Jill McAbe is a renowned business performance skills expert and teacher, who has helped thousands of people realize their goals and reach their potential. Her work draws on her background in academia, business, and leadership and her first Skillshare class, Subconscious Goal Setting for Rapid Results: The MOMA Goal Method (previously titled “Goal Setting The #1 Success and High Performance Skill”) has received rave student reviews for its insightful, science-based approach to boosting performance. This week, she’s launching a second class, Get Unstuck: Beat Procrastination Once and For All!, that she says will empower people even further. Her mission, she says, is to teach students what they need to better understand their behavior so that they can find a personal and professional track that will give them more joy and meaning - now and in the future.
We sat down to chat with Jill about her brand-new class, her own professional goals, and how she forged a path to success by helping others find theirs.
Hi Jill! I understand that your work is about helping people succeed, and in order to do that, you use this really interesting mix of academic research and business-focused training. How did you get into this role, helping entrepreneurs and others develop themselves?
This is a life-long passion and journey for me. In my late twenties, I open a restaurant and it becomes internationally famous. We were packed...just packed. It was impossible to get a reservation. We got press around the world in all sorts of different languages...it was incredible. I operated that restaurant..but I realized...at about our halfway mark...just because you’re good [in your first few years] doesn’t mean you’re going to stay good or last a long time.
I started taking all kinds of classes but I noticed that a lot of the courses that were out there weren’t developed for small businesses. They taught lessons from big businesses - a lot of the research that has been done [has been] about how they can be more effective. And a lot of that didn’t translate. I would go, take a class, and then I would try to implement [what I had learned] and it would be like, almost impossible.
So you began to develop your own techniques instead?
Yeah! I didn’t have somebody separate to do marketing, to do social media, to do this or that. I was like, I need a whole team of twenty!
I started using my business as a lab...I tried out all these different things. And I realized that so much of what is being talked about today hasn’t been tested in the small environment. I sold the restaurant after seven years, and then just fell into consulting. Literally clientele of the restaurant began to approach me. It was like “this place ran like a dream! Come work with me!”
So you started helping other restaurants? How do you approach helping clients become operationally effective?
No! All kinds of businesses! I went to an IT company, and then to a decor imports company...then I got into manufacturing. [There were] a sprinkling of restaurants, but I’ve worked in 22 industries now.
...My interest has always been in saving individuals and teams time. Operational effectiveness is about [asking] “why are you taking 6 minutes to do that? That could be done in three,” “why are you taking eighteen minutes to do that? That doesn’t need to be done at all, you should do this thing over here.” It’s literally to look at every action in movement within an organization and say, what’s the purpose of that action and movement? If it doesn’t matter next year, why on earth do it today?
This has [become] my career-long expertise and natural ability...to get rid of unnecessary things. Behaviors that aren’t really delivering. [And] I’ve really reinforced what I know...with behavioral science. [When] I went to do my Leadership Master’s, I discovered...that there are as many theories on how to be successful as there are people who think about it. It’s a very personalized thing. [Except]...there’s one theory that has been uncontested for over a century. That is so rare in academia that almost never happens!
It’s vision. Understanding a true vision for your future. Really knowing where you want to get. If you want to be truly amazing with time, if you need to know where you want to end up.
How gratifying! What a cool thing to help people figure out. But once they have a vision for their future, how do you help them get there?
So step one is really understanding what makes them tick. Step two is understanding...ten or twenty years [from now], what would make them look back and say “heck yeah!”...?
No life on the wrong track will be something you’ll be proud of; it’ll never happen. Once you get on that track, [then I] teach you skills to move faster on that track. Let’s turn you from a freight train into like a high performance train and...let’s have fun doing it.
There’s neuroscience that underpins these ideas and that’s what I teach in the Goal Setting course on Skillshare. Because when you understand your brain, you can start using it differently. I help people fundamentally understand things.. [I] talk about our physiology, about how our brain works, about how our bodies work, about how we work in relationships, and what our needs are, so there’s a deep level of understanding.
It sounds like you really value education....in your life, and in others’ lives, which is great. We do too! What inspired you to teach a class? Has it been different than what you expected?
It was really interesting!...The first opening slide was so hard, I filmed it like a million times. It was so difficult! Really awkward. And then I put it online and the very first comment was a slam. I was crestfallen, it hurt so much!
...But then people started leaving comments, and saying thank you. Saying thank you really deeply, and richly. There are times when it [brings] a tear to my eye. I’ve been able to share life-changing information on how the brain works and how to reposition yourself to achieve more, this foundational skill with people across the world. It’s been an amazing experience, being on Skillshare....because of that connection, how its helped people. You can’t express how good that feels.
So you’re gearing up to launch a second class, one focused on procrastination. It sounds like this class is something you’ve spent some time developing. What are some of the things you are most excited about the class - and about addressing procrastination specifically?
I think I’m most excited about the fact that, again, I love to empower people with rich knowledge that they understand. Not just tell them what to do but why they are doing it.
For people who took my Goals course, I think that this will reinforce what you’ve learned about the brain...and help you achieve your goal. There’s a great relationship between the two [classes]. Even for those who haven’t taken my Goals course, they’re going to learn the basics of really important, really fundamental things about how your brain works and be much more empowered.
Procrastination makes people feel depressed. When people don’t understand why they are doing it, they say things to themselves like, “I’m lazy” or “I don’t finish things”...and I know from experience is that is not true. From the point of view of the brain, it’s not because you’re lazy, it’s because of the things they are going to learn in the course. I’m really hoping it will help people have better self-opinions because they don’t deserve to have [negative] thoughts. There’s no need!
This is why it’s so important to have these skills: to be more compassionate with ourselves. To be much more empowered. I want for the whole world to have lives that they look back on and say “heck yeah!” That’s my dream for everyone in the world. I want everyone who learns what I teach them to teach people they know and care about. It’s my mission to see that this information is spread...and that people start to learn an empowered way to make their lives better. And I think, you know, the Procrastination course is another little, tiny chip in that giant goal! [laughs].
Jill McAbe’s newest class, Get Unstuck: Beat Procrastination Once and For All! and her first class, Subconscious Goal Setting for Rapid Results: The MOMA Goal Method now on Skillshare.