Mar 10 • 35M

3/9/23 Staying Busy

 
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Nikema
The PopSchools Story from Nikema’s perspective
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 Hey, this is Nikema Prophet. I am... don't know if you can hear my kids in the background, but someone was just screaming. This is for the Substack.

I have some news to share. So this Substack, I think it's called Nikema Prophet Founder, and I started it when I was still focusing on getting my PopSchools company up and running. I think I kind of let it go pretty much completely while I looked for a job and I got my tech job making tech money. I worked there a little over a year.

I never reached that like financial stability feeling before I left and didn't work again for six or seven months, something like that. Now I am at my second tech job. I've been there almost a year. It'll be a year next month on the fourth. Yeah, my starting date was April. and I'm starting to be in a better place and I'm starting to be in a place where past Nikema said when you are settled, when you are able to take care of yourself, then you can think about running a business, running your business.

And there are things happening locally, like in my city in my neighborhood actually, where we're looking at a space to, to do well, we're looking at a space that my sister and I would share for business use. And my sister is a skater, like roller skater. She skates, she teaches skating, she skates outdoors.

So she's pretty much into the skate life. Um, Before I kind of abandoned my company to go seek employment, I wanted to open up an age inclusive co-working space.

I imagine that to look like a place where we would have a homeschool and afterschool program, but also a co-working space for the parents of those students who, would be using the space for their educational and social purposes. It was pretty much something that I put out of my mind because physical space unlike, podcasting or, content creation, that means paying on a lease. Like it means having a space. Usually you have to pay for a physical space and it's not so simple to just set up shop when you're dealing in the physical world. So it was kind of something

I pushed way out of my mind as a possibility because I'm like, when will I ever, when will I ever have enough money or resources to seriously pursue opening a space that could accommodate my business idea? But now it's looking like we found a space that my sister and I can share and it's triggering some things because this space is huge, like gigantic.

It's 7,500 square feet which is larger than I think I had imagined a first place would be, but it used to be a dance studio. And I like to talk about my past life. I was a dancer. Walking into this huge space with mirrored walls and like this beautiful wooden floor, it brings back something

okay. So just had to help a kid find something. But past life I was a dancer. This place has a past life as a dance studio and like the whole thing is set up as dance studios. There are like four different rooms that are mirrored and floored for dancing. And it turns out that this space, that would, that is great for dancing cuz that's what was done before, is also great for skating.

And I've been feeling really weird about it because it's looking like we're going to have the help and support of my mother, cuz my mother is the, would be the person with, the credit worthiness, and the assets to be able to sign a lease for a place like this. So it's looking like she's excited too.

And a lot would depend on what she's able to do. But I am feeling weird about it because this is feeling like something might actually be happening right now, and it's something that I haven't allowed myself to believe can happen. And I've been very much in short-term, short-term thinking I just really need to get to the next day, the next month pay off the next bill.

And now that there's this opening where it seems like, hey, that business idea that you really wanted to do, like it's maybe possible now and that feels weird. And now it feels like, hey, do I even still want to do that? And I'm thinking, no. Like I'm thinking, oh my gosh, I don't know if you hear that. We'll see when I play it back.

I'm thinking, no, I don't exactly want to do what I wanted to do in 2019 or 2018 when my kids were little and I was homeschooling and I didn't have a job and I wanted a job. My whole situation is so different right now. Like my kids are not homeschooled anymore. They're both in some type of school environment.

My son, in a hybrid independent study program. So he's in a small school, but it's still a school. And my daughter attends a small high school. So the homeschool social... this like social gathering spot for homeschoolers. That is, I'm sure still a need, not still a need for me so much because one of the biggest hurdles back then was that my kids were so young that options for things to do pretty much included classes like maybe a ballet class or TaeKwonDo or gymnastics or some other class directed at homeschoolers.

So it's like classes or pretty much if that's it. Like what, where else do kids go or can they go when they are at the, 8, 9, 10, 11 age group? So there was this huge hole to me where it's okay, I've got these kids, they're not in school, and school does a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to

kids getting a chance to be kids around other kids. But school, as some teachers would've told us back in the day, is not for socialization. So where do kids go, especially when they're not in school to socialize if they're homeschooled, and even if they're not, if they're not in a school or class environment like

where can kids go And just like it's okay for them to be there. They're welcome there. They have like their own thing going for them there. There's not really anything. So I was wanting to create that and wanting it for my own family. So now my own family is in a totally different place and yeah, my kids don't need...

Yeah, I don't know. My family's in a different place now. And my motivation of course, is different now because it's different when you have, a splinter . When you have a splinter in your finger, you wanna take the splinter out. So the splinter has worked its way out. It's not that constant bugging me that there's this thing that I need to take care of that

I can't. I really want to, but I can't take care of it. So do I still have the fire in me to create something that I still think needs to exist? And do I have it in me to fund this and staff it? Because a lot of it before was I'm gonna be doing a lot. Like it's, a lot of it is going to be like my actual labor put into this thing and I have a full-time job now and I don't even know, do I have the bandwidth to facilitate a program like this?

Now I'm just kind talking to you and talking out loud, talking to myself. But I think what needs to happen is I need to take it all the way back to the beginning of what I was learning about startups, right? And the idea of an MVP. So what I'm thinking is, I'm thinking too big. And I'm also thinking that this space that we will possibly get into, we'll see it's very well suited right now for the skate stuff that my sister will be doing.

I'm trying to see what would like a PopSchools instance look like in this space? Like the actual, like where would things actually be happening? Where would I have like groups of people, like I'm trying to like visualize, but I think I need to just really scale way, way back because my sister has this business.

She's already doing it. She's doing it in parks. Yeah, skate parks and stuff. She's already teaching. Um, she could slide right in. If we get the lease, she can start teaching right away, start skating right away. But for a PopSchools instance, I think I need to look at this as if it's not my space and my business.

Back when I was trying to test things out and trying to run pop-ups, which is part of like where the name pop school came from. It was gonna be like pop-up schools, like we would meet in these different temporary spaces because again, I couldn't think, I couldn't fathom having my own space that was like suitable.

So I was thinking of like places where I could, pop up schools. and I think I need to go back to that. Go back to not thinking of this as, oh, I've got 7,500 square feet, but think of it as maybe I can use this skate shop space, not skate shop, but that is part of it too. Maybe I can use this skate space like as a guest, right?

Maybe I can start having a monthly meetup where I test out, yeah, an mvp. Let's invite people let's create an event. See who shows up. See see what I can do with this space when it's not being used as a skate school, cuz it's not gonna be that 24 7, there's only really. To start off is just the family, but she has a network of skaters and people who could teach other things like yoga, Pilates, dance, probably.

But to start off, this space is not gonna be in use, nine to five or like 24 7 or anything like that. So I think it will help me to think of it as, this is not my space, this is her space, but maybe once a month we're gonna start having a PopSchools meetup. And I've even, I'm going back and forth, it's do I even want to like, touch on the kids thing?

Anymore because from my experiences over the past couple of years, I think it's really important that the parents have an opportunity to learn to code if they want to. And that's another thing that freaks me out is could I teach that? Could that be something I lead? And of course I don't have to know everything.

There are free curricula, curricula, curricula, you know what I mean? free curriculum out there. There's so much, there's so many free resources for adults learning how to code. So maybe I don't have to take on like full responsibility for being a teacher, but I do like the idea of creating spaces where parents like myself, like single parents who are with children, in their party, you know, like have children that they are responsible for and that the kids will be present, you know, I think it would be really cool to have some coding classes. Maybe like age inclusive, maybe or yeah, maybe we'll split off, like the tweens will go work on their projects and the adults will have a separate room where they can work on, learning to code and projects regarding that.

I don't know. I think I just, I don't know if I should publish this. This is like a whole stream of consciousness, but I think I'm afraid to identify as a founder again, I think that the level of comfort that I have with you know, I've got this job that is pretty cool, like I've been there almost a year. I don't hate my life having to work every day, like that's a comfort that I haven't known.

And all of the things that were so painful about not having this space that I imagined they're not pains for me anymore. So it's do I care enough? when it's not my pain? I think so. I think I just have to shift it. I think I have to shift to this idea of maybe this isn't primarily about kids in a homeschool program or kids in a afterschool program, but it's primarily about their parents and creating a space where parents can level up and their kids also have a place

that you know, their time is gonna be used in a valuable, beneficial way. At the same time, so if I'm a mom and I have an eight year old and I'm going to start going to these meetups where adults are learning how to code, I can bring my eight year old. Maybe there's a skate lesson happening in the other

room, you know? And we're both there doing things that are valuable. And I know that, my kid is okay, they're just, they're, a room away if anything happens. So I think maybe the solution for me right now is number one, to scale down what I'm trying to do at first. So think of it as, the skate school is letting me use their space for my purpose.

And they're letting me run my experiments there and then start running experiments and go off of the data that I collect to find out what the next step is gonna be. And now that I've talked it out, I do think that, my focus should be on empowering parents and getting other, especially single parents, like giving them an opportunity to level up their skills and have careers where they won't have to, they won't have to

leave their kids in the process. Cuz that was always my big thing, is that I'm a single mom, I'm homeschooling. We had some bad experiences with homeschooling groups and schools where, it wasn't safe. So my big problem was like I was looking for a job for all these years. I wanted to get a job as a programmer.

That's what I was looking for. And I wanted to do it from home because I didn't want to leave my kids with anybody and it wasn't an option to leave them with someone I trusted cuz I didn't trust the schools and like my family, know, everybody was working. Things are so much different now. Like my parents are both retired, I have, I could drop off my kids and leave for hours, for days even, and know that they're okay. I did not have this five years ago, four years ago, three years ago. So yeah, I think Nikema, I think I still wanna be a founder and I think I still have something that needs to be done, like something I need to

fulfill through this company PopSchools. And I think it's just different now. I think it's not the, because it really started out as I wanted to have schools like schools with self-directed education for kids. And that idea just kept morphing to being less and less involved in the educational choices, which I think is a lot of responsibility and not really my lane to be in, to be honest.

And then it really just became about I want a safe place for my kids and I wanna be able to work and I want to be able to work and not have to abandon my kids and not have to put them in school. Look where we are now. My kids are in school and it's working. It's working a lot better now than it was back then when they were homeschooled.

I am not a very good homeschooler or homeschooling parent, let's say. And yeah, I think that's the solution. It's focus on the parents. Because I do feel like I could like, I do still have a little spark, in me to do that. And I think it takes a spark. Like it, it takes me being like on fire about something like I need to

feel strongly and passionately about the thing that I'm doing. And I, if I'm honest with myself, I'm not gonna feel passionately about really being hands-on and facilitating homeschooling opportunities. I think the space when, and if I feel like, I will have a more permanent claim over it, over part of it,

I think the space will be really good. Like it'll be a really good place for neighborhood kids to hang out and that feels a lot lighter. Like a place to hang out that's safe and, good for you , feels a lot lighter of a responsibility than here's where you can get your educational needs met.

And I think I was already headed down that road before, before I really sat down the company and went off to find work. I think I had already figured out that I don't wanna be facilitating a day-to-day schooling program. I think homeschoolers can, we could make classes available. We could, make yeah, bring in people who wanna teach different things and have like open time and space for just Co-working and the kids' version of that, whatever you'd call that without it being like, okay, nine o'clock on Monday is math class, or, unless that was something that, an outside vendor would like, take that slot.

Like I don't want that to be my responsibility. So anyway. Yeah. What will become of PopSchools? Who knows. I just know that it's freaking me out a little bit. Like it's freaking me out to think that I could have the space that I wanted, like I could have the space to try these things that I haven't, couldn't bear to think about trying

because I just felt so under-resourced. So now that resources are flowing or seem to be flowing or opening up for me, I'm scared to pull any kind of trigger. But I was, I had a flash, like I had a flash of inspiration. I was like, I'm a founder. I'm about to raise money to open this space. I had so much, I just, it was like a flash where I was just like I'm in again and I'm gonna see this through.

And then I started to doubt and I started to think do I even want this anymore? I think the answer is I do. I think I do still want it. I think I just have to. again, scale down, do some experiments, tiny bets, start with the meetup.

And I also really wanna support my sister because I think what she has to provide is really important and really beneficial to our whole community. There is no skate shop in Sacramento, like when she wants to go buy try things on and buy equipment, like she has to go out of the city.

So I think it would be like she's certified to teach. It would just be an amazing thing for our community and this particular space has been empty for years and it's huge. It's just perfect for teaching skating and dance and those type of studio classes. And there are some offices. So I'm, when I'm thinking about what would PopSchools do in this space, besides the big, the main like dance studio space, like how would we occupy it?

I'm leaning towards like the offices. But there's four offices, three studios, three or four studios. It's just an amazing space and I think it's a really great space for her use. And I don't know, I wanna be excited and I'm scared , and I'm scared to like actually care and I'm scared to get excited and I'm not sure why.

I feel like I'm going back to

like my dancing days. Like I really wanted more than anything to dance and to be a dancer and to do that as a professional. And I don't think, it was, it's just all inside of me. Like I don't. People, maybe my mom knew, or my parents, but I don't think my teachers or my peers really understood how much dance meant to me.

And I think there's this fear of showing people how much I care. I don't want people to see how much I'm emotionally invested. Maybe, they'll try to rain on my parade or, discourage me or judge me. I don't know. Those are not, those aren't things to be afraid of . But it's still scary.

It's still scary to to be open and honest about how much I care about a thing, because usually when I care a lot. Like it's not just, I don't wanna half- do anything. I don't wanna do anything a little bit like I want to jump all the way in.

I don't know. What do you think, what do you think about coding? See, and I don't even wanna call it a code school, cuz like, what is that? Maybe like a coding club. I don't know, what do you call this? It's called

career technical education, something like that. But I think the main idea I'm going for is this is career training for parents. And at the same time it's a safe and beneficial environment for their kids. Where we're not like treating children, the children of our participants as second class citizens.

Like they are first class, welcome and have their own things to do. that. Necessarily it's not gonna interfere with what the parents are doing, but the parents can have the peace of mind and know that their kids are safe and nearby.

And it's like, is that something that is that just like a personal thing? Like that I need to feel that my kids are safe and nearby because of stuff that's happened where they weren't safe even when they were nearby? I don't know. I guess I should start asking people. I need to start thinking, go back to the beginning of testing, testing ideas and talking to people.

What do they call that? Like customer interviews. Customer valid. See if the solution that I actually want to create, see if there's any demand for that. Cuz it could just be Nikema you're like weird, you're a helicopter parent. You need to know where your kids are all the time and everybody else is fine with their kids just going to school or just

going wherever kids go. I don't know. Where do kids go that isn't school? Yeah, I guess those are things that I can start doing again to go back to the beginning maybe yeah, really go back to the beginning and validate these ideas that I have, and in the meantime, I will support my sister in

getting this space and opening an amazing skate school. So still debating if I'm gonna post this, I think I will. Y'all will be able to speed it up if you want, or, skip it. It's, but yeah, it is what it is. I, there was one thing I wanted to talk. Totally different. Not totally different, but a little bit off this subject.

I was listening to this podcast called what the F No, WTF is on my Mind. And it's Mark Vicente. And the episode was with a clinician. She's talking about The Fs, the flight fight, freeze fawn. And the episode was pretty much focused on the fawn fawning. Is it five Fs? Fight or flight? Freeze.

Fawn. I feel like there's five. but I'm only getting four fight flight freeze fawn. Okay. But anyway, they were talking about the fawning for most of the episode, and then I think I was near the end of the episode, I didn't finish it, but she started talking about how the flight trauma response, right?

Like it's not just physically running, like when you keep yourself busy. You have to always be achieving, like that's a way of a flight trauma response where you're like trying to outrun yeah, use these achievements and busyness to, to, to flee . And I was like, oh my gosh.

Blew my mind because I'm like, that's me. I can't stay still. And I don't know what to do with myself if I don't have something I'm trying to achieve. And that doesn't have to be a bad thing, but I do think it is a trauma response. The perfectionism, the, I have to keep achieving, I have to stay busy.

I have to keep providing value to others. I have to keep producing, doing work of value. Where you're just not able to be content with just being like almost like you have to earn, earn your right to exist. And I say that trying to be super self-aware because one of the things that I like to preach about is that we, we've all paid our price and we've all paid the price to exist and to have the right to thrive in life.

But do I believe that for myself? Do my actions show that? Maybe not.

I don't know. Are you gonna see like PopSchools become something? So right now, actually I didn't mention it. PopSchools is becoming something because I had the first episode of the podcast that is through PopSchools, my company, and it's called the Our Voices Podcast.

And the first episode is Episode zero and it's just me talking about, Hey, I started a podcast and this is what I wanna talk about. And what I wanna talk about is just have people from my community come on and speak with me and tell me stories. And those stories can be about career, tech, but they could also be about

life stuff, what are you working on? What are you hoping for? What was a lesson that you learned that you'd wanna share with other people? So I am doing that through PopSchools. So maybe PopSchools isn't, a physically based business at all. It's, maybe it's gonna be a podcast company.

We'll see where it goes. But that is, it is happening. The first episode happened and I have to get my first guest, so now I have to go start hunting people down because lots of people said, yeah, I'm gonna talk to you. Let's go, let's do the podcast. But now that I'm ready, where are you? Like, where are y'all?

Are we still gonna do this? So now I think I'm gonna have to start like individually inviting people and seeing when they're gonna have time to come on the podcast. So with that, yeah I think I have decided to go ahead and post this because why not? This is my Substack, it is called Nikema Prophet, Founder.

And this is my, contemplating being a founder and what that means in 2023 and what that means for PopSchools and what will the PopSchools of the future look like? I was so close to dissolving this company because it never made me any money. It's, it has only cost me more money than I could afford.

And I got one sponsor for this podcast, and I decided to do one last try, to keep this company alive. So we'll see. We'll see where it takes us. Does it become like full-time podcast? Does it become this career training for parents with a cool kid friendly aspect? We'll see.

But if you made it this far, thanks for listening and I will talk to you later