We had the good fortune of connecting with Steven Cox and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Steven, can you tell us about a book that has had a meaningful impact on you?
I decided long ago that it’s not enough to make money. There has to be a stronger reason and a bigger purpose. So, for us, we made a commitment to make a positive, lasting difference on those people we serve. We believe education is a great equalizer. The greater access to education through technology raises the global level of satisfaction, opportunity, and mobility. TakeLessons allows us to transform the way people learn, connect, and grow so that they are empower people to live more meaningful lives. In doing so, we help talented educators earn a better living doing what they love.
What should our readers know about your business?
TakeLessons was started in a spare bedroom, overlooking Mission Beach San Diego. We started with the idea that we can help artists and educators make a better living doing what they love to do by helping them connect with students around the world that want to learn from them. Over the past decade, educators have used to the platform to give millions of lessons to hundreds of thousands of students in over 300 teaching subjects – and TakeLessons has helped teachers earn hundreds of millions of dollars in extra income. It’s also cool to see the diversity of subjects people learn: from singing to sign language, from Excel training to Spanish, from chess to horseback riding, and from calculus tutoring to learning to DJ. Early on, the journey was difficult and frankly, we almost died several times, but we were determined to make it through – no matter what – failure wasn’t an option – and that sort of mentality is what helped push us through the hard times and keep improving the product. NEW PRODUCT ANNOUNCEMENT Check out our newest product called TakeLessons Live (https://TakeLessons.com/live). The program offers you unlimited LIVE classes across several subjects – all for under $20 a month. The biggest lessons I learned along the way: 1. Don’t believe your own hype. Early on, you have to force growth from nothing, and that takes an incredible amount of will and belief. But it’s important that the entrepreneur balances their optimism with a healthy does of realism. Never be afraid to look at the numbers, or to do customer interviews, and hear all the ways you’re screwing up. By listening and looking at the real data, it allows you to make better decisions. 2. Find people who play at things you have to work at. We all have our strengths, and we all have weaknesses. Instead of trying to fix your weaknesses, find someone who excels in that task and save your energy and time for the areas within the business you are best suited for. 3. Fire faster than you think you should. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made is keeping people in roles longer than what I should have. They were doing OK, but not great. And I let the fear of not finding someone at the persons level keep me from replacing “ok” performance. Don’t make that same mistake. Know what excellence looks like, and require it. Or move on. Fast Facts about TakeLessons – Each year, over 25 million people use TakeLessons – Our top instructors have earned over $500,000 in income – Our most popular subject is Singing – We have Grammy-winning artists, best-selling authors, and top educators giving lessons on our site – We’ve had students from 58 countries – Our Company office is in Little Italy
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Food/Drinks Right now, I’m all about Little Italy. Ballast Point Tasting Room. This is a beer drinker’s utopia. Featuring dozens of beers on tap from San Diego brewer, Ballast Point, this place has a kicked-back vibe and a welcoming feel. Café Gratitude. Are you a vegan / vegetarian (or want to be for a day)? Come over to this zen-like restaurant where you get full flavor without the guilt. I’ve eaten here many times and love it! Craft and Commerce. This is a must see. Awesome food. Eclectic décor. Fine cocktails. And they don’t serve ketchup. My favorite part of C&C is that when you go to the restroom, they have a recording playing where they read you (in a proper UK English accent) all of the negative Yelp reviews they’ve had. Places to go – See The Sunset At La Jolla Cove. It’s hard not to be a sunset San Diego lover when you live in the land of sunset dreams! Even if you are alone and want to treat yourself with a good book, the sunset can be your best friend at La Jolla Cove – which is an amazing place and one of the most popular natural settings in the world. – Hike Torrey Pines – Take your dog and go walk in Balboa Park
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to recognize a local San Diego thought leader – John Assaraf. John is on the forefront of evidence-based self growth. His company, Neurogym, teaches people the foundational elements of how to grow a successful business and lead a successful life. He’s certainly helped me and I recommend others check him out.