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

Joe Fier | Tearing Your Business Down... And Building It Back Up

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Starting a business from scratch and turning a profit can be challenging enough. Joe Fier, along with business partner Matt Wolfe, go that extra mile. With their online company, Evergreen Profits, they constantly shift their business model – even if they’ve been profitable and successful.

The idea is to morph the business to reach a larger audience and bigger, more predictable profits. Discover how they've done it and what you can apply to your business.

Joe reveals how they make these big transitions work, as well as…

  • Why you should build momentum instead of swing for the fences
  • The best way to find out what your customers want
  • How a weekly “audit” can reveal what your business is missing
  • Why you should always start the conversation with your prospects
  • A solid strategy for turning cold traffic into reliable revenue (this is very different than what most people are doing right now)
  • And even more...

Listen to Steve Gordon and Joe Fier now:

Joe Fier TimeLine

00:11 Today Steve speaks with Joe Fier, who along with his business partner Matt Wolf, co founded Evergreen Profits.

01:18 Joe tells us how his business partner Matt is the ying to his yang and how they started Evergreen.

04:39 Joe explains the highs and lows of his business how he’s learnt that it's about just keeping it steady.

06:29 Joe explains how the twists and turns of business has led to new opportunities.

09:35 Joe talks about the importance of having a business partner who thinks differently than you do.

13:01 Joe talks about how he made a shift in his business by taking a year away from it and “road mapping”. He explains their google strategy.

18:43 Joe talks about Google Adword retargeting.

21:19 Joe talks about why he reduced his client group to around 10.

23:07 Steve breaks down what Joe and Matt have actually accomplished by backfilling their revenue.

28:02 Joe tells us how best to get in contact with him and get his content.

Mentioned in the show

If you enjoyed this epidose, please leave a review on itunes.

John Chichester | Strategies for Selling Your Business

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The dream of most entrepreneurs is to one day sell their business and then sail off into retirement or another venture with a tidy sum.

But unlike financial planner John Chichester, who recently sold his business to a major player in his industry, many face a rude awakening when they put it on the market. They’re unable to get their asking price… sometimes they can’t find a buyer at all.

It doesn’t have to be that way. And in this episode we discuss what you should be doing right now to ensure your business is sellable, especially if you’re a professional services provider.

You’ll discover…

  • Strategies for building equity (and how to tell if you don’t have any right now)
  • Why “win-win” is the best way to approach negotiations
  • The importance of candor and openness for both buyer and seller
  • Navigating the emotional impact of selling your business
  • And more

Listen to Steve Gordon and John Chichester now:

John Chichester TimeLine

00:11 Today Steve speaks with financial advisor, John Chichester.

01:44 John takes us through how he ended up where he is today in business.

07:43 John takes us through his thought process over the 18 months he spent in selling his business.

11:38 John is 49 now. He talks about how think that he would sell his business at the end of his career but cam 20 years earlier.

16:25 John made sure that when his company was being bought that his team would be part of the deal. He explains why he did that.

20:05 John talks about the pricing of his business.

24:23 Steve talks about the other, tougher side of acquisition and how John attracted the right buyer.

30:26 John talkes about being the quarterback for his business and how he changed positions.

33:35 Steve talks about the vital importance of finding the person you need to rely on to ask the right questions during an acquisition.

36:39 John tells us how best to get in touch with him.

Mentioned in the show

  • (http://TBAZ.com)
  • John.chichester@tbaz.com
  • TrustBank
  • Olney
  • PWC
  • Lehman Bros

If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a review on itunes.

Shaun Buck | Finding the “Reason Why” for Your Business

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Entrepreneurs get into business to make money, at least at first. But, says Shaun Buck, as your business grows that usually stops being a motivating factor.

Shaun, owner of The Newsletter Pro, shares how he discovered his new “reason why” and how it radically transformed his business. He also outlines how he uses a unique and powerful referral marketing strategy to land his best clients.

Be sure to listen until the end – Shaun has an awesome gift for you.

Check out the interview and discover…

  • How incremental improvements can drive rapid growth
  • Where to focus when the going gets tough
  • Why your “reason why” should evolve over time
  • Ways to land your most profitable clients with referrals
  • A strategy for doubling profits in four months
  • And more

Listen now to Steve Gordon and Shaun Buck...

Shaun Buck TimeLine

00:11 Today Steve speaks with Serial entrepreneur Shaun Buck, the founder of Newsletter Pro.

01:26 Shaun tells us how when scaling his business it pulled in many directions. By focusing its attention on fewer leads rather than more, he doubled the business in 4 months.

04:39 Shaun tells us how money was a motivation for him but not anymore.

06:34 Shaun tells us his motivational reasons for getting up in the morning.

09:23 Shaun tells us about his charitable work and how is xmas charity came about.

11:22 Steve and Shaun talk about the reasons for starting their own businesses evolved.

14:58 Shaun explains why you shouldn’t cheap out on referrals and why is giving actual TESLAS to his.

19:14 Shaun gives us a real life customer referral situation and the logic behind his decision.

25:15 Shaun talks about the benefits of a good referral partner.

28:38 Shaun tells us about his upcoming book about scaling and growth.

30:42 Text CEO to 208-269-9111

Mentioned in the show

Shannon & Bryan Miles | The Attitude You Need to Truly Own Your Business

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The fastest growing workforce these days is a virtual one. And my guests Shannon and Bryan Miles were instrumental in that sea change in the world of work.

Employees working from home. Freelancers around the world being hired to collaborate on projects. Entrepreneurs starting “kitchen table” businesses and then hiring folks to work online as needed.

With their company, BELAY, Shannon and Bryan have pioneered many of the best practices in virtual work over the last eight years. Along the way, they’ve figured out how to grow their business without it controlling their lives.

Check out the conversation and discover…

  • The difference between running and owning a business
  • How to figure out the best ROI from an investment of your time
  • The 3 things you must do to empower others on your team
  • What should be the central theme of your company culture
  • Why mistakes aren’t a big deal – and how to handle them

Listen now to Steve Gordon with Shannon and Byran Miles

Mentioned in this episode

Tom Kulzer | When “Losing Control” Is a Good Thing for Your Business

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Marketing automation is a buzzword these days. But, says AWeber founder and CEO Tom Kulzer, a lot of companies are going about it all wrong.

He should know. Aweber has been a pioneer in this field, along with email marketing, for its 20-year history. Its 120,000+ customers send out 4.5 billion emails every month.

Tom shares some best practices, as well as how he overcame the challenges that come with going from one-man shop to 120 employees. One of his biggest tips for CEOs: be in charge but don’t be in control.

During our conversation he explains what that means and goes into…

  • Why you should never be the smartest person in the room
  • How ego can sabotage your company and its growth
  • The alternative to “trial and error” for solving problems
  • The #1 thing companies get wrong about marketing automation
  • A simple trick for writing more engaging emails that get opens and clicks
  • And more…

Listen now to Steve Gordon and Tom Kulzer...

Mentioned in This Episode

Nathan Hirsch | Best Practices for Hiring and Working with Freelancers

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Your business is growing steadily. But you’re stressed because you can’t handle the workload… and you’re hesitant to hire someone. My guest this week, Freeeup.com founder Nathan Hirsch, specializes in helping entrepreneurs find the right team to take their company to the next level.

You’ll learn where to find the diamonds in the rough and avoid the horror stories that scared you away from hiring in the past. And, by the way, we’re not talking about full-time, in-office employees. This is outsourcing – but not like you’ve ever seen.

It’s time to get your hours back and focus on the parts of the business you love.

Listen to our conversation to find out how to…

  • Hire people who are more talented than you
  • Turn the weaknesses of your business into strengths
  • Avoid the #1 reason freelancers fail
  • Form productive working relationships with an outsourced team
  • Follow the 3 pillars of working effectively with remote workers
  • And more

Listen now to Steve Gordon and Nathan Hirsch

Timeline

00:11 Today Steve speaks with Nathan Hirsch, an entrepreneur, an expert in remote hiring and e-commerce and CEO of Freeeup.com.

01:23 Nathan needed more beer more in college so he started his first business in selling books online.

05:19 Nathan explains how he vets the people working on Freeeup.

06:47 Nathan explains scaling up and how when he didn’t hire people he got destroyed during a busy period.

08:55 Nathan talks about the motivating factors in getting the most out workers on his site.

11:15 Nathan explains his hiring process.

13:41 Nathan gives us some scenarios as to the different types of freelancers out there and how he works or will not work with them.

17:35 Nathan tells us how you can move your workload to hired help on Freeeup.

21:30 Nathan gives us an in-depth explanation of the Freeeup vetting process and how attitud and communication are the most important traits.

25:48 Nathan explains the difference between the traditional staff employee and having a freelance staff.

28:09 Nathan tells us how to start on Freeeup and how to get in contact with him and what is the average type of person who uses the site.

Mentioned in the show

Jordan Harbinger | How to Rebuild a Business Using Your Network

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Many people think they know what good networking looks like. But Jordan Harbinger maintains that most approach this vital business tool all wrong, don’t do it enough, and don’t have the right goals in mind.

Jordan recently discovered the real value of his network, when he suddenly separated from his partners and the podcast he started and built to a top podcast--The Art of Charm.

Jordan, now the host of The Jordan Harbinger Show, quickly found the reality of the quip "you'll discover who your friends really are" (and what he discovered will surprise you).

Jordan is an expert in social influence. Over the years, he’s discovered how to form effective business relationships that lead to a financial payoff – often in a way you never expect.

If you’ve always shied away from networking or felt it didn’t work, you need to listen to this interview. Jordan has proven strategies for anybody in any industry to build “social capital” you can call on to grow your business. And his story will inspire you to build (or strenthen) your relationships today.

You’ll also discover…

  • Why you’re never “ready” to start networking – so do it now
  • The reasons you shouldn’t keep score when you’re networking
  • The key to overcoming the awkwardness of networking
  • Ways to turn your network into your business development army
  • The power of the double opt-in introduction
  • The ABG Rule for building business relationships
  • And so much more...

Listen to Steve Gordon and Jordan Harbinger

Jordan Harbinger | How to Rebuild a Business Using Your Network

I'm excited to be here with Jordan Harbinger. Jordan is an icon of the podcasting industry and if you hadn't heard of him yet, this is an absolute treat. Jordan always had an affinity for social influence, for interpersonal dynamics and social engineering. He's helped private companies test the security of their communication systems and worked with law enforcement agencies and been doing that since before he could drive. He spent years abroad in Europe, the developing world, South America, Eastern Europe, all over the place. He learned to speak several different languages, worked in all kinds of governments and NGOs and even been kidnapped twice. Maybe he'll tell us how that happened. He'll tell you that the real reason that he's still here and alive and kicking is because of his ability to talk his way into and out of just about any situation. Hopefully, you won't have to talk your way out of this situation, Jordan, welcome.

Thanks for having me. I appreciate the opportunity.

I'm absolutely thrilled to have you. Why don't you just take a couple of minutes? We've been through your bio, but why don't you give everybody a little bit of context for what got you to this stage of your career.

When I was younger, I went through school. I was one of those guys that was like, “I'm just going to teach myself geometry on the geometry exam.” Then I realized that there were a lot of smart kids in my high school, so I had to work a little harder. I got to college, I realized everybody was smart, but everybody was drinking a lot. I couldn't outsmart everyone, but I could probably just outwork them by working a little and not drinking a lot or just working a little. I outworked every one and I got to law school and everybody was smart and hard worker, so I just said, “Can't get smarter in a short period of time, can outwork everyone.” I went from being the guy who just studies sometimes to the guy who studies sixteen hours a day, six to seven days a week.

When I got to Wall Street as an attorney, everybody was smart, everybody worked twenty hours a day and I went, “I'm going to get fired. They're going figure out I don't belong here and I'm going to get fired,” and that's called impostor syndrome. Back then it was called reality. Impostor syndrome for me was scary because I thought this is what's going to happen, they're going to figure me out and then I'm in trouble and I'm not going to have a career and all kinds of catastrophes are going to happen as a result. That was scary for me. Whenever you're in law school, by the way, there's all these urban legends, and it was, “Did you hear about the girl that didn't want to do any of the work they were giving her, so she worked from home for four years and all she did was read Tom Clancy novels and then they eventually fired her. Four years, she collected a salary. It's unbelievable.” I went, “I'm not trying to scan my law firm, but I would love it if they didn't notice me and it gave me a lot of time to figure out what the hell was going on over here. Then by the time I have a clue what's happening, I'll be useful enough that they won't want to fire me.” Sounds like a plan, perfect, let's do this.

 It's better to have the relationships beforehand.

It's better to have the relationships beforehand.

How do I work from home? That's a good challenge. I don't just stop showing up. That's not going to work, so there was this partner named Dave and he had been the one who hired me. Dave was never in the office and I thought, “Dave must know how to work from home because he's never here. He's obviously just working from home because we're lawyers. We bill hours, we bill hours in six minute increments.” I asked him to meet with me and HR made him do that because he was my mentor, so he had to check a box on a form somewhere, so he took me. It was funny because everybody else who's getting mentored was going to see Blue Man Group and going to McCormick & Schmick for lunch and having drinks. He took me to the basement of our office building where there was a pop-up Starbucks and he's like, “Ask me whatever you want.” He wasn't a mean or rude guy, but he had important things to do and I was not one of those things most likely and he was right. I said, “How come you are a partner and everyone says you're this great partner and everything like that, but you never are in the office? What's going on?” He said, “People talk about that? They notice I'm not in the office?” I was backtracking because I'm thinking “I'm going to get fired at Starbucks. This is how my career ends?” I try to go off the radar and I ended up getting so far on the radar that now I'm going to get fired at Starbucks.

He puts his Blackberry down and he goes, “No, I work from home sometimes, but what I do is I focus on bringing in the deals.” I said, “How do I do that?” He went “After you worked here for long enough and you make enough connections with all the people in the industry and the investment bankers that are our clients, you play enough golf, you do enough jujitsu, you go on charity dinners, and you're friends with all these guys, you're playing racquetball, you're playing squash, you just become friends with them and they'll throw you the deals. You don't have to worry about it.” I went, “Wait a minute, you just told me a million things I'm not doing and then said ‘You don't have to worry about it.’ What are you talking about? I don't know how to do any of those things.” I'm thinking I don't know how to play squash; I better learn how to play squash, but what he was telling me was I form a bunch of relationships. I'm more valuable outside the firm that I am inside the firm because inside the firm, he can probably bill $800 an hour or $1,000 an hour as a partner. Outside the firm, he can bring in a million-dollar law deal once or twice a quarter, so his billable hour bonus, which is probably at a partner level, six figures or close to it, is nothing compared to the 5% he's getting bringing in a million dollar law deal every once a quarter.

Why worry about billable hours when you can go do jujitsu, play golf, play squash and then go, “Bill, send me that memorandum about the real estate transaction we're doing or the mortgage bank security pool that we're doing for Lehman Brothers or Bear Stearns.” That's a lot easier. Instead of figuring out how to work from home so I don't get caught, don't get fired, after that point, I dedicated my life to “There's another competitive advantage that I can build after having lost my other two, which were natural smarts and work ethic.” Those are both very limited but networking or relationship development was brand new. It was unlimited and even better, nobody else was thinking about it. All those junior level or mid level associates, all they were doing was grinding, which is what you have to do at a law firm, especially when you're new: billable hours, billable hours, billable hours. I went, “I'm going to do that, but if I start to figure out how to network and create relationships now, then in five years when I need this skill set, I'll have a five-year advantage on all these socially awkward colleagues that I have who are not ready for this.”

I had some great colleagues that were very social and I asked them about this and they went, “Just work here long enough and we meet enough people that eventually we start making deals and we'll start to make business.” We called it rainmaking back then. They go, “We should figure this out.” Me and this group of guys who were always going out for drinks, we went “We just got to figure out how to make friends with investment bankers.” We made huge spreadsheets of who'd we go to school with? Who do we know? What I know now is that we were proactively and very deliberately creating relationships, networking and creating social capital. I thought that was going to get me to the top of the law game but what it did was take me down this path of learning about nonverbal communication, persuasion, influence, networking, and relationship development, which is far more interesting to me than law ever was.

I can imagine that it would be. First of all, it's useful in every situation. Anytime you are around another human being, you can use those skills and it's always different. My background is engineering and one of the ways that I escape the pile in engineering is very similar. I learned to interact with other human beings, whereas most engineers don't like to do that. Fantastic insight, but I think it's one of the most important competitive advantages that exists. It never goes away because most people won't do it. Why do you think that is?

There are a couple of reasons. When I go to companies and law firms and speeches and things like that, what's happening for me is people say, "Okay, but.” Here's the entrepreneur pool, “I need to get my prototype going. I need to get my website going. I need to get my product launch formula ready with my team. Insert excuse here that sounds very, very, very convincing. Of course, I need a business set up before I can create relationships.” Actually it's better to have the relationships beforehand. “Yeah, but I have no value to give because I don't have any income or any money or anything.” It doesn't matter. That's not how we're creating relationships. If I go to a company like Apple, people there go, “Yeah, but I'm so busy,” or “I know the people in my work unit and I'm not planning on leaving my work unit or my department,” or “We're not allowed to talk to people from other companies because of trade secret stuff and they're worried about that.” All of it is baloney. You go to an engineering firm and here's where you get truthful answers. The scientists and the engineers at biotech firms, they go, “That sounds incredibly awkward and uncomfortable. I do not want to do that.”

 The best time to dig this well is before you're thirsty, and the best way to do that is to create relationships before you need them.

The best time to dig this well is before you're thirsty, and the best way to do that is to create relationships before you need them.

It took me a long time to figure out that that was an honest answer. The other answers I was getting were very convincing lies we tell ourselves when pretty much everyone is just going, “I don't know how to start those types of conversations. I don't know how to maintain relationships. I'm deprioritizing this because not only is it awkward, I don't see what I can get from it right away.” They have a fundamental misunderstanding of how relationships work, which I did too in the beginning. I was thinking, “I work at this law firm for eight years, I become a partner because I put in the time then, country club and I know everyone and I networked.” That is the opposite of how these things happen for most of us. What works is you work your butt off, you build a ton of relationships. Management loves you because you're bringing in business. You recruited a couple of new associates. You are on this other project because the managing partner of that firm knew you and asked for you by name and you went to school with a couple other people on the team. They recruited you for this other high profile deal that's getting closed because they remember you from Michigan or Michigan Law or whatever.

They have to make you a partner because you're the one who knows everybody. It's not you make partner and then, networking. That can happen. What's better is if they decide, “We can't afford to let this Jordan guy go. If he gets a better offer somewhere else and we don't make him a partner, he could take his book of business with him and those guys have been worth $8 million over the last eight years. It doesn't mean we're going to lose them, but do we want to risk even losing one deal because he brought it to a different firm? Or do we want to just make this guy a junior partner and not worry about it?” I think the answer's pretty clear. That's how you get ahead in this. You dig the well before you're thirsty and you create a lot of relationships before you need them, so that if there ever comes a time when you do need them, you can call upon them and you have them there ready for you.

Asking for a favor when you don't have a relationship is like asking for a spare tire to be put in the trunk of your car after you get a flat. It's just not good timing. You know this from sales and recruiting and things, the best time to get a new job is when you already have a job, especially if that job is going well for you. If you're in sales and you can say, “Last year I closed $3.9 million worth of color copier machine sales.” That's a great time to go and ask for a raise or get an offer from another company in the same niche. It's not a good time if you go, “I got fired last year and I've been living off my savings and things are a little tight and I was hoping you guys could get me in the door.” That's a terrible time to ask for something. The best time to dig this well is before you're thirsty, and the best way to do that is to create relationships before you need them.

That's great advice and you hear it all the time. Very few people in my experience actually act on it. I don't know if the audience is aware, but you're going through something where that little piece of advice you gave is important for you because of this transition that you're going through it. I'm going to guess that because you've dug the well, this transition is going to go a lot better than it would for a lot of people. As you're saying it, does that advice ring a bell in your head, like, “I'm so glad I've focused on that all these years.”?

I cannot even begin to tell you how important this has been for me. What's happening essentially, just to give everybody a little bit of background, is I ran a show and I founded a company called the Art of Charm. It was about social skills and dating and stuff like that. I did that for eleven years. I negotiated an amicable split because I got tired of being branded as some dating guy when I'm married. I'm interviewing all these amazing people on the podcast and it just was not a good brand for me. I negotiated an amicable split. That deal fell apart for various reasons which I will not get into here because it doesn't matter anyway. I found myself saying, “I could probably file a lawsuit and I might even prevail. However, I'm going to end up with an Xbox and a bicycle at the end of it, or I'm going to take the rest of the team that is no longer working with the company and create something new, but I'm going to have to create it using only the skill set that I have and the team that I have and low resources and probably start without an income and just have my relationships. It was scary. You watch ESPN and you see these athletes and they go, “You find out who your friends are.” I'm like, “That doesn't mean that you find out how great everyone is.”

It means that nobody cares about you because you don't have your money or your platform or whatever it is. You see guys like MC Hammer who was popular in ’93. Everyone left me and I'm sleeping in my car,” and you're just thinking like, “No.” I was worried about that. I started to reach out. After freaking out, the second thing I did was make a list of people that I knew I could reach out to that I was just sure we're going to say yes. Because I was thinking my ego is not going to like it if I get rejected too many times while I'm already down. I can only take so many kicks while I'm already down. I reached out to friends. They were like, “Of course, we'll help you. We can't wait.” That gave me a little boost and then I made another list of hundreds of other people that I've reached out to and I am reaching out to and a lot of my friends are introducing me to people like you as well. It just immediately exploded into this opportunity of “I am finding out who my friends are.” My friends are so numerous that I had no idea and then their friends are cool and then their friends of friends are great people, and their friends of friends of friends. I have so many opportunities coming my way that I'm super thankful.

 Management loves you because you're bringing in business

Management loves you because you're bringing in business

The Jordan Harbinger Show that I run is a couple of weeks old as of this recording and has about a million downloads. Bear in mind, I didn't leave with the email list. I didn't leave with the social media. I didn't leave with the website. I didn't leave with the show feed. I left with my relationships, my name, my skill set, and my team, which does not include paid advertising. My team is production, technical, and web. This is not something that happened as a result of some magic trick or me going, “I'll just pay a million dollars and get my followers back.” That's not an option. This is all from going on other shows, having influence or say, “Jordan is now at The Jordan Harbinger Show. He left this other company. That's brought a huge number of fans back and also gotten me a huge number of new fans in just a few short weeks, and so I spent years and years giving and helping other people without the expectation of anything in return, not keeping score, not expecting anything. The irony or maybe the funny twist on that is I believed that I would never need anything in return. I was not thinking “One day I'm going to get shit canned and it's going to be terrible and I'm going have to call everyone.” No, I was just thinking, “This is a good way to live. I like it. Everyone thinks I'm a nice guy and it's easy to help people.” It's like, “I'm glad I did that.” Because had I ignored that, had I thought “I'm a big shot, look at me, I run an iTunes top 10 podcasts, I don't care. I don't have to help people. I'm a big deal around here. I've got 300,000 Twitter followers.”

That was not tempting because that's not how I roll, but I could see why somebody who's at the top of any industry would say, “I don't have to go to this conference and talk with these people. I don't have to reply to my fan mail. I don't have to reply to people who tweeted me on Twitter. It's a waste of time. I would rather watch Netflix.” I understand that, but I didn't do that. I answer all my email. I answer all my tweets. I go to all the conferences. If people want to talk to me after my speeches, I talk outside for two hours. I enjoy it and that was a lucky break because that consistent process over the last ten years, a lot of those people who I helped eight years ago via email, they remember me. The person who I spent three hours helping and answering their questions eight years ago outside a conference, they are a big deal now and they got 300,000 followers. They went, “Remember when you helped me with that thing,” and I go, “No, but I'm glad you do.”

That's what I've been leaning on and it's been magical. If somebody offered me a million dollars cash and said, “I'm going to give you this, you can keep your team. You can keep all your skills, but you can't keep your relationships, but it's going to help you rebuild your business. Here's a million dollars.” I would say, “No thanks.” I'd rather have the network that I have because I've probably gotten a million dollars in free exposure lined up over the next 90 days and people helping me out with things that I could never afford to pay them for for free just because I've known them and been nice to them in the past and helped them with other things.

Going back to your statement about you'll find out who your friends are. I actually think you find out who you have relationship with. You may have people that are hanging around you that are there because of something that they get from you, whether it's money or status or whatever. You mentioned athletes, a lot of the athletes and entertainers get into that because people are attracted to a tremendous amount of money and fame and all that thing. You do find very quickly you don't have relationship there. What you're finding is that because it wasn't built on all of that, it was actually built on real human depth and relationship that you've got something to lean on and you've got something of value. You said “I didn't just do it thinking I was going to get something out of it. I'm doing it because I just like to be nice to people.” For the audience, it's that simple. It realty is. Everybody is out there looking for the hack. How do I build a network like Jordan has? There's no hack.

I do have a couple of principles though that we could talk about that are useful that are mindsets or mental models. The first thing that I would say is me before I met Dave and thought I was going to get fired, I always thought networking was about a secret club. I'm going to some great school, “I went to Yale, so I know important people.” That's how I thought it was or you're born into it. “My dad's a big deal. He knows the mayor,” so you're well-connected now. I thought that's what it was, but your network is your business development army. You can create it faster because like the tortoise and the hare, if you remember that fable, there are people that are born into a network and it is something to be coveted and admired.

 Your network is your business development army

Your network is your business development army

One of my close friends, he's just American royalty. His great, great, grand uncle is Paul Revere literally. I found that out because I went to his house where his parents were and I went “Why do you have a giant painting of Paul Revere? You guys are so weird,” and his wife, who's a good friend of mine was like, “They are related,” and he was like, “My parents have weird stuff.” He didn't talk about it because he didn't need to, but his wife was like, “He is his uncle.” This is a guy who was well connected as hell. His family knows everybody. They own a freaking island and I thought, “I'm never going be able to do that. I'm never going to compete with this guy in any arena. There's just no way.” I started focusing on these skills and everything over the last ten years, and I realized like the tortoise and the hare people who are born into it, it's not that they're lazy, but they're coasting. They've never had to think about how to make connections. They've never needed to. Their grandpa just sends an email or goes golfing with the CEO of whatever company you want to work for and you got everything you want. That's how it happened. Luckily he turned out well, but I think a lot of people in this situation wouldn't. The problem is, when those connect doors out of your life go away, they pass away or they retire or whatever, you're out of luck.

For me, I've got to grind so hard to get even 1% of what they've got as a network, so I ran that race. I ran that race or walked it as the tortoise has in the parable. While the hare takes a nap, I realized, “I'm at the finish line.” I've got a huge network. It's not the finish line per se in our story, but I've got a huge network and all these people that we're coasting that looked so well connected, they have no idea how to do this for themselves. You have to learn it because if you're ignoring this, you're not immune to the consequences. You're just being willfully ignorant of this secret game being played around you. If you're at an engineering firm or a small business, you're in trouble if you think, “I'll focus on this later.” Because somebody at your level or below is thinking about it now and they're doing a good job at it and you're going to go, “How the hell did that kid I hired four years ago ended up my boss? How did that happen?” Or “How come I didn't get that project? I'm a better fill in the blank than so and so who did. It's all about who you know. I hate life.” People should be saying that about you, “This guy knows everybody. Of course he got the good deal, project, position, promotion.” That should be you, not you whining about how things are unfair. That's the first set of rules, digging the well before you're thirsty.

Have you ever seen Glengarry Glen Ross where he's like “Always be closing.” That's ABC, Always Be Closing. The rule that we teach on The Jordan Harbinger Show would be ABG, Always Be Giving. Always help other people without the expectation of anything in return. The reason that that's important is because it's just a great way to live and will make you feel good. Nobody cares about that right now, we're trying to figure out what's in it for me. Help other people without the expectation of anything in return. It doesn't mean that you have to be the sucker who gets walked on and always turning the other cheek. What this means, and the reason this is functional is because you can't see the opportunities that are over the horizon. If I'm a graphic designer, which I'm not, and I'm only looking for people who need graphic designer who can help me find people who need graphic design, then I'm not going to help you with your podcast audio setup, even though I know a guy who can help you with that. Because no, I just need to make graphic design, “Steve, do you need a website?” “No.” Alright, next. “John, do you need a website?” “No.” All right, next.

The way you do this because you say, “You've got a podcast. I happen to know this guy who's got a large following. I don't know if you guys want to connect, but he talks about engineers and how they can work better in the office and it might be a good fit for your show.” “Sure.” I'm connecting you two. I've helped two people without the expectation of anything in return and I did it in a scalable way. Because people go, “I don't have time to help tons of people. I'm trying to get my own stuff off the ground, Jordan. Come on, man. This is a luxury. I can't afford to waste any time doing this.” You can't afford to waste time giving people free graphic design help all day, but what you can afford to do is make one introduction every week, every day if you can, but every week. Introduce two people, now you've got two token units, whatever you want to call it, a social capital where they both go, “That was a good intro. Thanks for that. I appreciate that.”

You do it in the following way. You do the double opt-in. The double opt-in is when I say, “Steve, do you want an intro to this guy? He does financial planning for professional athletes and since you're a professional athlete, I figured you might want that intro.” You say, “Sure, I'll take it,” and I go “Great.” Then I speak to the financial planner and I say, “I got an athlete for you if you're interested.” He says, “Of course, thank you.” Then I make the intro. The reason I don't just say, “Surprise. Here's an introduction,” is because a lot of things can happen that might make it awkward where the athlete goes, “This guy emails me every week. He's so annoying and now he's in my Inbox from a friend. I can't ignore it. That's awkward for me.” Or the other person says, “I would love that intro, but I am slammed and I've got a kid who's sick. Do it in three weeks, and then I'll be able to reply and I won't look like an idiot for having this thing get lost in my Inbox. He's going to get an auto-responder that says I'm on vacation.”

 Always be giving, always do the double opt-in and make it scalable by creating email introductions

Always be giving, always do the double opt-in and make it scalable by creating email introductions

There're all kinds of things that can happen. If you get the double opt-in, you get commitment just at a tiny level from each person and then it doesn't fail. The introduction is successful every time. If one person says no, you can just say, “It's not a good time for that, but I'm going to do it later on,” and then nobody goes, “What a jerk.” They just think “I appreciate the offer.” That's the double opt‑in and it's important. Don't skip it. It takes extra two minutes per introduction if that. It will make your introductions go smoothly, it will make you look professional. People will appreciate it. They will always take an introduction from you because they know you're not going to throw them under the bus and make it weird. Always be giving, always do the double opt-in and make it scalable by creating email introductions that are using the double opt-in, not just doing free work.

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Jordan just shared a fantastic couple of principles, two ideas for how to go out and build your network. You were talking about making these connections which is real practical advice. One of the things that people get hung up on is they feel like they need to make a super relevant connection. In other words, it's almost got to be like a business referral and I always think that puts too much onto it. Most people are out there looking for connection with other humans anyway, particularly in business, and it doesn't necessarily have to be that bulls eye that, “Here’s your next million dollar deal.” What are some of the things that you look for as you're thinking about who to connect? How do you think about this person would be a great match with this one?

When I'm thinking about who to connect the double opt-in, first of all, will help with this but what I'm thinking is, “This person started a new podcast. What I should do is connect them with people I think might be able to help them.” Or this person just said, “I'm in the cryptocurrency,” and I say, “How are you going to do your taxes?” and they go, “I have no idea. I don't even know. I have to pay taxes because I don't want to go to jail, but I have no clue.” I go, “I happen to know a CPA who specializes now in this and his client roster is filling up quick, but you might want to talk to him.” Of course, that guy wants more clients, so I might even have a standing opt-in where it's like “Anytime you want to introduce a potential client, just go ahead and do it. You don't have to ask me,” but I'll always ask the other person of course. I'm looking for an obvious win and an obvious fit because I'm not trying to stretch it too much, but people might be surprised at what a fit actually means. Because there's tons of people where you can say, “There's this person who lives in your area and they raise chickens and they sell eggs online that are somehow special.” You're both entrepreneurs and you both live in Northern California and he's in your area a lot because he sells eggs to the stores near you, so you guys might want to meet up at some point just because you're both good people.” That's okay. It's not a great intro but it's okay. It's not a bad idea to do something like that.

That said, there's a lot of introductions that I've made where it's just, “You guys would get along because Jordan does interviews with crazy people and you help authors get their books done, so you know a ton of authors and Jordan interviews a ton of authors. I don't have anything specific in mind for you guys, but you guys should just know each other.” That's a worthwhile introduction. It doesn't mean, “I hired this guy and now we're doing a business joint venture together. This is a great intro.” Thanks. If that works for you, perfect, but you're not looking for magic here. You're not playing matchmaker at the highest level. You're just trying to connect people who might have some interest in meeting. I would avoid stretching it too far. If it's just this person's cool and you're cool, you should totally meet. If they live close, great but I'd rather just meet them the next time you're in town and we'll all meet. Because I don't know about you, but I'm busy and so I don't want to meet up with people. I have a lot of friends. I'm always down to make more friends, but it's going to be tough for me to take off a Thursday afternoon and just go, “Noah said you were nice. I'm spending half my work day talking with you for no reason.” It's not going to work.

Look for people who have a business reason generally to meet or for people where you just go, “No, trust me, you guys are going to love each other. Just trust me.” If you feel strongly, go for it, but chances are it's got to be something for business. It doesn't have to be, “You guys are going to find the next Uber.” It can be this person knows people that you might need to connect with later. The end. That's all you need. They'll figure the rest out on their own. You're not responsible for managing their relationship after the introduction is done.

There's no way. It's just not scalable if you try to be at every meeting and facilitate the connection and all of that, you can only do what you can do. One of the most valuable things that you can share with people is the connection that you have with others that they don't know. A fundamental survival mechanism that we have as humans that separates us from everything else crawling around the planet is that we've got this ability to see the capabilities and resources of the other people around us and see the need on the other side and make those connections. We do that uniquely through language. It's one of those things that we don't use nearly enough. I'm so thankful that you've spent some time laying that out.

I want to make sure that we get people to your new show. I'd love for you to talk a little bit about the new show. I've been listening to it. It's fantastic. Whenever I listen to somebody who's been doing this for a long time, I learn just how much there is for me yet to learn about podcasting, so I'm going to school on it, but where can they find you? What will they find when they get there? Give us a rundown.

On The Jordan Harbinger Show, I'm taking the last eleven years of knowledge, experience, and relationships where essentially I study the thoughts, the actions, the habits, and the mental models of brilliant people and then try always successfully transfer that knowledge to the audience so they can apply that wisdom for themselves. Essentially I'll take someone’s superpower and then transfer that and teach that to the audience. Every episode has worksheets. It's not just, “I feel so inspired now.” It's like “No, here are three things you can now do that you could not do before the show.” That's why when I come on shows like yours, I try to be very practical. We talked about always be giving, digging the well before you're thirsty, not keeping score, how to do the double opt-in.

 Look for people who have a business reason generally to meet

Look for people who have a business reason generally to meet

I want to change people's behavior, not just show them what's possible in their life or something nebulous like that. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, that's what we're aiming for, so every person that comes on is teaching something practical and we're getting ideally a great and entertaining interview out of them as well. That's what people can expect there. I feel strongly that every minute of the audience’s attention has to be earned or they're just going to bounce and do something else because there's too much out there. My team and have to create the best show, otherwise somebody who does is going to steal all of our mojo, so we're always on the grind,

You do a fantastic job of it. Where should they go and find you? What's the best place for them to find the show?

In any podcast player, just search for The Jordan Harbinger Show or you can go to JordanHarbinger.com/podcast and there are plenty of ways to listen there as well.

Honestly, it's at the top of my list on my podcast player on my iPhone. The interviews are really good, the resources that you put along with it are fantastic. It's absolutely a great show. Thank you so much for investing some time with me and with our audience. This has been a lot of fun and I'm glad we had a chance to meet.

Thanks for the opportunity.

About Jordan Harbinger

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Jordan Harbinger, once referred to as “The Larry King of podcasting,” is a Wall Street lawyer turned talk show host, social dynamics expert, and entrepreneur.

After hosting a top 50 iTunes podcast for over a decade that enjoyed nearly four million downloads a month at its zenith, Jordan has embarked on a new adventure: The Jordan Harbinger Show, where he deconstructs the playbooks of the most successful people on earth and shares their strategies, perspectives, and insights with the rest of us.

Jordan’s business sense, extensive knowledge of the industry, and contemporary approach to teaching make him one of the best and most sought-after coaches in the world.

Jordan Harbinger has always had an affinity for social influence, interpersonal dynamics, and social engineering, helping private companies test the security of their communications systems and working with law enforcement agencies before he was even old enough to drive.

Jordan spent several years abroad in Europe and the developing world, including South America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East, and he speaks five languages. He has also worked for various governments and NGOs overseas, traveled through war zones, and been kidnapped — twice. He’ll tell you the only reason he’s still alive and kicking is because of his ability to talk his way into (and out of) just about any type of situation.

Mentioned in the Show

Bradley Callow | How to Raise Great Kids (even with an entrepreneur’s schedule)

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If you’ve ever been concerned that your home life suffers because of your business – and who hasn’t – you’ll want to listen in to what Bradley Callow has to say.

With his Rich Legacy organization, Bradley specializes in empowering families to not just have better relationships but also ensure that kids avoid the pitfalls of adolescence in today’s world.

Bradley’s own troubled past inspired him to take on this mission. And you’ll be surprised how he sees many parents today actually unknowingly sabotaging their children’s future. He’s got plenty of strategies for avoiding that fate too.

He even offered his personal cell number – you can text him to schedule a free coaching call.

You’ll have to listen to the end for that. Along the way you’ll discover…

  • Work/Life Balance is impossible – and what to do instead
  • How to be “intentional” with your family time
  • Why hardship and failure are vital for personal growth
  • Ways to “plan” your family like you do your business
  • Tips for changing kids’ behaviors now so it doesn’t become a lifelong issue
  • And even more...

Listen to Steve Gordon and Bradley Callow now:

Bradley Callow | How to Raise Great Kids (even with an entrepreneur’s schedule)

I'm excited to be speaking with Bradley Callow. Bradley is revolutionizing the way affluent families teach and learn passionate performance and perseverance. This is going to be a different interview than what we've done before, but it's going to be powerful. For all of us who run businesses, one of the big casualty sometimes is our family relationships, and that is Bradley’s specialty. He came from an affluent family and went through some difficult times. He learned a great deal through that and has created a program called Rich Legacy to help families and help parents and children in particular communicate better with one another. Bradley, I'm excited to have you here. I'm personally interested in this because we've got four kids and so I'm hoping to learn something here. Welcome to the Unstoppable CEO.

Thanks for having me, Steve. I love your choice of language there, that the family can be a casualty of success in the world of business, especially as an entrepreneur where you constantly have to sacrifice. This notion of work-life balance is laughable. You show me anyone that has a perfect work-life balance. It doesn't exist. We call it work-life integration. How do you get intentional about the time you do spend? Thankfully, the actual data shows that it's not about the quantity of time that you spend with your family. It's about the quality of time.

I'm in complete agreement. I don't think there is any such thing as balance. For people running a business, integration is a perfect word because you do have to integrate both sides of your life. You are intertwined in the business and intertwined and family. We're going to learn a lot today. To give everybody some context, what is it that got you to this point and focusing on this as a topic?

I was a perfect angel that came from a perfect family and had nothing but a 4.0 and all the awards and accolades that any parent and child could ask for. In reality, that wasn't my story. My story was much darker than that, despite coming from a good family as you said. My mom was a stay at home mom. She used to be a special ed teacher, an educator. These are parents that are intentional in what they were doing with their family. Still, despite that, I started using drugs at eleven years old. Not twelve, not thirteen, not fourteen, certainly not seventeen, eighteen, nineteen. I was eleven years old. I always have people say to me, “What do you mean your parents didn't know you're on drugs at eleven years old?”My simple response to that is, “When was the last time you looked an eleven-year-old in the eye and said, ‘Their eyes are a little red. I bet they’re on drugs?’” It doesn't happen because the constant mentality is, “Not my kid.” I've heard that a thousand times. No one wants to believe, my parents included, that their kid's struggling or would do something like this. For me, I started using drugs at eleven. I'm an entrepreneur with every fiber of my being. I didn't know what entrepreneurship was despite my dad being one. I didn't understand and appreciate it. I started having these ideas about how I could make money off this if I sold this to my friends. The first business I ever had was selling drugs. That was my first entrepreneurial pursuit.

 It's not about the quantity of time that you spend with your family. It's about the quality of time.

It's not about the quantity of time that you spend with your family. It's about the quality of time.

Through my own drug use and the selling of drugs, despite that, I kept up pretty good appearances. I managed to make my way through high school, get decent enough grades to get into a college, and went to the University of South Carolina. Within a month of turning eighteen and being in college, I was arrested for felony distribution. They caught me selling marijuana, enough so that I was then a felon from that point on in my life, not the way you want to enter into the world of work and certainly not what my parents would have ever hoped or wanted for me. As a result of that, I thankfully was given another chance and was only suspended from school and went back with something to prove. I did well for a little while but ultimately fell back into old behaviors. By the time I was 26 and out of college, I explored entrepreneurship quite a bit as well as software sales, digital media sales, and had a lot of success. I still didn't think I was good enough. I always felt I was less than, and no matter what I could do in my life, I wasn't good enough. I felt empty. I felt this burning hole inside of me, which in some ways motivates me still. I've closed that hole tremendously, but there's still a bit of that that motivates me. A lot of entrepreneurs I talk to and work with share that same feeling of “I'm not good enough and I'm going to prove that I am.” That voice for me came from my father who was an entrepreneur. A very analytical man, a very much left brain and his way of showing me love was with positive intent that he was doing these things. He was always looking to show me the right way to do things. There was always a better, smarter, more sophisticated, effective, efficient way to get things done.

I like to use the example when I was five years old. I'm washing the dishes and I am thrilled. I'm excited. I'm on my little stool. This little brown hair, blue eyed boy, smiling ear to ear, bubbles flying everywhere and dad comes in, tall, skinny, focused, serious look on his face and he says, “Son, that's awesome. That's cool what you're doing. I got to tell you it's the friction of the brush that gets the food off the plate. You running the water on full blast and using hot water, it's a waste of money, electricity and energy. To a five-year-old, you can imagine this little brown haired, blue eyed boy falling under the weight of himself. That was a continuing pattern. Despite my dad showing up in lots of meaningful ways in my life and still to this day is my hero, some of those little things that he or my mom did, the community that I grew up in, ultimately led me in the wrong direction. It didn't set me up for success. It set me up for a life of torture and self-torture more often than not. I was responsible for so much of my own pain, discomfort, and hardship. By the time I turned 26, I found myself on my knees, with a 1911.45 caliber handgun pressed to the side of my temple. Sometimes it's easier to talk about than others. I still to this day don't know why I didn't pull the trigger. I'd like to think it's when you think of the token saying, “I was meant for bigger things. God and the universe had a plan for me,” but I don't know. At the end of the day, I don't know. I'm grateful that I didn't.

When I hear that the adolescent suicide rate has quadrupled since 1950and the greatest increases are coming in the affluent demographic, I started to pay attention. I became a student of what it is that are happening in these families that are leading all these kids to not be able to deal with uncomfortable emotions. At the end of the day, that's what it is. I'm not trying to eliminate pain from people's experience because pain exists everywhere. Looking at the title of your podcast, I am such a believer that the greatest hardship, discomfort, and failures is what gives us our grit. It’s what gives us our edge. It’s what gives us growth and excitement in life. I'm not trying to remove everyone's pain. I'm trying to teach them a better way to deal with it. How do you take that pain and make it an opportunity versus an end all to be all?

Thank you for sharing the story. It takes courage to share a story. The pain that we all experience at whatever stage in our life, whether it's great pain or small pain, is a great teacher. It's hard to see that sometimes. I'm 46, soon to be 47 years old. It's taken me 40 plus years to understand that. It took going through some challenging things, not nearly what you've been through, to understand the role that that plays. At a young age, it's something you want to run from. I look at it and go, “This is preparing me for something. There's something here that I need to learn. I'm either exhibiting a behavior that isn't in alignment with what I'm trying to do or I'm getting prepared for something to come. Either way, I better pay attention.” I didn't always approach it that way. Particularly for children, it paints something you want to run away from.

It takes time and firsthand experience. Over time, you build up that resilience and that grit. You start to look at problems and challenges differently. You're saying it took you decades to solidify and own this. One of the patterns that have become so clear and ever present in the high-performing families that I work with all over the world are that they tend to shelter their children. You've heard the concept of helicopter parents. I wrote an article, I haven't put it out yet, on bubble parenting, which we've gone even farther. Instead of hovering over the kids and trying to protect them, “Let's literally insulate them from having to experience discomfort. That will allow them to get into college. That will allow them to get good grades. That'll allow them to be successful and happy. If I protect them, that’s what will allow them to experience those things.”

 The greatest hardship, discomfort and failure is what gives us our grit

The greatest hardship, discomfort and failure is what gives us our grit

You and I know that's not reality. In fact, it's the opposite. It's the gritty kids, the gritty human beings, the resilient and persistent ones that are successful and happy to find that purpose and that passion, that perseverance in life. The kids are being denied that opportunity to learn through hardship and discomfort while they're still under the wing of the parents. They go off to college and they implode. They don't know what to do with themselves. I'm going to start a business on doing laundry for college freshmen and retire next year. It's unbelievable and the intention is good. Look at the media, you have to be terrified to let your kid out of the house without knee pads, shin guards, a helmet and a reflective vest to walk to the bus because it looks like the sky is falling. The reality is if those kids aren't given that opportunity to learn that grit and resilience now, the likelihood they're going to learn it later or be able to manage those difficult emotions is unlikely.

We've got four kids. We've seen lots of parents and parenting styles and we're certainly not necessarily the best at it. Any parent will tell you it's always a work in progress. Some days, it's a better work than others. Having seen a lot of different parenting styles, the one thing that I've observed is that the kids who go through that protective experience from their parents get robbed of accomplishment because they're protected from everything. They don't get to fall down and pick themselves back up again. Oftentimes, that's masked by the fact that academically they’re achieving because they're given the right tutors and they're going through all this. They never get the chance to try something and not be good at it. It's interesting to watch that. All parents mess their kids up to one degree or another because there's no license and there is no training to become a parent. It happens. We all know how it happens. It happens and there you go and you've got kids. You've had this experience, but now you're working with families to help get things to a place where parents and kids are communicating. Talk about why you want to do that and what some of the challenges are in working with these families.

In terms of why, for me it ties back to my own story and my own journey. I see an opportunity to create some real change here and in generations to come if we can zero in and dial in this approach to empowering kids and empowering families. You picked up something earlier, talking about my use of language related to business. I do a lot of that, not because the people I work with tend to be executives and entrepreneurs, but because the parallels are unbelievable. You tell a spouse or your kids that you do things similar to the way you do in business and you'll probably get kicked in the shin real hard. The reality is that it's a good thing. It's harder than ever to be a parent or a child. The internet in all its glory has made things difficult because that gap and understanding that is age old for parent and child is so dramatically wad right now. If you grew up 30 or 40 years ago, that experience as a child is no longer relatable to an experience of a child today. For example, we have parents all the time who’ll say, “My kid came home and they said they didn't get enough likes on their Instagram post.” I said, “Big deal, get over it.” That's the most important thing that happened to that child that day. That would be the equivalent in your day of someone walking up to you and being like, “I don't want to be friends anymore,” and this was your best friend yesterday.

To be able to put yourself in that position is difficult because I personally don't have a family yet. I have a wife. We're looking to start a family in the next six months or so. As of right now I don't have kids. At first people would say, “I'm not listening to anything you have to say about parenting, family, or any of this stuff because you're not a parent.” I said, “Fine, don't listen to me.” What I serve is that bridge in that widening gap of understanding, that I can connect with a kid and understand that kid, and I can also connect with the parent and understand that parent. Not on that same level because I haven't had that personal experience, but now after working with thousands of families, I've got a pretty good idea.

At my age, I'm now 32, I grew up with technology and without it, with the internet and without it, and so I can bridge that gap. What I'm finding is in order to bridge that gap, you have to be very intentional and focused. It's not going to happen by accident. If I sit here and ask you, “Steve, what are your goals for your business for the next five years, three years, one year, next quarter?” You'll be like, “Hold on, Bradley. How much time do you have? Let me tell you my BHAG, my Big Hairy Audacious Goal. Let me tell you my more reasonable goals. Let me tell you my mission statement, my value state, you name it, how we run meetings, how we do budgeting. Here are the things I want to teach my employees to allow them to be better at what they do.” I'll ask you simultaneously, “What's the most important thing in your life?” “It's easy. My family.” What are your family values? What is your family mission statement? What are your goals for the next five years? How can we look at the parallels of business and family and start getting intentional and focused like we are with our businesses and with our families? Empowering these kids to be successful and happy, which is what virtually every parent wants, in this day and age is no longer going to happen by accident. You don't have that tribe. You don't have that community of people raising kids like you used to. If you're not getting intentional and focused, you're putting a lot at risk and taking a huge chance on something that is the most important thing in your life. My job is to open the eyes, hearts, and minds of those families so they can start getting intentional about those things.

 Empowering these kids to be successful and happy, which is what virtually every parent wants, in this day and age is no longer going to happen by accident.

Empowering these kids to be successful and happy, which is what virtually every parent wants, in this day and age is no longer going to happen by accident.

You used one of my favorite words, intentionality. You said we're so intentional in our businesses. We need to take some of that and bring it home and be intentional with how we're cultivating our family relationships. How do you coach people to create that intentionality? It's so easy to sit back and think, “It's my family. It's my kids. It's my wife. We hang out together. We live in this house together.” To insert intentionality, you have to take it to another level of consciousness of what you're doing. How do you get people to look at that? It’s like for a fish swimming in water, it’s the water sometimes.

It's more of a given. The things that are given in our life, we tend to take for granted, as sad as that is. We take breathing for granted all the time. It's pretty damn important. It’s the same with our family. Unfortunately a lot of people that come to work with us are on the verge of divorce or maybe recently remarried and want to be more intentional this time around or with a combination of the new family. Their kid was suspended. Their kid got into trouble at school. Whatever it may be, there's some pain that motivates and inspires them to take action, like most areas of our life. Unfortunately when something is a given, it might take even more of a pain and a discomfort to motivate people.

I so often hear people say, “My kids are too young for this. Things aren't that bad.” If I can communicate anything, it's the whole ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure. The older the kids get, the more challenging it gets to change some of these behaviors and trajectory. Those patterns and behaviors become more solidified. The sweet spot for us is that eight to thirteen range. We do father-son retreats. We're doing our first father-daughter retreat this summer. We also do private family retreats and private family coaching which is for the whole family. Our focus on that eight to thirteen for the father-son retreats is we'll do an eight to ten and then eleven to thirteen, and segment those out, ten fathers and sons each.

The magic that happens in those small intentional environments is unbelievable. It's about the quality of time, not the quantity of time. Thankfully, for a retreat type model that's built in with a lot of fun, we'd go to Park City Utah and you're doing whitewater rafting, hot air balloon rides and downhill ski jump into Olympic size pool in the middle of the summer. Those things are exciting and attractive enough that the secondary elements that we built in that are experiential to help be more intentional, focused and have a plan are okay. “I don't even care about that. I want to go have fun with my son,” but then they get those other benefits so then it doesn't fire that same amount of pain to motivate them. We're able to plant those seeds which have been huge for us.

Anytime you can create that interaction between a parent and a child, it's valuable. It's hard to do. We've got four of them and it's hard to do with each kid individually. Given their schedules, I don't know a child amongst our friend group anyway. You talk about coming from an affluent background and most everybody in our audience is probably in that situation where the kids in that demographic are scheduled. We did to them what we're living right now. To create those experiences together, it's difficult. It's fantastic that you're doing that. What can somebody expect if they come to your website? First, tell them where to go to get to the website. If they come to the website and they're looking for information, what can they expect when they get there? Where should they begin if they want to plug in to what you guys are doing?

 The older the kids get, the more challenging it gets to change some of these behaviors and trajectory

The older the kids get, the more challenging it gets to change some of these behaviors and trajectory

I'm going to do something a little different this time, Steve. I'm feeling inspired recently, more so than normal. I always joke I don't have an exit for my business because I'm so passionate about what I do. I could never imagine doing anything else, but like anything, that passion has waves to it. Right now, I'm riding a nice wave. That being said, I'm going to offer my cell phone number and your audience can reach out. Shoot me a text first please and we will schedule some time to hop on a call, twenty minutes or so. I will speak directly to the actual challenges that they are facing in their life. Anybody can reach out and we'll schedule a call. I'm happy to make the time to make that a reality. The phone number for me is 301-980-7511. All I ask is that you text me first so we can set up some time that makes sense for both of us.

That's generous. Thank you. I hope our audience takes advantage of it if you feel you've got a need. You've got a website, RichLegacy.com. I know you run programs. Is that the best place for them to go to find out the breadth of what you do?

It is. Like any growing business, the website never seems to be up to date with what all the offerings are. I would say if you're a dad, I would check out MyFatherSonRetreat.RichLegacy.com and then you can check out a father-son retreat we’ll have. We have either three or five-day options for Park City, Utah. You can check that out or BetterDads.RichLegacy.com. We've got eight ways you can improve your relationship with your son. We do things with the whole family. We've had a recent push towards father-son because there's been a tremendous amount of interest and demand for it.

It's a key relationship. That's fantastic. Bradley, thank you so much for investing some time with me. This has been a lot of fun. It’s certainly educational for me. I'm going to go back and hopefully apply a few of the things that I've learned to our kids and our relationships. Everybody go check this out. Take Bradley up on the offer. This is a big deal.

I would challenge everyone to go home and ask each one of your family members separately. That's the key. This is not a group setting. It’s very intentional. “How can I be a better husband? How can I be a better wife? How can I be a better father? What does that look like for you?”A lot of folks, their first response is going to be looking at you like you're crazy and, “I don't know, leave me alone,” or, “I have no idea,” but keep asking that. Once you get the answer to that question and start to get the answer to that question, it will evolve over time the more often you ask it. You will be amazed at some of the things that you can uncover and start working on. You either thought, “We’re already well or we’re going well,” and they feel the opposite, or you thought you were doing poorly and they think the world of the approaches you're already taking.

That's great advice. Thanks again. I appreciate you being here and look forward to connecting again soon.

Thanks, Steve.

About Bradley Callow

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Bradley Callow is an international speaker, conscious entrepreneur, and catalyst for transformation.

Consulting with businesses on advertising, marketing, and public relations strategies before the age of 20, Callow is no stranger to blazing his own path.

Bradley is committed to challenging the status quo and has a passion for helping others to succeed.

He has created a life dedicated to entrepreneurship, speaking, and most recently behavioral health innovation.

 

 

Mentioned in the Show

Benjamin Hardy | How to Build a Million-Dollar Business in 3-Years

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You can learn. You can study. But only when you take one specific step in your personal development will you see a significant ROI for your efforts. My guest this week, Benjamin Hardy, took that one step and catapulted his business to more than $1 million in revenue – a 10X jump – in just three years.

Benjamin, author the new book Willpower Doesn’t Work: Discover the Hidden Keys to Success, is a writer (the #1 author on Medium.com), PhD student, and keen observer of human psychology.

He’s always been pretty ambitious. But it took a pivotal moment a few years back to channel that ambition in the right way.

He shares his approach in this episode, along with…

  • The Forcing Function Strategy for getting real results fast
  • Ways to benefit the most from your mentors (yes, you need more than one)
  • The best place to come up with your best ideas – it’s not the office
  • How to use “escalation of commitment” to achieve your goals
  • Avoiding the danger of ignoring your environment
  • And more...

Listen now to Steve Gordon and Benjamin Hardy

Benjamin Hardy | How to Build a Million-Dollar Business in 3-Years

In this episode we're talking with Benjamin Hardy. Ben is the number one writer on Medium.com. His work has been read by over 50 million people. He went from zero to 300,000 email subscribers in two and a half years, which is absolutely amazing. During that time, he also created a seven-figure business and he completed the adoption of two children that he was fostering in a three-year process. You had to be unstoppable through that and through all that you've done in business, welcome to the Unstoppable CEO.

Thank you. I'm glad to be here with you.

I'm excited to talk about what you have going on. Before we get into the middle of everything, I'd love for you to give everybody a little bit of background and context for what got you to this point in your career.

I'm almost done with my PhD in organizational psychology. I started my PhD program in 2014. In January 2015, my wife and I became the foster parents of three kids and that was the impetus for me to start writing. From 2010 to 2015, I wanted to be a writer. I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I didn't do anything about it. In 2015 when we became foster parents, there was this intense pressure on me to support this family. I went from having zero kids to having three. There's a quote from Will Durant. He's a famous historian and he says, “The ability of the average person could be doubled if their situation demanded them.” Most people rise or fall to the demands of their situation.

 Most people rise or fall to the demands of their situation

Most people rise or fall to the demands of their situation

Once we became foster parents, it created this pressure that led me to feel the urgency to start writing, so I started writing. I started investing in myself, and that's one of the big things that will come out as a theme in this episode is that once I started investing money into my goal to become a writer, I became a lot more committed. The first big investment was spending $800 on my website. That freaked me out in the beginning, then I bought a $197 online course that taught me how to write viral headlines. Those two small investments provoked me to start writing a lot, then I started to educate myself on the craft of how to build an audience and how to do all those things.

I started making bigger and bigger investments in myself. I spent $250 to buy twenty copies of a book from Jeff Goins. He's an online writer and to buy twenty copies of his book, that allowed me to have a 30-minute phone call with him. That 30-minute phone call changed the trajectory of my career. It allowed me to ask him very important questions which tweaked the direction I was going. During this course, I was writing more and more and learning how to get more traffic. Then it came time to write a book proposal. I spent $3,000 to hire Ryan Holiday to help me write a book proposal. Ryan Holiday is a best-selling author. I had wanted to write a book proposal for about a year, but it wasn't until I invested money and hired a mentor who I respected that could show me exactly how I did it, that I wrote the book proposal. There are just investments all along the way that led to increasing commitment. That's how I look at it.

There's a lot to unpack and go to school on right in there, but the first thing that jumped into my mind was if you're faced with a situation where you suddenly have to support a family of five, being a writer isn't the first place that most people would think of. I don't think anybody looks at that as being a lucrative or easy career. What was it about going down that route that called you?

I wanted to be a writer for a long time so I wasn't looking at it from the starving artist perspective. I've seen some of the writers who I admire make millions of dollars and it's not like I had the intention of making millions of dollars in the beginning. When I became a foster parent, I felt this huge pressure not only to support them, but I also felt this reality check that life was going to start moving fast. I was going to have to start supporting these kids, I just felt this weight that things are going to move forward and if I don't pursue this writing thing now, it's never going to happen.

It was this convergence of a lot of things. I felt this pressure to succeed because I had to succeed. My wife gave me an ultimatum. She gave me one year like, “You can buy this website, you can try this stuff for a year, but if you don't get results, you need to focus more on your PhD and get this stuff done.” When I was doing all my writing, I wasn't the best PhD student. I'm still going to finish my degree, but I started to allocate my energy and time towards that. When you're in a position where you need to make money, you figure out how to do. There's this idea that necessity is the mother of invention. In the book, Willpower Doesn't Work, they call that a forcing function. You put yourself in the situation that forces you to function in a specific way. That's what happened. I needed to make money, I created conditions that forced me to succeed, and then I had to make money so I learned how through writing. That's where I had to learn the marketing piece.

I’d love to come back to this idea of investment. It's interesting. It's one of the things I’ve noticed over the years. Every time I made a significant investment in myself, whether that's getting a mentor or investing to get around a group of people or acquire some knowledge, it's not immediate all the time, but there's always a jump that takes place after that. When I try to do it without making that monetary investment, I think that monetary investment is important, that the bump usually doesn't follow or at least not to the same degree. Talk about how making those investments. It sounds like when you made the first ones, they were big investments. Even though they're not a huge amount of money, those are big investments at the time. What does that do to your mindset as you make those investments?

 When you invest in yourself in specific ways, it actually leads to a 10X increase

When you invest in yourself in specific ways, it actually leads to a 10X increase

This is great because this is what I’ve been studying through my PhD. My big question through my PhD is what's the difference between wanting to be entrepreneurs and real entrepreneurs. I spent my whole PhD research interviewing tons of wannabes versus tons of people who are actually real entrepreneurs. What I have found as the core difference between these two populations is that at some point, the real entrepreneurs start investing money in themselves. They start investing money in their job or in their career or their business or in their skill sets, and that investment lead to commitment. In economics, there's a concept called escalation of commitment. What happens is once you become invested in something, it becomes hard not to commit to that thing. It's based on a concept called sunk cost bias, which is an economic term, but with the more and more invested you become in anything financially, you start to wrap your identity around that thing. You start to go from seeing yourself as wanting to do something to actually seeing yourself as that thing. You begin to fully identify with it, you become committed to it. Then you start shifting your focus from the risks to the rewards. There's one other angle about investing in yourself that's different from commitments. Commitment is huge.

There's a quote from a guy named Dr. David Hawkins. He wrote a good book called Power Vs Force and he has also written a book called Letting Go. He says that the unconscious will only allow you to have what you believe you deserve, so if you look at a person's life, it's the product of what they unconsciously believe they can have in their life and what they believe they deserve.

What happens is when you invest money in yourself, whether it's your skills, your abilities, your relationships, your network, you shatter your subconscious paradigm about what you think is possible. You tell yourself, “I believe I can have it, I believe I deserve it,” and you shatter this subconscious paradigm that's limiting you, and then you put yourself in proximity to, let’s say, a mentor. For example, when I made that $250 phone call, not only did I shattered my beliefs that I should invest myself in my writing career, but I put myself in proximity to a writer who I admired and I was able to ask him questions face to face. When you watch yourself do stuff like this, you're convincing yourself that you're serious about it. You're no longer dreaming; you're doing. You're watching yourself invest money, you're watching yourself learn from mentors, and you're watching yourself do these things. From a psychology perspective, who you are is the product of your behavior.

In Western culture, we think that who we are is the product of our personality. We think that your personality is something you're born with and it leads you to behave in certain ways, but what the research shows is that it's actually your behavior that shapes your personality. How you behave on a regular basis determines how you view yourself. When you start investing money in yourself, when you start communicating with mentors and watching all this stuff happen, you're watching yourself do it and so you begin to identify with it. You're like, “I must be a writer,” and then you start acting that way. Those are just some of the ideas. I actually believe that when you invest in yourself in specific ways, it actually leads to a 10X increase. That's why I’ve invested in groups like Genius Network. Genius Network is a mastermind group that costs $25,000 to be a part of. It's extremely expensive, but one of the philosophies of Genius Network is that if you do not make at least $250,000 as a product of your $25,000 investment, if it doesn't at least return 10X, then you can't join again the next year because you didn't actually get out of the group what you should have. That's how I view investing in yourself. It has to be a 10X investment or it's not the right investment.

It's a fundamental principle for making progress. It’s away to engineer the game so that you'll win. Too often I see people running around trying to operate in a vacuum and do things on their own. In my experience, that leads to a whole lot more of what you've got. Again and again, I’ve watched it both in people we've worked with and in my own investments and in my friends and colleagues. It's this cool inflection point to watch when you make that investment and you make that jump because you're getting capability, but in addition to that, you're getting confidence and you're getting a new perspective, all of those are very valuable. You've created this business, you haven't been doing it all that long, you're now the number one writer on Medium, and built an enormous email list. How did all that come about? That doesn't happen overnight, but it's happened very quickly for you. What were some of the keys that contributed to that?

 To be so good you can't be ignored, you have to develop rare skills and abilities

To be so good you can't be ignored, you have to develop rare skills and abilities

I'm going along with this idea of 10X thinking. In 2015 I was still working as a graduate assistant doing research and stuff, but it was halfway through that year that I decided to quit the job and pursue this thing. In 2015, I made $12,000 because that's what graduate students make, they have their tuition paid for. In 2016, I started to learn the methods of growth and I made $110,000 or $115,000, and in 2017 I made over a million. It's like you add a zero every year. How does that work? In the beginning, I was learning how to write viral headlines, but I didn't have the right call to action at the end of my articles. On Medium.com, you can stick calls to action at the end of your articles and send people to a website or a landing page and try to get them to opt in with a free giveaway. For the first several months I was sending people to my website and I was trying to offer them a free e-book. The problem with sending people to your website is that there are so many distractions, there are so many tabs, and there are so many options.

After I read Russell Brunson's book, Dot Com Secrets, I stopped sending people to my website and I started sending people to a landing page where they only had two options, either give me their email or leave the page. Once I made that shift, I went from getting about 1000 emails a month to getting 5,000 emails a month on the same amount of traffic for my blogs. Then I shifted from an eBook to a checklist. Rather than giving people a high-commitment offer, not everyone wants to read a full eBook, I started offering people a free checklist of the best activities to do in the morning or a cheat sheet on how to do this or that, small actionable giveaways. Once I made a shift from the eBook to the checklist, I went from 5,000 emails a month to 20,000 emails a month with the same amount of traffic. That shows a few things. It shows first off that it's not the amount of traffic that matters, although that does matter, but it's also how the giveaway is structured and where you're sending people. Don't send people to a website, send people to a landing page. Give them an actionable, simple, and easy giveaway that's compelling. Those were some of the big things I learned and then a lot of it was investing.

Once I wrote the book proposal at the beginning of 2017, I got a $220,000 book deal for my first book because I had 100,000 email subscribers at the time. Then I invested that whole book contract, all $220,000 of it, back into the business. I learned how to get a little bit of passive income, a couple thousand bucks a month or up to now 10,000 to 15,000 bucks a month passive income just on traffic from the blog. I invested my entire book deal, all 220 grand of it right back into the book. I hired Ryan Holiday again to help me write the book because I wanted to get better at writing, I hired a publicist, I joined Genius Network, and I joined several other masterminds to create this huge network to set up the conditions so that the game would win. One of the things that Cal Newport talks about is that to be so good you can't be ignored, you have to develop rare skills and abilities. The only way to do that is to get the right mentoring and education. You develop rare skills and abilities and then you develop a network that you can actually give those rare skills and abilities to.

That's one of the big things that most people mistake about investing in yourself is they think that when you invest money in a mentorship or relationship, you immediately think that you've paid them so they should start paying you back. It's all focused on reciprocity. What I’ve found is that the way to go 10Xis you invest money in a mentorship or in a mastermind and then you use your rare skills and abilities that you've developed to be an extreme giver, not a taker. You're paying money to give them stuff. I actually did that. I paid Ryan Holiday a lot of money and he's helped me a lot, but I’ve helped him potentially even more. I've helped get him tens of thousands of email subscribers on his Medium without him having to do much work and I'm happy to do it because he's the mentor I want. It's the same with people in Genius Network. When you pay people money and then you help them, they help you 10Xwhat you could ever imagine because they love you because you're a giver, not a taker. Those were some of the key things I learned.

Going back to the way that you've grown and built an audience, you talked about changing to the landing page. Before that ever happens and before you can ever get to 5,000 email subscribers in a month, you've got to have 5,000 people at least coming to a landing page where you're asking for an email address. The truth is, the vast majority of people who are ever listen to this don't have anywhere near 5,000 people coming to their website in a month. What can you share in a couple of minutes that drove that for you?

I'll go back to the beginning. I started writing online. I took this online course and the online course was from Jon Morrow. It's all about guest blogging. I don't even know if it's available anymore, but it was $197. Truth be told, I actually offer my own course now at this point. I have several hours on writing headlines and things like that, and the only way anyone can get access to those courses if they actually pre-order Willpower Doesn't Work. There's over ten hours of content. What I learned from that course was how to write compelling headlines, and compelling headlines are things that dare or pressure the person to click on it. They need to be highly emotional and interesting, but then obviously you need to provide amazing content so that people get to the bottom and they love it.

I'll give you a couple of examples. For example, I wrote an article called Want to Become a Multi-Millionaire? Do These Fifteen Things Immediately. There's a big number, there's the word multimillionaire and it's “do these things immediately.” It's immediate. There's another article, If You're Not Doing These Five Things, Your Life Is More Off Track Than You Think. There's got to be some intrigue, some emotion, and it's got to feel actionable. Whatever your audience is, it doesn't have to be related to self-improvement. You want to focus on numbers, you want to focus on emotion, and you want to focus on outcomes and outcomes people either want or they want to avoid. If you're in the weight loss category, it's like “Here are six simple steps to avoid belly fat,” or “Here's how to lose 30 pounds in 30 days.” Numbers like that actually work. The big article that blew me up and initially it was called Eight Things Every Person Should Do Before 8:00 AM. It was eight before eight. How did that happen? I took this online course in about May of 2015, and from May until the end of June, so it was about a month and a half, two months, I wrote about 50 articles and I was pitching them to a ton of places. I was writing two to three articles a day sometimes. I was learning how to write headlines and I was practicing a lot.

There are two key concepts here. One is that quantity is the path to quality. If you do a ton of stuff in a small amount of time, you start to develop some skills and some mastery. Number two is it's better to be prolific than perfect. It's better to pump stuff out even if it's not perfect. You can't be a perfectionist if you want to get good at something. You have to be willing to say something that you might regret a few years down the road if you change your mind. There’s stuff that I’ve written about and if you're a person who's constantly learning and growing, your worldview better be changing and you have to be willing to own that. I look back at some of the stuff I initially wrote and I wouldn't have written that today. It's better to be prolific than perfect and it's okay to change your mind if you're going to be continually growing. That's what happened is I wrote 50 articles in two months, one of them went viral, and then I took what I was learning and started to get better and better.

You develop rare skills and abilities, you do a lot of the work, and then you learn from your errors and you learn marketing. That's how you do it. I've coached and trained a lot of people in a lot of people will write 50 articles and they'll not get one to go viral. Again, I had a lot of pressure to succeed. There were a lot of external demands on me. I had a wife and three kids that depend on me, I had been studying again for five years. I wanted to be a writer from 2010 to 2015 so I had read thousands of books. I now had this external pressure to succeed and then I was investing in myself and I was pumping out tons of articles. If you combine all that together, eventually it kicked. It was the right place at the right time too. Medium was totally primed for someone like me to jump on and start blowing it up with self-improvement content that was different from stuff that they'd seen before. A lot of it was situational.

 If we do not create and control our environment, our environment creates and controls us.

If we do not create and control our environment, our environment creates and controls us.

Sometimes those opportunities do come along, but the key takeaway is that focused action is critical. Having gone through a period of a couple of years where we wrote an email to our list every day, which is a lot of content that we put together, I became a better writer than I’ve ever been and it wouldn't have happened without that focused effort. What you're describing is the same, you've got to at some point do the work. I want to hear more about your book. I know you've got a new book coming out. You were gracious enough to share an advance copy with me and I’ve read it. It's fantastic. I would love for you to share with everybody a little bit about the book and why you wrote it.

A lot of my inspiration to write the book came from being a foster parent of three kids, also studying psychology and studying the power of environment. One of my favorite quotes in the book comes from Dr. Marshall Goldsmith. He is a psychologist, and he says that if we do not create and control our environment, our environment creates and controls us. One of the things that I’ve found in studying psychology is that western people, Americans and Europeans, we are very individualistic. We are very focused on ourselves and we almost entirely ignore the power of surroundings and about how the situation influences your thoughts, your behaviors, and even your identity.

Social psychologists have this idea called the fundamental attribution error. Let's say you're driving down the road and someone cuts you off. If someone cuts you off, you're likely to think like that's a bad person. You're not likely to think that person may be in a hurry because of some other factors. When someone does that, they commit what psychologists call the fundamental attribution error. It's the fundamental decision making mistake that Western thinkers make. What the book is all about is that your environment is very powerful. You are the product of your environment, whether it's reactive or proactive, whether you've created an environment you want to be a part of, or whether you're grinding against an environment that you don't want to be a part of, and most people's environments are conflicting with their goals.

Most people's environments are pushing against them and that's why they have to use so much willpower. They have to use willpower in an environment where they have to constantly be trying to resist temptation, whether it's sugar or distraction on the Internet or buzzing on their phone. Most people's environments are set up for them to fail. Because of that, there's a constant use of willpower, and as willpower research finds it's like a muscle that depletes with use. The more decisions you make, the less good those decisions become. Willpower is a bad approach to life, and the reason people use it is because they're so focused on themselves rather than their surroundings. This book is all about how to create situations that force you to succeed, how to think more holistic about life, and how to be more mindful. To me, I think it's going to be a compelling book in 2018. It could be one of the biggest self-improvement books of the year because it's going to be compelling for people. It's going to change the conversation and flip the script a little bit. That's my goal, is that it helps people to actually make the changes they want. In my opinion, people are not going to make the change they want if they don't also change their environment. You can't change yourself if you don't change your environment, they are two parts of the exact same hole. That’s the premise and the book is a very strategic guide about how to change your life.

You talked about two types of environments in the book, high stress and high recovery. Can you explain the two and how they play a role?

In the world of weightlifting, let's say a person does a lot of intense resistance training. They do a lot of weightlifting. It's not during the weightlifting that a person actually gains muscle and gains strength, it’s actually while they're resting and it's while they're asleep. A lot of people don't get stronger because they don't rest enough. Also in the realm of creativity, most creative ideas don't happen while you were at your office. Research says only 6% of good ideas happen while you're at work. Most of those ideas happen while you are totally outside the work environment relaxing and resting. I call these types of environments enriched environments, and enriched environment is where there are lots of things that keep you totally engaged and focused in the moment.

 If you actually give yourself time to rest and recover, you're going to get a lot of clarity.

If you actually give yourself time to rest and recover, you're going to get a lot of clarity.

In a high stress environment, you have a lot of responsibility, you're trying stuff you've never done before, it's difficult, and there are consequences. All of these components of the environment force you to be engaged and you're not distracted. That's almost the opposite of how most people's work environments are. Most people's work environments are low stress, low consequences, high distraction, low flow. The idea is that in both of these types of enriched environments, you're totally engaged and you're in a flow state because the environment is set up for that. If you're in a high pressure situation, you're going to be working very hard, but then you need to rest. Ultimately it's while you're resting and recovering that you're going to be getting not only your best ideas, but it's where the growth happens. There's an idea in organizational psychology, which is what I'm getting my PhD in, and it's called psychologically detaching from work. It talks about how people who don't actually detach from work, mentally, emotionally, and physically, they will have a hard time reattaching to work when they go back.

Most people in today's world, they're always plugged in, they always have their phone on, they're always checking their email, they're never fully on and they're never fully off. They're always midway in between. The idea of enriched environment is that when you're in a high-pressure and high-stakes situation, you're fully on. You are not distracted. When you're in a high-rest environment, you're fully off. You’re fully detach from work, you're fully detached from what you're doing, and you're totally engaged with your other life, whether that's resting or being with your family. In a high rest environment, you're just totally recovering. During that recovery you're setting yourself up to grow in all sorts of ways. In my opinion, those two environments are essential for growth and they're very rare. Very few people have a truly high rest environment and very few people have a truly high stress environment that's forcing them to succeed.

To make this practical for everybody listening, can you describe how you apply these in your own situation?

When it comes to high recovery, people need to optimize for high recovery first. Allow yourself off days, like free days. Dan Sullivan, the founder of Strategic Coach which is a really smart program, he talks about having focus days and having free days. He recommends all entrepreneurs take 150 free days a year. These focus in free days are the same ideas, high stress, high recovery environments. On a free day, you don't work you. If you get an email and you check it on a free day, it no longer counts as a free day. What that means is allow yourself to be off. Tim Farris calls it mini retirement. Take a few mini retirements regularly, give yourself a day where you go and rest and go have a fun day, or just a day where you're with your kids and your wife and you don't have your phone on you. Take a Sabbath, whatever it is. Give yourself time off and recover and engaged back into life. People are so addicted to work. That’s the first practicalities. If you actually give yourself time to rest and recover, you're going to get a lot of clarity. You're going to realize potentially that you're off path. Once you actually get clear, you realize, “I’ve been grinding on the wrong goals,” or “I’ve been doing the wrong things.” That's how you create a high rest environment, is you take off more time. When you're actually home, be home.

Another thing that Dan Sullivan says is wherever you are, make sure that's where you are. Wherever you are, that's where you should be. Be where you are and actually allow yourself more time off, but then when you're actually at work, delete the distractions. Do what you can to not browse the Internet, give yourself timelines. Parkinson's law, give yourself shorter timelines, increase the responsibility of what you're doing, take on different roles, invest in yourself more, invest in relationships, make your work more difficult. What happened to me was I was in a lot of ways forced into a high stress environment when I became a foster parent. The demands were very high and the consequences for failure were high. In the book The Millionaire Next Door, these two professors did a huge research study and they found that the people who become affluent and successful are the people who get paid for results.

Most employees, they don't get paid for results. They get paid for time on the clock, and that's not a high stress environment. You need to get paid for what you actually accomplished. If you want to be in that high level of environment, you need to get paid for what you achieve and there needs to be high level consequences for what you don't. Then you need to continually be trying things you've never done before. One of the people I talk about in the book is John Burke. He's a famous pianist and every album he writes, he tries stuff he's never done before. He writes songs that he doesn't have the capacity to play. That's one of the things that you do is you try stuff that you've never done before, that creates flow, and there's got to be high consequence for failure. Those are some things you could implement.

The book is one of the better self-help books I’ve ever read and I’ve read hundreds at this point in my career. What I love about is that it's compact. It's not this long, drawn out death march to the result. You get right to the point and you give practical advice and so well done. Where can folks find the book? What's the best place for them to go to find the book?

You can go to Amazon. I've provided a link for you, which is WillpowerDoesntWork.com/Books-Bonus-Giveaway.

I encourage you to go get the book. It is fantastic, particularly the way that Ben describes how to create your environments so that you're set up for success. I haven't seen that covered in that way anywhere else, and so I recommend that you go and get it. Ben, thanks so much for investing some time with me. This has been a lot of fun.

Thanks for your time.

About Benjamin Hardy

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I'm Benjamin Hardy. After three long years fighting in court, my wife, Lauren, and I recently adopted our three kids!

You're probably here because of my writing. I write about self-improvement, motivation, learning, and entrepreneurship. Since late 2015, I've been the top writer on Medium.com.

The purpose of my writing is to help you live in alignment with your highest values and ambitions. To help you COMMIT to the life you really want to live. 

Mentioned in the Show

3 Digital Marketing Trends for Service Businesses [Traffic and Conversion Summit Edition]

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In this episode you'll discover the three biggest digital marketing trends impacting service businesses. I just returned from Traffic and Conversion Summit, where the entire conference was focused on these three shifts.

I've distilled it down to principles you need to apply to your business, and explained why they're important. In just 20 minutes, you'll have a high-level game plan for marketing your firm in 2018 and beyond.

3 Digital Marketing Insights from Traffic and Conversion Summit

Here's what's inside this episode...

  1. The critical role of content in your marketing (and the unique advantage it gives you, if you do it right).
  2. How to connect with the influencers and key prospects in your niche in a new and powerful way (this is especially useful if you do tradeshow or conference marketing).
  3. A new way of creating more human experiences on your website that high-ticket prospects prefer, and will shorten your sales cycle.

Listen to Steve Gordon now...

3 Digital Marketing Trends for Service Businesses [Traffic and Conversion Summit Edition]

In this episode, I'm going to share a recap of Traffic &Conversion Summit. It's the big marketing conference that happens in San Diego every year. I came away with three key insights that I'm going to share with you. They're what I call the Three Cs from Traffic &Conversion. We're going to walk through those. Before we do, I want to encourage you to go get my latest book, The Exponential Network Strategy. It's available completely for free. You can go to UnstoppableCEO.net/ExponentialNetwork and grab the book there completely free. You can download it. There are videos that take you chapter by chapter through the book where I explain each concept. You're going to get a ton out of it. Our response has been positive so far. I look forward to you getting that. Drop me a line and let me know what you think once you got it.

Traffic &Conversion was a great conference. There were close to 7,000 attendees out there from all corners of the marketing world. As I talked with folks at the conference and attended sessions, in my mind there were three big themes that came out of it that you can apply in your business. I call them the Three Cs from Traffic &Conversion. The first C is content. There was a lot of talk about content and content marketing. It's a digital marketing conference so no surprise there. What struck me was the fact that despite all of the changes in marketing, despite all of the content that is put out currently, more now than ever before in human history, content is still an incredibly one of the most effective ways to sell today. I see a lot of people doing it in a way that is damaging. They're doing what I call churn and burn content where they're creating fluffy content that doesn't have a lot of depth to it. That isn't working as well. That content is commoditized. You can get it anywhere. To be quite honest, Google isn't going to reward that content. They're not going to rank it.

What I gathered out of the conference from watching several speakers talk about this is that the real success is in sharing deep content., In-depth articles, in-depth videos, in-depth interviews where you're going beyond surface level and getting into information that is worthy of someone's time. It works for a number of reasons. Number one, it conveys to a prospect your worldview. When you have shared worldview with another human, you begin to develop a relationship. You begin to develop trust in that person or that business. Shared worldview is critically important and one of the things that needs to be in content. One of the reasons that you see that surface level content that a lot of people put out is that it can be done without sharing your worldview, without having much of an opinion. You see this in posts or articles that just share ten tips, but each of the tips is at the top surface level. That thing doesn't get you the relationship and trust that you're looking for to advance the sale. Google is the primary entity that can put eyeballs in front of that, unless you're driving your own people to it through ads. They're not going to reward that because their customers, the people searching, aren't going to find that useful. It’s important to infuse everything that you're doing with your worldview. It needs to be opinionated.

The second reason that it works so well is that when you transfer real insights, that's something we've been doing as human beings for a long time. From an evolutionary standpoint, probably a fundamental advantage that humans have over other species on the planet is our ability to share information is unique and powerful. It's something that's baked into us. When we share useful information, particularly when it's deep information that helps another person achieve something, get a result, or move forward in some way, gain some understanding that they didn't have, it helps develop trust and relationship. We're sharing something of ourselves, something that we've gained a resource in the form of knowledge, insight, wisdom that we've created, and we're transferring that to another person. It's incredibly powerful and can lay the foundation of trust and relationship and do it at a scale that you can’t do it in any other way. That part is critical.

We're all beginning to understand what it's like to operate a business in a truly global economy. That was talked about a lot in the ‘80s. It was talked about more in the ‘90s. It's here now. One of the ways that we can build relationship across geographies, whether that's a regional geography, whether that is national or international, is share our knowledge and insights. It's one of the few ways that we can do right now with available technology that has a cost low enough that makes it work. That's one of the reasons you're seeing so much content out there. One of the reasons you didn't see it twenty years ago is not that we have any more knowledge today than we had then, but it's just so much easier to distribute it and less expensive to distribute it. We don't have to stick it on a piece of paper and have someone physically deliver it. Because of that, we're seeing a proliferation of the content. Service business are businesses where what we do isn't easy to show anyone. What we do isn't necessarily a tangible thing. Creating content, sharing your worldview and sharing your expertise, your wisdom, and your insights gives you a way to demonstrate that you can't do in any other forum.

 It's amazing to see the importance of getting together face-to-face

It's amazing to see the importance of getting together face-to-face

The product folks, the ones that are selling product where it's tangible and you can see it and see the utility in it, have it much easier. They're able to demonstrate what they have and show it to you. In a way that if you’re a doctor and you're about to do surgery, you can't possibly demonstrate the surgery to the patient beforehand. If you're an attorney, it's hard to demonstrate how you're going to litigate that case before you litigate the case. Regardless of what profession you're in, we all run into that problem. Content, no matter what form it's in, whether it's an article, a podcast, a webinar, or a live presentation, however you deliver it, gives you an opportunity to demonstrate what you do for your clients, to make that a tangible thing that they can see and assess objectively before they engage you. It can become very powerful if you use it that way. For those three reasons, shared worldview, the ability to build trust, relationship, and scale, and the ability to demonstrate an otherwise intangible service, content is extremely powerful and that's why we're seeing so much of it. The thing that came out of the summit was that it is becoming more and more effective to use content to convert bigger and bigger clients. No matter what business you're in at this stage, it needs to be playing a part in what you're doing.

The second big insight that I gained from the conference was the idea of connection. It's amazing to see the importance of getting together face to face. We've replaced so much human interaction with social media. Even with high-level online interaction through video conferencing, Skype, Zoom and all those great tools, there's still tremendous value in connecting with other humans face to face in the same physical location and space. I had such a great opportunity to connect with so many of the people that I'd met and interviewed on the podcast in person and deepen those relationships. I saw Tony Grebmeier, John Corcoran, Dr. Jeremy Weisz, Dan Kuschell, Mitch Russo, Mandi Ellefson, Bob Serling, Kevin Thompson, Josh Turner and so many more that you'll hear from on the podcast. It's something that if you aren't building that into your business development, make sure that you've got a way to go connect with prospects and the influencers that are in your niche, in your industry.

One of the great tools to have in your toolbox as you're doing that is some platform where you're interviewing these people. I talk about this a lot in my new book, The Exponential Network Strategy. If you haven't gone and gotten a copy, I encourage you to go get a copy. The URL is Unstoppable CEO.net/ExponentialNetwork. In the book, I basically lay out the playbook for you on how to use these types of interviews with the people that you want to connect with as a high-value way to open the relationship. Give them value and create strong relationships quickly, because of the way that you're opening the relationship. It’s been transformational for our business. We've used it for years and have formalized it over the last year in this podcast. I encourage you to look at what I lay out in the book and then think about how you can apply that the next time you're going to be someplace where your influencers, your prospects or the people are that you need to connect with and bring into your network. It's a very powerful way to do it, to be able to take those relationships and be very different than anyone else that is at that event. At Traffic & Conversion, there are a lot of people who have podcasts and do interviews. That had more to do with the fact that it was a bunch of marketers getting together than anything else. If you're in another industry and you show up at that industry conference, chances are you're going to be the only one that's doing this thing. It will allow you to be extremely different than anyone else. That's a powerful place to be.

 To be able to engage in a conversation virtually, either through email or some of the new chat tools, gives you a very different way of engaging a prospect

To be able to engage in a conversation virtually, either through email or some of the new chat tools, gives you a very different way of engaging a prospect

The third and final big takeaway from Traffic &Conversion Summit for me was the idea of conversations. We've talked about the Three Cs, content, connection, and the third is conversation. The trend is conversational marketing. In other words, instead of simply trying to gather leads, one way communicate with those leads once we've collected them is to quickly engage in a conversation. This can be done through email. In fact, we had a full day workshop with our elite mastermind clients. We went through how to do this in email because you can do it there just as effectively as some of the other tools that I'm going to talk about to be able to create these interactions where there's a back and forth between you and the prospect and you get them into that back and forth very quickly after they come to you. The goal is to create some momentum in that conversation and in that interaction towards a next step with you.

For most of the businesses that we would work with, that next step is going to be a meeting, a discovery call, a needs analysis, a sales call. To be able to engage in a conversation virtually, either through email or some of the new chat tools, the bots as they're called, gives you a very different way of engaging a prospect. While there are companies doing it, there are a lot fewer companies doing it right now than we're going to see in eighteen months to two years, five years. It's going to become more of the mainstream way to interact with prospects. For most of our audience where you're selling at a high ticket or you're selling B2B, this is something that you're going to want to be thinking about. How can I engage my prospects in a conversation that helps me understand them more, serves them, helps them get to a result faster, and takes us down a sales process more quickly and effectively?

The way that I see this changing things is right now, particularly with digital marketing and online marketing, someone comes to your website and it's basically a ‘choose your own adventure’ for the prospect. Sometimes it's not a great adventure. It's a “choose your own adventure.” They come, they may land on an article that you've written, they may go to another article or series of articles, they may leave, they may come back. You're probably only trying to capture an email address. While that's good and important, and I'm not recommending that you stopped doing that at all, there's a way to turn that from a “choose your own adventure” experience to a guided and led adventure that better serves the prospect ultimately. That's where these conversational tools can come into play and be an advantage for you and for your business and a great service for the prospects. If you've gone through any of these processes, you'll note, if they're done well, that it helps you tremendously. It saves you a ton of time because you're able to get to the point more quickly and get the answer that you need more quickly with that particular business.

They're not all done well. Some of them are the digital equivalent of the department store clerk that the minute you walked through the doors of the department store says, “How can I help you today?”That's great, but the advantage is being able to see where people are interacting, observe what they're doing, and then come in and open the conversation with something that's relevant. Similar to a great department store clerk who will do that, they'll watch what you're looking at. They'll get a sense for what you might be interested in, and then they will come along and begin a conversation with you that is additive to that, rather than just being lazy and saying, “How can I help you today?”That's the advantage that these tools give, particularly for folks who are in B2B or high ticket sales. In the past, there was no good way to do this without coming off as being a little bit pushy. There are going to be ways to incorporate these tools to help guide your prospects towards the discovery of what would otherwise be a complicated solution for them. Get them to a point where they're being served more efficiently. The advantage to them is they're going to save time and the advantage to you is you're going to cut time out of the sales cycle. It's definitely something to be paying attention to.

 Content is still critically important for service businesses because it gives you the power of demonstration.

Content is still critically important for service businesses because it gives you the power of demonstration.

Those are the three big takeaways from Traffic & Conversion. Content is still critically important for service businesses especially because it gives you the power of demonstration which you don't have otherwise. Connection, get out there and get in front of people. Use The Exponential Network Strategy and what I share in the book as a way to connect with people that might otherwise be difficult for you to reach and connect with. Then third, begin to think about how you can use conversational marketing in the communication that you have with your prospects. You can do this perfectly well over email and then grow into some of these other, more sophisticated tools as it makes sense to do that.

I hope you got a lot out of this. It was a fantastic event. Next year, let me know when you’re going and we'll connect. Until next time, stay unstoppable.

Mentioned in the Show

How to Multiply Your Network (while spending less time networking)

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In this episode, I’m excited to announce the release of my new book, The Exponential Network Strategy!

If you’ve ever been frustrated by the amount of time and energy required to “network” and disappointed by the results, this episode (and the book) will help.

You’ll discover a new way to create real business relationships that lead to referral opportunities.

And, in the episode, I share how to become “The Success Journalist” in your niche...a technique for getting access to you most important prospects.

To get your copy of the book (free) go here >>

Listen to Steve Gordon now...

How to Multiply Your Network (while spending less time networking)

This episode is particularly special because we've got a big announcement. My brand new book, The Exponential Network Strategy, is out and available. We're excited to share it with everybody. We're going to do something a bit different. I'm going to talk a little bit about the book and share some of the insights that are in the book with you, and then I'm going to tell you how you can get a copy of the book for free.

First, I want to talk about why I wrote this book. It's a book about how to expand your business network and how to create business relationships that are real, that matter, that have substance to them. It’s unlike the ones that are created at most networking events where you show up and somebody sticks a business card in your face and you walk away hoping to build that magical, mystical, mutually beneficial relationship that frankly, in my experience, hardly ever materializes. There are a lot of good intentions behind that, but most of the time those relationships don't become fruitful. What I have been doing for the last seven or eight years or beyond that, is follow this technique as many as fifteen years ago in my first business as a method that allows you to build a relationship to give a tremendous amount of value without a whole lot of energy and effort invested on your part, but a lot of value to the person that you're networking with. It brings with it a lot of leverage so that for a small input of your time, you get a big output in a big result. That's what The Exponential Network Strategy is all about.

 The Exponential Network Strategy: A Simple, Authentic Method for Multiplying Your Business Network

The Exponential Network Strategy: A Simple, Authentic Method for Multiplying Your Business Network

In the book, I walk you through all of that. I want to share just a little bit of it with you. The reason that I wrote this book is because for most of us, the advice that we get about how to build business relationships and how to grow our network comes down to get out there and see and be seen, shake hands, kiss babies, and go to all the networking events that you can go to, cram as many as you can in an otherwise busy schedule. In fact, one of the big international business networking groups advocates the idea that you need to spend eight to ten hours a week on growing and building your network. Certainly, that can pay big dividends, but in reality, there are very few people who can devote that time to growing their network. What you're going to discover in the book is a way to get that same effect, probably a bigger effect, in an hour a week. In some cases, it can be done in an hour to an hour and a half a month. It's accessible. No matter how busy you are, you've got the time to do this. Back when I was doing a lot of networking and business development in my first company, I spent a lot of time at networking events. I'd go to a breakfast event. I'd probably have lunch with a referral partner or coffee with a referral partner during the day. Then oftentimes at night, at least a couple of nights a week, there would be a networking social, a mixer, or a chamber event. All of those things were great, but after a while it begins to wear on you and it can become very difficult to keep it up.

I'll never forget, I was going to all of these events and I kept seeing one particular vendor at all of them. He was an older gentleman. I was in my 30sat the time and he was in his 60s, so quite a bit older than me. He’d seen it all and done it all. I get to talking with him and we became friends. I got to appreciate the fact that he had been working it through this circuit for decades and he knew everybody that there was to know. He'd seen it all, done it all. Honestly, he had gotten a little bit cynical about the whole process. It hit me one evening, we were sitting at a bar together towards the end of a mixer, and he was a little bit burnout and you could tell. I realized at that point that if I kept going doing what I was doing, I was 30 years away from being that guy. I knew at that point that I needed a different approach, an approach that allowed me to focus on my business, allowed me to make the relationships that I needed to make, and allowed me to get home and spend time with my family and do the other things in life that I wanted to do and have some balance. I've written about this guy before and what I saw him doing is what I call the hamster wheel of death. He's just going and going and he couldn't get off because he didn't have a better method of creating the relationships that he wanted to create. That's a scary and dangerous thing. I don't want to be on the hamster wheel of death and I don't want you to be on the hamster wheel of death. It's a terrible place to exist.

Some of you may be there. You may be in that place where you're just trying to hustle and build relationships. I get it. I know that you need to do that sometimes, but it's not sustainable for the long run. You need a way that gives you some leverage, some scalability to the whole thing, and works a whole lot better at the same time. That's what the book is all about. I wrote this for people who are sick and tired of the old networking, of doing that time-consuming show up and mingle in a room of people that for the most part are there because they want to sell you something and aren't necessarily there for a real relationship. I've just found that those never pan out. Occasionally, you'll find a good partner. I used to go to those events and I had a coach at the time, a sales coach, who was mentoring me. She taught me, "Show up and have your quota in mind. When you get your quota, you can leave."Sometimes my quota was I needed to meet two quality people. Sometimes, I needed to meet four. It was a struggle to find people that weren't in it all for themselves, and that can get frustrating. We've all been cornered by that person that leads with their business card. We never want to be that person. You want to find a way to build these relationships and do it where you're coming from a place of value from the beginning, and that's easy for you to do.

 You need a way that gives you some leverage, some scalability to the whole thing, and works a whole lot better at the same time

You need a way that gives you some leverage, some scalability to the whole thing, and works a whole lot better at the same time

One of the big challenges I had when I was doing that old style networking is that after I met somebody and we connected and felt like this was a relationship to where we can help one another, I felt like I had to run away and go and find that person a great referral or a great connection or an introduction. Oftentimes, when you're working in a high trust business where you're selling at high ticket and you've got to have good relationship with clients, it's difficult to go find that referral. Imagine an attorney. If you're trying to refer an attorney, it can become really difficult because you've got to know somebody that's got a big legal problem that they need that help right now. If you want to refer a financial advisor, you've got to know someone well enough to know that if you refer a person into them who is going to trust them with their life savings, that they're going to take care of that and be a good steward of that. In our types of businesses where there's a lot of money involved typically and a lot a lot of trust, you've got to have a very good relationship with that networking partner before you can refer them. I'd go out and try and find those referrals or find those connections, and I always found it to be difficult to do. I found that even though when I was able to do it, oftentimes I wasn't having that reciprocated. It was a one way street and I was wearing myself out doing it.

The book is for people who are experiencing that and want a different way to grow their network. Frankly, it's also for people who are looking for an easy way to access their prospects. That's very different from the old school trying to beat the door down and attack through the front gate to get into see a prospect. This method that we talk about in the book is an excellent way to get in front of your very best prospects as well. What you're going to find in the book is a way to network that gives you leverage. It's something that's a lot of fun to do. It's got a high-perceived value so the people that you're networking with will look at this because it's so very different. They're going to look at this as a unique and valuable activity, and they're going to want to be involved in it. The value in this is you're using a method of connecting with people that has super high-perceived value, doesn't take a lot of your time, and allows you to network with some people that are otherwise hard to reach. The way that we do that, the mechanism that we use, is an interview.

This podcast is an example of this whole process. With the podcast, we reach out to people that I want to be connected with. We invite them on to do an interview. It allows me to say to them, "I have a way I can promote you. I can share your expertise and your knowledge and your wisdom with all of the people that I know. I'd love to do that. Would you be willing to sit down with me for 30 minutes and have a conversation? We'll have a lot of fun doing it. I promise that you will be able to pull your expertise out of it, no preparation involved or nothing. We just get on the line and we talk for 30 minutes."In doing that, I've created valuable piece of media that I get to share with you and all of our podcast audience. I also get the opportunity to give something to that person that not very many people are going to give them in a given year in some cases and in many markets outside of marketing. You may be the only person that ever invites your guests, the people you interview, the people you're networking with, to come and be interviewed. It's a unique experience, particularly when you get outside the marketing world.

That's where I started doing this back before podcasts even existed. We used to interview people over the phone and record that and put it out on CDs. This fundamental strategy gives you a very strong way to open up a relationship without you having to go, run around and find a high-value referral. It has the same or maybe even higher-perceived value because it's so very different. You could be the only person that ever interviews the particular person you're networking within their life, and because you're creating that unique experience for them, it makes you very memorable to them. It creates a great deal of reciprocity in that relationship and it can be very valuable. I talk in the book about how to take that and then use that to add value to the other person's network in a couple of different ways that can help create sales for you. You'll find in the book the blueprint for this entire strategy, how to do it, how to approach the people that you might want to interview, that you want to network with and connect with. The interviews are just the mechanism. This is all about being able to get in touch with someone that you want to have a relationship with in business and approach them in a way that is non-threatening, that is all about them to begin with, and positions you very uniquely.

 Creating that unique experience for the particular person you're networking makes you very memorable to them.

Creating that unique experience for the particular person you're networking makes you very memorable to them.

One of the things that I talk about in the book, in the pre-release of the book we've gotten a ton of great feedback on, is what I call becoming the success journalists for your niche. If you have prospects that are difficult to reach, prospects that you want to get into, but you don't want to show up as a salesperson, especially not at first, one of the things that we found with our clients to be successful is to be what I call the success journalist for your niche. What I mean by that is you can go to your best prospects and tell them, "You've been very successful, Mr. Prospect, and I'm on a mission to document the success of the leaders in this industry. You're one of the ones that we've identified. We think you have a great story to tell and I'd love to sit down and interview you and talk with you about what's made you successful in business.” It's a fantastic way to open up a relationship with a prospect that may be very difficult to get to, particularly if you're selling B2B and trying to get at the top level of a company.

What I found is that most business owners, most CEOs, want to give back and they want to share what it is that got them to the top. Most of them are very open about that. If you give them the venue to do it, they're going to want to do it and they're going to feel good about that process. It's an excellent way to become an authority in your niche very quickly. If you've got a bunch of business owners in a particular industry that you're targeting, especially if they associate with one another as happens in almost every industry through trade associations and things like that, when some of them find out that you're interviewing others about how successful they've been, ego kicks in and pretty soon you'll have people chasing you down. They'll want to be interviewed and want to share their story as well. I talk about how to make this work in the book. I wanted to give you that little preview because it's such an effective way to start a new relationship with a prospect. I don't want to give away the whole book here because we want to give the book to you, and there's a lot of detail that we couldn't cover in a podcast episode. I wanted to give you that little preview of some of the things that are in the book. It's just one of the techniques that we share. I know that those who get it and who apply it will see some fast results. That's what we've seen as we've implemented and that's what we've seen as our clients have implemented it.

I want to talk a little bit about how to get the book and what you get when you go and get the book. The book is available on our website and it's also available on Amazon.com. If you want the paperback version of the book, go to Amazon. You can get it there and they'll ship it to you for the price of a book. I'm not sure what they're charging. On any given day, they adjust their prices, but it should be around $10 for the paperback. If you would prefer the e-book and the audio and video program that we've put together around this, you can get that on our website and it's completely free. You can just go there and get it for free. We want to give it to you. When you go there to get it on the website, you'll get a PDF copy of the book that you can download. There is a special audio and video interview where I sat down with one of our long-time clients, John Curry, who you've heard on the podcast before. John and I sat down, he interviewed me and we went chapter-by-chapter through the book. Not only do we share the strategies and techniques that are in the book, but because John and I have such a strong relationship, he was able to help dive in and help us get a lot of clarity around what the book covers, and do it in a way that’s hopefully a little more interesting than just somebody sitting there and reading the text of the book. You'll find that unique and interesting.

 Most business owners and CEOs, want to give back and they want to share what it is that got them to the top

Most business owners and CEOs, want to give back and they want to share what it is that got them to the top

When you go to the site, it's completely free. You'll get the PDF e-book and you'll get all the audio and video content that's there. We want to get this out to as many people as possible. You can get that by going to the website. It's at UnstoppableCEO.net/ExponentialNetwork. In fact, if you just go to our homepage, you'll see the book right there. You'll be able to get it right off the homepage as well at UnstoppableCEO.net. All that I ask is that when you get the book, if you read it and if you find it valuable, share it with the people in your network. If you get them reading it, what's going to happen is they're going to understand the strategy as well, and you'll be able to work together with them to be able to together build a bigger, stronger network for everyone. I'm encouraging you to share it with them. You can send them there and they can get their free copy as well. It will create for you a powerful way to build business connections.

I get asked all the time, "Is this just for people who are in marketing or have big podcasts and all that?"It has far more effect for local businesses who are focused on smaller niche markets and want to be the authority in that market. If you think about it, if you're in a local market or if you're in a small niche market that might be regional or even national, but a niche, it's very easy for you to be become the go-to authority, the recognized authority, in that niche if you've gone around and interviewed all of the experts. You become associated with them. You get the authority that they have, it rubs off on you. It allows you to do something for those people that nobody else is ever going to do for them. Those people are never interviewed in any media. The fact that you're able to do that for them and share it, whether you simply just email it out, whether you create a full podcast, no matter how you do it, you're going to be interviewing them and you're going to be sharing it with people, and that's going to be valuable to them. It doesn't matter what type of business you're in, this can work well for building connections for you.

As I said, we're excited about it. We've been doing this for a number of years and it's been a huge benefit to growing our network and taking things to another level. I know it'll do the same for you. You can get the book by going to UnstoppableCEO.net. Either look for it on the homepage or you can go to UnstoppableCEO.net/ExponentialNetwork and download it there. I'd love for you to read it and I'd love for you to send me an email to Steve@UnstoppableCEO.net. Let me know what you think. Let me know how it goes the first time that you asked somebody to be interviewed. We've got a complete script for how to do that in the book so it’s easy for you. I'd love to hear the success that you're having. I hope you enjoy the book and good luck.

Mentioned in the Show

Tony Grebmeier | Secrets of Building an 8-Figure Business

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What motivates you? What do you really want out of your business… and life? And how are you going to get it? You might think you’ve answered those questions long ago. But Tony Grebmeier knows you can dig deeper and find the real truth.

Everybody has trials and tribulations in their career… and at home. Tony, a partner in ShipOffers, an eight-figure supplement business, certainly had his share. But you’ll be inspired by how he dealt with his issues to find your own truth. When Tony found him, he was able to take on anything that came at him.

You’ll find out how he did it in this interview. We also get into…

  • The role of “play” in building a thriving business
  • How to take goals from fantasy to reality
  • The Curse of Me Too
  • Implementing the G.R.O.W.T.H. Mindset at work… and at home
  • Two dangerous words entrepreneurs should avoid
  • And so much more...

Listen to Steve Gordon and Tony Grebmeier now…

Tony Grebmeier | Secrets of Building an 8-Figure Business

We're talking with Tony Grebmeier. Tony launched this first online business in Silicon Valley. It was a web traffic and marketing company which eventually turned into his first supplement company. In 2001, he went on to build a second supplement company, ShipOffers, with two of his childhood best friends: Doug Roberts and Gil Gerstein. Sixteen years later, ShipOffers is an eight-figure business that has been an Inc. 5000 company for the past four years in a row. Tony, if you've been in it this long, you've been on the rollercoaster. You’ve been up and down. You've been through probably everything you can go through as an entrepreneur. If you stay in long enough, it seems like you get to see it all. I want to welcome you to the Unstoppable CEO Podcast and I'm excited to speak with you.

What an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much, Steve. It's going to be a lot of fun. I'm excited to talk to your audience and hopefully leave them inspired and go make a change in their life because we all have a change we could be making.

You’ve been in this current business a long time and been in the overall game for awhile. Why don't you give everybody just a little bit of context so they understand your background and what got you to this point?

I'd love to. If I back up to how I got started in life and business, it’s pretty straightforward. I grew up in a small town in Santa Cruz, California and I lived in a neighborhood called Rolling Woods. On my street were some crazy kids just like me, or maybe I was the crazy one and they were just kids. When you're playing as a child with your friends, you never want to stop playing. You just want to have fun. You hear your parents calling in the background, “Come home,” and you're like, "No, one more shot." Fast forward in 1996, one of those friends was in college and he called me and he says, "I've got a great idea." His name was Gil Gerstein and he goes, "Would you like to go to Vegas and take a look at a business opportunity?" I'm like, "I'm a radio DJ. I make $35,000 a year. I'm pretty good." We go to Vegas and we started talking and he's like, "The internet." I'm like, "What's the internet?" He's like, "It's that thing that's coming out that everybody should be on." I'm like, "I have an address at CompuServe." He's like, "There's so much more."

 They're not clear of what they want so they're stuck doing what they've been doing.

They're not clear of what they want so they're stuck doing what they've been doing.

We started talking and he got me interested and before you know it, we were building websites. We were making money building websites. We learned how to drive traffic. We ended up starting to sell traffic to Yahoo and Google through various ways. I was truly inspired. Fast forward to 2001, I had already been in a health supplement business with Gil, I saw our other friend from childhood just getting his MBA from Pepperdine. Gil and I said, "We don't have anybody who knows how to manage finances. We always make it and we seem to spend it." Doug said, "I would love to partner with you." We launched EyeFive, which is the parent company, and then ShipOffers. In 2001, we were three crazy kids who grew up together from Santa Cruz living in Southern California figuring out how to make money. It was fun but I had been burned a couple times in the supplement game. Vendors didn't send product when they said they were going to send it, banks got charged back notices. We were always finding traffic to be hard problems to come by. The next thing I know, I'm like, "Why don't we look at the other side of the industry? Why don't we take everything that we had learned in four and five years and apply it to helping marketers become successful?" That's how EyeFive became what it is now, which is the company that pushed ShipOffers. We just changed our name midway.

Since 2001, we've been helping online marketers in the health and wellness industry. We help people in survival. We help people to take the money concept or the money component and move it to the side. We help people to launch products faster without having to come up with so much capital, and then we send you an invoice after it ships to your customer. That's our business, essentially. Along the way, as you talked about the rollercoaster, I've figured out I'd probably fallen off a dozen or so times. Somehow I get crazy enough to get back in the line, get back on the rollercoaster, and do it all over again. I got to work with those childhood friends, those people every single day. You probably have heard this, “Don't go into business with your friends. It's a bad idea.” I'm so glad that I didn't listen to everybody who told me it was a bad idea. It's been the best experience. We have the greatest conversations, watch their kids grow up, my kids grow up and we learned to have fun. At the end of the day, just like I started, it's all about play. I want to have fun when I come to the job that I love. We have 33 employees that make up our team and we want to come here and have fun. That's myself and my business, and I love what I get to do.

I love the way you pivoted partway through. We all get faced with those moments and sometimes it's hard to make the decision to do that. I've been through that decision point. To leave behind what you've built up to that point to go do something different is not the easiest thing in the world to do. Congratulations for having made that decision. It sounds like it's worked out well. I know things probably didn't work perfectly through all of those years. There were probably some bumps along the road. What are some of the ways that you have persevered, maybe the mindsets that you've drawn on or the practices that you've found valuable that helped you push through when things got difficult?

It comes down to the honesty component, which I ignored for a long time in my early working career as an entrepreneur. I'm not trying to be dishonest to people, I was lying to myself and I wasn't happy. It wasn't that anybody was doing something to me. I just thought like I had it all figured out. I got married really young. My wife was 20and I was 25. We had a kid by 26, she was 20. The next thing I know, I'm now a parent. I hadn't grown up enough and my friends are out still having fun playing and going to parties. I was like, "Am I missing out?" I have FOMO, the fear of missing out like, "What's going on?" I started having the ‘me toos.’ I just started saying to myself like, "I wonder if that's me too." That progressed and I had my second child. In my early thirties, I started thinking to myself like, "Do I even want to live anymore? Do I want to come to work every day?” I love my friends, I love my family, I’m great friends with everybody but I was sad inside. I'd never dealt with some stuff that happened in my childhood. That's what I began to say to myself, "What opportunities do I have?" I said, "I could give up," which I tried. Luckily somebody knocked on my door and saved my life.

 At the end of the day, it's all about play.

At the end of the day, it's all about play.

I don't want to make this all sad and depressing, but it's stuff that I don't think entrepreneurs and business owners talk about. We spend a lot of our time in isolation. We spend a lot of our time alone. We spend a lot of our time working. You come home from a busy day at the office and your spouse may say, "How has work?" and you're like, "It was good," but we never really talk. We don't have those deep conversations. I wasn't having those deep conversations. I wasn't being stimulated in that way. It wasn't anything that anybody was doing. It was just me not being honest, me being real, me being open. On October 9, 2008, I attempted suicide and I got a knock on the door and a friend of mine came rushing and he gave me a big hug and he said, "Tony, your life has meaning and purpose for what you're doing right now.” “Does it?" I wasn't proud. I was separated from my wife. My family was a mess. My work was a mess. This business that I started with my best friends was a mess. Nobody did it. It was all me.

I started on 10-24 of ‘08. I got clean off of drugs. I decided right then and there to make some life-changing decisions, but I couldn't change one component. I still needed a substance every day in my life to get me through and that was alcohol. I eventually got broke and got the gift on December 15, 2008 and I haven't had a drink since. I finally got the idea that the life I wanted needed to change one thing and that was everything. If I change that one thing, everything changed. What I've seen is a business that was just teetering on a couple of million dollars to then break into eight figures. We had our biggest year at year seventeen in the business. How's that possible? Our friendships with my business partners, watching them and their kids grow up, it's better than ever. My wife and I are going to celebrate twenty years this year. My oldest is in college, excelling and thriving. We've dealt with death, we've dealt with life and everything that's come at it. The one thing that hasn't changed is my desire to pick up. You have to find out what that looks like for you. I had to go through what I went through to get to the point where I realized, "My life is more than my excuses in my past. My life is what's presently going on." No one had ever sat down with me and asked me, "What did I want?" The vision of an entrepreneur is we see somebody on TV and say, "Me too, I want to go play that role. I want to go be like that guy. That guy's got a nice car. If I do some work, maybe I'll have a nice car." That's where I started running into all these false things that I started proving true and vice versa. I started seeing all these things that were true and proving them wrong.

This whole notion of want is interesting. This has come up a couple of times in all the interviews we've done. It's a really powerful word that we sweep under the rug way too often. We're taught not to be honest about what we want as if we're being greedy if we want things. It's very easy, particularly in our culture, to attach ourselves to what somebody else has as the picture of, “This is what I should want.” Should is another dangerous word that we don't pay close enough attention to. Talk a little bit about how you got to that point. Before you do, I just want to share one quick little story. I was walking with a friend of mine in Winter Park, Florida which is an upscale strip of shops that had been there for probably close to 100 years. He was debating about whether or not he should buy something. I stopped and I looked at him and I said, "The only reason to ever get that is because you want it," because he was going through all these reasons of justifying. I said, "The only reason to do that is because you want it and the only justification for it is because you want it. If you want it, then just stop there and get it. Let's end this conversation." This was about day three of him going back and forth debating with me whether or not he should buy this thing. It became clear to me at that point the power of the word want, the control it puts over us.

My grandfather had a simple way of putting it. He said, "If you want something bad enough, wait a week and if you still want it, go get it." Usually what happen is at about day four or five, if that want isn't big enough, you'll forget about it and you'll move on to something else. I learned that. Some of the things that I've learned that I think are the most important lessons in life is that you have to learn by getting your knees scraped. You have to learn by falling down. I just love to get up faster after I failed. I'm still one of those people willing to fail. I'll fail ten times, but I'll get up eleven times. The day that I don't get up, I'm no longer on planet earth. That's what I realized. I'm just determined. I watched the great little Tom Brady and Time video. It’s about twelve and a half minutes long about his dedication even doing what he's been doing for the past eighteen years and how he gets up every single day and pushes himself. When everybody else isn't pushing himself, his motivation comes from watching videos he sees in the back when he's working out in the gym, getting hit on the side of Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning or Eli or whoever it was, still getting up and he's just sitting there getting hit side-by-side. He’s going, "I'm going to be better than I was yesterday."

Some of the lessons that I learned is I had to change my mindset. My mindset was I was a quitter. I was a quitter growing up, but my mom was always there to remind me, "Son, don't quit. Today is not a good day." Then I heard it as I got older, "Never quit on a bad day." Those were some good reminders. I got into this pattern and that's the thing that changed. I changed the habits and the patterns and the things that I was doing because someone sat down with me and laid out a roadmap. He said, "If you want what you want, are you willing to do certain things to get it?" I said, "Yes." Right in that very moment, the pattern was laid out on how I could achieve everything I ever dreamed of. I literally have reworked it so it's easier and it's applicable to more people. I could understand how I could help teach this. A gift given to me is no good if I can't give it to somebody else because someone took time out of their life to help me. I have made service the number one component in my life. By helping others get what they want, Jim Rohn, Zig Ziglar all say you'll get everything you need.

 The possibility is in all of us. The greatness is in all of us.

The possibility is in all of us. The greatness is in all of us.

It's clear from our conversation that that's true. Tony, you were talking about this roadmap that you were shown that laid out how to get what you wanted and get clear about how to move your life forward. Can you talk a little bit about that roadmap?

It’s just great. Fantasy to reality, everybody's got a bunch of fantasies. We got all these things that we think we really want. We put them down on a piece of paper or we throw them up on a wall, and we're like, "That's what I want out of life. I want to travel to that country. I want to marry that person. I want to drive that car." I call those a bunch of fantasies. I'm not saying what you put on your wall is wrong, I'm just saying you’ve never built a roadmap to get it. It's a bunch of pictures up on a wall. I said, "What does that mean?" Fantasy. We all have fantasies. Tell them to a friend, tell them to somebody, they become possibilities. You take what's on the wall and you share it with a friend. You're like, "This is what I'm working on. This is what I want to achieve. This is the thing that I'm after. They are goals, they are things, whatever you want to call them.” I said, "Everybody then begins to see. You've heard the old saying, anything's possible." I'm starting to tell you my possibilities on the show. I'm going to share the roadmap. The reality though is there is a certain amount of things that have to happen for that to become a reality. I go from fantasy mindset to the possibility of sharing with you. To get to the reality side, there is this gap. I got to remind myself, “I'm a quitter and I played the game Chutes and Ladders enough to know that along the path I'm going to fail. I'm going to fall down.” Help people to see that you just have to bridge the gap. You have to make the gap steps. You have to say, "If you do this, you'll get to that." "I don't know how." That's the key component, ask.

When we were little kids going to school, we were good at asking to go to the bathroom. We were good at asking our parents, “Can we go to Bob's house and play?” We were good at asking for things. Somehow in high school and even in college, we stopped asking and we started assuming. That's where I believe we failed. What it is, it isn't like I don't need your permission but I need your help because I've only gotten to so far in life by knowing what I know, but I've never gotten to the next level. Who can I ask in my network? Maybe my neighbors, maybe my mom, my dad, my friends, and my family. "Do you know a carpenter? Do you know an electrician? Do you know somebody that's wrote a book? Do you know somebody who's traveled to Italy? Do you know somebody who's driven this car? Could you introduce them to me?" What I've realized from possibility to reality is a bunch of asks. Here's what happens though. We forget to ask enough and we fall down. That's when we begin to want to quit. We say, "Screw it. This is not going to work for me. I'm going to fail anyways. I've already failed. I might as well give up. I'm going to go back to what I had before.” It’s so much easier because it was like putting on your underwear. It was just old routine. Along the way, what I've learned is that the possibility is in all of us. The greatness is in all of us.

You need a good coach. You need a good mentor. You need somebody to spend about an hour and sit down and build some stuff. To make it really simple to help you bridge the gap, I'm going to put in the middle right there the GROWTH Mindset. G stands for grateful. If I can help somebody to be grateful and be in gratitude, then I've got a chance to help them. The second letter is R. I need them to be real with themselves and I need them to be real with others. If they are real and they're okay with, "I failed. I made some mistakes. I'm humbling myself," that goes with the gratitude piece. The next piece is open-minded. If you can get somebody to be open-minded about what I'm sharing, about what they're going on in their life, maybe it's not working and you can show them some blind spots, you have a chance of helping them. The W stands for wise. Be wise. What I say may or may not be applicable to you, but be wise enough about you spend some time. Go look into the word and go spend some time in the books. Go ask some friends like, "I heard this guy talking about this. What do you think?" The T is to be teachable. Be teachable, download podcasts, read books, journal, spend time learning. Never stop learning. Education is the key. It may have not been for me when I was in high school, but the essential ingredient that has gotten me to where I'm at is that I've never stopped learning. If you can get to the end, the H stands for happy. You can be happy. You can be happy that life works. What I love is playing it backwards. I'm happy. I'm teachable, so I'm open-minded. What are all the other things that I am? I'm real. I'm totally finding myself in there. I've been wise and I've been grateful. My life works. It gets to the gap a little closer.

What you're going to see in a short period of time is your relationships are much more authentic. Instead of being on the surface which so many people talk about, you're going to be talking about the stuff that really hurts. Then you're saying to your friend, "You know why I want to do that? My family had never achieved anything. My mom and my dad, they had to work three jobs to put food on the table. I would love nothing more than to take my mom on a trip and just tell her thank you. I've never done a trip anywhere in the world, but you know what? My mom, since I was very little, said she always wanted to go to X and I'm going to do that. I'm going to put something in front of me that is inspiring, something that is going to make me happy." If you do that, that gap starts to get so small, they’ll become little steps and you realize it's not that hard. It's just the formula we've been using has been wrong.

I love working that backwards. I'm a big believer that you choose your own happiness. Many of us wake up and we look around at our circumstance, and we decide at the beginning of the day it's going to be a bad day. I went through a period where I had a lot of bad days in a row. I finally woke up and said, "Enough of this. We're going to be happy." It's funny things began to improve almost immediately, at least my experience of them. One of the wonderful things about what you laid out is that's a formula for changing your experience in the world. You control how you experience the things around you. Most of us can't completely control our circumstance, but we can certainly control how we choose to experience it, starting with gratitude and ending with happiness. You get that power back.

 The seconds do matter, but you know you're going to be doing and spending it on the things that you really love.

The seconds do matter, but you know you're going to be doing and spending it on the things that you really love.

It's the essential ingredient that I was missing. We can all experience joy. I still remember that scene in Forrest Gump. When Forrest is just out running and he's got mud all over his face, someone hands him a yellow shirt and then he puts the yellow shirt on his face and the guy opens it up and it's like a big smiley face. The guy is happy. The next thing you know, he prints tons of t-shirts and we have Happy. I know it's not real, but it's the idea. In us is the ability at any time to choose to be happy. It's not something that everybody can do, but if we choose to we can say, "I'm happy.” Today is a good day. I've got a chance to be on your podcast. I've got a chance to go to lunch with a fellow entrepreneur. I've got a chance to see my friends, work with my teammates. I've got a chance to be up at 6:45 this morning and sit down and do some work with a fellow entrepreneur at a coffee shop. I got a chance to take care of my two dogs and see my son." That's how I started my day. It's been a good day. It's all by choice though because I could say, "My alarm didn't go off when it was supposed to. I was late for my meeting and I allowed all these circumstances to take me out of the day." I won't allow myself to tap out. I won't. I have to be real, I have to be open, and I have to be wise that I'm growing. If you can take the GROWTH Mindset and implement it into your life, I promise you in a short period of time, all the gaps that you have, things won't seem so far anymore. They'll seem really close. It'll just seem like you're steps away, you're things away, you're days away, you're moments away, you're hours away. Before you know it, the seconds do matter, but you know you're going to be doing and spending it on the things that you really love.

I first got into business in the mid-‘90s. Back at that point, I was an employee for a company. These conversations weren't conversations that went on. I don't recall ever having these conversations. I can tell you now all the interviews that we've done with folks on this podcast, this type of conversation comes up more than you'd ever imagine. What do you think has changed between the ‘90s when it was, “Suck it up buttercup,” and now? It's a great change because we're starting to take control over our not just as entrepreneurs but as human beings in a way that we maybe didn't twenty years ago?

You just hit the head perfectly. It's take control. You wrestle back the loop, the monster, which is the rollercoaster. You've got to get people back into the line of life. We’re so good at getting out of the rollercoaster and saying like, "I've got to get to the next thing." We all walk around with fast passes. We don't spend any time anymore in the line. When you're having these types of conversations, guess where that is? That's in the line while you're waiting, the anticipation. You're talking about what's coming up or, "What did you do this weekend? What are you going to do tomorrow? Can I help you? What book are you reading? If we're spending all our time on the rollercoaster, we’re like, "Ahhh," the whole time and we'd get off and we run to the next ride to get onto the next one because we have FOMO once again. We have the fear of missing out. We think we're going to miss out on something. If you can get people back into the line, that's what's changing. People are spending more time back in the line. They're talking about life again. They're breaking bread. They're having conversations. If you said the average of your entrepreneurs coming on your show are talking deeper, you're doing something right. You're seeking the right people to have on your show. What they're finding out is probably something that changed for them, which is they don't want to do it like everybody else.

I saw my father, I saw my mom come home from working three jobs coming home just to be exhausted, to absolutely collapse into bed at night. I don't want to do that. I'm so grateful that my mom did what she did to put food on the table for my sister and myself, but that doesn't look fun. If you ask my mom, she loved her job. She loved what she did because she knew she was providing. I want to be real with people. So many people are missing connection and community, and we're starving for it. When you can get into it, that's why it stops you. You're like, "I have a lot of conversations with entrepreneurs now." It's because of that. People are looking for that. I don't watch the news. I don't care what's going on. I control what I can control, which is me and how I want the world to see me and also how I show up for my wife. My wife will still tell me like, "You're being an a-hole. You need to change your mindset." I'm like, "You're right.” She's like, "Let's talk about it." Those are the reasons why I think I'm not successful. What I am is mindful of where I've been. I'm aware of what I want and I'm willing to give up certain things to get it. That’s it.

That sums it up perfectly. I know you've got two projects. You've got ShipOffers.com which is your company. I'd love for you to just share a little bit about that for those who may be a fit for it. Then I'd like for you to talk about Drainers and Drivers. To me, that sounds absolutely intriguing and fits with the rest of our conversation.

 So many people are missing connection and community, and we're starving for it.

So many people are missing connection and community, and we're starving for it.

ShipOffers is what I love to do every single day. Get out of bed, come to work, and hang out with my best friends. We help marketers in health and wellness space and survival space. The fulfillment arena gets ship done and take products, if it's an insert, if it's a book, whatever it may be, and ship it to their customer. We do that every single day. We did 1.5 million shipments last year. We spend a lot of our time putting on your label onto our products. We work with a whole bunch of labs all across the United States. We've been in business seventeen years, an Inc. 5000 company four years in a row. It's about having conversations and how to help marketers get more time with their friends and their family and less time having to do stuff that is a drainer, which is a great transition as you ask about what is Drainers and Drivers? Drainers and Drivers is an awareness exercise to figure out what you were created to do or what you should be spending your time doing versus the stuff that you probably are stuck doing.

A good buddy of mine, Kevin Cohen, several years ago, who happens to be our consultant, took us through a drainers and drivers activity and said, "Tony, Gil, Doug, why don't you list everything that you're doing in your day that drains you and everything that drives you." I said, "Drains me?" I said, "About 90% of what I'm doing in my day is a total drainer and about 10% drives me." He goes, "What happens if we can flop that?" I said, "What do you mean?" He says, "We're all on the same bus, just maybe in the wrong seat. Why don't we see if we could do that, but first do the exercise," so we did it. I realized that I could outsource or I could hand off. Gil is like, "That's a total driver for me." I'm like, "That's a drainer." He gave me some stuff and I also give some stuff to Doug. It was a dialogue or conversation.

Drainers and Drivers is a five-day free mini-course. There are no up-sells. I'm giving you some information that will help you. If you use it, let me know what you found useful. We'll ask you for a little survey at the end. It's for you to just print out a piece of paper, walk through a day-to-day video that I'm going to give you, about two to three minutes, and it's to stimulate conversation with yourself. Let me be the guide, your Sherpa, to take you over a five-day course. At the very end, you'll have clarity, you'll have freedom and you'll have a better understanding of what you were built to do. You'll figure out how to do it a lot faster. Then you may come to the conclusion that you need to outsource some things, maybe hire somebody to come on and help you do some things. At the end of it, you're just going to have clarity. That's an essential component that so many people don't have. They're not clear of what they want so they're stuck doing what they've been doing and they don't know if they'll ever get out. DrainersAndDrivers.com is maybe the first step to figuring out what you were created and built to do.

Tony, this has been absolutely fantastic. Thank you. You've made my day. This has been a lot of fun and I appreciate you investing some time with me.

Thank you very much. It’s an absolute honor and I thank you for your time.

About Tony Grebmeier

While most well-known for building a multi-million dollar business with his childhood friends, it is Tony’s mission in life is to create a community where entrepreneurs know they can achieve anything they want despite their past.

Tony has always known how to make money. He started his first business selling baseball cards out of his mom's at the age of 14. By the time he was 18, he had held 16 jobs and was only fired once for giving his brother an ice cream cone. (another story, another day.)

In 1996, Tony launched his first online business in Silicon Valley, a Web traffic, and marketing company, which eventually turned into his first supplement company. In 2001, he went on to build his second supplement company, ShipOffers, with two of his childhood best friends, Doug Roberts and Gil Gerstein. Sixteen years later, ShipOffers is an eight-figure business that has been an INC 5000 Company for the past four years in a row.

I decided to launch the BE FULFILLED SHOW with Tony Grebmeier as a way to help others that, no matter how complicated your business obstacles, you can bounce back.

Part of going on a journey means that sometimes you’ll feel like success is simply unattainable. Sometimes you’ll lose the map (like I did!) entirely. And sometimes, you’ll set yourself on autopilot for a smooth cruise.

Thriving in life is not about how much money you make, or crossing off arbitrary goals on a bucket list. It is a focus on how we can help others and what we have learned from those who have overcome challenges in their life as well. You almost always find your passion/message when you look at the mess you have created.

My mantra in business has become that if I cannot help you, I will find you someone who can. Simply, it is this focus on serving each other as a community of business owners and ambitious entrepreneurs that will help us all continue to be strong no matter what life happens to throw into the mix.

Mentioned in the Show

Russ Perry | You Have the Power to Overcome Success Roadblocks

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Think about what your obituary would say if you died today. For Russ Perry, that exercise was the motivation he needed to make major changes.

Russ, founder of Design Pickle and author of new book The Sober Entrepreneur, had addiction issues that threatened to unravel his life. But the way he overcame them - and went on to create breakthrough success - can be a great model for any entrepreneur, especially those in start-up mode.

For one, Russ has channeled the “power” of addiction (everybody is addicted to something, he says) into positive energy. And he found that the best way to serve your family, your business, and yourself…is to be selfish. He’ll explain how that works during this interview, as well as…

  • Why you should double or triple your fees right now
  • The “work out” for your brain that can interrupt destructive thoughts
  • A strategy for ensuring you’re always enjoying your business
  • How to solve a profit problem in one step
  • Tips for handling the everyday stresses entrepreneurs face
  • And more

Listen to Steve Gordon and Russ Perry now…

Russ Perry | You Have the Power to Overcome Success Roadblocks

We're talking with Russ Perry, the Founder of Design Pickle and he's the author of the new book, The Sober Entrepreneur. He spent eight years building businesses that yield zero in profits and now has in less than three years grown Design Pickle to half a million in monthly recurring revenue, 135 team members and a 150,000 design requests that have been completed. His recent success though almost never happened because he'd been hiding something. He was an alcoholic and it almost ruined his marriage, his business and his life. On October 22nd 2013, Russ stopped drinking, and in the years prior to that decision, his marriage had been one step away from catastrophe and his business had about burned down. Quitting alcohol was the catalyst that he needed to come back from the edge of disaster, both personally and professionally. Really excited to welcome Russ Perry here. Russ, welcome.

Thank you so much for having me.

Let's start by giving everybody a little bit of context. They’ve got some idea of who you are and where you're coming from in the bio but if you can give everybody some context for what got you to this point in your career.

I’ve always been driven to create and I think that has been something inside me for a long time. I always was attracted to art, problem solving and design and that's I think the epitome or the crux of design, whether it's visual design or designing a business is you're trying to create something new or better or solve a problem. That's been my driving force for all of these years and always has been at the tip of every decision is this allowing me to be a creator or not? We traveled through my history real briefly there in the intro. I can say without a doubt that when I was at my lowest points, I was the furthest away from creation and adding value out there in the universe and the world. I was only focused on consumption and taking. Balancing that I think has been my life's journey thus far. I'm happy to say that I'm on the other side of a lot of darker parts of that and realizing that my true happiness now always relies and surrounds myself when I'm in that creation mode. As an entrepreneur, I get to live that now every day.

As you've gone through this journey, clearly you've had some hurdles to overcome. What are some of the things that you were able to draw on as you were facing those big challenges to push through and to get to a place now where you are creating and adding value?

I wish I could say that I had it figured out from the beginning. My missteps started with thinking that what I had to draw on, the power and the focus that I was going to pull from was the business itself. Somehow that was going to unlock the other things in my life, whether that was my happiness in my marriage or the tangible things that I wanted in life. The house, the cars, all that kind of stuff and I went to the business as if it was this ATM of happiness and trying to withdraw and withdraw it only to realize that it was an empty place. That those things don't come from the business, those come from you and are enhanced by a business. A business amplifies whatever it is that is the goodness, the reason or the drive inside of you. That's what pushed me over the edge and I didn't know how to manage stress. I didn't know anything about things which I do daily now, which are meditation, fitness and exercise to manage the everyday challenges a CEO faces and entrepreneur faces.

 A business amplifies whatever it is that is the goodness, the reason or the drive inside of you

A business amplifies whatever it is that is the goodness, the reason or the drive inside of you

I looked to substances which does a great job of hiding things and masking things at least for some time, kicks the can down the road more or less. When I got clear on that, it really started with the selfish desire to be the best that I could be and to fulfill myself first so that I could be the best person to fulfill in my marriage and my family. It's a selfish concept originally, but it's designed to be selfish so that you're at the highest version of yourself for others. Which that dichotomy was what I understood later in life and now is where I draw from and where I get my inspiration to wake up early, drive hard, push through the challenges so I could be the best for myself for others.

It's almost like the idea they tell you getting on the airplane, put your own mask on first before you help someone else.

I've never thought of that analogy. I've flown much, you're the second person to reference that, but it's the exact same thing. You're not going to be able to help your children on an airplane if there's a pressure decrease if you're suffocating or getting dizzy or you pass out. Same thing, you can’t help your family to grow and to provide for them if you're paying everybody else except yourself and suffocating financially.

With all the pressures, particularly the pressures around starting a business, once it's up and running and there's consistent cashflow. There are still lots and lots of challenges, but to me it's those early days when money's pretty tight and it's tempting not to pay yourself to put yourself in danger in other ways. The pressure I think can be so intense that it sends you in these other places. Sounds like you've found some better ways to cope with that now. What are you doing now? You mentioned meditation and a few other things. What are the key things you're doing now that are helping you deal with that? Because you're in a high growth business right now.

We are. Let me talk about business first because I could talk about meditation and wellness and all of that stuff. The one thing that I highly recommend if you're in that position and you're in the early days and things are tough, you need to charge more money. You need to build more and if you believe in yourself, if what you're doing is truly valuable, you can afford to double or triple your rates and that has a duality effect. It increases your confidence and it also increases your cashflow and what you take home, which allows you to do other things like invest in advertising, invest in a new gym for yourself, take your wife out on a nicer date because you've been on the cheap dates and now you want to go to the Ocean Club or whatever. That's a practical thing and I'm coaching four guys right now personally. One of the guys he is undervaluing himself in the consulting world, but yet he's pitching his services to multi-million eight figure, nine figure companies. I told him, “You just need a price tag that makes me squirm inside,” because he hasn't gotten that sales traction yet.

That's an easy thing and we always, from day one we're profitable because we charged enough and we knew that, “This is what we need to make.” That confidence was built after eight years of doing things wrong. It's not to say that I out of the gates my first business had that confidence. I was tired of being broke and I wanted to make sure I charged enough, but back to the other intangibles beyond just a pricing recommendation. Meditation is trendy right now. I get a lot of people talk about it. You hear about the apps that are getting these cool valuations of like calm, I think valuated at a billion dollars or something.

All is working out your brain, like a gym workout for your brain. That's the way I look at it. Can it be spiritual? Absolutely, but for me it's the best way to interrupt my thought processes which sometimes can be stressful and destructive and to be able to stop that cul de sac pattern loop that you can get stuck in about a topic or an issue and interrupt that with some mindfulness, gratefulness and whatever else goes on in the meditation practice people can choose. That is such a relief and such a stress release. It's cumulative, so anyone who's not meditating, you got to really do it ten to twenty minutes a day every day to feel the benefits over weeks and weeks and months and months. That's a pro tip too because a lot of people will do it for two minutes and say, “I don't feel anything, that took forever.” Neither does running, walking one lap around the lap, like you're going to move one lap. It takes a lot more to move the needle.

You're the first person I’ve heard refer to it or relate it to exercise. I think that's a good analogy. Everybody's got their different practice. Mine is very simple. I just try and clear my head of thoughts for about ten minutes a day and it's probably the most difficult thing I have to do all day because the brain is always running but to get the fleeting moments of complete quiet. Because it's never the full ten minutes. Maybe I'm not good enough yet, but it's never the full ten minutes that the brain is quiet, but it's for moments throughout but when you get to that point and have that piece, it really is restorative. We all have that voice going on and in business, particularly when you're going through stressful times that voice can be incredibly negative and work against you. I think being able to take that time and be able to get clear is really valuable.

It's valuable and it leverages you to have much more clarity through the rest of the day that it's an expediential gain on investment from a time standpoint. I'm a practical guy. I studied engineering for a year, didn't go down that path but I like science, I like technology, I like facts figures and for me. I'm rationalizing the time investment of meditation. I'm able to come out of meditation and be hyper focused for 90 minutes, maybe two hours, so much more that if I stopped my day at that point, I could literally bed one for the day, but it's only 10:00. That's what people don't realize; don't get me wrong, it totally helps with stress. Totally helps with you want to punch someone in the head or something's frustrating you. You can do it but it's like warming up your mind for then what can be the most productive hour and a half, two hours of your day and if you don't pause to create that gap in that space, then what do you do? You wake up, you get hit with the day’s stuff, everyone needs stuff from you and before you know it, it's 10:00 at night and you feel like you've gotten nothing done.

Russ is the author of the new book, The Sober Entrepreneur. Russ, thank you for sharing everything you did. I think excellent advice number one, about raising fees and two, about finding some calm and some peace throughout your day. I'd like to talk a little bit about the book and understand why you wrote it and who you think it's best for?

The book itself started as a personal project stemming from a similar auto-biographical slash biographical project my grandmother did. She's been passed for some time now, but she did a whole book on our genealogy. She was a daughter of German immigrants. Tracking that from before Arizona where I live was a state and all the way through present. At the time, present day when I had my first daughter, I was married to my wife. We didn't have our kids yet with me and my wife and I was reading this tale, this book and enthralled and it occurred to me because I hadn't stopped drinking. I was still drinking at the time that all the men in this book didn't necessarily have the most glamorous or flop in portrayals from my grandma. She was a pretty hard, straightforward lady as you can imagine, the daughter of German immigrants would be. She just said it and told it how it was, their addictions, their shortcomings, their challenges, their gambling debts and all the way up to cousins and uncles I knew. It made me stop and think what would someone write about me right now if I was to pass away? What would my story be? I was not happy with that. A lot of the things that could have been written were around the challenges that I had had around drinking and so then and there I decided to change my family treats, catch line of the book, the subtitle, but I decided that, “I'm going to live a different life where alcohol, substances and addiction is talked about, wasn't in my life, and it's eliminated to the best of my ability.” I'm not going to avoid everything possible. Not worried about drinking anymore, but there's realities where I can get addicted to something else, maybe a little more abstract, but I wrote this book to change the tide of the stories and have an asset for my own kids.

I have three daughters now to share my struggles and the journeys so that if someone else's out there in that same boat, they can realize that, “Addiction and the challenges that go along with it aren't just reserved for the homeless guy under the bridge. That there are high functioning entrepreneurs, married people who struggled just the same.” That's where it started and then it's leveraged beyond that into a teaching tool and now a whole platform where I want to open up this conversation because we're all addicted to something. The proof of this because you could say, “Russ, I'm not that addicted.” If you're an entrepreneur, you're addicted because you're addicted to your business and the idea that you have. Steve, right now, you're addicted to this podcast because you believe it can help people, teach people and educate people. There is that addictive nature inside of all of us and this book is to share what happens when that goes too far, but then also how to wrangle that and provide a practical toolkit and framework to manage that and turn that energy from negative habits into positive.

 If you're an entrepreneur, you're addicted because you're addicted to your business and the idea that you have.

If you're an entrepreneur, you're addicted because you're addicted to your business and the idea that you have.

I think anytime you're creating something, you can become susceptible to that, to taking it to the extreme. Particularly when you're trying to create a business because it's closely tied to how you're going to eat tomorrow. It's, it's our livelihood. It's both creation and it's got this other visceral quality to it where it's putting food on the table for you and your family. I think it's very easy to become obsessed with focus on that and to the exclusion of other things in life. I'm sure you know a lot of other entrepreneurs; I know quite a few who struggle with different forms of addiction. I think it's something that's not talked about that much within our circles, but it's there. It's certainly there.

It's there and it takes all shapes and sizes. There could be people who are addicted to social media simply and putting out this image and this brand that's not accurate and they're hiding or masking things. When I was in the lowest point of my addiction, I was living this dual life and hiding what was reality and pretending to be someone I wasn't on so many different levels. That's what many people do on social media. They hide who they are, they pretend they're someone else, they create this false reality and so it doesn't have to be a substance, but the point is you do have to be crazy to be successful in business and why not take that crazy addictive personality, which you might be hooked on drugs, alcohol, travel, speaking or whatever things that give you that high. Why not focus that into another area of creation, of wellness, of health that can not only improve you, but improve your family and others involved. Things can go both ways, it's such a tough fine line sometimes. Even alcohol, I'm not anti-alcohol, I'm just anti-addiction. If that's your thing, great. One of my closest friends, he's easy in a one glass of wine a week and he loves it and it's fine. He's no challenge at all with alcohol, but maybe there's something else. He's a pretty square guy. He's a good dude. You never know.

In thinking about you putting this book together, I understand you had some personal motivation to do it, but it had to take a tremendous amount of courage to write about this and then put it out in public. I've written a business book and that took some courage to put some ideas out into the world, but that wasn’t personal at all, this is very personal. Talk a little bit about what it took to do that. I can't imagine the courage that it would take.

Let me preface this answer with the fact that I used to be the guy that was uncomfortable sending my restaurant order back if it was completely wrong. I didn't want to inconvenience the person who was serving me until I finally developed this courage and a big credit goes out to a program that I'm a certified trainer in. It's called Wake Up Warrior. It's a men's program. It's a leadership program. Those are the four men I mentioned I'm coaching. I'm coaching them under that umbrella. One of the core tenets of this program is that you tell the truth. You're completely and radically honest on all accounts. I don't have enough time to go into the intricacies of this. It's so simple, but it's so powerful and I knew the ultimate truth bomb that I could drop was writing a book about what I did. That at that point I have nothing else to hide.

I literally can talk to you about anything from my sex life to my affair to drinking to yoga this morning to whatever, and I'm OK with that. That gives me certainty and power that translates into my leadership, into my parenting and to being a husband and everything else. It did take a lot of courage. It took a lot of training too to gain that courage. It wasn't just one day I woke up out to took a massive amount of trust with me and my wife's, and she was the first person when I floated the idea and she was like, “You got to do it,” because there’s so many people out there who are hurting and you got to share this story and we knew that the heartache that we had, if we weren't allowing that to be leveraged to teach and educate others, then what a waste. What a waste I would have been of an experience that almost tore us apart, if we couldn't help others heal, get through that or avoid it altogether.

It’s difficult during the writing process, pulling all of that back up again to the surface?

It totally was and even my wife knew what was going on. She read some early pieces, but when I got the printed copy and I got it and I gave it to her, and she's reading it. I was so nervous. There weren’t any surprises in there but even still it was, “This is real now. You put this out there, there's no turning back.” I know the deep down the reason why I'm doing it wasn't like some sensationalized tabloid. It's to share this and say, “Here's where I was, here's where I'm going,” and one chapter of the book we talk about hitting rock bottom. In the book it's explicitly I said, “If this book helps divert you from rock bottom, I hope so,” because rock-bottom is a rough place and you learn a lot of lessons at rock bottom. There's also if you could avoid going down that low and start going up from wherever you're at, you're going to climb that much faster.

 If you could avoid going down that low and start going up from wherever you're at, you're going to climb that much faster

If you could avoid going down that low and start going up from wherever you're at, you're going to climb that much faster

Why go through all the suffering if you don't have to? If you could wake up now.

Truly, exactly.

I know the book is out now and it’d be great if you could share where folks can get it. I want to talk briefly also about a Design Pickle and what you're doing there. We may have some in our audience that would benefit from connecting with you there as well. First where can they get the book?

The book you could get a free chapter at SoberEntrepreneur.com and then if you're all in and want to get it, it's on Amazon. There's links from that site too, SoberEntrepreneur.com, but then you could search on Amazon Sober Entrepreneur and you'll find it. We’re the number one ranking for the search term Sober Entrepreneur.

I imagine there's probably not another book with that title, is there?

No, there is not.

Since you stopped drinking, you've created a new firm Design Pickle, which I think is this unique take on getting design work done. I'd love for you to spend a minute describing what the business is and who it's for.

In my clarity, obviously quit drinking, you have a little more time on your hands to think about life and post business failure. I thought to myself, we ended my creative career because my previous business was this creative agency. We did design, branding, websites, all sorts of stuff and I thought to myself, “When were our clients the happiest?”it wasn't when we were doing some complex multi-million dollar campaign. It literally was when we were designing their Facebook ads or a business card or a podcast graphic on a timely, regular basis. They were very grateful for those things and so we launched Design Pickle. It is a subscription based graphic design service. Its flat rate is $370 a month and you get to basically rent a designer. It's a dedicated designer, they’re your designer, they work with you and about ten other clients and then you just work with them every day on whatever you need. You submit them a request through an app, through our email. How much you could get done ultimately depends on the complexity of what you're needing and how well you communicate, but it was this attempt to provide simple value for businesses, entrepreneurs and marketers with a needed part of the business that's often neglected or costs so much time and money to get done, that often people skip it. “I'm not going to design this presentation because I'm going to have to meet with the designer, see if they're available, and then I get billed by the hour. Then there are revisions,” or I try to do it myself and I'm four hours into it more. We're trying to provide that dedicated resource without that full time salary or even a part time salary commitment.

It's a fantastic service and really innovative way to deliver that service. Having dealt with lots of designers over the years, having that kind of a model where you know what you're going to pay and you're going to work with the same person again and again. It certainly is unique and clearly it's popular because you guys are growing crazy. Congratulations on the success.

Thank you. At the end of the day, one of our core values is friendly and our mission is to be the most helpful creative company in the world. That's all it is. We don't want to penalize you for you to work with your designer, more to try to get to know them better. That's why we launched the model with this flat rate is its successful design, just comes with great communication and a good relationship. When you're getting billed by the project or by the hour, you're dis-incentivized to work with your designer more unless you have an unlimited budget. In that case, good for you.

 Where can they find out more about Design Pickle?

 Successful design just comes with great communication and a good relationship.

Successful design just comes with great communication and a good relationship.

You could jump on DesignPickle.com. Tons of information. Not to get too pitchy, but we have a no risk fourteen day trial. You could sign up, pay for your first month, but the first two weeks of that, you meet your designer and try it out. If you like it, great. If not, you get a full refund.

For the book, folks need to go to SoberEntrepreneur.com and if you want to learn more about Design Pickle, go to DesignPickle.com. Russ, thanks so much for being on the podcast. It’s been an absolute blast. Thank you.

Steve, thanks for having me.

Mentioned in the Show

Brad Costanzo | Spotting Lucrative Opportunities All Around You

Brad Costanzo is a unique entrepreneur in that rather than starting new businesses…he prefers to help existing businesses be better than they are.

Along the way, Brad, host of the Bacon Wrapped Business podcast, has taken his role as a consultant to a whole new level - something that his clients appreciate and has helped him personally leverage some lucrative deals.

It all starts with being curious and asking questions. He recommends every professional service provider and consultant do that with a new client.

Check out the conversation to discover…

  • Why mistakes are not failures
  • What you can tell yourself to get over fear and anxiety
  • The first question you should ask every client
  • How to recognize opportunity in your day-to-day
  • The Getting Your Hooks in Technique for landing more business
  • And more

Listen to Steve Gordon and Brad Costanzo now…

Brad Costanzo | Spotting Lucrative Opportunities All Around You

In this episode we're talking with Brad Costanzo. Brad is an entrepreneur, an investor, and a strategic advisor to businesses who are looking to expand using proven and unique marketing campaigns. He has built and sold multiple businesses and has been acquiring eCommerce businesses and helping them turn around. He's also the host of the podcast Bacon-Wrapped Business where he discusses the best of what's working now and talks with some of the industry's most brilliant thought leaders. I’m excited to have you here, Brad. Welcome to the Unstoppable CEO.

Thanks for having me. It's fun. I'm glad. I'm glad you like the podcast name. It's funny, when I came up with that I was like, “This is either going to be a hit or this is going to go over like a flop.”

People have heard a little bit about your background, but I'd love for you to give them a little bit of context so that they understand how you got to this point in your career.

My career has been one of a few different routes like probably most entrepreneurs. Most of my life, I was in sales in one form or another. I was in financial services sales for a long time as a financial advisor and then as a consultant to the financial advisor industry, and then I started a business where I was selling a service called cost segregation analysis to commercial real estate owners. I knew nothing about this service or this strategy of what it was, but I knew I could sell it so I found an opportunity and I went out and found a company that could fulfill. In essence, I created an independent sales person role for myself and I just went out and sold a high-tech service to commercial real estate owners.

 Get a little bit of momentum, get it moving, because once you’ve got momentum, it's a lot easier to do the things you want to do

Get a little bit of momentum, get it moving, because once you’ve got momentum, it's a lot easier to do the things you want to do

You can see the background has always been sales of some form or another. The thing about sales is that I was good at closing business when you sat me down in front of the prospect, but I was terrible at marketing and lead generation because I knew nothing about it. It was in 2007 when I had gotten laid off a job that I had in the financial services business and at the same time I read Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Workweek and I remember it was the same month that it happened. I was like, “Maybe he's onto something, and more than anything if I figured this out, it means I don't have to go give my resume to somebody,” which I was not looking forward to at all.

I started a small information product to figure it out and cut my teeth and figure out what was this all about, and I used that as a marketing laboratory to start new ones and to create a real publishing business teaching in multiple different niches and markets. Sometimes I would be the teacher, sometimes I would publish other people. After about five years, I sold that business to a group of investors out in New Zealand who wanted to buy something that is existing and buy the assets and run with it. At that time, I was, “Do I start another business? What do I do?” I realized how difficult starting a new business can be. Creating an e-book or a membership course and launching it out there and then all your dreams can come true is a little misleading. It's the way it works on sales pages only.

However, I realized that I didn't have another idea or something I wanted to run with. I have made a lot of friends and colleagues in the world of online digital marketing and I started to reach out and use my skill sets to see if I can help them grow their business. One consulting client led to another, led to another, and in the course of the past five to six years that I’ve been consulting, I built a nice lucrative but boutique consulting company where I work with a small group of clients that I go deep with. At the same time, sometimes these clients turn into partners or acquisition targets. I've had a couple where I started to consult them and I said, “Let me buy your business. You want out. I can do it better.” I've started to pursue the acquisition model a little bit more so along the way. In the meantime, I’ve got clients, I’ve got partners, and I’ve got assets that I own, so it’s diversified. I call myself an opportineur more than an entrepreneur. “There's an opportunity, let me see if I can seize it.”

Through all of that, you've been doing this for awhile, you know that it isn't a straight path to success. Not for anybody, at least that I’ve ever met. What are some of the things that have kept you going when the times are a little bit tough, pressure's on, and something didn't quite work out the way you wanted? How do you push through? What do you draw on?

It probably goes back to the thing that got me into it. Fear of ever putting together a resume. Quite literally, I'm more motivated by fear of loss and I am from the potential for gain. I don't have these enormous aspirations to be a billionaire necessarily, but I sure as heck don't want to have to go backwards. That motivates me for one. I try to do things that I enjoy. We've all made mistakes. We think of failures or mistakes and I started businesses and bought businesses and got new clients that looking back were huge mistakes that I’ve made, and some of them have cost me a lot of money.

Interesting thing about mistakes, I was thinking about this and this is why I bring it up now, it’s not necessarily the root of the word, but when you think about it now, it's a miss-take. In acting or in Hollywood, if an actor flubs a line or screw something up or totally screws up the scene, I guess you would call it a miss-take, but that doesn't ruin the movie. That doesn't ruin the actor's life. It's, “Let's do a retake. Let's do it again until we get it right.” It so happens that sometimes the funniest or the most enjoyable part is the bloopers. I try to view it like that. Like, “That was a miss-take, it wasn't a failure, it was feedback.” These are the ways that I get over the losses and the fear and the anxiety of what am I going to do next, and I remind myself that ultimately it's a game. We're all playing a big game.

That's interesting that you frame it that way. That is powerful for two reasons. It's great once the mistake has happened, because now you've got to a way to look at it, but it's actually even more powerful before you take action. Some people can get so frozen by the thought that something may not work the way that they are hoping that it's going to work that they get stuck there until they can dot every I and cross every T and make sure it's going to happen, which is impossible anyway. Having that attitude of, “If it doesn't work, it's just a miss-take and I’ll do a retake,” it’s so much easier to take action.

I don’t jump in and have it all figured out. I try to get one thing in the beginning, which is momentum. Get a little bit of momentum, get it moving, because once I’ve got momentum, it's a lot easier to do the things you don't want to do because you've got momentum. The car is moving. You got to steer this thing, you have to do some stuff, otherwise it's easy to think about some big great ideas and then get frozen like, “I don't know what has to happen.” I've got some planning strategies and things that have worked for me over the course of the years that helped me get over that as well.

That idea of motion is so important, being in motion. I remember hearing a speech by General Norman Schwarzkopf years and years ago, right after the Gulf War. He said, “The hardest part of that was going from a stop.” They were stopped there and had to get moving. He said, “I'd much rather have an army that's going in the wrong direction but moving, because I can turn them around, they've got momentum, than just being stopped like that.” I think that's key.

It makes me think of something that a lot of people do. I know I do this when I'm driving. If I'm on a highway and it's bumper to bumper traffic but it's moving, and I know that if I could jump off on an exit, I can take this roundabout way through the side streets. It might take me twice as long to get there, but I'm moving, it's infinitely better. I'll do that every single time rather than sit there and sit in the car and go crazy. There are probably some parallels.

 If you ask the right questions, you also might uncover the real things that the client wants

If you ask the right questions, you also might uncover the real things that the client wants

We did that in Atlanta coming back from vacation. This idea is really important. We had another guest on, Steve Sims, and his whole point of how he accomplishes these crazy big things, he gets people married in the Vatican and all this stuff. He said, “If I think about that, I'm stuck, but if all I do is think about what's the first phone call I need to make, I go do that because I can make a phone call. Now I'm moving.” By breaking it down like you suggest, get it down to where I can take an action and then get moving, it’s such great advice. I’d love to hear what is going on in your world right now, what projects you've got going, and what you're excited about.

The problem is it's almost too much, and I'm starting to feel like I’ve dipped my hands into so many things and it's overwhelming, but it's all good stuff. I have got multiple clients that I help to get them unstuck and help them find ways to add revenue to their business. Sometimes it's not even revenue, sometimes it's finding ways that profit, where cutting out certain expenses and doing things a little bit better just dramatically increases their profit. I've gotten a handful of new clients I'm excited about working with.

I acquired an e-commerce business that I'm in the process of flipping, doing a rehab and flip. There was some good low-hanging fruit there that I was able to acquire it. I’ve started to put the pieces in place so that I'm not in there doing all of the work myself day to day. It's in a market that I don't know that much about, so it's been a fun challenge to figure it out. I've been working with one guy who is like a mentor. He’s a very successful serial entrepreneur, billionaire family that has got an amazing brand and some cool projects. I've been working with him for the past year and helping him grow not only his personal brand but advising on the marketing of some of their companies, projects, and products as well.

I started working with a former undefeated, four-time UFC champion to help build not only his personal messaging platform in a much bigger way, but also to partner in a way that helps with some new initiatives that he's working that don't have anything to do with his personal brand. In a couple ways, this other guy is a semi-celebrity as well, and through these clients I’ve started to get some cool access to some celebrity entrepreneurs and other celebrities. It’s been an interesting way to figure out how to take the original influencers, actual celebrities, and different avenues to create business adventures with them. I'm always looking for companies that I can either invest in, whether it's time, whether it's money, whether it's fully acquire them or buy them out or do something else like that. I don't take a lot of clients on, I try to look more for some strategic partners, but that's what I got my eyes out open for this year.

You've moved from consulting and now looking through the consulting and all these opportunities to grow other businesses. Where's the commonality? Is there an overlap there where you're looking at these different opportunities and these all build on either a skill set or in an area where you feel like you've got a lot of confidence and a lot of expertise?

Typically, the areas that I look for the most are companies that have under-utilized assets channels. For instance, one of the companies that I'm working with on a strategic partnership deal, I didn't fully acquire the business. They have started off, I was about to acquire it, and I did a different strategic partnership. Instead of consulting, I did a true joint venture partnership where it's an e-commerce business that's been around for about five to seven years and they've got a couple of hundred thousand customers that have never received an email ever. He's not doing any email marketing, he has not done any conversion optimization, nothing like that.

I saw the opportunity to come in and manage the entire email database and customer list as well as come in and create some new channel opportunities for a big percentage of the revenue. I’ve got a degree of ownership there without equity. I've got ownership in the results and the ability to leverage these assets. That's one example of some of the characteristics that I look for. If a company is not exploiting all of the opportunities that are available, or if they're under exploiting the ones that they're currently working on, if it's something that I want to continue to work with and I can add value on a going forward basis as well as have some degree of an exit strategy that makes sense, then I’ll look to either partner or acquire. For other clients that I help out with as far as client work goes, a lot of it has to do with this strategy of building an optimized sales process.

 The opportunity of a lifetime can sometimes be one question away

The opportunity of a lifetime can sometimes be one question away

It’s a unique approach to a consulting business. You've used a consulting business as the platform to either get involved in other businesses or to create some non-traditional compensation for the consulting type of work that you would do.

Assuming that you might have any consulting listeners and viewers in your podcast, it is one of the biggest mistakes that I see in service providers. Any kind of a business service, if you're a marketing agency, if you're a consultant, if you run Facebook Ads for companies or Google Ads or whatever, if you're not asking questions of your clients such as, “What are your plans for this business? Have you ever thought about an exit? Have you ever thought about selling? Would you sell? What would you sell your company for? What do you want out of this?” and ask the bigger questions that are beyond the scope of the services you provide, then you're missing out on a potential fortune because you don't know unless you ask. If you ask the right questions, you also might uncover the real things that the client wants.

Let's say you run a little marketing agency and you're doing lead gen through Facebook Ads for customers and you set up their process. If you think they're just hiring you for that, behind the scenes they're trying to shore up the revenue so they can get out of the business or that they can do something else, if you don't know that, you're going to stick in your little myopic service. If you know that this client wants to potentially sell, now you have a whole bunch of resources or opportunities at your fingertips. Whether you want to buy them or whether you want to call somebody, maybe that you saw on the podcast, “Brad, I’ve got a client. I don't know anything about this, but they said they'd be interested in selling. Would you be the least bit interested in speaking with them?”

It's one of the things that I do naturally. I ask a lot of questions and maybe that's one of the reasons I’ve had a successful podcast is I like to ask questions, but those are the things that opened up the biggest opportunities for me. For instance, my billionaire client, I hooked him up with a speaking event and after his speech he was sitting in the audience and I saw him taking notes on a presenter who was talking about web-selling with webinars. This was totally brand new to him, this was not his world, but he was taking notes. He was interested. Afterwards I said, “It looked like you were interested in selling via webinars. What gives?” He said, “I’ve got a few projects and things. That seemed interesting to me. Why? Do you know something about that?” I was like, “Yes, I do know quite a lot about that.” For the past year, we've been working together very in depth. You never know where you're going to get with the right questions.

Using that in the right way, in my first business we used to call it getting our hooks in. We did stuff with clients that were so outside of what they hired us for, but by continuing to ask questions like that, you learn more and more about what they want because they often won't tell you right upfront. It's like hiring a plumber. They need something fixed, they need the toilet fixed, then you learn you’re rebuilding the whole house. To the extent that you can get in there and do that, that's a brilliant strategy. We do have a lot of service providers that listen, a lot of consultants that listen to this, and I’ve interviewed a lot. You're the first that I’ve interviewed that is taking that to the next level. I know a lot of consultants who will do that to get the next engagement, but I don't know of very many who will do it to go by the company.

The best part is you never have to buy the company, but you should know if that's an option, because it doesn't have to be an option for you, it could be an option for any of your other clients. You may be talking to a company who sells supplements and then you've got another client over here who has got personal training and they do all this other stuff, but they don't have each other. Number one, there are always abilities to create joint ventures in between the two of them, but if you know that the supplement company says, “We've got X, Y, and Z, but we would be willing to sell for the right price and for the right whatever. Why do you ask?” “I may know some people.” You can stop at that. “I may know some people; I’ll get back to you.” Go over to your client who is in a complimentary vertical and see if they'd be interested in buying a supplement company that does X, Y and Z revenues.

 I like to ask questions but those are the things that opened up the biggest opportunities for me.

I like to ask questions but those are the things that opened up the biggest opportunities for me.

In your discovery process with the client as an advisor, you should already know where they're at. It puts you in a powerful position to where even if you don't want to purchase the business, you can broker the deal, you can slip it off for a generous referral fee, but all of these questions can be done in the discovery process. It’s funny that I'm the only one who's going to mention that because to me it's the most elementary, the top of my mind. I'm looking for opportunities to ask people those deeper questions. I also understand people get into their business, they get myopic, they get focused, but the opportunity of a lifetime can sometime be one question away.

It's been a fantastic conversation. I've enjoyed the time we've invested together. Brad, thanks so much for being here. If people want to find out more about what you're doing, where can they best go out and find you?

I’ve got a podcast, Bacon-Wrapped Business, Sizzling Hot Business Advice Guaranteed to Make You Fat Profits. They can do that. If any of these insights triggered any questions or comments or ideas for anybody, they can always email me and AskBrad@BaconWrappedBusiness.com. On the website, you can find information of other businesses and more about me and my contact information.

Thanks so much for being here. Great to spend a little time with you.

My pleasure.

Mentioned in the show

Perry Marshall | Evolution 2.0

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Welcome to EPISODE 50!!!!!

This is Episode 50 of The Unstoppable CEO™ Podcast, and it’s a biggie…

My guest is Perry Marshall, best selling author of seven books, including: The Ultimate Guide to Google Adwords, The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Ads, 80/20 Sales and Marketing.

But today, Perry and I are diving into his latest book—Evolution 2.0. Perry’s a brilliant marketer, and a disciplined engineer.

This is a fun, deep, and very different interview, that will expand your thinking.

And, there are unusual, seldom understood, parallels between Evolution 2.0 and your business (yes, really). You’ll have to listen to find out.

I hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed being in this conversation with Perry.

Tune-in now to Steve Gordon and Perry Marshall

Perry Marshall | Evolution 2.0

In our episode, I am really excited for two reasons. Number one, this is our 50th episode and I'm really, really grateful for everybody who's come along on the ride over the last year. It has been absolutely fantastic. I'm really, really excited to introduce our 50th guest, Perry Marshall. Most of you will probably know that name. Perry is one of the most expensive and sought-after business consultants. He is endorsed by Forbes, by Inc. Magazine and he's one of the most respected entrepreneurs in the world. His clients seek his ability to integrate engineering, sales, art and psychology. Most recently, he has founded the $5 million Evolution 2.0 Prize with judges from Harvard, Oxford, and MIT. The prize aims to solve the biggest mystery in biology. I'm really excited to be talking about that. Perry, welcome to the Unstoppable CEO.

Thanks for having me on. Just based on our conversation before we started, this is going to be a fun time and I've always believed that everything is connected. Everything is a metaphor for something else and to me, there are no walls between disciplines even though most people compartmentalize to a great degree. This is a very busting out of the compartments conversation. I'm really looking forward to it.

Just to give everybody a little bit of context, I know a lot of people have probably heard of you. You've written a number of books in business and you've recently written a book called Evolution 2.0. Give everybody a little background and context for how you’ve got to this point in your life.

 Evolution 2.0: Breaking the Deadlock Between Darwin and Design

Evolution 2.0: Breaking the Deadlock Between Darwin and Design

I'm the engineer who got laid off when his wife was three months pregnant with the first child and had to scramble like crazy to try to land on my feet. I ended up in sales and working for this technical sales company. It was brutal. The first couple years was bologna sandwiches and ramen soup and I managed to discover direct marketing and roughly at the same time switched jobs to a slightly different company that had a website and that was in 1997. In so doing, I stumbled into online marketing, which really immediately started working. It started working immediately because I had learned enough from Dan Kennedy newsletters and stuff like that to have some rudimentary sense of how to put a sales pitch in front of a person on the internet back in those very early days when nobody really knew what to do. We grew that company from 200,000 to $4 million in four years and sold it to a public firm for $18 million. I said to myself, "I'm good at this direct marketing stuff. I'm not fantastic. I'm adequately good. I'm fantastic compared to guys that sell industrial controls which in the Land Of The Blind, the man with one eye gets to be king. What if I actually got really good at this?"

I hung out my shingle, started a consulting firm and six months later, Google AdWords came into existence, which I quickly discovered was the coolest thing I'd ever seen in my life. Then fast forward another couple of years and I'm speaking at seminars around the world and I'm selling the world's bestselling book on an internet advertising, which is now known as Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords. I went from Bologna sandwiches and ramen soup to actually being able to pay my bills and not having to move in with my wife's parents, which was a relief. That's who I am and I'm also pretty well-known for a book called 80/20 Sales and Marketing, which is my manifesto on how sales and marketing should be done. The Google book, the Facebook book, if you want to advertise on Google and Facebook, then those books are clearly for you. Really just about anybody who sells or even works for a living I think should read 80/20 Sales and Marketing because it's a real big shortcut to learning how it all works. I wish I'd had that book when I started. It would have saved me at least a year if not two or three.

I wish I'd had it when I started too. Unfortunately, it took you too long to write it. I got it about ten years into my marketing journey. We have a very similar path. I started actually on an engineering consulting firm before I went into marketing. When I got to the 80/20 book I read it and I'm like, "This was written for me." Thank you very much for personally writing that for me. I appreciate it. You've done an awful lot of very diverse things. As I was listening to you describe going from being that laid off engineer and moving through these other phases, really that process leads right into what I want to talk about. What you went through there very clearly is an evolutionary process. You changed, you developed, you grew and I think that fits perfectly with your latest book Evolution 2.0. I'd love to talk a little bit about that. Can you set the stage for us about what it is and what inspired you to write it?

The word evolution, a lot of times the way that it gets used, it sounds like this impersonal Darwinian grinding away process that you hear about on a PBS Show and then at the end of the show, after some lions eat some gazelles or something, the camera pans back and “The struggle ever goes on as it has for billions of years,” and it's all really detached and cerebral. That is a real mischaracterization of what evolution really is. I wrote the book Evolution 2.0 because I went down this rabbit hole and I became absolutely appalled. I didn't know the subject. I didn't understand it. I need to tell you what happened. What happened was my brother got a seminary degree. My brother and I are both pastors’ kids. Really grew up in Nebraska, a very conservative upbringing. I'm a Christian guy and I go to church and I got my wife and kids and my brother is actually quite a bit more conservative than me. I would always meander around and I would try different things and he was doing the party line men and he goes to seminary and he gets a Master's Degree in Theology and he's getting ready to be a pastor. Then he ends up being a missionary in China. In four years time, he went from missionary in China to almost atheist. We are both very literate and very intellectual and he had all these questions like just this closet full of bones of all these questions just popped open for him and he's just trying to sort through it. He's buried in his questions and he's dragging me into it and I don't know where this is going. It was really pushing a lot of my buttons.

One day, I visited him in China in we're riding in this bus in the back and we get into this argument and I find myself retreating to science because I'm an electrical engineer and I know science really well. I think this was actually a very primal response to a very primal question. This is a big question. Like, "Where did it all come from?" This is not a trivial question. A lot of people like to avoid it but it's there. We came from somewhere, like, "Where did we come from and how did this actually happen? I said to Brent, "Brent, look at the hand at the end of your arm." I said, "I am an engineer. This is an incredible piece of engineering." Nobody's ever disagreed with me when I've said that either. You can drink Dunkin Donuts coffee, chew gum and do your stick shift and flip somebody off all at the same time. It's unbelievable. You don't think this is a random accumulation of accidents, do you? He's like, "Hold on, Perry," and he just pushes right back with this standard Darwin answer that pretty much everybody's heard somewhere along the way. He goes, "You don't need any designers, you just need millions of years and natural selection and accidental mutations and you're going to get a hint."

I listened to that and I'm like, "I really doubt that I'd buy into that story.” However, I'm trying to think ten chess moves ahead in this argument and I'm like, "I don't know how to have this argument really and I don't know that much about it, but I do know that a whole bunch of biologists as far as I can tell would agree with him and not me." I don't have a biology degree. I know from engineering, there are all kinds of crazy things that you would never guess to be true. They actually are true. I thought of very specific things that I knew. I would've never figured that out on my own. I know it's true. I just actually bit my lip and I stopped arguing with him. Inside my head and my heart I said, "I don't know. He might be right. I might be wrong. I'm going to go home and I'm going to figure this out and I'm going to let science decide this for me." The reason I'm going to do that is because we're going round and round in circles about how you read the Bible and a lot of that stuff is really squishy and you can't just change your position so easily and just never get to anything. In engineering, you can't do that.

 The evolution is basically the world's most unbelievable software engineering problem ever.

The evolution is basically the world's most unbelievable software engineering problem ever.

In science, it's a lot harder to go around in circles. In science, you define something and then you have a starting point. I've built and designed all kinds of equipment stuff and I'm going to use that thinking. I'm going to figure this out like, "Do hands come from random accidents? If they do, I'll figure it out," and I’ll know. There must be a way to know. I went down the rabbit hole. What I found was so much more amazing than I ever expected. It's just almost unbelievable. The short version is that the version that I grew up on of how we got here really butchered the science. I grew up, they taught me that the world is 6,000 years old and all this kind of stuff. No. It's not. It is most emphatically is not. The version they told Brian wasn't true either. Hands are not an accumulation of random accidents. Hands are an accumulation of natural genetic engineering and the fact that every cell in existence has the ability to cut, splice, edit and rearrange its own DNA. The evolution is basically the world's most unbelievable software engineering problem ever and that every problem that Silicon Valley is trying to solve has already been solved in the cell. I believe that we are here as a result of an evolutionary process. The evolutionary process is so much more amazing than anything humans know how to design, it's not even funny.

What I ended up realizing was that both sides, so to speak, were partly right and partly wrong. The real interesting story was never being even told by either side. That way you had was a classic case of political polarization where the same people are all getting drowned out by the zealots on the extremes, which there's a whole chapter about that in my 80/20 Sales and Marketing book. In fact the previous election, Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton, basically, they're both in my opinion nut jobs. They completely dominated the conversation. Let's say that we could agree that Ben Carson was least the same guy, whether or not you wanted him or his policies, he was at least willing to sit down and have a calm conversation. The calm conversation could not drown out. You couldn't even compete with all the nutty stuff that Donald and Hillary are doing.

This is what has happened to the evolution debate. In the middle, there's a very same, very fascinating thing, but it doesn't lend itself to name-calling and demonization and all this other stuff. I had to write this book because the book had to get written. Somebody has to write this. Somebody has to tell the story and nobody had told a story. This might sound like an outrageous statement, but Evolution 2.0 is the first book in a hundred and 50 years that actually explains how evolution actually works in plain English that regular people can understand. The story has been properly told at a PhD level in other books and some of them are behind me. If you're a mere mortal or if you're in high school or if you just maybe have a college degree and you're somewhat scientifically inclined, but not really, none of those books would have ever explained it to you, but this does. That's Evolution 2.0.

I read the book and it's just fascinating. The way you've laid it out, I think is his masterful for a couple of reasons. One, you include all of the science that you've used as a background. Anybody that wants to go and dig deeper can do that, but you've also laid it out so that a layman can get into it and understand it. Really you have two sides to this whole thing and you've already said, this can be a very divisive topic. That's not the reason I wanted to bring it here to the podcast. I think as I went through the book, it became very clear to me that this missing piece that you're describing in the book has so much power to impact the future of humanity and the planet because there's so much knowledge, wisdom, intelligence in how biology is actually working at a very, very tiny level inside of all of us and in everything. A lot of secrets in there that when we understand how it works, the how it works part can be applied to other systems that we're creating. I think it's really, really powerful. Can you kind of walk everybody through what you've discovered and what's existing in this middle ground that nobody's talking about?

The Darwinists tell you that hands evolved by accidental copying errors of DNA multiplied by millions of creatures and species and millions of years. My brother stated it very succinctly when we argued on that bus. He goes, " Perry, you’ve got 100 million falcons flying around for 100 million years. That's a lot of falcons, Perry." I'm like, "Yeah, that’s a lot of falcons." He goes, "If there's an accidental copying error every now and then, in every now and then, one of those copying errors makes a better eye and then it can hunt better then it cannot hunt the other falcons then you get better falcons." He goes, "You don't need God or anything for that to happen. It just happens automatically." That's like basically the standard explanation and lots of people believe that and they buy into that. I was like, "That makes sense except, " and this is where being an electrical engineer really kicked in. I was like, "How come they never taught me that in engineering school? I took all these classes on how to optimize things. I specialize in communication systems and control systems.” There was never any class that was like, "You make a million copies of the control system, you make mutant error prone copies of some of them and one of them is just bound to be better." It’s like, "This doesn't compute. Where is this? If this exists, I had to be able to figure it out. I'm sure I'll figure it out. Where is it?" If the biologists know something the engineers don't know, then let's have it. Let's bring it into engineering. Maybe I could use it tomorrow. I'm doing all these websites and Google AdWords and I designed it equipment in my spare time. There's probably something they know that I could use.

Then you go on the other side and the creationists are saying, "Evolution is a hoax and there aren't that many intermediate forms and the fossil record doesn't look like what Darwin said it would," which is true. It's all a big hoax and you need an act of creation to do all this stuff. I really quickly figured out what that universe is in6,000 years old. You can see stars that are billion light years away. That just erases that right there. What's the truth? I really floundered around for a while, but I eventually discovered two things. This is two of the biggest epiphanies I've ever had in my life. The first one was I was taking Brent’s falcon thing. "Accidental copying, that's a mutation. Are you sure you can get a better eye out of that? That doesn't make sense to me." I started studying DNA and how does DNA copying work? One day, I was jolted with this sense of recognition. I'm reading this biology thing and I'm like, " I've seen this before. I know exactly what this is," which totally surprised me. I didn't see this coming in. What it was, was I wrote an Ethernet book in 2002 and it was a with the world's largest society of process control engineers. It's how the ones and zeroes go back and forth across the wire because I used to live in that world. In 2017, the Third Edition of that book came out.

 Everything that's true of the Ethernet is also true of DNA and genes and chromosomes. It's all digital data

Everything that's true of the Ethernet is also true of DNA and genes and chromosomes. It's all digital data

What I suddenly realized was almost everything that's true of the Ethernet is also true of DNA and genes and chromosomes. It's all digital data. It all obeys the same set of rules. It has the same conceptual elements. When you're talking on your cell phone and you're going down the expressway and there's engine noise and there's bridges and, and the signal was bouncing all over the place, there's all this error correction so that the call doesn't get dropped. Guess what? When cells copy and make other cells, all the same kinds of systems that ensure that your cell phone call doesn't get dropped makes sure that the DNA strand gets copied correctly. That was huge. I was like, "I know this. I wrote it. I wrote an Ethernet book for crying out loud. I totally get this stuff." All of a sudden, I knew where to start. That means, "Therefore it takes me to here, I need to learn about this, I need this. I got this whole list of things in the Ethernet book. I have to figure out what the biology equivalent is. I bet you I'm going to find this," and I did. It was amazing to find all this stuff. I'm like, "None of this ever happens by accident ever. It's impossible. It's not just unlikely, it's impossible." I could have stopped there and most people have. I know lots of people, they got that far and they stopped and they said, "It's all designed. God’s behind this. Evolution is not true. Now, I can go on." I didn't stop because I had seen a bunch of other reasons to strongly suspect that an evolutionary path was still valid. I said, "I think there's still something missing and I haven't found it yet." I actually held these two things intention for about two years. It was like, "I know all this communication stuff. I wrote an Ethernet book, but none of this happens by accident. It looks very designed actually. On the other hand, it absolutely looks like whales evolved from a mammal that walked on the earth and had four legs because whales have these shrunken down legs in the back of their body. The bones are there. You can go see them in the museum. I'm like, "What is it that I'm missing?" Then came the second epiphany. This was about two years later. I'm proud of myself for just holding those intention because I so badly wanted to just shortcut to a quick answer and put this behind me.

You're dealing with too big of a question. There's no shortcut.

Everybody wants to shortcut it and you can't. Even the stuff I know now or think I know now, there's so much more. I've only scratched the surface and I know this. Somebody sent me a paper by the scientists from the University of Chicago and he was telling this story. I got to tell you this story because it's just remarkable. This lady named Barbara McClintock was studying corn plants in the 1940s and this lady was really, really smart. She was incredibly sharp and she was hitting corn DNA with x-rays to break the DNA. She was trained to basically genetically hack the plant and see what would happen. She had this idea of what was going to happen. She said, "What if I try this?" She tried this and the plant just totally threw her a curve ball. She's like, "What just happened?"

Just so everybody's clear, what she's doing in that experiment you're describing in the book, she's trying to create these genetic mutations?

Yes. Like Brent was talking about with the falcons.

Just random genetic mutations just to see what would happen.

The conception at the time was that this genetic material just randomly mixes around and occasionally creates an evolutionary event and this is how you get new species and everything. This is what they thought happened and this is what most people still think happens, but she actually figured out what happens. I'll give you an analogy. What she did would be like if I took a 350-page novel and I ripped out page 186 and then I said, "Steve, here. I'm going to give you a week if you want, read this thing from cover-to-cover and reconstruct as best you can the missing page." If you're a really good writer, you could do that. Some would do better job than others, but a good writer could make that mistake go away. By taking other sentences, other paragraphs, other concepts from the book and sticking them together. This is what Barbara’s corn plant did. It actually went to other genes and other chromosomes and started copying. It's like, "I'm going to take a little bit of this to get a little bit of this. I'm going to fill in my missing page of genetic material and let's go." The plant went from being unable to reproduce because of its damaged DNA to now once again able to reproduce and it's done something completely new that's never happened in the history of corn plants because that damage was completely unique in the history of corn plants. What she had done was she'd been the first person to observe an evolutionary event and then figure out genetically literally gene-by-gene what had happened. The plant had intelligently mutated.

If you really grasp what I'm saying here, it's just mind-blowing. It's like software that rewrites itself. Your computer software on your computer does not do that. If one of those files gets wiped out, it's gone. Her colleagues thought she was crazy. That plant did not do what you just said it did. They wouldn't accept it. She went underground with her research for twenty years, but she kept doing it. Nobody would listen to her. She won the Nobel prize in 1983. She has her picture on a US postage stamp now. In my opinion, she is probably one of the five greatest biologists who's ever lived. One of the reasons I wrote Evolution 2.0 is because what Barbara discovered is really just the tip of the iceberg of how evolution actually works. It is an active process. It's not just this passive accidental thing where crap happens and then better things just emerge. That's the impression that the secular people always give you. No. Evolution is an active, intentional process.

In Evolution 2.0, I call it the Swiss Army Knife. There's a whole series of tools that organisms use to adapt to their environment, to edit their DNA, to merge together, to form a merger, a cooperative, symbiotic relationships, merger acquisitions. It’s just amazing. What I find is that entrepreneurs and CEOs, even if they don't have a science background, when they read my book, they relate to it because what the book is saying is every entrepreneur, every CEO, every business leader, every sales manager, every marketing manager, anybody who's in a leadership position in a company, everybody knows gun to your head. You have to make it. It's got to be better this year than it was last year or you're dead. You're on a death march. Make it better. The car has got to be faster, the electronics got to be smaller, the software has got to be more beautiful, the movie's got to be better. The TV shows got to be better, the podcast got to be better. You don't even know how to do it. You just know you have to. I already made it the best I know how. Make it better because if you don't, somebody else will.

That competition is always going on. How do you evolve? You don't evolve by accident. There might be serendipities and there might be lucky breaks, you are playing mind over matter all the time. Really, if you run a business, you understand evolution way better than you ever probably thought you did. Evolution 2.0is not really a business book, but if you're a business person and you know that mindset, you will see business everywhere in that book. You'll see it in how cells cooperate and merge and do these amazing things. Did you know that cell-for-cell, 90% of your body is symbiotic bacteria and only 10% of are stem cells. Your intestines are full of bacteria that help you digest your food and your skin is full of bacteria that protect you from hostile bacteria. If you kill them all with an antibiotic, somebody gets a yeast infection. That's because you've killed your friendly bacteria. Termites can digest wood only because the bacteria in their intestines can digest wood, the termites can't. It's the symbiotic bacteria. In business, almost every quantum leap that you ever see in business is a symbiotic merger of two completely different things to make something new. Uber, if we'd take taxis and we mix it with cell phone app, which used to not have anything to do with each other, you create this completely new different business that never existed before, that completely transforms the world. All of the major steps in evolution are either symbiotic or hybrid mergers because evolution does take leaps.

 Almost every quantum leap that you see in business is a symbiotic merger of two completely different things to make something new

Almost every quantum leap that you see in business is a symbiotic merger of two completely different things to make something new

This was something that Darwin could never figure out. He's like, "Why does the fossil record jumped from here to here to here without very many intermediate forms?" It's because of merger acquisitions. We see the same thing with technology. We see the same thing in business. We could go to the history of the cassette player, the Sony Walkman or the iPod or the iPhone and it's all symbiotic mergers. What if we take a telephone network and we merge it with the internet and we put a screen on it? How about an app store? That was an old idea, too. It existed in Linux a long time before Apple was ever doing it and they took those, they stir fried all that together and you have the iPhone, which is the most successful product ever in technology history? We can learn a lot from evolution, like a lot, a lot. I find that biological evolution is a great way to pull myself out of my business space and my business assumptions, go into another world. How would a cell solve this problem? It's already been solved two billion years ago. How did they do it? I really do apply this in business. I get paid a few thousand dollars an hour to do consultations. A lot of times, I'm switching on the biology side of my brain to solve a business problem.

You talked about these large jumps in the evolutionary timeline. When I read that, I thought, "We're going through one of those right now in business." Everybody likes to talk about this magical D word, disruption. That's just an example of the conditions being ripe in a lot of different places for people to make this jump and Uber is a good example of that. This isn't the first time we've seen it in business. It happened throughout the last century but then if you look at all of our economic big jumps, they really all follow that pattern where somebody combined a couple of different ideas, which really is what this is. It's intelligent plus design where humans are applying intelligence, designing something new and making this leap. As I was going through it, first of all from a spiritual and just a personal context, a fascinating read, but as I was going through it, I kept thinking, "That's what's happening in this industry." That’s one of the reasons I was really excited to talk about this. I know you do a lot of interviews on 80/20 and it's a powerful book, but I think it's almost a subset of what is in Evolution 2.0Evolution 2.0is a much broader look at this and it’s fascinating to see how these things change. If you go get the book and you read it, I think it's going to give you a new perspective to look at the problems that come up in your business.

I've used this over and over and over again and my customers use it. In the Evolution 2.0 book, we have this concept called the Army Knife, which is all these little things that cells do. I took that. I moved into advertising and we created a system called the Swiss Army Knife System for Google and Facebook ads and people use it. They use it to jam together ideas that they would have never really thought to connect to each other because the hardest problem in internet advertising or in technology or business period, it's the problem of novelty. How do I come up with something new that nobody's ever seen before that's also great? That’s not just like duck-billed platypus. There's a lot of those out there. They fail. You need a system for thinking of how to do it. You can't normally just count on like, "I hope it comes to me in the shower tomorrow morning." It may not come to you in the shower. You need a method. It really is powerful and my assertion is that all evolution is fundamentally the same. We could talk about cells or zebras or Sony Walkmans or iPhones or jazz or politics or literature and it all operates on the same universal set of principles.

I believe that if we can teach people that universal set of principles, we can get a new renaissance. We can get another one. We had one 500 years ago. It's time for another one. It’s long overdue, but you have to have a system for thinking about it. You have to have a system that doesn't attempt to subdivide the world into these little compartments. It actually has to connect everything together. I think the creationists have subdivided the world into there's religion and there's science and they're in conflict with each other. You're just supposed to believe the religious version. The atheist basically does the same thing. They have this war between faith and science. I want to end the war between faith and science. There is nothing about evolution that pushes you away from God. If I was to summarize Evolution 2.0in two sentences, it's Darwinists under estimate nature and creationists underestimate God. God is way bigger than either of those camps ever imagined God to be. I'll give you an example of what I mean by that. Steve, back in the day did you ever use DOS?

Absolutely.

The old Microsoft operating system. I did too. I want you to imagine that DOS came out in 1981 and after that, Bill Gates never touched it. No programmers in Redmond, Washington ever touched it and I want you to imagine that by its inherent adaptive capabilities, DOS developed to Windows Desktop and it developed an internet connection and it developed Microsoft Word and developed Excel and it developed antivirus, and then all the machines started updating each other's virus definitions every day. I want you to imagine that all that happened adaptively and automatically and that we got to the Windows that we have now without employees in Redmond, Washington. If that was what DOS did, would you be impressed? You'd be like, "Where did that come from? Who wrote that code?" This is how people of faith should perceive evolution. It's the software that rewrites itself. If Microsoft knew what one bacterium knows, they're stock would go up 10x, maybe a 100x. Microsoft does not know what Win bacterium knows. There's a famous YouTube video. It's less than a year old and it was done at Harvard. It’s really fascinating. They took this glass thing and they put bacteria in it and they put antibiotics in it. Then they did time-lapsed photography for two weeks. It's in these sections. You start in one section, it had all these bacteria in basically a giant Petri dish and then they put antibiotics in it. It killed almost all the bacteria, dead, but there were a few that they rearrange their DNA and they did all these recalculations and they figured out how to resist the antibiotics.

 This is how people of faith should perceive evolution. It's the software that rewrites itself

This is how people of faith should perceive evolution. It's the software that rewrites itself

Then they took the survivors and then they put them in the next section. In the next section, the antibiotic was ten times stronger. It killed almost all of them. This is like survivor. This is like a reality show. Ten times the antibiotic, killed almost all of them, a few of them figured out how to resist the antibiotics then they start growing and then they went to the next one and it keeps going and going until, I forget if it was 1,000 or a million times the concentration of antibiotic. I think it was a million. By the end of the two weeks, the progeny of the winners of the winners of the winners of the winners had all figured out how to combat the antibiotics. You can look this up and find it on YouTube or we'll send you a link. You can show it on the show notes. It's really cool. This does not happen by accident. This happens on purpose. This is the bacteria trying to figure out how to resist the antibiotic. This is the war in your immune system every day. This is what's going on when you wake up at 2:00 in the morning, your throat is sore and you can feel a sinus infection coming on. Your body and those bacteria are in an arms race. Now, what if Microsoft knew how to do that?

The problems that we're facing right now, we have a billion people on the planet when about maybe a thousand years ago or somewhere in that bulk, within the last 1,000 years, we’re about to have nine billion. We have exponentially expanding problems in the world and exponentially expanding opportunities in the world. I believe that our thinking models aren't quite up to par, which is the reason you're seeing a lot of the things that we're seeing in the world happen right now. I feel like what you've uncovered in a lot of the research that has been done that you've found in being able to piece together, gives us a new way to look at things. It gives us an opportunity to look at things a little bit differently. I want to just go back to something you just said. You talked about the bacteria and you said that the ones that survived were desperately trying to figure out how do we combat this? The skeptic who's listening to this is going to say, "How do you know that they were trying to figure that out and they didn't just get lucky?"

It's because those has been studied in great detail and what happens when you put bacteria under stress is their mutation rate goes up 100,000 times and what they do is they start coding sequences in their DNA, they start moving them around. They also start exchanging them with other bacteria. In a limited sense, there is some walk. It's just like a business scrambling to meet payroll. It's the same thing. It’s like, “Let's try having a sale. Let's try putting a sign outside. Let's try sending out an email. Let's try a social media thing, let's try a publicity stunt. There's a rumor that Fred Smith who started FedEx met payroll by going to Vegas one weekend and coming back with the money. Let's go to Vegas. Maybe that will work." Anybody that's owned a business has gone through this. The only part that's lucky is that you don't know which one of those things is actually going to work. I would never claim that these bacteria know in advance what's going to work, but they know what to try.

They see new changing adverse conditions or maybe new opportunistic set of conditions in the environment.

Like new food. If I could digest that food, we would be really great shape.

They say, "Let's see if we can figure out how to deal with this," and they start changing things. It’s like what we would do as complete creatures, exactly what we do every day which brings me to another connection between 80/20 and all of this. I've read a lot about 80/20 before I came across your book. I don't remember how far into your book you talked about it, but you talked about the fractal nature of 80/20. I have one of those, “Should I have a V8?” moments because I hadn't seen that yet. The minute that I saw it I was like, "Of course." I really encourage people to get the book because you'll see this. All the way from a cellular level, at the DNA level, the changing in decision-making really which is what is happening there is very, very similar and just a micro version of what happens at the larger level, at a human level or at an organizational level or at a national level or at a global level. That's what I saw as I went through it.

You are astute. Not everybody picks up on that, but yes, evolution is fractal. There's evolution at the single-cell level. There's evolution of a single system in your body, like the immune system or your nervous system. There's evolution of the whole organism. There's evolution at the population level. Most of this stuff has been dumb-down to just pure ridiculousness. The fact is, is that there are evolutionary progresses being made at every level of analysis. The world is profoundly sophisticated and profoundly intentional in ways that we can't really imagine. Until we accept that, we're going to be really stuck. I think the next big revolution in science is going to be when the purposefulness of nature is fully accepted. In biology, it has been verboten to admit that biological organisms are purposeful and evolved purposefully. It's been just completely banned from the field.

A good friend of mine, Denis Noble just published a paper and it took quite a political fight to get this paper to publication. It's in the Journal of Biology, which is a major journal in the name of the paper is called, Is the Watchmaker Blind or Does She Have One Eye? It's a reference to Richard Dawkins book The Blind Watchmaker, which asserts that all the evolutionary steps are blind and purposeless. They're not. He documents it in the paper. It goes to your question, the skeptic, "That's just luck." He shows that it's not luck. He shows that organisms are actively using cognition to make changes that are relevant to the context of whatever is going on. It's really brilliant and it's very well-documented. I think what you're going to see happening in the next twenty years, you're going to see a whole complete shift in going from seeing nature as bottom up and just plain molecules to man to seeing nature as systems within systems within systems where there's top-down causality. There's bottom up causality at every level of interaction. We have to learn to think this way.

You'll find that the best artists, the best engineers, the best musicians, the best business managers, they all think that way already. Whether they have language for it or not, but really everybody's got to go to our higher level of thinking. I think our whole society is going through a birthing process right now and we're seeing huge birthing pains. We've got the compartmentalization of social media and the echo chambers and the polarization and the Charleston, West Virginia. We're seeing all these conflicts going on. It's because we have to go to a higher level of consciousness and if we don't, we're in trouble and the outcome is not determined. We could all collapse into the abyss or we could make the leap, but we're not going to be able to stay where we are. I absolutely guarantee you that. We're not going to stay where we are.

 We have to go to a higher level of consciousness and if we don't, we're in trouble and the outcome is not determined

We have to go to a higher level of consciousness and if we don't, we're in trouble and the outcome is not determined

Perry, this has been an absolutely fascinating. I've enjoyed the conversation. I hope everybody else's enjoyed eavesdropping on our conversation. You've launched something called the Evolution 2.0 Prize. We’d love for you to share a little bit about that and then tell people where they can find out more about what you're doing in business and add on this topic.

You've been talking back to me during this interview about how important it is like we have to figure out how this actually works. We have to understand this. We can't just shrug it off as an accident. We also can't just say, "There was a miracle guide to this." That's it. There's nothing else we can understand. Neither one of those positions is scientific. I totally in God, but that's like an end point. That's not the whole explanation. It's our job as curious human beings to figure out how it all works. I decided that the deepest, most fundamental question in this whole issue is, "Where does code come from? How do you get a code without designing one?" If you could answer that question, most of the other questions will actually fall in place. I put together a $5 million technology prize and if somebody can solve this, then my private equity group which is called Natural Code LLC, we went to patent it and buy the patent from you and make you a partner in our effort, which probably will make us all a very large sum of money. Probably the $5 million would just be a good start. I put together a prize. It's called the Evolution 2.0 Prize. If you get a NaturalCode.org, you can see all the details. I have the leading physiologists from Oxford on my judging panel. I have the leading geneticists from Harvard and MIT also in my judging panel. We have some very wealthy investors who would really love to solve this and love to own the technology because I think it would be a giant, giant breakthrough in artificial intelligence. You can go to NaturalCode.org and you can read about it and maybe you or your teenager or somebody you know can figure this thing out. I think it's absolutely central to this whole question of how the world works.

It's been fascinating. For those who want to find out more about what you're doing in business, where should they go?

The business side, go to PerryMarshall.com. In the evolution side, you can get three free chapters of Evolution 2.0 at CosmicFingerprints.com. Evolution 2.0, it's in Audible. It's in paperback. It's hard cover. It’s in Kindle. However, you like to consume a book, it's all on Amazon. You'll never see the hand at the end of your arm the same way again after you read this book. If you're a little bit extra aware, you'll see business in biology and you'll see biology in business for the rest of your life and it'll be just a new way of seeing the world and that's always valuable.

Perry, thanks so much for investing some time with me. This has been a lot of fun.

Thank you. It’s really great to be on. Thanks for paying so much attention when you read the book. Not everybody has that level of awareness, but clearly you did and I salute you for that. Thank you.

It was a great learning opportunity. I always welcome that. Thanks.

Mentioned in the show

Jonathan Cronstedt | Taking Advantage of the Knowledge Commerce Boom

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The online education space may seem saturated…the opportunity long past. Not so, says my guest Jonathan Cronstedt, President of Kajabi.

He maintains that thanks to two recent trends, there is a ready-to-buy audience in just about every niche.

A growing market, plus today’s technology, means it’s never been easier for anybody, from any background, to profit from what they know.

“JCron” also explains how to form a productive relationship between a company and a consultant.

Sometimes there can be friction when an outsider comes in. But he has strategies for collaboration that produces amazing outcomes.

You’ll also learn…

  • Ways to leverage “hyper-individualism” to break into new markets
  • The key differences between start-up and scale-up
  • Why simple information isn’t enough when “selling” knowledge
  • Tips for avoiding the paralysis of micro-management
  • The answer to every entrepreneur’s hardest question
  • And more

Listen to Steve Gordon and Jcron now…

Jonathan Cronstedt | Taking Advantage of the Knowledge Commerce Boom

We're talking with Jonathan Cronstedt. Jonathan or JCron to those who are close to him is, as he says, a dangerously dedicated executive strategist. When he's not driving outcomes for industry leading brands or launching products online, he's blessed to be married to his wife, Nicole, and enjoys a freezer full of fabulous vodka and a puppy named Stella. Jonathan has been working with the top digital marketing and SaaS companies. He's currently the President of Kajabi and they've got a fabulous platform for knowledge commerce for hosting courses and training and things like that. We're actually a customer. Jonathan, happy to have you here.

Thank you so much, Steve. Thank you for the incredibly warm intro. I would welcome comparing vodka notes. It's one of my favorite things. My wife, myself and our puppy that we treat like a child are hanging out here in Southern California.

I'm excited to talk a little bit about the things that you're doing, but before we dive into that, it'd be great if you could give everybody a little bit of context, a little bit of background for how you got to this point in your career.

It's been a couple of parts tenacity, a couple of parts divine intervention and some strokes of luck along the way. I graduated college here in Southern California with a degree in business that I fully intend on using at some point, but I found my way early on into the mortgage business. This was pre-2007, so the mortgage business was everywhere in Orange County. I started with a small company, working only in California.

By the time we were coming up on what would be the great recession, I ended up as the Vice President of Sales with 70 direct reports, 300,000 direct mail pieces a week, and was having an absolute ball until the wheels came off. That was my first inflection point in my career where it was like, “I am an executive, great company, great comp, everything's going my way. You could have buried me under that desk and I would've been happy, and all of a sudden everything changed.” The question was, “What do I do now?” That's what led me to this world of digital marketing.

I've been very fortunate that my path through digital marketing has been marked with some unbelievable mentors that I didn't even know enough to choose at the outset, but I happened to find my way to them and they guided my path through this reinvention as going from a mortgage and finance executive to moving into executive leadership in software as a service, digital education, and online marketing.

In my time in the online marketing world, I've had the pleasure of working with lots of amazing organizations, some of the company names that you may remember, Traffic Geyser Mike Koenigs, working with Mike, Glazer-Kennedy Insider's Circle, Bill Glazer and Dan Kennedy. I previously had experience in the direct sales world with a company called Empower Network at the time and then software as a service with Kajabi, and also time with Digital Marketer in Austin, Texas. Lots of varied executive career that touched on those different areas and it's been an absolute blast.

You've worked with the who's who of the internet marketing and direct marketing world. The interesting thing about your path is you may not have been the one founding those firms, but you've come in and played an important role. For a lot of the audience, oftentimes we get the founder and the CEO listening, and we find again and again that they get to a point where they can't grow the business anymore and they need that outside perspective and outside talent. Having come in and fulfill that role and helped drive a lot of growth in these companies, from your perspective, what is it and where's the inflection point where somebody needs to be thinking about, “I got to get some high-powered help in here so that we can add rocket fuel to what we've already got.”

It's interesting because for a lot of entrepreneurs, that is one of the hardest questions to answer in any organization because you have these diametrically opposed, very strong emotional poles. One side is “I birthed this. I'm excited about this,” and the idea of having anybody else in that vision or in that voice can be intimidating. On the other side, you will find that most entrepreneurs, some very early, some very late in the game, will begin to realize that their opportunities far exceed necessarily their core competencies that their desire to go out and take every new hill and innovate and create and that early stage energy that they miss oftentimes results in them not falling in love with the activities of scale. The meetings, the processes, the standard operating procedures, that for most successful entrepreneurs, most successful innovators could not be more mundane and boring.

 You'll learn the same lesson in life in increasingly painful fashions until it's learned.

You'll learn the same lesson in life in increasingly painful fashions until it's learned.

Reid Hoffman did an amazing job encapsulating this where he talked about in technology, the difference between startup and scale, and the personality and proficiency that needs to be in scale as well as in startup. If you read the two of them side by side, they could not be more different. They couldn't be more opposite ends of the skill set spectrum. Normally what I found is (I you end up in this position where you learn the same lesson in life in increasingly painful fashions until it's learned. It might be that very first time where the entrepreneur loses a key hire because they're tasking them with 342 hats and they only could handle 341 and they're like, "This is crazy. I'm out.”

That might be the first moment where that entrepreneur says, “I need specialization, systems, org charts,” the stuff that they have no desire to build or it may be three, five, seven years down the line where the organization, based on the entrepreneur's ability to sell and ability to enroll others in the excitement of that vision, may have grown to a place where all of a sudden the complexity and the cacophony of the growth is so loud that they can't hear anything else.

It's like, “How did I get here? Where do I go from here? What do I do with this giant organization that now people want to be managed and mentored? What do I do?” It's definitely different stages, different timelines, but I would say it boils down to that realization that there are opportunities, as a Founder, I could capitalize on, that I am uniquely gifted to capitalize on, if I had somebody else to take care of the running of the thing.

Coming in that you have done repeatedly, that's got to take some skill. You're coming into somebody else's baby and taking over some of what they do and making decisions that they used to make, I imagine that that takes a special diplomacy to be able to pull off. How do you approach that?

From my experience, I find that there have been two different experiences that I've had coming into companies. You are either coming into a company that has a lot of amazing systems identified and growth levers identified and it's a process of pulling them more rapidly and essentially throwing gasoline on a fire and taking it to the next level in an organized fashion. The other side of it is you're coming into an organization that has tremendous potential, but maybe by virtue of not a real managed approach to growth, you've got a lot of cleanup to do, you've got a lot of reorganizing to do, you've got a lot of the, “What got us here is not going to get us to there,” and you're brought in as the guy that is like, “I've been arm and arm with these people or these processes for a long time. I need somebody to come in and help me get rid of some of the things that I might not be ready to get rid of or reinvent.”

The diplomacy side has always been number one, tremendous amount of empathy, being able to appreciate and understand the journey that that entrepreneur has been on as well as the empathy needed for the team that they have amassed. Depending on how hard driving that entrepreneur is, you may have a team that is desperate for a breath of fresh air because they've been going a million miles a minute with their hair on fire for so long, so empathy and understanding those circumstances is going to be a very significant portion of what allows you to build rapport and have the buy-in from an organization that will allow you to make cool things happen.

The other side of it is certainly being crystal clear on how we will judge what success means with whomever is bringing me into the equation. If I'm being brought into something, whether it's amazing and we need to scale it to amazing times three or I'm being brought into something that has tremendous potential, but right now it's a mess, how we judge what success looks like is crucial because you always have this critical moment in any relationship where you're being brought in as a high level executive where you will have to either disagree or ask for someone to trust you because you're doing things that are new, different, or outside of their realm of familiarity.

If you have success defined and you agree that that's where you're pointing to, there may come a time where it's like, “We both know where we're going. We both know the goal in getting there, but there're some things I'm going to need to do that as long as we agree on the outcome, you have to let me own the middle.” That part of it has been pretty significantly important because if you don't define success the right way, all of a sudden it becomes micro-managing crazy fest of how to get to the outcome which gums up the works and slows everything down.

In almost every case, I would think the reason you're being brought in is your particular skill set at being able to take the entrepreneur or the founder out of the micromanaging mess and be able to put some very important structure in place in this fast-growing entrepreneurial business. Having worked with an awful lot of business founders, most of them desperately resist any imposition of structure particularly on themselves because they want the freedom to go and create. One of the more challenging tasks in business, you're coming into this real inflection point in the growth of a company, lots of stuff going on, and the only reason you're there is because they've had enough success to warrant having somebody there and now you've got to rebuild the company to go to the next level. That can't be an easy thing to do.

The other thing that I would say from a qualitative perspective that has always served me well is I've always been a very pragmatic individual. My goal in any organization that I'm coming into is always to expand and amplify the founder and their vision. It's something that in any company, you'll find executives at times that have secret ambitions of “I want to be the front guy. I want to be the visionary. I want to be the founder.” That's something for me that I've always been fortunate that's never been a huge focus of mine. I've always been very happy to be driving the outcomes I'm driving, building the teams I'm building, but as it relates to being the guy on stage or the vision aspect, the name aspect, those are things that I've always felt are best served left to the founder and entrusted to them.

Also it helps tremendously being able to build rapport that if you're working with a founder that has a passion for stuff like that, they have a very real risk where you're coming into something and they're probably wondering, “Are you going to replace that role that I play?” Do they want you to replace that role? “Do you want to be the guy speaking? Do you want to be the guy selling? Do you want to be the guy writing books and on podcasts?” or “Is that something you would like me to do? You'd like me to assist with? You'd like me to replace?” That aspect of defining success, but also in my particular case, not having a desire for the stage and for the front man presence has also been very helpful in having the threat of a new person coming in and touching a machine that's running significantly reduced.

With anybody that you're working with to the extent that you can get clear on what success looks like, it's funny, I find that so many people in business, whether you're the business owner or you're an executive in a company, that we leave that step out and we tend to leave that step out r leave it a little bit gray because sometimes it's hard to get to that place. You've got to have some challenging conversations at times and get real with things, but when you do you, you've risked so much and makes it very difficult to go forward and operate authentically. Josh, thanks for sharing all that. I cannot wait to hear what you're working on. You have a ton going on. I'm excited to hear what you're excited about, what's happening, and what can you share with us?

 The information age didn't deliver on the promises that we expected. We were all told that technology was going to solve all of our issues.

The information age didn't deliver on the promises that we expected. We were all told that technology was going to solve all of our issues.

Thanks for the opportunity, Steve. By all means, please call me JCron. Anybody listening, if they hear the name Jonathan Cronstedt, they definitely won't know who it is. Certainly something over at Kajabi, we've got some unbelievable things going on. I would even say the industry and the trend lines for the world that we operate in have never been more exciting. We've gotten very clear on who we are, what we do, and the term that we've wrapped around it is this idea of knowledge commerce, this idea of looking at the different ages that the world has gone through of the agricultural age, agrarian age, industrial age, information age, and what we're moving into is what we believe is the knowledge age.

The information age didn't deliver on the promises that we expected. We were all told that technology was going to solve all of our issues. The internet was going to make everything easy and accessible, but all it's done is give us more overwhelm, more disinformation, and more burden to look at more options that we always feel incapable of deciding between. We believe that knowledge commerce is the answer to that.

Kajabi is designed to equip someone who has knowledge to offer it to the rest of the world for profit or for whatever motives they have and be able to do it without all of the technology headaches. If you wanted to offer an online course or sell your information a decade ago, you would've had to have five to ten platforms cobbled together and a whole bunch of different things that put you in the place of being a technologist, not someone who had knowledge that wanted to offer it to the world.

What we've tried to do is continue to ask the question of how can we make technology easier and more accessible, but also equip entrepreneurs that may want to either not retire, but rewire and have a new business based on their life experience. Young people entering the workforce that would prefer to choose an entrepreneurial path rather than a cubicle position. Individuals that have an amazing business and would like to add another income stream by teaching others what they do and how they do it. Regardless of the category, we want to be the platform of choice that makes it easy for them to accomplish those goals.

What we're most excited about is if you look at the Intuit Insights 2020 report, the trend lines for 3 billion new consumers coming online between now and 2020, that have never had access to any of the things that we largely in the United States take for granted. It's an exciting time to be offering your knowledge online and connecting with the global audience much like what you're doing here, Steve, with the technology to have a podcast with global reach all from the comfort of your own home.

It seems like you can hardly throw a rock on the internet and not hit somebody who's selling their knowledge, their new online course. We've seen a proliferation of these offerings over the last probably three to five years. Do you feel like we're heading to a place where there's too much of it where it's saturated?

If you're looking at the course through the lens of a hammer is a hammer is a hammer, then definitely the view of saturation is going to be the one that looks most prominent. How many courses can we have on Google AdWords? The side that I would come from with that is the amount of individual consumers that are seeking connection, not simply information. The reality of it is there's more than enough information out there that is pre-available, but it doesn't come with the connection, the personality, and the ability to say, “I want to learn from that person,” which is always answered before, “I want to learn whatever they're teaching me.”

It's something where I think there may be too many AdWords courses out there from learning the act of putting ads on Google, but there is still more than enough room tomorrow to launch an AdWords course specifically for vegan chefs or specifically for CrossFit instructors or specifically for gothic music. There's always a specialization, there's always a uniqueness, there's always a personality that can be added that completely changes the addressable market.

We definitely also have the benefit of those three billion new consumers that I talked about coming online that have never purchased anything before. For us, we've already been down that road, but for them this is all new and all fresh. Even if you look at the paradox of choice, we live in a world where hyperindividualism is important. I don't want the same iPhone case that everybody else has. I don't want the same clothing. I don't want the same brands whereas in suburbia post World War II, you had three brands to choose from, if that, and all three of those brands were equally appropriate, whereas today you've got hundreds, thousands, millions, sometimes of choices and those choices become reflections of your individuality. It's something that we've only seen the beginning of how many versions of how many things to learn that are going to be brought to market.

You make a very important point around relationship. Before this online revolution where education has moved to the internet and you go back, 30 years or 50 years, to where the primary mode of education, at least at a higher level, was through universities. Those of us who were going to a university had our preferences based on whatever connection we may have had with that institution, whether it be with the brand or the image that we perceived or some other affiliation and that drove a lot of choices.

It may not be as new and different a decision as it feels like. To your point, there are lots of opportunities for people to get in and build relationship with a group of people and then offer them something. It's talked about a lot, but I have seen over the last year more and more people come out and write these epistles on why they think online education is dead and I'm grateful for your perspective on that.

There are a couple of other pieces to that. First of all, the easiest way to generate interest in any market is go and take whatever is the popular trend and say it's dead, direct mail is dead, television advertising is dead, radio is dead. All of these things that marketers use to gather attention when in reality, even still to this day, direct mail is a giant business and probably is the single largest aspect of charitable donations and political activism. For the medium that has been declared dead so many times, it's still the most effective and gigantic. Anytime anybody says to me, “This is dead,” I'm like, “Really?” Look five to ten years ago it was, “iTunes killed the music business,” but yet the most profitable music category last year, vinyl records.

It's in a book called Revenge of Analog, and talking about all of these businesses the digital had pronounced dead aren't dead and are actually doing quite well. In that case, the most expensive information you can get is bad information. It's one of those things than anytime you have anybody telling you something is dead, ask what that person's motivation is for telling you that it's dead. Go back to Karl Marx, see whom is to benefit from that information. But I also think it's born out of this paradigm of how we learn.

When you look at the ballooning student loan debt crisis that is no longer translating to predictable earnings, how are we going to educate people when they decide they don't want to go to college? How are we going to educate people when they are not plugging into the traditional systems that other generations have seen as the only way to do things? How are we going to equip this generation of entrepreneurs that maybe doesn't want to be location-specific in their career pursuits?

There are so many trend lines that indicate that this idea of learning what I want to learn when I want to learn it, how I want to learn it, and from whom I want to learn it, those trend lines to me are far more powerful. The idea of even saturation and what's on right now that people are looking at largely is a logical argument. Like, “There's already a course on that, so I'm not going to make another one.” The reality of it is we are not logical beings as much as we would love to assume we are. We are irrational. How we make decisions is far more emotionally motivated than it is logically motivated. If it weren't the case, there wouldn't be 800 brands of toothpaste; I made that number up, but I mean if all it was the logical need of “I need to clean my teeth,” there'd only be one toothpaste, but there isn't. There's a bazillion toothpastes because nobody buys toothpaste logically.

 How we make decisions is far more emotionally motivated than it is logically motivated.

How we make decisions is far more emotionally motivated than it is logically motivated.

That lens can be applied to any industry and say we are absolutely always going to see people that know how to market, know how to meet the needs of that market, going to be successful regardless of how crowded the market is. Everyone said flip phones are dead, but yet Jitterbug launched a flip phone and it's doing massively well in an area where everyone said the smartphone was the only thing everyone would have. That’s my take on “Is it saturated? Is there opportunity?” on behalf of myself, our growing company and our growing user base. If you think it's dead, it leaves a lot more room for us to take advantage of it.

What are some of the innovative things you are seeing people do in online learning, particularly on your platform? What are some of the unique ways that they're using it to build a business and to reach out and impact an audience?

We're building much more impactful and immersive educational experiences than you get in a one‑size-fits-all academic institution. You could go to college for marketing and you're going to walk out of there. By the time you're done with college, everything you learned is likely outdated. Facebook's marketing algorithms change so quickly that it's even challenging to rebuild video courses on online advertising. I see our user base doing not only an amazing job of staying on the cutting edge of the areas that they're passionate about, the things they want to evangelize, the professions that they glean their knowledge from, but also I see them educating in a very different way. It's not “I'm going to expand this because the school year is nine months,” it's, “I can teach you this topic in three and a half hours with relevant exercises and I can skip all of the things that on my journey didn't serve me.” The effectiveness quotient of what you learn goes way up.

As technology and our development team who I'm very proud of has improved the immersiveness and the effectiveness of that approach goes up even further that now you can even watch video lessons at one and a half to two times the speed and be able to consume that information that much faster. You're able to build in assessments and quiz and interact with people along the way. You're able to answer comments below the video that are in context, so rather than having someone go through an entire course, you can answer questions in that moment based on that information and then have an entire community benefit from that question being asked and that question being answered in that context.

For example, if you were going through a college course on marketing, how beneficial would it be that before you went through the college semester, you got all of the questions and you got all of the answers all along the way so that you knew you were equipped to ask better questions? It's a wholesale reevaluation of how we learn and the technology making it more impactful in less time and equipping people to get back to doing what they want to do anyway.

We've come an awfully long way from the three-ring binder wrapped in cellophane that gets shipped to your door as being the way that we're educated outside of traditional institutions. We do some of that for our clients and I'm amazed at what can be accomplished now through these methods. It's useful both for the clients and it's certainly useful as a business owner. When we went to begin to offer some of the stuff, I was doing consulting and found myself having the same conversations with people again and again and again, and we started capturing that in video.

It turns out the clients liked that better because they could get it anytime they want, and so there's tremendous advantage to this approach. For an audience that haven't thought before about maybe packaging up their knowledge and offering it, give us a sense for what that looks like for a business owner who hasn't been down the road before. How difficult is it and what are some of the things they should think about?

We at Kajabi definitely come from the framework in this burgeoning knowledge commerce world that everybody knows something of value, whether it is your ability as an early stage entrepreneur to have a passion for something you want to learn, distill that knowledge down into something actionable that's specific and teach others. You may learn all the things to know about marketing online and distill that down into a small course for chiropractors on how to build a local presence within their market.

You also have that avatar of someone who might be mid stage in their career and thinking to themselves, “I've been a dentist for over a decade and a half and I see that my industry doesn't talk about how to naturally fight cavities and avoid drilling. I would like to educate other dentists on how to do that and build a secondary income stream in that regard.” The third Avatar is the person who's looking at retiring and either saying, “I would love to not retire and have my knowledge decay and essentially become useless” or “I'm retiring and I'm not capitalized to retire the way I would like to and I'd love to supplement my lifestyle.”

One of our guys, Dean Guccione, spent his life as an interviewer for firefighters. He basically did nothing but interview firefighters that were applying for all the firefighter stations in his district. He realized all of a sudden that all of these guys wanted to be firefighters, but none of them knew how to interview to be a firefighter and he is a guy who spent his lifetime interviewing firefighters, and so we put together a course for firefighters on, “Here's how to nail the interview.” Now he and his wife are retired. They take his motorcycle all over the US and he pops into hotels to check his email, make sure the course is online, do the live Q&A.

I would say regardless of what area you're in, you can package knowledge you would like to have, you can package knowledge that you've developed, or you can package knowledge that you've amassed and offer that to the marketplace. The biggest suggestion I could offer is definitely don't complicate it. This is certainly an industry where there are so many great topics that could be and should be covered that never get covered because people are still waiting for dropping 20 pounds to look good on camera or getting the lighting right or being worried about the sound quality or wondering if they're going to be judged or if all of their friends are going to laugh at them.

 People literally think that the moment you put something on the internet, the entire globe is instantly aware of it.

People literally think that the moment you put something on the internet, the entire globe is instantly aware of it.

People literally think that the moment you put something on the internet, the entire globe is instantly aware of it, paying rapt attention and they're going to make fun of every flaw you have when in reality, it couldn't be further from the truth. People want the same thing, they want authenticity, they want connection, and they want impact for the goals that they have. If you can provide those three things regardless of the topic, whether it be passion, profession, proficiency, whatever you want to teach, there's an audience out there that is waiting for you specifically with your experience to teach it to them. Maybe it's personal training from someone who at one time was out of shape rather than walking into a gym and meeting someone that looks like they've never been out of shape and can't relate to what it's like to being out of shape.

There're innumerable examples. We even have things, Steve, as crazy as horse ballet called dressage. It's when you teach horses to trot in different ways. We have people teaching courses like that on Kajabi, literally horse ballet. I can't think of something that more people would be like “Nobody wants to know what I know,” and it's like, “Horse ballet.” It's a successful horse. I would say you're only limited by your creativity and your willingness to work and you're only limited by your ability to get going because we are living in an age where the technology barriers have all been removed.

You have done a good job of that. I can say that as a customer having used for the last couple years. JCron, I'm so grateful that you've been on. You got a great story to tell, very unique story. What's the best place for people to go and find more about you and more about Kajabi?

Thank you so much. They can hit me up on Facebook. Twitter is @TheJCron or anywhere they find me they can reach me. Being the dutiful executive, I'm far more plugged in and work far more often than I should. I'm one of those quality of life guys that try to optimize processes so that I can work more with the time I create. I would love to connect with anybody. Steve, I appreciate you having me on the show. It's such a unique split of getting the inside game of how you got here, what has served you, and then also talking about the general business, what's working now, and what's out there in the marketplace. I've had an absolute blast.

Thanks so much for being here. I look forward to connecting again soon.

Take care, Steve.

Mentioned in the show

Josh Turner | Compelling Marketing Creates Consistent Growth

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When you have a business, it’s tempting to be all things to all people. But when your target market is too big, says Josh Turner, you don’t reach anybody effectively. This B2B marketing expert recommends ways to laser focus your marketing so you can generate as many leads as you can handle.

Josh is a big fan of one social network in particular. He shares how he’s learned to use it to turn more prospects into lifelong clients and customers.

You’ll also get details on…

  • The forgotten impact of your physical health on mindset
  • Ways to generate leads on social media without “spamming”
  • How to get referrals on autopilot by building your reputation online
  • The 15-Minute Rule for overcoming negativity and getting back to work
  • The people you need in your business so you can focus on “needle movers”
  • And more…

Listen to Josh Turner and Steve Gordon now…

Josh Turner | Compelling Marketing Creates Consistent Growth

We're talking with Josh Turner. Josh is the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Connect and Booked, and he's the Founder of LinkedSelling, which is a B2B marketing firm that specializes in outsource LinkedIn lead generation campaigns. They represent clients like Neil Patel and Microsoft and a whole host of others. If you haven't found his book, you need to go find it. LinkedSelling operates LinkedUniversity.com, TheAppointmentGenerator.com, a bunch of online training programs, and they do it for you. I'm excited to have Josh. We've known each other for awhile. I believe in the stuff that you are doing on LinkedIn. Sometimes it's sometimes a forgotten platform with all the focus on Facebook, but for those of us selling B2B, it is the most valuable tool. Welcome, Josh.

Steve, thanks so much for having me and I couldn't agree more.

We've talked a little bit about who you are, but let's dive into the real back story of how you got to this point in business. I'm pretty sure you probably didn't wake up one day and say, “I'm now a LinkedIn expert.” You didn't graduate from college for that, so how'd you get to this point?

No, it wasn't like when I was four years old, I realized LinkedIn was where I needed to focus my energy. Before starting this company, I was the CFO of a construction and manufacturing company. While I was working at that company, I had started using LinkedIn pretty early on in LinkedIn days and I realized that you could use this tool for business development. I was connecting with all sorts of people that would be good clients for the company that I worked for, good referral partners like architects and things like that. I built up a pretty good network and started to see how LinkedIn could be used in a very powerful way, aside from how most people use it, which is basically nothing more than an online resume or a Rolodex.

Fast forward to 2009, that company was hit pretty hard by the downturn in the economy and was forced to shut its doors. I had the decision to make, go find another job somewhere or go out on my own. I had been itching to do my own thing for awhile and so I did. I started working as an outsource CFO. One of the things I started doing right away that was the only thing that got me results was tapping into LinkedIn and going out and connecting with more prospects. I took it up a level. I started getting focused. I built a LinkedIn group. I was connecting with lots of people. I was putting my name out there, and it created this real flywheel momentum effect. I started getting lots of leads. I started getting lots of referrals from people that didn't even know who I was.

At the time I was 29 years old and when you're a 29-year-old who is trying to put himself out there as an outsource CFO and most of your clients are older grey-haired men and women, it's hard to gain credibility. Within six months of starting the business because of the presence I created for myself on LinkedIn, I was getting referrals into businesses from people that I hadn't even heard of before and didn't even know because they were seeing all of this stuff I was putting out on LinkedIn. I realized that I had something pretty powerful here.

One of my clients that I was doing finance work for asked me if I thought that this LinkedIn system I had built for myself would work for them and that was a light bulb moment for me that I bet there are other businesses that could use this system. I saw that in the social media landscape, what was being taught was a bunch of fluff and frankly BS that wasn't stuff that move the needle. It was like spray and pray and posting content and soft stuff that might have a place, but it wasn't the stuff that was going to generate leads consistently.

I thought that I had something special. I helped this first client generate over $30 million in sales through the LinkedIn system that I was using. From there I said, I bet there're more companies that would be interested in this. I built LinkedSelling.com in 2011 and the company has taken off since then. We've been on the Inc. 500 two years in a row these last couple of years. What we do is we specialize in helping business owners, entrepreneurs, sales and marketing leaders to utilize LinkedIn to position their brands as leaders and experts in front of their target market. Build lasting relationships by doing things the right way, not taking shortcuts, not being what we call a leg humper, who connects with people on LinkedIn and then immediately send them a sales pitch, but building relationships with people.

 When growing a business, there's lots of ups and downs. It's not a straight line all the time to the magic Promised Land.

When growing a business, there's lots of ups and downs. It's not a straight line all the time to the magic Promised Land.

We found that when you do things the right way and you play the long game, you're results are dramatically greater over time. That's what we help our clients do so that they can have a consistent flow of appointments and leads coming in off of LinkedIn a week in and week out. We have an agency side of our company that we do that for people and then we have a training program called Linked University where we teach people how to do it themselves, so that's pretty much it.

Clearly it wasn't a straight path from birth to where you are. There were some challenges along the way. What are some of the things that you've drawn on particularly as you had to make this jump into entrepreneurship when you lost the job because the company went out of business? What are some of the things that you looked at to give you strength, to push you through, keep you staying persistent?

In those days, it was like a survival mode mentality where you have to be laser-focused on the goal. That was a very traumatic experience with the company closing in 2009. A lot of great people lost their jobs. There was a lot more that went on that I won't get into that was very traumatic, but at that time, you can either wallow in it or you can push through it and stay focused on whatever your next step is and that's what I chose to do. I had to be focused because at the time, I didn't have a bunch of money in the bank. I started the business with $5,000 in my bank account and a couple of credit cards to work with. I didn't have a huge runway, so I had no choice but to be laser-focused on what I need to be doing every single day to put myself in a position to get some clients signed. At the end of the day, that was my focus.

These days, it's not a survival mode mentality as much for me, but when growing a business, there's lots of ups and downs. It's not a straight line all the time to the magic Promised Land. Sometimes it's two steps forward, one step back. There're two things that I find have been big for me. One is that I have to remind myself that where I'm at is where I'm supposed to be. What's going on is what's supposed to be happening. There's no changing it and this the path I'm supposed to be on and all of these things that are happening are happening for a reason and are going to make me and make the company stronger in the long term.

The second thing that I have to do is I have to take care of myself. By that I mean I have to work out, I have to eat right, stay away from drinking too much or anything like that, live a clean lifestyle. I find that for me personally, if I don't work out, if I'm eating poor, if I'm having a couple beers at night, the next day, my mindset is not where I need it to be. To be at a peak mental state so that I can be as sharp as I can possibly be, so that when negative things are happening or when things aren't going exactly as planned, I have the energy and the strength and the fortitude to not let that effect me because my mind is sharp.

I'm energized, and I've got the ability to push through those things and have the clarity to see all of the great things that are happening even when there's some negative things happening. We have a tendency as humans to focus on the negative. You can have so many great things happening, but then one little negative thing can happen that can put you in a terrible mood. I'm no different than anybody else when it comes to that stuff. I have to remind myself of all the amazing things that are happening in business and in life and get recentered when shit like that happens.

It's so easy to focus on that negative stuff and get sucked down into it. I don't think anybody is immune from that. The difference that you see in people is some people will spend a lot of time there and others will come out of that quickly. I'll never forget, probably around 2009 or 2010 when things weren't going so well for a lot of people. I was at a conference and Dan Kennedy was speaking and he said whatever's happening in your world, that's bad, that's great. If you want to wallow in it, that's fine, but schedule it. Put all your wallow and all that in this little box and give it about fifteen minutes and go in your room and cry about it. Then when the alarm goes off, the fifteen minutes is up, you're done, get back to work. As funny as that is to say, there's a lot of wisdom in that and being able to recover quickly.

You talked about exercise and diet and all that other stuff and you're the first person I've interviewed over 40 people and had a similar conversation with, you're the first person that's mentioned the physical side of that. I think that's critically important. Our energy is the resource that we have. That's the one renewable thing that we go out and we create with. We use that energy to create in the world and to me, that's the one most important thing to pay attention to, but it can be also the hardest to pay attention because it requires some discipline.

There's a spectrum that you could be on of health. It's from peak physical condition, totally tuned in, high energy, etc., to when you're sick and you're on the couch and you're totally incapacitated. The last time I was at that bad end of the spectrum was I had sinus infection or something that I didn't treat for a couple of weeks. It got way out of hand, I ended up on the couch for a week. In that state, my mindset was terrible. That experience taught me that mindset and health are very much correlated and to be able to run my company at the highest level, I need to pay attention to trying to stay healthy and keep my body at a level of being able to perform. I'm not perfect or anything, but I try and work out every morning. I try and eat right. I don't punish myself too much. You got to have some fun every once in a while, but it is something that's super important to me.

You have so much going on. You've had unbelievable growth in the last few years. What's the big push now and what are you working towards at LinkedSelling?

We're in a phase of focusing on the core things that are going to make the biggest impact for our business. Over the years of growing at a pretty good rate, you don't get on the Inc. 500 without having a pretty significant growth. Along the ways, we've tried a lot of different things and tested different things and rolled out new programs and this and that. Over this last year, our biggest focus has been identifying the things that are moving the needle for us and focusing on those. If you've got too many things that are all your number one priority, none of them are going to get to the level or achieve the growth that they could if you were focused on one or a couple of them. That's something that we've learned. For this year, we've got a three core programs that we're putting all of our energy into.

I've learned a great lesson along the way in business that the ceiling for what we can achieve is so much higher than we think it is. When you surround yourself with other people who are doing big things, you hang out with people who are at the level that you want to get to, you start to realize that. That's something I've realized over the last few years as I've seen our company grow to levels that when I was starting out a few you five years back, I didn't have expectations that we would create a business that could get to this level. We have 39 people that we employ in our company and it's an amazing thing. I look at our business and we've gotten to this certain level, but there's still so much more potential out there. So many more people that haven't even heard of our business that should, that we can help, and that's what our focus is.

 Mindset and health are very much correlated.

Mindset and health are very much correlated.

Going through such rapid growth, how has that changed you or how has it forced you to change and grow? It's very different starting off, doing a solo business where you started, and delivering all the services yourself and now you're a CEO with a team and a lot of fast growth.

There're a couple of things. One is that I spent a lot of my time in marketing and sales because I learned from businesses I was a part of that failed that if you're not bringing in new prospects, if you don't have a marketing system in place that's going to continue to bring people through the door, you're putting your business at risk because relying on word of mouth or referrals that come in happenstance. I know, Steve, you have systems for how to generate referrals on autopilot in a way that most businesses aren't doing. The way most businesses sit around and wait for referrals to come in, word of mouth, etc., most small businesses, at least, that's a recipe for disaster. I spend a lot of my time in sales and marketing to make sure that I don't repeat that same mistake myself.

I would say the second thing that I've realized is that, in EMyth, they talk about the different roles that you have to play as an entrepreneur. I believe in your infancy when it was just me working by myself out of my house, I had to do all of those things. As the company grew a little bit, I realized that I can't do all of those things and I have to surround myself with great people. We have an amazing leadership team at our company that's allowed us to get to this level that there's no way in hell we could've gotten to without them.

Probably the biggest, the most critical role that we have in our company is the role of COO, because if you're going to be the CEO, you need somebody else who's going to be the integrator as they call it in EMyth so that you can be the visionary and do all the different things CEOs are supposed to do. In our company that's been critical. We have a very strong COO who is able to do the things within the company to keep the company moving, all of the operational things, client fulfillment, etc., so I can stay very focused on the other side of the business and working on the future where we're going, new marketing strategies, and all that stuff. Those are some of the biggest lessons I've learned along the way.

Definitely, as you're growing your business, you have to be ready for the challenge of changing, of how you're showing up and what your responsibilities are in the business. I have to consciously work on things like tending to the culture of the company. It doesn't come natural to me. I'm an ex‑finance guy. Things like culture and stuff like that are not second nature for me. It's still a learning experience, but at the end of the day, I find that when we treat people right, a lot of that stuff takes care of itself.

The ability to find and select and bring in good people is such a multiplier in a business. It's funny a lot of businesses completely ignore it as a real tool. They see employees as a cost, as a thing that they got to have them and it's a necessary evil. I've always looked at it the other way. In my first business, we were much bigger in terms of size because of the service we were delivering. Having those key management roles, so that as the CEO, you can be out there and working on the future, is probably the key move that separates people who stay small from ones who grow. If you don't make that move, if you can't have somebody minding the shop while you're out creating the future, it's impossible to have a leg on each side of that fence. It's too hard to do.

Absolutely especially if you're running a marketing agency. We have a lot of common friends in the industry, Steve, and I hear from a lot of people often who hate the done-for-you model as it's called by some people. There're two things that most people don't get right, which causes them to hate it is. One, what we just talked about. They don't have that integrator, the person to take care of the operations side of that, and then two, they don't have it systematized so that when clients come on, it's a repeatable process. Those two things, you could say that about any business, but especially if you're running a marketing agency. Doing client work can be tough.

Earlier this year, we launched a done-for-you service around our specialty and we did it out of necessity because the clients that we were working with, while they love the approach, struggled with doing the work, which is I'm sure what you found as well because it's not their expertise. I started thinking back. My first business was in engineering and all of our clients hired us and we had clients for life, like 25 plus years, where we had a single client paying us every month for that entire time.

We had lots of clients that stayed. I call them clients for life. To get to that point, you've got to create a situation where you're plugged into their business. The best way to do that is to deliver them a result again and again and again that they need. It's one thing to show up and have ideas and advice and that's all valuable, but if you can get yourself in a position where you're delivering the result for them and you're taking their headache off, it's pretty hard for them to turn it off.

That's absolutely what we've found. If you can find something that they know that would generate lots of value for them, but they don't want to do the work, there's probably a great business in there somewhere.

It's like the dirty businesses philosophy. All kinds of very wealthy, very successful entrepreneurs who are doing the dirtiest of all businesses that most people wouldn't want to touch, but they're sitting back, smiling and laughing and carrying buckets of money to the bank every day. You got to get in and do the dirty work. Let's talk a little bit about LinkedSelling and Linked University. I know you have focused some of the offerings going into 2018. If an audience is thinking, “I think LinkedIn is probably the place for me,” start with who's the best fit to be marketing on LinkedIn and how should they get started? What approach should they be taking?

If you're listening to this, you probably already know whether or not you should be doing it, but at the end of the day, if you can go on LinkedIn and you can do a search for the people that you want to be doing business with and you can find them there, then you need to be figuring out how to tap into that. The biggest problem that people come to us with is they see all these prospects sitting on LinkedIn that are the perfect fit to do business with and they're not sure how to even start with approaching them. If you go on LinkedIn and you can't find anybody that looks like a good fit for your business, then don't do it. Otherwise, you probably should consider getting something going.

What do you do to start getting something going? How do you start putting the pieces in place? There's a couple things that I would say. The first thing is to go back to what I said, have a clear picture of who you want to go after. If your criteria for who can be a good customer or client of yours is way too broad, then you're going to struggle. The reason is because on LinkedIn, to break through, you need to be positioning yourself in a way to where the prospect is perfect for your services when they see your information come across the screen, when you reach out to connect with them, when they see the LinkedIn group that you're the founder of.

 If your criteria for who can be a good customer or client of yours is way too broad, then you're going to struggle.

If your criteria for who can be a good customer or client of yours is way too broad, then you're going to struggle.

They need to think that this person is speaking my language, so that they want to connect with you, so that they want to see the content that you're putting out, so that they are incentivized to want to stay connected with you over the long haul, continue seeing that content, so that you can stay top of mind. When you start reaching out behind the scenes and start implementing some of the messaging strategies we teach, they are going to be open to having a conversation with you because you will have positioned yourself in an amazing way. That all starts with being very clear about who you're going after. If you're trying to go after all people, then you can't create a message that's compelling to any of them. That's the foundation of where it all starts for us. Steve, I'm assuming you probably see that with a lot of your clients too, the most successful are laser-focused.

We go through this with every client and I'm sure you do too. They almost all come in with this broad definition of who they want to work with. I call it the heartbeat and wallet definition. They come in and say “W really good prospect for me is anybody that has a heartbeat and has a lot. If they can spend money and they're alive, I want them.” That's a little bit tongue in cheek, but it's not far off of what most people come in with, but the instant you can get them focused, which is a difficult conversation to have, they speed up because focus gives you speed, it focuses all that energy on a target and it's so much easier to get results.

The big fear we see with people is they come in thinking they have this big, broad, wide market and we're telling them, “No, we want to narrow that down as much as we possibly can.” I've yet to find a market that's too small. We haven't been able to define one that's too small yet. When you get focused, life becomes easier. You only have to have one message. It's easy to figure out what the message is because you're focused on such a tight group of people and stuff starts to work, but this fear of giving up all this other perceived opportunity that's out there by narrowing gets in a lot of people's way.

No doubt about it. There's a number of ways you can go about doing that. We talk about a lot of those ways on the masterclass. We got a free workshop where we teach a lot of these strategies in depth, but there're probably some audience who are thinking like, “That's great. I'm focused. I've got my avatar. Now, what do I do?” What you need to be thinking about is how can you position yourself so that when you reach out to a prospect, they see you as somebody that's going to be adding value to their world, a leader in your market. Somebody they will want to connect with and not somebody that's going to start trying to sell them something.

The thing you want to avoid the most to put it plainly is when you reach out to somebody on LinkedIn, because that's a big part of our strategy, is getting connected with people that don't know who you are yet and then building a relationship with them. How do you get connected with them in the first place? How you don't get connected with them is having your profile set up in a way where they see a red flag coming across the screen and they see somebody that looks like they're going to start pitching and trying to sell on them.

 Connect with people that don't know who you are yet and then build a relationship with them.

Connect with people that don't know who you are yet and then build a relationship with them.

What are some examples of that? In the IT space for example, LinkedIn is notorious for IT companies basically spamming people on LinkedIn. If you're an IT company, you're thinking, “How do I differentiate myself from this?” One of our clients is a guy named Tom Swip, and he targets and works with manufacturing companies. He builds ERP systems, the software development, all sorts of stuff for them. Instead of reaching out to them and positioning himself on LinkedIn as another IT, company, we helped him create a group on LinkedIn called Midwest Manufacturing Leaders, and because Tom's headline on LinkedIn shows him as the founder of Midwest Manufacturing Leaders, when he reaches out to CEOs and CFOs of manufacturing companies, they are much more open to connecting with him.

The difference is 20% connection acceptance to 50%. It's a massive increase as a result of this strategy. You can apply that thinking in market that you're in. It comes back to having a philosophy of positioning yourself and putting content out there that is based on what your prospects care about and not constantly talking about what you do because the CEOs of manufacturing companies are not interested in immersing themselves in content about IT stuff. It's like a small sliver of what they care about.

When Tom is sharing relevant content on LinkedIn and dripping out status updates and postings in LinkedIn groups, etc. on a variety of manufacturing topics, all these CEOs and CFOs of manufacturing companies that he's connected to see value in this content, they see his name on a very regular basis. They see him as a leader in the space, and then when he works the messaging strategies that we teach to line up phone calls with them. It gets a very high percentage of people saying that they're interested in having a conversation. At the end of the day, that's what we do.

It's a brilliant strategy. It's one that we use. We've talked about it before. What I love about it is that it turns you into a good citizen on LinkedIn. You're not one of these sleazy, creepy people that show up with an email that it's clear they're trying to sell you something. I get these connection requests all the time that the minute that you accept it, that person is pitching you on business. I had one the other day and I'm like, "Did you even read my profile?”

He referenced the fact that it's great to meet somebody else from South Florida while I live like 400 miles away from South Florida. Read the profile and simple stuff like that. What we've seen with our lead flow through LinkedIn, and that's one of the three big places that we drive leads, has been dramatically better because we're reaching out and we're being valuable to folks and we're showing up in a way that says, “We're an authority here,” and it's dramatically different than what most people are doing.

How much business would you say that you've generated off of LinkedIn?

We've been doing this for two and a half years now, something like that. We've easily into the six figures and probably multiple six figures directly off of LinkedIn or maybe more than that. For awhile we were running ads, not following this process, but we were running ads in conjunction with the ads as well, probably another $300,000 or $400,000.

I should do an interview with you sometime and do a little case study on what you are doing.

It works well. Josh, where's the best place for people to go? You mentioned a masterclass, where can they go and watch that?

If you go to LinkedUniversity.com, on the homepage there you'll see a big picture that's got an invitation to sign up for that free masterclass workshop. It is a three-hour workshop where we dive into three different strategies for getting some great results on LinkedIn. We start from ground zero all the way up to more advanced strategies for folks that are more experienced with LinkedIn. If you're getting started, there's a lot of great stuff in there for you to how to put the right foundation in place and get things rolling. That's probably the best resources that I can point people to and I'd love to have anybody sign up for that that's interested.

I recommend everybody to check it out. Of all the stuff that's out there on LinkedIn, and there's a lot of garbage out there, the stuff that I turn to again and again and that we send our clients to is Josh’s stuff. They've got a great process. Josh, thanks so much for being on. It's been a pleasure to invest a little time with me and all this value.

I appreciate it, Steve. Great to be here.

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