Today I want to debrief with you on the latest Digital Insiders Mastermind. This was probably the most ambitious thing I have ever attempted in my business, and it was a basically week long Disneyworld meets Digital Insiders Mastermind Extravaganza. So I’m gonna kind of go into the event and give you sort of behind the scenes.
So we decided to do something different for the 2021 masterminds because we had all been virtual for Covid. So back in 2020 I had the idea, you know we all been sort of sitting on the sidelines here, doing everything virtual, let’s go someplace amazing. Let’s go to Disneyworld.
So I contacted the event team, and I just have to give a major shout out to Disneyworld Event Team, they did a fantastic job, but also my team. Really, Jessica Foster was the machine behind all of this helping put all these logistics together. So we went ahead, picked the dates, got the room block, and basically I said to people, “You have got to book this now, come hell or high water.” Because you know, when you’re planning an event, it’s always a little tricky with the room block because they make you pay for whatever you don’t use on your room block, so that can be kind of financially scary. But the Digital Insiders were super, they were down. And we booked up the room block in just a couple of weeks.
So we stayed at the Grand Floridian, which is the flagship resort in Disneyworld. Amazing location, amazing views, just absolutely fantastic. We got a really good deal, normally it’s like $700 a night at that resort, but we ended up getting about $329 a night for a room and people wanted to share. So we booked that out pretty fast. Then what I did is I put together a Disneyworld Committee through the Digital Insiders just to get some feedback and some ideas on how to do it, because you’re combining play with work, it was completely different than any other mastermind.
So we met once a month for a couple of months. We talked about food, we talked about ideas, we talked about the blend of play versus work. So that was sort of a recurring theme as I was planning this event. How much play is enough? And how much work is enough? And with entrepreneurs who are very, very work focused, I was a little nervous that this would be a hard transition. And it turns out that it was a little bit, but it was also really, really good.
So a couple of things, number one, the way we ran the schedule is we did two full masterminding days from 9 to 4 on Monday and Thursday. And on both of those days we had hosted dinners. So basically the way the schedule worked is we Mastermind from 9 to 12, we had a 2 hour lunch break, and everybody went to various restaurants around Disneyworld. And that was quite a logistical feat that I had a Digital Insider help me with to get reservations, since Disney is kind of complicated. And then we had a nice long break from 4 to 7, and this was great because it allowed people to either go to the pool, or talk, or network, and then we had hosted dinners on Monday and Thursday night.
So those were the big mastermind days. Tuesday and Friday were half day mastermind days. So on Tuesday it was a 2 to 6, and on Friday it was 11 to 3. So on those days we had other things going on. So Tuesday morning we had people going into Magic Kingdom. And on Friday night we had people going into Epcot. So those days were really, really long. I thought they were going to be fine, but they were actually more tiring than the Monday/Thursday because of the switch from play to work, play to work.And then Wednesday, smack dab in the middle, was just a day of play.
So a couple of cool things that we did at the mastermind that I will never forget as long as I live. The first thing is that I rented out Animal Kingdom, after dark, after closing. So we got on coach buses, we got to animal kingdom, and all 80 of us walking into the park while everyone was walking out, was just something I will never forget as long as I live.
We went over into the Africa area, and we went to Harambe market where there was a West African band playing, a huge buffet, Raffiki showed up and we basically spent an hour and half or two hours just having a meal together. And then we picked up and walked over to the land of Pandora, which is all lit up at night. It’s bio-luminescent waterfalls, sounds. We went over there and we had 90 minutes access to the most popular ride on Disney property, which is Flight of Passage, although, I would say it’s probably the second most popular ride now that Star Wars is around. And we got 90 minutes to ride it, just us. And it was so unbelievably cool.
And then we had a dessert party with all kinds of desserts. I honestly can’t quite remember. So that night was just absolutely unforgettable. The next morning, Tuesday morning, about 40 of us got up to go do Magic Kingdom. So we were up late, and we were up early, and by Tuesday night we were just absolutely exhausted.
But it was interesting to see what happened, because some of the people who were a little bit less excited about the play part of the mastermind, noticed that once they were kind of pulled out of their regular environment, they were waiting in lines, they were eating meals, they were dancing, they were swimming, they were doing all these things, and ideas started to kind of bubble up to the surface. And that that need for play is so built into our DNA, and it’s the thing that really drives creativity.
So on Wednesday we all did a VIP tour. So I had got 6 VIP tour guides and each team, they were based on teams and they were named after different pirate ships, got to choose what they wanted to do for 7 hours. So some teams did one or two parks, other teams hit all four parks in 7 hours, it was nuts. But of course, with the VIP tour guides, you can get to the front of the lines, they drive you through the back entrances, they get your coffee for you, your ponchos, whatever you need. So it’s just such a luxury experience. And I cannot tell you, I will treasure for the rest of my life, all the pictures that came flooding in during that VIP day.
So Thursday we went back to work, but there was like a new energy in the room because we had had all this play time, and Thursday night we had a party at the Grand Floridian. We watched the fireworks, we danced, we stayed up until 2 in the morning in the hot tub, and it was just an absolutely amazing, amazing day.
Friday was, Friday was a little hard. It was hard because it was sad because people were leaving. It was hard because we were exhausted. We did mastermind again, we had some great presentations, and then we went into Epcot and we did the food and wine festival and the fireworks. It was a full day. And we were all exhausted. But the takeaway from it was that play is as important as work, especially if you need creative energy for your business. It also is very obvious that people need connection, they need face to face human connection. And I saw that play out, and you know we know that the pandemic has caused a lot of hardship and social isolation. But watching the sort of sadness and crash after, just reminds me how much we need to belong in a community.
So if you’re thinking about putting on an event like this, number one I would make sure you have someone like my team. Jess and also Emily and Helen and Nuno, they were all really, really critical to pulling this off. I had Helen who was overseeing the virtual, because there were virtual about 20 people who couldn’t come, so we wanted to stream them in. Nuno who was sort of working the room and making sure everybody felt good and could belong. And Emily was sort of the liaison between the virtual and the in-person, she was also my gate keeper. And then Jess who was managing almost every logistic from you know, oh my gosh, the time and what to do if it rained. And we had a little bit of a snafu with our park tickets not being hoppers, and we had to upgrade them all, just little things like that.
It is definitely an expensive event, both for your clients and for you. This was triple the cost of what I normally spend on a mastermind event, and 100% worth it. I had a few people ask, “What’s the ROI on an event like this?” I didn’t sell anything, so I didn’t “make back the money”. However, I had spoken to Emily, who is my CFO about this when some of the quotes were coming in for these ridiculous experiences, like renting Animal Kingdom, or renting a ride, or VIP tours, all that kind of stuff. You know, I wanted it to make business sense, but at some point it didn’t. You know, when I’m normally spending, you $40 to $50,000 on an event where I’m not selling anything, it’s a fulfillment event, what is the reason for spending 3, 4 times more than that for an event?
So I knew in my head that experiences matter, not just for the sense of community, but for retention, but also because I knew that giving people an experience would help re-invigorate their business, and does that have an ROI? Yes, 100%. Does it have an ROI on my PNL? It will, you know what, because I don’t necessarily at this point in my business, worry so, so, so much about my PNL. My PNL is pretty steady and yes it will take a dip, but I know that the memories, that the relationships, the connections, the creativity, it is going to last far beyond the 2021 budget.
So again, I would say to you as a business owner, if you are planning an event, or thinking of attending an event, and you’re struggling to find the ROI in it, you’re not quite sure how it’s all going to work, take my story to heart and know that, it was funny, Emily got off Flight of Passage on Monday night, and you know she’s always the one watching my books, and she came over to me and said, ‘You know, half way through the ride I thought to myself, there’s really no better way to spend money than what we’re doing right here.” And it’s really true, like from a personal values standpoint, I don’t think I can think of a time in my life where I was happier than watching so many people I love have the time of their life. And you really can’t put a number on that.
So I would encourage you to think about experiences in your business, yes there are a lot of logistics and they cost a lot of money, but they are 1000% worth all the headache and time that they take to plan. And shout out to Disneyworld. If you have never done anything at Disneyworld, their customer service team is just unparalleled. It’s a business lesson in and of itself. Watching the way they run their company, the way they run events, the standard at which they hold themselves to, it’s something that Cathy and I at Funnel Gorgeous, and myself at Digital Insiders aspire to.
So I am still not recovered. There was a pretty bad dopamine crash after this. Of course I’m already thinking about when’s the next time we can do something like this again. And the takeaways just keep coming. It’s funny, I met with the Digital Insiders yesterday and we did takeaways at the event, but it takes some time to really let things percolate. And the stuff that’s starting to bubble up is really, really good.
So go find a way to play today, get some experiences, get outside of your comfort zone, and I’ll talk to you soon.