Thursday, June 23, 2011

Put Me In, Coach

With the announcement of both my and Tonya Davidson's new global teaching ventures, I thought it might be interesting to look into the origins of artist to artist learning opportunities.

Of course teaching, in and of itself, has been around for millennia. With every step we take, we are learning - with every move we make, we are teaching (sounds like a good song lyric). Parents teach their children new skills every minute of the day. New behaviors are learned through a lifetime of trial and error. But how did artisan teaching start?

Who knows really, but the origins may be in the ancient Greek story of Mentor, a friend of Odysseus of Trojan War fame. It's said that Odysseus asked Mentor to foster his son while he was away fending off Sirens and building big horsey siege engines.

In the 13th century, artisanal guilds were formal organizations that supported a number of workers under a protective umbrella. To become a member - young, typically teenage men/boys were required to thoroughly learn a specialized craft, moving from indentured apprentice to wage earning journeyman until finally acquiring the knowledge needed to complete a "masterpiece" which may or may not (depending on the economy) have earned  them the right and privilege to be accepted into the Guild as a master craftsman.

The word "coach" was first coined sometime in the late 19th century as sports teams coalesced into the professional organizations they are today. Then in the last two decades of the 20th century a new model was developed which saw professional people helping others through difficult, life changing or business related situations. Since then the coaching field has exploded and you can find one on one supporters for business, leadership, retirement, management, real estate and a plethora of other special interests. The short lived television show "Starting Over" with Rhonda Britten and Iyanla Vanzant brought the concept further into the public consciousness with a spiritual, personal point of view.

Although Tonya and I are offering the same type of artist/creative coaching, we each have our own focus and specialty. Tonya is one of the best business women I know. Before I joined PMC Connection as a Senior Instructor, I bought all my supplies from Whole Lotta Whimsy. As a matter of fact I was one of their biggest clients for a while there. There is no one who is better equipped to support and inform artists on the business of doing business than Tonya. Her holistic, multi module, large scale program is a total immersion on the nuts and bolts, left brain aspects of pursuing your art and building a profit.

My gentler, more personal Mentorial (mentor + tutorial = Mentorial) method is tailored to each individual artisan's specific concerns and dreams for their unique brand and lifestyle. I've started calling it "coaching à la carte". With this model, a craftsperson can explore a single aspect of their business at a time. Thinking about teaching? Or maybe you want to wholesale and are curious about the casting process. Perhaps you're stuck creatively and want some suggestions and encouragement to boost your right brain into high gear. Whatever your goal, I can help you brainstorm your way to success.

Two different approaches to the same end point. We each want you to excel in the way that's best for you!

As I grow my menu (remember the à la carte reference) I'll be adding e-books, helpful products and maybe even (someday) videos to my offerings. I'm working on my first book title and hope to have it on it's way to Etsy by the end of the summer.

In the meantime - Both Tonya and I, and the teachers and mentors in your own home towns and online, are here for you. All you have to do is whistle. You know how to whistle don't you (couldn't resist)?

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