Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Disappointing News: And what does it mean?

I got some disappointing news today. LIFT, the organization for which I do some group coaching, is shutting down. They simply could not bring the membership numbers up enough to justify the continued funding rate.

And I think it's interesting to think about why that might be.

LIFT has some great benefits going for it:

For an affordable monthly membership fee women could take as many workshops as they wanted. So rather than constantly paying for one-shot deals on workshops that purported to change your life in a day, LIFT was offering ongoing assistance and opportunities to grow.

The variety of workshops offered was fairly broad. If you were into more of the life coaching idea there were workshops on balance, figuring out what you want and setting goals for all aspects of your life etc. These weren't airy-fairy, touchy-feely sessions, but practical guides to organizing your though processes and making achievable plans. There were also workshops that were purely about career, and even about financial issues, from real estate as investment, to learning how to get control of your finances and handle them better.

Most of the workshops lasted between 3-6 weeks and were only an hour and a half long per session.

And then there's always the networking offered by taking group session. LIFT also scheduled events outside of the workshops themselves to facilitate that networking.

So what kept women from signing up in droves?

-Do we want the promise of one workshop fixing all our ills?

-Is $39 a month not as "affordable" as I think it is?

-Were evening workshops a bad idea...would lunch time workshops, despite all the distractions a mid-day event occurs amidst, have been more successful? Or weekends?

I'll tell you something I observed. In the few workshops I got to conduct there was not one women in any of the workshops who attended each and every week. Every women had "something come up" at some point that took precedence over attending a self-help workshop. And I wonder if women are just a bit too conditioned to put anything other than themselves first? Would a man have paid good money for a membership, and then skipped out?

Maybe he would have, but women certainly did left and right. This despite many exclamations about how much they were getting out of the workshops and ow much they enjoyed them.

When talking to LIFT's founder this afternoon I used this example: I'm starting a book club. My sister wants to come, but Wednesdays (which work best for everyone else) "don't work" for her. When I asked why, she said her husband works out on Wednesday nights.

Finally I said, "this club is only going to meet every other month. Perhaps 1 Wednesday out of 8 he can make another arrangement.

So, she'll probably try to arrange that, but the point didn't occur to her. Her immediate thought was that the arrangements of the family as they stood were a given, and she could only try to work around that status quo. I thought that was telling.

And it might be exactly why women had such a hard time finding 1.5 hours per week to make the workshops they claimed to enjoy and get so much out of.

Does that ring true to you?

Aha! Once a week? That's a lot! Yeah...once a month would have worked MUCH better. Besides, how many women do YOU want to spent one night a week with? I think you're right. It would have worked better once a month.
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