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461 - A Sneak Peek from Within the Category King's Mastermind


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One of my biggest "ah-ha's" and "takeaways" from day 1 of our highest level mastermind.

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And then if you've read Extra Secrets, you know it's like, hey do we make an improvement offer? Or a new opportunity? Create a new opportunity. There's this whole thing around like down that rabbit hole. And that's where I begin. That's where I kind of start running with. And I always knew that when we're creating offers and creating products, and services and things like that, where like our goal to solve a problem. But what was interesting is that Dave asked us, he's like, what is the problem that you solve? And he showed a bunch of the big companies you're aware of. Like the billion dollar brands and most of them have like a really simple, less than 10 word statement on the problem that they solve for the market.


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What's up everybody, this is Russell Brunson. Welcome back to the Marketing Seekers podcast. I'm in a good mood today. I'm in a really good mood today. I hope you are as well. We relaunched my Inner Circle. We opened a new level called the Category Kings. We had a chance to meet with him yesterday, and actually I'm driving to downtown Boise, because I'm going to be hanging out with that group again for the next two days and then my Inner Circle for the next two days after that. And so this is like a week of hanging out with my favorite people in the world, and so I'm excited. I've got some long car rides back and forth this week, so you'll probably get some episodes of me talking about what we're talking about, what's happening.

And I'm doing this for a couple reasons, number one is I want you to learn from some lessons and the key takeaways that I'm getting from these events. And number two, hopefully it will inspire you to want to set as a goal someday to be in my Inner Circle, and eventually to send up with the Category Kings and things like that. So there you go with that said I'm going to cue the theme song, when we come back I'm going to share with you guys some of the cool aha I had from our meeting yesterday.

All right everybody. So yeah I'm driving downtown Boise here, about to go hang out with my Category Kings, which is a small group mastermind I have with some of the Category Kings here inside of the Click Funnels universe, which is fun. When I decided, as some of you guys know I've run my Inner Circle mastermind program for seven or eight years, and then two years ago, about six months before the COVID lockdowns I decided I needed a break. And so I paused Inner Circle. I shut it down, whatever you want to call it, and decided to take a two year hiatus, actually I didn't know how long it was going to be at the time. So decided to take a hiatus and maybe it was going to be forever. But over the last two years, I missed it.

For me there're different ways to learn, like you can learn from a book, you can learn from a course, you can learn from a seminar, and for me I've done all those things. I'm a voracious reader. I go through everybody's courses. I love going to seminars, but eventually for me it gets harder and harder to like mine the gold out right? Because you just are more aware of things. And I've been doing this game now for almost 20 years. And so I've been to more seminars than most of you guys probably even knew existed in our industry.

So for me it gets harder and harder to find like that gold nugget. And I was in, I remember my very first mastermind group I ever joined was Dan Kennedy and Bill Glazier’s, which some you guys heard we recently acquired their company, which is such a cool thing. But in those groups it was interesting because it wasn't like I was learning, it wasn't like here's course curriculum. It was like the mastermind group, we get together, we all get share and talk, and ideas. And like that's where I started getting these nuggets of things that were just like, oh wow, I can apply that. Oh I can apply that. It was a different type of learning I never experienced before, but I fell in love with it.

And I was in Bill's mastermind group for six years. And then when he retired and sold his company I wanted to go see if I could find another mastermind group to join. And I ended up joining all of them. Like all the ones I could find in my world in similar markets, I would join them all. And I never got the same experience. I didn't know why. And that was about the time I decided to launch my Inner Circle. And I think the reason why most of the masterminds I tried to join was like you join them, and there were a whole bunch of internet marketers in the group. And so everyone, I don't know, it was just, it never felt awesome.

But what was cool about the Inner Circle I launched it, because we have ClickFunnels we didn't just have internet marketers who are using the platform, we had people in every market you can dream of. We have 100 and something 1000 active members now. And again, there's people that are chiropractors, dentists, doctors, people in curing cancer, wellness, health filled, people in marriage, family, counseling, relationships, dating, every market you can dream of are using ClickFunnels. And so when we opened the Inner Circle, it was crazy, because it wasn't just like, oh a whole bunch of internet marketers joined to talk about internet marketing stuff. It was like the best people in each industry joined it.

And it was so cool, because now in this mastermind I was learning like what's working now in the relationship market? What's working over here in the supplement market? What's working here, because we had such a such wide variety of people. And man for me it lit up. And if you've read, specifically the Expert Secrets book, the Expert Secrets book was written in the middle of when the Inner Circle was at its peak. When people like Brandon and Calum Poland and Alex Hormozi and I could list all, the most of the names you guys know in the ClickFunnels community today were in the Inner Circle during that time. And it was fun, because I was writing that book, I would like test ideas and then I would test it on my business, have some success, I'd share it with the entire Inner Circle and within hours it was being tested in 40 different industries. And we got feedback and course correction, and tweaks back and forth and back and forth. And really the Expert Secrets book was born from that testing process inside the Inner Circle. It was so cool.

Anyway, I digress. So for me after two years of having it closed down I reopened it, specifically because I missed learning. Like I've been in a weird spot where we've been growing, we've been acquiring companies, we're doing things, but I don't feel like I've been personally growing and you know growth is a big value for me. That's why I have so many books that I study so much, is I'm looking for ways to grow all the time. And so I reopened it with the excitement to start regrowing again with a small group of really cool people. So the Category Kings have 15 people in it. Each of them spend $150,000 a year to be part of it. And then the Inner Circle is $50,000 a year, and there's a 100 people in that one. And so those are the two groups, the Category Kings one was funny, I thought that was going to, I was like there's no way people are going to spend that much money. That one sold out in two days and Inner Circle, man we ended up from Funnel Hacking Live, we only presented it to people at Two Comma Club. We had a special luncheon. And from that I think we had 60 or 70 people join during the luncheon.

And so anyway, so there's some context to what it is, why it is, why it's exciting, why I'm so passionate about it. So with the Category Kings, to kick off kind of this new group some of you guys have read the book Play Bigger, which teaches you how to become a category king. And I thought, how cool, and it's funny, because half of our, the Category King group are actually women. So as of yesterday I'm calling it the Category King and Queens, because there's as many Queens in the group as there are Kings. But anyway I digress, I thought it'd be really cool to have one of the authors of that book come and actually present.

And so Dave Peterson came and he presented on how to like design your category. And it was interesting, because I've read the book multiple times, I've referred it to, I think he told me I was probably the top refer of his book, because I told everybody about it. And so it was interesting, because as we were preparing for this I had it in my head what he was going to do. He was going to use the principles in the book. We're going to map it out. We're going to category design. Like I thought, I really thought that was the direction we were going to go. It was interesting, because he told me, he's like, you know everything I've learned about category design for the most part happened after I wrote the book, we wrote the book based on these principles and he's like, we've been coaching for the last decade now. And he's actually now doing it in a company again.

And he's like you know most of what I’ve learned about category design, I have learned since the book. And so there's a lot of things that are different. And so anyway, we had a four hour workshop with him and what was fascinating to me was we didn't cover most of the things in the book. In fact the first hour was all spent on something that seemed so simple. I'm almost nervous to tell you guys this, because you'd be like, oh that's so simple Russell. But me and 15 other people in this room of arguably Category Kings in their industries, none of us were able to really answer it. And that's what I want to share with you guys today. So the question and it's interesting, because like the way that I, the lens that I view the world at typically for me is like, okay I'm going to go find, who's my dream customer? And then I'm going to create an offer for them. That's like for me, like ground zero, that's where I begin this process.

And then if you've read Extra Secrets, you know it's like, hey do we make an improvement offer? Or a new opportunity? Create a new opportunity. There's this whole thing around like down that rabbit hole. And that's where I begin. That's where I kind of start running with. And I always knew that when we're creating offers and creating products, and services and things like that, where like our goal to solve a problem. But what was interesting is that Dave asked us, he's like, what is the problem that you solve? And he showed a bunch of the big companies you're aware of. Like the billion dollar brands and most of them have like a really simple, less than 10 word statement on the problem that they solve for the market.

Like for example the wetsuit guy, I don't know who it was, but like his problem he's trying to solve is I want to swim in cold water longer, but that was it. I want to swim in cold water longer, eight words right. And like, what is a wetsuit? Oh it helps people swim in cold water longer. What was the problem you try to solve? Boom this is a solution and billion dollar brand. And every company had something like that. And then he was interesting, he said that he would go to, or he was talking about some of his friends that have big companies. And he said that he started doing this exercise with them, when he'd get in the car with them, and he'd be like, Hey how's it going? How's business? Real quickly, what do you think the problem is you guys as a company solve? His friend would tell him the answer and he'd write it down, and next time they hung out three or four days later he'd be talking, he's like, wait real quick, what was the question? What is the main problem you solve again?

And the guy would be like, oh, he'd tell him again, and then he'd do it again, he'd do it five or six times over the next month and a half or so. And eventually the guy came back and said, you know the seventh or eighth time he asked him, he's like, dude you got to quit asking me this. Like you keep asking and I keep telling you the problem we solve. And then Dave came back and said, actually what's interesting is I've been writing them down. He's like every single time I've asked you that question, you've given me a different answer. And the guy was like, oh my gosh. And he started looking at him and he was disagreeing with himself, not knowing it. But if you look at like, he's like I solve this problem, I solve this problem. And I solve this problem. And they kept changing around.

And he said a lot of times he'll do consulting with people and they're in category design, and he'll ask everybody in the executive team, what is the problem you solve? And everybody's answers different. And then he'll ask the employees and everyone's answers different. And he's like, this is the foundation. Business is all about solving a core problem for an industry. Like what is the core problem? And what's interesting he said that if you figure out the problem correctly, he said, the category will take care of itself. Like you don't have to go and figure out the category and design, all kind of stuff. He's like it all relies on this one thing, is what is the problem you solve?

And it was interesting, because as he said that, instant I'm like oh sweet I can answer this. And then I was like, wait a minute. I could answer this seven years ago when ClickFunnels first came out. That was the problem we were solving seven years ago? It was that entrepreneurs couldn't code. And so we had to make this easy drag and drop builder, oh sorry this is the solution. The problem is that entrepreneurs aren't coders, that's the problem right? And so we built ClickFunnels, because someone like me who's an entrepreneur who needs funnels, I can't code. And so it was like this simple thing. And so that was the problem we solved. Now fast forward seven years later, that's not the market problem anymore. There's a million ways that entrepreneurs can code something. There's a million Wix's and WYSIWYG editors, and WordPress and Shopify, and Etsy and Amazon, like there's a million ways to do it. So, that's no longer the core problem. Although, that's the problem that we solved initially.

And so it got me thinking, what is the problem we solve today? Like the problems change in a market and an industry over time. In fact, I asked someone, I was like, does the core problem stay the same forever? And he's like, no, no. He's like there's a core problem, and you got to figure out and identify that, because that'll define the category and everything else. But he's like markets shift, markets change. And he showed this graph of the CRM industry over the last 50 years or 60 years, initially he was it was business cards. And then it was some dude figured out you could take a business card and type it into a data processor. Now you had a digital business card, and then the next wave was like... Sorry, we can come back to the problem.

So the first problem is like I needed contacts. So business cards became the thing. That was the problem. And then next thing I have all these business cards, I don't know how to manage them or track them. And so someone made a program where you could type it in. It's like, oh I have a digital version, I can look at it. And if my book of business cards burns up I don't lose my business. So problem solution, and then a little while later it's like, okay this is tough I hate typing in these things. And so the next wave of that industry was card scanners, where you take a business card, you scan it and boom it's in your computer now, you've got it there. And that solved the next set of problems in the industry.

And then later it was I don't just want a business card. I want a business card, but to be able to take notes. And if I talk to somebody and things like that, and it was like the first version of CRM, and he showed, was it Seabolt and showed how they became the Category Kings and they dominated. But then eventually it was like well, first Seabolt was really hard to install and all these kind of things. And that's when Mark Benioff came out with Salesforce, which was not software, it was hard and confusing and you had to have people come install it and set up. It was just web based software. And he was the very first to do SAS based software.

And so like that became the next thing. And he kept showing them the industry shifting, because the problem shifts over time. And it was interesting, because in your market if you're not shifting your problem over time, someone else is going to solve the problem and that's when you lose the category. That's when the person passes you, which is so fascinating. And so the question came down to, what is the problem you solve? And so that's the thing I want to identify for you guys. And the problem that us entrepreneurs have is like, oh we solve a ton of problems. We do this and this and this, and this and this, and this and this, this and that is the wrong answer. You don't solve a whole bunch of problems. You've got to solve one problem for the category.

And by doing that, by creating that, by understanding and identifying and framing that problem from there the category is built. And then we got deeper and talked about POV statements and things like that, it got deeper from there. But that was the core foundation, that again, if I was teaching, I'd be like step one find a problem, step two, what is the offer? And then like you know, and I'd go directly into that, but it's like, no, no, we got to step back to the foundation, which is really what is the problem that you're solving for the industry? When you figure that out the category will take care of itself, which was so fascinating. And again, he said, try to keep your problem statement to under 10 words.

And that's hard to do. I spent 45 minutes talking about, 15 minutes work shopping it, and then I spent the next four hours like noodling on it, like try to figure this out, like what in the world, especially as I know some of you guys know we're launching ClickFunnels 2.0 soon, so like with this whole new launch, this new thing, what is the problem we're trying to solve? How do I identify? How do I structure? How do I make it so simple that it keeps us as the Category King?

So anyway I hope that's helpful. Obviously there was a lot of stuff yesterday that was really, really cool, but that was the one that was like the biggest insight. It was funny, because we came back from the first workshop, I raised my hand initially, I was like, all right I don't know if it's just me, but that was really, really hard. And I looked around at everybody else, every other Category King and Queen in the room looked back and said, oh, then Kevin's like, we're so grateful it was hard for you Russ, that was really, really hard for us and we thought we were the only ones. I'm like, no, I'm going to be vulnerable here too. That was really hard.

And then it was fun, because it opened the dialogue with us all trying to figure it out and work with each other. And Annie Grace, a lot of you guys know her, she spoke at Funnel Hacking Live two years ago, she actually wrote out mine and my POV statement and all these things for me, it was like I think this is what yours is. And like, anyway it was magical. So anyway that was the first half day of Category Kings and Queens. And so I'm heading into the event room now, I'm getting close actually. And I'm excited because I was up till two o'clock last night working on my presentation, because I'm going to, based off of what we learned yesterday with the problem I'm going to take that as the foundation point and then show everybody over the last seven years how ClickFunnels has built to the place it is. We've got over half a billion dollars in sales, well over that now, we built the category, we’ve done these things. So I'm going to kind of show the next phases for me to the group. I'll probably spend two or three hours going deep into that, which I'm so excited for. And this is like Russell raw, like if you guys see me live, I'm Russell polished where I'm, I've got slides, I've got things.

Russell raw you get me and a black marker and that's about it. So I'm excited for these guys they're going to, for those who haven't been with Russell raw this will be my first hardcore doodle session with them going through the principles of how we build ClickFunnels into the category king it is. Things I've learned along the way, the pros, the cons, the ups the downs, and yeah stuff I don't get to talk about typically. So, that's the cool thing about these groups, if you look at our coaching programs we have all the base level stuff. And then if you come in one funnel way and courses and all that kind of stuff, but when you decide to ascend up and get into coaching with us, the first is our Two Comma Club X coaching program. The goal of that is to get somebody from where they are today to Two Comma Club.

After you get done with Two Comma Club and you've made a million dollars inside of a funnel, that's when you get invited into the Inner Circle and then from there into category Kings. But it's interesting because the reason why we break it up like that, we used to always have it all together and everyone would be dumped in one coaching program. And it was tough because, or one mastermind group, but it was tough, because there're different conversations that happen at different levels. Like the conversations I'm having with people that spend $150,000 to be in a group, they have to make a minimum of five million a year, and have had to sold over 10 million. They had to have won at Two Comma Club X award. The conversations they have in that room are different than the conversation that happen in a room with people who just passed the million dollar mark. And they're different than the conversation I've going to have with somebody who is in a startup mode trying to get into Two Comma Club.

So it's just fun, because again these are things I don't get to talk about, or share ever. And so the place it gets to happen is here inside Category King. So for you guys who are looking to say, okay this is the path, I'm going to hit Two Comma Club X. And then from there Inner Circle, then Category Kings, just know we do record these things and there's a private members there. So when you get to Category King some day, come in here and watch Dave Peterson's talk on Category Kings and watch my presentations from the next day. And you'll have a chance to kind of see where I went from there. So with that said, thanks for listening. This is a long episode because I got a long ride. Hopefully you guys enjoyed it. I miss doing stuff like this, I'm going to try to...

We have some fun updates to the podcast coming that I'm doing a few things more long form, I'm going to have someone come and interview me on some topics, because I think those make fun episodes and yeah it's going to be anyway... I'm going to be spending more time with you guys here, is my plan and my goal. So with that said, thanks so much for everything and we'll talk to you guys all again soon.


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