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Nicholeen started Teaching Self-Government in 2008. They detail the beginnings of their company in their Starter Story interview: 
Q: How did you get started on Teaching Self-Government?
My main focus has always been my family. Back in 1999, my family needed my help. My husband changed careers and had to go back to school. We had two small children at the time and I had worked really hard to leave my career to raise them. But, we needed money. So, I wondered, how can I be there for my children and help financially support my family too? I know, so many parents find themselves wondering this question at times. We always want to put our families first. Well, I felt very strongly that the solution to my question was to take in troubled youth by doing treatment foster care.
No sooner did I start doing foster care for youth ages 12-18, then people started asking me what was happening at my house. They wanted to know how these rough-looking teens were becoming so happy and secure so quickly. I told people I was teaching the foster children in my home how to govern themselves. This intrigued people. At this point, people started asking me to speak at support groups and to church groups about some of the self-government skills I was using. I assumed this would be short-lived, but it never stopped. In fact, more invitations came in for me to speak at larger events all the time, and now the people were asking for follow up training. They kept asking, “where is your book?”
I never saw myself as a writer, and the truth is told, I was really busy at this point. Now I was homeschooling my own children and doing foster care. Life felt too busy to write a book. By the time we were blessed with our third child, I felt it was time to stop doing foster care and focus on my own family exclusively for a while. Besides, my husband’s new career was off and running. I wrongly assumed again that all these speaking invitations would stop. But, in 6 years I got a really big invitation. The BBC television company in Britain contacted our family and asked us to be on a television show called, “The World’s Strictest Parents.” We told them “no” initially, but soon felt like we really should do the show if it could help families become happier. So, we did. Here is a link to the program.
The BBC program was a big success and became their, “most-watched episode ever.” At this point, I felt my own urge to write that book people had been begging for and that I had been working on here and there. So, in a matter of 2 months, I wrote the book, got a website, and turned my business into the “real deal.” This all happened in 2009. In 2008 I had officially made a business called Teaching Self-Government because I had made an audio seminar to allow people to buy since I didn’t have a book yet. The seminar was selling well, and it was clearly time for the book by 2009.
After the BBC show aired I was inundated with requests for interviews, articles, training, and speaking engagements. It was clear that the world was craving to have the calmness they witnessed on our program at their homes too. After a while, I asked my web developer to take over some of the business of Teaching Self-Government LLC [TSG] so that I could dedicate more time to family. In my spare time, I turned out a children’s book set, other parenting resources and books, and online as well as live training courses.
The first book and every book after was paid for by pre-sales. Probably one of the best things I did to ensure the success of my mission [business] was to gather emails everywhere I went. I built a following of families who were interested in the training I had to offer. These people all told their friends and family about the teachings I was giving and before I knew it I had 10,000 people on a database.
I have a lot more people I communicate with now, but that first group was the group who really got things going. I wouldn’t have done TSG for myself. I didn’t want money or fame. I just wanted to help. When it was clear that I was meant for this parenting/family business I put my whole heart into finding what the people need most to strengthen their families.
There has been no shortage of people who have offered to mentor and help me along the way. Sometimes those offers have pushed TSG to the next level. Other times those offers have been distractions. But, I've always been grateful for what I’ve learned from the people who have wanted and believed in the message I have to share with the world about healing families and relationships and finding personal power.
Contributors to this article:
- Pat Walls, Founder @ Starter Story
- Wiki Updater