Jason Hsiao | The Best Way to Stand Out on Social Media

It’s clear that if you’re marketing products or services online (and who isn’t these days), video has to be part of your strategy, says Jason Hsiao, co-founder of Animoto, an intuitive video creation platform.

And here’s why…

Market watcher Tubular Insights has found that 64% of consumers make a purchase after watching a branded video. And 51% of marketers surveyed by Insivia say video is the content with the best ROI.

Video boosts leads and sales for every type of business.

Sure, it can be intimidating. But Jason has some simple tips to create professional looking videos with content you already have. He also shares some great free resources - so stick around until the end.

We also talk about…

  • How to stand out in social media with your videos
  • The 5+ most effective video formats
  • The 2 most intimidating things about video – and how to conquer them
  • Taking advantage of the “humanizing” effect of video
  • And more

Listen to Steve Gordon and Jason Hsiao Now:

Episode Timeline:

00:11 Today Steve speaks with Jason Hsiao, Co Founder of Animoto, a simple to use video creation platform that anyone can use to make great marketing videos.

01:52 Jason tells us how he developed Animoto.

04:03 Jason explains the obstacles he faced in developing Animoto and how staying focused on providing just one service was key.

07:31 Jason talks about being laser focused on that one service keeps everyone at the company moving in that direction.

09:39 Jason explains because he started the company with friends, heated boardroom debates aren’t personal.

11:55 Jason explains how to implement video into our marketing. He breaks down how Animoto works for you.

15:14 Jason gives us some great examples of messages we can incorporate into our videos.

17:33 Jason explains how you can great a great video with out you or even images being in it.

20:20 Jason tells us how video really focuses on getting to the right clientele.

23:38 Jason loves to talk to customers, follow this link to get in contact with him, Animoto.com/unstoppableceo

Mentioned in this Episode:

Transcript: Steve Gordon & Jason Hsiao:

Welcome to the Unstoppable CEO podcast. I'm your host Steve Gordon, and today is going to be a lot of fun. We are going to cover a topic that we have not covered before on the podcast. And, for those of you who are looking for a new and effective way to market, you want to stay tuned and probably take some notes as we go. I'm talking with Jason Hsiao, he's the co-founder and chief video officer of Animoto, an award-winning online video maker that makes it easy for anyone to create professional quality marketing videos.

And, I got to tell you I've used their service before, it is ridiculously easy. If you think video is hard, this is for you. They really bill it as the tool that allows you to create professional quality marketing videos, even if you have no technical skills. Even, if you've never created a video before, which is why it's the perfect tool for me. They've got a mission of empowering everyone to create powerful videos, regardless of age or experience. Jason founded Animoto with his high school and Dartmouth College friends back in 2006, and they have just had tremendous success ever since then. Prior to that, he was a producer with MTV, and with Comedy Central, and just got a wealth of video experience. I'm excited, Jason, to be talking to you today and looking forward to some insights, hopefully you can share with folks on how they can better use video in their marketing.

Absolutely, thanks Steve. Thanks for having me on the show, this is a real privilege.

Yeah, this is going to be fun. So, I know we touched on a bunch of things in the bio, but why don't you give everybody just a little bit of background on what got you to this stage of your career.

Video Is an Essential Part of Marketing Today

Sure. Really our whole world is about trying to empower people with the power of video. I've always been obsessed with video, since I was a kid, just the magic and the power of video. So, this is probably, maybe like 15 years ago, when we were working, on TV and film, which for us was kind of, a dream job. But, we saw how fast everything was changing around us, with the internet, and these mobile devices. And, mind you, this was before the iPhone, right? So, like these things are getting smaller, and smaller, and seems like they're going to fit in your pocket and might even have an internet connection and maybe a camera on it. And, it just seemed with cloud computing and all these social networks, it just seemed inevitable that the landscape was going to change quickly, and that video had to be at the forefront of that at some point. And, we just couldn't stop thinking about that, and we wanted to be a part of that. So, long story short, we spend nights and weekends trying to prove out this technology idea of rendering video real time in the cloud. It was very nerdy, but we were so obsessed with it.

It was basically about 10 years ago, that we launched the company. Along the way, we got super focused and realized that probably the biggest need out there, is businesses, particularly small businesses using video to drive awareness and credibility for their business. So, here we are today, we're about 100 employees, we're based in New York City, and we're doing everything we can to help businesses embrace video, and really realize the potential and value of video.

Yeah, and you guys really were into video, and into video for the masses, before the technology was as easy, as it is today. That could not have been an easy process. I imagine there were a lot of frustrating late nights trying to figure things out. What did you do, to keep going and push through? I imagine in a lot of ways, you were developing technology along the way that didn't exist.

Absolutely. I'm going to address that in a couple of ways. One from kind of, a business strategy perspective of somethings that we learned the hard way. And, then maybe a personal story that I think was a part of all that. From the business perspective, you can tell from the way I set that up. But, we were technology and product nerds, and I think maybe, not unlike a lot of entrepreneurs and folks starting businesses. They're in love with a particular product or idea. But, I think what we realized along the way is there's a difference between being in love with technology and products, and really understanding the market and your customer. And, as it kind of, turned out in the early days, we had a lot of faux success. We actually had a lot of, a little bit, of everyone using us. Which you think would be super great, but as it turned out, we realized, it actually was really difficult. Because, we had 50 different masteries. We had all these different people trying to pull us in different ways. We didn't really have a focus, we had a lot of different people using us. It became really hard to understand how to prioritize our efforts.

And it had other negative impacts, I'd say. When you're trying to do a little bit of everything, for a lot of different people, your service, your whole customer experience becomes muddled, and even confused. I think, at some point our big learning, was like, "Listen, would we rather be best in the world at one thing, or just kind of, good at a lot of things?" I think obviously, we decided to let's get really focused and be best in the world on one thing. Like, what's the one challenge in the world that we think, we can be best in the world, at addressing. So, for us, as we got really focused, it was really all about businesses needing video, particularly on how to stand out on social media. But, that was certainly an interesting learning along the way.

You know, everyone talks about being customer centric, but what does it really mean to go from talking the talk, to walking the walk. Really being focused on your market opportunity and your customer.

You Can’t Be All Things to All People

Getting that focus is not a trivial thing. We work with businesses all the time, and that's almost always the number one thing, that's holding them back, is that they're trying to be all things to all people, or at least all things to all people who will pay them, right?

Yeah.

And, look, I get why you want to do that, because people are paying you and probably your number one problem in business is cashflow. And, you need the cash. So, it's totally understandable, however, I also think it's the number one thing that holds businesses back. Smart of you and your co-founders to figure that out, and pick one. It takes a lot of courage to do that. Because, as you said, you had customers in lots of different areas, that you all of a sudden, even if you weren't going to cancel their accounts right away, all of your outbound communication was no longer going to speak to them.

Yeah. If, you're looking at things by the numbers. Let's just say for example, there's 10 different types of customers, each making up like 10% of your revenue mix, or whatever. You're not going to just turn your back on 90% of your revenue. And, the math wasn't really at all like that, that extreme. But, if people are paying you, why would you ignore them, but I think what we learned, was just because you have a focus on a customer, doesn't mean that ... Let's just say, for us, there's a bit of an umbrella. Even, though we're laser focused on a particular type of customer, by doing what that person needs really well, it doesn't mean that other folks aren't going to find value in that. So, there is a bit of an umbrella effect.

But, I think one of the best things for us, in terms of, the service and the product experience, that we've been able to deliver, really feeling much more cohesive and focused. Even, with our team here, I'll say the culture and moral of things, for everyone to feel like they're all pointed in the same direction and contributing toward the same goal. There's just this real feel of empowerment here, whereas I can remember back in the day, everyone was doing all these different things, but no one really knew whether, what they were working on was actually, the most important thing. The fact, that everyone here, all 100 employees feel like we're laser focused in the same direction, it both feels empowering, and then we know by definition that we're having maximum impact in that one area versus 100 people slightly pointed in the general direction, but maybe not exactly in the same direction.

Yeah, it really is an extreme shortcut in business. And, for a lot of different reasons, and that's actually a really good one, that I haven't thought about before, it focuses and consolidates the effort of everyone on your team. As you were grappling with that decision, was there anybody on the team, that was like, no, this is a crazy idea?

Oh, certainly. For every decision we make, there's always healthy discussion and debate. Sometimes those types of strategic discussions can get pretty heated. I think for us, one benefit we've had and maybe in part because we started the company with friends, is we have a culture of we can get into things, we can get into some pretty heated debates, but at the end of the day, we know it's not personal. Someone has to make a decision, and it's our responsibility to make sure we lay out the various options and really discuss things thoroughly. But, at the end of the day, we have to choose a direction. We might not get everything right, but in general, if you're making most of the decisions as best you can with the best information you have, you're going to be making forward progress.

Yeah, absolutely. I want to take a quick break, and when we come back Jason, I want to really dive into how the listeners can take advantage of video today. And, what some of, the trends are, that you're seeing with video marketing. So, we'll be right back with more from, Jason.

Welcome back, this is Steve Gordon, and I am here with Jason Hsiao, and he's from Animoto, and we're talking about video marketing. Jason, for our listeners who are mostly in service businesses, a lot of them are in professional services, where maybe they need to be a little bit more buttoned up in the way that they present the business. I'd love to talk in our remaining time, about how they can begin to think differently about using video, where they might be able to plug it in to what they're doing marketing wise?

Creating Videos Is Easier Than You Think

Absolutely. What we basically see, I think we're all seeing, right? Is that video is just everywhere right now. It's really changing everything, and in some ways it's clips in things at a faster pace now that mobile has taken over everything. But, a lot of folks, particularly small businesses and entrepreneurs we talk to, they're basically saying, "I kind of, know I should be doing this, I mean, I see video everywhere, but how do I catch this wave? And, oh, by the way, I have no experience, no time, and I don't have extravagant budgets, like these big companies do."

So, really that's where Animoto comes in, we provide folks tools, to make it basically like, drag and drop easy to create professional videos. And, the biggest need that we're, hearing today from businesses, is they're trying to figure out how to stand out on social media with video. Because, that's kind of, where everyone is. Basically, at Animoto, we're a video making tool, on web and mobile. We have this drag and drop interface, that's like using building blocks. You can't actually screw up a video, it's almost like a toy, right? It's almost fun, right? You're just kind of, moving around these blocks.

And, that's pretty amazing, yes.

And, the other thing, I think where we've been able to help businesses out a lot, a lot of them just don't know where to start, or what type of videos, to even start making. We created this whole collection of starter templates, that we call story boards, and essentially we've been able to core everything we've learned about what makes for a successful video, into these starter templates. And, so you can open one of these story boards up, you can tailor it to your business, you can swap in your own photos or video clips, change some, of the text. You can make it longer or shorter, you can change the fonts, and color, if that's important to your brand. You can include your logo anywhere in the video, or in the corner of the whole video, and really make it your own.

So, that's been really good, because a lot of businesses, are like, "I'm not one of these creative professionals, I don't know how what to do, or what story to tell." So, we just have all sorts of different types of videos, whether, it's company overviews, or how to's, or interview testimonials, or announcements, or teasers. Any type of video, that you kind of, see out there to really engage with your audience.

I think the most intimidating thing, that I hear about video, well, there's two really. Number one is, what do I say? That's, I think probably the first big barrier, but then once you decide that, the next thing that comes up, is how do I capture the video? It's one thing to be able to go and edit it, but how do I capture it, so it looks good. Because, it seems like the bar keeps getting raised on the quality of video online. A few years ago, you could get away with a really poorly shot video. How do you help people get past both of those obstacles?

Leveraging Existing Content to Create Pro Videos

Great question, and we hear that all the time. One thing I like to impress upon folks thinking about how to get started with video, in many ways video is actually not a whole new type of marketing. I think that's what makes it feel real intimidating to a lot of folks, or create a lot of anxiety. It really is just kind of, a way to amplify what already works for your business. So, in terms of what to say, if you think about as a business owner, or entrepreneur, there are things that you are saying over, and over, all the time. And, they often have to do with, what is I that you offer, tell me more about your service. How are you different from other folks doing this? Why did you create this business in the first place? Which often, kind of, translates into what are the benefits? There are certain messages or stories, that we as business owners, are always telling. And, those are the perfect place to start. Because, you already know that message is important, what you do, why you're important, the benefits that you offer. You could start with that.

Sometimes I say, imagine this, "Someone, literally just walked right into your office, and wanted to know more about what it is, you're doing, what would you say to them?" Another, kind of, interesting way to start is, as I said, what already works for you? I know, some businesses, for example, have a bunch of great content or thought leadership content, or blog content. So, this one business, I was chatting with, they were like, "Well, we're trying to figure out how to get into video." And, they have all this great blog content, that they're known for. They just sorted their blog content by the most popular, and they just started making videos that either, captured what that blog post was about, or it created a video, that was a teaser to that, to point them out.

So, if you're in the business of producing any kind of content, or if that's part of what makes you successful, whether, it's written content, or audio content, or anything. You can certainly leverage what content is already there. And, then I think you know, it's certainly there's this anxiety about, "Well, how do I actually capture this video? Oh, and then by the way, I actually am terrified of being in front of the camera." Well, when you look at a lot of the videos on social media, or if you go to Animoto and you look through the collection of story boards. A lot of these things, don't actually even feature, any people, or the actual business owners, these types of videos. You can certainly capture the benefits of your business, or why you're different, without having to actually be in the video.

You can use the photos or images that you already have on your website, or that you already use as part of your marketing. You, don't even have to use any imagery, there are certainly a lot of videos out there, that are all text. Like, three ways you want to consider 401k, or whatever it is that you offer. So, you don't have to actually produce any original assets or video content, to create some of these marketing videos. Of course, it's great, especially for folks that provide a service. We definitely encourage folks to put a face on their marketing, because when you humanize your marketing, I think it really contributes to that sense of trust and authenticity.

There's this great quote, "If people like you, they'll listen to you, but if they trust, they'll do business with you." And, I love that quote, and I think part of that is just making your marketing more human, and there's no better way to do that, but with video, right? But, that certainly is not a requirement to get started. So, yeah take what you have, start with what works, whether, that's a specific message, or content, or certain images, or stuff that you already have. Once, you start seeing how easy it is to make these videos, I think you'll quickly have that confidence to just try doing more.

Yeah, and that's one of the things I think you guys do particularly well. I found it hard to find anywhere else, you can go onto Animoto, and you can create a video just with images, and put text on, and do all this other stuff, and actually end up with a finished product, fairly easily. Whereas, I run a Mac, which is pretty media creation friendly, but even on the Mac, if I wanted to do that, it's a bit of a project. So, you've made that kind of thing easy. What you just said, is really brilliant, because it's a great way for a business owner, who hasn't done any video before, to get started. Often times, I think that, that's the most important things. If you can just figure out the easiest possible way for you to get started? Once, you get in the flow of it, you'll begin to see, what the other possibilities are.

Harnessing the True Power of Social Media

Absolutely. I think one of the big benefits of video on social media right now, is, as business owners, I know we're wearing 20 different hats, we have so many, different things to do. It's like where should video fall on this list of things, that I'm supposed to do. In terms of marketing, and really driving awareness and sales, The amazing thing about social media right now, is the ability to get super targeted of getting your video out there to the exact audience that should actually be interested I your world, or your service. Because, they all provide these tools, that you can get really focused on the exact audience, that you want to target.

So, if you think about, the old way, it's not really the old way, because it still happens, but like traditional marketing, where it's much more hope and pray. It's almost spray and pray, or playing by the numbers. Like, "Maybe, for every 10,000 emails I sent out, X percent will open it and read it, and X percent will click there. Or, for every 100 of phone calls I make, maybe, three will pick up. That's a lot of wasted time and effort. With video, you can, not only allow that video to do a lot of the work for you, because, it gets seen all over the world and shared. But, you can really get laser focused on the folks that care about what you have to talk about. As I kind of say, you don't have to wait for people to come and discover you on your site, you have the opportunity to really take the conversation to where it's happening, and that's on social media.

Well, yeah. And, you bring up such an important point, for those of us who've been in business for a little while, it's hard to get out of that mindset, that I need to get this in front of every possible person, who might even remotely be interested. One, of the things that ... You know, it's interesting, we made this shift a couple of years ago, to really focus on very small markets, both on social media and on email. Kind of, subdivide, so that the people who are getting a message, hopefully if we've picked right, are the ones who are most radically interested in that particular message. And, I think for everybody listening, the take away is, with a tool, like what Jason and his team have built, you have the ability to really easily create variations of messages. So, if you've got two or three different types of ideal clients you go after. You can test, and tweak, the message for each one and then laser focus it. And, that's going to work way, better, than trying to get the least common denominator message across, all of them. And, you need an easy tool, if you're going to do video, you need a really easy tool, to be able to that. Yeah, I think that's the right thinking, Jason. And, I appreciate you sharing that.

Of course.

So, if folks want to get started in video marketing, or if they just want to take what they're doing and find out how your tool can help them? What's the best place for them to go? Where should they go to learn more about Animoto?

Animoto is at Animoto.com. But, what I thought I'd do in case folks want specific information about how to get started in some, of the stuff I talked about. I set up a page for folks too, it's at Animoto.com/unstoppableceo, and I'll have my contact information there, and some links to some useful information. Whether, you're just getting started, or trying to figure out how to take your marketing effort to the next level. Don't be shy about getting in touch, I'm happy to chat, I love talking to fellow business owners, and entrepreneurs. So, I put all my contact information there, so don't be shy about getting in touch. So, Animoto.com/unstoppableceo, we’ll set that up.

That's awesome, thank you for doing that, very generous offer, too. We have used Animoto for quite a number of years. I think maybe even, going back to, I think we used it in my first company, back in '08, '09, somewhere in there. And, I've always been impressed with what you guys are doing. So, I'm glad we finally got you on the podcast, and had a chance to talk about these things. This is a huge, huge trend and for a lot of businesses, can be a really effective way to get the message out there. Jason, thanks for investing some time with me today, this has been a lot of fun.

Absolutely Steve, thank you so much for the opportunity, it's been a real privilege.

Crazy (but simple) strategy to turn forgotten prospects into clients

In all of our work with clients, there’s a theme…

And I believe it extends to virtually all businesses…

The theme? That you’re sitting on, and ignoring a valuable asset in your business.

Your existing database of prospects.

The story of leads generated, then forgotten is an epic tale of missed opportunity and lost profit in business.

Why?

Because it’s damn hard to follow-up consistently.

In fact, three big barriers tend to freeze most people before they ever get started…

  1. Writer’s Block - As the kid’s say…The struggle is real! Trying to figure out what to say in a newsletter, a simple follow-up email, a LinkedIn message, or even a voicemail keeps many professionals from ever following up.

  2. Being Boring - Boring follow-up is almost the same as not following up at all… ‘cause your boring follow up won’t be read. :-(

  3. Being a Pest - We all know that it’s hard to annoy a prospect into become a paying client. And you run the risk of being mightily pest-like if you show-up with self-centered, ill-conceived, or salesy follow-up.

So, most business owners just punt and do nothing.

Yet, they’ll work tirelessly to fill the pipeline with new leads. (The single most difficult and expensive activity in business.)

Today, in Part 3 of our podcast “mini-series” on escaping the curse of being “the best kept secret in your market” we bring it all together…

Today, I’ll show you how to take what we covered in Part 1 and Part 2, to create “forever follow-up” that does the most important thing you need to have before a sale is made…to create trust.

And I’ll explain how to do it without ever putting quill pen to parchment or even mousing-over the Microsoft Word button on your laptop.

Listen here…

After you listen to this episode, take a deeper dive into this topic so you can get it working in your business over at our new mini-site: sellingprofessionalservices.com

Episode Transcript:

Announcer: You're listening to the Unstoppable CEO Podcast with Steve Gordon.

Steve Gordon: Welcome to the Unstoppable CEO Podcast. I'm your host, Steve Gordon, and today we're back with part three of our series on getting out of obscurity and escaping the curse of being the best kept secret in your market. Today, we're going to bring it all together and we're going to talk about how to package up the ideas that are in your business and use those to consistently market your business, to stay in front of prospects, and we're going to show you how to do it in a way that is actually really, really easy to do and I promise will be mostly painless. 

I'm excited to share this. We've shared this with a few folks in our new e-mail course over at sellingprofessionalservices.com and had just tremendous feedback on it. I think you're going to get a ton of benefit out of this. Really what we're talking about, and if you haven't heard either of the previous two parts of this series, you're going to want to go over to theunstoppableceo.net, or excuse me, unstoppableceo.net/podcast and listen to part one and part two there, where we set the stage for what we're going to talk about today. 

Today our focus is really on how to take what we talked about in the last episode, which is coming up with big ideas in your business, and every business has them. I mean that sincerely. Every business has them. We've gone through this process with dozens of businesses, and I have yet to find one where we can't uncover big ideas that are important to prospects. The truth is, if you didn't have any big ideas that were important to prospects, you wouldn't sell anything. So they're there. They're out there. Sometimes it takes an outside eye to be able to recognize them, because often you're too close to it, but they are there. 

We're going to talk today about how to package up those ideas and more importantly, once you package them up, how to use them to give you a reason to show up and to follow up with your prospects, with the people that are in your network that can refer you, and with your clients over and over and over again. Follow up consistently and follow up over the long haul. For months and for years. Because in our types of businesses, we all know that sometimes it takes years for a client to get ready. Maybe they've got an incumbent provider in place, I mean the story in professional services of, “Yeah, I've had to work with my sister's brother for 15 years and he finally retired from the business. Now that I don't have that family obligation, I can pick whoever I want and I really want to do business with you.” We've all heard those sorts of stories, right?

They're real, and sometimes there are obstacles in the way of prospects coming and doing business with you that you can't overcome. You can do all that you ... you can try all that you can to overcome them, but sometimes it just takes time, and you've got to find a way to be there over the long haul. This, what we're going to cover today, is going to give you the ability to be there over the long haul and I'm going to bet money that right now, you're sitting on a list. Might be a big list, might be a small list, it doesn't matter. You're sitting on a list of people that have contacted you or that you have been in touch with that you've failed to follow up on. What we're going to cover today is going to give you a very easy way to follow up with that asset that you've already created and to reignite that asset and do it in a way that isn't going to annoy them, it isn't going to aggravate them, it isn't going to make you feel salesy. 

That's where we're head today and I'm looking forward to this. It's just going to be a lot of fun to go through this. All right, so again, you want to start with a big idea, and a big idea ... a lot of people think that, "I’ve got to come up with all of these ideas," and over time you will. But really, you want to come up with one idea to begin with. That idea can really act as a theme for your communication with the marketplace. It's interesting, because that idea doesn't necessarily have to be about what you do. 

Let me give you a couple examples. If you look at this podcast that you're listening to right now, The Unstoppable CEO Podcast, the big idea there, which is really what we've built all of our different media platforms on, is the idea of the Unstoppable CEO, which is you as you listen to this. It was built out of a conversation that I had with a good friend, who recognized as I described, he asked me, "Who do we really want to do business with?" And I said, "Well, really, you know, the person that I have in mind," and I had some specific people in mind that were our ideal clients at the time. They were business owners who had built a successful small business. Not a micro business, but a successful small business. They had a team in place. They were doing well. They had scratched and clawed and they had been through hardship and difficulty and success to get there. 

I kept coming around to this idea of perseverance and the friend that I was speaking with at the time said, "You know, I think the word you're looking for is unstoppable," and that was it. That's been the theme. That's been the big unifying idea behind everything we do is that we show up to serve the Unstoppable CEO. The business owner who has pushed through and despite all of the adversity, hasn't quit. That not only drives all of our media platforms, it drives why we all get out of bed in the morning. 

That's an example of how you can use the big idea, and we'll get in a minute to the point where we talk about how to package that and then use it to create content over the long haul that you can use to stay in front of people and not be annoying. Another example, a client that we've just started working with here in the last few months is an IT consultant based out of the Boston area, and part of what he wants to do is reach out to other Boston area businesses. Those are his ideal clients, and particularly in a few different niches. We've crafted a title and a theme that we've plugged into his media platform, which is a podcast. That theme is all around why it is awesome to do business in Boston. It's not about the five things you've got to do to be a cutting edge business when it comes to technology, which is what he sells. It's really something that is going to capture the attention of and hold the attention of his ideal clients. Because in this case, it's about them. 

With the Unstoppable CEO, it's about you. When you start with a big idea like that, that is really focused on your ideal client, now it gives you a lot of power and it gives you a lot of room to maneuver within that and create content. If you want to go deeper on how to find that big idea, I really recommend you go over to sellingprofessionalservices.com, because before ... there is an e-mail course there that you can opt into, but before you even get to that opt in, we've got just a whole series of pages that will help educate you on how to come up with these. And then if you want to, it's totally optional, there's a free e-mail course where we actually go in even deeper on some of these ideas and so if this is something that's interesting to you, that you want to figure out how to put into your business, I recommend you go over there. Again, that's sellingprofessionalservices.com is the site where we've got that. 

Once you've got this big idea, this theme, now we need to use it to create content because we need to show up in the lives of our prospects again and again and again over time, for the long haul. In the past, the idea of that has been pretty intimidating for businesses, and I know that because we've talked to many of them and the story of the newsletter that got created with a great deal of fanfare and motivation and after two months suddenly disappeared is epic in small business. Because it turns out that having the idea to create the newsletter is a whole heck of a lot easier than actually creating the newsletter every month and coming up with the content that you think will be interesting to your prospects every month. 

There's a big difference between knowing that you need to follow up and then actually being able to execute on it. We've been beating this drum for almost eight years now, or a little over eight years now, that the single best thing you can do for your business is come up with a way to show up in front of your prospects every month or multiple times a month. Over and over and over again. That puts you in the best position to win. You can do all kinds of other things that are really great, but if you don't have that piece in place, everything else that you're going to do is largely going to be wasted, because you have a giant hole in the bottom of your bucket. You're pouring leads into it, but without this piece in place, it's all really a waste of time. 

The big limit that people have run into with this is the writing. For a long time, I just thought, "Well, just write it. It's not that big a deal," and then I began to realize that that's actually something that I both enjoy doing and have some skill for, but not everybody has that. And that's okay. It's not required. We've spent a long time trying to figure out a way to create really compelling content and have our clients be able to create really compelling content without them having to write. I think that's a really important distinction here, because that's the Achilles heel for most business owners. What we're not talking about today is how you can go create a newsletter that you're going to hate that you created very shortly thereafter, because now you don't know what to write and you're staring at a blank screen. 

No, what we have found is that the most effective way to do this, that I have yet to find a business owner that can't do it, the most effective way to do it is to use conversations. It's so easy to use these conversations and record them and then let the world eavesdrop. The technology to do that is very accessible. There are some moving parts to it, but it's pretty accessible right now, and I've yet to meet someone who has conversationalist block. I haven't heard anybody have a talking block. Most everybody can sit down and simply go back and forth. 

You know, we used to call these things interviews. In fact, we called them interviews in the exponential networking book that we put out earlier this year, and what I quickly discovered is that even interviews create too much tension for most people. Because then they think, "I've got to have these great questions and I have to do all this preparation," and that's really not what it's about. It's about having a topic and a theme and having a conversation. When you have a conversation, particularly with another business person who has some expertise to share and is intelligent and interesting, it's really easy to have that conversation and have it be compelling. 

If you look at what we do on this podcast in normal weeks, when we're not doing one of these special series where it's just me, when you look at our regular interviews, those are just conversations that I'm having with somebody that I wanted to have a conversation with anyway. We just happen to record it and I get to have conversations that I probably couldn't have had conversations with otherwise if I wasn't recording it and if I didn't have a media platform on which to publish it through the podcast. But the act of having the conversation is simple. It's easy. And it's fun, actually. It's a hell of a lot of fun. It's amazing the energy that comes out of that and the relationship that is created with that other person. The recognition that is there. 

We do all of these remotely. Most of them over Zoom with a video conference, and so I go to conferences now and we've interviewed some fairly reasonably well known folks in the marketing and business world, and when I run into them at conferences it's like we're old friends. They saw my face on the video conference and they recognize me from across the room. Before that, before I had that interview, I was just another face in the crowd to them. But because I had that conversation and I used my media platform, which in a lot of cases with the people we've interviewed, our media platform is infinitesimal compared to theirs, so size isn't that important. The important thing is that I went out of my way to help promote them and help share their ideas with the world and have an interesting conversation with them. And usually that's enough to get a relationship started. 

It's really powerful from that perspective, but it's so easy to do. Now, we publish that as a podcast and one of the things that I've noticed in talking with business owners who have read the Exponential Network Strategy book or who have attended one of our webinars and then get on a call with us, is that there's a lot of focus on the podcast idea. Thinking, "That's the main focus." But the podcast is just the means to an end. It's just a distribution channel, and the thing that is sometimes difficult to get across to people is that this strategy is like an onion, and there are so many layers to it that you have to just keep peeling and peeling and peeling. The podcast piece is really the least important strategy of all. The least important layer of all. It's necessary, it's foundational because it creates a media platform. 

When you go to have these conversations with people and you tell them, "I have this media platform and I would like to talk to you, have a conversation with you, and record it and publish it on this media platform and use it to help share your ideas out with my network," now you have a powerful way to invite them to that conversation. Far more powerful than, "Hey, can we get a cup of coffee?" There's now a reason for them to come and show up and bring their A game, and you're telling them right off the bat that, "I want to have this conversation with you, but more importantly, I'm committed to developing a long term relationship with you. And I'm going to prove it from the get go. I'm going to prove it by going out and going to the trouble of recording this conversation and publishing it to everyone that I know, so that they now know about you." 

That's a powerful way to open a relationship. So that's the first little layer to this. Now, you need the podcast to be able to do it, but it isn't about having a podcast. You know, one thing that people believe with these podcasts, they get focused in on, is that this is really a lead generation strategy. But it's really not. Yes, you will generate some leads from it, but way more important than that is that it is a lead nurturing strategy. Because it gives you the content in a very easy way, and it gives you very interesting content most of the time. It gives you an easy way to create that content and then follow up with and send that to all of your prospects, your clients and your network of referral partners and nurture those relationships over time. And actually increase your authority in the minds of all of those people over time. 

Most businesses get so focused on going out and getting new leads that they ignore the asset that they already have. For most of our clients, they have enough people within the database that they've already created, and in many cases it's a pretty small database. But in most cases, they have all of the leads they lead, at least to hit their goals this year within the list that they already have. Within the database they already have. But they're doing nothing to stay in front of that database on a regular basis. 

This is really the best way to get back in front of those people again, and again, and again, and again. And every time you get in front of them and you hold their attention for a little while, you get the opportunity to move them to a next step. That piece, that middle piece between, "I've created a new lead and now I’ve got to stick with them until they convert," that piece in the middle is what's missing in virtually every business. Because we all get so focused on generating the leads and closing the sales, but there's this middle gap that if you invest a little bit of time and energy into building that, everything else becomes easier because you quickly eliminate the waste in your business development.

We talked about the lead nurture quality of this. In addition to that, there is a huge networking benefit to doing the, having these conversations and doing it this way, built on a media platform. And it far surpasses going and having lunch or going and having coffee with someone, because again, you're going out of your way to promote this person. To share them out there. It requires that they come to that conversation at a different level. They can't just show up like, "Oh, I'm just going to go have coffee with Joe." No, "I've got this conversation with Joe and he's recording it for this podcast, and then it's going to be published out to all these people and I want to be in front of them." They're coming with their A game. You're coming with yours as well because you're going to share them. 

It's just a much stronger way to network and an easier way, frankly, to network. I went cold turkey on the old shaking hands and kissing babies approach to networking back in 2012, and I was largely able to do that based on the networking I did with our first podcast, which, and I've told this story over and over again, I mean that first podcast, though we didn't get a huge number of listeners to it, I made 50 fantastic relationships. We ran it for a year. I made 50 fantastic relationships and 15 of those relationships turned around and a year and a half later helped me promote my first book and helped drive over 5,000 leads to us in a week. 

That wouldn't have happened had I not gone around and built those relationships through those interviews, and that's the next little layer of this onion. You set yourself up to have these big wins. I'll talk more about those wins later. I call them lead generation landslides. 

Now, as we dive deeper into this, so you're following up with these conversations and you're sending them out to your prospects. Something else really interesting happens here. They're hearing your voice, just like you're hearing my voice now, and there's just this amazing quality of the human voice. You can convey so much more information, unspoken information, about your nature. About your character. About your demeanor. When you're able to do that with all the people that you want to do business with, you build trust rapidly. It's amazing how it happens. You build familiarity rapidly and at scale. 

I go to conferences now and because we publish this podcast and we've been publishing it now for over a year, almost a year and a half. Or over a year and a half now. I go to conferences and people will walk up to me because they're listeners to the podcast and they begin having a conversation with me as if we're long lost pals. Which I love, I think it's wonderful. I don't mind that at all. So if you see me at a conference, please introduce yourself. 

What I find funny about that is that just like you and just like the folks that walk up to me, I'm in business. I just happen to have these conversations in a way that we share them with the public, and because these people have heard my voice week in and week out, they feel like suddenly that they know me because I've shared stories throughout these conversations, and they recall that. They know a little bit about my life and that is a powerful way to create that familiarity and to create relationship. And it's real. It is very, very real. The feeling that those people have in their minds is real. It's not just a perception, they really feel that they know me.

I'm not the only one that's experienced it. I've talked with other folks who publish a lot of audio content. The same thing happens. It gives you a very powerful way to deepen relationships with your market at a scale that you couldn't otherwise do. Now, I mentioned a few moments ago this idea of lead generation landslides, and you know, I said earlier that the podcast medium is not a great lead generation medium. It's not. Let's just be honest about it, but the relationships that you create with other people in your network who are selling to the same audience that you're selling to create the opportunity for you to go and give value to their network. Now that you've given value to them and shared them with your network, you create opportunities to go back to them and to offer to deliver a higher level of value. 

Maybe it's to deliver a presentation to their clients or to the people in their network or a webinar. Maybe it's to have them interview you on your expertise and have them share that with their network. And at this stage now, because you've given so much and so freely right up front, they're open to it. Reciprocity kicks in and you're not just hoping that it's going happen. You know, in the old days, when I would do this, I'd go around and network and I was part of one of those strong contact networking groups where you show up for a breakfast meeting once a week and you're supposed to bring referrals to people and they're supposed to bring referrals to you and all that stuff. Those were great. But it takes a lot of time and I found that often the reciprocity didn't flow my way. Even though I was going out of my way to give into those networks. 

Our experience with this approach is really very, very different. Now, do we do a webinar or presentation with every guest that we have a conversation with? No, of course not. But often times when we have those conversations, we'll either get a reciprocal interview on their podcast, which is fantastic. It means we're getting referred to their entire network. Or they'll refer us to a podcast that they're aware of or that they've been on before. Or we'll do a presentation. In fact, in one of the webinars that we present, an example that we give is just from the first part of this year. Just out of three of the interviews that we did in the first quarter of the year, those turned into two different webinar presentations to audiences, and in the course of two days, we generated 2,600 leads. 

Now, is everybody going to generate 2,600 leads? It depends on who you're interviewing and what their audience is, but chances are you don't need 2,600 leads. We don't need 2,600 leads. But it's really easy to go get 20 or 30 or 50 of exactly the kind of leads that you want when you follow this process, and really what you're doing is you're training the people in your network on how to refer. We talk about this in the Unstoppable Referrals book and I talked about it again in the Exponential Network Strategy book. You have to train the people in your network how to refer and you do that by example. This is a really unique way to do that and it's a very powerful way to do that. 

Now, I've talked about this idea of focusing on the asset that you have. And I want you to think for a minute, I want you to think about the prospects that you have touched over the last two years. Think about how many of those people you've actually stayed in contact with. And if you want back and warmed them up with something really interesting around a big idea that they might care about, and if you went back and warmed up those relationships, I want you to think about the value that might be hidden in that group of people. 

Chances are there's tremendous value there, and often what we see with our clients when they come into our program where we do all of the behind the scenes marketing for them and set their podcast up and create their webinar for them and do outreach for them, when they begin that process, often what they find is that just the simple act of going back out and warming up the people who were already in their world stimulates new business right away. Because there are a bunch of people there who once upon a time had the thought that they might need your help, but they either got busy or they forgot about it or you just didn't follow up. Maybe they're still sitting there and haven't done anything. 

Chances are, some of them are still sitting there and haven't done anything, and they still have a need. It's up to you to show up. This approach, for folks in professional services, I mean I grew up in this business. I literally grew up in the business. My dad had an accounting firm from the time I was, I don't know, eight or nine years old. Grew up crawling around the floor on his office, so I feel like I've grown up in professional services. My first business was a professional service firm. My current business is a professional service firm. I get the challenges that we all face. You need a way to market that is comfortable for you, that's not salesy, because that's going to ... if it gets salesy it's going to eliminate your authority and you need authority to sell at premium prices. To get the fees that you really deserve to get. You need an approach that's relationship centric. 

There's a lot of noise out there about going out and getting cold traffic or having people cold call for you and do all this lead generation for you, but the fact of the matter is that when you're dealing with a transaction as large and complex as most of us are dealing with, the biggest limiting factor is trust. If you think that a Google ad or a service doing cold calling for you is creating trust that will support someone hiring you, I think you've got to question that because most of the time it won't. 

Trust is actually I think a bigger issue than, you know, a lot of people say sales is a numbers game. I disagree. At least for our types of businesses. If we're selling hot dogs, yes, it's a numbers game. You talk to enough people, you're going to sell some hot dogs. But in our types of businesses, this is really more of a trust game and everything that you do needs to create trust and it needs to create relationship, so that when you get the opportunity to be in front of a prospect, that they're already pre-sold. That they already feel like they know you. That they already feel like they trust you. That they already will say that, "Yeah, Joe's my guy or Mary's my gal. That's who I want to do business with." They've already made that decision, because if they've made that decision, you don't have to sell and everything becomes easier. 

That's how you package up this big idea. That's the simplest way we've ever found to do it. Are there other ways? Yeah, absolutely, there are other ways to do it. Lots of other ways to do it. This is the simplest, easiest to implement way that we've found to do it, and I think it's very accessible to really everyone. I would love for you to go, if this has made any sense to you whatsoever and you want to explore a little further and get in to some of the details that because of time we just weren't able to cover today, go over to sellingprofessionalservices.com. We set that site up for the specific reason, for educating everybody that's in our world on these ideas. 

We think they're important, and based on the feedback we've had from folks that have both gone through the site and then gone through the e-mail course, they seem to think that these ideas are important and are worthy as well. I hope you go over there, and we'll be back next week with an awesome interview and it's going to be amazing. In fact, it was one of my favorite interviews and it's a little bit different. I'm not going to say any more about it now, but we've got a great interview coming up next week that I know you're going enjoy and thanks again for listening to the podcast. We're just really grateful that you're here and so happy to have you as a part of our audience. Take care. 




How to create momentum in business development

New Resource: A complete blueprint for landing more and better clients (without having to become a master salesperson). It's 100% free and will simplify how you attract new clients. Get it on our new mini-site sellingprofessionalservices.com.

This is Part 2 of our podcast series on escaping obscurity. Today, I share the 3 secrets to creating momentum in business development.

Most people look around and see the overnight successes that are popular in the business press and on the web, and think that's normal.

The truth is that there is no such thing as an overnight enduring success.

All enduring successes in business have a foundation under them, built up over years.

The foundation acts like a flywheel and creates momentum that becomes unstoppable!

The trick is creating the momentum.

In today's episode I share how to do that (and the one key ingredient that's hiding under your nose).

Listen now...

And, if you've not gone there yet, you'll want to visit sellingprofessionalservices.com a new site where we've collected our best thinking on, well selling professional services. We cover more than what I could share on today's podcast.

-Steve Gordon

P.S. If you missed Part 1 of this series get it here.

P.P.S. Stay tuned next week! I'm going to show you how to package up everything from the first two episodes and use it in your firm.

Why “obscurity” is the real enemy in business

New Resource: A complete blueprint for landing more and better clients (without having to become a master salesperson). It's 100% free and will simplify how you attract new clients. Get it on our new mini-site sellingprofessionalservices.com.

An old friend once told me there are two types of prospects…

The ones you know, and…

The ones you don’t know.

While that’s trite, and true, I think it’s better said this way…

There are prospects that know you, what you do, and when to call you…

And ones that don’t know you exist.

The fundamental problem in business is figuring out how to move people from “don’t know you exist” to “know when to call.”

That’s the escape from obscurity.

And, if we’re honest, very few businesses make it out of obscurity.

They don’t die. They stay in business (often for decades), but never reach their potential.

They stay “the best kept secret” in their market.

Today’s episode begins a 2-part deep dive into creating your own escape plan from obscurity.

Listen now...

P.S. We’ve created a new mini-site where we’ve published our blueprint for escaping obscurity. Check it out at sellingprofessionalservices.com

Jordan Goodman | Secrets of the 12-Year-Old Entrepreneur

Whether you’re in startup mode or trying to get to the next level, personal and business finance expert Jordan Goodman has some solid advice what to do and what never to do with your money.

There are some funding sources out there that would have been unheard of just a few years ago, including some that you must stay away from.

It might surprise you to learn you can also contact creditors, ask them to reduce your debt, and… they’ll do it happily. A perfect solution when you’re going through a rough patch.

Tune in to find out…

  • The best place to put your cash for an 8% return – it’s definitely not the bank
  • The unique way crowdfunding works for small businesses
  • An easy process to make debt “disappear”
  • Why you might qualify for Storybook Lending
  • And more

Listen to Steve Gordon and Jordan Goodman now:

Episode Timeline:

00:11 Today Steve speaks with “America’s money answers man” Jordan B Goodman, an expert in personal finance.

01:15 Jordan talks about how he got into business at age 12.

03:13 Jordan tells us about some of his pitfalls in business including a disastrous joint venture.

09:18 Jordan tells us how long it took him to bounce back.

09:47 Steve and Jordan explain how important it is to keep moving forward through adversity.

12:40 Jordan gives us great advice on how helping struggling businesses by accessing lesser know finance options like Story Book finance.

15:13 Jordan talks about the dangers of Merchant Cash Advances.

16:36 Jordan explains the problems with “Slow Pay”.

18:37 Jordan talks about how to prioritize debt and how not all creditors are equal.

21:47 Jordan talks about personal & business credit and how to separate them.

24:39 Jordan talks about investing in secured real estate.

26:48 Steve talks about investing and spreading the risk around.

27:51 Jordan talks about the benefits of the Jobs Act of 2012.

29:03 Jordan talks about how to refinance your car loan using myloangen.com.

30:58 Jordan gives us listeners our own landing page at go.moneyanswers.com/unstoppable

Mentioned in this Episode:

Transcript:

Steve Gordon interviews Jordan Goodman:

Welcome to the Unstoppable CEO Podcast. I'm your host Steve Gordon and today I've got a special treat for you. We're talking with Jordan E. Goodman. He is known as America's money answers man and he's a nationally recognized expert on personal finance and business finance, a regular guest on all kinds of radio shows and television call in shows across the country. He's appeared on the View, Fox News Network, Fox Business Network, CNN, CNBC, and CBS Evening News. I will tell you, I've had a chance to dive into some of what he does and he's the breadth of experience around finance as it relates to your business and as a business owner to your personal life. I think you're going to find pretty refreshing. I'm excited to bring him to you today.

Jordan, welcome to the Unstoppable CEO.

Great to be with you, Steve, really appreciate it and hope we can bring a lot of value to your folks.

Oh, I know we can. I guess, before we kind of get into the meat of things, I'd love for you to give everybody a little bit of background beyond just the bio, how you got into your career.

Well, I've been an entrepreneur/journalist since about age nine, actually. You want to go way back to the beginning and kind of get a sense of what happened later. My family had a place in Cape Cod in summers and at age nine, I started delivering the Cape Cod Times, the daily paper and I was kind of hanging around the paper. By age 12, I saw a business opportunity and that was they used to print many more papers than they would ever sell and they would just pile up.

I asked the pressman, "What do you do?" "We just throw them away." So I said, "Do you mind if I take them?" And he said, "Great, that would be great. You can get it off our hands and we don't have to throw them out." So I would take the newspapers from there and go down to the docks where the ferries go down to Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket and I would sell the papers on the boats. By the time the boat left, whatever 75 or 80% of the people had papers. I had zero cost of goods, 100% profit margin, my hands were filled with ink by the end of the day but it was great. I'd make 75 or 100 dollars per boat and just kept doing that.

I saw supply, I saw demand, I put the two together. It was kind of journalistic. That's what my mantra has been. See what the demand is, what people need, and then come up with solutions for them. Both in their personal lives and their business lives and it's worked very well. My whole model is kind of an affiliate model to bring great resources to people who wouldn't know about them otherwise. They benefit, the provider of the service gets customers, I get a little something in between and it counts as a win, win, win. That's kind of a brief how I've gotten to where I am.

I know just from the information that I've seen and what I've read about you, you've got solutions for everything. We're going to dive into those as we get further into the interview but going through from that level of entrepreneurship to where you are now, there had to be some bumps along the way, right?

Oh, yeah. There's always bumps. It's never smooth. People may tell you it's smooth but it's not smooth. I'll give you two examples.

Please do.

Bouncing Back From a Big Setback

These were more than bumps in the road, these were ruts or crevasses, I guess you might say. I'll give you two. One, I've done 13 books on different aspects of personal finance. I did one in 1992 called, "Everyone's Money Book." 970 pages on all aspects of personal finance. This is when I was at Money Magazine. I did it so called co-authored with a guy named Sunny Black who was a major radio financial personality. He had been on the radio in all these major stations. 300 stations a year for 20 years and I had been a regular guest on his show for a long, long time.

He had kind of done seven other books. He never wrote a word but he had kind of been co-authored, I guess you might say, on seven other very successful books. He said we should really do kind of a broad based personal finance book. I wrote the thing 100%. We took a picture of the two of us on the cover and then soon after it came out, all kinds of bad stuff started coming out about him. He bought several radio stations, he was selling shares in those radio stations to the listeners of the radio stations, and the SEC went after him for selling unregistered securities without a license.

He then escaped. He divorced his wife of 25 years. He escaped to the Dominican Republic. He married a printing baroness who had this whole printing empire. He was there, he was broadcasting his show from the pool and he said, "FBI, you can't come and get me because there is no extradition treaty." Well, it turns out there was an extradition treaty with the Dominican Republic, they went and got him, he went to the Tombs, which is the jail in New York, splashing all over the New York Daily News. Sunny in jail, this financial guy.

I didn't do any of this stuff but here's a picture of me and him on the cover of this major book and it was not great for my reputation, let's put it that way. This is while I'm at Money Magazine, so I'm getting internal heat as well as external heat. So what did I do? I found out where he was in jail, I found out how to get a note to him, and he scrawled with whatever pencil he could get, "Yes, it's okay," and we did another version of the book with him completely expunged. Kind of like the Soviet days when the guys just kind of disappear. We came up with another edition of "Everyone's Money Book" with him off of it.

It was not good for my reputation, I must say. Even though I didn't do anything wrong. That was a major downer, I guess you might say.

How do you recover from that? I can think on many levels, first, the business hit and the publicity and all of that but it had to be personally, it had to just crush the confidence.

I knew that I hadn't done anything wrong but what I learned from it is if there are signs of things not being quite right, pull out before it collapses, basically. I've gone to some of his seminars where there are some things I was not too comfortable with what he was selling and the people around there. It just didn't feel classy, let's put it that way. I should have pulled out then but frankly, it was too late. The book was already out. It was too late to kind of pull the trigger on those kind of things. I remember telling him, I remember when we were going to the shoot for that cover photograph and I was saying, "This really isn't good, you shouldn't do it." He's a multi-millionaire, he had a huge Brownstone on 63rd Street, wife, kids, radio, network. I said, "Sunny, you don't need to do this, just don't be greedy." And he just couldn't stop. He had people coming to him and you'll make so much money if you sell this thing and he couldn't stop himself.

When you get powerful like that, you think you're untouchable and that's what happened with him. He was down in the Dominican Republic and he was broadcasting saying, "ha ha, you can't get me," and it's like, yes, they could get him. It kind of goes to your head when you're very powerful. That's what I learned from it. I admitted it. I was on the cover with him. I wrote the book 100%. The book content was completely fine. Sorry, I had nothing to do with it. I got rid of it as quick as I can. But you take a reputation hit when you're aligned with somebody when things go wrong. That's what I learned.

How did you rebuild?

Again, the book came out with me alone. The book did very well. I stayed at Money Magazine for a long time and quickly got it behind me as quickly as I could. Some people still remember and they joke with me about you and Sunny. You just kind of keep moving on and be persistent and don't let it drag you down.

Isn't that the answer for so many things that we come across? Just keep moving. Keep going.

Keep going. Don't let it drag you down. In particular if I didn't do anything wrong, which I didn't, really. Don't let it drag you down. If I did something wrong, that's different, but I didn't.

It's interesting, that's a reputation hit on a pretty grand scale but I hear all the time from business owners who get into a situation maybe with a partner or they get into a joint venture deal or whatever and it all sounds great in the beginning. It's going to be wonderful for everybody, all this opportunity in front of them, probably don't do all the due diligence that they should and then they get into a conflict. It might not be what you just described but it may just be that they don't ultimately see eye to eye and what happens at the end of that is they almost both end up having to go start over, not completely from scratch but they both take a hit in time, in energy, in money to kind of regain the ground that they loss or the time wasted during that whole process. How long did it take from when all of this hit to where you felt like you were back to where you were before?

Maybe six months later. Something like that. I still continue to do what I was doing at Money Magazine. I still did my radio shows and my TV shows and I didn't lose any of that because I didn't do anything wrong. It was like by association, basically.

Exactly. That's just it.

There are a lot of other people he brought down. He had them invest in all kinds of things that fell apart and all that. I didn't have anything to do with it or any knowledge about it but it's guilt by association, I guess you might say.

I love the advice to stay persistent just to keep pushing through.

Right.

**I do think, there is this kind of under appreciation for time as a healer for all of those challenges that we come across. Just keep going. Sometimes things will just work out and you keep pushing forward. Even when you're out of your control -

Keep integrity. Keep doing the right thing and when you've done something wrong, change it or get it behind you somehow. In this case, I wasn't going to keep the book with the two of us out there, even though it was a beautiful picture, and I changed it as quickly as I could so I could move on. The book sold very well and people got a lot out of it. Most people don't know Sunny was ever on there. You're one of the few that's... and remember, this is going back a long time. It's a bump in the road that you have to deal with.

Clearly you've been very successful since then. I want to take a quick break and I want to come back because you've got a whole toolbox for business owners. Particularly in dealing with their money, with cash flow, how to best handle debt, credit ratings, all that kind of stuff. Those are things we've never covered on the podcast before but I know that they are an issue. So we're going to take quick break. Hang on, we'll be right back with more from Jordan.

Welcome back to the Unstoppable CEO Podcast. This is Steve Gordon and I'm here talking with Jordan Goodman. Jordan, I think you described it best before. You're sort of the connector.

Correct.

You go out and find all these really great resources that can help business owners on the money side of the business which we know is important.

I'm very careful to make sure that anybody that I talk about is actually delivering and doing a good service.

Sure, yeah and for all the reasons we just talked about, right? I'm sure you're much more careful. You've got these resources and I know that there are people listening that have that need. We talk to them all the time. I would love for you to just walk us through. For a business owner that's having issues, where do they normally start from your perspective?

Effective Alternatives for Financing From Traditional Banks

First, it's financing. People have a hard time getting loans from traditional banks these days. Banks want assets. They want widgets. They want stuff they can seize if you... they want collateral. And many businesses, they don't have collateral. It's intellectual property. It's apps. It's videos. It's virtual stuff so there is nothing to seize so they have a really hard time getting traditional bank loans. That's the bad news.

The good news is there's a whole bunch of new financing sources that have come up that understand that and they'll make loans based on cash flow not assets. They'll look at your bank statements, see what you got going, and make a loan based on your ability to repay as opposed to what they can seize as collateral.

These kind of clearing houses have come up where you as a small business person can go there, they vet you, then once they figure out that you're a legitimate business that's got good cash flow, they will present you to the right people that will fund your specific business needs. My favorite one is called corporatelendingsolutions.com. They've got a phone number as well, 800-261-6478.

For example, connect to hedge funds. Hedge funds are willing to invest in small business. There's just all kinds of places out there that you wouldn't traditionally think you could get a loan from and there's different kinds. There's payroll funding, there's equipment leasing, there's accounts receivable, financing, factoring. There's a bunch of different ways of getting small business loans and they're going to see what appropriate for you. Before they present you as a business to somebody, they're going to have gone through the whole vetting process. They call it story book lending. That's what they call it. Understanding your story and why you need the money and how you're going to repay it.

That's a resource that could help an awful lot if you folks get financing that have been turned down by traditional banks.

You know, early in my career, the mid 90s, the only real option you had was a traditional bank or there were some of these other things like factoring and receivables lending and all that. It always seemed a little bit shady and it seems like that stuff now has in large part kind of come out of the shadows. There are places now where you can go, like you say, there's a clearing house where you can go and see your options. More transparency to it all.

Right. These are the good ones. There is a shady side which I'll just tell you about which I would tell people to avoid if they could. They are called Merchant Cash Advances or MCAs and that's where the companies, often with hedge funds behind them, will lend you money, unsecured in a day, very quickly, based on your receivables. They'll take over your credit card processing and every time... say you're a restaurant and you're having a lot of credit cards, they'll take a little piece out of it every time. Seems like a small amount but the interest rates can be 40, 50, 60%.

Wow.

And you kind of get on this treadmill. It's what I call the pay day lending of small business, basically. Last I heard there's about 600 billion dollars’ worth of Merchant Cash Advances outstanding. Those are the ones I would warn people against because it's very high interest and very high fees and I would go toward the legitimate clearing houses like corporatelendingsolutions.com.

How to Deal With Slow Paying Clients

One of the things that I know in my first business we always had to balance - thankfully we had some clients that paid us very quickly but we also had some pretty large government contracts and we knew that we would get paid, but it was going to take a really long time. We were essentially financing all the work for the government at the time, the agency that we were working for. That comes up a lot.

Oh yeah. Slow pay. Yup. What it does is it gets people into real debt if they've got cash flow issues. One of the things they offer is payroll financing, for example. You've got to pay your people and you might need short term pay roll to keep everybody working until you get paid by your clients. This is true particularly in the medical field, for example, where insurance companies will pay very slowly and you need medical receivables help. It's a problem, particularly if you're a small business. You don't have a lot of leverage to tell the government to pay you faster. It's not going to happen. Or even big companies. It's hard to get paid from Walmart, or Apple, or big companies. They can push little guys around and they do it all the time. You need a credit line or ways to get through those rough times and that's exactly what these people did.

Don't do the Merchant Cash Advances, which is very tempting because you can get the money real quick but it's extremely expensive and what happens is it's like a two week loan and after two weeks, you don't have enough money to pay it off so you take another one, you kind of dig yourself deeper and deeper and that puts down an awful lot of companies.

I've always thought that the way to look at these things are they are really temporary solutions to get through a period of growth. You want to ultimately grow out of the need for it and create your own cash but there are those times in business where to get to the next level of growth, it's going to take all the cash you have and then some.

Right.

I've always kind of seen that as things that fill that gap. You want to approach it from the perspective of, I'm going to pull this in. I'm going to have this plan to get it paid off and then move on. What are some of things that people are really successful with this, how do they approach it and -

Get it in advance so they're not scrambling at the last minute to get financing.

So you mean Thursday, day before payroll, they're not calling and saying, "Hey -"

Some people probably do but that's not the best way to get it, yes.

Okay.

They can move pretty fast but not that fast. Anticipate what you might need before you actually need it. I always say with a loan, if you actually need it, you're not going to get it. If you don't need it, they'll give you all you want. It's the same thing. Apply for it when you don't need it so when you do need it, it's there. That's the best way to do it, for sure.

Then if you get into an awful lot of debt, there are ways to help you... the next resource I wanted to talk about helps small businesses that have a huge amount of debt that don't know how to prioritize debt. There's a whole science of what I call debt prioritization. What most small businesses do is they respond to the creditor who screams the loudest or is the most threatening somehow. But, now all creditors are equal. They have different leverage over your business. The electric company can turn your lights off and put you out of business in a second. Some lawyer that you did a contract with three years ago that you never went through with, has no leverage on you basically but the lawyer screams really loudly, maybe he'll get his money before the electric company and that's not a wise way to do it.

You can try to do this on your own but there are companies that will do this. My favorite one is called Corporate Turn Around and their website is helpwithpayables.com. They've got a very sophisticated system of prioritizing your debts. They've done this for 30 years. They've done thousands and thousands of small businesses. They know each creditor and how much leverage they've got over your business. They've ranked them from one to ten, one being a lot of leverage, ten being no leverage. They rank all your creditors by how much of a threat they are to you, basically. How much leverage they've got. They make different offers to different creditors based on the amount of leverage they've got.

The guy with a lot of leverage, you'll offer him 50 cents on the dollar in a month and the guy without much leverage will get ten cents on the dollar in a year. They don't all get the same offer. Then they negotiate back and forth and in the end, all your creditors agreed and you make one payment to them and they pay the creditors and you can actually think about doing your business. When you're in that circumstance, you're like hiding under your desk, not wanting to answer the phone or not opening the mail. You're just worried about creditors attacking you all the time. That's not a way to run a business.

Again, there's a free website to help you: helpwithpayables.com. They've also got a phone number which is 877-377-3669. They've been doing this for small businesses for about 30 years. They say about 75-80% of the businesses that they take on, they actually save that otherwise probably would have gone under.

Separating Business Credit From Personal Credit

Wow, that's a big statistic. In talking about credit, I think the one thing that business owners ignore, particularly small business owners, is the linkage between your business credit and your personal credit.

Right.

Having had to sign a number of personal guarantees for various businesses that I've been in over the years, you've got to pay attention to that stuff.

Some don't but you're correct, in theory your business credit should be completely separate from your personal credit but in reality -

It never is.

No. You want to manage your personal credit and your business credit. A lot of small businesses don't really look at their business credit very much. You have Dun and Bradstreet report and if you don't pay attention to it, it could be a lot worse and therefore, either you don't get credit at all or you get it on worse terms, smaller amounts, higher interest rates than you really deserve. What you want to do is manage your business credit separately, separate tax payer ID, separate bank accounts, and over time, build credit with your vendors totally on the business side. That's going to make a big difference to your situation because when you need credit, you've gotta get it. If you can possibly separate the two, that's really the best way to go.

So, you can establish it and then stay on top and get errors off it as many times as there's errors on these things. A place that can help you there is called Better Qualified and they're website is tourdebusiness.com. They've also got a phone number, 888-533-8138 and they work with small businesses to improve, establish their business credit, get errors off there and get your Dun and Bradstreet report score up so you get much better credit.

The best score you can get, which is called a Paydex score, is 80. If you have an 80 Paydex score, you'll get all the credit you want. It's how you pay your bills on time, the amount of credit you got. It's kind of similar to the personal side, but it should be... Dun and Bradstreet as opposed to the Equifax Experian TransUnion.

I think, importantly too, you don't want those business things bleeding over on to your personal.

Which they do in many cases. Particularly if there's a personal guarantee, they will bleed over to that. That's correct. The more you can... A lot of people start in small business as a self-proprietorship and so it's all mixed up. Their personal and business accounts, you can't tell a difference at all.

As quickly as you can, if not from the beginning, set it up as a separate corporation, sub chapter S, LLC, Limited Partnership, some kind of separate structure. Get its own tax payer ID, its own bank account, its own credit cards. That's really the best. It's really hard to untangle it once you're running.

Absolutely. So, we've talked about debt, we've talked about credit, and all that but I know you also have resources for business owners that maybe have some access to cash sitting around and sticking it in a bank these days is not exactly the best.

Securing an 8% Return in One Year

Correct. You will get zero and people just keep their cash there. It's ridiculous. Here's a solution. Something I'm involved in myself which is a way of getting an eight percent yield on your money over a one year time frame. You can get checks automatically, you can reinvest it. What are called secured real estate funds. The website is again securedrealestatefunds.com.

They are lending money, short term, like over a year or so to commercial real estate projects all over the country. Like, 30 different projects at once. Things like apartment buildings, medical offices, assisted living, student housing, parking lots. Just all kinds of commercial projects that have a hard time getting loans because they are probably too small. Banks want to do a 50 million, 100 million dollar project. This is like one million or less. They have a hard time getting financing. They're probably going to pay maybe ten percent, something like that, and they are going to pass eight percent on to you in something that's called a preferred return. Meaning, you, the shareholder, get the eight percent before the management gets anything. They get the two percent out of the return of the fund. The full amount you invest gets the eight percent. Minimum is 5,000 dollars. One year minimum hold. No commissions of any kind.

There's a way of getting yield and on top of the eight percent, when the buildings that they are lending to are sold at a profit, they share that profit with you, the shareholder. So it's a quarterly profit sharing distribution, as well.

For example, last year, 2017, the actual return on the fund was eight point seven, eight percent on the interest, point seven for the profit sharing. Over time, as there are more buildings and more projects coming to fruition, there will be more profit sharing distributions. The price of the shares doesn't change. It stays at ten dollars a share and that adds up value.

You can order as a business owner, you can order as an individual, you can do it in yourself directed IRA. I'd much rather get eight percent not have any volatility then keep my money either as a business or an individual sitting there earning zero.

Absolutely. I think one of the things that often we don't think about as we are running our business is taking money off the table. I see so many people taking all the profit and reinvesting it thinking that that's the thing to do. While I agree that it's important to reinvest, I also think that you reduce risk when you take money off the table whether you put it in something like this or put it somewhere else. When you take it out of the business, you immediately reduce the risk that you have from the business.

Oftentimes, we don't think of it that way. We don't think of our business as creating financial risk for us from an investment standpoint just as if we bought shares in GE that could go up and down.

The difference is it's not liquid for the most part.

Exactly, yeah. I think looking at something like this and whatever other options are out there is just a great way to spread out your risk a little bit. Take some of those profits and have them work for you elsewhere. The name of the website again?

It's called securedrealestatefunds.com. They've got a phone number, too: 888-444-2102. I'm in it. I'm on the board. I'm totally in this thing and it's been fantastic. This is a new thing. In 2012, Congress passed what's called the Jobs Act of 2012 which authorized what's called Crowd Funding, basically. These are kind of crowd funding funds. Technically, the SEC calls them regulation A plus funds. It's allowing the average individual in business to get into things that in the past you would have had to have 100 million in a pension fund to do it. Here you can get in for as little as 5,000.

That's on the investor side. On the other side, it's allowing small businesses to get funding for projects that they wouldn't have gotten done otherwise. It helps the borrower and the lender and it's a win-win for everybody.

Absolutely. I know we're running out of time but you've got one more resource and it has to do with that big fancy car that... You've got that big client, you went out and bought the car and now you're stuck with the payment. What do you do?

A lot of people are running into trouble, they are either getting repossessed or defaulting or coming delinquent with their car loans because they took on these bigger car loans than they can really afford and it's definitely an issue. What people don't realize is you can refinance your car loan to a much lower interest rate or you can change the maturity to a level that makes the payment more affordable.

Say you're at 500 dollars a month for three years. If you moved it out to six years, you might go down to 250 a month, for example. There's a free website that will help you do that which is called myloangen.com. You put in your current car payment, how much more you have to go, how many more months you have to go, the interest rate. Then it actually gives you a little dial where you can choose where you want your payment to be, what interest rate, and what maturity. You move it out on the maturity scale or you can go in for... You figure out what payment and maturity you want, you click submit, then a bunch of credit unions compete for your business.

That's a way of online within about three minutes, refinancing your car loan, both individual and a business car loan.

Wow, that's amazing. This has been like lightning round for business finance and it's been very different from anything we've done before.

Great.

I'm glad we've done it. Again, if you're listening, do your due diligence and figure out if you need any of these resources or which ones you need but when I found out about Jordan and the resources that he has, I thought, definitely worth making those available and sharing them with our audience because these things come up. Sometimes you need it to push the business forward and get to the next level or get through a rough patch.

Jordan, thank you so much for sharing.

I've actually created a landing page specifically for your people. I just want to mention briefly.

Absolutely. That's right, where is that?

Landing page is go.moneyanswers.com/unstoppable. On there, they'll see some of my resources, they can sign up for my free newsletter which comes out every month. Just get access to all kinds of stuff. I'd love to help you. This is just a small sample of the resources that exist.

Look at what we've done. We've helped people earn eight percent on their money, we've helped them get out of business debt, we've improved their Dun and Bradstreet credit report, we've helped them refinance their car loans, and we've helped them get the bar in the first place with the Corporate Lending Solutions that people don't know where to go to get loans. Hopefully some of these resources will make a difference in their lives.

We'll link to that page in the show notes so if you want to find out what those resources are and get linked up with Jordan, you can go there. Give them the website one more time, please.

My website is moneyanswers.com but the specific landing page related to your show is go.moneyanswers.com/unstoppable.

Perfect. Well, Jordan, thank you so much. It's been great talking with you and thanks for sharing all these resources.

Thanks so much, Steve. Appreciate it.

Brian Greenberg | How to Sell Without Selling

Too many professional service providers feel uncomfortable selling, says Brian Greenberg. But you can be a trusted advisor and do right by your clients – and still market yourself effectively.

For Brian, that means selling without selling. We unpack what exactly that means and how to do it so you land more new customers and make more money while marketing more efficiently (that means you get to focus on what you love to do).

Stick around until the end – Brian gives away a free audio version of his book… and there’s a contest (closely linked to this episode’s topic) to win another great freebie.

Check out the interview to find out…

  • How to do business ethically and transparently – and leverage it
  • The question you must ask yourself when making any decision
  • The single best way to secure the right reviews for your business
  • The power of “barnacle SEO” and the best way to implement it
  • And more

Listen to Steve Gordon and Brian J. Greenberg Now:

Episode Timeline:

00:11 Today Steve speaks with Brian J Greenberg “The salesman who doesn’t sell”. Brian’s companies have created over $50m in and collected over an incredible 10,000 reviews from customers.

01:31 Brian tells us how he started in business. He explains his love for passive businesses.

02:46 Brian now sells insurance. He tells us why.

04:40 Brian tells us how “the best way to become a billionaire is to serve a billion people”.

07:44 Brian talks about why he takes the long view.

08:48Steve talks about imperceptible growth.

09:57 Brian talks about doing real company stuff..

13:08 Brian talks about focusing on customer satisfaction and teaches us how to leverage it.

15:19 Brian explains how best to get reviews….ask for them!.

17:10 Brian explains how reviews aren’t bragging and how to ask for them.

19:44 Brian talks about the importance of having reviews on 3rd party websites.

21:36 Steve breaks down what reviews do.

22:55 Brian talks about dealing with negative reviews.

25:13 Brian explains why you have to use www.usertesting.com

26:55 Steve talks about enabling the buyer to just buy.

28:36 Brian talks about the benefits of automated answers.

30:56 Brian talks about how just 10 reviews can increase business by 20%.

32:30 Steve explains that the majority of the companies out there don’t employ reviews.

33:46 Brian explains what “Barnacle SEO “ is.

35:02 Brian give the UCEO listeners a great prize!

35:21 Not to be outdone Steve gives us his own great giveaway!

Mentioned in this Episode:

Episode Transcript:

Welcome to the Unstoppable CEO podcast, I'm your host Steve Gordon.

Today, we've got a great interview for you. If you are in any kind of service business and you've ever felt like selling, was something that made you feel a little bit uncomfortable and maybe got you out of the position of being a trusted advisor. Then, you want to pull the car over right now, pull out a notepad, and take some notes, because I'm talking with Brian J. Greenberg.

Brian, he's got one of the most interesting financial services businesses I have ever seen and we work with a lot of folks in that industry, so that's saying something.

He's generated over $50 million dollars in revenue from his businesses, collected over 10,000 reviews. Stop for a second and think about that. 10,000 reviews from customers and he's been one of the most creative people in financial services, and he's been called the salesman who doesn't sell, and he has a book by that title, and we're gonna dive into all of that today.

So Brian, welcome to the Unstoppable CEO.

Oh, thank you so much for having me Steve.

I'm excited about this, I love talking about sales in the context of professional services, because I really think it's a little bit of a different animal, and I'm excited to dive into that.

But, before we do, can you give everybody a little bit of background so they understand how you got to this stage of your career?

Of course, I started promoting businesses on the internet, back in 2004. What really interested me was the marketing. I loved ranking organically in Google and Yahoo, and running the business that way.

Now, the other thing I really loved about internet based businesses is that I can run them passively. So, I spend a very long time learning how to sell somebody strictly without talking to them. Some people in the insurance business call me the salesman who doesn't sell. I love that title. I pride myself on being able to sale somebody and build up their trust and close a sale, while I sleep.

In the past, I've owned an internet organic marketing company, I sold it back in 2012. I decided to focus on my own businesses. And I've just been having a lot of fun and you're right, my main business right now is a life insurance website that I sell insurance directed consumers in all 50 states.

So, you've been in a lot of businesses, why life insurance? Why did you settle there?

The insurance market online, is one of the most competitive niches that you can get into. Besides that, it's one of the most profitable. I think insurance is definitely one of the top four most difficult niches, it also has the highest paper click values.

So, all the insurance keywords, if you were gonna buy them in Google AdWords, it'll cost you $30, up to $50 a click.

So, what I found is I'm able to rank in Google for pretty much anything, and if I want to play the long game, and compete against the big guys in Google, I'd might as well pick the most profitable niche.

So, I'm able to bring in close to $600,000 worth of organic traffic value every month, and for the amount of work that I'm able to do and put into it, and the amount of employees I have, it's a profitable business, so that's why I chose it, and I like it, I feel like we're serving people.

That's awesome. I've often said that life insurance is the most difficult thing to sell on the planet because you're selling something that and collecting the money today the benefit and I know the clients we have in this business correct me on this all the time, you can use some of the benefit while you're still alive, but for the most part, your prospects believe they're gonna give you money and there's no hope of them getting any benefit until they're gone.

And so, that's a pretty hard bargain. You've entered a difficult industry and I can't imagine that given the competition that you're up against, that building this machine online to where you're ranking for these high value keywords, that couldn't have been an easy thing to do.

I'm sure it didn't happen over night, I'm sure there were times when you thought, "God, are we ever gonna get there?"

How did you deal with some of the bumps along the way and the challenges as you built the business?

Good question.

The Question You Must Ask Yourself When Making Any Decision

You know, I think as entrepreneurs we get a little bit too focused on the profits, on a quarterly basis, on a daily basis. The one thing I always like to go back to, is that the number one responsibility I have as the CEO of the company is to serve the customer.

So, any decision I make, I always want to go back to, does it serve the customer? If you focus on that, it's the best way. I love the quote that says, "The best way to become a billionaire is to serve a billion people."

So, as the CEO and I run a smaller company, I don't have to worry too much about shareholders, or quarterly profits. I play the long game. And the long game I know that the good guys usually win, I hope that they always win, and that there's a piece of karma in business.

So, if I stay honest, ethical, and I run business the right way, I'll get satisfied customers and that actually kind of spins that whole marketing wheel and I have customers coming to me. Which is important.

Now, see real quick, life insurance. Many people say, life insurance is always sold. Right, you always have to convince people to buy insurance. I kind of took the opposite view. I think insurance should be bought. So I like to get people when they actually want to buy insurance and I get them to choose me as their agent.

So, most of the time, I'm able to sell them and we're able to start a good relationship and I can avoid all the negativity that's involved with other people that are pushy that sell life insurance.

I think that's really key, and it's prevalent in the insurance industry just because of the way that new agents are brought into the business and taught.

Build your list of 100 people that you know and then go chase them. And you've clearly taken a different approach.

I'll tell you, the thing that you just said that I think is most important is, I think is missing in a lot of the business media today is the idea of the long view.

Even in small business, I used to be big business, you know you're on Wall Street, and you've got to deal with the quarterly, or earnings report and that kind of drives everything. I feel like with all the chatter of social media and all the craziness of the marketing gurus and all that, that are out there that tell you if you put a dollar into Facebook, tomorrow you're gonna be a millionaire ... millionaire by Friday, you know.

It gives us this perception of instant reward, instant result, and I don't think that, that's really the way a strong solid business is ever built. How hard has it been to push back against the world and stay focused on the long view?

How to Do Business Ethically and Transparently – and Leverage It

It is difficult, it is a challenge. I think an important word that always kind of rings around with me is relentless. From a young age, I've always been relentless. I know Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon, he prides himself very strongly on being relentless.

And if you actually go to relentless.com it redirects to Amazon. He bought that domain a long time ago. As far as playing the long game, yeah, I mean that's what you need. You need to have faith that if you do business the right way, you're gonna be the last guy standing.

So, look I've been online and I've been in business for a long time, and I've definitely seen the guys that run businesses unethically and just focused on getting that money, they don't survive.

So part of it is if you just keep doing business the right way, you're gonna be the last guy standing and my belief is that if you don't quit, you can't lose.

Yeah, it's such a critical perspective to take. I often look at the growth line of a business. I mean most people look at it as a relatively straight line up into the right.

And I look at it a little bit differently. If you've ever looked at an exponential curve, where it's almost imperceptibly going up at the beginning, but you get to a tipping point where then it just rockets off and I've seen that happen in both of our businesses and they were times so frustrating because you felt like you were making no progress at all, but the progress just wasn't visible yet.

I would imagine for you in building out what you've done, knowing what it takes to do all of this online with organic traffic, I mean have you experienced that in the current business as you've built it out?

You mean as far as being able to stay focused on the long term, Steve?

Yeah, and have you had times where the growth was maybe almost imperceptible but you know you've got this choice. Do I stay the course, or do I try something else?

You know, look in organic SEO, you have ups and downs and it's not necessarily your doing. Google and the search engines come out with new algorithm changes all the time.

So, back in 2012, just to go back a little bit on the history of organic search. People that were kind of scamming the system to rank organically, they got all wiped out.

Wil Reynolds the owner of SEER Interactive, he did this great speech and it really hit home with me, he says, "Look, from now on you have to do real company stuff." He used profanities, real company, real company stuff. So do stuff that real companies do and only do it.

So don't pay somebody overseas to build private blog networks. So I guess some of it has to do with faith that if I'm doing it the right way, and I'm doing it per the guidelines and I'm doing everything that real companies do. That every time Google comes out with an algorithm update, my sites do better. Hey knock on wood, but that's how it's gone.

It does take patience, right. I think that it's important to grow as your business grows. To keep everything, I don't have any investors. Some of my competitors have $50 million dollars of investments and they just burn through money, and that's a lot of stress.

I've run my business and invested off profits, so I've grown slowly. That's the kind of trade-off. So it's just about faith that if you're doing everything right, that you're gonna get paid in the end. It's very much business karma.

Yeah, I think you've got a really great philosophy and what I'd like to do is we're gonna come back in just a second. We're gonna dive into Brian's strategies all around selling without having to sell.

Brian, I'm looking forward to getting into that and going deep. We're gonna be right back with more from Brian Greenberg.

Hi this is Steve, I hope you're enjoying this interview, we've got more to come in a minute, but what I'd love for you to do right now is rate this podcast. Leave us a review, rate us on iTunes, it'll really help others discover the podcast, and help us, help other CEOs, other business leaders become unstoppable.

So, if you go to Unstoppableceo.net/iTunes, you can find instructions there and links that will take you right to where you need to go to review the podcast. Thanks so much.

Now back to the interview.

Welcome back, this is Steve Gordon, and I'm here with Brian Greenberg.

Brian, you've got a new book, and the book is by the title that I guess you've been called in the industry, The Salesman Who Doesn't Sell.

I'd love to hear your approach to sales and how you think it differs from what's common out there in industry today.

You know the thing that I love the most about how things are going, especially online and in how people choose the businesses that they choose to do business with is reviews.

So a big part of my book is I preach very strongly that you should do business honestly, ethically, and transparently. But then, the question is, how to leverage that?

So if you focus on customer satisfaction and you know how to leverage it, you're gonna grow your business faster than anybody. There's been studies that companies of the highest net promoter score.

Steve, I don't know if you see this on a lot of the software you buy, they'll say on a score of 1 to 10, how do you like the software? Would you recommend it to somebody? That's net promoter score.

Now, the companies that have the highest net promoter score are the ones that experiences the quickest and the most revenue growth. Now we're talking about Zappos, and Amazon, and USAA, Nordstrom's.

So what I like to teach people how to leverage it. If you focus on reviews, my goodness Steve, reviews are so persuasive. Reviews are like the new references. If you're gonna choose a service provider, well give me three references, right? You don't have to do that anymore, you can show them 100 references, and they're sold right then and there. People go onto Yelp and they see somebody has 15 five star reviews, it's a done deal.

So, part of what I like to teach people is to focus on reviews, if you focus on reviews, you're gonna be focusing on doing business the right way and focusing on the customer, and what I've experienced is exponential growth myself, the more reviews I get. More social proof I can show any potential customer.

Yeah, and you've got an insane number of reviews on your website. I don't think I've ever seen so many on a site. Particularly on a site that's selling a high-end service.

So, how would if a business owner is listening to this, how would they begin to focus on reviews? What should they start doing to collect the reviews. What are some of the things that they can begin doing right away?

The first thing is the mindset, I think that so many CEOs don't know the value of the reviews. That's why they don't focus on it.

Now, I'd like to go ahead and put a value on reviews. I value a review I get on my own website that I control about $100 each. Now, besides that $100, every year I get about $25 dollars out of it. That just has to do with the increase and conversion rates.

If I get a review on a third party website, a website that I don't control, like The Better Business Bureau, or Google Business, or Yelp, or TripAdvisor, depending on what you focus on. I value those reviews at $250 each, and $50 each year after that.

Now it's not a science how to measure that. I just know that I close so many more sales, my conversion rate compared to my competitors is about 1000 times higher.

The Single Best Way to Secure the Right Reviews for Your Business

So, the first thing is focus on it. The next thing obviously ask for it. I think so many people don't ask for it. The time to ask for it is when you finish the service and you ask the customer, "Are you happy?" And that's the time to ask.

All you have to do is ask.

For folks who are in a service business. I mean you do a lot of what you do online, but for an attorney or an accountant, or somebody like that who is working in close counter proximity with their clients and has a really tight relationship with them. I know from talking to them that sometimes they feel a little bit uncomfortable asking for stuff like that.

What would you say to somebody like that in terms of A. How to have the mindset to get over it, and B. How would you approach that if you were in their shoes, how would you ask?

I like giving them a value to the reviews so they know it. You know it's not just a favor, it's something that they can do for you. Almost reciprocal, if you do a good job, they want to help you.

Please know that it is not a form of bragging. I think so many people think it's bragging, it's not. I almost think that it's an ethical responsibility for the people that can get good reviews actually get them and display them.

That way it proliferates that the best businesses will get the business and that's where I want to see everything go. I want to see more and more businesses focusing on the customers, being ethical and the way to display that is with the reviews.

Now, let's say you have an attorney or an accountant, I know they're not comfortable asking for reviews. You don't necessarily have to verbally ask. I use email. Email is by far the best way to get reviews. I like to ask for a review first that I control. So I built a program, there's tons of software out there. Just ask them for a review on five stars and a comment, you control.

If it's a bad review, you don't have to display it. If they give me a five start review, I send them another email with the exact comment that they gave me with a direct link to the exact URL on the Better Business Bureau where you submit a review.

Make it incredibly easy. Even on Google, I'll give them the exact URL that'll give them the popup and they'll see the stars. Make it super simple. But, utilize email, and send it more than once. It's so easy to automate, I send a review email in the 3rd, 7th, and 10th day. If they give me five stars, I'll send them three more emails asking for reviews on those third party websites.

That's fantastic, and I think that's a great approach to do it.

Now, how important do you think, I mean certainly the traditional way of doing this particularly for the types of business we were just talking about is to get a review or get a testimonial. I mean in the old days, what used to get these things and stick them as letters-

Right.

In the three-ring binder, right, and the client would be the brag book that you have on your coffee table in the lobby. You'd hope they'd come through while they're waiting.

So, it seems really natural if I'm in one of these service businesses to get it and put it on my website.

How important for these types of services do you think it is to have it out on third party sites?

I think it's very important and I think people know if it's on the company's website that it can be manipulated, right? They'll look at those reviews and they'll decide how legitimate they look.

On a third party website the businesses have no control. If someone gives you a bad review, you can't get it down. You can say, "Oh I'm gonna sue you, I'm gonna call Google, I'm gonna call Yelp." You cannot get it down.

So, people trust those, and I think the more people use those services and fine that they work, they build up more and more trust for those services.

I also want to say how to organize your reviews, so they look legitimate, okay. Yes, somebody might send you an email saying how great you are, thank you so much. It's not really usable on your website. Use the Amazon internet standard type of review to display. Now, for that you're gonna need to the customer's name, you're gonna need the date of the review, you need stars. If there's no stars, it doesn't do it.

I like putting the city and the state of where the person was, because I do business in all 50 states. Then I get comments. I require somebody to put in 20 characters of a comment. Those are incredible reviews. People look at those they get the similarity affect because they can see where they are.

I even take a step further, Steve. I say what product they bought, so I say what company insurance policy they bought and whether they bought a 20 year term, or a 30 year term. The more details, the better.

Use the internet standard please. Those are the ones that are really gonna tip the scales for you.

What I like about all of the different details that you're getting there, is that for the next customer whose trying to figure out what do I buy. For them to be able to see that there's someone in my state or in my city who bought the same product and here's what their experience was like.

Now, that gives me a lot of comfort, and-

Oh yeah.

One of the things that I believe as a fundamental product that ever business sells is confidence. You're transferring confidence from your business or from the other customers in your business to the new customer so that they can feel good about this new little journey of trust that they're going on. Because they're taking some risk coming and doing business with you and obviously you can have guarantees and all that sort of stuff in place, but that risk is still there and I think ... you see a lot of people do money back guarantee and all that stuff. That's wonderful. That's great.

But, I don't think that removes nearly as much risk because they still have to trust that you're gonna honor as 10 or 50 or 1000 or 10,000, like you have comments from other customers who have already had success it's hard to ignore that.

I think that you're exactly right. Those reviews build trust and they build confidence. If they do business with you, they're gonna be one of those people that had a great experience.

One other thing that reviews are so important even when I'm choosing businesses, it's very important for me to choose a business that has reviews because that business has accountability.

If something goes wrong as a customer, I know what to do. I'm gonna try to get them to fix it, if they don't fix it, I'm gonna give them a bad review.

In my goodness that is an unbelievable negotiating tactic for anybody who's a customer for any service. Now, I can put a negative review and then if they say, "oh", that'll get their attention.

Now, almost always they'll fix the issue and then I'll remove the review. And I've done, I've had people give me bad reviews although I've always had the opportunity to fix it and they'll take it down.

So it's very important, I don't see that we haven't touched on this yet, but what to do if you get a negative review. Don't react, don't fight it. Fix the problem immediately, apologize, play the victim. Please let them know that it hurts your business so substantially, give them a refund, be willing to take a loss on it.

A negative review, when I put a value to positive reviews, a negative review could cost you $10,000 plus. I've seen so many businesses have to close their doors and rename their business and start all over again.

Yeah, and the power cuts both ways.

We've talked about reviews and the approach that you've got really put your customers in the salesman's position for you by letting them get out there and say, your future Mr. Customer, you're in this position I was in, here's the problem I faced, here's what I did, and I got a really great results. So they're doing all the selling for you, which is really, really powerful.

Beyond that, how have you over the course of building this business earned that moniker of the salesman who does sale, what are the other things that you're doing?

You know I think you touched on them. So, I used something that I think that everyone should use. It's user experience testing. So I like to use usertesting.com for $50 you could have someone go through your website, they usually almost about an hour, you can see their screen and they're talking while they're going through your website and what you want them to do is act like a normal customer.

From that, I can find out all the questions that I'm not answering from the customer. If the customer has to call you to ask a question. I basically caused a big problem for myself. So some companies don't list prices, that's a barrier, like you said a money back guarantee, a free trial, all these things to make things easier.

What is the return policy? What is the shipping? Tell them right up front, don't make them ask. Because any questions that they have that don't have an answer, they're gonna leave your site. They're gonna go to your competitor and if they're doing it better, you're gonna lose them.

So, I like to just address every complaint, and I ask my sales people too, what are the questions that you get most often? And then I will head them off through the sales process. I'll answer those questions. If I answer every question, then you'll get sales. Even for products that don't normally sell without a sales process or a face to face interaction or a phone call. You'd be surprised that people will just go ahead and buy and put their credit card down or sign up just like that.

You know for most of us this is all about looking at something that we want or that we need. And really being enabled to make the purchase. I think for a lot of businesses we haven't really thought through what it takes to allow somebody to enable that future client, to make that purchase. They've got all these questions and I know sometimes I talk to business owners, and it's like they get a little bit offended when they're asked the questions because they're maybe not prepared to answer them. Or they don't understand why the customer has that question.

When you can address all of those up-front ahead of time, you eliminate the need to sell in the way that most people go, "I don't wanna be sold." You're now enabling that person to actually make the buy. They can come in and they can purchase, but doing that requires ... it doesn't happen overnight, it's not like you sit down one day, I mean maybe you've got a better system for doing this than I do, but I've never been able to sit down one day and just think about all of the questions and they come up. They come up over time, they change over time.

It sounds like you've got some feedback loops there, when you get that, where does that go into the sales process? Does that plug into content on your website? Do you plug it into educational webinars or videos? How do you find the right place to put it in the sales process?

For my particular businesses, it's kind of through the sales process on my website. So I'm kind of directing people, the process that I want them to go through.

So I'll have them run a quote, I'll give them all the reviews, I'll let them choose, I'll let them do all the research.

Webinars of course are a wonderful way to do it. The whole goal is to have them being sold and they want to do business with you without you having to sell them.

Now, I agree, if people keep asking me the same questions, especially why should I do business with you? Or why should I trust you? Yeah, those can get under the skin a little bit, that's why I love answering them on my website, or like you said in a webinar, or however your sales process goes.

Sell them there. Take it off your plate. That's my motivation really is the more questions I answer, the easier I make it on myself and my sales team and the less resources and time I need to put into it.

I ran, I still run a drop ship business and it was tracking information, what's it like tracking? When is it gonna arrive? Well when I automated it and I sent them the tracking information automatically, it cut down like 30% of my customer service time.

Yeah, when they come up, please yeah do it knowledge based, make sure you answer it because then you don't have to, answer it once on your website or in your sales process and then don't do it again.

Yeah, going back to this idea of transferring confidence, if they see that you have thought through all of these things and you've been proactive about it and you've put the information out there. It elevates trust so much I think, they can now feel confident, okay these people have a process. They've thought through everything. They knew what all of my questions were.

I don't know how much you're on the phone in sales, it sounds like you've got a sales team who is probably on the phone with prospects. Do they ever have the experience where a customer is kind of quoting your stuff?

Yeah.

Oh and I read this and I read that, and so I think that we're ready to go.

Like the sales people love it, right, because people will read the testimonials on all these places, more than you could even think. So a lot of times they'll call and they'll be speaking to my sales person Jenn, right. And they'll say, "Jenn, I'm so happy I got you, I'm so happy you're the sales person because I read all these beautiful reviews about you. That's why I chose you guys." They were just so impressed. This happens every day and that's wonderful.

Now, another thing I wanted to bring up, these review sites, if you offer reviews, not only in your service but all the other products involved and all the different options. People want an opinion and that's how they do their research.

Yelp, and Amazon, and TripAdvisor, they just have an unbelievable amount of traffic as search engines. People go there to do their research. So especially if you're in a business that you have the ability to do that, I mean people come to my website to do the research, to find out what are the best companies to find out what most people are buying.

So, it is such a strong sales tactic that people really should be using if they're not using it to its full capacity, just keep doing it. They've done studies where if people get 10 reviews on Yelp, and it could increase their business by 20%. It's just so powerful.

Well and for a business that is local in scale, or even regional. I mean most of the time, you know I look for reviews all the time, and it's often very difficult to find a business that has more than a couple of reviews. A lot of times what you'll see in a local area is everybody's got like one or two.

It's their mother and their aunt, you know, Aunt Betsy came to the restaurant and left their review-

Those are good too.

Yeah, those are all great, but then there's the one that's got two dozen.

Yeah.

And I know that they get the lion share of the business but the good news there is they probably only got two dozen and it's not that hard to get twice that many or four times that many over the course of a year or 18 months, and now you're in the driver’s seat.

This is a tactic that really you don't hear a lot of people talking about and I think there's a big opportunity right now for the big brands are doing it already, but most businesses aren't the big brands.

If you've got a business where you can kind of look around and see none of your competitors are paying any attention to this at all it is a really quick way to get ahead.

The Power of “Barnacle SEO” and the Best Way to Implement It

You know, these review websites. Yelp, TripAdvisor, is such an opportunity for local business, local services, everybody.

Now, it actually has a funny name, it's called Barnacle SEO. Barnacle SEO is the process of attaching yourself to a larger entity that's gonna bring you in the resources. If you're a local service business and you have a lot of Yelp reviews or Google business reviews, I mean that is gonna bring you a tremendous amount of business. I think so many people would be surprised, people can build very large businesses from just bringing in traffic from these third party websites.

I mean, Amazon Merchant services, people just sell on Amazon or Etsy. But, definitely these local review sites are such an opportunity.

Wow, this is such a fascinating and refreshing approach and I appreciate you sharing it with us today. I know folks are gonna be curious about how to dive into the details of this.

So, for those who want to find your book and really start implementing things, where's the best place for them to go?

You know what Steve, I'd like to give all your listener the free audio version of my book, The Salesman Who Doesn't Sale: A Marketing Guide to Selling While You Sleep. I go into very much detail. I try to give away as much as possible and they can get it at Brianjgreenberg.com/unstoppableceo

That's awesome, and we're gonna do one additional thing. So if you're listening to this and you go to Unstoppableceo.net and find this episode with Brian, for the best comment that's left over the next two weeks after we launch the episode, we're gonna go get five copies of the book and we're gonna send it to the five best comments, up on the website, and so we'll send a paperback copy.

You can get the audio book on Brian's website.

Brian this has been fantastic and thanks for sharing the book, thanks for your generosity there and for sharing this approach I think it could be a real game changer for a lot of businesses.

Thanks so much for having me Steve, I have a lot of respect for you and your business as well. Thank you for having me on.

Todd Palmer | How to Build an Inc 5000 Business

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You might love your business, says Todd Palmer, but it doesn’t always love you back. Todd, an entrepreneur and business coach, says that it’s what you do when faced with tough times that counts.

First, you have to come to grips with a mental block most entrepreneurs have. Second, you can’t be afraid to get help (from the right people and in the right way).

Todd almost lost his business about 10 years ago… and went on to have the six-time Inc. 5000 business he has today thanks to completing those two actions.

We talk about how you can apply what he learned to your own venture, as well as…

  • How to get clarity when faced with challenges you don’t understand
  • The responsibilities you didn’t know you signed up for as an entrepreneur
  • The power of the Fail Forward Mentality
  • Two sources of help to get through the toughest business problems
  • And more

Listen to Steve Gordon and Todd Palmer Now:

Episode Timeline:

00:11 Today Steve speaks with renowned thought leader, CEO and Coach, Todd Palmer.

01:16 Todd talks about how he started off in business with a loan from friends, family and fools.

03:20 Todd explains how by hiring a coach helped him steer his company back from near ruin.

05:09 Steve talks about how he got advice when his business was in trouble.

06:15 Todd talks about the “Imposter Syndrome”.

09:15 Even though he is a very successful coach, Todd still has his own coach. He explains the importance of their outside the business clarity.

14:32 Todd explains how your business is like a child, how the best idea should always win and how the coach can’t do everything for you.

17:23 Steve has 4 coaches. He explains why.

19:21 Todd talks about improving your business incrementally and to celebrate your success.

21:21 Tom explains who the perfect person for coaching is and how confidence is good, ego is not.

24:19 Tom tells us how to get in contact with him and he also gives the UCEO listeners a chance at a fantastic prize!.

Mentioned in this Episode:

Transcript: Steve Gordon interviews Todd Palmer

Welcome to The Unstoppable CEO Podcast. I'm your host, Steve Gordon. Today, I'm so excited. We're talking with Todd Palmer. I got to tell you, he's got some incredible stuff. He's a renowned thought leader, a CEO, an executive coach, and an author, and he's really committed to improving lives. He works with successful entrepreneurs, and he is a successful entrepreneur multiple times over now himself. He's got a lot to share with you today about how to push forward and get to that next level. He is the CEO of a six-time Inc. 5000 company, so he understands more than just how to work with and coach and advise business owners. He's built his own very successful business, and I think that gives him a really unique perspective. Todd, I'm really excited that you're here today and excited for what we're going to share with everybody. Welcome.

I'm excited to be here. Thanks for having me, and let's get started and see if we can help a few folks today.

Absolutely. Well, to give everybody a little bit of context, can you kind of give them some background so they really understand where you're coming from?

Sure, so yeah. I started my company, Diversified Industrial Staffing, in 1997 for a little bit under $20,000. It was one of those situations where I went to my three favorite funding sources, friends, family and fools, and I was able to borrow some money to get off the ground and, by day 72, we had turned a profit. That gave me a great sense of accomplishment and a great sense of pride thinking, "All right. I've got this business owner's thing licked. I'm 27 years old. I'm profitable. Life is pretty good." We were basically providing people in a state here in Michigan where things were going, at that point, really well. Country was at full employment, so if you had bodies, as a staffing company, you could get people to work tomorrow, very similar to what it is today.

Fast-forward to 2006, we had some tough times ahead of us not knowing what I didn't know. By mid-2006, we were $600,000 in debt, 60 days away from running out of cash. That's when I went out, and I reached out to my network, and I hired a coach. He helped me make some very difficult and tough decisions, and we were able to turn that business around and make it into that six-time Inc. 5000 company that we're enjoying today.

Wow. It's so interesting when I talk to business owners who have been through that part of the cycle. You're up, up, up, and then catastrophe hits. For almost everybody that I talk to, it's 2006 to 2008, and for obvious reasons. Figuring out how to deal with that and move beyond it, and there are a lot of different ways that you can do that, but it takes some real grit to move through that. When you were faced with that, and now when you're faced with challenges, what do you do to really kind of stay focused and keep pressing on and moving forward?

The Power of the Fail Forward Mentality

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Well, in 2006, I didn't know how to do that. It was a really difficult time. Like a lot of entrepreneurs probably listening today, I had personally guaranteed the money to the bank. I didn't have it. I had a dysfunctional team in my organization, people that I had hired, people I had chosen. I was really kicking my own butt, suffering from an immense, immense state of imposter syndrome. I just didn't know what I didn't know, and I didn't know where to go. One of the first things I did, like I said, is I hired a coach. Now what I do when I have tough days is I reach out to my network. I'm part of EO, the Entrepreneur's Organization, and I talk to other entrepreneurs and CEOs in that group and get their feedback on some of the struggles I'm faced with.

I look in the mirror. Ultimately, I'm accountable and responsible for the company. It's my baby, and if it's not going well, what can I do differently? Then I really figured out that I have to have a fail-forward mentality, that failure is part of the process. Sometimes that failure means you've hired some of the wrong people, and you have to make changes like, in 2006 in September, I fired my entire company. I started over because I had hired the wrong people. I had to learn from that, and it's a very painful thing to admit. However, had I not made that difficult decision, we would not have turned the business around. We probably would have gone out of business. Potentially, I could have lost everything.

Being the leader, for me, I reach out to my network. I look at my contribution to the situation. I realize that failing is part of the process and, sometimes, in that whole ball of wax, is difficult decisions that need to be made, and heavy is the head that wears the crown of leadership within an entrepreneurial organization. There's no way around it. Entrepreneurs sometimes have to do things they don't want to do.

Yeah. There's no doubt about that. You said a ton of valuable stuff in there. The first one you said was, "Hey, I went out, and I got help," and then you repeated that about three times. It's really interesting. Having been through a similar process at about the same time, I couldn't have made it through had I not been in ... I was in a CEO peer group at the time. Without being able to walk into that room and confidentially share with some other entrepreneurs, "Hey, here's the hand we've been dealt. I don't even know what to do. I don't even begin to know where to start asking the questions ..." Without having that, I couldn't have gotten through it. What I see a lot of entrepreneurs do is they will ... You get into a situation like that, it's embarrassing.

Oh, for sure.

It's like, "I'm not supposed to be here. I'm the successful leader of a business." You want to retreat inside yourself. Was that something that was hard for you to overcome?

Two Sources of Help to Get Through the Toughest Business Problems

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Oh, I think we lived the same life, my friend. I definitely retreated within myself. That's where the impostor syndrome really significantly rooted itself because I thought I should have all the ... did a lot of shoulding, "I should have all the answers. I should know what to do. I should be able to do this. I should be able to get my staff to do what needs to be done," all those different things.

A really good friend of mine said to me, "You know, an entrepreneur alone is an entrepreneur at risk, and you are isolating yourself, and you are thinking that you should be embarrassed, where this is all part of the process." That's the challenge I think a lot of entrepreneurs don't know. You don't typically go to college or high school to get a degree in entrepreneurship. You don't typically learn these things when you work for somebody else.

I often explain to the young entrepreneurs that I work with that you got to understand that we are in a very unique position. We're taking a lot of risk hoping for a lot of reward. With that risk comes a lot of fiduciary responsibilities that I didn't even know about. The government gets paid first. Employees get paid second. Vendors get paid third. If you're lucky, you get paid fourth. That's the early startup stages of being an entrepreneur, typically, and I didn't know that. I thought you started a company, and it just worked.

Now you watch TV shows like Shark Tank and different programs like that where they take a four-hour presentation pitch meeting, cut it down to 12 minutes for TV content, and people think, "Oh, wow. These really successful people will just give me money, and I make more money for them." It doesn't typically work that way, so that's ... Like you're saying, the CEO peer-to-peer learning environment, trusted advisors in your back pocket can kind of help guide you because there's so much, as entrepreneurs, that we have to take on, responsibilities we didn't even sometimes know we signed up for but, nonetheless, we still have them.

Yeah. Again, sometimes you just don't even know where to go and what the right questions are to ask. I know I remember feeling like that. It was clear things were going in a bad way economically. Much of that was outside of our control because it had to do with larger markets, but figuring out, "Okay, what is in our control, what can we influence that can start to move us forward?" I couldn't see it, and so that's where that outside help, for me anyway, really came in as somebody who could see the things that I was blind to, and so, yeah, I know the value of that.

Now, clearly, you're a big believer in this. You're now doing this for other businesses. Does it change when you're working with another business owner, and they've come to you, and they've got a situation that is beyond what they're ready to grasp at the moment, and now they're turning to you, and you've got to give them that advice? Is it more difficult? Is it easier?

Well, it's really interesting because it's like sports. You can play the game really well, but can you coach the game really well? Not a lot of people can do both, and that's certainly what I want to do with Extraordinary Advisors is I want to coach people just as well as I've been coached, and I still use a coach. The first thing I say to entrepreneurs that want to potentially engage my services is when it will be ... I drink the Kool-Aid. I still have a coach. I believe in it, and I know I don't know everything.

The other thing that really differentiates between working on my current business, Diversified Industrial Staffing, while coaching people through Extraordinary Advisors is it's so much easier to look at someone else's house and say, "Oh, well, if you just move this furniture around, you're going to have great flow." Within your own business, there's a lot more blind spots sometimes. Hence, that's why I still have a coach. I was just working with a client a couple weeks ago, and we had to have the conversation that, "You revenue is strong, but your margins need to be improved." Within about a two-hour conversation, we moved his margins four points. He had never even thought about it. He didn't see the opportunities.

That's, I think, what coaches can do for people is ... It's like you're renting someone else's cerebral cortex because we get so fight-or-flight and, as entrepreneurs, we get so fear-based, at times, that we just don't see that route through the forest. We just keep running into that same tree. I seem them, really, as two different roles. That's why, for Diversified, I still use a coach to help me, sometimes, navigate those treacherous waters.

I would imagine, too, that it's a little bit easier to look objectively at a business from the outside. You don't have the emotional baggage of having built it all. When you've built it, as much as we all want to say there's no pride of authorship, and I like saying that a lot, well, sometimes there is, I mean, if we're really honest.

Absolutely. It's one of those situations where it's much easier to sometime ... These are our babies, like it or not, and these are ... I often say to entrepreneurs who have struggles in their marriage, I say, "Have you talked to your significant other about your mistress?" "Well, what do you mean?" "Your business is your mistress. It's your pride. It's your joy. You love this thing, and it doesn't always love you back," as you and I both have attested to today. It's a real ... really a valuable thing to take a look at. Why are you doing this?

Don’t Apologize for What You Charge

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One of my favorite authors is Simon Sinek, and he talks about the power of why. For us at Diversified, but also at EA, we do it to improve lives. If we're improving lives in what we do, the money will come, but we can't also work for free, and we shouldn't apologize for what we charge for, because people need to understand that companies are hiring us as entrepreneurs to solve problems, and they're paying us for our knowledge, not always just for our time slot. You can certainly go, "I'm sure what Warren Buffet's going to charge you per hour versus what Todd Palmer's going to charge you per hour is going to be a little bit different, but I think, with Warren Buffet, you're going to have a different set of expectations."

When people come to me and they go, "Show me how to be a six-time Inc. 5000 company," well, there's a fee for that. This isn't just something that's going to permeate through an organization without blood, sweat, and tears, and the definition of that is put your money where your mouth is. That's were entrepreneurs, I think, can really get lost is they sometimes focus on the cheap and focus on free. We focus on those other things. Well, even the peer-to-peer learning groups that I am part of, there's still a fee of, gosh, $10,000 a year. You got to pay to play sometimes, and you got to spend money to make money.

I think that's the quote of the episode is, "We shouldn't apologize for what we charge." I love it.

Well, we're going to take a quick break. We're going to be back with more from Todd, and we're going to dive into really what it takes to work with a coach and how to be successful with a coach. We'll be right back with more from Todd Palmer.

Hi. This is Steve. I hope you're enjoying this interview. We've got more to come in a minute, but what I'd love for you to do right now is rate this podcast. Leave us a review. Rate us on iTunes. It'll really help others discover the podcast and help us help other CEOs, other business leaders, become unstoppable. If you go to Unstoppableceo.net/iTunes, you can find instructions there and links that will take you right to where you need to go to review the podcast. Thanks so much. Now back to the interview.

Welcome back. This is Steve Gordon. Today, I'm talking with Todd Palmer. Todd, you've shared with us kind of your journey and how working with a coach, with a trusted advisor, has kind of shaped your journey. I mean it sounds like, in your first business, it really was the catalyst for rebuilding that business in a really difficult time and turning it into a six-time Inc. 5000 company. In addition to running your main business, you're working and coaching entrepreneurs. With the ones who are really successful with that relationship with you, what do they do that the others don't do?

Well, I think, Steve, that the real differentiator is entrepreneurs, by and large, need to understand that, as a coach, we should vet you just as much as you're vetting us. It's got to be a good relationship because, at the end of the day, we're just two people or me and the CEO and their leadership team working together. You can talk about the four pillars of any kind of business, whether it's cash, strategy, execution, or staff. All those categories are influenced and all those decisions are made by people. The people have to have a certain sense of connectivity.

The Right Way to Work with a Coach

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The worst thing you can do is go out and set up a coaching relationship to impress your friends or go to the country club, "Hey, I've got a coach," because, really, the coach's job is to get you where you want to go, and you have to do the work. I can help you see a different vision. I can help you lay out a strategic path. I can help you talk about some bottlenecks that you have with your execution, but I'm not at your business every day. I can't come and do that work. That level of authenticity, transparency, and vulnerability from the CEO to the coach and then back into the organization, I think, is where I see the most transformative change.

Where it typically doesn't work is when the CEO is thinking, "Well, I'm going to hire a coach to help me solve this problem," but really they want the coach to come in and solve the problem or change out team members or put a different direction in. There is no silver bullet with any business I've ever seen. It requires the level of commitment, dedication, and the willingness to be uncomfortable.

One of the things that I find works really well and when with a leadership team is I always make sure the CEO agrees to speak last. Most of the CEOs that I know, we're usually the smartest kids in the room, or we think we're the smartest kids in the room. Sometimes the best ideas are squashed by the CEO and their personality because the team, like children, want to please the CEO. The team want that person, the person who signs their check, to be satisfied and happy. Well, but they may not always have the best answer, so if the emperor has no clothes, it's the team's job to go around the table to figure out, well, what works and what doesn't, and what's the best idea?

That's why I always say to the CEO, "All you have to do is say, 'I really like George's idea,' or, 'I really like Sue's idea.' It could have been your idea, but maybe it wasn't as good as your idea, but you'll never have to own that. Just let the best idea win in the room," because, at the end of the day, there's the owner, the leadership team, but also there's that third entity, which is the business. The business is like a child. It needs tender, loving care. It needs structure. It needs discipline. It's the responsibility of the leader and the leadership team to drive those things, and if the best ideas aren't shared and the best ideas aren't heard, then that third party, that business, doesn't get the tender, loving care it needs.

Yeah. It's funny. As you're describing that, I'm thinking back in my own experience, especially when I was young. I became CEO of my first business at 28, and I didn't know what the heck I was doing. Thinking back to how I would operate and run meetings was awful. It was terrible. I was doing all the things you just described.

The thing that jumped out to me in what you just said was the idea that a business owner may bring in a coach and want kind of the coach to do it. I've always viewed it, and I ... Believe me, I drink the Kool-Aid. I've got four coaches right now for different areas of my life, from fitness all the way through the business and other things, because those are strategic areas that I want to improve. I always look at the role of a coach in two dimensions. Number one, it's to really provide an outside perspective and some outside thinking on the problems that you're facing every day. Number two, it's to hold you accountable.

One of my coaches, which I saw this morning, is a fitness coach, a personal trainer. Okay? She can see things that I can't see. She knows what exercises I should be doing based on me telling her what my goals were, right? She sure as hell holds me accountable, in fact, probably more so than I'd really like some days. What I love about the fitness analogy is that allows you to break it down to something pretty simple that everybody can understand, and that's the way ... If you're going out to work with a business coach, I think that's the approach, as a business owner, you ought to take is, "I'm bringing somebody in because they've got fresh eyes, and they see a lot more businesses than I see, and they're going to have some unique approaches and, once we decide on a plan, they're going to keep me to it."

Right. That's a great comparison. If you think about a fitness program, if you want to drop 20 pounds, you're not going to lose 20 pounds in a week. If you lose 2 pounds a week for 10 weeks, it's a successful program. A lot of times, when businesses are in crises or they've reached that glass ceiling, they want instant change, an instant quick fix. I always say to my clients, "If you can change your business 1% per week over a 52-week period, you've made a 50% turnover in your organization, whether it's with strategy, execution. If you've got cash problems, how do we get more cash in the door? How do we improve your margins?" That stuff's not going to occur over night. No different than if you want to get into, like you said, a fitness program. You want to be able to lift ... go from benching 200 pounds to benching 300 pounds. It's not going to happen in a week, but those little, small, incremental steps need to occur.

I think, as leaders, one of the best areas of opportunity that we have during that iterative process is to celebrate the victories with the team because so many entrepreneurs don't do it. They're all focused on the end goal. Those little steps along the way, you'd be surprised what kind of loyalty and what kind of team environment you can build when you celebrate those small victories.

Yeah, I can imagine, and particularly when you're trying to transition through challenges, even if they're not like 2006-to-2008-type challenges, but even just the little stuff that comes up. It's so easy for us, as entrepreneurs, to focus on the negative, the bad stuff. We rarely pay enough attention to the successes. I know I'm guilty of that. In fact, I try and be really proactive now of writing that stuff down. Otherwise, I forget about it.

You work with a lot of different types of business. Who's kind of in your sweet spot? If somebody's listening to this and they go, "Yeah, I really ... I need to get a coach to get to that next level," who's sort of the perfect person for your firm?

Well, for me, the perfect person is an entrepreneur who has that lifelong learner mindset, the entrepreneur who recognizes, "I know I don't know everything. I don't know, necessarily, where I need to go, but I recognize that I need help." So many entrepreneurs are very ego-driven. I was ego-driven. Sometimes I'm still ego-driven. It's just part of the deal. It's part of who we are. You can have a strong sense of self, but pride and ego don't care about anything else. So it's clear, confidence is good, having too much ego typically doesn't work.

I use a vetting tool to find out if I'm going to be a good fit because hiring a coach is an acquired taste. My style is not going to work for someone as well as someone else's style might work, so it's a very individual choice, but first and foremost is are you coachable? Are you willing to make change, and are you willing to roll up your sleeves? Because my style is very different than a lot of coaches.

One, most coaches have never owned a business, by and large. Two, we have attained a nice track record of success, so that means I'm about being accountable. You just got to be that way. If you're not accountable, it's not going to work really well. Three, I want to walk the path with my clients. I have a very strict program. I do four quarterly meetings, but I do twice-a-month calls with either the CEO or the CEO and their leadership team to check the pulse. Where are we? Are we on track, or are we off track? Are we hitting our KPIs?

A lot of coaches just kind of fly in, fly out on a quarterly basis. I think there's so much that can be accomplished with quicker touch points, shorter durations between connections, and that's, for me ... I just absolutely get jazzed. I had a call with a client this morning. The movement they've had in three weeks is phenomenal. One, I'm so proud of the entrepreneur because he's sticking to what he said he was going to do even though he's had tough times. Two, his team now believes in him, where maybe they had some doubts before. Just to hear this group of people try to go in the same direction, on the same path, even with some stumbles along the way ... One person's off track, the team's now bringing that person back on track with his rocks. It's so incredibly rewarding.

If someone wants to do the same as it ever was, to just kind of just slowly bump along and really wants to be not goal-focused and not willing to be vulnerable and transparent about why they're not hitting things, then I am definitely not a good fit for them.

Yeah. I could imagine they wouldn't last very long with your approach to things.

Where is the best place for people to go and find out more about what you're doing and your approach to working with entrepreneurs?

Yeah. The best place to find out more about us would be at extraordinaryadvisors.com. We've got a lot of our information up there. I do keynote speeches. I'll come in and do a workshop if that's required or, certainly, the CEO and executive-level coaching. In fact, what I'd like to offer to your audience today, Steve, is anybody who mentions, on the website, that they want to meet with me or talk with me, and they mention that they heard me on your podcast, I'd be happy to give them an hour of my time for free.

To me, that's really an opportunity to pay it back to the people who have paid it forward through me. So many people, whether it's been the people in my EO chapter or just great conversations with other entrepreneurs around the country who have just given me their time, this is the least I can do to help pay it forward, that mentality that an entrepreneur alone is an entrepreneur at risk. Let's not have that. Even if it's just somebody I talk to one time, you just never know. That one message from one person could change the course of things, and that ... so I'm happy to offer that to your audience today.

Oh, thank you. That's really, really generous, and I appreciate that. I know there will be some folks that will want to take you up on that. Where will they go? Where should they go on your website to take advantage of that?

Just go to the Contact Us page of extraordinaryadvisors.com. My assistant, Kelly, will get you put onto my calendar, and we can have a conversation.

Very good. Well, that's a really generous offer. Thank you for sharing that with our audience. Todd, it's been fantastic talking with you. We could go on and on for hours, but I know time is precious. It's just been a blast getting to know you a little bit and talking about your approach today on the interview.

Thanks.

Thank you for being a guest.

Oh, yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much for having me on the show. I really enjoyed the conversation.

Philip Morgan | The secrets of leveraging "specialization" to win higher fees

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Tired of getting beat up by low-ball competitors?

The truth is that every business and profession is commoditized...

That's the market reality...

But it doesn't have to be your reality.

In fact, I love this quote from Seth Godin...

Commodities are in the eye of the producer. If you don't want to sell something that's judged merely on price, then don't.

My guest on this episode of The Unstoppable CEO Podcast is Philip Morgan, and he's an expert at specialization.

He's got a great process that will help you figure out how to specialize, and how to escape the commodity trap...

In the interview we cover:

  • Why you should specialize
  • How to overcome the fear of losing out on opportunities
  • Why specialization actually speeds up client acquisition
  • The importance of frequent communication with your market (and one unusual side effect)
  • How to use specialization as a launching pad for increasing your fees and reducing the complexity of your business

And so much more...

Listen to Steve Gordon and Philip Morgan Now

Episode Timeline

00:11 Today Steve speaks with Philip Morgan. He helps businesses make better positioning decisions and is the author of The Positioning Manual For Technical Firms

01:03 Philip tells us how he got to be an expert in positioning after becoming unemployed in 2008.

05:14 Steve talks about the pushback he gets when he advises companies to reduce the number of clients.

05:58 Philip explains the immediate benefits of reducing and specializing.

08:28 Philip explains how publishing to his email list 5 days a week helped his business more than anything.

10:18 Philip explains how he is an “unlicensed professional” and talks more about email marketing.

13:36 Steve and Phil talk about the difficulty of coming up with new ideas for email marketing but also the benefits that that difficulty brings.

16:40 Steve talks about the self taught skills he achieved through publishing frequently.

18:40 Philip talks about the importance of having a point of view.

22:34 Philip explains how he approaches his clients about positioning.

28:32 Philip talks about how we tend to focus on the loss rather than the gain and rappelling clients you don’t need.

31:11 Philip explains how you should take the chance and make the decision when the opportunity presents itself.

34:08 Steve talks about the benefits of learning on the job when going in a new direction.

36:17 Philip and Steve talks about the negative thoughts such as Imposter Syndrome.

42:21 Philip gives a great example from his own podcast of someone who specialised down to just 6 clients.

45:48 Philip tells us how best to get in touch with him.

Mentioned in this Episode

Transcript: Steve Gordon interviews Philip Morgan

Welcome to the Unstoppable CEO Podcast. I'm your host Steve Gordon and today, I think you're just gonna get a ton out of this interview. I'm talking with Philip Morgan and Philip helps small development shops make better positioning decisions and he's also the author of the Positioning Manual for Technical Firms. Now, whether you're running a software development business or not, the things that we're gonna cover today on positioning are going to apply to you. I know we've got a diverse audience, but I know this is gonna be very, very important for you, if you're running any kind of professional service business. Philip, welcome to the Unstoppable CEO Podcast. Great to have you on.

Thanks so much, Steve. Really happy to be here.

I guess, maybe give everybody a little bit of context. How did you get to this point in your career? What makes you an expert in positioning?

I think the short answer is a lot of pain. I got into self-employment accidentally. I was recently looking at a Bureau of Labor Statistics graph about employment numbers and the self-employment landscape seemed to change dramatically right at the time I got into self-employment and if I made you guess, you'd probably guess right. You'd say 2008 because that's when a lot of companies downsized and a lot of things went wrong that were going well, so I became unemployed in 2008 along with everybody else that I worked with at this particular company. I said, very arrogantly at the time, I was like I can do better than that. The company I was working for had the classic whale client problem, so their whale client stopped spending money in 2008 and things just dried up very quickly for them and I was like, I'll never make that mistake again. That's such an easy mistake to avoid. Classic beginner mistake. I'm gonna go out and work for myself and I'll get it right. Of course, I made the exact same mistake a few years later, myself. It's intoxicating to have one client that seems like they can support your whole business and you feel like, oh, I don't need to do business development. I don't need to figure out how to get other clients. I've got this one great client.

The Danger of the Whale Client

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You can trick yourself into thinking it's gonna last for forever. I did that and then the pain came in when I said, well ... I didn't say it can't work. It just didn't work and what happened next was a lot of on the job learning about how to do business development and eventually, I got the message that narrowing your focus in one of what turns out to be five different ways, you can do it, is really effective. It's like there's things you can do that have all these secondary side effects and this has a lot of positive secondary side effects, so marketing started to actually work for me for the first time in my life. Before that, I would write blog articles because I heard that's a great way to do marketing and nothing would happen. I would go to networking events and nothing would happen. After that change of narrowing down my focus, specializing, otherwise known as positioning yourself, lots of things got better. I don't want to portray this as a magic bullet because it requires other things. It requires work, it requires time, it requires courage, it requires discipline, but in terms of a single decision you can make for your business that has all these cascading beneficial other affects, it was a big one.

I did that and it was revolutionary for me and so I wrote about it and it was a book that people responded to well, a self-published book called The Positioning Manual and then it was a really wonderful virus that took over my business because not a lot of other people ... There's Al Reese. There's others. That David Baker you interviewed not too long ago. There are others, they've all talked about this subject, but nobody had talked about it for self-employed software developers, so I said well, I'll do that. The book is two and a half years old, now. It's been selling steadily since then and it's become what I do. it's the main part of my business, is I help self-employed software developers decide how to specialize, which sounds super simple, maybe but it's a decision that comes with a lot of fear and emotional baggage.

How Focus Accelerates Success

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The amount of fear. I don't think it's a simple decision at all. We go through the same thing with our clients who are maybe a little more diverse in terms of their industries, but the look of panic in the eyes of business owners that I see when I say, look you're serving 15 people. You need to pick one. It's just incredible to watch. I know why it happens. You feel like you're giving up opportunity. I don't know what your experience has been, but ours has been that every time that a client makes the decision, all of a sudden their results immediately accelerate and it's really fun to watch.

Yeah, there's a part of it that works like an investment. You don't get a return on investment right away. Then, there's another part, which I think is the part where you're identifying. It's an immediate thing. It's like when you quit a job that you hated. Some of the effects take a while to accumulate, but then there's this immediate relief of, in the case of quitting the job, I don't have to go back and keep doing that thing I hated. In the case of deciding how to specialize, the feeling is, oh my gosh, I finally am out of this realm of uncertainty and trying to understand 50 different dance moves and I can just do the one that I know is gonna resonate with this type of client that I've chosen to focus on. That's not the only way to decide to specialize, but you're right. I've seen it multiple times, this immediate freeing up of, oh things are simpler, now. Things are easier and the things that I'm talking about are what do I say to my client to get them interested in my services? Well, not my clients, but my prospective clients. What do I say to them?

Yeah, I always equate it to the, hey I'm about to buy a brand new car and once I decide what the car is gonna be, I see them everywhere. I never noticed them before. The opportunities to go after any particular market are all around you all the time, but if you're not focused on any market and you're just broadly going out looking for any client that you can find, they're all invisible to you, but the minute that you make the decision and say, okay I'm going out for that type of car, now you see those opportunities everywhere. I think it's the biggest, most important change you can make in a business. Now, before you got to this point where you got all this clarity and this direction, we're in 2018 and it sounds like the watershed event was in 2007, 2008, somewhere in there. Over the course of the last 10 years, I'm sure it wasn't a straight line path or an easy path to get to the point where you're at now and to build the business. Sounds like you had to discover this whole process of positioning for yourself. What was that like and how did you stay persistent through all of that?

I think it took me a while. I'm gonna say something that maybe doesn't seem like the answer to your question. What I'm gonna say is publishing to an email list five days a week. I'm gonna say daily, but I really mean five days a week, not seven days a week. I think people are gonna say well, if you're publishing five days a week, I think you've earned the right to say daily, there. This is a little later. Ultimately, I would credit that ... Now, it's a habit. It did not start out that way, but I would credit that activity with more of ... That's done more to make my business what it is, today than almost anything else other than specializing. Do you want to talk about that a little bit?

Yeah, I think that's great. In fact, maybe we can have a support group for daily emailers. I did it for four years and finally backed away a couple of years ago. You can say daily when it's five days a week. That counts.

Yeah.

It's a big commitment. I know when I first started, I had all kinds of people telling me this was the stupidest idea I'd ever undertake, that I'd drive people away and they wouldn't want to hear from me. I also know that building that habit and communicating like that with your audience gives you the opportunity to discover much more quickly what really works and what doesn't. What causes your audience to move closer towards doing business with you.

The Secret Power of Frequent Communication with Prospects

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There's definitely a trust building and marketing aspect to it and I think one of the more profound things about it is ... Let's take a step back. I am an unlicensed professional. You might be, too. I don't know anything about your background, but if you don't have the letters MD or CPA or what is it? JDA for attorneys. If you don't have letters like that behind your name, you're an unlicensed professional. I don't mean that in a dismissive way. If you think of it as a tribe or group, that's the group I'm a part of. I'm specifically trying to help people who are also part of that group and in that world, how expertise is developed is different than if you're a medical doctor or a CPA. There's usually not much in the way of formal training for us unlicensed professionals. What do you do to develop expertise? This is so related to specialization. If you're gonna specialize, I think what you're doing is saying I'd like to be valued for my expertise ultimately. Maybe not on day one. On day one, it's I just want to know who I should be trying to connect and build trust with. Who am I marketing to, in other words.

That's the day one benefit. Maybe the day 600 benefit or the day 900 benefit is I have expertise that can command a premium price because I've focused on this type of client or this type of problem or whatever it is. That's where you want to get and so I'm very interested with how you get there. How do you get to that point where you can credibly claim to have expertise that is super valuable. You can do on the job learning, of course and we all do that anyway, but I think if you commit to a daily publishing habit, I don't say a writing habit because you might not write. You might stick an iPhone in front of your face and record a short video. You might have a podcast that publishes at high frequency. It could be any kind of media, but publishing daily to an audience, email is wonderful because you, to an extent know who your audience is. You've got a list of email addresses at least and you know that at least some of them are opening and reading and paying attention to what you have to say. That's different than publishing a blog where it's anonymous tracking, essentially.

Doing that daily, I think gets you quickly past what I think of as the superficial level of expertise, which is I know a little bit about a lot of things and it quickly gets you to the point where ... Here's where I want to ask you a question, Steve. When you were emailing daily, did you get to a point where you thought you said everything you had to say? I don't know if you were just relentlessly selling something or teaching a little bit. I'm not sure exactly how you did it, but I'm curious if you got to a point where it got real hard to come up with new idea.

I actually did and I was about four years into it, so in the neighborhood of 1,000 emails. We weren't selling something on every one of those emails. Most of them were pretty short. 250, 300 words, just a thought, an opinion, an idea that hopefully would help the reader and also transmit a little bit or convey a little bit of my expertise, but I will tell you that the act of writing and the thinking that is required to write something with a reasonable amount of clarity does more to, I think this is the point that you're trying to make, is it does more, at least it did for me, to hone and develop my craft for lack of a better way to say it, than just about anything else I've ever done.

I have the same experience. If your point of view on something and there are experts who don't have a point of view, and there are experts who do. The ones who do have an advantage in the kind of business that I think some of your audience has. If you have a point of view that's flimsy and not well thought out, you will plumb the depths of it in 90, 120 days. Very quickly you'll reach the limits. If you have a ... If you feel like you have something to teach, but you've never actually taught it before, you'll find out what you don't know very quickly. That's when it gets hard. For me, it was brutally hard for the first 90 days to publish at that frequency and then it became easier, but the other thing I like about it is it's a sort of accelerator for your expertise. You'll find out where your limits are and then if you commit to doing it even though you feel like you're tapped out, you'll go beyond those limits and that produces this growth of expertise or you talked about insight into understanding an audience, it can do that too.

Let me tell you, when you start publishing daily, even if you're writing stuff that's not very good you'll hear from people because you'll worm your way into their lives in a way that's different. I call it high frequency publication and I set the bar at three times a week. Just different than anything that's not high frequency publication. Now, you can do that also with really powerful, insightful stuff that's published less frequently, but I think if there's one thing that's accessible to anybody, it's publishing daily. Now, I feel like I'm on a rant about this, but your question was what's kept me going? That's one thing that has for sure kept me going. There are other things, but I can point to that because it's so easy to understand. You just publish something five or seven days a week.

I will tell you it is so easy to understand. It's so easy to commit to. I don't know how it is for you, but it was really hard sometimes to keep it going.

Oh, for sure, yeah.

A lot of other things want to get in the way. I will tell you, though I've written two books. We've now committed to doing a book a quarter and the skill that I developed in writing that frequently, which was getting ideas on paper quickly that were coherent enough for people to understand, is what now has allowed ... I mean, I wrote the first book in two months. I wrote the last one in eight hours. Not a long, long book, but enough. Having that skill, today I think is a huge competitive advantage and that's one of the things that publishing frequently allows you to do. The other thing that you mentioned, which I think is really, really important is this idea of your point of view or your world view. This is the way things should be done in my profession. I think the one really cool thing about being in the types of businesses that we're in is that you get to have a world view. If you're in the product business, yeah, you can have that and that helps with the differentiation and certainly there are businesses that use it over there, but in my mind it's the killer app for professionals.

I've been, as you described it, I've been both a licensed and an unlicensed professional over the last 25 years. Different industries, but the one common denominator through all that, that made both of those businesses successful is that we have really strong points of view and we shared them. Instead of the crowd's all together huddled around, we were way outside the crowd.

I'm very interested in this question of ... Some folks who are listening to this, I think I would bet money, say that sounds great. In fact, I know what that looks like because some of the people I look up to or I admire or follow, they have that.

Without a doubt.

Then, if you don't have that because you have been operating more as a technician, let's say, like my clients tell me what to do. I just do it for them. My clients tell me what to build. I build it for them or I feel like I am an expert at whatever; software development, SCO marketing, but I just do what other people say are the best practices. There's gonna be a portion of listeners who lack a point of view and that's the first thing, is to not be happy about that, to be dissatisfied with it. The first step is awareness. I'm not saying everybody has to have a point of view, but like you, Steve I agree that it's this huge X factor. It's a super power. It's an accelerant. The question probably becomes, well, have you developed a point of view? I think one answer to that is you don't try. You do something that forces you to do it as a secondary side effect and I would contend that high frequency publication will force that to happen, if you stick with it.

There's lots of reasons people maybe started and stopped and I think that one of them is they reach a limit and they're like, "I don't have anything more to say. I'm embarrassed to admit that I don't really have much more to say about this." You can either stop or you keep going, be uncomfortable with that for a while and you create the conditions under which you develop a point of view, I think. Maybe it seems crazy to folks, but again, that's all my long winded answer to what's kept me going.

I think it's a great answer. Let's pause here. We're gonna be back in just a second with more from Philip. I want to dive in, when we come back, into the really nuts and bolts of positioning your business, so stick around. We're gonna be back in just a few seconds.

Hi, this is Steve. I hope you're enjoying this interview. We've got more to come in a minute, but what I'd love for you to do right now is rate this podcast. Leave us a review. Rate us on iTunes. It'll really help others discover the podcast and help us help other CEOs, other business leaders become unstoppable. If you go to Unstoppableceo.net/iTunes you can find instructions there and links that will take you right to where you need to go to review the podcast. Thanks very much. Now, back to the interview.

5 Ways to Specialize Your Firm

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Welcome back. This is Steve Gordon. I'm here talking with Philip Morgan. Philip, we got off talking about high frequency communication and talking about developing your point of view, which I think is a really good lead in to the whole idea of positioning because I think it's essential to position. Maybe, not so much the high frequency communication. I think that's the method that I think is most effective to get to the point where you've got that really well defined point of view. Now, if we turn a little bit and start talking about how to put it in place, this idea of positioning in someone's business. How do you approach that with your clients when you're working with them?

I was gonna say the glib answer is, well you just decide to focus on it. One type of client or one type of problem you solve and you're done. That's it. I think we can do a lot better than that, though. There's this idea of positioning and I think of that as your reputation among a group of people. I have a reputation as someone who helps people with this process and that's my marketing position. How you get there, I think is you decide to specialize. I'll give a little bit of a mini lecture on the options. I think that might be a good place to start out. Just as we do that, you have to keep in mind that I'm gonna make this sound very clear and very simple, hopefully and I recognize 100% that it is rarely that clear and simple in reality for most people. Although, there's a segment of the population I've noticed that they can hear how to do it and they can just go do it. I don't know what to call them. Super achievers. I'm not quite sure. They're usually very risk tolerant and they usually trust themselves a lot.

I wouldn't hazard a guess as to what percentage of the population fits that bucket, but there's a bucket who are like, "Don't make it so complicated. You decide, you do it and you get the results." I commend you, if you're in that bucket. There's five ways you can specialize. I know that folks who have been listening to your show will have heard David Baker at least talk about horizontal versus vertical specialization and within each of those two, a lot of this is gonna be a little more particular to people who work in technology. There's some sub options, so you can special vertically in an industry. You can say, I want to work with cosmetic dentists. I want to work with additive manufacturing companies. I want to work with management consultants those are all pretty specific verticals and you have to do your due diligence on things like, first of all, do they need what you provide? Is the market the right size? Some things have to check out. Something else that you might think about is what credibility do you have? That's the first way you can specialize.

The second would be to specialize in an audience. A good an example of an audience of companies would be mission driven organizations. You're gonna have mission driven organizations scattered across different verticals, but that's way to group together companies that share something in common and say, we're gonna go after those kinds of companies or we think we create the most value for them or we have the most in common with them, so we're gonna pick that type of company. Horizontally, you can specialize in a business problem. We help companies for whom their lunch is being eaten by Amazon, fight back. That would be an example of a business problem that cuts across different verticals. The other option is what most software developers naturally are inclined to do, that turns out to be the least effective option for building a business and that is they specialize in a technology platform. I'm gonna get really good at developing software in Rails, for example. That's picking a technology platform and that's actually a very vulnerable market position because there's this real boom bust thing that happens with technology platforms. Right now, you say I want to help people implement and customize Salesforce. It's high cotton for you, if that's what you're doing.

Five to seven years from now, maybe Salesforce is not doing so well. Maybe the platform is not as healthy. Maybe they do like Twitter has done and made it really hard for third party developers to integrate. Not saying they're likely to do that, but something like that could happen. That makes your market position less valuable because of stuff that is completely outside of your control. I tend to discourage that fourth option. The fifth option for specialization is to customize how you deliver your services. Sometimes, this looks like productizing your services or sometimes it looks like a really unique service delivery model. I think of Pia Silva who runs this company called Worst of All Design. She does a branding and website package in two days. It's repellent to people who want this high touch, really, I'm gonna say inefficient, but I don't really mean that. I just mean this high touch expensive process for branding, but it's absolute catnip to people who are like, "I just need something simple and it needs to be done, so I can move on and focus on something else." That's the fifth way you can specialize, is customize how you deliver your services.

You're less concerned about narrowing down your focus to a particular vertical or a particular horizontal and you're more concerned about a service deliver model that you know is gonna be catnip to a certain type of client. Go ahead, Steve.

I was just gonna say, you said a really important word there and the word was repellent. I think we're all sometimes way too afraid to go out and do anything that we know is actively going to repel a certain type of client because they might show up. They might. There is the slimmest of chances that someone might show up with a bag of money and give it to us.

I'm gonna interrupt you and say real quick, I'm gonna hasten to say ... Sorry for the interruption, but we all want to repel clients that pay late, that are a pain to work with, that don't take our advice seriously, that hire us to build something and then never launch it or never take it to the next step. We all want to repel those kind of clients, so to me you're already used to thinking about doing that. Now, you're just thinking, well you're just extending that idea to I would like to repel clients. We focus on the loss without focusing on the corresponding gain. You touched on this earlier when you mentioned opportunity. We're just afraid to miss out on any opportunity.

I think that attitude is forged in the fires, if you will of scarcity and a lot of us do start our business with a scarcity like we don't have enough clients to be busy and we maintain that attitude of clients are scarce and hard to find way beyond its useful lifetime. That all relates to what you're talking about, which is that if you can embrace this idea of repelling clients in service of attracting the kind of clients you really want, then it's not about repelling clients. It's just about attracting clients and the repelling clients is just gonna happen naturally. I'm not sure I'm being super clear about that, but I agree. It's a very important idea.

No, I think you're very clear. I always tell our clients, like you want to create this experience in the future client that you're communicating with, that when they see anything that you send to them, they go, "Wow. He's talking about me," or "She's talking about me." If you can give them ... I very literally mean that experience. They look at it and they go, "Oh, wow. That is exactly me."

Yeah, they're looking for the hidden camera in their office that you've placed there.

Yes, and that's easier ... That's not the right way to say it, but it’s actually easy to do assuming that you have made the decision to specialize. Sorry, if I took us down a little bit of a rabbit hole there, but I think it's a really critical topic.

I agree. There's a perfect segue to the next big question. How do you make that decision? I have just described the five decisions you can make in general terms, but how do you actually decide? That's where a lot of my work over the last year or two has been. The mistake I made years ago was to treat everybody the same and to say anybody that's considering making this decision, they just need to pick something and go with it or they need to go after the biggest opportunity or they need to look at their roster of previous client experience, their previous life experience perhaps and find a head start and then build on that head start. I've just described three ways you can go about making that decision. One is, find a head start. One is delegate it to chance. I have jokingly suggested that if you're having trouble deciding, go to the NAICS.com website, print out a list of industries, throw a dart. It'll land on something like finance or manufacturing. Go back to the website, drill into that vertical and find a sub vertical. Print that out, throw a dart at that and now you've made your decision.

Of course, I'm joking. Most people would not take me seriously for good reason, but yet if you refuse to make the decision, I think things are gonna go worse for you than if you delegated it to chance. In a way I'm not joking, but that would be the second way is delegate it to chance and then the third way would be to look for an entrepreneurial opportunity and say something like, I really see a lot of life coaches and these other independent small businesses wanting to create online courses because that's currently a hot topic and I'm gonna help them do that. By the way, I don't really have any experience doing that, but I'll just learn how to do it on the job because surely, I can do a better job than they can if I'm focused on it full time, and they're focused on it part time. By definition, I have more resources to figure it out. That would be going after an entrepreneurial opportunity, which is very risky and beyond the risk tolerance of most of the people I work with.

Most of the people I work with are gonna look for a headstart and that's gonna be the appropriate way that they decide. That's, to me another very interesting aspect of this is there's a know thyself component of understanding how you manage risk in your business and your life and then there's another aspect of, based on that, which opportunities should you exclude from consideration because they're too risky?

I think for most people, there's something that within an hour at the bar or an hour at Starbucks having coffee or something stronger, they can draw on in their past and whether it's an affinity or a particular skill, I think in either of those places, there's something there that you can take and you can move forward with. I know that you feel the entrepreneurial opportunity approach is maybe a little more risky or most people perceive it as being risky and the reason that I think that is, is that they think, my goodness, I'm supposed to be a professional. I'm supposed to have practiced my profession, honed it and developed expertise. While all of that is true, I'm surely not suggesting you go out and do something you're wholly unqualified for. If you're someone who is in the technology world, taking your example of setting up online courses, by the time you get to doing that, the second round for someone, you've now done it 100% more than every client you're every gonna get from here on out.

In other words, you're twice the expert they are. Getting to that point of having enough expertise to deliver a competent service and at the end of the day, provide value for that client, which for most of us in any kind of service business there's two levels of value. There's the value they get from the results, but there's also tremendous value that they get in the time that they have now not had to invest to go create that result on their own. Even if you maybe deliver them a result that isn't the absolute most optimized thing in the world. If it's good enough and still gets them a result, it tends to be a really good value for them because they haven't had to invest in time.

Yeah, I think there's a couple of interesting things there. You described a process and there's making the decision. Let's say you get to that point. You decided, I think I have a head start here or I've always been pretty risk tolerant in terms of spending money and speculatively spending time and energy. Maybe that means I'm a pretty risk tolerant person, so I'm gonna go after some entrepreneurial opportunity. What almost immediately happens is a buyer's regret about the decision. I want to spend a minute talking about that because you haven't had a chance to implement. You've not had a chance to start. You're not changing a website. You're not changing your approach to business development. You've not got to that implementation stage. The decision is not real, yet. You can easily start doing what I've seen a lot of people do, which is entering this recursive loop of self-doubt and questioning the decision because you're lacking any kind of feedback from the marketplace about the decision. You're stuck in your head. Imposter syndrome maybe is a problem for a lot of us. That comes out of nowhere. You have a bout of imposter syndrome and you say, "Gosh, who am I to do this," or "Who am I to claim to be a specialist?" Not even an expert. Just a specialist in some area.

That's a common one or you start to question the basis upon which you've made the decision. You're like, "Well, I don't have any real evidence here. Maybe I just got lucky. Yeah, I've had 10 clients in finance and they were all great, but maybe those are the only 10 good clients out there and I just happened to get them." We start having this almost magical thinking that your decision is somehow flawed or based on bad evidence. That's something people should be aware of and the best remedy I have for that is to have an intermediate stage before you implement the decision for real and maybe you just reach out to some companies that are in the space and you have conversations and you see what it feels like it depends on the person. I can't really give a universal prescription here for what to do about this illness that flares up except that if you're pretty detail oriented and you're not a big risk taker, the main thing that will help at that point is some evidence to get you out of your head and get you in conversation with people in this area that you decided to focus on.

Then, you can move more, I think boldly and with less reservations into implementing it, which is making it real in the world. That takes time. It's not an overnight thing. We've talked about some of the things that happen very quickly, this clarity about who you're focusing on and so forth, but like you said, Steve, it takes time to build up the confidence in your own expertise unless you're just one of those rare people who just seem to not question themselves that way.

It's so funny you mentioned that. I'm listening to you, sitting here thinking, yeah okay. I'm eight years into building this business and I remember about six years ago thinking, boy did I pick the wrong direction. I was almost drawn back to that time when I felt really unsure of things. I think it's a natural part of the process.

If I can jump in, it's a mark of intelligence, that whole Dunning Kruger study. It's a mark of intelligence if you question your own capability. It's usually a good thing, but it can also be a self-defeating thing if you give it too much air time in your own thinking.

I think for most people, and you mentioned it a moment ago, the idea of getting caught in your own head. For most of us, we get caught in our own head, get in this echo chamber going around in our brain and there are very few markets that are truly limited. I have a good friend who sells training software to all of the states in the United States. He's only really got about 50 potential clients. Probably not that many. I think there are a couple of states that actually don't use this type of training. He's got fewer than that. That's a tight, scarce market. For most of us, though we're dealing in markets where there are so many clients that even as we specialize, they're more than we can ever serve in not just one lifetime, but in 10 lifetimes. I think it's useful to remind yourself that. The way that I went about that, because I gotta tell you it really hit me hard about two years into the business thinking, I've overspecialized.

I was having a conversation with a friend and she said, "What are you worried about? There's seven and a half billion people on the planet. There's plenty of people out there and enough of them do what you need to do that you probably wouldn't have to leave our little town." I lived in a pretty small town in Florida. You'd be just fine. I started thinking about that, so I put a little thing up on the wall behind my computer monitor that I could see and I left it up there for about six months that said, "Remember, there's seven and a half billion people here. You're gonna be okay." Just having that little reminder to get yourself out of your head will help you get through that, I think and keep going and that's the trick, because you've got to figure out how to get out of it and keep moving forward because it can become paralyzing.

There's plenty of evidence. It's not always easy to interpret, but it's not that hard to find. At least here in the United States, US government has lots of data on how many businesses are there in manufacturing that have between this number of employees and this number of employees? That's in what's called the American Fact Finder. Again, navigating their interface is not a joy. Quite the opposite, but it's there. It's there if you look for it, but we have all these cognitive biases that cause us to under appreciate the amount of data that's out there that can help us make these decisions and we do that because we can't spend an unlimited time thinking about every little aspect of the world. The world is a very big complicated place, but that general idea that it's probably an iceberg, you're probably seeing the tip of it and there's much more of it under the service, tends to hold true and I've only seen a few people who can just trust that idea to be true. I know a guy in Turkey who, here's what he does. He helps executives at a certain type of investment company give better presentations.

That's very specific in terms of what he does and he decided he was just gonna focus on the market in Istanbul. This is a person I've interviewed, so you can hear more about this in the interview I did on my podcast, but that was a market of six clients for him. That takes real courage and real trust in this idea that the market's actually bigger, but that's inevitably what happens. You get into it and you say, "Oh, wow. I didn't realize ... " I mean, it's a number of ways it could go from that point. "I didn't realize what I do is equally valuable for not just this type of investment company, but this other type of bank." Sorry, I meant to say bank there and my voice cracked. "What I do, there's actually 500 of these companies worldwide. I'm happy to get on a plane, if they'll pay my rate, but there were only six in Istanbul," or "I thought there were six, but there's actually a few that don't really advertise, so I didn't know about them." Anyway, I'm not trying to bore folks. I'm just saying it's almost always a bigger part of that iceberg, if you know where to look for it and if you are terrified of this decision, then I recommend that you get on a diving suit and see what the underneath of the iceberg looks like before you decide.

If you can just trust yourself and your instincts, then the chances that you will choose wrongly are vanishingly low. Just make the choice and go for it. Sounds like that may be what you did, Steve.

Yeah, something like that. Well, Philip we could probably go on and on for hours and I know we're about at the end of our schedule time and I want to be respectful of your time. For folks listening, whether you've recognized it or not at this stage, there is some real gold in what we've just talked about. I encourage you to go back and listen to it multiple times and I also encourage you to go and connect with Philip, particularly if you're in any kind of technical business. Philip, what's the best place for people to go and find you?

I like folks to dip a toe into this idea at positioningcrashcourse.com. There's a free email course they can sign up for. I feel like that's a good starting point. It's not so much about me as it is about this idea and whether now is a good time for you to make these changes to your business. If you've been in business for more than a year or two, it probably is, but the best way is to learn more about it at positioningcrashcourse.com.

Perfect. We will link that in the show notes, so if you're listening to this and didn't catch that, just go to unstoppableceo.net. You'll find all of that in the show notes and it'll be linked there. You can find it easily. Philip, it's been an absolute pleasure. Like I said, I could go on and on this topic for hours with you and have a great time doing it. Thank you so much for investing some time with me today and I know that for everybody listening, I know they got a ton of value out of it, so thanks again.

My pleasure, Steve. Thanks for having me.

Paul Maskill | From Business Operator to Business Owner

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Sixty to 80 hour workweeks… no freedom… scrambling for every dollar. Like many business owners, Paul Maskill found himself working too hard for too little return, financial or personal.

Then he made key changes in how he ran his business so he could reduce his workload, boost profits, and live the true dream of an entrepreneur.

These days, Paul coaches other entrepreneurs to escape the grind by making the most efficient use of their time.

Check out our interview to find out…

  • The systems you need so that your business can survive without you

  • The easy way to start delegating

  • Tips for escaping the “this is how I’ve always done it” mindset

  • How to figure out your definition of freedom – and what you need to achieve it

  • And more

Listen to Steve Gordon and Paul Maskill now:

Episode TimeLine:

00:11 Today Steve speaks with Paul Maskill. An investor, coach and someone who actually sold his service business when it was profitable and made a profit!.

01:41 Paul sold his business, strangely when it was going well. He tells us his backstory which heavily features the financial crash.

05:51 Steve and Paul talk about how they both come to the decision of leaving their jobs to start a business.

07:50 Paul asks the question, how are you really spending your time?

13:50 Paul talks about creating a “Brain Dump” when trying to find what work to delegate and how he created training videos.

18:53 Steve explains how he uses training videos.

22:01 Paul explains how shifting your mindset is the most important aspect of moving from working in your company to becoming a CEO and delegating your work.

24:53 Paul explains how you have to know what your definition of freedom is.

27:29 Paul tells us how to get in touch with him and also about his mastermind.

Mentioned in the show:

Gavin Zuchlinski | Where to Get Your Best Business Ideas

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You have a potential product… service… or tool. Or even just an idea. Gavin Zuchlinski, founder of Acuity Scheduling, says that you shouldn’t try to develop it on your own. He knows you have a resource right under your nose that’ll help you create a winning – and profitable – concept.

The lessons Gavin learned when creating his scheduling software apply to every industry, in every niche. He also has tips for how to optimize your schedule to maximize the value your customer gets – and the money you make.

By the way, Gavin offers a 45-day free trial of his scheduling software at the end of the call, so stick around until the end.

Listen in to find out…

  • The #1 rule to make any tool or service you create successful

  • How to get in the mind of your customers… when you’re not your ideal customer

  • Why intention can be right but implementation can fall short if don’t take this step

  • The power of continuous improvement

  • And more

Listen to Steve Gordon and Gavin Zuchlinski now:

Episode TimeLine:

00:11 Today Steve speaks with Gavin Zuchlinski, the founder and developer of Acuity Scheduling.

01:15 Gavin originally developed Acuity not for the masses, just to help his mom.

03:10 Gavin talks about the struggles he had in developing Acuity, like running his business from his iPhone because he didn't have internet.

10:46 Gavin explains what the ideal customer for Acuity is and how he refined the service by simply asking his mother.

17:30 Gavin talks about the many different types of companies that he was surprised to find use Acuity.

21:11 Steve explains how Acuity has helped his business.

22:29 Gavin explains the other really useful features that Acuity has outside of scheduling.

25:10 Steve and Gavin talk about the supposed impersonality of dealing with scheduling platforms and how it doesn't really matter to the customer.

28:44 Steve explains the benefits of having Acuity setting up barriers between you and clients and how the system can say “no” for you.

32:58 Gavin let us know how to find more about Acuity by giving the Unstoppable CEO listeners their own link and extended offfer.

Mentioned in the show:

Pam Wasley | The Gig Economy Sector You Should Know About

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As an entrepreneur, you can feel pretty lonely. But you don’t have to face your business challenges alone, says strategic consultant Pam Wasley. She highlights a specific type of networking you can use to identify the real issues you’re facing and figure out how to overcome them.

Pam also talks about a little-known sector of the gig economy that can help struggling companies boost profits and stay competitive. This is a huge opportunity for consultants and professional service providers.

Be sure to listen to the end, when Pam offers a copy of her book and several more freebies.

You’ll find out…

  • Why “talking to yourself” can help you solve your biggest problems

  • The right way to fire somebody – it’s a positive for you and them

  • How to try before you buy with new employees

  • Questions you can use to make sure consultants actually know their stuff

  • And more

Listen to Steve Gordon and Pam Wasley now:

Episode TimeLine:

00:11 Today Steve speaks with Pam Wasley, a serial entrepreneur who has advised 100’s of companies and is the founder of Cerius Executives.

01:25 Pam explains that it was boredom that started her off in entrepreneurship, going from selling clothes to Telecommunications to Cerius Executives.

05:22 Pam talks about how she got over initial start difficulties when realising that other people must have had the same problems she had.

07:16 Steve talks about how being an entrepreneur is a lonely job. He cures this by attending mastermind groups.

09:45 Pam talks about the importance of not thinking you know it all.

13:22 Steve talks about letting employees go.

14:29 Pam explains how firing someone can be the best thing for them.

17:13 Pam explains what the Gig Economy is.

22:15 Steve talks about how we can now plug into employees abilities rather than hiring the person outright.

23:40 Pam talks about the benefits of the try before you buy aspect of the Gig Economy.

25:05 Pam explains how to source great executives.

28:45 Pam explains the different types of companies benefit the most from hiring executives.

30:55 Pam gives her tips on finding an excellent mid term executive.

33:26 Pam explains how to get in contact with her and also gives the Unstoppable CEO listeners a fantastic bonus!

Mentioned in the show:

David C. Baker | Building a Business Based on Your Expertise

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One of the most painful things any expert or consultant can do is… say no to opportunity. But it must be done. Author and advisor David C. Baker, who’s been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and more, explains how doing so will actually make your business more successful (and ensure you enjoy your work even more, too).

Building a business based on your expertise requires a unique approach. And David highlights some of the best practices for making sure potential clients recognize what you bring to the table – and pay accordingly.

In this episode, you’ll learn…

  • The 4 common mistakes of entrepreneurs – and how to avoid them
  • One of the best ways to organize your thoughts and formulate new ideas
  • The dangers of over-delivering to a client
  • 2 ways to gain expertise none of your competitors have
  • How to ensure you can charge a premium for your services
  • And more

Listen to Steve Gordon and David C. Baker now:

Episode TimeLine:

00:11 Today Steve speaks with David C Baker. David is an author of 5 books, a speaker and has advised over 900 firms.

01:58 David tells us his background and how he became known as the expert of experts.

05:36 David tells us about how he overcame issues such as depression and economic problems. He explains how writing helped him succeed.

09:34 “You don’t know what you really think until you write it”.

14:19 David tells us about his book, The Business Of Expertise. He highlights 2 major issues that work against us.

17:36 Trying to stand out from a field of experts is difficult. David tells us how to do it.

19:20 Steve explains the “Doctor Analogy”.

22:58 Confidence, Opportunity & Capacity. David explains each.

26:18 Steve talks about the real issue of being a expert but having a lack of confidence.

27:54 David explains why “your size should always be less than your opportunity”.

31:31 David explains his view on Positioning.

38:06 If you are having trouble saying no to more work, David has a solution for you.

41:33 Steve explains why it's fine to change if its not working for you.

43:42 David tells us why he admires experts.

Mentioned in the show

Cindy Schulson | The Power of Heart-Centered Marketing

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Working on projects you love, with people you love working with. That’s the dream of an entrepreneur. But if you don’t market yourself and your services the right way, that goal could be out of reach, says Cindy Schulson.

Cindy specializes in helping coaches and consultants use “heart-centered” marketing to stand out from a crowd of competitors with a compelling message.

She offers practical, actionable strategies to help you appeal to the logical and emotional sides of your ideal prospects.

Tune in to discover…

  • The 4 layers of every effective marketing message

  • How to stop being a “commodity” with your business

  • The power of speaking your truth

  • Why most business fail within 5 years – and how to avoid that fate

  • And more

Listen to Steve Gordon and Cindy Schulson now:

Episode Timeline:

00:11 Today Steve speaks with Cindy Schulson. Cindy helps coaches and consultants to stand out from the crowd by marketing with heart instead of hype.

00:59 Cindy gives us an overview of her work history and why she moved from corporate to entrepreneurship.

02:40 Cindy tells us about her early struggles in strategic marketing.

04:48 Steve talks about the natural evolution of a startup.

06:06 Cindy explains how she learnt to build from her success.

07:39 Cindy created an ebook and then benefited from her own teachings.

08:59 "People buy on emotion and justify with logic”.

12:20 Cindy talks about creating a messaging platform and the 4 different kinds of messaging.

14:36 Cindy tells us to put our heart or truth into our marketing.

15:55 Steve talks about the problems of commoditization and give us an example of how he put the truth into his marketing.

18:02 Cindy gives an example of a male client putting his heart into his messaging.

19:18 Steve explains that some many businesses have no real message at all.

21:19 Cindy talks about common mistakes in messaging.

22:09 Cindy gives us a link to her free course.

Mentioned in the show:

Blair Enns | Stop Selling Yourself Short with Clients

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Here’s a hard truth from my guest, Blair Enns of Win Without Pitching:

You’ve probably been undercharging for your services for a very long time. Let’s change that right now.

Blair, a sales trainer and pricing expert specializing in helping creative professionals, is revolutionizing the way they – and professional service providers, too – sell their services.

He has techniques for taking back the power in your relationships with clients that will maximize your growth and profits.

He’ll also share…

  • A systemized way to set prices for any project or any client

  • The “Meet in the Middle” technique for getting the fee you want

  • Why taking any project that comes your way loses you money

  • How to sell your value instead of your time

  • The right way to set up retainer agreements

  • And more

Listen to Steve Gordon and Blair Enns now:

Episode Timeline:

00:11 Today Steve speaks with Blair Enns, the founder and CEO of Win Without Pitching, an expert in the field of creative service pricing.

01:46 Blair explains how he became an expert in creative professional selling.

05:16 In creative services, the buyer has the power.

09:36 Blair gives us an example of a client who looked for a challenge outside of his focus.

12:50 Blair goes through the major principles in his book, Pricing Creativity.

14:23 Price the client, not the job.

19:50 Steve talks about the most common push back to this pricing strategy.

21:30 Blair explains why we should behave like an expert.

25:28 Blair explains the Anchor High pricing strategy.

29:25 Blair explains why you should really rethink retainers.

Mentioned in the show:

Tom Schwab | Using Podcasts to Get More Clients and Customers

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Podcasts are the ideal way to get more leads and customers for your business, says Tom Schwab. Tom, author of Podcast Guest Profits, reveals how to make sure you get in front of the right audience when podcasting… and how to get them to know, like, and trust you.

It’s all about getting in on the conversation with your ideal customers, whether it’s on your own podcast or being a guest on somebody else’s show.

Your audience is out there but increasingly difficult to reach with traditional marketing, explains Tom. But with podcasting you can exponentially increase your reach quite easily.

Listen in to find out…

  • A step-by-step plan for using podcasts as a lead generation tool

  • The 10-minute prep ritual for a podcast guest spot

  • The 3 “M’s” you must have in place before podcast marketing

  • Why running into business barriers can be a good thing

  • How to leverage podcasts to boost other marketing efforts

  • And more

Listen to Steve Gordon and Tom Schwab now:

Tom Schwab TimeLine

00:11 Today Steve speaks with Tom Schwab of Interview Valet. Tom helps his clients get profits and led generation directly from podcasting.

01:20 Tom tells us about his background and the difference between systems and processes.

04:14 “There are profits on the other side of problems”.

06:05 Tom explains the importance of stepping back from a problem and getting other peoples advice on the issue.

08:06 Steve tells us about a time he actually listed out all the bad things that could happen before making a decision.

11:06 Tom gives us examples of how podcasts can be used as a lead generation tool.

14:11 Steve explains how easy and beneficial podcasting is.

16:50 Tom tells us what his favourite Renee Zellweger movie is and why?

17:42 Steve explains the power of podcasting regularly.

19:16 Tom gives an example of how podcasting a lot works.

21:38 Podcasting is the easiest referral strategy in the world”.

23:00 Tom explains how referrals are all about relationships.

24:43 Tom breaks down the 3 M’s: The Message, The Market and The Machine.

27:18 Steve talks about the power of the human voice in podcasting.

29:28 Tom listens to his podcasts at 1.5 times the speed. He explains how audio is the richest medium.

32:05 Tom gies the Unstoppable CEO listeners a fantastic gift!

Mentioned in the show

Jonathan Stark | The Better Alternative to Hourly Billing

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If you’re an independent professional service provider this is a must-listen, especially if you’re still stuck in the hourly billing trap. Yes, it’s a trap, says my guest Jonathan Stark. One that robs you of time and money.

Jonathan, a former software developer, advocates a value-based pricing model, which leads to better quality work and better client relationships. But getting paid this way requires a whole different approach to marketing your services and how you talk to potential clients.

Tune in to find out…

  • A simple way to “productize” your services

  • The easy way to eliminate worry about scope creep

  • Why you don’t have to profit in the traditional sense with hourly billing

  • How to make sure you don’t work “too much” on a fixed-bid project

  • And more

Listen to Steve Gordon and [Guest First and Last Name] now:

Jonathan Stark TimeLine

00:11 Today Steve speaks with Jonathan Stark, the author of Hourly Billing is Nuts.

01:26 Jonathan talks about when he realised that billing by the hour was a terrible idea.

05:40 Jonathan talks about the transition to billing for quality.

07:29 Steve explains hour billing per hour was the first pyramid scheme.

10:57 Jonathan discuss at length about cost, price and value.

17:56 Jonathan talks about his unusual process of trying to talk his potential client OUT of hiring him...in order to get hired.

27:46 Jonathan talks about the pushback points from clients on billing for value.

30:25 John talks about the billing practices of small businesses tacking 15% on for scope creep.

33:16 Steve speaks about even more benefits of not billing by the hour.

35:14 John talks about the practice of hoarding hours in the legal profession and how value based billing creates a rush service.

38:20 Jonathan talks about whether or not you should bill a client for needing to learn a new skill on the job.

43:13 Steve talks about having the courage to have a deeper conversation with a the client about the job.

45:39 Jonathan talks about how billing for value changes the tone of the conversation with the client and not to try it right away but instead try his method of practicing value billing.

50:35 Jonathan tells us about his free email course, Value Pricing Bootcamp.

Mentioned in the show

Josh Fonger | "Boring” Processes that Will Make Your Business Thrive

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As a business owner are you… stressed out? Feel like you don’t have enough time to get things done? Are you not making enough money… and your business’s growth has stalled? Business transformation expert Josh Fonger, who uses the Work the System method, wants to help.

What he suggests isn’t glamorous. The tips he reveals in this interview are actually quite simple… but very effective.

And they allow you to step away from the day-to-day and make your business more profitable than ever.

Check out the interview now to discover…

  • How to avoid the traps a typical business owner falls into

  • When doing “less” can actually make you more money

  • The dangers of the Hero Complex

  • The simple “mechanics” of your business you must work on now

  • And more

Listen to Steve Gordon and Josh Fonger now:

mJosh Fonger TimeLine

00:11 Today Steve speaks with Josh Fonger, co-owner of Work The System and someone who has personally coached over 500 businesses.

01:37 Josh was a real estate developer until the crash when he moved into consulting. It was there that he met Sam Carpenter.

04:30 Josh tells us how you can grow your business by using “the simple mechanics of making more and working less”.

07:06 Josh tells us about the “heavy lifting “ phase where you hate where you are and you’d love where you’d want to be.

08:47 Josh talks about how “lifting” ourselves above your business is the first step in growing it.

11:39 Josh gives us a client case study of how to breakdown the pieces of your business in order not to become overwhelmed.

17:21 Josh gives a great if unusual case study of how GP refined his practice and grew his business exponentially.

19:57 Josh explains Strategic Direction.

22:34 Josh talks about Sam Carpenter’s call centres.

23:35 Josh and Steve explain Operation Goals.

27:05 Josh gives another client example of Operating Goals.

31:29 Josh explains that just because you’re the boss doesn’t mean you have to be the hero and do everything.

33:23 ”Don’t write down and then hire them, hire them and get them to write it down down”

37:37 Josh explains how a companies goals should filter thought the employees, not just the owner.

42:46 Josh tells us how to get a free copy of Work The System and how best to get in touch with him.

Mentioned in the show

Joe Kashurba | A Blueprint for Scaling Up a Professional Service Business

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If you’re a consultant or other professional service provider, you have to listen to what Joe Kashurba has to say in this interview. If you want to create a thriving business that brings in 2X, 5X, or 10X what you’re making now, this web designer turned business consultant lays out the road map.

Joe says to find breakthrough growth you need to do two things: take on employees (but not in the traditional sense) and… get rid of some of your customers. He explains how that works, as well as …

  • Why you shouldn’t charge hourly fees

  • The two-part process for charging premium prices for your services

  • The who, what, and why you need to know before you do any marketing

  • 5+ benefits of a virtual office… and the dangers of a “real” office

  • The step you must take to make your business scalable

  • And more

Listen to Steve Gordon and Joe Kashurba now:

Joe Kashurba TimeLine

00:11 Today Steve speaks with Joe Kashurba, a web design guru and expert in scaling up business.

01:24 Joe tells us how he first started his business in high school video taping his his friends rock band.

03:04 Joe explains the struggles he had in the beginning and how marketing consistently was such a help.

04:03 Steve talks about Dan Kennedy.

05:23 Joe continues in describing other early stage issues and how he got too busy.

07:07 Steve talks about the expenses of scaling up to an office and how much better it is having a virtual office.

08:50 Joe explains why it is important in giving clear instructions in running a virtual office.

12:08 Steve and Joe talk about the virtual office stigma.

15:25 Joe talks about 10 Xing your business.

17:40 Steve talks further about 10 Xing.

18:55 Joe explains the other steps he takes in 10 Xing your business.

21:48 Steve talks about productised services.

25:54 Joe talks about getting a marketing strategy that works.

27:26 Steve explains the importance of the marketing message.

29:14 Joe explains the “who, what & why” and oil drilling.

32:53 Steve talks about getting a unique marketing strategy that works for you.

36:07 Joe expands on doing marketing tests.

39:07 Joe talks about one of his clients increasing her prices for no less work.

43:02 Joe tells us about the assembly line model.

Joe tells us how best to get in contact with him

Mentioned in the show

Michael Wenderoth | What Most Business Coaches Don't Tell You

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Beware the “Kumbaya” School of workplace and leadership success, says my guest this week, Michael Wenderoth. This executive coach with an international client base offers effective, practical strategies for getting ahead at work or in your own business.

Michael says you can do it without being cutthroat and without sacrificing your integrity.

These are tactics you definitely haven’t heard before. And they’re ideal for CEOs, owners, executives, and entrepreneurs trying to navigate an increasingly complicated workplace environment, office politics, and more.

Check out the interview to find out…

  • Why nice guys or gals don’t have to finish last – if they do this…

  • The reason simply working hard is never enough

  • The “North Star” you need to keep you on track in the toughest times

  • 4+ primary habits of the most successful people

  • And more...

Listen to Steve Gordon and Michael Wenderoth now:

Michael Wenderoth TimeLine

00:11 Today Steve speaks with Michael Wenderoth, an executive coach who works with executives in the workplace to map out their career paths in the their companies.

01:24 Michael gives us an overview of his career and what drove him to be where he is today..

04:34 Michael has made many moves in his life in both career and geography. He explains how action drives insight.

07:43 Steve and Michael discuss the importance of getting comfortable outside your comfort zone.

09:00 Steve talks about how different he is now then he was as a kid and how to overcome fear when starting out in business.

14:48 Michael talks about his unique approach to power in the workplace.

18:53 Steve talks about the pursuit of happiness.

20:44 Michael explains to us why we all need to win!

23:41 Michael explains how he helps people rise in a company by creating a clear path for them.

29:03 Michael and Steve discuss politics in the workplace and how to deal with it.

35:15 Michael tells us how best to get in contact with him..

Mentioned in the show

Dan Sullivan | Grow Your Business With "Who" Not "How"

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Too many entrepreneurs find themselves stuck for two reasons, says Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach:

  1. They don’t trust employees to do meaningful work in their business.
  2. They don’t understand how collaborating with “competitors” can be a real game changer.

But, says Dan, to grow your business 5 times, 10 times, or even 100 times where it is today, you can’t go it alone. No amount of hard work will get you there. You need other people.

Dan unpacks that concept in this episode and a whole lot more. Tune in to find out…

  • How you can get other people to help you develop new product ideas

  • Your critical – but surprising – role as the founder of a business

  • The power of multi-generational friendships

  • The worst thing you can do when setting prices

  • And more…

Listen now…

TimeLine

00:11 Today Steve speaks with Dan Sullivan, the founder of Strategic Coach and author.

01:41 Dan gives us a brief overview of his working life.

05:12 Dan talks about Strategic Coach and his new game changer, how he helps entrepreneurs and even an automatic pub!

13:41 Dan talks about 10Xing your business and how he is against retirement for entrepreneurs and forced retirement for others.

16:57 Dan has projects lined up until he is 99! He tells us how he’ll achieve that by using stem cell therapy.

18:20 Dan talks about the importance of setting realistic time goals and discusses the founding fathers.

23:44 Dan and Steve talk about how you can live longer...by just wanting to . 22:57 Dan explains his new Game Changer Workshop.

32:40 Dan talks about his past mistakes in pricing gives us a great baseball analogy along with his patented Sullivan pricing formula.

39:29 Dan turns the tables and starts interviewing Steve!

43:00 Dan is writing a book a quarter! He then gives us a free book!

Mentioned in the show