MDH 62 Tim Fitzpatrick | Key Marketing Fundamentals

MDH 62 Tim Fitzpatrick | Key Marketing Fundamentals

 

Learning the fundamentals of something is important if you want to get good at it. The same thing applies to the key fundamentals of marketing. Having these in your pocket helps make marketing your business easier. Victoria Wieck and Tim Fitzpatrick of Rialto Marketing get into the basics. They discuss the concepts and how each is an important part of the whole. Tune in and see the breakdown of marketing your business.

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The Key Marketing Fundamentals For Success With Tim Fitzpatrick

Many of you, readers, are already entrepreneurs, and quite a few of you are successful. Some of you are struggling. I always like to start my show with a proposition, also to solve problems that you are facing every single day. One of the first things that a small business entrepreneur has to navigate, if he or she will be successful, is the whole idea of marketing yourself, getting yourself out there, getting visibility, letting people know what you do, how you serve them, and why you are the unique and the best in that field.

Why will they give you a try? This is all part of the world of marketing but we are living in a world of so-called experts who tell you what marketing is. It could be digital marketing, advance, use slick ads, all those things come into play. I’ve got somebody here who has grinded it out over several businesses that he has founded and worked through. This isn’t marketing solutions for people who’ve got millions of dollars to spend. This is for those of you who have to watch your money, actions, and time as well. Without further ado, I want to welcome Tim Fitzpatrick, who is a marketing expert. Welcome to the show.

Victoria, thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here.

First of all, give our audience a two-minute overview of how you became a marketing expert and why you are uniquely a different kind of marketing expert.

My entrepreneurial journey has not been a straight path. I don’t think any of them are but when I graduated from college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was a Math major. My dad had been an entrepreneur for a long time. He had started a wholesale distribution company a couple of years before I graduated. I knew he needed some help. He had no full-time employees at that point.

I said, “Let me work for you for three months. Give me time to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life. You need the help.” He said, “Yes.” I jumped in. We were selling consumer electronics and home theater equipment to contractors. After three months, I was hooked. I loved it. I became the first full-time employee. I was wearing every hat. I was, “Let me pick up this phone.” I’m doing AR, “Let me do this.” I’m doing sales. It was an awesome experience. My dad and I grew that company about 60% a year for nine years, and then we sold it.

I learned more doing that in 6 months than I did in 4 years of college. It was an amazing experience, one that I would never want to change. When I’ve got out of that, I needed to do something different. I shifted gears. I’ve got involved in residential real estate for a while, which I did not like. The one thing I learned from that was how to put myself outside of my comfort zone. There’s not much I’m not worried about jumping into.

When I decided to get out of real estate, I was waking up each day going, “I hate this.” Why own a business if you are going to be in that position? I shifted gears again. That’s when I’ve got into what I’m doing, which is marketing. We focus on the fundamentals, keeping marketing simple. It is so easy to overcomplicate these days. I love marketing. It’s dynamic. It’s always changing but the fundamentals of any discipline do not change.

I agree with that 100%. I forgot to tell you this but I have a Master’s degree in Marketing. I was told that I was not going to be good at Marketing because I didn’t understand the nuances. My professors were looking out for me. They didn’t think there was any future in me with Marketing. They convinced me to change my major from Marketing to Finance.

Marketing is dynamic. It’s always changing, but the fundamentals do not change.

I had taken too many courses at that point to give up on the majors. I went ahead and finished that out and I still got a degree in Finance, neither of which I use. I wouldn’t say I don’t use that Marketing degree per se but a lot of the things that they teach you in school are not applicable for a small business. They are made for plugging into a large company and learning how to spend their money. In your case, in your father’s company, that’s where you probably have learned a lot about marketing principles.

In this day and age of all the slick, the buzzwords, and the new trends in marketing that comes and goes, the basic principles of marketing don’t change over time. How human beings react to something, a word or a message, how they feel about how somebody touches you in terms of the wordings, whether you do it digitally, TV or in person, they don’t change. All of a sudden, it becomes some sort of an animal. In your opinion, what is marketing if you have to describe it simply? What are some of the principles, and why are they important?

To answer your first question, what is marketing? Marketing to me is getting someone who has a need or a problem you can solve to know, like, and trust you. That’s it. We all buy from people we know, like, and trust. The job of our marketing is to get in front of those people, get them to know, like, and trust us so that when that need or problem they have that you can address becomes great enough and they raise their hand, they think of you, and then it’s transitioning to sales.

When it transitions to sales, it’s not a cold conversation. It’s a warm conversation. They already know, like, and trust you. That conversation then becomes so much easier. To me, that’s what marketing is. Why the fundamentals are so important? The easiest way for me to describe this is from a quote from Michael Jordan, “Get the fundamentals down, and the level of everything you do will rise.”

I don’t care what the discipline is. The fundamentals do not change. The fundamentals of shooting a free throw are the same as they were years ago, and they are going to be the same 50 years from now. The fundamentals are immutable. The fundamentals lay the foundation for you to build the rest of your house from.

If you skip them, you are building a house without a foundation. You can have success skipping the fundamentals but it’s going to take a lot longer. You are going to waste time and money. At some point, it is going to come crashing down. You are going to hit a ceiling that you absolutely cannot push through. A house without a foundation will stand up for a certain time but when stuff goes bad, it’s going to fall down and crumble.

There are plenty of people who skip the fundamentals. The biggest mistake I see is most people skip the fundamentals and get tactical immediately. You mentioned this, Victoria. There are all kinds of shiny objects in marketing. We see people battling information overload. You need to be on Clubhouse. You need to do TikTok. You need to have a blog. You need to have a podcast. It’s like, “What do I do? There’s so much information coming at me. I’m overwhelmed. I don’t know what the next step is.”

That’s why we need to get back to the fundamentals. When you get the fundamentals in place, it helps you eliminate all that information. It helps you cut through the noise and outline what your priorities are so that you are not overwhelmed. You know exactly what you need to do when you have clarity but you can’t do that until you have the fundamentals in place.

There’s quite a bit of information that you unloaded there. It’s interesting because my husband is in real estate, and he used to do commercial property. He retired. It’s interesting that we still build our houses and any structure in the same way. We don’t build a roof first. You always start with the foundation because if you build a great foundation, later on, you want to add a second story, you can do that.

MDH 62 Tim Fitzpatrick | Key Marketing Fundamentals

Key Marketing Fundamentals: One thing we learned from real estate was how to put yourself outside of your comfort zone.

 

You don’t ever start building homes or anything else with the roof because it’s more convenient, or it looks shinier or prettier. You are going to end up having to go back. When you said you can achieve success, skipping some of those foundations but eventually, the way you succeed is you stumble onto some of those basic principles, whether you like it or not, because some of the key principles have to be there.

We are going to get into the key principles. Tim said earlier his definition of marketing is getting in front of your target audience and get them to like and trust you. Let’s go back to that very basic principle in the first place. One of the first mistakes I see a lot of beginner entrepreneurs and those who succeed in the first five years after you figure this out is identifying your target market in a way that’s too broad or narrow sometimes. You can have the right product for the wrong people. You could have the wrong stuff to the right people. When do you know when you have your target audience nailed down?

You have your target audience nailed down when you are working with people day in and day out that you love working with, that are profitable, that you get great results for. There are too many people that their target is too broad. Unless we have an unlimited budget, we cannot target broadly. When we say narrowing down that target market, that doesn’t mean those are the only people you are doing business with. That means those are the only people you are targeting your marketing towards.

When you can hone in, and you know who those people are that you enjoy working with, why do you want to be in business and bang your head against a wall every day? If you are going to stay in business, you need to work with people that are profitable. There’s nothing wrong with making money. If you are going to work with people and stay in business, you have to get great results for them. You have to understand who those people are.

Initially, when you first start, it can be hard to know that. Unless you have prior experience in the specific market that you are going into, it’s hard to target it narrow. What you need to do in that case is do a little bit of research and get an idea based on what you know, who you believe is going to be best. You need to take those assumptions, go out there and test them.

Based on what we know, we believe these types of people are going to be best for us. Let’s get out there and start to market to those people. Once we start to have some success and do business, then we can dig deeper and hone in on it. A lot of the people that we work with have been in business for a while. They have current and past customers. That’s when you hone in on your ideal clients, you look at the people you have worked with and ask yourself three questions. “Who do I love working with? Who do I get great results for? Who are our profitable clients?”

When you ask yourself those questions of the people you have already worked with, you end up with a subgroup of customers. It’s that subgroup that you can start to dig deeper in, to look at the demographics like, “What are the numbers around these people?” More importantly, though are the psychographics. What are their thoughts, their feelings, the results they are looking for? What are their behaviors? As you start to identify those elements, inevitably, what happens is some smaller groups with commonalities come to the surface. Those are your ideal client types.

Why is it that once entrepreneurs, even experienced ones, have a little bit of money, their first thing is to go out and try to broaden their target market? I do a lot of mentorship work, free speeches, and workshops. I’m doing quite a bit of volunteer work. When I work with new entrepreneurs, they are so insecure about identifying their target market in a narrow way.

For example, I sell jewelry. If I say every woman loves jewelry, that’s great. I always tell people, “Try to think about placing a Facebook ad. If somebody gave you free money and you had to place a Facebook ad, and your target market is all women, what would your ad say?” You might say something like, “All of you love this stuff. It’s 25% off or whatever.” You can’t identify certain types of women.

If you’re going to stay in business, you need to work with people that are profitable. There’s nothing wrong with making money.

In my case, when I first started my company, I targeted working women because I was the first generation of women who went outside the home and had titles like Director of Marketing. We weren’t in an administrative capacity. A lot of us left our kids at home, making good money. We had to stand out in a workplace that was very rigid.

My ad would have said, “This is great for a workplace where you can look polished. You can add a little femininity with a lot of affordability. When you are done with that, ten years from now, you can pass it on to your children for peace.” That was very targeted. By the way, working women had money.

When you are staying at home as a stay-at-home mom, and you are working on one income, the husband’s income, and you are young, your husband is not making a whole lot of money yet because they are not at the peak, you don’t have money for one. Number two, you don’t have a need to go anywhere to look for jewelry. You are not buying anything.

Identifying that working women in a corporate environment was the smartest thing you could do at that time. A lot of times, by identifying a target market that’s narrow will narrow your marketing message. The other thing too is you also know where they hang out so that you can connect to them quickly with less expenditure. I love the fact that these are basic marketing principles that a lot of people like so-called experts, don’t talk about because there’s no money in it.

Like a lot of drug companies won’t tell you if we find out that spinach is a cure to cancer. They are not going to ever talk about that because there’s no money in it for them. A lot of your experts out there doing these masterminds and everything else will charge you all this money to come up with the new sleek campaign about the unique selling proposition.

You have to get down to the basics first. Understand who you are dealing with, who you want to do business with, and how you can make money before you play with all these other variables that come into play that can amplify more once you have those basics. In terms of your principles, are there any other nuggets you want to share?

You touched on this a little bit. Once you understand who the target market is, then you can determine where they hang out and congregate. You have a list of where you can be to get in front of the people that you want to attract. Rather than casting a line out into the ocean, seeing what fish you catch, you are casting a line out, knowing exactly where you need to fish to catch those exact people you intend to work with.

It’s super important. Many people go out there and throw up over everybody, and it doesn’t work. The first fundamental is the target market. The second is your message. How do you communicate your value in what you do? How do you gain their attention and grab their interest? You honed in on working women. The message to working women is a completely different message than to a stay-at-home mom. It’s not to say that one is better than the other.

The message is different. If you try to put that message for working women to stay-at-home moms, it’s going to fall flat. It’s not going to go anywhere. When you are targeted, and you know who you are going to attract, and you understand them as well, if not better than they understand themselves, then and only then, can you create a message that is going to get in front of them and grab their interest. It’s super important.

MDH 62 Tim Fitzpatrick | Key Marketing Fundamentals

Key Marketing Fundamentals: It helps you cut through the noise and outline your priorities so that you’re not overwhelmed and know exactly what you need to do.

 

The third thing is we’ve got to have a plan. What’s our plan going to be to get that message in front of those people? Too many people don’t have a plan. When you don’t have a plan, everything looks like an opportunity. When I get an email that says, “You’ve got to check out this newest marketing tactic.” If you have no plan, you are like a squirrel chasing a nut. You follow everything, spin your wheels, and don’t get consistent, repeatable results. You get overwhelmed because you can’t sort through all the information overload. You’ve got to have a plan to get started.

Tim Ferriss talked about the 1,000 raving fans. You don’t need 10,000 people to like you on Instagram, especially if your customers are not on Instagram. TikTok could be the new, big thing. If you are selling anything serious like marketing or even expensive jewelry, TikTok is not your ideal customer. You can get a lot of followers there but it’s completely useless.

You have to figure out where your ideal customers hang out and engage with you. You have to get your people. When you are first starting out, if you are launching a new product, you are better off getting those 1,000 raving fans who are fanatical about you and your services so that if they tell 10 people, each person, there’s your 10,000.

With that, you can do a lot. You can do quite a bit of business. You can do a lot of research. There’s a lot to build from. Understand your market. I’m out there. I work with the Global Society for Female Entrepreneurs. Whenever I’m talking like how you and I are talking, a lot of women will say, “This is so much information. I’m overwhelmed. I’m overloaded.”

If you are reading, and feeling overwhelmed and overloaded, don’t worry because you can go to Tim’s website. It’s RialtoMarketing.com. If you do that, you are going to get a lot of free information there that’s downloadable. You can learn a lot about this. I love free information. Even if I go through the whole website, I find one thing that I didn’t know before, it’s worth it.

If you want to connect with him further, you can go to RialtoMarketing.com/million-dollar-passion. Don’t be overwhelmed. We are having a conversation here. You go through all of Tim’s materials and narrow it down to actionable tips. Strategies are great but without logistics, a real action you take in a certain order is going to help you more than just talking about strategy forever. Go to those actionable tips. The easiest way for you to be un-overwhelmed or feel like you can tackle this is doing your homework.

Find out who you think your target market is and where they shop. What TV programs do they watch? You can do a lot of research on the internet. You can put a call. If you get 20 to 50 random people, not your friends, mom, and dad but random people to give you feedback, you have a lot of information there that you can chew through. Do your homework, ask them questions, and be vulnerable. Let them know that you are not perfect.

Let them know that as a small business owner, this is your distinctive advantage, being able to be nimble, personable, likable, and somebody you can trust. A lot of Corporate America doesn’t look like they are cuddly, nice people that are going to care about you. They can’t because their personas are already out there.

It is so easy to get overwhelmed as business owners. There are so many different things that we’re working on that it’s very easy to fall into that place.

Do your homework and educate yourself. That’s the other thing. I built my business. Many of you know my background. I built an over $500 million company without any money. I have spent less than $10,000 in 35 years of advertising. Think about that. I was grinding it out, understanding who my target market is, and keep on evolving, whether you like it or not, your customers are constantly evolving. They move away. They do all these things. You have to keep on evolving and elevating. If you don’t have the foundation, to begin with, you are going to have a hard time elevating or innovating. Is there any other information you might want to share more on this path?

I will add to one of the things you said, Victoria, which was about being overwhelmed. It is so easy to get overwhelmed as business owners. It’s very easy to fall into that place. One of the things that have always helped me there is focusing on the next measurable step. When you look at the high level, there are all the details and all these things you have to do. Do the first thing you need to do next that you can measure to get that much closer. When you get that done, then you go to the next one and the next one. It makes it so much easier and less overwhelming.

The reason why many small business owners, anybody who’s doing that $5 million and under, feel uncomfortable that this is a territory you don’t know is that you are bombarded with experts telling you all the marketing tactics, the trends, and what’s working. Most small business owners are good tacticians and technicians in what they do. They are passionate about their product, the marketing, the legal, the admin.

These are all the stuff that they’ve got to do but they don’t know it. They think, “Can I do this?” The answer is, yes, you can. You are better off doing it yourself than hiring somebody else because those other people don’t know your business, your heart, and your product. You have to pay them to educate them. They’ve got 200 clients.

Learn how to do it yourself. When you do that, when you understand your business, when you understand your target, then you can hire an expert who’s fit for you that you can work with that is going to be surgical about your business in your effort to market and do whatever you have to do. Talking about short attainable goals and being able to measure them and keep yourself accountable, whether that’s weekly or monthly, the next measurable step.

Every year, 75% of Americans have a weight loss goal in their New Year’s resolution. By February 15th, 80% of those people had given up on their goal already because their goal was something like, “I’m going to lose weight. I’m going to get into this. I’m going to get healthier. I put it off for 5, 10 years. I’m 20, 40 pounds heavier. I’m going to lose weight.” This is their goal.

You try to lose weight. You don’t know where to go. You do know. You have to cut down on eating and probably have to exercise but you don’t have time. It’s the last thing you do. The next thing you know is, “I’m going to get to it later.” The next year comes, it’s the same thing. If you said to yourself, “I am going to lose 10 pounds in the next 10 weeks. I have to lose 1 pound a week.”

MDH 62 Tim Fitzpatrick | Key Marketing Fundamentals

Key Marketing Fundamentals: Don’t skip the fundamentals. The fundamentals are the fuel behind the tactics. Any tactic can work; it’s what you put behind it that will determine whether it works or not.

If that was your goal and you say, “What do I have to do to lose one single pound a week?” You have to cut out 300 calories a day. You are like, “I can cut out my wine in the afternoon or my toast in the morning. I’ve got to walk my dog anyway. I will do that.” Ten weeks later, you might lose 7 pounds, not 10. You might lose 15 pounds but either way, you’ve got momentum. You are better off then.

If you didn’t get to the goal, if you’ve got the 7 pounds off, the next 10 weeks you do that, you might get another 7 pounds. That’s 14 pounds off, and that’s 20 weeks. Think about that. It’s the power of setting those very short, attainable goals that you can achieve. That’s true with marketing, whatever you do, think that, “I love that.” That’s how I built my business. I started my company, trying to make $2,000 a month so that I can feed my kids.

I was driving a car with 150,000 miles on it. It was a Ford Pinto that blew up. It was known for fires and stuff. This one didn’t make it. I bought the whole car for $1,500. I drove that thing for five years. I was trying to make $2,000 a month. The next month, I was trying to make $3,000 a month. Once I’ve got to $5,000 a month, I was making $20,000, $30,000. I did more than $1 million in the first 18 months by doing that. When you do those short attainable goals, it makes you good at the things that you focus on. You don’t relearn that skill.

On the first day, you might walk your dog down the block and have cut out one piece of toast. After ten weeks, you might go, “That wasn’t so bad. Maybe I will cut out the toast and the wine. Maybe I can go down two blocks because when I went down that block, I saw a little lake there.” The next week you might go three blocks. It builds momentum. You already know the two blocks along the way. It becomes easier, and your dog is conditioned to doing this. There’s power in everything you have said. Tim, as we close this episode, do you have any last-minute tips?

I’m going to sound like a broken record here, Victoria, but don’t skip the fundamentals. The fundamentals are the fuel behind the tactics. Any tactic can work. It’s what you put behind it that’s going to determine, whether it works or not, whether you choose to have me help you with those fundamentals or not, don’t skip them. You will be so much better off. You will get to where you want to go faster by taking the time to get these in place.

How do people find you, Tim? What’s the best place for people to connect with you and find you?

Our website at RialtoMarketing.com is the best place. If you want to connect with me personally, LinkedIn is the best place for me, it’s www.LinkedIn.com/in/timpfitzpatrick/.

Thank you so much for reading. I sign off every week with wishing you health and happiness. Remember, happiness is a choice. I hope you make great choices this coming way. Thank you.

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About Tim Fitzpatrick

MDH 62 Tim Fitzpatrick | Key Marketing Fundamentals

I am an entrepreneur/business owner with expertise in marketing and business growth. I have 20+ years of entrepreneurial experience with a passion for developing and growing businesses. That passion served me well in operating and managing a wholesale distribution company I co-owned for nine years. Our company grew an average of 60% a year before being acquired in 2005.
Since then, I’ve had failures and successes that have helped me continually grow. I started Rialto Marketing in 2013 and have been helping service businesses simplify marketing so they can grow with less stress. We do this by creating and implementing a plan to communicate the right message to the right people. Most people overcomplicate marketing. It doesn’t have to be that way.
MDH 61 Jeremy Streten | Legal Rights

MDH 61 Jeremy Streten | Legal Rights

 

Everyone needs the protection of their legal rights, especially entrepreneurs. The law can be scary and misunderstood, but luckily, we have people who can help us understand the law. Victoria Wieck and Jeremy Streten, CEO of Business Legal Lifecycle, sit down for a chat about the law and entrepreneurs. We examine why legal help is a must for many entrepreneurs and why it is an investment, not an expense. Learn more about why entrepreneurs need to invest in legal aid in this episode.

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Explaining The Law For Entrepreneurs: Learning Your Legal Rights With Jeremy Streten

Welcome to another episode. Many of you who are in small businesses or some of you who might want to start one, if you are living in the United States or any country, one of the biggest things that are in your mind but you do not action it until you need it has to do with the law. It is a scary thing to deal with a lawyer. Not all lawyers are bad. I have got a couple of lawyers myself and my family and they are not evil.

I always wondered why we all wait until something happens to us and then we frantically will find a lawyer. You usually find somebody at the last minute and try to understand the situation you are in. I have someone from the law profession who has been practiced business law. He foresaw the need to be proactive as a business people.

You are going to be able to operate more freely because you know that you are within the boundaries of the law that is going to protect you. You are going to have that layer of protection because you have that knowledge and also ultimately to save time and money. Without further ado, I am going to introduce Jeremy Streten, Esq. to my show.

Welcome to the show, Jeremy.

Thanks so much for having me, Victoria.

Tell me about the idea that you have, which is to help people understand their rights as well as their customer’s rights and all the boundaries. If you are in business, you have to understand the legal ramifications of every action, everything you write on your website and your employee manual. Tell me about how you came up with this idea of helping people proactively, not once they got in trouble. How did you come about?

I do not practice law anymore. I’m over here in Australia. I do this and help to expand the business out. There were two matters where I acted for clients. One was where a client almost lost $2 million of his own money and another one where two gentlemen lost $1 million of theirs and other people’s money. It was all because they did not take proactive legal advice. Victoria, it was one of those moments where I was sitting at my desk and both these things happened around the same time.

People don’t like talking to lawyers because we use terminology in the legal profession that is unnecessarily complicated and makes it seem fancier.

I was thinking, “Why won’t people get legal advice?” I spoke to both of them and asked them, “Why do you think you get legal advice? It would have solved the problem earlier if you had gotten legal advice.” Both of them said the same thing, which was they didn’t know what they didn’t know. They didn’t know the unknowns. They did not like talking to lawyers because they were scary and mean.

We use terminology in the legal profession which is unnecessarily complicated and makes it seem fancier. They saw it as a cost rather than an investment. I sat down and, by that stage, I would act for around 5,000 different business owners. I mapped out the ones in the order of things that people did well when they were successful mapped that out then I overlaid that with people who did things poorly. I mapped out this journey of the business legal lifecycle and thirteen phases of when you should take certain steps in the legal profession.

A few years before that, I had engaged a business coach and he told me one day I would write a book. I laughed at him and said, “What lawyer writes a book that people will actually read?” When I had my thirteen phases, I rang him and said, “I’m sorry. You are right.” I had thirteen phases of how we can help business owners to understand the law from a legal perspective and how they understand what they need to do in that business. That’s how I generated the concept of the lifecycle. Since then, I have taken it to the UK and the US and adapted it for the laws in the different countries. It has been a good journey so far.

The book you wrote that you thought no one would read is titled what?

The Business Legal Lifecycle.

That is the genesis of the service that you provide now. I have many years of entrepreneurship journey myself. Many people reading know that not all those years were rosy and not everything I have done was successful. I have had some pretty fantastic failures and I use the word fantastic in a very sarcastic way that those failures were pretty painful.

Let me ask you a question about this. A lot of times, the first question most people have when they are first starting their business is, “I got this brand new idea. I invented this. I have a new way of doing something.” Because I’m on TV and my name is quite well known out there, people would ask me, “Can you put this on TV? This does XYZ.” I always tell people, “Do me a favor. Do not tell me anything that you want to protect because I do not want to get sued later on for taking your stuff and giving it to somebody else or talking about anything like that.”

To protect your intellectual property before you tell me anything that you believe truly is prepared proprietary to you. A lot of entrepreneurs do not even think about NDAs or protecting their intellectual property, their rights or their trademarks. They do not even think about that. They keep talking to anybody who will listen. I can’t say this on this show but there are so many household products that we know of now that were not invented by those people that made all the money.

MDH 61 Jeremy Streten | Legal Rights

Legal Rights: Entrepreneurs saw legal aid as a cost rather than an investment.

 

It was invented by somebody else who then got copied by somebody else and then got copied by somebody else then somebody out there, marketing genius, came in and made that amazing company. That is the first thing. The second thing I want to know is small business people are negotiating all the time, whether you are negotiating with the customer, business to consumer or business to business. When you are negotiating, I find that a lot of small business people, because they do not know, give up a lot more rights and a lot more than they have to because they do not understand the boundaries.

Most small business people are real small tacticians and technicians on what they do well and they do not understand this whole world of legal side of the business. How important is having some understanding of the legal ramifications of the decisions they make early on and ongoing? How important do you think that is in the journey of a small business person?

It is crucial. Education is the key here because there are so many different nuances to the law. There are so many different parts of the law. You talked before about nondisclosure agreements. You need to work out whether that’s right for you or whether that’s the right thing. That’s what I said before, the unknown unknowns. There is a business side of when you start that business.

You do not know what those problems are going to be. You do not know what they could be. This is where you would need to talk to a lawyer and research yourself about what it is that you might need in your business from a legal perspective because there are certain steps that you need to take in a business to protect yourself.

Spending all that money getting a nondisclosure agreement might sound all good right at the beginning but unless you have got a new, innovative idea, it is not worth the cost. You need to go out and get some clients, get some customers, see whether or not people are going buy from you, potentially bring on a team and employees and start to do that and then protect your intellectual property.

You need to do it at the right time where you have proven that you have a business before you go spend that money. I’ve seen far too often people go, “I have got a great idea.” Everyone thinks that they have a perfect idea, the next Facebook or the next whatever. You need to prove it out first and then protect it. For the first part of your question, that’s important. Make sure you have got something and then go and protect it.

Unless you do have something that’s innovative then you can look at what we call patients, where you protect the actual process of development and understanding all of the legal aspects is super important. That is one of the reasons I wrote the book. It was to have people understand what it is that they might need to do so that when they go to see the lawyer, they know what they are supposed to do and what they are talking about.

I’m going to give you an example. It is interesting because I have been an entrepreneur for many years and I have never been sued and I have never sued anybody. I’m thinking, “I’m well-protected. I have had great lawyers. Give me some advice. All my forms are up-to-date and it is current. It meets all the regulations and standards of every state in the country.”

What education does is it empowers you to then go and have an intelligent conversation with a lawyer.

When I started coaching five people because this was a special course that was probably never going to be repeated again, it was very high-powered women who were running seven-figure businesses already and they wanted to go to the eight-figures so I did a four-month workshop. The first thing my husband said to me was, “Are you not going to need some confidentiality agreement for this particular course?” I said, “Why would I need to do that?” He said if those five people were in the same group and they talked to each other and then one of them told somebody else, you might be liable for that because you were the center of gravity.

I had to go get a confidentiality agreement specific for that one thing and also a nondisclosure. There were all these things because the stakes were so high in this particular course. A lot of people are glad to make money and they do not realize how open you are. In that case, it was not even somebody suing me. It was somebody suing each other and then me being the deep pocket person at the end where I’m going to be named as a part of a party. A lot of small business owners won’t realize like, “I could be exposed to that.” You offer a tool to help business owners to see what the risk factor is in any given situation.

We have a tool that we developed. I live in a state called Queensland in Australia. We won the Queensland Law Society’s Innovation and Law Award a couple of years ago for this tool. What it does is you answer 30 questions and it takes about 10 minutes. It identifies what your legal risks are and it gives you a report that is in plain English. Everything I do is in plain English. We are not using legal speak and if I do use legal terms, I explain them.

It tells you where you are in the lifecycle out of the thirteen phases, what you need to do there, what you might have missed from the phases that you might need to go and do and then what you need to do for the future. We are very proud to win that award. It is very useful for business owners to see what those legal risks are that they can then take to their lawyer or their attorney, get them to fill the gaps and reduce those legal risks in their business.

Congratulations on winning the Innovation Award. I do think that what you are saying is you are not trying to be their lawyer. You are trying to help them come up with the risk factor and when they need it, at what point because you do not need to spend the money until you feel like there is something to protect. It could be intellectual property. It could be a right not to be sued. I always wondered why we wait until we get sick to go see a doctor. By that point, by the time you feel the symptoms a lot of times, it is a pretty tough thing to fix.

It is the same thing with legal. I find that if you can talk it out and have an understanding, make the compromise you can make upfront, you do not get sued or you do not spend not only the money but all the years of pain and the stress level that you have to deal once you are involved in a legal matter. That is not fun at all. I love what you are doing and also how you help. When I say talk about small business owners whether it is selling vitamins, cosmetics, coaching services, massage services or anything you do especially ingestibles, you are going to need some layer of protection.

When I’m on TV, both on HSN and Shop HQ now, many of you who are female and have watched cosmetics shows and cosmetics advertisements always say that you are going to get a cosmetic lift and results may vary, best case scenario is shown. They will say something like, “This is a temporary lift.” There are always some disclaimers in there so that it helps them.

It reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It does not reduce wrinkles and fine lines. A lot of people overlook that. With ingestible, it is the same thing. There is the equivalent of that in everything. You have to cover yourself because there could be somebody who sits there and say, “I use this $30 cream. I’m not looking 40 years younger. I do not know what happened.”

MDH 61 Jeremy Streten | Legal Rights

Legal Rights: Education is the key here, because there are so many different nuances with the law. There are so many different parts of the law.

 

That’s the point. A lot of people do not realize that they can protect themselves. They do not think, first of all, that they might need to. You can’t protect yourself from everything but there are a lot of things that you can protect yourself on. If people do not look and do not understand the law, we have a tagline, “You can understand the law without a Law degree.”

That is simply by explaining it in plain English for people. People can understand all that stuff they need if they go looking for it. If they look at it, it is not an area, especially with what you are talking about, where you want to do it and ask for forgiveness later. That does not work and that can get a lot of people in trouble.

Jeremy, if you had to give entrepreneurs three tips on how to protect themselves aside from using your tool, what else would you say? What are the top three things entrepreneurs can do?

The first thing is education. You do not have to go under a Law degree but research. There is lots of great material online. There is a lot of stuff on our website but there is also lots of stuff on lots of other websites and great tools to educate yourself. The second thing is do not think that by being educated you can go and do it yourself. You still need a lawyer or attorney to do that.

Now, there are lots of great tools out there. I was on a call with a gentleman from Connecticut. We are talking about the legal shield. That’s a great tool and that serves a point but you still need to go and get legal advice. It is educating yourself but know that you still need to get legal advice. What education does is it empowers you to then go and have an intelligent conversation with a lawyer.

A lot of people say to me, “I want you to do that. I want my lawyer to handle that.” This is a partnership. It is like medicine. You go to a doctor. The doctor is not going to fix you. You have to do something. You might have to change your lifestyle. You might have to take some drugs and have to do something. It is still something you need to do. It is the same with the lawyer. You still need to do that.

The third thing is to be curious as to what might happen and do not think that you will fix everything later on. Those two gentlemen are just two examples. They lost $1 million of other people’s money and nearly lost $2 million of his own money. I talk about that around the world. I have been to the UK, US south Africa and lots of places around the world. I talk to lawyers about this and they all come up to me afterward and say, “I had someone who had a very similar situation.” It might sound extreme, maybe they are not losing that much money but this happens all the time. People need to be curious about what is going on so that they do not fall into those traps that are so easily avoided.

All three pieces of advice you gave are very relevant. Number one, educate yourself. I say, educate yourself because let me tell you something. This happened to a lot of my friends and the fact that I didn’t have any money. I had to educate myself because I thought I could do it by myself helped me. It helped me figure out what kind of lawyers I needed. Number two, I told you I have two lawyers in my family and yet none of my family members were able to help me. I didn’t use them for my business because they did not relate to what they were doing.

A lot of people think the law is black and white, but that’s not the case. If that was the case, there wouldn’t be a need for professional lawyers. We wouldn’t even need a Supreme Court.

My sister does Family Law and my brother does logistics. Educating yourself and understanding what you need so you can surgically find a lawyer who specializes in that particular category. That is the first thing so you are hiring the right people. Two, do not do it yourself. When you say do not try to do it yourself, what I did was when I negotiated these mega contracts, my contracts were north of $1 million to $10 million at a time, I did most of the business deals myself. Meaning that, “Do you want to take returns? We want to pay you 30 days, not 45 days.” All things were already negotiated between me and the other party then I hired a lawyer to put that in writing.

If my lawyer did not understand my business, how are they going to negotiate on my behalf? I didn’t want to pay my lawyer to try to explain to him what I do and what is special about me. I was paying $1,000 an hour and that was going to be a north twenty hours just to educate them. I would have a meeting with my lawyer and say, “Here is what I’m negotiating with. They already told me they are going to do XYZ and they are not negotiating these things. I compromised on this. I want to put this in writing so that there is no more room to move around what we have already said.”

Every word can mean twenty different things. I want to make sure that what I thought agreed on is what was agreed on. Later on, if there was a problem, if whoever I was negotiating with left the company and I’m dealing with a new guy or girl who didn’t want to honor the contract, what are my options at that point? How do I exit the agreement? I wasn’t going to do it by myself and because I was educated, I was able to do it at a pretty affordable cost with top-notch lawyers that surgically came in and fixed that.

Lastly, being curious. When you look at the US Constitution or the State Constitution of California or any of these things that people say are so crystal clear, there are lawyers on both sides arguing this for generations already. It is the same document. It is not a huge document. It is just a few pages. Every word can mean different things. Jeremy, you might find this interesting. Great lawyers are some of the most creative people because they will look at the same word and they will find ways to shape their narrative where you come out on top or they will shape the narrative where you can get more money or add layers of protection without sounding like it is a disclaimer.

The lawyers that I had hired when I was first starting out are now all in their 80s because I have had the same lawyers forever know my business. I do not have to explain to them again and again the new thing. They are now my family members. They come to our birthday parties and everything. It could be a great relationship. They were starting out back then or I was starting out and it is great.

That creativity is right and great lawyers are creative. A lot of people think the law is black and white. If that were the case, there would not be a need for professional lawyers. You would not even need a Supreme Court. We have a high court over here. There are lots of shades of gray. You are right. You need to be able to look at different words, work out what does that mean, how that can be interpreted and how that should be interpreted.

I do not know a lot about law. I’m a real creative person. I design jewelry for a living. I draw and paint. The one thing I do know for sure about law is that there is always an exception to every law. “What do you mean there is an exception to this? This is such a simple little sentence.” I enjoyed our conversation, Jeremy. I have told every lawyer I ever met to come up with a course or informational webinars so that entrepreneurs are walking into their entrepreneurship journey with some kind of legal shield around them.

Not because they are trying to screw somebody over but because a lot of us give our heart and soul and we work to provide value to our product. We are not aware that we might get ourselves in trouble because we are so eager or we want to protect the product too well. Thank you so much for coming in. How can people find you and connect with you more?

MDH 61 Jeremy Streten | Legal Rights

Legal Rights: There are lots of shades of gray. You need to look at different words and work out what they mean and how they can be interpreted and how that should be interpreted.

 

If people want to find out more, we have created a webpage as a thank you for having us on the show. People go to BusinessLegalLifeCycle.com/milliondollarpassion as one word. They will get a page with lots of free resources. If they are interested in taking our legal risk assessment tool as a thank you, we have a 50% discount tag on there.

There is a code that you can use, it is usually $97 and it will be $48.50. It identifies well over $1,000 worth of legal value for people. If they are interested, I do provide a lot of content on LinkedIn. If they search for my name, I’m the only one with the spelling of that name on LinkedIn. People will be able to find me there and I would love to connect with the readers of the show.

Thank you so much for coming in. Thank you for reading, ladies and gentlemen. Until next time, please stay healthy and happy. Remember, happiness is a choice and I hope you make lots of great choices.

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About Jeremy Streten

MDH 61 Jeremy Streten | Legal RightsJeremy Streten is a founder and chief executive officer at Business Legal Lifecycle. He is the author of the amazon number one best selling book “The Business Legal Lifecycle”. Jeremy has appeared on various television shows, podcasts and radio interviews.
He also provides regular content for websites across Australia.
MDH 60 Rocky Buckley | The Power Persona Project

MDH 60 Rocky Buckley | The Power Persona Project

 

How can you maintain a thriving business? Sometimes, you can’t just stick to what you’ve been doing when it’s not working anymore. You have to recognize that it needs fundamental changes. For more than 20 years, Rocky Buckley has been helping publishing companies in creating and selling products through books, courses, training by working with authors and experts. After that, he realized that he could do more by creating The Power Persona Project, which aims to reinvent organizations’ brands, strategies, and business models to achieve better results. Tune in to learn how he created the new business where he’s the public figure for the first time.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Reinventing Your Brand, Strategy, And Business Model Through The Power Persona Project With Rocky Buckley

In every episode, I try to come up with problems that a lot of us, small businesses, owners face and bring in experts that can help us guide us through that. The problem here that I want to address is that many small business owners don’t even realize that you do need to build a personal brand. People have to like and trust you before they will buy anything. Building a personal brand is the fastest way to gain some traction, growing your business and positioning your brand as the next thing.

How do we do that as small business people? We all are tasked with many things to do and there are many competing needs for our funds. I thought I would invite an expert in this area. His name is Rocky Buckley. We are going to have him go right into this and tell us a little bit about how he came about becoming the expert in this field of building The Power Persona Project. He is the creator of it. He is also the creator of a program called Gold Platinum by reinventing its brand strategy and business model. Welcome to the show, Rocky.

Thanks for having me.

You have helped thousands of companies build their brands and create their premium branding in the minds of the consumer or clients. You are trying to help the smaller businesses or newer entrepreneurs to go on the same path without their hundreds of millions of dollars. Tell us a little bit about how you came about being this expert on how you help people.

I wouldn’t say I have helped thousands of companies. I started in the business years ago. I worked with some of the biggest publishing companies in the world. I helped them to create a lot of products. Over that time, I was working with authors, experts and people like that. I was helping them to extract their expertise and put that into products whether that was books, courses, curriculum or training. I did that for a long time.

I helped those companies to bring these products into the market. I helped these experts and authors to stand out and sell their knowledge. I did that for a long time. I got to know that process inside and out from being an author myself to developing all sorts of different training online and offline in thousands of products for that year.

During that time, I was completely behind the scenes. I was somebody who was primarily operating as a consultant. I was like a secret weapon for a lot of these companies. I would be brought in and help them to get done what they wanted to achieve. Over that time, I had never been in front of a camera. I had never been somebody who was that public. I had a very small social following, which was mainly family, friends and people like that because my business was completely behind the scenes.

As I started getting around that twenty-year mark in business and getting to a certain age, I started realizing that there’s a lot more that I want to do. I realized that I was sitting on a lot of untapped potential within myself and the expertise that I had. I started to go through this journey of reinvention. I decided at a certain point, “I’m going to transition out of this business that I have built for twenty-something years and been successful at. I’m going to create a different business where I would become a public figure for the first time. I would bring myself out in front of the camera.”

I had to go through a journey of exploration. What did that mean? How did I stand out? How did I differentiate myself? How did I position myself properly? Also, how did I extract my expertise and turn that into products, programs and training? That was the path that I went on. It was more about, at some level, dissatisfaction with the kind of business that I had built. I realized that there was a lot more potential for me to do something more fulfilling that tapped into what I was passionate about, my gifts and talents. The question became, “How do I put all that together and build that into something?”

You can grow up without any real frame of reference in business and still pursue establishing one.

Interestingly, you say that because a lot of people go the other way with their products and expertise. They have done things such as creating their social proof and yet they don’t have a book. Some people do it the other way. They’ll find out that when they write the book and the book gets traction, then you can come full circle too. I come from a retail background where when you are on TV and you have six seconds at a time to try to convince people that you are an expert, why they need the product and why they need that product, it comes down to helping the customer understand who you are, that you are authentic and there’s a person behind the brand.

There was the power of the persona. Years ago, when you started, it wasn’t always so that people bought because they understood who the founder was, the genesis of the product or a program. Nowadays, that’s a must. Look at the Millennials. You are probably a Millennial yourself even though you say you are twenty years old. Millennials are going out of their way to buy things from a smaller company. They almost take pride in, “There’s this cute little company that does watches or protein bars,” whatever it is. They find reasons why they can connect with you.

Even though they don’t have money, they’ll pay more money to buy from somebody that they connect with, that they believe is good for society, good for you and looking out for you. Your timing is perfect. I understand that this was a long-year journey in terms of gaining knowledge, talents and putting them all together. You have helped bring out a few 100 or 1,000 people bring their ideas and products to life, see the birth and growth of that. You almost had like a petri dish for all these ideas, incubated and watching them from the sidelines.

Someone like yourself who has seen diverse categories, expertise and then different stages of businesses, whatever you have to say here would be very valuable to someone who hasn’t gone through that journey. When a small entrepreneurial starts a business, typically, they are busy trying to make profits, more sales versus expenses or they have some profit and they are busy doing that. They forget that without building a brand, without having your product stand for something and having that person who’s founded this company to be the person behind the product and the reason behind why you should connect with them, that’s a tough road.

That’s what we all do. First of all, I will refer back to something that Michael Gerber talks about in his book, The E Myth. Most people start their businesses as a technician. That’s somebody good at what they did. They wanted to be their boss. At some point, they decided to hang out a shingle and start working. That’s exactly what happened to me too. I grew up without any real frame of reference in business. Nobody in my family was in business. When I first started, my drivers were to be my own boss, make more money and do things like work from home. I wanted to be a very hands-on dad with my kids. Those were the motivators.

I never thought about business from the standpoint of playing the long game. It was much more about like, “How do I get the business?” If you are good at what you do, which I was, I got busy right away. I stayed busy. I never got a chance to think all that strategically about my business and especially about me, “How do I differentiate?” I was learning all this stuff because I was doing things for clients. I was creating books, programs, curriculum but also online websites and their marketing campaigns. I would find that as I was working with clients, they often didn’t know how to articulate who they were and what they were doing.

If somebody hired me to do web development for them, design their whole web package and so on, I would have to get things like images from them or write copy for them. To go through that process, I had to extract out of them the things like, “What do you believe in? What are your values? Why do you do what you do?” They often didn’t know. When you are trying to do things like design work, a logo, look or style, they can’t articulate it. What led me into marketing was that I had to help my clients figure themselves out. It’s such a tremendous need for small business owners who get busy and learn a lot of things online from gurus.

The gurus are teaching them tactics, silver bullet-like, “Do this.” They get tactical right away and start taking a lot of action. At some point, they start realizing, “This isn’t connecting or resonating. I’m doing Facebook Lives. I’m putting out all these posts. I’m dancing on TikTok. Nothing’s hitting the mark.” That’s where I come in and try to help people figure themselves out. That’s the foundation of all the tactics. If you figure yourself out well, that’s when the strategies and tactics work out but it often has to be done from the inside out.

You brought up a good point that there are so many mastermind classes. Some gurus teach you how to do what they know how to do. A guru might be a digital marketing specialist and your business might be a brick-and-mortar store that could use online as an add-on. I had this conversation with somebody else that, “The only way you can build your persona is when you understand what it takes to do that.” Whether you are at the beginning stages of a journey, maybe you are starting a side hustle and thinking like, “This could be a permanent job,” or you have been in business for seven years and you’re doing six figures but you are stuck there.

MDH 60 Rocky Buckley | The Power Persona Project

The Power Persona Project: There comes a point in your life that you realize there’s a lot more that you want to do.

 

The only way you make more money is by working more hours. Many of you are reading at different stages. Some of you might be overwhelmed with what you are reading. Some of you might be saying, “I’m already doing that but I’m not getting traction.” Rocky has created a Facebook platform that is completely free. You can go Facebook.com/groups/powerpersona. You’ll see all these people at different stages doing their different things. You can connect with people so you can get some support. I always say, “Don’t try to go on a road by yourself without ever seeing any landmines. Talk to people who have seen it before.”

Even if those people failed along the way, they could still teach you something that will still save your time. That Facebook that he has is something I would start to connect with right away. I am a strong believer that if you don’t build up a personal brand, it’s hard in 2022. There are some things about COVID that are going to stay with us forever. We are prioritizing our lives and looking at what we do value. People value meaning, purpose and passion-driven CEOs, even if they are small. They are hungry for this. They are seeking out. The faster you get to position your brand as something that you stand for and that you align with, the faster your business is going to grow more solidly. You have a foundation that connects with you.

More deeply as well. The secret is that you are connecting with people at a very different level and on a values level when you can build a personal brand.

I’m going to put you in the hot seat here. What are the top three things that will help us build that personal brand?

The first thing is taking a step back and doing a bunch of inner work. That’s getting clear on first, your life vision. If a lot of people do get strategic about their business, they can think about the business at the 30,000-foot level but they don’t go to the highest level, which is the life vision. I believe that for someone to create a personal brand that’s highly charismatic, magnetic, resonates with people and taps in on a values level, a person needs to understand who they want to be in life in the big picture? “Who is it that I want to be in the world? What are the things that I care about?” Get very connected to those things.

Allow that to shape the business vision. I view business as a subset of your life vision. When you can step back and go, “What am I all about here? Who do I want to become? Who am I?” When you are getting started on these big picture questions, they have a direct and very actionable impact on the way that you see your business and the way that you run your business because when you can get clear at that level, it shapes everything else below that. It’s the strategy.

I’m going to unpack each step that Rocky is giving. With the first step, I agree with you because I can’t tell you how many times I’m interviewing somebody for my segment or on a different show and normally I am not like this but I’m like, “Stop right there. Who are you?” If you have completed two different personas, “I’m a business person. When I’m in business, I’m wearing my suit and I would talk like this but when I’m at home, I’m a different person.” I’m like, “First of all, those two need to be aligned.”

Aside from what you said embedded in that is also a lot of times people think, “If I show my real self, tell them what I think or give a real opinion about what I believe, I’m going to lose half the audience. They may like me, not like I or I may not resonate with them.” Take a chance because if you are so preoccupied with what other people think, you are not going to ever convince 100% of people. You are better off attracting the people that are aligned with you from day one. It’s easy to work with them. What goes along with that is your vulnerabilities, the things that you fear and you are not perfect about. It’s okay to share them and be honest with people.

A lot of times, when I get interviewed and somebody asks me a question, I would say, “I’m working on that myself personally because that’s one area of my life that I still struggle with.” It’s okay because nobody’s perfect all the time. I am not perfect at any time. It’s okay to be vulnerable at times because that’s what makes you real. Your life vision, meaning all the things that you align with things that you care about, how you want to spend time with, that’s how you are going to be relatable to your target audience but also that’s how you can ultimately help them because you understand that you have to also add value to them and how you can add value.

Marketing helps my clients figure themselves out.

I built my business without ever compromising the things I want in my life. I started my company so I can spend more time with my kids. As my business grew, like people from Dubai, Turkey and Japan were calling me, I wasn’t on a plane going there all the time. I sent them a fax saying, “I have got kids. I have got to get to a soccer game. I can’t do this.” It turns out that I ended up losing some potential clients but the ones I had valued if they were okay with that. I agree with your step number one, which is to figure out what you want out of life and there is a value in who you are to add value to other people’s lives and that you want to help.

Especially from a vision standpoint like, “How do you envision your future? What do you want to be in 5 or 10 years? How do you chart a course to become and embody that? What does that mean for your business?” Your business model will change when you get clear on your life and what you want your life to look like. In your case, your family was front and center and was a very high value for you. That excluded a lot of business models. You couldn’t do certain things and you wouldn’t. Your values and life vision informed your business vision. It put your business vision in a box. It started to shape what kind of business you would have, what you would be selling and what kind of things you’d be offering.

Within that, that’s where your brand starts to emerge. It’s like, “I want to serve these kinds of people in this way. Who do I need to be to resonate with those people?” That begins step two. It’s about becoming self-aware about yourself. What are aspects about your identity, personality, life story or history that you can go conscious and become aware of your background and history? Start extracting these things out of yourself so that you can shape and craft them into that very targeted public persona that resonates with those people you’re looking to connect with.

I’m glad that you transitioned into step two in that way because they work together. Many of you who follow me on this show came to me from my TV shows. You’ll know when I first went on TV in 1998, they had all these movie stars that were on the same network talking about, “When I was on this or that show.” I hang around with all the pretty people in Beverly Hills on yachts and these mansions. I’m a little mom with two kids. Nobody knew who I was.

I go on TV and say, “I do a lot of work in the studios. I work with a lot of clients to pay me good money to do their pieces but I’m here to share the struggles I have, which is I don’t have help at home. I take my kids to school. I’m an active mom. I go to their PTA meetings and soccer games. When I’m in those places, I still want to look good and feel feminine. I want to have something neural sparkly. I don’t want to have to spend a fortune paying for jewelry that could go to my kid’s tuition. Here’s an affordable line of jewelry that’s done with the same care and artistic talent as the stars are using because I was doing a lot of work in the studios. You can buy them for $99. It could be an heirloom piece because it is done with high quality.”

What happens when you do that is you come up with versatile things. You don’t come up with things that you can only wear on the red carpet, those shoulder dusters or big hoops. You are going to come up with a line that’s very elegant that you could wear from day to evening. That messaging is a part of you. It’s not online that you have to script and memorize. You are going to develop products, courses and everything else that aligns with that. That’s natural to attract people who would be inspired by your story and you.

If people reading are interested in the subject of crafting yourself first but then targeting this raving fan group of people who connect with you, I would refer them to an article that I learned about from Tim Ferriss, which is by a man named Kevin Kelly and it’s called 1,000 True Fans. That concept was very influential on my thinking about this. It’s bringing out those aspects of yourself, even if they are peripheral to your business. They don’t necessarily have to be directly related.

It might be the music that you like, sports teams or whatever but you are bringing some of those flavor points into your brand. People are connecting with you on those things and that’s when they become enthusiastic about being in your world. To refer people to that as a reference point, that’s an article that’s a must-read, in my view, in the personal branding space

Tim Ferriss’ books have a lot of golden nuggets. I do agree with you that raving fans are better than 10,000 followers on Instagram that don’t know you. They’ll just hit the like button or something like that. I would rather have that 1,000 raving fans because they are more likely to tell 10 people. That’s how my business grew and I can testify to that. What’s step three?

MDH 60 Rocky Buckley | The Power Persona Project

The Power Persona Project: For someone to create a personal brand that’s highly charismatic with people and taps in on a values level, a person really needs to understand who they want to be in life and in the big picture.

 

First of all, you got to be clear on your life vision. You have begun to do that inner work going conscious about all these things that you bring to the table, all these aspects of your beliefs, identity, personality, history, life story and point of view. Get clear on all that stuff so that you’re conscious about it and then you can design that public persona. Once you start stepping into that public persona, you can become very strategic. It’s about understanding your market. It’s about doing work in the areas of market research, positioning, strategy and figuring out those aspects of what makes you unique. Ideally, what makes you the first one and the only one like you?

Get clear on what those points are because that’s what you are going to lean into as you create your brand. All the other stuff that follows from 0.3 is all about strategy, tactics, productizing your knowledge, developing a portfolio of products and offers, eventually elevating your price to a premium brand. There are ways to do that. That third step is all about that positioning, strategy and differentiation part because you’ve got to be clear on that to have effective messaging.

You can be very talented in front of a camera but people can’t follow what you are saying, they don’t know what you are talking about or what are you selling. You are great on camera but your messaging isn’t clear. It all has to come together. The personality, charisma and all of that need to marry itself with the message and go forward from there. It’s about articulating this into a real-world thing that you can act upon. You can start putting out content and so on because your messaging is sharp at this point.

Embedded in what Rocky and I are talking about here is the assumption that you do have amazing knowledge, product and expertise that you can share. BS factors don’t work. All the things that we are talking about, if your product sucks then it dies. Experienced entrepreneurs who give their heart and soul, know their product inside out, are experts, can tell you every screw, little line and their copy but haven’t crafted personal branding persona, that’s where this expertise comes in.

If you don’t know what you want then you are not going to ever get clear on your product, messaging or can anybody refer to the product itself even if it’s an online course? You don’t have anything to add and value. The first thing I would say is to try to figure out what value you are adding to your potential audience. Are you saving them money, time or future disaster? There are all these different ways you could position yourself as to why you are needed in their life.

Thanks to social media, we’re in an age of influencers. We are in a time where people on the power of their personality, what they’re interested in, what they do and how they spend their days. They don’t have any true value or expertise but they can get clear on the persona that they are presenting to the public. They can be outrageous, fun or whatever that kind of archetype or that style that they are. They build a following around that. There’s a lot of business to be done there because, from the face of other programs, they can recommend other people’s stuff. There is an opportunity that may or may not have been in the past. Be like a personality. If you can be strategic about it, you can build a nice business off of YouTube, Instagram and TikTok but getting clear on yourself, even if you want to be an influencer is still the essential key that unlocks everything else.

Even influencers that I know are pretty successful. Years ago, they stumbled onto something but once they become that and they want to be successful at it, they then still have to understand the product that they are influencing with. There’s a lot more work than most people think it is. Let’s switch gears a little bit about those people that have the expertise and have gotten some traction. You talk about how then they productize their knowledge. Specifically speaking, the one thing I’m very passionate about is the idea of generating passive income. Online classes or high ticket training courses, how do you go about converting from an expert or somebody with a product to then creating high ticket online training courses?

The first real step from that is looking at it from a business model standpoint. Most people who are experts find themselves trapped in this one-to-one business model, where they are getting paid for their time. When you are trading time for money, you are trapped. You get stuck in this situation or even if you’re doing well, you have got a nice six-figure business, there’s a ceiling because you have no more time. If you’re not confident about your pricing and you’re thinking about competing based on price, you got a double bind. There’s no way out of that. You find yourself trapped.

Everybody needs to turn their business into their soul.

At a business model level, that’s where experts need to start rethinking what they are doing and say, “Is there a different way for me to deliver my expertise in ways that could scale and become passive, also in ways that down the road, I could structure my business to sell to somebody else or license my intellectual property?” Many of us that are experts who are trading time for money built ourselves a nice job.

I like to think of it like a sandcastle that at the end of the day, after many years of working hard, you have built a sandcastle that gets washed away. When you stop working, there’s nothing left. How do you take what you already know and tweak or shift it in different ways? You don’t need to learn anything else or add any more expertise. You just need to change the way you’re doing it.

I find with a lot of experts reconfiguring the way they’re doing things, put themselves in a completely different business model where they can charge a lot more and have a lot more time and lifestyle, freedom and passive income from selling things like courses. As well as having a business that you can sell at the end of the day, which is a huge factor that very few people even think about. That’s a big consideration when you go into when you have this kind of a business. All those structural elements would be that next step. “How do I take what I already know? I’m sitting on all this untapped potential that if it were configured differently, could rocket me in a different area and take me to another level.” That’s what a lot of experts are sitting on.

I have a couple of doctors in my family and a brother and a sister who are lawyers. My brother was a real top-notch lawyer. He’ll charge $1,200 an hour. He’s charged that for the last years and he’s very proud of it but I always say, “You still have only 24 hours a day. Whether you were charging $1,200 or $400 in 1 hour, those are cap, unless you want to not sleep for another 6 hours. You are still trading high dollars for one hour,” whereas somebody who’s trading stocks.

Let’s say hypothetically I bought the right stock and in 3 minutes, I could make $10,000 if I was right on that. I try to tell him to create an online course that he can sell because he’s got some amazing expertise but he’s doesn’t have time to create an online course because he is too busy trying to make money doing the other stuff. They are trapped.

Not everybody needs to turn their business into their soul way that they’re making an income. My sister is a very high-powered attorney in Manhattan, partnered in a big law firm who makes probably similar money but she’s able to take that income. If you can divert that into other passive income-generating properties, that’s great. You don’t need to turn your business into a thing. If you want your business to mirror up with your lifestyle and this is who you want to be, your business is your passion and everything comes together in your business then you want to build your business in a way that can become a passive income property.

If you are high dollar and making money by the hour, you can take that money and put it into something passive like real estate, stocks or crypto. It’s cool but I don’t think everybody necessarily has to go that direction. It makes sense if your business is all about your expertise. If this is what you love and where you are getting your fulfillment from then why not do this business in a way that gives you all of those factors at the same time? You can make a lot of money, fulfill your lifestyle, talents, gifts and leave a legacy. All of that comes together in your business. Not everybody has to do that. If you own a string of laundromats, that’s great. You don’t have to feel passionate about it but for a lot of us, we do.

MDH 60 Rocky Buckley | The Power Persona Project

The Power Persona Project: We’re in a time where people are just on the power of their personality, what they’re interested in, what they do. They’re able to get clear on the persona that they’re presenting to the public.

 

In his case, he tells me every time there was a major crisis he is dealing with, usually, he does like a middle-sized company. It is about $15 million to $50 million businesses. They are pretty good. Unfortunately, the only times he gets involved because of who he is and what he does is when they’re in major trouble. He says, “if somebody needs to be out there telling people how to prevent some of the problems, lawyers should be hired as a precaution at some point but people don’t do that because they’re expensive.” People don’t call a DUI lawyer until they get something or they don’t call somebody until they get sued. There’s a huge market for that.

It is difficult to sell prevention. My dad has successful long-term corporate security. He works at high levels with very big corporations and deals with the risks that they have. Selling them prevention in advance like, “You have these vulnerabilities. Your physical building is vulnerable to attack,” it’s very difficult to sell prevention. Selling the cure to a high-value problem is one of those secrets to selling it at high price points and going premium with your pricing. It’s figuring out, “How could I take what I already know but apply it to an area where there’s the urgency?” Somebody has a bleeding neck problem where I can take what I already know and focus in that area.” All of a sudden, you can jack your price way up. The cure is the secret where you can elevate your pricing significantly.

Is there a secret to selling high-ticket online programs?

There are many secrets but one of the ones that I like to focus on specifically is framing your solution as a well-designed system because when you can package your expertise as a system, it demonstrates that you have mastery over that problem. You solved it enough times that you have can package it together as a 3 or 5-step system. That gives you tremendous leverage from a marketing standpoint because it allows you to articulate your message concisely and clearly in a way that makes it feel like the solution is fast, simple and easy as much as possible.

I’m sure with all of your work over the years, there have been so many products that have to do with weight loss or something like that. When you can package, let’s say, a weight loss solution, “It’s an easy three-step system. It’s something that you can do without having to give up all the foods you love.” It’s in that packaging, taking what you know and shaping it into a systematic formula.

It almost sounds like a plugin system. Other people have done that before and it’s easy. It’s all done for you.

It’s a brilliant way. First of all, formulate your intellectual property in a way that you can sell to somebody else. That’s what we talked about in terms of legacy. You take your IP and turn it into something that you can sell. Also, from a marketing standpoint, when you can articulate, “What I got here is a proven system and it’s consists of this,” people are buying into not only the solution that you’re selling. It might be, “Burn 30 pounds of fat in 90 days. I’m going to help teach you how to do that in these steps. I can teach you that the process is going to be fast, simple and easy as much as I can.” When you can put those things together, it makes it much more marketable and palatable.

It seems almost like a magic bullet solution. People are willing to pay a lot more because they know what the promise is. It’s very clear, “In 90 days, I’m going to get this result.” When you sell your time one-on-one, it feels like an open-ended process. “We’ll work together. We don’t know when we’re going to get there. You pay me by the hour.” When you can sell a system, it changes the game for you. I always recommend every expert learn how to do that.

The second piece of that is in terms of you creating the system, how do you convince them that they need to buy it?

Formulate your own intellectual property in a way that you can sell to somebody else.

The solution that you solve should be a high-value problem that people are already looking for. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel and say, “I’m the first one who’s ever solving the problem of weight loss.” It might be that within weight loss, there is a specific problem or let’s say, for people who need to lose 50 pounds or more. It’s not the person that just wants to lose 10 pounds. It’s a person that has a more serious problem. They want urgency. They need this thing fixed. Those people don’t need convincing that they need a solution but when you can get those hot areas where people are already looking for solutions or already spending a lot of money, they are serious and want to get that fixed, that’s where you can step in. When you can articulate a ready-made solution that feels very doable for them, you can almost charge what you want.

You are right on track on that because I have a $5,000, $25,000 and $75,000-course. It’s interesting because after I give a compelling speech like I do a lot of keynote speeches, 30 people will come after me. They want to connect with you and talk to you. It’s easier for me to sell the $75,000 course 10 times a day, than the $5,000 one because these are people who are doing 7 or 8 figures already. With the 7 or 8 figures for a small business, that’s funding everything on their own. In every action, the stakes are so high.

They are one moment away from going bankrupt or setting themselves back in a financial situation. That’s interesting. The $5,000 one to me is the hardest one to sell because that one has less value. You got some beginning entrepreneurs that don’t understand that it’s hard, even though that’s probably the best value. Aside from that, this was a very productive and informative conversation about all the different things you could do whether you are selling products, an author or expert who is trading time for money even if you’re high paid like a CPA or if you aspire to create a side income. With my brother, I say to him, “If you can come up with even a $200 course, when you talk to people come up in the NDA form, that’s not offensive so that they are keeping their intellectual property,” and little things like that.

I agree with you that trying to sell prevention at $10,000 is tough. There are a lot of different ways you could impact a small business person. In this conversation, we covered a lot of ground on how to build your brand persona. At the end of the day, all of you who are reading know that I say this all the time, “If people don’t like, trust or respect you, they are not going to buy anything from you.” That’s the beginning of this. To get the first 1,000 raving fans who are going to talk about you, elevate your message and amplify your voice, Rocky, you came in and shared a lot of wisdom, knowledge and nuggets. How do people find and connect with you and find out more about your community?

The easiest way to enter into my world is through the Facebook community, The Power Persona Project. The easiest way to go there is through the URL at PowerPersonaProject.com. You can hop into this free group. I’m in there. It’s a highly engaged, interactive group. I have interviewed people there like Kevin Harrington from Shark Tank, Stu McLaren, Bob Burg and a lot of luminaries in our industry. There’s a lot of great content, conversation, connections and networking inside of that community. Hop in there. Get to know me from that point.

Thank you so much for coming in.

It’s my pleasure. Thank you.

For those of you who are reading, thank you so much. Until next time. Please stay healthy and happy. Remember, happiness is a choice. I hope you make great choices.

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About Rocky Buckley

MDH 60 Rocky Buckley | The Power Persona ProjectRocky helps experts, thought leaders, and influencers to “Go Platinum” by reinventing their brand, strategy and business model. He helps transform what experts, influencers, and thought leaders already know into high-priced training programs, so they can generate 5-figure clients and create lucrative lifestyle businesses they can run in a few hours a week.

MDH 59 | Learning From Mistakes

MDH 59 | Learning From Mistakes

 

You won’t gain much listening to massive success stories like Elon Musk. What you need to do to mature is learning from mistakes of others. Victoria Wieck sits with Arnaud Henneville-Wedholm, entrepreneur, optimist, and the author of How Hard Can It Be. Arnaud shares how he opens his book with a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt. It says, “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” Don’t be afraid to fail your way to success. You need to trust what you can do and have that resilience and drive to change the world. If you want more tips on developing perseverance, listen to this episode.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

How Hard Can It Be – Why Learning From Mistakes Is Important To Success With Arnaud Henneville-Wedholm

Every week I try to bring you some relevant content to your life as an entrepreneur or aspiring entrepreneur. No matter what stage of entrepreneurship you’re at, this show is going to be inspiring but in a way that’s very realistic. A lot of times, people who are into inspiring and encouraging are eternal optimists. They don’t see the realistic side of things. When you get hit with reality, you’re wondering what happened to me.

It’s a known fact that the failure rate of small businesses is somewhere north of 75% to 90% in the first five years. Even if you make it beyond the five years, there is still a 50% failure rate between 5 to 10 years. Why is it? There are two known facts that we know. The first one is the lack of customers. The second one is the lack of funding. The third one is lack of visibility and the fourth one is the one that we’re going to talk about now.

It has a lot to do with your entrepreneurship mindset. It’s also a known fact that most entrepreneurs suffer from a lack of resilience and persistence because they give up the first time if something major happens to their business. They give up on their life dream and all of the dreams you had about helping other people, amplifying your mission, improving other people’s lives come to a halt. I have somebody who can talk about this from not a theoretical view but he’s experienced this in his own life. I’m going to tell you that you’re going to be fascinated with this. His name is Arnaud Henneville-Wedholm. I know it’s a mouthful. We’re going to call him Arnaud. Welcome to the show.

Thank you, Victoria. Thanks a lot for welcoming me to your show.

Tell my readers a little bit about your entrepreneurship journey and some of the times when you didn’t succeed. A little bit about that and we’ll dive into why you wrote the book called How Hard Can It Be.

I’ve always been in an entrepreneurial setting. I’ve done things and tried to achieve things on my own. I’ve always had, from a young age, this ambition of creating something for myself. I created some small businesses, even I was younger but what I had over everything else is this grit and mindset of consistently, systematically going into the household. I’m fighting my way through and making it happen.

I’ve set up a few businesses even before doing a real job. Eventually, I graduated with an MBA from the UK and started working as a Management Consultant in a large consultancy firm doing change management. We are doing behavioral change. We’re helping large organizations to cascade strategic initiatives within the organization.

We’re changing, helping leaders to develop the capacity and skills to execute on important corporate strategies for large operations, Coca-Cola, AT&T, big monsters that are complex to maneuver. After several years or so of doing that, a colleague and I decided to go on our own and try our luck into challenging Facebook.

You always had the entrepreneurial spirit in you and you wanted to find your own path to success. Most of them didn’t succeed at that point. You decided to go to a corporate world where you did the corporate management and learned how the large corporations lay out their strategies, execution, scale and optimize their total resources. What were the lessons that you learned comparing the small businesses that you failed at versus the large-scale corporations that were doing something right?

In those big systems, it’s hard to feel that you make a difference yourself. It’s the sum of all the people that make it happen. It’s all about the team and everything that comes through to support the team to execute. It’s easier than doing it on your own and trusting yourself in having all that resilience and drive to change the world. That’s what small entrepreneurs, everyday entrepreneurs, have to have to make something of substance and try to bend the universe.

Trust yourself and have that resilience and drive to change the world.

I’ve seen it right off when I tried my different ventures prior to working in large corp and afterward when we decided to challenge Facebook. I was working there in 2010. Facebook is starting to pick up speed and traction. It’s six years of business to have 800,000 users. Everyone is talking about what’s going on with Facebook. What is the relation with social networks and depression?

You start having a lot of research around the effect of playing with the Like button on teens. A lot of that is happening. At the same time, we, as management consultants, cannot understand why would so many people be excited by pressing a Like button, doing it from their sofas and not engaging in the real world.

From a behavioral perspective, it was a bit odd to us. We thought that we could create a social network that would bring back people into the real world, taking them out of their couch and pushing them into doing things for real. The mechanism was a challenge. Our network was based on a very simple thing, which is that forever people have been driven by self-actualization. It’s all about what you have to do to reach the higher level of the Maslow pyramid.

Since the beginning of ages, we’ve been trying to get out of the cave and slowly but surely, move away from the fire camp and become greater versions of ourselves. We’re discovering new lands, we’ve come up with technologies and that’s what we do as a human. We thought that this idea of bringing back people into the world by doing things that they wanted to do as per this idea of self-actualizing made a lot of sense, hence the challenge idea.

It’s like a real story of David and Goliath. You’ve got to take on something as big as that and you don’t have funds. You don’t really have the system’s built-in. At that point, Facebook was rapidly getting investors and was pretty much putting on almost impossible barriers to entry for most people. Most of our entrepreneurs here are not at that point. Let’s get back on point, which is how hard could it be?

Your title of the book is very appropriate. We are now living in the era of the Great Resignation. A significant percentage of the people who are quitting their jobs is 3 to 4 million every single month. They are younger. There are the Millennials too. They’re at the height of what they should be doing in terms of building their careers and financial resources for the future. 3 to 4 million people per month are alarming.

All the research and we’re talking real extensive research by UPS, VistaPrint, Forbes, Census Bureau, these are very big research. They have shown that 63% of Americans want to do their own thing. Of the people that quit their jobs, about 30% of them have already started a side hustle. The other 70% of those people want to start something but they don’t know how to get started. Tell us in point by point, maybe three points about How Hard Can It Be. Why is it so hard?

It’s rough and that’s the starting point. We went through the statistics. The reason for the title of the book is that, “How hard can it be?” is the question we ask as an entrepreneur when we go into something. “How hard can it be to displace Facebook,” which is what we went after. In truth, it is harder than you think it will be.

In what way? Is it funding or getting customers? Is it in promising time?

Everything is hard on that journey unless you have the brilliant idea that you are going to go after. First, it’s about coming up with an idea. The cytosol is something else because you can try to do something on the side but I believe in going all-in because otherwise if you are half-committed, what you get is half of the results.

MDH 59 | Learning From Mistakes

How Hard Can It Be: Startup Lessons From Trying (And Failing) To Take Down Facebook

I’m into committing yourself to something that you are passionate about or at least you believe that you are passionate about. That’s a big one because people tend to think, “I’ll find my passion first and then I’ll go after it.” I think that’s backward. Everyone is passionate about something whether it’s a hobby or something that you can feel inside you that this is for you. For you, it was jewelry. For other people is other things, sports, diet or whatnot.

That passion somehow will change as you move along and go forward. It’s okay for me to start with something that you believe in and put all into that venture, all your sweat, commitment, ideas, vision, dedication and see how far you can go. If you don’t, you will turn around and most likely, you will regret not having pushed and you won’t push the second time once you’ve given up. The first thing is to go into the one thing that you believe.

That’s the journey of entrepreneurship. It’s up and down. It’s the valleys and the deeps. It’s hard because getting customers and lending finance are very hard. You don’t lend a couple of millions overnight. Getting traction is super hard. Throughout that journey, you will experience hardship. It will be complicated but nevertheless, you have to keep going, which is why passion helps initially.

It’s interesting because in my own journey I did what you said, which was to go all-in. At the time I started my jewelry company, I had a colleague and a very good friend. I didn’t have any money and anybody who was a jeweler in my family. I didn’t have anybody who was a business person in my family.

My father was a Professor. When he came to America, he couldn’t teach because he didn’t speak English. I had a colleague who had a well-paying job and didn’t want to go all-in because he thought he could do his as a side hustle. He was already in the related business, had family connections and had some money.

There were quite a few people that started their companies right around the same time. I was the only one that quit the job. I didn’t have family backing and money. Yet, I was the only one that succeeded after a few years. After several years, there was a huge divide. I believe the reason why those people didn’t succeed is that when they were going to work during the day, they were making $100,000, $150,000, $200,000. They’re giving their best hours from about 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM to that company. You’re coming home exhausted. You’re dealing with your family, got a kid and you want to be a great parent and spouse.

Your business always takes a second priority. Unless you have a strong business idea, there is very little chance that will succeed. The other thing you can do is you can start it as a side hustle only as a testing ground and then you’re going to have to eventually transition into a business that could sustain, grow and scale.

Those of you who are reading now, you can sign up for a lot of my freebie classes. I talked about, without passion, you don’t have a business. When things get rough and you hit a month or you got no revenue, You hit a month where you find out that the stuff that shipped out had a defect and you have to be called. There are all kinds of crazy things that could happen. When a small business would be called, it could be 50 pieces but it’s everything you have.

When that happens, if you are passionate and this is what you breathe and live for, it’s easier to stomach those hours and lumps and say, “I’m passionate about it. I don’t know what happened but I’m going to fix this.” Rather than if you were in there for the money, you’re like, “This isn’t making me any money now. I’m going to quit.” Doing what you’re passionate about in those times helps you stay consistent and be a little bit more resilient.

For me, even those times when I thought my business was going to be done with it, over with, as your business grows, the stakes are higher. One mistake can get you down. I was able to sit back and say, “Even though I may lose everything tomorrow, the sun will rise. I enjoyed all that time that I’ve had with this business. If I had to do it over again, I’d do it again.” In those times when stakes were high, I could go under and compromise. I doubled down and then I grew. What you’re preaching is something that I’ve experienced myself.

All those facets are hard. What are the tips that you could offer? In your book, How Hard Can It Be, you talk about all the things that could go wrong and how hard it is. What you’re trying to do is you’re trying to let people know that entrepreneurship. When you look at all the people who made millions of dollars like Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and Elon Musk, all those people are entrepreneurship unicorns.

Start with what you believe in today, put your sweat and commitment into that venture, and see how far you can go.

They’re rare and most people don’t know if they’re real. When you look at their stories, they are latent with failure. Look at Bezos, it was at several years. We all listened to his earnings call on CNBC, talking about why he didn’t make his numbers. Why his losses were bigger than the last month but he continued on. Everybody thought he was crazy.

It’s the same thing with Elon Musk. If you read his book, it was 5 to 10 years. People thought he was a joke in Silicon Valley. They thought, “This guy is for real.” Are there any tips that you have in your book that you can share that help them? This is reality but what are the things you could do to succeed in that environment? It’s a jungle out there when it comes to entrepreneurship now.

You raised quite important points. First of all, most we’d fail, as you say 90%. When you look around for tips, advice and content that could support you, the stories that are relayed aren’t relatable. If there are stories about failure and stories that you can learn from because you won’t learn anything from the massive successes of Elon Musk, are stories of failure because you learn from the mistakes of others.

I opened my book with a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, which is, “You should leverage, use the learnings from the failure of others because you can’t possibly long enough to make them all yourself and you can’t. The purpose of the book is to show some tips that you can learn from and help you achieve the success you’re after.

What are the tips that you can offer to small entrepreneurs to succeed in the environment where you’re going to be faced with failure after failure? To expand upon your point that you learn more from your failures than you do from success stories, for example, my kids played competitive tennis. They were both nationally ranked. They played college tennis.

As a tennis mom, I watch my kids play. Sometimes they get lucky with the draw and they’ll get somebody who is ranked 185 or something in the nation but sometimes they’ll get the number one draw opening round. They’ll be like, “He’s got to be the next Roger Federer. I’m sitting here hitting poles over here. What’s my luck?”

When they excelled and their tennis game was not when they won one of those easy draws but when they lost those close games, where it came down to the last six points and they keep thinking about, “I should have come in earlier. I should’ve hit a volley. I shouldn’t have hit a back end.” They think about their strategy and that’s when you grow.

What I like to say is that with every challenge and obstacle in your entrepreneurship journey, there is a gift that’s wrapped in there. I always teach people how to not only embrace failure but plan your failure. When you’re launching a business, I always ask people to launch you’re a good, better, best. When you launch three-tiered of the same product something is not going to work because people are not going to buy the good, better and best. They’re going to buy 1 of those 3 things. The other two, by nature, will fail. Understanding failure is a key ingredient to success

We’ll fail our way to success.

Get up and fall forward.

MDH 59 | Learning From Mistakes

Learning From Mistakes: Fail your way to success.

 

Go beyond and embrace failure. The strategy is to get uncomfortable on purpose like by design. That touches a bit upon the point you made earlier. When you are working full-time, you come home and you decide that you don’t have the time and energy because you’ve been tied up with all the things, you are too comfortable in a way because the moment you are completely committed to the thing you are going after.

When you do the journey yourself, you are going through those deeps, difficulties and the struggle of landing a customer, not having enough inventory or whatever business you may be in, on design, putting yourself into difficult situations will help you be comfortable with potential failure along the way and you will.

You can put that into the context of a sport like you did. I personally do that every time I go running or go to the gym. You don’t grow muscles by lifting the same weight over and over. You grow muscle because you break the muscle fiber and then you build on top. You have to lift heavier and heavier to get growth. It’s the same mechanism. It’s the same for running. I don’t know if you run but I run quite a lot. It’s always the same pain. Regardless of how many times you go running at 10, 15, 20 kilometers, you will find the exact same struggle. It won’t get easier. Everything is the same.

You raised a good point here, which is when you’re starting your business and trying to make the first $50,000. I’ve been there. Trust me, it’s very painful and it’s a lot of work. You wonder every single day, “Am I ever going to get a break? or this was a stupid idea. Why did I think I was going to succeed in this? There are a lot of people that are smarter and have more money than me. They didn’t succeed. What the heck was I thinking?”

I lived in LA at the time. I had an LA Times-like employment board next to me the whole time. It’s circled in red thinking like, “I should start to get a backup job.” I still pushed on. The first $50,000 is pretty painful. You get a little bit of money, things are nice. I did the first $300,000 and I’m like, “This is great. It’s wonderful. I’m going to go buy some furniture because I finally have some money to buy.” I was living in a two-bedroom apartment. I thought to myself, “I could get myself a desk.”

At that point, I realized every order I shipped because your margin isn’t that huge, if anything goes wrong with any of those things, that could wipe my total profit. The stresses are different and then you have to invest money. You have to have somebody to help you. I hired help and all that. At that point, I now have an office and a couple of employees. I have to do $300,000 a month to sustain myself. How am I going to do that? It’s the same pain now but it’s much bigger.

The good news is you went through that pain. You understood you have some skills to get a response rate. You know what’s working. You know why direct mail doesn’t work. Phone calls worked better for me. When I went from $300,000 to the first $1 million and that was within the first eighteen months, by the time I was doing $1 million, my conversion rate was about 40%. You learned how to tweak up to that point.

I’m going to tell you ladies and gentlemen who are reading because a lot of my readers are female entrepreneurs. I’m very honest and upfront. I always tell people when I coach and do free webinars, in fact, I did one and it was like a mastermind class, “Don’t sign up for any of my classes if you think all you have to do is sign up for this class and listen to me for a weekly Zoom because it’s not rosy and not easy. You are going to have to do a lot of work. It’s the only way you’re going to get there.”

I find it a lot of fun. I wake up every morning after many years in business, $500 million to $750 million in sales. I’ve got plenty of money. I’m not saying I’m Oprah or anything like that. Remember, I started my company wanting to make $2,000 a month. As an entrepreneur, you never know when a rainy day, year or decade will come. I never learned to be extravagant in any way. I never learned to be braggadocious. I stayed humble. I always try to pay back and pay forward.

I drive a Yukon. I don’t drive any fancy cars. I got plenty of money for the lifestyle that I live. I was on a live radio show at 6:00 in the morning because it was 9:00 East Coast time. I was so excited to share my vision because one of my favorite lines from Whitney Houston’s song, Destiny, that said, “My finest day is yet unknown.” I’m an eternal optimist and I look for my finest day, which could be tomorrow. It’s in the future. It’s not in the past.

“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

For all of you who are reading, if you’re 1 of the 3 to 4 million Americans who quit their jobs in the last several months, it’s probably about 20 million or so by now. I’m hearing that trend is only going to continue more. I still encourage you to start short businesses to find your passion and purpose in life. Live your life with gratitude and intention.

When you do, you can directly impact your family, your community, your world to make it better, healthier, happier and you can heal the planet this way rather than working for some horrible boss who’s going to tell you what you’re worth. That’s in the best-case scenario. In the worst-case scenario, they tell you, you’re not worth anything or that you’re only worth something if you do it my way. A lot of these corporations are just into profits. They’re not into helping people.

The other thing I would say too and this is from my heart is if you get down to this, everything you need to succeed in life and be happy, you had it the day you were born. Don’t let any expert or anybody to tell you that you can’t do this or you can’t do that. Tune it all out. If you believe in something, it’s a matter of, “How am I going to get there? How am I going to get my message out?” I know it’s hard. Getting visibility and traction is hard. You can come to my website. I do a whole webinar on that one thing.

Getting visibility and traction in the first two years. That’s not going to be easy either. I give you a lot of things you can do to get there but you got to do them. I have a home gym here. We bought a whole new SoulCycle Bike. I don’t know how much it was. We already had an elliptical, treadmill, a noted track. I have all the weights here plus we’ve got a boxing thing. He says to me, “We already have an entire gym here. The problem with that is you don’t lose weight. You don’t get in shape by looking at those. Those machines have to be used. You just use the ones you already have.”

We have the bike and all this stuff. We already had like a gym model, bike, Life Cycle and all that. We got the SoulCycle and I said, “You got to get on it and start using it.” Any one of them will be fine. I’m going to start with one of them. He’s not super heavy or anything but he’s getting a little annoyed because his birthday is coming up. This is the same thing. When you go to these mastermind classes or you attend free webinars and they give you tips, you got to use those tips. They’re simple tips.

I love the book you wrote, How Hard Can It Be because nobody is talking about how hard, realistically speaking, from an entrepreneurship point of view. What I want to say to everyone is it is normal to be hard. You don’t learn how to ski, cook or do anything great by doing things that are super easy. I can ski but I’m not a professional skier or anything like that. When I see my kids ski or even professionals, they fall all the time. Watch the Olympics. How many people break their leg and fall but they get right back on and they are better. Apparently, with pins and stuff in their knees, they’re still better because they fell.

We have that when we are born. We start to walk, stumble, fall and we don’t stop. Otherwise, we would all be crawling and we don’t. We all walk. It’s around the teenage ages where everything becomes about conformism. You have to conform to that very box in which you’re going to exist for the rest of your life. You’re going to have grades and be graded on those. If you do below the average, you will fail and then we start to stigmatize failure. The less we fail and try, the more we supposedly fail in the eyes of society.

Slowly but surely, we become very rigid in our ways of looking at the world where in fact, we are meant to try stuff, to experience things and the only way to move forward is to try so much stuff out there, fail at them and recognize which one worked for you. We all feel it. You made that very interesting point. We have it from day one, from our birth. The very fact that you are on this Earth, the probabilities are crazy. It’s 1 to 400 trillion.

If you are on this Earth, it’s probably for a good reason. We are being falsely directed to do things that we don’t fully engage in because it doesn’t resonate with us and it makes us miserable. At the same time, we look at others who are supposedly successful. We put them on a pedestal and look at them as those great people that are different than us. They have something that we don’t have but it turns out we all have it. We are all the next great thing. It’s a matter of tuning to it.

Think about this, Arnaud, when you look at the companies that are now controlling our lives or those people who let them control. You’re looking at Google, Apple, Amazon, all these companies, except for Bezos, everybody else started their companies as a college dropout with less than $5,000 in total revenue. If you watch the Steve Jobs movie or you know anything about Amazon, they failed for the first ten years. Steve Jobs was even voted out of his own board. He was fired, came back and created the iPod.

MDH 59 | Learning From Mistakes

Learning From Mistakes: The only way to move forward is to try and fail at many things to know which one worked for you.

 

The resilience factor is a very big thing, believing in yourself. I’m not here to tell everybody, “As long as you’ve got a passion, you’re going to succeed.” You have to work hard and work hard consistently. I come from Korea. It’s true here, much more so here in America. When you go to school, your teachers, the society, your community leaders, everybody tells you they have their own definition of success. If you’re a lawyer, doctor, this or that, you’re successful.

I went to MBA school, I got a great grade in my MBA school and this is a true story. I didn’t want to go to MBA school. I wanted to be an artist. I want it to be van Gogh and I’m a pretty good painter. That’s all I wanted to do. My parents said, “I’m talking to so and so.” They’re immigrants here, “you got to be a doctor, lawyer, this and that.” I didn’t want to be that. In my family, I have four doctors and a lawyer but they made me go to MBA school and I did it.

I went to MBA school and I thought, “Maybe my parents were right because I can do this marketing thing.” That’s a creative thing. In advertising, I can create ads and slogans. I can deal with that. My professor at USC pulled me aside. He liked me, cared about me, gave me extra work and everything. He told me, “You’re never going to be good at marketing. You need to switch your major because you don’t understand the nuances of language and marketing. You have to understand psychology. The American people think differently,” all this stuff.

I might not have got my degree in Finance, which I had no interest in it. Creative people don’t think about money. I went out and got that, $500 million later, primarily marketing, which I was pretty good at. Had I listened to him in that, given up my hope then and became a banker? I would have been fired from the first job because I can’t deal with numbers at all. The numbers bore me to death.

I have a degree but when you are in the most impressionable years in your life, about the seventh grade on, you’re being told what you’re good at. You’re going to be told pretty much what you’re going to succeed in. These are teachers that never gone out and lived the real-life out there, that entrepreneur life.

We were all given what we needed from the minute we were born. The word success, if you look at the personal lives of some of these people like Steve Jobs. He was an adopted kid, abandoned his own child, on and on. When we talk about success, I talk about the quality of your life more than the digits you have in your bank. If you’re going to go after that, I would highly recommend that you pick up this book, How Hard Can It Be.

Many of you know I’m an avid reader. I read about 30 to 40 books every year. I’m a very curious person. I lived on a small island in Korea, that’s how I saw the world and that’s how I learned. I still have this love for books. I don’t normally recommend a lot of books for my people to read because books take a lot of time. You’re asking people to invest time in you. I think this book is one that every entrepreneur should read because you are going to face times when you’re going to give up and say, “It’s not worth it.” At that time, you’re going to be given some tools to cope with that. Thank you so much for coming in and sharing your time with me and my audience.

If you want to pick up the book or know more about the book or about Arnaud and his journey, which is fascinating. You could go to HowHardCanItBeTheBook.com. Thank you so much for coming and if you have not subscribed, please go ahead, share, subscribe and more than anything, go ahead and give me a review. I’m not asking anybody to give me a great with you. I’m asking you to give me some honest feedback on every episode because that’s how I grow. It’s okay not to give me a five-star review. I’m okay with that. Being in a creative world, I get a lot of real honest feedback and that’s what we thrive on. Until next time, please stay healthy and happy. We’ll see you soon.

Thank you, Victoria. Thanks for having me.

Thank you.

 

Important Links:

 

About Arnaud Henneville-Wedholm

MDH 59 | Learning From MistakesArnaud Henneville-Wedholm is an entrepreneur, author and optimist. Today, he leads sales and business development at GLOBHE, a platform for drone data on demand. He also mentors startups at the Nordic Startup School. Arnaud is the founder of multiple startups, including internalDesk, a SaaS platform for enterprise collaboration, where he served as COO. internalDesk was recognized as one of the ‘Top10 Tech Rising Stars’ in the Nordics in 2014 and was acquired in 2019. He has worked many years in Change management. He holds an MBA from the University of Leicester, UK. Arnaud’s interest areas include entrepreneurship and everything related to mindset and wellbeing. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden with his wife and three children.

MDH 58 | Key Performance Indicator

MDH 58 | Key Performance Indicator

Key performance indicators give you a roadmap of where you are and where you want to be. Victoria Wieck introduces Jeff Smith, an International Keynote Speaker, World-Renowned KPI Expert, and #1 Best-Selling Author. Jeff talks with Victoria about how key performance indicators are questions rather than answers. One key performance indicator is, what do you want? Successful people have specific goals they want to achieve. Working hard is not enough if you don’t know which direction to channel it through. Listen to this episode to discover more key performance indicators!

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Key Performance Indicators That Make Successful People With Jeff Smith

We have a real treat. I have an amazing guest. His name is Jeff Smith. We do a lot of transformation stories here, but his transformation story is amazing, nothing short of astonishing. Jeff failed in Math and English and didn’t have a lot going on at that time, but he’s currently living the dream life that he envisioned living at some point.

We’re going to talk about how he accomplished that and specifically his expertise in helping small businesswomen. Anybody who’s in small business who wants to elevate their business, who wants to bring visibility, awareness and increase your effectiveness working fewer hours and making more money. Stay tuned. I’m going to ask Jeff to talk about his life a little bit because I have a feeling that he can tell it better than I can. He’s a lot more to than I am. Welcome to the show, Jeff.

Victoria, thank you so much. You’ve given me a lot to live up to there, haven’t you?

Tell my audience a little bit about your background story. We’re going to unpeel and unpack the rich life story you have to offer to my audience.

I had a wonderful childhood. I was loved. We didn’t have any money. I won’t say poor because that’s a state of mind. We’re broke. That’s a state of pocket. I didn’t know blissfully. University was never on the radar. My parents were not mentors. I was allowed to be lazy. My passion when I was younger from about eight years old, I was a musician. That’s all I wanted to do. I was a keyboard player. I had no interest in English, Mathematics or anything at school. I wanted that bell to ring, go home and play music. That was it. I did okay at school, but I failed in English and in Mathematics.

You are British. How could you fail in English? Is that even allowed?

I can speak English. I failed at English. I failed at Mathematics. Here I sit, having written the best-selling book in the world on Mathematics, which is fascinating. How does that happen?

MDH 58 | Key Performance Indicator

The KPI Book, Third Edition: “The ultimate guide to understanding the key performance indicators of your business” – https://jeff-smith.com/the-kpi-book-third-edition/

Let’s go back to that a little bit. I feel the year 2022 is an incredible year for many of you. You can rise to the top. This is an opportunity because, with massive changes, social change, financial change and political change come wrapped with incredible opportunities. This is why I have Jeff here. The point you’re trying to make is that no matter where you come from, no matter what economic status, social stratosphere you come from, you can accomplish anything.

First of all, you failed in Math and English. You could maybe be a great archeologist or musician. You went to writing a book about KPI. We’ll talk about KPI or key performance index and how critical it is for all of you running businesses. This is the one thing that a lot of people don’t talk about. We talk about marketing. We talk about digital marketing. We talk about social media.

People talk about all of these things to death. Without a measuring stick or a goal from the beginning, you don’t know. You’re wasting money and, more importantly, time. Let’s talk a little bit about how you came about discovering the importance of KPI. What is KPI? Can you explain a little bit for people who never heard the term before?

KPI means key performance indicators. What’s fascinating about them? We live in a world where everything is being measured with key performance indicators. You sit in your car, you look at the dashboard and they’re all key performance indicators. They’re everywhere. We rarely recognize them as such. KPI, key performance indicators, are predominantly recognized in business to give a roadmap from where you are to where you want to be. That’s what they’re for. There are lots of different measures in our life, wholly dependent upon what it is that we want to achieve.

If you want to know a little bit more about key performance indicators, it’s not like one thing. Everybody’s going to have different key performance indicators. Many of you are going to have different key performance indicators based on the particular ad. You might want to have different goals or different expectations, for example. If you want to get more information and get into this, you can visit Jeff’s website. He has a lot of information on this. Most of what he has there is free and it’s amazing information. It’s Jeff-Smith.com. You can check that out. Let’s move on a little bit.

Lots of people say, “Anybody can do anything. Fulfill your potential.” Yes, providing you have the right direction. More speed in the wrong direction doesn’t help. I found this out when I was eighteen, which is a long time ago. I decided to study what is it that makes successful people successful? I attributed to being millionaires. Being successful is not always about money. Money generally follows. We have callings, passion and these kinds of things.

I interviewed 325 millionaires on my journey. I found out they all do elven things in common. Some are aware of these eleven things, some are not, and it is quite fascinating. Going back to what you also said earlier is about having goals. The thing about goals is they have to be very specific. That’s where we can use key performance indicators as well. It keeps your eyes on the prize, if you will. You can work hard, but the direction must be in your chosen direction of travel. You don’t work hard in any direction. It’s about being specific.

You can work hard, but you must have a direction according to your goals.

I was talking to a lady about this. She ended up in tears. She’d written a book, and it wasn’t selling. I said, “What was your goal?” She said, “My goal was to write a book.” I said, “Your goal was fulfilled.” She was passionate about writing a book. Her goal was to write a book. I said, “Your goal wasn’t about providing transformational change to other people that would want them to buy your book. Your goal was about writing a book.” She was amazed and tears came into her eyes.

You have to be specific. If you want to grow a business, you also have to be specific. Successful business strategies are about sustainability. Can you keep on doing what you’re doing? It’s no good putting a lot of effort into something once or twice. That’s where key performance indicators help us. It gives us direction, sustainability, and a sanity check to make sure that we are obtaining what it is that we want to obtain.

I’m going to break this down into a language that I can understand. If you get in your car and you say to yourself, “I’m going to start driving. I want to travel.” Where you’re going to travel to? I don’t know. Someplace on the East Coast and you don’t have a GPS. You don’t have a specific destination. Therefore, you don’t know where you’re going to stay. You can’t go to New York in a car in a day. You don’t know how much gas you’re going to need. You can be taking a lot of detours.

Having key performance indicators is like having a GPS and a goal at the other end. It’s, “How fast can I get there?” Is it sustainable if you drive 90 miles an hour for 12 hours? It’s not sustainable if you’re going to crash. I completely understand that. I understand that everybody has different key performance indicators, but for small business entrepreneurs who are doing anywhere from 6 to 7 figures. What are some of the key performance indicators they should be looking for?

That’s a fascinating question. That’s the second most popular question. The most popular one is, “What are the top ten key performance indicators?” They touch upon each other. Here’s the fascinating thing. This is what I find when I speak to business people. You imagine where you were a few years ago, your state of development, and the state of your company at that time. Your dreams and aspiration years ago would’ve mapped out your future. You would’ve put together the key performance indicators that were right for that journey. That could be profitability and all kinds of things.

You would have your KPI dashboard. Move it forward five years. Are your goals and aspirations the same as they were five years ago? Probably not. Probably your beliefs have changed. You’ve transformed into something else, someone else. Your skills are better. You want slightly different things. Therefore, the key performance indicators you have will change. Here’s the big mistake that lots of business people make, they keep the same set of key performance indicators forever.

To give you an example of my journey, I completely agree with you. Your goals change. For example, when I first started my company, I didn’t have any money. I would say no money because it was under $1,000. I didn’t have any money. What are the things that I could do to keep track of? In those days, we didn’t have email because this was 1989. I wrote these direct mail letters. We didn’t have personal computers either back then. I typed them on my typewriter. I sent out 50 letters every single day.

MDH 58 | Key Performance Indicator

Key Performance Indicator: The key performance indicators you have will change, so don’t keep the same set of key performance indicators forever.

 

I was hoping to get some traction, and that, for me, was 10% people saying yes or no response rate and the quality of the response. Looking at a response rate, a lot of times, they’re like, “We don’t need you,” so it’s a yes, no or maybe. I had these little goals there. You still had profitability goals. My goal at that time was making $2,000 a month. If I get many people coming back, how many people do I need to convert into customers and what does an average sale need to be?

I was tracking pretty well. My goal was $2,000 a month. If I could hit it out of the park and make $3,000 a month, I could maybe save money to buy a new car. That was my goal. I ended up doing over $1 million in that first eighteen months. The goals changed because, at that point, my performance indicators were not about getting more consumers to buy. It was more business to consumers because I needed to save time. I wanted to be at home with my kids. The metrics changed.

What I try to tell a lot of beginner entrepreneurs is that when you place your Facebook ads, when you place whatever marketing effort you have, make sure you understand why you’re doing that. As you said the lady with the book, said her goal was to write a book because she wanted to be a writer, not to help other people or add value to somebody else’s life. The way to do that was to write a book about X, Y, Z for certain people. That would’ve been the performance indicator. That would’ve helped her write a better and more targeted book for that audience.

There are some key performance indicators. The amount of money will change. A lot of the audience here are somewhat successful in sustaining their businesses for 5, 10 or 15 years. They’re consistently doing the 6 to 7 figures but they hustled. They out networked everybody, they worked hard. Understanding key performance indicators will help you work fewer hours and amplify your message faster because you’re going to be focused. Would that be correct?

Yes. The thing that’s common is not the key performance indicator themselves. It’s how you think about them. This is the transformation that I want to bring to you. Most people think that key performance indicators are answers. They’re not. They’re questions. Let me explain how we can use them to make transformational change. Let me use the example that you gave earlier. When you started, you sent out 50 letters every day, typing.

I became a very good typist.

You said your expectation there was to have 10% responses, so 10% of 50 is 5. The reason we have key performance indicators and how we make transformational change is to turn them into a question and say, “If I did type up 50 letters per day, and I am getting 10% response which is 5, what do I need to do to change that to 11%, 12% or 15% response? What are other people doing to achieve that?”

Every successful person knows exactly what they want.

It could be the style of writing. It could be the qualification of the people that you send it to. The key performance indicates, which is a 10% closing ratio, the response rate is a question of your activities. That’s what they’re for. You can use this with your jewelry. If we are looking at gross profits, if we buy something for $10 and sell it for $15, our gross profit is 33%.

The question then is, “To change my gross profit, I either have to change the buying price or the selling price. How do I do that?” Key performance indicators are about questioning the things that are important to you and then looking closely at the actions that you are taking in those areas. Can you make those actions sustainable?

We’re on the same wavelength here. It’s interesting because I expected five and I wrote these letters. I got somewhere between 10% to 20% response rate in response, not buying yet at that point. I wrote to them. I didn’t have a brochure or a website. I didn’t have anything because nobody had websites back then. Expensive catalogs were how people did business.

That was not an option for me because mailing a catalog was $3, and the regular first-class postage stamp was $0.09. Printing those catalogs was somewhere north of $25,000 every 6 months and I didn’t have that either. I had to work with a lower budget. Everything you said is true about when you increase your business. If you do it by lowering your prices, your profit margin goes down. While you are increasing your revenue, you might be making less money. You do have to keep that.

I would say your key performance indicators are not necessarily answers. Looking at them, understanding them crystal clear, they become a bunch of tools that you could use to get yourself focused on every effort you make, every dollar you spend to do it with the purpose and with the plan. That’s important.

I have an MBA. I went through a fabulous school. I went under a scholarship, and I did well. They teach you a lot of things about marketing campaigns. You may be reaching a whole different audience than you thought you were. When they come in to get the freebie or whatever you’re doing, it’s the wrong target audience. Your conversion may flow, or sometimes you do convert, but then you lose those customers. A new customer acquisition price at that point becomes very expensive.

Understand why you’re doing what you’re doing and think about your goals, the purpose for it and your mission for everything you do before. When you write down your key performance indicators or your goals for everything you do, it becomes easier to come up with your marketing campaigns. A lot of the people running these small businesses are scratching the surface of seven figures, or maybe mid-seven figures.

MDH 58 | Key Performance Indicator

Key Performance Indicator: Key performance indicators are about questioning the things that are important to you.

 

They’re busy people. They don’t want to spend the time to understand. They don’t think they’re going to learn how to do the SEO, do the KPI, and do any of this stuff on their own. They hire people. No matter who you hire, understanding this will help you even hire the right people. The world is full of people who provide services never done before. We’re full of coaches that never ran a business, which I find odd. Anything else you want to add to that?

You made a great point earlier about the lady writing a book and what you thought. You’ve written a book, haven’t you? It’s more than one book, haven’t you?

I have.

I’m often asked how is it I’m successful with selling books. It’s because I do it the opposite way to anybody else that I know. If we think about goals and aspirations, if I work with people to help them get their mindset right for writing the book, and I don’t have anything to do with the book’s writing, that’s your job. First, I’d say prepare and put the advertisement together for your book. Sell it before you write a single word. I spent three months putting an advertisement together for this book that I had not written a word for. I showed it to other people. They were going, “I want this book.” When I was writing that advertisement, all the things in it were my roadmap for writing the book.

That is so profound. I read an article about a guy teaching golf for young children. He was a volunteer coach in the summer. Instead of taking the kids out on the driving range to hit the balls, teach them how to swing and all this stuff. He tells them, “Don’t worry about hitting the ball and any of this.” He starts them on the putting green because he says, “You’re going to do 2, 3, 4 shots to get to the green, but if you 3-putt it, you’ve got 18 holes. You’re getting somewhere between 55 and 60 strokes there.” That kills you. He understands the goal, and he is starting from the putting green. He said, “These kids have to learn how to putt before they learn how to hit the ball.”

I give speeches and hold these free workshops. A lady told me that she’s an aspirational, emotional and mental health coach, but she also does corporate financial advice and teaches financial literacy. I asked her, “If you were going to do a webinar tomorrow and you have to place a Facebook ad, what would that Facebook ad say?” She had trouble articulating what it would say because there were three different things that she was trying to accomplish.

I would say that doing the ad ahead of time and before we went on air, we talked about my book. I had the book all written. I knew what I wanted to give in terms of the value. It’s called Million Dollar Passion, the same name as this show. I wrote a simple seven-step book on how you can turn your passion and purpose into a dream business. I well overachieved my life dreams years ago.

Failure does not mean the end because failure gives great lessons in success.

When COVID hit, it’s not that difficult. What I’ve done wasn’t that difficult. It’s completely possible, and I want to share that. When I asked for feedback from agents, a lot of the agents told me, “You’re going to need to add you’ve had this incredible business, and you’ve dealt with everybody from all the different businesses.” I’ve done business with Delta Airlines, British Airways, all the duty-free people, and cruise ship people.

I’ve done business with Harrods. He said, “One of the things that would be natural to you would be negotiating skills.” I’ve done it without any lawyers. I go, “Yeah.” There was no chapter in that. They’ve made it infinitely better by adding and all that. I agree with you. You start from the end, your goal, and what you hope to accomplish. You got to start from there. These were great, valuable lessons. Tell me a little bit about your eleven steps to success. Give us maybe the top three you think are most important for my audience.

I’ll give you the first three because they’re sequential. Most people have difficulty doing what they want. What do you want? Most people don’t know what they want. I speak at conferences all over the world. I get people on stage. I’ll say, “What do you want?” Some people say, “More money.” I put my hand in my pocket, give them a dollar bill, and I go, “There you are. Your dreams are fulfilled.” They go, “No, I want more money than that.” I said, “All you asked for was more money.” You have to be specific. Every successful person I’ve interviewed knows exactly what they want. It doesn’t happen by accident. If you can nail that, then the rest is relatively easy.

What’s step two?

Step two, write it down with clarity. You would’ve written it down somewhere what you wanted to achieve. We’ve spoken about books, but it doesn’t matter about whether you want to write. If you want to write a book, that’s great. If you are the inventor of a new product, you want to buy and sell a new product or you want to buy and sell your services. Write the advertisement first and let that be the guide your new product.

I had a guy come to me with a book. He wanted me to help him to understand how to sell it. This will put things into context for everything we’ve said so far. I told him, “Can I see the advertisement for your book, please?” He’d written his book. It’s printed. It’s in his hand. He’s given me a copy. I said, “Can I see an advertisement for your book before I read it?”

He says, “I haven’t done an advertisement yet. I came to you for some help and guidance.” Here’s what I said, “You have a product that you wanted to create. You’ve written a book that you wanted to write, not necessarily what people wanted to buy.” Do you understand the difference there? Successful people understand what people want to buy, and they create it.

MDH 58 | Key Performance Indicator

Key Performance Indicator: We don’t work for money. We work for what money does for us.

 

We have time for one more, step three.

Step three, review, react, revise. Know what you want. Write it down, but it’s not written in stone. You will take some actions, and then you might think, “Some things work. Some things don’t work. I need to change, revise, react. I need to be flexible on this.” Failure does not mean the end because failures are great lessons in success. You never fail unless you don’t get up again. Every time you fall over, make sure you pick up something.

At the beginning of this interview, you said that you interviewed all these people and successful people have these eleven steps to success. Some people know what they’re doing. They do this consciously. Some people don’t know what they’re doing, but they do it anyway. It’s interesting because the top three things you said are exactly what I have done. I do a lot of speeches. I try to help other women succeed because I feel women, females, moms and business moms have an extra challenge. That’s exactly what I preach.

I didn’t have any money. I knew what I wanted, and you are right. It doesn’t have to do with money. When I immigrated to America with my parents, I was the oldest child of the five. I was only thirteen. My parents both worked two jobs, seven days a week. I helped raise my younger siblings. I almost never saw my parents. I didn’t have a whole lot of quality time with them. They didn’t speak English. They couldn’t help me with my homework. I had to grow up by myself. When I became an adult, I decided that’s the one thing that I was not going to deprive my children of.

We talked about my goal is $2,000 a month. That’s to sustain me. The true goal was to spend unlimited time with my children. I built my whole business around their schedule. This is why I ended up with businesses in England. I sold to Harrods, Marks & Spencer, all these companies because I had to work in the Pacific time zone. At 6:00 in the morning is at midday for you, guys. I had to work from 6:00 to 8:00 AM before my kids went to school. For Asia, I sold to Takashimaya and all the major stores. 5:00 PM LA time was 9:00 AM their time. I worked these extreme shifts.

That was my goal and how I got there. I wrote my goals down. My husband was also broke at the time. We had like two match sticks between the two of us. I said, “One day if I’m successful, I’m going to forget where I started. When life gets rough, I’m going to have to remind myself that my goal was to make $2,000 a month.” When I’m making $6,000 a month, I’m complaining and things aren’t going well, I have to go back and say, “I’ve overachieved my goal by 200% to 300%. What am I complaining about?”

In terms of business, I’m a huge believer in learning how to crawl, walk and run. I try to tell people, “Test your product, tweak and test some more. Get your 80/20 rule, get the 20% best performance and get 20% out of the 20. You’re looking at the top four percent.” This is why the conversion rate was pretty high for me the whole time. Your top three are right on the money. I’ve done those three things pretty much throughout my life. My numbers have changed, but that is something that I can attest to the fact that it works.

Surround yourself with the right people who share your passion so you can get off the ground.

I’m going to give a painful one. Here’s one of the eleven steps. You must surround yourself with the right people. Some people do all of the ten steps, but this one will cause you to fail. If you don’t have the right people surrounding you, if they don’t share your passion, especially the people you live with, you’ll never get off the ground. If you do, it’s always going to be a fight. It’s always going to be a struggle.

I agree with you on that, too. Even if somehow how you get ahead in life, let’s say you had to look the other way for this. “I’m not cheating. The guy’s a little sleazy.” If you have to question this at the end of your journey, when you’re looking back and say, “I created this amazing business,” you want to feel good about that. You don’t want to have to go back and say, “I screwed over some people. I watched my partner screw some people over, but that’s part of doing business.”

I don’t think I could live with that. Either you build it for the right reasons, never bending on some of those issues, or you don’t have a business. You’re one disaster away from never getting up again. When my kids were younger, I used to tell my kids, “Compared to where I am from, you have everything a child could want.” We are living in America, one of the best places where no matter where you’re from, in terms of economic opportunities, you feel everything is possible. The only way you’re going to get in big trouble for life is when you get into big trouble and you never get up is if you surround yourself with the wrong set of friends.

That’s why I was there. I was the mom who drove the field trip cars. I volunteered in their school classroom to keep an eye on them. Of all the tips you gave, for me, that strikes a real chord because of all the other things you can recover from. I wish all of you would visit his website to get immersed in building a business.

Hopefully, you can build a nice little empire that you can hang onto. You could have a legacy from it. You can help other human beings. With a little bit of money, you can impact everything more. You can volunteer. You could help your family, yourself, your community and your world in very small ways, by very important ways, by building your passion, turning your passion and purpose into an amazing business that you could be proud of.

Jeff and I can both say that we’re living our dream life. That doesn’t mean we’re billionaires sitting here with our own jets. My dream life is to spend all the time in the world with my family, my children and my mom. My mom still doesn’t speak a lot of great English. She came here when she was a fully grown adult. My father is no longer alive. It’s spending all that unlimited time and being able to afford that.

I’m not a huge person on monetarily being successful, but having the health and the personal relationships and spending that time with them was my goal. That’s my dream life and I’m living that. Times are changing. I pitch a TV-radio segment on how to make money without trying. It’s like how to make money without trying to make money. If you do all these other things, the money will come. Do you have any last advice you want to leave my audience with as we close this interview?

I have two very short ones. We don’t work for money. We work for what money does for us. Money shouldn’t be the goal. It’s what you’re going to do with the money. As a closing thing, what I’d like to say is we live in a world where everything is being measured. Take care to measure the right things in the right way.

For people who want to connect with you, where would my audience find more of you and get to know you?

It’s Jeff-Smith.com/Chat. You can go there, or you can go to the website, Speak With Jeff. There’s my calendar there. You choose a time, and then we can hook up on Zoom or Teams and have an informal chat. Let’s see if I can help you.

Thank you so much for coming. Thank you so much for reading this episode. If you haven’t done it already, please share. Don’t forget to leave a review and rate the show because that’s how I get feedback. I’m not asking for anybody to give me a great review. I’m asking you to be honest and give me honest feedback. That’s how we grow, as painful as it may be. Until next time, I wish health and happiness for you and your family. Thank you, Jeff, for coming.

I feel blessed. Thank you, Victoria.

Important Links:

About Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith is on record as the most successful author of all time on KPI and Business Strategy.
He’s presented multiple programmes on SKY TV and engages his audiences with gripping subject-matter which is always relevant, on-point and underpinned with the utmost credibility.
His superpower is having the amazing ability to explain complex business strategies into jargon-busting plain English that everyone understands; even where English is a second language. His special techniques enable you to gain crystal clear vision of what you want to achieve and he provides you with the precise KPI so you reach your goals with laser beam accuracy.
You know you’re in safe hands because his client list reads like a “who’s who” of global success and travels all over the world ranging from USA, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, Canada and Latin America talking about how to use the latest cutting edge strategies in leadership to deliver outstanding results.
You’ll hear lots of people say “you should work smarter not harder”, but Jeff Smith is the man with the expertise to show you exactly how to achieve it.
Jeff spends a lot of his time in Charity. He’s been the the CEO of and aviation charity delivering life-saving medication and he’s currently the Vice Chairman of AFI and Ambassador to the United Nations working on educating youth all over the world to make a difference with global matters.
MDH 57 | New Year Goals

MDH 57 | New Year Goals

 

It’s the new year, and that means one thing: New Year’s Resolutions! Setting goals can be a great way to ensure you are able to accomplish what you set out to do. Join Victoria Wieck as she dives into setting goals for yourself. Victoria gives tips on setting goals and how to create accountability for yourself to help you reach these goals. Tune in and learn more and be on your way to accomplishing your own resolutions!

Watch the episode here:


 

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Make 2022 Your Best Year Yet: A Quick Guide To Goal-Setting And Accountability

Happy New Year to you and your families. I hope you have had a wonderful Christmas holiday season. I wanted to have a quick conversation about what your goals might be for the new year and specifically how you can have your goals or dreams come true for the new year and beyond. Also, if you are the type to make New Year’s resolutions, how do you make them and stick to them because a lot of experts say that 75% of Americans give up on their New Year resolution by February of each year.

I’m going to go over what’s in my mind and not in any particular order. The first thing I would say is I am a huge believer in setting goals and making sure that those goals do come true. How do you make that happen? I have this little system called SAGA. It’s about setting Small Attainable Goals that you can hold yourself Accountable for. For example, if you say, “I’m going to make a boatload of money in 2022,” it’s hard to figure out what money is but if you said something like, “I’m going to make $1,000 more a month with my business in 2022,” then you can break it down to $250 a week more than what you did in 2021.

You can say, “What do I have to do every day to attain that?” It’s a lot easier to have smaller goals that are attainable, and then having those short goals every month allows you to know be more accountable. You can even have other people hold you accountable if you have close friends that could do that for you. Think about the word saga, and then you can set two goals. One is a bigger picture goal for the year, and then you can have those short attainable goals every month or every week.

For example, every year I say to myself, “I’ve got to lose 10 pounds this year.” What I do is I’m going to lose 1/2 pound every 15 days. It comes down to cutting out 200 calories a day, every 15 days or something like that. It works out fine. It’s not a huge goal of mine, so I can maintain my weight up and down. Think about that. The other thing I would say in the new year is, how you can be more sane in this crazy world that we are living in now?

Your finest day is still unknown, and you need to go find it and let this year be the year when you can be the best version of yourself and create the maximum happiness for yourself and everybody around you.

I’m not saying that other people are driving you crazy but every time we turn a corner or I feel like, “We are finally getting back to some sense of normalcy in terms of travel or how we dine, play, do our business,” there was a whole new variant or something happening. We are in perpetual limbo. It’s rough. If we have learned anything in the last couple of years, it is about being authentic and being yourself. If you don’t feel this way, I hope you will embrace that. Be authentic and be who you are because who you are is more than enough to attain happiness, success, and everything else that you have ever wanted.

Be authentic means, just being honest with yourself first but also with other people around you. I’m not saying anybody is not honest but a lot of times, we are so focused on, “What other people might think of me or that I meant? How my family would look?” All these other things. You don’t have to do all of that anymore. If you come from a pure heart, your intentions were pure and good, and you are a compassionate person, don’t be afraid to say whatever you want to say.

For example, if you said, “I wish that I could go to the beach and do whatever,” and somebody says, “We’ve got a mask. We’ve got to do this and that.” the point I’m trying to make is you can disagree with a lot of people and a lot of people may disagree with you but you can still love and respect them. You can still have them in your circle. I have a lot of friends who are very divided on a lot of the different things that come down now but we are still all great friends.

I play golf, tennis and communicate with them. It’s great. Be authentic, be honest and let your true self show in everything you do because you are a good person. You are a kindhearted person. Don’t worry about what other people think. Worry about yourself and how you are going to move forward. The next point I want to make is to be vulnerable. I’m not saying go out and try to be vulnerable but all of us, no matter how successful or happy you are, there are things that you are vulnerable about. If we have learned anything, everybody is on the edge and vulnerable to some point. There has never been a better year than being accepted with your vulnerability.

MDH 57 | New Year Goals

New Year Goals: If you come from a pure heart and your intentions are good, then don’t be afraid to say whatever you want to say, as long as you deliver it with the right tone.

 

In fact, in marketing, vulnerability comes in very handy because a lot of people associate themselves. They feel like you are relatable if you show your vulnerability. Share that because what’s going to happen is you are going to find a lot of people who support you, encourage you, inspire you and it will be inspired by you for having that courage to be vulnerable and still show up. Don’t be afraid.

The other thing I want to say is to share your gift. Share your vulnerability with other people because a lot of times, people appreciate that and they can see your vulnerability. When you show up and still share it or you want to help other people, they appreciate what you do, why you do what you do, and they want to support you. They want to help you and will amplify your voice, mission, and whatever it is that you want to do. I love that. Go out and help other people because there’s beauty in that.

The last thing I want to say is to find something, anything that you feel in your life that you need improvement in, whether that’s quality of your personal relationships, business, education for some of you who are younger readers, culinary skills or anything. Find time to invest in yourself and your future. I don’t want to do the, “New year new you,” kind of episode. What I would prefer to do is let this year be the best version of yourself.

I love this line in a song sung by Whitney Houston. It says something like, “My finest day is yet unknown.” I love that because no matter where you are at in life, whether you are a beginner or somebody super successful and advanced, or somebody who’s struggling through a lot of issues, your finest day is still yet unknown. You need to go find it. Let this year be the year when you are on the road to creating the best version of yourself, the best life for yourself, the maximum happiness you create for yourself and everybody around you.

That’s my long-winded short, Happy New Year message. I want to wish all of you health and happiness in the new year. Let this year be the year when you discover how you find the finest moment in your life. Thank you so much. Please share this episode with other people in your circle. If you can, please subscribe. Until next time. Stay healthy and be happy.

MDH 56 | Value Add Incentives

MDH 56 | Value Add Incentives

 

If you want to increase revenue in your business, incentives are the recommended approach rather than providing discounts. What is the reason behind this? Join Victoria Wieck as she sits down with Marco Torres to talk about the difference between incentives and discounts. Marco is the Co-founder of MarketingBoost. He has helped thousands of business owners worldwide boost sales and scale their businesses by as much as five-fold through incentive-based marketing. In this episode, he talks about the most effective way of increasing your business’ sales and profit. Have a deeper understanding on what you are losing with discounts and what you are gaining with incentives. Tune in!

Watch the episode here:

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Incentive-Based Marketing: How To Use Value-Add Incentives To Grow Your Business With Marco Torres

Welcome to the new year. Hopefully, the year 2022 will be a great year for all of you, personally and professionally. When we talk about serial entrepreneurs, I’m convinced that when you google it, it’s going to have the name of Marco Torres. His face shows up because this man has been a serial entrepreneur for almost all of his life. A lot of serial entrepreneurs have failed and failed until they find the right mix but Marco found the secret sauce to success when he was nine years old.

I’m going to ask Marco to tell his story. Marco, welcome to the show. I’m so delighted to have your vision. My audience would benefit from the entrepreneurship successes you have had across many different types of categories. Tell us a little bit about yourself and some of the things that you have done in the past since you were nine years old.

Thank you, Victoria, for having me and reaching your audience. Since I was a kid at nine, I built the biggest paper route in San Juan, Puerto Rico by focusing on condominiums. I’m not a Puerto Rican. I’m a Latino but I grew up in Mexico and Puerto Rico. That makes me the only Chicano Rican you will probably ever meet. I had hundreds of clients. They featured me on the front page of the newspaper. From there later on, by the time I was 23, I owned five restaurants and a nightclub with my brother and mom. It’s throughout the Caribbean in Saint Thomas and US Virgin Islands.

I came over back to the US and worked in the corporate world for a while. That’s when I’ve got involved in internet marketing and retail stuff online. Between the corporate world and the companies that I worked with, we generated over $1 billion in sales on the internet between the years 2000 and 2008 when it all came to a dead end. I had to start all over again in reinventing myself, which I have done over and over throughout my career. I’m not a spring chicken. While we have been in sales and marketing of one sort or the restaurant business, we are always essentially selling products, services, or more importantly, my own brand.

If you have to start all over again, then do it. Reinvent yourself.

In 2008 was my best sales year ever. I sold my house, cars, boats and furniture. I was wiped out. I had to start all over. It was a bad couple of years there when I told them I had got back on my feet. What we did was we’ve got involved with some partners of mine. We’ve got into the travel business. We were blowing that up with a number of travel websites. Here’s how we rolled into this incentive business that I do now. That’s a quick overview of being in business for one thing or another for the last couple of years.

Even though that was a very quick introduction, you can probably sense a little bit about who Marco is and his undying search for excellence. If you think about 2008 and 2009, there was a little thing called a financial market disaster crash. There were many businesses that were at the top of the game. They bottomed out, such as real estate. A lot of digital marketing companies were all hurting pretty badly. At that point, Marco pivoted and started over. From those ashes of financial disaster, with his career dreams come crashing, he created what he is doing now, which is astonishing.

Lesson number one is to never give up. When life hands you a bunch of lemons, learn how to make lemonade quickly. If you think about it, history tells us that those financially tough years were incredible disaster years, such as the Great Depression. When we talk about the Great Depression, we talk about 1929 but there have been several before that. It’s the financial disasters that happened in 1989. For example, it’s Black Monday, if you recall that. The 9/11 was another one to 2008 and 2009.

All these times, some of our biggest companies that we know of that are household names started during those times. Many of you may not know this. Microsoft and Apple both started in 1989 that Black Monday. You are looking at companies like IBM, Burger King, Procter & Gamble, and Trader Joe’s. They all started in these horrible times. When you give your authenticity and meet the real needs of real people in those shifting times, they tend to hang around longer because they are running leaner, meaner, and also with the heart.

I love what you have accomplished so far. Marco was very humble going over his background. I’m going to give you a little bit about where he is coming from, how this now all ties into what he offers, and how he helps other people. He grew up in San Antonio. Eventually, from that paper route at age 9 to 12, he created a bunch of restaurants in San Juan, Puerto Rico to all over the Caribbean at Saint Thomas, Saint Croix and the US Virgin Islands. In all these places and wherever he went, he learned how to make lemonade and profited from that.

MDH 56 | Value Add Incentives

Value Add Incentives: People respond much better to a buy-one-get-one offer, to an additional added value, than they do with 10% or 15% off.

 

He is the Founder of a company called Marketing Boost. I want to tell you a little bit about Marco so that it gives you a little bit of context about what you are about to learn. I know Marco is a firm believer. In COVID years, some of you have been hurting badly. You had to pivot five different times to hang on to what you had. Some of you have benefited from this like my personal business in jewelry design. I’m on TV. The business is on fire. I can’t get in a product for some reason.

When things are tough, especially for small business owners who don’t have the vast experience like you have from the corporate world and being able to see the bird’s-eye view from the top, the instinct is to sell it for less to see if there are more volume. Whereas you are saying to go the other way, offer more value, and offer why they came to you in the first place. Tell me a little bit about your philosophy on that.

Discounting is the road to ruin. We find ourselves competing. More than likely, you’ve got competition. If you don’t, you are probably too small of a niche and it’s hard to go by anyway. We have all got competitors. We’ve got to stand out from the crowd. That becomes one of the challenges. We look at our competitors and see what they are doing. We see they are outspending you in ad buys and their pricing is maybe lower than yours. The temptation is to make sure you beat and underprice them. They see you and then they underprice. We are all racing to the bottom with no profits.

To make it clear how terrible it is to discount, if you don’t do the math in your head, you’ve got to know your numbers. Let’s say that for every $1,000 in sales, you have a 20% net profit. For $1,000 in sales, you are making $200 and now you discount 10%. In the next round of $1,000 in sales, let’s say instead of getting $1,000, you are getting $900 and yet you still have the same cost of marketing, labor and product. You are making $100 on the $900 in sales instead of $200.

To end up in the same place, you’ve got nearly double sales at $1,800 to end up with the same $200 you had before. You can see that it can continue to multiply. Your clients expect bigger discounts the next time around. They expect you to be always discounting. You mentioned a term you have coined called Growing Broke, which is exactly what you can do here. You can start having the volume but before you know it, your costs are the same and you don’t have the volume.

We teach in my organization. We’ve got a Facebook group with almost 28,000 active members and another group with 54,000 members. We are always constantly bringing valuable content as you do, Victoria, to our readers in our audience. We provide incentives with a company called MarketingBoost.com, where you can enhance your value by providing bonuses or incentives that you don’t have to come out of pocket to fulfill. At Marketing Boost, you can include bonuses like three nights in Las Vegas if you take this action.

Depending upon what business you’re in, if you’re not having a Facebook group, you’re doing it wrong. It is very recommended that you create one.

When you are a Marketing Boost member, you have unlimited access to these incentives. You’ve got to create urgency and scarcity. You can’t just hand them out. You’ve got to use these incentives when appropriate like when you sell a big-ticket item, build a loyalty program or sign up for a contest. Have it be like, “When you make the fifth purchase this month, we will bonus you with this incentive.” There are a million different ways to do that.

You’ve got to include your own product and double up with more products. Sometimes more products could be costly as well but you might be able to throw, “If you buy $100 with our products, we will throw in something that’s relevant. We will throw in a bonus token bag with our branded name on it.” It’s something that you are giving them of additional value rather than discounting the price. A lot of studies have shown that people respond much better to a buy one, get one free offer to an additional added value than they do 10% or 15% off.

That was a lot of information. Let me give it some clarity on here. A small entrepreneur wants to offer a value-add. Let’s say they come up with the right package of things where the value-add is justified. You are saying that if they purchase a $39 subscription from you that they can give it to their customers, how does that work?

We revolutionized the travel incentive business. We are not the first to do it. There have been travel certificates out there for decades. Many of you probably heard or seen them. You get a cruise certificate for 2 to take a 3-day cruise. All of our competitors designed those to nearly make them impossible to use. You’ve got the certificate and you are saying, “I’ve got this sweet cruise but now you’ve got to give them 90 days advance notice before you can travel and get all kinds of hoops to jump through.”

We decided, “We are going to get into this business. We had to make it better than anybody and stand out from the crowd.” We have a subscription model. You only pay $37 a month. You have the ability to give away unlimited travel incentives. Our competitors sell each individual certificate from a few dollars each to several hundred dollars. In our case, for a $37 monthly subscription plan, you have access to all of our incentives in unlimited quantity.

The reason we do that is that we are in the travel business and we have a lot of years of relationships. We went and reached out to hundreds of resorts around the world. We helped them realize that we can solve a problem that the hotels have, which is 70% of the hotels are typically unoccupied every night of the week except for peak seasons, weekends and holidays. For the majority of them, 30% of the rooms are going empty most of the time.

MDH 56 | Value Add Incentives

Value Add Incentives: Facebook groups are huge to build your own audience and community where you are the authority and the expert in your field or product line.

 

We figured, “If we could help them fill those rooms, then they would win.” Even if the rooms were given away for free, then the client is still going to spend money booking additional nights. They are going to spend money in the restaurant, spa, bar, room service, casino, and all of the other revenue-generating operations that a hotel or resort might have. The client gets a free trip.

Everybody wins. The hotel wins by getting somebody as long as these certificates are not being sold to the public and they are only given in a private scenario where they bought something. It was a bonus or an add-on. They realize that not every day it’s going to be available. They are not going to be able to go on the 4th of July, Christmas week or New Year’s Eve.

For example, in a typical destination of ours, we provide 30 out of 52 weeks a year our available inventory. If the client can be flexible, there’s going to be inventory. There are no hoops to jump through. There are no timeshare presentations. There is none of that stuff. They log in after they activate the certificate. They do that by paying the taxes and fees. The government is going to get its share no matter what. The room might be free but someone is still paying the room taxes and tourist taxes. They average about $30 a night.

If they get a three-night stay, they activate the certificate by paying the taxes. They will get a login to a website. They can check the dates they want to go. They will get all the hotel options that are available. They can book it right there and get an instant confirmation. They don’t have to call anybody or listen to any sales previews. They are on their way. We have the hotel savings cards that they can give away. Those went with $100, $200, $300, and $500 increments of cash credits.

The reason we have the different levels is that, depending upon the call to action, you might give them a $100 hotel savings card for a $100 purchase on your website. You have added value without having to discount. They don’t have any expense to it at all if and when they are ready to travel. It works like a gift card, except it doesn’t cover the full room rate. The hotel savings card will cover between 10% and 50% of the room rate, depending upon when and where they are traveling. The restaurant vouchers and BOGO offers are 10%, 15% or 25% off.

I love the fact that you explained all of this. When you talk about incentives, it scares me sometimes, to be honest with you. The car rental companies are by far the worst. I have traveled over 4 million or 5 million air miles. I have always rented a car. Every single month, I get this thing like, “You have earned a free day here and there.” It’s Avis, Hertz and all these companies. I have yet to be able to cash in once. They will have something like, “You can participate in the locations only. If you rent it for seven days, you get the one.” It’s impossible to use it. I like to throw it out. I don’t even bother with that anymore.

You’ve got to stay relevant with technology and automation.

Going back to your value-add, I like the business model that you have. Number one, I agree with you that if pricing is your primary way of competing with your competitors and hopefully, you have a lot of competitors, you will go out of business. It’s a matter of when. It’s not if unless you use that as a tie-over to come up with new products or services. Value-add is the way to go, in my opinion. Also, it’s every research. I was on HSN for many years. In those companies, they do a lot of research.

They try everything from free shipping to buy one, get one free to price-off. They are on 24 hours a day with all of the different products. I do know that incentives and value-adds work even for a higher price. As long as the perceived value is lower, they will still buy. If you are a small entrepreneur, the best way you can compete with even bigger companies is to build an incredible personal brand that people learn to trust, love and respect you. They amplify your voice by talking to other people about it.

After COVID, everybody wants to travel. I’m here in California. We are stuck here probably forever, especially for someone like myself who used to travel quite a bit. I love all the different cultures. It’s one of my favorite places. It’s such a beautiful place with beautiful people. Adding that is great. The trick is learning how to use it carefully so that you tie every incentive that goes out of your door with the maximum amount of actions. You would have to play with it a little bit.

If you are running a photography studio, every time you refer somebody, you can get a stamp or maybe it could be every referral over so many dollars. Not having to come up with your own incentive is a huge thing. Also, not having an incentive that competes with your future revenue is the other thing. I love what you are doing, your message, and everything you have done since you were nine years old. I hope you continue doing these amazing things. If you had to give advice to my readers that we haven’t covered so far, what would that be?

It’s how you stand out from the crowd. I could give you a couple of case studies as an example. One of my clients gave me an example. He has a subscription service. He has a team of guys in Asia who are studying the stock market and the Bitcoin market. They give you advanced tips on when you should buy and sell. He sells this service on Telegram. He has got everybody signed up through Telegram. It’s the new social network. They pay him $97 a month for access to his tips on when to buy, sell and everything else.

He built that up. He only started the business in January of 2021. He ended up with hundreds of clients paying him this. He went and offered a Marketing Boost incentive. He went to say, “If you pay for the annual plan without discounting and pay for twelve months in advance, I will give you a complimentary trip to your choice of five nights in Cancún or Hawaii. If you pay for six months in advance, we will give you 4 days and 3 nights in your choice of Las Vegas or Orlando.”

MDH 56 | Value Add Incentives

Value Add Incentives: You can’t just hand them out. You got to use these incentives when appropriate.

 

With Marketing Boost, there are 125 destinations. It’s everywhere from 7 nights in Phuket, 4 nights in Bali, 3 nights in Orlando, 30 destinations in the US, and a bunch in Australia. We have clients with Marketing Boost all over the world. He did this promo. In four days, he had hundreds of them step up and pay the annual amount and another couple of hundred that paid the six-month deal.

He generated almost $500,000 in revenue in four days without discounting his own product and generating fresh new revenue. Clients committed to a year-loyalty program. It was a beautiful win-win for everybody. Now, he does that consistently. Every so often, he is running a promo cycle and offers another, “Pay for 12 or 6 months and get the following.”

A bunch of my clients used Marketing Boost to grow their Facebook groups, for example. Depending upon what business you are in, if you don’t have a Facebook group, I recommend you do. You asked me what do I recommend. Facebook group is huge to build your own audience and community where you are the authority and expert in your field, product line or whatever it might be. Build a Facebook group, and then you can be delivering content, messages, promo cycles and incentives.

What have they done to build the Facebook groups? They would invite their people who join and say, “If you invite 25 of your friends to join this group, you will be entered in to win a trip to Cancún.” They use the incentives, keep the perceived high value of the incentives and offer them special promotions here and there. They are getting everybody in a contest, “Invite people to the group and we will give you a win.”

I have one client who built it from 0 to 10,000 members in 90 days using the Marketing Boost incentives to build his Facebook group to over 10,000. I have other members who have over 100,000 members in their groups in the travel business. They use these incentives to grow their Facebook group. I would recommend to clients to stay relevant with technology and automate. You’ve got to have a good CRM platform of some kind. There are so many tools that are out there.

Don’t try to do it all by yourself.

You do have to invest in software, tools, and technologies that are available to small entrepreneurs that are affordable and make such a big difference. Don’t try to do it all by yourself. Some of us small solopreneurs and entrepreneurs, what do we do? We try to be control freaks. We want to do everything that we think we do better than everybody else. You can’t grow if you are the only one on your team. You’ve got to find some virtual assistance, automate stuff and put your business on autopilot.

Thank you so much for everything that you have said. If you read Marco’s business model and some of the examples that he gave, not only are you going to get new customers but you are going to increase having your existing customers buy more. Ultimately, there are only two ways you can make money. It’s getting new customers or getting existing customers to buy more or do both. You are getting more of a premium type of customer. That customer you talked about in Singapore was helping people do Bitcoin.

Having the incentive tied to that is having them pay 1 year or 6 months in advance. These are people who are not looking to cut up their payments into six payments because they can’t afford it. They are a million-miler. That’s who you are getting by having that incentive. It’s up to you how you can almost control the layers. By understanding who those people are, you can then offer them upsells and product lines as well. Thank you so much, Marco, for sharing your time and expertise. I’m excited for all of you to go to his site.

I do have a special offer for your readers. If they go to MarketingBoost.com/podcast, they can get 30 days of Marketing Boost for $1. After that, it’s $37 a month. If you go to MarketingBoost.com, you will get a seven-day free trial but here it’s a special offer. It’s a no-brainer to log in and check it out. The only reason we do that is not to discount. We call it tripwire to get you in the door, sign up for the dollar, and get a chance to review the site. You can give yourself one of the complimentary trips and check it out. We know that you are going to love it. You will probably keep it for years to go.

Thank you so much for your time. Everybody, go check out Marco’s site. Stay healthy and happy. I wish all of your professional and personal dreams come true in the year 2022.

Important Links:

About Marco Torres

MDH 56 | Value Add IncentivesMarco Torres is the Founder of MarketingBoost.com, he has helped thousands of business owners worldwide boost sales and scale their businesses by as much as 5-fold through the use of incentive-based marketing. He teaches entrepreneurs how to soar sales & marketing through the use of “Value-Add-Incentives” instead of discounts. His Facebook Group is home to more than 27,000 active business owners who are raking in sales with his advice and amazingly affordable subscription program.

MDH 55 | Travel Blogger Tips

 

MDH 55 | Travel Blogger Tips

 

You can always do what you love and still make a living. Victoria Wieck introduces Isabel Leong, a successful travel blogger who loves giving tips to help others succeed. Isabel became a travel blogger by following her passion for curiosity and travel. She learned how to get her blog noticed on the Internet by mastering SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and hacking the social media game.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Isabel Leong – Travel Blogger’s Tips On How To Get Noticed On the Internet

I know that all of us have New Year’s resolutions. New year, new you, and new goals. We’ve got new priorities. If you always dreamt about living a life of a traveler, wanderer or doing what you want to do with your life and be free, I have somebody who has turned her dream into real life. Her name is Isabel Leong. She is chatting with us from Peru. I will have Isabel tell you about how she was able to turn her dream into a true reality. Without further ado, welcome to the show. Happy New Year to you, Isabel.

Thanks for having me. It has been a pleasure.

A lot of people, especially people your age, dream about going to all these other countries. Travel seems to be glamorous. You are probably like me because you travel a lot. I have this undying curiosity about how other people live before me, relationships, food, cuisine, and colors they come up with. It’s amazing to go from place to place and most people can’t do that. They only dream about it. This is why all the travel blogs and magazines are popular. Tell me a little bit about how you came about doing that. Did you wake up one morning and say, “I’m tired of this. I’m going to get up and start traveling?” Was this a planned life decision?

It’s an accumulation of different circumstances that happened to me. I always loved traveling but it was this one experience that opened my eyes to a whole different way of living. That is when I booked a one-way ticket to Europe. I’m from Singapore, Asia. I haven’t been that far before. I did a semester exchange in France. That was when I did this big, bold step to travel so far on my own and live in Europe like a local.

I was a student back then. I had a student budget. I was utilizing different methods and ways of living. One of which was CouchSurfing. This helped me immerse in the culture because you are living with a local. You are listening to their stories. They don’t go to tourist places. They go to local places to explore, eat and hang out. Also, this opened my eyes to the different occupations that they were doing to make a living.

Coming from Singapore, where it’s so technologically advanced, most of the education style was trying to educate you into a full-time corporate job because that’s where the opportunities lie. It was through talking to artists, musicians, and people with alternative lifestyles that made me realize, “I don’t necessarily have to follow this one straight path of working in a corporate job. I can always do what I love and still make a living, even if I’m not rich.” That awakened me when I started traveling.

You don’t necessarily have to follow this one straight path of working in a corporate job. You can always do what you love and still make a living.

I started a travel blog for the purpose of documenting my travels and pictures. I’m trying to share my itinerary with other people who are traveling in the same shoes as me. That was how the travel blog was formed, Bel Around The World. When I came back, it was a hobby blog because back then, in 2015, there were not many profiles that have turned a full-time lifestyle with travel blogging alone. I still had to work a full-time job but I never enjoyed the corporate life.

There was one opportunity at the end of 2017 that offered me a free-pass trip to New Zealand. They were gathering a bunch of journalists on an all-expense trip to cover different highlights and spots in New Zealand. As journalists, we were supposed to cover and promote the destination. I thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, especially for such a small blogger like me back then. That was the other pivoting point where I threw in my resignation letter and decided to embark on this journey full-time and take travel blogging seriously.

Thank you for sharing that. I wrote a bunch of things on you because you unloaded some incredible nuggets here. Number one, coming from Singapore, there’s this notion by a lot of people all around the world. They don’t realize how technologically advanced Asia is as a whole continent. I remember when I was in Japan in the year 2010. I would go to a bank. They had this thing that came out and took a picture of your pupils. You don’t have to put a PIN code, ID or anything like that. They were already using touchless menus with their iPads way back then.

In most high-end Asian hotels, you go there and put your key into the thing. It automatically gets all your temperature. A lot of people don’t realize how advanced Asia is. It’s such an adjustment when you come back to the States that still have turnkeys or key codes that you have to log that stuff. Aside from that, I love how you started. I’m a huge believer in being authentic, honest, and doing something because you love to do it. It’s not because you are getting paid a lot of money or there was any thought.

You started your travel blog to document your travels and share it so other people can follow that path or get something out of that. You shared that originality and authenticity freely. There was no expectation of making money. A lot of times, a lot of bloggers will make money with the expectations of making money. They are down to like, “How many words? How much time can I spend on those words?” They look at keyword searches. Pretty much after reading the blog, you know if it’s a paid blogger.

You started pretty much wanting to help other people in documenting. You were so happy and joyful about what you were doing that you shared it. It’s amazing when you write these blogs, even if you are not a professional writer. Those feelings pop off the page. People get attracted to that. It doesn’t matter if you make a few mistakes, grammatical errors or the thoughts aren’t always put together like a fine arts writer.

MDH 55 | Travel Blogger Tips

Travel Blogger Tips: Start creating content so you can learn as you go.

 

The last thing you said was that you wanted to travel, be free, and do your thing, even if you are not going to be rich. There’s a lot of wisdom to that as well. How do you define the word rich? There’s richness in the life that you live. You gained richness. I like everything that you have said. What I want to talk about is from that start, what you are doing now and how you can help my audience. A lot of people in my audience dream about doing that but the reality is they might have four kids or a job that they have to sustain themselves. Quite a few of my readers are female entrepreneurs juggling a lot. They are the glue to the society here.

Along the way, you learned what is working in terms of social media, blogging and SEO. All of that came into the picture because you now have a substantial following. It’s something like 50,000 people. It’s not 5 million but I always say, “I would rather have 50,000 loyal people who follow and connect with you than 5 million followers that you don’t know who they are.” Tell me a little bit about how you help other people get visibility and get noticed in this world of the internet where very few people get noticed unless they spend an absolute fortune for it.

I have to share how I’ve got there. I was writing freely and experimenting with different ideas. I was writing different articles, how-tos, things to do, and where to visit. Beyond everything that you have to do as a blogger growing your social following and creating videos, I found that the easiest way for me to get traffic was through SEO, Search Engine Optimization. Thanks to SEO that I have been able to get consistent traffic, not counting the pandemic because the pandemic made my traffic drop to 75%.

Beyond that, it has always been steadily increasing. Thanks to the knowledge of SEO and being able to write with proper keywords in mind. During the pandemic, I have decided to pivot towards becoming more of an educator because I felt like I had already mastered everything through all those years of blogging. I found that SEO is the key ingredient for growing your traffic quickly, even if you are a small business owner or if you have started a blog. I created a free SEO course for your audience. I’m happy to share about it.

It’s very important to focus on SEO because if anyone wants to grow a business and monetize with a blog, it always takes traffic and lead generation. That comes from new organic traffic. With more traffic, you will then be able to monetize your site with maybe ads or have more sponsored opportunities because your blog has a following and has gained credibility. That’s why I’m starting to offer more SEO-related tips to share with my audience.

The easiest way to get traffic is through SEO.

It’s interesting because SEO is something that we all understand but none of us really understand it. I’m in jewelry design. It’s a very different thing than engineering, even though I use a lot of designing software for that. What Isabel is trying to say is that, whether you are on social media, you’ve got a website or whatever it is that you do, you need to get some visibility. When somebody searches your topic, you want to pop up there. A lot of people are shy or they turn away from SEO because they feel they all believe in it. Therefore, they spend all this money trying to impact their visibility and haven’t gotten anywhere.

You said another thing that’s interesting. During the pandemic, something like March of 2020 to December of 2021, there have been billions of dollars a month of increase in coaching. People who have no business and don’t know what they are doing are coaching. People who barely learned how to do something on Google are now teaching masterminds. It happened with SEO people way back when people who barely knew a little bit more than other people were collecting money to tell you what to do with SEO.

With everything in life, there’s a shortcut. There’s a more direct but more efficient way to get something done. In your SEO, you help small business people who don’t have a huge budget to be able to do what they can to get visibility so that you can get more money to your site and traffic. Blogging, social media, and everything impact your SEO, whether you know this or not. For your SEO, you’ve got BelAroundTheWorld.com/sign-up-seo.

I love what you are doing, which is you are still living the life you want to live. You are in Peru. A lot of people can’t even travel because of all the travel restrictions. That’s one thing I do miss too because I’m somebody who is very curious. I have friends all over the world. I envy you for being in Peru. We are talking about all the seafood. Peruvian seafood is great. The art goes back thousands of years. That’s great, too. If you had to give small business owners a couple of tips or one advice who wants to do what you do, what would your advice be?

Start now. A lot of people put off starting a blog and creating a website because they think that there are a bunch of technical jargon and settings that they don’t understand. You have to start creating content so that you can learn as you go. As you apply the methods and new learnings that you have learned, you will slowly improve the website. With patience, your lead generation will start coming in. People will start visiting your blog traffic as long as you are putting out quality content and it comes from the heart, sharing what you know and providing the best value to your target audience.

I’m glad you said that. I love that advice you gave, “Get started.” I do a lot of coaching of young female entrepreneurs. That’s exactly the experience I have had. A lot of people are like, “I don’t know how to get started. It might take me $4,000 or all these hours. I don’t know what I’m doing.” A lot of times, when you start a business, many people start their businesses and then they realize, “I thought I was going to sell baked croissants but what they really want were sandwiches.” They will say something like, “I wanted haircare for women who have dry hair when I found out that women want healthy hair.”

MDH 55 | Travel Blogger Tips

Travel Blogger Tips: With more traffic, you’ll be able to monetize your site with ads or have more sponsors.

 

The point is that when you start your business, you might have to pivot a few times. If you spend all that money upfront on all the wrong, there’s more than a 50% chance that you can start. Maybe you are selling haircare and you love it. It’s organic and everybody loves their stuff but there’s a competitor down the street who does it for half the price or whatever it is.

You might have to pivot a few times but you don’t know that until you get started and put out what you have. I know people who have to pivot twelve different times before they come up with something. You can make those changes as you get some feedback. Get started. Now is a better time than any other time before. For people who want to find your blog or read about you, what is the name of the blog?

It’s BelAroundTheWorld.com. You can find me on all social platforms. I’m present on all of them. If you have any direct questions, you can always DM me on either platform.

Check her travel life out, even if you can’t get to these exotic places. Singapore is one of the places I want to go to. It was far-off. I used to do trips to Asia 5 to 6 times a year. It’s a whole other continent by itself. I’ve never got there and I would love to do that. To all of you who are reading, thank you so much for reading another episode.

If you like what you are reading in this episode or any other episode, please be sure to subscribe and share it so that more can benefit from that. Don’t forget to sign up for all of the free classes on the Victoria Wieck website as well, VictoriaWieck.com. Thank you so much, Isabel, for coming all the way from Peru. I appreciate your time and knowledge. You have inspired all of us.

Thanks for having me.

Important Links:

About Isabel Leong

MDH 55 | Travel Blogger Tips Full-time travel blogger and SEO coach roaming the world at whim, I draw energy from being outdoors. An explorer at heart, the world is my playground. I help aspiring bloggers and brands get the most out of their online presence and financial freedom by ranking on Google faster w SEO and expose millennial travellers to experiences beyond their imaginations.

MDH 54 | Amplify Your Brand

MDH 54 | Amplify Your Brand

Your brand is the epitome of your business. It is what makes you unique and what attracts people to your product. So, what can you do to attract people? How do you amplify your brand? Victoria Wieck discusses this and more with the founder of PodMatch, Alex Sanfilippo. Alex discusses his early forays into entrepreneurship, keeping a day one mentality, and creating solutions for customer problems. Learn more about amplifying your brand and how the popular platform is connecting podcast host and guests.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Amplify Your Brand With PodMatch With Alex Sanfilippo

I have Alex Sanfilippo, who started the PodMatch. It’s the service that I often use to find you these amazing guests. Once I started PodMatch, I’ve got addicted to it. I’m so excited to be interviewing Alex because, as crazy as it sounds, he’s built a whole platform. His backstory, how he came about creating PodMatch, and all that you are going to find that interesting, informative and encouraging. Without further ado, I would like to welcome Alex.

Alex, welcome to the show.

Victoria, thank you so much for having me here. I appreciate it.

In your bio, there’s something I didn’t think about before. You started your business at age ten. The entrepreneurship desire or blood runs through your veins. Tell me a little bit about your backstory. What did you do in your childhood? A lot of times, your early years shaped what you do later on in life. Do you want to share a little bit about yourself?

I completely agree with that statement. At one point in my life, I did some reflecting back to my childhood to rediscover who I was but that’s an important practice for anybody to do. For me, at ten years old and most people hear this, they were like, “What on Earth was this guy doing at ten?” I was selling used golf balls.

Across the street from the house that I grew up in, there was a golf course. What I did was I started collecting golf balls and selling them. It was interesting, though, because at ten years old, I was a very self-aware child, which may be strange for a ten-year-old. I had three younger brothers, and we had a bunch of neighborhood friends. A lot of them are good at sports and others are good at school. They are very smart. Most of them were good at video games at that point.

All these different kids were good at these different things. I realized that I wasn’t good at those things. It didn’t necessarily depress me. It made me wonder where I fit in. That’s super weird for a ten-year-old kid to be that self-aware but that’s how I felt. The first time I picked up a golf ball and a golfer offered to buy it from me for $3, it was Titleist Pro V1, which is an expensive ball. I’m not a golfer myself. I knew how to sell used golf balls as a kid. As soon as I did that, I realized, “Maybe I should find more of these.” What I realized I enjoyed wasn’t even making the money. It was the art of building some system that drives a profit.

I started recruiting my brothers and some of the friends in the neighborhood, saying, “Let’s go through the lakes, get some guys to clean the golf balls, get some to organize them into different bins, and then set up a time and day that we can sell these things back to the golfers.” That’s what I did for a couple of years, from 10 to 12. For the first time in my life, I know it was very young, I discovered something that I was good at. It was the art of business.

Blogging doesn’t capture the same essence as a podcast.

In that ten-year-old mind, you were doing what a modern entrepreneur has to do, which is find a product that has that in demand, figure out the price and find a bunch of people that’s going to help you. You were like a little boss of that thing that was going on. You were the CEO of the ten-year-old crowds. That’s astonishing.

In our schools, unfortunately, we teach Math, Science and all these things that have numbers. We don’t teach Entrepreneurship or relationship to money, Finances, and how much you have to work to buy something. I wish somebody would go and teach that in school. Fast forward a little bit. You are a ten-year-old child selling Titleist Pro V1 for $3. $3 to a 10-year-old kid is a lot of money. Once you get a little taste of that, you want to multiply that. You then found different systems in your life. Tell us what happened after that. What was your second venture?

You can only sell golf balls that are used back to the golfers that hit them in the lakes for so long until you are not cute anymore that they want to punch you for taking their golf ball to the lake. From about 10 to 12, I was doing that. The truth is some guy came through on his golf cart. He liked the collection of golf balls we had so much. He said he would buy them all if we would go ahead and close down. At that point, we had 600 or 700 golf balls. At the end of the day, he finished his round of golf. He came, picked them all up, paid me and the neighborhood guys for them. At that point, we were like, “It’s a good time to stop. We were done.” That was my first and only successful exit.

I was getting into high school or late middle school. As I’ve got into my late teens, I had an opportunity to do some work in real estate. I wasn’t good at video games but I was good at computers. There was a friend of my dad who was starting a company where they were trying to create these virtual tours of homes, which we all see them. You look home on Zillow or something like that. You can drag the mouse around, see the roof and the whole room.

We were building those tours. He brought me on as a contractor, saying, “Let’s work together.” I had my company, he had his. I started hiring photographers and editors. We started building these virtual tours for the MLS directly. We were posting on the MLS every single day because we became in high demand fast. That was a fun thing for me. I was seventeen when I started that.

It was cool because when I looked at it, I also had a remote team. None of us worked in an office like everyone worked in their places. We were using AIM back then to instant message back and forth. That’s how we were communicating throughout the day. That was another fun experience for me to learn the business and see how something could run, operate and grow. At this point, I was also paying taxes.

At ten years old, you started your company, then you had a successful exit. What I find astonishing about the whole story that you have told is the MLS having the virtual tours and all of that, we take it for granted. I sold my home in Las Vegas at a very substantial price, and the person never saw it. They felt comfortable enough. They were able to go up to the roof, do all that, and be able to see the whole house without being there.

MDH 54 | Amplify Your Brand

Amplify Your Brand: We identified the problem and decided to create a solution for it. That’s where PodMatch came from.

 

With COVID, they couldn’t travel, so they bought the house unseen. When you did that technology, the idea of touring a home at any price, $200,000, $300,000, $1 million, that would be unthinkable. You did it because you believed in it, and you felt that the world was going to have to go that way at some point. You had a pulse on what was going on, and you were a few steps ahead of the rest of the world.

That’s important. I’m going to fast forward a little bit more because you have done other things in between compared to what you are doing, which I’m excited about. I’m an avid user of PodMatch. You created a platform for podcasters. I have to tell you that the podcasting industry is exploding. Back in 1998, when HSN first called me and they said, “We are the home shopping network,” I was like, “You are what? Is that some kind of a club?” I had no clue what was going on.” Remember, in ’98, they had a 1-800 number at the catalogs. I thought that would be the next revolution.

With you, podcasting is exploding. It makes complete sense that there are more people at home listening. We all want to educate ourselves. It’s only a twenty-minute investment. Everything is free out there like most podcasts are free to listen to. If you are going to be a successful podcaster, it takes an enormous amount of time to find the right guest for your show. I know a lot of famous people but they are not necessarily right for my show.

My show is about transformation stories. A lot of times, it’s the lesser-known people that have done some extraordinary things. You created a platform, so people like us can go find somebody easily at my fingertips at night. After everybody has gone to bed, I can do this in twenty minutes at a time. Tell me a little bit about how and why you created all of this. How long did it take for you to do this?

Thank you for being a member of PodMatch. You are a great supporter. My day has been made talking to you. I appreciate that. I’ve got into podcasting years before I started PodMatch, me as an individual, with my show. I saw that was an industry that was taking off. I didn’t do it, so I could become famous or anything like that. I wanted to have conversations with people and record them somehow. Before that, I did a bit of blogging. As much as I love blogging, it didn’t capture the same essence. When you do a written interview back and forth, it’s not the same.

I was like, “This audio platform has been great for me. I have been listening for years. While I’m in the gym or running, I listen to podcasts.” I decided, “I want to start my show.” Right when I started, I noticed something interesting. People that are in podcasting are very kind. A lot of other show hosts that I meet are so nice. That made me want to get even more into the industry. When I was starting to take off, that’s when I decided, “I’m going to do anything I can to support this industry.” It’s going to grow. If there was a business starting in here, it’s not going to crash in a year or two. Someday, podcasting might be a thing of the past but it’s still on the up and up.

I made it a devotion at that point to find something that could do to help the industry. The way I did it is a simple framework. I’m passionate about podcasting. I found the people that made up the ecosystem of it. I asked the hosts, “What are you struggling with?” It can be tough going in looking for guests when you are not sure if people even want to be on shows.

It can be tough going in looking for guests when you’re not sure if people even want to be on shows.

We’ve all got a cousin or a friend that started a business that could jump on our shows, maybe but finding those people who are saying, “I’m looking for shows. I have a message that will resonate well with your listeners.” That’s not easy to find. I identified that problem and decided to create a solution for it. That’s where PodMatch came from.

Like your golf ball story, you found a need that could be in high demand and a friction point. I love PodMatch because it is so simple, the diversity of the people that are there, and the shows as well. I agree with you on the caliber of people within the podcast industry. The TV industry is completely different. It is so catty and the most cutthroat business. People always ask me, “How do you ever survive twenty years of TV?” It’s either you do not have a pulse, have to be so numb or don’t see anything.

When I’ve got into podcasting, people were so nice. They were offering me everything. My microphone was all set up by people that didn’t charge me a penny. They gave me their heart and soul. “You understand video but in audio, you’ve got to do this and that.” Everything was free. I love that community of people that give their all.

The other thing about the podcasting platform is that it’s true that video has a lot more impact. If I was watching a YouTube video, I can’t be driving. If I’m driving to San Diego, that’s 2 hours that I can listen to 4 different podcasts but I can’t watch a single video because you are going to get into a car accident if you were watching that.

The platform is great. As far as creating this platform, without giving away your preparatory sequence, was it hard to come up with a technology piece? You’ve got the technology piece in terms of how the software works behind the scenes. You’ve got to go find all these podcasters, and then you have to find all the potential guests. All these other pieces have to come in. How difficult was that to coordinate all that? How much time did it take? Is it 2 years, 2 months, 20 years?

The timing in business is so important. It’s the number one factor if you ask Bill Gross. He’s the unicorn billionaire. He started seven multibillion-dollar companies or something like that. He says that timing is the most important factor. We happened to be at the right time. I’m not saying we couldn’t do it again. I say we because I have a Cofounder.

For me, I am more on the sales side of things. I’m customer service. I can build systems. I understand how the industry works. I have a friend that is someone that I knew for years. He and I had always planned on working together at some point. As matter of fact, we did one other project together years prior, and it was cool. We had good synergy.

MDH 54 | Amplify Your Brand

Amplify Your Brand: We believe that podcasting is a great medium for people to get their independent voices out there. Unfortunately, 90% of podcasts don’t make it past their first year.

 

When I had this idea, it was right after PodFest 2020. It was the last in-person conference ever. I spoke at that conference, and that’s where I’ve got the idea for it. Identified the problem. I said, “I’m going to build a solution for us.” I came home that next week. On March 10th, 2020, I wrote it all out on three whiteboards. I immediately picked up my phone and called that friend. I said, “Jesse, I don’t know if you can work part-time on a project but I would love to do something with you.” It was crazy. That was a Tuesday. That Sunday night, he finished a multi-year project that he had been working on. He was like, “I’ve got capacity.”

What we did is we drafted up documentation saying we are 50/50 partners and decided to run with it. March 10th, 2020, is when we started working on it and launched an early beta on June 10th, 2020. It’s a few short months from start to finish. He is brilliant. He was able to save us a lot of money by doing that. We bootstrapped with $5,000 each of us, put $2,500 into account, and we went for it.

I wish you and your friend, Jesse, all the luck in the world. Let me give you some encouragement, not that you need it but I was at a Harvard Business School Reunion. Harvard Business School makes you go back to class once you have been there all that time. They had a panel of graduates that have been out of school for years. They talked about what are your challenges and so forth.

They had Harvard alumni from Google, Apple, Facebook, and all these different companies that are running our world seemingly. They asked them, “What keeps you up at night?” The answer was that we all work for a founder that started their company with under $5,000 in their garage. I didn’t think about it that way but it’s true. Apple started with less than $5,000 as well. You fit that bill exactly.

That’s good to know. That encouragement goes a long way. Thank you.

I thought that you might find that comparison very timely. When it comes to how you and Jesse and how you feel like you were at the right place at the right time, I also feel that way a lot of times about my little successes. Every time I hit a milestone, I would think, “I lucked out.” I like to also believe that it’s a preparation meeting opportunity because we are all here at the same time at the same place but you had the ideas, which not all of us had. You took action on that. It could be a divine alignment of some sort of a preparation meeting opportunity.

Kudos to you and Jesse. You have created a brand called Creating a Brand. You want it to make it simple. I love that you are a customer-centric company. That’s how Amazon made this very simple for their customers. You are rebranding into PodPros. It’s PodPros.com. What’s next for PodMatch and PodPros?

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

You are the first person to ever announce that company name. I have never said it to anyone other than you, so thank you for being that person. There’s something that I want to mention real quick. It goes back to something that Leonardo da Vinci said. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” It’s something that many of us need to remember because PodMatch is a complex system.

If you look through the backend code like me, it made my head explode seeing all that. In a day, we had one problem to solve, which is can we get the right guests in front of the right host and vice versa? At the end of the day, could we simply do that and continuously improve that process to make it faster and more streamlined? I look at the different things that I’m doing. I had to have a real “come to Jesus moment,” as I call it. For me, it was a time in prayer. “God, I’m doing too much. I’ve got my podcast. I have podcasts, PodMatch, and these other companies that we are reaching out and starting.”

I did that deep self-reflection and realized, “This is going to get complicated and cumbersome for other people to try to understand what I even do.” That’s why we decided to rebrand under PodPros. The idea was to bring it back to a simplistic form. What’s adding the most value to the people that we care about the most? Let’s focus on that one thing. PodcastSOP is a new company that we are launching. It’s project management software specifically for podcasters.

A lot of new ones are using sticky notes and word documents. They are trying to keep it organized. We want to help people do that easily because I feel the same way about this. We believe that podcasting is a great medium for people to get their independent voices out there. Unfortunately, 90% of podcasts don’t make it past their first year. It’s only 10% that make it. I wanted to help and see more people through that first year, so they can continue adding that value to people’s lives. Our big focus is we continue helping more podcasters get their message out there to the world.

I’m 1 of the 50 beta testing people. Before PodMatch, I was using 4 or 5 different software. You are using scheduling software, organization software, and all of the bios. It’s a whole amount of work. A lot of podcasts start as a side hustle. They don’t start as monetizing it. Most podcasters start because they are passionate about something and want to help people. Ninety percent of them don’t make it. I’m with you on that. I like to see that percentage go higher. If you think about it, 90% is almost the same as any other small business. It takes a lot of discipline and understanding the basics, who are your target audience, and all that stuff as well.

You have been in the industry for a while, and you are also seeing some of the mistakes that podcasters make. Going back to what you, Leonardo da Vinci said about simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, I agree with that but I also want to tell you one thing. One of my favorite quotes is by Winston Churchill. He said something to the effect that, “Success is not final, and failure is not fatal.” A lot of people think that failure is not fatal is what they focus on. I like to think about success is not final because you had a very successful platform. There was nothing like PodMatch a year ago.

You continue to evolve because success is not final. A lot of times, when people are successful, they are so busy protecting that success or using that success to live their life however they want to live that they forget to evolve. One thing I noticed about PodMatch almost every time I’m on vacation or something, I come back and shut my brain off for a little bit, you have improved the site, again and again, everything from visual to how it operates, how we upload our bios and link our calendar. Since I became a PodMatch member in maybe April or May 2021, you have gone through many different upgrades already. Kudos to there as well.

MDH 54 | Amplify Your Brand

Amplify Your Brand: If you continuously have that mindset of “I’m doing this for that ideal listener,” and you find that narrow niche to really focus in, you’re going to do really well in podcasting.

 

That has been something that we wanted to always do. We asked the members that use it, “What works? What doesn’t?” We let them help us with the roadmap but the idea is to focus on continuous improvement. Jeff Bezos made this famous. We didn’t come up with it but his whole concept is, “Always day one.” We can’t ever let people decide. We can’t ever decide internally like, “We have made it. We have arrived. It’s day two.” It’s always day one, which means we are always on the ground floor getting started, and that’s always the mentality that we are going to keep.

What is your advice to a brand-new podcaster starting out facing that 90% failure rate?

The very first thing you have to do is develop a strong why for yourself. “Why are you podcasting?” If it’s something like, “I want to make money. I want 1,000 or 10 million downloads,” or whatever it might be, those reasons might be a little bit too shallow. They are not bad. They can be part of it but you need to begin with, “Who are you serving? Who’s going to be that person listening?” That comes in form of identifying what I call an avatar, which is your most ideal listener. Come up with one person. This is someone who would listen and anybody like them. Develop a strong why around that.

What I would recommend doing is if you have unspecific goals, you are going to have specific results. That has always been true. If it’s day one you are starting, determine that why. Decide what you want the avatar to have learned twelve months from now. Think 365 days in advance. Let’s say they are with you from day one until then. Where do you want them to have gone on their journey as a direct result of listening to you? If you continuously have that mindset of, “I’m doing this for that ideal listener,” and you find that narrow niche to focus in, you are going to do well in podcasting.

If people want to find you, other than PodPros.com, is there any other place that they can connect you with?

Thankfully, that’s it. I commend you for how organized you are. Another thing that helps podcasters is the organization. You are the most organized host I have ever had the opportunity to be a guest with. Also, you do a great job with the show. I’m a reader myself. You had an episode with Nathan Bynum about how to build a website to test your products. It’s a brilliant conversation. I recommend the readers go check that one out if they haven’t read it. I appreciate you having me here and what you are doing with the show.

Thank you so much. Good luck to you. If you ever need feedback from some of the podcasters, make sure to reach out to me. I’ve got a lot to say.

It’s always day one, which means we’re always on the ground floor getting started. That’s the mentality that we’re going to keep.

You’ve got very valid feedback. I appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Thank you for reading this episode. If you haven’t rated and reviewed my show, please go ahead and do so. Please stay happy, healthy. Remember, happiness is your choice. I hope you make optimistic choices.

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About Alex Sanfilippo

Alex Sanfilippo is the host of the top-rated entrepreneurship podcast, Creating a Brand, and the founder of two podcasting software’s, PodMatch.com, a service that matches podcast guests and hosts together for interviews and PodcastSOP, a project management software that is specifically for podcasters to help them keep episode releases on track!

MDH 53 | Dream Exchange

MDH 53 | Dream Exchange

 

As an entrepreneur, it’s very important that you know why you are doing what you’re doing. Because that is what investors will look at. If you are a small business trying to raise capital, then this episode will be a treat! Funding the future, Joe Cecala founded Dream Exchange. And he sits down with Victoria Wieck to share how you can attract investors as a small business. Remember, investors invest in passion. If they wanted sure cash flow, they would’ve bought themselves an apartment complex. Learn how to build those investor relationships so that you can make your dreams come true. Join this conversation as Joe provides practical steps to raising capital.

Watch the episode here:


 

Listen to the podcast here:

The Dream Exchange – How To Attract Investors For Your Idea Or Business With Joe Cecala

As I say, week after week, there are two reasons why most small businesses fail. The first reason is lack of funding and the second reason is lack of visibility. That’s my opinion. It’s not something that’s widely understood, but many of you who are tuning in to this show probably can relate to that. At some point in your life, you’ve probably gone through that phase or maybe you’re in that now.

My guest Joe Cecala is an amazing person and also has extreme expertise because this guy has done everything. He has written articles, helped people and had a fund in the stock exchange. I thought I’d invite him over and see what it takes to get some money for your businesses. Without further ado, we’ll get into Joe’s credentials and all the things he’s done, how he became the expert and how he helps you. I want to welcome him and have him tell his story because I think it’s a lot more interesting when it tells you his story rather than me relating it to you. Welcome to the show, Joe.

Thank you so much. Thank you for having me. I’m looking forward to sharing my story. Your audience and the entrepreneurial world are my million-dollar passion.

It’s helping other people with the credentials you have and all the things you’ve accomplished. I’ve been on TV for many years and I’ve met a lot of famous people. I’m not just tooting my horn, but what I want to tell you is that I’ve never known anyone who has written an article in the Oxford University’s Handbook. In fact, I know only two people who went to Oxford. One of them was on a tourist visa vacation and the other one actually attended the school.

You’ve done all of this work. Tell me a little bit about your early background because sometimes your early life shapes what you do later on down the line. Is there any point in your life that shaped you in the financial world and specifically, how you have now shared that knowledge to enable hundreds or thousands of people to transform their lives?

I grew up in North Austin in Chicago, which is widely regarded as one of the most violent and suppressed areas in our country. I’m not a child of privilege. My father was a union worker. I’m born out of hardworking people. I was among the first two people in my family to go to college, go to professional school and become a lawyer.

In many years of my career, I spent representing Angel investors and venture capitalists to evaluate the companies that they were going to invest in. The bulk of my career was representing people with money on how they view a small company or a small opportunity to see how it would proceed. What shaped me was I began to notice that the best ideas and the best companies are not necessarily born of the best pedigree. They come from everywhere. They come from small communities. Entrepreneurs are every one of us now.

The best ideas and companies are not necessarily born of the best pedigree. They come from everywhere.

I began to realize that what we have to do as finance professionals is to help the investors to locate the most imaginative best companies, and usually, when we do that, we find that those are products and services that help the world survive better. The invention of things comes from every area in all walks of life. The things that we need to help one another get along, live a better and more easy life are not always born in expensive laboratories somewhere.

I took my experiences in life and started to channel them into using finance and the expertise that I have in helping those companies learn a very valuable process of how to communicate with investors and how to keep graduating to ever-increasingly more investment funds. The two problems you outlined, at least one of them could disappear entirely, which is we don’t want the ideas to die by virtue of a lack of our own dedication to funding them. That’s how we’ve gotten here.

First of all, for those of you who are reading, I didn’t mention this, but Joe is a licensed CPA and a lawyer. He’s in a perfect position to give you the straightforward financials, but also the legal side of this because anytime and every time you raise money, you put anything on paper. If you try to go get a loan for a home nowadays, it’s like a fund book of things that you have to sign. Having that legal background and making sure that there’s 100% transparency for both the venture capitalist who is investing money in you, as well as the person who is seeking funding, you’re in that perfect position to see potential problems down the road, so you don’t have to go and hire a separate lawyer.

The other thing I love about what you’ve done is that when you were working for this venture capitalist, you had a front seat on what they’re looking for, how they view your type of business and when they’re most likely to fund something. I’m not a venture capitalist. I’ve never looked for money. I should have, but I have not. What are venture capitalists looking for? Is there a good time versus a less desirable time to look for funding?

There is no time like the present. What you have to evaluate is what stage of development you are in, which will then inform you as to what type of investor is needed at your stage. For example, the very earliest stage companies, the Angel investor, people like to call it the family and friends’ rounds of money that those initial launch monies seed investing. It’s always a good practice to begin the communication and transparency.

I can’t emphasize transparency enough, especially the early-stage investor. If they understand your obstacles well and you’re honest about your obstacles, it’s my experience for all the years I’ve been doing this that the investor is rooting for you, especially if they are interested in the investment. That’s the first evaluation. If you’re making something or you have a technology or you’re creating some particular product, those early investors have to be pioneers with you. They have to really have an interest in your version of what help is and then they’ll support you. They tend to support you through the earliest stage struggles.

That’s what’s in Oxford’s Handbook. When you look at what we’ve written, you can identify the particular characteristics of companies that make it. You have to do a bit of your own self-study. There are organizations like ours that are willing to help with that, but the answer is there’s no time like the present and what you want to communicate first is the potential bigness of your idea. How imaginative are you? That’s what they’re interested in.

They’re not interested in something that is going to be average. They’re interested in the extraordinary and I find that there are tens of thousands of extraordinary people with extraordinary ideas, yet they get caught up in all the language of finance and the mechanics of financial data and the legalities. If you’re an entrepreneur, what you want to do is capture the goal of what you’re trying to accomplish in its biggest broadest sense and how your imagination supports that.

MDH 53 | Dream Exchange

Dream Exchange: As an entrepreneur, you want to capture the goal of what you’re trying to accomplish in its broadest sense. It’s how your imagination supports that that will generate interest.

 

That will generate the interest and once the interest is there, be transparent as to what the barriers and obstacles in the road ahead are so you can keep people supporting you through those barriers and obstacles. That’s the primary help that we’re delivering in terms of financial literacy, education and connectivity between investors and entrepreneurs. When we’re all grown up, we’ll have a full-fledged small business stock exchange, but right now, in an immediate form, that’s how we’re helping the entrepreneur and the strategic investor or strategic consultant alike. We’re doing that now.

If you miss this, the one thing I’m going to direct all of you right now reading is to go to the Oxford University’s Handbook on IPO. It’s called the Main Street Growth Act H.R.2899. Is this on your website at DreamEx.com?

Yeah. You can also find links to the legislation.

I’ve been on TV for many years and the only reason I say that is because when you’re not transparent, people find out. You’re one click away from 100% transparent information all the time. The minute you’re not transparent about something, that’s either by misleading inaccurate information or omitting something altogether.

You then lose credibility on everything else you were saying. Transparency is a fair thing to do. I just sold a home in Las Vegas and I have to tell you, when we had to disclose all the things that were wrong with the house, it was 52 pages of a document that I didn’t even know, but I had to put myself in the shoes of the buyer when they come in, “Are these things that they would normally expect?”

It was a fairly large home. I went even as far as documenting where the ants come in when it rains because I didn’t want to be sued later on. I think that the transparency piece is very important, especially if they’re Angel investors. I love what you do and I would love to see a small dream stock exchange for small business owners because they have very specific needs that larger companies don’t have. They have the imagination, the drive and the passion, but the thing that they’re lacking is funding.

Most of the time, when you’re running a small business, unless you’re in the business of finance, we don’t think about finance the way that you guys do in the financial world. I don’t know how many times I talked to entrepreneurs that tell me, “I have so many more customers now than ever before it. My revenue is through the roof, but I don’t know why I have no money.” I’m like, “How is it that you don’t know you have any money?”

I want to emphasize this. It’s almost a little bit profound. It’s, “I’m generating so much interest. I’m generating so many sales, but the financial mechanics are taking over my life because I don’t have $2 million, $3 million and $5 million in profitability.” You’ll get pushed aside by many investors. What I want to say is that the world has changed. Tesla, the largest electronic auto manufacturer in the world, did not have a profitable quarter until last July 2021.

It’s a canary in the coal mine that shows what I’m trying to impart, which is the idea and the milestones toward accomplishing the idea are far more important, especially for the early-stage company than this overwhelming cashflow profitability. If you have an idea whose time has come, that’s of tremendous interest to investors. That’s why transparency is so important.

Investors are actually interested in why you do things, not how you do things.

If you tell them, “If you overcame these three obstacles, then this is how big this can become.” They want to know that. They don’t want to know that everything is fine, “Yes, sir, three bags full,” and I’ve found this to be the case very often. Small companies that are highly profitable are throwing off buckets and buckets of cash. They’re not looking for investors very often because they have cash.

What is the obstacle? The obstacle is, how can I get the funds to expand my idea because it’s bigger than merely, “Can I turn in immediate profit?” Throughout our world now, we know virtually how to solve anything. Human beings are ingenious. We can create solutions or how to solve a problem in hundreds of ways. What the investors are interested in when ideas become big is why. It’s not how we solve it. Why would we do this?

You talked about pets. I think George Carlin once made a joke that he brought home his kitten and he thought, “Why am I doing this? I’m buying a tragedy. Now it is my cat.” I have three pets. We all have them because the reasons why we do things go to the core of the very reason we’re alive. When you’re an entrepreneur and you’re creating something, it goes to that very core. That’s what I mean by looking at the big picture, “Why is this going to be so great?”

There may be many different mechanical ways to solve certain things or to produce something, but people become interested because it enhances their life. It enhances the joy of living or their ability to survive at all. That’s far more important in a discussion with an entrepreneur. You may not even know this about an investor. You may not even realize it at first, but they’re looking for you. They’re hunting for that early company with the great idea that everyone is going to become interested in and that solves a certain equation for how to make life and living a better thing on our planet.

That’s far more important than the financial mechanics. If you get lost in that, you may as well go back to college and get a degree in Accounting. That’s not what they’re interested in. They’re interested in you, your idea, your passion and how your passion will become a big enterprise someday. That’s what they invest in. If they wanted to invest in something that just provided cashflow, they can buy an apartment building.

When you talked about Tesla, I was thinking, “How many years was it before Jeff Bezos turned a profit?” It was years when quarter after quarter, he’d get on CNBC talking about his vision and what it’ll do. In the meantime, he had lost another $100 million for that quarter.

How did he go about losing? Think about that. Who paid for the $100 million loss? His investors. Why? They saw that the convenience of Amazon in all of our lives was practically one of the biggest ideas. There are some big ideas out there now, but it is perhaps one of the biggest ideas ever to circulate in our society. It’s no wonder the company is worth billions and billions. We have companies that are worth over $1 trillion.

What I would say to the entrepreneur is you don’t have to be a trillion-dollar company. You don’t have to have the vision of, “I’m going to be a trillion dollars,” to attract a good investor who wants to help and who sees your niche. “Can we do $50 million?” That would be wonderful from where you are now. That intermediate benchmark is the exact same conversation from raising $1 million to raising $50 million to raising $5 billion. It’s the same interest. You have to think of the big idea and communicate it with a sufficient amount of transparency. I’ve said this more times in the last couple of years than ever in my life. Sometimes, a very good answer is I don’t know the answer.

They appreciate the transparency that you don’t know. You don’t have to know everything.

MDH 53 | Dream Exchange

Dream Exchange: Investors are looking for you. They want to invest in you. If they wanted to invest in something that provides cash flow, they would’ve bought an apartment building.

 

“I’m working on it. This is what we’re working on currently. I invented electricity last week. I’m not exactly sure when the light bulb will be finished.” That’s a perfectly acceptable solution.

There was this thought amongst small business owners, especially minority female business owners, that when you talk about venture capitalists, they’re vultures. What would you say to that? How would you explain to somebody that you’re not there to be a vulture? You’re there to get them the help that they need in exchange for a certain amount of money.

I had a friend who was a fitness instructor. She was having a tough time getting ten people in her living room to teach fitness classes, and eventually, there was an investor who believe in the idea of fitness. This guy invested $1 million in her business, but it was in exchange for a lot of things. When the brand was doing $200 million or $300 million a year, she wanted to change the deal. Growth happened very quickly too.

She cried wolf about the unfairness of the deal. His whole response to that was, “Without me, you’d still be coaching the fitness classes and not being able to pay rent,” because she had these little flyers at the grocery store. She knew somebody who knew somebody who invested this money. I see both sides of it. How would you go about bucking that statement?

Venture capitalist, Angel investor and entrepreneur, everyone alike, you have to take a viewpoint, especially in the earliest stages of your business that you’re creating a relationship. It is a relationship-driven environment. With the years of financial and mechanical training that I’ve had, I’m sure I’d have professors who would scream at me right now, but the point is that the relationship has to have fundamental fairness.

In other words, at the earliest stage, the investor is looking at the idea and the entrepreneur is looking at the need for money and there’s this balance that one has to strike. We have a formula called Equilibrium Pricing, where what is fundamentally fair at the outset of the business may eventually become unfair as time goes by. It’s because the importance of the $1 million when you have a studio of ten people is clearly significantly higher than when the brand is a national brand and it’s all over the United States. The reward for the person who had the idea, very often in the earliest stage, can include terms that are suppressive to the person who is creating.

What’s important about the story you articulated is that the external world to the business is where the real barriers to expansion exist. What you want to make sure of is that internally, you don’t create a disincentive between the investor and the entrepreneur. In other words, if you’re working and it’s so suppressive that the next dollar you make, $0.99 of it, has to go to your investors, what’s your incentive as an entrepreneur to make your idea great any longer? At some point, there’s an equilibrium. It’s like, “When will the things start to turn that they’re not fair for one party or the other?”

Vulture capitalist is an appropriate name to some of them because there are people who do suppress. On the other hand, there are good investors and they say, “Here we are today with my $1 million and your very good idea. In five years, if we’ve gone through my $1 million and your idea turns out to be worth less than what I paid for it, we’ll be sitting with your bad idea and my $1 million will be gone.”

That’s just a justification for an investor not being able to estimate well enough how that entrepreneur will perform. That’s where the transparency, the barriers and you providing enough information to say, “If this, in fact, does go as big as it is, these are the rewards I’m going to expect from you.” It does become unfair where the person who merely wrote a check was their effort. The entrepreneur went through slavery, sweat labor and the worrisome nights of getting that business moving.

Sometimes, a good answer is, “I don’t know the answer,” because that shows transparency.

Someday, if the $1 million is worth $100 million and the whole company is only worth $110 million, it’s patently unfair to say that $1 million created the totality of that business. That’s not true, because his money was just money. Any other $1 million would have done it. Him saying, “I believed in your way back when,” doesn’t somehow create fundamental fairness or resolve the injustice that only the money got really wealthy and the entrepreneur is going to go onto their next entrepreneurship, again, not paying the rent with a new idea. There’s a balance to that. We help with that. One of the things is getting your relationship intact with your earliest investors to assure that they’re aligned behind the purposes and want to see you flourish and prosper as much as they do.

I know several of my audience personally pretty well and they have some crazy and amazing ideas for the next invention. They’re running pretty decent businesses right now. If they’re trying to find money, would you recommend that they do some package together? Is that something you help out with, their vision, mission and all that stuff with what they’re doing?

Yeah. As I said, what are we doing now because we’re not open as a stock exchange and probably won’t be for another year. We do have a social media site called DreamEx Connect. What we’ve designed the social media site to do is to be a menu-driven identity. It’s a menu-driven way that you can put your profile into an environment where you, as the entrepreneur, don’t have to think through all the potential questions that someone’s going to ask. I call it being strategically involved.

We’ve just started. We have 2,000 personalities in there already, both strategic consultants, investors, as well as entrepreneurs. If you follow the menus, there’s also the ability to put in your own PowerPoints, videos and all of the data that you’d normally associate with social media. We also have an internal messaging board so you can search among the investors and people who have created profiles for someone who would be strategically aligned with you.

You can then custom make the packaging. We have other products that are designed to help with the mechanics, because as soon as you start, what’s the package going to look like? What are the key mechanical and financial forecasts and ways to communicate to the investor? We have a lot of resources through DreamEx Connect that will help you if you start your relationship. If you find an investor and the two of you are interested, there are some products we have that will help facilitate how you communicate with one another after you’ve done your online social media exercise and you can search.

The investors have profiles. They say, “I only invest in the earliest stage companies. I’m only interested in environmentally sound companies or companies that do wastewater management.” Whatever their profile says, you can search within the DreamEx Connect environment and begin the relationship process. That will drive what goes into the packaging because you are your packaging. You’re selling some part of your company. You have to put the best appearance on it and transparently let them know what it is they’re going to be involved in eventually. We have a lot of tools to help through DreamEx Connect.

What you’re describing is that the DreamEx Connect is almost like a platform where the investors can search for the right investment that they want to get involved in or the next big idea they want to invest in. You have a bunch of people that have great ideas looking for funding and I think that’s great. What you’re describing reminds me a little bit of the retail environment. I’m in retail and so many people approach me and they want to get on TV. They want their product on TV, and they’ll ask me, “How do I pitch them?”

I tell them the same thing that you said, which is that the buyers of all the department stores like Saks, and Neiman Marcus, all those buyers are busy and I’ve dealt with all of them. The only ones that I haven’t dealt with are Target and Walmart in this country. I’ve done TV, Duty Free and all that. Those professional buyers’ job is to buy something every day. They are looking for the next big thing in their category. Just like people who are professional investors, they’re pretty good at what they do and they know what they’re looking for. They are looking for the next big idea that could be shaped into something that improves lives or adds value.

MDH 53 | Dream Exchange

Dream Exchange: A relationship between an investor and entrepreneur has to have fundamental fairness. The investor is looking for the idea, and the entrepreneur is looking for money. It’s called equilibrium pricing.

 

It’s not like you are begging for their sympathy money. You’re asking to be discovered for your thing. You have given me and my audience a lot of information. I love what you do and how you broke down the funding issue because it’s not necessarily for big companies with all the CPAs and lawyers on their teams. You don’t have to necessarily get to that point before you look for money. You’re creating this stock exchange for small business owners specifically because I think there are so many more small business owners than the big companies out there that could use it.

I love what you do and all the things that you’ve done to make it easy. The financial market is more accessible and easier to understand than before you came on the show. For those of you who think that you are not looking for money, I would say to go ahead and check out Joe’s website because one of the things that small business people are horrible about is having any exit strategy.

I think of so many businesses and I know you can too, in Chicago. There are a lot of family-owned businesses or family-owned restaurants that have been there for 20, 30, or 40 years and the next generation of people come in and they don’t want to have anything to do with that. There’s all that equity, trust and goodwill that goes out the window. Sometimes it’s better to have some idea of what your business is worth and how attractive it would be if you have to get out. Having that pulse on your assets and your branding would be helpful to everybody.

What you said is another profound statement. It takes about a few years of planning to exit properly. When you say exit strategy, you can’t say, “I’m going to sell my business tomorrow.” That’s why catching the earliest involvement you can get to prepare yourself for the eventuality of dealing with the financial professionals, the consultants, the lawyers and all that laboring work is not something you become educated in overnight.

The earliest possible communication and at the earliest possible stage, so you’re planning at every step along the way to properly exit and protect your wealth that you’ve put your life’s work into. That is the main purpose of the Dream Exchange. It’s to create a financial marketplace where people are able to harvest the wealth of years of their life’s energy being poured into a business and not have it, as you said, go by the boards because they didn’t plan to exit properly.

I love your branding of Dream Exchange. It’s catchy and it sticks. Do you have any parting words of wisdom for the audience?

To the entrepreneurs, I have two words. The two words that are near and dear to my heart are to never quit. To the investors, it’s similar but a little more wordy. “You only lose your money when you sell.” There are bad entrepreneurial days. You have to not quit and get through them. The funds and the sales will come. I think it was Thomas Edison who was asked, “It took you 4,000 tries to develop the light bulb. How do you feel about that? You failed 3,999 times.” He said, “No. I learned 3,999 ways not to make a light bulb,” and that’s all it is.

You have to keep the intestinal fortitude to keep going until your light bulb turns on. I meet these people every day. I’m on your side. The world is on your side. You have friends and resources. People who are willing to help. You have to reach for the proper relationship to get the help you need to see your ideas come. That’s the dream. To see your dreams come true with your small business. That’s what we’re all about at the Dream Exchange.

Go check out Joe’s social media, the Dream Exchange and then you can find out all about the articles he wrote and all of his astonishing accomplishments on DreamEx.com. Thank you so much for coming in and sharing your knowledge, expertise and your passion. For those of you who are reading, make sure that you share this episode because when we share our knowledge and our passion, it goes one step closer to living a better world and lifting everybody else. It’s time to stop competing. It is time to collaborate with everyone. Until next time, please stay healthy and happy. As I always say, happiness is your choice and I hope you make great choices.

 

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About Joe Cecala:

MDH 53 | Dream ExchangeJoe Cecala was a lawyer who worked on many small capital transactions for more than fifteen years. In that time, he saw that small capital transactions, however good, always lack a clear exit. Answering the investor question “How do I sell my investment?” was a constant problem. This, and other problems in raising capital, were especially pronounced in the black community as his firm worked with the Chicago Urban League attempting to help the “Next One” entrepreneurship program.

Early in his legal career, Mr. Cecala learned how stock exchanges “hunt” for liquidity because he was the lawyer for the founders of Archipelago, one of the first and the biggest electronic stock exchanges in the world. Archipelago grew and was eventually acquired by the New York Stock Exchange, becoming the electronic infrastructure for the NYSE still used today. Because of his experience in understanding the formation of the world’s greatest electronic stock exchange, Mr. Cecala learned how a stock exchange creates and controls liquidity in the markets.

Following his involvement with Archipelago, Mr. Cecala spent years researching capital markets. In that time, he discovered that the structure of the US capital markets and the current stock exchanges favor only the largest transactions with celebrity companies. Mr. Cecala’s research showed that, prior to Archipelago, the overwhelming majority of IPO’s were $50.0 million and under! By 2004, small capital IPO’s had all but disappeared. After years of working with minority businesses, in addition to this, he realized as well that minority businesses were nearly absent from all IPO and public company listings.

In 2018, Joe Cecala founded the Dream Exchange to solve these long-standing market problems by creating a stock exchange to become completely inclusive and expand access to capital markets for companies with great imagination and foresight into the future as well as make an impact on the lacking diversity in the capital markets. In 2020, a black owned private equity firm, Cadiz Capital Holding LLC, entered an agreement to become the majority owner in Dream Exchange, thus creating the first black owned stock exchange in the history of America.