You would think after how many times I’ve written a blog post, I’d know how I want to get started.
You’d also think that after having a conversation with someone that I would know exactly what I think about it.
But as you’re aware, life doesn’t always come in absolutes. Sometimes, life is just an extended event with no pinnacle. It takes time, not to discover the purpose, but to create meaning behind your experience. As far as I’m concerned, this is the time it takes to mull over what you’ve consumed and chose the context in which it fits.
Today I met up with Jarrod Goldsmith of eSAX for a friendly business lunch. It was a moment in a day where he had a little extra time to humor my interest in picking his brain on the subject of networking. If you don’t know, Jarrod is the founder of eSAX, The Entrepreneur Social Advantage eXperience. He been running this business for over 5 years now, networking in this region.
Before I continue any further, I want to make sure it’s very well known that this is not a post about Jarrod, my opinion of him, or anything related to what I think of his business or advice. Jarrod is fantastic and I respect him, and for those of you who know me, you know that I love breaking apart situations to find hidden meaning. Let’s do this!
So this comes a little after my last two posts where I’ve been discussing The Lean Start up and the combination of a few fundamentals I enjoy working with, where I’ve written out a feed back process that describes how I plan on growing my audience to a point where I will have the leverage to create an MVP and start my iterations. The basic pre-MVP loop is this:
- Consume content on the 6 aspects of life through books and online media
- Produce subject matter expert content on the 6 aspects of life
- Exercise a procedural loop to manifest success within the 6 aspects of life relative to the learned-taught content
Learn, teach, build.
Once this loop happens day after day, it builds a few things for me.
- A news letter
- Leverage through expertise
What happens with these three things is that I am put in a position where I can create an MVP. A minimal viable product. I won’t go into detail but the idea is to create a minimal viable product, distribute, and get customer feedback. This feedback turns the product back into an idea, where you exercise the loops again to push or pivot the product, then release v 2.0
Keep doing this until you quit (There are a million philosophies covering this), or until the product gains traction and can be considered ready for market. At this point, you’ve successfully turned yourself from a start up into a business.
Now, below the loop, I started to list out the products I could have. Because my industry is self-help and I’m creating personal development products, MVPs might be easiest packaged as:
- Book clubs
- Networking gatherings
- Video series
Generally, when you’re working with what was dubbed the expert industry (Term: According to Brendon Burchard), I would imagine that a successful product is one that transfers the knowledge you’ve gained. It’s like being a consultant or coach in this case. It’s hard for me to build you a better sense of self-awareness, so instead, I teach you ways to acquire this new mental state for yourself. This can be done with the product list above.
You needed to know all of this because I’ve already got two books. A really awesome but crappy book about 20 years of my life for contextual development about human potential and our ability to write the script of our life, and a very expensive book outlining the details of self-publishing books in less than 90 days as easily as possible. These two books are awesome, but they are V 1.0 of the book line of CADs Academy products.
It’s time to either push or pivot. Of course, I’m horrible at doing just one, so I thought I’d go learn about the next. I chose networking events.
While speaking with a work friend, he challenged me to do a networking event in the next 2 weeks. First time I ever thought of it, trial by fire. I made this an even more impossible mission by giving myself 3 high level objectives to keep in sight for the future. Create the networking events in such a way that:
- You don’t need to be at every event, so it can be run by someone else.
- Make the overhead for the event ridiculously cheap or non-existent.
- Make the cost of admission (pure profit #2) as cheap as possible so anyone can afford it.
These seemed really crazy, but I came up with an idea. Since I’m such a cloud type thinker, could I formulate a set of by-laws or philosophies of a CADs Academy Networking Event then license the right to other people to host them after a royalty agreement? If so, I could allow other people who believe in our mission run their own events with their own friends and family, so long as they meet the very basic minimums to do it respecting our terms. In exchange of the licence fee or royalties on admission, they would receive certain advertising and list access to help them with the marketing and hosting.
At this point, I had created a workflow chart for myself, figured out what I wanted to do, lined it up with the end-game goals, and had a direction to move forward with. The problem was that I had no idea where to go or what to do. So I called Jarrod. You can guess that I was respectfully trying to find a way to pick his brain, seeing that he is such an accomplished networking event guru. He’s helped other people from scratch and given a lot of opportunity, while being a connector in the city for so many more.
The first thing that happened, which I was expecting but hoping to avoid, he asked me about all the events he knows, wondering if I’ve attended them. He then questioned about my resolve, purpose and differentiators. Very businesslike aspects, which I appreciate, but often remind me of how little I enjoy “grunt” work. Don’t get me wrong, I love being on the front lines serving customers, learning them, and being in the middle of the action. But when the focal point of my ideas are being pushed aside for the sake of knowing specifically which measurable difference there is between me and the next guy, it gets me.
That being said, I need to be reminded of these things and I know Jarrod knows this. There needs to be actionable bits and pieces of the business because without them, they’re all just in my head. Advice taken. So we started talking about the other events. I’ve got a list of some. I plan on making an effort to spend more time at them, as market research. We also talked about his event, where I explained that it was clear to me the separation between experienced attendees and the newbies. The line isn’t thin. It’s obvious which side you’re on, and often, they don’t mingle.
I asked Jarrod what he thought about the stigma around self-help and how this translates into events. As if to say, if self-help material was brought into an event to make it more interactive or structured, how would this affect the overall mood. We seem to be on the same side, thinking that more connection and more communication is better at the events. It’s the relationships you build at an event that make it good or bad.
It’s hard to say that there was any concrete material that came out of our talk to push my ideas forward, but I wasn’t there to commision Jarrod to resolve my issues. I was very honest when I told him that I respected his time and opinion, was upfront about what I was looking for, and said that the whole sit should be premised by strengthening our relationship. That being said, since the chat, up to now, I think I have a pretty solid take-away.
Similar to a Tony Robbins $6000, once a year event, I think a CADs Academy networking event should have a strong focus on learning, teaching and building. Every event should feature or focus material from the real world, with supporting content from the host(s), on one of the 6 aspects. Physical, Vocational, Social, Emotional, Mental or Spiritual. During an event, the host should be creating somewhat of a book club type atmosphere, a seminar, or a panel, where information is shared with the audience. After such, people should have the time to discuss, ask and share. There will be thought provoking material, questions, work booklets and mini-activities to create a teaching reinforced learning effect. And people should have a way to follow up or be followed up with after an event.
There has been a lot in my mind as to what or where this post should lead, but I think I’ve reached the end. The journey has been once to describe my relationship with Jarrod and how he’s helped me gain perspective on my own mission. I’ve been able to use today as fuel to formulate something, and I like it. I’m quite happy with the above example of a CADs Academy event. I’m also confidence that I could create such an event in very little time. I did tell Jarrod that I’d put something together and get back to him. That being said, I’ll close this post for the night and publish tomorrow before the newsletter is sent out.
Thanks for reading!