Sep 5, 2022

Teaching is a powerful flywheel—Dave Kline, instructor of the Management Accelerator

By Lani Assaf
Marketing Lead
Dave Kline teaches the Management Accelerator on Maven, where leaders learn how to develop systems to manage high-performing teams. He brings decades of experience in leading teams and his experience mentoring 100+ managers at Bridgewater Associates to his course.

What inspired you to decide to teach a course?

When I left Bridgewater, after nearly 10 years there, I had two vague notions. For one, I wanted to own my own business, and two, I wanted to teach. So I thought I’d buy a more traditional business, then teach management at a university nearby.
As I built up my business, I took two Maven courses as a student, Audience Building and Makers Mark. From those experiences, I saw the power of having the world as your classroom.

Inspired, I used what I learned in those courses to validate my course idea with my Twitter community and used that proof as entry into the Maven Course Accelerator.

Fast forward to today: I have students who want to learn my brand of leadership right now to address their most pressing management challenges. That direct connection and autonomy is much more appealing than working my way into a university system and teaching their standard content once or twice a year.

How did you build your course in the Maven Course Accelerator?

I thought I knew what my course was going to be. But it evolved a lot as I went through the accelerator. 
I recognized there was an untapped market for new managers, and I wanted to build a course for them. In the process of working with leaders in target market, topics I hadn’t even thought of including in the original course came out as giant gaps. Delegation was one. I was thinking to myself, “How could you even be a manager if you weren’t delegating?” But my conversations with new managers showed me consistently that this was a topic folks needed training on.
In the Maven Course Accelerator, I systematically learned how to build my course, piece by piece. One of the lessons that I still refer back to is how to break your big ideas up into small modules. I learned that you can focus on teaching much smaller pieces. Now my goal is for students to leave with seven or eight connected insights from each module, and then I stack that up across modules. That makes a pretty powerful course.
Before the accelerator, I thought my course needed to be 12 weeks long to justify its value. But I learned that the true way to determine length is how quickly you can deliver the student transformation. So I was able to shrink the course down to being just a few weeks long–and have students walk away with great insights.
Also, my initial course price was much less than my current price. The Maven team helped me see that with my focus on leadership and management, I was charging probably 25% of what the average was in the market for corporate courses. One great insight was as I moved the price up to match the market, it increased their skin in the game and as a result, their level of engagement.  That energy boosted the interactions across the course community and helped sharpen the course content. It’s an amazing virtuous cycle.
I discovered all these insights going through the Maven Course Accelerator. It saved hundreds of hours and mistakes from having to figure them out on my own.

How has teaching impacted you personally & professionally?

Teaching is a powerful and fulfilling flywheel.
I get to work with all of these leaders coming from impressive companies all around the world. Different industries, different sized companies–I have everyone from startup founders and CEOs to VPs and directors from large corporations in my course. 

We talk about their biggest management challenges, and I’m able to get a very clear understanding of what's going on in different types of businesses and pick up on new trends. I learn from each cohort, which helps me fold in even better content and systems for my next cohort. That added value then brings in more leaders.

Students are always clamoring to get to know each other more, so I encourage that by adding a “Connection Accelerator” into the course. I’m starting to see already how these networks stick around after the course is over. Some of my students have started working together–developing vendor relationships, hiring each other, etc. It’s cool to see this ecosystem start to blossom. 
Joining the MGMT Accelerator allowed me to jump-start my new management role. This course not only gave me the tools and processes to successfully lead my team but a network of others who had experienced or were experiencing similar challenges. This community is priceless. - Dan Goldblatt, Tech lead at UiPath

Any student transformation stories from your course?

Definitely. There have been quite a few, but I’ll share two examples.
One person from Cohort 2 who previously was managing 17 people, is now managing 65. Another student who was running one department at a company is now running three departments. 
Both students point to the systems they learned in the course that allow them to engage at a different level. So instead of only being deep in the work, they’re able to use their new capacities to better engage senior leadership, help change the strategy, and shape the direction of their company. And the reward for that has been more responsibility, promotions, and more money. 
I have only been at this for six months. And learning to lead is a lifetime project. So, to see the systems already proving to help leaders level up is incredibly rewarding.

What do you find the most rewarding about teaching on Maven?

The selfish answer is, every time I teach, I learn something. I get to get close to these leaders, and really learn what’s going on inside of their companies. There are so many incredible companies that you’ve never heard of providing huge value and getting rewarded financially for doing it, and I love that I get windows into these companies and to learn from their leaders.
The selfless answer is, there’s nothing more rewarding than helping a student get unstuck
Most of the leaders in my course want to have more impact, but they also want to find more balance. 
One of the biggest complaints that I hear amongst leaders is, I just don't have enough time to get it all done. I teach tactics to get more done with less time, and sometimes just learning those makes everything click for them. 
What’s more rewarding than helping someone achieve their professional goals and get home sooner to their family?
Dave's course has completely evolved the way I think about managing. I've put many of his frameworks into practice in my company and have seen transformative growth in many of my team members. - Kevin Lee, Co-Founder at immi

How does the cohort-based model work in your course?

I make a promise in the first three minutes of the first class: In this course, you’ll have 1 management breakthrough, we’ll upgrade 2 parts of your system, and you’ll meet at least 3 great people.
It’s a lonely world in management and there are very few people who are in the identical spot as you within your company. But there are many people going through the same problems in other companies. We’re able to bring these people together.
Some of the strongest positive feedback on the course isn't that their peers solve the problem for them. But that there was comfort in knowing that they had the same problems as them.

What’s next? Where do you think you’ll take your course from here?

I wish I had a great answer for this one.
Honestly, the biggest challenge I have right now is figuring out exactly what to do with this opportunity which has surprised me with just how much upside there is. Teaching on Maven was going to be supplemental to the business we bought. But demand for practical management training has flipped that dynamic to become our primary focus.

We’re really redefining what's possible. We had a goal of teaching a couple of cohorts and having maybe 100 students this year. We're probably tracking to have closer to 400 or 500 students this year! And we'll teach probably four public cohorts on Maven, and four to private corporate clients. And this is just year one.
This thing was just an idea in my head in February, and here we are in August on Cohort 5 with three more already scheduled. It’s a really amazing lifestyle business. I run my course with my wife Marsden, from our house, around our schedule. That’s incredible.
Where it goes from here is a question we’re wrestling with. Are we prioritizing the lifestyle or prioritizing the mission? And in either of those cases, what are the various forms it could take?
If we take the lifestyle approach, our course scales only to the point of the amount of time we have to teach. So if we run 1 cohort per month, and we want to do it 10 months per year, that’s 10 cohorts. And we can’t make them too big or we risk losing out on the personal connection that’s driving the value for students. 

On the mission side, I really believe that the world needs more intentional leaders. We need to teach people how to lead teams that perform well without burning people out. With more intention to their decision-making, they can multiply their team’s impact instead of demotivating them.
We believe strongly in elements of both. So we plan to keep iterating so we can have the impact we want while responsibly scaling. 
What we do know is that all of these opportunities were born from creating this course.

PS Teaching is a powerful and fulfilling flywheel for your business. Dave graduated from the Maven Course Accelerator, a free 3-week program on how to build a successful course.
When you start earning on Maven, you keep 90% of your course revenue minus Stripe fees. On average, instructors earn $20,000 in their first cohort. Plus, you own your IP and content. Our goal is to help you launch and grow a course you’re proud of.
Related Courses

You might also like

Amanda Natividad: How she became a content marketing powerhouse

Noam Segal: How teaching a course can accelerate your career

Emily Kramer: From Carta's VP of Marketing to thriving solopreneur

How Christian Wattig built a successful online course and boosted his career

© 2024 Maven Learning, Inc.