From Outside To Inside To Outside

Today I’m writing about going from the outside of a community, to right in the heart of the inside, to back out once again. All in the span of 2 years. I’m talking about ClickFunnels of course, and with the barrage of social media posts and stories about FHL this week, it’s quite top of mind.

It was February 2017, and I remember my first Funnelhacking Live like it was yesterday. I was there with my then business partner Madelaine, we were running a webinar funnel for Create Your Laptop Life ®, and we knew virtually no one in Dallas that week.

We nearly bought the all-in version of ClickFunnels when Russell famously sold a CF laptop sticker valued at $97. It was a compelling case for Actionetics, and yet the daunting task of moving all our content stopped us before we went “all in”.

I also remember pushing my way to the front of the crowd to try and ask Russell a question at the round table. He was still doing round tables at that event – with only 1500 attendees – it was still manageable. His bodyguard (aka Executive Assistant) stood behind him with a serious face and a low rimmed baseball cap that hid her eyes.

The question I asked him, “How do you differentiate between collaboration and healthy competition?” and his reply was classic Russell. Play to win, dominate your competition, and don’t feel bad about it.

Little did I know, that in the months that followed, I would become embroiled in a classic Internet Marketing Drama fest, having made the top ten on Russell’s Expert Secrets Affiliate Contest. It was me (one of the only females, and a no name at that), against Grant Cardone, Tony Robbins, and other scrappy small time marketers like Peng Joon and Dan Henry. I didn’t know any of these people at the time.

I remember feeling on the outside and wanting desperately to feel cool, included, and like one of “them”. I didn’t know the rules of the game and the community. I knew it was clique-y but I didn’t realize how much so. Despite working as hard as my fellow top-ten people (and honestly, harder), I was initially denied an interview by Russell… and took to the Internet to express my displeasure at the ever changing rules of the affiliate contest. It was a scathing review and went mini-viral. I’d touched a nerve. People were ruthless with me, even those I thought were friends…and I don’t think I cried so much as I did in those two weeks trying to navigate that hellish affiliate game.

At the time, on the outside, I had my values and principles guiding me. No sense of belonging to the community or attachment to the people, so I saw it for what it was. And I wasn’t apologetic about my opinions at first

Until I got invited in.

  • I got an interview with Russell.
  • A spot in the designathon.
  • An exclusive mastermind for the top ten affiliates.
  • A spot in the Inner Circle.
  • A job as Russell’s main content producer.
  • A job as a 2CCX head coach.
  • A partner role at the executive level.

The next two FHL’s were a whirlwind. Both in 2018 and 2019, I spoke on stage. I was the leading female voice in the community. I managed a team, oversaw 2CCX content, and yes – spent several moments alone in tears in a random bathroom trying to keep my shit together. It was all just a vortex of opportunity, and yet, the internal jockeying for position next to Russell made me feel like I was in a political quagmire.

With each invite in, I became more and more on the inside, and felt more pressure to keep my mouth shut about the things I disagreed with. The various excuses I made…

“It’s not so bad…”

“I just misunderstood…”

“It was my fault…”

As I rationalized why I was mistaken with my viewpoint, I also started to fall in love with all the people. The community. The good things that ClickFunnels had brought together. It’s hard to see things clearly when you are relying so much on that sense of belonging. And people I met then I’m still dear friends with today.

It felt like home.

The danger of course is that the sense of belonging silenced my voice. I contorted myself to fit the role I was cast in, and didn’t speak up when things happened that violated my compass of right and wrong.

As time went on, I felt like I belonged in a cult. I don’t think Russell would even disagree with me. After all, that was the joke right?

We humans like to categorize things in black and white. Right and wrong. And for a time, that’s the way I thought too.

By the time June of 2019 rolled around, about two years after coming into the ClickFunnels world, I had had enough. I was burnt out, exhausted, and swirling inside a system that felt like it was stripping me of my values, my voice, and my ideology. And I really had no one to blame but myself.

This wasn’t ClickFunnels fault. It was mine and mine alone.

In the drive to belong, I let go of myself. In the drive for security, I let go of myself. In the fear of losing friendships, I let go of myself.

I had no idea how to hold onto friendships, acknowledge the incredible opportunities I’d been given, and also honor myself in the process. It felt like an impossible task, but I set out to try.

I resigned in June 2019. I grieved so much for the community I’d lost. I stuck around as long as I could, but something funny began to happen. I found that the things that were good in my life – the people mainly – were still there. I had relationships that were incredible (and still are). And the desire to be on the “inside” started to fade as I let go of my fear of not belonging.

It didn’t align with me anymore. It wasn’t necessary to contort myself just to fit inside a community with a certain ideology.

I did attend FHL in 2020, about seven months after I’d left. It was a great time, and I shared a lot of great moments with people. Cathy and I got our 2CC award for Funnel Gorgeous. But I could tell, the culture was losing its grip on me.

So here we are in 2021, and this is the first year since 2017 that I’m not attending FHL.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sad to some degree. The people, the late night chats, the networking in the halls… it’s all just so fun and inspirational. Many of my dearest friends and clients are there. I’m home cheering them on, trying to find the balance between focusing on what I need to focus on, and not avoiding the pang of grief that I’m not there.

But I also know that sometimes it’s okay to be sad. Because for me, I know I’ll be healthier, happier, and more aligned with the destiny God has given me if I remain on the outside.

The culture at ClickFunnels doesn’t fit who I am or who I’m meant to be, and I can honor that and still honor the lessons and things I learned during my two year journey from the outside to the inside and back out again.

There’s a lot I’m taking with me. People are always the most important part of anything we do here on Earth, and I have relationships with many because of ClickFunnels and for that I am so grateful.

  • I have a better sense of what I want to stand for, and what I don’t
  • I can see where things can go sideways quickly and build guardrails against it
  • I have friendships that will last a lifetime
  • I know what values I want in my companies, and what I don’t
  • I can take the solid marketing strategy with me, and strip away the stuff that isn’t aligned

If you’re at FHL this year, have a blast. Take the good, leave the rest (and for pete’s sake freeze your credit card LOL).

If you’re like me, feeling like you’re on the outside, it’s just an illusion. You’re not really on the outside at all. Remind yourself that things that are meant for you, will stick. There are LOTS of communities that you can belong to, that will fit with who you are and what you’re trying to do.

xx Julie