In 1997, at The Ohio FFA State Convention, I watched a brilliant professional speaker take the stage. The speaker was Mark Sanborn and if we’ve ever spent 15 minutes together, you’ve heard this story before. Mark is a former Ohio FFA State President as well as a former National FFA President who has since gone on to have a hall of fame career as a speaker, serving as the President of the National Speakers Association and consistently ranking as one of the best business speakers on the planet. Sitting in that convention hall as a 17-year-old kid, I was starstruck and convinced that I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Since that day, I’ve been chasing that dream. Sometimes it’s exciting and exhilarating and others it’s tiring, frustrating and soul-sucking but it is truly never boring.

One of the things that make working as a speaker so difficult is that it can be a really lonely job. There are hours spent traveling, writing and preparing when there is no one to talk to but yourself. Because I’m my own boss, I’m my own CEO, CFO, CTO and every other C-level title one can think up. I’m alone and I do it all. Some of it comes easy but there are literally hundreds of things I’ve had to learn how to do with hundreds more left to learn. It can be really frustrating because there is no one else to count on sometimes, but almost a year ago, I made a terrific decision that has transformed my business and in many ways my life. Because I know many of the people who read this blog either work for themselves or want to, I feel obligated to share it. What did I do that was so transformative? I joined a mastermind group.

For Myself But Not By Myself

On several occasions I had smart people mention to me that I was wasting a lot of time and energy trying to build something all by myself when there was a community of like-minded people who’s experience I could benefit from. On all of those occasions, I resisted. I didn’t want to make the investment. I didn’t want to expose to someone else that there were things I didn’t know. I was skeptical that it would be helpful and I was arrogant enough to think I didn’t need the help. On all of those occasions, I was wrong.

If you’re at all like me there is a long list of things you aren’t good at. Mine was pretty long and pretty important. What many other people do in these situations, they hire expert help and this is a great way to approach it if you can afford it. Unfortunately, because I was in building mode, I didn’t have the cash flow to hire out a web designer, social media experts, video development people or business organization experts. I had to figure this stuff out on my own and for the most part I have. I still have a lot to learn, but I saw it as my job to go figure it out and that’s what I’ve done. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

For $35/month I joined Transform Mastermind which has gone on to become Transform International and I found my community. Inside this group, there are experts on virtually everything that an entrepreneur needs to run a business. Though this group, I’ve received coaching on how I can transform my business model to speak more and travel less. I’ve gotten help completely redesigning my website. I’ve learned how to improve my video presence and I’ve had the opportunity to serve others as well. Between the connections I’ve made, the coaching I’ve received and accountability that’s been offered to me, I couldn’t be happier that I made this decision. It has truly been one of the best investments I’ve made in my business because I’ve learned to work on my business while I’m working at my business. Now I feel as if I’m working for myself, but not by myself.

If you work for yourself, I’m convinced you need to find a team of people to surround yourself with who will make you better. If you’re not working for yourself but want to, learning from the failures an successes of others is a crucial first step. Please learn from my mistake and invest in yourself and your business by joining a group you’re comfortable with. If you’re looking for one, I can’t recommend Transform International strongly enough. I’ve been chasing this dream for more than 2 years now and sometimes it’s exciting and exhilarating. Other times it’s tiring, frustrating and soul-sucking but the lesson I’ve learned this last year is that it doesn’t have to be.

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