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 & What You Should Expect:
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.

1. Know What You're Selling Before Starting The Program
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.

2. Have Some Experience With Selling to Your Market Before Starting The Program
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.

3. Set Aside Enough Time for Action, Not Just Observation - 8-10 Hrs/Wk
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.

4. Find An Accountability Buddy 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.

5. Not All Content May Be A Good Fit For Your Business
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 definitely a 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 give-to-receive 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 and feeling-based decision makers.

6. Lean On The Community More Than Team Forleo
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.

7. Expect Incestuous Selling/Marketing
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.

8. Make Your Own Mastermind for Personalized Feedback 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.

9. Lifetime Access & Renewed Participation Each Year
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 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 tons of my creative 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 one-on-one coaching program, it's not even a group coaching program, it's an online classroom with some Q&A calls.  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, link it or whatever it.  If you have any questions for me, please comment and check back in two days for a response.

38 comments, to add [click here]:

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

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

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  3. Excellent review! Very helpful.

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

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  5. Great, well balanced review. Thank you.

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  6. Now that is has been a year since this post, would you say that your online presence has expanded your revenue based on the lessons learned from the program?

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  7. Now that it has been a year, would you say that your business as expanded as per your expirations from the course?

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    1. At this point, it has been over 3 years since I participated in the program. I can say that my personal network of entrepreneurial female business owners has expanded through the community attached to BSchool , however, I cannot say that network has had any direct or measurable impact on my business. If I were a coach, or selling a product targeted to coaches and people who want to be coaches, that answer might be different.

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    2. so basically, you are saying that the program is more applicable for coaches? I am currently doing buy and sell of accessories at the moment and planning to do an artisanal handmade online store next year. Do you think the training will be suitable for me? Thanks!

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    3. Ivy - there is a decent community of online jewelers within B-School. These are people who use the B-School training and community to optimize their websites, newsletters, sales copy, and marketing outlets online. I do think B-School has helped this community be more focused and intentional about how they sell their products online! So yes, if selling more of your jewelry online is your goal, I'd recommend this!!

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  8. Thank you for the balanced review. I'm considering taking the course but want to make sure it is worth the investment.

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  9. Anonymous3:41 PM

    Thanks so much for your insight!

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  10. Cinthya8:43 PM

    Thank you so much for your honest review and experience. Very helpful to make a wise decision!

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  11. Roxanne12:44 PM

    Thank you SO much for such a well written and thorough review. I know this is a few years old, but you still addressed my questions, and then some, and appreciate the time you took to do it - and most especially coming from a non-affiliate.

    I've been considering B-School for some time (college grad, many years in business, then many years at-home mom, now looking to get back out there) but I'm not certain which business I should pursue. I see thru your review that could be a drawback.

    I see B-School has a newer segment "Start the Right Business". I'm wondering if that was available when you took the course or if they added it because people who didn't have a path were struggling with the program?

    I'm grateful for your time and appreciate feedback, if you're able to respond. Thank you again!

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    1. Here's why "Start The Right Business" doesn't always help people start the right business...
      ... because it only offers the idea that the right path forward to financial success and freedom is through starting a business. Yet, not everyone needs to run their own business, but because this program suggests that's the right path forward- people who shouldn't start a business get stuck into thinking they should start a business. Obviously, start the right business is going to force you to think about starting a business, because that's what they are selling- business training.

      So, there are these people who stay stuck in the idea that they need to start a business, when really some people would find much more financial success and freedom by NOT starting a business. They fail to see that they may actually be able to have more immediate freedom and security by working for a business they already love, that's already up and running, and already has figured out the sales funnels, than by trying to start their own business. The program doesn't take a moment to suggest that maybe you shouldn't start a business - it just tells you what kind of traits and things you need to do and consider to start the right business.

      Running a business is a lot of responsibility, and not everyone needs that level of responsibility in their life. Some people create tons of freedom and joy in their lives by believing in someone else's business, and purely sharing their excitement for that other business - which is why MLM and Direct Sales has created a lot of freedom and income for people. It's also why Airbnb has created a lot of freedom and income for people. These companies have created a structure to manage the business part and allow more people to focus on the part they love, like demonstrating what they love about a product or being a host to other people in their home.

      Start the Right Business isn't going to help you find your passion in life. It's going to tell you why you need to turn your passion into a business - which you don't necessarily need to do in order to have financial freedom and success. But remember, the program is selling business training, not find-your-life-path training. I can actually help you with that if you want... hahahah... but now I'm selling you one-on-one life coaching. :-)

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  12. Thank you for the balanced review. You confirmed a lot of the things I was thinking when listing my real intentions for being drawn to this program. Like you have years of experience, but in no way do I know all there is to know. I do worry about the this program will meet me at, as I have been disappointed in the past (but at a much lower investment!!). You mentioned the network being so helpful which I can totally get - but would you mind sharing how you felt the takeaways from the course content? Do you feel you it helped you learn thinks or look at things a little differently to launch your business to another level?

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    1. Hmmm... the majority of the content in the course is aimed at people who have either not had any business training or who feel like they don't understand what it takes to market their business online. From a pure content perspective... did I learn or gain anything new even though I am already experienced and well-versed in business? I'm actually going to look back at my worksheets that I completed and see if anything looked like new information for me...

      - Getting specific on where the money comes from, as a way to hone in on best services or products that people value the most
      - Eliminate Competition by Creating an Arsenal of Stories: this was a great task to revisit from this point in my business, because it helped me reflect on the stories that I had actually built through the experience of running my business, and how those stories made me better at what I do
      - Go Deep & Dark / Go High As The Sky - Part of Ideal Customer Avatar: we tend to think of what our client wants, and sometimes forget to dig into the fears and insecurities of why they want it, or their aspirational goals outside of our product, so this part is helpful in digging into the psychological aspect of making purchasing decisions that we often assume but don't outline or state specifically
      - Generating 10 Content Ideas to Reverse Engineer Reasons People Want Your Product/Service - this was helpful in forcing me to create an outline of ideas that I could then turn into actionable blog or social media posts, or talk about in conversation with people, which relates back to the story telling aspect of how you sell your work

      So... the story-telling and marketing ideas for getting specific were helpful to revisit even if you aren't selling anything online.

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  13. Excellent review. Thank you very much.

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  14. thank you for a thorough and honest review

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  15. So grateful for your informative and transparent overview. Virtual hugs!

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  16. thanks for this review! i was afraid that b-school would be targeted towards coaches...i feel like everything is. and im not interested in mindset stuff - i want real infrastructure. i think you just saved me $2k, because im not a coach and that's not my business.

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    1. What is your business? Have you ever worked with a business coach who is experienced in your industry?

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  17. Thanks so much for this balanced review! I have only read reviews from affiliates. It is nice to get a review from someone who has nothing to gain.

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  18. Thanks for your review! Does B School cover marketing techniques like setting up email funnels or how to improve your copy?

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    1. Hi Randi - First off- it's awesome that you know very specifically which parts of your business you want to work on! As a general guide, I'd say whenever you know which specific aspects of your business you're working on in the moment, you're going to get more depth from a specific training for that one thing, than you will from a larger program that attempts to cover all business aspects.

      As for Copy - Yes, the B-School program has a few sections that are helpful on creating and clarifying your copy, and it's something the community readily helps provide feedback on. Marie has also created a more focused and separate workshop specifically on creating copy, which she calls the "Copy Cure".

      Setting up email funnels is loosely outlined through discussions about Opt-Ins, Lead Generation, and Newsletters, but it may not be as detailed and specific as you might want if you're focusing on how to work with a particular software or system to optimize that funneling and segmenting in an automated way. If you're coming from a blank slate or a psychology perspective, it's a good introduction, but if you're already advanced in creating them, you might want something more specific.

      I hope that helps!

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  19. Thank you so much for taking the time to articulate so clearly!! Helped me so much!!

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  20. Thank you for the review I found it especially interesting because you do wedding photographer. Did you find B-School beneficial to that specific business? Have you seen an actual monetary difference in your wedding photographer from taking her course? Any advice is greatly appreciated!

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    1. Hi TK- My wedding photography business did not expand nor improve because of the B-School Training. I don't even think I ended up doing photography work for anyone I met offline through B-School. I can't even recall a referral from the b-school community to anyone else I worked with. My photography business growth has always come from personal connections and referrals (which I've talked about extensively- for free- over on http://photolovecat.com). Now, remember, I already had business marketing & sales training way before I started my photography business, so the business aspect wasn't new to me in any way. As I mentioned, the B-School training is dedicated to people who want to sell their products or services online. Wedding Photography requires you to show up for people in person, and for people to be comfortable with you showing up to their wedding in person. You can be as savvy as you want to be online, but in a world that is well-versed in online dating, ultimately, a wedding photography client still wants to know if you can show up and be comfortable to work with in person.

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    2. PS. I do offer business consulting to creative businesses, if you want something that gives you one-on-one support, which the B-School program does not offer. Feel free to email me, or just take advantage of all the free tips I've already provided on http://photolovecat.com

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    3. Hi Anne, - thanks for this update - i've been on the fence about enrolling for exactly your reasons above...i do renovation design/planning, and so i have to show up in person, and have a rapport with people, trust and comfort level is huge. packing up design tips and how to's seems disingenuous to me and also a bit eroding to the industry TBH (if it's so easy, why hire a professional). So the focus of what bschool seems to be, not so applicable?

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  21. Excellent review and not an affiliate... the honesty makes me curious about YOUR business!

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    1. Hahaha! I appreciate that. ;-) This year I received an invitation to apply for Marie's affiliate team, and I chose not to apply. I still prefer operating in the OFFLINE space more than the online space right now.

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  22. Thank you so much!! Very helpful, balanced and wise. Much appreciated

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  23. Extremely helpful. Thank you.

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  24. Thanks so much. Very helpful review.

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  25. So so helpful. Thank you for taking the time.

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  26. So so helpful! Thank you for taking the time.

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  27. Hi Anne, I am presently in the midst of bschool and really wish I had read this before committing. I've been told there's a cut off date for refunds which has already passed. The content is excellent, but I had no idea of my business, and unless you have that, you are missing out on a lot of the FB Community help. How fast it goes, how much can you absorb if you are not contextually applying the content. I wish I had you as my mentor!

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