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.