Mastering The Mastermind With Mike Calhoun

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FTC Mike Calhoun | Mastermind Community

 

One of the most effective ways to hone your skills as a business owner and improve your team is to connect with like-minded individuals. Such an experience is attainable by joining a mastermind community. In this episode, Mitch Russo chats with Mike Calhoun, CEO of Board of Advisors. He shares the genesis story of the world’s greatest mastermind that brings together the smartest, most successful, and highly reputable industry leaders right now. Mike presents the best strategies for building memberships and establishing a community of strongly connected people that solves problems collectively and empowers each other in a profound way. He also discusses why mastermind communities must not only focus on the business and social aspects but also charitable contributions and initiatives.

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Mastering The Mastermind With Mike Calhoun

Welcome to this moment when you get to chill out, read, and extract wisdom that you could use to grow your business with your first thousand clients. If you are a coach, you’re going to love what I have for you. My software platform called ClientFolio has been helping hundreds of coaches save time on admin, and get better results from their clients while generating powerful client testimonials for the work that they’ve done. How? By tracking accountability and holding clients to it. No other platform provides you with the power to access a library of accountability questions and places the control in your client’s hands to keep track of their most critical stats and goals.

Do you want to try it for a buck? Go to ClientFolio.com and give it a spin. Now on to my amazing guest and his incredible story. He started out like many of us with a dream a couple of years ago to build a community to support powerful entrepreneurs and business leaders. He knew that dream required a significant amount of work and sweat to get members and scale that group. The Board of Advisors is going on years of incredible success with over 150 members helping others to scale their companies and grow as a community. Welcome, Mike Calhoun, to the show.

Thank you so much, Mitch. I love spending time. I don’t even think I call it spending time. It’s an investment, the wise investment of time. Every time we get a chance to talk, communicate, and share thoughts and ideas, it’s an absolute pleasure. Thank you for having me on the show.

My pleasure. Mike, readers want to know how this got started. Let’s go back to the beginning. What did you do before the Board of Advisors?

Starting BA, I like to call it the cherry on top of many years of Herculean effort, blood, sweat, and tears. The pain of effort in so many different ventures begins to become the most valuable asset that we have. That experience is the thing that nobody can strip from you. It also brings the ability to be valuable to others. That’s a long story, but I have a feeling you’re going to try to crack that coconut.

I want to hear about some of that because, like all of us, our experience and our wisdom come from our failures. Let’s go back in time a little bit and talk a little bit about some of the things you did and some of the things you had high hopes for but didn’t work.

The one thing that I always did was take action, and the thing that I could have done better was to seek advisory from those who have already done what I was trying to do. Starting out as a young man with a sheer desire, I grew up very poor. I didn’t realize that I was poor. It was that it was a constant struggle. Daily, weekly, monthly, everything was a struggle. Getting a new pair of shoes was a struggle. Getting an outfit every year for school was a struggle in the sense that it was always financial, “Are we going to be able to do it?”

Thirteen different schools growing up, it was always something. As a young man, your first real desire is to overcome that struggle and not have to always worry about the financial side of things. That never goes away. As an entrepreneur, you’re always focused on how you do things better, how you make more, and how you spend less. When it’s about putting food on the table, it’s like that primary desire. How do you get rich so you don’t have to think about that? Also, the lustrous idea of, “If I were, what would I do?”

If I could get a moment to think and be out of survival mode, at that point, what would I do? As a young man coming up, you’re thinking about all kinds of crazy stuff, “Would I be an attorney? Would I be a doctor? What are all these things?” There’s no class in where to go to decide what you want to do and what you would be best at. There is no sorting, sifting, or separating mechanism that helps you figure out what would you be best at. Life teaches you that along the way. In the very beginning, I’m like everybody else. I had no freaking clue. I just started doing.

There is no sorting, sifting, or separating mechanism that will help you figure out what you are best at. Life teaches you that along the way. Share on X

Mike, that is exactly what the role of life is. If you were to go to a class that tells you what to do next, first of all, knowing you, you probably wouldn’t listen anyway. The bottom line is that, when we start out, we’re not supposed to know. Our goal is to gather experience and gather this stuff we call wisdom from failures, and then see where it leads us because no one knows. In your case, I assume you were talking about your family of origin and your mom and dad were moving around. As you said, thirteen schools. Clearly, you had strife in your life at that time. I did too. It was the same commitment. You made the commitment, “I do not want to be poor when I grow up,” I’m assuming because that’s what I heard.

I didn’t want to be poor and I swore I was always going to be rich. As you start to figure out as you gain life experience, what does that mean the responsibility that comes along with it? I remember a very distinct moment. I knew that I needed to do the right thing and I needed to try multiple things. I graduated high school. I moved out of my house at the end of 10th grade into a barn on my buddy’s property. I went through school, 11th and 12th grade working. I quit sports, started working, paying my own way, and I was completely independent. As of 11th grade, I was out and independent, 1,000% on my own. As I graduated high school, I had this contemplation, “Do I take out loans, go to college, and figure that out? What do I do? Do I go get a job? Do I start a little business?”

I did all of it. I got a job. I enrolled in school and started a business. I got a job at Home Depot. It was store 111 in Atlanta. Arthur and Bernie are the two founders. This was so far back in the day, in the 90s, when Bernie and Arthur would show up here in there at the store, walk you down your aisles, and make sure that you understood what that customer experience needed to be. I remember a beer can on a forklift. This was way back in the day. That would never fly nowadays.

That was the ‘90s. I was making $22 to $25 an hour at Home Depot, managing the paint department. That was great money back then on an hourly basis. I’m out of high school. Part of earning that is I put myself together. I was extremely physically fit. I’ve always worked out since I was fourteen years old. They took me seriously like I was going to get the job done. They are putting me into managing the paint department ASAP. They trusted. There was a sense of responsibility. I also put myself in school. After about a month and a half of school, no disrespect to school, I’m sitting in Math class and I’m looking at the people that I’m sitting in the class with. I couldn’t find one person that I wanted to be like in that room. Not the teacher. I didn’t want to be like any other student.

There was no one in there that I was like, “That person’s got it together.” I got up, walked out of the class, and started a business installing tiles. I’ve worked at Home Depot. I had access to tools on sale, access to returns, great deals, people walking in, and somebody needed to put down a tile. My family business was flooring. I was familiar with it. We were getting $7 a square foot to install it in Atlanta at the time. It was a good deal. That’s big money per square foot. Think about it. You do $1,000 square foot, that’s $7,000. You can knock it out in two days. It’s not a bad check. I’m immediately doing that. I have customers, I have a job, I’m working out, or trying to take care of my side hustle.

After a period of time, 2 or 3 years go by and you begin to think, “I’m making money. I’ve accomplished that goal, but I’m not building anything.” You start to qualify your time, “Is my time more valuable at the job, or is my time more valuable at my little business?” I may return back to school, but not in that format. You might have 2 or three 3 to go by in anything where you’re starting to qualify, “I mastered it, but is it the highest and best use of my time? What’s that next step?” I decided that I did need to go back to school and get something. I couldn’t fathom not having any type of formal education or certification. We’re encroaching upon Y2K. Do you remember Y2K, Mitch?

I was batting down the hatches in my house. I had the generator outside.

The whole world was supposed to end. Everything was going dark. I’ve always been a gadget guy. I thought to myself I don’t know anything about computers. I can’t even type. I knew I liked gadgets. I liked techy stuff. Not that I knew anything about it, but I did like it. I was very interested in it. I registered myself for a tech school where I was getting certified in Microsoft and Cisco and would become a systems engineer for how these devices and computers communicate on networks. How am I able to work with big companies that manage their networks? What would it be like to be a professional in the computer? At that time, the internet’s coming online. You got AOL. Y2K’s about to crash, and all the systems are being rewritten so that it is compliant and going to work on the other side of Y2K.

We’re at that threshold, which created a demand for people who could use, install, integrate, and operate with that new system on the other side of that threshold. My certifications that I went to school for the 36-month program, we finished in 18 months. Interestingly, the teachers had to also get recertified and everything. They’re asking me what’s on the test. That’s an odd situation. “I’m paying you, but you’re asking me. That’s interesting.” I didn’t have time to wait on them because I knew that every minute was a dollar. I had to move. I couldn’t dilly-dally. I went through school, got the certifications, and came out on the other side with fourteen different certifications in the arena of networking and communication systems engineer with Microsoft and Cisco.

The weird part of it, Mitch, is I have these certifications nobody has. When I go for a job interview, they would make me bring in paper forms to verify. Here’s the big problem. I didn’t have any experience. I’d only taken the tests. Here’s the funny part. Experience is the most valuable thing, relationships, and forging relationships with those that have the experience so you can get things done. I ended up interviewing. Everybody told me, “I like you, you have no experience. We can’t do it.” I ended up interviewing for a company called Tech Skills. Tech Skills was a company where Chase and big banks and the Air Force would send their department heads back for continuing education recertification. I got a job.

FTC Mike Calhoun | Mastermind Community
Mastermind Community: Experience is the most valuable thing. Forge relationships with those with relatable experiences so you can get things done.

 

I was an instructor teaching the material I had learned, and helping the department heads get their certification as efficiently and quickly as possible. I’m educating people who’ve been in the industry for 15 to 20 years. I have zero experience. I’m sweating balls every day because I’m terrified that somebody’s going to call me out. I’m trying to be the guy, but I have no real leg to stand on in the real world. I just know all the principles and the framework. I know what they need to know to pass the test. You’re also in a room where they’re telling you how experienced they are. It was weird. Many times you’d get challenged right in front of the room where you would have to know enough to say, “Yes, that is how it used to work, but that’s not how it works now, and here’s why.”

I remember going to the restroom, sweating through my clothes because I was so nervous about the next class coming up that I had to teach. They were responsive. I had to be so good at what I was doing because they were going to take the test. If they didn’t pass, they’re going to point the finger at me. Do you want to talk about coaching? That’s coaching on a whole new level because they’re paying $1,200 to $1,500 per test. If they fail, I fail. Obviously, this is a two-way street. You got to do the studying, but it was my first toe in the water of, “If I were ever going to be a coach, what would that feel like?” It’s a lot of pressure.

Clearly, you had some lessons here. How did this end? Did you eventually leave or did you get hired?

It’s wild. I have so many stories. You may never get off this show. Why don’t we certify everybody in life, Mitch? By the end of this show, we’re going to certify them in life. I was handy, tile business, growing up, the absolute best form of child labor my dad could ever ask for. He couldn’t have asked for a helper who would’ve been more motivated and eager to learn. I got my hands dirty with almost everything you could imagine, growing up being that right arm to anything my dad had going on and any project around the house for a customer in his business, whatever.

I took a ride with a good friend. My good friend who had a referral relationship said, “You should meet this real estate investor. Maybe you should buy a house. You’ve got great credit. You have a great job. Why don’t you think about buying a house?” I said, “I was already thinking about buying a house. Maybe I should do that.” We looked at 3, and I picked 1. I knew what I could do. I knew you wanted the 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. Growing up, you get a sixth sense of what you want something that has front access, rear access, alley access, and a wraparound porch. When you’re looking at out of the three houses I looked at, some are dysfunctional.

You’re never going to turn that into anything. It’s like Band-Aid on top of Band-Aid. When I looked at this one, it had a big wide open layout, a big porch, a nice front yard, and rear back access. It was a piece. It wasn’t in good condition. I bought it for $62,000. In nine months, I fixed it up on the weekends while working my full-time job, set up shop, bought a trailer, and put all my tools. My garage looked like Home Depot’s tool corral. What I would do is they would return tools brand new and then they’d sell them for half off. I’d be, “I’ll take that.” I built an inventory over those years at Home Depot where if I ever had to do physical labor, I was ready.

I was prepping myself to work with my mind. I had a safety net that if I had to go do the physical stuff I could for survival, I was also working on prepping my mind and trying to break the family mold. I broke the tools out because I felt good about it. I didn’t feel like I was going backward. It was my house. I didn’t move into it because I said, “I’m going to fix this up and I’m going to see if I can sell it and make a profit because I wouldn’t live here.” It was a good opportunity for me to get involved. It was easy. The guy that sold it to me made it possible. This is something that might be able to help me put some liquidity in my account versus having a decent paycheck and being able to pay the rent.

I might get a little nut that I can then start and maybe I’ll do another house. Maybe I’ll do a couple of houses. Maybe I’ll buy a house with that down payment. I sold it from $62,000 to $154,000. I made a bunch of money. I figured out, “How do you do that again?” I didn’t know how to get the property. The guy showed it. He took me in his car and showed it to me. I had no idea how to get the property. I go back to the gentleman and I say, “I want to figure this out. I want to do as many of these as I can possibly do.” Pretty soon, my job came to me and I got fired.

That’s perfect. They basically promoted you.

I couldn’t believe it. I’m the key player. I’m an all-star player. I got this other thing going on and it brought me to the point where they let me go. I’m thinking, “I got fired.” I didn’t know how to take it. It was a little scary because now, you got to get that property done. You got to get that thing sold. Anything that’s in the bank from that big nut that you made is now starting to dwindle because you have carrying costs. That’s when I learned what carrying costs were. It was scary, but it also made me step into it.

I figured out the acquisition. I figured out the data and ended up creating a system where we had people at the courthouse searching daily for foreclosures that were popping up. We would qualify, “Are they the ones that we want to invest time in? Do we want to meet the owners? Do we want to strike an offer? Do we want to make a deal?” We got this thing humming to where we were always juggling a few dozen properties, either in the acquisition, in the renovation, or disposition. I’m hustling. Do you know what’s funny? I started on a Home Depot credit card.

I love it. Let’s fast forward a little bit, Mike, because what I want to do is I want to get the opportunity to create the Board of Advisors. I want to get to right before that happens. What inspired you at that moment to say, “We’re going to do this?”

Let’s skip 20 years and 20 seconds. We went from creating the world’s first web-based, user-based version of a short sale processing engine based on the model of our acquisition and disposition and getting approvals on those deals by a system that we built. We modified it and it landed us out in Silicon Valley with SAP and Oracle staring down our throats. Jon Johnson from Google ended up funding it with a single check and said, “Let’s rock and roll.” Now we have a business. We end up taking it to market. We then learned a huge lesson. You don’t mess with the big players in the market because they’ll build what you have and give it away for free and you’re out of business. If you dance with the big boys, you learn big lessons.

You don’t mess with the big players in the market. They will build what you have and give it away for free, pushing you out of business. Learn how to dance with the big boys and learn big lessons. Share on X

We landed a relationship with Adobe Microsystems. This is where the platform for BA was starting to play out, and I didn’t even know it. What we had done in that prior business was figure out how to sell software. Anybody can create it as you well know, but selling it is the hard part. Getting people to adopt and getting them to move off of what they’re in now into your platform, that’s a lot of effort. It’s a lot of trust. We went from the real estate platform to a relationship with Adobe Microsystems on a business on a platform called Business Catalyst. It was an all-in-one business system that was global. What they wanted was what we had procured as a reputation for selling software. We were good. When I say we were good, we were good.

We’ll run $250,000 in 90 minutes on a webinar promotion. We would go to events with real estate investors and we would have people standing on tables trying to get to order forms. It was nuts. They said, “We want to support you. We want you to do the acquisition of the business. We’ll support you with hardcore coding. You guys build out the front end and configurations and off to the market.” We sold thousands of instances across the US and Australia. We worked with dentists, ministry, and doctors, everything you could possibly imagine, like real estate people, brokers, agents, you name it. That was great. What it did is it created this conversation with owners and founders because it was at the hotbed of when people were going online.

They had to get a website. They had to get a shopping cart. They had to figure out, “How do I take money online? How do I send a link? How do I take a credit card? How do I keep it secure?” There are all these crazy different apps. I would imagine that your audience is using all these different vendors to accomplish a single thing. There are so many things that get mashed up to create their online business. What we had was a single platform that was the all-in-one online business solution. Landing those relationships were owner to owner, founder to founder. That’s where we would earn the trust of all these different customers across the US and across Australia, where one of our partners was also running for the brand BizBlueprint.com.

FTC Mike Calhoun | Mastermind Community
Mastermind Community: Many businesses are using different vendors to accomplish a single thing. There are so many things that get mashed up to create their online business.

 

You can go to the website now. It’s still BizBlueprint.com. That’s where all these relationships started. One of those relationships, like everyone reading, somebody’s probably whispering in your ear, “Stop doing this and start doing this.” It could be a mentor like you. It could be a coach like you. It could be somebody who sees the potential in you and tries to give you some great advice. One of our clients said, “Mike, you know everybody. Why aren’t you creating a community with your top customers who want to have a higher level conversation with you but also they can become very valuable to each other by doing deals, growing businesses, starting a business, and investing together? There’s so much opportunity for that level of individual in a real-world engagement that you should pioneer it.”

He says, “This gentleman did it in the real estate space and said. You should do it in the entrepreneur space.” He said that his people come together as a board of advisors on a quarterly basis and they make each other better. I am not getting into the coaching and event business. I’m not doing it. I said, “Jason, I do real stuff. I do software. I do real estate. I do big stuff.” “No, you’re missing the point. For you, this is what you need to do. Nobody sees the golden or an individual like you do. Nobody sees the opportunity in a deal like you do. Nobody can cut through.” He was complimenting me but encouraging at the same time. He goes, “You got to do it. Give it a try.”

You got very lucky here. I’ll tell you why I say that because there are people, with that one suggestion alone, who would’ve said, “You’re right. I’ve been waiting for this ignition to happen and you lit the fuse. Thank you.” You then have others who could have talked to you blue in the face for an hour to three hours, and you would’ve walked away and said, “That will never work.” You decided after having this conversation that your destiny was to build this community. Mike, you said, “Yes.” What did you do next?

I did exactly what I’m going to do right here based on what you said. We decided that we were going to call it the Board of Advisors based on the recommendation, but we knew we had to procure the brand. Everybody on this, you need to take a look at your brand. You may have multiple. You may have a personal brand or a corporate brand, but people buy from brands that they trust. You can have a superior product and lose to a trusted brand. We knew that Board of Advisors was a common term in the sense of people meeting for the good of everybody at the table. We knew it and heard exactly the essence of what we wanted to do.

You may have a personal or corporate brand, but people tend to buy from brands they trust. You can have a superior product and still lose to a trusted brand. Share on X

We procured that and then started sending out invites the same exact invite that they can get at BAInvite.com. We began to invite them to an upcoming session. Quite frankly, it was very genuine and intimate. It was heartfelt. We are doing something special for a certain tier of our customers. In the top tier specifically, we are creating an engagement where we can help you solve some of your biggest problems through the experience, resources, and contributions of others. We also, in a sense, are able to help you potentially become solutions for other people. This is a face-to-face engagement. It’s a conversation with founders and founders only. These are decision-makers who can say yes without having to check with anybody else.

I will personally be leading that meeting and helping you architect the best conversations. If at any moment you think I’m wasting your time, you can go. There’s no real major commitment. We made the invite. Quite frankly, most people didn’t know what a mastermind was. They came or planned their trip to be at that meeting due to the relationship equity we had with them prior to the successes that we had with them. They said, “Sure, it sounds great. I love to see you Mike, I’ll be there.” They didn’t realize what they were showing up for or who was going to be in the room. That’s what it comes down to, “Who is in the room?” It’s not about attending an event. It’s about separating a guy like you, Mitch, from the world for a moment where you aren’t distracted and can be present with somebody who wants to meet Mitch Russo face-to-face.

You’re in a situational context where you’re like, “Yes, I’m here to have the conversation. Talk to me. Tell me what you’re trying to achieve. Let me help.” To get a Mitch or any high-level player like myself or yourself in that context is tough because the day-to-day is so compressed. The first meeting went off, I had the gentleman who recommended me to start this, bring me out in the hallway with tears in his eyes. He said, “I feel like the student is teaching the teacher. You put your heart and soul into this. It isn’t going to be easy, but you got a tiger by the tail and you need to stay on this.” He came to at least the first year, walking it out with me to these meetings.

He is like, “You don’t need me. I would rather share ideas with you. You’re doing some stuff I want to be doing, and I’m probably sorting out some things that you need to be doing. Let’s become a collaborative resource for each other.” It’s one of those things that inspire people to stop, reflect, and get around others that can make them better. There’s a cost to doing that. There’s a time cost and opportunity cost. There’s a sacrifice stepping away from the business for a moment to do that. What you’re stepping into is people like you because the people who work for you are not like you.

FTC Mike Calhoun | Mastermind Community
Mastermind Community: Masterminds are inspiring people to stop, reflect, and get around others who can make them better. But there is a time and opportunity cost in stepping into people just like you.

 

I’m not saying somebody is over somebody else, but when you elect to be a founder, you elect to take on the responsibility for income, for staff, for success, and for delivering a great product to the customer. You’re taking on the responsibility to satisfy a lot of mouths at a lot of tables. Your customers depend on you for your solution to work, and the team is depending on you for the business to work. Everybody’s now depending on you.

That’s not a normal situation to collaborate eyeball-to-eyeball face-to-face with others who have accepted or thrived off of that role is exceptional. It’s not normal. For them to then instantly have empathy on what you’re trying to achieve and help you, because they know the stress and the pain, they understand what you’re doing better than anybody else. Nothing makes them happier than to help a brother or a sister in need.

This is true. I’ll speak from experience. Full disclosure, I am a member of Mike’s group, the Board of Advisors. I’ve been going on for a few years. My experience is similar to what you said. It’s almost like an isolation tank because, now, I’m like everybody else. I’m as busy as everyone else out there. For me to focus on 1 thing for 4 days in a row is awfully hard. To be honest, it’s hard, but I do it four times a year because of the quality of the people in the room. That’s a tribute to Mike and his team for doing that.

The real question here is, and this goes back to you. If you’re reading and you like what’s going on in this conversation, and you thought to yourself, “Maybe someday I’d like to either start a mastermind or join one,” you got to ask yourself if you’re ready for the work that Mike put in. Mike skipped over a lot of the beginning years. I’m sure there were times when the Board of Advisors was on the brink and you had to save it and pull credit cards out. I’m sure you had to do that stuff because that’s what all businesses do.

You have to reinvest. What ends up happening is, and this is every business, you get an offer that starts working and you start collecting money. This is so true in software. You then start realizing, “Now I have so many members. I need an assistant. I need help with fulfillment. I need help with development.” That money goes into an account, but then it goes right back out to fulfill and to contract with hotels, venues, or contractors. Sometimes, if you hire a contractor that doesn’t work, hire another one. There is a fiduciary responsibility to manage funds for the success of the business and the success of the member. You’re exactly right.

This style of business is not immune to anything that every other business is not immune to. As I lead the organization and the brand of BA, we have also become an example of what to do many times in innovation. COVID hits. What do you do? Being an example for the members has also made us better. It is the exposure to so many different types of businesses, founders, business models, revenue models, product services platforms, and hybrids thereof.

I’ve become a unique individual in that sense of experience and exposure, being able to sit at any table almost with any person on any topic, and be valuable. I’ve watched Corey become very similar over the time that he’s been in the leadership role here at BA. He was a member then went leadership. I’ve watched that exposure make him better over a period of time. It’s impossible to sit in that environment and not become better.

The key is that you don’t have everybody from the same business in the room. I’ve attended masterminds where everybody’s in real estate, internet marketing, or industrial like plumbing. I got to tell you. It’s great if you know you’re a plumber or you’re an internet marketer, and that’s all you do, but you’ll only grow based on the content of the room. You’ll only grow based on the experience in the room. The truth is that when I listen to people and I speak with people who are in completely different businesses than mine, that’s what I learned the most. I borrow a lot of those business models and the techniques that they use to scale in the work that I do as well. I need that.

You’re exactly right. This is a great splinter to promote an inbound new member, Jesse Rack, with Generac. You mentioned service-based businesses. He’s a service-based business. He does more installations in Florida than anybody else. It’s like him and another firm that is running neck and neck or implementations of generators across Florida. We’re in a conversation. He is like, “I need to be involved in something where it’s founder to founder, I’m understood, and I can make myself better for my team.” We’re discussing solutions that came from the tech industry over here.

FTC Mike Calhoun | Mastermind Community
Mastermind Community: Masterminds allow for founder-to-founder interaction. You meet someone who understands you, pushing you to make yourself better for you team.

 

When you look at the call center inbound and outbound response system, where he’s able to then generate outbound calls that are having conversations not only for new acquisition of business but for support in the sense of maintenance for the generator, he’s like, “I don’t need people to do that.” He’s been in his world for so long. He didn’t realize that. He didn’t know what was possible. It’s like you’re saying. That cross-pollination of resources is invaluable as an accelerant to problem-solving. It’s the difference between your business and your competitor’s business and who’s going to win in market share.

Exactly. Those with fewer ideas are the ones who are limited the most. Where do you get ideas? They rarely come from your existing industry. In fact, your best competitors usually come from outside of your industry. I learned that over and over again when I entered the software business many years ago from completely outside the legal technology industry. That’s what we get access to in the Board of Advisors. The one thing I want to point out here is very important, I want to go back on this point for a second. On average, the person that you’re standing next to in the supermarket, you have no idea who they are.

You don’t know whether they run a $200 million company or whether they live on the street. The only way to understand another human being is to make that connection and talk to them. Here’s the other thing. Once that connection exists, the desire to help another flows from that connection. I’ve had billionaires spend time with me alone for hours to help me. Why? Simply because we made a personal connection at a place like the Board of Advisors. That’s the part that’s missing in life. That’s why I appreciate being a member.

What you described very specifically in detailed format was what I like to call margin. That means you have the bandwidth. You have the capability to stop, contribute, and invest in others without that specific person having to pay you back. That’s the way the community works. The community works when we run an organization, the Board of Advisors, the top entrepreneur community in America, if not the world. You run that for eight years. You have momentum. There’s a locomotive moving down the train tracks. Simply taking a new member and setting it on the cart of, Mitch Russo, if I’ve worked with Mitch Russo for three years and Jesse needs a thing, you have no problem helping him because we invested in you so much so many times and we have this working relationship.

Yes, we can help Jesse, no issue. You know that the community strength, you’ll get that back somewhere else in the community. We don’t necessarily have to get that back from Jesse. That is where community and contribution marry. You have individuals who have enough margin to contribute because they know they’ll get it back when they need it most from the community. It’s proven over and over. Most people have less than $5,000 in their bank account. Most people have less than $1,000. They did run some numbers. I heard some numbers the other day. It was crazy how skinny the average populace is not living paycheck to paycheck. It’s not saying anything bad. It’s saying there’s no margin there for them to stop and help another person.

Mastermind is where community and contribution marry. You have individuals with enough margin to contribute because they know they will get it back when they most need it. Share on X

When you’ve acquired enough margin in life, stopping to figure out what is the highest and best use of your time, your resources, your network, and with whom, that’s a responsibility. That’s what you’re doing, Mitch. You’re saying, “I’m here to fortify my venture, but I’m also here to contribute to others because that contribution is going to come back to me at some point when I need it most.” You’re investing in your network, which is your army. That community is your army. Who doesn’t love Mitch? Everybody loves Mitch. Let’s say Mitch had an opportunity or a crisis. There’s not one person in that community who wouldn’t stop and help Mitch. They’ve watched Mitch three years in a row sit on that end table at every meeting, play all out, and contribute to everybody else. How the hell are we going to let this guy down?

I love that about the community, and that’s why everybody should be a member of a community like this. No doubt. Let’s switch gears for a minute because there’s another part of the Board of Advisors that isn’t spoken much about outside the organization. That’s the part of charity or contribution to others who are not in the room. Let’s talk a little bit about that. There’s an organization that is the cornerstone of BA. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about that and the projects going on overseas and things like that?

Sometimes we forget that we do have a responsibility to charity and to help others who can’t help themselves. Even the Bible talks about, “If you’ve helped the least of these, you’ve done it unto me.” Christ himself said that. It is a fact that there are people out there that are struggling. You look at children. We support an organization, AOL, Advocates Of Love in the Dominican Republic, which is an orphanage that takes kids off the street that, quite frankly, in a matter of days, if they do not get help, they will die. Do they stay there forever? Sometimes they stay there until they age out or graduate. Sometimes they go back to the family. That environment that they are in is deadly.

It is life and death. That’s the qualifier. If they’re going to die, we’re going to take them. We’re going to figure it out. The ability to contribute is when we give the members the opportunity. A lot of times, you get in an organization that when you contribute to it, you don’t know where the money’s going. This is a big factor. The reason we chose AOL is the Founder, Mike Clark, had an exit. He’s put his money to work where he can maintain the family. He is now giving his time to this initiative. Every cent and every dollar that has contributed doesn’t go anywhere but AOL or AdvocatesOfLove.org.

That is totally different. Usually, that number is like 10%. This is 100%, not 99%. We found a quality founder who was an entrepreneur and started an organization, and it is a place where every dollar is being used that you contribute. That makes our entrepreneurs and our founders excited. They feel proud. They feel like it’s a good investment in their contribution. Some give on a monthly basis, some give on a quarterly basis. Some of us, like Steven Ekovich, the top golf course broker in America, made a major contribution along with RJ Palano and a bunch of other individuals to help purchase a new van for transportation. You might have even been in that as well, Mitch. There are individuals who find the purpose is rich because the contribution is not diluted.

If you’re not finding ways to contribute to people who are doing the things that you can’t, maybe it’s a ministry or an orphanage, what is it that you should be supporting that, potentially, they don’t have the skillset that you do to generate the amount of revenue that you do? Contribution is a key pillar to the community, not only to each other but outside of the community as well. Go to AOL where we’re onsite and we’re looking these little humans in the eye. They’re sitting on your lap. You’re talking to them. They’re loving on you. They’re hugging you. They think you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread. They’re talking to you. They speak English. You want to do more.

FTC Mike Calhoun | Mastermind Community
Mastermind Community: Contribution is a key pillar to the community, not only to each other, but outside of it as well.

 

What you’re talking about here is a rounding out of a community. There’s a community that could be business, and that’s great. Everybody meets each other, swaps ideas, and helps each other out. That’s fine, then there’s the social aspect. Many of the members go on vacation together and hang out together, our great friends outside of the membership, and then there’s the contribution part. If you think about this like a triangle, and the base of the triangle is business, the left side is a charitable contribution. The right side is relationships and friendships. This is something that doesn’t quite exist in the rest of the world as a standalone entity. That’s why building communities like this is so important. I have another show, called The Tribe Builders, which is all about building tribes.

What you’re talking about here is a tribe, and it is a very powerful tribe. What keeps people together are these three pillars, these three sides of the isosceles triangle that balance each other perfectly. That’s part of what makes it so powerful for me personally, and I know for other members too. The other thing about it is that when you show up at one of these meetings, and I almost don’t care who you are, you’re going to feel out of place. You’re going to feel as if it’s overwhelming. Maybe the phrase I’ve heard several times is drinking from a fire hose.

What I do notice is that once people get 2 or 3 days into an event, all of a sudden, the room pulls them in. The community pulls them in. That’s the part that everybody who’s reading this needs to find a way to do this. If you are existing without a network or a group like this, then I would suggest you think about finding one. Mike has a pretty good one to consider.

If you’re not investing in you as the founder, you have to take a second to decide, “Why not?” The unfortunate part is a lot of founders never stop to make that investment. They don’t understand how critical it is to their business, and it costs less than a minimum wage employee per year that they probably are already considering firing anyway. There’s somebody on staff now who probably is bleeding, not getting any, they’ve already quietly quit. You’re talking about every major player across the US and Australia.

Founders never stop investing in themselves. They do not understand how critical it is to their business, and it costs less than a minimum wage employee per year. Share on X

We got them coming in from Japan, Argentina, France, Germany, everywhere. The swap in what it looks like for a minimum wage employee, they probably want to fire anyway in what we’re able to provide. It’s so grossly black and white in the sense of contrast. It makes no sense not to go to BAInvite.com and start a conversation. You’ll probably end up on a call with me at the end of the line when we figure out whether it’s the right fit or not to make sure that you and I have a relationship. That’s another thing. This is a full-time operation. We strike a relationship with every member. There’s nobody walking through that door that I don’t know.

This is important to stress here. It’s one thing to join a mastermind or to join a group like this. It’s another thing to make the commitment to attend. I have struggled with other commitments like this before. I turned down opportunities to attend other things like summits.

People probably pay Mitch to go to other meetings.

In this case, I get my butt in the car and I drive the three-and-a-half hours to Sarasota four times a year. Except under the condition of being under a knife in the hospital, I have never missed a meeting. I feel good about that because I feel like I am there to support my group, my family, and my membership. I also know that others feel the same way. Mike, we’re going to shift gears here. Let’s do it.

I’m a car guy, so I like shifting gears.

What we’re going to do is we’re going to move to the next part of this interview, which is where we get to know Mike a little bit better. You might think we know Mike pretty well now, but after these questions, you’ll see a different side to Mike. Here’s the question. Who, in all of space and time, would you like to have one hour to enjoy a walk in the park, a quick lunch, or an intense conversation with?

I am fascinated with Elon Musk. I love his stoicism. I love the fact that he does such big stuff and he does so many different big things, like SpaceX, Starlink, Tesla, and Neuralink. I love how I watch some of his interviews. He’s not afraid to say, “That’s a good question. I don’t have the right answer. I’m going to think about that.” At that level, he’s humble enough. The guy bought Twitter. That’s amazing to me, $44 billion on something that’s shedding cash. He did it because he felt like he wanted to prop up the actual public square community and give everybody a fair shot and a fair voice. There’s so much to learn about what a single human being is able to achieve if you have the right mindset mechanisms. There’s something about him that the way he’s doing what he’s doing allows him to do strictly big stuff.

FTC Mike Calhoun | Mastermind Community
Mastermind Community: There is so much to learn with what a single human being can achieve.

 

True. I want to know about your hour with Elon. I’m going to set it up so you’re going to get an hour with Elon. What’s that hour look like? What are you going to do? What are you going to ask him? Where are you going to focus that time on? What type of questions?

It would start with a face-to-face like this. This is why I love podcasts because it give you a direct line and center eyeball-to-eyeball, dedicated attention. It’s less about me trying to figure him out. I would try to get him to see, “What does he see in me? Where’s the gold? Where am I goofing up?” I want Elon to dissect me to make me better.

I got it. That’s great. You want Elon to be your coach for the hour. I love that.

I’m not sure how else to invest that hour.

It’s perfect. I want to let you know that if I get that setup, I can be a fly on the wall. I’m working on it.

Break me down, Elon. Let’s do it, baby. I’m an Elon believer. As a matter of fact, we bought his favorite car, the Plaid. My wife drives a Tesla. I drive a Tesla. We’re investors in SpaceX and Starlink. Elon owes me an hour.

Let’s make it happen. Mike, are you ready for the grand finale question?

Let’s do it.

This is the change the world question. What is it that you are doing or would like to do that truly has the potential to literally change the world?

This is going to catch you off guard. Nothing changes the world more than great ideas, great conversations, and what we’re doing right here. If I could remove myself from all administrative, non-income generating tasks and nuances that I find consuming a lot of my time, it’s not that difficult to do, but truly invest in having conversations and an opportunity to contribute to others, it is making that investment in others so that they can be great. That comes in a couple of different flavors from a ministry standpoint of what real is. What does that look like on a big conversation level? What does it look like for guidance, advisory, and experience transfer? There are a lot of people starting businesses and wanting to provide freedom for their families. How could I be very impactful in that?

Also, building a team around that as well. Not me single-handedly, but like Elon building a team, building a platform and making, and giving people the possibility to create freedom for their family with time, location, and finances. The family unit deserves a lot more attention. It is having the voice and platform to discuss ministry principles, family principles, and financial principles. Because I am a male, I would like to focus on inspiring males. In my position, I get a lot of inbound. As a matter of fact, I have a text in my history from over the weekend. The gentleman has more stress on him than he knows what to do with it.

He says, “I want to disappear. I’ve created so much responsibility for myself due to the economic climate and the way things are going. I’m overwhelmed and I can’t take it any longer.” I’ve been there so many times in my life to be a rock for good people who might be in a hard place situation at the time. Being the most valuable asset that someone can have at their worst moment, I don’t see any better way to spend my time.

I want to be your best asset, Mitch. I want to be your best conversation. I want to be your best inspiration. Being able to strip out the mundane tasks to get myself to a point where those are the things that I’m doing every minute, every hour of every day, I would love that. I would enjoy that. That’s why I stopped my world to be on this with you here because that is part of what we’re doing right here.

That is part of changing the world one person at a time. To your credit, what you’re doing is you’re building a very powerful group of people to do that and to be that rock for as many others as possible. From my perspective, there’s a big thank you for doing that because now I get to enjoy that as a member. I appreciate that as well. This has been amazing. Thank you so much for showing up, being on the show, and educating people. If somebody has a question, and maybe they’re not ready for a mastermind yet, they want to talk to you or ask you a question. I know you’re a busy guy. Is there a way to do that?

Yes. Realistically, the best way to get on the calendar and sort, sift, and separate through to what could we do to help you, use BAInvite.com. It will get you to a scheduler. It will get you directly in sync with my team. It will get you on the calendar. If you genuinely say, “I’m not quite ready for BA,” we have a Go CEO brand, which is an on-ramp brand or early-stage conversation. You don’t always have to be face-to-face. It can be a very valuable virtual engagement as well.

The first starting point of that is free. It’s a webinar where we have a certain style session together. Still, go to BAInvite.com and get your invite. Everything is on BoardOfAdvisors.com. By the way, BoardOfAdvisors.com is about to be published with the entire new interface. All the pages are done. We’re filling in the content. We’re filling in great gold imagery. I’m sure we have some of you in there showcasing the beautiful brand. I would say that’s probably the best place to go.

Mike, again, thanks so much for your time. I look forward to seeing you at the next meeting. Take care. I’ll talk to you soon.

You got it, Mitch.

 

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