Ask for Advice, Then Take It! with Dr. Jamie Ball

Dr. Jamie Ball, Ed.D. is a core dissertation faculty member at an online college of education where she serves as a full-time as a professor, dissertation chair, and doctoral research reviewer.  Dr. Ball is a quantitative researcher and owner of a small business that provides research services, dissertation coaching, and editing.

Dr. Ball completed all of her higher education online. Her degrees include a doctorate of education in organizational leadership with emphasis in behavioral health, a master of science in business organizational leadership, and a bachelor of science in entrepreneurship.  Dr. Ball’s experience as an online student greatly informs her teaching and mentoring. She also leverages the platform provided by her doctoral degree to advocate for social issues including abused and neglected children.

Dr. Ball maintains a small hobby farm and assists in running her husband’s small business.  She has conducted research to help identify business opportunities for others and taught others how to utilize peer-reviewed research articles to aid in their decision-making processes.



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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Getting your doctoral degree so they’ll take you seriously
  • Learning to write, again
  • How doctoral students are like Olympic athletes
  • Baking a chocolate cake and an instant roadmap for your dissertation
  • Refusing support: you don’t know what you’re talking about
  • Three major dissertation stumbling blocks
  • Three letters that change despondency to optimism
  • The transition to doctor

In this episode…

In this episode of An Unconventional Life, Dr. Jamie Ball and Dr. Russell Strickland compare doctoral students to bakers and Olympic athletes. Dr. Ball covers the types of advice students often request and what happens they refuse to follow it! She also share three major dissertation stumbling blocks that you want to be sure to avoid. Dr. Strickland reveals the most important three letters you’ll ever encounter…and they’re NOT Ph.D.

Discover how to make your transition to doctor, from a couple of experts who made the transition themselves, and then helped hundreds of other students to do the same thing!

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Dissertation Done, America’s #1 authority in dissertation completion for working professionals.

Founded by Dr. Russell Strickland, Dissertation Done serves people in two ways:

  1. If you’re struggling with your dissertation, getting ready to start your dissertation, or just plain wanting to get your dissertation done as soon as possible, go to and Let’s Get Your Dissertation Done
  2. If you’re busy living your Unconventional Life and have a message that you want to share, maybe you should join our Expand Your Authority Program to become a published author. Go to and let me know that you’d like to talk about Expanding Your Authority.

Visit to learn more about our other services and leave a message or call them at 888-80-DR-NOW (888-803-7669) to schedule your free 30 to 45-minute phone consultation.

Episode Transcript

Disclaimer: This transcript is here for your reading convenience. It was created by machines and may (a-hem) contain some errors. If you email us about these errors, the machines will undoubtedly find out. I hope they won’t get angry.


Intro [00:00:03] Welcome to An Unconventional Life, a podcast where we share stories about the crazy one percent out there who earned their doctoral degrees and then went on to use them in crazy, cool, unique and unconventional ways. Here’s your host, astrophysicist turned teacher, author, dissertation coach and more, Dr. Russell Strickland.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:00:28] Hello and welcome to an unconventional life on your host, Dr. Russell Stricklin and I have with me today Dr. Jamie Ball. Dr. Ball, I can’t wait to have this conversation with her. She is a kind of an unconventional doctoral student who earned her doctoral degree and then went into this kind of traditional academia career path so she could be your dissertation chair. She’s she’s going to be able to talk about that. She does some research right now. So she’ll be able to still empathize with those of you who are going through that for your dissertation. Some other interesting things. She mentioned teaching English as a foreign language before. We’re going to talk a little bit about that. We’ve had another one of our guests that’s done that in the past, which I think is really cool. And she also has a little bit of an entrepreneurial bent, which you guys know around here I really love. So can’t wait to introduce you to the Dr. Jamie Ball and and get this thing rolling. But first, this episode is brought to you by Dissertation Done. If you are a doctoral student who is about to start on the dissertation, you do yourself a favor and proactively go out there and get some support, whether it’s through us here at Dissertation Done or not, if you’d like to get your dissertation, done, go to And we can see about getting you hooked up with our Fast-Track Your Dissertation coaching program. We save our students a good year or two on their time to graduation, get folks graduate a lot sooner than they thought they could. And so you should do that whether you are about to get started on your dissertation, you have started on your dissertation or you’re struggling and you feel like you’re about at your wits end and ready to quit your dissertation, reach out to us first at And if you’re an expert out there and you want to expand your authority, you want to let more people know about your area of expertise there is hands down. No better way to do that than being by being a published author and literally writing the book on your area of expertise. We take folks from a blank page to a published book and we handle all the editing, publishing, that sort of thing for you. So it’s a great program. Reach out to us a if you would like to get started on that process. So enough of that for now. Dr. Jamie, thank you so much for being with us. Welcome.


Dr. Jamie Ball [00:02:38] Hi. Thank you.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:02:40] All right. Well, we were having a little bit of a conversation before we got started, and it’s very interesting that I’m sure folks are going to want to hear all about stories that you have about working with dissertation students currently. But before we get there, tell me a little bit about how you got into a doctoral program and what motivated you to to make that decision.


Dr. Jamie Ball [00:03:07] What motivated me to me, the was being disrespected by local politicians when I tried to become active. I was younger then.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:03:20] Weren’t we all?


Dr. Jamie Ball [00:03:20] Yes. But they they didn’t care what I said, treated me like a dumb blond, patted me on the rump and off I went, you know, and I you know what? I am going to make you respect me by becoming an expert.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:03:37] That is awesome. I read that Shaquille O’Neal basketball player did the same thing. I’m not sure about the pat on the rump and the the the blond hair. But, yeah, he said that he was dumb jock basically playing basketball and knew that there was going to be a career after basketball. He wanted to be respected by people when he wanted to go into a business deal. And so he went out and got a doctoral degree. So I we have to respect him and kudos to him for that. So, yeah, that’s that’s a very cool. You get something you have in common with a seven foot one. Shaquille O’Neal. Wow.


Dr. Jamie Ball [00:04:15] I’m in good company.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:04:17] No doubt. So you were you were trying to move ahead in your career, being disrespected, decided? Well, once I have this credential, you’ll have to listen. And how did that work out? Did you find out that people received differently.


Dr. Jamie Ball [00:04:38] In some cases, yes, it does depend on how you interact with the government on any level, on the level that you’re interacting with, when you’re interacting with the average person like you and me who go to work every day. Do you everything that you’re supposed to do? They did treat me with respect. But when you started that with leaders in the state, at the state level, I haven’t gone beyond that. They started to become affluent and they care. And those were the ones of me coming back. But interacting with with social workers and people at the county level and things like that. Now, that was very different. They did treat me with respect, my opinion and my evidence. And I think it was even appreciated as I encourage others.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:05:42] That’s good. That’s good. All right. So let’s let’s take a take a step back. This is why you decided to get into the doctoral program. What was it like when you first enrolled in your doctoral program in compare that doctoral class experience with your master’s degree or university college?


Dr. Jamie Ball [00:06:01] Sure. The first thing I encountered was difficulty writing at the scholarly level, which was shocking to me because I’ve always been well written. So I had a little difficulty understanding. They kept saying, you need to find your academic voice, you need to find my voice. And I have a couple of professors. But I was surprised you didn’t have it to start with a couple of patient professors and once a mastered that that seemed to get much better.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:06:41] Well, that’s good. That’s good. Yeah. This a lot of us, by the time you get to your doctoral degree program as an adult, you spent a lot of time in business in one way or the other, whether you’re working in a corporation, whether you hang out your own shingle or whatever it is. And that writing, although formal, is is very, very different from academic writing. So it does take a little bit of getting used to just like another dialect. It’s still English, but also different.


Dr. Jamie Ball [00:07:12] There were times I would joke and I would read a sentence and say to everybody that came out of my mouth that.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:07:21] So so once you felt a little more comfortable about the writing, how did the classes go at that point?


Dr. Jamie Ball [00:07:29] For the most part, classes went well until until I hit the Asian phase where I had discovered that I was not adequately prepared through coursework to conduct research. So much of my learning was accomplished independently. I, for example, never had a stats class. It’s just that since then.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:08:00] Yeah, because usually you have one or two, right, because we talked to doctoral students all the time, we always I know you’re a quant person, so I’m sure you’re going to I’m not sure, but I think you’ll agree with me. I recommend that everybody undertake a quantitative dissertation. I mean that because. Interviewing a bunch of people might sound like it’s easier than doing the math, but the thing is, you’ve got to spend your time talking to each one of those people. And right now, we’re still in this sort of covid pandemic locked down kind of time frame. So universities and communities have gotten a lot more casual about letting folks conduct those interviews in an appropriately socially distance way, which means like through Zoom, basically.Before this COVID Zoom was was allowed, but it was not looked upon favorably.


Dr. Jamie Ball [00:08:56] It was frowned upon.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:08:57] Absolutely. And the reason for that, it’s it’s a good reason. And the closer you are to someone in terms of your mode of communication, more intimate, the mode of communication, the better, more rich responses you get from them. They’re more invested. They trust you more. They get to see your body language. And so they get that they’re going to pick up on cues that you’re interested and they’ll keep talking. But also, you’ve both invested some time and energy to get to the same spot in the world at the same time. And and believe it or not, that level of commitment creates a lot of value on the back end. So that’s always the way people want to do it. Before this, I don’t know if we get back to that after the lockdown or people will if this will be one of those things that will change, become the new normal. But it’s a lot of commitment, a lot of time to do that. And then once it’s time to analyze the data, well, you’ve got to do all that yourself. There’s tools that make it easier for you to do it, but you’re doing it. The tools aren’t doing it. If the quantitative route and the tool does the work, you just have to understand what it did. Yes. So that’s my take. I don’t know. What do you think?


Dr. Jamie Ball [00:10:13] Oh, I absolutely agree with you. Qualitative. It’s a lot longer. There’s more difficulties analyzing the data. I have a little bit of work that way, but I also love the instant epiphany from the quant, from the quantitative work. I run my statistics. It takes a couple of minutes. I look at the graphs and tables and things and I go, Oh, have my light bulb moment.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:10:44] And sometimes you’re you’re absolutely right. That’s that. It is. You see a relationship you didn’t know was there if you were doing some sort of exploratory work for most of our doctoral students. We don’t want you doing exploratory work. We want you to have a very specific sort of hypothesis. It’s just a question and you get the answer. And and we tell our students it doesn’t matter if it’s yes no or maybe so. You write it down and you move on. You just justify it and you back it up and then you keep going. So a lot easier to tell folks, hey, go without bothering me. Go spend 15 minutes on the survey, hit the button, it’ll show up in my data file. I’ll hit another button and I’ll get the answer. That’s what these folks do with qualitative, you know. Anyway, so you take these classes and you get to the dissertation phase, like you said, you feel a little bit unprepared as you walk into that moment. You know, I have a background in physics and math and things like that. And Nobel Prize winning physicist wrote in his biography, his name was Richard Feynman, that scientists tend to think that. The next generation of scientists will learn science just kind of by osmosis, by being around science, we don’t really teach science. I mean, the fourth grade, they talk about a scientific method, does things. I mean, ultimately, you want to make sure it all works at the right, but it’s a real messy business. And then at the end, you come back and you say, OK, let’s do the test, OK, it works. So but this notion of trying things and failing and trying something else and figuring it out is something that we just we don’t really teach. We just kind of do somehow. And I think the dissertation as well that everybody just thinks, you know, if you just jump in with both feet, you’ll figure it out. And it’s unfortunate that committees either can’t in some cases or don’t in most cases really tell students how to get their dissertation done.


Dr. Jamie Ball [00:12:52] That’s right. It’s a very common problem. And the chair’s duties there are very important and you get such a wide variety of what they believe in, where some teachers are like, get out. This is independent learning. Do you? And you can have a teacher that does a little bit of teaching, you know, and you don’t know what you’re going to end up with most of the time. And that relationship between the student and the committee is so important and you never want to look at your chair and say, I’m unhappy with you.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:13:34] You have to be very careful about how you say it, because you do have to say that at some point if the situation warrants. But it is hard to complain to someone who ultimately decides whether you’re going to graduate or.


Dr. Jamie Ball [00:13:45] Yes, yes, you have to be very artful when you until a certain point.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:13:50] And then, of course, a little inside baseball you work with at the university level. Now, you you advise and teach people and sit on dissertation committees. I’ve done that in the past. The fact of the matter is that most universities, the responsibility that they give dissertation chairs is to sort of grade the manuscript, grade the draft as you go through and act as a little bit of a secretary transferring work back and forth and and letting someone know about deadlines, but only to the most. At the highest level, I mean, we’re not talking about breaking things down and giving you homework, right. Which is what we actually do at this rotation, does we kind of like tell you this is what you need to do this week and this is what you need to do next week to make sure that you’re moving forward. But for the most part, they’ll let you know that, hey, something has got to be turned into me by the end of the quarter or else you get a failing grade for this course because universities always have you in a course, even when you’re working on your dissertation and and that’s about it. That’s what. If a if a dissertation chair is doing his job or her job as set up by the job requirements, job description, they’re not necessarily teaching and they’re not going out and stewarding it and advising. They’re just telling you what you did wrong and and maybe telling you when you should be doing something else.


Dr. Jamie Ball [00:15:18] Yes. A lot of the phenomenon of reading the mind. Mm hmm. Yeah. When you hire a coach such as yourself, the guesswork is taken out of it. You know, now you have the actual assistance and something with the experience to help you through the process. Well, I’m going to go through.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:15:44] A lot of the guesswork. I mean, we’re still guessing sometimes what a committee member wants, but but we’ve seen a lot and are better guessers than most students. That’s true. But but, yeah, it’s like I tell folks all the time, if you ever watch the Olympics, the Summer Olympics, when you see the diving or gymnastics or the Winter Olympics with the figure skating at the end of the event, we don’t have a time or a measurement or something like that. We have scores that go across the bottom of the screen and all these world class judges watching world, a world class athlete do a world class exhibition, can’t figure out what they just saw in the scores are never the same. They’re usually close, but they’re never the same, and that’s exactly what happens with your dissertation, you get people who know what they’re talking about. You’ve seen a lot of dissertations and they look at it and they all disagree about what they saw and the level they agree 80, 80 to 90 percent. They agree on whether individual elements are good or bad. But that 10 to 15 percent, 10 to 20 percent drives doctoral students crazy.


Dr. Jamie Ball [00:16:55] Yes, I always tell the students that there’s more than one way to accomplish the research on more than one way to skin a cat. And now you’ve got to defend your way. And everybody’s going to have a different idea about what the best way is.A


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:17:10] and so I think the best way is whatever your committee tells you. Yes. Don’t argue about it. Get it done. A lot of folks like to think that it’s their dissertation. It’s really it is dissertation. When they’re happy with it, you graduate and you don’t ever have to see them again. You can go off and do your work and you don’t have to get permission from anyone to do it anymore. You’re you’re able you have that doctoral degree now and you’re qualified to do your own research at that point.


Dr. Jamie Ball [00:17:40] Yes. And that’s the best part of.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:17:47] Speaking of which. Well, let’s let’s let’s go back to the dissertation for a moment. You mentioned that, you know, you struggle a little bit with the doctoral classes in finding your voice and then with the dissertation getting some of those just the background, the statistics and so forth. Once you got into the dissertation, how would you describe the experience from there? Were there any specific challenges that you faced?


Dr. Jamie Ball [00:18:08] Oh, my. There were a lot of challenges. At my school and I went online, they developed a quality quality control mechanism, so to speak, and they would assign a quality you are that could trump your committee, for starters. Yeah, many of them. They didn’t care if they were an expert on your topic or who are in your method or design. And I received a person who was researching was experienced in higher education. And I was studying something ex post facto with urban elementary school students who didn’t have the knowledge needed for ethics regarding the treatment of that population was qualitative. I was quantitative. And it led to I at one point my chair got into it with her and the fight went all the way to the dean.


Dr. Russell Strickland [00:19:21] Well, good for you having a chair. Who will do that? Because I think that that is rare for universities that have those mechanisms set up. I think that too often the quality control person forgets what their job is. They’re not actually a member of the committee. They’re just trying to make sure that you’ve got like a proper dissertation, not a coloring book that’s going through this process. If the committee all gets together and decides we’re going to we’re going to put this crazy thing through, you need somebody saying, no, no, no. That doesn’t work? But they’re not on your committee. They’re not guiding the work. They’re not designing the work. They’re just saying, OK, this is what you want to do. That’s fine. I had a similar situation when I was a dissertation chair where I had a person who was a quality control type person and thought that it was his job to rewrite the methodology and then change the research questions and all this sort of thing, which people in the committee could do that. But if you’re not on the committee, you just look at what we’re giving you and say there’s something really wrong with it. That’s one thing. But so I when you talk about getting into it with him, I found out what is got got from the program directors phone number and actually called them up and said, hey, this is what’s going on with this project. I’d like to walk you through why we’re making some of these decisions and see what we can do to come together on this that conversation. I can’t remember how many minutes it lasted, but he was very adamant and sure that he wasn’t going to let anything go unless it was done his way. And at some point he got frustrated and said, well, if you don’t care if it’s done right or not, that I’ll sign off on it. And the word but was going to come out of his mouth. I knew that. But as he was saying that, I could see where it was going. And as soon as he said that, I said, that would be great. Thank you. And it just it was like in fourth gear and all of a sudden the transmission dropped out of the car is like I was still going. I was like, no, I.

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Dr. Russell W. Strickland

RUSSELL STRICKLAND, Ph.D., has been referred to as a “rocket scientist turned management consultant.” In truth, he applies an eclectic body of work from astronomy and nuclear physics to dynamic inventory management to market research to each of his student engagements.