Conscious Growth Club
Last updated Mar 26, 2017
Update Mar 26: So far 103 people have asked to be added to the Early Access notification list, and I expect to open the group for early access by March 31st. The members-only discussion group is up and running, and the membership site is in development now. For the latest CGC progress updates, see the News section.
This page is a work in progress to share the evolving idea of a one-year group coaching program to be launched in Spring 2017. If you'd like to share feedback on any of the ideas here, please send a message through the contact form. If you'd like to be notified when this group launches, please join the mailing list.
This page is very long and detailed, about 16,000 words. This isn't intended as a sales page. It's closer to a design doc, sharing the details, options, and reasoning behind various elements. The purpose is to invite lots of commentary on the ideas, especially from those who are most interested in the program.
Conscious Growth Club is a one-year online group coaching program designed specifically for StevePavlina.com readers. The program will have several core components including online course modules, live video coaching calls with Q&A, and a 24/7 discussion group where everyone can connect.
The purpose of CGC is to help you make faster progress on your path of personal growth. The core focus is to work together to transform members' lives for the better – and to do this across a wide spectrum of areas, including work, relationships, income generation, health, productivity, skill building, and more.
Since we'll have a whole year together, there isn't one singular transformation this program will target. Rather we'll focus on creating the conditions that stimulate and support many types of transformation, especially with structured content, direct coaching, and strong community interaction.
We'll do deep dives into specific types of transformations based on the needs and desires of the actual members as they grow and change throughout the year.
The core transformations most requested by readers can be summarized with the following list:
- Distracted -> Focused
- Confused -> Clear
- Misaligned habits -> Aligned habits
- Lack/scarcity -> Abundance
- Dissatisfied -> Fulfilled (work/career)
- Weak -> Strong (in character)
- Alone -> Tribe
- Stressed/numb -> Centered
- Doubting -> Trusting
- Unskilled -> Skilled
- Asleep -> Awake (spiritually)
This will be a highly adaptive program, with training modules being developed in accordance to the needs and desires of the members as we go through the year.
Members are free to choose which specific transformations they want to focus on at any given time. Do you want to work towards leaving your job and starting an online business? Would you like to add new income streams? Do you want to improve your health? Would you like to enrich your social life? Are you facing a potential separation or divorce that needs to be resolved? We'll help you set priorities for what you most want to improve during our year together. It's expected that members will be working on a variety of different transformations throughout the year.
The reason this will work is that there are universal principles that fuel all transformations. You need to face the hard truths of your situation. You need to clarify and connect with your desires. And you need to take action to change your circumstances. The process of transformation is essentially the same regardless of which specific transformation you're working on. A major goal of CGC is to help you get good at the transformational process as a whole, so that you'll become stronger at creating the life you desire, regardless of the future challenges you face.
In some ways this will be similar to Toastmasters, which helps people develop speaking and communication skills. In Toastmasters you always go at your own pace. You have a variety of different speech projects to choose from, and you don't have to do them in any particular order. Whenever you speak, you get immediate feedback and suggestions for improvement. Improvement is a very iterative process based on action, feedback, and refinement, but you choose which projects to tackle at each step.
With CGC you'll work at your own pace on your personal and professional goals. You'll have coaching to help you solve problems and get clarity, community support for accountability and friendship, and lots of stimulating idea sharing. By coming together with like-minded, highly motivated people, you'll be able to grow and improve faster.
The heart of CGC is about making decisions, taking action, getting fast feedback, and making improvements.
Consider the process I've been using to design CGC. I developed the initial idea on my own in a fairly basic form. I got feedback from some friends, who helped me refine it. I went through several rounds of feedback with them first. Then I shared the idea with my email list and invited their feedback for a few more rounds. Now we have this lengthy web page with more details, and I'm inviting even more feedback. The idea is being developed with lots of community involvement, which greatly improves the overall design, keeps the momentum going, and builds interest in the lead up to launch.
Imagine having a growth-oriented community helping you achieve your goals or implement your ideas, checking in to see how you're doing, offering help, and giving you quality feedback at each step along the way.
Advantages of a Holistic Growth Program
There are many other coaching programs out there. Many are focused on niche topics like building a particular type of online business, learning a skill, or losing weight. These are the inch wide, mile deep programs. The main benefit is that you go deep into a narrow range of topics. Typically they last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. I see a lot of 6-8 week programs of this nature. They usually get strong engagement in the beginning, and then people burn out on them after a while. It's hard to maintain a strong community built around a narrow topic. People have other interests too, and as their priorities change, the niche community becomes less valuable to them. It's too much of the same stuff over and over. These types of communities usually see a lot of churn.
The downside of these highly focused programs is that the friendships and the bonds typically aren't very strong because you may only have one main thing in common with the other members and not much else. Maybe you all love yoga. Or maybe you all want to build passive income streams. But you'll likely find that sharing one common interest isn't enough to give you the feeling of belonging to a richly compatible, closely connected tribe, except for a relatively short period of time, like a month or two. Sooner or later you'll burn out on the narrow focus of the group, and you'll get sick of discussing the same limited ideas. You'll want to branch out and focus on something else, and the group will become less useful to you.
You may experience the same problem when going to local meetup groups via meetup.com. I've been to many in Las Vegas, and while they can be pretty interesting and useful, I rarely stick with any group for more than a few months. The people are usually nice, but I often feel we don't have enough in common to bond much.
That said, these groups have their place, and they can help you grow a lot. It's just that you probably won't stick with one for long, so you may do a lot of community hopping over the years. Eventually you may crave something stronger and deeper, something you can really sink your teeth into for an extended period and rack up a wide array of positive results.
On the other side of the spectrum, there are the mile wide, inch deep communities. These often attract bigger and broader audiences than the niche groups, and they're usually free or inexpensive. Sometimes these groups build strong communities, but the communities are largely based around chatting and discussion as opposed to making real changes and getting results. I'd classify the free discussion forums we had from 2006 to 2011 as an example of this type of community. We had more than 50,000 members and more than a million messages posted.
I want CGC to be different from the above. My intention is for us to create a Mile Wide, Mile Deep community. This is a challenge to be sure, and I believe we can successfully pull it off. Why do I believe that? I believe it because we've already done it on a short-term basis. Since 2009 our three-day workshops have been attracting very growth-oriented people who bond amazingly well. We've seen people crying because they didn't want to go home afterwards. We've seen people change their flights so they could hang out longer with their new friends. People have created WhatsApp groups to stay in touch for months afterwards. A couple that met at one of our workshops later got married.
CGC will work because the demand is already there. It's very clear that we need to create this kind of community.
In order to achieve the mile wide, mile deep vision, we have to go long. We need time to do multiple deep dives into different areas of growth. That's why CGC will be a full one-year program, not just several weeks. I'll be adding new course modules and doing live coaching sessions throughout the whole year. A one-year timespan gives us enough time to go deep on a variety of personal growth topics.
The best part is that you can connect with the other members as complete human beings. You can explore your income ideas, relationship desires, lifestyle pursuits, health habits, productivity tools, spiritual quests, and more – all with the same people. Anything you consider important as a human being is fair game.
This is how real life is anyway. We aren't just thrown one narrow set of challenges. Life is constantly churning out new problems that we must solve, we have new desires popping up, and it would be really beneficial to work on those challenges with the same motivated, compatible, supportive group of friends.
Real life challenges are typically not so clean and well-defined as some people would have you believe. When I did one-on-one coaching, we often had to unravel a collection of related problems to make progress. What if the reason your income has been stagnating is because you aren't feeling good about your relationship, and you don't feel motivated to invest in income ideas that might make you feel even more trapped in that relationship? What if your productivity has been suffering because you haven't been eating well and exercising regularly, thereby throwing your neurotransmitters out of balance? (Cardio exercise plays a major role in rebalancing hormones and neurotransmitters.) In order to really help people transform, we have to consider the big picture and how all the pieces fit together.
Would you like to be seen and treated as a complete human being in CGC? Would you like to give people the chance to get to know you as a whole person and to befriend you as such? Then when they offer feedback and advice, it's because they know you well, care about you, and genuinely want to help their friends.
I've paid for a lot of coaching myself, and I don't like it when it feels like there's a wall between the coach and me, where they're doling out impersonal advice, but they haven't taken the time to get to know me. I want us to cultivate a strong spirit of camaraderie and friendship in CGC. It's geared for people who can appreciate the benefit of really strong social support.
When I did one-on-one coaching, I'd usually spend the first two hours just listening and asking questions to really understand the person's situation. I didn't start offering advice or solutions till we both felt like I understood them. This leads to much better feedback and advice.
In CGC it will take time for everyone to get to know each other. We can start working on challenges and solving problems right out of the gate, but I expect that the quality and personalization of these solutions will improve as we go along because we'll know each other better.
Who Is This For?
A core challenge – perhaps the core challenge – in designing CGC is that the group needs enough structure to have good cohesion, and it also needs enough flexibility for people to make progress on a variety of different goals, challenges, desires, and explorations.
We need structure, but we don't want it to be too rigid. We need flexibility, but we don't want it to be too loose and floppy. (That's what she said.)
I think a reasonable way to achieve the right balance is to define the type of member that would make CGC thrive, and then design everything else about the group with that type of person in mind.
So here goes...
I'd say you're a good match for CGC if the following is true for you:
- You want to grow and improve holistically, not just in a single area of your life but in multiple areas, although it's totally fine if there's one big area you want to work on more than the others.
- You want to enjoy good health and energy and take good care of your body.
- You want to cultivate a sharper, smarter mind.
- You're willing to help support, nurture, and share feedback with the other members as they work on their goals, challenges, explorations, etc.
- You see the value in having strong social support from a group of like-minded friends that you can bond with.
- You want to enjoy positive and supportive relationships with people who genuinely care about you (not just in CGC but in the rest of your life too).
- You're willing to give and receive honest feedback, while you maintain the freedom and autonomy to decide how to use the feedback you receive.
- You're willing to share some of your successes and your mistakes during the year, so others can learn from you, celebrate with you, and help you learn and improve.
- You seek or have already found a sense of purpose in your life.
- You're attracted to the idea of creating positive ripples in the world.
- You want to be happy and enjoy your life, and you believe it's possible to be happy while also creating positive ripples for others.
- You can appreciate a whole-brain program that values logic and intuition, planning and spontaneity, and left- and right-brain thinking.
- You feel ready to invite new perspectives, skills, experiences, and/or results.
- You'd like to become stronger in your character and more capable as a human being.
- You'd like to have more conscious, growth-oriented friends, which isn't always easy because such friends will often challenge you and keep you from settling.
- You want to see this group succeed, and you believe that it has the potential to do a lot of good for its members and for those whose lives they touch.
- You'd like to interact with me more closely, including getting my personal feedback and advice from time to time.
If you can see yourself in most, if not all, of the items above, I think CGC will be a really good match for you. This is the type of person it's designed to serve.
I suspect that many people who've attended previous workshops will also be interested in CGC, but it isn't just for previous workshop attendees. There's a good chance that if you've been to a previous workshop though, CGC may give you the opportunity to connect more deeply with some old friends. That's because I've heard a lot of positive feedback on CGC from previous workshop attendees, many of whom say they already want to join.
Based on the feedback thus far, I'm also seeing some patterns in the people who are most interested. I'd say that most of them fit at least one of these categories:
- People who have issues with procrastination, drifting, or lack of focus and want more action and accountability to get out of complacency and stretch themselves – They especially want the program to have a good backbone of structure and an emphasis on disciplined action.
- People who want more growth-oriented friends and a stronger social circle – They crave a more empowering social life with people they like and respect, often seeing that as the key ingredient that will uplift and inspire them in other ways too.
- People who want to make a difference in the world and create positive ripples - These people are especially purpose-driven and want to be inspired by other purpose-driven people, so we can all change the world for the better.
- People who are already very growth-oriented and ambitious and want to achieve bigger goals – They want to feel stimulated by equally ambitious people and are eager to assimilate new ideas, overcome challenges, and make faster progress.
- People who want direct advice from me personally – Some have been reading my blog for years and feel a strong personal connection to me because of that relationship, so for them it's important to be able to talk to me directly on the coaching calls and/or interact with me in the discussion group.
I genuinely believe we can support all of these people because these desires are highly compatible. In fact, I believe CGC will be stronger with all of these types of people in the same group.
We can also spin off subgroups if people want to spend more time connecting with those who have the most similar desires.
Who Is This NOT For?
CGC would NOT be a good match for the following types of people:
- People with intolerant beliefs towards anyone of a particular race, nationality, gender, sexual preference, age, or income level
- People who are only interested in making more money or some other narrow focus and wouldn't care about any other aspects of the program
- People who only regard CGC as a potentially cool online social hangout but who aren't interested in working to improve their lives or the lives of other members
- People who lack a sense of humor or who lack the ability engage with others with a sense of fun and lightness now and then
- People who have any objection to me, Steve, facilitating the group (such as the fact that I'm in an open relationship, that I'm a 20-year vegan, that I don't subscribe to any religion, etc.)
- People who honestly can't afford it (please only join if you feel optimistic about working together and the investment makes you feel good, not stressed out or worried; some surges of excitement or nervousness would be perfectly normal though)
- People who have no interest in helping out other members (you can always give encouragement; if we build a community of givers, it means extra value for all)
- People who primarily want access to the community for something that would run afoul of the community's purpose (such as spamming or excessive self-promotion)
If you think we should tweak or change anything on the lists above, please let me know.
Video Lessons - We'll have training modules in a membership area on a variety of personal growth topics, developed and released throughout the year. Formats will include video, audio, and text transcripts, so you can digest the lessons in whichever format you prefer. You can stream the video and audio directly to your favorite device, or you can download and save the content for later. You'll have lifetime access to the course materials, so this part extends beyond your one-year membership. Structurally this will take the form of a membership site where you can login and access all the course materials. There will be some core content available when you first join, and a lot more will be developed throughout the year. The videos will be new, created specifically for CGC. I've already converted a room in my house to a nice video studio with good lighting and a high quality hypercardioid microphone, so I'm all set up to start producing videos.
Live Coaching Calls - We'll have live group video coaching calls multiple times per month where you can ask questions, get feedback on ideas, and get help solving problems. We'll likely use Zoom for this, a robust video conferencing platform that we've already tested with good results.
Guest Coaches - We can bring in guest experts for extra coaching, interviews, and live Q&A. I have many friends who are authors, trainers, speakers, coaches, and entrepreneurs, and I'm sure many of them would be happy to contribute. Some of them also owe me favors. 🙂
Recordings - All coaching calls will be recorded and available for streaming or download in video and audio formats. So it's okay if you miss some or all of the live calls because you'll always be able to access the recordings afterwards.
Discussion Group - You'll have access to a 24/7 private discussion group where you can communicate freely with the other members.
Newsletter - We'll have a weekly email newsletter to share updates, highlights, and reminders. You'll also be notified when new course modules are added.
Deep Dives - Throughout the year we'll do some deep dives together such as a 30-day trial to build new habits, to gain skills, or to complete creative projects. Like all of the program elements, the deep dives are optional. Each deep dive is an invitation for members who want to work on a specific type of challenge together, supporting each other as we go along. You can do them with the group, you can do them on your own later by using the recordings, or you can decline them if they don't fit your schedule or interests. These deep dives won't be scheduled for the entire year in advance. We'll select them and schedule them as we go along to fit the needs and desires of the members. Depending on the size of the community, we may even have multiple deep dives overlapping, especially if they complement each other well.
Other Possibilities - My intention is to adapt the structure to fit the needs and desires of the members, much like we do at the live workshops. So if members want to work on co-creative projects together, we can do that. If people want to spin off smaller accountability groups for related goals or challenges, we can do that too. If members have suggestions for how to improve the group, we can make improvements. We'll just have to pace ourselves as we add these improvements.
This should give you a reasonable idea of the basic structure we'll have in place.
One reason I'm making this program a full year in duration is so there's lots of time to develop course material that fits the needs and desires of the actual members. This gives me a chance to get to know everyone first and to develop courses that speak directly to them.
Anything I develop in advance before we launch requires some guesswork. I don't want to create in-depth modules on a bunch of topics and then find out that the people who actually join CGC would overwhelmingly prefer help with totally different areas than I covered. I also find it more inspiring to develop and release courses in a co-creative fashion, much like the design of CGC itself. So when we agree on a topic for the next training module, we can figure out where the members need help in that particular area, and then we can create the materials to address their real-life challenges.
What's great about this adaptive approach is that when you join, you'll be able to influence the training materials that we create for CGC. In fact, if some members are feeling creative and want to participate more actively in helping to create extra educational materials for the benefit of the group, I think that's great, although it isn't necessary.
In a sense this is almost like a stretched out Conscious Heart Workshop. At that workshop there was no pre-determined content. Everything I shared and all the exercises we did were decided in real time as we went along. I made all of those decisions based on doing what I felt was best for the specific group of people in the room at the time. If we ever ran that workshop again, it would turn out differently because the people would be different.
We could even do some case studies with members who've excelled in a certain area and who are willing to share some of their wisdom with the group. Based on the feedback I've received so far, it sounds like there are a number of other coaches who'd be interested in joining CGC.
If you went to the 2016 Conscious Life Workshop, then you may remember that we did spontaneous case studies with Dimitri and Sam about how they successfully built various income streams. People got a lot of value from this extra sharing, so Dimitri and Sam, if you're reading this... 🙂
Some people have asked me about the status of the Subjective Reality audio program that I was developing a while back. I still have those recordings, and I've been thinking about redoing this as a video course, finishing it up, and making it available as one of CGC's educational modules. SR is a bit of a niche topic though, so I'd want to gauge the interest level first. I suspect there will be more people interested in training modules on productivity, passive income, lifestyle design, and other topics, so I want to start with the most in-demand topics first.
Hopefully you're starting to grasp the idea that the precise structure and the specific content are not as important to me as the core focus on helping the members change their lives for the better. Good content is only one aspect of the program, so I don't want to overplay its significance. The Internet is full of content. What's different about CGC is that the course materials will be specifically designed for the benefit of our actual members. So this gets pretty close to having courses that are designed just for you.
I've been doing a lot of preparation in advance to streamline the process of creating video courses, much like I streamlined the process of designing and delivering workshops (which allowed me to run four three-day workshops in four months in 2016). And again, all of this material will be available in audio and text format too, so you can digest it while exercising, running errands, or relaxing in the evening.
I know from experience that when we bring a bunch of conscious, growth-oriented people together, powerful transformation happens, and how it plays out for each person isn't under my control. We can invite new growth experiences, but sometimes growth happens to us, and all we can do is buckle ourselves in and enjoy the ride.
Let me share a little more about the discussion group and the social component.
The goal here is to make it easy for members to connect, collaborate, share ideas, give feedback, help hold each other accountable, and encourage the heck out of each other. I want you to feel very supported and to have lots of people you can turn to for help. I want mutual caring to spray all over the place... okay maybe not exactly spray.
To facilitate this, I think we need one central hub that is the go-to spot for member-to-member communication. It should be searchable and accumulate an archive, so people can easily link back to previous discussions. And people should be able to communicate privately with other members too.
The hard part is picking a service that will please enough people. Some people have pretty strong opinions about which options they like vs. don't like.
I'd love more feedback on this particular area. Let me share what we've looked into thus far.
One obvious option is to use a private Facebook group for this. It's easy to set up, it's stable, the group would be searchable, and it's accessible to a lot of people, especially those who already have Facebook accounts. If people are on Facebook normally, they'll automatically get updates on group activity. For those who are okay with Facebook, it can be an appealing solution. They wouldn't have to login to another site to access the community.
Some people absolutely hate Facebook though, and for such people the inclusion of a private Facebook group could be a dealbreaker. A few people have told me as much. I can understand and appreciate this sentiment since I too quit Facebook and deleted my account, even after building a large following there. I felt it added way too much clutter to my life.
In October 2016 I joined an entrepreneurial coaching program that had a private Facebook group as part of the membership. A year of membership in this group costs $12,000. I wanted to get my money's worth, and I needed access to the community. So I created a new Facebook account, set it to the maximum privacy settings, and left it at zero friends with friend requests disabled. I use this account for the purpose of connecting with the members of this group. I don't post status updates or accumulate friends or followers. For this purpose it works well, and I don't find it too distracting. This seems to be a reasonable approach that other people could use as well if they're willing, but I'm not sure if this addresses their main objection to using Facebook. And of course there are still ads on the private group pages.
When I sought advice from other coaches I know who run online coaching programs, most of them said they use private Facebook groups for the community element. Some have tried other solutions, but the overall satisfaction was highest with Facebook groups, and the level of community engagement was normally better. But maybe the engagement is higher due to lots of Facebook addicts.
Some people recommended using a Slack group for our main discussion area. We tested a Slack group in December with a bunch of workshop participants. I feel I have to rule it out. It didn't get a positive enough response during our testing. Too many people found the interface inelegant and confusing, including me. I also talked to other coaches who've used Slack groups before, and the overall feedback about it wasn't so good. Their members had issues learning to use Slack's interface, and member satisfaction was higher in most cases with a Facebook group. People found it more burdensome to teach their members how to use Slack, and I think they lost some engagement because of it. Slack seemed to work best for pretty small groups working on projects together. It doesn't seem to be a very good fit for our needs.
However, if enough members like Slack and want to use it for subgroups or spin-off projects, it would be easy to set up a Slack group for that purpose. I don't see it working well for our primary discussion area, but it may be suitable for other types of collaboration. I know that some people are fans of Slack. I'm just not one of them.
Discourse was also recommended. Discourse is modern, open-source forum software that aims to become the WordPress of forums. I think it has some potential, but I need to research it more. My web host doesn't offer a hosting package that could support it, so it would have to be hosted elsewhere, but that's doable. Discourse would be a good fit for a high-traffic public forum, but it could work for a private forum too. It does have some nice features we could use like private messaging, file attachments, polls, collaboratively editable posts (like a wiki), notifications, and the ability to create subgroups that members can choose to join. If you've used a Discourse forum, I'd love to hear what you thought of it from a user's perspective.
I also looked into using bbPress, a popular WordPress plugin. I installed and tested it, but it seemed pretty basic and primitive. I don't think people would use it much if we went that route.
One reader recommended using a private Google Plus group. I looked into that, but Google groups seem pretty bare bones. They remind me of old Usenet groups. The interface is clean and uncluttered, but I get a cold vibe from using it. I could see a Google group working well for a bunch of programmers discussing code, but I'd like something a bit warmer – something to create a more social and connected atmosphere.
Another option I looked into was Mightybell. It's a service that hosts communities, both private and public. What I don't like is that their Terms of Service give them the right to publicly republish anything we might post in our private group. I sent them an email to ask for clarification on this and haven't heard back yet. Why would they require such egregious terms? If we have a private discussion group, obviously we don't want the hosting service to republish our private chats and messages. I think our members deserve a reasonable expectation of privacy, especially when discussing sensitive personal topics. Why would Mightybell even offer private groups if they want the right to republish everyone's content publicly? That definitely raises an eyebrow. Even so, I tested the service and just thought it was poorly designed, and the user engagement seemed pretty weak to me. I feel safe in discarding this option. (Update: I may have actually persuaded Mightybell to change their Terms of Service. They say they're going to look into changing them in March. So it's nice to know they took my feedback seriously.)
I'd love a solution that would satisfy our members and wouldn't be a dealbreaker for too many people. We want a discussion area that people will actually use and that won't detract from the purpose of the group. I'd like something with a modern, efficient interface that's easy for people to learn. I'd like the discussion area to be relatively uncluttered, ideally with no ads or distractions. And it would be nice to have multiple ways that people can communicate with each other, such as being able to share text messages, photos, videos, and have private chats if they want.
A paid service is fine since we'll certainly have a budget for that. It doesn't have to be free.
Presently I'm leaning towards Discourse. Since it's free and open source, I installed a test version on my MacBook and played around with it a bit. The setup is more complex than some other options, but it's very customizable and could be a good long-term solution. You can see a sample Discourse forum here; if you try it out, please let me know your thoughts. Discourse is backed by multiple VC firms and they want to keep growing, so it should make for a stable long-term solution that could last for years. And we wouldn't have to deal with any distracting ads.
Update Mar 4: I made the decision to go with Discourse for the community. It was the clear winner. In fact, our new discussion group is already up and running on a cloud server at ConsciousGrowth.Club.
I still have a lot of configuration work to do – Discourse has dozens of configuration screens since it's so customizable – but here's a screenshot of what it currently looks like inside.
I've already set up the categories too, similar to the categories we used for our old VBulletin forums. Here's a screenshot of the categories page:
We've also added a Skill Building & Learning category. Thanks to Walter Freiberg for the suggestion!
Additionally, we can easily create subgroups to allow members to connect in a greater variety of ways, as explained in this News update.
Since it's an active open source project with hundreds of contributors, the Discourse software is continuing to evolve based on community feedback. I've been participating in their forums to keep apprised of what's coming up in terms of new features, plugins, etc.
For the coaching calls I'm thinking that 3-4 calls per month sound about right, perhaps once a week normally but with some breaks throughout the year. Something in the range of 40-45 calls over the course of the year sounds reasonable. I'd aim for about 90 minutes per call, and it's fine if we go overtime if there are a lot of questions.
These calls will be in streaming video format, just like a webinar. You can access the calls on whichever device you like. Most likely we'll use Zoom for this since it tested well. You'll be able to see me on video via my webcam, and I can also do screen sharing, Keynote presentations, and more. Basically anything I can put up on my screen, you'll be able to see it. That gives us lots of flexibility.
I'm thinking that we'll mainly use two modes of presentation. One mode would be to share some key ideas that I believe will help you. Depending on what kind of ideas I'm sharing, I might just talk to you, or I might put together a Keynote presentation and present it webinar style, or I might do some screen sharing and walk you through certain software or processes (such as demonstrating how to break goals into action steps).
The second main mode would be live Q&A. The software lets you click a button to raise your hand, and I'll see those notifications. Then with your permission (to unmute your microphone), we can talk live on the call. We can discuss whatever problem or challenge you have, and everyone else on the call will hear our discussion too.
You wouldn't be limited to just asking one question. We could talk about your situation and have a short, focused discussion about it.
In another coaching group I'm in, we use this format, and it works very well. There may be dozens of people on a call, but usually only 5-10 people have questions on any given call. Note that the purpose of this Q&A is specifically to help you solve problems and overcome obstacles. Whatever isn't covered on the calls, we can always address in the discussion group. These outlets can work nicely together. On the calls you can get my personal advice and feedback, and in the group you can get everyone else's feedback too.
During these calls there will also be a text chat area. It can be set up so that the chat messages are only seen by the moderators, or we can set it to be an open chat where everyone can see everyone else's messages. Which format we enable would depend on how many members we have on a typical call. Open chat is good for small numbers, but if we're beyond a certain group size, then open chat would be too chaotic, so we'd set it so that chat messages just go directly to the moderators. Either way, this allows a channel for other people to share their suggestions while I'm doing the live coaching with someone. Then we can forward those messages to the right person. And of course while we're on the live calls, the main discussion group will be available too, so people could be posting messages to threads in the discussion group at the same time we're on a call.
On these calls we can talk about anything you desire as long as the focus is on solving a problem, figuring out a decision, or dealing with some kind of challenge in your life. I think this can be a real strength of this program because it will be very holistic. If you join an entrepreneurial coaching program, you can't just hop on a call and ask about your relationship challenges since that would be off topic. But in CGC any area you want help with is fair game.
On these calls I'll do my best to help you in whatever ways I can. If you ask me something I'm not sure about, I won't give you a B.S. answer. Some questions may be well suited for me to answer directly while for other questions it may be best to crowdsource your answers from the discussion group. While you're asking me questions on the call, other members can also chime in with ideas and suggestions via the text chat.
You can also use these coaching calls for extra emotional support when you need it. Maybe you want to share a difficult situation that left you feeling a bit beaten down. Or perhaps you've just had a rough week. You can ask directly for some extra love, support, and encouragement on these coaching calls. That kind of support will be there for you if and when you need it. Sometimes it's nice to receive compassionate encouragement from friends.
The software we'll be using for this is very flexible and gives us lots of possibilities to explore. Suppose you have a website that you want to improve. We could pop it up on the screen, take a look at it, and share some first impressions and ways to improve it.
We'll probably experiment with the format of these calls to learn what the members like best. Do you prefer some instruction and some Q&A for each call, or would you prefer some calls that are mostly presentation and other calls that are all Q&A? Or should we just put all the presentation material into the course modules, and do only Q&A and direct coaching on the live calls?
How much time we spend per person per call depends on how many people have questions on average. Since I can't predict that in advance, we'll have to remain flexible about how we do this for now. Depending on how many people we end up with, we may need to experiment a bit with the format during the first month or two. Of course we want it to be fair, so if there's a lot of demand for the Q&A segments, we can formalize it more such as by having a reservation system to make sure everyone gets a fair opportunity to ask their questions.
In the coaching group I'm in, I probably ask questions on the live calls around once every six weeks on average. Many people never ask questions on the live calls, preferring to post their questions in the discussion group instead. The live calls are really good for complicated questions or when you want some advice on how to solve a specific problem or challenge.
The feedback I've received thus far tells me that the coaching calls are the most attractive part of CGC for some people, while for others this is a "nice to have" feature but not essential.
In case you're wondering, I'm planning to do these calls personally, so you'll definitely have the chance to talk to me directly if you want that.
I want this part of the program to feel reasonably abundant, not scarce. If it seems like people are clamoring for more Q&A spots, we can add capacity such as by having extra Q&A calls now and then. It would be pretty easy to do this.
If we end up with a really high number of sign-ups, we have other options for scaling. I could recruit and hire other coaches to help out in specific areas of expertise if people are cool with that. I'll still do the regular calls myself of course.
Some people have asked about private one-on-one calls. I'm not planning to include that for the simple reason that it doesn't scale well. I can't predict how many members we'll have, so if I were to promise this in advance, I may very well regret it. One coach I know included two personal coaching calls in his group coaching program as a bonus. I think he got around 50 sign-ups and had to do 100 calls in addition to all the regular group coaching calls, which was a lot of extra work. He soon regretted the decision and said he wouldn't offer that again. Private calls would be practical if we had a pretty small number of people, but what if we had more than 100 sign-ups? I really wouldn't want to do that many one-on-one calls. It would be too hard to justify when I could be spending more time creating resources that would benefit all members. If I included one-on-one calls, I might have to double or triple the price of membership in order to keep the numbers more limited, or I'd have to cap the membership. I'd rather price this to be more accessible.
I think group coaching calls strikes a reasonable balance here. You still get some direct one-on-one coaching time, but the calls aren't private, so the other members get to learn from your situation as well.
Timing of the Coaching Calls
The tricky aspect of the coaching calls is that we have to pick a regular day and time for them, such as Mondays at 1pm or Sundays at 10am. No matter what day/time we pick, it won't make everyone happy because CGC will likely have members from all over the world.
We can expect that the bulk of members will come from North America and Western Europe since that's where most of my blog readers are, so I have to go with a time that favors those zones to make the most people happy. This probably means having a starting time in the range of 10am to 1pm Pacific time, which would land in the range of 6pm to 9pm London time. And then we have to pick a day of the week too.
Reasonable times for North America and Western Europe also give us reasonable times for South America and Western Africa. If we do it closer to 1pm, that isn't terrible for Australia either.
In practice Asia usually ends up with the worst times for calls with this type of audience makeup, i.e. with the calls being in the middle of the night for them.
Most likely I'll do some surveying on this as we get closer to launching. I'm flexible on the times. The optimal solution would be a day/time that the greatest number of members can attend live if they want to.
If anyone has experience picking times for coaching calls for an audience that's expected to be about 50% North America, 20% Europe, and 30% the rest of the world, please let me know.
Remember that all of these calls will be recorded, so people can still listen to them afterwards. The coaching group that I'm in uses 1pm Pacific time on Mondays for the coaching calls, and if there are bonus calls, they usually do them at the same time on Tuesday or Wednesday. So the time of the calls is always the same, which makes it easy to remember. There are also plenty of reminder emails that go out. I often miss calls, and I just listen to the recordings later. Most of the time it's not a big deal.
I'm open to other ways of solving this too. We could add some extra calls at times that would be a better fit for other zones if the Asians start acting rebellious. Or maybe we could give them a special challenge to start waking up at 3am. 🙂
Throughout the year we may do some extra challenges together, such as maintaining a new habit for 30 days, with some extra coaching specifically for that challenge. You can do these challenges with us to share the journey with other members, or you can use the recordings to do them on your own later. And if you want to skip any particular challenge, that's entirely your choice.
The challenges will aim to provide practical value for you in real life, such as conditioning a positive habit, learning a useful skill, or progressively achieving one of your goals. We'll select these challenges with some flexibility in mind, so they should have fairly broad appeal. For instance, if we do a 30-day habit challenge, you can pick whichever habit you want to adopt, such as getting up at 5am, meditating, exercising, writing a daily blog post, avoiding caffeine, not looking at any porn, etc.
I think the challenges should be hard enough that not everyone makes it through to the end. If everyone succeeds we've probably set the bar too low. And obviously if no one succeeds, then we've set the bar too high. We want to be able to learn from the successes and the failures. Who succeeded and why? Who dropped out and why? What can we learn from this? How can we increase the likelihood of success going forward?
The point of these challenges isn't just to have fun and push ourselves but to do things that add practical value to our lives outside of CGC. I'm sure we'll have some interesting discussions about which types of challenges we should do as a group.
Of course you're also free to suggest and run your own challenges with anyone who wants to do them with you. We'll do our best to support the most popular ones, such as with extra coaching to help people succeed. But you can also suggest your own challenges and see if you can recruit other members who want to do them with you. If you do that, I encourage you to share progress updates and especially your results in the discussion group, so we can all learn from your experience.
NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month, is a good example of a challenge that inspires a lot of people. It takes place every November, and the goal is to write a novel in 30 days. If enough members are interested, we could even overlap our own book writing challenge for that same month. Since I'm a published author, I can share plenty of tips and strategies for how to write a book. I also know a lot of other authors, so we could invite some of them to share their stories, advice, and encouragement as well.
If a given challenge is really popular with our members, we can also repeat it more than once throughout the year, especially if the first run wasn't good timing for some people who really wanted to opt in.
I think this could be an especially fun and engaging part of CGC. When I'm able to do so, I'll likely participate in these challenges too. Facilitating CGC will be a pretty awesome challenge already though!
The intention of this coaching program is to help you grow and to powerfully enrich your life. I'm sharing as much about the format as I feel we can reasonably commit to before we launch. I want to be careful not to overcommit to other possibilities that we might also include at some point but which would be risky to guarantee up front.
Note that it's definitely not my intention to yank away some core aspect that people really like. I would only want to pull something out if it clearly isn't doing anyone any good, so we can replace it with a different mode that's more effective.
I'm confident about the core components we have so far because I've seen these same formats work well in other groups. A discussion group seems like a no-brainer. Live calls work well too. But I also want to leave room for experimenting with other possible formats and ideas as we go along.
For instance, if people want to work together in small groups on some co-creative projects, we may be able to provide them free usage of the video conferencing, which they can use for small group calls where all of them can see each other's video feeds. This is similar to Google Hangouts except that Zoom works better in my experience and isn't so laggy. With Zoom you can have dozens of people on a call where everyone can see everyone. We did a test call with 25 people who were accessing the call from their computers, tablets, or cell phones. One guy was on a road trip and put his phone on the car's dashboard facing the road, so on his feed it was like we were driving down the highway with him. Another called in from a taxi in India. We had people from all around the world on the call. It's pretty awesome what we can do with today's technology.
Suppose someone in the group says, "Hey, I'd love to connect more frequently with members who want to discuss passive income projects each week." Let's say 10 other members like that idea. Then we should be able to provide a time slice for the video conferencing and make it so the chosen moderator can start a call each week at the same time.
Note that I'm not guaranteeing up front that we'll do this. But if there's interest in something like this, we'll probably find a way to make it work. It's possible we may end up with multiple competing suggestions for how we can best leverage the group's resources for the benefit of its members. I'm all for leveraging those resources as best we can. We'll just have to pace ourselves.
I have a history of encouraging this sort of co-creative exploration at our workshops. We've seen people get into small groups before or after the workshop hours and create their own experiences together, such as doing a group meditation or having one member share expert knowledge with 20-30 others. After the 2015 Conscious Heart Workshop, my friend Sasha offered to lead people through an optional stand-up comedy mini-workshop for about 90 minutes for free. Almost everyone stayed for that, and it was a lot of fun. So I'm a big fan of empowering people who want to contribute and co-create together, as long as we can make it work on a practical level.
Besides, if I stood in the way of members helping each other, people would revolt. I know how independent minded y'all are. I'd rather do what I can to support and encourage you to help each other since it makes the group stronger and more useful for everyone.
I imagine that this group will be like a tree with many branches, where the core formats act like the trunk, and then members who want to can branch off from that in different ways, such as by creating informal subgroups. I see the potential for this to become a truly modern transformational playground for people, where everyone is autonomously empowered to use the group's resources to stimulate more growth for all.
Also note that members don't need permission to go off and connect on their own anyway, using whatever technology they like. So if Slack lovers want to go create a Slack group, that's totally fine. If people want to hop on a Skype call on their own, they can do that. If a few members want to create a WhatsApp group, go for it.
I suspect that some of these branches will be temporary. People may work together on something in a small group and then kill off the subgroup once it serves its purpose or if they lose interest in continuing it. With today's technology we have such wonderful flexibility in how we can connect. We just have to bring the right people together in one central hub to get this started.
I'm a very tech savvy person as well as an experienced programmer, and I love to experiment. So if some promising new technology or communication platform comes out that we could potentially leverage to make the group better, we can check it out and see if it makes sense to incorporate it. Perhaps someday we can all meet up in a virtual world that we co-create together. Wouldn't that be awesome?
A key reason for CGC's existence is to help you connect with like-minded people. I want you to be able to continue doing that outside of CGC as well. Let CGC bring these wonderful new friends into your life, and you can keep connecting with them outside of CGC too. Friend them on Facebook or exchange emails. Or better yet, meet in person if you can. I'm not interested in locking you into CGC such that you'd lose all your amazing new friends after the first year.
Daniel Pink shared in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us that the three keys to motivation and productivity are autonomy, mastery, and purpose. I want CGC to align with all three of these. I think that's very doable.
I can get everyone together and provide the platforms and the core structure, but I know that a lot of the growth you'll get from CGC will come from your interactions with other members. If you've been to a workshop before, that probably strikes you as obvious. If you haven't been to one of our workshops, you might find that hard to believe, which is understandable. You'll believe it soon enough. 🙂
If you've been reading my blog for a while, you're not a normal person. I mean that as a compliment. What you may not realize is that there are a lot of other people out there who think the way you do. You just don't know each other yet. The people who read my blog tend to have a lot in common with each other, much more than they'd expect, especially if they've been reading my work for a few years. When such people meet in person, they often become fast friends. If you've never connected with a group of people who are a lot like you, you're in for a real treat in CGC.
Nothing in this program will be mandatory. For all parts of it, you can go at your own pacing.
You can work through the educational modules in whichever order you like, at any pace you desire.
You can attend the coaching calls live, or you can listen to the recordings later. You can ask questions when you want, but there's no obligation to do so.
You can use the discussion group as much or as little as you like.
All of the challenges are optional. You can do them with us, on your own, or not at all.
There are no grades. You'll be engaging with real life. This isn't a school.
CGC is your personal growth playground. It will fit your schedule because it's designed to be flexible. You can access it whenever you want, as much as you want.
You can work according to your own cycles and rhythms. If you like going at a steady pace throughout the year, great. If you prefer bursting into activity like a maniac for a few weeks and then going at a slower pace while you recharge, also great. You can take breaks whenever you want. This is a key advantage of a one-year program. The pacing isn't forced.
Goals vs. Exploration
CGC is intended to support very goal-oriented people as well as those who prefer a more freeform or exploratory approach to personal growth. You can even switch modes throughout the year.
Sometimes we're very focused on achieving outer results. Other times we may prefer to focus on inner work. I often switch between these different modes myself, and I want CGC to support people across this spectrum.
The point of CGC is to support your path of growth in the ways you need to be supported. If you want to be pushed, held accountable, and nudged out of your complacency, we'll help you get your ass in gear. If you need to be nurtured, accepted, and understood, we'll shower you with unconditional love. If you need to heal, we'll help you heal. If you need to climb a mountain, we'll help you climb. If you want to gaze at your navel, we'll clean out the belly button lint.
This is about helping you grow as a whole and complete human being. I know there are many facets to you, and I want you to have the opportunity to explore and elevate the aspects that matter to you.
When we do live workshops, we explore different modes of learning and growth throughout our three days together. Sometimes we work on hardcore mental ideas. Other times we connect and discuss. We do games and activities together. We share a lot of laughs. We take a lot of action. Sometimes there are tears. One time there was some nudity in the room when a game of Master and Servant got a little out of hand. And then it happened again in the same workshop.
The nice thing about CGC is that different people can be working in different modes simultaneously. When you're in learning mode, you can work through the training modules. When you want help with ideas and actions, you can ask questions on the coaching calls or seek feedback and advice in the discussion group.
When you're in hardcore results mode, you can connect with action-minded people to share progress updates, solve problems, and work through blocks. When you're in exploration mode, you can connect with with fellow explorers. If you want to hold group intentions with other people, I'm sure there will be members who are into it.
So this definitely won't be a mono-mode group. I'm not a mono-mode guy. Consider how many different modes of personal growth are represented in my articles. There are a lot of ways to grow. This isn't a group based on a singular tool such as NLP, EFT, or the Sedona Method. CGC is a flexible, results-based group that will use whichever tools prove effective for us.
Really there are three primary modes of growth, based on increasing our alignment with truth, love, and power. We can discover new truths. We can deepen our connections (with our desires, with people, with our values, etc). Or we can empower ourselves by taking action to change our reality. By design CGC will support all of these modes. You will learn, connect, and do.
Action and Accountability
Several people expressed a strong desire for CGC to help with with taking action and to hold them accountable for doing so.
This sounds good to me, although I haven't developed this part of CGC very much yet. I'd love some suggestions on how we might implement an accountability element for those who want it.
If we don't come up with a strong implementation for the accountability aspect before we launch, we can always develop it after we launch, which might be better anyway since then we can get a clearer picture of how members would like to see it work. Accountability tends to mean different things to different people.
Do people want to receive wake-up calls at 5am? Do they want daily check-ins with other members by texting, email, or phone to see if they completed their intended actions for the day? Should we have a Google spreadsheet or a daily check-in thread in the discussion group where people can record their progress each day? There are lots of ways to help with accountability.
But the general answer is yes, we can certainly do that.
Beating you with a stick isn't my thing, but if you think it would help, I have a few friends who are into that.
In 2015 we did the Conscious Heart Workshop, which was entirely spontaneous all the way through with no pre-planned content. It was the highest-rated workshop we ever did in terms of the transformational effect and the overall value that attendees reported afterwards. It was arguably the most fun as well, with the possible exception of the 2010 Halloween Conscious Growth Workshop where people wore costumes. However, it's difficult to sell that kind of co-creative experience because I couldn't even say what content we'd be covering, so it's hard to express in advance what the benefits would be. The benefits were powerful, but they were largely unpredictable.
If you've been to one of our recent workshops, then you know that I'm super comfortable adapting on the fly. Once we get warmed up, I get a feel for where the group energy wants to go, and then I love to just run with it. I can't claim to control or even to fully understand this energy. It often feels like there's some greater force working through us much of the time. There's such a powerful effect created when we bring a bunch of conscious, growth-oriented people together.
It took me years to develop this skill with live audiences. It requires being completely comfortable thinking on your feet and being fully present and in the moment, even with a room full of people staring at you. But I've got it down now, and if we can do this for live events, I'm sure we can do it for CGC too.
I can tell you from experience that when you join this group, you're going to grow in many ways that you would not have predicted in advance. Some of your expected improvements will surely happen too, but be prepared for surprises. When we expose ourselves to such intense transformational energy, it changes us in ways we wouldn't even have thought to ask for. I get changed by this energy too.
I'm committed to the big picture here, which is to empower the people in this group to improve their lives. So if people want to use the group as a springboard for their creative projects, I'm all for that. In fact, I expect that CGC will serve as a launching pad for some members to partner up and do interesting explorations together, such as starting new businesses. This sort of thing happens sometimes at our workshops, and I think it's wonderful. Imagine what we could do with 365 days together instead of just 3 days.
When I wanted to go through college in three semesters, I had to deal with lame rules and excessive bureaucracy getting in my way. I know what it's like to be aroused by an idea and feel like the world is slowing you down. I want to do the opposite of that by helping to remove obstacles and barriers, so you can experience more flow, harmony, and co-creative awesomeness in your life. That's better for all of us, isn't it?
Meeting in Person
Will there be an in-person meetup aspect to this group? Formally, no. I wouldn't design that as part of CGC, partly because I don't know how much interest there will be in it. If the group continues for multiple years though, I'm open to exploring that possibility for year two or beyond.
Presently this is intended as an online program. Of course members can meet in person on their own if they choose to arrange it, but since CGC is likely to attract people from all around the world, I don't want to complicate it by adding an in-person element at this time.
I have friends that include live events in their high-end coaching programs, and even when the live event is included for no extra charge as part of the package, most people don't go to it. Sometimes that's because the live event covers redundant material anyway that's already covered in the online course. Other times it's because online programs are more attractive to people who would rather not travel. Including a live event can also make your total out-of-pocket costs go up since then you'd have to consider travel and hotel expenses too. If people have already ruled out going to the live event, then including one as part of the package can dissuade them from joining the program since they feel they won't be getting all the value out of it that's being offered.
In principle it sounds like a great idea to include a live event, but in practice it gets messy if you wrap it into the online package. I think it makes more sense to keep live events and CGC separate.
So for now CGC is being designed with no travel expected or required. Regardless of where you live or even if you're traveling around as a digital nomad, you can join wherever you have Internet access. I think this is the most sensible way to go.
In order to focus my attention on CGC, I'm not currently planning to do any live workshops in 2017. There's a slim possibility I might do one in the Fall, but I honestly have no plans for that right now. Most likely I won't do more live events till 2018. I want to be able to give CGC my full attention this year. It's sure to keep me plenty busy.
If and when we do more live events, I expect to keep them separate and distinct from CGC, although those events could also serve as opportunities for CGC members to come together in person too. We could potentially offer a discount on live events for CGC members, but I have no plans to do that presently. I see all of this as year two possibilities to be decided later. So it's best not to assume any live events happening during the first year of CGC.
I do intend to continue blogging along the way, but the bulk of my creative energy will be going into CGC this year.
One Year or Multiple Years
I would love to see CGC evolve into a multi-year program, opening enrollment once or twice a year with annual renewals available for those who wish to continue. Once we've built an awesome community, why would we want to stop? I say let's keep going for as long as it makes sense to do so.
So why would you want to get involved in the first year instead of waiting to see what happens?
First, I'm going to be very personally involved during the first year. I'll be doing the coaching calls and interacting with members in the discussion group. This is a big bet in a new direction, so I absolutely want to nurture it and see it do well. If membership increases in future years or if I tackle other projects later on, then I may not be as personally involved in CGC. We may need to add more structure and train and recruit other coaches to help run the program. So if my personal involvement is important to you, this is the year to join.
Second, the first year is likely to be the most flexible and adaptive. Anything is possible, and I'm wide open to suggestions for improvement. Year one will probably have the most creativity and the most pioneering spirit. Those who are members during the first year will be co-creating something that could affect the lives of many more people down the road. The ideas we try and the decisions we make during that first year could change the structure for year two and beyond. Year one's fingerprints will be all over it.
If we continue the program for multiple years, we can also do some results-based promotion for it each time we open enrollment. We can share case studies from existing members who can say what they got out of it. I'm sure there will be some word of mouth. Existing members may want to recruit friends or family members into the group.
People are only going to renew if CGC delivers results for them. So it's especially important during that first year to focus on helping members create positive results. The results of that first year will determine CGC's long-term outlook.
My intention is for this to be a long-term bet, such as with blogging (since 2004) and workshops (since 2009). I choose these types of bets very carefully. As one reader pointed out, I was considering creating a group like this as far back as 2005. I think the timing is right for it.
It's up to you to decide if you want to be one of those bold pioneers charting new territory with us or if you want to skip that first year of awesome growth and fun. This ship can launch with you on board, or you can wave to us from the docks and hear about our adventures later. The feedback thus far tells me we're going to have a strong first year no matter what.
Since we're creating something new here, there are bound to be some hiccups along the way. I'm being careful to research the technology that we'll be using and to select very reliable services. But I do ask that if you join us, please do your best to be forgiving of any potential mishaps we have along the way. Some things are just out of my control. I'm also human and sometimes make mistakes. I've been running online businesses since 1995, and I've seen all sorts of things go wrong. It just comes with the territory of using online technology. So please don't expect 100% perfection because that's an unreasonable standard. But you can expect that if and when we have problems, we'll get to work on fixing them, and we'll do what it takes to make it right.
Worst case, if for some reason we suffered some serious downtime, like if you couldn't access the video courses for a few days because the server was offline, we can easily add extra time to your membership to compensate for any inconveniences.
Naming the Program
The current working title is Conscious Growth Club. It's similar to the name of our first workshop, the Conscious Growth Workshop, which was based on the 7 principles of conscious growth from my book, Personal Development for Smart People. We'll be using those same principles a lot in CGC, so I felt like the use of "Conscious Growth" in the title made some sense. It also describes what the program is about, i.e. making conscious choices that help us grow.
Since the title is pretty close to the pattern I've used for naming most of the workshops – Conscious Growth Workshop, Conscious Success Workshop, Conscious Relationships Workshop, Conscious Life Workshop, Conscious Heart Workshop, Conscious Abundance Workshop, Conscious Mind Workshop, Conscious Entrepreneur Workshop – one person suggested going in a different direction for naming the coaching program. I don't think it's such a bad thing to associate it with the workshops though because CGC does aim to create a similar type of growth experience but over a much longer period of time. But the main reason is that I haven't encountered any names I like better yet.
I also considered just using Growth Club, but that's pretty generic, and there are already groups using that name. They aren't focused on personal growth though.
I like the word club because it encapsulates the social element, and I think it gives a friendly and welcoming tone without sounding elitist. A club is a place where like-minded people gather to focus on common interests. A club has a social aspect, and it can also serve a purpose, like a Toastmasters club.
I don't like words like tribe or family as much because that feels like it paints a sharper line between members vs. non-members. Either you're in the tribe/family or not. These are groups you're usually born into, not necessarily something you join by choice. I'd rather emphasize the choice element.
Some words sound too cold to me, like association, organization, institution, group, union, alliance, coalition, federation, society, or league. Club seems warmer, which I like.
There's also guild, but to me that has too much association with gamers' guilds.
Update Mar 4: The feedback on the name Conscious Growth Club was very positive. People seem to like it, so let's run with it.
Here are some sample logo ideas, the first by me, and the second contributed by Sam Raheel. My thinking is to use the service 99designs or invite people who are feeling creative to suggest logo ideas. Then we can discuss and vote on them. I'd like for the choice of logo to be a community decision.
I have several motives for creating this group.
First, I think it will be an amazing way to help people change their lives for the better. I'm excited just thinking about it. I've spent many hours reading through feedback on the various incarnations of this idea, sometimes for 10-12 hours at a stretch, and it's clear that many others are enthusiastic about this too.
I'm in a unique position to be able to pull this off. I gained a lot of experience with community building when we ran the public forums from 2006 to 2011. There were a number of things we got right with the forums, such as creating a safe space where people could discuss their biggest problems and challenges, free of spammers and trolls. The moderators did an outstanding job too. The downside was that since it was free, the buy-in was low. But with more than 50,000 members and one million messages posted, it was very popular and successful during its time.
From 2009 to 2016, we held 16 three-day workshops on a variety of personal growth topics, always experimenting and testing new ideas. You can see some of the beautiful workshop feedback that attendees have shared. I gained a lot of experience working with groups in a variety of modalities. I've also done lots of speaking at other people's events over the years.
I've done a fair bit of one-on-one coaching too, usually by phone or Skype. To keep the client load reasonable, I had to charge $2000 per phone call, but the call could be as long as people wanted. We kept going until the person felt they got all the value they needed. No one ever outlasted me, and we only ended the call when the person felt totally done. Sometimes we'd take bathroom breaks and get right back to it. I think the longest coaching call I did was about 5-1/2 hours straight. Eventually I stopped offering these though. They're really intense, but I felt that focusing on group coaching, such as with the workshops, would benefit more people.
I've also written 1300+ articles, wrote a book, did podcasting, made some videos, did lots of interviews, gave talks in different countries, and more. So I've explored many ways to help people grow. I'm ready and willing to dive into CGC. I love the idea of working closely with a group of motivated people for an extended period of time, so we can make some serious progress together.
I also have purely selfish reasons for wanting to do this. I love the vibe we create at our workshops, and I'd love to have more of that in my life. It would be wonderful to have a dedicated group of growth-oriented friends to connect with every day in one place. I tried the social media thing for years, but I found it too fluffy and chaotic. With social media there's very little buy-in since it's free, so people tend to discuss things endlessly and not work on their biggest challenges all that much. I got tired of seeing pictures of what people ate for breakfast. I also had a hard time motivating myself to photograph my oatmeal in order to fit in.
I want to be a member of CGC myself, just like I was actively involved in the forums. I want to be around people that can help me grow just as I help them. This is a team sport, and we're all on the same side.
This won't be easy. It's a challenge to refine these ideas, read through all the feedback, and carefully weigh options. It's a challenge to launch this intelligently and make sure all the pieces work together. It's going to be a challenge to keep pace with the needs and desires of the people in the group. It will be a challenge to maintain balance in my personal life while taking on such a big project. With all of these challenges, I know that I'm going to experience a lot of growth from this. There's no way I can facilitate CGC and not grow tremendously from the experience.
I'm excited to think about all the positive ripples this group will create. When people transform themselves, they influence others to make changes as well. Some members of this group will launch new businesses. Some will write new books or create music or art. Some will begin new relationships. Some will embark on amazing travel adventures. Through this group we're going to add to the substance of the world. I love that. <3
Launch and Enrollment
Enrollment will open sometime in the Spring. I'm interested in doing this right, not forcing the launch to meet an arbitrary schedule. So when it's ready to launch, we'll launch.
Enrollment will be open for a short window, perhaps a week or two. After that, the group gets going. So the plan isn't to have open enrollment all throughout the year but only during a certain sign-up window. That way we can get everyone initiated into the group at the same time, and we can spend the rest of the year working closely together.
Having a limited enrollment window also gives people a real decision to make. Are you in or out? If you wait too long to decide, you'll miss it, and we'll move on without you. This helps ensure that CGC members are people who can and will make decisions.
As we get closer to the launch, you'll get plenty of advance notification about it if you're on the mailing list.
For the launch I intend to release a free video coaching series first. The series will not be about CGC directly. The series will be educational and growth-oriented, intended to help everyone, whether or not they're interested in CGC. At the end of the series, I'll share an extra video to introduce CGC, tell you more about it, and open enrollment.
Since CGC will include video training courses and live video coaching, the free video series will give you some taste of what we can do with video in CGC. I also think it's a nice way to launch CGC without being too salesy. The free series should attract lots of viewers, and my intention is that it will provide solid standalone value. If people receive good value from the free series, they'll probably be more interested in CGC.
I'm thinking that we'll post the free video series over the course of one week, and then we'll open enrollment for CGC for another week. Then we'll close enrollment and begin our awesome year together.
Size of the Group
How big will the group be?
I can't predict that in advance since CGC is a new creation. We won't know till we launch and people start joining.
I'm flexible on the size, so there isn't any particular number I'm aiming for. I'd prefer to allow as many people join as want to join. I don't think we need to put an artificial cap on that.
A smaller group means more intimacy. A bigger group means more energy. I actually like both possibilities and can adapt to whatever numbers we end up with.
I think the realistic upper bound will still be within the reach of whatever technology we're using. I'm not going to create artificial scarcity by saying we only have room for a limited number of members. I'm sure you agree that it just sounds fake when people say there are a "limited number of spots" for an easily scalable online program. I'm pretty sure we'll be able to handle as many people as are interested. CGC is designed for self-aware, growth-oriented people, and it won't have mass market pricing. That should keep the numbers reasonable.
In my opinion CGC will work regardless of the numbers we get. If we end up with a smaller group, that means more personal attention for everyone. If we end up with a bigger group, we'll have more energy, more interaction possibilities, and more subgroups. With more people enrolling, we'll have more resources to invest as well, so we could recruit extra staff and coaches to help provide even more value. I think it's best to accept the spectrum of possible outcomes since they can all work just fine.
To me the most important aspect is not that we hit a certain number of people but that we attract the right people to begin with.
It's similar to when we do live workshops. It's hard to predict what attendance we'll have till we start selling tickets. I've done smaller workshops, and I've done bigger ones, and I'm happy with them either way. I have equally fond memories of the small and intimate workshops as well as the big and energetic ones. I feel the same way when I attend other people's workshops.
One regret I have from 2016 is that I gave myself too little time to promote the workshops that year. Doing four workshops in four months was a lot of work, and I could have done a better job promoting them if I spread them out more. Since CGC is an even bigger commitment, I want to take the time to develop and launch it intelligently. So I'm not going to overlap this launch with other events. This is my one big core project for the year.
To price CGC intelligently, the price needs to be high enough to create a strong feeling of investment from the members, so everyone in the group has some real skin in the game. As with any type of coaching or club, active participation means better results. So CGC won't have mass market pricing because we need to fill it with committed members. There needs to be enough of an investment that members will feel some sting of loss if they don't extract some real value from their membership.
Another factor is that I want the investment to be a really good deal for the total value you'll receive from CGC – if you make an effort to extract that value by taking advantage of what CGC offers. I think we've successfully done that with the workshops.
Your CGC membership will last for a full year, so you'll have many opportunities and lots of time to extract good value for your investment.
I'm not planning to have different tiers of membership like silver, gold, and platinum. I want everyone in CGC to feel they're on equal footing, so we won't be having a mix of VIPs and second class citizens. I want every member to be treated as a VIP.
For a program of this nature, there are different prices that make sense to consider, and they fall on known steps. Pricing between those steps is usually suboptimal. So we really just have to decide which step we want to land on. The two steps that make the most sense to me are $2000 and $5000. In practice it would be $1997 or $4997 since apparently people like prices that end in the number 7.
The $2K price feels a bit low to me. The $5K price feels closer to a fair price for those who will take full advantage of CGC, but I also feel it would price a lot of younger people out of the program who might otherwise be great matches.
At this point I expect to go with the $2K price. To me it seems like a very strong deal relative to the value. Going to $5K feels a bit more elitist to me, and I also think it could motivate some people to overemphasize income generation. I want the group to cover income generation, but I don't want it to be overweighted relative to other important aspects of personal growth.
I used to charge $2K for a single one-on-one coaching call, and that was back around 2012. That $2K also comes close to the total cost of attending a workshop for some people. It's $497 to attend one (with early registration), and people can easily spend another $1500 on airfare, hotel, food, and transportation in the city, especially if they're coming from another country.
I know that for some people $2K is going to seem too low. Some will want a higher barrier to entry like $5K or even $10K. I belong to a $12K per year coaching program, so I understand that value of that level of pricing. Most of my blog readers and workshop attendees are in their 20s and 30s though. For many of them, $2K is still a serious investment that will make them feel strongly committed. I think that the higher we price this, the more the demographic will skew older, and that drifts further away from my core readership. I'd really like CGC to serve the needs of this core as much as possible. My intention isn't to offer something just for the wealthier or older readers.
I don't think we can justify going lower that $2K. The next natural step down from there is $1K, and that seems unreasonably low to me. At that price I think we may attract too many impulse buys. I don't want CGC to look like an impulse buy. I want the price to be high enough that people will give it some thought before signing up. That way we'll attract thoughtful members.
I still think $5K is justifiable, but I'd rather skew this in favor of greater accessibility, so I think we should go with $2K. I'm not 100% firm on that since CGC's design is still evolving, but I think we have enough of the details figured out for me to feel 90% confident that $2K will be the final price. I feel very confident that we won't go lower than $2K. If it's not $2K, it will very likely be $5K.
The $2K price also feels intuitively right to me. I feel it's high enough to make people feel invested but not so high as to cause people to stress and worry about it.
After typing the above, I glance up at the clock and saw that it was 11:11. So maybe the universe is acknowledging that it likes $2K too.
Update Mar 4: We're going with $2K ($1997 exactly) for the price.
Payment Plan - You'll have the option to pay for the full year up front with a single payment, or you can choose a payment plan. The payment plan will be 8 payments of $297, spaced a month apart. So that's one payment of $297 when you sign up and then seven more monthly payments after that. If you opt for the payment plan, you'll see that the total will be higher than if you go for the one-pay option, so effectively you'll get a 19% discount for paying in full up front.
Note that this is a one-year program, not a monthly pay-as-you-go program. So if you choose the payment plan, you'll be required and expected to make all of the payments, and your membership will be for the full year. CGC is for people who are willing to commit to a year, so it's not intended for short-term dabblers. Remember that a key benefit of this is that you'll be engaging with members who've also committed to the full year, and this commitment level is going to attract a really dedicated group of people. I think that's a key factor in making CGC successful.
One reason I'm using 8 payments instead of 12 for the payment plan is so that people don't get the false impression that this is a monthly, pay-as-you-go program. I want to make sure that people who do the payment plan are paying ahead of the program's duration, so they still feel committed to the whole year. If someone opts for the payment plan and doesn't finish the payments (such as by not updating their billing info if their credit card expires before the payments have been finished), they'd only be screwing themselves since their membership would be canceled if they don't keep up with the payments. Regardless of how many payments they complete, they'd have been paying ahead of the curve, and they'd miss out on those last several months of membership where no payments are due. So this is a strong disincentive for people to treat this as a monthly program that they could quit early just by blocking future payments.
All things considered I think this is a fair approach. It gives people the option of doing a payment plan if they want to go that route, but it rewards them with a 19% discount if they pay the full amount when they join. If people opt for the payment plan, they'll likely finish the 7 remaining monthly payments in order to benefit from the full 12 months of membership. This should also reduce the administrative burden of dealing with missed payments.
Guarantee - I expect to include a 30-day unconditional money-back guarantee, both for the one-payment option and the payment plan. So if you join CGC and decide the group isn't for you, just send a support email to request a refund within the first 30 days, and we'll refund your money. I don't want to do a longer guarantee than this because it's important to ensure that for the rest of the year, we're dealing with people who want to stick with it. I think this is a fair approach. It's important to have members who can commit, but if you want to come in and look around for a month first, you can do that.
Scholarships - A few people asked if I intend to offer discounts or scholarships for CGC. I don't plan on having any free or discounted scholarships though. I experimented with scholarships for workshops, and it didn't work out well. The lack of buy-in reduced participation, and I received some complaints from paying members who didn't feel that the scholarshipped people were trying as hard, such as when doing group exercises together. Some of the free attendees slept in late and skipped parts of the workshop too, treating their trips as more of a Vegas vacation. While not everyone was like that, it showed me that scholarships can incur the risk of degrading the experience for paying members, and I don't feel it's fair to expect the paying members to shoulder that. I believe it's important to feel strongly invested, so you do have something to lose if you don't put in a good effort.
I understand and empathize that some scholarshipped people would be very dedicated and would contribute a lot. But at present I don't see an intelligent way to offer or administer this in a way that seems fairer and more sensible than the no-scholarships approach.
That said, if you want a scholarship, something along those lines is still possible if you can find another way to come up with the investment, such as by convincing someone else to pay your membership or by crowdsourcing the amount. It's entirely up to you if you want to go that route, and I wouldn't pressure anyone to do so. If you did manage to do that though, you'd surely have an interesting story to share with the group as soon as you joined.
As I've been sharing more details on CGC, I've been seeing increasing levels of enthusiasm – with some people telling me they already want to sign up. So I'm thinking about opening up an early access possibility for people who'd like to start CGC sooner than the official launch. Think of it like a private beta test.
Here's what I'm thinking:
- No extra cost - People who want early access would still pay the same price when they join (at the start of the early access period), but their one-year membership wouldn't start counting down until we do the official launch for everyone else. So the whole early access period would be bonus time added to the front for no extra cost.
- Earliest possible access to CGC resources - As we develop the pieces of CGC, the early access group would be able to access each piece as soon as it's available. This means that as I develop the initial course material, these people will be the first to see it. It means we could fairly quickly start doing some test coaching calls. And it means these people could get into the discussion group right away, so they could start connecting with each other. I expect we'd be able to configure and open the private discussion group first. Then we can add the coaching calls. And last would be the membership site with the initial course videos for the official launch (which will take the longest to build).
- Extended money-back guarantee - For any early access members, I'll extend the money-back guarantee from the time of sign-up until the end of the official launch window, plus 30 days. That way you're still getting the same 30-day guarantee as anyone else who enrolls during the official launch, and your guarantee spans the entire early access period too. I think that's important because during the early access period, you wouldn't be able to do a fair evaluation of CGC since we'll still be developing the various pieces during that time. Additionally, you could even change your mind during the early access period, get a full refund, and then re-buy the membership during the official launch window.
- Feedback - In exchange for granting early access, I'd like more feedback from such members while we're developing, configuring, and testing the coaching call format, the discussion group, and the membership site. We could use the discussion group for sharing feedback, reporting bugs, and discussing how we can best leverage all these resources.
If we do have an early access period, I want to ensure that the people who go for it are getting at least as good a deal in every way as those who want to wait for the official launch.
Having an early access period would give me a chance to develop and test the pieces of CGC with a smaller group that can give me feedback on all the micro-decisions to be made along the way. And we could also spend some time working on people's current challenges and figuring out the best ways to help members make progress.
Just be aware that my priority during the early access period will be to keep moving the project forward towards the official launch, so I don't want you to have unrealistic expectations regarding the coaching benefits you may receive during the early access period. I think the main benefits of early access will be to connect sooner with other members and to get an insider's view of what it's like to build out a large project like this.
I'd estimate that the early access period, if we have one, would be at least 60 days.
If you think you'd be interested in signing up for early access to CGC, please let me know. If enough people like the idea, I'll probably do it.
Update: More than 100 people have asked to be added to the early access notification list, so we'll make this happen. I expect we can open CGC for early access by the end of March. The discussion group is already up and running.
If you'd like to share feedback on any of the ideas here, please send a message through the contact form. Feedback on any of the ideas here is very much appreciated. While I do read every piece of feedback personally, and I do my best to respond when I can, sometimes I get a bit swamped and can't send everyone a personal reply.
So far the feedback I've received on this has been super positive. Many people have said they already want to join, even before I created this web page, so that's very encouraging. I'm starting to get the feeling that this could be more popular than I originally expected.
The ideas above are not all from me. There are many pieces that other people contributed, based on multiple rounds of feedback. Designing CGC is very much a co-creative effort, and it will continue being a co-creative effort after it launches. I see us all being on the same side here, creating something that will be hugely beneficial for the community.
If you'd like to be notified when CGC launches, be sure to join the mailing list.
Lastly, if you have any growth-oriented friends, family members, or co-workers that you think would benefit from CGC, please share a link to this page with them, so they can check it out. 🙂