Update: Scroll down to Kyle’s comment for a helpful list of this interview’s key ideas.
Do you ever need to snap out of entrepreneurial depression? Well, how do you do it? Today’s guest talks about two funks in his life. I think you’ll agree they’re really painful, and he talks about what he did to snap out of them mentally.
Joe Apfelbaum is the founder of Ajax Union, which helps businesses get more customers through search engines, social media, email & video.
All that and so much more is coming up.
Watch the FULL program
Joe Apfelbaum, Ajax Union
Joe Apfelbaum is the CEO and Co-Founder of Ajax Union, a marketing SEO company.
Andrew Coming up, do you need customers? Well, the very first story in this interview reveals the kind of tactic that entrepreneurs don’t feel comfortable revealing outside of Mixergy interviews. Catch that if you catch nothing else. Also, do you need to make cold calls to get business? Don’t know what to say on those calls? Today’s guest is going to tell you what he says, and show you how you can use it when you’re calling for customers.Finally, do you ever need to snap out of entrepreneurial depression? Well, you say, of course I do. Well, how do you do it? Today’s guest talks about two funks in his life. I think you’ll agree they’re really painful, and he talks about what he did to snap out of them mentally. All that and so much more is coming up. Watch this interview.
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All right, let’s get started. Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart. How does a developer end up building a profitable marketing company? Joe Apfelbaum is the founder of AjaxUnion, which helps businesses get more customers through search engines, social media, email and video. I invited him here to talk about how he built his business. Joe, welcome.
Joe: Thank you very much, Andrew.
Andrew: I was watching you. You got a kick out of my intro, didn’t you?
Joe: I love your introduction. I have my own little web series. I love doing the introduction. When you do it over, and over, and over, it becomes natural, and it just rolls right off your tongue.
Andrew: Totally. I called up my parents the other day. I said, hey, it’s Andrew Warner, founder of mixergy.com. [??]
Joe: That’s great. That’s great.
Andrew: Let’s start with the numbers. What kind of revenue are you guys at AjaxUnion pulling in?
Joe: In 2011, we generated $2.1 million in revenue. We started off three years prior to that with just over $100,000.
Joe: When we started off the company, my goal was to bring it up to a million dollars. I never believed that I would be able to blow it out of the water. When we just started, we were like, we have to generate a million dollars. Everybody wants to be a millionaire. They even have a show like that.
Andrew: Are you a millionaire now?
Joe: I am certainly not a millionaire in the bank, but I am a millionaire in the mind.
Andrew: I see. You’ve got a company that’s generating a million dollars. Will it get to a point where you can do a million dollars in net profit, or the expense . . .
Joe: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Andrew: It will?
Joe: It definitely will. It depends on how much I want to grow. If I wanted to stop growing, and I want to stop investing in an aggressive sales team, and a development team to build tools like RankZen, and kiwi SEO, and all the other tools like we’re building, then we could certainly be more profitable. But I want to hire more people, and like I told my CEO group. I’m part of Vistage. I said, I want to end, I want to terminate the unemployment rate. Completely. I want it to be 0%. I want everyone to have a job.
Andrew: Working for you?
Joe: Not working for me.
Joe: Helping people that are entrepreneurs build new businesses, and them hiring people. Somebody asked me, are you hiring?
Andrew: . . .bottom line. Let’s talk about profits after expenses that go into building up your consulting business, where you do marketing for other companies. Is that over half a million dollars? Before you spend on kiwiSEO, and other products, is it over half a million?
Joe: This coming year, it will be over half a million.
Andrew: And last year, over a quarter?
Andrew: Okay. First of all, congratulations on getting this far this quickly. Second, I plan to now dig into this interview to figure out how you did this, because I know the person who’s listening to me isn’t here to listen to my voice. Very nasally today, especially. They’re here to get something actually useful. Why don’t we start off with a question that I wrestle with interviewees, sometimes, to get out of. I want to know where they got their customers. You have one specific story that I want to start off with. The one about Craigslist.
Andrew: What did you do with Craigslist to get customers?
Joe: When I just started out, I knew that there had to be better ways than cold calling. Cold calling works. I personally cold called, and it definitely works. But there had to be a better way. I went online, and I found this website called craigslist.org., which everybody heard of. It doesn’t have such a great reputation, but they have an awesome job section.
What people do is they post jobs when they need something. They have a marketing section. They have a web info section. They have a sales section. I looked at the marketing section. I searched for the word SEO, because that’s what we started off offering, search engine optimization. I noticed there were a lot of people looking for people to do SEO for them. I decided to start emailing the people, saying, hey, look, we can offer SEO for you. You don’t have to hire somebody. You can hire a company for a couple of hundred dollars a month. We’ll do this for you, and you’ll get better rankings, and we’ll help you grow your business.
I wasn’t getting such good replies, but I did get a couple of replies. I wasn’t trying to trick the people. I didn’t say, I’m, oh, I’m a candidate, like a resume type of thing. I was straight up, but I was like, let me see if I could help you. I have a company. I didn’t want to get unqualified leads.
I didn’t just try to trick them, and say, hey, call me. I’d love to help you, as if I’m a freelancer or whatever. I made it clear that I was a company, and that I could help them. I got a couple of replies, but it didn’t really turn into anything. Then I thought about, how can I really blow this out of the water? How can I take this, and because there are thousands of listings in each city. Every single day, there are listings going on. I can’t do this myself. I can’t afford to pay someone to take the chance.
I went on odesk.com, and I hired a few people from overseas that costs a dollar, two or three dollars an hour. I wrote up a script for them. I told them how to create the email addresses, because I didn’t want to get my email banned and all that. They created emails and they started doing it. It started costing me a couple of hundred dollars every single month.
Month after month, it wasn’t working, but I knew it had to work. I just knew. I just knew in my heart. After a while, it started getting into the three digits, and to the four digits. I looked back, and it was over $3,000, and I was going to kill the campaign. I was like, you know what, I have to keep tweaking. I kept tweaking. Used Yahoo emails, used Gmails, used this, used that. Used different messages, because Craigslist kept blocking us.
You could only send 20 per day, per email, per this, per IP. We had to really get creative there. Suddenly, after $3,740, or something, and me looking at my odesk account just throwing money away, that I really didn’t have. It was all going on my credit card. Some guy replied. I had a call with him, and we closed a $60,000 deal, and he referred a customer to us. I was, like, whoa, I couldn’t believe it. If this works, anything can work. You just have to try to do things, and people just don’t do. They talk a lot.
Andrew: These are the kinds of creative projects that you work on for your company to get customers, and for your clients, or is it just for you?
Joe: Generally just for me, because I don’t like doing things like testing for my customers. I want them to have something very specific that we’re doing that’s measurable, that they can see a predictive ROI on. I want to show you a return on investment. For our clients, I don’t want them just to say, oh, let’s test this out, and then spend 3,000, and not know that I can give them anything for it.
Joe: If somebody has a budget and wants to test, I’ll be happy to help them and do something creative. But they can’t come with the expectation that I’m going to guarantee a result, unless I know what I’m giving you, and I can predict it, and i know that there’s a cost for acquisition, and there’s an ROI, and a cost per lead and a so on.
Andrew: Just before building AjaxUnion, you were running a company called Apple Creations. This was your company that built websites. Right?
Joe: Yeah. Thirteen years ago, I opened up a web design company called Apple’s Creations. Plural. Apple’s Creations.
Andrew: Oh, Apples. Okay.
Joe: I always loved technology. I’m like a techie nerd. From the first Compaq computer that I got, I loved to open it, and mess around with the hard drive and everything. Then when I started getting internet, I found some free internet. Me and my friend we’re saying, who has a bigger modem. He had a 14.4, and I got myself a 33.6k. He used to come over to my house and download MP3s, or whatever. Obviously, only legal MP3s, they had back . . .
Andrew: Right. Right. Really, at that speed, you could do one a day only, so you’re not causing much damage to the industry.
Joe: Yeah. It was really, really awesome. I didn’t really have much to do. There wasn’t that much to do. I started learning html, and I started learning graphic design. I had photo shop, and I started messing around with flash. Before you know it, people started asking me to do it for them. I did it for free for some organizations.
Somebody in the organization saw that I was doing it, so he’s like, oh, do it for my business. I did it for his business, and then his friend. I wasn’t thinking business. I just had fun doing it. I loved it. I loved this creativity. I always looked at ads in paper. I love ads. My passion is still to create some type of advertising magazine. I always loved technology. I love creativity. I was always daydreaming in school. I was always thinking about creating things and designing things. I’m very into that stuff, so I decided to make it into a business, because people were just asking me for it.
Andrew: All right. How do you go from that to suddenly doing marketing. It had something to do with one of the clients that you had at Apple’s Creations. Right?
Joe: Yeah. Absolutely. People came to me. They’re like, I need a website. Really, what are they thinking when they need a website? They don’t need a website. Nobody just needs a website to have a website. People need a website because they want to make money. Right? At the end of the day, people were saying, how do I get business? You made me this website. What do I do? I was like, I don’t know. What are you asking me for? I just build websites.
Then that got me thinking. You know what. There is something I could do. There’s something called Google that my friend just told me about that’s this awesome thing. If you can rank on Google when somebody searches for something. I was, like, let me do something. I added something called a meta tag. Suddenly, he was getting traffic and orders. It was a guy in a copier company. He was like, oh, my goodness, you made me number one for the word copy machines. I was like, yeah, I’m the king of the world.
Really, I just put a meta title, meta description, meta keyword. Then he started going down. He’s like, I’m going down. Get me back up. I was like, ooh, let me get a writer, and write some content. Then the linking thing came in. Every year I would do new things. Before you know it, the next guy asked me, and the next guy. Before you know it, I wasn’t just building websites, I was building solutions for people.
I really loved it. I loved the creativity. You really have to be creative to do SEO. You really have to think out of the box. You have to reverse engineer the algorithm.
Andrew: So meta tag helped you with Google?
Joe: Back in the early, early day. Meta description, meta keyword, and title tag was very important.
Andrew: I guess I don’t know search engine optimization well enough to know why was it so important. Why was that what helped him rank higher in Google search results.
Joe: The way it works is that Google, back in the day, and other search engines, what they would do is they would identify content that’s on your website. Most websites would just say homepage on their title tag, on their meta tag. Instead of writing homepage, like most people did, I wrote copy machines. Copy machines ny, copy machines nyc, copier leasing, and those things. Then, all of a sudden, it would just come up on the first page of Google.
It was like magic. It wasn’t so complicated. By adding the keywords to your website, that was what you had to do, and Boom. I started researching it. I read SEObook.com. I actually bought the book. I started going to the library, and I started buying other books. I have all these books that I bought, and I just kept reading. SEO for Dummies, Search Engine Optimization for Dummies. I bought a PPC book. I started getting into PPC, which stands for paper clip, for those that don’t know Google ad words.
I started learning about keyword research, and Google Analytics. Basically, a lot of it was curiosity. I’m very curious. I always want to see what’s under the rug.
Andrew: All right. Now you have this new direction. You’re loving it because you can get results quickly for people, and then freak out when they lose what you just gave them. That means they want more of it. How do you get more customers now that you’ve got a great idea?
Joe: I didn’t think about that. Honestly, I really didn’t think about getting more customers. I had referrals, and I wasn’t thinking about growing my business. I was making good money. I have a job. The only reason why I took the job is because I had some personal things that happened. I was married. We had a stillbirth. It was a terrible time in my life. I decided, you know what, I’m not such an entrepreneur. Life sucks. I had a time where I was really sad. I decided to just get a job.
That was the best thing I ever did, because it put me into a position where I could really help a company from the inside. To the point where I was helping one company, and then another company approached me, and another company approached me. Then I was consulting for another company, and then they hired me from that company. Then, before you know it, a different company, the investor wants to start some type of marketing company, which didn’t end up working out. But I met my partner there, and we started our own marketing company as a result.
I never had that business mind where I have to get more customers, and cold calling. I just was passionate about marketing, technology, creativity. I’m just a nerd.
Andrew: I’m going to come back to that in a second, because that surprises me. First, you’re saying the impact of the stillborn. Can you talk a little bit about that? We don’t usually get into the personal stuff, but if you brought it up. I can’t imagine. Nine months you wait for a baby, and then this happens.
Joe: It was terrible. It was a lot worse for my wife, because she’s the mother, and she was the one holding the baby.
Joe: As an entrepreneur, besides renting my own apartment, I rented the top of my apartment to open up an office for Apple’s Creations. I subletted all the rooms in the apartment to get other people to cover my rent, because I didn’t have any other way to do it. At that point, I was, like, I just want to close all this down. I don’t want to move forward it. I don’t even know why I’m living. I didn’t even know what to do anymore. I was just mesmerized by it, and having to cope with everything. It was just too much for me to grow a business, and to do anything. Somebody offered me a job, and I was like, okay, I’ll take it. But only if I can run my own thing on the side, because I’m still an entrepreneur.
Andrew: I see.
Joe: And he said, sure.
Andrew: The way that you snapped out of the depression, or partially, was having a job where you knew what you needed to do, where you didn’t have to try to figure every step of the road out on your own?
Joe: Right. Right. I had somebody else there that I was helping somebody. It’s not like I was the one that who needed help. I needed customers, but I’m the customer. I am working for somebody and I’m helping you with what you need, so me nurturing to somebody else and coming into their organization. I think at that point, they were generating like $5 million a year in revenue. Helping them grow their business, by just being an asset to them, and really understanding the whole corporate environment, because I trained to be a rabbi. I didn’t train to be a web designer or SEO guru.
Andrew: Why didn’t you become a rabbi?
Joe: I just enjoy technology more. I just loved it so much. That’s what I was drawn to. That’s what was my calling. I went to go train to be that, because my parents sent me to a rabbinical school, and I went to Israel for three years. I learned to be a rabbi. I got certified as rabbi, and I’m officially a rabbi. I wanted to do technology. I just loved it. I wanted to learn programming. I wanted to learn html, graphic design, marketing. That’s what I love.
Andrew: You say you didn’t think about how do you sell it, how do you get more business. I’m looking over your shoulder. You have a sign up with your company name. There it is. AjaxUnion. It’s so well-placed that I can read the subtitle underneath it that says, it’s all about the ex- . . . I can read the phone number, 800 594-0444. If this was an eye test, I would be passing with flying colors. I could read the scribble. I’ve never seen anyone do it just like that before. It clearly is positioned with some thought. Aren’t you a salesman?
Joe: Absolutely. I am a salesman, and I always was a salesman. Sometimes when you get into it, I was always selling by nature. I got a real estate license when I was 17. When I was 18, I went to the Department of State. My mother made me do it. My mother’s the salesperson in the family. She really always was pushing me to do sales.
I always loved it. My social drive is 100%. I’m super, super social in an aptitude test. I’m naturally selling. I’m always selling in life. My passion is not sales. My passion is helping people. My passion is technology. My passion is marketing and creativity. This just happens by itself because it’s who I am.
Andrew: I see.
Joe: The business cards behind me of the networking events that I went to, that’s just there. That reminds me. I turn around, I look at their logos. I hold their card and I think about the people that I meet.
Andrew: That’s what’s up on that board? That I can’t see so well. Those are cards of people who you met at networking events.
Joe: Yeah. If I meet the chairman of Signature Bank. I’m going to put his card there. I’m going to think about how he calls every single person on their birthday, all 800 employees. He calls them on their birthday. I’m thinking about how can I improve my culture. I’m the CEO of a company that has 65 employees.
What, I’m not calling people on their birthday and he’s doing that and he has 800 employees. He’s an inspiration to me. I turn around and I look at that, and I think about the people that I met, and the stories that they told me. I have it in my face.
Andrew: You said that you did a little bit of cold calling. How . . . Sorry.
Joe: [??] When I started AjaxUnion, my partner and I had to figure a way to grow a business. At that point, I was already to grow the business. Apple’s Creations, I wasn’t thinking about how I can grow, because I was busy doing four different things. I was running an ebay business, and I was doing some real estate. I had a little IT company going on. I was like an entrepreneur.
I had all these ideas. I had this directory website for the local community. I was spinning ideas, you know, like most entrepreneurs. They get into one idea and then they stop. Then they get into another idea, and then they stop. They have a million ideas, and they’re doing a million things at the same time because they want one to stick.
With AjaxUnion, I was fed up with that. I stopped everything. It was a website that I was managing that I was making $1500 a month every single month, on the side of the job that I had and everything else. I was just managing their advertising for their inbound. I would just place a banner and generate the revenue, and they would give me a commission. I was making $1500. My partner made me drop that.
He’s like, Joe, you cannot spend time on that. You need to help build this business, and this is where 100% of your focus. When Zebbie, my partner, made me laser focus at AjaxUnion, then I started thinking, how can I just grow this. How can I just do this? We went from 100, to 400, to a million, to two million, and we’re just going up like that, just because of the focus.
Andrew: As a person who loves cold calling. What did you learn about doing it right because it’s a challenge for people.
Joe: The first thing is, that I would tell everyone, is you have to be able to take rejection. You have to be able to take failure and most people cannot take failure, they can’t take rejection. I thrive on rejection, I want people to tell me no just so I can find out why, why don’t want to be successful. What’s the problem? Tell me Sir, why don’t you want to be successful? Why don’t you want to grow your business? And not…
Andrew: It’s not that I don’t want to be successful, it’s just that I don’t want a stranger that’s calling me up to try and sell me on something I’m working on.
Joe: I’m not trying to…right. And what I’d say is, I’m, that’s the problem, the problem is you think I’m a stranger calling you and I’m not a stranger calling you, I am here help you, I looked at your company and I hand-picked you from anybody else that I could be spending my time calling because I want to help you and if you don’t want to be helped I need to know why. And if there’s a valid reason about why you don’t want to be helped I will hang up the phone and I will never call you back again. And I love the challenge, I love the thrill of people literally, abusively hanging up on my face. And I’m saying, that guy has a problem, instead of me thinking, what did I do wrong? Why did I fail? Wow, that guy has serious issues, he has anger issues, he yelled at me, you know how many people yelled at me and said, you mother, and I can’t even repeat the words that people have said to me.
Andrew: And would you really go and hand pick them and look at their websites before every one of these cold calls?
Joe: On the fly, on the fly, everything was, a yeah, I picked out a list, like a, you know, I’d pick InkFive list to call and I would cold call all of them and I would, and I would find out something about them that I could use in my opening value statement. And I would customize every call and I would work hard, it’s not easy, cold calling is not easy. If you just think that you’re just going, you’re just going to be lazy about it and you’re just going say hello, I’m from the blah-blah and follow script, it’s not going to work. You have to have a script, but you got to…
Andrew: What is the value statement?
Joe: The opening value statement is when you start off the conversation, you need to start off with something compelling, that is customized to them, something specific, like for example, we started a, a campaign to target dentists. So with dentists, say hello, my name is Joe calling from Ajax Union, the reason why I’m calling today is because we’re calling all the local dental companies, all the local dentists in your area. And we were wondering if you accept new patients? And they’re like, uh, yeah. oh, that’s awesome, I’m, it’s so amazing that you accept new patients because some of the companies in your area actually aren’t accepting any new patients and the ones that are we are able to get them new patients because that’s all we do. Their like, really, you can get them new patients? At that point, they have to decide, do you want more patients or do you not want more patients? Because if you want more patients we can help you do it, but I noticed that your Facebook is broken and your website has someone else’s phone number on it, and your contact form has an error. And they’re like, well, many, most of the people, I don’t care go away, stop calling, bam and they hang up on me. But, I’m not going to call them back and argue with them, but sometimes I got the dentist on the phone, and he says really, my Facebook is broken? Yeah, sure, let me show you how to fix it, and I’ll show them. And I’ll say, by the way, who much revenue do you guys do? The last person I spoke to does between 500 and 700 and I’d really love to get you to 800 and with this little tweak I can show you a return investment. See you tried to use ad words in 2003, I used Spy Food to see that. I see you used ad words 2003, and it probably didn’t work for you because in 2003 ad words wasn’t working, but now Google…and boom I have a conversation. It’s all about, repore, it’s all about relationship and people just try and sell, and selling doesn’t work. Helping works, you know why? Because people hate to be sold, but they love to buy.
Andrew: And so you, would actually, while you were on the phone with them, you would use Spy Food because hey, you said, now I’ve got someone that’s really into me and into this pitch does want more customers and is open to me giving it to me. And then you just go to Spy Food and you start doing a search.
Joe: I do a search, I put in their domain name in there, it tells me how much they are spending, I’m really talking about them, I use, Who Is to see when they bought their domain. I ask them a question, hey, did you register your domain in 2008? Oh yeah, we actually opened up our practices in blah- blah-blah. So why did you open up in 2008, what was it about 2008 that made you decide to open up practice? Well, I was working for somebody else blah- blah-blah, and I never saw a future. Oh wow, so you’re an entrepreneur, and then boom, I have a conversation with the guy. So I try to find things that’s relevant to them and show them that I really care and I really do care because if I faked it they’d know in a second that I don’t care so if you really don’t care about your customers you shouldn’t be cold calling.
I see actually I’m using now Ajax, sorry, I’m using Spy Food, to check on AjaxUnion.com. It says your daily ad words spend is $425.63 to $715. 75…sorry?
Joe: It’s expensive to market yourself on ad words for an SEO company for a marketing company because we have a lot of competitors.
Yeah. And your top organic search term is SEO Agency in New York, which is you said earlier is, actually, a good idea to use that in the title so I’m looking at the title on your site and it is SEO Agency New York City. All right, so now I see what you’re doing, you’re taking people that are already working with you to do some development, and you’re saying, I can do some marketing for you. They’re introducing you to some of their friends, and people who they know from work. You’re doing marketing for them too. You’re cold calling and doing marketing. Are you at that point, talk a little about the product, do you know what your product is? Is it only SEO and SEM, or are you just doing everything and still looking to see what you specialize in?
Joe: The beauty of AjaxUnion was, before AjaxUnion, a customer would call me. I would do whatever he asked me to do. He wants me to design business cards. I’ll design business cards. He wants me to walk him through, fix his computer, or whatever it is. I’ll walk you through. I’ll charge you hourly. Whatever it takes. I would take anything and everything. But that would slow me down. You know why it would slow me down?
Joe: Because I have to create a custom proposal for each person. I wasn’t an expert in everything. For one year, me and my partner, Zebbie, before we officially launched our Anewb plan, A-N-E-W-B, which is an offsite SEO marketing plan, we said we have to come up with a product. We can come up with something.
We have to come up with a solution, a product, that we can sell to people that we know it works. We know exactly what we’re offering. There’s a flat price, and we want to be able to do it month to month. We want to be able to show the customer what we’re offering. Not just like hide, and say that there’s a secret spice, and you’re better than you. No.
You can do this yourself. These are the things that we’re going to do. We’re going to a) articles, b) blogs, c) classified ads, d) directories. We’re going to do a little social bookmarking, a little social networking and we’ll do all that for under a thousand dollars a month. We’ll give you ownership over all the work, so if you leave we don’t hold you hostage.
I don’t about you, but if you ever did a website with somebody, you probably got held hostage at some point when you wanted to leave and they said, Oh, nope. It’s my website. You’re like, no, no, no. Everything’s yours. Or you signed a twelve-month contract and three months into it, you’re not happy. What are you going to do? You’ve got to keep paying them till the end of the year. No contracts. Month to month.
Andrew: How’d you know that this would work? I understand the way that you packaged it makes a lot of sense. I understand focusing makes a lot of sense. I understand your offering a solution to a customer. You didn’t say to the dentist, hey, I can do your website. You said, I can get you customers. Now that you’ve got this package, how do you know that it’s going to get customers?
Joe: I went to the five people that I’ve been doing business with over the course of the year, while I was trying to figure it out. I ask them, if I offered you this amazing package, for this amazing price, would you take it? They’re like, absolutely. That’s a great price. You show me exactly what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and it’s month to month? It’s a no- brainer.
Also, every single company, when I worked at the previous companies, I got pitches all day with SEO companies. I love when people cold call me, more than I love to cold call, by the way. When somebody cold calls me, I will take any cold call, if they actually get through and I’m not busy enough. I will pick up the phone and I will spend the time with that person and say, hey, you’ve got a great opening value statement. Tell me what your strategy is, and help them with their strategy, and really talk to them. But at the end of the day, what was I saying? I got carried away over there.
Andrew: Wait. Wait. Hang on. It’s good that you pause here. Your phone number’s on your website. If someone’s listening to me, and says, I’m cold calling, and everyone’s rejecting me, I’m going to cold call this guy, Joe, on this 800 number that I see on the website. Will you actually be around for the . . .
Joe: It depends. I’m in a lot of meetings. I’m traveling a lot. But if I am by my desk, like if my phone rang right now, and I wasn’t busy doing anything else . . .
Andrew: That 800 number rings to you?
Joe: That 800 number rings to our main line, and if you press 413, it comes to me.
Andrew: And if I do that right now on my phone, then . . .
Andrew: I will [??] to you. and I can cold call you?
Joe: I do have an administrative assistant that is a gatekeeper, so you have to convince her that you are . . .
Andrew: Ah. Okay. That’s a good question now. If someone’s cold calling and they get a gatekeeper, like if you were cold calling a dentist and you got the receptionist. The dentist is not going to pick up his own phone. He’s got his hands in people’s mouths. How do you convince the gatekeeper?
Joe: The key is not to convince the gatekeeper about anything. The key is to use the gatekeeper as your ally. To take the gatekeeper and say, hey, how are you? You’re important. You are very important. Create a relationship with that person, because at the end of the day, that person is the prospect. Yes, you want to get to Joe. You want to speak to Joe. But Elle, my administrative assistant, she is the one that you’re going to have to convince that you’re worthy enough to speak to me.
Andrew: So what do I say to Elle?
Joe: You establish a little bit of a relationship. You tell her why you want to speak to me, very, very briefly. You don’t give away too much information, because then she’ll be like, no, he’s not interested in SEO. You say, I have something really important that will help Joe build his company, and Joe would actually want to hear from me. I would love to help you do your job, and put me through to him.
I would also ask questions like, you know, when is Joe around? When is he available. I’d love to set up a meeting with him. Maybe you could help me get through to Joe. How’s your day going? What do you do? What is your function? How do you like working there? What’s the culture like? I really become friends, with that person. Obviously, I don’t spend my whole day speaking to a receptionist. Make them feel important. The next time you call, use their name, and they’ll never forget you.
Andrew: All right. I would look for things that you’re especially interested in, like this GrowTime tv. That seems to be a passion project of yours.
Joe: Absolutely. Yeah.
Andrew: If I called up Elle and I said, hey, I know that he’s working GrowTime tv, and I think that if he tweaked this thing over here, he’s going to get more followers on youtube. I did it for myself. Does he want to talk?
Joe: Absolutely. Elle would jump on that, and she would be, like, hang on a second. She would g-chat me right away. Joe, I got a guy who watched your Growtime. He wants to talk. I would be like, of course, I want to talk to that guy, but I’ve have three things going on. Get his phone number. Let’s call him back in two hours.
Andrew: All right. I’m going to get back to the narrative in a moment, but what is GrowTime tv?
Joe: GrowTime is a web series that we created to help people grow from average Joe to CEO. That’s kind of the tagline. We want to help entrepreneurs learn about business marketing and technology.
Andrew: Okay. This is a video series that you do. Lots of quick edits. Really nice production values. Makes my video look like a homemade video, which it practically is, except I’m doing it from the office. That’s the only difference between me and a homemade video.
Joe: Yeah. It’s GrowTime.tv. Our YouTube channel is GrowTime TV. It’s free and it’s awesome. If anybody has any ideas, or if you have any ideas about something that you want to learn about, I’d be happy to share my expertise there.
Andrew: April, in the pre-interview, asked you what you did first. Most people come up with all kinds of ideas. Well, here it is. You said, I bought a domain name first. Why is that the first thing that you do for your business?
Joe: I just figure out, at the end of the day, is if I can’t name something. If something doesn’t have a name, it doesn’t exist. Think about it. If you didn’t know what to call your shoes, what would you call your shoes? Why do kids have a name? Why does a building have an address?
If the product doesn’t have a name yet, and you’re just calling it Discount Glasses Store, you don’t buy into it as much as if you called it AjaxUnion or, for example, an SEO product, RankZen, or Salesbuck, or I even created a networking CRM called IntroMoose, because introduce.com was available. My partner thinks it’s really silly. He thinks I should change the name, but I love Intromoose. Then KiwiSEO. I need to come up with names to things.
I came up with a name for an e-commerce directory. It’s called ecommercepal.com. It’s a great directory. It has 25,000 websites on it. If I didn’t come up with a name, I forget that it exists. I have so many names of things. The first thing I do is I make sure the domain is available, and I buy the domain.
Andrew: Now when you’re talking to Zevi, you have a way of talking about it. When you’re thinking about it for yourself, you have something that has some kind of shape in your mind.
Joe: I associate it with a name. It’s this. This is the name. Like the ANEWB plan. Every plan that we have, our email marketing plan, I call it email-spark. Email spark. Our PPC plan, we call it ppcfeeder.
Andrew: I think most people couldn’t do it that way, because they get hung up on the name. For me, it takes forever to get a name. If I spend time coming up with a name first, nothing else is going to get done. You just have this gift for it.
Joe: I do have a gift for it. I have this creativity that comes to me. I use justdropped to come up with names, which is justdropped domains. I use, what’s it called, leandomainsearch.com. I don’t know if you ever heard of that. I use instantdomainsearch. I use GoDaddy. They have suggested stuff. I use EstiBot. I use domain tools. I consider myself a domainer too.
I love buying domains. I even sold a domain. I want to get more into that. There’s just so many things that I want to do. I even have a name for my domaining project. I call it domain miller. I wanted to create and monetize domains. I never launched it, because I was busy launching my blog network. The ajblog network. So anyway.
Andrew: Entrepreneurship is really creative. It is such an outlet for you.
Joe: I love it.
Andrew: Here’s the other thing that surprised me in April’s notes on the pre-interview with you. You said you met at 3:00 a.m. every night to define the product and the target customer. Why 3:00 a.m.
Joe: What happened was, during the day I had a job. After my job, I would have to go home to spend time with my family. My family is so important to me. Someone once told me, if it’s not for family, why are you working? What is the purpose of you working? I’m working so that I can become financially independent. So I can help grow my family so people shouldn’t have problems with my family with money. And because I love it as well. But my family comes first, so I wanted to make sure that I go home first. After I went home, I told my wife, honey, I got to go to work. My second job is with AjaxUnion with Zevi.
I would finish up and I would jet to the office. I rented a little, tiny closet on Nostrand Avenue across the street from my partner’s friend. We rented a basement initially and the whole thing got flooded. All our computers got ruined. Someone gave us a closet so we literally just fit two tiny desks in there. Every single day we would meet and we would stay up till 3:00 a.m. brainstorming and back and forth . . .
Andrew: Until 3:00 a.m.?
Joe: Yeah. Till 3:00 a.m.
Andrew: I see. You’d say good night to your wife, your family. You go to the office and you stay there till 3:00 a.m.
Joe: At least till 3:00 a.m. Sometimes even more. We would just brainstorm, and come with ideas, and do research and watch YouTube videos, and just endless, endless ideas. The best ideas would be when we would leave our computers, lock ourselves in the conference room without our cell phones, and just, literally, brainstorm ideas.
Andrew: All right. That’s how you define the product which is, we’ll update your blog once a week, write an article . . .
Joe: Abcd, articles, blogs, classifieds, directory, social bookmarking, social networking. Bam.
Andrew: All right. Let’s see what else you got. How about we talk about the way you network. This networking for customers.
Joe: Wow. Networking. First, let me tell you about my seminar story, because that’s kind of what got me into networking. One day I’m sitting by my desk. I help this rabbi that came into our office. He has this online school called yeshiva.net where he has like a yeshiva, which is a rabbinical school online, and he gives classes. He wanted to find out how to really get more people. I said, sure, come into my office. Before he left the office, my partner says, you got to give us a blessing. You’re a rabbi, you got to give us a blessing.
I’m like, leave him alone. What do you want, blessing? Leave him alone. So he’s like, no, you got to give us a blessing. He’s like, you should be successful. He said, no, no, no, I don’t hear that successful. Give me a blessing. So he stops and says, all right. What should happen is God should bless you that you should be able to influence other people. You should have a voice throughout the whole world. You should be able to change people’s businesses, and make them more successful. You should be able to influence the masses.
Thank you very much, rabbi. Have a good day. A couple of minutes later, I kid you not, I get an email from Google. Email from Google? I thought it was spam, because I always get spam emails about some relative wants to send me a hundred billion dollars. All I’ve got to do is wire them a thousand bucks. I get all these interesting emails, and I looked through my spam. I got this email from Google, and I got the urge to reply. I say, I got to reply. This might be spam, but I got to reply.
It says, we picked you out. Do you want to lead a Google seminar? Do you want to become a certified Google trainer? This and that. I was like, what is a seminar? What seminar? What are you talking about? I hit yes, of course, we’d love to do a seminar. I never did a seminar before. I don’t do public speaking. I’m not great at camera. I don’t like putting my picture online, or anything.
Andrew: Yeah. You’ve been awful this whole interview. You don’t know how to tell stories. You don’t know how to explain things.
Joe: Exactly. I didn’t know anything. People to people, I’m great one to one, privately in my office.
Andrew: I see. Okay.
Joe: I’m great. Getting up in front of people and talking, that’s embarrassment. I get really embarrassed. It was my number one fear. I replied, and they said, sure, you know, you’re one of the fastest growing companies in Brooklyn. This and that. There aren’t that many SEO companies in Brooklyn. We’d love for you to become a certified Google trainer. You and your partner. We made a quick video for them, of us talking.
We spent a couple of hours making them a video to try and impress them. We kept deleting it and making a new one. Deleting it and making it and making a new one. Finally, we just said, screw it. We’re sending it. We’re probably not going to get accepted anyway. Look at me. Look what I look like. I don’t even know how to talk. We send them the video, and they said, you’re approved. We’re like, we’re approved?
They set up a date for the training in March. This was March of 2010, or something, or 2011. I think it was March of 2011. We went down to the Brooklyn Marriott. I think it was the Marriott or one of those hotels. They did a class with somebody from Google and two other trainers. They basically taught us how to event management, and how to give a Google class.
We already know marketing inside out anyway, but we had no idea how to run an event. They wanted us to run an event, literally, a Google event. You are officially representing Google. As a matter of fact, we’re going to give each attendee a Google coupon. We’re going to give them Google swag, a pen and a pad. I was like, this is awesome. How are we going to fill it? They’re like, don’t worry about that. We got you covered. We’re going to fill your event. Fill our event? What does that mean? Go to the Hilton, get a room. We’re going to fill it, and whatever they pay you, you can keep.
Okay, let’s do it. We started doing events. When they said, how many people should come to your events. So they said, you know, if you get 20 people to come to your seminar, you’re very successful. 20 people? I literally said, hey, stop it over here. Stop it. I want to rent Madison Square Garden and fill it up with people. They’re like, are you crazy. Madison Square Garden. Joe, calm down, this is a little sem-, a Goo-. No, no, no, can you fill Madison Square Garden?
I literally said that. You can ask the people that I literally said that. They’re like, I don’t know. I told my partner, as soon as we leave here, we’re going to Madison Square Garden, and we’re going to find out if it’s available. We went down to Madison Square Garden, and they were under construction. We couldn’t get it. We tried to find out. I got through. I found a number to somebody. They said it was $50,000. We started calculating how many people. There are 27,000 people we need to fill. It turns out that Google can’t get 27,000 people that are interested in SCO to go to an event in short notice. So, they were able to get 200 people in short and every person would pay $80 a pop to come and it was awesome. We rented out the Jewish Children’s Museum in Brooklyn and we rented out the Hilton and the New Yorker Hotel and we were doing seminars left and right. But my first seminar, before I did it, I went down I think I had like 20 employees back then. I got like my top 5 players. I brought them down to the basement and I said, “Guys I’m really embarrassed but I have to do this presentation.”
[??] and I was stuttering and you have no idea. You cannot believe but I failed in front of my staff. I literally failed miserably and I said, “I’m doing this and you are all staying here and watching me suffer” and I had butterflies and anxiety and I was white, but you know what? Gosh darn, I did it and now I jump onto the stage and I love it. I love speaking for the crowds. I love engaging the crowd. I bought books on it. I took classes on it. I even took an acting class to learn how to act.
Andrew: So you could become a better speaker?
Joe: Yeah, I bought a book called, Own the Room. I recommend everyone that wants to be a public speaker to buy the book, Own the Room, and I just started watching every speaker. I got tips from that rabbi. I got tips from other people that are amazing orators [??] I watched Martin Luther King’s video. I just started going crazy. I became infatuated with speaking and then Google decided that they no longer want to promote our seminars. They want to just promote their own seminars. So they did this whole thing. They went around the whole United States.
We said we still have to do seminars. I love this. I am in love with seminars. I have to continue doing seminars. So I decided to look online. Where do they do seminars? Chamber of Commerce. So I joined all the Chamber of Commerce. I joined the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, the Queens Chamber of Commerce. I paid for full memberships. I told them to promote my event. They didn’t really send me anybody. So they said they have a mixer. Come promote it at the mixer. I made little business cards. I wore a Google cap. I said I’m going through the networking, and I don’t know what networking is. I don’t know what networking event is, I’m going. I went there. I walked in there and as soon as I walked into the networking event I’m like, “Oh my gosh, how do I approach these people? What do I say to them?” and I froze like deer in the headlights. So I rapidly took all my cards in my hand, and I quickly walked to each person and I said, “Do you want to come to a Google seminar? Do you want to come to a Google seminar?” like one of those people giving out cards on the street and right away after that I finished. I ran out. I felt like an idiot and I was just so embarrassed and I left I was depressed. I was a little depressed. I was like networking events they don’t work but I have to learn the networking way. I have to learn it.
So I started going to networking events obsessively. I went to meet up [??] I signed up to every networking event I could find. I made deals with people. They let me speak at their networking event. I even worked with [??] and he filled up an event with 120 people for me and then I started running my own events and now tonight we have an event on meetup.com/businessevents [??] and why 300 people are coming to our event.
I became the networking master to the point where people say networking doesn’t work and we set it up… my administrator assistant, I was getting depressed about networking not working because we didn’t get any sales from it, 0 sales. I am doing it from a branding strategy. I am doing it anyway. My partner is against it. So my administrator assistant is helping me promote the seminar. So she made a CEO networking event and only like 10 people said they were coming. I was like just cancel it. She is like “No, gosh darn Joe you are doing it” and I was like, “ok how you going to promote it?” “I am going to send out emails this and that whatever.” I said “forget it. It’s an after thought. I don’t even know if I am going to come. You run it whatever.”
Ended up that we did the event and right before the event happened, she sent out a random email because she was so nervous that there was nobody coming because 15 people say they are going to come 5 people show up. It looks embarrassing. So she sent out this random email to 250 people. A random list that was on our mail chimp and she sent it from my email but she wrote somebody else’s signature. She wrote that it’s tomorrow and she wrote that it’s today in the same email and she wasn’t supposed to send it to those people. Why you sending it to those people? I was literally upset that she did that but I didn’t tell her off. I have a good culture here. I don’t yell at anyone. I explained to her that next time we should create a process before you send it out we should review it with 2 people but I was depressed. I went to the networking event anyone. After I saw that I was like, oh my gosh, gosh, not only do I have a crappy event, not only do events not work. There are no sales. I have to figure out how to generate leads. I have to fill my seminars. What is going on here? It turns out that we closed a $10,000 deal from that seminar and from that networking event. The only reason we closed the deal is because she sent that email and 1 guy replied, “I’m coming.” and that 1 guy that replied from that, that was like mind blowing. That just shows that it works. Everything works, that Craigslist works, networking works, seminar works.
Let me tell you a, webinar story. I didn’t tell you this story before, but this is a crazy story. We decided that we’re going to do trade shows. As part of what we’re doing, we decided to start doing trade show marketing as well. We decided we’re getting, because we love eating Kosher food and we love the Kosher brands.
There’s a place called Kosherfest, which all the Kosher brands come together. It’s cute. There’s about 6,000 attendees and 325 exhibitors. This past year, we did it. I decided I’m really going to figure out a unique gorilla marketing strategy to help the exhibitors exhibit better. I became an expert at trade shows, because I started doing trade shows, and learning about it, and so on. Everything I do, I kind of learn and I get curious. How do you do it the right way? How do you do it the wrong way?
People go to a trade show. They stand behind their table, and they just hide out there hoping that somebody would walk over to them. I stand in the hallway, and I stop people. I’m like, hey, the same thing. I stop people and I say, hey, what do you do? Before the trade show, I emailed all the exhibitors. I got all their email addresses. I emailed them. I sent them a series of emails. Like, hey, I noticed you’re a fellow exhibitor. I’d love to help you. Every single time I sent out an email, I got two or three replies. I closed a $3,000 deal and a $1,500 deal two weeks before the trade show even happened with the exhibitors, which was like mind-blowing.
Then I also decided I’m doing a webinar. You know what happened? One person joined the webinar.
Joe: I was like, you know the worst thing that can happen at an event? If one person shows up. If nobody shows up, you can cancel the event. But if one person shows up, what are you going to do? I said, you know what I’m going to do. I’m going to record the webinar, and then I’ll email it to everybody else. I’ll do it for this one person.
I have a craft. I had questions prepared and everything. That one person closed on a $3,000 deal. That one person. One. Mind-blowing. Mind-blowing. People don’t even try. People don’t try. You got to keep trying. You got to keep persevering. You got to fail, because for every ten failures, you might have one success. If you don’t try, you’re definitely not going to succeed.
Andrew: How about what you do off of work? You started telling me, and we didn’t even get into this before the interview, that you use Facebook to lose weight.
Joe: Oh, my goodness. I am so so busy working, that I forgot that I exist. I give my body and my soul over to everybody else. I just eat whatever I see, and I love food. Trust me. Before you know it, I was 260 pounds. For a guy that’s not that tall, I’m 5-11, 260 pounds is a lot. I’ve never been that fat. I’ve never been that fat. I was like, oh, my goodness.
Oh, you know what happened. I was recording a video of something, and you hear me breathing in the video, like, [loud breathing noises]. I was like, oh, my goodness. I can hear myself breathe. That’s embarrassing. That’s embarrassing. I got to lose weight. I went to my wife. I said, honey, you’re always complaining that I’m fat. You know what, I am fat. Your food is amazing, and I can’t control myself. Tell me what I can do. She said, you’re never going to lose weight. You love my cooking too much. I said, okay, thanks. That helps.
I went to my friends. I called up a couple of friends. I said, guys, you got to help me. They said, we have a great idea. Let’s go to a restaurant, and we’ll talk about it there. That sure didn’t help. Then, on my way home, I look at my phone and I see a Facebook notification. I think to myself, I have a thousand friends on Facebook. You know, my real life friends, many of them are on Facebook as well. But my real life friends, they just go to a restaurant. They just want to hang out. They just want to drink. That’s not going to help me lose weight. My wife loves me but she wants me to eat her good home cooking.
The Facebook people, they need some entertainment. They need somebody to [??], someone to do something. Let me try and use that to lose weight. I wrote a pleading message. I said, please, dear Facebook friends, I know nobody ever likes anything. I know nobody ever comments on anything that I write, because I don’t get any likes or comments ever. One person would like something. I would put boring stuff up. I wrote, but if I get likes on this, I will run one minute per like.
I didn’t imagine that anyone would ever see that. I just put it out there, because whatever. Hopefully, nobody will see that. I’ll get one like. I’ll go for a minute. I’m done. Right. The next morning, I get up. I see I got ten likes. Ten likes. You know what ten likes is? Do you ever get ten likes on anything? I certainly did not get ten likes on anything ever. People barely look at my stuff. Ten likes. Oh, my goodness. I have to limp down the street for ten minutes.
I went out did it. I came back. I’m like, you, uh, ***. Why did you guys do that to me? You know what? I’m tired, but it kind of felt good. I will run one minute per like for every person that likes this post. 20 people liked it. I was like, I never did 20 minutes of exercise. What do you guys want? All right. The next day I said, I can’t run anymore, because I hurt my ankle. But rollerblading works well when you hurt your ankle. You have the rollerblade, and it like locks in your whole ankle in and so I said I will go roller blade for one minute for every like. Thirty people liked it. I took a picture of myself to prove it, with GPS, I took a video of myself thanking the people with my helmet and showing them my roller blades and if you go to my Facebook you can actually see these videos.
Andrew: I’m on your Facebook right now actually checking this out, okay?
Joe: June of 2012, you’ll see all the videos and everything that I’ve done. That’s when I started. Then I started doing it every day, I will get up at 6:00 am and if I get up to 100 people I’ll do the whole park before you know it I was running 7.5 miles. And this coming Sunday I’m doing a marathon, I lost 37 pounds doing this.
Joe: In less than a year. And this year I plan on losing another 37, I’m running a half a marathon, New York RR on Sunday.
Andrew: I see it over here actually, I see these videos, and I’m not going to hit play because we’re talking, but yeah.
Joe: People e-mail, they say, Joe, you’re an inspiration and people text message and they said, Joe I just bought a new pair of roller blades because I saw you and another people, another guy started running, he didn’t run for 10 years and he started running, he almost had Diabetes and he said you saved my life. And I was like, I didn’t save your life, I’m trying to save my own life, or, I’m just doing my job, you know. And till today people are mentioning everywhere they see me, they’re like I’m inspired by your weight loss, I’m inspired, I’m inspired, I’m inspired, and I didn’t try and inspire anybody. I didn’t do that to inspire anybody. I just too not breath when I take video, you know, I just wanted to make something of my social network and I didn’t think it would work, but I tried and I was okay with failure, l was okay if nobody would like that.
Andrew: What’s the biggest failure, so far I haven’t heard any failure at all. So of course, everything you try works, no wonder you want to experiment. What’s a big failure that embarrassed you?
Joe: A big failure that embarrassed me is, I once got up in front of a bunch of CEOs and I was totally unprepared, totally unprepared, and they asked me to talk about my company. And I just literally got butterflies in my stomach, I locked up, I got up there and I just, I didn’t feel it, I didn’t feel like the room was engaging with me. I literally, was, I, I, I did it in five minutes, I did what I had to do, and I literally ran out of the place, I like jetted out of the place and I bought a pack of cigarettes, I was so liking it, and I had quit smoking, I just bought a pack of cigarettes and I was really depressed. And I was thinking to myself, I don’t ever want to speak again. I don’t, I failed, and I’m a failure. And I sat there on the stoop and I remember, I called my friend, and I was like, Dude, you have no idea how embarrassed I am. And, the, and you know, I smoking my cigarettes, and I was sulking in my…in myself. And I felt like I failed.
Andrew: How do you get over that? I, I don’t want to have this story where I failed and then, but you know you get up. Because I know people in my audience will e-mail me and say you missed out on what the hell did he do, because I’m feeling like a failure right now, I am depressed and I don’t know how to undo it. So what did you do?
Joe: I watched a video.
Andrew: Which…oh, of yourself.
Joe: Yes, somebody vide taped it in the crowd and I asked them, please send me that video, I have to watch it. You know what; I really didn’t want to watch the video because I didn’t want to be reminded of the failure. I didn’t want to be reminded of me being outside having a cigarette, and, and just sulking in my failure, and watch myself act like a clown. But after watching the video, I saw that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. It was bad, I was unfocused, I was a little white, I was a jittery, buy you know what? It wasn’t as bad as it was in my head, and really, what I learned from that is, just, when, just because you think that something is so bad, it’s not really that bad to most people. And it shouldn’t be that bad to yourself. That gave me the energy to stand up again and say, I failed, I suck at this, I will prepare better next time. And I will gosh darn be the best speaker out there, and I will rock the house.
Andrew: I’m guessing that’s what led you to…read, where was that book? I sent it to my Kindle so I didn’t have it up on my screen right now to books like Own the Room.
Andrew: That’s what it was.
Joe: Absolutely, 100%.
Andrew: Do you ever have negative self-chatter in your head, where you say, you know, I’m going to do this thing on Mixer G. I am not as good as some of the other entrepreneurs Andrew interviewed, I’m not as good on camera, I’m not as young, I’m not from this part of the world, I’m not… Do you ever have that?
Joe: I do, and I actively push it away.
Andrew: How do you do that?
Joe: You push it away. I tell myself, you know what, I am not that good and I’m okay with that. I know that I’m not good and I’m okay with that, and I’ll prepare extra and I will try my best and I know I’m not the best, I really know in my heart that I am not the best. But you know what, I’m okay. I’m not the worst either and I tell myself I’m going to try and I’ll do the best that I can, and I’m okay if I fail. I’m okay, if this interview doesn’t go amazing and it’s not five stars, I’m okay with it. I’m okay with getting a 4.5 stars.
Andrew: It seems like what you do is you are confronting it. You’re saying, I recognize it in my head, there’s chatter that says, you’re not going to do a good job. And you say, wait minute, well I’m not going to do as bad of a job as other people do. It may not even be the best, but that doesn’t end my career, because my career is built on the other stuff. You confront it and you come up with reasons why, why it’s wrong. Or…
Joe: I definitely, have an inner dialogue, I definitely have an inner dialogue…
Andrew: Give me some samples…that screws you up?
Joe: My inner dialogue screws me up when I really…when other…when I allow other people to influence it. When I’m sitting in a room with a friend or a partner, or even my wife, and they’re telling me that I’m not that good, and that I shouldn’t do it because I’m going to embarrass myself and I’m going to embarrass them.
Andrew: For example, when did this happen?
Joe: For example, this was…I can tell you exactly when this happened. I had this client who asked for a proposal for SEO, but this wickedly custom proposal, this wickedly custom proposal that, that we weren’t necessarily at that point, it was earlier in my career and I wasn’t necessarily at that point able to do it. And I wanted to tell the guy no, but I wanted please him to and I knew that if I sent him a proposal and I tried, but, but I something was telling me not to do it, and I was saying I’m not really that great, and you know what, people warned me about it, people warned…like my partner, said Joe don’t send him anything, just tell him we can’t help him and that’s it. And no, I have to do it anyway, I have to do it anyway. But, but the fact he told me that and kept pushing me not to do it I ended up not, not sending him anything and I, I didn’t even try, I didn’t even show up. You know 95% of getting the job is showing up.
Andrew: You have shown that here throughout this interview so many times where just because you went to the event you got the customer.
Joe: And I didn’t get the customer, you know why, because I didn’t send the proposal because somebody else talked me out of it and I allowed them to do it.
Andrew: And their voice gets in your head where you start to say, well I shouldn’t send this out, it is too tough, I’m not that good.
Joe: So when I have…it’s really important to surround yourself with people that you can build on, not people that allow you to, to, you know…positivity is the most important, it’s one of our core values for our company. The culture in the company you have to be positive, you have to have a positive can do attitude. And if you don’t you probably wouldn’t’ t be a good fit for this company.
Andrew: You know what, so I was talking the audience to understand their negative chatter so that I could address it here interviews and one person told me, I work in a company where if one person leaves our company we all root for him to fail with his new business or whatever he’s doing, to show that he can’t do it without us. And that gets stuck in my own head because I keep thinking I should start my own business, but I know that everyone here is going to root for my failure and their voices are playing in my head. And so, you intentionally do the opposite, even though it means you’re not scaring people out of leaving, it also means that you’re keeping yourself more positive.
Joe: Absolutely, absolutely it’s very important to have a positive attitude and you know what, karma…is so real. Karma, what every goes around, will comes around, goes around. What you put out in the universe, it flies right back at you. And you, we believe that, we’re huge believers of just doing right by people. And people essentially, all employees, all people, they all want to be great, they all want to do great things. People don’t want to be negative, people don’t want to talk gossip. They just, they’re not, they’re not trained and don’t have the skills to be able to deal with their emotions and they end up doing things that end up hurting themselves and hurting other people. Think about a bully for example, why is a bully a bully? Is a bully a bully because they want to be a bully, no, absolutely not. A bully doesn’t want to bully other people, but they feel they need to do it in order for them to have self-confidence, if they could have the skills to get their self-confidence in some other way. You know all has to do with your parents, and I tell everyone to get therapy. Therapy is the best thing, get the most expensive therapy that money can buy and it’ll change your life.
Andrew: That’s a first time anyone has ever said, usually if I talk about anything like internal chatter or therapy the guest will say, what are you, Dr. Phil? Step back, let’s talk about business, it’s great that you’re will to talk about these things.
Joe: Listen, I am one, I am one with who I am and when you are one with who you are that’s when the passion comes out, that’s when the charm comes out, that’ s when people want to gravitate to that and that’s what people tell me and that’s what I’ve read in the book and all the studies. You have to be who you are because people want to connect with you. Every person has a fingerprint, I learned this in, in art cl-, in, in acting class. Every person has a fingerprint when you can show what your fingerprint looks like, and you aren’t trying to hide who you are, and you don’t have fear of failure, and you, then you can be who you are, and everybody loves that. Just be who you are.
Andrew: So you’re open to coming back here and teaching something Mixergy?
Joe: I’d be happy to do that.
Andrew: We told your story. I want to have you back on to teach something but I’m going to ask the audience now, especially the people that have listened this far into the interview, to tell me what would you like to see Joe to talk about? Is it about marketing? Is it about Networking? Is it about this inner brain? I want to here from you guys what is it that you want to learn that we didn’t get into we can dive in deeper into that. I want to also ask you two questions about something you told me before the interview started and something you that you charge a whole lot for.
So two questions, but first let me say this. Anyone who is watching this wants to take a relationship to the next level actually you don’t want to take our relationship to the next level you don’t care about me in your relationship if you’re listening to this. What you care about is yourself and maybe you’ve heard Joe talk about how he does cold calling and you say I should try that and you want some process for doing it. Well I had a guy on here James Kennedy of Pie Hole TV come on and say I’m a shy person who doesn’t really love sales, I’m a developer who thinks analytically, not thinks about the touchy feely stuff boy. I’m dealing with this cold here, but I’m rocking. And he goes, but I figured out how to do cold calling and because I did my business is growing and he showed the process of he get peoples phone numbers how he follows up with them how he makes them want to buy from him and he thought on Mixergy if you’re a premium member go to Mixergy premium.com and look for James Kennedy’s session.
If you’re not, join just for that. Even if you don’t like me, you’re going to love James Kennedy talking about cold calling and you’re going to love the people who teach on there. Mixergypremium.com I guarantee it.
And then one other thing that I want to say Mixergy Premium.com is the first and the second you guys might have seen that I’m holding this Zipper Aid mug. I invited my audience to send me something representing there company, a mug actually I should say with there company logo or whatever on it so if I’m drinking I might as well give them a little bit of promotion, and this guy Kyle sent to me he runs a company called Zipperaid.com that keeps your zipper zipped in your hands so if for some reason your wearing skinny jeans and your zipper becomes unzipped or you’re big because you didn’t do what Joe did to loose weight, his product zipper aid will keep those pants up. He says he listens to Mixergy because he likes to see that even small guys have the opportunity to get started and hopefully build a big business. So Kyle thanks for the mug I’ve got here and thanks for being in the audience and learning from these interviews.
All right. Finally I asked you why you want to do this interview you said you know if there is something that I get out of it maybe it will be that my brand gets out there. And what I should of asked you is Ajax Union is your brand. What is Ajax Union? Where did you get this name?
Joe: Absolutely, Thank you so Ajax stands for Asyncronisjobdescriptxml for all the technical people.
Andrew: Yeah but I thought that would mean a development company you don’t do that.
Joe: Right exactly so what we…Are whole tag line is it’s all about the X. A is Alan my partner Zebi Freedman. J is Joe and X is you the customer. It’s a partnership it’s a union between me and my partner and you. And what we want to do is We want to create an environment were its really all about you. It’s all about growing your business and helping you become more successful.
Andrew: So its A J and X. I’m the X.
Joe: And it’s all about the X. That’s the tag line. It’s really creating a partnership between us, our company, our resources, our technology, our knowledge and everything that we can give you. And we make it all about you.
Andrew: Can I tell you something Joe. I wondering if that happened afterwards, the explanation, if at first you were thinking web 2.0 is hot when you launched it. Ajax is a big term I want to feed of that. And so well call ourselves the Ajax union.
Joe: I was literally thinking about calling our company XYZ Marketing or something like that with our acronyms and I said A J, what’s A J? And I started goggling A J and Ajax came up because of the Ajax cleaner, because the Ajax soccer team, because the Asyncronisjobdescriptxml, and a lot of companies are just called Ajax. I said Ajax is a cool name but Ajax group is not available and I want something to create you know A J and X which is cool. So then I became Ajax Union. The domain was available, it sounded good, four syllables A-Jax-Un-Nion, it’s all about the X.
Andrew: I do like the name a lot. I love anything with union in it. For some reason I’m into that or something collective.
Andrew: I don’t know why those names are kind of hot for me right now.
Joe: Well so you know you want some names in your company name that people can resonate with. Like everyone knows Western Union. Everyone knows the union. The news doesn’t stop talking about the unions, and Ajax is something that everyone is talking about. Whether its technology, whether it’s in your house, the mothers are buying Ajax to clean or people in Europe that love soccer.
Andrew: Alright and what is this thing on Clarity.com your selling your time where people can call you for how much a minute.
Joe: 16 dollars is the max. 16 dollars a minute. So really I love to talk to people for free. But I wanted to charge more than Mike Cuban, the guy from Shark Tank, I was watching Shark Tank the other night, and somebody told me, “You can speak to him for 166 dollars” I’m like, “Huh?” That’s it? That’s all he charges? I want to charge 188 dollars, But Clarity only let me charge 16 dollars a minute. So, I want to charge 188 dollars a minute, but they didn’t allow me to do it. But its awesome.
Andrew: To the max. And I should say its actually Clarity.FM. Not Clarity.com. And has anyone taken you on on this 16 dollar a minute conversation?
Joe: Not yet. But I’m going to take other people up on their 16 dollars per minute conversation because you know, a little idea that somebody could give me that’s worth that much money is worth every single penny. Even if I get 5 minutes with the guy, even if I get 10 minutes with the guy, I’m going to throw him an idea that I have, ask him what he thinks about it, and a guy that’s willing too to charge that much, would probably be worth it.
Andrew: I would pay you 16 dollars a minute, and then in the first minute sell you on a long conversation afterwards.
Joe: Listen, Whatever works for you.
Andrew: Is there a place for someone who is listening in the audience here, who says “hey you know what the 16 dollar a minute, is not for me but I want to get to know this guy”, for them to reach out?
Joe: Absolutely, they can email me Joe@ajaxunion.com or you can call 800- 594-0444 and press extension 413. You can leave me a voice mail, and I’ll be more than happy to try and help you the best that I can.
Andrew: All right. Thank you so much for doing this, and for sharing those great stories.
Joe: My pleasure.
Andrew: I especially love the Craigslist thing that you did.
Joe: I’m actually trying to build an application that allows you to go into Craigslist automatically, but I am trying to get through their T-O-S. You can’t just do that. You can’t just harvest data. But, you know.
Andrew: Are you someone who loves to hear stories like that? The way that I do? Like if someone in the audience emailed you their crazy marketing story, would you be into that?
Joe: I would love, love, love to hear stories like that. If somebody has a crazy marketing story, or if somebody has a crazy idea, to be able to do anything online.
Andrew: I feel like that’s a good entry with you.
Andrew: Sharing a crazy marketing story or talking to you about your site, which is, what’s the name of that site? Something TV.
Joe: GrowTime.TV and also I should say if you go to our website AjaxUnion.com, we have this really awesome tool that allows you to check what your domain name ranks for right on the top of the website, and also we have free eBooks, that we create about online marketing. We have free webinars, that are an hour long, that teach you everything you need to know, if you want to promote yourself. We have networking events. Our networking events are meetup.com/businesseventsny and they are free. We have 300 business owners and professionals going to them. And we just want to help people succeed.
Andrew: You say you’re not a sales person.
Andrew: You just did a whole sales thing, right here at the end.
Joe: I didn’t! Everything that I tell you is for free. I’m not trying to sell you anything, so this is all information that you can get totally for free.
Andrew: Alright. The site is AjaxUnion. Thank you Joe so much for doing this interview. Thank you all for being a part of it. Bye Guys.
Joe: Thank you. Bye.