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#122: Pat Flynn and Matt Gartland – Courses, community, and the future of education

October 18, 2022

#122: Pat Flynn and Matt Gartland – Courses, community, and the future of education
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Pat and Matt lead Smart Passive Income, a trailblazer in the entrepreneurial space, developing state-of-the-art content, training, and resources to help you launch and grow your online business.


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EPISODE DESCRIPTION

Pat Flynn is the founder of Smart Passive Income as well as a bestselling author, serial entrepreneur, industry influencer, and startup advisor. 

Matt Gartland is the CEO of Smart Passive Income and a servant leader whose greatest joy comes from empowering other leaders, teams, and organizations to achieve their potential through sustainable growth.

Smart Passive Income is a trailblazer in the entrepreneurial space, developing state-of-the-art content, training, and resources to help you launch and grow your online business.

In this episode, you’ll learn how SPI leverages its team, how to make your first hire as a creator, how to create a tiered membership, and why community is the next evolution of online courses.

Full transcript and show notes

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Transcript

Pat Flynn  00:00

I remember I went over to New York, and we stopped at VaynerMedia. And Gary wasn't there. I was like, oh, where's Gary's out on a business trip or something. And he had 24 people right outside his office, all on computers, all managing his social media 24. That's how he's able to put 10 pieces of content every day on every single because those people are dedicated to that.

 

Jay Clouse  00:21

Hello, my friend. Welcome back to another episode of creative elements. If you've been following me for a while, you know that online community is very, very important to me. I started my first online community in 2017. And in 2020, that community was acquired by Pat Flynn and the Smart Passive Income team. In 2021, I joined the SPI team to help build their membership community SPI Pro and earlier this year, I went back out onto my own to start my own membership community, the creator science lab, community is hot right now. And you may be wondering why that is.

 

Pat Flynn  00:51

We're in that age. Now in the world of business, and just the internet, where there's just so much information already available. We're all suffering from information overload, and we're all bloated from it. So what we need is some guidance and some help and to connect with other people. And I think back when I started in 2008, the information is what was valuable. That was Pat Flynn,

 

Jay Clouse  01:11

the founder of SPI and an absolute OG in this online creator space. Since 2008. The Smart Passive Income podcast has more than 60 million downloads.

 

01:22

Welcome to the Smart Passive Income podcast, where it's all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later.

 

01:31

And now your host, he dreams of having a menu item named after him one day, Pat Flynn.

 

Jay Clouse  01:39

And for most of SPSS history, they actually rely on courses, they've generated more than $5 million in core sales to date, I've taken a lot of online courses, I've created some of my own, and that can be really great. But there's also a major problem with online courses. And that is that most students don't apply what they learned or even finished the course.

 

Pat Flynn  01:58

The community aspect of courses has always been a struggle. You know, just historically, completion rates are often considered very low with an online course that's just DIY. And when it's not just like done with you, but done with other people like you, that's when you start to see a lot of success happen from from those courses.

 

Jay Clouse  02:19

By the way, I'm not just chatting with Pat. Today, I'm also chatting with his business partner, Matt Gartland. In 2019, Pat acquired Matt's creative agency. And if you want to hear that full episode, you can go back to episode number 22 of the show. It's audio only. It's also linked in the show notes, you can get the full backstory between Matt and Pat there. So this episode, you'll learn how SPI built and leverages a team, how you can make your first hire as a creator, how to build a tiered membership, and why community is the future of courses. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this episode. As you listen, you can find me on Twitter or Instagram at Jay Clouse tag me, let me know you're listening. And if you're here on YouTube, leave a comment, hit subscribe, if you haven't already, that's enough of me. Let's dive in. Let's talk with Matt and Pat.

 

Matt Gartland  03:18

It's working, alright, for two plus years into this thing. We started planning this ahead of the pandemic, actually, in planning to launch in the summer of January or the summer of 2020. Just so happened, a pandemic happened. And like we have such great engagement, still, the retention is ridiculously low, like people are craving these experiences to learn together and kind of like walk together down this digital path of becoming entrepreneurs, I think that's the most important thing to kind of start with is that, you know, this isn't temporary, it's not ephemeral. It's not an add on sort of product experience, it is the thing that people really want. And we're just been really grateful to have really validated that sort of concept along the way.

 

Pat Flynn  03:56

It's been amazing. I've created products for over a decade now to help this audience. And there's nothing that's provided this kind of feedback ever before, when we launched during the pandemic, it was sort of like a great opportunity to allow people to find each other online. And since then, it's just continued to grow and evolve into even more of those connections. And we're looking forward to when those connections can begin happening more regularly in person within the community, which is sort of like kind of what's next for us, in addition to now building other communities that serve different parts of our audience because we were very thanks to your help very clear with who is this for and who is not for right, because if you build a business that wants to help everybody, you're gonna help nobody. So we need to focus in and we did that and we've since then recently launched the learner community which is for our beginners because SPI pros for the pros are those who have already established businesses and we took a lot of what we learned from there when we launched the new community and it's just it's just been an incredible ride and you know, you've been a part of that for sure. So thank you something that maybe not a lot of people know about the way you guys are weighing about community is you've really invested in it from a human perspective and like team perspective. And I think it might be an interesting piece of context to share with folks listening to this, just to give kind of an outline of the SPI team in general. Because I think it's I think it's easy to look at a company and tickets like the one or two people that you see very publicly. And it might be an eye opener for folks to hear just how many people are involved in helping this all come to fruition. So, Matt, maybe, maybe,

 

Jay Clouse  05:29

maybe you can answer and give us a not necessarily org chart view, but like, help us understand how big is the team? And what types of roles do they play,

 

Matt Gartland  05:37

the team is the secret weapon, right? So thanks for even bringing that up, because they deserve it an immense amount of credit and shout out and you were on the team to your and alumnus. And we're very proud of that. So quickly, we have three functions, right? Three departments, we have sales and marketing, we have operations. And then the one that we get to celebrate here is the community team that we actually called the community experience team, the CX team, what I think is really magical for us as creators, and really trying to put community potentially at the center of like, the business that we're trying to build and grow is that community is our product. So whether you know you're a software company in the software, then is your product, right? Or if you're a merchant on Shopify, maybe you sell T shirts, like the t shirt is your product, it's the thing that is the business, right. And for us, increasingly, we're putting community UPS into the business model, it is our product, and then everything else kind of gets absorbed into that kind of ethos. So we need a dedicated team that's really going to look after this most important part of the business, right? You know the product. So we have a team of three full time employees. So in house on payroll benefits, the whole kitten caboodle, right. So we have a director, Jillian, who has taken on the baton from you, Jill, after you've gone full time, she's outstanding. And then we have David and Ashley, two phenomenal community managers, each with a an explicit focus. And I think that focus is another thing to kind of celebrate, and maybe even teach a little bit here for other community builders is like you need to go much, much deeper than just moderating community. I know Pat has a lot to say on this point. Also, you know, it's about striking real personal relationships. It's about learning about their habits, their personal lives and being able to kind of connect in that way. So Ashley is hyper focused on our our SPI Academy, that's where our learner members live. And then David, is entirely focused on our pro community now and lives in that ecosystem. So it's a full time team of three and we take it very seriously.

 

Jay Clouse  07:25

So three folks on the community team, you mentioned sales and marketing and the podcasting team, how many? How many people are involved with those efforts?

 

Matt Gartland  07:33

Right now we have sandy anchoring. That team is our marketing director. She started in spring we're bringing on I'm sorry, Mandy, Mandy, this is where this gets tricky. We have Mandy anchoring the team as our marketing director, we've just hired Sandy onto Mandy's team as a marketing manager. And then Mindy is on our operations team that supports Mandy and Sandy a lot. So we have a lot of fun with names.

 

Jay Clouse  07:57

That's so fun. Mindy is one of the like, brightest minds I've ever met. I don't know if I've ever seen a Solutions Manager on a team ever before or if I will, again, but it's such a unique role that benefits so many people like the whole organization in a unique way. Can you talk about that a little bit, because I think people listening to this might relate to the pain point that Mindy solves within the team.

 

Pat Flynn  08:24

Yes, she's basically anything that relates to our tech stack everything from the website, to the email to stuff that's happening in circle, I think we can all relate to, we just want to like do the thing in our business, not mess around and fuss around with all the tech that's around that. She's that person who helps us. So you know, some people might consider sort of like an IT person. But it's definitely a lot more than that. Because she also relates to who our audiences and knows exactly like, what the value is we're trying to provide and how we're trying to step up to serve our audience. And she's a part of that she just has that really amazing talent of being able to figure things out and problem solving. You know, definitely a lot of credit to her. Oftentimes, we bring a lot of fires to her that she knows exactly how to

 

Jay Clouse  09:03

put out. Yeah, she has like an encyclopedic mind of all of the automations and technology stack. I have so many memories of times where I'm like, Mindy, I'm trying to accomplish this. Can we do it? And she's like, hold on, let's you come back like a day later. Like, yes, with Zapier and Google Sheets, it was just amazing. Okay, so in total, we're talking about 1213 people on the team

 

Matt Gartland  09:26

with Pat, and I included we will be 11. And that includes Sandy coming on. So yeah, just about there, which is both small, like in the grand scheme of things when we talked about startups and maybe the broader sense of the internet, but also, you know, pretty sizable, and we're, again, proud that we have you built this team with the culture that we have in J, you've experienced that. So I hope I can get away with saying that we have a pretty good culture, you can back me up on that for sure. It's a big deal with where again, in terms of how we want to continue to evangelize, you know, how the creative economy is evolving, and how important some of these new concepts are. We're coming to the big Aside of becoming a creator, and how creators are getting more and more attention and love and focus, even by major publications, like Forbes, just like the other week came out with like, their big 2022 list of like the top 50 creators, like, it's crazy. How much like these larger institutions and other markets right are starting to pay attention to us as creators. So to have a team and a business that's really trying to move this forward and, and showcase how we can build businesses around these methods is, again, it's one of the most gratifying things at least from where I sit,

 

Pat Flynn  10:31

it's also been very good for me mentally, to see the team come on board and take on a lot of the stuff that you know, even stuff that I could do and was good at that I shouldn't do in the position that I'm in, you know, I started this business, you know, SPI started in 2008. And it was just me, and for the longest time it was, I don't want to let anybody else touch any part of it. This is my baby. Only I knew how to do these things. And slowly but surely, it didn't happen overnight, there wasn't a team of you know, 11 in a day, it took several years to get to this point. And Matt being more of the sort of integral integrator role has been able to take a lot of the stuff off my plate and my mental bandwidth to be able to allow me to focus more on the things that I really, really love and enjoy, like the content creation in the podcasting. And since then, getting back into writing with the newsletter that we just launched, and all that kind of stuff, I would be either very burned out and overwhelmed or unhappy if it was only me. And yes, like the team comes with a price. But you know, my mental stability to be a parent and a husband and a good CEO is really important in the team definitely helps with that immensely.

 

Jay Clouse  11:38

Yeah, I bring it up just because I feel like a lot of people that I talked to, they are modeling after some creator who's just killing it all over any social platform like all at the same time. And they think, Well, I've got to be doing that too. And they are not even aware of the support structure that these people have. And so they try to do all of these things and inevitably kind of burnout.

 

Pat Flynn  12:01

Yeah, that's how we all felt about when we saw Gary Vee doing everything like he was on every social media platform, posting 10 times a day on each of them. And I remember I went over to New York, on a switch pod tour with me and Caleb's invention, and we stopped at VaynerMedia. And Gary wasn't there. I was like, oh, where's Gary's out on a business trip or something. And he had 24 people right outside his office, all on computers, all managing his social media 24. That's how he's able to put 10 pieces of content every day on every single, because those people are dedicated to that. And it just made me feel,

 

Jay Clouse  12:36

I don't know, made me feel weird that I wanted to do what he was doing, because it would have been or it is impossible. So just just in perspective, like you said, you never really know who's who's behind the scenes. So I appreciate you highlighting our team and who's behind the efforts of what's going on. I found a YouTube channel recently called Backstage careers and is this guy Jeremy Mary, and he interviews the people behind the people. Everyone on his channel is like the the supporting team. So he recently interviewed a guy that's actually how I found a pea interviewed one of the guys who helped with Gary social strategy, and is now helping with Alex and Leila Hermoza. Her moseys social strategy. And it's just like such an eye opener to see from in here from these people, like they manage teams also, you know, so like, yeah, it's, it's good to get that perspective, as a

 

Matt Gartland  13:21

quick addition, like it's a whole other skill set also just start to think about and potentially have been developed, right, from the Creator set of skills and potentially using the technologies when you're a one man band, putting it all together, to then leading people, motivating people managing people thinking about performance, it's just it's a different ball of wax, right. And some people love it. Some people have a natural gift for that some people don't some people just don't want to do it. And in totality, to want to patch great points. They're like putting that on top of content creation and social engagements and things like age, it can just be just perfectly too much it can completely overload the system and the mental health and other things can begin to suffer. So you know, it's it's classic advice, I think, from like the Jim Collins era of business books, but you know, get people in the right seats on the bus, right? When you think about building a team and optimizing their performance. That's where the magic kind of comes from in terms of Us Them having satisfaction for the job, then ultimately, the culture really thrives. Everything kind of working in sync.

 

Jay Clouse  14:15

So, after a quick break, we'll talk about how you can think about hiring as a creator. And later we talk about how SPI has built membership tiers within their community and how they plan to make that fit in with their courses. So stick around. We'll be right back.

 

Pat Flynn  14:31

Welcome back to my conversation with Matt and Pat from SPI. Before the break. We spent a lot of time talking about the SPI team. And I know that a lot of creators are torn in a million different directions with how to spend our time. So I asked Matt and Pat how we should be thinking about making our first hire, before even thinking about who to hire. I think the most important thing is learning how to say no. And Jay, you and I have spoke on DMS about this because you recently posted on Instagram. I hope you don't mind me, you know by highlighting this but you had mentioned how you For one day at least felt very overwhelmed with a lot of the things that you took on. And we had a small exchange about like, learning how to say no. And I think that's really important because as an entrepreneur, often especially a starting one, it's like you feel like you have to say yes to everything, because you are not sure if those opportunities are going to come around again. And I've gotten myself in trouble. I've seen other advice students get in trouble by just always saying yes, and I think the first step is to learn how to say no. And also believe in yourself to be able to, you know, say yes to the right things, and no to the right things, and then go out and hire for those weaknesses that you might have for those support systems that you need.

 

Jay Clouse  15:36

I love that. Yeah, we did talk about that. And my response to you is what is saying? No, can you tell me what that is?

 

Pat Flynn  15:43

Yeah, and then my response was, I know how to say no, when somebody asked me if I've ever won fantasy football.

 

Jay Clouse  15:50

All right, Matt, hit us, hit us with the real answer for how do we can hire somebody, oh, gosh,

 

Matt Gartland  15:54

I don't want to click all the fun out of it, it's practice. So my advice would not be to go hiring a full time employee, for example, right, or at least in again, in this context, where I'm making maybe a set of assumptions, I should say out loud. So I'm assuming that you know, we're going to create a oriented business that, you know, is driven by maybe a freelance business model. So there's a services component, right, or you're moving into creating a information product, an online course or a CBC, a cohort based or something like that. I'm assuming that you are bootstrapping your business that you don't have outside funding, you're not a tech company raising, you know, Bucco bucks, right from investors. These are the assumptions I'm quickly using here for this answer inside that frame, hire fractional freelancers, vas, things like that on contract, begin to learn how to communicate communication is going to be the most important thing throughout this entire, I guess, example, here to communicate, here are the goals that I have. These are my expectations, can I communicate with you to set up, you know, healthy boundaries around what's possible around scope and time and you know, ultimately, delivery, right? Here's what's valuable to me. And I want to understand on the other side, what's valuable to you? What are your boundaries? And then how can we get into a really good communication rhythm practicing that in a lower risk environment, where it's a 1099 contractor, you know, you're not responsible for additive things that come along with you know, once you do hire a full time employee, there's more legal situations and more HR situations, etc. So beginning to get those reps in, in a contract capacity, all really born through less than 10. It's a fractal lens, like it becomes a prism, but through communication in different ways, like destined to be the first thing to really focus on,

 

Pat Flynn  17:32

do you believe? And this is a question for both of you actually, in the creation world we want to create, but oftentimes, what holds us back is like the editing part of that creation. I mean, for podcasters, and for videographers, especially YouTubers, hiring an editor is often seen as the first person to sort of like, get some time back from Do you feel that's the right move? Or maybe it depends?

 

Jay Clouse  17:54

Well, the first, the first hire that I made in a fractional sense was Nathan, my audio engineer who's still audio engineering today, like more than four years later, I've been very lucky that Nathan has not broken up with me. And then after that was Connor, my video editor, and I couldn't be doing this show on YouTube without Connor. So I agree with that, depending on the medium you're operating in, because what I don't hear happening much are creators who are focused on writing, hiring editors, even though they could probably benefit from it. Sure. I don't hear that happening very often, unless they're writing a book. But I think that's especially in video a very smart move to make. Because if you don't already have that skill set, especially then you're just going to immediately make better videos, when you're handing off the editing portion to somebody who is good at that, that's kind

 

Pat Flynn  18:45

of where you get the most bang for your buck is, is often those things that you could even do yourself that you shouldn't do yourself. I have been trying to convince this fisherman YouTuber who I know who has been editing his own videos for the last eight years. And he's always complaining that he just doesn't have enough time to go out and on the water and you know, fish some more, and I'm like, hire an editor. But it's so hard for him to just feel like well, I have a certain way to do it. And like it's, I don't you know, what if they don't know fishing, right? How are they going to know to do this or that? I mean, all these same objections that I'm sure carry over to other industries as well. It's a tough decision, but you have to let go. And the word fractional here was I think the key word, which is you can start small start with maybe one video or just a little bit and then you can I remember when I first had Mindy, she actually came on board first to edit the ask Pat podcast before she became Solutions Manager, it blew my mind how much time that actually saved me. And also how much better she did it than me. And then I got hooked on hiring and I was like, what else can I like? Let's find everything that I can hand off now because that's amazing.

 

Jay Clouse  19:53

That resonates so much because when when I hired Connor to help with video I was also terrified because I had edited every episode. To the audio podcast before, and it was scary to let that go. And what we did right was we got like a really big head start, like we set like a two month period of, you're going to edit this episode, but it's not actually going to air for two months. So that all along the way, like we practiced, like we were communicating a lot on that first episode to find like our shared vocabulary and our shared aesthetic. And now, you know, I was giving him like annoying level notes of like, this is how I would have changed this or this, or what I would have done that. And now we don't have to do like really any of that. I'm basically just watching for typos or something. And he already knows like, this is the shared language of what we're trying to create. And this is the way that we make it and most of time I watch through and I'm like, holy crap, that is the coolest animation or thing that I wouldn't have even thought of. And now that's on there. And it's just like the surprise and delight to watch the finished products that I had nothing to do with making

 

Matt Gartland  20:55

investments up front right into Yeah, the communication, that workflow and there's the classic adage of measure twice cut once that might apply there. So that's fantastic. Sorry, Patrick, cut you off.

 

Pat Flynn  21:07

Oh, no, I just just had a random question about Jays awesome illustrations for his podcast services. And like who does that that is hard to replicate

 

Jay Clouse  21:14

that is my sister who is just a part time illustrator because she likes to do it. She's awesome. I love the artwork. She's like written for the onion, and reduct HRUs and McSweeney. She has published comic books, and it's all like on the side. So if you have a sister like that, I remember to do your illustration 100%.

 

Pat Flynn  21:33

I'll talk to my parents to maybe one day. Well, we talked a little

 

Jay Clouse  21:37

bit ago about growth on SPI Pro and the community side of things. And I know you guys, Matt, you mentioned learner community, you guys have been cooking up a couple of different like tiers of membership to your community. And I'm curious to hear how you knew it was time to have multiple tiers and how you went about designing the differences between those experiences for members,

 

Matt Gartland  21:57

the validation came through a couple of points, not just one, maybe not 10. But you know, we had three or four validation points, the largest one was just our application volume and application rejections for SBI. Pro, so for SBI Pro or flagship, it is a gated process that you have to apply, you can't just put in a credit card and get in. And we have enhanced that. I guess that's front end experience, including Jay, when you were on the team, you know, over a few iterations. So we've just increasingly seen patterns of, you know, significant amount of declines, not because they aren't good people like like, we get information about them, we study them, they're just aren't ready yet, like we know that ultimately Pro is not right for them in this current moment of their journey. Right. So like we reached out to, you know, cut, you know, a collection, you know, a handful of folks that have declined or have not passed our application process, I should say, and we kind of tested this notion of like, you know, a more beginner oriented community, born with the same ethos of pro but calibrated for that kind of entry stage, early stage, you know, creator entrepreneur, you know, slightly different programming, you know, lighter weights or to stuff would just be of interest, tested some prices, and overwhelmingly like through that one vector was like big thumbs up, like there was a lot of interest there. And then second, you know, we just have a lot of students who are education products, right. And we have student communities for free that as part of like the the post education experience already on several we D platform from Facebook years ago. But that then a separate circle community that again, we call it the SPI Academy. So we talked to some of those folks. So we started to kind of like coalesce this vision and manifest it together, which is a more entry level, membership community, that can still have a lot of guided pathways and support for beginner entrepreneurs without a lot of the pressure that maybe comes along or could be conceived to come along with pro because that's again, more advanced in Scituate that very much intertwined with our student groups, and where we see the future really education or online education going. So that's kind of how we've hooked it all together. And we've rolled that out. I think it launched in early August, and we're around 100. Members, we haven't really done a whole ton of marketing, if I'm honest, just trying to really kind of make sure that our systems and methods are all kind of in a good spot before we really try to try to do scale, in part also sorry for the long answer. But we're not gating this. So unlike Pro, where we're going to or where we have an application, we've always had an application and that we're actually building into a cap, we're only going to ever have 1000 members nest pi pro at any given time. And that's it with the academy. We're building in such a way where there's more asynchronous experiences, there's other things at play, where we can have a more open ended kind of limit there. And again, it's not gated. So if you if you are at that point in your journey where you want to get started, or you are just getting started, like the learner community would be perfect for you.

 

Pat Flynn  24:45

Yeah, it's awesome too. Because, you know, we do reject quite a few people from SPI Pro. And now we have a place to send them hey, you're not quite ready for Pro, but come into learner and then hopefully, you'll learn the skills you need to become the Pro and so Now we have, you know, the ability to serve more people in different areas, which is really nice, like what Matt was saying. So I'm glad that we didn't launch with both. I'm happy to say that we mastered Pro and figured that out. And now we're just taking a lot of what we learned now into the learner side of things. And the asynchronous nature of that is great, too, because we don't need to dedicate as many team resources and time into it. And yet, it can still be very, very helpful. It also gives something for those learners to aspire to as well, which I think is great. That tear

 

Jay Clouse  25:30

is like a precursor to SBI Pro, which was the original community membership that I helped you guys with. What I'm also really interested in is this, this higher tier that you guys have started putting together in the pro community called MBA, because a lot of people listening to this, they might not have an application process for their communities. So they might not have this issue of like, well, some people weren't at the at the level they needed to be to enter this. But what's interesting about the NBA tier is your existing community, you have these members that are within there that likely want something extra and may even be at a higher, that's, we'll say, scale higher scale, where their problems are different. They'll be willing to pay for solutions to those different problems. Can you talk a little bit about how you've designed that,

 

Matt Gartland  26:16

to be clear on the front end, this isn't like a formal MBA program where you get like a really awesome piece of paper that you can frame and put on on your wall and say, Hey, I got an MBA from Harvard. And we could do one, two, we can move in that direction. But we we chose that term, or at least it really resonated with me, because business is the temple, right? Where we have Pro and Pro is really built around actually, quite frankly, like patenting the avatar pattern, it's built around a lot of creator methods and strategies and concepts of podcasting, email marketing, growth strategies, with MBA, it's about your business, it's about working on your business, not in your business. So we're talking about business models, we're talking about budgets, and p&l is we're talking about mitigating risk in business, I had an organized a special event today, exclusive to the NBA members, with my general counsel. And we talked about all manner of like legal things to help mitigate different risks that they're starting to encounter as they're growing their businesses. So it's that attitude of like, okay, cool, I have something that's working, I have traction, I have a podcast that's growing. I have my coaching business that's growing also on maybe still a one man band, or I have just a partner as well. And I'm starting to feel a little bit trapped in this thing of created, how do I step out of myself? How do I think about working on the business? Let me surround myself with people that are thinking similarly, that's in the nutshell, kind of what we're trying to do is help people fundamentally change the trajectory of their business by really concentrating on their business.

 

Pat Flynn  27:49

Like you said, Jay, we started to notice a certain set of creators within SPI pro who had a different set of problems, sort of a upskill set of problems. And that's when you start to begin to wonder, might we be able to create something in addition to what we already offer, that could be at a higher price, which is what we did start out small, you can test this, you can have conversations, which is what we did to just ensure that that's something you want to do. But that opportunity seems to always exist in every community, there's going to be people a subset, a smaller set, however, that still want to work even further with you. And it's not something every community should do. Some creators don't want to go to that level, because that typically means also more access to you. But you can charge top dollar for that. And as you should, because your time is valuable. And it is definitely an option to explore if you already have an IT community to go not just lower level but higher level, like you said, curious, JB

 

Matt Gartland  28:38

how much that mimics some of your early experience with what you now call the lab in your community? Because I think there's a little bit of a like you're trying to help folks with not just the podcasting and some of the growth marketing concepts.

 

Jay Clouse  28:52

Yeah, I don't have. So I went about it a different way. And it might be fun to chat about this. So I only allow people to join for a year at a time, there's no monthly memberships at all. But I do have two pricing tiers. And the higher price tier that I call the VIP level includes for 30 minute one on one calls with me that they can schedule at their leisure throughout a 12 month period. So it's very similar in that way. And that like the reason people would buy in Dubai, the second tier is extended access to me. But even the the lower tier, my explicit promise for my community has a lot of access to me. So it's been it's been interesting to kind of toe the line between the differences there. Now the main way I've done that is just like you you actually schedule that time you have a dedicated Calendly or sorry, sabe Cal link for how to set that time with me and the other tier doesn't. But as you guys are thinking about this, and you have this higher price tier, how do you toe the line between how you allocate your time and your access even in that tier? Because you can likely have dozens, maybe even hundreds of members in that upper tier at some Point. And if you guys are giving more access to you, too, how do you plan for that?

 

Matt Gartland  30:07

The first thing is that we actually don't have pet involved, at least not yet. So that's one way to safeguard pets time to have him again focus really on the creation side of the business and more energy into our unstuck newsletter that's doing really well. That's the new thing, just more on the podcast, etc. Right. So with me running the business more fully, Pat really now more fully back in creator mode, that it has been a really effective way to bring more like boundaries, I think to to your prompt just around managing time and energy and making sure that we're focusing on the right things for the company. Right. That's not to say that we won't get plugged in on certain special events, you know, and this is still new, the MBA community has only been out there really in the same timeframe as learner has. But the the intention is to to not have to burden Pat with that. And really, a lot of the programming is built around at least like my acumen. And you know, I guess my trajectory, right, but there's a lot more than that. Also, in terms of yes throttling for, at least then on my side, like time and energy and boundaries, I also use savvy Cal for similar mechanics are on scheduling, some similar crossover, they're increasingly we're building into, you know, that network effect, with our members, some shared challenges, we have a challenge going on right now related to budgeting, I'm starting to create habitual use rituals within the community. And I know you do this too, but where they're, they're declaring commitments around what their business is and what they're working on. And then holding each other accountable for like progress reports and stuff like that has been one of the most effective rituals that have established thus far. And now as we're recording this, we're entering draft planning season, you know, here in the fall, so like one of the big things that we'll be working on this and MBA community is like for them to start kind of putting together some high level outlines and goals for 2023. And we'll go through that shared experience together. And then now we have a roadmap together that all of us can kind of track against next year. And part of that even strategically for for us on the community side, in terms of is like retention. So if we can build really strong strategic plans together in this community group, then I have high confidence that those folks will stick around and live out their strap plans with obviously some evolution and tweaking throughout the year next year. Yeah, very excited to kind of see what happens there. And, Matt, you're doing a lot of that in a group sort of fashion, right? Cohort Based style versus more one on one. Exactly. So we had a goal of 10 exceeded it up to 20. So so we did lead in 20. For the first cohort, we're then getting ready for our second cohort here in q4. So that's coming up pretty fast. And then Jay, you helped this back in the pro days, when you were on the team, I think about some increased kind of cohorting elements, you know, even in Pro, and we do still have cohorting elements and Pro. But yeah, we're kind of taking that in an upgraded way. So Pat, thanks for highlighting that, you know, going forward with with the MBA community,

 

Pat Flynn  32:46

because that protects your time as well doing it in a group fashion, you get the benefit of one mat to many people. But at the same time, those people together help and support each other as well. And I think I think that's really key. I mean, the one on ones are still there. And there's there's there, they should be left for very special occasions. I love the fact that you have J like that part of your higher tiers sort of package. And that's like, I like that you're like, hey, use it when you need it, versus I know some people, many coaches, for example, say you got one call per month use it. And oftentimes they aren't valuable because people don't need them. So I really liked how you solve that.

 

Jay Clouse  33:20

When we come back, we talk about how SBI is planning to bring their communities together with their courses, which have driven more than $5 million in sales. We'll talk all about that right after this. Hey, welcome back up to this point in conversation, we've talked a lot about community. But historically, SPI has been a courses business with more than $5 million in sales. Last year, when I worked with Matt And Pat, we built their first cohort based courses. So I asked them how they're thinking about the intersection of courses and community today,

 

Pat Flynn  33:49

we've done cohort based courses, which are very high touch, you know, two times a week with lessons and office hours and that kind of thing. But even then those micro moments of togetherness within those cohort based courses are really where the magic happens. So we very much see the future of online courses being a community based sort of learning experience with live components in a synchronous components together, the fact that you are there and available with other people all in the same spot. Like even in the same tech platform, if

 

Matt Gartland  34:17

I might say that, that is ideal. And that is what we're shooting for. Yeah, there needs to be more integration like a double helix DNA strand, right, like more inter woven, not only through what we now I think has been pretty well rooted, like the CBC concept or modeling a call for base courses, our friends over at Maven have a fantastic tech platform for that. And that's more like the open close, like cool. Like we have a structured curriculum, it's six weeks long, it starts it stops. And maybe there's a community component thereafter, particularly you're trying to migrate someone from the cohort into them this other thing, right. And that I think so really valuable. Our friends like Thiago forte do that exceptionally well right in terms of their model, but I think what we're trying to get to here is a honestly a bigger vision not to like, say one's better than, than the other here. But it's in terms of maybe big in terms of scale. So being able to democratize more and scale more our on demand education products, intertwined with community based ethos, and community based mechanics and elements, it will require us and does challenge us to think through our technology. And it'd be irresponsible to not think about some really important shifts for the future. Because we need to bring together on demand pre recorded education content that's wildly valuable, and be able to situate that within a paradigm where we can walk together with our students more, right as they're going through that content. And as then the students themselves can walk through that content together more. So it's not really pure CBC, it's also not pure on demand. It's a hybrid of the two. And to us, that's our kind of strong opinion, where we see like the big in terms of like the big bell curve, like what's the big middle of the bell curve, we believe it's that in terms of where the future of education is going,

 

Jay Clouse  35:57

you mentioned the technology questions that you have. And I wanted to call this out as an opportunity for people listening to this, because I think a lot of times people listen to the guests that I have on the show, and the inner narrative and critic is like, I'm too late, I'm just getting started. Now, I wish I would have started 10 years ago, but there's, there's actually more opportunity than ever with the tools that are available now to get started. And a really streamlined, easy way where you don't have to cobble together so many things, and it's really just getting a lot better. You and I we're all big fans of circle. And that's what we're using for both of our memberships. And circle is just announced a couple days ago as of this recording, that they're bringing out a courses platform. So I think the the future of these things tying together is is really bright and really exciting. Then again, you don't want to get trapped in the the mindset of building a solution based on a tool either like you need to be thinking about the problems of your people, and make sure that the tool is complementing that,

 

Matt Gartland  36:53

in terms of the point though, related to like, Am I too late. And there's definitely a real, like mental constraint that that we know, Pat knows better than I do, quite frankly, in terms of, you know, people entering the space like that's, that's a thing for sure. But my thought there and package I meant on the heels, is that like the market has changed. I know that's really like business, your way of talking about it. But like the market has changed so much since 2005 2008 2010. So the beginning and now like it's not that you're late, it's just like you're getting at the beginning of like the next phase in this whole journey of like, what the internet is to folks like us trying to work on our own terms and have businesses to support our families, right and grow within, you know, some vision that's hopefully driven by purpose and meant to serve others. So like, we've had to work really hard over the years to evolve the business, you know, it's a very, very different thing than what it was in 2008, when Pat first created a brand, and not to suck the fun out of it. But you know, there's been a lot of folks that, you know, back in the OG days of, you know, podcasting and blogging, that didn't make it right, because it's hard, you know, and it's hard to keep up. It's hard to evolve. It's hard to let go of, you know, matters of success, ways of things, working in the past to because maybe maybe that's dying or dwindling. And there's there's a shift, right? So anyway, to the point of like, is it too late, it's never too late, because it's always changing. And right now with community and these things that are happening, I think is actually changing in a really big way.

 

Pat Flynn  38:21

Yeah, on that note, you know, a lot of people feel like it's too late because the market saturated or the niche that they're in, there's so many others already doing this, right. But I want to quote Roberto Blake, who is a fantastic Creator, who is a friend of mine, and somebody who's very proficient with YouTube, I interviewed him and I asked him basically, how could a YouTuber, a blogger a podcaster, get comfortable getting into a space knowing that there are tons of people already there who often think it's too late? And he said something very profound. He said,

 

Roberto Blake  38:48

Is it saturated with quality? The answer is probably no, there's not saturation of quality in every niche can't find one niche that you can show me that's oversaturated with an embarrassment of riches when it comes to high quality content. Or you could go to the other extreme, acceptable levels of content that are massively consistent, where it's reliable on a scale on a fixed schedule. Outside of traditional media companies,

 

Pat Flynn  39:17

that's where you can stand out and those are the creators who are doing really well today, especially the neat niche creators who pick a lane, and they don't just like deliver information to the people in that lane. They go above and beyond to help hold those people's hands through the problems and the pains that they're going through as they reach their goals. And I think that's where a lot of us who are now both creating courses and or creating communities along with with that have the have the most amazing opportunity that ever existed to do just that in the fact that you know, you don't need a million subscribers. You don't need a million followers or blockbuster hit, you just need to show up and to you know, be authentic and your vibe is gonna attract your tribe. Like that's, that's just the truth. So I Love that phrasing from Roberto like questioning, are we actually saturated with good things? Probably not. And that's where your opportunity lies.

 

Jay Clouse  40:07

One other evolution that you guys have put out into the world recently is the unstuck newsletter, bringing, bringing the SPI newsletter back. And Pat, I listened to your podcast episode talking about this and saying that you may have initially been wrong about your thoughts on email. And this is how things are changing. Can you talk about how you've seen newsletters evolve and how you guys came to the the format and the relaunch of unstuck,

 

Pat Flynn  40:32

yet newsletters has gone through an interesting evolution, right since we first started. And it's even to a point now where people are paying to get access to newsletters, where I got it wrong was saying, you know, nobody wakes up in the morning and wants more email, anything in general, that's still true. We don't want just like random emails, or the spam that we're usually used to when we get up in the morning. But we all get up in the morning and want to read morning group, for example. Or we all love getting James Claire's email, because we know exactly what we're going to get in the fact that it's going to challenge us and make us think, and what if we just wrote an email every single week that was just so valuable, that when it got into a person's inbox, they would open immediately. Now we had once before had a, what we call the newsletter, it was mostly a digest, which was mostly made up of links to all the other places that we create content, or podcasts or YouTube videos, or blog posts, etc. Eventually, I realized that that kind of email was just reminding people of how much content they missed, and how much behind they potentially were with our new newsletter, which was very much driven by the fact that we've had some advertisers and such who were interested in sponsoring the newsletter, but we didn't really have one. So how might we create a newsletter that's highly valuable, that we could also insert sponsors into, that would just be a win for everybody. And it took me going back to my roots of just writing great content. And I really feel like how I did back in 2008, when I just sat down, told a story with a lesson in it and just delivered it. And I'm not delivering it on the blog, like I used to the blog is more of a how to repository now. But via email, I can make that direct connection and send these out directly. And we're getting incredible responses back and it just feels good to get back to that kind of writing again. And so I was wrong about email. And I think I think there is a way to do it, right? Where it is about the words that you write not just the lead magnet that you offer, or the thing that's coming as a result, it's like the content, it can be great. And I'm just grateful that the team really pushed me on making it great. It was it was definitely a big challenge. And you know, oftentimes on the other side of great challenges come come great things and I think that's where we're at with it

 

Jay Clouse  42:53

it was awesome catching up with Matt and Pat. The way they think about community really resonates with me and they built an incredible team to make it happen. If you want to learn more about SPI or their communities go to smartpassiveincome.com. The link is in the show notes. Thank you to Matt and Pat for being on the show. Thank you to Connor Conaboy for editing this episode and Nathan Todhunter from mixing audio. Thanks to Brian Skeel for creating our music and Emily Clouse for making the artwork. If you'd like this episode, you can tweet at me and let me know @jayclouse. I'd love to hear your feedback. If you really want to say thank you, be sure to leave a review on Apple podcasts or Spotify. Thanks for listening. I'll talk to you next week.