Andrew Lawson

Andrew is the founder of Just Ninety, a training courseware business based in Canberra, Australia.

Andrew has over 20-years’ experience as a professional trainer and facilitator, and through Just Ninety he helps trainers and learning and development (L&D) professionals to shorten the design time for online course creation by providing pre-designed 90-minute training modules.

Andrew’s vision is to see trainers enjoying more work-life balance. The white-label training courses provided by Just Ninety can be re-brand within a matter of minutes, which represents a huge time and cost saving for trainers and L&D professionals.

What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?

I split my time between two businesses, so I have plenty of variety. On any given day I could be delivering 90-minute training sessions, or designing new training programs, or in meetings with clients, or working on marketing activities. To stay productive, I identify my top 3 to 5 priorities for each day and ensure my calendar mirrors these commitments. This practice helps me to stay focused on what matters most, at least “98 and 3/4 percent” of the time to quote Dr Seuss.

How do you bring ideas to life?

For me quiet time is essential. This helps create the space for me to develop and then play with ideas.

Once I feel that the idea is heading somewhere, I then undertake research to help test and shape the idea further.

Next, I use trusted colleagues as a sounding board for the idea. These insights from others as invaluable. Plus, it is always better bouncing ideas around with others.

What’s one trend that excites you?

As a professional trainer, one trend that excites me is the rise of live virtual training. This rose during the pandemic, and I am noticing that the demand for it has remained. I really love the professional challenge of creating engaging, fun, and practical online training sessions.

Live virtual training is also a huge time saving for trainers who otherwise travel for work, so this helps work-life balance.

What is one habit that helps you be productive?

I write a to do list at the end of each day. This really helps define my intentions for the next day. When I arrive the next day, my first action is pre-programmed, so I am ready to go,

What advice would you give your younger self?

Protect the asset! Take it from someone that needed a health scare to teach them the value of that. It is important to find your routines for sleep, exercise, nutrition, and relaxation. These are critical in looking after yourself.

Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you.

Living on houseboats is a great solution to the housing crises. Think about it for a moment, it would be an awesome lifestyle! But, plenty of people have objections around the idea.

What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?

Focus on learning and growing! You will experience hard times and tough situations. So rather than panicking (OK maybe I panic a bit), I focus instead on how you can learn and grow through whatever you are facing. This mindset has always helped me.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?

Go for a walk around the block, I love walking. Then I write my to-do list again – my top 3 to 5 priorities. It is amazing how this practice helps reenergise and refocus.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?

A key strategy has been to define the different market segments for the training materials I sell. For example, my initial focus was on other trainers like me. After doing some market research, I learned that corporates, government, universities, and non-profit organisations were all potential clients. So now I sell to organisations that have internal learning and development teams, such as corporates, government organisations, and universities.

What is one failure in your career, how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?

One challenge was trying to get the right business support, so I could market Just Ninety.

I approached a marketing company based on a personal recommendation and parted with about $15,000. This involved creating marketing plans and building a sales funnel system.

Part of the method worked, and we were able to get in leads. But those leads didn’t convert into phone calls or bookings. So, the second part of the method didn’t work for my clientele. This issue was raised this with them numerous times along the way, and inevitably, the lack of results meant ending the relationship.

So that was a lesson learned along the way. If it’s not working, you’ve got to call it and part ways. Also be wary of people who are happy to take your money and not deliver.

The experience in many ways was a failure because $15,000 was invested for zero return. “Taken for a ride” is probably the best description of how I felt about the whole experience.

Right now, I am searching for a digital agency to work with.

What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Back to my crazy houseboat idea! The whole idea is worth exploring further. One thing we learnt from the pandemic was that people want a choice around where they live and work. The hybrid workforce is now the norm. So, living on houseboats is a more cost-effective choice than buying a house in some countries right now. Plus, the lifestyle would be amazing. Opportunity includes sea legs, eye patches, and a free parrott…investors great ready!

What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

I use the Things 3 App to write my daily to-do list. This app also helps keep my master to do lists for different businesses and projects.

What is the best $100 you recently spent?

Taking my kids Mother’s Day shopping. We had a set budget of $100 and a goal to find two thoughtful gifts for Mum.

Do you have a favorite book or podcast from which you’ve received much value?

Essentialism changed my mindset from aiming to get more done in less time (the old way) to getting less done and only focusing on the right things. It helped me to make better choices around channelling my time, energy, and effort towards the goals and activities that really matter most. A highly recommended read!

What’s a movie or series you recently enjoyed and why?

I love the TV show “The Mandalorian”. The show highlighted the importance of relationships and keeping your word. Two hallmark traits of Mando, and essentials in business.

Key learnings:

  • Focus only on the essential priorities, the things that truly matter.
  • Know your target market(s) and find the right business support.
  • Focus on how you can learn and grow through whatever you are facing.
  • Protect the asset! Find your routines and look after yourself.