Forleo B-School Review - Honest Detailed Non-Affiliate Review

posted on: February 23, 2015

If you're considering Marie Forleo's B-School or you've been flooded with marketing about how wonderful and amazing it is from those who are receiving affiliate commission, you'd probably like a more honest, unbiased review from someone who has gone through the program but has no affiliate link to sell.  From what I've heard, affiliates make 50% commission off of any confirmed sign-ups through the affiliate link they offer, and should you decide to sign-up for B-School after reading this review, I definitely suggest finding an affiliate offer that you think you'll also benefit from, since it will give you an even bigger value for your investment.  I have no link to offer you, just wisdom and experience to help you decide whether or not you should join.

This post is long, so here's how it's organized: I'll start with my reasons for signing up before going through the program, what I was expecting after reading the details of the program, what I got out of it while being actively involved, who the program is and isn't for, and how to prepare if you decide you'll be doing the program, or if you've already signed up.

Why I Signed Up for B-School:
I signed up in 2013, after coming off a year of traveling the world and having a lot of my future path  kicked up and spun around with regards to working as a photographer full time, especially if I was going to continue traveling so much with unknown destinations ahead of me.  I was considering a change in my business model and how I might incorporate an online product or service for an income revenue stream beyond my in-person service business.  I was considering something that would support me and allow me to help others even as I traveled and wasn't sure where I'd land next.  

I vetted Marie Forleo through her YouTube series and newsletters for probably a year before I made any decisions on signing up for her program.  I liked her style and I could tell by the engagement she had that she was attracting a progressive audience of mostly female and creative entrepreneurs who weren't afraid of making their own rules in the business marketplace.  One of her videos led me to actually track down someone who had written in and had their question read as part of "Q&A Tuesday", which led to confirmation that she was answering real questions, and that she was paying it forward with not just entertaining content, but in some cases very helpful and bold advice.  

Once I framed paying for the B-School program as a way to support her in continuing to produce content to inspire and encourage progressive feminine entrepreneurship, it didn't matter so much to me if the program was going to be good or not, which also helped to keep my expectations in check from the beginning.  I also knew that no matter what the program offered, the most valuable part, for me, would be "lifetime" access to a world-wide network of progressive female entrepreneurs who would potentially be able to support one another and connect with each other around the world.

What I Expected:
Based on all of the marketing materials, it seemed like the B-School program would attempt to create a plan for selling products or services online.  I knew that the program would last 8 weeks, but I didn't know how much of a time commitment it would take up front.  I think somewhere along the line, it was mentioned that I should budget a couple hours a week to go through the training material and participate in a live call each week (the reality was different).  I already had 8 years of small business experience, plus education and success in marketing and management, so I figured that there would be a lot of information I already knew, but perhaps there were still some key things about the online marketplace that I was missing.

What I Received:
There were several ways of engaging with the program:
  • Instructional Videos: done in more of a slideshow informational style than MarieTV style, which can also be downloaded as a series of slides, audio, and video transcript separately which is especially helpful for anyone who has impairments or needs to digest the information differently
  • Worksheets: very well-designed editable PDF worksheets that go along with each video segment to help you apply the info
  • Video Comments Section: under each video, viewers are expected to share their understanding or questions which occasionally receive feedback from Marie's team or other participants
  • Weekly Live Call: while this call is live and recorded, the questions or participants to be answered are generally chosen in advance and not everyone will have a chance to ask their questions in a live call, but all people can participate by listening in
  • Forums: Originally, B-School didn't really have forums outside of the Video Comments, but B-Schoolers took it upon themselves to create a space on Facebook for B-Schoolers to connect, share, discuss, and stay in touch with each other, off of the main B-School program website.  I believe the B-School team now has their own forum, which will hopefully remain active over the year and not just during the 8 week program.  For those who got into the Facebook groups early, it's still a great resource for connecting.
  • Membership Directory: This is the place to find and be found and to seek out other B-School entrepreneurs you may want to connect with offline.  While I've been traveling, it's been a great way to connect with people of different countries who share common goals and interests toward entrepreneurship and a lifestyle of financial freedom.
What I Got Out of It:
As I had anticipated, already having a background in business marketing and management and 8 years as a small business owner meant that many of the ideas and strategies discussed were review for me.  However, I decided I was going to set my experience aside as much as possible and focus on applying the methods and program to my business even though much of it felt like review of what I'd already done or known.  Like many things, you can know what the right approaches are and still not do them for whatever reason, so my goal was to be actionable on as many fronts as possible.

The first thing I discovered was that you can really only actively participate in this program effectively if you already have a business idea and some experience in your market.  I felt bad for the people who signed up and had no idea what they wanted to offer or sell.  They were stuck at step one during the entire program and couldn't participate as actively as they could have if they'd had some solidified business idea that they were going to be applying the information toward.  That being said, they could have moved forward and participated fully even without having a business idea by simply picking a random business idea out of thin air to pursue, but there really wasn't an outline or guidance about how to do that in a way that would be effective for them.  Luckily I already had an existing business I knew a lot about, and another one I was considering.

Within the first week I had to decide if I was going to apply the information to a future business idea or to an existing business, and it became immediately clear that it was far easier to apply the information to a business model I'd already had some experience with.  I decided I was going to get the most out of the program by applying the training program to my existing photography business, rather than any new venture or purely online business I might want to create.  I found that it was also better to focus as narrowly as possible on one customer segment- so I chose wedding photography specifically.  That helped me concentrate on applying the information as quickly as possible, rather than speculating about how it might be applied or what it might apply to.  Even so, many of the ideas for implementation could only be outlined in the training program, but would need many more months to actually implement.

A second discovery was that while the video material and live calls may only take 1 or 2 hours per week to view and listen to, actually applying the information toward your own business and completing the worksheets took more like 8-10 hours per week.  I think that's an important time investment that people should know about if they'd like to actively participate in the program and receive feedback as often as possible.  If you do not stay on top of the program as it's happening, you can still participate on your own timeline, but opportunities to receive any personalized responses or engagement with your particular struggles may slip away from you, as well as your own dedication to keeping up. While the access to the information is available throughout the year, the only periods in which the B-School team and Marie engage directly with students is during the active B-School program hours.

To help me stay accountable, I reached out to other people in my area and told them I wanted a partner who was dedicated to keeping up with the program and making an investment to meet regularly in person.  I immediately found someone in my local area that I could be an accountability partner with, and we made weekly or bi-weekly dates to get together and share our worksheets.  Even if we fell off the wagon one week and didn't have something written down, we met, and worked on it together.  Having an accountability partner to meet with in person made a huge difference, and now I'd consider us lifelong friends who support each other pursuing our dreams and living healthy, happy lives.  I do have B-School to thank for that, and many other wonderful friendships with amazing and creative entrepreneurs.

The program and information leans heavily toward people who are working in coaching and counseling fields and those who want to have an online educational component that can be packaged and sold.  While you can apply the ideas to an in-person service or product based business, not all of the material will be as useful for you or as easy to apply and implement.  For creatives and small business online entrepreneurs, this program is a much better investment than an MBA program designed for middle-management moving toward executive leadership.  If you're a tech start-up, you'd be better off with an incubator or start-up program that puts you in front of investors and tech mentors.  B-School is a program with a spiritual life-balance and karma focus- while these aren't overtly stated with any dogma attached, the whole program starts from a foundation of creating or growing a business for the purpose of making a difference beyond your own self-interest.  If your business focus is money alone, you're going to think a lot of the intuition-based guidance Marie suggests makes absolutely no sense.  There are good reasons why this program is targeted strongly toward women, or feeling-based decision makers.

For me, one of the biggest strengths of the program is the community and the opportunity to gather with other creative entrepreneurs offline in a city near me or while I'm traveling.  Because the community has grown so large now, it's possible to find people in almost all major cities of the world.  When I lived in Boston, I had several meet-ups with other B-Schoolers who shared what they were working on and got feedback and support from other entrepreneurs.  When I traveled, it was a way to connect with other B-Schoolers around the world.  When I moved to New York, it became a way to have instant community with other entrepreneurs beyond a typical business networking group with a forced referral structure.  It was always about connecting personally, if not more than it was about finding a business network.

One of the drawbacks of the community, or advantages depending on how you see it, is that the program can be very incestuous, and many previous alumni want to tap newcomers to take their programs as well.  They've found that the B-School community is a haven of people who want to buy and consume online content, and so there can be quite a few people pushing their programs and selling to the community without contributing much other than opportunities to buy their programs.  The advantage to this is that you can see exactly what their opt-in offers are if you don't mind a mailbox full of things you'll need to unsubscribe to later.  You can see what marketing tactics they're using and what methods appear to be successful for them as they share their wins along the way, and you can view their websites and how they've laid out their offers to see if they are attractive to you.  If you are a jealous or insecure person, this may get to you after a while and shut you down because you'll fall into the comparison trap, but if you are confident in what you're offering and you consume from an objective place of infinite possibilities for all, it just becomes another place to share what you're doing among other people who are doing similar things.

If you ask a question in the program or the community, don't expect too much engagement, despite the size of the community.   Many more people are posting than reading.  You're on your own for most of this program with very little feedback, which may feel isolating among such a large community, unless you create a mini-group of people to connect with for accountability and feedback meetings.  It doesn't happen naturally though, you need to seek it out or create it for yourself, but you should be able to find at least 4-5 other people to share ideas with online, if not in person.  It may help if they are local to your state or city and in different industries so you don't feel like you're competing with one another.  B-School helped me connect to a master-mind group in NYC of wise, intelligent, and passionate women who want to make a difference, and our support for each other is enhanced because we get together regularly for business and personal reasons.

I continue to join-in the program each year as its rolled out with subtle changes to the structure and information.  It's informative to see what brilliant ideas are coming out of the woodwork, what new solutions are being created for creative entrepreneurs, what struggles are still being tackled as a creative community, and it becomes a chance to revisit my own tactics and approaches each year.  Even though I've found it's much more difficult to implement the ideas for a primarily in-person service-based business, every spring I get the itch to create an online product or program to help others, and it's good to stay in touch with people who are innovating in that space and bringing knowledge to larger audiences.

Who The Program Is and Is Not For:
This program can work for you if you have a business that you'd like to take online, market better online, or streamline in the online space to be more effective.  There are many great tools and techniques being shared in the community each day that can help you solve problems around the online space of your business.  This program is not for you if you resist operating in an online space, or if you don't have a business idea to work on.  This program is also not for you if you don't really have time to work on your business.  You could pay to join the community and just see what other people are up to, but you're not going to connect with them as easily or meaningfully if you aren't also working on a business.  The strongest people in the community are ones who are actively engaged in working on moving their online business forward.

Prepare To Get The Most Out of B-School:
  1. Go into the program knowing what business idea you'll be applying the program to and make sure you're wanting to work on the online aspect of that business.
  2. Make sure that you can dedicate 8-10 hours for each week of the program to watching the videos online, filling out the worksheets, and participating in discussions and live calls.  This could happen in 2 hour segments each day, or in a full day chunk, but it's definitely at least 8-10 hours if you actually want to apply or implement the information and get feedback from Marie's team and the community.
  3. Research affiliate offerings.  Affiliate offers are like a 2 for 1 offer where you pay the same price for Marie's program, but get someone else's content for free on top of it all.  A lot of reviews of B-School actually lead to an affiliate link of some kind.  As of this posting, I am not an affiliate and I have no offer for you (but for the unlimited time offer of FREE, you can get plenty of my business advice over on PhotoLovecat)
  4. Set up your member profile and view the other people who are in your local area or in your same industry.  Connect with them online through social media to stay in touch- be sure to say hi and let them know you're joining B-School for the first time.  Your member profile on B-School becomes another business card that people may potentially use to reach out to you.
  5. Value the input of the community even MORE than you value Marie's very limited amount of individualized feedback.  The community is FULL of entrepreneurs who may have already solved your problems and who are willing to help you.  SEARCH for answers first by looking for any previously posted comments related to your problem before posting a new thread that may potentially not be seen by anyone.  Engaging in other conversations around the same topic will provide more insight and clarity than expecting everyone to engage directly with you.
  6. If you find yourself feeling like you're slacking, at the very minimum, watch every video and leave your comment below each video.  You can always go back later.  You can always do the worksheets later.  If you do nothing else, this will essentially be keeping up with the program and give you an opportunity to get any clarity around the ideas by hopping on a live call or at least listening to recordings of live calls.
  7. You will have limited engagement with Marie.  Know that this is not a private or one-on-one coaching program.  She has assembled a fabulous support team, but an even greater community of entrepreneurs.  If you go into the program hoping to get personal attention from Marie, you will be disappointed.  If you go in with the mentality that you are using a training program to do the hard work yourself with occasional help or solutions from other people who are working on the same things, you will find it to be a far more rewarding and valuable experience.
  8. Find an accountability partner you can meet with weekly and schedule time into your weeks from the beginning to work on things together.  Hold each other accountable to one another's desires and dreams and encourage each other to keep moving forward.
I hope that I've helped you make an easier decision or if you've already made a decision, helped you learn how to best prepare yourself to get the most out of the experience and program.  If you found this review to be extremely helpful for yourself or someone else, please share it, like it, pin it, or whatever it.  If you have any questions for me, please comment and check back in two days for a response.

4 comments, to add [click here]:

  1. Great review, very well balanced and informative, thank you.

  2. Thank you for your review! It was very helpful!

  3. Excellent review! Very helpful.

  4. Appreciated your honest review, thank you =).


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