If you’re facing something exciting or alarming, it’s good to have support. That’s what the Whizzy Group is for. It provides a space to try out ideas, seek advice and feedback, and share mutual encouragement.
It’s a place to make your ideas real.
The first Whizzy Group was set up in January 2021, to run as a three-month trial. I had some Fairly Big Things coming up, and invited a group of talented individuals to join me in a weekly get-together online.
I wanted the support of people who could hold me to account, and for whom I could do the same.
I was borrowing an idea I’d seen described elsewhere as a Mastermind Group, but that sounded a bit pretentious to me, so I called mine a Whizzy Group.
(Why “Whizzy”? This name puzzled some people. I should explain that I use the word whizzy to mean, essentially, “good”.)
Having found in the past, against my hopes and expectations, that people undervalue what they don’t pay for, I charged for participation.
What Could You Achieve?
The first Whizzy Group ended early in April. Now I’m preparing to start a new one, to take the benefit to more people, as we start to emerge from a year of lockdown and work out how to operate in a changed world.
I’m inviting you to consider joining. And to contemplate what might become possible.
The options are endless, but here are some of the cherished projects of people in the first Whizzy Group:
- a to create,
- a platform to venture onto,
- a to launch,
- an to put on,
- a to take professional,
- a to start up
In this group, there’s no hierarchy of achievement. We all have our own ambitions. The group is here to help you achieve them.
One of my favourite moments was when a participant (a writer) looked frankly astonished that the rest of us thought she had a great idea for a book – and realised that she would have to get on with it.
Who Is This For?
In principle, it’s open to anybody. Members of the first Whizzy Group were people I know quite well, all self-employed, and professionally engaged in the following areas:
- Visual arts
The age range was broad, as I’d hoped, because that means a greater range of insight and wisdom.
There were more women than men, but it wasn’t vastly unequal.
Nearly half lived outside the UK. Three, though fluent, were not native English speakers.
I failed to get a rich ethnic mix – and would like to improve that.
What You Get
✅ A weekly group Zoom call, from 1pm to 2pm on Wednesdays (UK time).
✅ A private online group for participants to share content, messages etc between sessions – like a Facebook Group, but not on Facebook.
✅ An insider view of my own work in progress (which may either inspire you or give you a sense of what to avoid!)
✅ Confidentiality, which brings with it the freedom to be honest.
✅ Because I want to make this really transformative, I’ll give you as much one-to-one help as you need over the three months: text me and we’ll make a time to talk, as often and for as long as you want (weekdays only).
What Happens In The Zoom Calls?
The format can vary, to meet specific needs, but essentially it goes like this:
- Somebody reads the group rules.
They’re listed below.
- Individuals check in briefly, reporting on the week just gone.
- Three x 10 minute sessions, for individuals to use as they wish.
Some may just want to talk, to get an idea out of their head. Others may want feedback. I once used my 10 mins to question one of the others, an expert on a topic I needed help with.
- Finally, in breakout rooms, we share what we have planned for the week to come.
And after the session we post those resolutions in the private online group, to hold ourselves accountable.
As you see, the focus is very much on Getting Things Done, but the calls are also a good place simply to share how you feel. In Whizzy Group #1 we had the full range of emotion, some raw, some ecstatic.
Often, you won’t really need ideas, feedback or advice. You know exactly what you want. But it makes all the difference in the world to share that with other people – people who will support you because they know you will support them.
How do you know that? Because the support is mutual, and it’s based on confidentiality.
In the first Whizzy Group I tried to set the tone for openness by talking about my 2018 breakdown, and how I gradually recovered. As you see, I’m doing that here – outside the group – but nobody else needs to. Nor (of course) do you need to have gone through anything similar.
What Are The Group Rules?
- Be committed, with clarity of purpose (whatever it is).
- Show up to every meeting.
- Come prepared.
- Give encouragement and support.
- There is no hierarchy of achievement. We’re all just trying to do what we set out to do.
- Don’t share elsewhere who you see or what you hear.
You might be surprised how much value comes from reading these aloud at the beginning of the Zoom.
It’s important that you attend every week if possible, and that you come on time. If you don’t think that’s going to be possible, please don’t apply to join this time round.
Mutual support is fundamentally based on being there for each other, if only for one hour a week.And before you log in, you’ll need to take a few minutes to prepare:
- a one-minute summary of what was achieved in the last week
- a willingness to take 10 mins talking to the group about a specific project / problem / opportunity / big win / crazy idea, and get feedback on it
- a one-minute summary of what to do in the week ahead
Probably most important: I have previously run a successful Whizzy Group.
You may also be reassured to know that I trained in coaching with CTI (Californian, but we did it in London). I have hundreds of hours of one-to-one coaching behind me.
As for groups: I’ve done a lot of facilitation, much of it stemming from my training in theatrical improvisation (I once invited about 100 people on stage, from an audience of 5000). For seven years, I ran classes at The School of Life in London.
And I’ve done a lot of one-to-one and group therapy (as patient), so I’m OK with strong emotions arising occasionally.
Additionally, I’m the author of six books, including A Modest Book About How To Make An Adequate Speech, published this year. I worked for many years as a feature writer and editor on The Financial Times and The Sunday Times, interviewing well known people, and taking a variety of jobs (taxi driver, assistant undertaker, high-rise window cleaner) in order to write about them. I have run my own website (this one) since about 2002, produce my own podcast, and have created and exhibited my art. I’ve been self-employed since 2005.
I list all this because I may be able to help you with some of it – but I’m keen to have people in the group who know more than I do, at least about some things.
Why? Because so much value comes out of the group itself, forging connections between all participants, not just from the centre or the top, makes everybody stronger.
A network like that doesn’t even need a top, or a centre.
But of course groups don’t just spring up out of nowhere. Somebody has to create them, and send out invitations. That’s why you’re here, reading this.
What Is It Worth To Join?
In my own case, shifting from being “just” a writer to being and doing some of the other things I’ve mentioned was rewarding – astonishing, really – but also extremely difficult.
I had been very happy as a journalist, on prestigious titles but the industry was torn apart by digital media, and the future looked bleak.
I ventured into the areas listed above, and got by for a long time through sheer self-will. I don’t want to be falsely modest: I’ve achieved quite a lot. I’m incredibly fortunate.
But it exhausted me, I ended up in psychiatric hospital. Though I still do most of the work myself, I know now that it’s important to have real, meaningful support.
If you believe that too, I hope you’ll join us.
Thank you JP and everyone, it’s been such a pleasure to find a new group of people to really form connections with. Most of all, it’s been such an open and honest space and I’ve really admired the way everyone has embraced that. Being part of the group has made me braver about being creative… I’ve made lasting connections at a time when life has felt often very disconnected.
— P.S., Participant
What a lovely group of people. It has made me think about all the creative people across the globe struggling to impose a good balance in their lives of things they need to do to survive physically, alongside things they want to do, to survive mentally. You have all impressed me with your vigour and grip on the modern way of promoting yourselves and making an incision for yourselves in a very crowded world.
— H.P., Participant
I have loved being part of this encouraging and supportive group. Thank you so much for creating and running it. It has been wonderful to get to know a new circle of people, especially at a time when the opportunity for social connection is so limited. The weekly check-in has also helped me stay focused on working on the book project and gain some vital momentum.
— R.W., Participant
I have found it an excellent focus for the week, have looked forward to hearing others’ varied experiences, ups and downs – it was very inclusive and uplifting, especially for those of us who work from home alone much of the time, which be quite isolating. I was especially delighted with the positive reception for my long-shelved book idea, which provided a much-needed confidence boost. I have considered it a privilege to hear about others’ work lives and challenges, and the open-minded honesty and mutual support expressed have been very refreshing in a social media world of either rose-tinted self-representation or barbed opinions.
— F.W., Participant
How To Apply
Because of the highly interactive nature of this opportunity, I’ve had to limit numbers. There will be no more than 12 people in this group. I’m looking for the best possible mix of participants, and a hunger to be part of it.
Thank you for your time. I do hope we might be able to work together.