Build The World’s Most Valuable Network w/ Jayson Gaignard of MasterMind Talks
Today we are joined by Jayson Gaignard – quite possibly one of the world’s best networkers.
In 2012, Gaignard began curating dinners in Toronto, Canada with small groups of entrepreneurs that focused on relationship building. The invite-only dinners became MastermindTalks—larger conferences for entrepreneurs geared toward health, wealth, self-improvement, and networking.
Despite humble beginnings, Jason has grown mastermind talks into a world-renowned institution in the entrepreneurial space, hosting such greats as Tim Ferriss, James Altucher, A. J. Jacobs, Esther Perel, Dave Asprey, Guy Kawasaki, and Marc Ecko. In fact, Forbes described Gaignard as one of the top networkers to watch in 2015.
He’s also published a book and produces a podcast on the topic of network building.
In this episode, I wanted to learn more about how Jayson has built such strong ties with some of the world’s most influential entrepreneurs, and see if we can learn anything from his success. My father always told me that it’s not just about what you know, but also whom you know – and if that’s true, then both Jayson and his incredible skill set are definitely worth knowing.
Throughout the episode, we talk about the power of a network like Jayson’s for improving oneself, accomplishing one’s goals, and making a lasting impact on the world. Jayson also shares some very practical tips for building your own network and connecting with the people you admire. All in all, I think you’ll take a LOT away from Jayson’s success story, and his wisdom.
In this episode, we discuss:
- What has Jayson Gaignard been up to for the last year?
- How Jayson went from being a 17-year old dropout, to successful entrepreneur, to where he is today
- The story of Jayson's successful business, how it grew, and why he sold it
- The connection economy, and how Jayson Gaignard started with dinner parties
- The incredible story of how Jayson built a strong personal relationship with my role model, Tim Ferriss
- The idea of losing one's personal identity when they lose their job or company
- What HUGE risks Jayson Gaignard took when he was at his most vulnerable point
- Does Jayson have some kind of special superpower that has allowed him to do what he's done?
- How to avoid being “star struck” or weirding out celebrities when you meet them
- An awesome story of how Jayson built his relationship with Gary Vaynerchuk
- What are the biggest, most valuable outcomes that have come from building such a huge network?
- What is Jayson Gaignard's calling, his purpose, and where he fits into the world?
- How is MasterMind talks different from other events, and more selective than Harvard?
- The incredible story of how Jayson is getting to work with Hollywood mega-agent Shep Gordon
- Practical advice on how to connect with more influential and inspiring people in your own life
- The idea of curating your network, both in the real world and online
- The importance of doing work for free, mentorship, and volunteering
- How to conduct game-changing mastermind dinner parties to build your network
- Dealing with the flakiness of modern people
- What's next for Jayson Gaignard? What's he working on now?
- Where to reach Jayson Gaignard
Resources Mentioned in This Episode:
- MasterMind Talks, Jayson Gaignard's massively successful event
- Thought leaders Jayson knows personally:
- The Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO)
- Jayson Gaignard's Book, MasterMind Dinners
- Never Eat Alone by Keith Farazzi
- Aziz Ansari's comedy bit on flakiness
- Jayson Gaignard's Podcast
- Jayson's Twitter
- TED Talk on the power of loose relationships from a Harvard Study
Favorite Quotes from Jayson Gaignard:
Introduction: Welcome to the Becoming SuperHuman podcast, where we interview extraordinary people to bring you the skills and strategies to overcome the impossible. And now here's your host, Jonathan Levi.
Jonathan Levi: Before we get started today, I want to let you guys know that this episode is brought to you by the online course, Creating a Meaningful Life. Now, this course is the culmination of 20 years of work and research by my personal mentor and university professor Linda Levine, and myself. Now in it, we teach not only the skills and strategies that we've used and taught and, which are being used by life coaches all over the world to create a life of fulfillment and balance.
But we also go into how you can design your lifestyle, how you can improve in every aspect, all eight of the aspects that make a complete and rich life. And really we share a lot of our wisdom. So if you've been inspired by the show, by some of the guests on here who seem to have these incredibly rich fulfilling lives, I do encourage you to check it out.
And of course, it is backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. So to take advantage of a special coupon for listeners of this podcast, visit jle.vi/meaning. All right, here we go with the show. Greetings, super friends and welcome to today's show. You guys today we are joined by my friend, Jayson Gaignard, who is quite possibly one of the world's best networkers.
Now in 2012, you guys, Jayson began curating some dinners in Toronto with small groups of entrepreneurs that focused on relationship building. And these invite-only dinners became something you may have heard of called “MastermindTalks”. There are these larger invite-only conferences for entrepreneurs geared towards health, wealth, self-improvement networking, and all that great stuff. Now, despite these humble beginnings, Jayson has actually grown MastermindTalks into a world-renowned institution in the entrepreneurial space and he's hosted and become personal friends with such greats as Tim Ferriss, James Altucher, A.J. Jacobs, Esther Perel, Dave Asprey, Guy Kawasaki, Marc Ecko.
You name it. In fact, Forbes actually described Gaignard as one of the top networkers to watch in 2015. On top of that, he's published a book and he produces a podcast on the topic of how do you build a network. How do you become this SuperHuman network who can reach out to anybody who can get anything done with the power of their personal relationships?
So in this episode, I wanted to understand and learn more about, Jayson SuperHuman ability, which is building these strong ties with some of the world's most influential entrepreneurs. I wanted to see if we can actually learn anything from his success. You know, my father always told me that it's not just about what you know, but also whom you know. And if that's true, then both Jayson and his incredible skillset are definitely, definitely worth knowing.
So in this episode, we talk about the power of a network like Jayson's. What can you do with it? Why is it important? Why might you want something like that for yourself and how you can use it to improve yourself, accomplish your goals? And of course, make a lasting impact on your world and the world as a whole.
Jayson also shared some very, very practical tips for building your own network, and connecting with the people you admire. So all in all, I think you guys are going to take a lot away from Jayson's really SuperHuman success story, and of course from his wisdom. So without any further ado, let me present to you, Mr. Jayson Gaignard.
Jayson, welcome to the show my friend, it's such a pleasure to catch up with you. I know we haven't spoken in what is it like eight months.
Jayson Gaignard: It's gotta be close to a year and we've been trying to make this interview happen, I think, for longer than that. So I'm definitely grateful to be on.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah, man, it's a pleasure to have you. You're a very, very busy man. Tell me what you've been up to since we last spoke.
Jayson Gaignard: So we last spoken in November of last year and, um, basically I run an invite-only event for entrepreneurs called MastermindTalks, and that's pretty much my main focus throughout the entire year. And our last event took place in April, actually in Ohio, California.
So usually we probably that November time period, I was starting to, stress out and lose my hair a little bit. And then, uh, the event passed. It was a big success. I thankfully, and we're scheduled to do our next one in May. So that's some of the bigger moving parts in my life.
Jonathan Levi: Amazing, man. Amazing. So I want to ask you this, that's like the fast-forward version of the bio, and I know probably a lot of people in the audience know who you know about MastermindTalks if maybe even seen one of them, take me back actually to age 17.
Cause this is the part that I find, so interesting right? So you drop out of high school. Yes. And then somehow you go on like in between A and B. You go on to create a $5 million a year company, and then that you kind of get over with, so you create MastermindTalks. So walk me through ABC. Like how did you do all this stuff?
Jayson Gaignard: Yeah. I dropped out of high school when I was 17 and the reason being is just, I'm not much of an academic, and I just didn't have a great relationship with the school. And I ended up becoming like an automotive performance mechanic at the time, just because I was very being a, you know, a young guy full of testosterone.
I was very much into cars and impressing girls and stuff like that. So got into cars for a little bit. And then one day, actually I decided to just get out of it. It was just a very kind of last-minute decision and how it happened was that I pointed, I was looking at one of my fellow mechanics and I'm like, I'm never, never going to change the world, being a mechanic.
So ended up getting out of that, got into car sales, oddly enough. Just to, not as a career, but to kind of make ends meet. I've never been one without work. So did that for about a month. And then one day I had a successful entrepreneur come to our dealership to buy a car and the new, the year, the make, the model that he wanted, the color, everything.
And he took three days off of work to really get the best price. And in the back of my head, I'm like, this is not the best use of your time. You know, take the three days out of the work to save a couple of hundred bucks. So I'm like, there's an opportunity here to start a business, perhaps to do like car shopping for people.
And I started to kind of build out that business idea and decided that I think the plague of most kind of young entrepreneurs as they want to be everything to everyone. So I decided to start a more general type service, which was a personal concierge firm. Where we'd run errands for people. So we do everything from, you know, uh, chauffeuring people's grandmothers around to picking up their groceries, to breaking up with her girlfriends.
Wow. So it was an interesting business. Our slogan was as long as it's legal, moral, and we'll save you time, we'll take care of it. Wow. So some of the requests bordered on that, but thankfully yet, whenever it got into anything, uh, too, too bad. But at the time we were one of the first, I guess, businesses in the space. Now it's very lucky.
Yeah. It was roughly 18, 19. And, um, I was in an industry that was growing. And because of my age, I had a lot of just media and PR exposure. Right. Because it was a nice angle. So I was blessed to have some things stack on my side at that point in time. And then the only downfall being new industries, when people thought of the word concierge, they thought of a hotel concierge.
And when they thought of a hotel concierge, they thought of concert tickets. So what I ended up doing was I started stocking our own little inventory for our customers. Cause I'd always go to ticket brokers and they just charge crazy amounts of money. So we started to stock our own little inventory to save our clients money over time.
People just kept on coming back more and more. And then, it wasn't before long that that side of the business started to eclipse the service side. [00:08:00] Wow. So we ended up pivoting into a ticketing business and that's where I had the bulk of my financial success in a short period of time. So this would have been, early twenties.
We were doing very, very well on the financial side of things, but I wasn't passionate about the business at all. Like most entrepreneurs, I was told to pick my business based on opportunity and proximity, how can I make the most amount of money as quickly as possible? And I did that to the point where, I was making 22 times the national average income, as a personal income, which was bothersome to me because I'm like, I'm not 22 times happier than the average male.
I'm not 22 times healthier at the age of 24. I had kidney complications because of stress. So, I decided at that point to consciously, I wanted to sell the business, subconsciously I start to drive it into the ground. Yeah. When the dust settles from that, it wasn't pretty, but I was, uh, in August of 2014 is where I, I guess, quote unquote hit my rock bottom where, I had no business, no cashflow.
I was a quarter million dollars in cash debt and got married to my wife the following month. So. Wow. There's a saying that when one door closes another one opens, but it sucks being stuck in the hallway. That was a pretty dark hallway for me. And then, yeah, shortly after that I had a, so this was August of 2012, thankfully shortly after that in October of 2012, had an opportunity to go to a small intimate workshop that Seth Goden, was putting on.
And financially I couldn't afford it. I mean, I could barely make rent, but somebody actually gave me a free ticket to go. And I didn't know what it was about, but I knew like I was a fan of Seth's work. So, I decided to go to it, found out it was about the connection economy and how there's huge value connecting like-minded individuals.
And, uh, it just really resonated with me. So I felt very isolated as an entrepreneur at the time. So I started doing these dinners where I'd invite maybe six entrepreneurs out for dinner. The first one I did, I almost canceled two hours prior because I'm like, nobody's going to see value in this. They're going to think I completely wasted their time.
And it's funny because when I was successful as an entrepreneur, younger entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs would come to me and be like, you know, how do you start a business? And I'm scared and all this kind of stuff and being successful at the time, I'm like, you know, just overcome the fear and just do it, it's not that hard.
But you know, no longer being successful and being kind of hitting my rock bottom. I had all those fears that kind of built back up and, um, truth be told the first one turned out to be a huge success. I mean, conversation didn't skip a beat for four and a half hours and, I wanted to continue to do these dinners, even though I wasn't making money from them, I was actually paying for them out of pocket.
And the reason I was paying for them out of pocket and people thought it was kind of crazy at the time was that I was considering bankruptcy. Cause I didn't know where my rock bottom, like how much lower I could go. And at the time, I guess the way I thought about it, it was at the bank would take my car, they could take whatever measly assets I have left, but they can't take my relationships.
So whatever, the money I had left at the time I was investing in myself and I was investing in my relationships. And, um, thankfully a few months after that, I had an opportunity to do an event with Tim Ferriss. There's more to that story, but I guess the rest is history to some degree.
Jonathan Levi: Right. I remember you were telling me over dinner that you took some serious, serious risks when starting this business. I mean like racking up huge credit card debts, buying a warehouse full of books. Tell us a little bit about that. I mean, I love what you said and by the way, your story resonates with me because I also like did a business.
I didn't love, oddly enough in car parts. Nice. You know, I think it's it's so, amazing. You took this huge risk because what you said is very beautiful. Like they can take what's in my pocket, they can take what's in my garage, they can't take these relationships that I have. So tell me, like, what did you risk?
What did you do to create these relationships?
Jayson Gaignard: Well at the time, when, I guess when you, you feel like you have nothing to lose nothing more to lose, you know, it was definitely a, a dark time for me because, you know, I felt not only financially, I lost everything. I no longer had a business and my personal identity was tied to my business.
So by most of my peer's standards, I was very successful and now I no longer had this business. I was afraid like, what happens? Am I going to lose my friends? Am I going to lose, like, it was just, it was a really bad time in that sense, but I don't know why? I just, I had an inkling that relationships were just incredibly valuable.
And actually, you know what, looking back, I know what the catalyst is. I went to an event in 2011. This is before the crash review, it's called Opening the Kimono, and it was done by Tim Ferriss. And the event was geared towards authors who want to become New York Times bestselling authors who had the aspiration to do so at least.
And, um, I have no desire to ever becoming an author, but it was $10,000 to go for two days. And at that time, I wasn't super excited about the industry I was in, didn't know I wanted to do next, but at the same time, I'm like, if people are paying $10,000 to be there, there's bound to be some interesting folks, that are going to be found at that event.
And I didn't know what to expect from it. And at the time, you know, the peers that I did have, they were like, you're crazy spending $10,000 US on this event, that was like, you know, easily 20 times more than I've ever paid to go to an event. Right. But when I went there, I mean, you know, there's a slogan we use, if you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room.
I mean, looking back on those relationships that I've made in 2011, not being strategic about it, not knowing that that would necessarily be the value. I mean, the ROI on that one single event has paid back tenfold. But actually more so than tenfold since then. And, uh, the beautiful thing is that their relationships, so there, the ROI is as long as I live to my eighties or something like that, the ROI is going to be like in the millions, just from that one event.
And it was one of those things that, um, I mean, that's where I got to know Tim Ferriss really well. I got to know guys like Lewis Howes, Ryan Holiday, Ramit Sethi. Incredible. Incredible guys. I mean, to pay, to have access to those guys was just incredible. So I know it was an intimate environment, so that's actually, that was one of the reasons why, when I hit rock bottom, I'm like, if I'm going to invest in anything, I should invest in relationships.
And people don't often invest in relationships because they can't peg an ROI to it, which is understandable to some degree. But, you know, I usually tell people in that, if that's the argument that like, there's nothing in business that you can really with a hundred percent certainty, pegging ROI too, right?
Like, no matter what you do in marketing, There's always a level of risk. You don't know if the returns will be there. And as you know, Steve Jobs famously said, he's like, you can't connect the dots looking forward. Right. You never know how these relationships will pay off. But I mean, I've just been doubling down on relationships for the last three years.
I mean, some people I wouldn't call myself successful per se, but I mean, some people on the outside do. And the only core reason for that is relationships. I would not be where I am today. Without, you know, investing in relationships along the way.
Jonathan Levi: Wow. I think it's amazing because each one of those people you named, I mean, you couldn't write a check big enough to get some of these people's time today. But in 2011, you took this risk, you made this investment.
I want to ask you, you know, besides, this mentality you have, do you think you have some kind of special superpower that's attracted you to [00:15:00] these people and allowed you to create and nurture relationships with some of the most heavy hitters in our industry?
Jayson Gaignard: So I think there's a few things. I think I've definitely evolved over the last couple of years.
So if you would have asked me this three years ago, would've been very different in the sense that, three years ago, I had a very hard time being around. You know, celebrity entrepreneurs and all this kind of stuff, I'd easily get just enamored by their status and not like, oh, I want to attach my wagon to their. Right.
To their horse or whatever. And like, you know, go on for the ride or anything like that. But, you know, in environments like that, it's hard to feel like you belong. Imposter syndrome. Absolutely. So I had definitely self-worth issues that I had to deal with for the longest time. But the more successful people I meet, and the more you get to see the behind the scenes of, you know, their lifestyles, what they struggle with, all that kind of stuff, I mean, you just realize they're human like everybody else. So that's really kind of taken off that polish over near that you'd often experienced, like, you know, from an outsider's perspective, putting somebody on a pedestal and that's something I used to do.
And I wouldn't like put people on a pedestal, like suck up the law or anything like that, but I put them on a pedestal, on some level, basically saying that I'm not, not on the same level as them, which isn't necessarily kind of true. So, I mean, and that's the one thing too, is that actually, you mentioned this, I spoke at a big event in, Vegas in October called Thrive.
And while I was there, they actually had me speak on the last night of which I was like, you should make me speak at the beginning because some of the things I'm going to say is actually going to be beneficial to them as they experience this event from a relationship-building perspective. But it was one of those things that we were there.
And, uh, Gary Vaynerchuk was one of the first speakers. Wow. People were taking photos with him, like selfies and stuff like that. And he's a little bit of a different breed like he loves that stuff. I mean, it was so bad. Like some people like while he was doing his talk, ran on stage to take a selfie with him.
And when I spoke on day three, I told him like, if like you will never build a relationship with any of these people and you know if you put them on a pedestal, like that, it's just, it's not going to happen because unconsciously, they will always look at you as not on the same level. Wow. And the story I shared and we all have these desires, like I, unconsciously, like in my gut, like sometimes I want to connect with big name people.
But if you look at like, if you really dig deep, like the core desire to connect with a big name, so you could take a picture with them and post it to Facebook or Instagram and see how many likes you can get, right? Or how much external validation you can get.
And there's a saying that when you play for the applause, you put your happiness in the hands of someone else. Wow. And I think that's just a, telling quote, that it always kind of keeps me in check when I'm in the presence of amazing people. Like I have no selfies with guys like Tim Ferriss or Ryan Holiday.
I have no pictures with any of them. But I mean, I've been to Ryan's wedding, I spent a week with Tim in Argentina, like how you treat a normal relationship and how you should kind of treat these people. When you put them on a pedestal, you're just never going to build a deep, genuine relationship with them.
And a funny story I share about that event is that, on the first night after Gary Vaynerchuk did his talk, sorry. I know he's there. When he did his talk, they had a VIP reception [00:18:00] and I was eating dinner with one of the other speakers at the back of the room. And Gary Vaynerchuk came up and the other speaker turned to me she's like, Oh my God, I want to take a picture with Gary.
And Gary and I, I've crossed paths before, but we're not, we weren't friends. And part of me was like, I want to take a picture with them too, but I'm like, I gotta stay like, you know, I gotta stay cool. Can't put them on pedestal, all that kind of stuff.
And he was hanging around us for about 15 seconds and then he turned to me and he extended his hand. He's like, hi, I'm Gary. And the back of my head, I'm like, I know exactly who you are, but I'm like, this is how you and built relationships. Right. And then since then, like we've crossed paths more and more and all that kind of stuff.
So you don't force these kinds of relationships, they just kind of happened organically. And like, you know, Gary was at a MastermindTalks a few months later. Wow. I think that's one of the biggest things is not putting these people on a pedestal, treating them like you treat anybody else. And also, understanding that like, you know, they may have great influence on social media or a great success in business, but at the end of the day, they all have, you know, problems like everybody else and all that kind of stuff. So. Totally. that Lose sense of like, not being able to belong in those groups is a good step in the right direction.
Jonathan Levi: Wow. There's a lot, lot, lot to unpack there. And I think that's really sage advice. I mean, I also at events like Summit, sometimes get imposter syndrome where I'm like, Oh my freaking God, that's like the CEO of Uber over there. And I'm sitting like, why am I here? And I think that's wise advice because I got in my head, I think for the first two days of the event.
And then eventually when I calmed down and I was like, wait a minute, I'm probably here for a reason. Like they interviewed me just like everyone else, you know, and actually had real conversations with folks like you and sat down like, I would with any other friend, it was so much more of a rewarding experience and, uh, you know, I've also had the experience on the other side, when someone on the street comes up, they're like, dude, I listen to your podcast, dah, dah, dah.
It's like what could have been a very normal chilled conversation becomes like me being a little bit uncomfortable and feeling like I need to, you know, present this polished face instead of being a human with them. So I think that's really, really sage advice. Let me ask you this. What are, some of the biggest lessons, takeaways or ROI points returns on investment that you've had?
I mean, obviously, Tim Ferriss speaking at your first event is a huge one, but what are some of the other big lessons, big takeaways, and huge returns on investment that you've had with rubbing elbows with some of your greatest role models?
Jayson Gaignard: So it's funny. I actually just remind me to loop back with this. I actually don't focus on connecting with big names anymore and I'll get back to that in a second.
But I mean, the definitely the major benefit of having big names are surrounding yourself with people who are big names is the credibility that rubs off. So like, you know, when people start to find out, we did two events with Tim and I knew Tim and all this kind of stuff, just naturally, those people because they trust him and they put them on a pedestal, they kind of do the same with me, on some level.
So that credibility through proximity, I guess you could say is by far the biggest benefit. Yeah. But again, it's something I don't pursue as much anymore. So there's a couple of reasons for that. So a lot of people want to be friends with Tim Ferriss, for example, let's just use him as an example, obviously, the guy, the guy's super busy.
He already has all the friends he wants, right? Really or needs to some degree. And you also need to consider that pretty much 99% of the people who reach out to them at this point, want something from him. Right? So he has his radar on alert. Anytime you meet somebody new, because there's always some kind of hidden agenda, for the most part, right?
Because of his celebrity and all that kind of stuff. Right. So there's a lot of noise, you know, trying to reach out to, and be friends with a Richard Branson or Tim Ferriss and all that kinda stuff doesn't mean it can't be done, but it's really, it's an uphill battle. It's really, really hard. Yeah, it's difficult, but being friends with Tim Ferriss back in 2007, was easy, right?
I mean that's before the Four-Hour Work Week just came out and all that kind of stuff, and his stock has gone up over the years, which makes it very difficult to connect with them now. Because of that, my focus is I like amazing people become increasingly amazing over time. So instead of investing a hundred percent of my energy on trying to connect with all these big names, which are all benefits to, mind you, but I try to find people who, how people invest in businesses is how I try to invest in people.
Right. So we're trying to find somebody who's undervalued, you know, who's a rising star, all that kind of stuff. You know, I'm not an angel investor in companies, but I guess you could say like, my network is my portfolio. But do you know who Ryan Holiday is? Yeah. Absolutely. Great example. So when I went to that event in 2011, Ryan was 18 at the time, 19 at the time, and he was not a speaker.
He was just somebody in the audience. But while the speakers were on stage with Tim was on stage and like probably Robert Green onstage, like just these people, uh, Tucker Max was another one. They kept on like fielding questions at Ryan and he was in the audience and he'd stand up and hold the microphone and answer a few questions and sit back down.
And I'm like, who the hell is this kid? He's like 19. And all these people who are like, at the time like my heroes, or my idols are like asking this guy questions. So. What I decided to do was just, you know, invest in that relationship. And that's been an area of focus of mine. And Ryan stock has gone up significantly since then, right?
Even Tim Ferriss now, I mean, Tim Ferriss, where he is now is very different than where he was two years ago. Uh, his pockets is blown up. His influence has blown up. Now he's interviewing like Arnold Schwartzenegger or Jamie Foxx and all these people. So it was much easier to become friends with them two years ago than it is now.
So I'm always looking for people, who are on the rise, who I can invest in, because they especially, you know, if you can be their biggest fan early on, I mean, you lay the groundwork that you'll be friends forever and the ROI is going to be tremendous. My focus is on again, amazing people become increasingly amazing over time.
So how can I find those people and invest in them instead of trying to like, from an ego play, try to connect with big names?
Jonathan Levi: Yeah. So let me ask you this. What is your role? What do you see as your calling in life? I mean, where do you fit into the picture?
Jayson Gaignard: So, I mean, there's a few things there. So I do have, and this is becoming more apparent as of recently, I do have a unique ability to spot talent in people.
So again, just like some people can see opportunity in the business. I can see, you know, people who are not at their peak to some degree. So I do have that unique ability. And then another thing as far as like my role in the world to some degree is really creating community, that's one thing I'd done within MastermindTalks.
And that's one thing that makes MastermindTalks very unique from anything else we've done. And for context, just, you know, for so solicitors can know. So I started MastermindTalks in 2013. It was an invite-only event for entrepreneurs. We have 4,200 entrepreneurs apply for the first event that was capped at 150 people.
So we've had just shy of 14,000 entrepreneurs apply. And since our inception and our acceptance rate is 0.4%. And this is, I forget what Harvard is, but it's, I think Harvard, Harvard is like 5%, something like that. I've been significantly less than like, wow, most traditional education, you know, universities and stuff like that.
So it's a highly, highly curated group of individuals. It's a high-price point event, every year. Usually, when you have success in the events space, the common strategy is to do bigger events or more events. I [00:25:00] never wanted to do that, instead I wanted to, scale it by raising the caliber of people in attendance every year and raising the price point.
So our last event was 7,500 to attend. And we're going to be raising that again. So just to contain a little bit of picture of like what MastermindTalks is, it's really, you know, if I could boil down the essence of it, not only is it like a highly curated community and there's a lot of the demand and all that kind of stuff.
If I could boil down the essence, it's really great people, great food, great experiences in a beautiful setting with learning kind of intertwined throughout the event. The focus is not on content. More so, its focus is like building relationships, community connections, and that kind of stuff.
Jonathan Levi: Incredible. Incredible. And I mean, I'm looking at the website right now and you've got Tim Ferriss, Ryan Holiday, Hal Elrod, Dave Asprey, Kelly Starrett, who's another one of, kind of my favorite folks out there. Lewis Howes, Tucker Max. I mean, you've got some really, really thought-leading people in here. It's just incredible what you guys have been able to build.
Jayson Gaignard: Yeah, no, it's been, uh, I'm very, very blessed. And it's funny like to hear something again, getting back to investing in people early, and that's why I see almost MastermindTalks is because we're, hand-selecting people that is me investing in people. If I let somebody come into the event, it's on some level I'm kind of investing in them, even though they're paying to be there, but like Hal Elrod, like, you know, we connected, shortly after he did The Miracle Morning and it wasn't this big, that big of a book.
And when I first kind of came across the book, I'm like, oh, it's interesting, but I didn't think much of it. And again, investing in people early on, he's built a hell of a community. I mean, he means, I can't tell you how many books he moves, but he was a crap load of books.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah, we had him on the show, and it's one of our more popular episodes. I have a call with him in an hour, so.
Jayson Gaignard: That's awesome, tell him I said, hey. I will. Yeah, he's a great, great, great guy. But again, he wasn't a big name. Lewis Howes when I met him, was a LinkedIn expert. Right. He didn't have a podcast. He was like, so again, investing in being a talent scout, I think is one of the most underappreciated things you can do when it comes to relationship building and playing by the whole Gary Vaynerchuk, like the wrong game. Right.
Jonathan Levi: I think it's huge. Yeah. Tell us the story Jayson, of, uh, just something incredible that's come out of your relationships with some of these folks.
Jayson Gaignard: There's so much. I mean, my whole life is just, over the last few years, it's just, there's so many, serendipitous kind of moments as far as amazing things. I mean, I've had doors open up for me.
I mean the one that comes top of mind and this is all very kind of recent, I probably shouldn't be sharing it, but I am is like, there's one gentleman I've always wanted to connect with. Oh, Shep Gordon, there you go. Oh, wow. Yeah. So I wanted to connect with him. I briefly connected with him at Summit at Sea, which was the event where you and I connected. Right.
Or at least deepened our relationship to some degree and, I posted a Facebook, I'm like, Oh, I would love to connect with him. I know he's coming out with a book and I'd love to, I actually have a skillset, and being able to, I can move books. So we'd love to connect with them and see how I can support them.
So ended up getting an introduction to him and I'm actually flying to Hawaii, Wednesday, Amazing. Thursday to stay at his place and help him. Amazing. Yes. I mean, that's one example. I can't imagine the office that I'm staying in is an office of one of our attendees, one of the people that comes to our community, it's a free office space that I'm using to do this recording.
Incredible. I posted the Facebook, basically a month ago saying, hey, I need to do, you know, once a week through a call, does anybody know like any co-working spaces I could like check out? And I had a handful of people saying, hey, just use my office space for free. Wow. My whole life is just any value in my life usually common stems from some kind of relationship.
So it's, it's so hard to pinpoint specific stories, but I mean, the Shep Gordon one is one that just comes that's top of mind because I booked my flight for Hawaii yesterday. And that's something again, money could not buy.
Jonathan Levi: No. No. No, absolutely not. And for those in the audience who don't know who Shep Gordon is, he's basically a Hollywood super-agent that represents everybody worth knowing. I mean, one of the most, if not the most connected man in Hollywood and just like more power than God. But a super sweet guy, apparently.
Jayson Gaignard: Oh, sweetheart. Yeah. And then that's yeah. I mean, very, very, very well, very well connected, but uh, yeah, very nice guy. And he was an agent to many kinds of famous artists back in the day and stuff like that, but also made popularize like the celebrity chef, like Emeril Lagasse and all these guys.
So him and I just, we share, a lot of, I haven't had a mentor in a long time and I know a mentor is like a big, heavy thing to say, because it sounds like unpaid job for the one who's doing the mentoring some degree, but I haven't had a mentor in a long time that I really resonated with. He's the first person I've come across in the last few years that I'm like, there's a lot.
I can learn from the sky from a relationship-building perspective, from just a way to how to live. Like just, yeah. So I'm, I'm super excited about that, and it's funny cause people see me and I'm like, you know, you're successful at what you do, like, why would you take like an unpaid gig, you know, trying to connect with like a Shep Gordon or something.
And the truth of matter is I have no problem taking one step back to take like three steps forward. And I think that's a mistake that a lot of people make is that they can't, tangibly put an ROI or some kind of financial compensation for something they don't do it. And mentorship has been huge for me.
So I'm really excited about the opportunity.
Jonathan Levi: Incredible. Just an incredible story, Jayson. I want to switch gears because people are probably wondering in the audience, you know, we're all about practical tips and applicable knowledge. So I think people are probably wondering at this point, you know, given the power of your network, given how much you've leaned on it and said that you know, all the value you've been able to generate comes from it.
What would be your advice to someone in the audience who wants to find and connect with more inspiring, more motivated, more driven, more impactful people to be around and buys into this idea that, you know, if you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room? What would you suggest they do?
Where do they begin? What skills do they need?
Jayson Gaignard: Yeah, I think there's a lot of misconceptions about this. I mean, one of the, if you're in a position where financially, you know, you have some money that you can invest in yourself, I fundamentally believe one of the fastest ways to build your network is through going to events. Specifically, like intimate events, like curated events.
Again, I can look back at certain events and certain groups that I belong to that, you know, the ROI has been tremendous. Yeah. So you're just plugging into a community of like-minded people so that's one of the fastest ways to do it. And for those who don't have money, I mean, there's, you know, there's that saying that you're the average of the five people you spend most time with, right?
Or John wouldn't has a saying that, show me your friends and I'll show you your future. So it's really important to curate who you spend your time with. And that includes like, you know, the you're the average of five people who spend most time with includes like your spouse, if you're married. So hopefully that's not a toxic relationship, you know what I mean,
like, all these people have a huge kind of influence on you. And the common thing that people will say is like, you know, I didn't can't move, or I don't have money to go to this event or that kind of stuff, but you can also, you know, for the first time curate your online influence, right. Like for me, I want to get in shape.
My Instagram is filled with like gymnasts and CrossFitters and all that kind of stuff. Like I have nothing else in there, but that gets another, that's going to influence me and inspire me every time I'm on, on, um, Instagram. On Facebook, if I have anybody who is negative or who talks too much about politics or whatever the case may be, I'm not that into that.
I'm not into that, then I remove them from like my Facebook newsfeed. So you can really curate, you have your, like your physical environment, like your, your day-to-day life, but you also have your virtual one as well. And that's the first place you could start pruning regardless of what financial position you're in or what your status does or any of that kind of stuff.
Is that stuff has a huge influence on you? I also, as far as building your network, I think the importance of doing work for free, I guess, to some degree and mentorship. Yeah. It's been huge or working for, or somebody there's an a, a gentleman named Jarrett who I met recently. He ended up, there's a guy actually, who was part of our community named David Hassell.
And. Yeah, I know him actually.
Jonathan Levi: How funny. Yeah, David's awesome. I know him through EO, which you and I are were both or are both in. Yeah.
Jayson Gaignard: Yeah. So yeah, he's EO San Francisco, a great guy. He was named by Forbes as the most connected guy in Silicon Valley that you don't know. Wow. And he is incredibly connected, but basically, this guy named Jared, when he saw that he reached out to him and said, listen, I'll work for you for free. I just want to be around you basically. And the guy, I think he was 18 at the time, just not like high school, and ended up going to, uh, San Francisco working with them for a year. And then David ended up starting to pay him after the first year.
So it was there for like another year after that, but he absorbed like, so much wisdom from David and also absorbed his network along the way. And he did that by like, you know, being a position where he worked for free. So, you know, apprenticeship, mentorship, like a mentor mentee relationship, I think is often overlooked and it shouldn't be.
Oftentimes, we're hesitant to reach out to somebody and be like, hey, can I learn from you? Or whatever the case may be. But even if somebody is uber successful and I know a lot of successful people where I talked to them and they're like, nobody's ever asked me, like to mentor them or something like that.
And I'm like, really? I'm like, you're so successful, you're so well-known, and I'm like, no nobody's ever asked. So just the act of asking often times. Yeah. Well, we'll get it. And oftentimes, like we've had mentors, like the success that I've had, I can attribute to like mentors in my life. Right. So if somebody comes to me, I feel like it's my duty to quote unquote, send the elevator back down, and like support up in commerce as much as I can.
And oftentimes we can see ourselves in other people. So it's a win-win and that's the one thing that people get wrong about mentorships as well. Is that, there from a mentor's perspective, there's value in it for them as well, even though financially, they're not making money off you or whatever the case may be, being able to like help somebody share wisdom, all that kind of stuff is incredibly valuable.
So I think mentorship, apprenticeship, that kind of stuff, curating your online. You know, experience or even your in-person kind of group, it's a great way to start. There's a few takeaways there.
Jonathan Levi: I think one is, you know, be willing to offer, be willing to give away your time and your energy and stuff like that.
Ask people, you know, so many people are shy, ask people that you admire to mentor you, spend time with you, stuff like that. I'm interested you left out dinner parties cause you actually, you wrote a whole book on dinner parties. I read your book and I read Keith Ferrazzi's book after hanging out with both of you guys at Summit, actually.
So tell me a little bit about these dinner parties. I mean, this is how you started, right? So tell me about the dinner parties why are they so magical? How did they work? The whole deal?
Jayson Gaignard: So I just noticed with probably set me up for that perfectly. I totally glossed over. Yeah, I know I mean so dinners were incredibly, incredibly valuable.
So basically, again, I paid for these out of pocket and I definitely that's one way of doing it. You don't have to do it that way, but at its core, it's about connecting like-minded individuals because, in today's day and age, I don't care who you are, especially the more successful you are, the more isolated you are oftentimes.
So what I started to do was these mastermind dinners. Where I invite six to maybe eight entrepreneurs out for dinner, with a core [00:36:00] focus of connecting them. And it's one of those things like, they get value from connecting with each other. You get value as a by-product for like putting it together.
It's just, it's this incredible, incredible, I guess, relationship-building tool to some degree. And I have another friend of mine named Dan Martell, who does this on like another level. Yeah. Clarity. Yeah, exactly. So he's, he's a little more social than I am to some degree I get worn out after a little while, but he like, he lives in the middle of nowhere.
And one of the trade-offs for that was what he decided to do was every seven weeks he would do like a three-city tour. So he'd fly to New York, he do two meetings in the morning, he'd do a group lunch. He do two meetings in the afternoon, a group dinner, fly to San Francisco, do it all over again. Fly to Toronto, do it all over again, and then go back home.
And then seven weeks later do it all over again. Wow. And I mean, the amount of people he connects with on a yearly basis is banana. Then he doesn't pay for the dinners. Everybody kind of pitches in. I pay for my dinners. Well, A just, I don't know, I've always done it that way. And B there is some reciprocity that's built that way and I don't do it strategically to build reciprocity, but I mean, that is one of the side benefits is if you do enough amazing things for people, then they feel indebted to you and are just chomping at the bait to do something nice for you.
So dinners are an amazing way, but I mean, it doesn't have to be there as it could be coffee meetups, it could be unique experiences. I mean, I'm doing a, uh, rally racing school with a dozen other guys in September, which I'm not making any money from. I just reached out to 12 buddies and I'm like, hey, I'm interested in doing rally racing school, Is anybody else interested?
And they all signed up. So. Yeah, something cost me no money, but I was spending three days with a dozen guys that I can show you when it's all said and done, you know, we'll leave better friends than we are now.
Jonathan Levi: Absolutely. How do you deal with it, cause I read your book? I started doing all these dinner parties.
People these days are so freaking flaky. And they cancel at the last minute and you know, they wait, they give you a, maybe to like the night before and then say, no, how do you deal with flakiness? I mean, how do you get people to actually show up in this day and age? I mean, as he said, sorry, he did this whole comedy bit about how we wait till the last, last minute.
We're like, I don't know what I'm doing. I don't really know. And then Friday night comes, you end up doing nothing. So how do you deal with that?
Jayson Gaignard: Yeah, I have to listen to that a comedy bit. I haven't heard it. So it's been a while since I've done this from the ground up. I mean, when I first did this, my response rate, if I was lucky was maybe 5%.
I started with no network, whatsoever. I know relationships and for contacts I mean, people see me as a super connected guy. I got married on September 1st, 2012. A few weeks prior to that, I had a bachelor party. I had two people there, my brother and my brother-in-law. I knew nobody. I had no relationships whatsoever.
So what I've achieved in the last three years, four years, I guess now, you know, can be replicated and doing the dinners is one of the ways. So back then, how I used to do the dinners was I, there was a newspaper in Canada where I'm based out of the headline business listings, like the top 500 businesses in Canada.
And I would reach out to them cold and we be like, hey, I'm doing a dinner with other people from this magazine wants to know if he wants to come. And again, I was lucky if I got a 5% response rate and then I would get people cancel last minute and that kind of stuff. But as you go along and as you start to build the reputation and also to build up this almost confidence to some degree, it definitely gets a lot easier and a lot better.
And in contrast, last year, I did one in New York for, I think I invited 34 people and these are like New York Times best-selling author was like, it was just a killer killing group of people. And 33 of them ended up showing up the one guy who couldn't come told me, like a couple of days in advance. So it wasn't like the last-minute flake thing.
So it does get better. You just have to keep at it. And also as you do them, I think also the caliber of people I've been able to get at these dinners over the years has helped, as well. But you don't get the Tim Ferriss to show up, you know, or the Richard Bransons to show up at your dinner right out of the gate.
So you kind of start and you work your way up. And after a while, it gets significantly easier. And if somebody flakes on me, that's actually, to me, I rather, they flake on me at a dinner than flake on me in a business deal. You know what I mean? Like I'd rather know that this is not somebody I want to in my life or my business, whatever the case may be.
I'd rather know that in advance over something small then later on down the road. So yeah, I mean, it's a good kind of vetting system. I guess you can look at it from that perspective as well.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah, I think that's really sage advice. Definitely. Jayson, I want to ask, I know we're getting towards the end here.
I'm going to set you up intentionally again and ask you what is next for you. What are you working on now? I understand you're working on another book.
Jayson Gaignard: Yeah, so I, I did Mastermind Dinners as a book and it was really like random how it happened. Uh, yeah. I never had the intention of ever writing a book, but ended up, I had a lot of people ask me how I used to do these dinners and there was no resources online or anything like that.
So I decided to do just a podcast episode on it. And it was one of the most followed up on podcasts episodes, as far as people asking additional questions or that kind of stuff would be, we're actually implementing these dinners. So I decided to elaborate on it and do a little book. It's 14,000 words. So it's a hundred pages.
So it's a, it's a short read. You can read it for about an hour. The book turned out to be a pretty good success. I mean, for the amount of effort I put into it, it, it did exceptionally well. So I don't mind it, but I've been, you know, over the last couple of years, I've been labeled as like the super-connector or master networker and those kinds of things.
And there's no grade books and this is no shot at Keith Ferrazzi because you may not some of them earlier, but I don't believe there's any great books about relationship building currently in the marketplace. And a lot of the books that are out there are very kind of tactical, but it's one of those things like they don't touch on like who you need to be in order to build great relationships.
Cause you gotta have the greatest tactics in the world. But if you're inauthentic, if you're you have a scarcity mindset, all that kind of stuff, it's not going to do you any good. It'll do more harm than good. And same thing of like having a crappy product and great marketing, you can have world-class marketing and all that's going to do is help people realize quicker that your product is garbage.
Right? So. I have some really kind of unconventional approaches to relationship building. One of them being, you know, investing in people like you'd invest in business because amazing people become increasingly amazing over time. And that flies in the face of a lot of traditional kind of networking advice, which is a lot of like, here's how you use LinkedIn and get 20,000 contacts.
And it's all about collecting, right? Having more people and more people, more people. I have absolutely no desire or very little desire to meet more people. My focus is going deep with the relationships I already have. And I almost look at my relationships as I look at my life to some degree, almost like a Spartan.
Right. It used to be said that like a Spartan was worth several men in another state. I kind of look at my relationships like that. Like I want to have a core group of, let's say 150 or 200 people where I go deep with them because I know if I have 200 quote unquote, Tim Ferriss' or Ryan Holiday's in my network.
I don't need, you know,10,000 people. I don't need to know 10,000 people. I know the key people right? So I'm looking always for that, quality over quantity. So, I mean, that's one of the, again, unconventional ways I look at relationship building, which flies in the face of a lot of traditional wisdom out there.
So I'm working on a book that should come out later on the year or early next year on that, where I tried to put everything in the book and kind of close off that chapter of my life of being like the master networker. And then, um, just planning MastermindTalks. I mean, our next event is next May and we just locked down the venue and it's a full-time gig.
It's funny because people hear about the events and like you only do one event a year. I'm like, yeah, we do. But it's like, you know, today I'm meeting up with four other people in our community. Like going deep again to know what, like what's going on in their business and all that kind of stuff. I'm in this beautiful position where there's hardly any lines between like work, play, and family.
It's just this blurred kind of machine to some degree. And so even though MastermindTalks is only once a year. I'm working on it [00:44:00] all year long.
Jonathan Levi: Brilliant. Sounds like a fantastic, fantastic project. It sounds like you've really found your calling and finally work that you love a hell of a lot more than the concierge service.
Jayson Gaignard: Absolutely. Yeah, for sure.
Jonathan Levi: Amazing. So, Jayson, I want to ask if people want to get in touch and learn more about what you're doing, get in touch with you, stuff like that. Where would you like us to send them?
Jayson Gaignard: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you can check out MastermindTalks, but I mean, we haven't opened up the event to the general public in the last couple of years.
So, I mean, if you want to check out more about the event you can do so there, but Mastermind Dinners is the book I kind of share some of my philosophy is on relationship building and very tactically, how I do those dinners. And then probably if you care to reach out to me on Twitter is maybe one of the easiest ways.
So that's Jayson, Jayson Gaignard on Twitter, which is J A Y S O N G A I G N A R D.
Jonathan Levi: Very cool. Jayson, I'm going to ask one last question before we close today. And that is if people take away one lesson from this episode and they carry it with them for the rest of their lives, what would you hope for that lesson to be?
Jayson Gaignard: Definitely invest in people like you'd invest in the business.
I think it's so, underappreciated. And it's one of the best things you can do from a relationship-building perspective. And just I'll end on one last thing. The importance of relationships beyond the context of business is shocking. It's profound. I mean, there's a Ted Talk about this Harvard study, which was the longest study in history and they've shown, I think it's like an 85-year study and they've shown that,
what has a greater impact on your overall health and longevity, it's not diet, it's not exercising, it's your social connections. And your sense of like family and belonging in your tribe to some degree. And there's been a ton of studies like that over the years. So, you know, your overall happiness is tied to your social circles.
You're obviously, if you're an entrepreneur your business success, even if you're not an entrepreneur, your career success. I mean, a lot of the jobs you get is from knowing people and introductions and all that kind of stuff. It is by far, in my opinion, one of the most undervalued thing in today's society is the importance of connections, community, and a tribe.
Jonathan Levi: Brilliant. I'm going to take away a lot of that stuff. I definitely learned a lot in this episode. I think I need to get a fire under my ass and start deleting some better relationships. It's embarrassing that we haven't talked since, uh, November. So, Jayson, I want to thank you so much for your time. And I know everyone definitely gained a lot from this episode.
Jayson Gaignard: I appreciate you having me. Thanks, man. All right, man.
Jonathan Levi: You take care, and hopefully I'll see you, uh, at an event very soon.
Jayson Gaignard: I'm sure. We'll make it happen. Cool brother, take care.
Jonathan Levi: Bye. All right Superfriends, that's it for this week's episode, we hope you really, really enjoyed it and learn a ton of applicable stuff that can help you go out there and overcome the impossible.
If so, please do us a favor and leave us a review on iTunes or Stitcher, or however you found this podcast. In addition to that, we are. Always looking for great guest posts on the blog or awesome guests right here on the podcast. So if you know somebody or you are somebody, or you have thought of somebody who would be a great fit for the show or for our blog, please reach out to us either on Twitter or by email our email is email@example.com. Thanks so much.
Closing: Thanks for tuning in to the Becoming Superhuman Podcast. For more great skills and strategies, or for links to any of the resources mentioned in this episode, visit www.becomingasuperhuman.com/podcast. We'll see you next time