The Mastermind Beatdown

by Jeff Walker on January 27, 2012

in internet marketing,Mindset,strategy

I was just in one of my high-level mastermind/coaching groups yesterday  (this is a group I pay a lot of money to be in), and we had a real beatdown. You see, there was a guy who was in a “hotseat”….

If you haven’t ever been through something like that, it’s pretty wild – basically one person presents an idea or problem they have in their business… and then the entire group does a big brainstorm about the idea.

If you have the right people in the group, it usually ends up being like a massive shark “feeding frenzy”. You put 20 or 30 really creative entrepreneurs into a room and then you throw a business problem in front of them… well, that’s like putting blood in the water. And don’t accidentally leave any arms dangling over the edge of the boat!

(After all, everyone has more fun solving other people’s problems than working on their own issues.)

In this case, the person was presenting an idea for creating a financial newsletter.

Now if you want to start an information marketing business, well that happens to be a very good market. It’s actually how I started out in this business way back in 1996.

And the person in the hotseat was very smart and very knowledgeable about the topic. He also had a unique perspective on the topic, and a real passion for helping people in this area of their lives.

The only problem with the plan is that, well… there was no plan.

It quickly became apparent that this person in the hotseat had no real knowledge of the information marketing business. He only had a vague idea for getting tens of thousands of followers and then writing a best selling book.

He had no knowledge of the business models in his chosen market. He had no knowledge of exactly who he wanted to sell to, or what they wanted. He had no knowledge of how the business really worked.

(For instance, one of the numbers that you’ll live and die by in that type of business is the renewal rate of your subscribers. And in that market, most of the newsletters are really just lead generation tools for investment advisory services.)

Even worse, this person actually had some capital and was willing to invest a sizable amount of money in this project. So he stands to lose time AND money.

The good news is that he brought this idea to his hotseat… and the idea was not going to survive intact. No freaking way. The other piece of GREAT news is that he was in the hotseat… and he stayed very open to all the coaching. This hotseat literally saved him years of work and tens of thousands of dollars.

Now my behavior in these hotseats is typically to sit back and listen for a while before I weigh in. After all, there were a LOT of really smart people in the room.

But when I finally spoke, this is how I started… with one simple sentence:

“You have to go to school.”

The reality is that information marketing is a profession like any other profession. Just because you have some knowledge, and just because it’s easy to put up a web site… well that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to learn the business.

Now that might sound self-serving since I’m in the business of teaching people about information marketing – but it’s the truth.

And the reality is that I spend a ton of time and money on my own education. I have to. It’s my job.

For example, I’m in the midst of two-weeks of intense learning. Last week I was with my Platinum Mastermind group (30 of my top PLF students) for two days, and then I spent another two days trading coaching days with another high-impact teacher in this market.

That was last week… this week I have two days in a high-level mastermind, and then I’m flying to Austin to attend Ryan Deiss’s conference.

You never stop being a student.

In any case, let’s get back to the mastermind beatdown… the fact is that there are approximately one bazillion other financial newsletters out there. Those folks are ALL more experienced in the business.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t compete… crowded markets are generally crowded because they’re good markets. There’s always room to compete.

But you need to be good and you need to be smart.

You need to study your competition… because at least SOME of them are doing well. And… if you’re doing things right, some of them are going to become your partners.

And the education doesn’t stop with studying your competitors and partners.

You also have to study the business. Back when I started in the dark ages of the mid-90s, there was almost no training available. This business was in its relative infancy.

Nowadays, there is TOO MUCH training available. Much of it sucks or is an outright scam. It’s easy to get blinded by the next pretty butterfly coming along… there is always another system getting promoted.

(Sometimes I’m the person promoting it. :-) )

But that doesn’t change this fact: there is a HUGE amount of really great training available. Whatever you want to do in this business… someone else has figured it out. And there is almost always someone who is willing to teach or train you about it.

It’s an incredible business, but one of the costs for great success is that you have to stay on top of your game.

You have to go to school.

And you’re going to have to keep going back to school.

Article by Jeff Walker

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{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jamak January 27, 2012 at 8:47 AM

Great article Jeff. I have found that there has to be a balance of education and implementation. Too many people just buy training and move on to the next one before taking action. I have fallen guilty of that many times myself. But yes life-long training is a must. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

2 Shaun January 27, 2012 at 8:52 AM

I love this, Jeff. Only the dead have stopped learning.
-Shaun

3 Jim Judy January 27, 2012 at 8:56 AM

Good post Jeff. Our mutual friend Will H. told me being in your mastermind group was the best money he’s ever spent on his business.

4 andrew January 27, 2012 at 9:01 AM

Some great ideas / contributions in your posting….
Always be learning
Be open to coaching (even if truth is sometimes hard to hear…)
Competition can be a good thing – it means there’s demand
Don’t just be the same as everyone else in terms of offering / persona
Be discriminating with your time and with who you ‘train with’
and join a mastermind group…

I’m sure I may have missed a few so I’ll go re-read it!

Thanks for the learning for today! :)

Andrew

5 Judy January 27, 2012 at 9:07 AM

I agree Jamak, it’s easy to become a professional student, especially for those that love to learn. I purchased the PLF late last year and have absolutely loved the course. Great content, great insight -Jeff is an amazing teacher! The part I find tough is the implementation. I’m still working on building my list so that I can launch my baby into the universe, but it’s not only tough slogging, it’s also a whole lot slower than I would like. Patience is a virtue:)

6 Remco January 27, 2012 at 9:13 AM

Like Tony Robbins says, you have to practice the principle of CANI: Constant And Never ending Improvement (of yourself)

7 Eva January 27, 2012 at 9:16 AM

Very true, you never stop learning – that goes for all aspects of life. Masterminding is a great way to network, get ideas and inputs and stay up to date – it’s an invaluable tool!

8 Ellery Leung January 27, 2012 at 9:19 AM

I am studying in the school now, and will never stop learning.

9 Susan January 27, 2012 at 9:19 AM

Awesome insight Jeff, if you aren’t learning your aren’t growing. If you aren’t growing you will aree standing still and you will be passed by! Also great insight into how to handle yourself in the hotseat!

10 Braun January 27, 2012 at 9:19 AM

Jeff,
Great article I always love reading your articles because for over six years I studied and traded the markets. That was the reason that I got into info marketing was I was going to be a “market guru” Later I found my passion was in helping small businesses market there business. There is so much to learn in the info marketing business I always look forward to your posts.

Thanks

11 Kelly Marsh January 27, 2012 at 9:21 AM

There are way to many professional students running around these days. Do your homework before buying a course and commit to implementing the strategy before buying another shiny object. This takes an enormous amount of discipline, and the case could be made that this is why many people have no success in this business.

12 nicky January 27, 2012 at 9:23 AM

Great post Jeff – I am a great believer in Education then Application. That’s a cycle rather than just a statement because everything evolves so you have to continually learn and if you can afford to learn from experts at the top you’ll succeed faster.

Thanks for sharing

Nicky

13 Roda January 27, 2012 at 9:26 AM

Hi Jeff
When I first heard you promoting your product….here’s one more thing to do that is far more complicated to do than it sounds and that was that.But I am an author and therefore a creator of “products” all be it not technical…. so I decided to hang on to subscribing to your e-mails for my brain is like a sponge and I do so love learning. Your post above was interesting in that you understood that its possible to go with the first germ of an idea and see its potential. Of course the requisite amount of effort will be needed to see the idea to fruition. I just completed an e-book titled “success” for the kindle barely 5 minutes before reading your post …. and its not a copy / paste book but every word of it has been written by me in long hand and I re drafted it about 4 times before I considered myself satisfied with it. Wishing you good day. …Roda

14 Joe January 27, 2012 at 9:30 AM

Did the guy receiving the beatdown realize the valuable gift he was given? That occasional harsh medicine to break out of a delusional cycle is exactly what we need sometimes.

15 Stuart January 27, 2012 at 9:32 AM

Learn, learn, learn. So true, trouble is it’s hard work. As long as you’re committed to the outcome you’ll put the hours in. Finding the right teacher is the key to shortening the timescale. And you are one good teacher Jeff. Keep it up mate. Stu

16 Tony January 27, 2012 at 9:36 AM

That’s right Jeff – we’ve got to mix earning and learning, investing time, energy and money in both and finding the right balance at each stage of our journey – there will be times when we need to invest more in one than the other, but over time we need to do both…

17 James Lavers January 27, 2012 at 9:41 AM

Lovely concept Jeff.

“Selective Scope Education” is my tuppence worth – and a process that saves me time, money and lost focus.

Every year I pick 2 “Teachers” to go back to school with.

Whilst I made a tonne of cash from doing launches based solely on your free stuff – 2010 was the year I chose to pay you to teach me — plf 3.1 was my official schooling.

2011 it was Kern & Diess.

2012…?

Haven’t decided yet.

By narrowing the scope of WHO I allow to school me – and being conscious about the selection process (rather than just getting lost in the latest attention getting subject line) I have saved YEARS and made HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS than if I’d merely stayed “open” to everyone offering an education.

Good stuff Jeff :-)

18 Ivana January 27, 2012 at 9:42 AM

Thanks Jeff, Thanks a lot
Ivana

19 Susan January 27, 2012 at 9:43 AM

Jeff- You are spot on. I run into really smart people who do not have a plan but they have a great idea. When there is no overall plan there (of course) is no target market identified and therefore no marketing plan. These folks need coaching first!

20 Jeff Walker January 27, 2012 at 9:56 AM

@joe: Yes, he absolutely did understand the value. He was extremely receptive.

21 Gary Rushin January 27, 2012 at 10:05 AM

Thank Jeff. Hearing your words was like getting splashed in the face with cold water…a wake up moment not to forget the fundamentals. I needed that!

22 Carrie January 27, 2012 at 10:15 AM

Another wonderful post, Jeff. Dare I add to your message, a little? Although I agree in principle, that going to school, learning the ropes of our business inside and out are essential for success, I agree with some of the earlier posters who note that we, as
entrepreneurs can fool ourselves into believing that studying and learning about business is the same as BEING in business.
This is where so many are getting trapped, endlessly studying, learning, evaluating and planning, yet never IMPLEMENTING, never LAUNCHING, never GETTING IN THE GAME to see how its really played.
Studying the playbook will only take an entrepreneur so far, at some point, we’ve gotta get onto the field, get muddied up and learn how to get to the goal we’ve set for ourselves, otherwise, its not a BUSINESS at all, its a HOBBY.
The distinction I see with your work, Jeff and your mastermind partners is that you are actively, passionately, fully, engaged in the daily game of marketing.
This is where the REAL LEARNING takes place, in the arena of ACTION.
Only by TAKING ACTION do all the lessons and planning begin to come together and make sense. The best fun of all is when I figure out a way to GET PAID TO GO TO SCHOOL…to get paid, while I’m learning. Structuring my business as a learning organization, WHILE I grow my revenues is the only way it makes sense for me.
This is something I’ve learned to do, in part, by observing how you have grown your business over the years, Jeff. Getting paid to learn is the ultimate business school and I’m fully enrolled this year. I’ll keep you posted on how my profitable learning experiment is going. Keep these inspiring posts coming, Jeff. More, more!

23 Liam January 27, 2012 at 10:25 AM

Nice Jeff. Thanks.

24 George Kotakis January 27, 2012 at 10:33 AM

Great overview and focus,right on

25 irf January 27, 2012 at 10:44 AM

Great post as always Jeff. But There’s a flip side to this coin – something that I’ve been guilty of in the past. And that’s too much learning. What? too much? ok let me re-phrase that – learning overkill. All theory and no practice. And I think quite a few folks are guilty of this.

26 Marydee Sklar January 27, 2012 at 10:58 AM

As an educator I am all about the importance of learning, I thrive on learning. The underlying point is that we as individuals in our complex world CAN’T do or know everything. We have to get help to learn. I tell my clients that it is at the point of getting help that all learning happens. Your hot seat guy had the courage to ask for help. And he learned a lot! And as an entrepreneur, a PLF3 student, I accept that investing in my learning goes hand in hand with building my business and my influence.

27 The French Marketer January 27, 2012 at 11:01 AM

I can tell from experience what it feels like to be in the hotseats and receive the “beatdown”… and it feels awesome !
To have 2, 5, or 30 brillant entrepreneurs tearing apart one of your ideas and putting it back together after it’s been polished and perfected and made 10 or 50 times as effective… is just worth the world to me as an entrepreneur.

One person above mentioned that being part of your Platinum Mastermind group was the best money spent on their business…
I would definitely vouch for that. Your teachings with PLF + the power of the group have been the best ROI I’ve gotten, ever – period.

Sebastien

28 SeanW January 27, 2012 at 11:32 AM

So many people think it is pointless and wasteful to spend so much time buying and studying courses they don’t act on. I never have. To me it is like prospecting or drilling for oil. There is a lot of trial and error and there is way more dirt than there is gold or oil.

But you get better at digging, searching, finding. Fewer dry holes and more gushers. That’s the way it is with self directed education. You learn what not to buy and you learn when not to buy it. At first I bought courses on driving traffic WAY before I had a product to drive traffic to. Later I realized that the most cutting edge material is what you can buy today. Why buy a course in driving traffic before you need it? Newbies don’t get that until they buy a few unnecessary courses just because the sales letter promised them riches.

29 KT Cunningham January 27, 2012 at 11:36 AM

The information marketing business can make you or break you. Being part of a mastermind team is critical, not just as an additional source of training but it’s an opportunity to create synergy with like-minded entrepreneurs, to brainstorm new trends and to gather critical feedback that can propel you ahead of your rivals. Jeff your work always appear to be cutting edge and its clear that your mastermind network is working.

30 Paula Chess January 27, 2012 at 11:56 AM

Yep. It’s a choice. Either go to school…
or you go to the ‘School of Hard Knocks’.

31 Don Phin January 27, 2012 at 12:11 PM

Jeff- a great post and constant reminder. I am in, speak to and also run Mastermind Groups and can personally attest to their power. When I was starting out my business more than a dozen years ago and didn’t have the money I do today so I did what Napoleon Hill suggested that you do in Think and Grow Rich- create your own fictional group (his “Invisible Counselors”). If you haven’t read that book a few times by now go out and buy it today. Hill’s own personal group had people like Carnegie, Rockefeller, Lincoln in it. I had folks like Hill, Deming, Drucker, Godin and Bucky Fuller in mine. If I was a marketing guy or gal I might have people like Barnum, Ogilvy, Reis and Trout, Abraham, Levinson, Walker and Kern in mine. Here’s Hill talking on it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3haAWU0oiuw If you want a copy of my Visionaries Workbook simply email me at don@hrthatworks.com

Bottom line: get into a Mastermind Group whether in person or in your mind!

32 Jerry Bird January 27, 2012 at 12:30 PM

Jeff,
Great advice. There’s a Trucks & Tedeschi song off their Revelator album called “Midnight in Harlem. In the chorus the lyrics go like this, walk that line, torn apart, gotta spend your whole life tryin’. I think that’s very similar to the whole “you have to go to school” train of thought. Keep educating yourself, spend your whole life trying in order to become more so that you can give more and become even more.

33 Natalie Hill January 27, 2012 at 12:53 PM

Jeff, I’m in the process of launching my Elite transformational coaching program and may borrow some of your wisdom!

Love James’ idea of training full out with 2 people per year. That would really help me avoid wanting to buy every new thing.

34 James Early January 27, 2012 at 12:55 PM

I have looked in the mirror and saw the ugly truth. I have been one of those students ad infinitum and I have just started to get back on track implementing what I know. It feels good.

35 Chasen Chess January 27, 2012 at 1:14 PM

Great posts from everyone!
Some years ago, I created a formula for success that seems to be standing the test of time and I hope it helps someone here today. It’s called the TAPE formula for success. Thoughts + Actions + Persistence + Excellence = SUCCESS.
The thoughts come from the education/information we absorb daily. But, thoughts are worthless unless combined with focused Action. But even the actions won’t be productive unless they are instituted with a mission of Excellence. And of course, all too many people fail because they give up too easily. When you polish the formula off with never ending Persistence… you have a success formula that wins every time.
What are your thoughts?

36 Mon Sun C January 27, 2012 at 1:35 PM

Great blog! Reminds me of a quote I heard in one of the personal development course I took years ago:

“In a world of change, the learners shall inherit the earth, while the learned shall find themselves perfectly suited for a world that no longer exists.”
― Eric Hoffer

37 Joel Cheuoua January 27, 2012 at 3:16 PM

Hi Jeff & Others,
Thanks for sharing this story, It sounds like a good validation of the benefits of joining, or creating, a mastermind group.
Do you also have thoughts as to how to run or participate in one? What are the key resources, tools and best practices if any?

38 Labenga January 27, 2012 at 3:23 PM

Great post as always Jeff! Awesome insights..

39 Joakim January 27, 2012 at 5:12 PM

Hi Jeff,

Nice article!
I totally agree with what JAMAK said: “make a balance between education and implementation.”

Of course it must constantly be formed, especially on the Internet …

Thank you for sharing.

40 Dave Young January 27, 2012 at 5:54 PM

How do you decide what you NEED to know and what you can reasonably expect to outsource? I see people that think they need to learn html and design and then go and outsource content creation. Do you have any advice on drawing that line?

41 Harry Fassett - Snackhealthy January 27, 2012 at 6:07 PM

Yes, I agree with Jeff. There is information overload on just about any kind of training you need online. The difference is actually in the practice.

42 Jeff Walker January 27, 2012 at 7:35 PM

@dave: I think that HTML and design are at the very bottom of skills you should acquire. Those are naturals to outsource.

Marketing is one of only two areas where you can get serious leverage in your business… so I think that is something EVERYONE should have a core understanding of. That doesn’t mean you have to become a complete marketing ninja or a world class copywriter. But you at least need a solid working knowledge of marketing so that you know enough to do the big picture planning and be able to intelligently hire for the rest.

43 Jeff Walker January 27, 2012 at 7:38 PM

@joakim: 100% agree. Just like there are some folks who need to go to school, there are others that need to get out of school and take some action.

44 Dave Young January 27, 2012 at 11:20 PM

That’s what I was hoping you’d say. Jeff, you do a great job of being your own spokesman. It’s hard to doubt that it’s you when you’re on video or audio. Other than specific types of copywriting, I think a business owner should take ownership of the message. The words need to come from the top. Even if they use a podcast, the words can be transcribed and re-purposed, but they will still have the authentic ring of the expert/owner. Ghostwritten or outsourced words are usually obvious, unless you’ve got that 1 in a million person who can just channel your thoughts.

45 Síofra Conaty January 28, 2012 at 5:04 AM

Life long learning!

46 Pat January 28, 2012 at 6:14 AM

No question, learning never ends… there is always something more to discover… but it is also true that the hardest part of learning may be the implementation. The temptation to let someone else figure out your issue, your problem, and give you the magic pill to take you to success. There is only one way to get to success. It’s one word, four letters: w-o-r-k.

47 @Rhuarhii January 28, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Just in time learning is crucial. Just in case learning is not. You also have to respect the fact that you are good at and like to do some things and hate and are bad at others. Marketing is a team sport. You cannot be an expert at everything but you can build a team which is…

48 Brian Ball January 28, 2012 at 12:59 PM

Hi Jeff,

I just wanted to comment that at no-time have I felt like you are doing your business just for the money. Your message always seems to be riddled with value and concern for the takeaways of people with their ears open.

Reminders are good. And, because you’ve got such a depth of knowledge, I could really see you crafting a multi-layered approach into a message like this.

Maybe some value at the intro level, a bit at the intermediate level, and even something your mastermind colleagues would be willing to comment on as valuable, right after they left the meeting.

Keep putting it out there. We really appreciate the thoughtful, respectful approach you take.

Brian

49 Adrian Tudini January 28, 2012 at 9:29 PM

Hi Jeff
Great article!!!

I am a relative newbie in this game but I do agree that you have to keep on learning.

Thanks.

50 Pamela Haack January 29, 2012 at 11:57 AM

Jeff, When you’re sharing something, I listen. Always. Thanks once again for being generous with your expertise.

51 Jean-Luc January 30, 2012 at 1:41 AM

learning, learning, learning
most of people stop learning when they finish school
but the key is as you say, keeping on learning, otherwise you start to slide behind
still creating a new business needs sometimes some unconsiousness, just to take action :-)

52 Brandi January 30, 2012 at 1:23 PM

Finally … I have read a letter that makes sense, when @Jeff stated ‘Go back to school.’ I attended our local Small Business Centre in December, which has endless resources to tap into. Also meet monthly, as a networking in the community opportunity, for members. This beats housing out work over the Internet to complete strangers, working in some far off land – which isn’t my ‘cup of tea.’ It’s what ever a person can deal with, and suits their personal situation.

With the endless amount of persons using the Internet to draw in others to help them ‘supplement their income’, we are left out here trying to figure out if they are legit or just another scam. Working at home has been a total eye opener on how many sharks are feeding off on victims, due to being so protected at school. There was an onsite technician monitoring all the computers, to make sure students did not wander into the murky waters – where all the trickery / cyberspace crime takes place.

The easy as pie ‘fast buck’ sites are so offensive and misleading for the unaware newbie [fell for a few, myself], as countless are scrambling for income in a failing economy. Would be nice if such harmful sites could be shut down [in my dreams] before they do future harm. Then again, they just come up with another scam / relabel it under different information and carry on with their dirty work.

‘Work’ being the key word, along with action, is about creating a product that is worth another persons investment, and standing behind what we have invested in putting it out there for others to benefit from. @Chasen … Love your formula. Putting it on my goal / white board today, as my daily reminder to preserver.

53 Felix Rivera February 6, 2012 at 7:18 AM

Good Morning Jeff:
My name is Felix Rivera. I know that I am pretty late at writing this comment, but I do hope that you are able to read it.
I saw you first in the interview with Tony Robbins and while you where talking with him I was able to relate so much with you as a person and family man. I have three beautiful children and a loving and beautiful wife which I enjoy every moment of my life and currently I am in the transition of building an internet business so that I can spend more quality time with them, since as a doctor, my time is limited.
I can see that you have a great heart and you have the best intentions to help others. It is easy to see it in your face.
I wish you much more success in all of the areas of your life and I hop that in the future I can have the privilege of meting you in person.
God Bless you and your family
Sincerely;
Dr. Felix G. Rivera

54 Charles Ogwyn March 15, 2012 at 6:44 PM

Love the concept of going to school and then staying in that mode. The business environment is constantly changing and so the only way to thrive in a changing environment is to change with it.

55 Marketing Ideas 101 March 26, 2012 at 8:11 AM

Amen, Jeff. When you consider the “information is power” adage, you’ve got to educate yourself on how the game is played. Whether you’re pitching product launch courses, financial newsletters or marketing ideas, one of the most important things you can do is to plot out your plan of action and in order to do THAT, you want to know what other folks have done to be successful. Try that on and see if it fits for you. Eventually, you’ll blaze your own way, but no need to reinvent the wheel.

Thanks for the post!
Matt Schoenherr
Marketing Ideas 101

56 Steve May 10, 2012 at 4:00 AM

The more I learn, the more I’m aware of what I don’t know

Thanks for sharing!

57 Karin September 21, 2012 at 4:20 PM

I have been researching who the ‘Go-To’ people are in the industry that are the great teachers and mentors. I am currently in one of Ryuan Deiss’ programs, will be going to Brendon Burchard’s 10x Publishing in November and know to sign up for your program. But can you share how we put our sights on creating the reality of bing in a mentor group with you? What do you require? What preparation should a newbie do now to get in?

Thanks.

58 Rick September 30, 2012 at 4:44 PM

This post kinda sounds like you are encouraging people to go to seminars. My only caveat is you must be actually working before you go to the seminar. I was at a seminar recently and some of the people had been to several different seminars but were not making any money, just spending it going to seminars.

Rick

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