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43: Behind the Scenes of Planning our Mastermind Intensive Event 

See the show notes for this Episode here.

This transcript has been automatically generated.



I do all of the planning and I've learned quite a bit. And so whether you are thinking about offering a mastermind or like a one-off group meeting or a workshop or some kind of intensive, I think that this will be beneficial.

I am Bonnie Christine, and this is where all things creativity, design, business, and marketing unite. I'm a mama living in a tiny town, tucked right inside the Smokey Mountains, running a multi seven figure business, doing the most creative and impactful work of my life. When I first set out to become an entrepreneur, I was struggling to make ends meet and wrestling with how to accomplish my biggest dream of becoming a fabric designer. Fast forward to today, I'm not only licensing my artwork all over the world, but also teaching others how to design their creative life and experience the same success. I'm here to help you spend your life doing something that lights you up. I'll help you build a creative business that also creates an impact, changes people's lives, gives you all of the freedom you want and is wildly profitable. Welcome to the Professional Creative podcast.

We just got back from our annual mastermind retreat, and I thought while it was all fresh in my mind that I would come and tell you all about it, specifically about the planning of the event. My hope is that if you ever plan an event, like a workshop or a mastermind or an intensive of some kind, that you can use the guide that I'm giving you today to work with.

So before I dive into what we're actually talking about, let me tell you a little bit about my mastermind, just so that you have your head wrapped around, you know, who we are and what we do. I started a mastermind. We're called the Mark Makers back in 2019. And so this is our fourth full year together. And what it is is a small group of creative entrepreneurs. There are 30 of us, we're capped at 30. And so it's application based and it is a year commitment. So you commit to the group for one year. However many, many members choose to stay for a long time. We have lots that have been there from the very beginning. So we only have a few spots that open every year. And what we do is come alongside each other and brainstorm for each other's businesses.

We hold each other accountable, we inspire each other. We, you know, bounce ideas off of each other, but probably, probably most importantly, we get each other. We all have really big dreams and goals, and we understand how to support each other and encourage each other. And so the idea of a master mind is quite literally, you know, everyone's mind comes together to work for you, which creates one mastermind. So that's why masterminds are called masterminds and we just really, really love ours. And so the format of it is that we have daily communication in an app called Telegram. And so we're chatting back and forth the whole group, you know, on a daily basis. And then we have one group, what we call share call every month. So we meet once a month and we do a workshop or a training or have a guest come in and present. And then we do three intensives a year. Two of those intensives are in person and one of those is virtual. And so we just got back from our spring in-person intensive, and this is a big deal to get 30 women who are creative entrepreneurs.

Many of them have small children, they all have incredible businesses, and they all live all over the world. We've got someone in Australia, we've got three people in Europe, and then everyone else is scattered all over the United States and Canada. And so it's quite a big deal to get us all in the same place at the same time. And it's typically for four days.

So generally people arrive on a Sunday or a Monday, and then we've got an activity and a dinner on Monday. We mastermind all day Tuesday and all day Wednesday, and then depart on Thursday. So it's typically a Sunday to Thursday trip for everyone involved. And so it is really, really powerful. And so for these in-person intensives, we hop from city to city,

we go all around the United States so far. This one that we just wrapped up was our 10th intensive, and I believe it was our fifth in-person intensive because you know, 2020 messed us up a little bit. We had to do more virtual ones than we had originally planned. So this was our fifth in-person intensive. And I do all of the planning and I've learned quite a bit.

And so whether you are thinking about offering a mastermind or like a one-off group meeting or a workshop or some kind of intensive, I think that this will be beneficial. And so I'm gonna go through everything that I've learned with you in this podcast and I've broken it up into four categories. We're gonna talk about the planning timeline, the workshop or intensive content, the catering and the activities, and then any last minute tasks and considerations. But before we dive in, let me tell you about the free download that I have for you today. One of the biggest things that I do for these mastermind intensives is the schedule. And so I use Google Sheets to create a custom schedule that I work with for each day of the intensive, and I kind of have a whole system around how I do it, and I create time blocks for every little thing with, you know, proper breaks and lunch and everything involved. And so I'm gonna give you my template for creating that workshop or intensive schedule, which will hopefully just really simplify that entire process for you. So you can get that over on the show notes for today's episode. That's gonna be professional creative.com/blog/ 43, and you can get my template for workshop intensive schedules.

Okay, so let's dive right in. The very first thing to consider is the timeline, especially when you're bringing a group of people together and when they live from all over the world, let alone consider their business and their family priorities. It's really important to give Bates as soon as possible.

You know, we're big advocates of annual planning, and so in order to annual plan, you really need your dates a year in advance. And so even though I may not have all of the details about where we're meeting or anything like that, I will have the dates. So I have the dates one year in advance so that everyone can go ahead and clear them on their calendar and not risk accidentally double booking something on top of the dates that I have marked off on my calendar for our in-person intensives.

So that's about one year out. The next thing is the location. And so this for me is typically four to six months out. Obviously the earlier the better for your attendees because as soon as you figure out the location, your attendees can go ahead and buy airline tickets. And the earlier out the more affordable they are. So it's really just a kind gesture to try to get the location buttoned up as soon as you can.

There's quite a lot that I consider when I think about a location. It has to be, first of all, pretty easily accessible, especially with people flying internationally. And so you can do a quick Google search and look at all of the internationally supported airports in the usa, if that's where you're located or wherever you are, the primary airports that are easiest for international flights to come into.

Ideally we would be offering a nonstop flight, probably pretty typical is at least one layover, but I try not to make them have two layovers. And so for instance, I live in a very small town and we have done an intensive here before, but it's just difficult to get to. They fly into a regional airport and then they have to rent a car and drive an hour and a half.

And that just makes it hard, even though it's really fun to be in my own hometown for these intensives, I try to do something a little bit more convenient. We've met in Phoenix, Arizona, we've met in Nashville, Tennessee, we've met in Asheville, North Carolina. Of course, we've done my hometown. And so that's what I've learned over the years is that the more accessible, the easier it is for people to come in and fly out of. The next one, of course is the accommodation. So you wanna make sure that you have just the right place for your meeting. And I'm pretty particular about the ambience of that. I want it to have a very specific feel. I want it to feel luxurious but not be too expensive.

I want it to feel inspiring, light and airy, you know, and kind of a treat for yourself, but also a place where we can really get down to business as well. So we've done a couple of different things. On two occasions, I actually rented a large Airbnb and I set up our workspace inside the house. We typically arrange tables in a U-shape, and so there has to be enough room in one of the rooms for a pretty large U-shape so that 30 people can sit on the outside of that shape. So we've done that a few times and women actually stayed in the home, which was nice, but it's very hard to find a house that will house 30. So it's typically broken up into some people in a house and some people in a hotel.

The last one that we just wrapped up in Nashville was in a hotel conference room. And I think I preferred that over any of the other options that we've ever done. It was just very professional feeling. It was so like breathtaking to walk into this room that overlooked the city. And I think everyone really enjoyed the hotel experience. Now, from my perspective, there are some pros and cons, right? And so if you're in an Airbnb, you likely have to get it approved to have that many people in. But when you tell them what you're doing, it's usually fine. And then there are no regulations. So you can have your own food catered, you can have food brought in, and there aren't as many things like food and beverage minimums or expenses for, you know, AV needs and things like that. And so when you go into a hotel, they do, they have a lot of expenses that add up. They have food and beverage minimums, they have, you know, rules about when you can get in the room and when you have to be out, when you can set up and when you have to clean up by oftentimes you can't necessarily bring your own food in.

And so just things like that to consider. But I still think that even though it lacked as much flexibility as I like, it was overall a better experience. Now the next thing that really goes into planning is a survey. And so I survey members of our mastermind about one month before our intensive. Sometimes it's even as little as two or three weeks.

But this is for me to really gather in information about where everyone is at right now in their business and in their life, and here exactly what they're looking for, what they're looking to get out of the intensive. And it really helps me plan our sessions, especially the ones that I'm planning to teach myself. So I ask a whole bunch of questions in this survey, some very basic ones like, are you attending in person? And also some things that I need to know about their arrival time and where they're staying, and do they have any food allergies that we need to be considerate of. Another one that I love to ask is, what is your favorite snack? Because if there's any way possible that I can get people's favorite snacks in the room, I always love to do that. And then questions about what they're working through, what they want to learn next, what they're currently struggling with, also if they want a hot seat. And so hot seats are really, really fun. But the very next episode, so that's gonna be episode number 44 is all about hot seats and I think you're gonna love it.

So I'll leave it there for now. And then I always ask if someone has something in their business that they would like to present on. And so sometimes there will be an app or a program that someone's using that they wanna share, or maybe they just, you know, crushed it in a launch and they wanna do a launch debrief, or maybe they've been reading a book that they wanna share about.

And so it's not guaranteed because we only have so much time, but I really, really love to let members of the mastermind present during the intensive as well. And so I'm always looking to match some needs that people have expressed with some workshops or ideas that others have expressed that they would be willing to share on. So this leads me to the second category, which is workshop content. Now as soon as you have this survey, you get to sit down with it and really brainstorm exactly what you want all of the sessions to be on what people you want to to come in and present. And this is also the best thing to kind of brainstorm potential guest speakers. So these would be people outside of the mastermind who you're gonna either bring in person or maybe zoom in virtually to present on a topic.

And so really it depends on if you're gonna do this or not and what guest they are. But the sooner that you can reach out, the better. So at least a month, if it's someone who is, you know, generally pretty busy, even more than that would be ideal and see if they would be willing to come present or teach to the group.

So now we're moving into about two weeks out, and that's when I really focus on designing the schedule for the event. I really like to create a balanced schedule that incorporates different aspects like group contributions, presentations like keynote presentations, group discussions, breakout sessions, hot seats like I mentioned. And also make sure to leave plenty of time for breaks and natural conversation.

This is something that I've learned over the years that I always tend to underestimate how much time we want to just talk in the margins. And so over the years I've added, you know, 15 minute breaks throughout the morning, in the afternoon sessions, and a full hour for lunch and some extra time in the morning and around different keynote presentations because there's conversation that needs to happen and we forget to include time for it.

So you'll see all this when you go get today's download because you'll see how I generally build in breaks and time for conversation in the intensive as well. And then I also really like to think about starter questions and closing thoughts for the day and for the mastermind experience overall, I don't like to just jump right into a big topic or a big presentation because we're all coming together.

It's generally been six months since the last time we saw each other. And so I block off about 90 minutes at the beginning of the very first day for kind of around the room snapshot at where everyone is at now. I'll have a minute where they do some kind of a reflection exercise, maybe something that has happened in the last year or something that's going to happen in the upcoming year, something that they're struggling with and something that they're excited about. Or sometimes we do something that we call S Mighty, something small but mighty that's really been exciting them and their work or creative practice. And then we'll go around the room and share one at a time. And this is just a really nice soft opening that ends up being super inspirational. It also ends up being emotional every time we pass tissues around at some point.

And it's a great way to ease into the more intensive topics. Likewise, I always like to facilitate a end of the day conversation. So oftentimes at the end of the day, day number one, I like to get, you know, what's sticking out for people, what was their biggest takeaway from the day, right? At the end of the entire intensive, one of the things I usually like to ask is, what is your first take action item? What are you most excited to implement when you leave? And we kind of go around the room again, we don't need 90 minutes for that one. We usually need about 30 minutes to quickly go around the room and and share what's sticking out for everyone. But it's also a really nice way to wrap up the day.

Now, topic number three is all about catering and activities. You are really putting on an event planner hat if you're doing this all by yourself. And there's a lot to learn. Number one is meal planning. You wanna make sure to communicate what meals you're covering, what meals are supposed to be on everyone's own. And so you'll likely be catering probably lunch and maybe at least one meal.

For this last intensive, I actually covered two dinners, two breakfasts and two lunches. And so there's quite a lot of back and forth with the people who are going to be catering that, whether it is a restaurant or a hotel specifically. If you have dietary restrictions. And if you have a group of let's say, you know, 20 or more people, you can bet that you'll have dietary restrictions. And I personally have a big heart for this because I am plant-based and nothing makes me feel more loved than when someone has just made sure that I'm taken care of. Even though I like to be really easy when I travel, but when someone knows that I'm plant-based and they make sure that I have something to eat, it really makes me feel so well taken care of. And so I work pretty hard to make sure that all of our dietary restrictions, you know, we've got vegan and gluten-free and keto and pescatarian, and then we've got some food allergies as well. So there's quite a lot of back and forth to make sure that not only the menu is accommodating, but also that things get labeled if it's like a buffet, so that everyone is confident in what they are eating. And then I also love to plan an activity. This is always a secret, so I don't tell people what we're going to do and it's always a big surprise. They just know what type of clothes they need to wear and where to meet. So typically we do this on the day before the first day of the intensive and then it leads into dinner.

So examples of things that we've done are a pottery workshop. We've done a bread baking class, we learned how to do sourdough bread before this last time in Nashville we did a line dancing class. And then I also one night rented like a vintage style bowling alley that had five lanes in it and we had the whole place to ourselves to go bowling. And so just a fun, almost icebreaker way to get everyone outside of their comfort zone and to have fun in a casual way. And it's always just so fun to keep that a secret. So make sure you're planning that three or four weeks out because you wanna, or even longer, right? Because you wanna make sure that whatever you decide that you wanna do has availability. Other things that you wanna be thinking about at least two or three weeks out are any AV needs.

So that's audio, visual needs or equipment. So things like presentations or projectors or TVs or zooming people in or mics or anything like that. We try to keep it pretty simple, but oftentimes do need a way in order to show a slideshow presentation. So usually a projector is involved. We also typically record the audio at least if not video, of our biggest sessions.

That way if anybody did miss the intensive, they can have access to at least the audio of the biggest presentations that we did. And then also if you're there in person, you can go re-listen to them when you need to as well. And then finally, any printed materials. If we're in person, I actually like to do handouts as opposed to slideshow presentations because I love having a little booklet in hand.

And so I do little booklets for any kind of presentation that I'm doing so that they can have it in hand and take it home with them as well. And I typically work with local printers in order to get those printed for whatever city that we're in. Now the other thing that you might take into consideration are things like name tags and place cards, especially if this is the first time that people are meeting each other in person for the first time because no matter how much you're on Zoom together or you hear each other's voice, there's just something unexpected about meeting someone in person. You know, people are shorter or taller than they thought they would be or they're, they just are harder to recognize. And so especially for that first intensive of the year where we have some new people who are meeting everybody for the first time, I do beautiful name tags and place cards for everyone at where they're sitting now.

This time I had my mom use her glow forge to cut them out in like wood and they were beautiful. So I'll make sure to share a picture of that over on the show notes for today's episode. Now that brings me to the fourth category, which is just some last minute tasks and considerations. I always like to get there a day before, you know, we start anything so that I've got plenty of time to potentially run some errands and get some things set up. Now it's really much easier on me if I can drive, if it's within driving distance to me cuz I can load my car up with everything. If it's a place that I have to fly, then I'm shipping boxes of things out in advance and having them held at the hotel for me.

And so, or I'm running several errands when I get into town, right? And so I already mentioned this, but I love to have everybody's favorite snacks available in the room. I also, this last intensive, made a little basket of just some essentials I put in the bathroom, like things like dry shampoo, but also some painkillers like Tylenol and Alka Seltzer.

Things that, you know, if you've ever been in a conference and you just need some Tums or some Advil or you know, a little something to fluff your hair in the bathroom is just nice to have. They're really creature comforts. And I also have baskets on the table with things like chocolate and mints, like OIDs and fresh water and you know,

pens and highlighters and pencils and tape and things like that that everyone can use during the workshop as well. Now you need to make sure to leave plenty of room for setting up and for cleaning up. So after the end of the workshop, you'll need to tidy up the room and pack any leftovers up the setup. You know, it goes pretty quickly, but I always like to have a custom notebook out and pencils for everyone at their place. And so those are things that I do weigh in advance as well. I make a custom notebook for every intensive so that people can keep them. We also have custom pencils printed that say Mark Maker's Mastermind. So just something that makes them feel really special. This pastime in Nashville, we all claim a word of the year at the beginning of the year. And so I handed out bracelets that I had made on Etsy. I'll link the shop over in the show notes that I used that had everyone's word of the year stamped in them. And so we all have matching bracelets, just something really thoughtful that reiterates and reinforces their mission and their why.

So as you can tell, there is a lot that goes into planning an event like this, but honestly, it's one of my favorite things to do and I love the experience so much. And so whether you're doing this on your own or you're handing it over to someone to help you with event planning, I hope that this has helped you kind of wrap your mind what it would look like to do an event, whether it's an ongoing mastermind or a pop-up mastermind or something else, like just an event, a workshop, something like that. These are the things that you should keep in mind. Don't forget to hop over to the show notes to get my customizable schedule that I use every intensive to plan out our flow for the days that we're meeting. You can get that at professional creative.com/blog/43, and you can also get the notes from today's show. Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode of The Professional Creative Podcast. Work to create the beauty that you want to see come alive in the world. And remember, there's room for you. I'll see you next time. Bye for now.


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I'm Bonnie Christine.


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