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What if you talked about a friend as if they weren’t in the room…
…but they were?
It’s a cool, fall evening in McCall, Idaho. Seven of us are seated on a seven-person L-couch in the living room of a house we rented for four days. Seven people are here, but only six are talking. They’re all talking about me as if I’m not here.
They’re talking about me and they’re talking about my business and I’m not saying a word. In fact, I can’t. Not for 10 minutes anyway. Those are the rules.
This is the idea behind Unsolicited Advice.
All you can do is listen. All you can do is take notes. It is a very humbling and eye-opening experience.
It started at the last mastermind retreat Nathan Barry hosted. He wrote a post about the Unsolicited Advice concept.
We tend to filter what we say to someone’s face. We might have thoughts or advice, but we withhold them because they might be too harsh or we don’t want to offend someone.
When talking with mutual friends, we find it easier to talk about someone else objectively.
But this kind of objective, unfiltered advice can be incredibly valuable if the recipient is open to receiving it. You need to be in listening mode, not waiting-to-talk mode.
What if your friends talked about your business, shared their thoughts, and talked about you as if you weren’t in the room—but you were? And what if you weren’t allowed to do anything or say a single word except listen and take notes?
During the first couple days, we each took turns having our own focused session. We shared what was going on in our business and what our main challenges were. Each other person was able to chime in with their thoughts and we took turns tag-teaming each other’s business.
It’s incredibly powerful to have even just 45 minutes of focused time from half a dozen other smart, business-minded individuals working on your most pressing problems.
Through these sessions, we were able to get a good idea of what was going on in each of the others’ businesses. I didn’t go into the retreat knowing everyone else or their businesses intimately, but after the sessions, I had a really good, high-level idea of what their struggles were.
Spending the first few days getting to know each other established a foundation from which we were able to provide Unsolicited Advice on the final night.
The timer starts. 10 minutes.
Someone starts in the hot seat. They aren’t allowed to talk. You’re allowed to pull out your iPhone or notebook and started taking notes of what people were saying.
“I love Sean’s long-term focus and building the media empire,” Nathan said.
“Yes, but he gives away too much value—it’s a remarkable quality, but he’s almost a little too gun shy on charging for anything,” Alex counters.
The general consensus was that I give away too much. To you, the listener, the reader, I give too much freely. It’s not sustainable.
It seemed, to my companions, that I’d forgotten a piece of the puzzle. Giving is good, yes, but reciprocity works only when you give, give, give, and then ask.
I was neglecting the ASK part of the equation.
Make the ASK
Here’s the situation: 95% of the work all seven of the seanwes employees do is focused on things that do not generate revenue. Virtually all of our time is spent giving away free value.
I’m a huge proponent of the Long-Game Mindset, but no one can operate 100% in the long term realm. At some point, you have to sell.
The reality is we have a rather substantial payroll. It takes $30,000 a month to pay everyone on the team to produce this content you consume for free every single day.
Our monthly recurring revenue is not nearly that high yet. We’re working on it, and I think in 6–8 months we will reach that goal, but in the mean time we have a limited runway.
One suggestion was to simply ask my audience (that’s you). I’ve given a lot, but it’s not often that I make a really hard sell and a strong ask.
The advice I got was, “Why don’t you just point blank ask your audience? Say, ‘Hey, we need a six-month runaway. We’ve been giving you a lot over the years and if you’re enjoying this content and if it has been helping you in any way, please support us by joining the Community.”
It was so simple it almost took me by surprise. Sure I mention the Community in passing, but I really don’t sell it all that much. It’s just sort of sitting there in the background and I don’t push it very much. It’s this hidden gem for you to discover.
But it’s time to sell. Yes, give free value and help people but also ask. This is my ask. Join the Community. Go to seanwes.com/community and sign up right now. If you’ve received any value from all the hard work we’ve been putting in and the 95% of our time for years producing things for free for you, it’s time to join the Community.
No more waiting. No more procrastinating. No more freeloading. I’m asking you to pay me back for what I’ve given you—and it’s not just a handout I’m looking for. I’m asking you to do the biggest favor for yourself of this entire year because what we’ve invested in building since 2013 is nothing short of incredible.
It’s time to accelerate your business growth and get around the right kind of people.
So there’s my ask. There’s me applying the advice I got on this retreat. Let’s see if it pays off and let’s see if the hard work has been worth it and has impacted you enough to give back to us.
“I Want For You”
We decided ahead of time to introduce a new segment at the very end of the retreat called “I Want For You”.
We made cocktails and a campfire and sat around its warmth on logs under the full, Idaho moon. The campfire was purposefully made to follow the Unsolicited Advice session. It was a nice, positive contrast to the often harsh and unfiltered feedback. We each got a turn to go around in a circle and share, with one person at a time, what we wanted for them.
“Nathan, I want for you to feel proud of what you’ve accomplished so far and know that you’ve inspired many people, including myself.”
“Barrett, I want for you to keep writing and keep sharing and to know that we all believe in you 100% and are fully convinced that any business that puts your advice and vision into practice will undoubtedly be successful.”
We left feeling a camaraderie and closeness of support from our newfound friendships.
I say “newfound”, but while I had known a few of the other guys there online, this was my first time meeting all but one of them in person and the depth at which I was able to get to know each of them was accelerated 1000% over the course of those 4 days compared to the pace at which it would have progressed online.
Return On Investment
I spent $1,500 going on this retreat. That’s saying nothing for the money I didn’t make not working while I was gone.
But the value I received in return was worth tens of thousands to me. There’s much more than I can share in a short podcast, but the insight and feedback I got was invaluable. I have a new clarity and focus for the rest of this year that was not there.
Among the many things I got clarity on, here are a few of them:
In October of 2016, we will be hosting seanwes conference in Austin, Texas. The conference is open to Community members.
Initially, I was not planning to promote the event publicly. I figured I’d mention it here and there, but you’d otherwise need to join the Community to be able to register for the event and get a ticket.
After some advice I got on the retreat, I’ve decided to bundle conference tickets with Community membership. This way, I can share the page with you and promote it publicly.
The conference is still for Community members, but this way you can accomplish all of that in one action and get your ticket and membership at the same time.
Sign up at seanwes.com/conference. We’ll be opening Early Bird tickets by the end of the year for a few months before increasing the price.
Supercharge Your Writing
In the very near future, I’m going to be hosting an online workshop called Supercharge Your Writing.
If I could teach you only one, single skill to maximize the growth of your business, without a doubt it would be writing.
But let’s not be hypothetical about it. In fact, I can teach the skill of writing and that’s exactly what this workshop is about.
- You’re thinking about writing.
- You know you should be doing content marketing, but you don’t really consider yourself a writer.
- You want to start, you want to get better, but just don’t know where to begin.
- You’re looking for practical insights, writing prompts, a structure to follow, and worksheets that will keep you on track.
- You want the clear path and guidance to using writing to supercharge your business.
If you’re new to writing and have never written before, this workshop is for you. If you’re a seasoned writer, the value you’re going to get out of this workshop is worth 10X what you’ll pay. I really should host a separate workshop at a higher price just so seasoned writers will take it seriously, but I know you’re smart.
Supercharge Your Writing is live, online workshop. You will be able to watch live, participate in the live chat, interact with other students, get your questions answered, download the full replay recording and worksheets.
Subscribe at SuperchargeYourWriting.com to be notified of workshop availability.
Finally, the big course we are doing is Value-Based Pricing. You’ve heard us talk about Value-Based Pricing in the 3-part podcast episode series back in e146-148 and if you’ve subscribed at ValueBasedPricing.com you’ve received a 4-part mini video course with even more value.
I was planning on waiting until the first quarter of next year to launch this course, but after the advice I got at the retreat, it’s time to put out more advanced paid materials and not just free content.
We will be hosting a live webinar teaching you how to determine the value to clients who don’t see an actual monetary return. We will also be opening the course beta to a very limited number of students at this time.
Those who join the pilot launch will get even more personalized interaction and consultation with myself and Justin Michael as we help coach you on specific problems and struggles when it comes to pricing on value.
You’ll get early access to the Value-Based Pricing tool Justin is developing and you’ll have the opportunity to be featured in the full launch as a case study.
Time Well Spent
All very exciting things. The retreat was so incredibly worth the investment and time spent. I highly recommend doing something similar and trying out the Unsolicited Advice concept. It’s been a game changer for me.
Special shoutout to Nathan Barry, Ryan Delk, James Clear, Barrett Brooks, Barron Cuadro, and Alex Miles Younger. Thank you all for your thoughts and input. It was a pleasure to spend a few days with you.