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Melissa Shanahan

#192: Mastery Group: Everything You Need to Know

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Do you know what Mastery Group is and how it works? Well, in this episode, Melissa is giving you all the details of how you’ll function inside Mastery Group, and most importantly, how it functions to serve you as a law firm owner. The content in the podcast is a great place to start, but Melissa goes even deeper inside Mastery Group.

If you love what you’re hearing on the podcast and want to join Mastery Group, that’s great. If you don’t feel compelled to join, that’s fine too, but it’s time to clear some things up around Mastery Group specifically, so you’re in the know every time enrollment opens up each quarter.

Tune in this week to discover the evolution of Mastery Group and why it is the place to be for facilitated quarterly strategic planning. Melissa is sharing how Mastery Group works for you, why nobody can do this work alone, and how to see the endless benefits of being part of the group this quarter.

If you’re a law firm owner, Mastery Group is the way for you to work with Melissa. This program consists of quarterly strategic planning facilitated with guidance and community every step of the way. The doors for Mastery Group are open and you have until February 17th 2023 to sign up!

Show Notes:

What You’ll Discover:

The history of Mastery Group and why it exists right now.

How Melissa works with and serves law firm owners at Velocity Work to boost their productivity.

The process of creating a group that is a no-brainer for law firm owners.

How a group can be an amazing setting for quarterly planning in your law firm.

Why you know what your business needs, but facilitated strategic planning is the key to bring it to the surface.

3 frameworks at the center of Mastery Group.

How Mastery Group has evolved and the nuts and bolts of how it works to help you stick to your plans and get results.

Featured on the Show:

Create space, mindset, and concrete plans for growth. Start here: Velocity Work Monday Map.

Join Mastery Group

#176: Meet Our Monday Map Power Hour Facilitator: Aimee Gromowsky

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Full Episode Transcript:

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I’m Melissa Shanahan, and this is The Law Firm Owner Podcast, Episode #192.

Welcome to The Law Firm Owner Podcast, powered by Velocity Work. For owners who want to grow a firm that gives them the life they want. Get crystal clear on where you're going, take planning seriously, and honor your plan like a pro. This is the work that creates Velocity.

Hey, everyone. Welcome to this week's episode. I am thrilled that you're here and listening. We've gotten such great feedback from the last few weeks. We’ve had guests on, a slew of guests at the turn of the year, at the beginning of the year. And it's been a blast to have conversations with them and be able to deliver those conversations to you.

Now today, it's just you and I. Because what I have come to realize in the last several weeks, through talking to many people, is that you likely do not have a good sense of what Mastery Group is and how you function inside of it, and how it functions for you. Now, there are key principles that… I mean, if I'm talking about it on the podcast, you can bet your bottom dollar, we're talking about it inside of Mastery Group, and we're working with the inside of Mastery Group.

But I do have to say there are a few simple things I can lay out for you that gives you a clearer picture. And this podcast is really meant to clear that up. And if it feels like a great fit, great, come on and join us when enrollment period is open. And if it doesn't, that's okay, too. But at least I'm clearing some things up about Mastery Group specifically.

Now, I should share this at the top of the show, when this airs, if you're listening in real time, enrollment is open right now. We only open it one week every quarter. It's open right now, and it closes Friday, February 17. And so, you have a few days left, if you're listening to this in real-time. If you are not listening to this in real-time and you're listening to this after the window has closed, you can still join the waitlist so that you are first to know when it opens up at the next enrollment period.

One week, every quarter, we open up enrollment so that the people who want to join, come in together, and the onboarding experience is much smoother; we've learned that over time. And so, that's how we have this structure now. It's really about the experience for you as the new member.

All right, well, let's get into this. I first want to share a little bit about the history of Mastery Group, and how it came to be. I think that will help you wrap your head around why it exists right now. When I started Velocity Work, the only way I worked with clients was on a private client level. So, I would have one-on-one clients. We would have a year-long working relationship.

And everything that I'm going to share with you today, I basically did privately for law firm owners. Now, I still do that, I do it on a very limited basis. But when COVID hit, I had just come back from maternity leave. I came back, on March 6, or something. So literally, right when COVID was hitting. I was watching the communities and the forums and the Facebook groups, and I was noticing the freakout.

Now, I also was kind of wondering what is going on, what is going to happen with my business. But you have to remember the state that I was in. My business was fairly new, and I was still pretty scrappy anyway. I didn't have this huge business I was going to lose. More, what I had to think about was, how can I actually create a business that provides value in a time like this.

And so, that's where my focus shifted. I just did my best to be useful. And back then, because I didn't have a product to sell that would line up in this way, I did it for free. So, I posted out there, hey, whoever wants to come to this daily call, I'll get on the phone every day with you and make sure that you're focused on what you do have control over. And that took off.

So, that was a really cool group of people that came together and did it. They showed up every day, it was a small group, but the feedback was remarkable. And I listened to them, they wanted it to keep going. However, I needed to figure out what that was going to look like for the company.

Eventually, I kept it going; I offered it as a paid service. And it was very short term, one month only. I kept it very similar. There was a lot of accountability and a lot of focus for the people who were in it, and making headway in ways that they hadn't seen themselves make headway in a really long time. It had a lot to do with the facilitation of this group.

And so, I just kept following my nose and listening to feedback. Now eventually, a few months into that, I offered that… Because getting on the phone every single day, every month, was a lot for me as the owner. And so, I was trying to figure out how to make this sustainable for the company, but also still be really valuable for the people who were in the group.

Those core people wanted to stay engaged and were willing to just come along for the ride if my goal was to be useful. They had my trust at that point; they were in. And so, I created a new structure for Mastery Group. I didn't say that, but we called that group “Mastery Group” back then. It was really about mastering your focus and your output, and the results that you were creating.

That had everything to do with how you showed up and how you were operating as the owner. And that's really where we ran with it. I created a bit of a different structure that was more lightweight, but not meant to be a lighter impact. And that was going okay.

Word of mouth was spreading. More people were coming. We did do the daily calls, again in the future, and that would bring people in, but there was still something not quite right about it; I could feel it in my bones. It wasn't useful enough. It wasn't a no-brainer enough for people to spend their time inside this group. It was okay, it was pretty good. It was pretty good. I had a standard, and I was looking to how to meet that standard.

Now, as time went on, I realized… Because, again, I still had private clients. Everything I did with private clients was centered around quarterly strategic planning. And I had this belief that that wasn't possible to bring to a group. You really had to be privately working with someone to facilitate good strategic planning every quarter and at the turn of the year.

But as time went on with this group, with Mastery Group, the thing that was missing, that was very clear to me, was focus on exactly what all of their actions needed to be lined up around for themselves. Because they do a little project here, and then they do a little project there. And they would really get a lot done, which was great. But there was still something missing.

As someone who's worked in productivity and focus, and planning for a long time, I could sense that there was a little bit of meandering. Though they were more productive than they were on their own, it was still meandering. And so, I had to ask myself, what can line them up for themselves to really get momentum? To really get velocity in the work that they're doing?

Remember, I still had private clients. So, I was facilitating every quarter privately for clients. And I was watching how streamlined everything was for them. And between quarters, I don't have a ton of contact with them; I have contact, I have calls. But they were focused, they were streamlined. They were clear, when they came back to the next quarterly retreat, on whether they did a good job or not. And there's no meandering.

I thought, “Hmm, I need to challenge my assumption here, because people who can't afford or are not ready to invest in private client work, how can they still get the benefits of quarterly strategic planning? I need to think about this.”

And so, as an experiment, in December of 2020, I said, “Hey, everybody in Mastery Group, we are going to do an annual strategic planning retreat. I’m going to send you a workbook. You don't need to prep; just show up. I'm going to facilitate this. And you're going to get some answers for yourself. You're going to get some clarity about what the upcoming year is going to look like. I've done this for years for private clients, and now I'm going to do it for you as a group.”

Here's the reason it was such an experiment for me. And here's the reason that I had this belief that it couldn't be done. You have to remember, with private clients, I have access to all of their data. And numbers tell a story. It is the source of truth about a business. I have that on my private clients. I do not have that for each of these individuals, nor can I get that for each of these individuals.

I did a lot of the heavy lifting for every private client I had to get that information and to do the work. And that's a service, right? That's a part of being a private client. But how do you do that with a group? And so, I would doubt that I could lead strategic planning well because in order to lead strategic planning well, you have to have good data. And if you don't, that is not strategic planning. It may be a plan, but it's not a strategic plan. And it's not a well, thought-out deliberate plan.

I had all these doubts that that was going to be possible for these people. So, we show up on the day for strategic planning, and we start going through the workbooks. And I say, “These are the numbers that you need. Pull these reports right now. Go find this information; go find this data.” It was very, very scrappy.

For some people, they could get it. For some, they couldn't because the reporting wasn't set up right, the customization wasn't correct in their software, or whatever, but they couldn't quite get it. But we got them as close as they've ever gotten, the best data they've ever had, that day.

I pushed them to look at what they should be looking at. And if they couldn't get those numbers, it’s all right, we'll get them for next quarter. Right? I meet them where they are, and I help them take their next steps. Before you know it, they will have everything they need.

And it became really clear to me that, okay, yeah, in order to ideally do it a really well, thought-out strategic plan, you do need really good data, but I can help these people get good data, even if I'm not the one in there getting it all for them.

This became an evolution. And then, Mastery Group became what it is today. And ever since we made this shift, it has been a powerhouse of a program. It is centered around quarterly strategic planning, with accountability and coaching in between.

And why that is so important, is because I am a good coach. Prior to lining this group up with quarterly strategic planning, I was coaching in a really great, strong way, and facilitating in a really great, strong way, for them to make moves that they'd never made before in their business. And to make headway on projects here and there that they knew they needed to accomplish.

But it was always all over the place. There was no destination that they were specifically shooting for, at least that they had to name. And there was no vision for their company. There was absolutely no good data. And I mean that from the most loving place; that’s not an insult. People need help with this stuff. I was there to meet them where they were and help them get what they needed.

So, this all became a turning point, because all of a sudden, this is what we should be centered around. And I can't tell you what your strategic plan should be, but I can sure as hell facilitate a good one so that you know what you need to line yourself up with. And you know what projects win out against the others. Because there are 100 different things we could all be doing at any given point.

As an owner of the business, your eyes are darting, looking at all the things that could be done, should be done, and you want to improve. And now, because of strategic planning, every single quarter, you have a way to constrain down to the most important priorities and get those things done. And not be all over the place.

And then next quarter, when we do our retreat, you lift your head, you make some calls, and then you put your head down again, and you go for another quarter. All of this, with immense support and facilitation and coaching and guidance.

So, this became a no-brainer. I mean, this to me was like, “Oh, my gosh, I have been sitting on the very thing that these people need. But my belief that it couldn't be done with a group, was the problem.” And that is insanity. I couldn't believe how blind I was to how this could look and the value it could provide.

Even if it's not “perfect,” because I'm not handling all the data, I'm not involved in all of it. The truth is, I do trust clients and members; I trust them immensely. They know better than I do, the things that need to be done in their business. I just draw out of them. And I get them to focus. And that is the gift that strategic planning gives you, especially facilitated strategic planning.

And before I get into sort of the nuts and bolts now, as Mastery Group is now, I just want to say facilitation is the reason my company exists. I believe so deeply in facilitation and the power of facilitation. And just so you guys really understand what I mean by this, I do this for a living, but facilitating my own retreats is so difficult. It is not nearly as good as it could be.

And so, this year, I've made some moves to hire facilitators for my company. I truly can't believe how hard it is to find a strong facilitator that really gets the meat of this, what it needs to be centered around, where not to let conversations go, and where to push conversations… Like, someone who is so good at facilitation. I have to tell you, I am. I just can't do it for myself.

So, sometimes I wish I could hire a “me.” I'm looking for them, and I'm on to a few that really have been proven helpful for us. And I think this is going to be a really good match. But I have to tell you, I wish I had a “me” to do for my company what I am able to do for law firm owners. It is what I was born to do. And I will go head-to-head with anyone out there who thinks that they're better at me than facilitation.

That sounds crazy. I can't believe I'm saying that out loud. But it is the truth. Some people are good at marketing. Some people are good at one-on-one coaching sessions. Some people are good at… You name it, right?

I am good at facilitating quarterly strategic planning and accountability and coaching in between so that you honor that plan. And nothing else will move you further faster than that process, than that kind of a framework. That is why my company was named, in the beginning, Velocity Work, because it is the work that creates velocity.

So, all that being said, that's the history, and that's about me as the facilitator. Now, I want to talk about what is inside the program and what you can expect. So that you get a sense of, oh, this could be a really good fit for me. This could plug some holes that I've been needing to plug; let’s go.

Everything I do with clients is centered around three different frameworks. And sometimes they aren't even aware of it, because I am facilitating different pieces of each of the three frameworks to help keep us moving in the right direction. It's doing the work that creates velocity.

The first framework, that as a facilitator I abide by, is called the Focus Forward Framework. I named it that a while back. But there's basically a three-part framework that guides sequentially through the achievement of goals. That is how I think about it.

And so, there's a macro application of this, and then there's a micro application of this. The Focus Forward Framework itself is: Know exactly what you're aiming for. Have a clear, well-thought-out, deliberate plan, strategic plan, to get to where you're aiming for. And the third is to honor that plan.

That seems too simple, but if everybody just did those three things, you would fly towards results that blow your own mind. And keep being able to do that, over and over and over and over again; you just keep blowing your mind. But people stop or suffer or struggle, or don't know how to do one of those three things. And so that is why it's really important that I facilitate this.

Now, on a macro level, that is strategic planning retreats. That is what we focus on: What are you aiming for? What is the plan to get there? And well-thought-out; I really mean that. Like, numbers, digging in, figuring out where are you now? Where do you want to be? How can we bridge that gap? Really being strategic about it.

And then once you have a strategic plan, then from there, there's accountability and coaching in between, so that you know you're aiming for, now you have a really good plan. Now, you have to honor that plan to the best of your ability. And that's where there's accountability and coaching that comes in, in between retreats.

So, on a macro level, that is how Focus Forward Framework is taken care of for you. And the reason I like this is that then it's not your job to think about, “Oh, well, I need to apply the focus for a framework. And I need to apply these other two frameworks she's talking about.” No, just follow our lead inside Mastery Group, and you will take care of it. So, that's the macro version of the Focus Forward Framework, which is one of the three frameworks that really drive our guidance inside of the program.

Now, let's talk about the micro version. The micro version is focused on the week at hand. So, it is taken care of for you because we focus on the Monday map/Friday Wrap. That is a process that I teach, a weekly practice, that increases your output and your productivity, while decreasing chaos and hustle.

And so, this is an expected practice for every member inside of the Mastery Group. And I say practice, right? There is no such thing as perfection. But when you do honor a practice like this, and when there is some guidance and facilitation by us to do so, it keeps you in line with the plans that you said you were going to do the quarterly plans. This is the micro version of making a plan for your week, knowing what results you want to create that week, then making a plan for the week, and then honoring the plan.

And again, sounds so simple, but we all know that it's actually not that simple. If it were that simple, I would not have a podcast. I would not have a business. So, this is where real help comes in, and can make your life easier as a law firm owner, to help you navigate how you're going to spend the minutes of your day for maximum output and maximum results creation with everything that matters.

Now, here is how we have you covered with this inside Mastery Group. There is a special section inside of the member area just for Monday Map. And there are some videos there to help you make headway faster and make more progress more quickly because of the guidance there.

If you listen to this podcast at the end of every podcast, I say, “Hey, did you know that you could get your hands on a free PDF guide of Monday Map/Friday Wrap? Here's where to go do that.” The guide is there, but there are also some videos that will take it deeper, and that is really helpful. And then there's also one coaching call every single month dedicated to this topic. There's some facilitation by me, and then we help conquer some barriers.

Now the third thing that we have, which is super cool, is Monday Map Power Hour which is led by a fellow member Aimee Gromowsky; she’s amazing. I interviewed her on the podcast a few months ago. You can go check that out. She leads a call for members only to facilitate the Monday Map/Friday Wrap process.

Everybody shares a bit at the beginning, then they get to work, they do their Monday Map/Friday Wrap on that call, and then they can share at the end. People love it. People love these calls. They're productive. They're a good use of time.

It's an amazing resource for members to increase their practice and progress with Monday Map/Friday Wrap. Which, is the very thing that will line them up to create the results for the quarter that they said they were going to create. To honor their plans.

So, the focus for the framework, this is how it's applied on the micro level, is looking in front of you how you're going to spend your time this week so that it lines up with the ultimate plans that you made. And the macro version is making those ultimate plans. We take care of that through strategic planning. And then for the micro, we take care of it through Monday Map/Friday Wrap; it is guided and facilitated.

And the third framework that I'm going to talk about today, that is used to guide facilitation for you all, is the Result Cycle. Now, there are high result cycles, and they are low result cycles. We teach you how to identify where you are, and how to increase your ratio of time spent in high results cycles.

How we have you covered with this, inside of Mastery Group, is that you get access to a class inside of the member portal. That is a class I recorded exclusively for members on this topic. You get to hear a Q&A between members and myself. And also, I said you get coaching and accountability in between the strategic planning retreats; those calls are weekly and are always topic based.

There are “topic calls” on the Results Cycle. And that allows you to squeeze the most out of this really practical tool. So, you can get the results you want, you can continue making headway, and create more momentum towards the goals that you had set. Towards the things that you said were important that you were going to work for.

All of this is to do the work that creates velocity. Underneath all of the things that I've talked about today, all the frameworks, the principles that we abide by, and that I use to facilitate for members, is data. We have a saying that I'm sure you've heard me say here on the podcast before, but we say it internally as well, is “facts, not feelings.”

The more you can make it math, the more you can get the facts, and the more you can get your hands on the right kind of data, the better off you are and the bigger strides you can make with more ease. So even though it's not a “framework” that is inside Mastery Group, data is a fundamental element of Mastery Group.

A fundamental element of anything anyone ever does or touches with Velocity Work. Because without that, we don't have facts. We are going on hunches instead of numbers, and that's not how we roll here. And it's not about perfection, this is all about progress. But I hope that you can see and get a glimpse into what it's like and, how you can take advantage of these things, how you can leverage Mastery Group.

So, if this sounds like something you're really interested in, go to VelocityWork.com/join If it is an enrollment window that's open, you will be able to enroll; that's what the button will say, “Enroll Now.” If it is not an enrollment period, it will say, “Join the Waitlist Now.” If we are not in an enrollment period, go ahead, and join the waitlist so that you’re the first to know the next time enrollment is opened.

Alright, everybody. I hope that clears up some things and gives you some insight into how we work internally, within Mastery Group specifically. And I hope to see you inside very soon. Have a wonderful week, everyone. Bye-bye.  

Hey, you may not know this, but there's a free guide for a process I teach called Monday Map/ Friday Wrap. If you go to velocitywork.com, it's all yours. It's about how to plan your time and honor your plans. So that, week over week, more work that moves the needle is getting done in less time. Go to velocitywork.com to get your free copy.

Thank you for listening to The Law Firm Owner Podcast. If you're ready to get clearer on your vision, data, and mindset, then head over to velocitywork.com, where you can plug into Quarterly Strategic Planning, with accountability and coaching in between. This is the work that creates Velocity.

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