It’s time to pull the curtain back on something.
A year ago I was approached with the idea of joining a mastermind group. Mastermind groups are a timeless idea given name by Napoleon Hill. They are a group of similarly minded people who can build each other up, help each other move forward, and coordinate business efforts.
Mastermind groups are about creating harmony and invigorating business. They’re about helping each other.
Sometimes an exceptional businessperson will start a mastermind and charge people to join. These are situations where someone has achieved astounding success and is selling their expertise to attendants.
Monique built up a mastermind group, a fantastic one. We helped each other out through many things. We formed incredibly deep bonds, built each other up, and helped each of us through incredible insecurities. All this took place in my office, which I opened up to her.
While all this was going on, Monique Alvarez was working behind the scenes to monetize this mastermind group. She charged three new attendants, who we found out were being charged after the fact. .
Of course, she was charging these new people while using my office. So she was charging people for the use of my office.
On top of this, she moved from Tucson, AZ to San Carlos, Mexico out of the blue and started having us remote her in to what were in-person meetings
Our group came to an end on a Tuesday. She let us know the associated Facebook group would be deleted that Friday as her business was evolving to support only female entrepreneurs. I’m cool with that — I’m all for minority support.
I asked if it would be cool with her (out of courtesy, because I’m going to do what’s right for my friends and colleagues) if I started a second mastermind group. She gave me her blessing to do so. I immediately created the supplemental Facebook group and started to coordinate new meetings. I knew there would be some scheduling changes as there was some insinuation that some of the female members would be continuing with the new iteration of the group.
Fine, no problem. We’ll take a break and coordinate plans to move forward. That’s not a problem.
A couple days after doing all this, the Thursday before the original group was to be shut down, I let Monique know what we were doing. Again, this was out of professional courtesy. I expected a “Thank you for letting me know! Best of luck continuing with each other!”
Here’s what was actually said. My text is in blue, her’s is in green.
Me: I wanted to give you a heads up. We’re continuing the Tuesday group with a few modifications. Thank you so much for your guidance and wisdom the past…three quarters? Year? I don’t remember the length, but it’s been amazing.
And happy anniversary.
Monique: You realize that I’m continuing my Tuesday group right? Are you asking people to not continue with me in order to be in your group?
What do you mean? Everything we heard was that the Tuesday group was ending and the facebook group was being shut down Friday.I said I am continuing Holistic Mastermind on Tuesdays. Two changes going forward. 1. It’s for women. 2. It’s a virtual meeting.I also outlined it in the group.Once again thank you all for a spectacular journey for the last 10 months. I have created a affiliate program for Holistic Mastermind, Total Wellness Retreats and e~Courses. I pay 30% commission for referrals to all my services and products. Here is the direction Holistic Mastermind is going and when the next round will start.I’ll close this group down on Friday so if you want to download worksheets etc please do so by then. Thank you for being part of my life and business. Here’s to the next chapter!The men felt left in the lurch and without any group, so we took the initiative to try and create something. We’re not trying to hijack anything nor are we trying to compete. We’re just trying to create something that works for us.You only asked the men to join you?I created a group with people I trust and have grown close to with plans to continue meeting.I know.I would have contacted you privately about this if the tables were turned. Out of respect.I have no idea what you’re upset about. The group is coming to an end, you’re creating a new one, and I took initiative on a deadline to maintain some sort of meeting. As this meeting wouldn’t include you, or any virtual connections, there wasn’t really any reason to reach out. I wanted to officially let you know out of respect.Who did you approach about the group? Did you approach<redacted>?You approached my clients.
I approached my friends and colleagues, some of whom may be your clients. There is not a set meeting time, date, or format. As such, I shall endeavor to set it so there is no conflict with your continuing group.
Those of us who are not a part of your continuing group will be working to set that time.
She couldn’t handle actual conversation about a misunderstanding so she disconnected, ran off, and hid. She told other people that I violated the terms of our group by creating another. She claims that I tried to get her clients to leave her.
Let me be clear: I didn’t care one whit who her clients were. I just wanted to keep the band of colleagues we had together. We all knew that we were going to be finding a new time so those who wanted to stick with Monique Alvarez’s “Holistic Mastermind” could do so. That they could stay with the group they wanted AND stay with us.
Did I approach her clients? Absolutely. I approached them because they were my friends and trusted colleagues.
Did I try to get them not to continue with her continuing group? Emphatically no. Let me rephrase that, if you don’t understand “emphatically.” Hell no.
Let me reiterate: I did not try to get them to end their relationship with Monique’s continuing group.
We demanded no exclusivity whatsoever. We didn’t even expect, encourage, or think about it. Group exclusivity had exactly as much space in our minds as the mating habits of seahorses (which, incidentally, is far more interesting than hoarding group members for yourself).
Okay, so let’s recap so far: Monique charged people to attend an event at my office without asking me about compensation to build a business inside my walls and she then moved away and made us video chat her in.
What am I missing?
Oh. Right. She used our mastermind group, where we were incredibly vulnerable and open with each other, to recruit new clients for her husband’s web design company.
Oh man, I’m sorry. I should have put it in quotes.
*air quote* “web design company” *air quote*
His websites are bad. However since I don’t have firsthand experience and expanding on this more would violate the confidentiality of my group and colleagues, I’m keeping it there. But man, it’s like WordPress and Geocities had a premature baby in the early 90’s.
Recruiting for further services from a group of vulnerable people is the stuff of Scientology and Jonestown. Not business groups. Not masterminds.
So Monique built a business within my walls and didn’t let me know she was using my office to generate actual revenue. She asked me to open up on Mondays so she could run a second group (which I was not part of), which I did because I’m like that — helpful to a fault. I just learned she was making money off that group, too. She then has the gall to say that I approached her clients.
Let me be clear: I now care who her clients are. I want her to lose every single one of them. I want her business to crash and burn, and it’s not from spite. I want it to fail because she believes her wanderlust is due to a nomadic nature. It is not. Her wanderlust is there because she uses up her resources in one place, then moves to another. She is the personal equivalent of the logging company in Fern Gully. She moves through area after area feeding on the emotional resources of everyone around her. Once she’s exposed, she disappears and moves on.
She then posts triumphant blog posts about how life works in her favor and she makes the most of situations.
That’s not untrue: she does make the most of situations. But it’s as a narcissistic opportunist, not an adaptable entrepreneur.
So now she’s told people that I violated my agreement with the group after I talked with myfriends and tried to find a new time to meet so we could continue boosting each other. She accused me of hijacking the group and poaching clients. She made money while using my space and didn’t give a cut to the person who made it possible, even when they opened up for a meeting they weren’t a part of.
So if you’re considering doing business with this woman, let me illuminate what you’re signing up for:
- She’ll take your deepest, darkest secrets and use them against you to make a point
- She’ll go after more than just your presence in the group and try to get you to use their sub-par webdesign and advertising services
- She’ll cut you off as soon as you hint that your funds for her are limited
- She’ll dismiss you after bringing up constructive criticism
- She’ll listen only as long as it suits her own motive
- She’s on your side only as long as your position helps hers
Take note of how there are absolutely no places to leave unbiased reviews. The only reviews available are testimonials from her webpage. They’re highly censored and wholly crafted.
I promised an open letter, here it is.
For the better part of a year I gave a lot of time, energy, and attention to the Mastermind Group. From the outset we came to decisions democratically, by popular agreement, and we soon decided to stop meeting at coffee shops and meet at my office. This was wonderful.
We expanded, and you apparently started charging new members. You brought someone in who somehow got inside information on each of us, and had her say extraordinarily personal things under the guise of “intuitive evaluations.”
When you ended it and went against everything we started as, you hurt all of us. When we took the initiative to make things right and fix it, you went off and chastised us. No, you didn’t chastise us, you unloaded on us. When we tried to give constructive criticism, you played the victim and dismissed any concerns.
We’re tired of it, Monique. We’re tired of seeing this crap and we’re tired of the drama you keep injecting. We’re tired of how you keep stringing along the people we’re close with and have grown to love.
As you gallivant around the Americas pretending to find yourself we’re here working on our businesses. I’m lucky in that I never entrusted you with my operations, but those who have definitely regret it.
The great irony is that our businesses are built on honesty and service while yours seems to be built upon deception and empty promises. That’s okay, though, because the fire of deception powers the furnaces of strength and resolve.
Most of us (save for one former member — you know who she is) are better off for having been through the group. You started the group and made it feel like ours. At the beginning of the last quarter you revealed that you didn’t feel like it was truly our group, but your group that we were all members of.
Monique, I would beg of you to change how you operate. The problem is that you don’t see it as a problem. It’d be like asking a tornado to back off into a breeze or an adder to make its venom weaker. You are who you are, and that’s unfortunate for the people who get trapped in your charming web.
I’m proud to be detested by you. You called many of us “your haters” when everything happened after the dissolution of the group. We never hated you. We loved you. We accepted you. It was only when you turned your fury against us and revealed yourself to be blind to our actions and reasons did we crave disconnection from you.
I don’t hate you. I have no reason to. Hating you would be like hating the ocean for a tsunami. The only problem I have is how to warn the ships in the harbor about the impending inevitable storm.
You might actually read this someday. If you do, I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you’ll get angry. I also know that the reason you’ll get angry is because I have struck a nerve of truth within you.
What you do with that nerve is entirely up to you.
I don’t know how you, fair reader, will react to this. But I do hope you take some of these things into consideration before considering working with her. There are better mastermind groups one can join at her price. There are better local ones you can join and, if there aren’t, then you can easily make one.
You don’t have to rely on her for her ideas, as she’s really only recycled others’ ideas and labelled them as hers. Be cautious of who you open up to, because there are vampires out there who want everything you have.
In the ending words of Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood. “I’m finished.”