How to be a mindful tech company with Offering Tree co-founder

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About Alex Haley

Alex Haley is a meditation teacher and former legal and business manager for small and large companies. He also was a co-manager of a donation-based yoga studio and is one of the co-founders of the public benefit corporation OfferingTree, which provides an all-in-one platform for wellness professionals to build a website, manage schedules and registrations, accept payments and coordinate email communication.

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About This Podcast

In this episode Kathryn and Alex talk about mindfulness, applying mindful principles to business practices, and finding the right online platform. Alex has a long history of teaching and practicing mindfulness, and he talks about how his practice shaped the creation of Offering Tree. He also shines a light on bigger issues within the tech world, how certain apps are designed to hook people in, and how teachers can steer clear of unethical online platforms. A big thank you to our sponsor Offering Tree!

Podcast Transcription

Kathryn Bruni-Young: This episode of the Mindful Strength Podcast is brought to you in partnership with Offering Tree. Offering Tree has set out to make digital marketing fun, easy, and most importantly for us yoga teachers, affordable. They are your one-stop-shop for your website, scheduling software, zoom integration, selling digital content like classes or courses, payment processing, email newsletter, and more. Stay tuned to hear more about them later in this episode. 

Kathryn: Hey Everyone, welcome back. Today on the podcast, I am speaking to Alex Haley. Alex is one of the co-founders of Offering Tree, which is our incredible sponsor. In the podcast today, you’re going to hear about Offering Tree, who they are, what they do, what they stand for. Alex also has a long history, both teaching and practicing mindfulness.

We’re going to talk a little bit about mindfulness as well. And how is mindfulness practice shaped the creation of Offering Tree? Then you’re also going to learn a couple of interesting things about the tech industry, including all of those platforms out there that you have to choose from; and how you can find the right platform for you.

Before we get into the podcast. I want to remind everyone that you should go check out the Mindful Strength Membership if you haven’t already.
Right now, we are offering a super special fourteen-day free trial. We’ve changed our free trial from seven days to 14 days. You can try out the entire membership. That means all of our classes, any of the materials that are uploaded there, stuff with guest teachers, stuff with both Kyle and I. All of our live classes and everything for two weeks for free.

We wanted to open up the trial to two weeks because we want to make sure that the folks who are joining know it’s going to work for them. We want to make sure that you have enough time to check out a few different classes, join us live, do a couple of recorded classes before you have to pay for it.

We’re still offering our sliding scale memberships. If you want to check it out or try it out, go to mindfulstrength.ca and then click on memberships.
If you’re listening on Apple Podcast, we’ve also got all of the links to Mindful Strength and Offering Tree in the show notes.

All right everyone, here is my conversation with Alex Haley.

Kathryn: All right, Alex, welcome to the podcast.

Alex Haley: Thank you. Delighted to be here.

Kathryn: Yeah, I’ve been looking forward to this as well. As many of our listeners probably know by now, you work with Offering Tree. Offering Tree is our sponsor. I’m really looking forward to having you here. We can have a little discussion about business and online and the work that you do. Do you want to take a few minutes and tell the listeners, in case they don’t know, who you are or anything about your work? Why don’t you tell them a little bit about that.

Alex Haley: I’d be happy to. If I had to sum up what I do in probably one word, I’d say that I’m a translator. What that means is: I’m really passionate about a lot of different areas and making sure that they talk together, that they communicate. There’s so much that can be learned from these different areas. In my own life, that’s been my experience in business, that’s been my experience in teaching.

I teach meditation and mindfulness around the country and it’s also been around technology. I look at these different areas and I put them all together and they all have something to say to each other. That’s what gets me really excited. I get very passionate about that.

I also am very passionate about giving back and trying to make a positive impact on that kind of local level with communities that I’m connected to and just in the larger space.

How can we collaborate and support one another as opposed to the sort of typical model, which I think is the fierce competition, trying to duke it out, you know? Who gets more people looking at their content or signing up for it or providing some. I’d say those are my primary motivations. What that’s meant over the years is often by hanging out with different groups and sometimes they’ll say, like, “well, I don’t get it. Why do you do this other thing over here?” And I was like, “because they have so much to teach us right here if we would just listen”.

That’s really what it is. My path is involved a lot of time in business, a lot of time in education, and a lot of time in technology. I try to bring all three of those parts together. Offering Tree is one way that I do that.

We set it up as a benefit corporation, which gets back to that mission of giving back.

Kathryn: How did you get into mindfulness?

Alex Haley: Yes, I got into mindfulness because of a high school math teacher. She ended up teaching mindfulness at the very beginning of the class for two minutes when I was in high school and it changed the course of my life.

My mom is a mindfulness teacher. It’s as they say, mindfulness runs strong in my family. Yet I had to hear it from somebody else because it was sort of like my mom’s into it, not cool. Once I heard it from my math teacher, that was it. It was an in. And since then, my mom and I have talked together and we’ve kind of you know, we can joke about it now. But at the time, it was like I had to hear it from somebody else.

Kathryn: Yeah, that’s so interesting. Do you think that mindfulness is becoming really popular right now within like other folks who work in business and technology? And I’m wondering what that is like for you, given that you’ve been involved in that practice for so long?

Alex Haley: Yeah, I would say that there is a big surge in interest around mindfulness, and I’ll give you kind of multiple perspectives on it. One perspective is the sort of awareness component that people are a lot more aware of mindfulness. They’re interested in mindfulness.

They want to learn more about it. There’s another dimension, which is the sort of marketing or the kind of corporate mainstreaming of mindfulness. I joke a little bit sometimes with my students, but I see it from this dimension. It’s kind of analogous to if you put the word graduation in front of any other word, you can increase the price to two-fold. It’s like a graduation photo, graduation frame. All of a sudden it’s like three times more expensive. That’s the same thing that is happening with mindfulness, unfortunately.

I think that what that means is that there’s a lot out there. There’s a lot of noise and that it’s not always connected to the origins of the practice. I think it can be confusing for a lot of people that are interested in getting in because there’s just so much that’s offered right now. There’s a lot of noise.
Then on the other side, in terms of the teaching and my own study and practice, a lot of it has been rooted in ethical practices. I don’t hear that as much out in the kind of mainstreaming of mindfulness.

I think as it gets more and more widespread, I don’t hear that messaging as much in sort of its ethical foundations. Those are different perspectives that I would offer about what I see out in the field.

Kathryn: Yeah, that’s actually a really interesting point. I feel like probably the word mindfulness, more like mindful, is one of the probably most appropriated words out there.

Alex Haley: Yes.

Kathryn: When you talk about this, like other kind of dimension of ethics, do you mean kind of like a philosophy?

Alex Haley: No. I mean, actually, a lived ethical sense.
And so, you know, if I were going to look at this very specifically, I sometimes talk about it as ethical mindedness or ethical sensitivity. Within the historical roots of mindfulness coming from the Buddhist tradition that referred to the five precepts, and there were five very specific ethical things like not speaking a falsehood, not taking something that was not offered, not harming another living being. It was rooted in this context of these five precepts.

There were additional ones if you were a monastic, and that those actually matter as a kind of value orientation to how one practices. It’s not just like, “oh, this is something somebody needs to do as an obligation”. It’s actually a way of navigating the world with that kind of ethical sensitivity that our actions have consequences and that those consequences matter.

Kathryn: Mm-hmm. So how has your knowledge in mindfulness impacted your work with Offering Tree?

Alex Haley: Yeah, it’s a great question. I would say the most direct way it’s impacted is what we’re trying to do. What we’re trying to do is provide greater accessibility and education to a variety of practices. One of them is mindfulness, another is yoga, strength training; kind of a variety of different things that we might broadly include within the category of wellness.

What that’s meant is that as a company, we’re trying to really empower and enable the community to be able to provide greater access and just greater reach within the various communities that our users serve, our teachers. They’re basically other teachers on the platform.
I think if I contrast that with some of the other approaches I’ve seen. This is more in the tech space, so not many people are familiar with it but there is a particular approach. It’s called persuasive design.

What it is is it’s all the elements that are meant to hook into how we as humans process information, think about information in a way that’s more effective. To me, that speaks to that kind of ethics. You’ve crossed an ethical line because persuasive design, and particularly when it’s marketed at kids or teenagers, but even as adults, it’s like it’s not fair.

What’s happening is we have psychologists and other folks that are using knowledge about how the mind works and processes information and then taking that into products that we use so that we get addicted.

And to me, that’s not what we’re doing at Offering Tree. What we’re doing at Offering Tree is we’re trying to enable and empower rather than detract and distract. I feel like that’s a key thing that I’m seeing, is that there’s more distracting. Distracting in service of trying to get people hooked on something as opposed to really empowering communities, enabling access, building communication, and trying to strengthen the connection.

Kathryn: Are there certain features or ways that you are designing the platform to not be part of this persuasive design?

Alex Haley: Yeah, exactly. I mean, I’ll give you a concrete example of the persuasive design element. A concrete example would be a variable reward system. You can think about this in terms of email or an app that you use where when you first log in, you don’t get the notifications right away. There’s some delay.

That delay can be varied on some kind of random sequence. You’re not quite sure when you’re going to get that little thing, somebody like you or there’s a new message or whatever. That variable reward is known to create a kind of addiction because it’s almost like a slot machine. You don’t know when the next payouts are going to happen.

You’re constantly kind of watching and waiting and anticipating and you want to find out when are you’re going to get that little notification or that thing.
Tons of apps use this and they use it because they know that this taps into how humans get addicted to this. If there’s a variable reward, you’re more likely to get addicted. We know that we don’t use that at all because we’re not interested in tapping into that. What we’re interested in is building community.
What we do is we hold a bunch of free webinars that what we’re trying to provide education. We love to sponsor a podcast like this because we know that you’re reaching large numbers of students and teachers and that that’s providing valuable information to them.

That’s the kind of impact we want to have. We don’t want to have somebody addicted to our platform and they don’t even know that they’re addicted. We want them using the platform because they love the platform and they’re like, “yes, this is helping me solve a real-world problem. And it feels like they are really here to help me. They’re not here to try to get me addicted”.

Kathryn: The fact that you talk about all this stuff really publicly I think is kind of interesting. I’m wondering if you ever experienced, like, pushback from other tech companies or people in the community?

Alex Haley: Yep. I’ve heard I’ve had discussions around this and it gets down, I think, to how one defines again, I would put it in the place of values. Where does one come down on this question of values? What I want to know about is: what are the values that are motivating the behavior? And so at Offering Tree, we love to work with others that have a shared value because we know that we share the same values.

As I’m talking to others and I get pushback about it, I’ll often go to this question about it: “So tell me, what do you value and how do those values motivate what you’re doing in the world?” And if the value is “I want to be a big company and have a lot of money and profit”, well, that tells me something. That tells me how you go about designing and motivating and building your products and services.

If your value is to say “No. You know, I’m actually interested in education. I’m interested in accessibility” Well, that’s a different value system, which is then going to motivate completely different behaviors.

Kathryn: And are these ideas that you apparently have had, like from the beginning of the company? Yeah, they are. That’s why we chose to incorporate it as a benefit corporation. We knew it takes extra work and time and effort for us to be a benefit corporation. We wanted that to be part of the DNA of the company because we knew that we wanted to have a public mission that we were going to be held accountable to. We have to report on it every year.

It goes up on the kind of State’s website. There’s a report that’s open to the public. Anybody can read and it talks about how did we make an impact beyond just generating additional profit. We’re held accountable for that and have to report every year. That was from the founding principles of the company itself.
When did Offering Tree begin? I’m so curious about the evolution because, you know, you’re obviously sponsoring this podcast, but I’m also using Offering Tree for one of my trainings.

It seems like you’re always kind of adapting the platform and adding new things. We send feedback and then we talk about things and then you add new things. I’m just so curious. When did it start and how did it start? And then what’s the progression been like?

Alex Haley: Yeah. It started back in 2006. That was the founding of the company when we actually found it, but then the actual ideas and the motivation and the kind of vision behind it started before that. It actually came out of a real-world problem.

I was working as a manager at a pay what you can yoga studio. It was very community-focused. It was very relationship-based. They tried to implement it online and it killed the community vibe. It kept instructors kind of behind their computers trying to figure out the technology.
It made the interactions with students more difficult because the technology was kind of getting in the foreground and the relationships were being put in the background.

I witnessed that as a co-manager. I basically said, “you know, this can’t be rocket science. There has to be another way to do this”. And so in conversations with that studio and then also in conversations with my co-founders, who are engineers and computer scientists, we basically said, “oh, yeah, there is a need here and there’s a real-world problem. How do you have technology be in the background that facilitates the connection, the communication, the relationship? That should always be in the foreground You never want it the other way around.

That was some of the origins of the company. And we, as I said before, really wanted to set it up as a company that would give back that would reinvest into the community, because that’s one of our core values. We hold this as a core value and so that set us in motion.
I think just as you described, we’re community-focused, which means that every feature that you use at Offering Tree was built based on direct feedback from our community.

We consider this, again, one of our core values, this community focus of we ask the community, what do you need? What are you struggling with? And then we put that on our website to say, “OK, it sounds like we’ve got a lot of people that are struggling with ABC. We’re going to build that because that’ll help solve that problem”.

Kathryn: Yeah, I really feel that even only having been working with you for, I don’t know, two months or so maybe I’ve had access to the platform, and a couple of my friends also use the platform. They’ve both been really, really happy.

I think particularly because if they have a like a tech question or something that they send an email and somebody from Offering Tree gets back to them really quickly. There’s actually like a person there on the other side who will, like, jump on a call and show you what you need to do, which, you know, I just like so appreciate so much.

I’ve used so many online platforms over the years and there is rarely any, like, personal connection with the folks behind the platform.

Alex Haley: Well, thank you for sharing that, because we do value that. And in fact, our entire founding team is directly plugged into those requests.
We watch, monitor, respond, discuss all the requests that we get to come in. Again, because that’s a core value of ours. We want to stay very close to the community. We want to know that we’re meeting real-world problems that meet a community need.

Kathryn: Yeah. The other thing that I think is great about the platform is it’s extremely financially accessible for teachers, for the people who are actually like putting the classes online or putting their studios or whatever it is online. It makes it so much easier for people to try it out, get started, figure things out without having to invest a lot of money, which oftentimes teachers don’t have.

Alex Haley: Yeah, it’s funny you mention that when we first started, we actually had several teachers. We’ve evolved, of course, over time. Our pricing has changed a little bit and shifted, but we’ve always tried to keep it very accessible, as you’re mentioning. When we first started, we had some feedback where people said, “I don’t know, your prices are so low, I’m not sure that I can like, what’s the catch?”.

There’s no catch. We’re really just building this to try to meet a community need. And so we were getting comments about, like, “I think you really need to raise your prices, please, because then I’m going to feel like, you know, like, OK, we can do this”.

Kathryn: I want to take a moment in the middle of this episode to tell you about the Mindful Strength Membership. If you’ve been enjoying this podcast and all the topics that we’ve been covering over the years, and you want to put these ideas into practice and build strength at home with both Kyle and I, go to minfdulstrength.ca and click membership. We also recorded classes that range from 20 to 60 Minutes.

We also offer two live classes a week so you can join us live and say hi. To start your fourteen-day free trial, go to mindful strength and click membership.

All right, everyone, back to the show.

 

Kathryn: People feel like there’s something like fishy going on when the prices are so low. I think that it’s become just so known that like all of these platforms like Facebook and Instagram and all the platforms that we all use and love and hate, you know, they’re all free and they’re all using all of the information which they collect.

I think because that is like such a norm now, people are like, “oh, this thing is really cheap. I wonder what they’re taking from me”.

Alex Haley: Yeah. And again, it’s unfortunate because it gets back, I think, to what we were talking about a moment ago that some of this gets into, you know, if you don’t know what the product is, you’re the product. That’s the unfortunate reality that I think somebody has to live with, whether we’re using apps, free apps on our phone or free email clients, or whatever it might be.

That’s you know, that’s a different value system. At Offering Tree, we have no interest in mining our users’ data and monetizing it through these different elaborate schemes. We want people to feel like they can move from being overwhelmed to confident; that they have the skills, the support, the educational resources, and the technology to do that. They really feel empowered and confident rather than fearful and overwhelmed.

Kathryn: I think that sometimes we assume that technology pulls us away from being mindful or embodied or it’s like technology is the opposite of what we’re trying to do with mindfulness or yoga. I’m wondering what you think about this and if you agree with that and or if you have something else you’d like to offer?

Alex Haley: Yeah, I love the question. And what I tend to think of is…I go back to what’s the motivation behind the technology?
What motivated the design of that technology? What’s it attempting to do? We can use some concrete examples right in the middle of still this ongoing pandemic. But for a platform like Zoom or Google Meets, or you name it, we’d have a lot harder time maintaining that sense of connection with other humans other than the immediate ones that we have in our household or that we may, you know, interact with on occasion and for social distancing and whatnot.

In that sense, the technology is actually enabling and empowering a human need, which is that we don’t want to be isolated. We know there’s so much research around the negative implications health-wise, whether it’s physical health or mental health around the loss and isolation. But in that sense, the technology is actually helping to empower a basic human need.

Yeah, I’m a little harder pressed to find how, you know, an addictive online game is meeting a specific human need. Now, there are examples of gaming technology that help with cognitive functioning and memory and things like that. In that sense, if it can be articulated it’s in service of trying to fulfill a human need and that there’s a problem or a barrier that this technology solves, I think that that provides a much more compelling case.
Whereas if I’m building technology in order to monetize it, to make tons of money and look at people’s information and become a tech millionaire, that again motivates a different kind of design process, a different kind of use of that technology.

That’s what I always go back to. What are the values? What’s the intention and what motivated the design that’s underlying the technology?

Kathryn: I think what might be problematic sometimes is as a user, sometimes it’s hard to know what the motivations of the technology are.

Alex Haley: That’s right. It is hard. And I wish it was much more transparent, just like we have privacy policies and terms of use. I wish we had a statement of values that every tech company would have to kind of articulate and put on there.

Even as I’m saying that now, I’m thinking, you know, this is something that I think Offering Tree we should be much more putting this out there. We do. We put it out there and our messaging, but we don’t do it in the way that like, how could you as a user do a kind of apples to apples comparison between different companies and platforms and say, “oh, yeah, like this company I’m aligned with on a values level. They’re expressing their values and they’re actually acting on behalf of their values. And that’s really clear”. That doesn’t exist right now, unfortunately.

I think you’re absolutely right. It’s really hard. How do you assess that? I mean, we tried to do that by talking about a public benefit. We talk about our reports that we issue every year so you can find those. There’s not a mechanism to be able to allow you to do that. It’s sort of like if you were shopping for a car or you’re shopping for insurance, you know, there’s a way that you can compare different policies or different companies. Not so easy with tech.

Kathryn: Yeah, and I think that oftentimes, like yoga teachers or personal trainers or physios, they’re experts in what they do. We don’t even know what to look for. Honestly, I’ve used platforms for years and then tried to get off of them and then realize, oh, that platform actually is keeping all of my Stripe Data and they’re not letting me have it. I actually can’t switch platforms because they’re keeping my Stripe data.

That is a huge inconvenience. And that is something that, like, I would have never even known. I used their platform for years. I have no idea that they’re doing that. This makes it so challenging to get off of those platforms, which makes me think of other things you’ve been talking about, this like persuasive design and creating addictive platforms or platforms that then teachers can’t really get off of easily.

Alex Haley: Yeah, I think that’s right. And actually, I think what you just shared is maybe a really good practical way of at least the first attempt to try to get at this. If you ask a company what happens when I leave? If I decide to leave your service or your company, what happens? What are the steps? How do I access my data? What happens to my data?

Those are the kinds of questions that will tend to reveal what may not be so transparent. We actually get these questions all the time at Offering Tree. One of the most common ones we get is, “OK, I bought my domain through you and now I’m going to leave the service. Do you own my domain?” And we say, “no, we don’t own the domain. You bought it. It’s your domain. We’ll transfer wherever you go. Just let us know”. We unlock it. We transfer the domain if you want to use a different service. We’re sad that you don’t want to use us, that we weren’t a fit.

But we wish you well and we hope that you have success. We get those kinds of questions all the time. What happens to this, you know. Can I download my contacts? Yup, there’s a little download button there. You can do that any time. You’re welcome to download it.

Kathryn: You mentioned before that you were working in a studio. MBO came out, you decided after there has to be a better way, let’s create a better way. What happened like at that studio? Did they start to put a new system into effect? What happened back then?

Alex Haley: Yeah, so they went back to an old-school model. They shifted back to just having like a card reader, you know, using square or people. I don’t remember which platform it was. They had a clipboard with sign-ins and they had the old paper waivers.

I’m happy to report that that studio is still in operation, even with the ups and downs of this pandemic. They’re using Offering Tree. We got to go full circle. We eventually had enough features to support them as a studio up using us.

You can look them up. It’s Yoga Sol. They’re actually a co-operative, which is pretty cool. They’re a yoga studio that is a cooperative. Yeah, you can look them up yoga-sol.com.

Kathryn: That’s really cool. It’s kind of nice to hear these stories of people running their studios and their businesses with like waivers that people write on and these kinds of like things that seem kind of old school now but have managed to keep their studio up and running throughout the years.

Alex Haley: Yeah, and it was hard. I mean, again, using the studio as an example, they shuttered their doors, they closed down everything. And, you know, I don’t want to speak for them, but from the outside, it seemed to me like it was a big question about are they going to continue to exist? And so then they reached out and they said, “hey, we know you guys, we know for a long time and we’re super excited about what you’re doing. Do you think you’re at the point now where your platform could support a studio?”

We said, “let’s give it a shot” and it worked. They’re still using us and we’re continuing to kind of build our features as we get requests from them and other studios. We now have additional studios that are using us. That’s, again, part of our community focus. We try to keep that front and center.

Kathryn: When teachers or studios start to put their stuff online, what do you think some of the big issues can be for them personally? Do you find people kind of get stuck in similar places?

Alex Haley: Yeah, I think one of the key places where most people stuck, at least we’ve seen, at Offering Tree, is that sense of overwhelm. It’s a sense of there’s so much out there, there’s so much I don’t know. It’s so new to me. It feels scary. I don’t feel like I have the capabilities or even know where to go to get the resources to take the first step.

A lot of what we do is both in how we design the software. We try to provide tons of educational resources. We have things as a video, so you can watch a video to see how something works. Well, if you don’t want the video, you can read it to see, you know, some of us like video, some of us like words.
We try to break it down into concrete steps, like, “OK, here’s the first thing. Here’s the next thing”. I think that’s the biggest thing. It’s sort of that sense of whether it’s fear or there can even be a little bit of imposter syndrome that comes up.

It totally messes up and everyone’s going to realize “I’m a bad teacher”. I think the biggest thing is helping teachers to shift from that sense of fear or overwhelm to these small steps where there’s sort of a guide on the side that can help you take steps to overcome that. Also recognizing that it’s inherently imperfect and that you are perfectly imperfect, which means that just by doing something, you’re going to learn.

Rather than constantly catastrophizing or worrying about other things that could go wrong, it’s about stepping in and taking a small step, and learning as you go. And there are others there with you. Again, this gets back to the theme of not being alone. There is a community of others, teachers like you, that are there to help support you, to cheer you on, to be there to answer questions.

Kathryn: Do you think that in this day and age, all teachers and all studios need to be online?

Alex Haley: I would say right now. The unfortunate reality of what we’ve seen and actually there…I’ll try to remember to send this to you so you can put it in the show notes or link. There was a study that was done, a report that was done by Yelp. It’s a funny reference, but they did this report where they showed the number of businesses that had permanently closed and temporarily closed over time from the beginning of the pandemic.

What you saw was that eventually at about the five or six-month mark, there was an inflection point where the number of temporary closings was going down, but the number of permanent closings was going up and so that it crossed. Initially, the number of temporary closings was much higher, the number of permanent closings, was elevated, but it wasn’t super high. But as the pandemic continued, you saw it start to flip-flop.

I think that’s the unfortunate reality, which is that right now, to be able to survive, it’s like most business models have been just shattered. Figuring out a new way forward requires a kind of reinventing. Some of the key things that we’ve learned are that if, for example, let’s say you’re a yoga teacher or a mindfulness teacher or even a physiotherapist, and you say, “I work with clients in person and I do this thing and I have to be able to demonstrate it and show them and then they can see what I’m doing and then demonstrate to me”.

“…I have to work in person. I have to show them”. You’re focused on the specific mode and method that you’re operating in as opposed to the relationship. And so for those that let’s say, again, physiotherapists, you can actually still maintain the clients through the relationship.

There are other things that you can still provide to the client, even if you can’t do the same things that used to be able to do hands-on, you can still provide support, planning. You know, you can provide at-home exercises. You can do things like check-in.

That’s all built on the relationship, maintaining the relationship versus being locked in the old way of doing something which was a very product-specific or offering specific mindset.

That’s what we’ve seen, is that the teachers, the studios that have really adapted in the midst of all this adversity have been able to make that kind of mind shift. Going to what’s the relationship and how do I preserve that relationship, even if it means new offerings, new ways of approaching what I used to do, as opposed to “I can’t do that, so I’m just not going to do anything”.

Kathryn: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Oh, my goodness. That’s such a great point. I hadn’t thought about it quite like that before because I think a lot of people are having this struggle, you know. Whether they’re physiotherapists or even someone like a pilates teacher who it might be like a little bit more specialized, are usually using certain equipment that like nobody has at home. I can definitely see how using an online platform to try to maintain that relationship and send people little tidbits of information or have a zoom chat even about how challenging all this stuff has been.

I can see how that can be super helpful and supportive to both the practitioner and the participant and try to, like, maintain that until they can get back to their usual. Whether that’s something like mindfulness or manual therapy or whatever it is.

Alex Haley: Yeah, and one specific example, and it’s just a minor one. This is my daughter who’s about three and a half at this point. But it’s a concrete example that I think illustrates it.

So, yeah, everything shut down her school, shut down, music class shut down. All that stopped. I watched two different things happen. In one instance, the school that we had been going to, closed, they had to. It was sort of like, “OK, we’ll be in touch when we can reopen”. We didn’t really hear too much. The music class, on the other hand, reached out almost immediately said, “Hey, we’re closed, we can’t have in-person music class anymore because of music, instruments, all that stuff that’s there, but we’re still going to gather, we’re going to do a Zoom thing and we’re going to try this”.

“We’re it’s going to be imperfect. We’re not sure how we’re going to do it, but it’s going to be the same time as when you would have come to music class when you’re meeting in person”. And so what happens? Well, you know, my partner, myself, and my daughter, we all transitioned our calendar to make it work because we already had that time on our calendar.

They didn’t lose the relationship. They just adapted to this new reality. And we’re still going to music class at this point. You know, almost a year into the pandemic, we’re still going.

Kathryn: Yeah, it’s pretty amazing what people have come up with, like all the creative ways that people have come up with to maintain the relationship. I feel like that maintains like a little bit of the goodness, even if it is imperfect, even if it’s not the whole goodness of the experience. It’s like you also have the memory of what that was. I feel like you can also kind of like, yes, tap into the present moment. It’s like, “oh, this is not amazing, but it’s OK. There’s a little bit of good stuff happening here”.

That helps you tap back into like, “yes, there is this community out there, even though we’re not together in the music room”.

Alex Haley: Yes, exactly. That’s exactly right.

Kathryn: OK, so for folks listening at home and there may be like, “oh, I like the sounds of Offering Treet, but I’m still not 100 percent sure what it is or what it’s used for. Do you want to take a couple of minutes and just explain to people what it is and what it’s used for?

Alex Haley: I’d be happy to. Offering Tree is a platform that allows you to create your online digital presence in a very short amount of time. And, you know, we used to say when we had very few features, we’d say ten minutes or less, and we actually timed it so you could be online, you can have your own website, you can have everything up and running. Assuming you knew what your content was, you could do that in ten minutes.

Now it’s probably closer to, I’d say under twenty minutes or maybe under a half-hour. We haven’t re-timed it, but you can be up and running in that short amount of time. And that means that you could have your schedule, you could take online payments, you could have your website up and running. You could be able to have people registering for a newsletter if you wanted to send that out.

What we do at our core is we kind of do website, we do scheduling and payment, we do email marketing and communication management. And then we also do the ability to create what we call tech-powered relationships.

If you want to have an online course, like a self-paced course, you want to have the library of all your videos, or if you want to have memberships, or if you want to have packages. All of that is bundled together in an all-in-one service that we try to make very elegant, very easy to use with the goal of helping you move from being overwhelmed to confident about your digital presence. And that’s really what we do in a nutshell.

Kathryn: Awesome. Well, I totally recommend it. I’m so glad to be partnered with Offering Tree.
If folks want to learn more or see a couple of things that like I’ve written about the company, everyone can go to offeringtree.com/mindfulstrength. Check it out and get signed up if you’re looking for a new platform.
Alex, thank you so much for coming on the podcast today.

Alex Haley: Thank you so much. It was a pleasure to be here. And I’ll just say also thank you to all your listeners because what you do matters and being able to provide access and resources to the community, particularly during this very challenging and difficult time, is really important. Thank you for all that you do.

Kathryn: That’s our show. Thank you, everyone, so much for listening. If you’re listening on the Apple Podcast and you’re loving the podcast, please consider leaving us to review. All of the reviews really, really help. If you want to learn more about my work, my membership, my teachers’ course, or my new free course called Mindful Strength Foundations, you can head over to mindfulstrength.ca