Cynthia Maugard grew up loving horses, but was always told not to turn her passion for animals into her life’s work.
After graduating with a masters in Business & Logistics, she decided to travel the world, working many horse-related jobs along the way. Her experience eventually led to meeting her husband Pierre — a horse trainer and teacher who was trying to build his business, but struggled to do it alone. Before long, Cynthia and Pierre teamed up to build the business together.
Skeptical that horse training could be taught online, she soon realized after launching to 400 new members that anything was possible.
Today, Cynthia shares how she turned her unique combination of skills and passions into a thriving business — and how the predictable income of a membership gives her the freedom to show up fully in business and life!
- Why Cynthia struggled with the idea of turning her passion for horses into a business — and how she and her husband decided to team up together.
- The reason the first version of their website failed to generate sustainable, predictable income — and how moving to the membership model solved this problem.
- Why you can learn anything if you put your heart into it.
- Cynthia’s one piece of advice for someone thinking about launching a membership business.
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- “If you have one thing, one tiny little thing to offer people to help them, do it. There’s always going to be at least one person that needs your help” – Cynthia Maugard
- “The more people we could reach, the more people we could help” – Cynthia Maugard
TranscriptRead The Transcript
Shelli Varela: Membership site has so many benefits, but today’s guest is going to tell us how it actually reduces anxiety.
Stu McLaren: There is a big trend brewing that’s revolutionizing the way business is being done. Big companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Apple are jumping on this too but so are thousands of others in all kinds of markets like photography and calligraphy, fitness, finance, meal planning, lesson planning, dog training, and so many more, and they’re doing it by shifting to a recurring revenue model. Hi. My name is Stu McLaren and for more than a decade I’ve been helping tens of thousands of entrepreneurs generate recurring revenue through membership sites. Join our host, Shelli Varela, as she takes you behind-the-scenes to see how these companies are building a thriving tribe that spends with them every single month. Now, let’s get to today’s episode.
Shelli Varela: Cynthia Maugard, welcome to the It’s a TRIBE Thing Podcast. How are you?
Cynthia Maugard: Thank you. I’m a bit nervous but I’m really happy to be here.
Shelli Varela: Oh, that’s awesome. I loved your bio. You talked about Farley Mowat’s book, The Black Stallion, and how that book was impactful. I actually watched the movie Black Stallion. I think as a little girl I had checkmarks on my wall and how many times I’ve seen it. It was something like 37 times. So, I’m like, “Oh, this is going to be amazing.” I’d love to start it with sort of who you are, how you got to be that person, and who you serve.
Cynthia Maugard: All right. So, yeah, I’m a horse lover. I’ve always been drawn to horses as far as I can remember. So, like you said, when I was a little girl, The Black Stallion was my favorite and I kept watching that movie and reading those books. And as a kid, I promised myself that one day, me too, I would have that special bond with that special horse that one day would be mine that like one day I would have my one special horse and it took years and years. I know we actually did that and realize that little girl dream and have my horse on my own. That’s on a personal side and on a more professional side, I didn’t really know what I wanted to be, what I wanted to do when I graduated high school. Well, all I knew is that I wanted to be my own boss. I didn’t want to work for someone. So, I went to study business management and logistics. And after that, when I graduated, and I got my master’s degree, I started to travel. I traveled a lot.
I lived in many different countries in like South Africa, the US and Canada, Belgium and I got the opportunity to actually do a lot of different jobs too, horse-related, not horse-related in logistics and business and all different kinds of jobs. So, all those life experiences actually gave me that taught me a lot like life lessons and entrepreneurial skills too and it really triggered in me that thirst for knowledge that you can really learn anything. If you want to learn something new, if you put your hearts into it, you can. You can learn everything. So, like today I’m like the course junkie.
Shelli Varela: Yes, I know it well.
Cynthia Maugard: So, I’m always taking one course and another one and another one and really there’s no limit. As long as you want to learn something, you can. And especially right now there’s so much available everywhere. So, long story short, after doing lots of traveling and working in different areas, I ended up, thanks to my horses, meeting my boyfriend, who’s my life and work partner and at the time he needed some help to run his business because he had no idea how to do it. So, I stepped in and helped him to manage the business and now we work together. So, we both love horses. He’s actually a horse rider and teacher.
Shelli Varela: So, can you talk about sort of, I’m interested because what you said was you go to school for logistics and you combine your education with your life experience, but you’re also really wise because there are so many people that don’t pay attention to what they love. They put their head down and they do what they “should do”. And you’re combining your education, your life experience, paying attention to what you love. So, you meet your husband. Where did you meet? How did that come to be? And tell us about how that segued into what you guys are both doing now.
Cynthia Maugard: So, I’ve always been a bit struggling between what they tell you when you’re a kid that you should not, at least that’s what I’ve been told, that you should not try to make your passion your work. You should keep horses on the side as a passion and certainly not try to leave with that but have a good job like a serious real job that can make you afford your horses. But as I grew up and actually starting to work, I was like really struggling with a conflict between those two concepts like should I really do a job that I’m not that into it? Or go follow my heart and do something that really motivates me and drives me, but is hard, for sure. So, I was still in the middle of those two things and trying to combine both. So, I was living in Canada and in Canada, I was actually working with horses and when I had to come back to France, I went back to my logistic job like regular job because I needed to have a job fast like for my bills, and I got my horses.
And so, it was really separated. My horses on the side and the day-to-day job but something was missing. And I went for a clinic with my horse that Pierre was giving as a teacher and that’s how we met. I was a student and I came to learn from him. And so, we met like that. And then, well, we talked and talk more and one thing led to another and we started to actually date and I moved to Belgium to live with him. And like I said, so he was teaching and like spending hours and hours and hours helping people teaching, teaching, and teaching any written books and DVDs like horse breed. So, he wasn’t just a horse trainer and teacher, he was doing more than that with the books and DVDs. So, there was actually a business but he just couldn’t do it alone. It was way too much for one person. So, that’s why I stepped in and started to work with him. And from there, so that was five years ago and from then on, we started to develop the business side of like the business aspect, because we wanted to help more people because everyone was reading the books or watching the DVDs.
Everyone was telling how it was really impacting their lives and helping them. So, we knew the more people we could reach, the more people we could help. So, we try to find ways to reach out to more people to be able to help more people and more horses. So, that’s how and I connected back to my thirst for learning and you can really learn everything. I started to study marketing and social media.
Shelli Varela: That’s awesome because that was going to be my next question. Where did you very first learn about online business? Because what’s fascinating to me about you is the way you meld and mold and combine all of the components of your life and your love for education, paying attention to your life’s experience, and what lights you up. And I also think that it’s such a great lesson for our listeners as well because you were talking about what you should do and everybody tells us what you should do in terms of a job so that you can afford your passion. But you, on the other hand, were completely aware of all facets of your life. And now you’re finding and discovering this whole entire online business world. So, tell us how that segued for you and then how you’re helping your husband and your members.
Cynthia Maugard: Yeah. I don’t really remember how it all started, to be honest. But I guess I probably saw some videos about email marketing or like social media because it was getting bigger and bigger and, yeah, started with social media. And so, here it is. There was an ad if I remember well on Facebook, about social media and how to get more people to see you on social media. And I clicked on that and I followed the training. It was a two-hour training. It was really small but there were some key tips and advice in there that I started to apply. So, we started to post more regularly on Facebook and got more visibility and that gave us also more people to come to the website. So, we sold more books, more DVDs, so we help more people. And that’s how it all started and then I dug into it. I did some research and try to find how to learn more and do more. And yeah, that’s how I ended up doing a different course. And last year I did the TRIBE course and that was like the real big revelation. It really did change everything.
Shelli Varela: For sure. Did you have any sort of limiting beliefs or initial thoughts when you first thought like, what would this look like for my business? And is it possible for my business to take what we’re doing, which is like DVDs and books and stuff and actually turn it into an online thing? Did you ever have a moment where you’re like, “Hmm, I’m not sure if this is going to work,” and what was the biggest thing that you were concerned about that turned out not to be true when it came to transitioning into an online business?
Cynthia Maugard: Yeah. I did, actually. To be honest, it’s my partner who came up with the idea of traveling around and meeting some different experts and filming the whole thing and sharing that with a community so that they can learn online. And at the time, I was not really on board. I must confess that at the time, I thought that was crazy. And I thought that no, come on, we’re in the horse business. People need to have a trainer, a real trainer in real life with them and the horses like in the trenches. You can’t just do it online. And well, he’s a little stubborn just as much as I am. So, just like I’m getting but he just believed in it so much. So, he went for it and it worked. To my surprise, it worked. And I think it worked because lots of people are just there alone. That’s what we see now. That’s what we realize now that there are so many people that are alone and they don’t have access to a good trainer. They don’t have access to the right knowledge. So, they’re actually seeking help in many different ways.
And looking back on it I’m like, “That was a bit stupid of me,” because if people will buy books and DVDs and learn from that, why wouldn’t it work with online training? That’s the same thing. It’s just another material, another support but if it’s a book or online, it works the same way at the end of the day. But that was a strong limiting belief for me and I kept that limiting belief for like a whole year or even more and I was not really supportive at first.
Shelli Varela: So, that’s incredible. I love when people can feel the fear and do it anyways. Because oftentimes like, I always say, you can’t steer a parked car. And sometimes you’ll never get that momentum unless you take the leap when you’re not quite sure when you don’t know if it’s going to be 100% what you planned but the only way we get to the place where we can prove ourselves wrong and prove our fears wrong is by actually executing and putting into action the thing that we want to at least try.
Cynthia Maugard: Exactly, at least try like there’s no harm in trying. And when you try, well, you might be very surprised at the end. That’s really the big, big lesson I got from that like really, just don’t be afraid to try.
Stu McLaren: So many people in all kinds of niche markets are leveraging their existing knowledge and influence and they’re transforming it into passive monthly income. This isn’t luck. This is a repeatable formula for producing a growing subscription income and if thousands of others can do it, you can too. To find out what type of membership site would be right for your business, visit GetTRIBEGuide.com. Go to GetTRIBEGuide.com and download it today. You’re awesome!
Shelli Varela: How has having a membership site and having recurring revenue impacted not only your business but your personal lives?
Cynthia Maugard: In a tremendous way. Before that, and so to give you a little backstory, when we first launched what is now the membership, at first, it wasn’t a membership at all. It was a series of like 12 episodes that people would buy as a one-time payment and have life access to it, just like you would buy a TV show for season 1. And so, that was just not sustainable because you end up having one big sale once and you make money once, but then you don’t have any more money coming in at all but you still have to produce all those videos that you sold to those people. So, you still have a lot of work to do, a lot of costs that are going to come but you don’t make any more money. So, it just did not work at all. And even before doing that, when we were just like doing lessons and the books and DVDs, we never knew how much income we could have, like never. It was total uncertainty. And like, I’m all for variety and surprise and fun but when it comes to, am I going to be able to pay my rent? Am I going to be able to pay my horse’s board? Am I going to be able to feed my animals? That just brought so much anxiety like constant anxiety of not knowing what is going to come.
And then when you’re in a constant state of stress, and your mind is just busy worrying about how are you going to make it, well, you’re not as creative and you’re not as confident to serve your people, to help them because you’re not 100% yourself. You’re not 100% present. That anxiousness is eating you, you know. So, when we made the switch and it was hard too like making that switch to asking people for a monthly payment, it was scary. We were scared of it. We were scared of being judged by people thinking we were here for the money and we are here for help. We want to help them. We want to help people. We want to help horses. That’s really what we’re after but when you’ve never done that, again, limiting belief, just you’re afraid of what people are going to think of you. But again, we did it anyway. We were scared, really scared but we did it anyway.
And we ended up having almost 400 members when we launched that membership, like the TRIBE proof version of the membership. The very first launch we had almost 400 new members and so that was just astonishing. We were not expecting that. And for the first time in our lives, it brought us financial security. So now, we don’t have to worry about the bills. We know it’s covered. So, now our mind and our time can be spent entirely to help them so we can help people even more and way better than we used to do before because it gave us the freedom, the freedom of mind, enough time to be able to serve them even more. That’s huge. Plus, so my partner, he’s the expert in the membership. He’s the one who actually gives the advice regarding course training. I’m here again to like build the membership and manage the logistics and like business aspect of it. So, before that, we kept telling people, “No, I’m sorry. We can’t help you. No, I’m sorry. He cannot teach you,” just because he was spending his time teaching one-on-one.
So, he would spend one hour with one person doing a lesson. And now when he spends one hour in the community of the membership, during that one hour, he answers so many questions and hundreds of people, all the members can read that or hear this and seeing the video so he can reach out and help so much more people. So, the impact he has on all those horse riders and horses is like 10 times, 100 times the size it was before.
Shelli Varela: You brought up something really important that I want to circle back to and that is it’s I think the first time I’ve heard it said this way, in that you said, having a membership site because you’re worrying less about money and less about can you pay your rent? Can you feed your animals? Can you pay their board? It reduces your anxiety and allows you to be more of who you are so you show up in a bigger, better, more powerful way. But in a day when everybody is so aware of mental health and worrying and limiting beliefs and positive thoughts, I really love that you made that connection in terms of the benefit that your membership is now offering not only, like you said, your business, but your personal life, your mental health and your ability to impact in the most powerful way.
Cynthia Maugard: Yeah. It was so clear for us. Like we could feel that weight on our shoulders lifting. And yeah, you can feel it. I mean, you can expect it but when you actually live it, you can feel it.
Shelli Varela: If you had one piece of advice to give to somebody who’s thinking about considering a membership as a possibility for their business, what would that advice be?
Cynthia Maugard: Go for it, like, do not hesitate to go for it. If you have one thing, one tiny little thing you can share, you can offer people to help them, do it. There’s always going to be at least one person that seek your help that needs your help. So, do it. I just cannot emphasize this enough.
Shelli Varela: And more often than not, you’ll surprise yourself because like you said, there’s always somebody that needs your help. But what I hear all of the time is how surprised people are at how easy it is and how many people need their help.
Cynthia Maugard: Exactly. Yeah. Definitely. Definitely. And really be yourself. Lean into your values and be who you are. Don’t be afraid of not being liked by everyone because really you just need to stick to your values and who you are so you can attract the right people and so that you can actually serve them. So, yeah, being authentic, being yourself, and sticking to your values. And that’s how you will attract the right people that you can really serve and help.
Shelli Varela: Right and that’s good advice for business and life. I wanted to thank you so much for taking the time to hang out with us and share your incredible experiences. If people are looking for you online, where is the best place they can reach out and find you?
Cynthia Maugard: Well, first, thank you so much to you for inviting me. It was such a pleasure to be here.
Shelli Varela: Oh, our pleasure.
Shelli Varela: Thank you so much, my friend. It’s been an absolute pleasure.
Cynthia Maugard: Thank you very, very much to you.
Stu McLaren: I hope you love that story. It’s amazing, right? That’s what It’s a TRIBE Thing is all about. So many people in all kinds of niche markets are leveraging their existing knowledge and influence and they’re transforming it into passive monthly income. Listen, this isn’t luck. There’s a repeatable formula for producing a growing subscription income and each week we’re going behind the scenes to show you exactly how they did it. Get the latest stories and actionable ideas from each episode at www.ItsaTRIBEThing.com and if you know one other person who could benefit from this, tell them to subscribe. Tell them to go to ItsaTRIBEThing.com.
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