If you give Yanik Silver a computer keyboard, he can pretty much sell anything. Want an example? His first million dollar product was Instant Sales Letters, basically a collection of fill-in-the-blank letters that he wrote.
You know that an online marketer with writing chops like that can do a lot of “evil,” right?
This is the story of how Yanik went the other way. I asked him how he built businesses based on his “authentic self,” and how entrepreneurs can even figure out what their authentic core is.
If you know Yanik from his incredibly successful Underground Online Seminar and Maverick Business Adventures, you’re about to learn about the man behind those companies.
Watch the FULL program
Yanik Silver, MaverickBusinessAdventures
Yanik Silver is the founder of MaverickBusinessAdventures.com, which creates breakthroughs for entrepreneurs and CEOs with its events, charities and education.
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Andrew: Hey everyone, my name is Andrew Warner. I am the founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart. How does an online marketer build several profitable businesses, and remain faithful to his authentic self? Yanik Silver had his first big win by selling instant sales letters online. He went on to launch several other businesses including the Underground Online Seminar, and Maverick Business Adventures, which creates breakthroughs for entrepreneurs and CEO’s through its events, charities, and education. Yanik, welcome.
Yanik: Hey Andrew, what’s up? I like the fist bump at the end, or the …
Andrew: That’s right. You got to let people know instantly what it’s about. We’re fighters here.
Andrew: By the way, you know the thing I put, the fist pump into the intro, what I didn’t include in the intro is your line about how you invented the exclamation point or something. I’m not very good at humor, to be honest with you. I’ve to stay away from the parts that I’m not good at, and stick with the parts that I am good at. What do you think of that?
Yanik: Excellent. I like that. That’s all part of our authentic self.
Andrew: Right. See, I’m not good at humor but I’m good at being very nosy.
Andrew: And, so why don’t I start off with a nosy question instead of a humorous one and ask you [??]
Yanik: Let’s do it.
Andrew: How much money did you bring in with instant sales letters?
Yanik: Right away. Yeah.
Andrew: Right away, yeah I told you.
Yanik: I don’t know. It’s still going. That was my first million dollar product. Like, bringing in a million dollars in gross sales, and I did it by small little incriminates at a time. I’m not sure we’ll get to the story, but it was $30 at, when it initially started. And then it became 40, $39.95, 30, something in that neighborhood, and now it’s more. But it was, you know, so that’s over, I don’t know, 25,000 + customers? But it was, that was the very first million dollar product, and since that, I don’t know. You know, quite frankly, I don’t know.
Andrew: You don’t know over time.
Andrew: How long did it take you to make the first million dollars then, with that one product?
Yanik: With that one, I think we hit it within five years. Probably less then that, probably four years.
Andrew: Four years?
Andrew: And then afterwards, how long did it take you to make the second million with that one?
Yanik: It was a [??], I don’t even know if we’ve got, it probably must have been up to at least two million by then. So, it went into, so, we’ll talk about this I’m sure, but I’m a sort of an A.D.D. kind of entrepreneur. And so, at the high point I was doing about 250,000 gross, just on that individual product not even including any of the back ends that come through that or anything like that.
But, so, it got up to there, and then I sort of started stop paying attention to it, and moved on to other stuff that I was really excited about, and then, and it kept going down. But it stayed at about 100,000-ish for every year after that. So, it was pretty, still pretty, pretty darn good as far as just one of those little auto pilot things. And we just finally revised a couple months ago, and so, I’m looking for hopefully at least another good, we got 10 years out of the first one, maybe we’ll get 5 out this next [??].
Andrew: Isn’t it amazing, you and I had dinner, I think it was about a week and a half ago, and at dinner I would never think to ask you, “Hey, how much money did you make with this one company?”
Andrew: I would never even think to push you even further for details, but now that I’ve got the mic, I’m allowed to ask you anything I want, right?
Yanik: That’s right.
Andrew: Add a little bit of distance.
Yanik: Different positioning.
Andrew: All right and, of course, after you built that one business, as you said you started building other companies based on the success of that one company and we’ll find out the story as we go through this interview. But why don’t we just explain what Instant Sales Letters was and then we’ll go back in time and we’ll get the full story of how you built, what you did afterwards, and where you are today. What is, actually, Instant Sales Letters?
Yanik: Instant Sales Letters is a fill in the blank sales letter templates for any sort of business owner to use to grow their business, to get new customers, to reactivate lost customers, to get referrals, testimonials, pretty much anything you need to grow your business in all different shapes and sizes. And you’ll see where it fits in the story, but it was an answer to a question. I’m a big fan of your questions dictate your answers and the question was something like, how do I create a fully automatic website that makes me money while I sleep. It was an incredible to people and is not just another e-book. I literally got that answered about 3:00 in the morning in early January 2000 and jumped out of bed and did what most people don’t do and got to work on it right away. That was Instant Sales Letters.
Andrew: So plug and chug sales letters. If I know I need to create a sales letter, instead of sitting with a blank page staring at me and feeling insecure about what I’m going to put down on the paper, I buy Instant Sales Letters for a few bucks. You get me, basically not just started, but 80%, 90% of the way there. I fill in the blanks, chug, I got my solution.
Andrew: That’s what the idea is.
Yanik: Yeah and it’s based on proven psychology and real direct response and stuff that most people don’t always incorporate. If we look at it at a little higher level, and I always break it down to kind of creating formulas for people. I call it a fish product and what a fish product is, you’ve always been taught, hey Andrew if you hand a man a fish, you feed him for a day, if you teach him how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. That’s kind of bulls***t. People want the damn fish handed to them.
Yanik: And so I learned that. Actually the very first lesson was my first product of my own and we’ll go back on my little Yanik timeline, this is your life, kind of thing. But one of the first ones was this pre-dawn [??] I sold to two doctors and I kind of got some of this going. I found out some of my best products were these pre-dawn, we called them patient attraction tool kits.
Andrew: Let’s take it one step at a time.
Andrew: And really fill in the gaps. I also wrote some notes here to come back and ask you about fish products. I want to find out more about formulas and I like, by the way, that you have formulas and you have a plan. I hate when I do an interview with someone and he acts like he just Forrest Gumped his way to success, like, I don’t know, I just happened to be the right place at the right time. Well great, but dig in and understand why that was the right place and why you happened to be the right person and what you did with that and thankfully you did that.
Yanik: Sometimes it’s hard for people to sometimes see because they have that unconscious confidence.
Yanik: And it takes a whole different level to evaluate and look at the conscience confidently, which is, you have to be able to teach it and so I’ve been teaching as well. I love the teaching part and that forces you to go back and look at stuff and I think it even gets you even sharper on what it takes.
Andrew: I agree. I found, actually, even entrepreneurs who just blogged on a regular basis about their businesses have a better time explaining it and understanding it for themselves.
Andrew: All right. Going back in time, you told me that you started out working with your dad. What did your dad do?
Yanik: So my dad is one of my first business heroes. He came over in ’76 at the bicentennial from Russia.
Yanik: And I was about two and a half at the time, so I grew up in this immigrant family where I loved the immigrant mentality. The success mentality of doing anything and starting with nothing and building something. And so with my dad’s business, I worked for him when I was about 14, probably even earlier doing odds and ends, but when I was 14 I literally started telemarketing to doctors. He had me out there calling on my own clients, sending out, this was during the AIDS scare and I was working on latex gloves and I was calling on dentists. I was sending out my own samples, following up on them, selling them boxes of gloves and that was kind of a pain in the ass. And then when I was 16.
Andrew: I’m sorry if you don’t mind . . .
Andrew: . . . before we get to 16 and what happened next, I’m curious. Most teenagers, especially early, young teenagers don’t know how to sell. How did your dad get you to sell or what are some of the tactics and formulas that he passed . . .
Yanik: Nothing. There was nothing.
Andrew: He said, here son, here’s your phone, here’s the rotary dial.
Yanik: Go call on them and then it was figuring it all out on my own and I’m sure I could have done it a hundred times better.
Andrew: Did you learn anything from that experience, like about formulas, or even about just having the guts to make a phone call?
Yanik: Yeah, early on, I guess probably I learned from there that nobody’s going to freak out when you call them, and like it’s not that crazy. That probably has helped me a little bit, going on to the next part which is face to face sales, are probably even more helpful. The telemarketing is kind of the in the trenches, just keep dialing and dialing and dialing. Then when I got out on the road when I was 16, part of the deal that I had with my car is that he would give me a car, as long as I would make cold calls and call on doctors.
Andrew: Again, with the latex gloves?
Yanik: No. Now I have expanded, we had about 200 different products that we are presenting, and so I had the opportunity to go sell any product that I wanted and I had to go call on docs. I was this little 16 year old punk calling on these 50 year old doctors, which I don’t have any idea why they would pay any attention to me.
So that I really learned a lot there about selling and building relationships with doctors. Actually, looking back I didn’t really think about [??]. You and I talked about sort of going back and assessing your authentic self, what I was really good at was building relationships, I wasn’t as good as let’s knock on the doors and get in there to go see him, but once I got in some way, I was really good at becoming colleagues, friends, a much more of a consulted oriented salesperson, then just a charm and burn them kind of person, it’s interesting.
Andrew: What do you do to build that relationship?
Yanik: I’ve always looked at it as where can I provide value for them, so it wasn’t always about the sale. I mean I remember times when I recommended competitors, because they had something better that we couldn’t provide. I remember, just kind of a general idea of, hey where is the value that I can provide for them, and what can I do to help them with what they’re doing and understanding what they’re trying to do with their practice, aside from just trying to sell this one piece of equipment.
Andrew: You know, Yanik, even if you were giving them that kind of advice, it doesn’t create the repertoire that it takes to build a real relationship. There’s something about you today that allows you to build relationships with people quickly. I think you and I had a phone call years and years ago, and I told you personally that I felt connected and grateful to you, for the way that you, I don’t even know how to put my finger on it. I’m hoping in this interview, to figure out, at least back then, in the early parts of this repertoire building skill that you’ve developed. What were you doing?
Yanik: Back when I was 16, I don’t know if I had a real recognition of what I do today. I’ve been working on what one of my mentors Dan Sullivan calls unique ability, I’ve been working on that for the past several years. Just trying to identify it and hone it and crystallize it, and figure out what are the handful of things that I do really, really uniquely that I love. The way he describes unique ability is something that you’re incredibly passionate about, that gives you energy, like you could just do it all day and you would actually have more energy at the end of the day. You’re always getting better at it; you’re always learning something about it.
So, for me it’s definitely connections with individuals, but at the same time, even more so, I get more energy out of connecting really interesting connectors themselves, or people that are doing really cool stuff, so that’s why I love working with entrepreneurs.
Andrew: But, back then were you making connections with people? There was no system at all, there was no platform?
Yanik: No not at all. It was just being interested in what they wanted to do. I don’t know I’d have to think about it, because one of the connections that I did make really did become a pivotal point in my life. Fast forward in time, age 16, cold calling, 17-18 one of my best clients was this rheumatologist, in Frederick Maryland, Dr. Nathan Way, I’ll give him a shout out because he was instrumental in something.
He gave me a J. Abraham tape, and kind of turned the lights on for me about [??]. I had to have a repertoire in order for him to be like OK I think this is something you would really like, so. I don’t remember what our conversations were about, there has to have been something aside from just here’s the medical equipment you need to furnish your new building that we’re building there.
Andrew: I’m sorry to take the attention away from you, but I am going to give you two examples of what I do and maybe it will spur some thought in your mind of what you do.
There are two things that I do. One is I look for people’s hints of what they want to talk about. When someone talks about business they tend to leave clues. Like me leaving a clue about how I am not funny. In that little statement there is a whole lot of pain.
There were times when I tried to be funny and it didn’t work. There were times when I attempted to be funny and was eager and maybe over eager. And I want to talk about it. If you pick up on that and ask me questions it might seem inappropriate and off like a segue but it will open me up.
I find that I do that with other people too. I look for those little things that don’t fit in the regular conversation. I understand that they are saying it for a reason. The second thing I do and you have seen me do it at dinner a couple of times, maybe even more. I go for the personal stuff. I ask personal questions.
I asked your friend when the first time he got laid was. Frankly I asked my wife about that on our first date. Every one thinks it is so shocking, but we are eager to get personal and talk about this stuff. And once you answer one of those questions you feel connected with the person who asked it because you understand you don’t share this kind of information with strangers. If you shared it then it means the person you shared it with is more than a stranger. He is a close friend.
So those are my tactics. I see you are smiling because you see some recognition. Break yours down if you would.
Yanik: One of them for sure is questions. I love weird questions. Not necessarily when did you get laid though. I found that conversation certainly interesting where he was like, I was 12. I was like, wow.
Andrew: That’s right. You have some crazy friends. That guy was a successful entrepreneur who I never expected would suddenly tell us about how at 12 years old. Way to go. What else? Questions are good.
Yanik: All right. Now were getting down to it. So we’re going to take off.
Andrew: I like it.
Yanik: The questions that I go to are just really random stuff like if you were a pizza topping what would you be and why? Or just silly stuff to get people engaged. Actually I’ve created games around this. I’m such a fun sort of weird game goofy guy that I create my own games.
One of my favorite games is called “dinner quirks” where I get people to have these different quirks that they have through out dinner. They sing their order to the waitress or waiter. Or their hands are magnetic and attracted to metal. Or they only talk about them selves in third person.
So putting people in this space that is different for them. That creates that bond and that connection. Kind of being the instigator or the catalyst for that stuff. I’ve always done that.
I look back and as a kid I’ve always done that. I haven’t always been the person at the forefront doing this. I’ve been the one right behind them stirring the pot.
Andrew: OK. I’ve discovered two things about you in this answer. The first is you do ask questions like if you were a pizza topping what pizza topping would you be is just the random one you happened to think of. They are more creative than that and they have a bigger spin than that one. But those are the things that you ask.
The other thing that you do is you do outrageous things. Give people an example of one of the kind of outrageous things you do that you actually made a business out of right now. I feel like when you do it with people they consider it a fun highlight of their lives and it is a story they want to share with others. For example.
Yanik: For example. There’s so many. I don’t know even where to start. That’s what Maverick Business Ventures became because it was something that at that time in my life I really wanted. Even more unique experiences and to do them with entrepreneurs and combine impact and combine business sessions with it.
For instance we’ve done a session where we did a 200 mile an hour racing day and we rented out an air strip in Florida. We had these Ferraris and Lamborghinis and all these awesome exotic cars that could go 200 miles an hour. And we got people to go do it and we had a lot of fun doing it.
You get three chances to go 200 miles an hour. I went 195, 197, and I had this Speedo on underneath my whole outfit and I dropped down in to a Speedo. I’m like I must get more aerodynamic and I had my helmet on, the Speedo, and my racing shoes. You’re in there with the professional race car guy who is your co-passenger or your navigator guy. He’s like, what the hell are you doing dude? I’m like, don’t worry we’re good. I actually hit 200 miles an hour there.
I guess that is probably an example of me being on the forefront of doing it. Not necessarily pulling the strings and catalyzing and stirring the pot for other people. I know when I do it myself on the forefront too. So I’m not always in the background for sure but I’m willing to do it in the front, which also means they’re willing to take some ideas when I throw out some stuff like, I don’t know, we’re in an ice bar one time and I’m talking to one of our Maverick members I’m like, dude I got, I think it was $20 or $100 can’t remember what I paid him, $100 if he took of his shirt and pants and just we had these big fur parkas and so he just had his underwear on and a fur parka on, yeah, it was . . .
Andrew: All right. Now I’m getting a sense of the way you connect with people. You find ways to open them up and create an interesting conversation and you also give them experiences that they can either join in on or at least they can tell their friends about or reminisce in their own minds about, and years later. It becomes memorable experiences, that’s the phrase I’m looking for.
So now you’re 16, you’re going door-to-door making these sales, what happens next?
Yanik: Getting some success not really enjoying the door-to-door process at all but I enjoy once I get in front of a doctor or creating that relationship and building it out. I would always procrastinate and I’d be thinking about [??]. I also remember I’d be calling docs that were already in my database. I wasn’t as excited to cold call on them. I was about 17 – 18 this doctor gives me this Jay Abraham’s tape and it really was one of the big pivotal turning points because I started getting enthralled by direct response marketing, which said that you could create an offer or an ad that you could send out via direct mail, via advertisement at that time and have people actually give you money or say that they’re interested in something. That was this profound, profound thing for me. I was fascinated by how you could take words on paper or via the media in some way and get people to take action. I started studying as much of it as I possibly could.
I went on this incredible binge and then I started learning through other people like Aaron Nightingale who’s a success mentor about this formula that he says if you study an hour a day for three years you can become an expert. If you study for one hour a day on any subject for five years you become a world class expert. I’m like what happens if it’s two hours a day or even more.
I remember hanging out with my friends, I was playing hockey, and I’d drive them somewhere and they’re looking at, see these are tapes, they’re looking at my tape collection and like, “What the hell is this shit?” I’m like, I don’t know, don’t worry about it. At that point I definitely felt a little bit off, not doing the same stuff they’re doing, but I actually felt good about that, they weren’t doing the same stuff that I was doing, which I knew was moving me forward. I liked that.
I’d be listening to all these audios, over and over again, reading all this stuff and then I started applying it to my dad’s business and it really changed his business around. We went from a small regional player to me writing these ads at the time fax broadcasting was legal so I’d write this long page, all copy thing that we’d fax out and my dad would look at it, I remember rushing everywhere, he’d look at it, “No one’s going to read this.” I’m like, let’s just try it Joe, let’s just try it. I call my dad Joe I worked with him for so long, let’s try it Joe and see what [??].
We had people giving us their credit card, signing up for demonstrations, it totally changed the dynamics from a small regional player to now we could advertise nationally and it really helped grow that business. For awhile and my wife remembers because we were dating at the time, my whole focus was how am I going to grow my dad’s business and what am I going to do there. Then it slowly changed to me getting this, I don’t know, an inkling that this is not enough, or this is not exactly what I want to do.
Andrew: When you’re starting to think this isn’t what I want to do, what are you thinking for yourself next? Did you have a vision for what the next step would be?
Yanik: No. I didn’t have a vision for what it would be but I knew I wanted to try my own hand at different things so I started slowly, so the people I knew were doctors, right? The people I had relationships with, deep relationships with I went to them and, “Hey, I’ve been doing all this marketing stuff, is there something you need?” I’d be working with the urologist who wanted more, ridiculous stuff like penal implant patients and stuff like that. I worked with doctors who wanted elective patients and then I worked with a dermatologist who wanted more cosmetic patients.
I was consulting with them and helping them with letters and ads and different things that were working and then at that point I was studying direct response and I got introduced to Dan Kennedy. Dan Kennedy is very big in information marketing. That was when my eyes got open to the fact that there’s no leverage in me doing consulting. I’m basically trading my time for money. What the hell am I doing? Why don’t I package up some of the stuff I’m doing, some of the stuff that I know now, and let’s create something that will work?
The one market that I saw was a glaring need is small market, but is a good one to start in, was dermatologists. Because they were getting crushed by Manage Care and HMO’s. I put out a little ad in Dermatologic Surgery in April of ’98. It was a little classified ad just saying, here’s how you to get more cosmetic patients for your practice. Call this 800 number and leave a message. Then we send them out a report, which is really a sales letter that I’ve written. It’s a 20 page sales letter detailing this whole system and the system is selling for $900. I got ten leads. I got zero orders.
I waited a couple weeks, sent out another batch of reports, got zero orders. I was using my dad’s fax number on the order page. Every time the fax machine ran, I would run up to the front. Yes. No. Run back up there. Yes. No. Finally, I sent out a third notice with the deadline. The deadline is approaching. I got one order. I remember the fax machine. I looked at this thing. Yes. I got my $900. Oh shit. I have to write this thing now. It gave me enough confidence and energy to be, like, there could be something here. I wrote a letter back to the doctor saying this is being republished. It will be available in 30 days. We won’t charge your card until then. I went to work.
I would clock out at 5:00 p.m., so it was a totally different change, because it used to be before I’m working, 7:00, 8:00 on my dad’s stuff or what we’re doing with marketing pieces and so on. 5:00, on the dot, punch out and start working on my own stuff. Many times until 2:00, 3:00 in the morning just getting this manual together. That was my very first product on its own. I’ve had little weird entrepreneurial ventures before then, but none really took off. The paper-routes, doing other stuff like that, shoveling driveways for people during the . . .
Andrew: I’ve done that.
Yanik: Yeah, all sorts of stuff.
Andrew: By the way, when you were talking about listening to Earl Nightingale on you’re, I don’t know what it was at the time. But when you were listening to that instead of music. Your friends were saying what is this? Because you’re supposed to have music on your earphones. I was just thinking, somewhere right now, not right now as we’re recording it, but right now as they’re listening to it, someone is going through the same thing. They’re listening to you instead of music. Maybe their friends are asking what’s on your iPod. What are you listening to? They’re showing them Yanik and Andrew instead of I don’t know what.
Yanik: Yeah. What the hell is this Mixergy/Yanik interview, yeah?
Andrew: Right. Or maybe they’re watching this while their friends are watching another episode of the Simpsons if they’ve bit-torrented it off the internet. They’re saying, I know I’m a little freaky here, but trust me this is going someplace.
Yanik: Yeah. For sure. You got to put in that work and the study. If you’re just sitting back and being lazy. What is that saying, I forget who it was. I don’t know if it was James Allen or someone else. It was, show me a man. What they do with their leisure pursuits and I’ll show you where they’re heading. Or something like that. That’s the gist of it.
Andrew: It does say a lot.
Andrew: What does it say if a guy is driving around 200 miles-an-hour in a Speedo?
Yanik: He’s going lots of places.
Andrew: He’s going some place fast.
Yanik: Hold on. Let me plug in my computer. I’m losing a little bit of power.
Andrew: All right. Go for it. We’ll see if we can read anything off your whiteboard, beforehand. I don’t know why people bother wiping their whiteboards before an interview. I can’t ever see what’s on there.
Yanik: You want to see.
Andrew: I see a photo and that’s it. I can’t even make out who the photo is of. I see in this little tiny window.
Yanik: I think it will be even better if I hold it up closer. Let’s see if there’s anything super secret.
Andrew: No. 3%. We’re going to come back to 3%.
Yanik: You can see my drawings and doodles.
Andrew: Drawings and doodles. Why did you decide to first sell the product before making it? Didn’t you feel this need to have what you’re going to sell so that you know what to write about it, so that you when you get your first sale, you have it to give it out? I introduced this interview with a note about your need to be faithful to authentic self. Here you are selling something that doesn’t even exist. It was intentional. Why?
Yanik: Well, I think it’s a big mistake. I talk about it all the time, like I just got back from this conference in Maui where I was speaking, and one of the attendees I was talking to, she has a clothing company that she’s starting, and she’s got great intentions. It’s all eco clothing just for kids, and it’s the only one out there like that. She’s like, “Are you an investor?” I’m like, “Sometimes”. Well, we need about four or $500,000 for what we want to do. I’m like, “Why?”
She’s like, “Well inventory and hiring the right people. I’m like, “Why?” And so, you don’t need it right now, especially that there’s so many awesome platforms out there that you can figure out market place demand before you even go . . . That’s the worst thing you could do is go get some inventory, have it sitting around in your basement or your garage and hope that someone is going to be buying these t-shirts for their kids.
I would much rather put something up, like on Kickstarter or IndieGoGo or one of those other platforms and just see if people are buying, because also it depends on the design, too. The different designs, some of them are going to be better than other ones, and I told her about that. And then, I saw her on the plane. She was on my same flight home for a little bit, and we talked for a few minutes in the lounge. She was like, “You really gave me a lot to think about. I always felt that I had to do it this one way, and now I see that I don’t.”
That’s something that gets me excited, too, is doing things differently but getting to what is the end goal and why do I have to do it the exact same way that everyone else is doing it. You don’t have to.
Andrew: You weren’t reluctant to create it before you sold it because everyone else first made them. There was a reason there.
Andrew: What were you trying to learn when you created it?
Yanik: I didn’t have a hundred hours to go put into creating product and hoping that it would work. I spent enough time writing this damn 20 page sales letter report, and I’m like, “I’m getting this out there and see what happens.” I’m very much a fire then aim sort of entrepreneur and then saying yes to stuff and then figuring out how to make it happen. I also think there’s something magical that happens with that, so I gave myself that 30 day deadline once I got the first sale, that energy that comes from that.
You can still do it today, and I’ve done it. To go through the story a little bit more, I’ve done it multiple times with maverick business adventures, with my first Internet marketing product, and it’s just something that really helps me buckle down and go create a product because then I feel beholden to the customer.
Andrew: What did you sell the product for?
Yanik: Nine hundred bucks.
Andrew: So, the first sale was 900 bucks, and you had a deadline, the amount of money you were getting and the deadline for the product.
Andrew: That’s enough to motivate a person to keep going.
Andrew: What was the manual of?
Yanik: So, the manual was all sorts of secrets called, “How to Get More Cosmetic Cases.”
Yanik: Originally, it was just for dermatologists, but then I expanded it to plastic surgeons, and then I even expanded it to ophthalmologists. Some people listening to this or seeing this will be like, “Damn, 900 bucks. That’s a lot. I don’t think I could ever sell something for that much.” Quite frankly, I under charged for that. I look at it as what’s the value that you’re providing. One of my internal values and DNA is I get rich by merchandising others, tens times to 100 times when they pay me in return.
And so, for this case, 900 bucks, one single patient is worth a couple thousand dollars to any good doctor. And so, if they just got one patient from this manual, they more than made up for it. Later on, when I revised it and had a new partner that we brought in, we actually had a $40,000 program that was roughly based on the same stuff that I was teaching them originally.
Andrew: You sold it for $40,000?
Yanik: Forty thousand dollars.
Andrew: What do people actually get for $900? A manual means what . . . just (?)
Yanik: It’s a three ring binder/manual with different chapters about different marketing methods that they could use, internal marketing to external marketing to teaching them lead generating. And then, I broke off and gave them . . . So, we talked about instant sales real briefly. So, my first lesson in the fish product, one of the bonuses I gave them, was called the patient attraction tool kit.
And so, for Derms, the original one that I had was a two lesson, liposuction patient attraction tool kit and the laser resurfacing one and something else. But the ad in there, it was pre-done ads, a pre-done post card, pre-done report that they could use to send to patients once their prospective patients raised their hand and requested it. And so, we gave them all the pieces, a press release, all the things they needed to market this procedure. They loved it, and then we started selling those kits by themselves. And then we started selling pre-done newsletters for the doctors that they could send out to their patients that would talk about different procedures but also some really good stuff that they would want to see, and hear about. So that was my first lesson in the fish product and that made it super easy for me.
Andrew: I see, and so throughout you’ve just been thinking. I don’t want to just teach people how to fish. I don’t want to teach them how to get more customers, I want to do it for them as much as possible, and that means give them the product, instead of teaching them how to create it themselves.
Yanik: I don’t mind teaching them how, but I know human nature, what it is, is we’re all lazy if we can be. Look at the best platforms out there today. Why is WordPress so great? Because it makes it super easy for us to put out content an all sorts of stuff. And now it’s really robust.
Andrew: Why did you leave your dad’s company? What was it about working for your dad and selling medical supplies that you said it just doesn’t feel right, and it’s time for me to move on to the next stage of my life?
Yanik: I think when I lost that interest in working past 5:00 p.m. When I lost that vision of taking over my dad’s company and grow it to something bigger.
Andrew: Why? Why didn’t you feel like that’s my next thing, that’s where I want to grow?
Yanik: Maybe if I got really deep into I think maybe because it was something that wasn’t all of mine, wasn’t something that I had started from scratch and build; potentially. I don’t know, there just wasn’t that passion around doctors and for me it’s been slowly this building up of where’s the passion. And my passion has always been, and I probably didn’t realize it at first. It’s always been the people that are really doing something cool and the people that I know that are doing the most cool stuff are entrepreneurs.
And so, when I started helping either entrepreneurs or people start up something, there’s just an incredible sense of mission around that. And my buddy who we were talking about before calls us helping the helpers. And so the people who are doing the most good in the world and if so I can be that catalyst, that to me gets real exciting. And that wasn’t as clear to me 11, 12 years ago, but now it’s super clear. That’s the only people I want to work with.
Andrew: So then the next stage as I understand it from our pre-interview is create the instant sales letter. You told us where that idea came from. You created that product before you marketed, it seems like?
Yanik: That time I did. That time it wasn’t probably 100 hours of work. Actually I didn’t have a full time gig so I was doing the doctors thing, and it was up to about $12, $15 thousand a month. Literally answering phone calls underneath the desk at my dad’s office, and then I slowly had one foot out, one foot in that business. And I took Fridays off, and so I was slowly transitioning out. I remember July 1st, 1999 is when I left. That was really a hard decision to leave a family business, it’s not like leaving IBM or something where it’s like, who the hell is Mr. IBM, so that was a tough decision.
But instant sales letters came to me, literally waking up at 3:00 in the morning with that idea, and getting to work on it. I had a lot of the pieces all ready because I’d worked for so many people doing consulting gigs. Or even like my uncle had a bunch of [??] shops so I did a bunch of letters for him. And so I had a lot of the material all ready in different ways. And a lot of stuff I did for my dad. So it didn’t take this 150 hours to compile it and put it together. And I realized that it was something that we’d sell on line so it needed some instant delivery, and that was what got me so excited about it was that this whole idea in 2000, I’m kind of looking around like who’s the people that are, before that the internet didn’t really appeal to me because it looked like the only people making money were porn operators or get rich quick operators. However around 2000 I saw some real companies coming on the scene.
And it got me really excited about this digital delivery of information where instead of me shipping out this manual, even though it’s not that hard and my operation was so, it was so basic, it was so corny … I was telling somebody about this because we saw where I started which was, well not started but where I was running a company from which is a little one bedroom apartment and I remembered I’d walk through this park … did I tell you this, I don’t think I told you this … I walked through a park to a little print shop, handed them a folder which had the manual and then another folder had the bonuses and I’m like here I’ll take the three copies, I’ll be back later tomorrow, whatever, and I got lunch, and I picked up the copies and then shipped them out and so that was $900 every time it went out the door. It was like a little (inaudible)…
Andrew: But for this, for instant sales letters you were selling just Word Docs, right, word templates?
Yanik: They weren’t even Word Docs they were html pages.
Andrew: They were HTML pages?
Andrew: And so the person would have to double click it, open it up in Mozilla and then print it from Mozilla?
Yanik: No just copy and paste, copy and paste into a Word Doc for themselves.
Andrew: Got it, so you’re just selling them access to a page?
Yanik: Yes with a bunch of links to the different versions of the letters who probably have about 20 that we first started and then we grew it and kept on adding more categories and more categories as it grew. I remember the first day waking up it wasn’t even ready and I got a mention somewhere in somebody’s blog or something, just a tiny little mention right, and the credit card thing wasn’t even hooked up yet and I got like three orders for $29.95 and that was like one of those everyone to get rich, quick guys always talking about, “Make money while you sleep”, well this really was a time when I woke up I had 3 x $29.95 and woke and checked my email and I was like, “Ah, that’s pretty good”, and then it didn’t process because it wasn’t hooked up so I had figure out how to manually processes it but it, it was pretty awesome. It was a great feeling to put that out there and then see it come in.
Andrew: How did those customers find you or how did you find them?
Yanik: The first time was just through this little blog mention of someone that mentioned it real briefly but then obviously I had to get proactive about it and the very first thing that I did was I realized I wasn’t going to spend my time with SCO because it seemed like kind of a quicksand approach because the rules kept changing and it’s just not my natural inclination anyway, I’m not supper analytical but I am kind of, you know how do we figure, how so we figure this out from a different situation?
So I’m like well, “Somebody already has the top positioning why don’t I just contact those guys and see what’s up and see if they’re interested in selling what we’re doing.” Actually to start off I’ll take that back because that was probably about two or three months into it. At first I did a little bit of paper (inaudible), I did a little bit of buying [easing] and advertising and so forth and then people were asking me, “Hey do you have an affiliate partner in this?”, and I was, “Mm, what’s an affiliate partner? Let me go check this out”‘, and I started learning about that and I was, “Oh, it sounds pretty good”, and that’s when I started approaching people that already had positioning.
Yes, you know, alter this and I’d be like, ‘all right.’, and I’d be like all right sales letters, whose top positioning on Alta Vista and so I just started contacting them and giving them a password to go check it out and then it was kind of like a slow, just a slow build up where I’d take, I might get one or two people to say, “Yeah I promote it.”, and then I’d go back to that same list of top people and say, “Hey, so and so just promoted it or they slowly, slowly build it out.”, like that.
Andrew: So you’re not a developer, how did you create the affiliate program? You’re drinking Rock Star by the way to keep going for this interview, is that what it is?
Yanik: No, this is my product placement for you.
Andrew: What is it?
Yanik: It’s all natural, it’s with, I don’t know they sell it in Whole Foods like [??] stuff, so I’m still on Maui time.
Andrew: You just got back from that?
Andrew: I’m drinking tea right here so …
Yanik: There you go.
Andrew: So, how did you build up for …
Yanik: Oh yeah the proofs, I’m not a tech guy at all and I call myself a bit of a computer dunce so of course in 11, 12 years I’ve probably learned some stuff now but I still cannot put up my own web page and that’s not like BS that I use, it’s like [??] or something like that I really cannot put up my web page. I can do some stuff in Word Press if I need to but, like, post a blog answer or something but I cannot, I really can’t do much and so I always from pretty early on I’m like, “What am I really good at? I’m good at the marketing; I’m good at the copy writing, not so good at the tech stuff. I don’t necessarily need to learn that.”
I don’t need to figure out how light comes into my house when I switch a light switch on, I just want to know that’s it’ll happen and I can find developers and programmers and people that would do stuff, I could just show them, “Hey this is what I want done”‘, and they would put it up and build it for me and it’s not that expensive and still to this day same deal. We outsource a lot of stuff whether it’s on Elance or different places like that or I have …
Andrew: So did you have a developer create the affiliate program for you, or did you use something like Commission Junction system?
Yanik: No it was off the shelf, it’s called Synergix [SP] and it’s …
Andrew: What is it called, sorry?
Andrew: Synergix, OK.
Yanik: Yeah, that was the original one and it’s probably, you know, a couple of years old now so it’s a little bit old in the Internet world. And it doesn’t have all the features and different things, it’s not as robust as some of the other stuff. Like right now I would just get something that plugs into my CRM or my whatever, whether it’s Infusion or OfficeAutopilot or ClickBank or just something that can easily do what you want it to do. But yeah, so I’m not going to build this thing.
Yanik: But that was definitely a big explosion in our sales when we started letting other people sell our stuff for us. And we give at that point a pretty hefty commission; it was like 45%. And then a little while later we turned it into more of a lifetime kind of commission because we started building all these other products, and so we let our affiliates sell any of the products and they get paid on future products too. That was another turning point.
Andrew: What other products were you selling?
Yanik: InstantSales [SP] is our first one, and then led to, I think we had like a fax broadcast manual that I wrote.
Andrew: How to get into the fax broadcast business?
Yanik: Well, no. How to sell via fax broadcasting when it was legal; so using that for your own business. And then I started, like pretty early on I had people coming up to me asking, ‘Hey, how did you do this? Can you teach me how to do what you’ve done online?’
Because pretty quickly, like within three months I remember we made like $1,800 the first month in the sales rooms, and then it was like $3,600, and $7,800, and like $9,400 the fourth month. And so we’re on track to do 6 figures pretty quickly.
And then they’re like, well, ‘Can you show me what the hell you’re doing? And how did you do this?’ And that led to this whole other track that I wasn’t really expecting, of teaching Internet marketing and helping people with that, and really focusing on people’s expertise and hobbies and passions, and how to monetize that or how to figure out ways of selling that online.
So the next product that I created was something called Autoresponder Magic. The thinking behind this is actually pretty good. You know, I made a lot of mistakes then – I could’ve done a lot better with it. So the idea was almost a ‘paint-the-fence model’ – the Tom Sawyer paint-the-fence model where he got everyone else to paint the fence for him.
So Autoresponder Magic, I contacted a few people. I’m like, ‘Hey, you know, there’s really no work for you, but will you give me your sequence of autoresponders?’ And they’re like, yeah, sure.
And I’m like, you know, we’ll probably get some sales for you or something. So I put together, I compiled this e-book. You can still find it online right now. I need to change the site – we still have it for sale and every once in a while we actually still sell it. It was a little $17 e-book with 450 pages of great autoresponder sequences so people can model them. And then we sold that and then we gave away resale rights to it, essentially, so that anyone who bought it could resell it or reprint it or give it away for free, so then it went viral. And I put my affiliate links inside other people’s stuff in there. And then selling like, we called it a ‘gold version’ of it (or something like that) for $2.99. I would customize the links inside it; it would be your links. That was pretty interesting and it spread all over the place.
Then I did the exact same thing with e-mails – it’s called the Million Dollar Emails. That sort of spread my reputation, and that wasn’t totally planned but looking back it was pretty smart.
Andrew: Right. So you kept building these different products.
Andrew: You kept selling them and getting better and better at marketing, and teaching marketing. And this something happened – I was going to say ‘on your 30th birthday’ but it technically was not your real 30th birthday, so I’ll say ‘around your 30th birthday’ what happened?
Yanik: Yeah, so I was coming up to my 30th birthday, building up this database of the customers, and I’ve been brainstorming with one of my Mastermind groups that I got together with. And they’re like, ‘We should do a 30th birthday bash.’
And I’m like, sounds great! My birthday is like in a month and a half. And they’re like, yeah, that’s not going to happen. My birthday’s in September and I think we started talking about it in August (it might have been July). And I decided to throw myself and my customers a Customer Appreciation 30th Birthday Bash. That was my very first event that I did. I always knew I wanted to do events.
Yanik: That’s a good question. I was always interested in how do I sell and disseminate and teach my information in all sorts of ways? So I was already doing it via, you know, I’d been doing via audio programs; I’ve been doing e-books; I’ve been doing a little bit of coaching programs. Before the TV show Apprentice, I had an apprentice that I was running for one year. I had a handful of people working with me on joint projects. So I’m always interested in new formats and things like that, and I never done events, and I’m like oh let’s do events.
I basically jumped into the deep end because there were about 540 people that we ended up having. I decided to make it for Make a Wish foundation, and it was $50 to get in, so it was basically free, and all $50 went to Make a Wish. We raised $25,000+ for Make a Wish, so that was pretty cool, and I just invited a handful of my friends to speak there and it was fun. It was like one of the first times that I really got to create an experience for my customers, and I’m very big into that now. So if it was my birthday, what do you have to have for the birthday need?
You need a goody bag, you need cake, you need someone singing happy birthday to you. We did it at Disney so I had Mickey Mouse come out and sing happy birthday to me, so we had all this fun stuff. We had banners and streamers and all sorts of stuff to make it experiential and fun, it was like my birthday. Then we had a gag gift contest, where customers would give me their best gag gifts. I remember getting stuff like a blank book that said “Everything Yanik Silver knows about the internet.”
We got some weir shit, this one dude gave me his, I don’t know, family heirloom, fox stole, and I’m like wow that’s really nice, it came from Canada or Alaska or somewhere. And my wife said wow that’s freaky we’re getting rid of that thing. Then this one dude from the U.K. gave me like all these porn mags and different things, like he misread what we said about this gag gift contest and he thought it was like a stag kind of party.
Andrew: Let me ask you something. You’re inviting serious people, real entrepreneurs who just need to get stuff done, that’s why their customers of yours, that’s why they’re in your sphere of influence, I was going to say, but it’s more than that. It’s for your friendship. How do you say to yourself, I’m going to put this event together, that’s going to have this outrageous gift party and cake, and it’ll be worth their while to come. I’m going to leave the question there, maybe I’m a little too anal, maybe I need to see everything on a spreadsheet, but. How do you know that there’s enough value that they’re going to come to this thing?
Yanik: I mean, I knew who we were inviting, and the stuff I was talking about so there were definitely big business elements to it. I hate everything if it’s too serious, like everything is so buttoned up.
Andrew: Most people would say, I hate things that are too buttoned up, I’m going to do a great job at work, then I’m going to have the outrageous, fun party for myself and my friends after work.
Andrew: But you merge it. What I mean to say is, it’s not like how are you so outrageous, its how do you create something that’s social and fun, but still meaningful enough to draw in entrepreneurs who are going to spend their money and their time to come there.
Yanik: I think people are really looking for that, they may not be actively saying, “hey show me a good time”, but if you can do it in a way that combines, I think entrepreneur is just life, right, it’s just everything that revolves around life. A philosophy that I’ve been really kind of teaching resume with, is this Venn diagram, with these three interconnecting circles. It’s to make more money, to have more fun and give more.
If I look back at that birthday bash, it actually had all those elements and I didn’t even recognize it. So obviously the make more money aspects were the business building sessions, and the more fun were these playthings, the cake and the gag gift contest. People love that, they get into that stuff if you give them the platform for it and it’s kind of wild when you see it happen.
You give them permission to do it, like I had a suite that was filled with these crazy gifts and all these things that they came up with, and they loved it because they were apart of it. They got goody bags and they got cake, and even though we miscounted how much cake we had, we had like a sliver of cake that thin, but it was fun. People really yearn for it, but they’re not necessarily going to say “yes, make something fun for me.”
One of my business hero’s now is one of my buddies, Tony Hsieh from Zappos. Like, if you go there, I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Vegas and done their tour, you walk through there and you’re like, how the hell are you guys getting anything done? They’d put on parades in the middle of the day. Their whole offices are filled with all sorts of knick knacks and stuff. They’re having Nerf wars among each other. It’s like crazy. That’s the happiness part that I think makes people even more productive and then that impact element where they can serve in some way.
We’re putting it all together very early on, Yanik’s search for authentic self. This is probably one of those watershed . . .
Andrew: Is it hard for you to be the fun person who puts together fun events when you saw that you were attracting business people who were trying to get something done?
Andrew: It wasn’t a wrestling match with yourself. You just knew this is who you were because I know now you’re about to go to a new Yanik with your life.
Andrew: I see that you’re sketching things out on the white board behind you. That’s what the 3% is. We’ll get to it in a moment. I see that you’re mapping. It’s a process to give birth to this new Yanik. Was it a similar process to give birth to the party animal, Yanik?
Yanik: Huh. I don’t know if I’m a party . . .
Andrew: You’re a party animal.
Yanik: I just naturally gravitate towards that stuff. It’s not like I force myself to do it.
Andrew: So, it was just I like to have fun. I like to have parties. I’m going to throw this bash for myself.
Andrew: Invite all the people who I work with, and we’re going to have this great time. It’s not really going to be diagrammed out in my map, it’s just who I am.
Andrew: And still . . . I’ve got to keep moving on with the narrative, but one more thing. I want to be clear about this. Did you say that this 30th birthday bash also had speakers at it?
Yanik: Yeah, it totally had speakers, a bunch of different speakers.
Andrew: So, it was like a merging of . . .
Yanik: It was a seminar. It was a seminar.
Andrew: It was a seminar with this fun party attached to it, and that’s why people came because it was a seminar and the reason they enjoyed themselves was because it was a party. Am I getting it?
Yanik: Yeah. I think so many businesses and entrepreneurs, they don’t have enough fun with their business. I like making do business be fun, and making it fun to do business, if you include that.
My hockey team gave me the hardest time. You can probably search Yanik’s birthday bash and you’ll see a silly ass photo of me with a little Winnie the Pooh hat on my head. I can probably find it right now and do a screen share on it. I don’t know. My goalie or somebody found it, and he’s just laughing his ass off, and he’s like, look at this, look at Yanik.
So, putting yourself out there sometimes is not always the easiest, but I always do it . . . People listening to this are like, Yanik’s putting himself out there. Be a little bit fun. Be a little bit goofy. It doesn’t mean, hey, let’s make Fridays silly hat day at work or something like that because Yanik said that to add that element. It’s got to come from this genuine place of what works for you, and what works for me, being goofy definitely works.
One our DNAs for the new maverick companies is we call it a little bit quirky, a little bit rock ‘n’ roll because I’m cool but not that cool. I’m also definitely quirky and silly, but that comes through in a lot of our promotions. We used to do promotions where it was like, save Yanik’s marriage sale. There’d be a picture of me standing in a small little room with piles of inventory. I’m like, Missy says, get this the hell out of the house or else.
People would be like, I can’t believe you’re doing that or whatever. If you’re offended by that, you can get off the list.
Andrew: You know what? I’ve got to learn to find my true authentic fun self because right now, if I were to do an event, what you would get at the door is a pencil and a notepad because you’re going to be sitting there for five hours taking notes on stuff.
Andrew: That’s an authentic part of who I am, and I’d have to be myself and do that, but there’s more of a fun part that I have to find and put into those events, even frankly put into these interviews. Because if it’s just facts, facts, facts I think I might lose people.
Yanik: They resonate with personally, and I think pure vanilla is the worst thing you can do. Look at Rush Limbaugh or Howard Stern. They’re pretty extreme in their personality or where they are, but people love them, and you also get people that hate them who will keep listening because they want to see what the hell they are going to say so that they can be more offended.
Yanik: So, yeah, putting up that authentic self, that personality, is really important in business, and it doesn’t even have to be you as a person. I like companies like Demotivator or demotivation.com and despair.com where you look at all parts of their site and they’ve got this personality that is sort of sarcastic personality built into their site, WOOTS is a good example too. They do a lot of fun stuff and it’s not like the main guys, it’s not his personality necessarily, it’s not talking about him, but it’s the company of WOOT being that fun.
Andrew: What’s more profitable, live events or online product sales?
Yanik: That’s a hard question to answer because it’s [??] . . .
Andrew: It’s so what? I’m sorry the connection dropped for a moment.
Yanik: It varies based on, there’s 40 different leverages you can pull for live events to make them more profitable and it all depends on how far down the rabbit hole you want to go of making it a pitch fest versus making it more educational versus making it . . .
Andrew: Can you give me some of the levers that you discovered through the underground events?
Yanik: Sure. [??] Some events make their money on back-of-the-room sales. So if you’re selling anything from a coaching program or a higher-end whatever, whatever the case is, you make you’re money that way. Sometimes events, I have connections with people in all aspects of the Internet world and sometimes events are very strategic, designed to do one thing and one thing only and that’s to put people into other people’s coaching or mentor ship programs or whatever it is.
There are real strategic things where they put people up on stage for certain reasons. Where they put a panel on there, which is designed just to create the success stories. They’ll have different sessions that are designed to explain why you need a mentor and all these different things that are all set-ups for when the pitch happens. It is all engineered for that one thing.
That doesn’t really resonate with me, personally. I always like doing things my own way a little bit. Like the underground events, it’s not, one of the big differences was that we brought in people who were real world Internet guys and gals who are quietly making fortunes online but don’t necessarily . . .
Andrew: Give me an example?
Yanik: There’s so many, last time we brought in these guys, Michael Mood and [??] who are, I don’t know if you’ve ever interviewed them, but they are iPhone app guys. I don’t know what they got, like 20 million downloads or something ridiculous right now, I don’t know where they were. These guys are definitely not professional speakers in the least, but they had great content and then we’re getting the content out of them and sharing what they’re doing in the networks and inside the iTunes store and everything like that.
We’ll have people who are up there who never speak at all who talk about their domaining business where they bought and built up these different domains and how they’ve done it.
Andrew: What does a ticket cost for one of the events?
Yanik: Most of the time we sell them at the early bird price, which is $1995 per person.
Andrew: $19.95, right?
Yanik: Yeah, only $19.95 per person.
Andrew: $1,900.95, we’ll get to it like what you said to me about my pricing in a minute too, because we don’t believe in under pricing things. $1900 is roughly what people are paying to come to an event. How many people do you get to come to an event?
Yanik: There are about 450 that will show up.
Andrew: 450 people?
Yanik: Yeah. People come in on different levels. There are some people that’s included in other programs that they have from me, like our Maverick members, they get a ticket included in their membership. Then some people show up as a guest of someone else who had a $2,000 ticket and that’s [??].
Andrew: So $1,995 you get two tickets one for you and one for a guest? No.
Yanik: One ticket for $2,000 and you get the opportunity to buy a guest ticket for $1,995.
Andrew: So some people buy, so about 450. What kind of sponsorship do you have at the event?
Yanik: That’s actually something we could do a whole lot better on, so if anyone’s listening to this and is a superstar sponsor person, contact me. That’s definitely one of the levers that you can pull [??] events and we get, I don’t know, last year we did like $60,000 in sponsorship or something like.
Andrew: $60,000 in sponsorship and what does a sponsor get for an event?
Yanik: It depends what level they come in at.
Andrew: At the top level, what do you get? Does it become the Microsoft presents underground event [??] Xbox?
Yanik: We don’t have anyone with title sponsorship yet. Last year was the first year that ever introduced that possibility, but you’ll have an opportunity for some stage time to present something. Even as I say that I’m thinking in my head well actually it’s a [??] stage time, but that’s not the case. I’m always looking at how does it enhance the experience. Last year we had Clickbank as one of our sponsors and one of the things that they got was stage time among other things. I told them you can’t just go out there and pitch what Clickbank is, so let’s make it something really cool.
Andrew: What level does Clickbank come in for?
Yanik: I think it was called platinum level.
Andrew: Platinum. Manufacturer suggested retail price for the platinum is what?
Yanik: They can find it on the site. It varies year by year.
Andrew: Are we talking roughly $20,000?
Yanik: I don’t think they want me to reveal what they paid.
Andrew: All right.
Yanik: It’s pretty easy to find out.
Andrew: It’s on the site somewhere.
Yanik: Yeah, it’ll be on the site.
Andrew: Are these questions rude for me to be asking, by the way?
Yanik: No, I don’t mind.
Andrew: You don’t mind. I actually put you on the spot by asking that question. What are you going to say at this point? Yes, it is rude and if you say it’s rude then I come across as a nice guy for caring about how you feel and backing away. If you say it’s not rude the audience in their mind goes it’s not rude and the guy said that it’s not rude. Andrew is a good person for asking these questions on my behalf and he’s not rude.
Yanik: I think just because they’re involved in it that I would necessarily find out what the levels are.
Andrew: No problem.
Yanik: What I want to get back to is the main point which is that it’s not simply about how do we extract maximum money out of our sponsors and people like that. I’m always looking at where is the experience enhancement there. What we talked about and worked out was that they were going to make two big major announcements at Underground and we were going to simulcast it live. That made it a value for the attendees that were there. Actually, we didn’t simulcast it live, I’m sorry, I think they made an announcement later on live to their customers, so we were the first place that you could actually see it live and that was it.
Andrew: Let me ask you this. Matt of 99designs, I’ve told you this in private, proposed to me that he and I would do something at South by Southwest, Hugh at South by Southwest eventually, it took him some time to finally say yes Andrew, I want you and Matt, the founder of 99designs to come on and do this thing and I told Matt all excited and I thought Matt would be enthused and he goes, I can’t make it, I’m going to Yanik Silvers. How do you get guys like him? Namedrop a little bit. Beyond Matt Mickiewicz of 99designs, who else has come to your event and then I want to know how do you get those guys to come to the event?
Yanik: Hi, dude. Now you guys can say hi to Zack. Zack, say hi.
Andrew: Hey Zack. Zack, we’re going to need a clearance signature from you for the lawyers now that you’re on camera. It’s official. We’ll give you royalties from this. Zack, what are you up to?
Yanik: What are you doing? Did you just shower?
Andrew: Oh please, the union guys are the only ones who are allowed to adjust lighting, sir. Who knows, maybe I can do humor.
Yanik: That was pretty good.
Andrew: You got to try.
Yanik: We’ve had Tim Ferriss show up there, we had Tony Shay, Bob Parsons from GoDaddy.
Andrew: Let’s say, Bob Parsons. How do you get Bob Parsons to come in?
Yanik: Bob was a speaker so we brought him in. I worked on Bob for several years because he does not like to speak in public, but I think he’s got such a cool story and he’s actually from Maryland so it’s a little bit of a homecoming for him, so that was fun. I think he liked it when he did it and he has been doing a little bit more speaking right now actually after he did it. He was an interesting guy. I just continue to build a really good reputation in the space.
Andrew: Just lots of phone calls?
Yanik: Not really.
Yanik: I’m not going to bother someone, like for instance, Derek Sivers is a good example, the guy from CD Baby. I’ve wanted to get Derek to come speak for a long time. I’m not going to keep calling him every week or asking him to speak or whatever the case is. I put an invite out to him a couple years ago and I went to a Wired disrupt event in New York City and literally sat two or three rows behind him, so I sent him this funny email. I said, dude, I can totally pick out the back of your head from a lineup right now. I was his blog reader, so he talks a lot about hell yes or hell no as one of his topics and I’m like, “I want this to be one of those events that you say ‘Hell yes’ to, and drop some stuff in there that is not typical invite that shows that you actually care about who they are.”
I do the same stuff when I interview authors, because I get really excited about what their ideas are, and what they do, because I care about helping them disseminate that even more broader through people that look to me for help. That’s one thing that I do, is just to come at it from a real point of view. Then, it’s not, some type of like, Ted [??], who’s one of the big guys that [??] of all time, or Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards. He came last year, and he actually was on stage, and he was like, “I don’t know how you got me to do this.” He was laughing. It’s partly asking, and it’s partly building relationships.
Andrew: All right. It’s just, what we’re seeing here is, whenever you see a new passion arise in you, you pursue it. Whenever there’s a passion for a book that you want to read, you don’t just want to read it, you also want to interview the person on your site, and then have somebody else put it up, because you’re not very good with WordPress abilities. There’s a new change now. The 3% that we saw behind you is part of it. I want to find out about that, and then, if you don’t mind, I’d like to ask you how a guy who comes from Russia could end up with the first name Yanik, which makes sense, but the last name Silver, which we’ll find out in a moment where it came from. But the 3% that’s behind you, I haven’t found out about that.
Yanik: Yes. It…
Andrew: What’s the deal there?
Yanik: This is all in line with the last three years. I’ve been growing, you mentioned Maverick Business Adventures, and that was kind of the first foray into this idea of the mixing of the make more money, have more fun, give more. It’s interesting that I picked that as the first one, because it was such a different business model than anything that I’ve done, really.
Andrew: The underground events are the events like the one that you and I described and got beat into a conversation about the, what was it, the Maverick Business Adventures are events like the one where you described earlier, where you’re driving 200 miles an hour with other entrepreneurs.
Yanik: Yeah. We’ll do an annual event now with [??] on [??] Island. We’ll do a thing in Haiti, working with micro-entrepreneurs and building villages there. [??]. We’ve done zero gravity flights with Tony Hawk, Baja Racing. We’ve done Jesse James, and actually, just recently Steve [??] just got back from Baja two weeks ago.
Andrew: This is the first area where you said, ‘There’s a new Yanik coming out here. I want to direct that passion towards the Maverick Business Adventures business.’ What does it mean, and how are you integrating it in? What is this new idea?
Yanik: It’s all about those three areas the make more, have more fun, and give more. It’s that Maverick philosophy, so the adventure part has only been for entrepreneurs that are million dollar plus entrepreneurs. It’s a select group, plus they have to be adventurous, and so it’s interesting that that was the first thing that I clung unto, but maybe it was what was going on in my life. My second child was just born, and who knows, maybe subconsciously feeling less free. Who knows?
Then I created this business that then was all about these adventures. It sort of stemmed a little bit from one of my buddies, who unfortunately, died in an auto accident. He took me Baja Racing for the first time. I guess now it’s six years ago, and he was a big race car guy, and he’s like, “This is the absolute best thing that I’ve ever done.” He had a very successful Internet company, this guy, Corey Rudle[sp], and so we went together, and we had met these other CEOs there, big time, like Nasdaq listed CEOs, and made some relationships with them that really wouldn’t have happened any other way. It was kind of like this little, “Huh. This is interesting,” that these relationships would form at a whole different level through this experience. I always loved experiences. I’ve always had a life list of stuff that I wanted to check off, and do, and be, and have, and experience.
At one point we had a Running with the Bulls trip organized, but everybody else bailed, because they all had businesses to run, and then I just took me and my brother. We had a good time in Pamplona, but it could have been even cooler, probably, if we had a whole group of crazy entrepreneurs. Then I decided to create this business, Maverick Business Adventures, to fulfill what did Yanik want to do, because he couldn’t find everybody to play with, or find enough people to play with, or the people I really like playing with that much, [??] and game-changers, and entrepreneurs. Why not just create a business around that? Like I said, it was a totally different form of business model and so forth.
And there’d been some struggles around that, where everything before used to come pretty easy, because it was like, OK, well, we’ll just create a new product – we’re selling them to the exact same marketplace. New product, same marketplace, and I had built up that liking and respect and authority from providing a lot of value from before. And because this is such a select group of people that we’re looking for, it wasn’t the smoothest thing out there.
I used some of the tricks that I like, which is like creating a deadline for myself. The very first trip we did was like January of 2008, and I’m like [TD] happen, I don’t know how it’s going to happen, here’s the date and whoever . . .
Andrew: And what would happen by this date?
Yanik: That we’d have a trip, that I’d take 24 . . .
Andrew: Oh, a trip, I see. I thought – maybe I was driving towards something different – I thought I was driving towards this new need that you have to give back and to have the entrepreneurs who are partners with you giving back. Am I driving in the wrong direction?
Yanik: I guess I’m getting there in a roundabout way.
Yanik: There in a more direct way. But so I decided to combine all those things, even like an adventure, so we did that first trip to Baja, where I didn’t know what the hell we were going to do – like I didn’t have a star or anyone lined up (and we were able to get Jesse James on there).
But we had business sessions throughout and then we had a session with these young entrepreneurs or these young kids in Mexico, and were teaching them about entrepreneurship. So it was all baked in, and we made it a very detailed thing, specific thing to do that.
The adventures are somewhat limited, so I’ve been thinking a lot around this ecosystem of the Maverick philosophy and where that’s heading, and what we’re going to do with it. And so this 3% forward (sorry, I got Zach [SP] and Zoe [SP] playing back here).
And so like the 3% forward is (all right; you guys have got to get out of here now! No, you got to go. Here; the iPhone cures all).
Yanik: So the 3% forward is this idea of getting entrepreneurs and business owners to pledge 3% for innovative causes and charities that are self-sustaining and entrepreneurial that they want to support. And 3% of any combination of their selves, their talents and their products and service. And I’ve got to thank your wife for (as we’re sort of evaluating and thinking about it) so it was inspired by 1% for the Planet. And you know, all the relationships I’ve built for the last 11, 12 years, I really want to catalyze them into this idea of making this big difference and having that impact with things that can matter, and letting entrepreneurs do it. But I want to do it in a pragmatic way. It’s not like, you know, Yanik wants to change the world and give up all his worldly possessions! There’s actually a profit model associated with the 3% profit movement. And there’s a very big value proposition for the entrepreneurs that do the pledge.
You know, we’ll have thousands of dollars in resources and tools available to them, and discounts that are available for this small little dollar amount. I think it’s going to be like $33 a year, so once again, the 10 to 100 times (probably, I guess, 1,000 times value there).
And at the same time we’re going to be split-testing the badges that they get to make sure that it actually increases their conversion.
Andrew: So let me see if I’ve got this first. What you’re saying is, you want to find a way to give back, but it also needs to make business sense – a model for this way of giving back, and also growing a business through giving back is Tom’s Shoes, where every time someone buys a pair of shoes, Tom’s Shoes gives away a pair to someone in need. And we all have been watching as Tom’s Shoes has been blowing up – getting a lot of attention, growing it’s business – because people are paying attention to this and are connecting with the company in a way that they don’t connect with shoe brands.
You’re seeing the same thing; a way to make an impact in the world and also grow your business through that impact. And you have an army of entrepreneurs who are all part of Maverick, who are all already members and friends of yours. And you’re saying, “I could go even bigger through them.” And the badge idea is you’re saying, well, if they’re going to all give back, they also want the world to know that they’re giving back and caring so that they get some of the goodwill that Tom’s Shoes enjoys, and you’re going to give them a badge that they put on their website.
The incentive for giving them the badge they’ll put on their website is this AB test that you will do to show them, “Hey, you guys, this isn’t just a feel-good. I’ve AB tested it; this badge is going to increase your sales.” Am I giving away so much of this business now that someone else is going to steal it?
Yanik: Yeah, I mean that’s, no.
Andrew: You’re fine with that, all right. I saw a look; I was thinking . . .
Yanik: No, the look is, that’s not just, you know, that the benefit of AB split testing different things, it’s the resources and the tools that are available to them. And of course the fact that they get to choose the causes; we don’t collect.
Andrew: I see.
Yanik: It’s up to them. And a lot of businesses are already doing it, so why not get credit for it. And by the way, one little linguistic kind of thing. A lot of times we’ll talk about give back, I’ve talked about this before too. We call it three percent forward, because we like to think of it as giving three percent forward, and the give back kind of implies that we’ve taken something.
Andrew: I’m so glad you said that, now I’m adopting it, but I always hated the idea of giving back. I never took in the first place. Give back, that’s what you say to a shoplifter and really you’re right. That’s the way the world treats a lot of entrepreneurs and business people, like they shoplifted and we need to get them like good little boys to go back to the store and give it back. Well you know what, I never took, and you never took, there is no giving back I’ve got to stop accepting their language. Because I think implied with that is a whole lot of things I don’t accept.
You know what, let me do a quick marketing, and you’re going to then tell me that I’m under selling it, but here’s the marketing. If you like systems and you want more in depth less conversations, less fun times and much more get down to freaking business.
Yanik: Less fun times?
Andrew: Less fun times, that’s what I sell. I sell like the un-fun, the down to business if there’s any, these side conversations, Andrew will whip the conversation right back on track. That’s what Mixergy Premium is all about. I get an entrepreneur to show me his computer screen and teach me step-by-step without any side conversations what he does best. I put up this great course with Juan [??], from [??] this guy is so good at online marketing. He showed me in private his sales over the years and I said to him, Juan will you come on and teach people how you increase your sales. He says, Andrew, here it is, and he showed me the blue print he uses to build his company.
And then he says here are the four key elements of the blueprint. And he showed everyone else how to do it. He said, here are the four elements, and here’s how you’re going to spend time on each of those four elements to grow your business. I’ve been doing it here at Mixergy, it’s organized my life here at Mixergy tremendously. And that one course on how to blue print your customer acquisition is available as part of Mixergy Premium, as well systemizing courses. They’re going to show you how to systemize, how to create iPhone apps. We talked about Juan and [??] who built this tremendous iPhone business.
I said, guys, show me your computer screen and show me how built it. They told me they out sourced, and I asked them to show me what you write on e-Lance to get the right outsourcers, show me how you figure out which is the right outsourcer to hire. Show me how send them the first project that they need to do. Show me how you get them back in line when they in-evidently don’t get the first version right, and then show me how you take the whole step from beginning to end and sell the iPhone app. Show me how to do it on the screen and show my audience how to do it. All that is part of Mixergy Premium package which I’m currently at this moment selling for only 25 bucks a month, you get all those things. Yanik, you’re telling me that I’m under pricing it, you’re shaking your head, I should be selling each one of these things for $200. That’s what these entrepreneurs want.
Yanik: First of all if you’re listening to this, it’s a crazy deal so go get it while Andrew is still not influenced by [??].
Andrew: I’m giving them all away, these courses are going quickly, get them before there out! Tell me about pricing, go ahead tell me your philosophy on pricing?
Yanik: We’ll put it into a lesson that I think people can use, that there’s a serious psychology with price. I know what when I pay more for something I actually pay more attention to it, and I revere it more, and I will follow it more. I hope that the people that buy it for $25, that they actually look at it as it should be $250 or $2500. I mean this is better than university [??]. Like the stuff that you’re talking about.
I actually just got back from a conference [??] and I hung out with Juan. I mean to have someone sit down in front of their computer is one of the best ways you could possibly learn. And you’re a great guy that digs in and digs deep into what they’re doing. It’s worth so much more, so that psychology of price doesn’t always work in your favor, making something so low. If I had a Ferrari that I was going to buy tomorrow, and someone’s like, oh you can get it fir 20,000, what the hell’s wrong with it?
There’s certainly a built-in premium for good pricing, and also you don’t have to deal with as many customers support issues because a lot of times customers who buy on the low end are going to be many times your worst customer headaches. I have customers that have spent $20,000 with me for a very high end Mastermind groups and they’re my favorite customers. And then we have ones that bought an e-Book for 20 bucks, and they’re having a hard time and giving us the most grief.
That’s just a little bit of a tiny lesson in pricing that I hope some of the listeners can use as well, but I know what it’s like to try and get your information out there to the most people possible. It’s like, well, if it’s the lowest price stuff . . . I always believe that there’s room for low price stuff, and there’s also room for premium products. And so, you want to make sure that you have something else that’s available at the premium price, and what you’re providing them is a great blueprint that’s worth so much more. I’m doing your selling for you, I guess.
Andrew: All right. I don’t want it to become too heavy of a sales pitch, but I do want to get your . . . If you’re going to tell me in private, Andrew, here’s the mistake you’re making, I want to give you room to say it in public so that other people can hear it. I’d much rather learn it in public and have other people watch my mistakes than quietly brush them under the carpet or pretend they’re not there.
All right. Final question. Your name, Yanik Silver. We’re now at the end of the interview.
Yanik: I’d like to forget about this.
Andrew: Yeah. I’ve got it all down here. We’re at the end. It’s just you and me talking, and whoever didn’t get exhausted, they’re on a long drive, and now is paying attention all the way to the end. Actually, we’ve got some die hard people. So, for all die hard people who listen all the way to the end, Yanik Silver, where did the name come from?
Yanik: It’s funny. Yanik isn’t even like, it’s sort of a Russian name, but my parents couldn’t even figure out what Yanik was. My mom passed away about six years ago, and she didn’t remember what it was from. So, Yanik has always been a little bit of a nickname since originally it’s Jacob which is Yacob. It just was Yanik. It stuck and so my last name, this is a long convoluted story.
But so, my last name, depending on who you ask, is Zilberbaum with a Z, Z-I-L-B-E-R-B-A-U-M and when we came over from Russia that’s how they translated it. My mom always thought it was translated wrong, so Zilberbaum means silver tree in German, and my mom, when they got divorced, she went to Silberbaum, S-I-L-B-E-R.
When I started writing, maybe 15 year ago, I guess now or 14 years ago, I just dropped the “baum” and it was Silver. For a long time I was wavering. Is this my pen name, or am I going to do anything with it? There was a lot of grief and a lot of internal turmoil about going to my dad and telling him, hey, I think this really feels a lot more like who I am and I’m going to use this. I’ve revealed this before on my blog and stuff, so it’s not like this shocking Mixergy revelation thing.
Andrew: You say that. You know what? Not everyone’s read every post on your blog. They might think that I’ve gotten it because of our rapport. Because of my rapport skills, I’ve gotten you to reveal something that you didn’t otherwise . . .
Yanik: I haven’t gone in depth about it, for sure. It’s just like a little passing thing in my blog. So, yeah, at one point in the family we had three last names. So, I ended up changing it. My wife, she’s like, all right, what are we going to do? I’m going to wait until you figure it out because I’m not changing my name a third time. I finally decided that it just . . . We’d been talking about your authentic self, and so on.
You know what was kind of weird in this? Now, people are like, that guy’s weird. So, my birthday is 9-25 and if you look on sterling silver it’ll say 925 on there because it has to be .925% sterling silver. I’m like, I think that’s a sign that that really is what is authentic for me. And so, that’s what I used.
Andrew: You changed your name legally
Yanik: Yeah. I legally changed it. It’s not because I was trying to hide who I am or anything like that or using it for escaping the law in some way for- Who knows? I mean, a long time- I gave this a lot of thought as I was having that inner turmoil deciding whether or not to change it. I mean, Roy Rogers, that wasn’t his real name. Marilyn Monroe, that wasn’t her real name. You know, people like that. And so I’m such a- God, this is going to come so cynical.
Andrew: Good. Go for it.
Yanik: It’s going to come so cynical that it sounds like this planned branding of Yanik Silver. It’s just such a better brand. It’s, yeah, it’s just…
Andrew: Dude, I wouldn’t criticize. Andrew Warner’s a much better brand than the name my parents gave me. I changed it to Andrew Warner, of course.
Andrew: I’m willing to sacrifice heritage.
Andrew: What does heritage mean? Nothing to me. I’m willing to sacrifice heritage for good business.
Yanik: I agree. I wanted to keep the… I feel like it’s not like Yanik Jones or anything like that. It has meaning. So that’s the story. That’s actually way more than I think I’ve ever revealed to anyone. That’ll be a Mixergy exclusive. Inquiring minds want to know.
Andrew: All right, there we go. That’s the way to play this stuff up. Alright, where do we send people after this interview? They can go to undergroundonlineseminar.com, right?
Andrew: Is that the right page?
Yanik: Yeah, that’s where you can check out where the next event is.
Andrew: Not only can you check out where the next event is, and it actually says ‘sold out’ I think. I don’t know. But it’s a long sales letter. I mean, if they want to get a sense of your writing style and what’s made you so successful, they can just go over there and read that thing. I’d love to have you on back again, Yanik, by the way, for many reasons. One of the top reasons is we covered your history here. I’d like to learn a little bit more about how you did it.
What was it about the early writing that got you to, that enabled you to sell something you didn’t have. What was it about your early writing that made that manual valuable to people? That made sales letters so valuable to people? Most people can’t create a single sales letter. That’s why they became customers of yours, many of them. And here you were creating multiple sales letters for people who you hadn’t even met. What is it about your writing style? What is it about sales that you figured out that the rest of us haven’t?
I’m not going to let you even answer it now, but I saw that you were winding up to answer which is a good indication that I’m going to be able to get you back on here. Another way that I can get you back on here is to ask you on the record. Would you come back on and do another interview about that topic where you teach that stuff?
Yanik: Yeah, I’d be happy to. I’d love to talk about other things, too, all around that, like creating hooks, unique angles…
Yanik: … and what causes one business to flounder where another one succeeds, and the naming of products which has a big influence on things.
Yanik: Since we’ve been talking about naming and my name [??]. But yeah, I’d be happy to. I think it would be a great [??].
Andrew: All right, where else can people connect with you?
Yanik: My blog is probably a good spot, which is internetlifestyle, singular. Internetlifestyle.com, and you can check out my life list and just some of my musings on life, adventure and business there. And then this new thing that I’m super excited about which is 3percentforward.org. So the number 3, percentforward.org or .com. I don’t think anything’s going to be up there yet, but they’ll find that.
I don’t know when this video’s going to post, but we’ll have something up there by then. I’m just really excited for where this transition that has been slowly building up over the last couple years, of where we’re heading and moving away from me simply being only an internet marketer, but really being a catalyst for entrepreneurs doing great things.
Andrew: Well, I’m going to urge my audience, as I always do, to, if they got any value out of this interview- and man, we went for about an hour and half here together, so if they stuck all the way here to the end then they must have gotten some value. If they did, if they go out and find a way to say thank you to you, so I’m going to give the websites again.
Find a way to go to internetlifestyle.com or even 3percentforward.org and find a way to say ‘thank you’ to Yanik if for no other reason than the guy’s really fun and at one point you’re going to want to hang out with him. And if you establish this relationship that you will eventually get to enjoy later on- If you establish it now by saying ‘thank you’ it’s going to be a much more meaningful relationship later on. So I urge you guys to do that.
Thank you for watching, and I’ll see you soon.
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