The lessons I outline in this blog post have come from watching Stu McLaren, and by participating in his flagship course (formerly called TRIBE) the last few years – but, these lessons aren’t unique to memberships, or membership model businesses.

1. Sometimes the hype is real

I’ll be the first to say it – I’m generally a skeptic.

When I hear someone recommend a “guru” they think I should follow, I often nod along and internally brace myself to be underwhelmed.

So, it took several people recommending Stu before I even took a look. And in 2019 when I signed up for his free workshop series I did it see what the fuss was about, without any actual plans to buy.

But, Stu showed up – and delivered. Big time.

Vegas Buffet

And I bought as soon as the cart opened.

I’m kinda a marketing junky, so I try to watch carefully to see how people operate, making mental notes about the rate and cadence of their emails, the design and flow of their course content, and all the moving pieces that comprise the customer experience – and Stu, and the Tribe team, are the real deal.

I went through his flagship course in 2019, and have every year since.

The lesson here isn’t that all gurus walk the walk (many don’t) – just that once in a while, the hype is real.

So, keep your eyes peeled.

2. How diverse membership can be

The OG membership has been part of my business since long before I heard about Stu, and The Membership Experience (formerly called TRIBE); but through the Stu’s never-ending stream of examples, I really started to understand just how many different types of membership models there are.

Through his community I’ve met membership site owners, and heard stories from countless industries, ranging from arts and crafts, to coaching, to supporting those who take care of their elderly loved ones, to music, elementary school teachers, photography, or folks turning their pets into instagram influencers.

Cooper Beach

The list of examples goes on and on.

The lesson here is that sometimes our personal lens prevents us from seeing angles that might be valuable

3. The value of a success path

I’ve learned heaps from the The Membership Experience course itself, but perhaps the biggest takeaway is the concept of a “Success Path”.

You can dig in deep with this blog post of mine, but the basic concept is that it maps the path you want your members to take, and the transformation it helps create for them.

And the Success Path isn’t just a tool for your customers – it’s also the key to creating your own content, such that it aligns with their journey, and supports members from milestone to milestone.

If you zoom out a level – the success path concept isn’t even unique to memberships. It’s really about the change that anything you sell helps take place – it maps the route from where the customer started to where they want to end up.

The lesson here is to show people the roadmap that will get them where they want to go.

4. All progress matters

Thousands of small businesses enroll in The Membership Experience each year – and some folks are just starting out, with nothing more than an idea; while others may have mature memberships, with thousands of members.

And one clear lesson has been that everyone can make progress – and that all progress matters.

The key to this is recognizing that everyone’s progress is personal. And there isn’t a finite amount of progress to go around – seeing how Stu models this, and celebrates big and small milestones alike has helped me recognize and do the same for my audience.

I serve Keap users – and some are brand new to the software, while others have had it for years. It bends my brain to ask “how can I be a fit for these different types of people who have different needs?”

The way I think about it is sort of like a Las Vegas Buffet.

Vegas Buffet

There is more there than any one person needs, but everyone who visits leaves full.

Monkeypod (and TME too) have more than any individual likely needs – but there is something for everyone.

The lesson here is that each person gets to decide how they make progress, and all progress matters.

What you put on your plate depends on your appetite.

Real quick: I should point out that I am an affiliate of Stu’s course – and even though this post isn’t directly about the TME course, I’ve got a few links coming up and I’ll get a commission if you decide to purchase The Membership Experience through my affiliate link (but at no extra cost to you).

I’ve gone through this course the last few years. It’s good. Like, very good.

If you know you want to sign up you can check it out here – Sign Up Here >>

5. Your vibe attracts your tribe

When I was first introduced to Stu I remember thinking “Okay, this guy is a little disney for me…”.

And, to his credit, is pretty much the only sort-of-negative thing I can say about the man today.

He’s the real deal – and as a result, he attracts folks who appreciate that.

Among his many quotable quips is “Your vibe attracts your tribe”, and it’s evident in his community.

Stu is generous – and committed. He cheers people on, and loves to celebrate success.

And that vibe is echoed throughout not just his team, but also the participants in the course. If you join The Membership Experience, you’ll see that the group going through the course is upbeat, supportive, and helpful.

The lesson here is that the vibe you put out affects the audience you’re building and serving, so be intentional about it.

Stu Quote

6. Launching is an art form

Having been around the digital marketing space for a while now I am familiar with the concept of a product launch.

But until Stu’s workshop series in 2019 I had never really understood the artistry behind it.

Don’t get me wrong – the free workshop series is valuable on it’s own, even if you don’t register for the full course; but it is a runway that leads into his launch.

And it is masterful.

Vegas Buffet

The first time I went through it was just mystifying.

I was, along with thousands of others, swimming in expert advice, valuable business lessons, and real world examples – all set against the backdrop of massive community engagement.

It was staggering – both powerful and impressive (remember, I bought the first night the cart opened).

But the second time I went through it I had more of an academic lens – I wanted to deconstruct the experience so I could understand the mechanics behind it.

This process made me appreciate it even more. I realized it wasn’t an accident – it’s an art form.

Even if you don’t have a membership or any plans for one, I still recommend signing up for the free workshop series just to watch an elite professional at the top of his game.

You can sign up here.


So, obviously there are a bunch of lessons here – but perhaps the biggest takeaway is that we can learn from both what someone says, AND how they say it.

If you decide to sign up for The Membership Experience – that’s great, I think it’s valuable.

But even if it isn’t for you, I’ve learned heaps just from watching how Stu and his team run their business, and I think there’s value just in watching those who are great at their craft.

Who is on your list of folks worth following?