Today I published a post called 50 Things I Learned from Starting, Running, and Quitting Living for Monday. Well, I got a lot of questions like, “What was Living for Monday?” So, this post is one we recently published as we geared up to launch the new Living for Monday before we realized we did not have the access to capital we believed we had to fuel the model.
I have not made any changes to the post from when it was published at Livingformonday.com.
What?! What happened to Livingformonday.com? Is this even the same company? I’m melting, I’m melting!
Welcome home, you community-craving, growth-seeking, impact-driven young professionals. We’ve finally built the thing you’ve been asking for.
I want to do a couple of things in this post:
- Give you a brief history of why Living for Monday exists and how we got to where we are today
- Tell you where the ideas for our training + community model came from
- Give you a tour around the new site
- Whet your appetite for what’s to come this week and in the next several months
Living for Monday: A Brief History
- August 2011: Barrett resigns from his position as a staff consultant in EY’s Performance Improvement practice. After becoming disenchanted with management consulting as a body of work and lifestyle, Barrett went in search of more meaning in his work.
- September 2011: Barrett spends a month in the mountains with his dog, his bookshelf, and groceries. He uses the time for introspection, reading the entire Bible for the first time, and setting the initial vision for Living for Monday.
- October 2011 – May 2012: Barrett creates an initial career search curriculum entitled Career Kickstarter. He tests the curriculum through one on one coaching with six college students.
- May 2012 – December 2012: Barrett goes back to the drawing board after realizing that students needed much more than self-awareness and self-discovery training. He adds tactical information like resume building, cover letter writing, networking, interviewing, and negotiating to the Career Kickstarter written curriculum. He works with a team of interns to turn the curriculum into a 250 page ebook and 90-module video course with supplementary exercises and worksheets.
- January 2013: We use $10,000 of friends and family money to fund the new Livingformonday.com, designed by Shatterboxx. We also launch CareerKickstarter.com, where we made the ebook and video course available for sale.
- March 2013 – May 2013: Living for Monday partners with the University of Georgia Terry College of Business to run a Career Kickstarter pilot program with 50 students. 42 students sign up and 28 complete the 12 week career search program. Of those that finish, 90% landed jobs with which they were highly satisfied, beating the all-student average placement rate by 10%+.
- May 2013, Pt. 1: We realize students are a bad target audience due to their lack of willingness and ability to pay for Career Kickstarter, even if they know and appreciate the value. Similarly, we find that university career centers are even worse customers. They are understaffed, underfunded, and stuck in the educational-industrial complex that serves their bottom line before serving students. We abandon Career Kickstarter as the core of our business model. Time to pivot.
- May 2013, Pt. 2: It’s pivot or die time at Living for Monday. Barrett goes in search of a family and friends round of fundraising to fuel two years of base-level operating expenses for two full time employees (one of whom is me). Barrett successfully recruits Josh to join the Living for Monday team.
- May 2013 – October 2013: The Living for Monday wilderness period. Funded, but lacking a vision for our next move, we fall back on Barrett’s consulting roots and Josh’s web development experience. Barrett becomes curator of Atlanta Global Shapers, travels to Portland and Geneva on business, and interns for Seth Godin. All of the experiences combine with the Career Kickstarter failure to form a new direction for the business.
- October 2013 – March 2014: The new Living for Monday is born. Josh and Barrett create a shared vision for the future of the company. Starting with a broad vision that lacked focus, we eventually narrow to a focused, inspired, and creative training + community model for young professionals. Which brings us to today.
The New Living for Monday Model: Training + Community for Ambitious, Creative, and Generous Young Professionals
The new Living for Monday model reflects every experience I’ve had over the past three years.
Lesson #1: Businesses are doing a terrible job of investing in their young professionals, losing out on a massive opportunity to build great culture
At Ernst & Young, I learned what it’s like to do work that has little significance related to my personal beliefs, values, and interests. I was very good at management consulting and I could be making alot more money if I were still in the industry. But the work simply wasn’t important — to the extent I was motivated, it was entirely because of external factors like money, prestige, and appearances.
Further, I learned that businesses (on average) do a terrible job of investing in the development of their people — and EY is part of an industry that supposedly invests heavily in people. Businesses tend to invest most heavily in people who have been there for a long time, have proven that they are high performers and have reached a certain level of the organization (typically middle management). Because of this trend, young professionals receive very little training early in their careers, despite the fact that so much research shows that the first ten years at work make up the period in which we grow most as individuals and professionals.
Lesson #2: Universities, career centers, and therefore students are sometimes clueless about the world of work
In building Career Kickstarter and working with universities, I realized just how out of touch campus life can be from the world of work. Of course there are exceptions, but in general it seems like a lost cause. Students sit in class with out of touch professors teaching business lessons that were applicable 15 years ago. Students leave college, on average, with degrees that mean very little when it comes to their ability to deliver on their roles and responsibilities at work.
Students are exposed to relatively few opportunities in the world of work through the institutions where they learn. Big business makes big donations, and they get a disproportionate amount of attention from universities and their students. Every student in business school thinks they need to go to work for a Fortune 500, a big four accounting firm, an “A-list” agency, or a prestigious bank or consultancy. Some students thrive in those environments upon graduation, but most simply become disillusioned with what it means to work and feel duped by the system.
Lesson #3: Young Professionals in Their First 10 Years at Work are Optimistic, Inspired, Open-Minded, and Curious
The Atlanta Global Shapers have shown me a new world of possibility. The same goes for the Living for Monday contributors, the talented entrepreneurs at Atlanta Tech Village, and the inspiring people I’ve met at World Domination Summit. Despite the lack of practical training and personal development being delivered by business and educational institutions, young pros are remarkably resilient.
I’ve become intensely passionate about the potential of our first 10 years at work. Our first ten years represent the greatest years of change, salary growth, movement between jobs/organizations, and positioning for the legacy we will leave in our careers. The top 50% of Millennial young professionals realize this and they’re eager to build new skills and habits that will give them the freedom to pursue their goals. They’re also incredibly passionate about building communities of like-minded young pros who are ambitious, generous, and creative.
Lesson #4: Krypton, CreativeLive, Lynda, Fizzle, and Saddleback Church all provide valuable inputs to our new model
Working with Seth Godin and our talented team on the Krypton project was incredibly inspiring. Perhaps more importantly, it showed me the possibility of what we could build on the web. Much of the new Living for Monday design comes from our work on that project. Similarly, the idea of combining online learning with offline community comes directly from the Krypton model.
CreativeLive has shown me what is possible for making learning accessible to anyone while still building a profitable business model. Our free livestreaming of all of our content is inspired by CreativeLive. The same goes for the production quality and in-studio audience for all of our workshops, for which we’ve partnered up with the great team at Friendly Human.
We’ve learned a ton from Lynda.com. They have a massive library of valuable training content. On the one hand, their library is so large and lacks curation such that it makes the experience for a new learner incredibly intimidating and confusing. A 2013 Forbes article showed that the $100M company is moving towards more curated, in-house content over contracts with experts to produce new courses. Our monthly subscription model and our in-house content production is inspired by Lynda.
Fizzle.co has one of the most inspiring communities of which I’ve ever been a part. “Fizzlers” as we call each other, are incredibly passionate about helping each other succeed. They love spending time together and heavily invest in one another’s success. Our mastermind groups, community events, and online forums are all inspired by building a powerful community similar to Fizzle.
Finally, Rick Warren and Saddleback church provided inspiration for the way we want to grow our community. As a company, we want to provide the most inspiring and creative workshops for young professionals in the world. We want to be the most relevant and relatable source of un-training for young pros. While people will come to us for content, we know that our sustained growth as a community will rely on the people who make it up. We can only create content, structure, and branding that supports the kind of community we want. It will be up to you to build it, which is exactly why Warren made small groups the centerpiece of Saddleback church. People who don’t join a mastermind group will be asked to leave the Living for Monday community. We’d rather have great community than more money, plain and simple.
The Collective Lessons
Collectively, all of these lessons and experiences have added up to the model we’ve built for the new Living for Monday. We’ll share in more depth about different aspects of the model over the coming days, but that’s plenty for now.
A Tour of The New LivingforMonday.com
Our overall strategy for the new LivingforMonday.com was to cut it down to the absolute essentials. The old site was busy, old, not responsive, and built around the blog as the centerpiece. The new site is responsive, flat, elegant (we think), reflects the brand we want to build, and is focused on our workshops (the centerpiece of our new model).
The New Homepage
I know I’m biased, but I love this homepage. It’s elegant, simple, and speaks to the core of what we do. We’re here to help you become great at what you do so you can make an impact through your work. We want to give you the freedom to pursue your career goals by giving you the tools to succeed.
The How it Works section is as simple as we could make the new model. Our livestreamed online workshops are free so that you can try us out without taking any risks or spending any money. Becoming a member means you become a true member of the community, including access to all of our live events plus the workshop archives. Reaping the rewards means we’re going to help you turn your training + community into the opportunities you dream of.
Underneath How it Works is an Upcoming Workshops section that shows you the next four upcoming workshops. You can click through to sign up and create an account for free.
We completely redesigned the blog experience. The entire blog is built on a responsive card system focused on the reading experience. We wanted to give you access to the content you want most in a format that creates a delightful reading experience, regardless of device. This was a big step in the right direction.
We have 15+ contributing editors here in Atlanta who have been hard at work creating valuable content. We’re calling the blog: Pro: A weblog for young professionals by young professionals on what it takes to be great in your first ten years at work. We’ll be quickly expanding to include contributing editors in four other cities as soon as possible. If you’re interested, contact us.
Watch For Free
This is the core of what we do. Inspiring and creative workshops to help you make an impact through your work. We’ll start off by producing two 90 minute workshops per month. The faster our community grows, the faster we’ll be able to hire course designers. My goal is to be producing one course per week as soon as possible.
Workshops are 90 minutes long, and we shoot them on location in the Friendly Human studio at Atlanta Tech Village. 20 Living for Monday members get to join us as members of the in-studio audience at no extra cost. Each course is livestreamed over the lunch hour (EST). You don’t have to leave the office and you can watch while you eat.
If you watch live, every course is free. If you want to access the course later, it will be available to our paid members in our workshop library.
When you click on any workshop from the homepage, workshop calendar, or become a member page, you’ll be directed to the workshop sign up page. Each one has the workshop title, date and time we’ll be livestreaming, and a brief description of what you can expect from the workshop.
When you click on sign up, you’ll b asked to sign in or create an account. Creating an account is free, and it allows us to send you a reminder about the upcoming workshops. You’re also able to build a profile and view all of your upcoming workshops. When you become a paid member, your profile will become a training portfolio and you’ll be able to share it with your employer.
Become a Member
This is where we make money. Once you’ve attended a live workshop or two, we want you to join the community. Becoming a member means you get access to the in-studio audience, monthly community events (Atlanta only at the moment), and every other week virtual office hours with the Living for Monday team.
Most importantly, becoming a member means you’ll get to join one of our mastermind groups. They consist of 8-10 Living for Monday members in the same city who share similar career interests or goals. They are your support group and your source of accountability for reaching your goals. Every group is supported by a Living for Monday community manager on our team.
Finally, members get sneak peeks at our growth plans. If you know me (or Josh), you know that we have much grander plans than what you can currently see at Living for Monday. Feedback from our members will determine which new offerings we create first.
If you need us for anything, you can always reach us here. We also provide our real life emails in case you don’t want to use the form. If you have an idea for a course, are having trouble with the site, want to learn more about us, or just have a question you want to chat about, this is how you should get in touch.
When you sign up for an upcoming workshop, you’ll create an account. When you become a member, your free account will upgrade to a paid account, along with the accompanying benefits. Creating an account gives you one-click workshop sign up and you’ll be able to see all of your upcoming courses on your account page. If you’re a paid member, you’ll see your past courses, which will help you prove your training to a boss or potential employer.
What to Expect in the Next Few Months
The most important thing I want to communicate in this post is this: we’re all in on this thing.
We believe in the training and community model we’re building. The only thing we believe in more are the ambitious, creative, and generous young professionals who make up the community. Everything we do from here on out is to serve young pros in the first ten years of your career. Period. No questions asked.
We have enough funding to last us til the end of the year. By then, we need to have 1,000 members of our community to continue to operate. Once we hit that number, we’ll be off to the races together. I think we can do it within six months and we hope you’ll help us make it happen. We built the business model on two things:
- Having 1,000 true fans — 1,000 young pros who are all in on our mission of changing the way the world thinks about work. 1,000 people who believe in living for Monday and making an impact through our work.
- Building the most inspiring and creative un-training in the world at a cost that’s affordable to any young professional.
So that’s what we’re doing. We hope you’ll join us.
The next few posts will be a series to tell you more about the new Living for Monday. Here are the posts you can expect:
- How it works
- Who we built this for + The value we’re providing you
- The workshop roadmap: the next three months of un-training at Living for Monday
- The community: why we are so focused on building community on top of our un-training
- The value of training and development for organizations + How to get your employer to pay for you
- Ideas for the future growth of Living for Monday
Next week (March 17 – 21, 2014), we’ll have the first articles from our Atlanta contributing editors. We’ll post an article a day and I think you’re going to be very pleased with what these talented people have to offer. Soon after, we’ll invite contributing editors from New York, Chicago, Austin, and Boulder-Denver to join our editorial team. If you’re in one of those cities and interested in writing for us, let me know.
We’ll livestream our first course on April 14th and one every two weeks after that. As our membership grows, we’ll grow our team in lockstep with a goal of producing one course per week by the start of 2015.
Here we go. It’s a whole new world at Living for Monday. We’re building it for you, the ambitious, generous, and creative young professional. We’re building it together. We’re all in. It might not work, but it’s going to be a hell of a lot of fun.
So there it was. Here are a few links to posts I have republished here simply for context about what Living for Monday was:
- How to Engage with the New Living for Monday
- Who We Built the New Living for Monday For: The Ambitious, Generous, Creative Young Professional
- The Workshop Roadmap: The First 8 Workshops at Living for Monday
- Introducing the Atlanta Contributing Editors
- What We’re Building at Living for Monday
- Living for Monday’s 2013 in Review: Our Accomplishments
- Living for Monday’s 2013 in Review: Our Online Stats
- Living for Monday’s 2013 in Review: Lessons Learned
- Living for Monday’s 2013 in Review: Looking Ahead to 2014