Who: Alex Barker
Blog / Website: 66 Day Experiment
Are you getting the most out of your mastermind groups?
Are you interested in building mastermind groups to help grow your business?
In this episode, I’m talking to Alex Barker from the 66 Day Experiment, a blog, website and podcast dedicated to helping you make lasting change in your life. On his podcast, he experiments in 66-day increments with things like reading a book a day, facing daily rejection, and creating a business.
Alex is a big action taker: he built three businesses in three years, paid off his house in less than three years and helped over 50 people grow their businesses! One of the things Alex does is to set people up in mastermind groups. So I brought him on to talk about how to use mastermind groups to connect your audience.
Alex is a pharmacist by trade, and he’s really into research. The idea for the 66 Day Experiment came from a study from University College, London that he read. The study said that it actually takes people 66 days to form a habit, not 21 like we always read on the internet.
So Alex decided to try it out and see if this theory could work in practice, and he decided to record the process. He started in 2015 with his first experiment, reading a book a day.
There’s some backstory here, though: Alex started listening to podcasts because he had an awful, two-hour commute every day. And as he was listening to all these podcasts, he got excited about the idea of passive income.
His first website, pharmacytechnicianresume.com, was designed to bring in Google ad revenue, but it failed pretty quickly. Why? Alex says the project failed because he lacked deep, personal reflection. He got all wrapped up in the emotion of passive income rather than thinking long and hard about what he really wanted to do.
It didn’t resonate, and it didn’t play to his strengths. Even though he learned from that experience, he knew within a few months that pharmacytechnicianresume.com was not the right path for him.
Alex’s next project was a podcast called the Leadership Dojo. This was a step in the right direction, but he still didn’t really know what he was doing. He still hadn’t done that reflection. After about six months, he realized that he was setting himself up to become a leadership consultant and speaker, but he didn’t have any real leadership experience. The project was making some money, but it wasn’t going to be his long-term business.
But hang on a second. I think what we all really want to know is HOW Alex paid off his house in less than three years!
Well, after the Leadership Dojo, he realized that he needed to accept that he was a pharmacist. He transitioned into a business model where he could talk about pharmacy. He created an authority site, and then he started creating content for other sites.
This process led to his first major business, which is essentially a media company. At first, their income came from selling content. Now it’s mostly sponsorship-based, although they do some content creation, too.
Nowadays, Alex has a team to do most of the work. He’s really focused just on training and creating content that’s interesting to him. For example, he still does a pharmacy-based podcast. Sponsorships for that podcast have been his “cash cow” for the past few years. That income, combined with a Dave Ramsey course, helped him to get out of debt. In fact, he’s now just six months away from paying off his student loans!
Alex’s team is made up of virtual assistants and ghostwriters from all over the world. He finds them in a bunch of different places, including hiremymom.com (yes, really!). He also makes use of Virtual Staff Finder and Upwork.
The key to getting really good writers cheaply on Upwork, Alex says, is to target people who are new to the site and want to get 5-star ratings. Promise that if the work is good you’ll give them the rating and bring them back for additional work. It’s a win-win, really, because you get great writers for cheap and they get a lot more work through the site!
And now we come full circle, to the 66 Day Experiment. I want to know: did Alex really read a book every day for 66 days?! Well, not quite. He says it was more like 55 over 66 days. That’s still a lot of books! How did he do it?
He made use of time blocking in the morning and the evening, and he also brushed up on his speed reading skills. By the way, he says that speed reading is something that anyone can learn to do.
Let’s Talk Mastermind
Alex says that mastermind groups and coaching have been the keys to his success over the past three to four years. He both participates in and facilitates mastermind groups.
Mastermind is great because it allows you to speak about your obstacles and get outside perspectives that are really crucial to your growth as an entrepreneur. In fact, it was a mastermind meeting that helped him to create his current business.
He was in the hot seat, and someone said to him: “We know you don’t like the idea of a pharmacy business, but is there a business you could create in the world of pharmacy that you would love?” That question was world-changing for Alex. It really shifted his perspective.
So what made Alex decide to start hosting mastermind groups? Essentially, he wanted to test whether mastermind hosting was a viable business model.
Lots of people have tried and failed to set up similar businesses. Alex says that the majority of mastermind groups fail because there is no designated leader, because no one takes responsibility for making things work.
Another problem is that participants don’t make a commitment to success. Unspoken expectations won’t work; there has to be an explicit agreement. So that’s how his business works: people are willing to pay someone to take on that leadership role.
Alex’s “Trademark” Mastermind Structure
In terms of structuring his mastermind groups, Alex tries to pair people who are at similar stages in their entrepreneurial journeys. He aims for a maximum of four to six people per group.
In a weekly meeting set up, he likes to start with ten minutes of “wins,” where everyone gets to share accomplishments, share tools that they have learned, or share goals that they have achieved.
After that, he sets up a hot seat exercise. The person in the hot seat comes in knowing exactly what they want to talk about or the problem that they want to resolve.
For the first half of the hot seat period, the rest of the group is only allowed to ask questions. They’re not giving advice or trying to solve the problem at this point. They’re just gathering lots of information.
They’re trying to get to the heart of the problem, and they’re trying to open the hot seater’s mind for what comes next.
Then, for the rest of the time, the person in the hot seat takes themselves out of the conversation. They stay in the room, but they don’t say anything.
They mute themselves while the rest of the group discusses the problem and talks through possible solutions. Alex uses this strategy because it’s harder for them to get defensive. There’s enormous value in just listening when you’re in the hot seat and hearing everyone out.
Alex keeps track of group members’ progress using Excel. He tracks goals set and goals accomplished, and he sends the results to members at regular intervals.
This really helps to motivate people to keep going, because they can clearly see how far they’ve come. The spreadsheet also opens up the possibility for additional one-on-one coaching opportunities, since Alex calls individual group members to talk about the results.
How to Build a Mastermind Group for Your Business
So how do you go about creating an audience for your mastermind group?
Alex says that the best thing to do is just to get on the phone with people. Talk to them, learn about their problems, ask lots of questions. Find out where they’re at and find out what they need.
Part of what you’re doing in that phone call is finding out if they’ll really benefit from mastermind. Alex says that lots of people benefit more from one-on-one coaching than from a mastermind group, at least at first. He gave a math analogy:
Let’s say that on your own, working solo, 1+1=2.
In a mastermind group, where you’ve got lots of other voices in the room, but you might get some conflicting advice, 1+1=10.
In one-on-one coaching, where you can really dig deep into your problems and challenges, 1+1=50.
Great! But how does Alex find people to call?
When people visit his website, they’ll see a short video explaining what he’s about and they’ll be asked to fill in a short survey.
There are a couple of things that Alex looks for in the survey answers when he’s deciding who to call. Some people are lazy in how they fill out the survey, which doesn’t bode well for their commitment to a mastermind group.
Some answers are just uninspiring, or it seems like the person is only interested in making money.
Alex tries to only work with people whose stories and goals get him excited. He wants to hear about your life’s mission when you fill in that survey.
So what’s in the survey? Alex starts off with demographic information, and then asks for some paragraph-style answers. He asks questions like:
- What are you struggling with?
- What are your short-term goals?
- What’s holding you back?
- What have you already tried?
- How would mastermind help you?
Alex says that mastermind groups might work better for some types of business than for others. But if you want to give it a try, it’s best to build mastermind into your sales funnel. So you start off with an email list, and maybe a free ebook or a free email course.
Then you offer a slightly higher priced item like an ebook or a course. Once a client has completed a course, they’re in a good position to be candidates for mastermind.
Mastermind is ideal for people who are really self-directed but just need a little accountability. It works really well for goal-oriented people.
The great thing about mastermind is that your audience isn’t just connecting with you, they’re connecting with each other. And that is a beautiful thing.
Where Do I Sign Up?
If you want to know more about what Alex is doing, all the info is on www.66dayexperiment.com.
Especially for our podcast audience, Alex is offering a two hour coaching session for motivated, action-taking individuals. This is a huge opportunity!! Email Alex directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to take advantage of that.
- The Leadership Dojo – Alex’s podcast
- 66 Day Experiment – Alex’s blog
- Virtual Assistant Providers: