Hi everybody. It’s Meredith Canaan here and I am not so sure if I’m exactly live. It says my meeting is live. I am waiting for Stu, but I wanted to make sure that the technology was working in advance. You guys saw it the other day. Oh, it looks like I have a Stu McLaren in the house. Yay. So hopefully you guys can see this and hear this.

Welcome. Thank you. So I’m just gonna welcome everybody to the heart-centered leader summit launch edition. I am so excited to share with you guys, my membership mentor, the amazing Stu McLaren, and here’s a little background about him.

He created one of the most popular WordPress plugins wishlist member, and now he’s helped thousands and thousands and thousands of membership creators create and launch amazing memberships, including a handful of our other summit speakers that are participating in playing along today.


Oh, and he’s created Searchie which our VIP experience is a Searchie thing and they were our sponsorship. Silver sponsors. Yay for Searchie. So welcome to the house. Stu McLaren. 

Holy moly. I’m super pumped to be here. Thanks so much for that intro. Awesome. Awesome. So let’s dig in. Cause I know we have, we’ve got people watching say hi, I’m going to try to see if I can keep an eye on the chat box at the same time, but let’s dig in. So I know there’s some really amazing things and people are often really curious, what do I need? What are the four key elements to really create a powerful membership? 

What Do I Need to Create a Membership?

Well, listen, at the end of the day, like when we think about a membership, we are creating an environment to support people in some kind of transformation. Like we’re looking to help them improve some area of their life, whether that’s like going from not knowing how to play the guitar, to becoming that person, that anybody can throw out a song and you’re just able to, you know, jam or whether it’s going from a place of not knowing how to paint, to becoming like the next Picasso or whether it’s going from things like, you know, a broken relationship to a thriving relationship or, you know, and there are so many others.

Like in our community, we serve so many different types of membership sites from photography, calligraphy to fitness and finance and music and art and health and dog training, heck even balloon animal making.

Get Clear on the Transformation

There are so many different kinds, but at the end of the day, what do they all have in common? They have in common,a transformation, they’re helping people get better at some area of their life. And so at the end of the day, when we get clear on what that transformation is, it improves our marketing and improves our messaging.

It improves the content that we provide and so much more. So my number one encouragement for everybody is to first and foremost, get clear on what is that transformation. Create contrast between those two worlds, where they are now and where they want to be. 

Know the Stages of The Membership

Second thing that I would encourage you to do is to realize that like when somebody joins a membership, not everybody’s joining at the same level.

So you may have people that are in the very beginning stages. You may have people that are further along their journey and you may have people who are much more advanced. So one of the goals for you and I is to help them get clear on, where are they in this journey and what matters to them most right now?

Because if somebody advanced comes into a membership and all they see is basic content, well, then they’re going to be like, ah, peace out. Like that’s not for me. But then similarly, if somebody is, you know, basic and all they see is advanced content, they’re going to think, oh my gosh, this is like way beyond me and I’m out.

So the goal for you and I is to be able to create a structure whereby we can welcome anybody, no matter what stage they’re at in their journey and really support them by saying, you know what, don’t worry about anything else. These are the few things that matter to you most right now. 

Creating a Success Path

And that’s why, you know, one of the things that we teach and talk about a lot is creating a success path.

This is basically where we’re mapping out what that journey looks like. So people can say, yeah, you know what, that’s where I’m at right now. This is I’m at this stage of the journey and we can therefore direct them by saying great. So here’s where you put your focus. So really mapping out that journey. 

In fact, I just spoke with a woman from our community. Her name is Marta, and she was talking about the impact that creating that structure had not only in her membership and with the content that she’s providing, but also from a marketing and messaging standpoint, because she said now it was so much clearer in terms of what that journey looked like and the transformation that people were going to be able to experience much like what I just mentioned. How messaging is so important. So in this case, mapping out that success path had a tremendous influence on both the marketing and also the content and structure. 

Then a couple other things, when it comes to launching a successful membership site is just, remember that this is a journey. And one of the beautiful things about a membership site is that we are there to be able to support people on that journey.

So a lot of times people think you’ve got to have like this big audience, like of tens of thousands or, you know, at least thousands to be able to launch, Nope, that’s not true. You know, you could start with a very small group of people and with memberships, this is even more of an advantage because one of the things to realize is that a membership is always changing and it’s changing around the needs of our members.

So the earlier you can start working with a few members, the more you’re going to dial in that membership experience. And at the end of the day, the goal for you and I is to help people experience progress. You know, you’re going to have the big wins, you know, where people are in my case, like launching memberships and welcoming thousands and thousands of members, but you’re also going to have people who are experiencing little wins. And those are just as important because the little wins are the things that lead to the big wins. 

So, you know, we have to remember that from when we’re diving into our memberships, it’s about supporting people on that journey and helping them experience that progress. And so, you know, realizing that you don’t have to have a big audience of tens of thousands of thousands at teeny tiny audiences, just a couple of hundred people is all you need to be able to get started because it’s about working with people and refining that experience. So just a couple of quick things right off the bat. 

I think it’s really important cause for me, so I launched my membership two years ago and I thought, I have something I’ve created called the double helix of mastery. I thought that was my success path. It is not, it is just a tool and it wasn’t until I understood and started working with you inside of the program and inside of the membership, really being able to get clear. And I had 250 people in my audience on my Facebook page.

I had 13 founding members of which at two years later, 12 of them are still here, which is amazing. And I got to do what you’re talking about in terms of figuring out what is the path and the stages in a much more clear, focused way. And as my beginning, starter membership evolved, the messaging evolved along with it.

And I can say, and I celebrated this at the two year mark when we hit that was that those 13 people gave way to over $160,000 or $180,000 worth of revenue over the two years with private coaching and other offers and all of the different things that I’m now able to offer people all from that very beginning start. And I know that’s one of the things you help people with.

And I love it because it speaks to what we’re talking about. 

Meredith like the fact that we’ve got to, most importantly, we just got to get going, you know, you know. There’s so much that can happen in such a short period of time, but if you wait, you’re putting all of that opportunity, on hold as well. The fact of the matter is we just don’t know what it can lead to. But what we do know is that it will lead to nothing if you don’t get started. 

And to your point, like with a smaller audience, you build a more intimate relationship with them. The fact that 12 of the 13 are still with you after two years is testament to that. Like that’s an amazing stat. And as you pointed out, that initial group, when you build that intimate relationship with them, which by the way is a massive advantage. When you have a smaller audience, you’ll see much higher conversions because you have that intimate relationship with them.

But you begin to uncover opportunities that you may not have realized were there before. And as you mentioned that sometimes like coaching, that’s consulting, that’s like all kinds of, you know, other opportunities which come from actually working with people. So, you know, the sooner you start working with people, the better for so many reasons. 

One, obviously it allows you to dial in that membership experience. But two, it also allows you to uncover hidden opportunities that you may not have been aware of. That only comes from actually working with people, seeing where they’re getting stuck, seeing where you can support and help and brainstorming on different ways that you can help them go deeper and deeper. And your members will become one of your most valuable portions of your business because they’re the people that have the highest level of trust with you and are more than happy to spend additional with you with other offers.

And I think because they become, we call it in my world, our front row, those people that are there cheering you on those number one fans. And it’s great. Like I have some amazing partners that are supporting the summit. And then I have some clients that have very small lists that are getting as many sales as the like into the VIP experience, because they’re like having that one-to-one conversation to say, I love you. And I think what you’re talking about in terms of the intimacy in those smaller groups is you really do get clear on what can I create to help them. 

Like I had a whole other module that I created, I called it like a 2.5. Cause I didn’t know, until I started teaching what they needed. Like, oh, here’s something to bridge this gap that I wasn’t sure of when I started. And I think that’s where the founding member launch that you teach is so helpful because it really gives people that idea of a place to start.

Getting Started With Your Membership

Well, we often get our knickers in a twist thinking that we gotta do like this whole big thing. We have to wait until this happens. That happens and all of this stuff. But as you pointed out, like one of the things that we, you know, teach a lot is a simple founding members launch. And it’s essentially, it’s just going out to the people who are already in your audience and saying, Hey, listen, I don’t have this thing yet, this membership yet, but it’s an idea that has been brewing and here’s the concept of it. And you explain the concept of it and how it would benefit people and what you’re ultimately looking to try to help people do. And then you’re putting out a thing saying, Hey, listen, if you’re interested, just send me a direct message. And, you know, lo and behold, it’s a very simple process that doesn’t require you to map out months of content and build up a plant. And then it just requires you to communicate that you’ve been thinking of this idea. It’s not flushed out yet. It’s not, all the details are hammered out yet, but it’s something you’ve been thinking about. And the goal is X, Y, Z. Would you be interested in that? Send me a direct message. 

And what’s amazing about this is it removes all of the layers of procrastination that we often put on ourselves as we’re, again, waiting for that perfect moment. Waiting for that perfect time. And it just eliminates all of that and just gets us going. And that’s the most important message that I want everybody to hear today is that. I heard a quote back in 2004 that stuck with me ever since. And it was, you don’t have to get it right. You just have to get it going.

That’s the big message for today. 

So no matter where you are on your journey, you know, the bottom line is that just get it going, because number one, as we’ve said, it gives you the opportunity to really, dial in that membership experience. And number two, it just opens the doors to so much more opportunity that you can’t even begin to see or realize right now, because you’re not in the game. 

So to speak in serving people, get in the game, start serving people, even if that starts with one person, that’s going to give you so much tremendous insight. That’s going to lead to so many more things down the road. And I think that starting with that one person or the five people helps. 

I have a client and she joined a TRIBE last year, Angie, and she launched Mastering MailChimp, a membership, and she did the founding member launch and it was super powerful and she’s got eight people in her founding member launch. It’s been really helpful because she’s creating the content based on the feedback. And, that’s what you’re talking about for those of us that may need deadlines, those of you that are ADHD like me, and or might have some perfectionism. 

The Boom in Memberships

Just set the date and get it done, because it really can provide you all that you need to give yourself permission to have the time to get it right. And let’s talk about memberships as a whole, there’s been a boom in memberships in the last couple of years. And you know, there’s a couple of things that have impacted that like one most certainly has been the pandemic. More people have been at home, more people have been online and they’ve been spending more time online than ever before. 

Now some may say, yeah, but like now, you know, things are opening up, and people aren’t spending as much time online. Well, here’s the thing, here’s what we know to be true. That whole experience has opened people’s eyes to what’s possible online. And now people see that they can learn from a different type of environment. 

I’ll give you a perfect example. Like my kids were learning piano. And before the experience we’d have to, get the kids into the car. I would have to schlep down to the piano teacher’s house. They would, one child would be doing. And, you know, my daughter did her lesson. And then while my son stands waiting and then, you know, then they’d flip flop.

And so we’d be there for like an hour, but there was a lot of drive time, a lot of wait time. Well, when the pandemic hit, we couldn’t do that. So what happened was we did it virtually from the comfort of our home. And afterwards we’re like, this is so much better. Like, and I think that’s one of the big eye opening things for so many people is that they were essentially, in some cases forced to experience it virtually. 

So realizing like this is an amazing place to be able to learn and pick up skills and immerse ourselves in worlds that before were very difficult to, you know, do. And so now what’s happened is that there’s been a huge boom in memberships, as people are interested, they’re committed, they’re wanting to learn and grow themselves and they realize they can do it from the comfort of their own home. 

So in my opinion, and we see it, it’s not just my opinion. It’s actually like what we see with the tens of thousands of people that we get to serve is that there’s been a major boom in the way in which people are consuming and learning online and memberships are perfectly suited for that.

And in fact, Forbes magazine of all the things that they were saying are major trends this year, memberships and subscriptions were number two on their list because of the fact that people number one are learning more and are interested in learning more and upleveling their skill sets. And number two is that memberships and subscriptions provide the perfect environment for that because they make it super convenient.

So it’s not just me saying it, sports magazines have said it and it’s looking at the behavior of what’s happening in the marketplace. It’s also pointing to evidence of that fact as well. 

I think one of the things that’s really great about the membership experience is the experience itself. In terms of looking at how we’re creating this, it’s something that you do beautifully and model inside the membership experience, a program like really being able to figure out what is that look and feel and energy and fun that we want to bring to it that you might not have been able to do in a one-to-one in person thing or in a class like having these things. 

I have to say, I live in Los Angeles and I just drove from Beverly Hills seven miles, which is, I dunno, maybe 12 kilometers or something in 50 minutes to get here on time. I was like, okay, we’re going to make it. And then not having to drive my kids and schlep them everywhere. It’s so different.

And finding ways to create that learning environment in an online possibility with these different types of memberships. I think that’s one of the things that you really help model is how to make that membership really enjoyable. Well, and we have an opportunity to reach so many more people and impact so many more people like I had. 

I was speaking to one of the people from our community, his name’s Scott Kerryn, and he was not the expert per se, behind his membership. He actually partnered with one of his friends, Ryan, who is the expert and their membership is all about helping dentists specifically with Invisalign. So Ryan is like the Michael Jordan of Invisalign, you know what the average dentist is doing about five to six of those procedures a year, he’s doing more than 600 procedures per year. 

So one day he and Scott were chatting and Ryan was complaining that he had back problems. He’s a tall dentist, he’s six foot eight. So you can imagine leaning over. Yeah. He’s had started to experience back pains. And he was just saying to Scott, he said, you know, I love what I get to do, but man, my back is starting to kill me. So I kind of have to figure something else out. And Scott said, well, why don’t you teach other dentists how to do what you do. And initially, you know, Ryan was, you know, kind of hesitant on that because he didn’t want to quite, give away all of his secrets, but long story short, they ended up coming together. 

And I just think of the impact that they’re now having. Like they’re serving thousands of dentists who are now, able to provide so many more procedures in a much more successful way. And you think of the ripple ripple. It’s not only the dentist that they’re helping grow their practice. Look at all the people that now have straight, amazing smiles as a result of the work that they’re getting to do. 

So, what we do within memberships should never be taken for granted. We have an opportunity to serve so many more people because of the environment that we’re able to create here and the scale and leverage that we have to be able to reach people and serve more people and help them experience the transformation in their life.

No matter how, as I said before, whether that’s with relationships, whether that’s with their mental health, whether that’s with skills that they’re looking to learn or, and so many more, but bottom line is like, I love memberships for the way in which it creates stability and predictability in the business 100%. But I also love it for the fact that it gives us a platform to be able to serve so many more people in such a scaled way.

The Ripple Effect

And I love that the ripple that you were talking about from the dentist perspective and I can just imagine all of those bright smiles. And everybody who now has a bright smile. They’re just a little bit more confident and the ripple and the impact of that. All from one guy who says I’m going to help people provide more Invisalign. 

I think we don’t, sometimes we forget to acknowledge the ripple. How that ripple looks in the big picture of the planet and the big picture of what we can do with our businesses as a force for good. And I love that story. 

And the other side of this is that, I’m passionate about this work that we get to do, because it’s not just about helping the business owners. And that’s a huge part of it obviously, you think of when we think of ripple effects, like think of all of the people that are being impacted as a result of memberships in all these different kinds of ways, like we’re making the planet a better place to be with what we teach and how people are able to learn. 

The other side of it is that there’s a lot of heavy stuff that’s happening in the world today. And I never want to discount that. I never want to pretend that it’s not happening. I never want to ignore it. But the other side of it is like when we are in a financially stable position, which a membership provides, it gives us the ability to be able to navigate the hard stuff a heck of a lot easier because when you don’t have the financial pressure, you can handle a lot more of the difficult stuff. And then similarly, when we have those financial means, it gives us the ability to be able to impact those that we care passionately about and give to people in causes that we’re passionate about. 

So when we see others who are in need and our heart is out to them, we have the opportunity then to be able to give to them in a way that is going to have an impact. So for me, this is so much more than just teaching a bunch of stuff in a membership.

It has a long lasting ripple effect in the transformation that we’re creating and those that we get to serve. It has a long lasting effect if, for us, from a business owner’s perspective and the stability that it creates and the stress that it relieves. And it also creates an opportunity for us to give to more people that we’re passionate about serving because of that financial stability.

I think that’s so powerful because especially for those of us that are really heart-centered and we want to serve, and we feel like we should maybe not be getting paid as much for what we’re doing. And to really get that mindset shift, to understand the more that we serve, the more we receive that money, the more we can then allocate funds in the various ways – charities, in the places of need and the things that we want to do that have an even bigger impact.

Lik you guys build schools. With the village impact and there’s all these types of things. So the more that we do that good in the world, the more we receive money for what we’re doing, the more that we can allocate it into the world changing projects we want to do.

I think one of the beautiful things that I saw, if you can, identify a beautiful thing from the war in Ukraine was that there were so many people who were looking for creative ways to support those that are there on the ground.

And, my wife, she runs a luxury Airbnb, and you can find it on Instagram if you go to Dover Lake House. But the reason I’m sharing that is because we saw an article of people who were, booking stays with Ukrainian Airbnbs, knowing that they’re not going to go there. Obviously they’re not going to be staying there, but it’s a way to send money directly to people who need it. And I just love that, from a high level overview is because it’s about like, when we have that financial means we can impact people directly. 

I know for Amy that was meaningful because, we had conversations about it and she was saying like, can you imagine, if we were experiencing something like this, being able to be seen and heard and understood in that way, and being able to receive in that way would just be a godsend. And so I just think that there’s so many opportunities for us to be able to give to people that we care deeply and passionately about.

And when we have that stability that comes in our business from memberships, it’s a game changer in the way in which we get to show up. And the nice thing, because the memberships provide that recurring revenue. The thing that’s so beautiful about it is that we spend the time we market, we get our messaging. And then we have the people who are like, yes, I love you. I’m still getting value out of this service. Yes. Yes. And they continue to say yes, on an ongoing basis to the fact that they’re getting the value from what’s being provided. 

And once we have that, because this conversation about money as business owners is so important, especially for our heart-centered folks who, who just want to serve. And I think it really is that mindset shift that we now have the freedom. It now keeps the lights on, it covers your systems. The memberships can really be the broccoli and the greens. Like the dense nutrients that we need in our bodies. Recurring revenue is a dense nutrient that we need in our businesses so that we can eat the icing on the cake. Those tasty things that really help feed our souls and enjoyment by serving and helping those charities and interests. 

Well, I’ll just speak to that here. Just as we look to wrap up here in a few minutes, but, I used to feel really guilty about making money. Like I come from, two parents who were amazing parents two blue collar, working people who, both my dad and my mom both worked two full-time jobs when I was growing up. And not only that, but they were there for every basketball game, soccer game, track meet you name it. So I don’t know when they slept because they were, working all the time. And yet they were very present parents,but I didn’t come from money. I didn’t come from wealth or anything of that nature. And it was a topic of conversation that created stress in our family. Money stress in our family, because we didn’t have a lot of it.

I share all that as background because when I started to grow my business, I started to feel guilt about the money I was making, because I was at an early age making more money than both my parents combined. And I felt guilty about that because I certainly wasn’t working as hard as my parents were. And for a long time that held me back because I would self-sabotage, I would stop calling clients back or I’d stop doing the marketing campaigns that I knew would work.

And my income would come back down to that threshold where, at a subconscious level, I felt okay, but there was a turning point for me. And you mentioned that my wife and I, we have our own nonprofit as well called Village Impact. And we build schools over in Kenya. And when we were looking to build our very first school, we didn’t know what we were doing. We just wanted to help. And, we didn’t know how much things cost or who we work with or anything of that nature. 

So we identified this community that we wanted to serve and help. And I was talking to the chairman of that community, and I asked him, what does it cost to fund the full-time salary of a teacher? And he thought for a moment, and he said, it’s roughly about a hundred dollars a month. And in that moment, something clicked because we were selling our first piece of software, the world’s number one membership plugin for about a hundred dollars for a single site license. And I made this connection.

I was like, well, wait a minute. Like if I sell one more license that I could, and I just allocate that to funding the salary of the teacher, that would be amazing. But then the real light bulb went off, which was like, well, wait a minute. What if I just make a whole lot more money?

And I allocate a whole lot more to the people of that cause then we can have a real impact. And it was, it was a turning point for me because in that moment, that’s when I realized the more money we make, the more impact we can have. And it was incredible because that guilt of making more money, it just lifted right away.

Cause it was no longer about making money for a selfish reason. It was more about, Hey, listen, when you have more financial means, you can do more good. And being on the other side now, you know, more than a decade later of having a nonprofit, what I can tell you is the most valuable thing that you can give to a nonprofit is not your time.

It is your money because it, every single nonprofit, if you were to ask them, they would happily receive more financial means because it means they can allocate that to the different causes and to the different projects that they’re working on. You know, for us, like when the pandemic hit as an example, you know, our number one way of raising money came to a screeching halt because traditionally we would raise money at live events but then the pandemic hit and we couldn’t raise money at live events anymore.

That didn’t mean that the needs of our communities would stop. And in fact, they only increased because of what was happening with the pandemic. So we had to get creative and we just went back to what we always have known to be true. And that’s the thing that provides stability, is memberships. 

So we launched a membership site, for our charity and it offset what we would normally have made from live events. And I’m just sharing all this because number one, don’t ever feel guilty as a business owner for making money. Making money is a very good thing because it means we have more means to be able to do more good

And secondly, just know that, whether it’s with a business or whether it’s a nonprofit or the stability comes from recurring revenue and memberships are the best vehicle to be able to create that. It’s such an important thing. I just want to repeat what you said, because I think everybody needs to hear it as clearly and concisely, as you said, it, the more money you make, the bigger, the impact you can have, the more money you make, the bigger, the impact you can have folks, you heard it from Stu. 

The other side of that too, is the more money you make, the more people you’re able to reach. And if you really genuinely care about serving and helping people, then you have an inherent interest in wanting to grow the business.

And when you’ve got more financial stability, you can invest more in the business to be able to grow it and therefore reach more people. So it’s like this full circle thing. Bottom line is like growing a business is a really amazing thing, especially when you are heart-centered and you genuinely care about people, it gives you that stability. It gives you the means to be able to give to people and causes that you’re passionate about.

And it gives you the ability to be able to invest in your business and reach more people that you can serve. 

And I know we’ve got you at your time limit, so thank you so much. So the moral of the story is even if you’re just getting started, get it going, launch a membership and, and make an impact, start working with your people. So you can refine what you’re doing in creating it so that you can make more money to make a bigger impact. 

Totally like getting out of your own way, just get going and know that a membership is an incredibly amazing vehicle to be able to serve people at the highest level and have a heck of a lot more impact both in your own life and your business and those that you get to serve.