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249 - Why I'm "Pausing" The Inner Circle (Part 1 of 2)

249 - Why I'm "Pausing" The Inner Circle (Part 1 of 2)

Listen To Today's Episode: 

Episode Recap:

I made an announcement last Friday about why I'm pausing the Inner Circle. This episode will explain why... On this episode Russell talks about the history of his inner circle group in the wake of deciding to pause it for a season. Here are some of the awesome things you will hear on this episode:

-- How Russell got started with Mastermind groups and what lead to him starting his own.

-- Hear about the evolution of the inner circle group from it's beginnings as the Ignite program.

-- And see where the inner circle group is now, just as Russell decides to take a pause from it.

So listen here to find out how the inner circle began six years ago, and be sure to listen to the next episode to find out why Russell will be pausing it for a little while.

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Best Quote:

A lot of you guys know I’ve had an inner circle coaching program now for over six years, since before Clickfunnels launched. And it’s funny, I shared this with inner circle group, we had a group here on Monday and Tuesday, and today’s Wednesday. And I kind of took today off and spent time with Norah, went to the pumpkin patch with her. Then tomorrow, Thursday and Friday I have my last inner circle meeting. And honestly, it’s been so far I’m only halfway through the week, but it’s been one of the most emotional weeks of my life.


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Hey everybody, this is Russell Brunson and I welcome you back to the Marketing Secrets podcast. I’ve got a special episode for you today. I’m not going to lie, I’m a little nervous to do this one. But there’s been a bunch of questions I’ve been getting over the last 24 hours, and this is probably the best format for me to kind of talk about it. So I’m going to be talking during today’s episode about why I am pausing my inner circle.

Alright everybody, so yes, that is the news. As you’ve probably seen in the Clickfunnels community there’s been a lot of changes and announcements happening. On the Clickfunnels five year birthday, we did some big announcements talking about how we’re simplifying the software, getting rid of some of the features, and just focusing on being the category king of sales funnels. We then talked about how we launched Funnel Flix which is a training platform for people in funnels, and it basically has all the courses we used to sell for anywhere from a couple hundred bucks to a couple thousand bucks for free, for anyone who’s at the $297 a month level of Clickfunnels. And since then we’ve had thousands of people upgrade to that level, which is really, really cool. So now we’re able to do more training. That was the first big announcement.

And there’s another big announcement happening at Funnel Hacking Live, which you guys are going to freak out about. If you don’t have your tickets yet, go to and get them. And then on my 40th birthday there’s another big announcement. So those are three big things happening, but there’s a lot of little announcements happening as well. And one of them I made last Friday, and it was more silent because it wasn’t to everybody, it was just to a small group in our market.

A lot of you guys know I’ve had an inner circle coaching program now for over six years, since before Clickfunnels launched. And it’s funny, I shared this with inner circle group, we had a group here on Monday and Tuesday, and today’s Wednesday. And I kind of took today off and spent time with Norah, went to the pumpkin patch with her. Then tomorrow, Thursday and Friday I have my last inner circle meeting. And honestly, it’s been so far I’m only halfway through the week, but it’s been one of the most emotional weeks of my life.

So I kind of want to just talk about that, because I know a lot of people who listen to this podcast specifically, this has been a thing that they’ve been striving for. “I want to be in your inner circle. I want to get there. This is my plan, someday I wanted to do it.” And I just wanted to tell you the story behind it, and then from there talk about why I’m pausing it for a while. And hopefully it’ll be good for you and inspire you and help you to make some decisions that are tough as well. So that’s kind of the game plan.

I’m going to go back in time a little bit. So when this whole thing started for me, I had joined a mastermind group, it was Bill Glazer’s mastermind group, Bill Glazer and Dan Kennedy, way back, over ten years ago now. And I was in that group for six years. And when Bill Glazer sold the company I kind of dropped out and I was like, “I need another mastermind group.” And I had tried to launch my own group a couple of times with varied success. I had it once and I had like 5 or 6 people sign up, and then I did it for a year or two and it was kind of hard, and I cancelled it.

Anyway, while we were building Clickfunnels and I was writing the Dotcom Secrets book, both the things were happening at the same time, I started having this, I don’t even know what the word is, this desire, this need for a mastermind group. And I tried to join a couple other people’s and just never got what I needed out of them. And finally I kind of felt the pull, which I’m sure you guys have felt that pull, that calling, whatever you want to call it, that need of just like, “I feel like I should start a group”

And I remember looking at a bunch of people who had groups online and that were doing really well, and I was like, “That would be so cool.” And they were charging $25,000 for these things. And I was just like, there’s no way that’s going to be possible, but I want to try. So I went out there and I tried to launch this thing. And at first I launched a program that was $10,000, it was called our Ignite program, and we started selling that and it was doing well, and it grew to the point where it was too big.

And I was like, I want to do an inner circle. I want to have my own group that I work even closer with. So we launched a $25,000 inner circle program. And at first nobody would sign up for it. I kept trying thing after thing, and nobody, like people would sign up for the $10,000 thing, but nobody would sign up for $25,000. I was just like, other people are selling things for that much, why can’t I? What’s wrong with me? And you know, again, we’re building Clickfunnels at the time, I’m writing the Dotcom Secrets book, and I remember finally, we sold one.

And the crazy thing to me, the person that bought it paid $25,000 and then they never showed up to any of the meetings, to any of the things. The first person who signed up never, never asked for a refund either, just never, we couldn’t get this person to ever contact us, it was the weirdest thing. We got one person to sign up, they won’t even show up. I don’t, it doesn’t make any sense to me.

And then we sold another one and another, and we started selling a few, and it wasn’t a ton, I think we had 5 or 6 probably at the first meeting. So I had my Ignite event which had maybe 100 people that came to that. And then we did the Inner Circle right afterwards that had like 5 or 6 people in it. And it was the first little mastermind group, and it was so awesome.

In fact, I want to take a step back. I shared this yesterday with the inner circle members, but it was funny because this whole thing, the writing the Dotcom Secrets book and the building of Clickfunnels and stuff, came on the backside of a big business failure where I had to fire 80 people and I didn’t like the business I was in, and if you’ve read the Dotcom Secrets book, the intro section I talk about how I woke up one day and I didn’t love my customers and I said, I wished I would have had a boss, so that person could fire me, because I didn’t want to go in.

And about that time I heard Evan Pagan talk about how you need to build out a customer avatar and I thought it was the cheesiest advice ever. But I was like, alright fine. I’m going to do this customer avatar exercise, and I talk about it in the Dotcom Secrets book. So I sat down and said, “Who, what’s my dream customer look like?” At first I thought from a male, a man standpoint. So I gave it a name, I’m going to call him Mike. What are some things about Mike? He’s successful, he used to be an athlete, and I kind of list all these different things that my dream customer would have.

And I took that to Google images and I typed in Mike, and I set up all the phrases, and a whole bunch of pictures popped up and I picked a dude who looked like someone who I’d want to hang out with, who I thought would be cool. And I took that picture and printed it out and taped it on my wall. And I was like, I don’t want to just serve men. I want to serve women as well, I think women are amazing and a lot of times have more power to change and impact than men, not all the time, but a lot of times. So I was just like, man if I could help serve women as well.

And prior to that, the reason why that was a big deal to me at the time is prior to that, when I was doing coaching and stuff like that, I never had very many women who came into our groups, a few but it was just definitely more male dominant. And I was like, I want to work with women too, they’re so amazing and I’ve seen the impact that successful women can have on people. And I was like, I want that as well. So I wrote out a customer avatar on the female side and I called her Julie, and I listed all these different names and I went to Google images and I found a picture that was like my dream Julie. And I printed that out and printed it on my wall.

And I had these two pictures and they became my, that was my dream. I want to build a mastermind and those two people are there and I can hang out with them. So that’s when this whole journey started. We started getting some people in and had the group and it was 5 or 6 people at this first mastermind group, and it was the beginning. And we kept pushing it, and kept pushing it. And eventually we got to 8 and to 10 people, and it slowly grew and I would do meetings two or three times a year with them. It was some of the most rewarding work I ever had a chance to do in these mastermind groups.

And then I started talking about it. In fact, if you’ve been listening to this podcast for the last 5 or 6 years, I started talking about inner circle members, because I was closest with them. As they would have successes I would talk about it on the podcast. And the more I talked about the inner circle members, the more people who would say, “I want to be in the inner circle.” And then we started getting more traction and more growth and more people started coming into it, to the point where we had a full group of like 18 people, which in my mind my max said 18 people. And I was like, oh my gosh this is crazy.

And then we did, I think we did Funnel Hacking Live about that time and we signed up like 10 more people. And then we had like 30 and I was like, I can’t do 30, I think I tried once to do 30 in a group and it was like really, really hard. So I’m like, I’m going to break it into two groups. Then we had two groups of 15 or something like that. And then one day, I had this idea. I was like, what would it look like if I made this perfect? We could have, if I did 4 groups of 25, that’d be 100 people. I could facilitate that, it wouldn’t crush too much of my time, I’d be able to still spend time doing CLickfunnels and everything else I’m doing.

So I said, I can handle 100 people in this inner circle and I’d be maxed out at that point. So then, I think I did a podcast about it. I’m sure I sent some emails out and I said, again, we had maybe 35 people at the time. And I said, “Just so you know, we’re capping at 100 people. When we hit 100 I’m shutting it down.” Again, I didn’t think that was ever going to happen. And within like 2 months we hit 100 people. And it was crazy and intense and insane.

And we’d do these events where basically people would come and it’s 2 days times 4 groups. 2, 4, 6, 8 days over 2 to 3 weeks, and it was basically a month of my life 2 to 3 times a year was focused on inner circle members. Then I did these things called Decade in a day where they jump on a call on Friday and I spend Fridays consulting with different people in the group. And it was just, again, so fulfilling, so rewarding and gave me a chance to have my hands on 100 people’s businesses at a time in all sorts of industries. It really for me was the training ground, it was the thing that gave me the ability to understand what works in this business, and what’s different. Like what are the intricacies and the differences between an info business versus a supplement business versus a local business. I had this rare, unique opportunity for many years to work with so many companies and see, and be on the front lines and be able to talk through voxer’s with all these entrepreneurs and to figure things out, and it was amazing.

So again, we hit the 100 people and then we capped it down, and for like a year no one could come in. And we started getting the normal trips that would happen and after a year we were down to like 70 or, I don’t know how many people were in there. I was like, we need to kind of re- get it back up to 100.

So we did a campaign, got it back to 100 and then I had this idea, I said, you know what I don’t want to keep filling this up with new people. I want to make this where it’s like, this is the group of people I’m going to work with, and I just wanted to every single year come back to the same group of people and together, collectively as a whole, I want us all growing together. How are we going to do that when we have people coming and going and things like that? It’s really, really difficult.

So we did a campaign with everybody and I said, “We’re starting a program, we’re calling this Inner Circle for Life now. We’re changing the name, it’s called Inner Circle for Life, and when you’re in, you’re in. And if you leave, that’s fine, you can leave, but if you leave you can never come back in.” Because a lot of people said, “I’m going to leave, I’ll come back next year, I’m just going to take a year off.” I was like, I hated that.

So we made it inner circle for life where you’re in, you’re in, and if you’re out, we’re still friends but you can never come back in. And what happened next was insane, nobody, for the most part, nobody left. And inner circle was closed for the next 2 ½ years or so. And that brought me to where I’m at now.

You know what, I’m going to share that on the next episode. I’m going to drag this story on, because usually my episodes are 10 minutes long, and we’re already 12 minutes and I want to share the rest of the story on the next one. So there’s the build up of where inner circle’s come from in the last 6 years and why we did it, and how we did it, and some of the amazing things, and some of the experiences. So that’s it for this episode.

On the next episode I’m going to talk to you about the transitions in my personal life, and family and everything, and why I’m pausing inner circle for now. I’m not pausing it forever, not indefinitely, but for a season I’m going to be pausing it, and I’ll tell you more about that on the next episode here at the Marketing Secrets show. Thanks again everybody, and I will see you on the next episode.


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