make it easy so that you're not like clicking around and getting really distracted.

My ADHD has kind of forced me in a way to design these workspaces that calm my brain and get me really focused. So in a weird way, it was sort of a, an advantage, I think when I was designing notion to, to kind of meet that need. So it's all the problem solving pieces that we're, we're trying to teach people to, to kind of think for themselves.

Um, so we're teaching the technical fundamentals. How do you actually use the tool, but then in what ways do you want to use the tool to actually make your life better? So. To me, it's almost feels like there's, there's an endless opportunity for workshops, content. Okay. What, what are the students want to see?

Great. We develop workshops to kind of meet them where they're at. Cool.

**Chris:** So the workshops are like specific use cases. And then do you have like certain levels? Of course, as you said, so like the basics and then 100 level, 200 level.

**Marie:** Yeah. So right now there's like a level 0 1, 2 and three. And I worked with a curriculum designer to help me map that out because I'm like, where do you even begin?

Like you could teach. Any purpose. So like how the heck do you even develop prerequisites? Like, I don't even know where to begin. Um, and then you have different users. Like you have people who are using it for business. You have people who are using it as a solo founder. You have people that are using it for.

Teams of 2030, you have people wanting to use it to manage their garden and their farms. Like how do you, when you have so many different people all over the world using it for different ways, it's like, how do we narrow this down? How do we get specific? Uh, and even name who the heck is my ideal audience, because, oh my gosh, there's such a diverse range of people in the course.

So working with the curriculum designer, she really helped me kind of distill it down. Okay. What are some of the. The patterns that you're noticing, what are the most common use cases like? How can we start to almost make it project based? So people can say, oh, I want to do daily journaling. I want to manage a team of people and share this with, you know, my partner or my household or whatever.

So. That was kind of, one of the choices that we made was to make it a little bit more based on use case. Um, and then we have some levels, zero fundamentals that everyone's got to at least know these skills before you dive in and go onto a future lesson. So I had, I've had a lot of help in the process because again, this is not my forte and I needed some outside support from someone that understands adult learning understands that structure.

How do you incentivize action? So people don't get tired. Again, it's a year long experience. They can come in whenever they want. How do you keep people motivated and engaged in a course that, uh, is, is pretty big and can kind of solve so many different needs. Well, it happens over a

**Chris:** year. Like what makes it a year long thing?

**Marie:** I think it's, it's a few things. One like it takes a long time. I think two notions, not a tool that you just learned. It's like the more that you use it, the more open your world kind of opens up and you're like, oh, now I could use it for this other part of my life. Let's make an inventory that, and so I think inevitably.

It, it just takes time for you to integrate, integrate fully with, it sounds like you're the board or something, but, um, and then I think you go through phases. So like once you've learned enough, it's almost like a triage, like, okay, I got a task list, I've got my projects. I can kind of function in the world and this is helping me be productive.

Great. But then you'll bump up against these new. Growth curves or, um, you know, maybe you're trying to manage your, your marketing numbers and look at, um, even like affiliate management systems and actually looking more at the data and understanding how your business is working behind the scenes and doing more strategic work and more long-term planning.

So I think innovation. Even just the way our business has changed from season to season, the same thing happens inside of your notion space. So there's always kind of more to come back to you to be like, okay, how else could I be using this more intelligently to make me more organized? Right. Cool.

**Chris:** So the, , the word that keeps coming to me is webinars, but that's not the word you're using the workshop.

Do you have new ones or producing all the time or like you can go back and watch old ones also,

**Marie:** or how's that work? It's both. Yeah. The training library just keeps growing and growing and uh, and then obviously with certain changes, we might say, well, any of the webinars before this point may not be as relevant.

You might get some inspiration from it, but there's going to be some technical things that when you click that, that doesn't show up there anymore. So that does happen. But you know, just this weekend, for example, we just released a two-part. Notion fundamentals. And so it's a two day event. People come on a Saturday morning, they learn part one, and then they come the next weekend and learned part two.

And then that kind of teaches them all of the fundamentals that they need to know. And then they can go deeper on, in the core stuff and dig a little bit deeper. But yeah, we're always trying to find how can we speed up the learning? How can we contain it? How can we make it easier, faster and less intimidating.

Do people pay

**Chris:** yearly for the thing? Or it's like a one-time payment?

**Marie:** It's a one-time payment, uh, at the moment it's seven 50 and it includes the 12 months of access. Um, people can also apply for hot seats. So if they want a personalized consultation, but other students can drop in and watch. It's kind of like, yeah.

Free a free consultation and people get to be a fly on the wall and watch the problem solving. So it's kind of, yeah, yeah. Honestly, it's, it's so fabulous because then we can point other people who are like, oh, how would you build this? A note notion? And we say, oh, we helped someone build their whole podcasting organization dashboard.

Here you go, go check out their replay. And then if you want your own hot seat apply here, we can do that with you. So. Yes, it's a self study course, but there are so many live elements or, uh, there's a forum places to get your questions answered. Like we are very responsive. Like we, we make sure, you know, within 24 hours or less often pretty pretty within a couple hours, you can get your questions answered.

So that's important to us. When people are trying to solve a thing, they can, they can get their answer. Okay. That quick. Wow.

**Chris:** There was so much going on. It's really? Yeah. Yeah.

**Marie:** And again, like it's, it's not just me anymore. Right? It's it's myself. It's my husband. Full-time. It's our chief of operations. And then we just hired a chief learning officer this year as well.

So now it's four of us full time. Uh, my husband actually had a full-time job for two years and then, uh, left his job and decided to come back to the company. Right. So it's, it's pretty cool that we can sustain, you know, four, four full-time salaries. Awesome.

**Chris:** And then are there other people doing stuff too?

Or do you have help actually creating the content or running the, uh, the workshops

**Marie:** like. So the person that we hired for our chief learning officer, she develops all of our live trainings. That's her jam. That's her background. That's what she does. And I handle more of the curriculum development piece.

She handles more of the live development. Uh, Ben does anything related to API APIs team. More of the techie stuff, a little bit more advanced use cases and any code related stuff. And then Georgia handles all the operations and such, and we've got graphic designers, we've got community support. So there's, there's other people that we hire sort of on contract that also support the course as well.

So yeah, it's, it's a

**Chris:** beast. . So it sounds like you've always done, , not W2 type jobs, right? Always client type stuff. And then, and then, you know, courses obviously, , it was that kind of an intentional decision. Like I've always had jobs. And then I have done courses on the side, which has been really nice, cause it's helped me like grow a 20 yard, Twitter audience and that get extra income that.

I've never made that jump. And I've always like, I don't know if I like should have just like gone into this thing. Full-time at some point in my life and I kind of missed that typing out of that, but, , why do you think you would never did like the job type thing versus versus having.

**Marie:** Well, I did the job type thing right out of school.

I worked at a studio for four years. It was such an amazing experience. It was just me and my boss for four years, basically working out of his house. And I feel like everything that I learned about working with clients and running projects I learned from him, but I sort of hit a plateau and it's just the two of us.

It's sort of like, there's nowhere else to go. And. I, so I went full-time on my own. And then I actually went back to take a job for about four. I lasted four months, and then I was like, never again. I don't know if I'm just not, not built or not wired that way. Um, I don't know. I'm so used to being independent now.

Like I think I'm quite unemployable. Like I love working with people and I love collaborating with people, but I don't think I fit into. And again, maybe part of that is ADHD, but I don't, my brain just doesn't operate nine to five. I'm not a functional human between the hours of nine to five, like waking up in the morning, even, you know, uh, getting my brain going the morning, fog is so intense for me.

I'm definitely much more of a, of a night owl and a lot of jobs are just, they're not designed for that. It's it doesn't really work super well. So, uh, Oh, he's struggled in traditional environments in that way. And so I was like, well, screw it. I'm going to build the environment that works for my own creative energy and allows me to do these bursts of hyper-focus and then collapse for a bit.

Like, I just think most, most corporate environments are not really designed for anything other than the sort of traditional. Yeah,

**Chris:** that totally makes sense. I think, especially with the type of person who has that burst of energy to like, get it done and then like, you know, you have your slumps or not even slumps just like times.

Super focused on a thing, right? Exactly. Yeah.

**Marie:** , where do you live right now? I'm on the sunshine coast in BC, a pretty tiny little, tiny little town of like 1500 it's, uh, it's pretty remote.

**Chris:** Okay, cool. So, , it sounds like you've been able to kind of like design your life around this business too. I, I imagined, like, I imagine it, I mean, it's gotta be a lot of work.

You just kind of working, I dunno, when you can, or just whenever you feel like it, not when you feel like it obviously,

**Marie:** but yeah. Yeah, I think it's, and my husband's sort of the same way. Like I think we just really value our independence and the ability to make our own decisions and not being told what to do.

I mean, we say it a lot, like Dell, Dell, Dell, that's just kind of our, our way of being. And, uh, I think because we're. Really hardworking too. We work our butts off because we love what we do, but there's a lot of freedom and flexibility in how, and when you do that work and we just, there's a lot of implicit trust that yeah, if you're not feeling good, you want to go play a video game today, go for it.

Like I see how hard you work. And if you want to chill out this week or take a, take a more calm day, go for it. And you know, we've built that into our. Our employee model, if you will, to like our employees get, even though again, there's only, there's only four of us, but, uh, they can choose between a 40 workweek or a sabbatical model.

And so one of our employees does the 40 work week and the other does the sabbatical model and that's one week off every it's like seven weeks of work and one week off. Um, and then on top of, you know, vacation time and that sort of thing. So mental health is super important for us at the company. And we want people to be able to ask for what they want and need.

And we know that just inevitably there are fluctuations in this kind of business where maybe you have a bunch of students sign up in one, go, and then there's a flurry, and then there's a bit of a calm. And so we just respect that, uh, things are not always the same every day and it's kind of a fun adventure.

So yeah, we work when we want to and we often want to, because it's fun. We love what we're doing. Do you

**Chris:** have any like fun things to do that you think maybe most people who are doing traditional nine to five is like, just aren't doing with their time. Like, I don't know, like hiring personal chefs or something.

I don't know anything.

**Marie:** Interesting. I mean, I, I'm a big into gardening and, uh, I recently took up Dodge ball and softball and I'm actually a big sports person, but when, you know, during COVID, it kind of, everything sort of got really quiet, but, uh, no huge gardening learning about permaculture and how to grow our own food and stuff like that.

But we Lifespring. Pretty chill out here on the coast and it's often find out, find a heart. Uh, it's hard to find people even to, you know, do stuff around the house. It's actually hard to find the right contractors or anyone that will reply back. It kind of, even though we're not on an island, it has this vibe of vinyl.

So you just kind of know when you call the contractor, you're like, I want to give you money for this thing. And they're like, yeah, maybe I'll call you next month. It's just, nobody's in a

**Chris:** rush out here. That's kind of nice though, in a way I'm going to list your sink is leaking, you know? True. True,

**Marie:** absolutely.

**Chris:** So I might be out of question. I know there's like a lot of little things I . Could dig into.

**Marie:** , no, it'd be, I'm always, I'm always an open book about this stuff. It's, it's been a wild ride and, um, yeah, it's weird that something that didn't exist. However many years ago is now the thing that like feeds all of us.

It's it's so bizarre. Like how did this right.

**Chris:** How many years has it been? Like when did you first, uh, when did you first start the YouTube stuff? Maybe I'll ask that.

**Marie:** I think it's been like two and a half years now. Okay. Let me it's 2019. Yeah. And I was like terrified of video. Like it took me years to get up the courage to be on video.

So if you'd been like, oh, you're going to have a YouTube channel and beyond, I never would have never would have believed you. So, um, it's, it's taken a lot of like coaching work therapy work and just kind of, uh, learning by doing you're on VOC.

**Chris:** You're like your face and everything, or is it just like a voiceover.

**Marie:** Yeah. It's, you know, the events are, are live and, uh, you know, office hours that we do every week. So those are, those are live with me. It took a long time to get over the, the nerves around it. But now I'm like, oh, I get to hang out with my student. Like, it's interesting how it has changed. YouTube is always a little more intense.

I think when you put yourself out there on YouTube and people always have opinions or comments, or, you know, make comments about your appearance or, or just sort of weird, you know, it's, it's a weird wild west out there. It has just been the most incredible channel, I think, especially when you're demonstrating software and things like that video, you just can't really beat.

Um, so I just sorta think that learning to be comfortable in video and learning video skills is such a, it's going to be such a huge advantage, I think, in the years to come. Yeah. Um,

**Chris:** And then the other thing I wanted to take in about that is that sounded like YouTube. And then, , and then what are you doing now to get ideas for how to, I guess probably the workshops mostly.

Cause it sounds like the workshops are the thing where you actually specialize or talk about a specific

**Marie:** use. And the forum too, like, you know, we always have students asking questions in the forum and I'm like, oh yeah, let me record a video for you or I'll make a lesson on that. So it sort of feels like when you do have a community element, there's sort of a never ending list of ideas, Twitter.

Well, what's the forum.

**Chris:** Is that a software you guys wrote

**Marie:** it's based on circle? Yup. Yeah. And kind of has a similar look and vibe as, as notion too, we can kind of link directly between the two and, um, yeah, it's been. We actually didn't introduce that until maybe a year of the course running before we introduced the forum.

And so now it's like a pretty critical part. I think that

**Chris:** makes sense because I guess people probably help each other too. Right. Without your involvement necessarily.

**Marie:** Exactly. And that's why we've hired a couple community folks to just say, Hey, if you notice that there's some questions there that could be answered and you're able to answer them, it's just nice to have somebody there to kind of keep an eye on things or cool.

**Chris:** What a neat business.

**Marie:** Yeah. It's just like so weird. Like it's, I just never would have imagined that, uh, that it would have had the volume or the interest and that we all like that all four of us can, can do this full time to make it, make a good living, doing it and enjoy what we're doing. And, yeah. It's

**Chris:** what is your schedule like in terms of recording?

Like, do you kind of go into spurts of doing.

**Marie:** I just like, everything happens in spirits for sure. Um, I can get into these like hyper-focused phases where I'm just like churning out lessons and turning up videos. And then there's times where I'm like, oh, I just don't have it in me. Right. So I, I try to listen to the energy and, and, uh,

**Chris:** and is there a lot of prep time before that, like you have to, like, I, my videos have always been like very technical stuff, so I have to like do the actual thing and then have it notes next to my other screen.

And then while I'm recording, I like basically going through notes.

**Marie:** Oh, yeah. And I mean, you must relate to this too. Just the tech and the number of pieces. And I'm like, okay, if I do this and then e-comm, and then I've got my screen shares and you're prepping your screen. There's just so many moving parts and pieces and editing.

And you're, you're kind of learning new skills all the fricking time, but, um, Yeah, it does take a lot of prep work. Cause then it's like, oh, I've got to clean my notion space and make sure it, like, I'm not sharing any sensitive data or anything like that. So there's a lot of prep work there. And then you're like, oh crap, I forgot that, you know, do the thing.

And then you're pausing. And so it it's time consuming to get like really high quality. But that's actually another reason why I really like office hours to just be in the moment and not do the prep work, like doing a YouTube video tape. A lot of prep work, whereas just showing up, live, turning on your camera, being on zoom with people that

**Chris:** responding to people.

Right. Instead of having all this prepared stuff. Yeah. That seems like a really neat model to be part of like your course business. I didn't know if you can call it a course business. It's just like an

**Marie:** education business. Yeah. It's like, that's a kind of an ECOS yeah. Whole ecosystem. Um, and I, I often encourage people because I think people get that excited.

Like, Ooh, again, online courses, I'm going to make a lot of money and it's going to be amazing. And I can, uh, they sort of think of it as being really, really passive, but it does really take quite a bit of work, but I really encourage people that are considering. Teaching that there are so many different models than just like a cohort or an evergreen.

There are so many different ways to provide values to students. And I think of it as like a business model challenge, like what, what is the way that you best show up as a teacher, as an instructor? And, you know, for me, I'm not the most polished person like being live for cat, for example, she's our chief educator, you know, educate.

Her showing up lot. She's so articulate. So clear, just she has a way online. That is so dynamic, whereas I feel a bit chaotic, so I'm like, oh, you can do this. You can, I get really excited. And I have to, it takes a lot of energy for me to slow the heck down and be present and be able to teach beginners. So knowing that we've designed our events and office hours around that.

Murray's events are the advanced office hours. Cat does beginner office hours. Cat is designing the live trainings and giving me the script for that. So we've worked around all of our different strengths and weaknesses. I think of like, how do we best show up and how does each of us? Um, another example is my chief operations person, super savvy with notion.

She handles all these behind the scenes ops of how to hook up forms with your notion and API, but she's not as excited about being live. So she will do a asynchronous. Uh, ask me anything. And so people can submit their questions in advance and she does little recorded looms for that. So again, we've each sort of found these different ways of making sure we're delivering value, but it's in the way that we best show up.

And I think that's really important for any creator that, uh, it doesn't just have to be one way to do a course. There's a lot of different, interesting ways to provide them.

**Chris:** That's interesting. Have you ever done, like, have you ever had any businesses, want you to do like a thing specialized for them and you kind of like, you know, probably at a higher price point, just like, Hey, like I'll show up and do like a week of training or something.

**Marie:** Yeah. Like for, for notions. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. So for example, the perfect example, we just hired cat in January, and then we had a company ask us to train their 70 person team. And so they had someone on their team that had already started building the space and was using notion. And then they had to get buy in from all the other people who were just experiencing it for the first time.

So what we did is, um, bended, direct consultations, working one-on-one with the team, getting their space kind of up and running with the one person who. Working at the, at the company and kind of build doing their notion building and then cat developed a training that was a generic training. Using a scenario.

So it's like, oh, we're going to do like a pet adoption agency. And you know, you're going to learn how to like, manage that. So you kind of use these testing environments where you're not messing up with real data to teach beginners how to do this. And it was a live training. The good 50 people show up.

And then they do follow up consultations again with the company. So we build these sort of long-term relationships with the company where they say, oh, Hey, could you do the 2 0 1 training of that? Or could you go deeper on how we do our note taking for our meetings and things like that. So we've definitely had lots of interesting opportunities that.

Developing it for a company for the first time helps us turn it into an asset that we're like, Ooh, now we could actually make this available as its own offer, notion that work. And so that's exactly what we're doing. Cool.

**Chris:** How do you like bill a company for that kind of thing? And especially if it's kind of a longer term engagement, I don't know if it was or not, but it sounded like it.

**Marie:** Yeah. I mean, we're S it's still kind of early days in a way. So a lot of it's kind of guesswork, you know, sometimes the company will tell you, like, we have this budget for our training, you know, here's what we can do, or what can you guys do with this kind of budget? Um, and it's a bit of an experiment each time.

And every company is a little bit different. So some companies already have some notion of experience. Some are like, we've never seen notion before we heard it's the best we're, we're all in on it. And so we kind of have to tailor the situation a little bit and just notice. W when do we get the best results?

Is it when someone at the company is an advocate? Is it when we have a clean slate? Is it when we're doing some consulting first to clean up their space for so all of it's still pretty new and, uh, it's, it's a bit of a guess and we're okay. Being the higher, higher price point, actually like more of a premium offer because.

I know that I'm known in the notion space. Ben's skill, like we're both ambassadors. Uh, so our, our Georgia and cat, so you have four ambassadors, people that have worked with notion in various capacities and have run webinars for notion. So there's a lot of trust with us and we don't need the work bad enough that we're like, no.

Right. We're a premium trading company. If you want to hire us for that. Yeah. We're going to do a bad-ass training for you, for sure.

**Chris:** That's awesome. So what is your relationship with notion? Like do you talk to their CEO? I saw you have a quote from the CEO in the, on the

**Marie:** whole. Yeah. I mean, I've, I've definitely chatted with different people on their team.

I chatted with the COO, the CEO, a really good relationship with them and we've run their, um, hot seats that they, that we do for helping different startups learn how to use notions. So. Uh, webinars led on behalf of notion and then we're all ambassadors too. So we often will test beta features and give them feedback on it.

We're probably the loudest complainer's in this lack of like this new feature is broken or it's not working and stuff like that. So I'm sure I joke that there's probably a love hate, um, where we're their biggest mouthpiece in a way. And there's this mutual incentive. We want the product to succeed because we're working with people, we're telling people this is the best tool for the job.

And so if they do something that kind of harms a user experience, we're the first to kind of say, Hey, this is not ideal. And what are you doing? And it sounds

**Chris:** like they're sending you some people too. Like some, I don't know, like referrals.

**Marie:** Yeah. I mean, especially now, if, if they're working on their internal training programs and they're not quite there yet, and like we've literally built a whole training company around it, it, it's kind of a, to their advantage, I guess, is to say, oh, we ha we know a company that does this.

And so any enterprises that come to them, they can sort of send them our way. So it's definitely like a mutually beneficial, um, like, yeah, it's a good, it's a good relationship. Cool. So

**Chris:** now they have their own trainings also.

**Marie:** Yeah. I mean, they're, they're developing their own stuff. I know. They're um, they're just growing so fast, I think.

And they're, uh, they've got their own notion, one-on-one training and different types of trainings. But I think one of our strengths is going to be our ability to do this stuff live and the way Kat designs and paces these trainings to do. Part teaching a demo and then switch gate. Great. Now it's your turn take five minutes.

And so there's a lot of built live building time because you learn by building, you learn by doing not by just watching people do it. So it's just been amazing to, to have someone that understands that world. And how do you get people to really learn and integrate information quickly? It's been, that's cool.

It's like

**Chris:** the people are actually following along doing something their own notion workspace.

**Marie:** Exactly. And we'll give them those test spaces. So here's your template, download it into your space. So we're all working from the same point of view, learning these different skills. Then you can go and extract and apply them into your own workspace.

That's cool. Yeah. It's, it's just so interesting. Cause I never thought of myself as a teacher in a way, I feel like I sort of stumbled into it, but I, I just get really excited about showing people what's possible. When you see that little moment of unlock, I'm like, oh, this is so, so exciting. And so. One of my things to work on again, in hiring curriculum designers, hiring people that understand adult learning is what does it mean to be an excellent teacher and how can I keep improving the way that I teach and how do you get better student outcomes?

Like that really matters to me. And I also think it's sort of an edge for me to grow. So I'm always just kind of like taking other courses, looking at other teachers are like, what is it about that teacher that makes them so dynamic and interesting and how is the material presented? And I just think it's such an art, I think, to be able to.

In this day and age, be able to teach online in a really dynamic way that actually does get people taking action and not just buying courses that sit on the shelf forever. Right. Which is the

**Chris:** majority of courses. Like, absolutely. I don't know if it's like a secret, but so when people buy horses, I just never watch.

Or, you know, it's like an aspirational purchase, a little.

**Marie:** I think there's like a three, a 3% completion rate that's been, that's been talked about. That does not surprise me. Although, to be fair, I don't think completion is the best metric of did someone get value out of the course? Sometimes just one lesson can be an unlock that someone needs and they're like, sweet.

Got my money's worth. We're good to go. So, you know, just trying to be aware of all of that stuff and just like, how can I make this. The ultimate experience where someone was surprised, delighted, they got more than they expected. And then they've just feel like they're in this supportive really nerdy community.

Yeah. The community

**Chris:** aspect is really neat. Well, it's the whole community, not just community, but like ecosystem, like you said, which is really neat. It's shut. And let's just not just like a content grind of like more courses, more courses. I mean, in a way, but you're doing so much.

**Marie:** Well, and I think because we're so immersed in the ecosystem and we've, you know, monetize notion in so many different creative ways, whether it's selling templates, whether it's doing paid workshops, whether it's selling the course.

Now you have more and more notion users that are learning how to use notion. And then also wanting to build their own businesses around notion. They want to monetize it. They want to offer services. So now suddenly the. We can refer work to our students and we can help them monetize as well. So hopefully they get a return on their investment, not just for learning notion, but great.

I'm going to remember you because I saw you participating in the forum. I saw that amazing thing you built. I'm absolutely gonna refer my clients to you. I'm going to refer other people to you for that amazing template that you built. So it's, it's hopefully something that can really help them grow in their own businesses in different ways.

**Chris:** What are some more advanced notion things that you, I mean, this is, this is one of those things where you have so much knowledge. You probably like, like my usage of notion is literally just like writing up documentation for work all my life. And like there's no, there's no dynamics. So what's like a crazy notion, like high level or advanced.

**Marie:** I mean, my husband built Wordle. I don't know, just for fun. He's like, why not? Let's see if I can do it. And he did. It's pretty wild. Um, so we're always like, we're just always playing and experimenting with different use cases. You know, people that are running entire businesses and affiliate systems and, um, a lot of teachers that use it in really interesting ways doing like sort of mini quizzes and things, uh, People managing farms, managing coffee business that like, there's just so many cool, interesting.

**Chris:** It's like programming you can do into it. Or like what, how do you make the things kind of like dynamic.

**Marie:** You can write formulas and things like that. So if a thing has this status pull in data from these other connected databases and things like that, super nerdy example is a friend of mine are working on this skincare database.

So you've got your products that are related to a database of function. So it's moisturizing, it's hydrating, it's whatever. Uh, and you can write these formulas that say. Moisturize in the morning with X product, because it does X, Y, Z, and like pulls in all the different functions and stuff. So it's, it's really nerdy, but you can use it in so many different areas of your life.

Another example is maybe, um, I have this database called domestic awesomeness. I am not a domestic goddess. However, I would like to improve the way that I take care of my home. So things like maintenance, like how often should you do certain things? So you can plug in numbers and say, Oh, cleaning the oven is something I should do every six months or something and you can plug in the numbers and I can have it send me certain messages, like get on it Murray or like high five way to go.

And, you know, it's, there's these small little playful things that you can do that. I just think, make it more delightful in a way that a lot of other task managers or, you know, resource managers don't really do. And not everybody cares about that stuff. It's totally fine. But for those that need a little bit more visual whimsy, if you will, or a little bit more.

Yeah. Like it's gotta be, it's gotta be pretty for me to use it. So, um, I've just made it like fun and attractive and very encouraging. It's pretty nerdy, but that's great.

**Chris:** That's so neat. So many things I didn't know about no shit. Like, it's just, I just like writing up documentation, like in notion is basically what my use case where it, like I have, I have an area where I just like have ideas for courses

**Marie:** and that kind of thing, but that's perfect too.

Yeah. Idea generation. Just like a quick place to store ideas. Um, one of the more popular. So I like to make a mix of free templates available to anybody, and then ones that you just pay a small fee for. And one of the most popular ones has been my meal planning template, and I, every day people send me coffees.

So I use a little buy me a coffee link. It's a free, it's a free template. It's an advanced one. And I made a YouTube video about it. And then it's like the template below. Download it for free. And every day. Christina bought you 10 coffees. This is life-changing. Thank you. And it's like, it's, it's hilarious to me, but it's when you solve something so specific for someone they're like, I've been looking everywhere for a thing that does X and then there it is.

Great. People are very generous and they're willing to give you a little, little kickback for that. So in the form

**Chris:** of coffees, right?

**Marie:** It's

**Chris:** great. And it's closet of coffee, beans.

**Marie:** I mean, it is cash. I don't know if you use, buy me a coffee or whatever, but yeah, it's no, I didn't know

**Chris:** that I've used, , I've actually used like a thing where you can get, so in the purchase, you a bag of coffee for a plate blue bottle or something like that.

I think two people have ever actually done that. So I did one of my websites

**Marie:** better than zero. , okay, so let's

**Chris:** do the end of the podcast thing where I ask, how can people

**Marie:** find you? Oh yeah. Uh, you can find me online. My personal website is I'm pretty active on Twitter again at Marie pool.

And if you want to find me there and our, uh, product website is notion If you're curious about that. All right, cool.

**Chris:** Thanks.

Marie Poulin - Making a business from Notion Mastery
Broadcast by