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44: Mastering the Hotseat: Unlock the Power of Group Problem-Solving

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I can look back and definitively say that some of the biggest changes or different directions or clarifying moments in my entire business has come from what I have learned in a big group setting. From one hot seat.

I'm 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. Welcome back to another episode.

Since the last episode number 43, we discussed really the behind the scenes of the planning that goes into my mastermind Intensivess. For this episode, I wanted to give you a deep dive overview into one of the best parts of our intensives, and that is the hot seat. Have you ever heard of a hot seat? If you've heard of it, but not experienced it?

Sometimes it can feel a little intimidating, probably because it's called a hot seat, but these hot seats are one of the most pivotal moments for people in their business and their decision making, and they have been for me as well. So let me give you just an overview of what I'm talking about. If you've never heard of it, what is a hot seat?

So a hot seat is when one person comes to the front of a room or a group of people and shares the one question that they're working through or need feedback on in their business, and then the entire room spends some time giving them advice. So you can imagine if it's a room full of incredible smart people, this is really when the master mind really, really shines. But even though we typically do this in our group of about 30 creative entrepreneurs, I wanna go over how we do it because you can absolutely take this concept and use it in a smaller group format as well. So some of you may have masterminds, some of you may have peer groups or study groups or something like that. Some of you may just have a local group of people that you meet with sometimes to discuss business or what you're working through.

And establishing this flow for a hot seat can be one of the most impactful ways to get feedback on your work. So even if this is with a small group of friends, I love the flow and the format. So I'm gonna give you all of our tips and tricks. So I would say to have an impactful hot seat, you should be in a group of, let's say at least five people, four or five people, and then everyone can take a turn. So we actually encourage our smaller groups of peer groups to do hot seats as well, because it's such an incredible way to get feedback on the question that you're working on. I have personally been the recipient of a hot seat in the mastermind that I'm a part of several times, and I can look back and definitively say that some of the biggest changes or different directions or clarifying moments in my entire business has come from what I have learned in a big group setting from one hot seat. So it is a game changer. So before I get into some tips on how to make a good hot seat, I wanna talk about the timing of it all.

So typically a hot seat will last 15 to 20 minutes, so it's pretty quick, and that is so that we can have as many as possible. And so the key here, the key to success is to have a really clear question and then have the room kind of rapid fire responses for you in hot seat format. So if we have designated 15 or 20 minutes, we'll try to have the person who's doing the hot seat really go over their question in under three minutes so that the room has more time in order to give feedback. So let's talk about the five things that make a really good hot seat. These are common mistakes that I see made and what I go over with my group every time before we begin. This episode is sponsored by my very own guide called Start Simple in Surface Pattern Design.

Have you ever wanted to see your artwork on products or work for yourself and use your creativity to build a career that you love? If so, I made this guide just for you. I created it as a way to help creatives take the overwhelm out of getting started in surface pattern design and begin learning how to design their own fabric and wallpaper gift wrap and stationary.

Inside this 44 page guide, you'll learn how to gather inspiration and create collections, how to promote your work and pitch like a pro, how to create income from your artwork and get a behind the scenes look at what it takes to design a fabric collection. Whether you want to add an extra income stream from licensing or craft an entire breathtaking career, the start simple and surface pattern design guide has you covered and it's entirely free.

So hop on over to bonnie christine.com/guide to download your copy today. Again, that's bonnie christine.com/guide. I'll meet you there. So number one is a concise question. We really must have a very clear and specific question so that the group can answer, and this is difficult. Sometimes we get in front of the group and we just kind of want to explain where we're at and the ideas that we have moving forward and you know, some kind of generalized struggle. And in doing so, the room will fall quiet because no one actually knows how to help. They're not, they don't have quite enough information because it was a really big concept and we don't really know how to get in there and really help you. And so typically the feedback will struggle, but if you ask a really clear question,
for instance, how to increase the number of people I have signing up for a particular workshop, something like that, right? Then all of the sudden ideas start popping up into people's head that are listening and the feedback will really begin to flow. So a concise question is absolutely key, and I suggest that you kind of write down your question so that you're not thinking off the cuff in front of everyone.

So write down your question and then go have someone read it before you actually begin your hot seat to give you feedback and see if it's as clear as it can possibly be. And then when you're ready to do the hot seat, it would be best if you just read your question off of a piece of paper so that you don't waste time kind of thinking through it on, on the go, right? So I already said number two is getting feedback on your question beforehand. So refining your question, talking it over with someone privately just so that they can see and maybe ask any questions beforehand. Now, number three is difficult, but so important. Once you finish your question, it's time to zip it up. Try not to say anything else because if you do, you're just wasting the time that you have that you could potentially be getting feedback in. So something that I see happens a lot is that people will tend to get defensive, meaning someone will suggest something that they've tried before, they already did that. And so they'll start explaining like, well, I did that last year and it didn't work and this is why.

And I'm like, whoop, let's just be grateful for the feedback and let's use the rest of the time going on and hearing from other people. So try, try, try not to speak if at all possible after you get your question out so that the room can really work its magic. The one exception is number four, if someone in the group has what we call a clarifying question.

And so this typically happens if your question isn't quite as clear as it could have been and someone in the group just needs a little bit extra information before they have any advice. So let's say, oh, I have a clarifying question. And so they'll ask it, and of course you respond to clarify, then go back to listening mode. Now number five is actually for the people in the room, and this is to stay on task. Oftentimes what can happen is that someone will ask a question and the room kind of twists and turns it into something else. Like a great example of this is if you share the name of your workshop and you wanna know how to drive more people to sign up for it and the room starts talking about the name of the workshop and how you could, you know, make it better or more impactful. Well, that wasn't your question, was it? So as the host of a hot seat session, I always try to make sure that the room stays on topic and really addresses the question that was asked unless something comes up and we all decide, including the hot seat receiver that you know, we should shift this question around.

So those are my five top tips on how to make a good hot seat, have a concise question, get feedback on it beforehand, avoid being defensive. Allow people to ask clarifying questions and make sure that the room stays on tasks so that your specific question gets as much attention as possible.

Now, two other things that I highly suggest. One is recording this session. So it's really difficult to get back home and try to remember what everyone said. And when you're in a hot seat, it's kind of exciting and maybe a little nerve-wracking too. And so trying to take notes or remember what everyone says is really difficult. So if you are virtual, say you're on Zoom, well great, you'll have a recording already. But if you are in a room in person, what we do is have the hot seat receiver, record it on their phone, and so we'll have someone kind of running the phone around the room. So people raise their hand and we walk over to them and make sure that we capture whatever they're saying on the recording device so that the hot seat receiver can go and listen to that feedback later on and really soak it in and consider what was shared.

Finally, I always like to try to incorporate some kind of follow up or accountability. A lot of times we'll be talking about big ideas and maybe shifts in the business, and I always like to say, well, okay, so when are we gonna do it? When are we gonna implement it? Let's put a deadline on this. How long do you need to implement? Or something like that. So if it's applicable, I always recommend having some level of accountability with the person who got so much feedback and set up a way to follow up with them. So that's a wrap. This hot seat is an incredible exercise to do with a small group or a big group. It's super impactful. It's always also one of our favorite parts.

It's really fun to really do a deep dive into what everyone is, you know, going into in their business. And honestly, a lot of times it's where the majority of people learn the most as well, because hot seats will typically cover tons of stuff that like everyone in the room is actually benefiting from as well. So go try one of these out, have so much fun in doing so. I hope that you've enjoyed this episode and I will see you next week, same time, same place, create the beauty that you want to see come alive in the world. And remember, there's room for you. Bye for now.


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I'm Bonnie Christine.


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