Andrew: All right, get ready for the program where you’re about to hear the
shocking thing that this guest’s mother said to him when he started in
business. If you’ve gotten negative feedback that has bummed you out,
listen to that part, I think it will help you get over it. You’re also
going to hear how today’s guest built a company without even knowing how to
find investors and you’ll hear what happened the day that he got the first
big wire transfer after he sold his company. All that and so much more
Three messages before we get started: If you’re a tech entrepreneur, don’t
you have unique legal needs that the average lawyer can’t help you with?
That’s why you need Scott Edward Walker of Walker Corporate Law. If you’ve
read his articles on Venture Beat you know that he can help you with issues
like raising money or issuing stock options or even deciding whether to
form a corporation. Scott Edward Walker is the entrepreneur’s lawyer. See
him at WalkerCorporateLaw.com.
And do you remember when I interviewed Sarah Sutton Fell about how
thousands of people paid for her job site? Look at the biggest point that
she made. She said that she has a phone number on every page of her site
because, and here’s a stat, 95 percent of the people who call end up
buying. Most people don’t call her, but seeing a real number increases
their confidence in her and they buy. So, try this: Go to Grasshopper.com
and get a phone number that will make your company seem professional. Add
it to your site and see what happens. Grasshopper.com.
And remember Patrick Buckley that I interviewed? He came up with an idea
for an iPad case. He built a store to sell it, and within a few months he
generated about a million dollars in sales. The platform that he used is
Shopify. If you have an idea to sell anything, set up your store on
Shopify.com because Shopify stores are designed to increase sales, plus
Shopify makes it easy to set up a beautiful store and manage it.
Shopify.com. Here’s the program.
Hey everyone, my name is Andrew Warner, I’m the founder of Mixergy.com,
home of the ambitious upstart where over 700 entrepreneurs have now come to
tell you their stories so you can learn how they built their business and
hopefully go out there and build your own, hopefully based on what they’ve
learned. Today’s interview is part of my series of interviews with
entrepreneur’s who I’ve connected with through the Founder Institute, a
program that helps entrepreneurs learn how to build their businesses and
then helps them get going. In this interview, we’re going to find out how
understanding your entrepreneurial DNA could help you build a successful
business. Your entrepreneurial DNA. Joe Abraham is the founder of
bosiDNA.com, an assessment platform that will help you discover your
entrepreneurial DNA. Joe himself has built and sold three companies and he
built this assessment program based on what he learned as an entrepreneur.
Joe: Hey, thanks for having me, Andrew.
Andrew: So, what was it that your mother said to you early on when she
found out you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Joe: After the distinct look of disappointment, like only a mother can
show, it was basically this long conversation that didn’t just happen once,
it happened time and time and time again. It was basically, why don’t you
just get a real degree and a real job and then if you want to be an
entrepreneur and own a business on the side or something that’s fine. You
know, for fun. But real people, real business people have lots of degrees
and great stable jobs. And that just didn’t sit well with me, it just
wasn’t who I was.
Andrew: And you’ve said that even while sitting in traffic you would
sometimes have your mind wander to that thought, right?
Joe: Yeah, and especially when things were tough. When I started my
business, and I’m sure we’ll talk a little bit about that, but there were
times when there was no money in the bank, and I had to go to these events
like vendor shows, and I owned one suit. I was a college student, and they
had seen me wear the same suit and the same shirt and the same tie to every
event. Things like that start to weight on you, cash flow problems, people
not buying, having the door slammed in my face by people twice my age
because they thought I was too young to be in business with them. So, I
remember sitting at a stoplight one day and going, “maybe she’s right,
maybe I need to have a job, maybe the degree to path was the way to go.”
Sometimes I still ask myself that question. But, I know it weighed on me a
lot and I’m sure it weighs on a lot of entrepreneurs, especially those
Andrew: Absolutely. I had one friend who said something very similar to me
and I just kept thinking about that, and, frankly, it drove me sometimes
too. I wanted to prove him wrong.
Joe: Yeah, that’s what I do now. So like now when an investor says, “No.
We’ve raised money for three different startups now,” and I’ve had
investors say, “I think at best this will scale to maybe a million or two.”
I just found myself, my blood’s boiling inside, but I’m like, “I’ll show
you, man. You’ll see.”
Andrew: And things did turn out OK for you. Can you tell people what
happened when you sold your company and that first wire. As I understand
it, there were three wire transfers that came in. The first one hit, and
what was that like?
Joe: Andrew, it was surreal. I mean, you cannot prepare yourself enough for
the first one, because you hear the horror stories of deals that fall
apart, and last minute due diligence, some [hairs] on the deal. So
especially towards the end I was stressed. I wasn’t sleeping. I was like,
“Man, I hope they don’t find out what I don’t know they should find out.”
And so when the wire transfer actually hit I remember logging in and seeing
the balance, and the first transfer was a healthy six figure number, almost
a seven figure number, and that was just kind of like, “OK, here’s the
first transfer,” and the two bigger transfers were going to come later,
based on us hitting some milestones. It was surreal. Like I felt like I had
this out of body experience.
Suddenly, all those stoplight conversations and people telling me I was
nuts, and it was kind of like your life races before your eyes, the whole
movie replays itself in fast forward, or fast rewind, and I just sat back,
my heart was racing, and I just said, “Holy smokes, we did it.” And it was
a fun experience. I wish it for every entrepreneur out there.
Andrew: I do, too, and I’m fighting to get it for every entrepreneur out
there who’s listening to us. And we were going to talk about the highs and
the lows in this interview. We were going to talk about, frankly, a lot of
my interviews are about the struggles. How do you find your first customer?
How do find your first thousand customers? What do you do when you reach a
limit of what you yourself could do on your own, and then how do you hire
people, and then what happens when things don’t go right with them? Let’s
spend a moment talking about one of the happy times that happens after a
sale. For you it was you went out and you considered buying a car. Did you
Andrew: What was the car?
Joe: Well, the reason this was a cool story for me is because I had been to
the car lot to buy cars several times before, and it was the typical, “Oh
well, you’re self-employed. You don’t have a stable income. We don’t know
if you’ll qualify. You’ve got OK credit, but we need to see more
stable…,” and so I had been to many car lots during my early
entrepreneurship career with the intent to buy a car, with the need to own
a car, and I remember being somewhat turned away or told, “Hey, the
interest rate’s going to be higher or you might have to put more money down
because you’re self-employed.” So after the wire transfer hit, like about a
week later, I said, “Let’s go look at cars again,” and I remember walking
on the lot and doing the usual. The salesperson’s trying to pre-qualify you
and ask you all the leading questions, and I played right into it.
I knew what I was going to do but I just made it seem like I was going to
get financing and stuff, and at the end they gave me the number and we
negotiated a price, and you could almost see on his face, he’s like, “Well,
so now we should go talk to the finance department and see if we’ll
qualify. This is a nice car.” It was a 911. And it was sitting right smack-
dab in the middle of the showroom floor. I was like, “I don’t think we’ll
need to do that,” and just the feel… to be able to…
Andrew: To just be able to say, “I’m paying cash.”
Joe: [??] say, “Yeah, I think I’ll just, would you like, I can do a check
or a wire transfer. Whatever works better for you guys.” And for this young
salesperson to look at me and go, “Oh, oh, well, come this way, sir. Let’s
just go, let’s get this deal done.” Again, I hate to be prideful. For that
moment I was like, “Ah yes. This is what being an entrepreneur’s all
Andrew: Yeah, I mean we struggle, we struggle, we struggle, we get through
a lot, but there’s small things, small happy moments that make the whole
thing fun. And a lot of them are at work and we’re going to find out about
them here, but I know that people who are listening to us are asking, “Well
what is this business that was sold?” And it’s a company called Cornerstone
that you founded in 1996.
Joe: Yup, ’96. I was right out of college.
Andrew: You sold it in 2004?
Joe: Yeah, we sold it in 2004.
Andrew: Sorry, what was that business?
Joe: So, it started off like a lot of entrepreneurial adventures do with a
very different plan than what it ended up being. So initially me and a
college buddy we were, for all intents and purposes, a manufacturer’s rep.
We would find products that needed representation in the marketplace, where
the entrepreneur now based on the [bossy] stuff I know their profile, but
they were really good in creating stuff, but they had no capacity to sell
and market it, and we were like, “We’ll sell and market it for you as long
as we can make some money.” So, it started off as very much a cottage,
wheeler-dealer thing, but within two or three years it ended up scaling
Andrew: What kind of things would you go in and sell for people who didn’t
know how to sell?
Joe: It started off in the mid ’90s, the beginning of the wellness boom,
when nutritional supplements and stuff like that were really getting going.
So, the first line of products we were representing was a line of
nutritional supplements. And then we started to represent everything from
credit repair services, because that was hot, to lead generation. A lot of
people were generating leads online, a lot of these techies had figured out
ways to drive huge amounts of traffic using email marketing, and they had
all these leads but they didn’t know how to talk to people in financial
services, or real estate, saying, “Hey, we’ve got these leads.” So, we
started to broker the leads and we went to the big financial services firms
and the real estate firms saying, “Hey, if your sales people need leads, we
can provide them for you.” We’d buy them for pennies and sell them for
Andrew: Buy them from people who were doing lead generation on their own?
Joe: They were doing lead generation on their own in their basements, but
had no idea how to off-load the leads.
Andrew: And the supplements business, one of the things you got into, how
was that sold?
Joe: All we were in all those cases… we would just go and find the
distribution points. So, in some cases… with the supplements, it was
retailers. So, we’d go find retailers…
Andrew: Find stores to sell it in?
Joe: …And say, “Hey, there’s this great product line.” Yeah.
Andrew: Stores, wow. OK. I’m saying wow partially because I thought there
was a multi-level marketing component to that, do I understand that right?
Joe: Well, there were some companies that were involved that were using
multi-level marketing as their distribution channel, but for some reason
that wasn’t taking off for them, so we private labeled their products and
in some cases took them direct to retail.
Andrew: Direct to retail.
Joe: So that it didn’t compete with the network marketing side.
Andrew: And you were a guy in your early twenties back then. How old were
Joe: Twenty three when we started.
Joe: But really when we hit stride I was close to twenty seven-ish. The
first three years were just figuring out how to even do a sales pitch
correctly and learning how to keep track of payables and receivables. We
stubbed our toe a bunch our first three years but we just didn’t quit. We
just knew someday we’d be successful.
Andrew: Can you tell me about one of the times you stubbed your toe?
Joe: No problem. Gosh, there were so many times. Many times we would go and
meet a product developer, or let’s say a nutritional supplement, and they
said all the right things, “Oh, yeah, I’ll pay you, and go cut the deals
and you’ll make 50 percent of every bottle sold,” but we didn’t do
contracts, they were handshake deals. So, we’d go out and build the market,
the money would start to flow back and forth, but somehow we weren’t
getting paid. And then, going and sitting down with a lawyer, and the
lawyer saying, “I’m sure I can fix this for you, let me see the contract.”
“Oh, the contract. About that. We kind of don’t have one.” So we lost out
on lots of deals and opportunities because we were just dumb and stupid. We
didn’t take the advice of people around us who said, “Hey, you better get a
contract.” We were like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’ll deal with that later.”
Andrew: What was the product that got you to hit your stride?
Joe: Let me think. It was a combination of about four or five that had been
kind of ooching along, ooching along, and a couple of them got some really
good distribution. I think the one that really put us over the edge was a
weight loss supplement that we got into a couple of good-sized retailers.
Interestingly enough, about the time that happened, a couple of our other,
smaller, clients started to take off as well and got some distribution into
South Korea, Japan. As soon as we started to get into the Pacific Rim,
things really started to take off.
Andrew: And the one… is it a nutritional supplement that allowed people
Andrew: So, why did that take off?
Joe: It was in the early days, right as… Hoodia is one of those herbal
extracts that is basically an appetite suppressant, so we ended up finding
one of the original developers of that. Not developers, it’s a natural
thing, but one of the first people who could import it into the U.S. and
start to make supplements out of it.
Joe: So, we ended up taking it and having it private labeled by a bunch of
retailers who each puts their own name on it. But that was one of those
products that created quite a stir. We moved a ton of product and it made
us some money along the way.
Andrew: And how did you get it into stores?
Joe: It was just the old fashion dial for dollars. Make the phone calls,
try to find the buyers. In many cases we would go to the local store and
try to get in the local store, somehow twist the manager’s arm to at least
put it up, say, “Hey, we’ll pay for it, you don’t have to do anything,
we’ll provide the marketing collateral.” And then we’d even come in and try
to get the product to move in the store, and then as it started to move
we’d say, “Can you introduce me to the regional person? Can you introduce
me to the national person?” It was very much a grassroots kind of selling
Andrew: And there was no online component where you were selling this
direct to customers?
Joe: No, a couple of people that we took it to had distribution. One of the
companies was Trimlife.com, and TrimLife was reselling some of those
supplements under their brand. But we, ourselves, didn’t deploy online.
Andrew: I see.
Joe: We just wanted to be dot connectors.
Andrew: All right. And there was another product that you were starting to
tell me about that I back pedaled and asked you about, this weight loss
product. What was the other product that did well?
Joe: I’m trying to think. I don’t remember which one we were going to talk
Andrew: OK. Was it mostly supplements?
Joe: Supplements was the bulk of it, because once we built a reputation, a
lot of the manufacturers, who were manufacturing for a lot of different
suppliers, started coming to us over and over again. But Leadgen then kind
of came out of nowhere. We ended up meeting one young techie who was
generating excessive leads, and suddenly he started telling his friends,
“Hey look, if you want to make some extra money with your web traffic, then
put up this little special offer and generate some leads, then Joe and his
group can resell them for you.” After then, the phone started to ring with
all of these techies with lots of traffic with no way to monetize it,
saying, “Hey, can you sell my leads?’ And we were like, “sure,” and
eventually Leadgen far outgrew anything else we would do. Leadgen then
became a huge part of what we did.
Then, what we found was that when we were generating leads for these sales
people, they didn’t really have a way to follow up with leads, because we
were literally shipping them in Excel spreadsheets. This was just before
email marketing really took off, so we ended up building sales force
automation software tools. . . [??] . . . supplement peddler guy to
building a technology company, and we built a sales force automation
company, which was kind of the precursor to salesforce.com. And we did
really well with that. We had well over 18,000 paying users on that
platform, paying $20 a month, for an A Weber-type auto responder system.
What made ours unique was that we were generating the leads for them and
delivering it into their system. So, you didn’t have to go generate your
leads externally, we could sell leads directly to you.
Andrew: Let me unpack all of that. I want to make sure that I understand
it. I understand the online component of it. You throw up a great
converting landing page, you buy ads intelligently and aggressively, and
you start collecting leads. That part isn’t easy to do, but it’s easy to
understand. The part about once you get those leads and have to find
customers who are going to buy them seems really complicated to me, because
it involves finding the right people who are going to buy it, and it’s not
an easy thing to do. There’s not one place, obviously, where you can go and
sell it. Talk to me about how you figured out who to sell it to and how you
got all of those guys on board.
Joe: It was that same grassroots. We built a business plan and said we were
going to go call on Coldwell Banker and Century 21’s corporate office, and
then they’re going to love us so much that they’re going to roll us out at
their national convention, and we’re all going to get rich. But that’s not
how it worked for us. It meant, literally, going to the local Coldwell
Banker office, where there are 15 agents, and saying to them at their sales
meeting, “Look, if any of you are looking for leads, then we’d love to talk
to you.” And 8 out of 10 would say, “I could use some good leads”‘ We’d
give them a sample, and say, “Here are 10 or 15 free ones. Try them and if
you like them, then here is the price per lead. You can order them online
through our system. We have contact manager who will send out automated
emails.” Then they were like, ‘Automated emails? That’s amazing.’
Andrew: The automated emails would include the leads that you got for them?
Joe: Yeah. As soon as a lead was generated, they would get a welcome email
from this particular real estate agent or financial services person, and in
1998, that was a pretty novel concept.
Andrew: I see that you would follow up on their behalf.
Andrew: And then you’d give them the contact, so they immediately got a
Joe: They immediately got a follow up. And then what we found, and I’m
jumping ahead a little bit, you can pull me back if you want to but… We
thought we had solved the problem by generating leads for sales people.
Then, we realized they needed a follow-up system, so then we built the
software for that and built a tech company around it.
Then, we realized good leads and great follow-up wasn’t enough because most
people didn’t know how to talk to people on the phone. Like when they would
call our leads, they were stumbling over their words, they were doing a
crappy job. And so, the lead conversion rate wasn’t that great. The next
thing you know, we’re doing sales training because we cut our teeth selling
back in the day. We knew what it was like to invite and contact and sell
and overcome objections and all that. So, we started doing sales training.
We built a sales training company around it.
That was the magic when we realized that leads plus technology plus
training was what our audience really needed.
Andrew: I see. That’s a lot of work, but a lot of your competitors weren’t
doing the technology. They weren’t doing the sales training. They were just
focusing on getting the leads out to the customers. Were they doing wrong
by focusing too much?
Joe: No. I think a good MBA professor would say they did it right because
they stayed focused, like Salesforce just built automation, just built
Andrew: Just built the software.
Joe: They didn’t get into lead gen, they didn’t get into training. They
formed partnerships for that. We were just dumb and stupid, but we were
having a blast, and for us, and I think for many entrepreneurs, you just
want to solve the next problem for your customer, right. The customer was
coming to us going, “Man, I’ve got all these leads from you guys, but I’m
having to cut and paste into emails,” and we’re like, “Well, maybe we can
build software for that,” and then they’re like, “Well, I’ve got the
software, but when I call these people, they’re hanging up on me.” We’re
like, “Maybe we could do a little training webinar,” which then turned into
400 people in a Las Vegas ballroom, so it was always one thing just very
organically leading to the rest. Looking back, would it have been better to
have focused, probably.
Andrew: How would you have picked the right place to focus?
Joe: I think revenue probably would have driven that. If someone said to
me, “Joe, looking back, if you have to choose between one of those three,
which would you do?” Just for my own passion, I would have picked training
because I just love that world, right.
Andrew: I can see that you [??] from everything I’ve seen about you, yes.
Joe: [??] yeah. Now software probably would have been the smarter exit play
because we were already at, we did $2.5 million our first year, we were on
a $5 million run rate in year two, and for a text start-up, that’s pretty
impressive because most start-ups are starting with zero revenue and no way
to monetize. We did $120,000 in revenue our first month in business because
we wanted to sell, we wanted to generate revenue, but I just fell in love
with the training side and so a couple of the other partners took the
technology piece and we kind of split up the companies, so the [??] guys
went one way, the software guys went another way and us training guys went
Andrew: And when you sold it, was it the whole thing that got sold
Joe: No, all three went their own way…
Andrew: And so you just sold for [??] talked about just training.
Joe: We just took the training piece and sold the training piece. The
technology guys ended up just selling it to their employees’ technology
company, and the lead guy blew up the whole thing. He bankrupted himself
and it wasn’t a pretty ending to his story.
Andrew: I’ve seen that a lot of times actually with the lead guys. Why does
that happen so often? What is it about the lead business that, I don’t
understand as an interviewer, because you were in it?
Joe: It’s a very hard market to satisfy your customer. In other words, you
almost become a commodity, so you’re only as good as the last lead you
generated and if the last lead you generated hung up on the customer and
said, “I didn’t request this information,” or, “Why are you calling me at
this time of day,” man, that customer is off to the next lead source and
the next lead source, so it’s really hard to build a loyal customer base
and if I was an investor, I’d be really scared because I’d be like, “Well,
I don’t know, you may have had a great month this month, but how do I know
that next month that same group of customers will come back and buy these
Andrew: And the leads aren’t coming from you. You’re a reseller, so it
depends on the site that’s getting you the leads and for them, it depends
further down the chain, if I’m understanding everything right, on their
source, on their affiliate who’s sending them traffic, on the ad buys that
they happen to do, am I right?
Joe: Yes, like in the early, like 2001’ish, 2002 almost, right after the
dot.com bust, when people were just scrambling to make money on line, we
were getting a lot of garbage. People were building robots, to click on
banner ads, they were offering incentives to become leads, and so we
noticed the quality of leads dropping, so we kind of saw the writing on the
wall. Now because so much revenue disappeared off the table in the dot.com
bust, people with high traffic websites were willing to do whatever it
took, and yeah, to your point, the lead game got a little dirty and I just
Andrew: What does the first version of the software that you built look
like? You guys weren’t developers, you guys didn’t start out with the
intention to become developers, so when you finally launched it, what was
that first version like?
Joe: Man, it was ugly. It was ugly, but from a UIUX perspective, you would
have thrown up if you saw it, but the cool thing was, it was really
functional, because we were sales people at heart, so we knew what we
needed the system to do, so what we did is there were two developers out of
Bismarck, North Dakota, who were good friends. We brought them on board,
they wrote the code, so it was an ugly but very functional system, and then
over time just with customer feedback and iteration, improve, improve,
improve as we go.
Andrew: You know what, I have to tell you, as many times as I’ve heard
entrepreneurs say that here in these interviews, when I work with my team
here at Mixergy and I ask them to just launch something that’s an ugly
start, but to start something without looking for perfection, it’s not
their name on the product and still they want to get it right. It’s not
their reputation that’s at risk, it’s mine, and I’m asking them to just
start even with something ugly, and still they want to make it perfect, so
how do you personally, as someone who does have your reputation on the line
when you create a product, who was selling it to existing customers, how do
you get yourself past the hump, the insecurity that comes with releasing
something that’s ugly.
Joe: Yeah. A lot of that comes down to now, when I look back on it, this
whole thing of entrepreneurial DNA. When I discovered that entrepreneurs
are wired differently, and if we talk a little bit about it you’ll see that
some entrepreneurs are wired in a way, where they consider their product or
in this case their software, a reflection of them, and there’s no
disconnecting the two.
We could talk to them until our head turns green, they really do see their
product as a reflection of who they are, so they become perfectionists.
It’s got to be perfect, and I’ve got to work out all the bugs.
Andrew: Is that you?
Joe: I want all the features built in before I turn it on live. There’s
another group of entrepreneurs who really look at software as just a
vehicle to make money. Right? For them it’s a lot easier to say, ‘Look,
launch the product. Let’s sell. Or let’s get users on there, we’ll fix it
as we go,’ because the approach to the product is totally different. It’s a
vehicle versus it’s a representation of who I am.
Andrew: Which of those two are you?
Joe: In every other business I’ve built where technology was involved, I
was always the make money guy. I was like, who cares, man? They want it,
let’s build it and sell it. This time around, when we launched bosiDNA.com,
I was so passionate about the product and what it could do.
A great example would be, everyone’s probably watched “The Social Network”,
right? When you see the character playing the Zuckerberg role, how
passionate he was about the product, because it was a reflection of who he
Joe: He didn’t care about the revenue. That’s what we call Innovator DNA,
or I DNA. There’s a way to measure that DNA in a person now. When you see
someone with that Innovator or Innovator-Specialist DNA, you can
automatically know. The product and them are attached to each other.
When you deal with someone with Opportunist-Builder or Builder-Opportunist
DNA, they’re more like I was, which is, who cares, man? Pack it and ship
it. Shoot the developer and ship the product kind of approach.
Andrew: I’m glad that you brought this up, but frankly…
Andrew: …my first company, Bradford & Reed… I know people hate when I
talk about my stuff, or some people do. They keep asking me to spend more
time with the guests and let them tell their story, but I think it’s
important because I think I’m representing an issue that a lot of people in
the audience have. Which is this…
Andrew: …built up Bradford & Reed. It was a mercenary goal. I just needed
to bring in a revenue because I was tired of not having money, because…
Andrew: …frankly, the cool kids weren’t allowing me into their
playground. I couldn’t get funding. I couldn’t get invited to…
Andrew: …all those conferences that they were going to, etc. I couldn’t
even afford to go if I wanted to.
Andrew: So, all I wanted was money. It was very easy for me to launch
whatever it took to get money. Then, when I built up Mixergy, it was now my
chance to leave a legacy. I could take my time and I could get it right.
For a long time, I couldn’t do jack because I was trying to get it right.
Andrew: So, I’ve learned, especially through these interviews, you’ve got
to disconnect yourself a little bit from the pride of perfection, and say,
in order to get a legacy, in order to do anything you just have to launch
and improve with the audience. In fact, one of the things you stand for and
are proud of is your willingness to come up with something that’s ugly
first and then fix it later.
Just like as an entrepreneur, I have this pride that I am willing to fail.
I am willing to get hurt. I’m willing to work crazy hours and suffer
through the pain of that. That’s attached to my personality, and my sense
of self and identity. The same thing, I think, has to be true with my
willingness to launch something that’s ugly. I have to be proud of it. Not
just accept it and bite my tongue and deal with it, but be proud of it.
Anyway, what you just did to me by telling me about Mark Zuckerberg and his
need for perfection is say, wait a minute, Andrew. Maybe you were wrong in
saying that Mixergy, in order to get going had to take down some of its
Maybe you need to go even further like Mark Zuckerberg and only launch
something that’s perfect. Think about Steve Jobs and his refusal to launch
a minimal viable product iPhone, and only launch perfect. Is that what
you’re saying to me?
Joe: No. What I’m saying is, yes, if you’re wired like them. …[SS]…
Andrew: If you are wired like that for perfection, you have to keep with
Joe: You have to keep with it because you’ll either go insane launching a
minimal viable product. You will hate every minute of it, and the whole
entrepreneurial journey will feel like crap to you. Or you’ll end up
overdeveloping the product.
All that to say, based on how you’re wired, and this is why the whole BOSI
thing is so important is, when you discover how you’re wired, it unlocks
what’s going to work better for you. So you don’t feel like, well so and so
went with minimal viable, and so and so went with a perfected product.
Gosh, how do I pick?
Well, chances are, if you look at the two individuals, they are wired very
differently. One’s wired more like a Richard Branson type and the other
one’s wired like a Mark Zuckerberg, but they’re totally different people.
Andrew: The website, by the way, if anyone wants to take the DNA
assessment. I was going to call it a test but it’s a DNA assessment. They
can just go to bosiDNA.com.
You’re not charging any money for this assessment, right?
Joe: No. It’s free.
Andrew: This isn’t a plug that I just got hooked into doing. No?
Joe: No. It’s a free deal.
Andrew: We’re not selling anything?
I mean, I hope you’re selling something. I don’t think sales is a bad
thing. I just want the audience to know I’m sending them just so they can
see what we’re talking about.
Now, I still disagree with you. I still think no matter how much of a
perfectionist you are, put the stuff out there, publishing and producing
creates a momentum that will then force you to just keep, maybe not force
you but it will encourage you to keep publishing and improving. And your
perfectionism will force you to keep improving and improving versus not
publishing, not shipping, as Steve Jobs might have said and keeping it
close to the chest and waiting for it to be perfect, waiting for it to be
This is based on my interviews. Your, though, analysis here is based on
something from what I’m understanding is much more researched.
What is this BosiDNA based on? What is your explanation there based on?
Joe: So, the fast version of the story, why this even came around. 2004
when I sold the first company I ever started, Cornerstone, I had nothing to
do. Literally sitting there twiddling my thumbs. The phone started to ring
and it was entrepreneurs I came across in various companies I’ve been
involved with saying ‘Hey, Joe. I got this idea for a business. Would you
mind advising me?’ or ‘Would you be interested in investing’ or whatever it
might be, right?
And in many cases, they’d come into the office and we’d start talking and
before you know it, I had my sleeves rolled up and I was working with them
and their business. And that turned into this very repeat startup incubator
where entrepreneurs would come with their idea or their half-baked deal and
we’d ideate, we’d write a business plan. We’d go raise some money and then
I’d be with them for the first twelve to eighteen months of the launch. But
I was just having a blast.
But it was right there that I started to discover exactly what you’re
describing. Some entrepreneurs were like ‘Pack it, ship it, let’s go’ and
others were like ‘But I, but I, but I don’t want to yet. It’s not ready
yet. Just four more lines of code and just one more, you know, piece of
design’. And for a while I was trying to force them into one hole. Kind of
like ‘Well no. The rules say, the rock star say minimal viable product’.
This is before minimal viable product was even a term.
But I found that it was very hard to fit round pegs into square holes and
that’s when I started to say ‘Wait a minute. Maybe entrepreneurs’ 1
strategy and entrepreneurs’ 2 strategy doesn’t have to be the same. There
isn’t one best practice. There’s actually practices based on who you really
And so then I set off on this kind of research study because I couldn’t
find a framework that would help me segment on entrepreneur 1 from
entrepreneur 2. And so we went on this, I basically had from 2008 to 2010,
over a 2 year period, we had thousands of entrepreneurs, well over 3,000 go
through a series of surveys. Initially it started off as this really cheesy
survey on SurveyMonkey.
Then we got more and more sophisticated with it when we started to realize
we were uncovering some patterns and in some cases we would hop on the
phone with these entrepreneurs who took the assessment. Interview them
further. In a handful of cases I went into their business on my own dime,
just spent time with them, looking under the hood and trying to find out
‘Why does this entrepreneur even go into business? What was their real
goal? How do they measure success?’ and found that they measure success
How do they know, what energizes them about their business and what are the
things in their business that actually drain them? And as we were starting
to gather this data, it started to segment itself into four different
groups and so we named them Builder, Opportunist, Specialist, Innovator
because it’s somewhat descriptive of who they are.
Andrew: These are the four different groups? Builder, Opportunist.
Joe: Specialist, Innovator.
Andrew: OK. And we talked about, I’m a Builder apparently or am I an
Opportunist if I just like to ship?
Joe: You’d be an Opportunist Builder or a Builder Opportunist but basically
the upper side of the quadrant because it goes B-O-N-I.
Andrew: I see, so they’re two different kinds? Sorry, two different
categories and I have both of them?
Joe: Yeah. Everybody’s got a primary and a secondary. Exactly.
So, to answer your question, the two years of research was working directly
with entrepreneurs and more recently now, several colleagues and
universities and MBA programs and professors are digging deeper into the
research. Because when I wrote the book everyone was like ‘This can’t be
true’ and so now they’re doing the deeper research.
I don’t know about the deeper research. I just know it works and
entrepreneurs love it. so I’m happy with that.
Andrew: By the way, I’m seeing the four different quadrants on
BosiDNA.com/about where people can see what we’re talking about.
Joe: Yeah. B-O-S-I.
Andrew: And of course, there’s a link to there. I should mention there’s a
link also to the book where you explain the whole process.
So can you give me an example of someone who is a, let me see, a Specialist
Innovator would be the opposite of the description that I say which is just
put the first thing out there, see how people react and fix it in public.
Who’s the opposite of that? Would that be an innovator or specialist?
Joe: So, that would be either of those two. Typically the
innovator/specialist, specialist/innovator. Most people who are software
developers will have this lower quadrant S/I or I/S profile, and they are
very much about just writing great code. So specialist DNA coders tend to
be decent coders that went through all the schooling to become coders, and
they’ve got a little bit of I in them, and then you’ll find the Zuckerberg
likes who are high on Innovator DNA and a little bit of Specialist.
All that to say, that group of individuals has a very specific set of
gifts, the ability to build great product. But, usually are lacking on the
other side, which is the business development, growth strategy, scalable
business side. That’s the Builder DNA wiring. So, they make great partners
for people with Builder DNA. So, great partnerships end up being the coder
or the software developer who just wants to write great code and then the
rainmaker who wants to go out and sell the software and says, “Ship it
today.” That makes for a good dynamic.
Andrew: That is a good dynamic. So if I’m a Specialist, an Innovator,
someone who needs to have it all be perfect. Let’s supposed I’m working on
my own, either as a writer who needs to get the prefect book out there. Or
maybe I’m a perfectionist about my site, and I have to have the perfect
site. Maybe I’m an interviewer, competing with Andrew Warner, and I have to
get the perfect video, because Andrew’s videos, everyone knows, are very
blurry, especially on the guest side. If I’m that perfectionist who wants
to do it right instead of just get it out there, what do I do if I don’t
want to partner up with someone who’s going to force me to keep shipping?
Joe: If partnership is not an option, look at mentorship. This is why
Foundry Institute and other organizations and local mentors. Find someone
who is an opposite DNA of you, because at least they’ll move you along in
that direction. The risk is Specialists tend to hang out with Specialists,
and Opportunist hang out with Opportunists. So it’s kind of like more of
the like, and everyone encourages each other of why they shouldn’t ship the
product. Mentors. If you can’t find a mentorship, at least get in peer
relationships that are complimentary. Find people that aren’t wired like
you and spend time with them. Go to Primera[sp]. Hang out at Starbucks with
them. And even those discussions will move you a little bit further in the
direction. Maybe you won’t ship the product tomorrow, but maybe you’ll ship
it a week earlier than you were going to.
Andrew: Bottom line, you do need someone who’s going to kick you in the
butt if you’re this kind of perfectionist. I see. So, now I understand too,
how knowing where I am, I can accept my point of view and not feel like
everyone else is right, but at the same time know what I need. So if I’m
someone who felt like the product needs to be perfect, it’s not that I’m
wrong, it’s just that this is my point of view. But, I do need to
understand that what I need is either to kick myself in the pants or more
likely, what you’re saying, you need someone else to do it for you, because
you’re always going to go back to who you really are.
Joe: Really well said. For someone like the one you described, being a
little bit of a perfectionist, making sure that it’s right, can be a
strength because you build a better product, like Steve Jobs. But, it can
also go too far and become a weakness and hold you back from actually
launching the business. So, the question becomes once I understand who I
am, how do I use my strengths but then watch out for the weaknesses. And
how do I compensate for those weaknesses with either people or processes or
Andrew: All right. I can see how this is helpful. By the way, I’m so glad
that you pushed me to talk about this. My goal in this interview, I told
you, is just to do an interview about how you built and sold your business.
And you kept saying, “Andrew, you’re missing out on this bigger thing
that’s more important.” And so, of course I stuck it into the intro. The
intro started out with me asking essentially this question. How will
understanding your entrepreneurial DNA help you build a successful
business? That’s it right there. If you understand that you’re someone who
needs to be in head’s down and get it right, you also need to know to get
someone else to help you. All right.
What about the opposite? What if I’m someone who just likes to just ship?
I’m going to publish this interview even if I burp in it. I’m going to
publish this interview even if my audio and video goes out. I’m going to
publish this interview looking the way I do, without doing any editing to
improve it. If I can continue like that, am I OK or do I need a
perfectionist to do the opposite of kick me in the pants, which is maybe
grab my arm and say, “Andrew, sit down and get it right. Yesterday you did
an interview that was a little blurry. Today, we’re going to do it a little
less blurry. And tomorrow we’re going to get it to look just right by maybe
buying you some better lighting than you have in your office.”
Joe: The best case scenario would be for them not to kick you in the pants
and say, “Andrew, you’re going to do that.” It’s just to say, “Look, why
don’t I partner up with you. I’m a perfectionist. As soon as you finish the
interview with Joe, can I have the video file for 20 minutes? Let me just
do a few things to it to make it just a little bit better.” That’s the
power of alliance and peers and partnerships and finding someone who has a
complimentary gifting. They’ll actually find it effortless. For them it’s
effortless to clean up their video and make it look good. For you, it would
be like pulling teeth. You want to go to the next interview, right? So,
again, it’s about who am I? How am I wired? How do I stay in my gifting?
And then surround myself with people that can do things that I do in my
Andrew: You know, you’re blowing my mind and I’ll tell you why, because
this has always worked for me. Bradford and Reed was a greeting card
company. It was always an ugly greeting card company. It was part of our
strength I believe. It was an ugly greeting card company, so it felt like
the greeting cards were homemade.
Mixergy has done well when the video is looking like this, so I’ve got an
incentive to keep redoing what’s worked for me and you’re saying, yeah but
look at how much more you could do if you understand this other point of
view, which is get somebody who is going to sit down and love the design of
it. I see, OK.
So, this is essentially what BOSIdna is. That’s what we’re getting it is,
this understanding. All right. Let me go back to your story and I’m going
to come back to BOSIdna in a moment.
Andrew: You decided to sell the business. Why sell the business?
Joe: Which one? The first one that I sold?
Andrew: Yeah, we’ll continue with the narrative.
Joe: I think for every entrepreneur at some point one of two things happen.
Either you start to get bored because the exiting part of building and
scaling is done and now it’s like staff meetings and payroll, and you
always get that next idea or the next bug. Back then I was this upper
quadrant opportunist builder DNA and so for me it was about excitement.
What’s the next exciting thing?
Suddenly the business I was running had become boring and mundane and so
then I knew it was time to sell, so that’s one reason to sell is when the
passion starts to leave. Don’t sit there because I’ve seen plenty of
entrepreneurs, I’ve worked with thousands of entrepreneurs who had their
hands on the driving wheel so long they literally drove it off of the
cliff. Entrepreneurs have to be creative.
Andrew: Did you know after you sold, hey you know what, I used to be an
opportunist, now I’m much more of a specialist innovator, it’s time for me
to build a business like that or did you hold onto your opportunist point
Joe: Definitely I’ve noticed entrepreneurs morph. We morph in our profile
and our DNA and our behavior, so I went from being a very strong
opportunist builder to when I discovered the BOSI stuff I became this more
of this ISI DNA, because now it’s like I want to change the world right?
I don’t care about shipping the product, I don’t care if we ever charge for
anything, let everything be free. That’s more of that I DNA mindset and it
changes how you make decisions, it changes who you need to be around, so
I’ve morphed quite a bit in the process.
Andrew: All right. I’m going to get to what people have done with bosiDNA
in a moment. I want to go in chronological order. I introduced you as a guy
who started, and I said sold 3 companies, because that’s what you told me
before we started, what are the other two companies that you built and
Joe: Those happen to be those spin-offs, so one was the lead gen company we
started. We called that Bamboo and then flipped it. That was more like a
stock exchange deal. We ended up with stock in another company, then the
training company was called Q5, Quadrant Five, and that was the training
side of what we did.
Andrew: I see.
Joe: And then when I started the Incubator, which was the 4th thing, that
didn’t really sell, that just went on hiatus for a while because there was
nothing to sell, there wasn’t an asset there.
Andrew: It was called BOSI Performance Institute you launched in 2010, it’s
Joe: Now we call it BOSI Performance Institute, it used to be called En
Corpus, but there was a window for about a year and a half when I was doing
the research when it just went on the shelf. We weren’t really doing
anything with it. There was nothing to sell. I would’ve sold it, but there
was nothing to sell.
Joe: Because it was me really.
Andrew: Were you using the bosiDNA ideas when you were running what was
called En Corpus and then later changed to BOSI Performance Institute?
Joe: No, it was in En Corpus that we discovered the BOSI stuff and as soon
as I discovered it I got so excited about it I almost forgot about the En
Corpus, the incubator itself, we just stopped taking portfolio companies.
At BOSI Performance Institute now, which is kind of the version 2.0 of what
En Corpus was, certainly like the first thing a person does before they
even walk in the door is we have them take the basic assessment, we have
them take an advanced assessment. We have their staff take an assessment,
any partners, so we can see that kind of snapshot, that dashboard and go,
who are we really dealing with? Beyond LinkedIn profiles and bios and
resumes, the assessment gives some real insight into who they really are
and it allows us to better serve them.
Andrew: That makes a lot of sense. All right. So then you discover this,
it’s time to build a business around this and beyond discovering you want
to prove that the ideas work well. Can you give me an example of someone
who you test this out on or what happened to them? Maybe even an earlier
example that bombed.
Joe: One of the guys who was in the incubator back when we discovered this
was an NFL athlete and very well recognized, wide receiver.
Andrew: What’s his name?
Joe: Tim Brown, he played with the Raiders for 17 years. Tim had just left
the NFL and was sitting on a pile of cash and had ideas for businesses he
wanted to launch, and our name came up on the radar so we were helping him
get a company off the ground. I didn’t know this about Tim back then but he
is an off the charts “O” opportunist DNA. And he’s proud to say it. He
loves the fact that he’s ODNA. Now, here’s what was frustrating for me. We
built a business plan together, we went and raised some money for the
startup. It was a gift card program to help non-profits raise money…
Joe: …And we went landed huge deals. We walked into major corporations
and got massive contracts and I look around and my guy is gone. He’s
disappeared. He’s off to the next business deal. He’s talking about putting
his name on a dealership…
Joe: …And I’m looking at him going, Tim, we just landed XYZ deal, we’ve
got to hire a staff, we’ve got to raise some more money, and I could just
see it in his eyes. And this is my love for the entrepreneur, in this case
for Tim, I could have tried to force him to be someone he’s not, which is
sit in the CEO chair and run staff meetings and hire employees and figure
out how to scale a business, but I recognized that that’s not who he was.
He wanted to be closing the next deal. He wanted to be off doing seventeen
different things at the same time because that’s what he was wired to do.
We today know that that’s called “opportunist DNA”, right? And had I known
that about him, I wouldn’t have been as frustrated with him and he with me
back in the day. Here’s what we did; as we started to discover that I
started to release him of some of that pressure and said why don’t we have
so-and-so step into a management role and why don’t we have so-and-so take
over finance so you don’t have to because he was horrible with finance.
That just wasn’t who he was. Old school entrepreneurship would have said go
take a class on QuickBooks and learn how to do it, because if you’re not
you’re an idiot. But some people just aren’t wired for it. He wasn’t.
So, we put him in the rain maker slot, he didn’t need the CEO title, he was
happy not to have it, and he hit home runs because we recognized who he
really was, and their company is doing fantastically well. They just got a
contract with a youth sports organization with 60 million kids and they’re
going to roll his program out. Who knows what’s going to happen from there,
but it all came down to recognizing that individual entrepreneur and not
having trying to have him be someone he’s not.
Andrew: By the way, I’m so clueless about football, I didn’t know who this
guy was, but I did a quick Google search and I see… [SS]
Joe: Oh, he’s the man. He’s done a few things. He’s a Heisman Trophy winner
Andrew: Is he in the Hall of Fame?
Joe: He’ll probably go into the Hall of Fame next year.
Andrew: Because as soon as I typed in his name the first result… the
first suggested search on Google was “Hall of Fame.”
Andrew: All right. How about another one? How about an
entrepreneur/philanthropist from the U.K. that I’ve got here in my notes
that you and Jeremy put together. Tell me about him.
Joe: He’s an example of very high builder DNA. Here’s a guy who was an
Iranian immigrant who moved to the United Kingdom, dealt with all the
racial issues of that, was in the North East of England which is a very
blue collar part of the country. He started with building up a little pizza
shop and then sold it, then started a delivery service and sold it, and
then ended up as an engineer building a manufacturing facility for naan and
pita breads. And just through hard work, hard work, hard work, he ended up
becoming the number one producer of naan and pita breads in all of Europe.
So, he landed the Walmart, the Tescos [SP] basically… his product was in
all the major retailers under various brands. Multi-million, eighty, ninety
million dollar a year turn-over with high profit, basically living the
life. When I would go spend time with him… the reason I had the chance to
work with him was because he had an idea for a new business that he wanted
to launch. He was getting ready to exit business one and getting ready to
start business two and he said, hey Joe, I’ve heard about you come help us.
Well, while I was hanging out with him… I would fly in and go spend a
week at his house… I would see the lifestyle, right? Garage after garage
after garage of every exotic car you could possibly think of, millions of
dollars a year in personal income, wonderful life, but when I would go into
his office and see how he ran his company, it was a very specific style,
kind of like a Donald Trump in the Apprentice boardroom type of style.
Very cold, very calculated, my way or the highway, this is how it’s going
to work, a very structured management team, intense reporting structures,
very organized, methodical systems, and he had built his company for very
scalable growth. Now, when I contrast him with Tim, you cannot give those
same two guys the same business plan and the same business model and the
same go-to-market strategy, they’re wired totally different. This guy is
wired to build a scalable business, run it, operate it, own it, run staff
meetings and fire people.
Andrew: What’s his DNA, this guy Bosi? He’s a builder/opportunist?
Joe: He would be a builder/specialist.
Andrew: What’s a builder/specialist? We talked about how a
builder/opportunist is someone who just wants to launch stuff and find the
cash right now. A specialist/innovator is someone who wants to get really
good at one thing and not launch until it’s perfect. He is a
builder/specialist. What’s that?
Joe: Yeah, the not launch until it’s perfect is just one of the many traits
in cases for SIs. But a builder/specialist is someone who’s wired to build
highly scalable companies. They just have the behavioral makeup to think in
terms of scale and actually be able to execute on it. They kind of have a
pied-piper-like capacity to recruit things like employees and customers and
investors. You can go to all the pitch training you want but if you don’t
have it you don’t have it. Some people just have it.
The specialist part was his secondary because he was an engineer by trade.
So, that’s where the specialist side of him… a little bit more
methodical, risk adverse side of him came from. A specialist in an
industry which was building equipment, in this case food service. So
builder/specialist is kind of a combination that came from that. So,
builder/specialist entrepreneur’s tend to be the ones that build fairly
large, multi-million dollar companies, over five million in revenue,
typically 10, 20, 30, 50, 100 million.
Andrew: If I’m hearing this, and hearing what you just said, can I go back
and make myself into a builder/specialist if I’m an opportunist/innovator
or any of the other personality types?
Joe: You know what I’ve noticed that relates to that? It’s not that you
make yourself that, it’s that over time your experiences drive you into
those things. So, I have seen, just like myself, people morph, but it’s not
like you make a conscious effort to say, “I want to be a builder.” Even
though builder sounds sexy on the service, like, “oh wow scale businesses,
millions of dollars in revenue, I want that,” there’s a lot of negatives
that come with it. In his case he would tear through people like a tornado
in Wichita. You look back through his history and there’s a wake of dead
bodies, of lost relationships, of managers who hate him who have gone on to
start competing businesses. It’s very lonely being who he is.
So, some entrepreneur’s would say, as much as it would be great to have his
income and his lifestyle, I don’t want to have some of the other things he
has. Well, it comes with the territory. There are some entrepreneurs who
love being SIs, specialist/innovator, or opportunists who don’t have to
deal with all that. They don’t have the desire to be billionaires. They’re
perfectly happy to be running a stable, small business.
Andrew: Let me ask you this. I’m getting a little uncomfortable as I sit
here listening to you because I keep thinking, I know now that I like the
ship, I now know that it’s part of my DNA, Joe has just confirmed it for
me. But I sometimes have to work with people who like to take their time,
both professionally and even personally. I think about me and Olivia, my
wife. If we’re going to go somewhere for the weekend, I don’t even need to
know where the hotel is. We’ll just get on a plane and we’ll go or I’ll
just pick the first one that comes out.
I’m not researching it, I’m not spending too much time on it, I’m making it
happen, I’m not going to save an extra 10 bucks or get an extra 10 percent
better place, but it causes friction. If she’s going to take the hotel, I
want to say, Olivia, “why didn’t get us a hotel in 5 minutes?” If I’m
working with someone who’s going to do some writing for us on the side, and
they didn’t knock it out within a day… why are you getting it right? Just
get it out there and the people will tell us what’s right and what’s wrong.
How do I deal with people without leaving a trail of bodies in my wake or
not drive myself nuts?
Joe: What I’ve found is that the best way is for you to understand who they
are, and more importantly for them to understand who you are. Because in
most cases we have to guess and over time we figure out, well, he’s
probably one of those tyrannical types and wants stuff on time and I better
get it to him, but sometimes it’s six months into the relationship and the
bridge is already burnt and there’s already tension.
Andrew: But, if I understand who they are, and they’re someone who needs to
take time, and I understand who I am, I’m just someone who needs to get it
out there, do I need to allow myself to slow down a little bit closer to
their pace, or do I need to just get them to mine?
Joe: It’s a combination of both and in many cases you need someone between
you and them, who’s playing cop. That’s why that EVP or project manager or
GM really comes in handy because they can act as a buffer between you and
the staff, because they can usually handle your onslaughts, but then
translate that in a way that delivers. I’ve found that for builder DNA
entrepreneurs, people who wired like you, it’s really good to have that EVP
or that number two, who really is the face and voice to the staff.
Otherwise it’s that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide thing and the staff has to deal
with it all the time. This middle person can really temper that in a great
Andrew: So what were basically saying is, guys, go over to BosiDNA.com and
see what you are and maybe send some other people in your company to go see
what they are on this scale.
Joe: And it’s fun to sit around and look at each others profile and go, “no
wonder I thought you were so screwed up.” You know, we’re different, and it
frames a conversation that can be had, that in many cases was avoided or
uncomfortable. That’s all this really is.
Andrew: Jeremy asked about what your lowest point was, because we always
like to dig into where people’s troubles are. That’s what we do here. And
you said it was last December. Why last December? What happened last
Joe: I don’t care how much money you’ve made or how many businesses you’ve
built. I think we talked about this earlier. You still take it personally
when people say your baby is ugly, right? So in my case, we had just raised
our seed round for bosiDNA.com and we had closed the round. We had raised
pretty much what we needed, not exactly how much we needed, but enough. And
then, out of the blue, one of the guys who invested in the round said,
“Hey, I’ve got a friend who may be interested.” We said, “Yeah, but we’ve
closed the round.” He said, “No, just talk to him.” OK. Let’s talk to him.
In the back of my mind, I was like, “We could certainly use another
infusion. I mean, we can always spend the money.” There were a lot of
projects we were putting off. And so this guy meets with us. We have
meeting number one. He’s like, “Oh, this sounds great.” Meeting number two.
Meeting number three. Everything’s going great, right? And every
entrepreneur can relate to the fact, whether it’s in a selling situation or
a fund raising situation, it seems like they’re in. And he even shook hands
with me, and he’s like, “OK, Joe. I’m in. Here’s my number.” And it was a
good number, right? It was a very exciting number. He’s like, “I’m in.
Let’s send the paperwork back and forth. I’m really excited about what you
guys are doing.” OK. Cool. I, like any entrepreneur, in my mind I’m
spending the money. We’re going to spend this much on tech, and we can
actually hire this extra bus/dev guy. Then we’ll have so much in reserve.
I’m spending the money in my head, getting really excited about it, by the
Then we go through the legal. The lawyer says, “Everything’s great.
Everything’s clear.” Then I didn’t hear from him for a couple of days. Then
he came back saying, “Hey, I was traveling, but we’re still in. I’m in. I’m
in. Let’s do this.” And as you can imagine, where this story’s headed. He
shows up at the office one day and goes, “Hey, you know, I’ve thought about
it, and I don’t think I’m going to do it.” And, it’s like the air, whoosh,
gets let out. And there’s a part of me that’s like, “Whoa, let’s fight for
this, Joe. Let’s overcome some objections. Come on. Bring up the sales
training you used to do, and let’s get the deal.” And there was another
part of me that was like, “Screw you, man. I don’t have to convince you. I
believe in what I’m doing. If you’re not in, you’re not in. Oh, well.” But,
I’m sitting here in one chair over from where I’m sitting right now. And
he’s sitting at the head of the table, and I’m like, which way should I go?
Should I go and try to push for this or should I just walk away? You know
that whole thing. And that was a real low point, because I ended up walking
away. I didn’t really push for it. Something told me that he wanted me to
cut him a better deal, right. If I’d come back and said, “No, no, no. But
what about this? And what about that? What if we…?” He would have done
the deal. He was probably just negotiating with me, but I didn’t want to.
Looking back, maybe I should have. But, I didn’t.
Here’s what the low point was. For the two or three or four weeks
following, there was a fallout from that, because I had kind of created
some expectations with my team of, “Hey, if this other round comes in, we
could really do this and this and this.” And they were getting excited
about it. Shame on me for opening my mouth, right? And it was a real low
point because, for me, I started to second guess myself. And I think of
entrepreneurs do this. I was sitting there going, “Maybe he knows something
I don’t know. Maybe this isn’t as good as it’s going to be. Maybe this was
a warning shot of why I need to back off.” And all those thoughts come in.
I remember in December, I was sitting there going, “Am I up the wrong
creek, so to speak, without a paddle?” So, that was my most recent low
Andrew: You know what, that’s big of you to admit that, that it still
Joe: Oh, man. Absolutely. The numbers just get bigger, that’s all.
Andrew: Your mom, by the way. We talked about how her conversation put you
in a similar frame of mind. How are you guys or how were you guys? Is she
Joe: Oh, yeah. She loves me. She’s just like any other mom, right? She’s
like, “Oh, son, you don’t seem like you’re eating enough food.”, you know?
She’s like any other mom. “I don’t want you to fail in business.”
Andrew: How confrontational is she? She meant well.
Joe: Still 100% in a loving way. She just didn’t want her son to fail. She
just didn’t want her son to be a 40 year old guy someday without a job and
no income. That’s all she wanted. I grew up in India. When she graduated
high school, she was the number one student in the country, for the
national boards. So, she comes from a world of academia. She’s got multiple
degrees, and so for her, that’s how you validate yourself, is through
degrees. And for me it was like, no, you validate yourself with building
big businesses. So we were speaking two different languages. She did it
purely out of love. She still says it to me. They flew into town. They’re
going to be with us for a couple weeks. They live in Houston. She still
looks at me going, “So how’s that business going? Is it going OK?”
Andrew: My dad does that, too.
Joe: Yeah. Yeah.
Andrew: Hey, I told you that we like to pry, and one of the things we pry,
we want to know what your personal passions were. And you said, “Soccer
football, not American.”
Joe: The real football.
Andrew: The real football, exactly. Watching it, playing, etc. You said you
enjoy the simple things in life. Watching TV, etc. You said, “My biggest
passion outside my faith is entrepreneurship. Doing it, teaching it,
fostering it.” And that one sentence stuck in my head, and I want to ask
you. You said, “My biggest passion outside of my faith.” What is your
faith? You’re talking about religion, right?
Joe: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Andrew: Tell me about it.
Joe: I’m a preacher’s kid, so my dad has been a preacher all his life,
evangelical preacher. So, back in India, that’s what he did, so I was
raised in that kind of a family. So my faith is a huge part of what I do.
Andrew: Evangelical Christian in India promoting Christianity there. What’s
that like? I know in the U.S. that’s huge.
Joe: Yeah, that puts you in like one half of one percent of the culture.
But you know what? Because India was a British colony until 1942,
Christianity is very, it’s not looked down on. India is a very accepting
country, so there was never any weird stuff. So, all my friends in school
were Hindu or Sikh or Muslim, and we all just got along fine, and we loved
each other, and had a blast. I never pushed it on them, and they never
pushed their stuff on me. We were just friends and buddies.
Andrew: So, how did your faith influence into your business?
Joe: I’m sorry, say that again?
Andrew: I guess what I mean is, at the lowest point, how does faith help
you? My standard question when I met atheists was, when you’re really
desperate, who do you turn to? So, let me ask you, as a person of faith,
when you’re desperate, how does your faith help you?
Joe: Oh man, I’m on my knees, right?
Andrew: Literally on your knees?
Joe: Literally on my knees in prayer. And you’re right, for someone who
doesn’t believe that God exists, that’s almost a strange, weird, stupid
thing. But for someone who does believe in God, that there is a great
source of comfort that comes from that. And then, another very important
piece of it is community. So for me, being from a faith based community,
there’s guys that I hang out with, either from church or some of my
business partners who share my faith. And so, we can talk about things at a
different level. So, when there is a low point, we get together in prayer.
We get together and talk. There’s a way to work through some of those
issues and say, “You know what, at the end of the day this is just
business. This isn’t my life. This isn’t what defines me.” There are more
important things. There’s my wife. There are my kids. There’s the legacy
I’m going to leave, kind of like you were talking about your legacy. So,
sometimes to put those things in perspective helps a lot.
And then to realize that at the end of the day, I’ve got a lot of work to
do. I’m going to screw up here and there. And a lot of the low points
weren’t purely because of other people. A lot of it was mistakes I made.
And to recognize that, that I make mistakes, and a lot of the low points
were offsets of that. So, yeah, my faith is a huge piece of the highs and
the lows and everything in between. I can’t say I’m really good at it. I
screw up a lot, but I’m trying. I’m working on it.
Andrew: All right, let me talk about Mixergy Premium here for a minute, and
then I want to ask you one final important question. I’m trying to be open
about my personal growth. I want to achieve bigger. I just want to keep
doing bigger and bigger things here with Mixergy. And I was so disappointed
in myself and the way that I’ve been promoting Mixergy Premium in past
interviews, because I say, “You’re the guy who’s learning how to be
persuasive through these interviews. And you buckled the last few times.” I
did a few interviews where I did this little promo for Mixergy Premium and
then I went home going, “Where did that come from? What is it about the
camera being on that keeps you from being able to talk like a human being?”
So, I spent this morning, I won’t even show all the notes, but I sat down
and I wrote all kinds of notes on how I could do it better, a better sales
pitch. Actually what I did was I took some of our courses and I said, “All
right, what are some of the elements of a sales pitch from the courses that
I learned? And I’m going to apply them.” So here goes. I’m actually asking
for your attention on this sales pitch so that you, Joe, if I screw it up
can help me improve. And the audience, of course. They’ll say, Andrew,
here’s where you screwed up if I ask them to. And guys, I’m asking you to.
So here goes.
I’m going to read for you guys something that I read from Paul, one of my
viewers here in the comments that he put up on the website. And I think
some of you are going to be able to identify with what Paul said. Have you
ever had a founder on Mixergy or even in real life say something to you
like, “I got hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales by selling through
webinars”, for example. Have you ever had that and said to yourself, “Well,
good for that guy. How do I do it?”
Well, Paul took a course at MixergyPremium.com and after he went through
it, here’s what he said in the comments. He said ‘My site’, his new site
‘is Sherlocksdots.com’ and he says ‘I did a pre-launch webinar in March.
The next stop is the launch in April 24th with another webinar. I can’t
tell you how great your site is, Andrew.’
By the way, doing a little decorating.
And the reason I say this to you guys is, when you take our courses you get
action. Things will change just like they did for Paul and webinars can
generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales, as you’ve heard from
past interviewees on Mixergy. But if you join Mixergy Premium, you’ll get
that course and so many others for less than $50 bucks.
And of course, you guys see me. You’ve seen me struggle, you’ve seen me do
well for years, so you know that when I guarantee it, it’s a real person
standing behind the guarantee. And the guarantee is this, if you’re not
convinced that it’s worth the money you’ve invested in it, if you’re not
convinced that MixergyPremium gives you many times more than the money
you’ve invested in it, I’m here. I’ll give you a refund guaran-freaking-
teed or else Joe here and every other guest will jump on top of me.
And thousands of people have signed up and they’ve been happy with it and
they love all the courses that are part of it. So go to MixergyPremium.com
All right, Joe. MixergyPremium.com. Joe, you’ve heard it. What do you think
of the way that I just sold there?
Joe: Yes. One of the best ways to sell and you did it, and this is just
something you can continue to do, and this is hopefully feedback for all
our entrepreneurs who are [??] on this site, is this concept of multiply
and divide. How do you multiply the value and then divide the cost?
So, you know, when I was looking at the Mixergy stuff, I was like ‘Oh,
here’s all these courses’ and I’m thinking to myself “Well, yeah. There’s
all these courses but if I just took one of these courses, if just one of
them generated an extra $1,000 this year of revenue, it’s more than paid
for my premium subscription, let alone if some game changing relationship
or game changing deal generates hundreds of thousands, if not millions of
dollars.” So would you, would it be worth it to you to invest $300 a year
or whatever it is.
Andrew: Much less than that, but yes.
Joe: Yeah. But $195 a year if you’re going to pre-pay for the year, to just
have that little bit of an inside advantage. You may not watch all the
videos. You may just watch one that could be the game changer for you,
right? And would that be $195 bucks.
So you kind of did that multiply and divide. Because that’s what we need to
hear as buyers, is like ‘Wow. He’s right. It’d be silly to miss out on a
multi-hundred thousand dollar opportunity over $195 bucks.
Andrew: It’s also something that I got from the copywriting course, where
we learn that we need to anchor by giving people a really high value. We
put a big number in their head and then we give them a lower price and they
compare the lower price and the higher value and it doesn’t seem, the low
price looks a lot lower than it would have seen on it’s own.
What about this? In my head I kept thinking ‘Oh, this is going on too long,
Andrew. You better shut up.’
Did I go too long with the sales pitch? Be honest with me, Joe. I was
honest with you earlier.
Joe: No, no, no, no, no.
Andrew: It didn’t feet too long?
Joe: Sometimes, we underplay the need to sell and, at the end of the day,
look at how much time you’ve invested between what you did on this
interview. What Jeremy did to prep me and all that. We did all that time to
deliver the content and if we only spent 30 seconds selling, we’re almost
doing our clients’ a disservice because sometimes people need to hear it in
more detail. They need to be convinced. And sometimes a mention isn’t
enough. A mention gets the early adopters in but the people who really need
to think about it, the people like this SI profile, specialist innovator,
they need facts and details and stories and, so, yeah. I think it’s a good
thing that you take your time with it.
And stories are great. The more stories, the better. And no, you can’t
oversell something like this. Specially if it’s you looking in the camera,
talking to us.
Andrew: Looking at the camera sometimes changes everything. It changes the
way that I talk. It changes the way that I feel.
I’m actually just having a conversation with you. You and I can sit down at
a coffee shop. Maybe I’ll be in Chicago one time. We’ll have one of those
great Chicago hot dogs or whatever and I’ll be fine.
Here, I swear to you, I’ve done 700+ interviews. I’m sweating underneath
this jacket. I don’t know why. There’s something about, like, knowing that
all those people are watching and evaluating every part, that it just
sometimes plays with my head.
Joe: And I think that’s what it is. You take what you do very seriously and
it’s not so much about your eye conversation. You want to ask all the right
questions that’ll impact the client, you know, or the user. And I think
your users, hopefully, they appreciate it. I certainly do as someone
viewing this stuff.
Andrew: Thank you. I appreciate it.
Joe: Because you are sweating. You know, if you were just sitting back and
it wasn’t a big deal. Like you were just an anchor on CNN or Fox News and
no big deal, uh.
I think your users probably love seeing your growth. Seeing interview #12
and then interview #500 and then now #700+.
Andrew: That’s why I decided to call myself out on it. I said I can’t just
look to improve. I got to let them know that this thing has been weighing
on me, that I didn’t like the way, this was the interview guys if you want
to go back or if you want to remember which one I’m talking about. It’s the
interview with the founder of Weebly.
As of this moment is not published but when it is, it’ll be a little
painful for me to go back and watch it. But I wanted to get it out and say
‘Guys, you’re watching me develop here as an on-camera personality’, if you
can call my eye-sight camera presentation here that. And this is hopefully
a step forward and I think it is. Then better and better and better. We’ll
continue to get better and the most important thing is that the audience
get better because I love getting those emails from people who, like Paul.
Paul did a good thing. He did a [??] thingy. He put it in comments and told
everyone publicly what he got out of it and thank you, Paul, for doing
All right. Let me say this to you, guys. BosiDNA. For the transcribers,
it’s spelled BosiDNA.com. Get that right because I know a lot of people
prefers to read the transcript instead of listening to me or watch me.
BosiDNA.com and here’s what I suggest.
Two things. First, take the assessment and number two, go to
BosiDNA.com/contact and be one of the few people who are going to have the
guts to send Joe this message. Say ‘Joe, thanks for doing that interview’.
That little thing can start off a relationship that who knows where it’s
going to go. And even if it doesn’t, you put some good things in your soul
when you say thank you to people.
Joe: No. I love connecting to people so whether they use the contact form
or Twitter or whatever, they’ll hear back from me for sure.
Andrew: Oh, good. Thank you and thank you for doing this interview and
thank you all for watching.