Course Lab: Lessons from Successful Online Course Creators
Develop Resilience to Change ANY Behavior (ft. Dr. G)
July 27, 2021
Course creators know that behavior change is a key component of successful course design. The question is, how exactly do you help your students attain that change? Danny and Abe interview course creator, resilience expert, and on-camera personality, Dr. G, to find out.
Episode summary: Dr. G is the go-to media expert on creating resilience in your community, your team, even your own family. And she’s bringing her expertise to Course Lab. 

Dr. G’s online course, “Change the Behavior in You” teaches the path of change, without dictating the particular behavior you must work on. That way, you learn the structure and strategies to make this change happen, plus how to make any other changes you'll ever want in your own behavior! 

This is powerful for the student, but even more so for listeners of Course Lab, who’ll find many tips and strategies for creating meaningful change for their own students.

In this episode we discuss:

“Because we all think that we're kind of a closed perfect circuit. And, obviously, we're not. We're leaking information all the time.– Dr. G

Guest bio:
Popularly known as "Dr. G", Deborah Gilboa, MD is a practicing physician, resilience expert, on-camera personality, author, and parent. Considered a go-to media expert on creating resilience in your community, your team, even your own family, Dr. G travels the world speaking at conferences, businesses, and universities. She is a regular contributor on The Doctors, The TODAY Show, Good Morning America, Today Show, The Rachael Ray Show, and Pittsburgh Today Live. Dr. G is quoted regularly in online and print publications including, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Real Simple, and The Wall Street Journal. She is the author of "Teach Resilience" (and three other titles).

Resources or websites mentioned in this episode:


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Music and SFX credits: 

Track Title: Access
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Episode transcript: Develop Resilience to Change ANY Behavior (ft. Dr. G):

[00:00:01] Danny: Mirasee
[00:00:04] Dr. G: this is what any course creator can do happen to the expertise of your audience and help them see how to leverage what they already know to get through the obstacle or over the speed bump to the next step.
[00:00:17] Danny: Hello and welcome to course Lab, the show that teaches course creators like you how to make better online courses. I'm Danny Iny the founder of Mirasee an Education Company, and I'm here with my co-host, Abe Crystal, the co founder of Ruzuku. In each episode, we're going to showcase a course and course creator who is doing something really interesting with their course. Our guest today is Dr. G.
 Dr. G welcome to Course Lab.
[00:00:45] Dr. G: Thank you so much. Danny and it is really, really wonderful to be here. So I'm really excited
[00:00:50] Danny: To hear about first of all your story um how did you come to be doing what you're doing? And then I also want to hear about the leap from that to online courses specifically, but 30,000 ft, how did you come to be doing this?
[00:01:04] Dr. G: I'm a family doctor. I'm an MD. The kind of doctor that you would go to if your back hurt or your child needed their well visit, that kind of a family doc. And what I discovered after a few years of being an attending physician, meaning I finished all my training and I was at a health centre serving underserved populations, I discovered that as much ego as I had wrapped up in my diagnostic skills and my ability to ask questions and listen to the answers and give people great suggestions for a course of care and prescriptions, et cetera. That would help them. None of that was the best predictor of my patient's well being turned out. I kept observing over and over and over again that I could do my best job. And what it really depended on the outcomes really depended on was that person's resilience, how they pictured their life, and how they utilize the resources around them and what they thought was possible. And all this stuff that the more I read about it, the more I realized we put in this bucket of resilience. So I have never stopped practicing medicine. I'm still at that health center that serves underserved folks in my city. But I decided I had to figure this out. Resilience is this thing that we often in our society have a real fixed mindset around. Some people are resilient and some people aren't and that's just how it is. But I thought there had to be more to it than that. So I have spent the last nine years reading, writing, researching, speaking, and now leading thoughts about resilience and how we grow it.
[00:02:37] Danny: And so where did an online course emerged as an idea that made sense here? Because you know you've been reading, you've been writing, you've been teaching, you've been speaking. What drew you to this modality
[00:02:48] Dr. G: when I hear a great speaker. I want to have coffee with that person. I want to do. Seven of the things they talked about. But that excitement wanes and other things get my attention and I forget some of the stuff they said. And so I was really interested in how could I give people a prescription that they could follow or choose from or a menu or something That was a take away with them so that they could be effective at the changes we talked about.
[00:03:13] Danny: And so the course that you created is called change the behavior in you. So what do you actually teach inside the course? And what is the transformation afterwards?
[00:03:23] Dr. G: One of things I know as a family doctor is that I don't know nearly as much about you as you do. So I really want you to dig in and figure out what you already know about yourself so that you don't waste your time trying things that don't work for you. Transformation is the confidence and the experience of successfully changing our behavior. It doesn't actually matter which behavior you pick. That transformation is transforming from someone who thinks I wish I could change that. But I know I can't too oh I changed that. What else could I change? How do you do that? I do that by first teaching and I hope that this word doesn't scare anybody off a little bit of neuroscience helping people understand what our brains do when we established patterns which become habits and it's usually those habits that we're trying to change. We want to change the behavior. I help people understand that just a little bit like enough for it to be useful but not enough for it to feel like you're going to be tested on it. And then I help people with the most important step which is picking the right behavior to change. First I put them through a series of questions so that they can identify for themselves, a behavior that meets for criteria so that they can be really successful with this change. And one of those criteria is it has to be something that you can see an obvious benefit to the change. So once they've changed it, they're going to be really pleased with that because they set out beforehand to make sure that it was something they cared about, Not something someone else told them they should change or something they had always known was good for you, but something they were actually really excited to have be different once I help people understand the change they want, as opposed to only the thing they don't want anymore. And then I walk them through, not only how to start making the change, but also how to go back to it when they stop, We've overcome most of the obstacles, I give them four sections. Each one is about 12 minutes to listen to, but it comes along with steps that they can go back to this algorithm again and again and again with any behavior change they want to make.
[00:05:29] Danny: So really what I'm hearing is that the core of what you're giving them is you're leveraging this knowledge of neuroscience to help them focus on the goal they want and then not so much give them the tools to accomplish the goal, because everyone's goal could be different, but rather give them kind of the meta tools to make a plan themselves and to get back on track when they fall off the wagon. Am I getting that right?
[00:05:52] Dr. G: I give them concrete steps and algorithm to follow, Because like, like a science experiment when you're in high school, if you had to take chemistry and it said mixed re agent a in test to be and it wouldn't come out the same every time, but you knew the steps you were supposed to try to follow and I do that because I want people to have the steps, I don't want them to be like, oh I did that, I have no idea how and I don't think I could ever do it again. If you can help someone understand how to think about something, how to approach something. if you can tap into their expertise and this is what any course creator can do, tap into the expertise of your audience and help them see how to leverage what they already know to get through the obstacle or over the speed bump to the next step.
[00:06:37] Abe: So this is all really interesting because something we advise course creators a lot on is encouraging them to think about their course as helping move people towards some meaningful outcome or transformation and and not just conveying information or how to use and if another course crater was coming to you, you know, someone who's teaching a course on business or on watercolor painting and they're saying like, well, hey, I have all these great hell to use in my course, but nobody is doing it. They're not actually getting to the results that I hoped for for them. What would you advise them? Like what, what would be your guidance for other course creators?
[00:07:19] Dr. G: One of the things that I would really encourage course creators to think about is what don't they know about their audience, that their audience does know, for example, they could maybe imagine but not know for sure why this person wants to work with water colors or what it is about. Is it about having the finished product, or is it about the process or is there something that they just imagine or that they know that being a watercolour artist would do for them and making that discovery part of the online course?
[00:07:53] Abe: Yeah. So focusing on the motivation, the why, what is driving people to take this course in the first place and then providing a path for them to follow. That's not just about how do you do it, but what is a way that you can do it that is consistent with what we know about behavior change?
[00:08:17] Dr. G: Yes. You know that's my motivation because I want everybody to be better at behavior change because that makes everybody more resilient. So when we can ask people to get to know themselves better, whatever our content, whether it is about weightlifting or speaking from the stage or whatever it is, when we asked them to tap into their own expertise, what we're saying is I respect you, I respect that you have a different story or a different journey than I did and I'm here to help us find our common ground so that I can serve you to help you have this thing that I have that you want.
[00:08:50] Abe: I mean it sounds like another challenge that you faced in designing your course was introducing, taking fairly technical concepts but making them applicable and useful for people who don't want to learn at a deep tactical level. But they want the practical insights that come out of that. What do you you know kind of discover um in working through that challenge of how to build upon this more technical material than and make it more applicable and useful for people.
[00:09:23] Dr. G: What I've learned is that most people have an area in which they're really good at knowledge translation. It might be explaining the rules of football to a friend who's watching it and isn't as into football as they are. It might be about something in the I. T. Field it could be something about marketing whatever it is and so doing that knowledge translation taking what you know so well and speaking it into English it takes really knowing your subject matter maybe even a tiny bit better. But saying it in a way that respects the person you're speaking to doesn't dumb it down, I hate that phrase because that's not what it is. It's just translating it in a way that someone who knew nothing about that subject could understand the action point and that I think you can really concretely vet with other people, you can go to somebody who has a friend of yours who has no interest at all in your area of expertise and just say, I want to tell you something and I need you to tell me where it doesn't make sense, or where I started out to advanced or where it makes you feel like an idiot.
[00:10:25] Danny: So you're essentially leaning on the idea that a lot of the things that we want to accomplish in life, we actually do know how to do it. We're just not putting all that knowledge that is latent somewhere in our heads into appropriate focused action. And I'm inclined to agree that's, that's the case much of the time. But there are also sometimes when, you know, I just don't know how to solve the problem. I don't know what steps to take, so I can't look inward and posit, um, what, what in your experience is kind of the ratio of of the times, you know, how often do people come to you and you're like, actually you need information that you just don't have.
[00:11:07] Dr. G: My content is at one end of that spectrum, I can absolutely imagine content that's at the other end of the spectrum, what you're talking about Danny with people who are like, yeah, I don't know what I'm supposed to do here and I don't have any experience to draw on. For me, just about everybody that I interact with has changed a behavior. We've all made behavior changes successfully if we're over the age of four. So for me, most people do have some experience to draw on, even if they've hit an obstacle that they really don't know how to get over it and I can then help them with that next. But I think that even as of course creator, if you're explaining something that's esoteric or very detailed or really advanced, still, your audience knows how they got up to that point and this is really important for problem solving. They know what hasn't worked. If you can do what my son's spelling teacher does and give a little bit of a pretest to say where you at what do you know and where are your challenges then you're doing what I'm talking about, You are respecting that I'm a functioning adults and you're respecting that. I have at least some expertise and what hasn't worked. And that gets me more engaged in the process. And the other thing I think we haven't talked about this sort of what my kids call it in the video game the Egg, Right. The surprise thing you find if you get to that level is that when you engage your audience this way, they don't just want this course, they want your next course and your next course and it comes to you, speak in person and to hire you because we love we need to feel respected, to feel collaborative.
[00:12:43] Danny: I love that. And I have one more question Dr. G about focus and positioning of the course. Because your your core focus, your passion is resilience and yet you didn't say that, you know, here's my course about how to develop resilience. You didn't say the secret key to resilience colon. Change the behavior. I knew you didn't even make resilience. The subtitle. What led you to, to the idea that the best course for you to get to where you want to go and make the impact you want to make is not about resilience, writ large, It's about this particular area.
[00:13:19] Dr. G: This is a confluence of two beliefs of mine and one is I need to help you solve a problem. If I'm going to ask you for your money in order to serve you, it has to serve you. And most of the ways that people need to be served is to be able to make the changes that will get them closer to the life that they want to lead. The other piece of this is my definition of resilience. I define resilience as your ability to navigate change and come through it, the kind of person you want to be inherent in. That is sometimes changing behavior because we cannot always change our circumstance. So behavior change every time someone does it they become a little bit more resilient. It might be a little bit like the zucchini and the chocolate chip zucchini bread and the getting what you want out of the behavior change. Those are the chocolate chips, but I'm really transparent about it in my content. I didn't want to try and sell anybody on the idea that they should buy a course to become more resilient. I wanted to be very transparent about how I have information that does make them more resilient. What really benefits them in a way that they've been longing for on the regular.
[00:14:32] Danny: That's perfect. Thank you. Thank you so much for sharing that. And that's all the questions I have aimed. Do you have anything else you wanted to ask?
[00:14:40] Abe: No, this is great. Thank you so much, Doctor for joining us and sharing your insights, your expertise and all the innovative ideas you've come for with for your course. I think it would be tremendously helpful for our listeners.
[00:14:55] Dr. G: Thank you for asking me these questions nobody has ever asked me before. I really appreciate the opportunity and I'm really glad that you guys are giving so many people the opportunity to get their expertise out there.
[00:15:07] Abe: Absolutely does. She is a medical doctor and a resilience expert. She teaches behavior change to families, educators, executives, and businesses. You can find her at ask Dr G dot com. That's ask Dr the full word, not the abbreviation G the letter G ask dr G dot
[00:15:27] Danny: ca. Now stick around for my favorite part of the show where even I will pull out the very best insights in practical takeaways for you to take and apply to your own course. And we're back for my favorite part of the conversation. The debrief, you know what jumped up to me the most that I think is really it's an important lesson for all aspiring course creators is what a great job dr G did of thinking about, okay, this is my ultimate objective, right? I want to teach resilience. I want people to be more resilient, but then not getting hung up on that and being like, well I have to proselytize the importance of resilience and teach everyone my definition of resilience. Rather, it's like what is the thing that I can teach that they want that will help them move in that direction. And even inside the content of the course, she did this amazing job of figuring out what is the least effort that will lead to the most result. What is the minimum effective dose of what she can put into the course to empower people to get a result that is aligned with what they want and forces them to jump through the minimum number of hoops. I think that's a really important thing for people to kind of notice underline highlight because those are just a cluster of things that entrepreneurs tend to get wrong when they're thinking about their online course. What jumped up to you?
[00:17:01] Abe: Yeah, I agree with that for sure. And I'd say the larger theme encompassing all your points is behavior change, right? If you sign up for a dieting course or a health cleanse, it's not that you really want all that information or to learn a bunch of new recipes or the nutrient contents of different foods. You're not necessarily fascinated by that information, but you want to change how you are eating or other health behaviors that then lead to certain outcomes that you want, like feeling better, looking better and so on and that that may seem kind of obvious, but it's not how a lot of courses are designed. There's often a tacit assumption that if we just provide well-structured and useful and applicable information, then people will kind of take it and run with it and get the results and what we see in practices. That's really not at all the case, you can't have really good useful information. It can even be well organized and well-structured and while those are necessary, they're definitely not sufficient to lead to meaningful or sustainable behavior change. So there's a lot to be learned here, not from even just the details of how the specific course was implemented, but simply by for anyone listening, look at your course from the perspective of behavior change. What are the behaviors that your students are coming into your course wanting to change? Are they wanting to stop a behavior like quitting smoking? Are they wanting to implement or increase the behavior like meditating and how are you going to help them actually change that behavior in a way that's sustainable? So they're going to be seeing results, you know, not just today and tomorrow when they're deeply immersed in your course, but down the road as well.
[00:19:00] Danny: You know, the other thing that jumped out to me, it's a philosophy around building on what people already have and what they already know, you know, as we record this, I'm in the process of setting up a new office and so I've got all this, you know, desk microphone shelves, like all this stuff that I'm assembling and there's this really interesting dichotomy of philosophy in that some of it is like this completely prefab, everything is in the box. So you know, if there's a screw, it's going to come with a little awkward allen key, but like you do all of it, you know, everything you need is right there in the box. And then on the other end there's this stuff where it's like if this thing needs to be cut, I'm assuming you have a knife or something to do that with. There is merit to both of those directions, right? Because if you're going to give someone a call, it a prefab course where everything you need is inside the box there is a value to that, but it's also very limiting in that there's only so high you can build if you have to provide all of the bricks and all the pieces yourself. And there's also a very low ceiling on how good you can expect people to be at all these different skills, right? You know, the screwdriver that's included with the, with the prefab kit is not a very good screwdriver, whereas taking that craft person approach, which is what Dr. G really does here, just like she said in the conversation, if you're over four years old, you have changed the behavior in the past. So there's a lot to already build on. I think there's a powerful lesson there for course creators in that when we look to create anything to teach anybody anything, we have to look at the scaffolding, right, what is the knowledge that we need to build on? But then we can really take two approaches. We can say, I'm going to assume that my students know nothing. I'm going to teach them everything from the ground up, which really kind of imposes a low ceiling on how far I can take them. Or let's dig deep let's get creative about what they're likely to already know that we can build on. And I found that approach really interesting.
[00:20:53] Abe: Yeah. It also gets into you like your assumptions around frames of reference, right? Like what are you offering to people in your course? And how does that intersect with the background and context that your participants are entering the course with? And are the references? You're making the examples, your using everything that you're asking people do in the course. Is that aligned with an appropriate to that background and context that people are coming in with? Or are you asking them to do things that are either way over their heads or so easy that there’d motivating? 
[00:21:29] Danny: All right, well then, if you want to read the same,
[00:21:34] Abe: Course Lab is a Mirasee  FM original production. Thank you for listening to Course. Lab. I'm Abe Crystal of Ruzuku and my co host is Danny Iny. 
This episode, of Course, Lab was produced by Cynthia Lamb and Michi Lantz and Geoff Govertsen assembled the episode. Danny Iny’s our executive producer. Big thanks to Dr G for taking the time to share her successes and challenges regarding the course. Again, Dr. G teaches courses on how you can be friends, stress and build resilience and you can find her. Ask Dr G dot com, That's ask dr (the full word not abbreviated) g dot com. Ask Dr G dot com. 
Also, you'll definitely want to tune in to Mirasee’s new podcast, Making It. In each episode, a successful entrepreneur will share what making it means to them and what they've learned along the way. Yes. You certainly don't want to miss what's to come this season on Course Lab. So subscribe on apple podcasts, Spotify or wherever you're listening right now. And if you like the show, please leave us a review. It's the best way to help us get these ideas to more people. Thank you and we'll see you next time.
[00:22:48] Dr. G: Mhm. Hey, can I say thank you? Mhm
[00:22:53] Abe: Sure. Well, we'll start with um all thank you for coming on. You can respond and then I'll read your, your intro
[00:23:01] Dr. G: awesome.