*Image courtesy of Pexels.com
Hey there! If you're not a follower of Marie Forleo's and/or an alumni of her online business program called B-School, this post might not make much sense to you, lol.
... That said, everyone is, of course, welcome and encouraged to read. It's actually a good lesson for ALL online marketers, coaches, thought leaders, and, well, anyone who uses Facebook groups in their own business.
What Is Marie Forleo's B-School?
According to the B-School website:
B-School is the gold-standard online training experience for entrepreneurs and values-driven creatives who want to build a meaningful, profitable business [and the right business] .
Whether you’re just starting out or taking an existing company to new heights, our step-by-step training gives you all the tools and support you need to fast-track your growth — saving you years of expensive trial and error.
With the use of a very slick membership site, "fun sheets" worksheets, email list, online community, personal development, and additional support, modern entrepreneurs with a business idea can learn how to have online businesses. (Your mileage may vary).
Who Is Marie Forleo?
Marie is "an entrepreneur, speaker and writer dedicated to helping you create a business and life you love." She's a thought leader, creator of the award-winning Marie TV, New York Times best-selling author, and more.
For online multi-passionate entrepreneurs and business owners, she shares a lot of free trainings resources and then has several paid offerings, including most notably B-School.
There are some prominent B-School grads like Amy Porterfield and actress Bryce Dallas Howard and Marie is connected to celebs like Oprah Winfrey.
How Much Does B-School Cost?
It would be considered a high-ticket program, originally costing $2,000 and now $2,500. (So you can see why people are so invested, literally and figuratively, with Marie and her community!). It's a lifetime membership; you pay once and can take B-School as many times as you wish.
Okay, now to the main point of this post ...
So, here's the scoop on the group:
As of 08-10-20, the main B-School Facebook Group called "B-Schoolers" has been turned into a "legacy" group and will no longer be run by Marie and Team Forleo.
There were over 31,000 members in this active group that had been in existence for, I believe, over 10 years. So, yeah, it's a big deal.
First, Some Background ...
These are my observations of what happened - the beginning of the end - and I apologize for any errors, omissions, or misremembered facts. I can only call it like i saw it, lol.
The B-School alumni group ran fine for most of the years I was part of it, from February 2015 (when I purchased Marie Forleo's B-School via an affiliate link) to present. When I first joined the group, I loved it.
In the private Facebook group for Marie's program, I asked and answered a lot of online business-related questions; I encouraged and was encouraged by others; I found general camaraderie and some biz BFFs that I (still) chat with daily and weekly; I made connections that became clients or referred me to potential clients; and lots more.
Why I wasn't around
In recent years, I noticed a lot more "veiled self-promo" and then out-and-out pitching in the group, so I quit spending much time there, as that's a huge pet peeve of mine :D That nonsense used to not be tolerated but it seemed as if the moderators no longer cared.
If anything, in years past, the group was OVER-moderated and they would delete posts that technically complied with the rules.
However, as the national discussion turned to racial injustice issues in 2019/20, a lot happened inside the group and with how the group was run that many felt were not handled well. (This part I've tried to piece together as best I can since I had quit hanging out there).
Lack of moderation, leadership, and safety
There were many complaints about the moderation of the group (or lack thereof), especially pertaining to BIPOC posts and issues, to which Team Forleo responded, essentially, "We're working on getting training, more mods, etc. but we value our downtime and can't be here 24/7 so we're cutting the 'open hours.'"
This resulted in the B-School group being Archived most of the time, open only M-F from 9am-2pm EST, which made it very inconvenient or almost impossible to utilize the group unless you were in the EST.
If you could manage to get a post in during that small timeframe, the group would close again before you could get any responses. By the next day, your question had dropped to the bottom of the group again.
So it was pointless to post anything. The moderators' main role at that point seemed to be "bumping" posts that had dropped in the hopes people would get some responses.
More complaints ensued. Open hours were changed to 2x per weekday, something like 9am-1pm and 3pm-7pm EST. Still more complaints, as this addressed those of us in PST but others around the world were sleeping and/or having early morning 'get family ready' time during those hours.
Taken by surprise ...
Upon the team's return from their annual 2-week "everyone's off" vacation (what??? they took a vacation during all of this turmoil??), more personal apologies from Marie, with more changes, diversity, inclusion, and other improvements promised.
As of 08-10-20, we were still waiting for those to be fully implemented ... right up until we logged into the B-Schoolers Facebook group on a Monday morning and got this unexpected message ...
What Marie Said
Here's a quick summary of Marie's video statement
She said (non-verbatim) ....
... I wrote you a letter; it will be linked in comments below [there was nothing linked in comments; I assume she means the written post that the video was attached to; see below]
... we have been listening and taking in your feedback
... I realized that less than half of B-Schoolers are in the Facebook group
... I'm being called to a higher level of service, focus, where I can do the most good and service B-Schoolers at the highest level
... I feel it's best to do it where ALL the B-Schoolers are, in the program itself
... the B-Schoolers Facebook group is now 100% in your hands - we have lifted all guidelines, rules
... for you to create what's in your hearts
... she loves us, believes in us, and is excited for this new chapter in our creative evolutions
... to take good care of ourselves and each other
What Marie Said in the "Farewell Facebook Group" Post
Again, here is a non-verbatim summary of the Facebook post announcing the legacy group:
2020 has been a year of transition and change.
When B-School started, there was no FB group; it was started and run by a member for the first few years and it grew
For several years, Team Forleo stepped in to help, hoped to provide support in the B-Schooler journey after the program ended
They did their best, they're human/imperfect, large group, lots of opposing views
Main thrust of the recent feedback has been freedom and autonomy
In this transitional period, it's time to return the group to it's alumni roots
Effective immediately [posted 08-10-20 at 9:17am PST], we're turning the group over to you with total autonomy 24/7
All guidelines and restrictions have been removed
Since it's a collective, we won't assign any one person; it's up to the group how you'd like to continue
Though we all are removed from the group, we appreciate our time with you
We're now going to focus on the core of B-School and improving that
Data shows that less than half of alumni are in this group and even fewer participate, and many are leaving Facebook altogether
Since every B-School member is in the program member area, our focus will be to provide equity and access via the B-School program itself
This is now a legacy group where you can still connect and have total autonomy
We all have to decide for ourselves where our work is, how and where we can best contribute our efforts toward a better world
Thank you to Sally who started the group, Team Forleo, moderators, and B-Schoolers. I look forward to connecting with you in the B-School program and future endeavors.
PS: Legal disclaimer about having no responsibility for nor affiliation with the Facebook group
The group has been a free complimentary bonus to the paid B-School program.
It's now a legacy group with no new members being added and existing members can continue as you wish.
We'll leave comments open for some time but won't be responding. Will continue listening to feedback; you can also contact us at the alumni email address.
*Note: Please do not use the above to quote Marie or speak for her intentions, as I paraphrased her language and a lot can be lost in translation, right?
Within less than 2 days of being posted, the thread has 929 comments which seem to me, without doing an official count, to be about 50/50 for and against Marie and her decision.
What's Being Said, Felt, and Questioned
I spent the first 2 days reading through lots of threads - including Marie's "goodbye" thread - in the B-Schoolers group, on my friends' Profile posts, B-Schooler subgroup posts, etc.
Here's a list of things I "overheard" (being clear here ... these are not my thoughts but a compilation of things I heard others saying). Statements have been paraphrased in most cases.
- Are we witnessing the beginning of the end for Facebook?
- I feel like I was just broken up with over text.
- Who wants to moderate anything for free these days?
- She made her money from us already; alumni have nothing more to offer her.
- This group has been great but I can imagine it's a total nightmare to manage. It's so far beyond what anyone should expect from an online course.
- That legal statement at the end makes it seem like she's just trying to avoid legal responsibility for things like the refund requests from her Black customers.
- All the members really wanted was to have the full-time hours restored and the posting restrictions lifted. The group didn't need to be abandoned.
- I just joined B-School in 2020 and now I feel really shortchanged. Everyone else got to build connections and find their biz besties, but I haven't been given the time.
- I was looking forward to hearing what she'd learned from her studies on diversity and inclusivity
- I'm sure she'll include what she learned in the next version of B-School.
- Change is inevitable, especially in this crazy year. Let's respect Marie's decision and make the best of the situation.
- Complete abdication of responsibility. Lead it or close it.
- The group may have been a "free" bonus but it was a large part of why I bought B-School. Every review I read that convinced me to sign up said the group was the best part.
- You didn't pay $2,000 for this group. You paid for her 8-week digital course that you have lifetime access to including yearly updates.
- There's still support from B-School; it's in the members area
- Comments are currently closed; they close after the live run of B-School [every March] which is why the group is so important
- Instead of you investing the money, time, and energy to make this work, it feels like you're putting the emotional labor back onto the collective
- This Facebook group was never something she created or sold—and she’s been paying to have it moderated for free for years. She isn’t required to do that, and I feel lucky for the time and money she and her team have invested here.
- This it the online version of Lord of the Flies
- This is our chance to step up and make the community what we want it to be
- Why didn't she just make it a paid group or take it off of Facebook altogether?
- She tried that about 7 years ago (remember Ning?); people hated it and the group came back to Facebook
And the one everyone wanted to claim credit for but no one knows who said first: "I guess everything ISN'T figureoutable." 😆 Referring of course to Marie's catch phrase which was the basis for her book and planner.
Group Members Are Leaving
As of 08-10-20, the day of the Big Announcement, the group had 31,425 members. As of 08-28-20 (2+ weeks later), it now has 29,940 members. I saw many complain that the group was no longer solely business-focused and therefore they were leaving. Others said they had no patience for "the drama." But many are obviously staying around too, me included.
The Problem With an Admin-less Facebook Group
Within the first couple days after 8/10, the Administrators who were showing for the group varied from profiles named "Team Forleo", "Marie Forleo", and a random name on a brand new profile with no history, no friends, and no posts.
Essentially, that left a group of 31K+ members without an admin. In her statement, Marie said she and her team would no longer moderate the group, allow in new members, etc. Yet "we" the members had no control either.
Also, rumor has it that Facebook will shut down a group that has no clear admin or no admin that's a real person (which these were not). So the group could disappear with no notice.
Just Archive the B-Schoolers Group Permanently
One of the best things I ever learned was from an old boss. I went to him for advice when upper management was yet again making me the "Coordinator" for a program that I would facilitate but not have decision-making power over. He said, "Never accept responsibility without authority."
And that is exactly the position "we" the B-Schoolers members were put into when Marie abandoned the group. We were expected to run the group but we had no admin powers over it. We were unable to:
- add members
- post or therefore enforce rules
- pin posts or announcements
- moderate/close comments that get out of control
- delete spammy posts
- block repeat offenders
These things are all CRUCIAL for running an effective Facebook group, especially one that's a safe place for all members. For instance, if racist or other hate speech occurs, it stays visible for all to see and be adversely affected by.
We can't mute, block, or delete the member; we can't delete their hateful comments; we can't even make a rule against hate speech. You can report people to Facebook but, well ... Facebook 🙄
So back then my opinion was this: Permanently archive the group on September 1, 2020. That gives Team Forleo time to post a "heads up" in the group and on all B-School/Marie Forleo social media, send us several emails about it, and give fair warning.
Those who choose to can make connections, start or join new groups, etc. "Grab what you want on the way out, give your last self-promo push, and say your goodbyes!"
The Group Has Been Turned Over to the Members
But other developments have since occurred that I'm quite happy with. Some Zoom calls have taken place, plans to take over the group with our own admins have been formed and implemented, communication with Marie/team have been helpful, and we now have our first 10 admin/moderators in place.
The collective energy has (mostly) been great, open, inclusive, helpful, and supportive. We're now voting on a new group name. There's a clear intention to have a diverse group of moderators from all backgrounds - and time zones! :)
Unfortunately, there has also been some real ugliness on display by a small percentage of members, which just enforces the need for strong admin/moderators who can shut down harmful dialogue and make the group into the safe space we want and need. (That's all we were asking Marie for, really).
So the whole dynamic in Marie Forleo's B-Schoolers group been quite fascinating to watch and learn from.
Will B-School Access Be Affected by This Change to the B-School Group?
It's an unanswerable question at this point. There's a thread in the group suggesting we all download our B-School modules just in case and I'll likely do that.
Although B-School includes "lifetime access," like any other online course, that means for the lifetime of the product, not for MY lifetime, ha! I plan to live to 100+ so that would be loooong time yet.
So, sure, like some are saying, Marie could close B-School, rebrand it, do something completely new, or retire. We don't know what the future holds. Nothing wrong with keeping a backup copy, which we all should've probably done already anyway, given general tech mishaps and such.
But I don't think the B-School program is going *poof* tomorrow just because she abandoned the B-Schoolers Facebook group.
Moving Forward from the B-School Facebook Group Being Abandoned
If you're a B-Schooler and you just lost your cherished Facebook group, I'm so sorry 🙏🏼.. It may not seem like much to others. However, if you were in the group, especially if you were a member for years and made meaningful connections there, you know how special it was.
But now that it's gone, dying, not what it was ... what is the way forward? How can we find positivity and connection? Here are a few ideas:
1. Join existing B-School subgroups. It appears that the original B-School Subgroups doc has been deleted from the Files section but it's being reconstructed.
2. Be actively involved in what's being salvaged from the ashes of the original B-School group. Make it what you want it to be and if you don't participate, you don't get to complain later on :D
3. Hold your B-School friends dear. Reach out to lost connections. Support each others' businesses and social media accounts. Check on each other. Stay in touch. Encourage encourage encourage!
As we all know, being an entrepreneur is a rollercoaster - so celebrate the highs with each other and be there for the lows to pick each other up again.
Okay? I love you.