Published Podcast Ep. 21 | Launching an Online Mastermind Group with Ann Sheybani and Walt Hampton

If you've ever considered launching your own mastermind group, or you're not sure what a mastermind group is, today's episode is for you! We're chatting with book-writing coach Ann Sheybani and performance coach Walt Hampton, founders of The Summit Mastermind, about the process and experience of leading a mastermind group.

Note: Our host Tanya Hall's book, Ideas, Influence, and Income, is available now! Learn more at

2:30 Why don’t we start by having both of you tell us a bit about what you do and how you came to start your mastermind groups?

  • Ann: I’m a content developer, so I help mostly entrepreneurs write client-attracting books. When I’m guiding people through the book writing process, we’re looking at the outcome they’re after. How do we use this book, not just to make money itself, but to lead our potential clients into other products and services that we sell?
  • We have to be clear on their business model and target market. A lot of it is business foundation.
  • Walt: I’m an executive coach and consultant. I help coaches speakers writers, business professionals and entrepreneurs get clients and make money. That begins with establishing a really clear business foundation and a business model that’s generating revenue.
  • A lot of people want to go out and write a book, but the book by itself without a solid business structure or platform is really not the way to go. I work with Ann and her clients as they get these client-attracting books out in the world to actually have something to attract the clients to.

6:00 How did you start to research creating a mastermind? Are there any resources you consulted?

  • Walt: It started with a discussion about an annual webinar we offered where we sold a six-week program to help people create business foundations for the year ahead.
  • We wanted to move away from that program and wondered what else we could offer. Since both of us are part of mastermind communities, we came up with the idea of The Summit Mastermind.
  • Ann: We first heard of masterminds at a conference, and I started one with a few women I met there. It was going to be free and we were going to meet once a week, but we didn’t have a real idea of how to go about doing it.
  • If you have one leader running the show, that person will get tired of doing it.
  • If you don’t have members investing in the group, if they don’t have skin the game, they lose interest and treat it as a possibility on the calendar.
  • When we designed our mastermind, we made it pay-to-play and knew it would be for entrepreneurs at the beginning of their endeavors. We’ve had really low attrition rates and high engagement.

11:00 Were there metrics that you looked at to determine if the group was worth launching? Maybe the number of people you were coaching, people who met the qualifications?

  • Walt: I tell our clients – if you do not have a list, you do not have a business.
  • Everyone wants to have a successful launch and sell lots of books, but you have to have a list of people who are your raving fans in order to sell books.
  • The first step in building your platform for your book is to consider how you’re going to build your tribe and how to serve them over time.
  • If you’re doing a webinar for 100 people, you’re going to convert 1%. If you want to sell more, have more influence, make more money, you’re going to need a bigger list. When we launched our mastermind, we had about 5,000 people on our list.
  • Ann: A mastermind is a group program, and you have to bring people together. What does everyone have in common? What do they want to accomplish?
  • Ask yourself where you’re going to find those people and develop relationships. Finding one person here and there in person or online is how you grow a group program and a list.

17:30 How did you determine the price for your mastermind?

  • Walt: The question to ask before pricing is, “What is the problem I’m solving with this program, and what are the benefits I’m delivering through my outcome?”
  • Most entrepreneurs come to us to get clients and make money. That’s our promise, as well as the possibility of quitting your day job, spending more time with family, having more time for self-care.
  • The financial, emotional, physical, spiritual benefits of the product or service you provide are where you begin the concept of price.
  • Ann: There are a couple of different models for pricing. When we created The Summit Mastermind, we wanted to set a price you'd be crazy not to pay for the value we were offering.
  • When we got a huge influx of members, our original members would keep their prices forever, and new people would come in at a higher price.
  • Some people who have a name in the industry or offer a really big result for very specific people decide to be concierges, providing high-level involvement for a higher price.

24:00 Can you tell us a bit about how you went about promoting the launch of this mastermind group?

  • Walt: We open up the group twice a year in a couple of a different ways. One is by webinar. We build the audience over a series of webinars, then make the offer for the mastermind off the back of the webinar.
  • The other is through a traditional product launch where we deliver a series of three high-value videos, then offer the mastermind.
  • Ann: It’s little bit of trial and error. Some masterminds are better offered out of a webinar. It’s an intense hour and people get a real sense of who you are and what you’re offering.
  • Sometimes the higher the price tag, though, the wiser you are to give people a real sense of you through three videos and a sales video after, giving them an opportunity to ask questions. You have to play a little bit with what is the most effective way to bring people in.

29:30: What type of time commitment is it to do a mastermind group?

  • Walt: Aside from running our mastermind, we’re a part of masterminds as well. We belong to a very high level group, and sometimes by the end of the week we’re exhausted with the time we’re investing in that. There’s a lot of things to learn, content to consume.
  • At the other end of the spectrum, there might be a mastermind group where there is one call a week or two a month. It might be a call a month plus online resources, or a Q and A a month with resources. The great thing about being an entrepreneur is that it’s creative. Knowing your people is the best way to do decide what’s going to best serve them.
  • Ann: We provide a huge digital library of resources and two live calls each month, as well as quarterly hot seats where single members are coached live. We have a Facebook group that we’re in every day answering and starting up conversation.
  • Walt: We also have a team member responsible for keeping an eye out for people who have gone quiet, and we’ll do direct outreach to those people because they might be scared or confused, or both, and we want them to thrive.

33:30 In closing, anything you’d like to add for those considering a mastermind group?

  • Walt: You have to decide what the thing is that you love to do. If it’s not something you love to do, don’t do it. Some people naturally express themselves as writers or speakers, some people are natural teachers. I recommend someone be drawn less by whats a good marketing decision and more by what feels right.
  • Ann: Most of the people you’re talking about will know their target audience. A lot of the guesswork about what everyone will have in common has already been taken care of during the book writing process.
  • Mastermind groups give you enormous flexibility. You’re not traveling, you can do it in your pajamas, and there are so many ways you can put it together. There’s no one right method.

Ann Sheybani is an Amazon best-selling author and book-writing coach. With a deep understanding of business and the power of personal story, she helps speakers, coaches, and entrepreneurs write and publish books that will attract clients. Ann holds an MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from Harvard University and is a Book Yourself Solid™ certified sales and marketing coach.

Walt Hampton, J.D., is a performance coach, business consultant, and leadership trainer. An internationally acclaimed motivational speaker and Ivy educated commercial trial attorney, Walt helps entrepreneurs and professionals create the work and lives they love. He is trained as a Tony Robbins Results Coach and teaches Michael Port’s Book Yourself Solid™ program.