We Launched a Mastermind and Failed ... Sort Of

Quick backstory

Since my first meeting with Richard Branson back in February, I’ve been focused on getting more into living my life purpose.

So I recently went back to have another listen to a fingerprint life purpose session I had with Baeth Davis back in 2015, and it was eye-opening.

According to my fingerprints, I’m here to be on stage, bringing the audience in my hologram, sharing my vision, like Steve Jobs.

I’m here to help people realize their core identity. And I’m here to do one-on-one coaching or consulting, and I’m best when reacting to what people and life throws at me.

The Mastermind

So on Saturday two weeks ago, I woke up with a strong feeling that we should launch a mastermind and coaching program that would do all of that.

It would be a way to:

  • respond live with people
  • to be on stage sharing my vision
  • to do coaching & consulting

All of that.

It’s an idea we’ve toyed around with for a long time, and a couple of recent conversations with customers brought it back in focus.

I had a really good feeling about it, so I figured, let’s give it a try. Let’s see if this is something our audience wants.

I only had Monday through Thursday, because  Friday I had to catch a 6am flight to go to Necker Island.

We came up with some ideas for the structure of the program. 

One of the things I really love about what we came up with is the idea of an onboarding process designed to discover who you are, your blueprint, and your life’s work, so the group can support each other in living out their design. I imagine that can be incredibly powerful.

Kicking it off

On Monday I shot a video and sent out an email introducing the idea, and asking people what they thought.

I decided to keep it super lightweight. No fancy survey tools. Just a simple email and video, and then a question, and “just hit reply to this email and start typing” type situation.

I love that way of surveying, because it feels way less formal, and you’re immediately in a conversation with people. You can just hit reply back to get more information and deepen the connection.

We sent the email out to about 4,000 people, and we got about 10 responses back, which is pretty good, especially given how positive those responses were.

Based on the positive feedback, I shot another video talking about the responses, and asking specifically about what price point would be perfect for them.


Pricing a mastermind group is challenging, because the price point is as much of a selection criteria as anything.

Joe Polish has a mastermind called Genius Network, that costs $25,000/year.

And then another, identical one, at $100,000/year.

The main difference is the price point, which means you get different type of members. And since the members is the main attraction of a mastermind, the price point itself is a major part of the value of the mastermind.

We got several replies back to the second email, but none of them mentioned a price point.

In my videos, I’d hinted at price points, from $100,000 down to $20,000 or so, but not mentioned any specific price point for this mastermind.

In my mind, I was thinking it’d be $10,000 or $1,000/month. As we got ideas for other things to add, though, it felt like $10,000 was too little for what we were offering. I wasn’t sure what the number should be, though.

Day before opening for applications

Wednesday we sent out another video, going over the final details of the mastermind, and letting people know we'd open for applications the next day.

I also spoke about how far I've come, all of the things I've figured out in my life, and how that qualifies me to help others achieve the same things in their lives. And we included a brief video tour of my apartment, which would be the location of the after party!

We also included the option of getting notified 30 minutes early when the mastermind opened for applications.

This can be a bit of a gimmick, but it accomplishes a couple of things.

  • First, it gives us an indication of interest level.
  • Second, it lets us identify those who are especially interested, which lets us follow up with them directly afterwards.
  • And finally, it activates an influence trigger known as consistency and commitment, which says people are slightly more likely to follow through later if they’ve given a positive indication up-front.

At this point we’d started working on the sales page. We wanted to get that out early Thursday, if possible, leaving me enough time to pack for Necker. I had to get up at 3-something in the morning, so better pack the night before, right?

Day of launch

On Thursday morning, I had a live coaching session with a customer that had already been scheduled. I had a lot of fun with that one, but it did of course set us back a bit in creating the sales page.

I couldn’t decide on a price point.

$10k felt like too little for what we were offering. $15k felt maybe too much. I went over it with Nomi while picking up our dog from her haircut, and we settled on $13k.

Why? It just felt right.

Finally in the late afternoon, we had the sales page ready, and were able to send out the email announcing it.

First the one to the early notification list, and then an email scheduled to the main list 30 minutes later.

And then, exhausted, I went out to get some food (chicken wings is my favorite thing these days), and a quick haircut so I could look sharp for my trip.

Their Response

And … crickets.

No applications for the first hour or so. That was surprising.

Again, based on the feedback, I was thinking we’d get at least a few right off the bat. If you get 10 great positive responses, chances are there are others feeling the same way that didn’t bother to respond.

We did get one application on the first day. I was super bummed.

By Friday afternoon I’d arrived at Necker, and we still only had one application. But then again, I was on fucking Necker!

Most of the time I wasn’t thinking about the mastermind, but from time to time, the thought would show up, and I’d feel sad.

My response

I’d planned the storyline in my mind already: We’d launch this thing, and we’d get 14 solid applications right out of the gate, and I’d be off to Necker with the wind in my back.

Reality didn’t comply with my imaginary storyline.

Reality can be a bitch sometimes.

It brought up a lot of stuff for me. People don’t like me, love me, appreciate me, they don’t want to play, why does it have to be this hard, victim victim victim.

I know that the mastermind will be a killer life changing experience for anyone who joins. I know the effect of everything we’ve put together, as well as being in the room physically with me, when I’m in that role, is going to turn people’s lives upside  down, in a big way.

The things they thought they wanted is going to drop away, and their real desires, their real reasons, their real selves, are going to start appearing.

But somehow we weren’t we connecting with people. Somehow we’d failed to communicate that.

Where was the disconnect?

I still don’t know have the answer to that. I have lots of ideas about what it might be, but nothing definite.

I noticed how I’d get bummed every time I checked my email or thought about the mastermind, so I decided to do something about it.

First, I decided to not check email at all.

I set a vacation response, and told my team to call or text if they needed me.

I didn’t check email until after I got  back, on Saturday.

I had 666 emails waiting for me, and had it all cleared in about an hour.

I might do this no-email thing again in the future. It was awesome!

How about only checking email once a week on a specific day and time? I think that could work. So much faster to go through everything in bulk.

So much less stress when you’re not constantly interrupted with stuff.

Second, I decided to let go of the outcome and my internal story.

Even if the mastermind didn’t end up happening, I’d be fine.

We tried it, we learned something, and it was much better to learn this quickly than to have spent a month working on it and then getting the same result. 

When you launch these things, you just never know until it’s done.

While on Necker, we decided to keep working it.

We figured it deserved a fair shake. At the same time, I didn’t want it to take away from my ability to be present on Necker.

Thankfully, my team stepped in and were awesome.

We’d text about what could be the reason for the lack of signups and what we could do about it.

Stephen would take care of logistics and sending emails, Deanna was helping reach out to people individually, and Nomi would help us brainstorm.

I’d shoot some videos and try desperately to get them uploaded on the super slow internet there and get my iPhone to not crash due to the heat.

Trying to find places to shoot that were in the shade, away from people, and not too windy, was surprisingly difficult. But I managed.

Intel was super hard to come by.

That was the biggest problem. We didn’t know what the objections were.

  • Was it too expensive?
  • Too cheap?
  • Bad timing?
  • Not valuable content?
  • Too much content?
  • Too hard to understand?
  • Was it just something they were not interested in?
  • Was there something off-putting about the `way we had communicated?

It’s always worth remembering that people weren’t reacting to the actual mastermind. That didn’t exist yet. They hadn’t experienced it yet.

All they had to go by was our communication about it, and of course our relationship with our audience.

Somehow it wasn’t connecting.

The End

People weren’t responding to our emails. We had very little to go by.

I spoke with a guy who’d also, it turned out, just launched a mastermind. His price point? $250,000/year. Wowza! Made my $13k/year look puny.

We kept sending a video a day, and we did get 2 more applications, for a total of 3.

We set a deadline for Friday, the day I was to travel home. Eventually we extended that deadline till end of day Monday, and offered that people could get on a call with me over the weekend if they had questions.

Only one person took us up on that, and she’d already applied.

Now as I’m writing this, it’s Tuesday morning, and it’s clear the deadline didn’t change things. The mastermind is officially canceled.

So what went wrong?

I still don’t know, honestly. I’m still a bit baffled by the difference between the initial positive responses and the lack of applications.

One thought is that our price point hit the uncanny valley: Too expensive for the majority of our audience, and too low for the people with money. I think there’s some truth to that.

It could also be that it was trying to be too much. Is it a mastermind or a coaching program?

Well, it’s a bit of both. I think my passion may be more in a coaching program at this point, so I made the mastermind into more of a coaching program.

Another factor is that people don’t really know and trust me as a coach and spiritual teacher.

I haven’t consistently shown up in that way over the years. Yes, it’s my superpower, it’s what I’m here to do, but how would they know if I don’t show them?

It turned out to be a good thing.

One thing I realized early in the week on Necker is that it’s probably best that the mastermind didn’t happen.

Since I’m still in the early days of me establishing my brand as a leader, coach, and spiritual teacher, being locked in to a mastermind created from where my energy and brand is at in mid-April 2019 for a whole year would actually be silly.

It’s much better for me to do something with much shorter commitment on my part, because the level and number of people that I’ll be attracting and the prices I’ll be commanding will likely be increasing rapidly over the coming year.

What's next?

Right now I’m on my way to a book writing workshop in Austin. The outcome of the workshop is a clear outline for my book: Who’s the audience, what’s their pain I’m addressing, and what is the outline of the book going to be.

The process of figuring all this stuff out alone is going to help dramatically in establishing my personal brand, because just being really clear about who I’m talking to and what their pain is makes it so much better.

Writing it is going to help with this, too.

And of course, having the book out helps a lot with establishing a personal brand.

Next month, I’ll be going on a speaking workshop, to create my signature talk. That, too, is going to help, and then obviously speaking regularly, in person, in front of live audiences, is going to build my brand.

My life purpose

According to my fingerprints, it's to be a big shot spiritual teacher in the spotlight. That’s what my fingers say.

For many years now, I’ve been hiding, focusing on the software and the coding and not on living my design.

I’m ready to change that now.

We’ve got an amazing team of people and they have proven over and over again how capable they are at running the show.

It’s time to let them do that even more, and for me to step into the spotlight, so I can live my purpose.

The mastermind group, in this incarnation, wasn’t the right vehicle, and the Universe saved me from myself, so I’m ready to take on whatever is going to be the right vehicle for this.

But first, a book outline.

What I Learned from a Week on Necker
What My Book Is Going to Be about (and Why)

1 comment

Rachel Geller

Hi Calvin, for what it's worth, I was very intrigued at the time by your idea of a mastermind, and I also thought the price was - everywhere. I couldn't understand it. You asked how much I'd want it for? I had no idea. You asked how much money I thought I wanted to make that year? I named a tiny sum, much less than I usually think of. but then you said it was going to cost much more than that. At that point I totally lost touch with what the value of the mastermind might have been. Somehow the money thing was spiralling out of control. THERE WAS NO PRICE POINT FOR IT. Since then I was wondering if and how it was possible to join (theoretically). It was fascinating reading this. (What came to me also was the idea that Simplero offers to try to make money-earning cheaper for people by providing a solution in a box for coaches. So it felt like a contradiction in terms to pay a lot of money for a Mastermind - run by Simplero). I have really enjoyed reading about the evolution of a coaching-course-for-money product. I am intrigued what will happen next.

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