Balancing it All

Julie Chenell sitting outside smiling

A Statement Regarding My Past, My Father, + The Events of 2011

I am going to preface this statement by saying that I do not owe anyone an explanation for my past. Every single human on planet Earth has things they are not proud of. The first person who wants to cry sinless, go ahead and pick up a stone.

That said, I am going to explain my past in a way that hopefully puts all the Internet articles in context. And if you’re wondering why I’m explaining all this personal stuff that happened 11 years ago… it’s because people are using it against me, and I would like to put the issue to rest… permanently.

My childhood was good growing up, albeit complicated. I had a ghost of a biological father in the distance. I knew I had a “real” dad but didn’t know him, didn’t have a photo, didn’t know where he lived, if he had other children, nothing. 

This deeply impacted me as a little girl.

As an adult, when I finally connected with him in a meaningful way, I was unprepared for the emotions of adoptive reunions. I also had no idea what a narcissist was (it wasn’t trendy then). 

I am not interested in reliving the trauma for internet trolls and bullies who are dumpster diving for information to prove I’m unfit as a business owner. 

But we’ll leave it at this: This man psychologically and sexually abused me for 9 months. And now I have all kinds of words to describe what happened.

  • I trauma bonded (not in the cute IG reel sense, in the dark – I want to end my life kind of way). 
  • I developed some sort of Stockholm syndrome.
  • I had a fawn response.

Anyone who studies these kinds of situations understand the nuance of how an adult woman could convince herself she wanted her father to sexually abuse her and call it love. 

In 2011, I did what I do to try to survive it. I coped. I adapted. I researched. I tried to find any reason I could to explain why my father had done this. I wanted so desperately to know that he wasn’t a monster. I didn’t want to lose him again after just finding him. 

And I began to write. I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote. And because of that, I gathered attention. Attention of the media. ABC News, Dr. Drew, adoption experts all over the world. I had camera crews at my house. I wrote a book. Sold thousands of copies. Traveled to other countries to speak about it.

All of it based on this idea of genetic sexual attraction. The idea is that in a healthy family system, the Westermarck effect keeps parents and children and siblings from being attracted to their kin. When two people are blood relatives and grow up without each other and then reconnect, that bond can become intense, confusing, and sexualized. Without the Westermarck effect, people can get themselves in difficult and compromising situations. 

I wanted this to be the answer. My father wanted it to be the answer. That way he wasn’t a vicious predator. And I wasn’t a victim. If I had to admit that what he was doing was abuse, I would have to cut him out of my life forever. 

For all of 2011 and 2012, I had my father in my ear, and this trauma bond response convincing myself and everyone that this was just an adoptive reunion gone awry. Anything you read or see from that time, please understand that is the context and backdrop. 

In 2013, I finally cut him out of my life forever. And I found this book called The Kiss by Kathryn Harrison. And I reached out to her to ask if she thought Genetic Sexual Attraction was the issue. She was very nice, and told me that I had been the victim of some very dark abuse, and eventually… I would realize this. 

Sure enough, she was right. 

Today, my understanding of what happened is very different than what I thought back in the middle of the crisis, with a father in my ear suggesting what I had to say in order to keep us together. 

So why am I telling you all this? Because some people have found my interviews and articles from 2011, in the heat of the crisis (again with my father in my ear), and they are using these videos and articles to prove that I am … I don’t know what exactly. Crazy? Psychotic? A liar? 

Much of what I said in those pieces I do not believe now. But when your father is waiting on the other side of an interview and you don’t want him to threaten suicide or some other psychological punishment, you do what you have to do.

Now these things are being used against me.

The funny thing is… I’ve spoken publicly about my father in several places. On stage at events, in my podcast, and in writing. I’ve never hidden the fact that this happened. 

I am deeply hurt that people are using my personal past with my father to somehow convince others I’m not fit as a business woman. 

As you can imagine, this event in my life has colored everything. 

It is one of the primary reasons my first marriage dissolved in 2014.

It is one of the primary reasons I chose a second relationship that wasn’t good for me.

It continues to be something I fight and contend with in a disorganized attachment style has me craving safety and yet at the same time, fearing truly being known, afraid of being left or told I’m not worth the work.

After all, when a father isn’t interested in you as a small helpless child, but heavily interested as an adult female… that messes with your sense of self-worth.

I’ve done more therapy than most people do in a lifetime. I consider myself a fast learner, and try to internalize what I learn quickly. I am self-aware and non-judgmental and just generally — a good person with a complicated relationship past.

My sister Nicole shared with me the other day the concept of the four burners. Every person has four burners – Health, Family, Work, and Friends. For many successful people, you’ll find one burner is off. For those who are INCREDIBLY successful, you might find even two burners off. The concept of being amazing at it all is one that is perpetuated everywhere because we all want it to be true. And maybe for a season it is.

I know for me, my family burner has struggled. Specifically the “love life” portion of family, though I know my kids probably carry scars of all of this as well. 

I’m not sure exactly what people are trying to prove by drudging up my past. I’m not perfect, never have been, never will be. 

I have struggled with love relationships. This is why I’m not going to be a marriage counselor or therapist. I don’t know what it has to do with anything I teach or train in marketing, money, productivity, or business.

And I will say this: If we’re going to crucify people for their issues, problems, addictions, and traumas… then every single one of us should fucking exit stage left right now. 

  • I am not a guru. 
  • I am not anyone’s messiah. 
  • I am not infallible. 

If you are uncomfortable working with me because of this, please just leave me the hell alone. I will not be blackmailed, threatened, or held hostage for being a messy human who does the best she can at any given moment. 

My past is no one’s business.

My present is no one’s business either.

I will probably struggle with this event for the rest of my life. Like anyone with any kind of scar, it’s just a thing they must deal with. 

None of this has ANY bearing on anyone I work with whatsoever. The only person that needs to know any of it… is the one I am with in a love relationship with. 

I really debated whether to even say anything. But I thought… on the off chance that me standing up and sharing what has happened to me gives someone else a feeling of relief that they don’t have to hide their skeletons.

Also… warning label to anyone who thinks vague-booking about someone else is a good idea. It is not. It causes people with mal-intent to simply dig and dig until they find something they can use as a weapon. 

I am quite angry if I’m honest. Mainly because I don’t know why I continue to run with a target on my back when I am largely staying in my lane. But underneath that anger, is just sadness. 

  • I wish people would have grace for each other.
  • I wish people would just ask me directly instead of spreading hate and misinformation.
  • I wish people would stop over dramatizing certain types of trauma vs. others.

I have another 40 years left on this Earth (God willing). I promise you. You will find more dirt because I’m going to continue to be an imperfect messy human just trying to find love, do her best, and live to her potential.

Julie Chenell sitting outside smiling

How To Stop Riding Life On The Default Setting

It might not be obvious to any of us on a day to day basis, but the world has radically shifted in the last 50 years.

We’re watching as understood norms and structures are collapsing right before our eyes – either through corruption or a mass awakening or both.

  1. Is college really the best way to get a higher education?
  2. Is the American dream of buying a home with two kids and a white picket fence really sustainable?
  3. Do the police actually protect us or are they a part of the problem we see today?
  4. Is Democracy stable against tyranny and uprising?
  5. Do we really need banks and intermediaries or can we democratize and digitize money?
  6. Why do we think staying in the same career for 30+ years is the right path for most of us?
  7. Is Capitalism destroying the planet?

Will we even be here in 100 to 200 years? If we are, it won’t look anything like what we’ve known as modern society in the last few decades.

What happens energetically in society as a whole trickles down into each individual person and depending on where you are in the structure of it all, you might be feeling this radical shift internally as well.

  1. Is everything I worked for what I actually want?
  2. Why did I believe that this was the best path for me? And is it still true?
  3. Do I feel like I’ve lived fully so far, and if not, do I need to make a change in order to make the next 30-40 years more fulfilling?
  4. Have I coasted on societal norms and expectations only to feel empty and lost?

You might read those questions and say, “Oh that’s just someone in a midlife crisis.” And that might be true.

But in this time of the world, I would argue that these questions are a necessary ask to every human being who doesn’t want to just ride through life on the default setting.

Especially now when our civilization is headed for collapse.

The scariest moment for all of us is when the answer to those questions requires a reinvention. And that is something I know a bit about. I’ve done it before, and in many ways… am doing it again.

Truth #1: The fundamental belief that “end” means failure… must die. 

In 2014, my first marriage ended. And with it, a lot of the traditions, routines, friends, and community that went along with that union.

In addition to the end of my marriage, I lost my church. My best friends. My home. My town. My entire community. If you could write a definition of burning it all to the ground, that was it.

It was a mess. And in that season, I learned another truth.

Julie Chenell

Truth #2: Mess isn’t bad.

Walk into a garden in October in the Northeast and you will see a mess. The flowers are dying. Weeds might have grown up. Bugs. Maybe even some disease on leaves after the hot and humid summer.

Walk into that garden in February and you will see death. Nothing is alive or moving. The ground is frozen.

Walk into that garden in May and everything will look right. Bright green foliage, new flowers, life. Even still… it’s planted in dirt.

When things come crashing down in your world, it will be messy. You’ll feel conflicting emotions. You’ll doubt yourself. It doesn’t mean it was the wrong thing for you.

What happened for me is much like what you see in the mystical Phoenix. With everything dead and burned, I was able to resurrect the parts of me that I wanted to carry forward, and the parts of me I needed to let die.

My life today looks nothing like back then, but I still hold many of the same beliefs I did then. They just are expressed differently.

My potential would not have been unlocked if not for that mess and failure and end.

It doesn’t feel good to watch the deck get shuffled. But that cliche saying about failure is true.

Truth #3: We learn more in failure than in success. Failure is our greatest teacher.

We need to redefine failure because it is the only true catalyst for change in the human heart. Yet, most of us go to extraordinary lengths to avoid it. And by doing so, we avoid learning deep truths about ourselves that can change the way we impact the people around us.

That reinvention in 2014 taught me so much about myself and the world around me.

And silly me, I thought that was the only one I would need.

Why do we believe that a human being (average lifespan 75 years old), wouldn’t need to go through several cycles of reinvention in order to reach their highest potential?

Show me something in nature that doesn’t cycle naturally through seasons. I’ll wait.

And in all of those life cycles, death is a part of it. What’s true in one area, is true in another. For us as humans, our physical life cycle might have one natural death, but emotionally/intellectually, it’s absurd to think we wouldn’t go through several of those cycles in our lifetime.

Truth #4: If you’re committed to reaching your potential, be prepared to leave behind old patterns that don’t work anymore.

In my decision to end my current marriage, I had to wrestle with the societal norm that says divorce is only for people who can’t stick it out in relationships.

No one was going to come and reassure me on that. Despite the fact that I would be more accepted societally if I had slept around with 10-15 guys and married none, vs. staying loyal and true in two longterm serious marital relationships that ended.

It sounds absurd right? Why would I have more scorn from the world than that other scenario where I would be unable to commit to anyone in a real meaningful way?

Truth #5: Question what you believe and why you believe it. You might discover cognitive dissonance at work.

It’s scary when you uncover beliefs that don’t make logical sense. And, as a faith based person, I don’t worship logic as the highest form of thinking. I’m perfectly comfortable believing things that require faith to hold.

However, doing that with the awareness that they are based on faith is where you have to square up with yourself.

Pretending your beliefs are logic based when they are clearly not creates a pattern where you’re not willing to question yourself and your beliefs regularly.

As I’ve been walking through this divorce process over the past months, I have a new awareness of how much the body does keep the score. My physical body is the key to what’s happening emotionally for me, and this is one of the first times I’ve really understood what’s happening.

I’ve learned to notice the sensations in my body – a queasy stomach, tightness in my chest, numbness in my hands, racing heart, shaky jaw… and then even more subtle sensations… a feeling of fullness in my throat, small vibrations in my stomach… it’s all communicating to me important truths about the emotions running through me.

I didn’t realize how much I try to push certain emotions down until I started paying attention. Most of my anxiety is fueled by the desire to avoid feeling pain and sadness. And this is where I got stuck back in 2014.

I learned so much but didn’t understand this. And I do now.

Truth #6: We’re designed to feel our emotions, and if we don’t, we get stuck. They will entrap us. The way out is through. Simply feeling an emotion in the body and letting it wash over us like a wave is how we process emotion.

All this talk of hard things does have a positive flip side.

The potential for love is deeper.

The ability to tap into true empathy means you will be able to reach more people.

The feeling of true happiness and contentment is more accessible.

The body keeps the score in both positive and negative ways. Living in stress, avoidance, fear, anxiety, frustration will take its toll on you physically as much as emotionally.

The brain controls everything, including the hormone response to stress. And those stress hormones in large quantities over a long period of time will manifest in your life.

How about we use this incredible power of the mind body connection towards the positive?

None of this is easy, but it’s 100% worth it. I’ve been through some of the deepest pain and sadness in both seasons of reinvention, and it’s tough – but in each of them, I have held onto my commitment to doing what is best for me, regardless of how it feels in the moment.

I know that the more responsibility I take for myself and my potential, the more impact I will be able to have on those around me.

I did a podcast episode the other day and I was asked the question, “What legacy do you want to leave on this Earth?” and it took me a minute, but it was clear as day.

I want people to look at my life and think, “If she did it, so can I.”

Julie Chenell

xx

Julie Chenell

About Divorce

The grief took me by surprise. The depth of my tears seemed to come from the innermost parts of me and sometimes I felt like they would never run out. I felt very much like death had come to my door, and I had no choice but to ride out the tsunami of grief it brought

  • Death to surviving.
  • Death to over functioning.
  • Death to loose boundaries.
  • Death to bending because I’m scared of losing love.
  • Death to trying to make a happy ending.

Today, I find myself struggling sometimes to hold onto these new set of shoes I’m wearing. I want to kick them off and go get my old comfy sneakers that take me to places of desperation, neediness, over adaptation, codependency. But then I say no… I put bandages on the blisters forming where my new shoes are causing discomfort, and I keep walking. 

I realize it’s normal to one minute want to run right back into the past. To soothe the pain of separation and loss and pretend that everything is okay.

But then the next minute feel the incredible rush of relief that comes with finally learning to honor oneself.

One minute you want to beg to someone, anyone, to tell you you’re worth loving, even when you’re not useful or accommodating to them.

The next minute.. standing in that feeling of alone-ness, in the middle of the night when your body and brain can’t fall asleep, and your souls whisper… “you’re doing it.” 

One minute you can’t hardly bear the idea of being alone forever.

The next minute you cannot imagine how you went so long without a sacred space that is just for you.

Though the world sees me as incredibly competent and reliable, I’ve spent the majority of my adult life thinking I cannot be left to my own devices. I need someone to rescue me, take care of me, give me feedback because I can’t give it to myself. And it turns out this was the biggest lie of all. A belief system that dictated the entirety of my adult life is crashing down.

It’s only been a short while, but it feels like a lifetime.

There are still many hills to climb, many of which seemed huge and insurmountable before I made the decision to be alone. I wish I believed it when people told me those hills would not seem so huge once I trusted my instincts.

I spent so long being afraid of them, and here they are – and the grace and strength is there for me, in abundance.

Even still, grief is so messy and unpredictable. Sometimes I watch myself flail around trying to find a stabilizing force. I try not to fall into shame and judgement because no one ever said it wouldn’t be messy trying to break out of a cocoon to become a butterfly. Those caterpillars have to turn to goo first to even get their wings.

When I think about having a partner again, I feel so many things. 

  • Guilt. Should I not want this?
  • Anticipation. Will someone actually be able to walk alongside me in this life?
  • Despair. I don’t know that there is any man able to reach the standard I’ve now set for access to my heart and mind. 
  • Joy. I know that I’m an entirely different woman now and won’t choose out of need.

I feel God is close to me in this moment. I know He is near to the brokenhearted.

I see Him in the eyes of my children who are closely watching how I choose them as my first priority.

I see Him in the mentors who are right there to send love and advice and reassurance just when I need it.

I see Him in the face of my parents who show me unconditional love and acceptance no matter how messy my life gets. 

I see Him in the arms of friends who are walking this with me.

And I know, when He sends me a partner who will be strong enough, smart enough, capable enough to just walk alongside me in this life – I will see God in his eyes too.

In the meantime, I will keep going. I will keep finding joy. I will wake up every day grateful I get another morning to get up and see the goodness of God in this life. I will celebrate life and love in all its forms. I will take risks. I will be gentle with my mess ups. I will find compassion for everyone, even those who don’t know how to care for my heart. I will choose forgiveness. 

I will not be ashamed that my life doesn’t look like the fairy tale endings we were all spoon fed as children.

I will choose love.

For myself as much for anyone else. 

xx

Julie Chenell & LaToya

2021 Income (ish) + Takeaways

Every year I write a recap of sorts. I put it on the blog, write it in an email, and use it as a bookend to the year.

I linked up the older takeaway posts at the end of this email if you want to see them – many of the takeaways are still true today as they were when I wrote them. Some things of course are different too.

2021 was a blur of content creation and growth. Digital Insiders had its biggest events ever, with a sold out mastermind all year long. Funnel Gorgeous (painfully) doubled in size and with that came all sorts of growth, fun, chaos, stress, and gratitude.

I wrote an email teasing some of this financial growth out a bit and got MAJOR kickback about it. People apparently only like you talking about money on your rise up, and there’s a line you cross at which point character assassination and shaming are what you can expect.

It was hard. It made me not want to talk about money ever again.

But I got over it. I’ve been consistently transparent since I got online. I’m not going to stop now because a few people decided to throw stones.

So here’s how the year ended.

Digital Insiders

  • Total Revenue for 2021 = $1,961,724.81
  • Payroll + Contractor Costs for 2021 = $699,454.84
  • Expenses = $320,680.39
  • Net Profit = $941,589.97
  • Taxes on Profit (50% est when I pay federal, CT, and several other states ????) = $470,794.985
  • Net Income = $470,794.98

As you can see, this program has remained steady, as it’s not a scalable offer due to the constraints around the coaching services. I also do not want it any bigger because I want to continue to have 1:1 to access with everyone, so I’m content to keep this business “in the sweet spot”.

The largest expenses in DI are for labor and events.

Digital Insiders also takes an incredible amount of time and bandwidth. This is not a set it and forget it business. I am actively coaching and interacting with clients at least 25-30 hours a week. I spend two weeks a year with Insiders nearly 24 hours a day. So if you’re looking at the business model saying “Oh that’s a sweet deal” – it 100% is an amazing business model if you like people and enjoy investing in them. If you are okay answering voxers 50 weeks a year without stopping ????.

It’s hard to explain how much mental energy it takes to run a dynamic mastermind and keep it healthy and interactive and helpful and all of those things. And it’s also hard to explain how important it is to have a coaching team that is expert level, drama free, and full of integrity. I’m so grateful to my team and their commitment to the group, to each other, and to me. And of course it goes without saying that a mastermind is only as good as the people who are in it, and they are some of the most incredible entrepreneurs I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.

Funnel Gorgeous was the business that doubled in 2021 (went from $2m – $4m). This is largely due to the fact that we added a brand new revenue stream at the end of 2020 in the form of SaaS. Whereas formally we were just a course + coaching company, now we have SaaS as well.

  • So our course + coaching business did about the same as 2020 – $2M in sales.
  • We added an additional $2M in sales through FG Funnels.

It was crazy to see that both revenue streams were almost equal. I didn’t expect that.

Expense wise, our biggest cost was… you guessed it… labor! I don’t have the final P&L for 2021 to share the exact numbers but in November, we spent over $128k on payroll, contractors, etc., in one month.

Overall, our profit margin is coming in around 40% for the year but we’ve slowly seen profit margin decrease as we’ve grown (which is to be expected). December’s profit was quite low due to the upcoming Marketer’s Heart event (events are SO EXPENSIVE) but the average for the year was great.

So what do I feel now that 2021 is over? Any magical takeaways or insights?

  1. I built a lot of content. I counted it up on a post a few months ago, and it was insane. 2022 is not looking any less, so it’s clear this is one of my zones of genius. Whether it’s workshops, coaching, courses, or presentations, this is where I shine and where I should probably stay. The question is, will I ever slow down enough to write a damn book!?!?!?
  2. Growth isn’t anything like what people think. It’s literally all about people. Hiring people, managing people, coming up with company systems for performance reviews, meetings, insurance, relationship dynamics, etc. Growth is about hiring more lawyers. Growth is about financial strategy conversations. Growth is about not losing your shit when people misunderstand you.
  3. The Internet is changing. It’s changing so fast and we’re right in the thick of it. We’ve got blockchain, VR, web3, NFTs all swirling around the edges of our everyday life and it’s going to continue to come faster and faster into 2022. In change is risk + opportunity. Expect to win and to lose if you play.
  4. The era of dollar in two dollar out Facebook Ads is over, and it’s not coming back.
  5. It’s hard to grow a thick skin and be kind at the same time. I wrote about it here and here.
  6. Most people if they can figure out business, can’t seem to get a handle on the money part of business once it’s made. It’s a big gap in Internet Marketing circles and it’s something I want to help solve (this was the motivation behind Future Fund launch in August with Aryeh Sheinbein).
  7. I did the two biggest events I’ve ever done in May and November. Both were hella epic and I’ll remember them til the day I die (and it makes me want to do more!).
  8. My top podcast of 2021? The Coaching Formula 
  9. My top posts of the year on the blog?
    1. The Tightrope
    2. How to Build a Marketing Plan that Doesn’t Rely on Facebook Ads

Personally it was an interesting year!

  • January Alex and I put an offer in on Longwater Farm.
  • February Nala came to join our family (I also turned 40!).
  • March we moved to Guilford.
  • April + May were adjusting to farm life and inviting all of Digital Insiders to the farm in May.
  • In June, school got out and we went to Disney for the first time since the pandemic.
  • We came back and Ellie contracted covid and landed in the hospital. That pretty much deterred our July.
  • August was another workshop here at the farm, and then school started anew for all the kids. My inlaws also came to live with us for half a year.
  • One kid started college. William went to school for the first time ever. Our girls started a new high school.
  • November was Disney World with Digital Insiders.
  • And then it was the holidays. December 30th, 2021 – the year that’s gone the FASTEST so far in my life.

I’m in a bit of a funny headspace as we race into 2022. I’m hella aware of the state of our planet. The pandemic, climate change, an impending midterm election year, web3 and the metaverse coming in hot. It’s a lot.

A LOT.

Add family and business and it’s no wonder so many of us are tired.

But one thing I know to be true. Our place on this Earth is for such a time as this. I was not a mistake born when I was, and neither are you. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, you were made for this hour.

Embrace it.

All my love,

Julie

P.S. Some of my older takeaways…2020201920182017.

Ep. 100 Behind the Scenes of The Disney Mastermind

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Full Transcript:

Today I want to debrief with you on the latest Digital Insiders Mastermind. This was probably the most ambitious thing I have ever attempted in my business, and it was a basically week long Disneyworld meets Digital Insiders Mastermind Extravaganza. So I’m gonna kind of go into the event and give you sort of behind the scenes.



So we decided to do something different for the 2021 masterminds because we had all been virtual for Covid. So back in 2020 I had the idea, you know we all been sort of sitting on the sidelines here, doing everything virtual, let’s go someplace amazing. Let’s go to Disneyworld.

So I contacted the event team, and I just have to give a major shout out to Disneyworld Event Team, they did a fantastic job, but also my team. Really, Jessica Foster was the machine behind all of this helping put all these logistics together. So we went ahead, picked the dates, got the room block, and basically I said to people, “You have got to book this now, come hell or high water.” Because you know, when you’re planning an event, it’s always a little tricky with the room block because they make you pay for whatever you don’t use on your room block, so that can be kind of financially scary. But the Digital Insiders were super, they were down. And we booked up the room block in just a couple of weeks.

So we stayed at the Grand Floridian, which is the flagship resort in Disneyworld. Amazing location, amazing views, just absolutely fantastic. We got a really good deal, normally it’s like $700 a night at that resort, but we ended up getting about $329 a night for a room and people wanted to share. So we booked that out pretty fast. Then what I did is I put together a Disneyworld Committee through the Digital Insiders just to get some feedback and some ideas on how to do it, because you’re combining play with work, it was completely different than any other mastermind.

So we met once a month for a couple of months. We talked about food, we talked about ideas, we talked about the blend of play versus work. So that was sort of a recurring theme as I was planning this event. How much play is enough? And how much work is enough? And with entrepreneurs who are very, very work focused, I was a little nervous that this would be a hard transition. And it turns out that it was a little bit, but it was also really, really good.

So a couple of things, number one, the way we ran the schedule is we did two full masterminding days from 9 to 4 on Monday and Thursday. And on both of those days we had hosted dinners. So basically the way the schedule worked is we Mastermind from 9 to 12, we had a 2 hour lunch break, and everybody went to various restaurants around Disneyworld. And that was quite a logistical feat that I had a Digital Insider help me with to get reservations, since Disney is kind of complicated. And then we had a nice long break from 4 to 7, and this was great because it allowed people to either go to the pool, or talk, or network, and then we had hosted dinners on Monday and Thursday night.

So those were the big mastermind days. Tuesday and Friday were half day mastermind days. So on Tuesday it was a 2 to 6, and on Friday it was 11 to 3. So on those days we had other things going on. So Tuesday morning we had people going into Magic Kingdom. And on Friday night we had people going into Epcot. So those days were really, really long. I thought they were going to be fine, but they were actually more tiring than the Monday/Thursday because of the switch from play to work, play to work.And then Wednesday, smack dab in the middle, was just a day of play.

So a couple of cool things that we did at the mastermind that I will never forget as long as I live. The first thing is that I rented out Animal Kingdom, after dark, after closing. So we got on coach buses, we got to animal kingdom, and all 80 of us walking into the park while everyone was walking out, was just something I will never forget as long as I live.

We went over into the Africa area, and we went to Harambe market where there was a West African band playing, a huge buffet, Raffiki showed up and we basically spent an hour and half or two hours just having a meal together. And then we picked up and walked over to the land of Pandora, which is all lit up at night. It’s bio-luminescent waterfalls, sounds. We went over there and we had 90 minutes access to the most popular ride on Disney property, which is Flight of Passage, although, I would say it’s probably the second most popular ride now that Star Wars is around. And we got 90 minutes to ride it, just us. And it was so unbelievably cool.

And then we had a dessert party with all kinds of desserts. I honestly can’t quite remember. So that night was just absolutely unforgettable. The next morning, Tuesday morning, about 40 of us got up to go do Magic Kingdom. So we were up late, and we were up early, and by Tuesday night we were just absolutely exhausted.
But it was interesting to see what happened, because some of the people who were a little bit less excited about the play part of the mastermind, noticed that once they were kind of pulled out of their regular environment, they were waiting in lines, they were eating meals, they were dancing, they were swimming, they were doing all these things, and ideas started to kind of bubble up to the surface. And that that need for play is so built into our DNA, and it’s the thing that really drives creativity.

So on Wednesday we all did a VIP tour. So I had got 6 VIP tour guides and each team, they were based on teams and they were named after different pirate ships, got to choose what they wanted to do for 7 hours. So some teams did one or two parks, other teams hit all four parks in 7 hours, it was nuts. But of course, with the VIP tour guides, you can get to the front of the lines, they drive you through the back entrances, they get your coffee for you, your ponchos, whatever you need. So it’s just such a luxury experience. And I cannot tell you, I will treasure for the rest of my life, all the pictures that came flooding in during that VIP day.

So Thursday we went back to work, but there was like a new energy in the room because we had had all this play time, and Thursday night we had a party at the Grand Floridian. We watched the fireworks, we danced, we stayed up until 2 in the morning in the hot tub, and it was just an absolutely amazing, amazing day.

Friday was, Friday was a little hard. It was hard because it was sad because people were leaving. It was hard because we were exhausted. We did mastermind again, we had some great presentations, and then we went into Epcot and we did the food and wine festival and the fireworks. It was a full day. And we were all exhausted. But the takeaway from it was that play is as important as work, especially if you need creative energy for your business. It also is very obvious that people need connection, they need face to face human connection. And I saw that play out, and you know we know that the pandemic has caused a lot of hardship and social isolation. But watching the sort of sadness and crash after, just reminds me how much we need to belong in a community.

So if you’re thinking about putting on an event like this, number one I would make sure you have someone like my team. Jess and also Emily and Helen and Nuno, they were all really, really critical to pulling this off. I had Helen who was overseeing the virtual, because there were virtual about 20 people who couldn’t come, so we wanted to stream them in. Nuno who was sort of working the room and making sure everybody felt good and could belong. And Emily was sort of the liaison between the virtual and the in-person, she was also my gate keeper. And then Jess who was managing almost every logistic from you know, oh my gosh, the time and what to do if it rained. And we had a little bit of a snafu with our park tickets not being hoppers, and we had to upgrade them all, just little things like that.

It is definitely an expensive event, both for your clients and for you. This was triple the cost of what I normally spend on a mastermind event, and 100% worth it. I had a few people ask, “What’s the ROI on an event like this?” I didn’t sell anything, so I didn’t “make back the money”. However, I had spoken to Emily, who is my CFO about this when some of the quotes were coming in for these ridiculous experiences, like renting Animal Kingdom, or renting a ride, or VIP tours, all that kind of stuff. You know, I wanted it to make business sense, but at some point it didn’t. You know, when I’m normally spending, you $40 to $50,000 on an event where I’m not selling anything, it’s a fulfillment event, what is the reason for spending 3, 4 times more than that for an event?

So I knew in my head that experiences matter, not just for the sense of community, but for retention, but also because I knew that giving people an experience would help re-invigorate their business, and does that have an ROI? Yes, 100%. Does it have an ROI on my PNL? It will, you know what, because I don’t necessarily at this point in my business, worry so, so, so much about my PNL. My PNL is pretty steady and yes it will take a dip, but I know that the memories, that the relationships, the connections, the creativity, it is going to last far beyond the 2021 budget.

So again, I would say to you as a business owner, if you are planning an event, or thinking of attending an event, and you’re struggling to find the ROI in it, you’re not quite sure how it’s all going to work, take my story to heart and know that, it was funny, Emily got off Flight of Passage on Monday night, and you know she’s always the one watching my books, and she came over to me and said, ‘You know, half way through the ride I thought to myself, there’s really no better way to spend money than what we’re doing right here.” And it’s really true, like from a personal values standpoint, I don’t think I can think of a time in my life where I was happier than watching so many people I love have the time of their life. And you really can’t put a number on that.

So I would encourage you to think about experiences in your business, yes there are a lot of logistics and they cost a lot of money, but they are 1000% worth all the headache and time that they take to plan. And shout out to Disneyworld. If you have never done anything at Disneyworld, their customer service team is just unparalleled. It’s a business lesson in and of itself. Watching the way they run their company, the way they run events, the standard at which they hold themselves to, it’s something that Cathy and I at Funnel Gorgeous, and myself at Digital Insiders aspire to.

So I am still not recovered. There was a pretty bad dopamine crash after this. Of course I’m already thinking about when’s the next time we can do something like this again. And the takeaways just keep coming. It’s funny, I met with the Digital Insiders yesterday and we did takeaways at the event, but it takes some time to really let things percolate. And the stuff that’s starting to bubble up is really, really good.

So go find a way to play today, get some experiences, get outside of your comfort zone, and I’ll talk to you soon.

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