Marketing & life lessons from Masterclass courses

Back at the end of 2017, I wanted to figure out how to build a learning platform for the company I work for (Hotjar). I signed up to a bunch of e-learning services such as Skillshare, Masterclass, Udemy, etc. to see how their courses get organised, packaged, and shipped content- and tech-wise.

Although my reason for signing up had nothing to do with actually taking courses, I ended up staying on and getting an all-access pass for Masterclass, which promises—and delivers!—lessons “taught by the world’s greatest minds”:

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Work-related note: in our field (content, marketing, UX) we tend to gravitate towards courses that are directly and obviously applicable to what we do for a living. At least, that’s what I’d been doing. Turns out one can learn tons about being a better marketer or UX person by watching someone discuss how they built a fashion empire or explain how they published 300+ books, too.

This page is an ongoing list of takeaways from the courses I’ve been taking.


Diane von Furstenberg: Building a fashion brand 

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1. The clearer you are about your intention and what you’d like to achieve, the more likely you are to achieve it.

2. There is no better way to learn than by doing.

3. Moodboards help to hone your vision. They are a unifying tool to ensure that every step is consistent in goal, messaging, imaging, and brand voice.

4. Your product needs a unique identity, a reason-to-be → just like a person, it needs traits and a personality, a value of its own.

5. Connecting with the consumer in principle and in reality is the most important thing: who are they?, what do they do?, are the people buying your product the ones you imagined would buy it?


R.L. Stine: Writing for YA

1. Fully fleshed outlines allow you to stay in control of the narrative, therefore taking the pressure off the writing. Drafting an outline is likely the most difficult part of writing the article/book—but by having one, you have a complete roadmap of the beginning/middle/end points of your content, you can be relaxed and confident about the direction you’re taking, and even enjoy the writing process.

2. Everyone has bad writing days: as much as you can, push through and get something, anything, on the page anyway. There will be many revisions to go through before you’re done, so just keep moving forward and enjoy the process.

3. A mechanical, repeatable process for [writing] [outlining] [revising] [etc.] is the key to success and to beating writer’s block.

4. The craft of telling a story, creating content, etc. is “a matter of tapping into people’s inherent desire to know what happens next.”

5. Say YES to writing opportunities that don’t initially strike you as interesting. As you work to figure them out, you might discover an unexpected affinity for a type of content you’d never previously tackled, and even make a career out of it.


Helen Mirren: Acting 

1. Learn to practice self-acceptance: “embrace your individuality and physical body. Own who you are—don’t fight against it—and don’t compare yourself to others.”

2. When working with a team on a project, showcase your willingness and ability to take direction and to try things even if you don’t think they’re going to pan out. This will let the rest of the team know that you can listen, you’re not stuck in your own way of doing things, and you know how to incorporate suggestions.

3. Do your prep and ask focused questions that prove you’ve been thinking about the [piece], [character], [topic], etc. you are working on.

4. It’s never too early or too late to ask for feedback and support: regardless of where you are in your [acting] career, it’s perfectly normal to have temporary creative blocks—and they can be solved by turning to your colleagues for help.

5. “To give your best performance, find a way to shut out the distractions and stay grounded in your own personal process.”