MDH 68 | Personal Brand

MDH 68 | Personal Brand


Understanding the target audience is fundamental to our success. How do we do that? We have to learn how to build a personal brand that is authentic and memorable! Join your host Victoria Wieck as she sits down for a conversation with Mary Henderson about creating your own personal brand. Mary is a heart-centered, compassionate, and tenacious entrepreneur who thrives on human transformation and witnessing people fulfill their dreams. She discusses the key concepts of developing an unstoppable brand that can solve people’s problems. As an entrepreneur, we want to find a unique way to understand what people are looking for and not just aim for fame.

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Be Unstoppable: How To Create An Authentic Personal Branding With Mary Henderson

We talked about the terminology, personal branding, how important it is that you become likable and become a part of your brand, and how that brand has been exemplified in everything that you do, starting from your heart. It’s a topic we never stop thinking about. We can always grow into this. I have an amazing guest and her name is Mary Henderson. She’s been doing this for quite a while with tens of thousands of hours she has personally put into finding her own unique way of helping you build your personal brand. Mary, welcome to the show.

Thank you for having me.

You have a background that’s very similar to a lot of our audience, especially female entrepreneurs. We don’t wake up one morning and say, “I was born to be a female entrepreneur.” I’m pretty sure there are some people like that. In your case, you grew up and did all the things that most people do. You get a job, climb the corporate ladder and all those things, then your kids come, and then that whole wake-up moment happens.

That happened to me. After my first child was born, I was thinking to myself, “I can’t sustain this life. I can’t be giving 150% of my life, my time and my effort to my job, my boss and my clients, and then come home exhausted while a nanny or someone else is taking care of my children. What’s the purpose of my life here?” I went through that whole epiphany at one point. That’s how I got into the entrepreneurship space. I know you did too. You went ahead and started your own company, then you sold it and you started doing something else. Can you tell us a little bit about what happened, a quick bio or an overview of what event shaped your life and how that led to what you’re doing now?

In the year 2000, I was climbing at the height of my corporate career. I was in the IT sector, which I loved. On the first day of this new job, my boss said, “I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news. The good news is you’ve got this amazing opportunity. The bad news is you’ve got twelve weeks to fix the problem.” I’m thinking to myself, “I wish they could have told me that in the interview,” but I’m up for a challenge.

I had the interview. I had my very first meeting with the client and there was a whole room of people that I was there to meet, but the person who was meant to be the decision-maker didn’t show up to the meeting. The meeting was more or less null and void because they had already decided as an organization that they were going to move their business from our company.

This is a declining $8 million business per year at this point. As I leave this meeting and I’m heading into the lift, there was this woman in the lift. I’m wearing my red snakeskin boots. I could feel the daggers on my back and this person was checking me out up and down. She turns around and says, “I have to have those red boots.” I looked at her and intuitively, I knew it was the person that was supposed to be in that meeting that didn’t show up.

I turned around and said, “Is your name such and such?” She said, “Yes.” I said, “You were supposed to be in my meeting but you didn’t show up.” She said, “That’s because we are pulling all of our business away from you. No one in your company has been able to solve this problem and we’re done.” I said, “Are you going downstairs to have lunch?” She said, “Yes.” I said, “Please let me buy you a coffee. Maybe other people haven’t been able to solve the problem but I truly believe I can.” I had no idea what I was saying, by the way.

Strive to be the person that every IT company wants.

We sit down for five minutes and she looked at me. She goes, “Tell me what you want.” I said, “I want you to give me twelve weeks with your operations team. I need to understand your system. Once I understand the system, I can solve the problem.” She said, “I’ll give you twelve weeks. You can come and sit here for twelve weeks and figure out what the problem is. On the 12th week, if the problem is not solved, you guys are out.” I said, “I promise you, I will solve it.”

I’m sharing that story because that was a sliding door moment for me. When I left that meeting and as I was crossing the road, I paused for a moment and said to myself, “I’m either going to screw this up or I’m going to build a brand around Mary.” That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to command my own demand in the industry and be the person that every IT company wants. I have an opportunity of a lifetime to fix this complex problem.

To cut the long story short, I solve the problem. I built that business from $8 million to $22 million in eighteen months with double-digit margins which in IT, that’s unheard of. I started getting job offers from all other vendors, not just in Australia but internationally. The next job I was offered was by an American company. I was there for four years. I built that business from $4 million to $54 million in 48 months. I had a massive sales team. It was at that moment that I realized I’ve got an opportunity here to turn these salespeople into brands or I can leave them as job descriptions. That’s what everyone else does.

I was there on a mission. I knew how to build brands because I built my own. I knew that it was a different approach to just showing up as a job description. That happened, and then in 2005, I decided to leave the corporate sector. I was traveling a lot and my body was done. I started my own business which was a web-based software company. I can see that there was a major opportunity and a niche in the academic sector so I went after that niche. We built software for that sector.

In 2011, my second son was born and that was the moment where my whole life collapsed. I had this child and three hours after, I had the most incredible epiphany. My business card fell out of my purse as I was reaching out to get some lip balm. I picked up this business card and I’m thinking, “My whole life has been a label.” Everything about me has been a label, mother, daughter, boss and MD.

I knew at that moment that I would resign from my own company. I resigned from the company that I had built from the ground up that I had for seven years, turning over seven figures per year. In January of 2012, I merged that business with a design agency. I took a twelve-month sabbatical to find out what am I going to do for the rest of my life.

In that twelve-month process, I had two incredible mentors. One, in particular, was a professor in Philosophy who would be the person that would change the trajectory of my life and make me understand. In that twelve-month period, I unpacked Mary, my knowledge, my wisdom, my skills, my gifts, my talents, and I made sense of it all.

Coming from a tech background and loving systems and Excel spreadsheets, as I was unpacking this version of Mary that I didn’t think had any currency, suddenly, I could see the passion and I could see that I could solve some complex problems. If I could merge those two together and design a system, I can go out into the world and serve people who I can help. That’s where I’m at now.

MDH 68 | Personal Brand

Personal Brand: We’ve never been taught to view our professional and our personal experience in the form of currency.


Let me dive right into the brand. You mentioned the word Mary is a brand, and I agree with you. Without a personal brand in a small entrepreneur space, it’s tough to make it. You can have a business where you can make more money and more revenues than costs, but you’re never going to build a scalable business unless you have a brand. Either the business is a brand or you are a brand or hopefully, they align with one another. In your opinion, what are some of the key essential factors that make a brand?

The first thing we need to look at is at the center of personal branding is you, the business. It’s the human being. We need to understand what that “you” looks like in its authentic state of being. To do that, we need to understand some fundamental attributes. We need to understand what the identity is of that natural state of being. What does it look like? What does it sound like? How do we want the outside world to perceive that person? We need to understand our core values. We need to understand what our core story is. All of those attributes convert to us being believable and trustable. That’s what we’re looking for.

The other element is, “What problem can I solve that makes me believable and trustable?” What I see a lot of people doing is going and chasing a niche or chasing an industry because they’ve been told to do that. That’s the worst-case scenario because it’s only a short-lived experience. When you can solve a problem based on your knowledge, your wisdom and your skillset, there’s a currency right there. That is another form of currency outside of dollars in your bank.

We’ve never been taught to view our professional and our personal experience in the form of currency. Think about it. It never depreciates. It’s always with you. Whereas dollars depreciate and you could lose it. We need to give that currency a whole new meaning. The other part of your brand is, “Who are we talking to?” Understanding the target audience is fundamental to our success. These three critical pillars are the core to developing an unstoppable and memorable brand.

I have to disagree with you on one thing, which is dollars depreciate. I say that for a lot of small entrepreneurs. If you are not careful, you can depreciate your personal branding as well if you do things that are contrary to your stated core values and your stated mission. One of the things that I see a lot with small entrepreneurs is that they get what you were saying, all the three points that you made.

The end goal is that people will only buy you, your services or whatever that you have to offer if they trust you and respect you. We want to attain some level of respect and trustworthiness from the digital space. They come to your website and they haven’t met you in person. They don’t know you. They are making judgments by a few clicks they’re making.

A lot of entrepreneurs will try to look bigger than they are. They will try to look more professional than they are. They will try to do all these things on their website that don’t jive with who they are. If I meet you in person, I might go, “That Mary is so smart, professional and on top of it. She’s down to earth. She’s a mother of two kids. I get her story and I want to give her a try.”

I’m not saying you particularly, but a lot of times, you go to Mary’s website and they don’t know you and the juicy part of you that makes you trustworthy is omitted. There’s a lot of space out there for somebody to cash in on teaching small entrepreneurs how a whole lot of themselves, including their vulnerabilities, are all translated into everything they do in the digital space.

At the center of personal branding is you.

This is why consistency and congruency are critical. I would never work with an individual that hasn’t accumulated at least 10,000 hours in their specialization because so many people are chasing fame. This is the biggest problem. A lot of those people come to me. They are the people that want to be famous for being famous. I can’t work with those people because the people that I work with are already running their brick-and-mortar businesses. They have PhDs and Masters. They have been in corporate.

These are people that have got a lot of information stored as a currency inside of them. That currency needs to be organized, not just organized in the problem that they can solve, but also in how they want the outside world to perceive them. If I’m coming on this show and you’re asking me a question on personal branding, I’ve come face to face with personal branding for many years. I’ve converted what I started to know that has become my vocation into an actual system. That’s lots and lots of years of trial and tribulation, lots of practice and lots of people that I’ve tried it on.

The congruency and the consistency are what create the believability and trustability factor, but also the authenticity. I don’t want to be anyone else. I want to be myself, including my vulnerabilities and the knowledge and skillset that I want to share with people. The other thing and the most important thing out of all of these, the ones that are genuinely creating their brand essence are the ones also that have the capacity to also create ecstatic brand experiences for paying clients and for prospects.

This is the biggest gap that I see in a lot of people who are going down this path of creating supposedly a personal brand. What they’re thinking is, “I want to be famous.” There’s a very clear line between those and the ones that genuinely are wanting to package all of their genius because they know they can solve a complex problem. They know that they can serve an audience. They’re on a mission to solve a problem for that target audience. It’s a very different mindset.

It’s interesting because a lot of coaches out there have never run a business. When you are about to lose a customer or build something for a client, sometimes they work great. You go from $5 million to $54 million in so many months. There are others that you don’t do all that well, but there is a learning experience with every one of those, even the ones that went right. Even the $5 million to $50 million that you do and you’re thinking, “If I could have only done this one thing, it could have been a $500 million business.”

I think coaches were never coached but they learned all the buzzwords. They learned how to teach. They just don’t have that authenticity or the core DNA. There are so many amazing people out there that are serving and adding value to their clients. They are so busy and exhausted from working so many hours that they don’t even realize what they need to digitize and monetize their businesses. They enjoy doing what they’re doing. Every day is like a school day.

For someone like yourself, a client comes to you and you can look at them and see how they talk, what their desires are, who their target audience is, and whether or not their mission is aligned with what they’re doing. Also, if they truly have the desire to build a true personal brand. You don’t have to have fame in the end. I have a personal brand. I’ve sold over ten million pieces of jewelry just here in America. Even in the US, I’m not a mainstream everyday celebrity but within my audience, my name is the most googled name in the jewelry industry. Building a personal brand that turns into a currency that you can trade and make money off of takes time. It takes knowledge and hard work.

If you want to dip your toes into this, Mary has a free program in She can quickly diagnose you. That’s an amazing service for anybody. It’s free and you get the expertise of somebody who has been through a lot of clients who are lost. You may even be sitting on some amazing wisdom, knowledge, skills and experience that could be packaged into a coaching program. I do a lot of speeches and I do a lot of pro bono work. I work with a lot of people that are sitting on an amazing gold mine of experiences that should be monetized.

MDH 68 | Personal Brand

Personal Brand: The ones that are genuinely creating their brand essence are also the ones that can create ecstatic brand experiences for paying clients and prospects.


A lot of people are in that position which is incredible.

Mary, if you were to give a younger Mary Henderson some advice on how you should go about charting your future, what would that be?

I’m quite a deep person, so I’ve spent a lot of time in reflection, stepping into the shadow of my vulnerabilities and things that we all downloaded as children. The belief systems that were never ours, to begin with. For me, doing that work, whilst it’s quite confronting and difficult to make sense of your past, you have to go there in order to see the other side of the coin. Everything has a duality.

What I’ve come to realize is the embodiment of every aspect of who I am. It’s not just the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s also the pain, the disappointments, the sadness and the trauma. All of that needs to be embodied. I’ve enjoyed that process because it’s in that space where I have found possibilities, ideas and creativities. I also found the true person of who I am.

Knowing what I know now, I would go back to my younger self and say, “It’s going to be okay. Trust the process.” That’s a very important word for me, trusting that process and having a deep relationship with my spirituality and what that means to me. That whole trust process has been a very big part of my journey. When you go through that process, yes, you’ve learned knowledge and skills and you’ve all turned it into wisdom, but then there’s the underlying thing. What lies beneath the surface of the skin?

Our 70 trillion cells are carrying memories that are converting into our behavior and our state of being. That’s where I want to go. I want to give all of that a whole new meaning. While it’s been difficult, it’s been an amazing journey. I’ve been able to embody all of the aspects that make up Mary and become the best version of myself, which is how I feel now.

What you said is so profound. In America, if you ask our children or teenage kids to define the word success, there’s going to be some form of money, fame or both in there. What you are saying is that there’s so much more. Each of us has different journeys. You took a year off to reflect upon yourself and look at how to live a happy purposeful life.

There are some coaches that will tell you, “I can turn your business from $2 million to $3 million tomorrow morning.” You can do that but at what cost? Are you going to stop seeing your family? Are you going to stop being a parent? Are you going to be turning into a psycho that nobody understands? I’m taking that as an extreme, but that’s different than someone like you, Mary, sitting down with someone and saying, “How do you envision your life five years from now? How do you want to live your life? If you want to live your life where you’re spending 50% of your time with your family and you want to monetize your business, this is how you’re going to get there.”

We have to stop thinking that we have to get to the destination as soon as possible because then we miss all the teachings and the wisdom.

It’s understanding the total need, not just the monetary and the business aspect. We all want to be successful in business so that we could be free to spend time the way we want to spend it. A lot of times people are chasing the things that do not lead to a purposeful life. Don’t get me wrong, but some people don’t know and have never taken the time to reflect on it and say, “What’s the purpose of my life here?”

It’s a work in progress. Where I was in 2012, fast forward to now, I’m still a work in progress. I’ve embraced that because I don’t think we ever stopped learning. For me, a very important word is order because I need order in my life. We don’t understand the power of being still and making sure that our household, our business, our relationships and the clients that we have. When I have order in my life, I’m attracting order as well. I see a lot of people define success as dollars in the bank account. They’re chasing something outside. They are chasing this thing called dollars. Making money is the effect of my cause. I’ve completely flipped it.

I don’t wake up in the morning like, “I’m going to manifest $100,000.” I don’t do that. I’m very systemized and ordered. I am in a position where I can choose who I want to work with. The reason I do that is that I’m passionate and clear on who I want as part of my tribe. I don’t want toxicity and craziness. I want to be able to work with people that I can show up with that I’m all in. I’m showing up 100% of the time. The positive side of that is that I’m available.

That’s very important to me in my business because if I’m available and my clients can trust me, from the bottom of their hearts, not only do they become my brand advocates, which converts into referral business, but also that’s the brand that I want to be known for. I don’t want to be known as a quick-fix brand or somebody that makes false promises. I want to be the brand that people say, “I trust her. Anything I need, she’s there for me.”

I had a weird sleep and I reached out to get my phone. One of my clients messaged me and said, “I need to run something by you.” She’s got some issues. I’m like, “Of course.” I didn’t wake up there and then, but I said, “Let me wake up in the morning. I’ll send you some time. It’s a done deal.” If you want to build a brand around being memorable and creating a brand signature, we have to understand right from the outset, “What does that look like?”

The effect of a brilliant brand is the opportunities, the dollars, and the abundance that follows that. A lot of people have flicked it. They have got it the wrong way around. Even in my methodology, we start with personal branding, but the effect is a lead generation strategy. The dollar is the last thing because it’s easy to make money when you have the system in place.

You and I have a lot of things in common. I’ve been a mentor in a lot of different programs for both the schools I’ve gone to, UCLA and USC. I do a lot of mentoring programs for women’s networking and small businesses. If somebody does not believe your personal brand and how you serve others, and they just want to chase the dollars, you cannot ever convert until they change their thinking paradigm.

This has been a delightful conversation. I agree with so many things. I built my brand with no money and all I had to sell was myself and my brand. I didn’t even know I was building a brand, but working my rear end off and always being the first person to offer a solution and never criticizing anybody else. I don’t even have time for that. I ended up building a brand for many years.

MDH 68 | Personal Brand

Personal Brand: The effect of a brilliant brand is the opportunities, the dollars, and the abundance that follows that.


I’m glad that you came on this show and explained how building a brand is not something you can teach somebody overnight. It’s not fancy advertising that you’re going to spend on Facebook. It takes a lot of work understanding yourself and how you can easily then align yourself with your target audience who understand you. It’s a journey. The journey itself of discovering the solution, who you are, what works and what didn’t work is the most beautiful part of what we do. I hope I never have to get off this journey.

That’s what I say to people, “You’re either the tortoise or the hare in the race.” I want to be the tortoise. I want to stop, absorb, listen, smell the roses and then move along. That’s what the journey is about. It’s all about the good, the bad and the ugly. We have to stop thinking that we got to get to the destination as soon as possible because then we miss all the teachings and the wisdom. That’s what I crave.

I’ve got a very loyal audience taking in every word of my guests. If you’re working at some company and you have yet to become an entrepreneur, but you always think, “I should,” and you’re running around with 50 ideas. Every time you have a bad meeting, a bad day or you lose a client, you’re thinking, “I should have.” Think about it this way. Sometimes what you think is the safest thing is the riskiest thing. There’s nothing worse than at age 55, you get laid off because no one is going to want to hire you. There’s age discrimination. There’s discrimination in everything going on.

Age discrimination is real. It seems to be an epidemic. I know so many people who are in their 50s getting laid off, downsized and being moved. When that happens, I would hate to see you freak out and panic. If you’ve worked for somebody as the senior vice president, CFO or head of sales for some company, you’re sitting on 1,000 hours, 10,000 hours, 20,000 hours, 30,000 hours or 50,000 hours of knowledge, compassion and know-how.

You may think, “No one is going to pay for it.” Let me tell you something. You probably can package, systemize, and digitize what you know. Even as a side hustle, you could generate some income from what you know. What you know is authentic. What you’re sharing is authentic. Real knowledge is not some textbook theory.

That’s the key.

It turns into the transformation of somebody else who can benefit from what you’ve gone through. You’ve got a lot of young Millennials who are 35-years-old starting a business. Can you imagine if you’re 50 years old and you’ve gone through all of that process already? You are being reasonable about that. Check out and what she has to offer. I wish you all the best. Mary, how do people get ahold of you other than the website?

Feel free to email me at You can connect with me on Facebook, which is Mary Henderson Coaching. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn at Mary Henderson Coaching with a pink circle around my face, and my website,

Thank you for coming to my show and sharing your knowledge and expertise. For the audience, thank you for tuning in to this episode. If you haven’t shared the episodes already, please go ahead and share them with your best friends because that’s how you can amplify and be a force multiplier. Until next time, please stay happy and healthy. Remember, happiness is a choice, and I hope you make great choices.


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About Mary Henderson

MDH 68 | Personal Brand Mary is an internationally recognised Personal Branding & Online Business Specialist. Mary helps Service Industry Experts systemise, digitalise and commercialise their knowledge, wisdom and skills into a scalable & profitable online business and a brand so they become an authority in their niche or industry.

Mary has 20+ years of experience building 7 & 8 figure businesses & building high-performance sales teams in the IT sector and 15 years delivering online solutions for large and small businesses. She has been featured in many publications and is regarded a thought leader in the digital sector.

Mary’s point of difference is her Personal Branding technology, a SaaS platform that has the ability to define a person’s s brand essence with precision that can be applied across all communication touchpoints. When you engage Mary, you access 39,000+ hours of experience, knowledge and wisdom in Personal Branding, client profiling, lead generation strategies, online program development, sales leadership, content development and digital acumen.

Mary embraces technology and social media in a big way and her followers are growing daily. Mary is a heart centred, compassionate and tenacious entrepreneur who thrives on human transformation and witnessing people fulfill their dreams.

MDH 65 | Empathy

MDH 65 | Empathy


It’s easy to talk about buzzwords like motivation and resilience, but without proper action steps, they are fruitless. Joining Victoria Wieck is Asia’s #1 Business Coach, Daniel Tolson. In this episode, Daniel defines emotional intelligence and empathy and their impact on sales. He also breaks down the four fears business owners have that hinder them from success and counters them with tips to help you overcome and deliver. Plus, Daniel shares actionable, achievable goals to help you translate emotional intelligence and motivation into your life. Get a look into Daniel’s inspiring journey from overcoming learning disabilities to now helping others succeed by tuning in.

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Daniel Tolson On Emotional Intelligence, Empathy, And Overcoming Fear in Sales

I’m so excited to share this time with you with an amazing business coach. In fact, he is Asia’s number one business coach specializing in emotional intelligence. Ladies and gentlemen, can we all agree that we all need more emotional intelligence? The world would be a better place if we all exercised more emotional intelligence. I want to introduce you to Daniel Tolson. I’m going to have him explain a little bit about himself and his amazing journey. This is where I’m going to have him speak to you about it directly. He has an amazing story that’s very powerful. Daniel, welcome to the show.

Thank you for having me here. It’s a great pleasure.

Tell my audience a little bit about your journey and specifically all of the learning disabilities, fear, and limiting beliefs that you have had to overcome yourself, which has fueled your passion for helping other people overcome similar obstacles. Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I remember running at school in the school carnivals. I will be running, and my knees will collapse. My mom would be saying, “Daniel, what is going on?” I said, “I don’t know. My legs collapsed.” At age eleven, one day, I came home. I stood in front of my mom at home, and my whole body collapsed. She said, “Daniel, it was like a bag of bones on the ground. You collapsed. We started to get some medical treatment. We noticed that your hips are out of alignment. Your spine and neck were twisted. They discovered the platelets in the cranium were pushing down on the left and right hemispheres of the brain. That was giving you all those constant nosebleeds that you had.”

As I started to do these checkups, they realized that I was visually impaired. Albeit I had a 20/20 vision, I still couldn’t see properly. I was going for music lessons and constantly make mistakes playing the guitar. I was repeating mistakes over and over again. They realized I was tone-deaf. I’ve got diagnosed with a linear sequential learning disability. It was one of these interesting disabilities where you could see everything on the blackboard at school but when you write it down, nothing matched on the paper. When I would read what was on my paper, it was all jumbled up.

I could remember the kids laughing at me, and the teachers started to think, “Maybe there’s something wrong.” The teachers did some work with me, and then I was diagnosed with a linear sequential learning disability. For five years, I sat in remedial therapy. I remember going to one special school. They sent me down with a big piece of butcher’s paper. I was probably about twelve. All the other kids were about age five. I knew there was something wrong.

All I had to do in this room was to draw a figure eight on a piece of paper. By doing this, it was supposed to be re-aligning the left and right hemispheres of the brain. I was doing that, and this went on for five years. After five years of remedial therapy, I’ve got Epstein-Barr Virus, chronic fatigue, and teenage chickenpox. I dropped out of school and never finished school. In the following two years, I had reconstructive knee surgeries. The first nineteen years of my life were a mess.

MDH 65 | Empathy

Empathy: Once you figure out what doesn’t work, you find the one thing that works, and you start to put all of your energy into that. That’s why you need the resiliency because you’re going to fail a lot, and you’ve got to keep getting up. You just can’t stop.


That’s what makes it amazing because most people could have and would have given up. It would have been so tempting and easy to limit yourself and say, “It’s because I have physical limitations, and I can’t think clearly. It’s because something is wrong with my brain. I was medically diagnosed. I’m doing the best I can. I’m doing great for people that are disabled.” It wasn’t enough for you. You decided that nothing was going to stop you, and you were still going to find your maximum potential.

You found a formula that worked. I’m sure that there were a lot of professionals that helped you along the way. If you, the patient, aren’t willing to work with that and experiment and be constantly in search of excellence, you wouldn’t have come to where you are now. The word emotional intelligence is something that seems to be a lot of people are now using as buzzwords. In your opinion, what is it? Why do we need it? How does it help you get ahead in life?

It’s a buzzword, and people throw it around. We’ve got to get back to the roots of it. It’s being street-smart. That’s what it is. My parents were pawnbrokers. They bought and sold secondhand goods. We used to buy and sell secondhand jewelry. My parents were not formally educated. My father was a farmer. My mother was a hairdresser. They were street-smart. They could read people. They also knew their strengths and weaknesses. When we look at emotional intelligence, it’s being street-smart. We can use that intelligence in business and get rewarded for it.

Dr. Daniel Goleman said, “Emotional intelligence contributes to 58% of your success in your daily life. It’s a huge contributor to success.” When we look at somebody who is confident, confidence is a part of emotional intelligence. Imagine trying to do a business, and you lacked confidence. Imagine trying to do a business, and you don’t believe in yourself, and you are comparing yourself to other people.

What happens is you feel worthless. You don’t feel that you deserve the good things, so you don’t take action. The first part of emotional intelligence is that self-awareness, “Who am I? What are my strengths? What are my limitations?” Instead of focusing on what is wrong with you, you focus on your strengths. What we say is, “What you focus on grows.” You focus on your strengths and apply to them. That’s where you start to grow your business around that strength.

That’s interesting because you say that something like 58% of your emotional intelligence is directly responsible for your success. I would argue that’s 80%. I have a Master’s degree and all that, which I don’t use. Thank God. I had to unlearn how to do that. When you say the word street-smart, how do people get street-smart? In my opinion, it’s people that have a pulse on other people’s emotions.

If you look at a customer and you are going on about something, and your customer is staring at you like blank-stare, somebody who is street-smart is going to go, “I have lost this person. I need to get back on track.” Where somebody with a PhD in Communications might go, “I’m doing fine. This person doesn’t understand. They don’t realize that the customer is what matters to you.”

If there is no empathy, there is no sale. People are 100% emotional when it comes to purchasing.

I tell people in marketing, “If you can’t convince a fifth-grader, then you have lost it. The fancier words you use, somebody you are talking to is either confused or they have to look up a word in the dictionary, that’s each and every opportunity to lose a customer for good. If they don’t understand you, they are not going to buy anything from you.”

Street smart is having a pulse and understanding how to read body language. It understands when I say, “Daniel, welcome.” We shake hands, and everything is great. All of a sudden, he started staring at you. You know he is either confused or he doesn’t like what you are saying. He is not interested or something else is distracting him. You don’t have his attention. You’ve got to do something right.

A street-smart person would be pivoting and thinking about, “When was the last time he was smiling at me? When was the last time he seemed so excited?” and you want to go back. On TV, we do this all the time. We have to read the screen. The host is talking in your ear like, “When you set a soccer mom, all the phone lines in California went through the roof.” I would pivot, “When I took my daughter to the soccer games, you keep on doing this.”

Street-smart is not something you have to go get a degree on. It’s caring more about people and understanding your plan. That’s an important part. I don’t have any problems with people who have all these academic degrees. A lot of times, when you get that, you hide behind those papers, certificates or whatever you’ve got thinking that you are on a higher-playing ground or that what you are saying is intelligent. I feel like some people lose something in the process of getting all those degrees.

What you are talking about is empathy. Empathy is the ability to read other people’s emotional makeup. That comes through sensory acuity. I will unpack what you are saying. You have heard the voice in your ear. It’s soccer moms. A lot of people hear soccer moms. It will go in one ear and out the other but you’ve got that sensory awareness to say, “This is emotionally interesting to people.” You focus on that. Also, it’s hearing that and saying, “This is important to others.”

What people don’t understand about empathy is that if there is no empathy, there are no sales. People are 100% emotional when it comes to purchasing. We become logical in the left brain, and we make the decision in the right brain. When you find those little things, you drill down into them. It’s like following that seam of gold. It might only be an inch wide but it could go a mile-deep into the Earth.

Daniel has written a few books. My favorite is the Mental Detox. He has another book called How To Win a Sales Now. They go both hand-in-hand. A lot of people who teach you how to gain sales will teach you all these manipulation tactics on digital media, digital space, or all the marketing buzzwords. Whenever you are doing marketing campaigns, even advertising or giving a speech, when you don’t have empathy, and you are not authentic, it shows through. Believe me. Those people that are buying from you know when you are full of BS, and you have never cared about anybody. If you learn all these buzzwords, they know.

MDH 65 | Empathy

Empathy: If we’re optimistic about our future and believe in what we can achieve, we become more resilient.


If people don’t like and trust you and don’t think that you care about them, they are not going to buy anything. In America, we have a 30-day money-back guarantee for everything. You are not going to do it. It’s caring about what other people think and always having that pulse. It’s caring enough to know their temperature when they are angry, starving or confused. What you are asking is to invest time to understand that.

In that sense, people like you and me with learning disabilities had to work extra hard. Back then, in the 1970s, when I left, we were second-class citizens to men. I watched my mom watch body language in a room. I watched my mom and grandmother not only pay attention to what was said in the room but also what was left unsaid in the room. Between that and my learning disability, I’ve got pretty good at being quiet and a great active listener.

That’s something that our society needs more than ever before. Daniel, let me get back to overcoming fear, the lack of confidence, and courage. It’s all these things that limit not only your beliefs and performance but also your potential. Give me 2 or 3 tips on how we can handle this. You could go to Daniel’s website. It’s Share with us a few nuggets here.

The first step is self-awareness. Self-awareness is being able to name the fear that you are experiencing. We say, “If you can’t name it, you can’t tame it.” There are four fears that are going to be triggered when you start your business. The first one is the fear of being taken advantage of. If you are experiencing the fear of being taken advantage of, you won’t be asking for help. You will hear messages from experts and authorities. You won’t ask for help because you are afraid of being taken advantage of.

The second one is you will feel the fear of rejection. Rejection comes when you are about to stand up, pitch your product and service. You will say, “I don’t want people to disagree with me and say no.” You experience that fear of rejection. Thirdly, it’s the fear of losing your stability. Many people who have got a side hustle are afraid to go all-in because they say, “What if I try then lose my financial stability?” They get stuck in their comfort zone.

The fourth one is the fear of trying and then making a mistake. They say, “What if I try and make a mistake? What will people think of me if I have a temporary failure? My whole world is going to fall apart.” The first part is self-awareness. The second part is being able to regulate these fears. That’s the key thing. When it comes to regulation, one fear that’s triggered can impact your performance for four hours. You may get the fear you triggered, and then for the following four hours, you are like a deer in the headlights. You have frozen and you are not productive. All business virtually stops.

Thirdly, you need to have resiliency. In business, you are going to fall over many times. The majority of the things that you do are never going to work but I can promise you that 1 thing out of 100 that you do will pay back so handsomely. It’s like you’ve got more than half a billion dollars in sales. I bet the majority of things at the start didn’t work.

If you can’t name it, you can’t tame it.

Eventually, once you figure out what doesn’t work, you find the one thing that does work, and you start to put all of your energy into that. That’s why you need resiliency because you are going to fail a lot, and you’ve got to keep getting up. You can’t stop. You’ve got to keep moving forward. Those are the three things. It’s self-awareness, self-regulation, and motivation.

Here is the thing. Of the things you named, self-awareness, as hard as it sounds, it’s probably one that most people don’t have a problem coming up with. In fact, they are going to come up with too many things that they are aware of, “I can’t sell. I’m not a salesperson. I’m not good at accounting.” There are all these things that they can’t do. Of all those, resilience and motivation are the two things that consistently people have problems dealing with.

In the first few years, I would send out 50 letters that were manually typed. This was before computer days. I would send out 50 letters every single day. The conversion rate was at 10%. At that time, they were telling me, “You are lucky if you get 10% of the people to respond and 90% of the people who respond will respond with no.” Your conversion rate of getting a maybe or yes was at 2%. It was very low.

If you look at someone like Michael Jordan or you can take LeBron James even. I’m not a basketball fan. I don’t even understand it. Whenever you do watch him play, every other shot, they don’t make it. They are not making 90% of their shots. They are making 30% of their shots. If you think about that, they are the best. Can you imagine the professional basketball players who are not legacy names? They are missing 60% to 70% of their shots.

Someone like Michael Jordan is given a lot of the Hail-Mary shots when the clock is winding down. They’ve got no shot at all. He is making whatever. That’s similar to our business environment. A lot of the stuff that we do are Hail Mary. Do you see somebody like Babe Ruth? When you read his stories, he was batting 400 or 500. That means 5 or 6 times out of 10, he was missing as well. They have made such a name. Don’t be afraid when you fail and when something doesn’t work out.

Rejection is feedback. What I do always is to ask people, “Thank you so much for writing back to me because most people never take the time to read my letter. Of the people that read my letter, very few people take the time to tell me no. Thank you so much for even doing that. If I can indulge you a little bit about why you don’t want it, is it too expensive? If there is any feedback you can give me, I will be so blessed. You don’t have to buy a thing from me.”

When they give you that feedback, you incorporate that. You can go back months from now. You can go use it with other pitches because they are giving you some good feedback. That’s how I’ve got my business started. The resilience factor doesn’t just mean that you have to have thick skin. It means that you’ve got to make that commitment no matter what. Don’t let those temporary rejections and failures or whatever outcome that you didn’t get to set you back because you’ve got to stick to it.

MDH 65 | Empathy

Free Drugs for Entrepreneurs

I listened to Denzel Washington when he gave a commemoration speech at graduation. It was such a befitting thing that he was giving this speech at that very stage that he had assumed was going to be his last audition. He said, “I have been going to audition after audition forever. I’ve never even got a one-liner.” People said, “You are not a good fit.” He said, “I had booked this audition.” He realized for the audition before that, that he was never going to be a good actor. He was never going to get a break.

He said, “I gave my word that I’m going to come to the audition, and there were people waiting for me. I will give my best and let it be. I’m going to go and be a taxi driver or whatever life has waiting for me.” That’s the one he got a breakthrough role. He said, “Had I quit the day before or had I not shown up to this one because I was disappointed, there would be no Denzel Washington.”

He was giving that speech at that very auditorium that he was not going to show up to. He showed up to this one. Resilience is a huge thing. The last thing is motivation. I don’t know about you. I’m going to ask you a little bit about this now. You are suffering from anxiety with all the fears and everything else and then something doesn’t work. You are like, “Everything I fear came true.” It’s so easy to do.

If you are lucky enough to have a wife, son, friend or colleague and say, “Daniel, that’s not true. Look at what you have all accomplished so far. You didn’t get exactly what you wanted but look at all the stuff that you learned. You’ve got to keep going.” You keep going, and then the second time something doesn’t work, that definitely gives up. You don’t even ask anybody. That’s what I see a lot, especially with Millennials. They don’t have patience, resilience, commitment or persistence. How would you advise someone on the best way to motivate themselves in that situation?

I wrote a book called Free Drugs for Entrepreneurs. Free Drugs was all about releasing this competitive advantage in your body. The first thing about motivation is our goals are in the future. We are going to spend the rest of our life in the future. If we are optimistic about our future and believe within ourselves what we can achieve, then we become more resilient. There are a couple of things we’ve got to do. The first one is we have to set a goal. That goal has to be realistic for us.

If you have a goal that is totally unrealistic for you, then your subconscious mind says, “This is not true. I reject it.” You will cause fears, doubts, and limiting beliefs within yourself. We say, “Inch by inch, it’s a cinch. By the yard, it’s hard.” Have a big vision but have goals that are achievable. When you set a goal, you get dopamine. Dopamine floods through the body, and it gets you excited. It’s that thrill of the chase. You haven’t started yet, but you get excited. Secondly, you take one step towards that goal, and the body releases adrenaline. The heart starts to pump, and you get excited. Once you achieve a little win or one small step, and you succeed there, the brain releases serotonin. That is nature’s happy drug.

Once you’ve got these three neurotransmitters and positive chemicals in your body, dopamine, adrenaline, and serotonin, you can’t feel depressed and anxious. Your enthusiasm levels start to rise and you say, “If I can take that, I can take the next step.” It’s one step at a time. If you can do those one steps, then you will keep that motivation. It’s not just it’s going to stick around for a day. It stays around for weeks, months, and years. That’s a competitive advantage.

You have unlimited potential. You can do more than you ever thought you could.  

What you are saying is to take that next measurable step, and then it’s a cumulative effect of training your body to release happy chemicals it uses on its own. I enjoyed our conversation. You brought some incredible knowledge. A lot of times, when we talk about things like emotional intelligence, motivation, and resilience, these are very vague words. A lot of people don’t use it. I’m sick and tired of listening about motivation, inspiration, encouragement, empowerment, and all this stuff.

If they are not matched up with action and goals that are achievable, then they just become words. They don’t transform your life and your way of thinking. You can’t then impact other people, which is depressing because you are working pretty hard to do that. I appreciate all the knowledge that you shared. For any young entrepreneurs, would you like to say 1 or 2 words that are key to how they would succeed that you haven’t discussed before? It’s a little tip if you want to leave with the parting.

You are so much more than you think you are. Your DNA is what you are made of. If you could stretch it out from where you are, it would reach the sun and back 300 times. You have unlimited potential, and you can do more than you ever thought you could.

I completely agree with you on that, whether you are talking about Elon Musk, Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos, each person came to Earth, born with the potential to be whoever they wanted to be. Some of us have it easier than others. The other thing that you and I didn’t discuss and that we probably would agree on is the quality of life that we desire too by doing this right. It’s not just grinding it out all the time pointlessly.

Ultimately, all the entrepreneurs want freedom from our horrible bosses. We want freedom from feeling like a slave to a paycheck. We want to be able to live our life the way we design. Thank you so much for coming. Once again, would you tell us how the audience can reach you and all the freebies that you offer on your website?

Come and play. My website is There are a ton of resources. There are my free books, Mental Detox and How To Win Sales Now. Set that goal. There are a lot of free webinars and training also, so you can develop your emotional intelligence.

Thank you so much for joining me here and coming to the show. For all of you reading, I always say, “Be happy. Happiness is your choice.” I hope you make great choices. Have a wonderful week.


Important Links


About Daniel Tolson

MDH 65 | EmpathyI am a former Australian Champion Athlete. I co-lead a team of more than 17,000 Cabin Crew and currently serves as a consultant to more than 17,500 business people globally.
With more than 6,500 case studies into the science of Emotional Intelligence I am considered as one of the worlds leading business coaches specialising in emotional intelligence.
I show people how to become successful, by providing scientific and evidence based methods on how to catapult your influence, accelerate your impact and unleash new income levels.
MDH 47 | Entrepreneurship

MDH 47 | Entrepreneurship


Entrepreneurship is a great equalizer and can be a great tool to uplift people from generational poverty. So how does one build a thriving business in this current economy?  We’ll tell you how as Victoria Wieck talks to CEO, entrepreneur, and author John Meese about how to launch a successful business. John and Victoria discuss products and growth models and why it’s easier than ever to start your business. Learn more tips and strategies for entrepreneurs by tuning in to Victoria and her special guests.

Watch the episode here

Listen to the podcast here

Survive And Thrive: Leveraging Entrepreneurship To Beat Generational Poverty With John Meese

How To Start A Business And Thrive In Any Economy

I have an amazing guest and you know what we do in every single episode. We bring you incredible tips from people who have done it, felt the pain, and somehow learned to persevere and thrive. My next guest is no exception to that role. He wrote a book called Survive and Thrive. His name is John Meese and he also has a podcast called the Thrive School and he’s on a mission to eradicate generational poverty. Now, instead of reading his whole bio, I prefer to let him tell his story because it’s probably a lot more interesting coming from him. Without further ado, I would like to welcome John Meese. Welcome to the show, John.

Thank you so much, Victoria. I’m glad to be here.

It’s great to have you. First off, there’s so much to unpack from your bio and all the things you have accomplished at such a young age but you are on a mission to eradicate Generational Poverty. One of the ways you do that is to share your knowledge and help entrepreneurs reach their dreams by working more efficiently, effectively, and having some tips that everybody should have. Tell me a little bit about your background because I think that a person’s background or events shaped you, what you are doing now and why you do what you do. Do you want to take a couple of minutes and tell us why you were on this mission?

It’s very personal in the sense that I come from a long line of a family with poor financial decisions. I was supposed to be the golden boy to change the family trajectory by becoming a first-generation college student. I became a first-generation college student. I’ve got a couple of pieces of paper that say I know some things. I graduated and started looking around for this magical wealth that’s supposed to appear once you have a college degree.

Didn’t you sign them?

No, I was seriously disappointed. It wasn’t like a massive surprise. As I was in academia, I began realizing, “This isn’t quite maybe what it’s cracked up to be, at least anymore.” I’ve got a degree in Economics and I’ve got another degree in Spanish but I worked for an economics research lab coming out of that and studying things that were going on, learning how to understand what was going on in the world and the global economy.

I latched on to this fascination with entrepreneurship. At that time, I was focused on building online businesses. I built my own online business and I was able to make that my full-time living. I was able to retire my new life from being a teacher with my online business and we were able to start a family. Along the way, I started getting more fascinated with the fact that entrepreneurship is the great equalizer.

The fact that your business doesn’t care about your race, gender, age, background, and even if your customers don’t care, your customers want to know if you have a solution to a real problem that they want to solve. I’ve got excited about that with my businesses but then that became my personal mission to say that there are so many people all over the world who are caught in these cycles of poverty. It’s tough for them to break out of that. I believe that if we can eradicate Generational Poverty, we make entrepreneurship more accessible.

That’s very profound. You suffered from the results of poor financial decisions by the people who are supposed to guide and teach you. It’s special that you are sharing your knowledge now because a lot of people that I know are entrepreneurs. I came from the corporate world then started my business. Even now, I counsel a lot of people who are in corporate. They can sit here and make a lot of money for their companies, and for everyone else but they don’t have the confidence that they can succeed partly because, either what they have been told or they have witnessed other people in their families start their businesses fail over and over again. It’s engraved in their brain. The smarter thing to do is to stay in a job that you may not even like.

MDH 47 | Entrepreneurship

Survive and Thrive: How to Build a Profitable Business in Any Economy (Including This One)

I like the fact that you have now dedicated your life to this cause. I know that you have also started your own business. You have had started three different businesses with no money basically, from scratch. Do you want to tell me a little bit about your first business and if there’s a common theme between all three that you started and scaled?

In my first business, I stumbled into, I was trying to figure out how to run an online business. Funny enough, I was creating software tutorials. I created a whole course on how to use a very specific niche type of software that only 3,000 people on the planet were using. I launched that online course. I built a hyper-target audience and launched that. I made it from scratch, no ad money or anything like that. I made a little over $10,000 in a week, which at that time, was an amazing life-changing amount of money.

What was fascinating about that was then I went and wrote up a whole blog post on every detail of how I did the launch and how it went well. That content, every time I would go over here and build the software tutorial part of my business, it would do well, and then I would do a write-up of, “Here’s everything I did. Here’s how it worked.” That content would blow up. At one point, there were several different businesses. ConvertKit was the software we used to run my email list. Brian Harris was the friend who taught me how to launch an online course. Platform University from Michael Hyatt was also another place I learned. Ray Edwards is where I learned copywriting.

At one point, all four of them were teaching webinars to their customers, saying, “John needs to do this $10,000 launch. Here are all the details he shared.” Everyone was far more interested in my content on how to build an online business. I paid attention to that. I shifted my business to focus more on teaching people that have to build their online business in 30 minutes a day. That was the core focus. Originally, it was to say, “You’ve got full-time family responsibilities. You’ve got a full-time job and you are trying to build an online business on the side.” That business did well. I was able to grow that essentially a course and coaching business.

Michael Hyatt was one of the people I learned from along the way. He reached out and asked if I would come work with him to take over Platform University, which was a huge multimillion-dollar membership site that he owned that was all focused on helping people do what I was teaching on my blog. I took over that essentially, a division we spun off as its own company for several years. A little over a few years later, behind the scenes, I was also preparing Platform University for acquisition. We did sell that to Pete Vargas.

That was when I began to focus more on my other businesses but that was incredible. Talk about skipping the line in terms of professional growth and education with business. Along the way, I also launched a software company called Notable. Our flagship product is called NotablePress. Essentially, it’s a super-powered WordPress theme for content creators like you. We’ve got podcasters, YouTubers, and bloggers.

What I hear from you, and I think my audience would probably going to agree with this, is I’m a huge believer in providing something to your customers like not agitated information, copying, pasting from this side or that side, whatever’s trending because that’s going to get you a little bit of lift for the day but consistently. What you were offering in your first online business was original content, original thoughts, how to do something different enough if people clicked on it, and it caught the eye of professionals in the business. The lesson here is if you have expertise that you want to share, it doesn’t have to cost you a huge fortune to start a business.

Look at the way John started his business. It was almost like a side hustle. As he said, he stumbled on to that, which led to the next thing. I always say to people to make sure that you have something that you can share that is original. We will get into this a little bit about your business philosophy in your book Survive and Thrive, which I love, by the way.

Your customers really want to know if you have a real solution to a real problem that they want to solve.

If you haven’t heard about this book, it’s titled Survive and Thrive. To go with that, John has a podcast along that same theme, Thrive School, where he shares a lot more information. One of the first things and you mentioned in your original introduction, is you have to figure out what you are providing to your target audience and how you are uniquely qualified to provide that.

It’s a matter of finding out what your customers want, what their problems are, what their pain points are, and alleviating that quickly at an affordable price. It’s like a Business Model 101, I would say you. I like to think about this. Your first three businesses were online and you’ve got a software company. I know that you have a coworking space. I would say that your podcast is also a business because you could easily monetize that as well. I know that you are a firm believer that there are three types of products that every entrepreneur should offer. What are those three?

First of all, I would say you can have 100 products or 1 product. There are many different ways to build your business but what I found is that there’s this framework that seems to work incredibly well for both balancing the needs of the business to generate revenue and profit. Also, the needs of a customer in an over-saturated world of information for the customer to be able to quickly understand how your products fit together in what I refer to as the selling story, where someone is not looking at your business. They are not seeing a bunch of things they can shove in a bag but they are seeing a story of how you can make their life better.

The first product is the Gateway Product. Think of this as a painless purchase. There are a lot of different terms for this. Some would call it a loss leader or a tripwire. I think of this as a gateway product because the goal here with your gateway product is not to generate a lot of profit in your business. The goal is to earn a customer’s trust with a gateway product. The gateway product is a painless purchase. Whatever price point your customer is comfortable with, you want to price it in such a way that it’s painless so they can go, “I can spend $5 or $50 on that item depending upon your demographic to test it.”

They are taking a gamble on you. Your job with the gateway product is to make sure that you go above and beyond their expectations and wow them with the gateway product. There’s no magic formula for this but I usually try to use about 10X as how to think about this. If someone is paying you $50 for a gateway product, try to give them at least $500 in value. Something that surprises them in a way that you earn their trust.

On the other end of the spectrum is the Flagship Product. The flagship product is the epitome of the full transformation of your business. Whatever transformation you are selling, the idea is the flagship product is probably the most expensive thing you offer but it’s the all-in package. If a customer is ready to go all-in, the question I will ask clients occasionally when we are trying to think through their business and say, “Now, what’s the most amount of transformation that you will let a customer go through?”

Relate to that, “What is the most amount of money that you allow a customer to pay you now?” People are like, “All of it.” I’m like, “No, you can’t pick up the phone.” If someone is looking through your business, whatever that is, online or in person, what is the most amount of money you will have to accept? The flagship product.

Victoria, you may have seen something similar. What I found is that in all the businesses that I have been involved in is less than 10% of your customer who is going to buy the flagship product. The goal for the rest of the customers, it gives them something to aspire to because you are communicating to them. This is the vision of where you are going. For those customers that do go all in, that can be a huge source of revenue.

MDH 47 | Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship: There are so many people all over the world who are caught in these cycles of poverty. It’s really tough for them to break out of that. We can eradicate generational poverty if we make entrepreneurship more accessible.


The third category is the Continuity or the Subscription Product. This is the glue that holds everything together. Between purchases, you want an automatic transaction with a customer where you are finding some recurring problem or need in their life that you can solve through a recurring subscription. This could be a delivery service like Dollar Shave Club. This could be an information product like a Thrive School Pro, my membership site.

There are so many ways you could do this but the goal here is you are creating an ongoing relationship with your customer. You can have other products but if you have those three at the core, that gateway product, a continuity product, and a flagship product, that’s enough to build a highly profitable business and serve your customers.

That’s funny you say that because I come from brick and mortar. In retail, we call that the good, better, best. Your gateway product would be a good product. We don’t call them cheap. It is the least expensive, I would call them. The second is going to be the better and the third one is the best. It’s like the window dressing.

If you go to a regular department store, go to Neiman’s, Saks, Bloomingdale’s, any of the fancy stores or whatever is at the window is there to give you the striking beauty factor. You want to go into the store to see what’s there. You go in there and I don’t think I have ever seen anybody buy anything on the window like it does its job. You are like, “It’s beautiful.”

Out of curiosity, if you ask how much is that dress, the price is going to be somewhere between $3,000 to $5,000. You probably went in there hoping to buy a $500 dress on sale for $300. They are like, “It’s $3,000 to $5,000. It’s such a good deal because the store down the streets sells them for $10,000 to $15,000.” What it does do, though, is if you do see a dress inside for $195, $300 or something that looks similar and you are like, “Why is it so cheap?” It sets the psychology that what you are buying is a pretty good deal. As opposed to, if you went to Target and you saw that same dress for $59 and you are like, “I’m at Target. Why is that so expensive? It should be $19.99 or $39.99 at the most.” It sets that thing.

In nowadays business, especially if you are selling online or coaching to have your gateway product, as you said, you need to earn the trust of the customer and you have the flagship product, which is the most expensive and it’s all in. I also think that having the gateway product and a transitional product because you are giving them irresistible offers at each point.

It makes sense because after they have experienced it the first time, they were like, “That was good for $50,” or whatever it is. You go in and you go, “It’s probably worth a few hundred dollars and I’ve got a good deal. I’ve got a lot more than I ever paid for. I’m ready to go to the next level.” The next level, again, adds more value. It’s a friction-free way to generate income, I would say.

You mentioned the good, better, best. Dollar Shave Club did this remarkably well when they first launched. The name of their whole company is Dollar Shave Club. The whole promise is that you can get a razor for $1 and that’s a painless purchase. That’s a crazy price for a razor and that’s one of the examples I go into my book because I have always dreaded walking down the line to try to pretend like I know what razor to buy.

The goal with your gateway product is actually not to generate a lot of profit in your business. The goal is to earn a customer’s trust.

The first time Dollar Shave Club said, “For $1, we will send you a simple razor every month that does what it needs to do.” I said, “Yes,” but as soon as I said yes to that gateway product, they said, “Great. Before we send it, by the way, did you know we have a good, better, best?” I’ve never got the $1 razor. I’ve got the $5 razor because, like most people, I consider myself a middle-of-the-road customer, so I bought the $5 a month razor.

Even the $5 is pretty cheap.

I checked, though. I spent over $1,000 with Dollar Shave Club because I checked my account added everything out because, over the years, it’s the $5 a month razor. They were like, “By the way, there’s a great travel bath bag with the razor has this perfect slot in it,” but then you get it. There were all these empty pockets. I accidentally spent over $1,000 with Dollar Shave Club because I signed up for their $1 video gateway product.

Here’s the thing. All the things you talk about in retail. The retailers know what they are doing. I don’t know if you realize this but when you go to a store, the way the displays are done and everything, it’s like when you go to casinos in Vegas. When you try to check into a room, you have to walk a mile of the tables before reaching the elevator. We tell very similar stories.

The fact that you buy the $5 razor because they gave you an opportunity to upgrade right there and then. When you get it and you have tried it a couple of times, the things like travel bags and all this stuff, that’s what we call the upsell. Normally speaking, if we are getting, let’s say, a 30% margin on the gateway product and you upgrade them, you are getting a 50% margin but in the upsell, you are getting a 200% margin because the upsell is a convenience product. We don’t expect everybody to buy it.

There’s no cost involved in selling this person because they are buying it themselves. You are only telling them, “You can make your life simpler.” That item is where they make real money. The other stuff you’ve got to keep is turning inventory to meet your dollar volume. It’s all free money for them. The other one is if you sell 1 out of 10 people, they have this upsell.

If they are going to order 100,000 pieces of the $5 razor, they only order 10,000. They sell that out before anything else because it’s an unlimited amount of it but they will charge you quite a bit of money. Usually, the travel bag was probably more money than all the razors put together. This is how you spent all those thousands of dollars.

The three core products we talked about are crucial and fundamental. The gateway product, continuity, and flagship, and you hit on 1 of the 2 other categories that I teach about in the book in terms of products. There are two types of upsells. There are supplementary products and complementary products. The backpack is a complementary product because it’s an add-on but the good, better, best versions of the razors are all supplementary products.

There’s a reason why I would want all three but they are different alternatives. Especially when entrepreneurs try to think, “How do I generate more revenue for my business?” Often, it’s tempting to create one more product. I ask, “Let’s back up for a second and make sure we are not confusing the customer by making it clear. Do you know what your gateway product is? What your continuity product and what is your flagship product is?” In every other product in your business, is it a compliment or a supplement to 1 of those 3? If it’s not, if you can’t tie back to 1 of those 3 things, it might not belong in your business. It might be a whole separate business.

MDH 47 | Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship: Less than 10% of your customers actually go through to buy the flagship product.


The other thing I’m a huge proponent of is I’m interviewing you, you are coaching a bunch of people, and you are writing a book. Again, the book is Survive and Thrive by John Meese, one of the Top Sellers on Amazon. Podcasts, to me, are like a mastermind class every week, so go and listen to his podcast, the Thrive School. Even if you can’t do it every week, at least catch it. Here’s the thing. None of us know who your customers are but I will tell you who your customer is not. A confused customer will never buy. They won’t buy anything.

You want to make sure that you give complete clarity to yourself also but to the customer, they have to know why, even if it’s an upsell. I talked about how the upsells. Usually, the upsells to me, the margins are very high but even then, you have to be crystal clear as to why that’s there, what it goes with, and the type of service that product does on its own and also in combination with other things. That’s interesting, John.

Even then, the basic principles of running a fantastic business don’t change because it’s finding a problem and a solution to this. When you talk about Generational Poverty so that you cycle and go on this again, could you explain the risk factor now? How much risk is acceptable, in your opinion? In other words, if somebody who was 30 now and wants to start a business, are you a proponent of them taking no financial risks? What’s your position on that? What is acceptable? Is that a yearly salary or do you borrow money from a bank or your parents?

If I’m assuming Generational Poverty is involved, that’s not an option for the students when I’m teaching. It’s a great question. The first thing I would say is that it is cheaper to become a highly successful entrepreneur now than at any other time in history like with the internet and with digital marketing. In 2019, we were at a 40-year low of entrepreneurship in America.

In America, being the leading country full of entrepreneurs in the world and being at a 40-year low or in entrepreneurship, that’s very concerning because that’s where our economy’s wealth and progress comes from. Now, 2020 was challenging for lots of reasons. In 2021, we have broken the record twice now in terms of businesses started each quarter. We are making a good term. This is a good trend. I want this trend to continue.

I would say the first thing to know is that it’s cheaper than it ever has been to start a business. Most of what I teach is in the bootstrapping category. I started with $500. I set aside $500 and opened a business checking account. I put $500 in it and that was it. I never put any other money in it. I took plenty of money out as the business grew but that was my budget. I think constraints are incredibly helpful.

I have a friend who was planning to start a business. He wanted to be as safe as possible. He worked very hard. He worked at his full-time job and saved enough money. He had an entire year’s worth of expenses set aside in a reserve account. He said, “I have a one-year runway to launch my business. I’m going to do it.”

He quit his job and spent eleven months playing around with being an entrepreneur. He spent 30 days growing his business. It wasn’t until he was running out of money that he started to feel the pressure. That’s when he started pushing through and seeing results. It’s healthy to have some real pressure and stakes, even if it’s only, “There’s $500 or $100 in my checking account. That’s it. Let’s go.” You can start with more than that, especially if you are new to the business. I’m not a fan of giving a new entrepreneur, whether it’s a bank, a parent or a venture capital investor. I’m not a huge fan of giving a brand-new entrepreneur $100,000 or $1 million and saying, “Go build something,” because there are so many mistakes that you are going to have to make.

I completely agree with you on that. My view on that is a risk no money. I started my company with $30. At that time, starting an online business was not possible. When I started, online businesses didn’t exist. We didn’t have internet, laptop, computers or anything like your generation takes completely for granted.

We didn’t have social media, so we didn’t even have a chance to try out our skills and get our word out. It’s very challenging. When I started my business, several people wanted to start their own. Many of them started as a side hustle. There’s a great book called Good to Great. I don’t know if you have ever read her or not.

It is cheaper to become a highly successful entrepreneur today than at any other time in history.

Basically, the whole premise of the book is that because things are good, you don’t become the best. For example, it’s a known fact that in many of the cities and states in America, our schools are failing. It has been a subject in those places where the schools are failing. It has been a point of contention for 50 years and they never fix it.

Even the most failing schools here in America are still better than schools all around the world in other countries, so we never fix it. In 2019, things were good like most people that the economy was good. They are getting a great salary. Even though they hated their jobs, their coworkers or probably could rarely stomach their customers, things were good.

It goes with that theme that we didn’t have a lot of entrepreneurs because they thought things were good. When things are good is when you have to buckle down and say, “This is a great opportunity for me.” I also found that to be not a coincidence at all that in 2021, the Census Bureau said that they had the most number of business licenses applied than any other time in our history. That makes sense. I haven’t gone through this myself. When you have no money, you are forced to do things with no money.

For example, I didn’t have any money to make any samples. I couldn’t make a physical sample of anything. I didn’t have any money to pay for it. People could say, “How can you sell jewelry without ever making a sample?” A sample cost anywhere from $300 to $1,200 per piece. It’s labor. Not gold. It’s only to make an original mold.

If you did 100 molds, you were looking at $10,000 to $50,000, an average of $500 before you ever tested, whether or not your designs were going to ever sell. What I did was I simply do them on a lookbook and painted them nicely. I have been to all the stores and asked them, “If you had something like this, would you be able to sell it?” I think that when you don’t have money, you could maybe be a little bit more creative in that.

I agree with you that you don’t need to make a whole lot of money and put your family or go to your parents as your bankers or anything like that. The most important thing is to figure out your business. What does your product do? Does it help save money and time? Does it help you do something faster? Does it help you create security around? Whatever it is, you need to figure out what it is that you are offering. If you are adding value to somebody else’s life, I think that’s the most critical thing. What John is preaching is understanding how you offer them with a lot of clarity and value to your customers.

I liked all of the things that you shared. As we come to near the end of our interview, are there real actionable tips? What are two major tips that you could share that maybe had guided you when you were going through it? I’m sure when you are running three different businesses, you have had times when you wonder like, “What the heck am I doing here? Why would I start this?” How did you survive those?

I will give one. This one is a bigger picture to start then we can talk about it a little more tactical. You and I have talked around this but it’s important to emphasize the fact that your business success is built on creating a real solution to a real problem, to real people. If you want to help how to figure out who your real people are or what their real problems are, that’s all in my book. It’s important to say that. I say real every time, a real solution and real problem with people because many businesses start and they struggle because they are focusing on the money. They are not taking into account the people on the other side.

You will pick up on this. You will be in a meeting with someone and they will be talking about all their numbers and might list 1,000 sales, 10,000 customers or 100,000 followers on social media. Anytime that I’m meeting with someone and work with a client or a partner and we are working on that stuff, I always like to pause for a minute to say, “Remember, those are real human beings. Every single one of those real human beings with aspirations, dreams, fears, problems, children, sickness, parents, death and all these things.”

MDH 47 | Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship: So many businesses really struggle because they’re focusing on the money and not really taking into account the people on the other side.


I think it’s a powerful human skill to tap into our ability to empathize with other human beings. That honestly is one of the most underutilized skills in business, where many businesses are focused on more sales, growth hacks, products, and forget the fact that their business is designed to help people either become happier, healthier and wealthier. Those are like the broad categories of products.

You have to remember that the key to your success is serving people. The businesses that do the best when economies change and shifts are the businesses that stay in tune with how their customer’s needs have changed. It’s not how we can shove our product down their throat. It’s, “Had their needs changed? Does our product need to change to meet that?” Those are the businesses that have done the best time again.

I agree with you on that for sure. Do you have a second point?

The other one is the flip side. The good thing is that it’s easier to build a business than ever before because there are so many ways to build a business. The problem is there are so many ways to grow your business. It can be incredibly overwhelming. A lot of entrepreneurs make the mistake of trying to do one more thing. They were like, “Maybe we should get on TikTok. Maybe we should run a Facebook Ad campaign. I hear billboards are coming back. Maybe we should do SMS marketing.” The reality is any one of those things can grow your business. The key is you have to become the master of one growth model.

That’s to scale your business. If you are at the point where you could hire a marketing team to start taking over different growth models, then you can start getting into having different growth models going on in your business. Many entrepreneurs get lost because they are trying to do a little bit of a podcast, Facebook Ad campaign or something else. They are the master of none of those. From a tactical perspective, I would say, focus on one primary growth model. Double down on that and you will see way more success than if you are to do 5 or 10 different growth models at a surface.

I’m going to play a devil’s advocate. They might say, “If I did a one growth model but it doesn’t work, how do I know that I’m in the right growth model?” I think your 1st and 2nd point are tied together. Your first point was that we are selling real products or services to real people. We need to have empathy. Even more than that, it comes down to understanding who your customer is. What does she need? What does she suffer with? How can I help her? You need to have that question every single day. If you do that, then your business growth model becomes easier. Like my customers, they are all in a 35 to 55-ish, highly educated customer base.

I’ve got a lot of Millennial entrepreneurs. They are risking their money and creating wealth every single day because that’s how entrepreneurs make money and pay their people. They are going to realize that if you are selling, for example, anti-aging products or life insurance for the elderly, they are probably not going to hang out on TikTok. You can sit there and say, “I can get all cutesy and everything. I’ve got 30,000 followers on TikTok.” They are not your customer because that’s not where they hang out.

If you take time to understand where they are, they are not hanging out there by understanding who your customers are, where they hang out in big numbers, how they shop, what are their main gripes, and what do they value the most. I’m not a Millennial but I have to tell you I’m trying to attract Millennials to my business because they are the future.

In the jewelry business, for example, the people my age are big, bold, and things that are thicker because there’s more gold in there or whatever. Millennials like things that are very minimalistic. They like things that express without all the fuss. If I’m trying to get a lot of Millennials coming into my world, they might be hanging out at Instagram or Pinterest for visual stuff but they are not hanging out on Facebook. Basically, understanding what your customers want, where they hang out in large numbers because then if you have an Instagram post or whatever a post that you come up with, the messaging will be clearer because you understand who they are, why they hang there, and what they are looking for.

Your point number 1 and 2 is you have to know exactly who you are serving. You can’t be sitting there pretending that you are serving everybody because you are not. Try not to do that because you are not a superwoman. You are going to serve no one because your product is water down and everything else. I think those were very sound advice for any entrepreneur. I do quite a bit of coaching myself. The number one mistake that a lot of young entrepreneurs make is trying to be everything to everybody. Number two is, it’s true that you could sit there and talk about your customer numbers and your ROI.

It’s really important to emphasize the fact that your business success is built on creating a real solution to a real problem.

I’m going to go back to one more point you made earlier, which is the power of storytelling. Everybody’s story is very interesting. Yours is very interesting. I wish I was as smart as you when I was 30 because then I would be a billionaire by now. Unfortunately, I have had to learn lessons along the way. I had to learn the hard way but I would say that the power of storytelling, the authenticity, being vulnerable, being who you are, offering what you can, being honest that you don’t know everything, you own your mistakes and weaknesses.

Those are the key traits that entrepreneurs without a lot of money can hang on to because that’s whom we root for as Americans. We root for underdogs, for people who are not perfect, and who try hard. We hate perfect people. Who wants them? Who wants to take lessons from them? I would say everything you have shared so far is amazing. How can my audience get ahold of you, connect with you and get ahold of your book?

I wish we had the time to go too much deeper into it. I will be happy to share resources that will help. As we talked about growth models, for example, one of the things that I teach in the book Survive and Thrive: How to Build a Profitable Business in Any Economy (Including This One) is specifically the fact that there are only five growth models and other things that fit underneath them. I would say go to to get a copy of the book. That will have links where you can get it on Amazon, Audible, Bookshop, or Barnes & Noble, wherever you prefer to get your books.

It also has a form where you can download a free one-page Playbook. Think of this like a one-page business plan that takes the principles we talked about of who are the real people you are serving, what is the real problem, what is your real solution, connects that to your growth model, and your core products. That’s a free resource that’s there as well at

As you mentioned, I hosted the Thrive School Podcast. If you want to listen in and love to share, I have some incredible interviews on there with incredibly successful entrepreneurs. The whole commitment there is building a thriving business. Not only profitable but enjoyable, too. A business that fuels your life. That’s something that I’m passionate about.

I preach this all the time. A lot of entrepreneurs start their businesses. If you ask people like, “Why do you want to be your own boss?” Money ranks about number four out of that. Most people want freedom of time, freedom of emotion and fulfillment. They want to be their own boss, so they can call their own shots. They want to work fewer hours for more money. Oftentimes, we find entrepreneurs working three times more hours and making less money.

A lot of you who are in the corporate world now, I have about 30% of them that are on the verge of starting something but they don’t have the courage to do that but if you look at someone like John, who wrote the Survive and Thrive, what he’s giving is almost like a plug-and-play framework for you to follow so that you are not having to make all the mistakes and learn. You will still make some, trust me.

A lot of the stuff that has been worked out by somebody who didn’t come from a lot of money, I think there are a lot of value in that. With that, I always end my show with this message, which is to stay healthy and happy. Remember, happiness is a choice. I hope you make great choices until we see each other next time. Thank you so much.


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About John Meese

MDH 47 | EntrepreneurshipHi friend 👋 I’m John Meese, the author of the #1 bestseller Survive and Thrive: How to Build a Profitable Business in Any Economy (Including This One). An entrepreneur myself, I am on a mission to eradicate generational poverty by equipping entrepreneurs with the tools and training they need to build thriving businesses from scratch.

I’m the CEO of Cowork Inc, co-founder of Notable, and I regularly publish interviews and insight on my Thrive School podcast and right here at I’ve worked closely with multiple clients who have repeatedly hit the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing privately-owned businesses in America. I currently offer strategic advisor services to a limited selection of companies, as well.