YEN.CAMP Review: #yenALPHA Cohort

I have a feeling people who’ve never met me before might see this so…

Hi! I’m Casey! Founder of Flow to Your Dream, a community of people mastering the art of effortlessly making life more awesome.

Me this morning two days ago before I started writing anything. 🙂

YEN.CAMP is a 5-day digital bootcamp for founders and creators to help maximize their efforts towards community and revenue.

If you’re on the fence about whether you should sign up or not… pull the trigger! DO IT! I’ll get into the details of why you should pull the trigger below, but first… why should you listen to me?

Here are some highlights of my journey as a content creator and community builder.

2009 was “peak YouTube” and digital community for me (in terms of big, at the time, numbers). A lot of forces made me decide to shift gears, but a major factor was actually displeasure in having such a huge following! Large followings were really hard to manage at the time and I was never happy with the solutions I hacked together. Enough about me! Let’s get to it!

First, money…

Is (was) YEN.CAMP worth $299?

Note: I was a part of the first cohort and anything could change at any moment! Price, content, delivery style, etc.

Yes. Easy. Like… I’m “broke” and it was worth it! Like… I REALLY want to get a Nintendo Switch. Like… bad. I’m addicted to watching Mario Maker 2 videos. It’s kind of sad really… lol (My favorite creator is Ryukahr, I also like Trihex and LilKirbs).

I mention this because I have a real thing I’m excited about buying (I’m hella frugal… lol) which costs the same as the course but I haven’t bought it yet. When I heard about the course and saw the price tag I was like “Hmmm… I don’t know… that’s a Switch…” lol But then I pulled the trigger anyway and now that it’s all said and done I can confidently say I’m hella pleased with my purchase! 🙂

To be honest, I feel like I was lucky to get in at that price and I didn’t even get to enjoy the full benefits of the bootcamp! This leads me to the next section…

It’s an INTERACTIVE Course

John was SUPER available to everyone in the cohort M-F. Any member of the cohort could jump on a call anytime to ask questions, get feedback, or do a mock customer interview. I have no idea what John’s rate as a consultant is but I bet it isn’t cheap! If he charges anything close to what my brother charges, a single video call is worth the entry fee. The camp is more than just one call though, it was an opportunity to have several calls throughout the week! Even better, parts of some of the calls get recorded so the learning gets multiplied.

Participating in live video calls was a problem for me because I live in Taiwan so the timezones never overlapped BUT I watched pretty much all of the recorded calls and there was MASSIVE value inside of them. Either in actionable lessons or getting to watch John practice what he preaches in terms of how to go about doing customer interviews.

If you’re in a similar time zone, but want to participate in the live aspects of the camp, this is something to consider. I was happy with things being asynchronous. 🙂

The Meta-Camp

This could be seen as a negative to some, but it was a positive for me. A big part of the camp was a focus on the importance of doing customer interviews. He shares customer interviews he’s done, he coaches you on how to do customer interviews and… the camp is actually one big customer interview for John so he can better understand the people he wants to serve.

It’s like… me and the members of the cohort were going through a bootcamp to learn from John and John was also going through the bootcamp to learn from us. He’s not just talking about what he’s done in the past to build successful communities and companies. You experience the process of him going through what it takes to build another successful company! I already said he practices what he preaches but… I’m gonna say it again… you get to experience him practicing what he preaches! He’s not just telling you what to do, he’s doing it with you in real time.

The Collective Knowledge of the Cohort

There was a DEEP level and WIDE range of knowledge among the members of the cohort and I imagine this will be true with future groups. I’m excited about continuing the knowledge exchange and continuing to build relationships with everyone in this, AND FUTURE, cohorts!

The week flew by and I didn’t get to engage with everyone as much as I would have liked to but I’m sure this is going to be smoothed out in future cohorts. Even with the limitations of the technology that was used to organize this first group, there were plenty of places and opportunities to interact with each other (Indie Hackers, Twitter, YouTube, etc.)

I’m really excited about seeing the community grow and evolve. You’re not just getting access to John and his body of knowledge, you’re getting access to the whole #yeniverse (YEN.io’s collective universe of community builders, creators, and founders). The collective knowledge and experience of the group is truly remarkable!

Daily Morning and Evening Videos

I don’t know what the program will evolve into, but our group got customized daily videos to prep us for the tasks for the day. They weren’t prerecorded (like weeks in advance), they were coming in real time. I imagine this will continue to be true while the bootcamps are in this early phase. All the more reason to act now. 😉

I think the evening videos dropped off mid-week but… John truly earned that drop off. There was no shortage of video content to consume and there was plenty of work to do!

A final flow of thoughts about the boot camp…

What do I want to say… if you’ve read “all of the books” and watched “all of the videos” and listened to “all the podcasts” on… startups, community building, product development, etc… you might know “everything” that you’re going to learn. Here’s the thing though… two things actually…

  1. There’s a WORLD of difference between reading about and doing, and you’ll be doing a lot of doing! I you’re smart, you’ll maintain the habit of doing and continue to refine it.
  2. Reading, watching, or listening to masters is very different from interacting with one directly!

I want to expand on my second point in a strange way. It’s been behind the scenes for most of my life but I’ve been seriously pursuing the martial arts and Taoist philosophy for… 25 years now. There are books and websites and videos and podcasts and forums, etc… that you can get taichi and Taoist knowledge from. Here’s the thing… a single day with a MASTER might save you hundreds or thousands of days. This book Mastery by George Leonard comes to mind. When I went googling for it, I ran into a summary by James Clear. He had just the kind of note I wanted to share.

On the path to improvement: the general progression is always the same. To take the master’s journey, you have to practice diligently, striving to hone your skills, to attain new levels of competence. But while doing so, you also have to be willing to spend most of your time on a plateau, to keep practicing even when you seem to be getting nowhere.

Mastery by George Leonard

What I wanted to say is that a day with a master could bump you out of a plateau, saving you months, or even years (this is especially true in the martial arts). John is a legitimate master. Even if you have some mastery in one, or all, of the things John is a master in… no no… ESPECIALLY if you have mastery in these things, you’ll probably get bumped off a plateau and start climbing again.

If you have no mastery… boy oh boy! I’m jealous of you! You have some much to gain! lol

A Tangible Result from YEN.CAMP

I have a small personal development community that I started at the beginning of the year. The plan is to monetize it at some point somehow… Not a very good plan! lol A major theme of the camp is doing customer interviews based on what we learn from reading The Mom Test. I decided to set up a time to interview one of the members, and close friend, to understand what he liked and didn’t like about the group and to get any other feedback. That interview turned into my first paying customer just because I asked him how much he would pay! I didn’t even get a chance to ask him to pay, he said “I want to sign up right now! How do I sign up now!” lol

The point being, this is something that could have happened a month ago, but it didn’t happen until last week because… I needed some time with a master to get me off of a plateau! 😉

Here’s the day it went down.

Final thought…

I actually wrote this way back at the start, but it didn’t feel like it fit in so here it is now…

What YEN.CAMP boils down to is “community > me/you”. Most “social” networks (they’re not social) are designed for me/you > community. John is definitely a “community > me” kind of guy and he’s trying to build a “community > me” kind of product (even if I don’t know what it’s going to be yet! lol)

If you’re a “community > me” kind of person you’re probably a #yenizen. 🙂

I actually ended up hanging out with my taichi master between the time that I wrote this and the time that I published it. 🙂

If you have any questions that aren’t covered feel free to comment below or reach out on other channels. (Note: I feel like this post needs a lot of editing still but… I’m getting it out the door!)

Me after I published the post so I could make this the featured photo because the other one of me looked silly on Twitter… lol

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