CGW #3 Results

Our third Conscious Growth Workshop was held in Las Vegas this past weekend. I had a blast! Overall this was the best CGW ever in terms of the initial verbal feedback I got and how well the attendees seemed to grasp the material… as well as my own opinion of it at the end of the 3 days.

For this CGW I tried a mixture of new things. The difference between CGW #2 and #3 was much greater than between CGW #1 and #2. I felt that most of the changes worked well. For other changes where the results were mixed, I got very valuable feedback on how to make improvements to CGW #4.

CGW #2 in January was the most right-brained and social, including lots of interaction with other attendees. Some people absolutely loved all the interactivity and got a lot out of it. Some people didn’t get as much out of it because their partners weren’t the best fit, like if a raw foodist got matched up with a meat-eater during the health segment. So for CGW #3 I decided to try something different.

CGW #3 was the most left-brained and introspective CGW. The handouts for Days 2 and 3 of the first two CGWs were 8 pages each. Those same handouts at CGW #3 were 33 and 26 pages, respectively. So we did a lot more written exercises. The goal was to help attendees get a much deeper understanding of how to apply the principles to various parts of their lives and to give them a written game plan for moving forward in their career, finances, relationships, health, etc.

I think the left-brained approach worked better than the right-brained one overall for most attendees this time, especially since it seemed we had a lot of left-brained attendees this time, but I feel that now we went too far in the left-brained direction. So for CGW #4 I’m going to aim for the best of both worlds, a mixture of left- and right-brained exercises, introspective and social aspects. My priorities for CGW #3 included adding more depth and take-home value. For CGW #4 I intend to achieve more balance.

Day 1

CGW #3’s Day 1 was completely redesigned to take advantage of accelerated learning techniques that I learned a few months ago. There was more variety than ever this time, including on-stage demos with audience participation, interactive games, demonstration exercises, and more. If you’ve been to a previous CGW and remember the Authority segment with the Master-servant exercises, imagine all of Day 1 being done in a similar vein. Suffice it to say that it was a very engaging day. 🙂

I’m extremely pleased with how Day 1 came out. So far I’ve received very positive feedback about the changes. My intention is to keep the overall structure of Day 1 largely unchanged for CGW #4 in July… with only some additional tweaks and polishing. I won’t mess with the structure of this day too much though because it works very well as-is.

In terms of the accelerated learning techniques I used, they worked wonderfully — but oddly that became a problem later on because most attendees had such a good grasp of the principles by the end of Days 1 and 2 that my planned pacing for Day 3 was going to be too slow for them.

Day 2

This was the most left-brained day of the workshop, involving lots of introspection and written exercises as we covered career, finances, health, mental development, and habits and daily routine. There was also a lot of group sharing. My goal was to increase the take-home value participants received.

Time will tell if this approach really did improve the take-home value — I’ll have to wait for the long-term feedback on that, but I suspect it will. However, I didn’t like the overall structure of this day. I thought it was too mental as we went along. It needs more interactivity, fun, and variety — more of that Day 1 vibe. So I expect to make the most changes to Day 2 for CGW #4.

Day 3 – Morning

As I drove home from Day 2, I wasn’t feeling good about my plans for Day 3. The pacing was going to be too slow. I had slotted about 70 minutes for segments that I concluded this audience could complete in about 45 minutes. I’m not into fluffing or padding my workshops, so I decided to redesign that day and pack more value into it.

Due to time constraints and the fact that I was pretty tired after Day 2, my options for a total redesign were limited, so I decided to delegate the problem to my subconscious. As I went to bed, I set the intention to have a solution by morning. Then I fell asleep.

At 1am I woke up — sort of. I was still in that half-awake, half-asleep stage, but my mind was rapidly delving into numerous permutations for an improved design of Day 3. This went on for 3 hours straight. By 4am I began feeling very blissful because I felt my subconscious had locked on to a new design that would be much, much better than my original plans.

At the start of Day 3, I shared all of this with the audience. I informed them that we’d be compressing what I’d originally planned for that day into just the morning segment. This didn’t require shaving any content. It only required faster pacing. This was a very bright, snappy audience, so they simply didn’t need as much time and explanation for the written exercises as I’d originally anticipated.

Before we started on the morning segment, I announced that I had a special fun surprise for the afternoon segment, something I’ve never done at a previous CGW — and that it wouldn’t involve written exercises. Attendees could tell I was gushing with excitement about it, which gave them a sense of anticipation. I think I even let out a “Muahaha” at one point. 🙂

The morning segment went as expected. I think the faster pacing was just right. We covered emotions, relationships, and spiritual development. Some people had powerful shifts during that time, including some tears, hugs, and acts of courage.

Day 3 – Afternoon

After everyone returned from lunch, we played another round of Ultimate Rock-Paper-Scissors as a warm-up. This is a game that my friend Matt Weinstein from Playfair taught me. It’s a lot of fun and gets the whole room energized, and it only takes a few minutes to play.

Then we got everyone into groups of 9-10 people each. I informed everyone that now they get the chance to apply what they learned throughout the workshop. Their task — design and perform a skit or play on stage that collectively expresses their new visions for their lives. We had 7 groups total, so that would mean 7 plays. I suggested aiming for about 5 minutes for each play.

The challenge was that I gave them only 15 minutes total to design — and be ready to perform — their plays.

Then I explained how in order to succeed, they had to be in alignment with the 7 principles taught in the workshop. There wasn’t enough time to fall out of alignment, which could lead to problems like disagreeing about what should or shouldn’t be included in the play and not finishing in time. They had to share their new truths (Truth), cultivate a positive atmosphere (Love), make quick decisions and take immediate action (Power), support each other and contribute value to the audience (Oneness), author a new creation (Authority), be brave and perform on stage (Courage), and creatively express themselves with flow and beauty (Intelligence).

I told everyone that afterwards they’d be able to brag to their friends and families that they’d performed in a show on the Las Vegas Strip. 🙂

Even our staff helpers participated in this exercise.

I loved this segment! The plays people came up with were so fun and creative — and funny! It was really cool to see dozens of people working together to express themselves creatively. I imagine that most attendees will still remember this part of CGW years from now.

The funny thing is that this segment probably wouldn’t have worked with a larger audience. At CGWs #1 and #2, we had too many attendees to make it practical — either the groups would be too big, or we’d have too many groups and not enough time for everyone to perform. Traditionally, September and October are the best months of the year for holding workshops. May is among the worst. So it didn’t surprise me that we had lower attendance at this one. The sign-up rate for the July and October workshops is better than for the May workshop. But the upside was that the smaller audience size meant we could do something unique this time.

For future CGWs I’d love to include this segment again. Maybe I can redesign it to work for a larger group. The main factor is the time budget. The more people we have, the more groups we’ll have, and the longer it would take to perform all the plays.

CGW Sales Page

I’m going to redesign the CGW sales page, so if you don’t like the current version of it, no worries there. It was an experiment I felt I had to try.

If you’re curious about the results, so far the current sales page has performed no better or worse than the previous one as far as I can tell. From what I’ve seen of the CGW attendees, the sales page format doesn’t seem to matter that much. Most people apparently attend CGW not because they’re persuaded by a sales pitch but rather because they’ve been reading for a long time and already have a sense that they’ll get a lot of value from attending CGW. The new sales page was designed with first-time visitors to the site in mind, but I think that’s the wrong approach based on who actually attends CGW.

One of the things I’m curious to learn is: What’s the most conscious way to promote a workshop? I’m leaning towards doing away with the written sales page approach altogether. Instead I may use a “show me; don’t tell me” approach, like putting up a page with pics and/or video clips from previous CGWs to share more detail about what actually goes on there.

Future CGWs

I’m very pleased with how this CGW turned out. There were many improvements over previous CGWs that I intend to keep. I’m confident that CGW #4 will be even better.

I’m a big believer in kaizen (continuous improvement), so I’m always tweaking segments to make them better. I’ve never done a segment quite the same way twice. I’m always looking for ways to make it more impactful.

One advantage is that I expect we’ll continue seeing alumni returning to every future CGW, so we always have a good core group helping to keep the energy up.

Another element is that I’m getting better at teaching this material in a workshop setting. I’ve found ways to teach the same concepts in less time than I could at CGW #1, for instance.

I enjoy thinking on my feet and keeping things lively. If I feel something isn’t working well enough for a particular audience, I’m willing to make changes on the fly, even if it means doing something I’ve never tried before.

Here are some specific changes I plan to experiment with for future CGWs:

  • Use an asymmetrical structure for each segment on Days 2 and 3. More variety will reduce predictability and make the material more engaging.
  • Strive for a balance between left-brained and right-brained teaching methods (lecture, interactive games, on-stage demos, group exercises, partner sharing, etc).
  • Add more fun and interactivity to Days 2 and 3.
  • Streamline the handouts for Days 2 and 3.
  • Incorporate some music where appropriate.
  • Do a better job of leveraging my past experience as a game designer; include more interactive games and play as learning tools.

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I’m already looking forward to the July Conscious Growth Workshop, which is only 2 months away (July 16-18, 2010). Hope to see you there! 🙂