Elite Retreat Review – Is It Really Worth $5,000?

April 11, 2008 - Written by Gyutae Park  

elite retreatI got back from Elite Retreat in San Francisco a week ago but haven’t really had a chance to talk about my experience there until now.

As many of you know, I won the pass through John Chow’s Rocket Profit contest so I was able to enjoy all of the great benefits for free. Admission usually costs a steep $5,000 but I think the conference is well worth it for serious Internet marketers and business people. Where else can you network and learn from guys like Shoemoney, Aaron Wall, and Brian Clark on a personal level?

We were required to sign non-disclosure agreements so I won’t be able to go into too much detail about what I learned from the speakers and from the other attendees. The experts outlined some of their successful marketing techniques and website business plans, audited real-life websites thrown out by the attendees, and provided one-on-one consulting sessions for everyone interested.

I definitely learned a lot and it was really motivating to hear from hugely successful Internet entrepreneurs. I’m not quite there yet but I think I have all the tools necessary to eventually get me there.

Like I said, I can’t reveal too much out of respect for all the speakers and attendees and for legal reasons, but I’ll give some brief recaps and reviews on each of the expert speakers.

Jeremy organized the entire conference and he did an excellent job. During his presentation, he described the whole process in which he became involved with Internet marketing and making money online including some things that have never been publicly mentioned before. He talked about his previous projects: NextPimp.com, Auction Ads, and his latest Fighters.com and what it took to make them all so successful. Here’s a tip that he emphasized: Do things for other people first, and they will usually reciprocate when you need favors later on.

Neil Patel
Neil was definitely the shadier marketer of the group and I loved it. He described some useful tricks to take advantage of social media sites like YouTube, Facebook, StumbleUpon, and Digg and how they can be used to promote a site. Neil is a funny character who definitely knows his stuff.
Tip: Hire some monkeys to take care of your menial tasks in social media.

Matt Mullenweg
Seriously, how many of you use WordPress to power your blogs? Better yet, how many of you use it as a content management system for your sites? Probably most of you. WordPress Is an open source project in the truest form and has literally changed the whole landscape of blogging. I really enjoyed hearing about Matt’s vision and I’m extremely interested to see how WordPress will evolve in the future. As Matt says, truly exceptional software is only born after 10 years of development. It’s been 5 years and I think WordPress is already there.

Andy Liu
I didn’t know much about Andy going into the conference other than the fact that he’s a fellow Asian, but he really took me by surprise when he went up to make his presentation. He’s the guy behind BuddyTV and definitely knows his stuff when it comes to startups and building/acquiring valuable web properties. I was also able to talk to him at one of the dinners and he’s a very likable and personable guy. I’m really not all that surprised that he’s been able to close so many big deals.
Some tips from Andy:

  • Develop a sprint attitude and zone in on execution
  • Have extreme focus
  • Have a firm thesis and play offensively
  • Ring the bell and celebrate once in a while. Startups are marathons.

Brian Clark
I’m a member of Brian Clark’s Teaching Sells and it really is a great program, not just in learning how to set up membership sites but in understanding online marketing as a whole. I recommend it to anyone reading this. Brian talked extensively on the topic of direct marketing and how he’s been able to utilize its power to make him millions over the years. Obviously Brian specializes in copywriting but his skills go further than that. Some things that I learned from Brian include:

  • It’s easier to sell to someone for a second time
  • An effective business model is attention > authority > acceleration
  • Outsourcing and automation are keys to scaling a business.

Guy Kawasaki
It was definitely a treat to see and meet Guy Kawasaki. I always hear about him in the circles I’m in but never really got to know him or read his work. The guy (no pun intended) strolled in looking scruffy and had a nice casual talk with us. He described his latest project AllTop.com and how he’s in it for the money despite what critics might say. He also went on to say that TechCrunch readers (the ones that continue to bash on him anyway) are “angry men living with their mothers and having cats in their fridges.” Interesting quote, I know. Haha. Guy is a very cool guy who’s very well connected in the industry. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to read his classic article, The Art of Sucking Up.

Aaron Wall
Aaron made the last presentation and I was probably most excited about this one because I do SEO for a living as well. I had a chance to chat with Aaron over dinner and throw some interview questions at him. Read the full Aaron Wall interview.

Aaron’s presentation was money. He really emphasized the fact that Google is putting a larger weight on domain names for rankings and that sometimes it’s advantageous to buy up sites when the right opportunities arise. He also talked about some other things, but you really can’t expect me to post them up here publicly can you? 😛

All in all, Elite Retreat was a great experience with some wonderful people. If you have the money and are serious about your Internet business I recommend you check it out next time around. Worse comes to worst, at least you’ll be riding around town in a sweet stretch Hummer.

Some of the other attendee reviews are below. Great meeting you guys.

Impressions After My ‘Elite Retreat’ Trip – Ari Shohat
Elite Retreat – SEO Wife
Elite Retreat Networking and Fun Times in San Francisco – Zac Johnson
Elite Retreat recap – Was it worth the $5000??? – Justin Goff
Elite Retreat Day 2 – Scott Hendison
Elite Retreat 2008 Rocked – Shoemoney
Elite Retreat End of Day 1 and Open Source Dim Sum Baby! – Purpose Inc.
Elite Retreat 2008 – John Hasson

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Posted in Conferences, Reviews
Winners Circle - Internet Marketing Case Studies
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22 Responses to “Elite Retreat Review – Is It Really Worth $5,000?”

Jason on April 11th, 2008

Interesting. Pretty cool stuff. I’d like to give it a try, but $5,000 is a hell of a lot of money.

I’d like to know one thing though Gyutae; does that price tag really teach you more than you could learn from the hundreds of websites/books out there, teaching you already? or is that price more about who’s there and the networking?

Gyutae Park on April 11th, 2008

$5,000 is a hell of a lot of money but part of the reason why they charge so much is because they want to weed out everyone who is not serious about what they are doing online. So in the end, it really is the “Elite Retreat”.

As for the teachings, I don’t doubt that there’s tons of information out there on blogs and books. However, Elite Retreat focuses on applying those same concepts to real websites and businesses. Many of the experts brought up some of their own sites and attendees volunteered to have their businesses critiqued. So in that regard, you get a lot of stuff that you can’t get just by reading.

The conference in itself is not business revolutionizing. You still have to go out and apply the knowledge to your business and take action. However, the contacts you make and the motivation you get is worth a lot in my opinion.

I definitely would not recommend Elite Retreat to newbies – you really need to have your foundation down before attending something like this. But if you own a successful online business and want to take it to the next level, this will certainly help.

Mr. Nice Guy on April 12th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

So you mean Gyutae that these top guys are also outsourcing their SEO and other blog activities. Is this one of the basics of having many niche blogs to make money?

purposeinc on April 11th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

First off, nice to meet you! I am dk from the Elite Retreat, also known as purposeinc. Thank you very much for linking to my silly post. Also, congratulations on graduating from school! Not an insignificant accomplishment!

Sorry I did not get a chance to talk to you at the Elite Retreat. I kept noticing you, and unfortunately did not get a chance to connect.

Thanks for all of the nice things you said about the event. I am glad that you got so much out of it.

We can catch up next time we cross paths!

Much Love,

Gyutae Park on April 11th, 2008

Hey DK,
Thanks for helping to put together such an awesome event. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to connect with everyone there (I was busy visiting my girlfriend ’cause she’s out in SF as well), but definitely will try attending again if the opportunity arises.

See ya next time.

Tom Beaton on April 11th, 2008

Hey Gyutae,

Great to know what you think. I think the your not quite ready yet comment is probably fair, as it is a pretty advanced course. What an opportunity though. Thanks for linking to other attendees opinions too!

Gyutae Park on April 11th, 2008

Hey Tom,
It wasn’t really advanced conceptually but more in the experience area. Most of the guys had successful online businesses that they ran for a living. That in itself says a lot.

Me on the other hand, still working at getting there. I can just taste it… 🙂

Ari Shohat on April 11th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email


Alas I am sorry I didn’t really get to meet you either there. There’s always this way 🙂

Gyutae Park on April 11th, 2008

Hey Ari,
Yeah I almost wish it was longer than 2 days. Even with only 35 people, it was difficult to connect with and get to know everyone there.

Hope to see you again next time.

Zac Johnson on April 11th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

EliteRetreat was awesome. I need to write my recap on it now.

Gyutae Park on April 11th, 2008

Haha, yeah it was a great time Zac. I liked the part when you had your myspace site up on the screen and then told everyone you brought in $1 million in profits – at which point everyone’s jaw dropped. Haha nice.

Meethere on April 12th, 2008

Definitely worth 5k.
There are many top bloggers of the blogosphere plus marketing professionals.

Hock on April 14th, 2008

Hi Gyutae,

Thanks for the great rundown on the Elite Retreat. 🙂

John Motson on April 15th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Thanks for a great rundown of things that happened there Gyutae, makes me almost feel like I was there… perhaps next year.

I definitely agree with you that the $5000 is worth it to just have all those people there in one place – the possibility of networking alone makes the outlay seem like peanuts.

I wish you a lot of success in the future.


Irish on April 16th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

I didn’t know that Elite Retreat cost that much…But, I guess as Meethere said it’s worthed…

Dr. Teeth on April 17th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

I am not sure coz i have not been to any such kinda retreat’s, but since some big players are involved into this, it can surely be worth attending.

Flimjo on April 18th, 2008

It can’t possibly be worth $5,000.

Sketchplanet on May 19th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

I thought Shoemoney emphasis was making sites which he would use and the hit/popularity would follow

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