Key points of topic with Stu McLaren:



Get clear on why you do whatever you do. If you lose your why, your lose you way.



People underestimate the value of their ideas and the time you invest into ideas. We can all make things a little more special or magical with some creativity and time.

What if I “can’t” come up with great, creative ideas?

All you need to do is feed your brain with a multitude of different stimuli:

  1. Surround yourself with related sources of stimuli
  2. Surround yourself with completely unrelated sources of stimuli



TRIBE Workshop — helps people be clear on what they are offering, who they are offering it to, and helping their members make progress.


If you want to be a part of Stu’s TRIBE Workshop, go to

There’s a limited time once a year when you can join to be a part of the TRIBE Workshop, and once the doors close, that’s it until the next season of promotion.

Show Transcription

[00:41] Welcome to The Ziglar Show, where we inspire your true performance. I’m your host, Kevin Miller, and today Ziglar Executive VP, Mark Timm, and I bring you a high-octane discussion with Stu McClaren. Who is Stu? He’s a primary mastermind behind connecting leaders with their audiences. Michael Hyatt, who has been wildly successful with his Platform University…Stu was his partner in creating it. Stu is about…connection, authentic connection. It’s hard to have a monopoly on any information and knowledge these days. But nothing can replace engagement and relationship. Stu coaches and consults New York Times best-selling authors, top-rated speakers, experts and niche celebrities, on how to launch, grow, and scale high-profit recurring revenue streams, primarily around profitable and fulfilling membership sites where the point is…human connection and relationships. In the show, we talk about Stu’s personal journey that brought him such huge success, and why he’s now devoted himself in his work to helping people connect, and through that in his personal life, helping some of the least fortunate on earth, he and his wife build schools in Kenya. You will be inspired.

[01:58] Stu is also the former founder of the world’s #1 membership platform for WordPress, WishList Member, where he had the chance to serve and support over 60,000+ online communities and membership sites.  Through that experience, he gained a unique insight into the subtle membership nuances that produce massive results.

[02:19] His new endeavor that you’ll hear about in the latter part of the show is TRIBE, which you can find at

[04:37] OK, folks, Mark Timm and I now bring you, Stu McClaren.

[04:55] Ok, Stu, I wanna know about your personal journey. What inspires your true performance? I mean, you’ve had such significant success in the business world, and now with your humanitarian fronts, we want to know how and why literally I want to go back, I mean, to your upbringing…how did it influence your path towards success?

[05:17] Well, for me, I grew up in a very small town about an hour-and-a-half south of Toronto, and when I say “small town,” I mean it. Like, I had corn on one side and cows on the other, you know? And so I grew up in this family where both my parents worked really, really hard, and I don’t know if anybody listening can relate, but, you know, both my parents had two full-time jobs. My dad worked in a high school with kids with special needs from nine in the morning till three in the afternoon, and then four nights a week he would work in a group home with people with special needs, from eight at night till eight in the morning. Now, on top of that, he was also always there at every basketball game, soccer game — you know, cross country meet; he was there supporting and sharing my sister and me on. I don’t know when he slept, personally. But that was the kind of, you know, upbringing. My mom was the same; she worked in elementary with kids with autism, and, you know, so she’d work, you know, the school hours, nine to three, and then three nights a week working in a a fine dining restaurant as well. So, I just grew up in a really hard-working family, and I think that certainly was a big influence on me, and then the other big influence for me was, in amongst all of that, it was a very loving environment. You know, my parents, both of them, had, you know, challenging things as kids. When they came together they swore that they would give their kids the absolute best, most loving upbringing that they could, and they did. So, for me, I grew up in a very loving but hard-working environment, and that was really where everything began for me.

[06:52] So you mentioned in there –and I’m curious about — your parents working with special needs kids and such. Actually, one of the clips that we played a lot from from Zig Ziglar, and he cites this study that was done of top C.E.O.s and big influencers, and how this high percentage of them came from homes where there was abject poverty, or there were some handicaps — either themselves or a sibling — and really, as we talked about that, fleshed that out, to Tom Ziglar’s credit, he says “I really think it’s because people found out that life wasn’t just about them,” and it took the focus off their lives, does that relate to you?

[07:26]  Yeah, I think for sure, like we had, you know, both my parents would bring the kids and the people they’re looking after around the home, and it developed naturally within us, a sense of empathy and understanding and compassion, and I think all of which have served me tremendously well, you know, moving forward, both in business and in life. And I think that the more we can expose our kids to the fact that everything is not end-point perfect, there are going to be challenges in this world, and how we handle them, is really the marks of our character, our true character, but that certainly helped me develop a lot of compassion and empathy growing up.

[08:07] OK. So in the same light, though, you have a family story of your own brewing there. You’ve got, I believe, a little girl that is your biological child. So, here she is and she’s in a, you know, affluent white family here, and then along comes another story. Tell us about that real quick.

[08:24] Oh, my wife and I have always had a passion for adopting, and I think it’s come from the fact that we started a nonprofit many years ago where we built schools over in Africa, specifically in Kenya. And so we just have seen a lot of kids who would desperately love to have an environment to be able to grow up in with loving parents, but they don’t, and so there’s a lot of kids around the world who just don’t have parents that could, would absolutely love them, and so we would see this every single year, because we’re  in Africa every year, and so we had a real heart for wanting to, you know, adopt and and support one of these children. But it’s a long process, it’s not easy, and it took us ultimately eight years to finally be matched up with our amazing son, Sam, who we adopted from South Africa, and he’s he’s just an amazing, amazing little boy, and we love and he’s been with us now for the last two-and-a-half years, and he’s a real gem.

[10:15] When did you first become aware you wanted to achieve and realize more than just average?

[10:30] Well, I can trace it back to when I was roughly around the age of twelve. My dad loves to tell the story, but it really was a, you know, a turning point for me, especially as a young entrepreneur. And that was, you know, my dad, because we weren’t, you know, financially independent, we didn’t have a lot of financial resources in our home, my dad was very handy; he did everything himself, and that meant, you know, if the dishwasher was broken, he’d be figuring out how to fix it. If, you know, there needed to be pictures hung, he was doing it. If there was furniture needing to be built, he was creating it, and so here’s just one of those very hands-on guys who figured everything out. And this was, by the way, before, like, you know, YouTube, and every day — where I’d like video tutorials of everything under the sun — you just figured stuff out. But growing up, in that there was this point in time when I was twelve years old, my dad was building a deck outside for our house and he said it to me: “Stu, why don’t you come outside and I’ll show you how to build the deck, because one day you’re going to need to learn this for yourself.” And I said to him, not being rude, but just in my twelve-year-old mind, I said, “No, Dad, I don’t want to learn that.” And he said, “Well, what do you mean you don’t want to learn that?” And I said. “Well, I want to make enough money that I can pay somebody to do that for me.” And he was just like, “Oh,” and so that was like aa, I was at a turning point. But here’s what I, here’s the reason I think that came up at that age, because, as I said, my parents worked tremendously hard; nobody worked harder than my parents, and growing up I realized that hard work was not the only factor to success, because if it were, my parents would have been the most financially successful people that I know. And so there was this disconnect that happened for me, and I started asking different types of questions, like, “How are some people more financially well off than others if it’s not solely tied to hard work?” and those were the early, you know, lessons for me, or the early beginnings of that new path that you were talking about, Mark, where I wanted more for me and, you know, for maybe my future family at that time.

[12:50] From early on, what has been the primary driver or drivers of your personal motivation?

[13:19] It’s a good question. I honestly I don’t know. Like, I’ve always been fairly motivated. I think, like, I can definitely trace back some more of the motivation and where it came from when I think about my high school days, you know. I’ve always been involved in athletics, loved sports in every capacity, or there be…soccer is my my main game, but like, you know, basketball, I guess, and track.  Like volleyball, all kinds of sports, and I remember my grade nine year, I was nominated for Athlete of the Year, and I didn’t even know that there was, like, an athlete of the year, but I was nominated for it and I was just, like, beside myself, like it was, like, you know, one of the greatest honors, and I didn’t think that I would win in grade nine. But what it did was, it gave me the motivation to try to win it the next year. And so I didn’t win, and my grade nine year and my grade ten year, I didn’t even get nominated and I was crushed, like absolutely crushed, but it was my parents who picked me back up off the floor and they said, “Look, you didn’t win, you didn’t even get nominated this year, but what that does is that now gives you motivation to prove people wrong and to prove that you should have been nominated, and you should have won,” and I did, and so the next year I not only got nominated, I won it in grade eleven, I won in grade twelve, and we had grade thirteen as well, also; I want to grade thirteen as well, and I also won, too, for all of our entire county.

[16:20] Have you had times of losing that motivation?

[16:45] Yeah, absolutely. I mean, back in college we experienced that, like when I failed out of my first year university. So, you know, I was in the honors business program and I was playing soccer at a university, and soccer was a priority for me over school, and so I got to the end of the year and I got the little pink notice that said, “Stu, you may no longer proceed in the honors business program,” and that was a real gut check moment, you know, like, is this really something that I want to pursue? You know, how am I going to handle this? The good news is that I talked to a few professors, did a few extra Simonds over the summer, they bumprf my grade point average just enough to get me back into this, you know, to school, since by the second year, third year, though, everything changed for me now because of a video that we watched of one of our marketing classes, and this was a video of a guy, his name is Doug Hall, and he runs a company called Eureka Ranch and, long story short, they come up with a product idea for Fortune 500 companies, we’re talking like Disney and Ford and Fed Ex, like major, major companies. And he gets paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to come up with new ideas for them. And so, in this video, he’s there in a Hawaiian shirt, shorts, no shoes or socks on, and he’s shooting Nerf guns at these corporate C.E.O.s, and I’m in this environment in business chool where everybody’s in shirts and, you know, shirts and ties and suits, and I always felt like a fish out of water, and then I see this video, this guy in a Hawaiian shirt, shorts, and I’m like, “Who is this? This is amazing, this is exactly what I want to do.” And so what I’d learned from him, because he wrote a book called Jumpstart Your Brain, was all about how to come up with ideas, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s new ideas for your business, new product ideas, new marketing ideas, or whether it’s new ideas for a romantic date, whether it’s ideas to land a job, it is all about use your brain and come up with great ideas. That was a huge turning point for my motivation.

[31:46] So I have to ask, and I know Kevin’s jumping at the bit to ask you, too, but you are such a prolific idea guy, and that story was like, “you had me at hello,” and by that I mean it was, that was, that’s, that’s awesome! So, but what about the listeners that are out there right now, Stu, and they’re saying, “Oh, my gosh, that guy is an idea factory, but I’m not like, nobody — nobody’s going to like my ideas, like, I never have a good idea like that. I can’t come up with any ideas like that.” How do you inspire someone that you know, Stu, is filled with ideas, and they just can’t get them out or they’re struggling to get them out, and you’ve seen the impact it’s had on you? So this is a chance to just, all of you that are listening right now, they can relate to that because I know there’s a lot of you that can still do…how do, how do they get these ideas out?

[32:39] So creativity happens by surrounding yourself with two types of stimuli, and this is what I learned from Doug Hall, and the first type is what’s called related sources of stimuli. So whatever problem or challenges that you are experiencing, you want to surround yourself with a lot of related sources stimuli. For example, like if you were trying to imagine, like, the perfect date that you wanted to create and take somebody on, what you would do is you would start to look up on the Internet like, “great date ideas” or “great first date ideas” that would feed you full of lots of related sources of stimuli, lots of related ideas, to get your, you know, creative juices flowing. Then, similarly, you want to surround yourself with unrelated sources of stimuli, and what that means is that, like, things that have absolutely zero connection to the problem or challenge or thing you’re trying to come up with ideas for. So, for example, if again, if we’re on the whole first thing, I would look at like a purple pillow or a green vase or a wooden chair or a laptop and what I would do is I would start to ask myself, “How could we incorporate a purple pillow, or what could a green vase do, how can we use a green vase on the first date or that wooden chair,” and what happens is your brain starts trying to make these unrelated connections. And when that happens, that’s when you come up with these really special ideas. So related sources of stimuli are going to help you generate a lot of ideas, and that’s important. Unrelated sources of stimuli are going to help you generate really unique ideas; you’re not going to have as many, but you’re going to have very unique — and it’s that combination that allows you to come up with both a lot of ideas and very unique ideas, and it doesn’t matter whether, again, it’s in business, whether it’s in your personal life, or anywhere else; this is what you’ve got to do, is you’ve got to constantly surround yourself with stimuli.

[41:08] Right there, talking about personality, you used the word “connect” somewhere around one hundred times in that monologue right there, and, well, it’s in there, it is, it’s authentic to, you know, I came to know you as you partnered with Michael Hyatt and built Platform University, and I know that went on to be a high seven-figure business. I looked into wish-list member, which was, you know, it’s an unbelievable membership platform site, and now that brings us somewhat to today, where you have tribe and where you’re working with people, you’re working with — I know your bio says “established authors, speakers, and thought leaders” to launch, grow in scale seven and eight figure membership sites which, interestingly enough, I am in the process of doing right now, so I’ll pick your brain for free in a minute, but that’s connection, and so tell me about that, because you obviously have devoted your vocational pursuit at this point to helping other people create those connection points in their business for the benefit, obviously, you know, personally but also financially.

[42:12] Yeah, well for me, like, I was stuck in a business model about ten years ago that didn’t serve me and, long story short, it was a business model where it was like a consulting practice. And so I just didn’t have any more time to give, so, therefore, my business was kind of tapping out, like I couldn’t grow the business because I just couldn’t, I didn’t have any more time to give. The only way I could grow was to raise my prices; I could only do that so much. And so I knew that there had to be another model that would give me more leverage, and so I started looking into sharing what it is that I knew with more people through a membership site. Now the problem was, at the time, this was, you know, 2008. I didn’t have the technical chops to be able to set this up myself. So I was getting frustrated, because I didn’t know, like, what age to access, man, and I didn’t know how to set this up and add up, and I was moaning and groaning to a friend of mine, Tracy, and I said, “Like, man, I would just love to be able to get this membership site set up but I don’t know, like, what I’m doing wrong or what I’m doing right.” And he said to me, he’s like, “Well, what if you created your own solution?” And I’m like, I said, like, “Dude! OK. Maybe you’re not hearing what I’m saying, like, I’m having problems because I’m not technical, there’s no way that I could, like, create my own solution,” and he’s like, “Well, why don’t we team up together?” It’s like I have a great program that works with me and we can team up and we can create something, and we did, and that was wish-list member and, long story short, that thing took off and then all of a sudden I’m in this, I’m growing this business, a software company, and I started to see because of all the tens of thousands of people that we were helping, what was working and what was not working as it related to growing a successful membership site. And what was amazing was that the strategies of the companies that were really growing like the ones who were doing high six seven and even eight figures, they were doing a few things completely counterintuitive to what everybody else was doing. And so that’s what I started paying attention to, like what were those things, the way that they, you know, created the content, the type of content they were producing, the way they would market their sites, and the way that they would engage their members and keep them happy and paying month after month, were totally different than what everybody else was doing, and that’s why they kept succeeding.

[54:19] All right, so you just said joy. I know that there are people right now, like right this very second, and they say to themselves, “I want more, I got to know more,” and we’re at the end of our program and so we want to be able to connect everybody listening here to what you’re doing with Tribe Workshop. And so here’s what we’re going to do: we are going to set up a special URL, it’s going to be, and we’re going to send people to Tribe Workshop so that they can learn more, and I just I want you to give just a little taste because what I know about what you’re doing is that you really go all in, and you’re unapologetic about serving your community, which means you only open it up like once a year — if even once a year — and so, unlike some of the, you know, the offers or the places that we send people that they’ve got plenty of time to go check it out, you’re getting ready to open up your Tribe Workshop and teach people to go more in-depth about what you do at Tribal, what it, what it’s like to have a membership community; but you also close the doors. And so, in sixty seconds or less, can you explain the logic of why you only let people in your community for a short amount of time and why you shut the doors down?

[55:46] Yes. For me, this is a simple business philosophy.  You know, in our business we have different seasons, meaning different parts of the year, we focus on different activities in our business, and the first part we’re just all in to attract as many people as possible to join us for tribe. And so, we’re all in terms of the promotion. But then, once the promotion ends, our entire company shifts gears and it’s like, once everybody’s in and we’ve closed the doors, now we shift gears and we serve. And my belief is that we can’t do both at the best of our abilities when we’re trying to divide if we were to try to do both. That’s why you don’t see us promoting and delivering a core simultaneously. We intentionally are all in to promote, and then as soon as the promotions finish we shift gears and we’re all into serve. And so it’s more of a philosophical approach to the way that we deliver our course in this regard, and it’s because we are all hands-on, and I’m available nonstop, and I could not have the capacity to be available and hands-on the way that we are as a team, if we were also trying to simultaneously promote it. So, for us, that’s what’s made it easy for us to excel at both, is that we have that hard cut-off and we shift gears from promotion to serving, and that’s served us well, but it’s — more important — it serves our clients well, because of the way we deliver the course.

[1:02:25] I hope you are inspired to build a tribe, or start getting super connected with your current tribe! Again, get connected with Stu at If you got value, the most valuable way to let us know is by leaving a review in iTunes.  And if you do, we want to thank you! Literally, if you’ll leave a review in iTunes, email us at and we’ll send you Zig Ziglar’s and Tom Ziglar’s book, Born to Win. An actual hard copy! Again, email us at and tell us the user name you use in iTunes. We’ll thank you by sending you the Born to Win physical book!

[1:03:09] Coming up next in show 559 we go behind the scenes with Stu McClaren and follow the Ziglar Wheel of Life, walking through Stu’s challenges and healthy habits in the seven spokes. Some highlights: He’s a soccer fan and is almost always playing on a team or two. Being active with his young kids is a big part of his physical fitness regime. He started eating better for his kids’ sake! He’s big on managing family time amongst the entrepreneurial lifestyle and is a staunch proponent of rules and boundaries. Mentally, Stu puts a high level of importance on having confidence in ourselves. He believes fear is like a muscle and you must work it out, so he’s routinely looking for things to do that stretch his fear muscle. Financially, he loves being an entrepreneur where you can make an unlimited amount of money and feels the more money we make the more impact we can have. He and his wife have built 11 schools in Kenya that, on average, serve 4-700 kids. Personally, he just loves creating experiences and celebrating others.  As you can tell, it was a rich discussion. Till then…