Important: Carefully read all of this page before applying!
Consider printing it for careful offline consideration.
Full vs. Start-Up Membership
Full Members meet all of the criteria spelled out below. “Start-Up” Membership is for those who are not yet full-time entrepreneurs, but are working toward that.
Current full membership dues are $1,200, which includes the first conference fee, and dues through the end of 2019. Start-Up membership is $100 for six months, and you’re welcome to attend any conferences scheduled during that time. (Conference registration is typically less than $500.)
After six months, we mutually decide whether Start-Up members should move to full membership, do another six-month term, or head our separate ways.
What the Group Is: Despite the tongue-in-cheek name, Hotshots is a place for serious, successful online entrepreneurs. Yes, part of the reason we work for ourselves is for fun, and being in this group is fun, too. But primarily, we’re here to support each other, open each other up to new ideas, new technologies, new ways of doing things, all in order to help each other succeed even more.
You are likely successful because you’re a “jack of all trades,” but no one knows everything, and you could well be leaving significant success on the table because you haven’t thought of how X technology, Y methodology, or Z monetization technique might apply to your business. Hotshots consists of leaders in their fields — top experts in Internet marketing, online publishing, and broadcasting. Top names in B-to-B and B-to-C, online entertainment, how-to, and much more. The point: they have thought of things you haven’t — and you have thought of things they haven’t. By getting together and sharing what works, we all benefit.
We have two main ways of sharing our expertise with each other: 1) an active email discussion list, and 2) in-person, “high bandwidth” discussions and presentations at twice-yearly conferences. Both are considered critical elements: you are highly encouraged to come to a conference as soon as possible so you can get to know who it is you’re interacting on the discussion list. Of course, offlist one-on-one interaction is also encouraged.
Group Structure: The group is a closed, limited-membership, invitation-only organization which has been run by a “benevolent dictator” — its founder Randy Cassingham — since early 1999. Because of this, it’s rather difficult for an outsider to see how valuable membership might be. So if you haven’t chatted with your sponsor(s) about what they are getting from the group, we urge you to do so right now. Call them on the phone (email’s bandwidth is too small!) and listen to their passion, their “What I get out of this group” highlights. By inviting you, they think you would both fit in, and benefit. Your respect for your sponsor’s opinion should be your guide: they think it’s important enough to ask you to join; they think both you and the group would benefit by your presence. If you respect their opinion, give their recommendation serious thought.
Hotshots is unlike most groups which center around a niche “guru” (with often five-figure annual “dues” costs charged for the “honor” of access to that guru). Here, all members are peers; no one, including the founder, is considered “the” group guru.
Also, unlike those “guru” groups where the primary membership requirement is the ability to pay the five-figure dues, we have a fairly stringent application procedure — there are “hoops” to jump through — because we all end up being friends here. We are very welcoming to those who jump through those hoops, outlined on this page, because your answers demonstrate how well you’ll fit in. We do know the hoops are tedious, and hope you understand this is how we ensure you will fit in.
Group Charter: Internet Hotshots* is an invitation-only group of successful online entrepreneurs who help each other succeed by openly discussing tactics and strategies, marketing ideas, and other advice to help each other become more successful, however it is they measure “success.” Members pledge to keep all group communications confidential, and discussions take place by email and at twice-yearly in-person conferences.
*(or, if you prefer, the more-formal but rarely used “International Society of Online Entrepreneurs”)
Due to the wide ranging nature of Hotshots discussions — and the fun and interactive nature of the group — the typical mail load from the Hotshots discussion list can be as many as 25-30 messages per day. It doesn’t really seem that much once you get to know the people here, but if you can’t handle that much mail (filtering the messages into a “Hotshots” folder is of course suggested), please do not apply.
For Full Members, “would love to be” a successful self-employed online entrepreneur is not enough. Prospective members must already be successful self-employed Internet-based entrepreneurs; part of the idea is that you’re already a “Hotshot” (with the exception of Start-Up Members, as described at the top). Which brings us to…
What is a “Hotshot”?
(aka Membership Criteria aka Group Values)
According to group consensus, a “Hotshot” is…
- An Online Entrepreneur: You are a successful, self-employed entrepreneur with a significant portion of your earned income coming from online sources. If your company has grown to many employees, you are the company’s founder or co-founder.
- Capable: You are recognized in your field as a leader, a player, a knowledgeable person in your niche.
- Successful: You may measure “success” by the amount of money you earn, and that indeed is one measure of success. It is not, however, the only measure we recognize. “Success” is running your business on your own terms in a way that enables the lifestyle you have chosen. Thus, an entrepreneur running even a “successful” non-profit online operation is eligible for Hotshots if s/he meets the rest of the criteria here.
- A Participant: You are willing to read the posts on the group discussion list and contribute your expertise to the discussion at hand. This requires that you be quite “email centric” — you can express yourself by email, and can deal with lots of incoming mail without stressing out. You agree that you will give a reasonably high priority to this participation requirement.
- A Listener: You keep up with the list (email) traffic and come to the conferences to learn as well as teach. You are willing to apply what you learn from the group as appropriate to your business to help it grow.
- An Attendee: You are willing to attend group conferences, at the very least coming to one in every three meetings (which are typically held twice per year). (Exceptions are made in extraordinary situations, such as those with health concerns.) NOTE: Attendance at a conference is required to move out of probationary status (with exceptions made for truly extraordinary circumstances).
- Collaborative: You look for opportunities to help other Hotshots succeed — with partnerships, co-promotions, appropriate cross-linking, or in other ways.
- Trustworthy: The value of the group is a function of the information shared. What is shared depends directly on the level of trust members have in others’ discretion, including that you will not reveal personal information about another member without permission, and will keep any other information confidential upon request. You accept this trust as sacred.
- Ethical: In the macro sense, you demonstrate superior ethics in your business operations. In the micro sense, you will never take unfair advantage of anyone in the Hotshots community.
- Open-Minded: Just because you’re successful doesn’t mean you know everything — either in a business or personal sense. An open-minded person is open to new ideas and thoughts without having to react angrily with “flaming” or discourtesy regarding another member’s ideas, business niche, lifestyle, sexual orientation, religion (or lack thereof), etc. There is no requirement that you have to agree with every idea, but one can disagree and remain courteous and respectful.
Note that none of this specifies what type of business you run! The wide-ranging list of niche areas above is real. The whole idea is to have diversity of thought and expertise so you can learn new things that will help you succeed, perhaps combining elements in a new way that no one else has ever thought of. Thus no specific market niche is required, and indeed we specifically don’t want everyone to be in the same niche!
Hopefully you now know why it was necessary to read this whole page. There is a lot to consider here, so feel free to let this page sit for a day or two (or print it to read offline) while you consider just how much of a compliment it was for you to be invited to join this group.
A Few More Things to Know Before Applying
- The Process: After you submit your application, it is discussed and then voted on by the entire current membership. All members also have veto power to ensure close competitors are not let in, which would destroy their willingness to participate openly. So please remember that if your membership is not accepted, this does not mean you are not a worthy online player; you may have simply been vetoed by a too-close competitor.
- Probation: If you are voted in, you’ll have probationary status. You must be an active participant on the discussion list for at least six months and attend at least one conference before you can get off probation. Once you have met those requirements, Board members vote on whether you may progress to full membership. It is rare for an active participant not to pass that final hurdle.
- Dues: Current membership dues are $1,200 per year. Your first year’s dues, pro-rated to December 31, are payable immediately upon your acceptance into the group. Conference registration is typically less than $500.
- Membership: Hotshots is a private, invitation-only group. All members agree that their membership is at the pleasure of the Founder and/or the Board of Advisors. Any member may be asked (or forced) to resign if — in the sole opinion of the above — their continued membership is deemed to be detrimental to any other member or the group as a whole, or if the member no longer meets the Membership Criteria then in effect.
Now: if all of the attributes described on this page sound like you, you agree to the terms and rules, and you want to associate with a group of people who meet those attributes (which has proven to provide astounding personal and business benefits — talk with your sponsor if you’re not clear about that!), we hope you will “apply” for Hotshots using the form below.
This Application will be sent to the existing group — your peers — for review (after validation by a moderator). If you have any difficulty in submitting the form, please contact Randy Cassingham for assistance.
- Please do not give URLs as places to go “for more information” — everything that current members need to know to evaluate your application must be contained within your application. But obviously, we’d like to be able visit your main site(s) too, so we do ask for URLs.
- Two important facts: 1) It’s quite likely many of the members who review your application won’t know who you are, even if you are a star in your particular niche; and 2) We are very selective about accepting new members. So please: sell yourself in your application!
- A key criterion is what you would bring to the group, so pay particular attention to the “Tell Us About Yourself” section and the last two questions.