An Opportunity To Join The Whizzy Group

Wednesday lunchtimes, Early Sept to Early Dec 2022

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 ideas real.

If you’ve been a member before, I hope you know that already. If you’re new, I hope you like the idea of finding out for yourself.

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”.

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What Could You Achieve?

The first Whizzy Group ended early in April 2021. The second ran for three months from May to July.

I’m inviting you to consider joining. Here are some of the cherished projects of previous participants:

  • a book idea
  • a website to create
  • a book to launch
  • a photography business to restart after lockdown
  • a language school to extend, and rebrand
  • a month-long daily newsletter to publish
  • an art gallery to open
  • a social media platform to venture onto
  • a podcast to launch,
  • an exhibition to put on
  • a “hobby” to take professional
  • a start-up to start up
  • an international awards scheme to launch

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.

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Who Is This For?

Invitation only. Members of the Whizzy Group were people I know at least a little, generally (but not always) self-employed, and professionally engaged in the following areas:

  • Writing
  • Visual arts
  • Photography
  • Gardening
  • Marketing
  • Music
  • Broadcast
  • Tech
  • Speechwriting
  • Translation
  • Coaching
  • Financial Literacy

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, the first time round, but it wasn’t vastly unequal.

Nearly half lived outside the UK. Three, though fluent, were not native English speakers.

I would like to improve the diversity of the group, in every way.

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What You Get

✅ A weekly group Zoom call, every Wednesday from 19 Jan 2022 to 30 Mar, at 12.30pm to 1.30pm (UK time).

✅ A private online group for participants to share content, messages etc between sessions – on Whatsapp, and in a private LinkedIn Group.

✅ 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 I can over the three months: use this link to book a time to talk.

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What Happens In The Zoom Calls?

The format can vary, to meet specific needs, but essentially it goes like this:

  1. Somebody reads the group rules.
    They’re listed below.
  2. Individuals check in briefly, reporting on the week just gone.
  3. 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. Depending on the size of the overall group, we may do some of these 10-min slots in breakout rooms.
  4. 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.

Whizzies #2 and #3 were likewise structured for sharing what’s really going on, instead of pointlessly trying to look good.

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.

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What Are The Group Rules?

  1. Be committed, with clarity of purpose (whatever it is).
  2. Show up to every meeting.
  3. Come prepared.
  4. Give encouragement and support.
  5. There is no hierarchy of achievement. We’re all just trying to do what we set out to do.
  6. 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.

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Time Commitment

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 this time round. The next round will start (all being well) in May 2022.

Mutual support is fundamentally based on being there for each other, if only for one hour a week.

And before each Zoom, you’ll need to take a few minutes to prepare:
  1. a one-minute summary of what was achieved in the last week
  2. 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
  3. a one-minute summary of what to do in the week ahead (this may change during the Zoom, but it’s good to start with something)

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About Me

Probably most important: I have previously run the Whizzy Group, not once but four times.

I trained in coaching with CTI (Californian, but we did it in London), and have done hundreds of hours of one-to-one coaching.

I’ve done a lot of group 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 lots of one-to-one and group therapy (as patient), so I’m OK if strong emotions arise occasionally.

Additionally, I’m the author of seven books, including A Modest Book About How To Make An Adequate Speech, published during Whizzy #1. 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 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 Whizzy Group who know more than me about any and all of these 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 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.

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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.

Recently (August), somebody asked me what I would do if I didn’t have to earn a living. The first thing that came to mind was: “I’d keep running the Whizzy Group.”

I like it that much, and I would do it for nothing. I’ve found, against my hopes and expectations, that people undervalue what they don’t pay for. So I charge for participation.

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A gang of amazing people rooting for you, supporting you, motivating you, offering valuable feedback and thoughts regarding whatever it is you want to ask them – and I love being able to offer my two cents worth when it’s another person’s turn. The main thing I achieved? Successfully completing the month-long pop-up Newsletter Challenge.
— J.C.F., Participant

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

I get new ideas and perspectives discussing projects others are working on. I can often apply these thoughts on my own projects. It helped me to verbalise processes and plans, what I want to achieve, and how to achieve it. Sharing in a sort of team gives me a chance to feel more supported in my work. I finished my website to a state that I have launched it online!
— J.vB., Participant

This was incredibly useful, both in the group and the one-to-ones. Things that were on the back-burner have been given the attention they deserve, to be more than a hobby. And you couldn’t ask for a nicer group, there’s nobody I wouldn’t want to have with me on a desert island. I was worried about fitting it in, but it was a great thing to look forward to.
— A.G-Q., 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

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How To Apply

Because of the highly interactive nature of the group, I always intended to limit numbers: definitely no more than 25 people (a whole Zoom screenful).

I’m looking for the best possible mix of people, with a hunger to be part of it. For that reason, it’s generally by invitation only. But if you are a patron of my Adequate Projects and you’d like to join – I can’t imagine why you are still reading otherwise – please take a moment to send me an email, answering these two questions:

  1. What would you like to get out of the Whizzy Group (bare minimum)?
  2. And what would be an insanely ambitious outcome?

I’ll get back to you asap, with details about fees, how to pay, and anything else you might want to know.

Please be aware that sending an email doesn’t commit you to anything!

Thank you for your time. I do hope you can be part of it.

John-Paul / JP / Jip / Japes
(or whatever else you call me)