How We Accidentally Created A Cult

This blog has been re-posted with permission from Glen Carlson and the team at

How We Accidentally Created A Cult

Just last week I was asked for the millionth time whether or not my business was a cult.
My answer has become YES, which tends to get funny looks.
So here’s the question: If people refer to your business as a CULT, is that a bad thing?
I don’t think so.

Firstly, let’s agree we’re not talking about evil death cults. We’re talking about the kind of vibe that gets thrown off when your clients are really enthusiastic about supporting what you do.
Take a look at brands like Harley Davidson. I mean, loads of their customers get tattoos of their logo down their leather clad arms. No one I know has KPI ink yet, but give us time…
GoPro has a cult following, so does Linux, Reddit, Apple (maybe less so now?), Alcoholics Anonymous… the list goes on.

We’re talking about groups of people so invested, they instinctively want to spread the message and ‘convert’ new users for you.

So I reverse engineered what I think we’ve done well.

Firstly, some context for those of you who are not in fact in the KPI cult. We run a 40 week business growth accelerator. We have over 2000 alumni in seven cities around the world. We’re the ninth fastest growing company in Australia, we’ve won a Guinness World Record and, our private forums are hyper engaged and for the most part, our clients are fans.

What gets people asking us, “ARE YOU A CULT?”

Here’s what I came up with, plus some #protips:

It’s one thing to have a company vision. It’s another to have a clear vision for your customer’s future. Our vision for our clients is that they become recognised and respected in their industry as Key People of Influence. In their future, they’re more visible, valuable and connected in their field. They’re highly paid, they love what they do and they give back in meaningful ways.

We want that for our clients more than anything, our entire business is about reverse engineering those exact outcomes.
Harley Davidson doesn’t sell boats because that wouldn’t deliver the vision Harley knows his customers have for themselves. GoPro isn’t moving into the digital SLR space for the same reason.

#Protip: Know, care and communicate the dream your customers fantasise about.

We spend a lot of time, money and energy in fostering community and connections amongst our Alumni. From fortnightly accountability group meetings to regular social gatherings to snow trips to sky-diving adventures and bridge climbs to Christmas parties to bonus VIP events – that’s just the stuff we do in the real world. Our private online community is also hyper engaged because we lean in. We make no direct profit from any of these activities. And yet, we grow through the good word of our clients.

#Protip: Stop reading right now and ask yourself and your team – What could you do that doesn’t cost the world, but would go a long way in fostering a sense of community between your customers?

Our leadership team is publically opinionated, and we’re not scared of taking a position one way or another. I publically expressed that our last Prime Minister was an idiot. Someone had a go at me, telling me that as the leader of a business I should keep my opinions to myself. Ha! Not likely. We’re not a theatre company trying to please an audience; we’re building a business that’s an authentic expression of who we are. Sometimes we (I) piss people off, but it also means everyone else knows where we stand. If they don’t align with those values, we encourage them to opt out.

#Protip:Tell the world what you think. Pick a fight with an ideology you oppose and encourage people who don’t like it to take a walk. They won’t like you (and you shouldn’t care), but those who agree with you will respect you for taking a stand.

By definition, cults are made up of a small group of people who think differently than the majority.
If you’re trying to help everyone, you’ll end up helping no one. Harley Davidson isn’t for everyone. Nor is Reddit. At scale however, a cult becomes the culture.

#Protip: Niche. Pick a really specific demography, geography and psychographic and build something especially for them. If you’re an accountant, be an accountant for restaurateurs in the CBD or something equally specific and go crazy giving them what no other accountant can. Understanding.

A culture is determined by the social norms, the ways of doing things and is underpinned by language. Acronyms like GSD and ATM are two terms that everyone in our community gets and uses all the time. So are sayings like ‘You get what you pitch for, and you’re always pitching’.

The goal of creating our own language wasn’t intended to create a cult, it was intended to create shortcuts for communicating ideas to accelerate growth and the flow of both ideas and opportunities from within the community.
Brands that are seen as cults always start off as the minority. It’s a micro-niche that grows because you have a community that believes in your vision and values.

#Protip: How can you embed jargon into your community in a way that serves them while creating a common language for your community?

That’s my best thinking on why we often get described as a cult. We’re hosting a Business Brand Accelerator with best practice on how to unlock more value from the experience, ideas and intellectual property that’s already in your business and create raving fans. Hope you can make it!

Be Brave.
Have Fun.
Make a DENT.

More Information:

KPI Blog:
Our upcoming Business Brand Accelerator:

Glen Carlson is the Co-Founder & MD of Dent Global –

Want to learn more?

KPI are running their accredited 8-hour Business Brand Accelerator event in Early 2017 with some of Australia’s most well respected entrepreneurs and industry leaders.

Sydney | 25th February
Brisbane | 11th March

As one of their event partners, KPI has offered our readers a 40% discount on the retail ticket price, with sale ticket prices starting from $87 for general admission.

Book your ticket to ‘One of the top personal branding conferences in the world’ –

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