Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.com. It is, of course, home of the ambitious upstart. It’s the place where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses and I always say it’s for an audience of real entrepreneurs. I’ve been featuring more and more people who listen to Mixergy who are now doing a Mixergy interview.
Joining me is a guy who, before we started, said that he listened to every single interview as they came up. I actually got to meet him in Washington DC at dinner. I got to see the work that he was doing back when he was running a consulting company. I got to know him. I got to like him. I thought we’d get together again and then I moved out of Washington DC soon after that. But I just kept finding out about his company. It’s called Contactually. It’s a relationship marketing platform that helps professionals stay in touch. I’m not sure I love that sentence. Let me tell you what it is.
I’ve got a buddy named Liston who does freelance work. He has to stay in touch with potential customers who are going to hire him to do copywriting and other marketing for him. Obviously just because you contact someone one day doesn’t mean they’re going to sign up. So he freaking loves Contactually, can’t stop showing it to me to show me how it helps him stay in touch with people in a realistic way so he doesn’t drop off their radar and so it potentially can lead to sales. He’s the kind of person who gets really, really excited about Contactually because it increases his sales.
I’ve talked to other people like my buddy John Corcoran who’s really into getting together with people and getting connected with them and he loves Contactually because it helps him do that. And to me, this sentence is good, but the ability to stay in touch that way that Liston has, that’s the heart of the software that we’re about to talk about. And the founder is here.
His name is Zvi Band. He is the cofounder of Contactually. This interview is sponsored by HostGator, the company that will host your website and by–let’s go with Acuity Scheduling today. Acuity Scheduling will help you get those phone calls with people you want to get on a call with. Anyway, Zvi, welcome.
Zvi: Andrew, thanks so much for having me. Yeah, it’s kind of crazy that not only have I been a listener for so long and congrats to you on keeping this thing going for so long, but you and I also had dinner back in DC when Contacutally was so early. It wasn’t even called Contacutally then. It was called something completely different.
Andrew: What was the name?
Zvi: You’re going to laugh when I say this, but the company was called Enforcery, which of course you think nowadays that sounds like an IT security company. One of my attitudes, especially when it comes to names is come up with something. If you can’t find anything better, just go with it. So, for the first three months, we were Enforcery until we came up with Contactually.
Andrew: I feel like at the time that Aaron, who put the dinner together, he was beaming about you more than you were. I got the sense that he gave me the substance behind you and you were at a place where you were wrestling with yourself a little bit trying to figure out what’s next. As I look through the pre-interview notes from your conversation with our producer, I get the sense–tell me if I’m reading too much into it–but I get the sense it’s because you had a business before, a product, that didn’t go so well and you were trying to make sure that same mistake didn’t happen with Enforcery, which is now Contacutally.
Zvi: Yeah. Absolutely. I think before this, I had tried a company called Structo, which failed, primarily because I was actually running a separate business, a consulting business called Skeevis Arts. It was an incredibly successful company. I worked with really amazing brands doing really cool projects.
But I always, even though I was successful and I was able to build a great business, there was always something–this is probably something other interviews have seen–there was something eating at me. I was spending all this time building other people’s dreams, doing what other people wanted and not building something that I was passionate about. So, I kept saying, “How can I switch from doing services to doing products?”
So, Structo was that first attempt, but what I saw is that I was so distracted by that siren song of consulting clients and all this opportunity and new business flowing in all the time that I wasn’t able to focus on what’s important for the long-term.
Andrew: What was Structo?
Zvi: Structo was a database back end as a service, almost similar to Parse, which was bought by Facebook. It was a way for developers to quickly build out ideally mobile applications without having to have like a server-side back end. That was the initial concept.
Andrew: Now we know that idea made sense. Why do you think, beyond the fact that you weren’t spending enough time on it, why do you think it didn’t work for you?
Zvi: Yeah. As we know, the idea itself is worthless and execution is everything. Where I failed was on the execution. One, I just flat out didn’t give enough time to it. Two, when I was faced with any challenges–and for me as a developer by trade, that first challenge was, “How do I actually get customers for this?” I realized that, “All right, this is getting a little tough and I have all this consulting business over here, so I went for those short-term gains instead of the long-term.
So, it really just came down to–I completely own it. It could have been a really big idea, just like other ideas that I and other have had, but I really failed on the execution side.
Andrew: I talk to a lot of people in my audience who are running consulting companies in one form or another who don’t get that much business. How did you get so much business that it became a temptation to walk away from your dream a little at a time and have so many customers and so much business do distract you. How did you get all that business?
Zvi: Yeah, absolutely. I think in general, being good at what you do nowadays is table stakes. So, I was a software developer. I worked with really, really great brands and all sorts of really awesome projects and I got so much repeat and referral business. I got all this business not because I was simply good at what I did. There were other people around the world who were good at what I do. Where I really excelled, I think, as the reputation I had, the relationships I was able to build and my ability to maintain those relationships.
Andrew: Give me an example. Don’t take this the wrong way, but you don’t strike me as the kind of guy who’s out wining and dining people who’s out building relationships and chatting people up. What did you do?
Zvi: I’m not. Yeah. That’s kind of one of the funny things. Here I am building a pretty successful startup now that’s all about personal relationships but I’m actually a really introverted software developer, right? What I saw is that when I first graduated college, I went down kind of the typical go work for a big company, sit in a cubicle, work on whatever you’re told to. I realized day one that’s really not what I wanted to do.
So, I said, “How can I meet people, entrepreneurs? I just want to learn about these entrepreneurs.” So, I started reading books. I tried to meet people in the community. I didn’t know how to network. I didn’t know what networking was. I didn’t even have business cards. So, what I ended up doing is I went to all these different events and obviously it’s really daunting at first, but I just focused on making friends. I think that’s a different thing.
Andrew: How? It’s a pretty hard thing to make friends at events.
Zvi: Yeah. I think it’s really walking into a room–I think there are obviously able to look back and realize there are a number of tactics that I was employing–
Andrew: Like what? What’s one of your tactics?
Zvi: I think one of the best things is not to imagine someone as this like cold-hearted creature who doesn’t really want to talk to you, but almost to picture them as your friend. So, for example, you and I have a mutual contact, Aaron–congrats, by the way, on his acquisition.
Andrew: Aaron Dragushan–you just told me. I had no idea that he sold his company, Giftcard Zen.
Zvi: Exactly. But you kind of walk up to him and just within seconds you’re his best friend.
Zvi: And that’s what I ended up doing. I made friends with people like him and Peter Corbett and Justin Thorpe and all these other people. As it turns out, later on they kind of raised their hands and said, “You’re a developer. My company has a project. Can you do that?” I’m like, “Sure, why not?” That’s what ended up being really powerful, focusing not just on trying to get those business cards, but really just building deep, authentic, personal relationships.
Andrew: Okay. So, before you had software that did that, what did you do?
Zvi: Yeah. I would say in general, it was really focused on networking events. Often times, you’d see the same people at them, rather than just kind of working the room and trying to meet so many new people, focus on the relationships that you do have. Then I started sitting down with people for coffee one on one.
Naturally because I’m someone who always seeks appreciation with people, I would try and figure out, “What can I do to help them?” So, I’d answer questions, I would review software code for them for free. I would make introductions. I would answer questions. I would do research, whatever I could to help them. That ended up being a key tenet of building really great relationships.
Andrew: Okay. So, the previous product didn’t work out. You told our producer you kept spending less and less time on it until you finally shut it down. You said it was a painful experience. I don’t want to brush over the pain of it and then move on like it’s an easy thing to get passed. What was it like–and then we’ll get to the highs–but what was it like when you had to shut down that business?
Zvi: Absolutely. The problem is I didn’t shut it down until years later, honestly until it was really off the ground. What happened was, especially with a web-enabled product, it cost next to nothing to host. It just kind of keeps going. But what I found is the very first thing you’re doing is lying. I had, again, great friends, great contacts, they cared about me, “Hey, how’s Structo going? What’s the latest?” And I’d always say, “Oh yeah, it’s going well, just continuing to work on the code, work on the product to come up with something.” But in truth, I knew it had been three months since I picked it up.
Andrew: Yeah, I see.
Zvi: It’s not like I made any concerted effort to stop working on it. It’s more like skipping one day working on it became skipping two days became a week became six weeks became three months and so on.
Andrew: Okay. I see how you got the idea for this new product. I’m curious about how you got it started with Contacutally. It wasn’t by coding even though you’re a developer. It was by doing something else.
Zvi: Yeah. It was really by talking to people. Once I learned that where I really failed was in the customer development side of it, making sure you actually had a business behind it. Structo at the end of the day, I was thinking about it just a pure product, but not as a business. So, I really just challenged myself to say, “How can we think about it as a business instead of a product?” So, the very first thing a product needs is a business needs customers.
So, I started just talking to a lot of different people in my network, friends, people who I thought could be users, and started seeing that okay, this crazy idea I had, there’s actually something there. People care about relationships in some different ways. Some people said yeah, this is actually a big part of what I need to do or my company would pay for something like that. That was that initial idea that said, “Hey, this isn’t just a product, there’s really a business here.”
That is something that we started doing more and more and started meeting first the developer who could help me build it. Then another guy who could start doing customer development for it and help me–
Andrew: So you hired someone to do customer development for you?
Zvi: No, just another local guy in the community who I knew, just someone like Aaron, a guy by the name of Tony. He was a former PM at Microsoft. He and I were just meeting casually, exchanging ideas. He was pitching some idea he was thinking about. He was thinking about quitting his job and going to work at another little startup. I said, “Hey, I have this idea called Enforcery,” which eventually became Contacutally, “Do you want to help me out with it, help do some research for me, things like that?”
We just kind of started seeing that–he was seeing there was clearly something here. He went from making a couple of calls here and there, coming in the office for half days every week and then started to split his time between his previous job and us. Again, the momentum started building that not only was this a cool product because we started building the prototype, but there was actually a business idea here too.
Andrew: I see. So, I’m wondering what the business idea was, what the big burning need was. When I think about CRM, when it think about address books, I feel like there are tons of them out there. You’ve got Salesforce hogging up the big end of the market. On the cheap end, every phone comes with some address book. What was the need that would make people switch to a different address book, a different contact management solution?
Zvi: Yeah. Absolutely. That’s a great question. So, let’s go back to my example or your friend the freelancer. Relationships are a critical asset for all of us. That’s honestly, like I said, when I was consulting, the way I was able to grow my business wasn’t just by being good at my job, it was by having a great reputation and great relationships. The challenge is we as human beings suck at it. Andrew, how many times have you met someone for coffee and then two weeks later completely forgotten their name?
Andrew: You know what? It’s even worse. Because I am a social person, I’ll have people over to my house. I’m thinking of one person specifically, a guy who worked for Hack Reactor who came in with Anthony. I can’t freaking remember his name and he came to my house and we had such a great conversation, let alone follow up with him.
Zvi: There you go. So, we’re stuck going, “Maybe if I page back on my email, maybe I’ll find something or look in my calendar.” But it’s so hard to maintain those relationships with people that are so valuable. Or I was consulting and we know that the best way to grow your business is through repeat business. I like so many human beings are so focused on the top one percent of our inbox we forget everything else. So, a client project would roll off and I would never talk to them again because I was so focused on the next client and the next project.
Andrew: I see. I was thinking too much about the category and not enough about the problem. If I were to think about the problem, I would think about, “I liked you. I thought we should to get together at some point.” I even included my wife in an email saying, “Hey, we should get together with him.” In the BCC field, I sent an email to OneWeek@FollowUp.bcc, so I get a ping back. Still it didn’t happen. I don’t know why. It’s easy to miss emails, I guess. But that’s a problem. That’s a problem that I must have felt guilty about because I introduced the idea that we should get together and then I didn’t follow through on it. That’s the pain.
I’m wondering–when I don’t even notice it, how do you notice it for your customers when you’re talking to them? I’m experiencing and I’m bringing it up to you and I still didn’t notice that this was an issue. What do you do to draw people out to have them say, “Yes, this is a problem?”
Zvi: Yeah. So, I think it’s really identifying, again, because we set out to build a business, not a cool product, well for a business, we wanted to make sure that we identified customers who had that pain. So, you and I, it’s annoying, like alright–
Andrew: My life is going to go on if I don’t end up having dinner with you.
Zvi: You and I should have had dinner, but honestly, we’re going to be fine without it. But let’s say, for example, if you’re a real estate agent. A real agent, 85% of their business comes from their existing network. So, that’s no longer just a minor annoyance. That’s honestly how they put food on the table.
Zvi: So, what we decided to do, again, because we set out to build a business, not a product, we said alright, well, let’s, for example, go after people who this is such a painful thing that they need a product like this, that their CRM products have been Excel spreadsheets or stacks of business cards. So, we really set off, for example, after real estate agents as one of the markets that we’re after. So, we focus on people with a core business pain rather than that personal pain.
Andrew: What’s your revenues now?
Zvi: So, our revenue is we pass $4 million in annual recurring revenue a few months back and we’re growing pretty consistently. We’ve been doubling in more every year, so it’s been a crazy ride.
Andrew: All right. Let me do a quick sponsorship message and come back and find out how you got those early customers. Also what the first version of the product looked like is now I see that it’s got a lot of features including the ability to suck in my contacts from Gmail, including pipelines, including obviously buckets, but let’s come back here in a moment. First, I have to tell people about this thing.
If you’re using Contacutally or frankly any software, one of the problems is that you’re trying to reach out to people not just so that you can tell them that you exist, but often so you can get them on the phone and talk and maybe convert them into a sale or get them in person for coffee or dinner or a meeting so you can get a sale or a partnership.
When you do that, it’s really hard to send out an email saying, “Hey, Bob, do you want to get together sometime. Are you free next week,” and then have Bob say, “No, next week I’m out. How about the week after that?” And then you say, “No, I’m out.” Or, if you want to get someone on the phone to say, “Do you want to get on a call? Do any of these four times work for you?” And then they email back and say, “No, those four times don’t.” And then you come back with another set and by then they’re gone.
That’s a huge problem. And that’s a problem that Acuity is solving. What Acuity Scheduling does is it allows you to connect your calendar, whatever calendar you’re using to Acuity Scheduling so it knows when you’re busy, when you’re free. Then you go in and you mark it up, just paint the times that you’re free. It could be recurring times, like for me, every Thursday between 11:00 to 5:00 p.m. I’m free for phone calls, 15-minute phone calls with people in the audience. Sometimes I have a free Monday, so I might just go in and paint that whole Monday up, except for some time for lunch and to get some air.
So, that’s what you do, you paint your availability in Acuity Scheduling. Then you add questions that you want to know, like what’s your Skype name and what’s an issue that you want to talk with me on the phone, that kind of thing. Then it gives you a calendar. Now, I embed that calendar on my website. So, if you go to Mixergy.com slash whatever the secret URL is, you get to see my calendar. You get to pick the dates that you want to talk to me on.
Once you select the date and time that you want to talk to me on, it asks you a few questions, you hit go and it adds you automatically to my calendar, blocks that time off so the next person doesn’t have access to it and sends you a calendar like so that you remember to get it on your calendar and a reminder the day before. And if I wanted to, but I don’t, I could even send you a text message to make sure that you would show up. It’s incredibly helpful.
Then once it’s time for me to make a call to you, I have your phone number on my calendar. I have your name on my calendar. I have your Skype name because that’s something I asked for, all available to me. They’re incredible integrations. So, for example, I could add you to my email system if I wanted to, I could add you to my CRM if I wanted to, I could do all kinds of stuff with it if I wanted to get really advanced. I’m a little advanced with it, but I don’t use all the features they have, not nearly.
That’s what Acuity Scheduling is all about. If you want to get someone on the phone or get them in person and you’re not actually getting the results you’re looking for, you have to try Acuity Scheduling–AcuityScheduling.com/Mixergy. They’re going to give you 45 days free if you come to AcuityScheduling.com/Mixergy, which should frankly, if you’re doing customer development calls, if you’re trying to get new calls, within 45 days you should actually start getting results.
It’s possible, really, that someone could get all the sales calls that they want within those 45 days and move on. My hunch is that once you do that, you’ll be really happy with them and you’re going to stick with it for a much longer time because it will get people on the call with you.
Oh, look at this, now that I went to the URL I can see that I can even connect it with Zapier for more integrations. I could add Stripe so I can charge people if they want to have a conversation with me. Lots of features, go check them out, AcuityScheduling.com/Mixergy. I’m so proud to have them as a sponsor.
So, the first version of the software, considering your background, what did that look like? How sophisticated was it?
Zvi: Let’s just say it was terrible.
Andrew: Really? Hot terrible was it?
Zvi: Well, I’ll say one of the key things I’ve learned is we’re all familiar with the Lean Startup methodology and we’ve followed that. One of the core concepts is an MVP, right, a minimum viable product. What I realized kind of way too late was that viable is really important in that we built a product that was bug-ridden, didn’t really work that well and honestly like we paid for that, that probably slowed down our learning.
Andrew: What’s the biggest problem and how did it slow down your learning?
Zvi: It was buggy. Half the time it wouldn’t work, pages wouldn’t load, etc.
Zvi: My cofounder and I were so focused on, “Let’s learn, learn, learn,” and not, “Let’s make sure what we have works first.”
Zvi: So, it still allowed us to learn to some extent. So, our first product was actually something that in hindsight seems pretty crazy. It would monitor your email and every time it would email someone that it didn’t know, it would then email you back and say, “Hey, we just saw you just talked to Aaron Dragushan. We don’t know who he is. Tell us about him.” You would respond to that email with basically, “Aaron, he’s an entrepreneur. We met at XYZ event. Remind me to follow up in two weeks.” We basically take that email response and then basically add it to our lightweight CRM.
It seemed like a cool idea at the time when we came up with it, the whole idea of a proactive CRM that would email you. But we didn’t realize how annoying it would be. The fact that your inbox is being flooded with all these emails from Contactually saying, “Hey, tell us who this person is, tell us who this person is.” Most of the time, people would say, “This is really annoying. I’m not going to do it.” But it allowed us to learn.
Andrew: I see it here. I see a very early version of the site here. Actually, on the bottom where it says the name of the company, it says copyright 2011 Structo. Above it, there’s a testimonial here. It says–this is a great line–“I started using Contactually because I wasn’t using my CRM. Not only does Contactually automatically add to my CRM, it does more than I could ever expect.” And this testimonial is from Zvi Band, principal at SkeevisArts.com.
Zvi: Do what you’ve got to do initially. Luckily, we’ve got many, many thousands of great testimonials since then.
Andrew: Yeah. I see that it worked with Google really quickly from the start. I remember asking Hiten Shah a long time ago about what happens when you launch a minimum viable product that actually is not that good because you’re just trying to learn. Aren’t you going to turn off your customers? I
remember the phrase he used. He used the phrase plenty of fish in the sea, meaning yeah, you might piss off these customers and they may never trust you again because you have a lot of bugs, but there are other people who will and what you learn from this group of people you’ll be able to apply to the next group of people. Is that true in your experience?
Zvi: Yeah. Absolutely. Luckily we were able to kind of wave kind of the, “Hey, this is just a beta startup,” flag and people would go, “All right. Fine. We get it.” I think the only counterpoint to that is yes, it’s fine if there are plenty of fish in the sea, but at some point you have to get it right. What my cofounder and I saw is that it wasn’t just like the first like could months that we were building just junky software just for the sake of testing, it was like honestly the first year or two.
That code base that we started in June, 2011 is still the code base that we have today. So, it took a lot of time for us to kind of get to the point of saying, “Wait a second. That whole mantra move fast and break things doesn’t really apply anymore when you’re talking about people’s personal data or delivering the right recommendations. So, we kind of almost had to put the brakes on it and say, “Hey. We can’t build buggy software anymore. We have to start building better software and then also going to fix the stuff from the past.”
Andrew: Okay. I wonder why. You’re a guy who’s a developer, right? Weren’t you a developer?
Zvi: Yeah. Absolutely.
Andrew: So, why is it that you as a developer with access to incredible developers as the founder of what that was called, like ProudlyMadeInDC. You have tons of access to developers. If your software isn’t perfect, if your software doesn’t work well, what hope do the rest of us have? Why didn’t it work so well?
Zvi: I think it’s because we didn’t have the right mindset. I think we had this mentality of let’s just move as quickly as possible to learn and there’s always that attitude and that concept of technical debt that you’ll just fix it later on.
Andrew: I see.
Zvi: Like let’s just do something quick first and fix it later on. The problem is what happens when that later on never comes.
Zvi: So, I think if we had moved maybe a little bit slower, we would have saved a lot of headaches later on because instead what we had is–this is an important concept for entrepreneurs to come around the idea of technical debt, like bugs and other issues that can build up in your product. We let that fester and grow and grow and grow to the point where we said, wow, pretty much like we should just stop building product for a year or two and just fix the bugs in the product.
Andrew: Wow, that’s so painful. And you have to go out there and champion this product, promote it, talk it up, knowing there are all these bugs, right? How do you do that?
Zvi: I think the silver lining is that while we’re going through is, we’ve done something really important, which is we had proved ourselves. We had proven some level of product market fit, right? The fact that we had so many complaints or bugs coming in from users I actually saw as a good thing because that actually meant so many people were trying to use the product.
So many people wanted it because they connected the pain they had with our solution. We saw for example some people would just email us three or four times a day with bugs. That meant wow, they’re not walking away. They’re really so passionate that they keep using it.
Andrew: I think I can answer my own question. The reason that they were so passionate is you were solving such a big problem for them that they were willing to deal with bugs just to have the bigger problem go away a little bit. Am I right?
Zvi: Exactly. I would challenge Hiten’s comment about plenty of fish in the sea and actually say that you honestly want people to be reporting bugs. That means they’re trying to use the software. You want to see, “You reported this bug, but are you still going to use the software?” If we just shut it down today, would you be incredibly unhappy?” That’s what you want to see. You want to see that they have the pain with your product because they want to use it so badly.
Andrew: All right. How did you get your first customers? I imagine the first ones came from your friend list, right?
Zvi: Yeah, absolutely.
Andrew: Let’s go beyond that. How do you get people who you don’t know to sign up?
Zvi: Yeah. I think working backwards, the big thing is we were big fans of customer development. From customer development came our first customers, right? At first we were trying to learn and learn and learn and then we said, “Hey, we built what you told us we should build, do you want to pay for this?” So, our first customers came from those.
Where we got those from is we were really scrappy at first. We kind of thought out loud about, “Who are the types of people that would use this product?” So, we said, let’s say real estate agents. Who are the real estate agents we know and who are the real estate agents that we could find and pitch and talk to? Or we were big fans of finding anyone talking about relationships or networking or CRM on Quora. We would direct message them and say, “We’re a startup. Can we talk to you about your idea?” We ended up getting a lot of our initial customers from that.
Andrew: You said that really worked for you. You told our producer that. Then I went to Quora to look up questions about Contactually. For the topic, I only see two questions. One of them was answered by Tony. The other one I don’t think he did and that’s it. Then there are 12 questions that mention Contactually in some way total. But 10 of them aren’t even answered.
Zvi: Yeah. What we’re doing is we weren’t posting questions about Contactually or answering questions about Contactually. That’s not that interesting. Instead we use Quora as like awesome topics feeds to be able to find like, “All right, there’s a section in Quora all about professional relationships. Let’s find every single person talking about professional relationships, answering questions or posting questions of their own and let’s direct message them.”
So, again, we didn’t care about people who were interested in Contactually. We cared about people who were interested in the pain we were solving.
Andrew: I see. And you direct messaged them. This is straight from Cindy Alvarez’s book, like literally out of her book.
Andrew: Do you know Cindy Alvarez at all?
Zvi: No, we didn’t. We were just kind of figuring all this out as we go along. This was back in 2011. Lean Startup was still kind of a relatively nascent thing.
Andrew: And before her book was even published. I’m actually reading it right now. I forget the name of the book, but it’s part of the Lean Startup series. But she was on Mixergy actually showing how to do this. She went to Quora. She found someone complaining. She found their email address. She found the little link they hide for how to direct message them and she said, “Go ahead and direct message them.”
Andrew: Actually, when I click on Tony’s name, I do see that he answers questions that have no Contactually in the subject, things like, “What is an alternative to Etacts?” which is the contact management software that went away. “Why is Dave McClure, 500 Startups, an investor in both Connected HQ and Contactually?” Nobody put that in the Contactually topic, but he still responded.
Andrew: Speaking of 500 Startups, they were in your seed round, $500,000 raised according to AngelList. How did you get them?
Zvi: So, again, just a funny thing. Kind of through my network and through getting to know people, I had gotten to know this guy by the name of Paul Singh.
Andrew: Yeah. He was in DC.
Zvi: Yeah. He was in DC. He and I just kind of met. Then it’s funny. I was running Skeevis Arts and Contactually was still a side project that we were starting play with a little bit more seriously, but still a side project. He had moved out to the Bay Area to join 500 startups as a partner.
I just have this habit which I think is really helpful of whenever I’m in a different city, I just kind of find who I know and message them to grab coffee. There are a lot of DC ex-pats in the San Francisco area, as you probably know, Andrew. We ended up deciding, “Let’s just meet for coffee.” I showed him my prototype for Contactually, showed him what we were working on. They offered to fund us right on the spot.
Andrew: Amazing. I remember him doing an interview on Mixergy about how he was starting this service which would mail out paper letters on behalf of I think it was real estate agents. I don’t remember.
Zvi: MailFinch, I think.
Andrew: Yeah, MailFinch. He was using the Lean Startup methodology with his own twist on it that was really smart. It was such a popular interview, still really good. I think anyone who’s listening to me should go check that interview out. Then he became a partner at 500 Startups at the time, right?
Andrew: So, you raised money. There was one other person who you raised from who I don’t recognize. Who is Christopher Gray?
Zvi: Chris Grey–so, we ended up raising from a bunch of angel investors very early on. Chris was a guy who we met on AngelList. I think all told we had maybe ten angel investors initially. Early on we had nothing. One of the key things that I’ve learned since then is that investors can invest in the track, the horse or the jockey. In truth, the track and the horse, we had nothing. We didn’t really know what our market was. We knew there was something there. We didn’t really have much more than a prototype. We had no customers, no revenue. There was no real horse there.
What we had were our reputations. So, again, I had so many good relationships and strong relationships that I was able to convince some of the people that I had known and say, “Hey, I’m starting this. Do you believe in me?”
Andrew: Do you believe in me?
Zvi: Yeah, exactly.
Andrew: What about Jawed Karim?
Zvi: Yeah. Jawed, he invested a little bit later on, primarily because he was introduced by some mutual people. Again, the power of mutual relationships is so huge and underrepresented. He had invested in something similar to us before that took an early acquisition and he was still a big believer in the space. So, again, we showed him the product, showed him our team and said, “All right, looks like you’ll figure this out.”
Andrew: He’s a YouTube cofounder, of course.
Andrew: All right. So now you had to figure it out. You had a bunch of different hacks for getting people to sign up, right? Here’s a list that I made–getting users from Quora, you talked about how to do it, asking for referrals. Anything else we should talk about with referrals that you did that was special?
Zvi: I think it was just being relentless. For example, we’d always end a customer discovery call saying there are two or three other people we should talk to. Again, so if you can turn one customer interview into two, into four, obviously it exponentially grows. So, that was really powerful.
Zvi: At the end of the day, I believe in the concept of the luxe surface area. So, our attitude was let’s just talk to as many people at a time.
Andrew: How do you do that, dude? How do you get to talk to so many people? You’ve got to run a business, create the software, lead the team. How are you finding time to talk to people? Again, going back to Cindy Alvarez’s book–I’ve got to look up what the name of the book was–she said that she could do, I think, two calls an hour. We’re talking about if she has no lunch and has a standard 9:00 to 5:00 day, which she didn’t. We’re talking about 16 calls. That’s not that much. It’s not a lot of calls, but it’s exhausting.
Zvi: You don’t need to do that many calls. I push back, right? You don’t need to have like 100 calls. What you need, I think, to gain a representative sample size. So, for example, with real estate agents, we didn’t say, “Let’s talk to 100 real estate agents to confirm this.” We’re saying let’s talk to 10 initially. Then we’re able to start scaling up from there.
Andrew: I see. If your idea is nuts, by the time you hit five or six, you’ll know that it’s nuts and by ten, you’re going to know for sure if it’s the right move to make.
Zvi: And I think we were lucky that very few people really flat our rejected our idea. They kind of fell into one of three buckets. They either loved it, they were okay about it, “Maybe not a fit for me. I like it, but it’s not really how I run my business,” or, “I like the idea you have. I hate your product. I want something else over here.” Some of our key product learnings and key things that are now core to our product actually came from that third bucket, the, “I like where you’re going. But let me tell you about this other thing.”
Andrew: What’s this other thing? What’s an example of one of those other things?
Zvi: Yeah. One of the core ideas behind Contactually nowadays is the whole idea is in your network, you have got thousands and thousands of relationships. Well, if Contactually were to try and help you stay in touch with all of them, you get very overwhelmed. Most of those people aren’t important for you to stay in touch with on a regular basis and you would just eventually give up and walk away.
So, we said segmenting your network is really important. Out of all of the people that you know, there are certain people that you really want to stay in touch with, other people that you want to stay in touch with every so often and then everyone else. So, we were on a customer development call. Initially our idea was honestly just that simple, “Hey, we’ll just remind you if you haven’t spoken to any single person in your network in like three weeks.”
Andrew: I see.
Zvi: It was insane. But what we saw is one of the people we were talking to said, “I really hate that idea. I like what you’re kind of thinking about. The way I think about my relationships, I put them into buckets.” Now, we said, “Oh, that’s actually really cool idea. Now buckets are actually a core driving part of our product.”
Zvi: The only way to really activate Contactually is to identify the key relationships and put them into buckets. Again, small little conversations like that end up making massive, massive changes in our lives.
Andrew: I can see that. All right. I want to know more about how Contactually got more users. I also have a question about what to do when you have to follow up with all these people and what happens when they follow up right back. But first, I have to tell everyone about my second sponsor–oh, actually, before I do that, the book that I was mentioning, it’s called “Lean Customer Development.”
It’s not like a bestseller. I think it’s a really good, well-written book and it’s especially good for someone who wants to make these phone calls. If you’re just curious about it, it might be a little too tactical. She’ll even tell you what to say on a call. She’ll give you the templates. She’s basically walking you step by step through the process. If you’re interested in that, the book “Lean Customer Development,” by Cindy Alvarez, is really good.
The sponsor–the sponsor is a company called HostGator. Do you know HostGator?
Zvi: Yeah. Absolutely.
Andrew: You do, right? Hosting company–have you ever used them?
Zvi: I have used them way back in the past.
Andrew: It feels like a company that everybody at some point has used. Many people who I’ve interviewed still were on HostGator, which is pretty cool. But the reason that so many people use them in the past is this. They’re incredibly expensive and reliable. When you’re starting out, you just want an easy, quick, cheap way to get a website up reliably. That’s what they do. I don’t know anyone who beats them on price. Frankly, if they do, I don’t know that I would trust them.
If you go to HostGator.com/Mixergy, you’re going to see that they are now offering 30% off their already low prices, which means that they start right now at $4.87 a month. That’s why a lot of people use them when they have new ideas.
I was just interviewing an entrepreneur. I said, “How did you come up with this idea to create this software that turns data into stories?” He said, “I was really into college basketball. So, I started a blog about my favorite college basketball team and I just kept blogging about it because I liked it. By blogging about it, just my passion, I discovered that a lot of the articles I wrote could actually be repeated over and over again. I’m just plugging in some numbers and a few descriptors and that’s it.”
So, he goes, “That kind of told me that maybe I could create software. Somebody could. It’s got to be easy to create software that turns data into these stories that I’m writing.” So, he started creating that software. He hired a couple of developers, started work on it himself, turned stats into stories.
Then other people wanted that service, so he started doing it and building it for others. It became this business that even the AP, the Associated Press, was using and Yahoo was using to turn data into stories, all because he had this one little idea, one little passion that he put up on a website quickly and kept updating as a passion project.
So, if anyone is listening to me and maybe has a business that’s going well or maybe it’s kind of flat lining and you want something that’s going to be a nice, creative diversion, maybe you don’t take up painting the way others do. I know I don’t. Take that hobby of yours, put it up on HostGator.
Start a website around this little passion and see where it goes. Worst case–you enjoy yourself and you get some space away from your current project to think more creatively and not be afraid of breaking things because no one is going to see the site. The best case–you publish it, other people start enjoying it and it leads to a new business that can actually start delivering revenue for you.
If you do it with WordPress, you can do it with one click. You can add all kinds of plugins that will turn it into what feels to users like a real web app and then build it and build it from there. They have a 45-day money back guarantee so if this whole thing doesn’t work out or if you hate HostGator and think I’m a jerk for turning you on to them–and I don’t think you will–but if you do, you can walk out, no problems.
If you don’t, you’re going to find that you love them, 24/7, 365 tech support, they have free building tools, all kinds of additional features like unlimited email addresses, unmetered disk space and bandwidth and they also will give you–do they still have that? Yeah, there it is, a $100 AdWords offer, $50 search credit. Great option.
Go to HostGator.com/Mixergy to get started. And of course, if you hate your current hosting company, take your business over to HostGator. If you’re on WordPress, they’ll migrate for you. If you’re not, they’ll make it easy for you to migrate. Go to HostGator.com/Mixergy.
Let’s talk about a couple of the other ways, Zvi, that you grew Contactually. You said to our producer that you made a strategic decision based on Geoffrey Moore’s book. Are we talking about “Crossing the Chasm?”
Zvi: Yes, we are. So, initially you can imagine as young entrepreneurs, we just said, “Oh, let’s just get everyone. Let’s sell to everyone. We got those first few TechCrunch hits and we said, “This could be everything to everyone. I remember in Geoffrey Moore’s book, the core idea, the core thing that he’s pushing is that if you really want to build a business, you need to focus on a particular niche, like a particular niche and really own it.
I remember like hearing this feedback over and over again in previous ventures or ideas that I had and they were too broad and so we decided to like, “All right, let’s really focus.” We said, “All right, well, if we do that, who do we focus on?” We had started to see strange enough that there was this interesting cohort of real estate agents using the product, right? That had either found us via friends or found us via TechCrunch or like some really press that we had. And we said, “Oh, this is really interesting.”
We did some targeted customer development and started seeing that there’s really something there, right? Real estate agents don’t use a CRM. Their business is all about relationships. They need something that helps them build good relationships. Oh, let’s give it a try.
So, again, the wheels started turning and we started focusing more and more on real estate agents, started selling more and more to real estate brokers and started going to conferences. Here we are today. Now we’re considered one of the best real estate CRMs out there. The funny thing is we’re not a real estate CRM.
Andrew: I know. I keep looking on your homepage to see you even give a nod in the direction of real estate people. I don’t really see it.
Zvi: There are a couple of testimonials a little bit lower. It depends on the A/B test we’re running at the time.
Andrew: I see Tate Parker is a real estate case study.
Andrew: The way that we built our business, our marketing engine is we have a very horizontal product. That’s something you can still do. You can still have a horizontal product that allows people from different walks of life to do whatever they want, right? So, that’s our net, very horizontal. What we decided to do then from a marketing perspective, let’s develop spheres.
So, while anyone can come to our website and use Contactually for whatever they want to do, whether they’re a lawyer or real estate agent, freelancer, consultant, podcast host, VC, etc. Well, let’s make sure we’re targeting our marketing efforts, our outbound marketing efforts at specific industries. So, real estate has been a big focus for us. That’s why we’ve been so successful within real estate.
Andrew: And Geoffrey Moore’s book helped you get to that place?
Zvi: Yeah. I absolutely recommend it. That’s one of the top business books I recommend to entrepreneurs is Geoffrey Moore’s “Cross the Chasm.”
Andrew: So, the thing I was going to ask you is if I’m going to start following up with people, what do I even say to them? My friend Shane has this example of someone who every few weeks–I won’t say the person’s name, but I know who it is–every few weeks will email and say, “So, you well?” And like, “Yeah, I’m well.” Another email a few weeks later, “You well?” “Yeah, I think I’m good.” You don’t want to be that person who’s tapping someone on the shoulder every once in a while saying, “Hey, I exist. Hit reply and let me know you exist too.” What do you say?
Zvi: Yeah. Absolutely. Our attitude is every experience, what you’re trying to do and the reason you’re following up is you what to build mindshare. You don’t want to be the person that’s completely forgotten. You want to be the person that when they’re thinking of the next developer or when they’re thinking I want to buy or sell a home. When they’re thinking of, “Who’s really important for me?” they think of you. So, you want to build mindshare.
Our belief and what we push is in order to build mindshare, when staying in touch, every interaction has to be meaningful, relevant or valuable. Believe it or not, the, “How are you doing?” emails, the, “Just thinking of you,” emails, while seemingly annoying, they kind of work. It’s a baseline thing to do. But it at least shows when that person is emailing your friend, for that split second, they’re thinking of you.
Even if it was just like–we have a lot of agents who will text message their contacts saying, “Hey, hope all is well.” That’s it. That alone is valuable somewhat. It shows that someone is thinking of you. Beyond that, obviously there are many additional levels. So, a level one follow up might be, again, “Just thinking of you. What’s new with your business?”
Level two is, again, delivering a valuable experience. Maybe it’s an introduction. Maybe it’s meeting for coffee or even just showing some kind of personal interaction, like you and I opened this call by talking about when we had dinner together and our mutual friend. That obviously broke the ice. I’m not just like a regular podcast guest.
Andrew: So, one way that I do that is I ask my assistant–actually, with you I knew and so I went and I looked before I clicked on our link. But I asked my assistant to create a search on the note stock for every guest that searches my email inbox to see when I talk to the person.
Andrew: That gives me a hook, something to talk to them about again.
Zvi: Again, even just replying in line to your last email, even if it’s three years old, it still just resurfaces that. It’s not just some cold email out of the blue. So, that’s another great tactic.
Andrew: Actually, I did click the link from Andrea and now I know why that didn’t help and I had to do my own. It brought up so many emails from other people with your name in it. It’s like Tech Cocktail, for example. So, I was living in DC. So, of course I subscribed to Tech Cocktail’s mailing list so I could go to the Tech Cocktail events in DC. Your name was mentioned as a speaker at the events or an attendee. It’s that kind of thing kept coming up. I wonder is there a way to make it easy for me to just find things to say to you that are valuable that remind me of like something that I care about too, not just a way to ping you.
Zvi: Yeah, absolutely, that’s what our product really helps you with. The way we think about Contactually is it should help you and your team figure out three key questions–who do I need to talk to? When do I need to talk to them and what do I need to say. So, what do I need to say, that’s why our product is geared towards showing, “Hey, this is the one last conversation that you had. Hey, here are the notes, personal notes that you’ve recorded previously,” or, “This is what they’re talking about on social media and here’s all the details about that.” So, it’s much intelligence that can be translated into prompts that you can then use in a message.
Andrew: By the way, that is the best feature for me of all your features in your software–easy to add a note without adding a date. I don’t know why other contact management software does not do this. They always have a notes section and it’s almost always the same as the iPhone note section, which is one big section right there. And then I have to remember what’s the date to write it down. I never do remember with other software, so I might say something like Steve just bought a house and then I don’t remember, “When did he buy a house? Was it on my last call or was it five years ago when I talked to him?”
A little note feature where I can quickly type a note and hit send and it automatically tags it with a time, I don’t know of other software that does that. Maybe someone will tell me that there is.
Zvi: What we’ve tried to do is we realize a relationship is dynamic and it’s happening across multiple channels. So, it’s not like notes over here and email over here and your calendar and your phone over there. We said, “Well, what’s really important is if Zvi and Andrew are trying to build a relationship, let’s show it all in one place. So, let’s build one page for every one of your contacts that shows every note you’ve taken, every email exchange you’ve had, every calendar appointment,” always in chronological order.
Andrew: I’m getting too much into the product instead of talking about your business, which is an indication that I really care about this. I care about how to connect with people. I care about your product. I think that the right CRM really helps–I hate the term CRM too–but the right way to keep track of your friends and your contacts is really helpful in life. I can’t tell you how if I go to dinner with someone if before I head in, I check to see one last note I made about them and bring that up, it just makes them know that I care in a way that doing anything else won’t.
Zvi: Exactly. I think we’ve spent a lot of time at Contactually really thinking about and understanding what’s our overall mission–
Andrew: Before we get to that, let me just ask this question–sorry, I know that’s important to you and it is to me too. The question that I have is I’m giving you access to my email inbox. That’s pretty freaking scary. Just like I’m going into my inbox to look in my inbox about you, you could be going into your inbox before you come and do an interview to prepare.
Andrew: So, what do we do with that?
Zvi: Yeah. Security is something incredibly important these days. We’re using more and more cloud services, so really understanding and trusting those systems is really important, right? Just like, for example, I know your virtual assistant. She probably has your credit card, your social security number and everything.
Zvi: It’s how do you build trust just like with a person, build trust with a brand. We’ve thought a lot about that. We have really high class security. We actually don’t even store the content of your email. All we’re storing is you talked to Zvi Band at this date at this time and this was the subject line. We try and store as minimal information as possible. Most importantly, if you were to ever walk away from Contactually, we permanently delete your data.
Andrew: Does that mean that anyone else on your team can go and read my email?
Zvi: No, of course not. We have a lot of really high quality security, even preventing our internal team from accessing.
Andrew: It never hits your servers, my email?
Zvi: Never hits the server. The only thing we know and collect is who you talked to and the subject line. That’s it. Our engineers never see anything else.
Andrew: The other thing that made me a little paranoid about it is I had an entrepreneur here for scotch night who works with plugin makers to get all kinds of data about users. It’s not that scary on the individual level, but when you realize that a plugin maker is putting a lot of effort in and is really hungry for some kind of revenue and there’s no revenue coming in–obviously you’re not in the situation where you’re not in the situation where you’re that hungry–they will take business from people. And frankly, I won’t say who it is, but we’re bribing an app maker to do stuff for us.
Andrew: Nothing that’s bad for us, but I don’t think their users are going to be terribly excited about what we’re doing.
Zvi: That’s really scary, right? Again, we came up with a number of core things we cared about when starting the business. First off is to really make sure we’re building a business. We kind of said there’s either two ways of making money–either we sell the data, so for example LinkedIn and Facebook, your data is sold to people, right?
Or we charge people and we build that trust and we said, “All right, let’s charge people. We want to be as honest as possible.” So, let’s make sure that people are paying for a valuable product. In turn, we make enough money that we never get tempted by anything else. Their data is theirs alone. The moment they delete their data, it’s gone. We’re fine with that.
Andrew: It is a free app maker. Maybe bribing isn’t the right word. But we’re paying for something so we can learn and grow our business.
Andrew: It’s nothing that I would be embarrassed about, but it’s not anything that–you shouldn’t get to that point.
Zvi: It happens all the time.
Andrew: The part that I really worry about is plugin makers. They have access to everything. I’ve got this one plugin that will do text expansion on Chrome. The permissions on that see everything you see on the web and collect everything that you type in. That’s okay in the aggregate. It’s just I feel like for me especially, these entrepreneurs are listening to Mixergy. They might be tempted to go and check out what’s going on.
Zvi: Yeah. You have to be very careful about that, right? Our general attitude is unless you’re paying for a product, you are the product.
Zvi: You are what someone else is paying for. I’m completely fine. Going through this experience has actually made me a lot more comfortable charging for my product and also paying for other people’s products just to make sure that I’m getting what I care about and they’re getting what they care about.
Andrew: I think you get to a certain understanding in life where you realize I want to pay for more things.
Andrew: These few pennies that it costs a month or few dollars that it costs a month are just not–it’s worth it. I’m not going to sacrifice–there are other places I could sacrifice. All right. I want to get to more things, like there’s a big challenge. So far we’ve talked about excitement and happiness and everything going well. There’s a big challenge coming up.
But you started saying that I interrupted that is important to you and I don’t understand why. Why do you want to talk to me about the why, the mission of your business? You’ve got software that your customers love. You’re making their lives happier. You’re building a business that will eventually be worth a lot more than it is today, right? Who cares about the why?
Zvi: I think two reasons. One is I think we had to motivate our team behind a greater cause through so many challenges and daily trials and tribulations. We’ve really had to make sure that we had almost a higher calling to motivate people. Also, more important for our users, we’re asking a lot out of them. This product, you care about relationships and you say that right now. But for most people, being better at relationships is like a gym membership.
Every day, they say they want to and they’ll pay for something, but when they wake up in the morning and we said, “Hey, are you ready to spend 15 minutes at a time re-engaging when building these key relationships and really working on something, even though it may not yield results for years down the line,” most of them will say, “No, I’m going to go check my email or go check Facebook,” right? So, really uniting people and motivating people around a higher calling is what really felt would empower the business.
Andrew: I see.
Zvi: So, that’s also what sets us apart from other products too.
Andrew: So, what is the higher purpose?
Zvi: So, for us, our vision is the most successful businesses in the world are built upon personal and authentic relationships with our clients and partners. Again, when I go back to that core pain I had in Skeevis Arts when I was consulting, I believed that. I believed that my relationships were what really set me apart. I wasn’t alone. We’re joined by millions and millions of other businesses.
So, we kind of set about saying our mission, therefore, is to help those relationship-focused professionals. We wanted to help them expand their opportunities, gain authentic and timely engagement. We wanted to help them with that. So, that’s been what’s really critical. That honestly is why most of the people come into the office every day.
Andrew: That makes sense. I remember in the early days of Jason Calacanis’ business–this is just me watching from the outside–I feel like he was saying he started telling his people, “Look, if we sell at this price, here’s what I could get and what you could get. If we sell at that price, here’s what I could get and you could get,” meaning sell the business. He was really creating this mercenary team of people who believed that he could get that price, but also were coming in not for the passion of the product and were willing, I believe, to sacrifice the product in exchange for building the business wherever the opportunity happened to be.
That’s when they ended up in SEO, for example, which was completely counter to their initial mission. I’ve got to get him on Mixergy to talk to him about that. I got a lot of theories watching from the outside. I want to see how many he’d confirm and how many he disagrees with. I could see the power of having a mission.
All right. We talked about that and we talked about customers. We talked about how you built your product. I have to ask you about this difficult time in your life. You said, actually, that it happened multiple times and it’s managing your mind was a huge challenge, you told our producer. I love that our producer can actually get this stuff from guests, get guests to be this open. It really makes for a much better interview.
Everyone always thinks that I do a great interview, that I have some magical power for questioning. I do have a lot of techniques and a lot of, I think, emotional–connected to the guests emotionally and I can read their body language and understand, but also, I’ve got a great group of people here who are helping me. One of them talked to you before the interview and understood this thing about you needing to manage your mind. Tell me more about that. What does it mean to manage your mind?
Zvi: Yeah. Well, I would also say one of our core values, we’re also a values-driven business, so one of our core values is transparency. It’s also a lot easier to be open all the time. Andrew, obviously, being an entrepreneur yourself, you know that you’ll have the highest highs and lowest lows at any one point in time. It can be in the same day or the same hour even, right?
I had a very hard time with that, to go from being a relatively even-minded person to all of a sudden going, “Oh my god, this great. New customers signed up. Everything is awesome,” to, “Oh my god. We got three rejections from investors.” Back to, “Oh my god, this new feature launched.” That happens all the time. That can be incredibly damaging. I’m actually thankful that over the past year, I think you and I have seen there are lot more people talking about depression and bipolar disorder.
Andrew: What’s your part? You weren’t bipolar. You weren’t depressed.
Zvi: It was more just being tossed around like a ragdoll.
Andrew: So, what did that lead you to do mentally?
Zvi: Meaning that I think when obviously you’re excited and exuberant. You were kind of getting super-powered. But most of the time as an entrepreneur, you’re facing challenges. I saw very early on that when I’d be faced with challenges like getting rejected by investors, I would almost go into a catatonic state. I wouldn’t be able to get anything done. At the end of the day, if we believe that your idea is worthless and execution is everything, the moments when you stop executing is the moment your business fails.
Zvi: So, I had to figure out a way to really power myself beyond that. So, what I kind of learned and kind of started reading more and talking to other entrepreneurs was this ability to understand that now we have this mindfulness movement, but this ability to understand that your mind is just a current state, that you can have the highest highs or the lowest lows, but take a step back from that and really just understand, hey, this is simply how I’m feeling right now and to gain a check on yourself.
Andrew: So, do you have an example of a time that you used that? Let me see it in action. I think that would help.
Zvi: I think one of the tools that I implemented early on, which I think I can do automatically now is let’s say for example I’d come in one morning and I just didn’t have the passion. I had gotten too much rejection the day before. There were bugs. It didn’t look like anyone was using our product. Obviously that could cause many people, myself included, to otherwise just say, “Maybe we should just give up,” or, “I’m just going to take the day off,” or something like that.
Instead, I was able to say, “Well, let’s take a step back. What’s going well?” I had a great time, a great fiancé, a dog I loved, an apartment. I had great cofounders. I had people who believed in me. I had a mission that was really big. We had a product that I could login and I could see that people are using. Okay. I’ve got something there. Why don’t we just kind of power through today and do what we need to do rather than feeling sorry for ourselves?
Andrew: I see.
Zvi: Those subtle things ended up making such a huge difference in my life.
Andrew: So, I can see how that would help with the low. I’ve had days like that too where I come into work like, “I just don’t have the energy. What am I going to do now? There’s no one pressing me for an interview today.” So, I should be getting work done, but I’m not fully there. I could see how that would help deal with that low and get me to do something and produce for the day. What about generating that high? The one that makes me work even harder for the day, the one that really reminds me what my mission is, how do you do that?
Zvi: Yeah. I think it’s important to figure out how can you capture that in a bottle, right? You can have the most amazing high and then you can kind of look and maybe look back at a low point recently and go like, “What’s really different? What’s changed?” And maybe look back and go, “Not much has changed. I just feel very different.” Oh, great. Things are going so well in my head right now. But not much has changed. That means also when things are really low, well, again, not much has changed.
We now on our team, when we have amazing days and everyone is really energetic, we look back at our team and say, “Hey, remember this time. We’re going to have hard times. I want you to look back and go things could be really good too.” It’s almost how do you manage those ups and downs and really kind of find that middle path through it.
Andrew: Okay. I want to try it. I’m really big on managing my states. I used to think that it was unimportant. That it was much more important to focus on facts. Then I realized there were days when I’m really active. You know where I noticed it? Not so much in business, in business I tend to think that I’m invisible at times or I’m just destroyed in any minute. It was with relationships, when I went outside of business and tried to get to know people and somebody would say something, like take something I said wrong.
I was out dating, actually, in LA and I would go to some event and try to meet people. I remember this one time I walked in the room and the people I was supposed to meet weren’t greeting me at the door and then I called up someone and she started laughing. And I don’t think she was laughing at me, she was just like laughing and having a good time there, but there’s a very good chance she was laughing at me.
That would just set me off on this mood to just like nobody cares. What am I even trying? This is ridiculous. That’s where I really felt the lows. That’s when I noticed that that’s what make me suck the next time I had to try to talk to somebody, not even for dating, but somebody else.
Andrew: I needed to manage my states.
Zvi: The most important thing is just to pick your head up and go right back to it the next day, right? For me, no matter what, no matter how bad things are, just to come in and just come up with a list of things to do, say, “All right, I don’t care how bad I’m feeling. This is just my task for the day,” and just go through that.”
Andrew: All right. Let me end it with of couple of things. First is I got this package in the mail from a guy name Sadjan Jain from Mumbai. I don’t usually get packages or letters or anything from that far away. I get a lot of emails from people in India, but I’ve got to see what this is. Let’s all open it together. This is… Oh, “Genius Biographies,” I guess it’s his book, Ankesh Kothari. Let’s see, if it is his book and this is just a promo. “Genius Biographies” by Ankesh Kothari, it’s a pleasure to gift you a copy of the book “Genius Biographies,” inspiring and instructive,” and then he talks about it. “If you like the book, I would love a review on Amazon. It will help a lot with sales. Please search for ‘Genius Biographies.'”
Andrew: All right, Ankesh. I don’t know that I will write a review. We’ll see.
Zvi: If it’s a good book, sure.
Andrew: I do like the people in this book. One of my favorite people is Sam Walton, who no one seems to care about anymore, but I love going back in time and studying the people who became the richest men in the world in their day. All right. Thank you so much for sending this book. My two sponsors are HostGator and Acuity Scheduling. Please go sign up for them.
If you like this interview and you want to actually go check out Contactually, let me tell you what you should do first. If you’re curious, email my buddy, Liston who raves about it and can give you the ins and outs. It’s Liston@GoodFunnel.co. Just say, “Hey, Liston, what do you use Contactually for? What is it that you like about Contactually?” The guy actually creates sales funnels for people. I’ve seen him talk with more excitement about your software than just about anything else.
Andrew: If you want to go check out the website itself, it’s Contactually.com. Cool. Thank you everyone. Bye.