Ronan Leonard connects small business owners to support groups through the innovative concept of virtual Masterminds.
Without a co-founder or a business coach solopreneurs are often overwhelmed with to-do lists. They need impartial advice to get the right support to help them achieve clarity and better results.
Ronan believes we’ve lost our connection to a “tribe“ A community that will help you solve your problems and accelerate your learning. He believes that there is more value in making real peer-to-peer connections than paying external contractors who have no vested interest in your success.
His interview makes a couple of really good points, and I particularly love his analysis of an ideal customer:
“My definition of an ideal customer is that your ideal customer will pay you what you ask because they’re too busy doing their other things, and will pay you that because it’s a shortcut solution, that’s what they want.
Your worst customer has so much time on their hands, that they’ll pick your brains, they’ll want to get the free stuff, and they don’t have the money to ever be your customer, and when they do, they’ll complain anyway. Knowing those two that are two different people, it can be the difference between tearing your hair out and sacking the ones you don’t want and attracting the right ones.”
Listen in, or read the full transcript below.
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Ingrid: Hello and here we are today with Ronan Leonard, the Mastermind Guy. Good afternoon, Ronan.
Ronan: Ingrid, welcome and thank you for having me on your show. Looking forward to it.
Ingrid: Thanks so much for joining us. Tell our listeners and me, what is your business? What business are you in?
Ronan: I’m in the Mastermind business. Extensively what I do is I connect people into mastermind groups online, and I also teach subject matter experts how to run their own mastermind groups to get closer to their audience. If you have never heard of the mastermind concept before, extensively it’s a group of people that come together, to help each other and create this super-mind.
Ronan: They all work on different problems, ideas, and effectively it’s very hard in business to know everything. It’s impossible. What you do is you crowdsource. That problem you’re stuck with or idea you’re struggling with, and you get everyone else to give you their own opinions, ideas of people who’ve done that. Effectively you shortcut your way through some of the roadblocks, and the problems you have in your business.
Ingrid: We’re going to explore this a little further, how you actually turn that into a business, so let’s just do a little of the other questions. When did you start this business?
Ronan: I started this business two years ago, but I’ve been in business for almost 15 years now.
Ingrid: Doing different kinds of things, related to this in some ways, isn’t it?
Ronan: Some of it, yes. Some of it completely outside of that.
Ingrid: Why did you start this business?
Ronan: I started this business to scratch my own itch like a lot of people that start a business. I was in a mastermind group about four years ago as part of an online course, and actually their mastermind was the best part of the course. Connect with other people and start to bounce those ideas around each other, “I’m struggling with this. What do you think about that? Can you give me some help with this?”
For me it was a light bulb moment because the previous decade or so in my business, I didn’t have a sounding board. I would really just go home to my wife and unload that, “I’m struggling with this- this is a problem.” Smarter as she was, she didn’t have all the answers either and she’s not in business, she’s in the corporate world.
I found for the very first time I had a sort of tribe around me that supported me. Then when that finished, I looked around to easily join another group and I couldn’t find too many, so I started my own business and I started a platform to connect people to masterminds.
Ingrid: That’s fantastic and I love that expression to scratch your own itch because it’s so true. So many businesses start because it’s the thing that you need and nobody else is doing it. We’ve interviewed lots of people with that. What did you … and you’ve alluded to the answer to this question, but what did you actually want from your business from day one?
Ronan: I wanted to connect to a lot of people. I wrote down my whole why before I started this business because I feel that a lot of people start business and they don’t really know why. You think it’s to make money, and you know Ingrid is not, it’s to have a bigger purpose than that.
Ronan: Looking in the early twenties, everyone’s being sold on the internet, buy the Ferrari and the mansion and the laptop lifestyle and all that B.S. But ultimately people start a business because … and successful business, because they have got a deeper why. They want to help somebody, or they’ve got a scratch, an itch to scratch. Knowing that why for me was really important, and I literally spent about six months. I wrote down all the things I was good at, key moments in my life, I went back to when I was in my twenties and worked on the ship that sunk.
All these key things about helping people came out, this message came out. What I really know is that we’re only good at one or two things, so that’s our genius zone. Some people never ever find them, and some people actively look for them and when you do, it makes being in business so much easier because you just inflow and you understand why you’re there and what you’re doing. I think that’s a key critical point because every small business owner gets huge ups and downs, roadblocks in the way, and your ‘why’ is what helps you push through those and keep you going. It’s not the dollar figures.
Ingrid: No, it’s not – and if you don’t have that purpose, those mornings that you wake up, or those things that happen that just really knocked you for six. If you don’t have that ‘why’, it’s very, very hard to recover from that, isn’t it?
Ronan: Absolutely yeah, you’re easily going to give up. You hear all the stories of the people that persevered, the Walt Disney’s of this world, the Colonel Sanders and JK Rowling, they got rejected all those times, and I believe and obviously they’re an extreme example, but I believe that they had their ‘why.’ They knew deep down that this is what they were meant to do, and that gets them over all those rejections, all those failures or whatever you want to call it. For most people, it’s learning. It’s only a failure when you stop, so that’s the difference.
Ingrid: I think I could add Elon Musk to that list of people, having read his autobiography, his biography sorry. The numbers of times he’s been absolutely at rock bottom and yet just because he’s so driven by his why, it’s such another good example.
Ingrid: Let’s hope those things don’t happen to you. This is one of my favourite questions is, when did you realise that this business was real? When did this business feel like you were in business?
Ronan: I say there are two different things, they’re two different sales. The first sale is to yourself when you’re starting a business, because if you don’t believe it, then no one else will. That very first sale is always to yourself, can I do this? You don’t always know a 100%, so to me that’s the first one. It’s the sale to yourself before it’s to anyone else.
Then ultimately the second one is to your first paying customer. Where you sit down and go, “Okay, somebody has paid me for that. That’s cool. That’s amazing. I didn’t know if I could do it.” There’s these two pivotal moments to me, that’s the two.
Ingrid: Okay, that’s terrific, and you never forget that first customer, do you? You never really … that that moment when … however it’s done, it just happens, and you go, “Wow, someone actually did pay me for that.”
Ronan: Exactly yes.
Ingrid: That leads me to the next question. This was your itch that needed scratched, how did you know that there were other customers out there that wanted what you were offering? How did you know that this was viable, that it would lead somewhere?
Ronan: I interviewed someone recently on LinkedIn and this was a really good question and discussion we had. Effectively, you want to be looking for people that have a pain point, otherwise people won’t pay. Often Google is becoming more and more a problem solving one, so yes YouTube you can go on and look at cat videos. But ultimately if you start to think, what are people typing in and what are they looking for as a problem?
If nobody’s typing in your solution, then you probably don’t have a business or the problem, but if people are typing that in, you can still come up with a different way to solve that problem, but you can actually have to find that people have that problem first. I was looking around to people who were looking for masterminds, how do I join a mastermind, how do I get help and support and advice? When you start to look for those questions and more of them, it’s a little bit like buying a new car and once you buy that car, you see them everywhere, don’t you?
Ingrid: Yeah, so you had a good idea from looking at your research and understanding what people were asking for, that there was a call for this mastermind product that you offer?
Ronan: Yes, often you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, you don’t need to come up with something that’s completely new, but you can put your own twist on things, and you can improve something, you can modify something, you can give a different to the spin on that. It doesn’t always have to be, “I’ve got this brilliant idea and no one’s ever thought of it, hopefully it’ll work because often it doesn’t-
Ingrid: No, and in fact, sorry.
Ronan: Yeah. If you are in that light bulb moment, the first thing to do is to ask to five people, “Would you pay for it?” Sometimes the best way is to actually get them to commit their dollars because people will say, “Yeah, I’ll buy that.” And they won’t. You got to build something, say, “Okay, put a deposit down, and I’ll build it, but if I don’t build it, I’ll give your money back.”
Ingrid: Yeah. The actual transaction is the commitment rather than the intention for a transaction, and they’re two quite different things, aren’t they?
Ronan: Yes, yeah and one that validates a point, and the other one doesn’t.
Ingrid: That’s the whole idea of the minimum viable product where you create the minimum of whatever it is, and see if people will actually start paying money for it.
Ingrid: It sounds to me like this isn’t a particularly capital intensive or equipment intensive business, but how did you fund the business in the early days? You did mention that you had other businesses, were you running other businesses at the same time or how did you fund the early days of this one?
Ronan: Yeah, I funded this through my existing business. Basically I took any surplus cash out of that one and ploughed it into this one. That’s how I funded it.
Ingrid: Yeah, because a lot of people aren’t sure how to fund a business, some businesses take less than others, and some people transit from a job, or transit from another business, so your other businesses supported this one. How do you find new business? How do you find new customers now? How do you know where they are?
Ronan: That’s a good question. I think everyone has to find their own way of reaching out to them, of finding a nemo, or scratching that itch, as we talked about earlier. I find LinkedIn’s pretty good for all sorts of reasons, good for collaboration, it’s good for people that are looking. Advertising still works although Facebook is getting a lot more expensive than it was, I think the halcyon days, about four, five years ago when people just threw up a crappy ad and pay ten cents a click. I think those days are gone.
I think it’s getting harder to find customers. I think for most people to be honest, certainly advertising, Google ad words is far more expensive. Some of those clicks are $50, $60 a click in highly competitive markets. I think you got to test your verticals, and also once you know your perfect avatar, you know where they hang out the most. Often for B2C, that is Facebook, B2B, sometimes LinkedIn is better. But again, it’s one of those things that you can make your assumptions, but you need to test it.
Ingrid: Indeed, I couldn’t agree with you more. I saw a post recently on one of the forums, and it said if there was one word or two words that you could say you need more of in your business, and out of something like a thousand comments, almost all of them were new customers, new clients, more clients. That whole, as you say, it’s getting harder and harder for people to find clients for what they are actually offering and so-
Ronan: Well, obviously I’ve got a bit of a take on that? I think if you needed more and more customers, sometimes your price point isn’t correct, it’s too low, sometimes your value model isn’t there. If you can turn what you do into subscription model, then you eliminate some of those lumps. Ultimately one of my key phrases is that, if you keep getting customers in the wrong price, you’re going to burn out. Setting your price is really crucial and how you package up what you do, because ultimately if you get more and more customers at low price you end up just burning out.
Ingrid: Absolutely, and that just leads me to my excellent next question is, can you explain your process for deciding a pricing strategy? It doesn’t actually need to be the detail of your pricing strategy, but what philosophy do you use behind choosing a strategy for what you’re using. You mentioned there are a couple of different ways of pricing. What’s the philosophy behind those in your mind?
Ronan: Ultimately for me, I think this is a key mistake that a lot of people make. They base a lot of it just on an hourly rate. When you start a business what you tend to do is put your service below average because you’re just starting out, and the problem with average is average sucks. Nobody wants average. It’s like vanilla ice cream on the menu. You only choose it when there’s not a better flavour, it’s your last choice.
Ronan: I believe that people should be looking at the outcome that they provide and asking more questions. The more you can ask more questions about your customer, what could I’ve done differently, what can I do, what would be better, what else do you need? The more you can actually do research within your demographic, the more you’re going to truly understand what they value, what they pay for, and ultimately how you can differentiate yourself.
There is a combination of outcome more than just the service you provide. That’s a key one, which a lot of people don’t understand. But then ultimately your price comes through to everything, the market, your branding, your experience, your mindset, your mindset around pricing. We talked about being excited about the first customer. That’s a huge thing but if you don’t have the confidence to charge $1,500 an hour, $200 an hour, whatever that is, or package your service up and charge $3,000, then you can struggle ultimately. All that goes into that pricing matrix.
Ingrid: You mentioned earlier … thank you for that, you mentioned earlier about a customer avatar. This isn’t one of my normal questions, but what’s your philosophy about that avatar? It sounds like you’re quite clear who your avatar is?
Ronan: Well, the clearer you are on who your ideal customer is, the more you can write everything to them, all your website copy, all your marketing. You will still attract people outside of that, but at least you’re defining roughly who you want to speak to. Is it someone that earns $2,000,000 a year? Is it somebody that plays in the health industry? Is it somebody that spends $100 on a bottle of wine and no problem?
Knowing that really helps you narrow down your market because obviously one of the biggest mistakes is that we all think that everybody is a customer. We’ve got a fairly, I’d say generic colour. Even if you’re a plumber, you think, “Oh everybody in my area is a customer.” But are they? Do you want all of those customers? Do you want a better paying customer? Picture in where you are in the market and almost niching down, we talked about this before we came on air, is really important for you to get clear on who your ideal customer is.
Ingrid: If you think about that plumber, couldn’t that plumber actually cope with everybody in their suburb? If everyone in their suburb needed plumbing in the next month, would there actually be capacity for that plumber to do everybody’s plumbing in the … The reality is you don’t want everybody, you want your ideal avatar because they’re the person that will be easy to work with, there are the people who’ll pay you, the people who’ll do the work in between or do the followup, and they’re actually ideal. It’s why they’re called the ideal avatar.
Ronan: Yeah. My definition of an ideal customer is that your ideal customer will pay you what you ask because they’re too busy doing their other things, and will pay you that because it’s a shortcut solution, that’s what they want. Your worst customer has so much time on their hands, that they’ll pick your brains, they’ll want to get the free stuff, and they don’t have the money to ever be your customer, and when they do, they’ll complain anyway. Knowing those two that are two different people, it can be the difference between tearing your hair out and sacking the ones you don’t want and attracting the right ones.
Ingrid: Ronan, I have to say that will be one of the copy-able moments in this … because I love that definition of the ideal. Because they so busy doing what they do, they’re not going to have time to quibble about things. That’s just precious. Thank you. A slight change of direction, do you have an exit strategy for any of your businesses? You don’t have to tell us what it is, but have you thought about what happens at the end or next?
Ronan: No, I don’t actually, I haven’t thought about. I hadn’t thought of my previous one, and I probably stayed in it too long. I should have exited a couple of years before, that probably would have been ideal for me. Now it’s a good question, it’s probably something that might be on my radar in the next three years or so, but not this early because I also understand that small business owners, you effectively, when you exit, you’re selling yourself out of a job. Especially if you haven’t systemized it out the wazoo, and it becomes this profit generating, all you need to work 20 hours a week if I want to. That’s the key difference with most people. It’s their income and their job, not just their business, and so people don’t think about exit because they go, “what am I going to do next?”
Ingrid: That is one of the reasons I asked that question in this series is that, Stephen Covey said, “Begin with the end in mind.” I know he wasn’t talking about starting a business and exiting it, but you really do set up a different structure in a business if you are thinking it’s something you want to sell. But I interviewed the gorgeous Kate Toon and she said that one day she’ll just turn it off, like that’s her plan. Is that there’ll be a day when she just stops doing what she does and that’s her exit strategy. She’s got clauses in all her online programmes that say, “Everything has a six months usability.” She’s got clauses that protect her in that way. But she said she imagined one day it will just stop and that’s what you’re talking about is the person who actually is the business, is the job, and so when you stop doing it effectively the business ends.
Whereas there are people who are actually, wanting to build something that either will be a legacy to children or will be something they can sell, and lots of people dream of being taken over by the big guys. It is something to think about. Yeah, it’s a good question. Thank you.
What is one thing that you wish you had done differently at the beginning? Now, you may or may not have this answer for this particular business, but maybe somewhere in your businesses, is there something that now as you reflect, you think, well, if I’d done that differently, there would’ve been a different outcome?
Ronan: I’m still doing it now. I firmly believed that you should be asking more questions to more people, more often and just double checking yourself, especially if you don’t have a co-founder. A co-founder is … my theory around this is that a co-founder doesn’t just do twice the amount of work, so you don’t get twice as much done with the co founder, but you also get to shape those good ideas into great ideas, and you get to bury the bad ones.
That to me, having a co-founder in a business for a lot of people, is the fast track to success just because you’re getting that sounding board. It’s a little bit like a mini-mastermind, your two minds come together, and they create this third super-mind. For me it is still ongoing, I’m trying to constantly pick people’s brains and ask them questions and there’s nothing wrong with asking for help. This is the thing that a lot of people have this ego around asking for help.
Let me ask you, if you went to a foreign country, and you were lost, and you don’t speak the language, would you ask for help? The answer is yes. When you’re in business, and you’re going, “Okay, this isn’t quite working for me.” Ask people, ask around people, people do like to genuinely help. That would be my key takeaway.
Ingrid: Okay. Slightly different question, is there something you really wish you’d known from the start, and I know it’s sort of the same question, but it’s slightly different. Was there anything that if somebody had been able to say to you, here’s some information, or some facts that would have made a difference from the beginning?
Ronan: I don’t think there’s one light bulb moment where this would have changed everything. That’s to me … probably more around habits and rituals. I know I did this for six or seven years in my previous business. What I would do is I would open up my computer or people open up their shop, and they say, “What’s the world going to throw at me?” I’m far more strategic now in blocking out my time, working on my highest leverage, my most important task at the start of the day, before you get into that world wind of a non-urgent but important task. Steven R Covey – I’ve quoted him.
I think that’s makes the key difference is, if you can be more intentional around your time and your structure, that’s a key thing for me. A lot of business owners don’t work on.
Ingrid: It’s such a good point because we are the master of everything, or we are the manager, or the head of every department in our business and those other departments can steal our time so easily, rather than getting on with what we have to do. Particularly if people have come from a corporate job where all of those things are just taken care of for them, the IT department takes care of all the IT, and there’s certain things that are just done. It’s very easy to lose a day in all of that humdrum admin, isn’t it? Rather than actually focusing on, as you said, the stuff that’s the vital of the business.
Ronan: Yeah. The minutiae kick can kill you. It’s painful.
Ingrid: It really is. You mentioned your charming and smart wife, and you mentioned your previous mastermind group, but this is a question about who has been of greatest assistance to you. You can either mention names or just philosophically, it sounds like the mastermind group was really helpful, but who’s been of greatest assistance in your business?
Ronan: The greatest assistance was … when I started my first business, I sank my life savings into a move to Australia, I used to work on cruise ships. I moved to Australia and I set up a casino party business, and in the first year I hadn’t got a single customer. I’d been to networking events, I had done a small business course, I was trying to do marketing in the yellow pages online, none of it worked.
Then I met this guy called Peter Briggs and he showed me how to do basic SEO. This was back … well over a decade ago. For me it was a light bulb moment and within two weeks I got my first full paying customer, and I was often running and sadly he passed away a few years ago, but I’m entirely indebted to him because he was the person that saved me from potentially giving up. I’m pretty stubborn that I was still going, but I was really, really struggling. He was the one that affectively showed me what potentially a business could do and, I’m forever indebted to him, and I mention him all the time. To me, although he still became a bit of a mentor, but yeah, that was the person that for me changed everything and gave me what I am today.
Ingrid: Isn’t that fantastic? We are going to come back to that cruise ship story before we finish this podcast because I think it’s one that certainly is worth sharing with the listeners. We’ll just continue with this track just for now. Given that Peter Briggs was somebody who really helped you at that stage, who can give you good and useful feedback, where do you get good feedback from, you personally?
Ronan: I get good feedback within the mastermind groups, that’s the whole point of them, that you get that feedback. But like I said, I’m constantly asking people what do they think of that? What about this? Sometimes they’re free, sometimes they’re paid. I think there’s this fallacy around having a coach or a mastermind or somebody that you pay, but ultimately, like I said earlier, you can’t know everything, it’s impossible. You want people that have done what you’ve done that can show you the fastest route, so that’s an investment.
If you invest in somebody that can teach you what you don’t know and can quickly grow your business by 10%, 15% and then 15% over the next time, a year on year. Then whatever you pay them, even if it’s $3,000 or $5,000, surely that’s worth it.
There is this fallacy around thinking, “Look I can find it all from YouTube and from blog posts and from some podcasts and I can get all that information that’s being commoditized, it’s everywhere.” But still talking or paying somebody that says this is what you need to do, let me show you, and step them through it, that’s the difference between content and context and how that applies to you.
Ingrid: Yeah. I think it’s such a good point because all the information that’s available on the internet is generic really. Even if it looks like it’s specific, it’s actually quite generic. But if you want help with your own business, it’s something like your mastermind, it’s like coaching that actually is specific to what that individual needs at that time. Yeah, terrific answer there. Thank you for that. Someone comes to you and says, “I’m thinking about starting a business.” What do you say to them?
Ronan: I say ‘think again’.
Ingrid: I can I tell you how many people that I interview say, “Don’t. No, no, wait a minute, let me tell.
Ronan: Yeah. Look, it’s never as easy as you think unfortunately, that the highlights will … which has always been the case of people on Facebook and YouTube that are crushing it. They obviously get all the oxygen because they’re the 1% or the 0.01%. The reality and between what you think it is going to be and what it is, are two different things.
We touched on this earlier, knowing your ‘why’ really, really important and knowing who you want to serve, which is a part of that is also very important. Also, letting go of your ego because ultimately you might think you’re the best at something, or you’ve got the best idea, or I’m going to be fabulous because somebody been paying me in the corporate world to be that person. But like you said, having all those other hats and having to learn all those other things that take you away from your genius zone, make it a lot harder than people realise. Because if business was just so easy, we’d all be multimillionaires, wouldn’t we? We’re not.
My advice is to really think about it, going for the right reasons, test your ideas, keep on pivoting, keep on working on it. Ultimately, when you’ve got those, you’re far less likely to give up, and you’re far more likely to make a go of it. I wouldn’t even use the word success because success means different things to different people, it’s little bit overused, but ultimately you’re your own benchmark of what you want to do and what’s the difference you want to make.
Ingrid: It is really about that big why, that who you’re serving, what solution, what value you’re adding. For me sometimes it’s about what we’re creating in the universe, how are we’re making everything better, not just running a business for my own money. Doesn’t really work that well, does it?
Ronan: Yeah service is the one thing, is serving. Ultimately, business is really in its simplest form, you’re helping somebody solve a problem at a price they’re happy to pay for. Simple as that. You’re a problem solver, and you’re helping people, surely there’s transactional value into that, but it’s simple as that. I think big businesses tend to lose sight of that when they talk about shareholders, and I think people that are marketed, like I said earlier, when they marketed this laptop lifestyle, or you can own this huge house and a yacht and everything. Most of that is BS, that the vast majority of people who are in business, are there to help people, and they love their customers, and they love solving those problems
Ingrid: They wake up every morning wanting to do that and take care of people.
Ingrid: Last question about you, what are three characteristics that you think you have that make you successful in business? You have alluded to a few of them as we’ve gone through the interview, but if you were to just give those three characteristics as an answer, what would they be?
Ronan: Definitely perseverance, another one would be I’m really good at habits, mostly good ones, there’s just a few bad ones, I’m actually good at that. The other one is, my superpower is, and this sounds really, really corny but I actually do what I say. If someone says, “I’ll send you this information, I’ll send it.” If I say I’ll get this done to you by Friday, I’ll get it done. I’m actually one of these people that is true to my word. To be honest, if this is just me venting, I don’t think they’re enough of those people in the world these days.
Ingrid: No, I hear you. You’re absolutely right there, and it is one of the things that differentiates a business from other businesses, is that being able to be true to your word and staying on target to what you say you’re doing now. Thank you. Now, can you tell us about the cruise ship? Because you did allude to that you were on a sinking ship. Do you want to tell us about that story before we go? Because it’s very inspiring, thank you.
Ronan: It was inspiring to the people. For me it was actually a lot of fun, which sounds a little bit trite almost, but nobody died. That was more luck than design. Yeah, 23, I got my dream job working on cruise ships. Within six weeks off the coast of the wild coast of South Africa, we hit a very violent stone, and the ship started taking in water. Now the officers and crew didn’t tell us, I get they wanted to keep that one a bit of a secret to themselves. It was all through word of mouth that this was happening.
Ronan: We knew the lights had gone out, something went wrong. They filled the first lifeboat with women and children, and on the other side of the ship, most of the senior officers and crew left leaving me working in the gift shop, the cruise director, the bandleader, and the magician, to put people in their lifeboats, to coordinate some kind of rescue even though we had virtually no training in that.
For years, I just told all the funny things that happened, all the … so many funny things happened. For example, there’s no more lifeboats, and we’re all in the main lounge area, and the band were playing a few songs to keep people, their minds, off the fact that we’re in this storm, there’s no lifeboats left, we’re sinking, it’s dark, nothing we can do. They’re singing ‘Bye Bye Miss American Pie’, and then they get to the lyrics of, “This will be the day that I … “Okay, we better change the song to something else.”
I worked for another nine years on cruise ships, and they produced the safety video of what to do, and I was on there. I joined new ships with Royal Caribbean and people say, “Oh you’re the guy that’s on that safety video now, and you know what to do.” I became so well known in the Cruise line industry and for me because I was quite young, and I suppose a little bit naive, and I don’t know how you’re going to react. You have all these pre-conceived ideas about what the captain should do, and what people in authority should do.
They all discharge their responsibilities, they also panicked, and I didn’t, I was one of the few that didn’t. To me it was an intrinsic core value that I have, which is one of the reasons why I set the Masterminds up, of helping other people because it’s just wired into me.
Ultimately it was a lot of fun, good life lesson because I survived it, and a good story to tell when out at parties and people want a bit of a laugh.
Ingrid: And on podcast interviews. But seriously, how did you all get off the ship as there were no lifeboats left?
Ronan: Well, there was still about 170 people on board. Because we were thinking quite slowly, this has started happening about 11 O’clock at night. We were only a mile off the coast of South Africa, but there’s the 60 foot swells, 160 kilometre winds, the weather was appalling. There was all these boats around us, all these other ships around us, but they couldn’t get anywhere near. We calmed down a little bit and because we’re sinking quite slowly, it’s six o’clock in the morning, helicopters came from South Africa and they started winching people off. I spent another three hours helping people to get winched off, and I finally jumped into the water, and I got picked up by a lifeboat, which was from a container ship was on its way to Argentina. They picked us up on there. There was 20 crew on them, it’s a huge container ship and about 50 of us rescued, and they had to divert into South Africa, and drop us off the next day. That’s how I eventually got off and survived.
Ingrid: It’s quite a survival story. Do you think it actually changes how you approach things, do you feel like it makes you braver? Obviously as you said at the beginning, it comes into your serving people, your why, that you really are a super-helpful person and that underpins what you do. Do you think in some way that has affected your ability to take risks or to step into challenges?
Ronan: It definitely made that a little bit easier. It also made me question authority a bit more. There are people that just accept things and go along with the norm. I see a politician on the radio or the news or I see somebody in authority preaching, I can at least a step back and say, “Okay, well I don’t believe everything you say just because you’ve got a stripe on your shoulder, or you’re in a said position of authority.” You still got to earn that respect. I tend not to automatic defer to people in authority just because they’re an authority because I’ve seen the flip side.
Ingrid: I can’t believe that, that they all just escaped off on the other side of the boat.
Ronan: Yep. Yeah, it was a whole comedy, like I said, you couldn’t write the script. It was that great.
Ingrid: You couldn’t write the script. Thank you so much for joining us. Is there anything else that you would like to add and do you want to tell us just a little bit about your mastermind group? I think there would be people very interested to understand how it works, how they can contact you. We don’t really do much selling on this podcast, but if you wanted to just give a description so that if anybody is particularly interested, because I know coaching, mentoring, masterminding, it’s all part of how we support people in business. It might be interesting for people to understand how you work.
Ronan: Yeah, sure. Effectively I take people through a 13 week programme to figure out what’s their one or two biggest roadblocks or biggest things that they can change because you can’t do everything in 13 weeks. Show them a different way to do things, get them to start to work on some accountability and goal setting and just get them into that flow of working on their business, just not in the business.
I also teach people that are subject matter experts, how to package up and run their own masterminds because ultimately in this fast-paced world, I think more of us have been commoditized. If you are a bookkeeper, then there are thousands of bookkeepers, if you growth hacker, there’s 21,000 on LinkedIn. How do you differentiate yourself and if you are good at what you do, how do you package that up and show other people?
As you said Ingrid, people just want to know what other people have done and how they’ve done that, rather than spending so long … sure you can do it yourself, and you can spend a couple of years trying to figure that out, but if you can find a shortcut to say, “Okay, this person does exactly what I want to do.” I’d pay money for that, it’s making a $3,000, $5,000, whatever it is to go, “Okay, here’s the shortcut that I’ll step by step show you exactly what you can do and how to do it.”
I think that’s why you alluded to a lot of courses these days, a lot of coaches because there is so much information out there, people are just confused. They don’t know how to do because every other podcast or every other book that they read gives them a contrarian view and doesn’t show them exactly how to do what they need to do.
Ingrid: I think you’re right, there’s not a lot of people showing people how. There’s a lot of people saying what needs to be done and why it’s important, but a lot of people need the how. They need to understand the step by step, and I truly wish that things like these were around 18 years ago when I got started in business. I fumbled along for the first few years, not really knowing what I was doing. I just did things that people asked me to do. I had no direction.
I just liked my lifestyle, and I was happy to help people, but I didn’t really even know what I was going to help people with. I really wish some of what’s around today, like mastermind groups had been around then. I think it’s easier than ever to start a business if you absolutely have something to do and take advantage of the resources available.
Thank you so much Ronan, for your time today. Anything else to add?
Ronan: No, thats it Ingrid. What I can do, I’ll give a giveaway if you do show notes. I use the Rockefeller DOTS System, which is a really simple way of just tracking your daily habits and your weekly habits and your monthly habits. JD Rockefeller, huge oil baron from 100 years ago. It’s the simplest thing ever. What do you do is you print out this sheet, on the left hand column you write down all the things that you’re tracking, and at the end of the day just put a little dot by them.
Then at the end of the week and the month you can see where the habits have been slipping and address those very, very quickly. Because you’re right, especially for small business owners, wearing all those hats, there’s no one holding us accountable. You need to find your own way of being more accountable to yourself and following through on those things that you know are important, you know they’re going to move the needle, but they’re sometimes a little bit uncomfortable when you don’t want to do them, or you think you’re doing them quite well and then you look at something like the DOT system, and they actually know I missed three days in a week where I was supposed to be doing cold calling or whatever that is. That hard task you didn’t really want to do.
Ingrid: That’s a nice system. Well, will we put that in the show notes?
Ronan: Yes, I’ll send you a link so that people can get that direct.
Ingrid: Lovely. Thank you so much. Thanks so much for your time today. Thank you.
Ronan: Thanks Ingrid.