Andrew: In this program, you are going to find out why being a teenage loser, that was me, why it helped drive me to outwork almost anyone and how I used it to force myself to build a hit company. Because I don’t have a guest scheduled for today, instead of my usual program, I am posting an interview with a viewer named Owen McGab Enaohwo, who asked to interview me for his site, HireYourVirtualAssistant.com.
Owen, thanks for doing this interview. First, three companies that you are going to thank me for introducing you to. And then, the fight is on. Here it is.
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And do you remember when I interviewed Sara Sutton Fell about how thousands of people pay 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 is a stat, 95 percent of the people who all end up buying. Most people, though, 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 sound professional. Add it to your site and see what happens. Grasshopper.com.
And remember Patrick Buckley, who I interviewed? He came up with an idea for an iPad case. He built a store to sell it and in a few months he generated about a million dollars in sales. Well, the platform he used is Shopify. If you have an idea to sell anything, set up your store on Shopify.com because Shopify’s 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.
Owen: Hey everyone. I’m excited today. I have Andrew Warner from Mixergy on the call. Someone I always, I mean, I literally listen to him everyday, and I am excited to have him on the show to talk to us about business and how you can use interviews for your business and what we can learn from him. So, Andrew, go ahead. Introduce yourself to the audience and let us know what Mixergy is about. For those people who don’t know what Mixergy is about.
Andrew: Before I say that, I’ve got to say, very impressive set up on your side. We are getting a little echo in here, probably because of my mic. I’ve got one of these old fashioned microphones, but look at your set up over there. Really impressive. And light. You have got a professional light. Look. I’m using the desk lamp in the office.
Andrew: [laughs] I’ve never really been into design. I hope the audio is okay for the audience. I feel bad that we are hearing an echo. Do you hear that?
Owen: No, it’s OK. I can hear you perfectly.
Andrew: OK. Alright. So, I was saying, I was never really good at lighting or design of any kind. In fact, I was that little freaky kid in school who was walking around with that ugly little mustache. I was walking around, I realized recently, I had purple pants in high school. Can you imagine a guy wearing purple pants in high school? Who is going to date a guy like that? Who is going to talk to a guy who is wearing purple pants in high school? Thankfully, one or two people talked to me. That was it.
I was in my own little hell for a large part of my life growing up. And, I said to myself, the only way I can get out of this hell, because I can’t figure it out for myself, the only way I can get out is I know numbers. And I know money, you can count with numbers. And that’s all I need to know. I am going to find a way to make enough money that I can take it and use it to buy my way into the things that I want.
Andrew: In fact, even if it means, not buying my way into love, because I couldn’t get a date . . .
Owen: [laughs] Yeah.
Andrew: . . . but buying my way into hiring somebody who could dress me so that I wouldn’t wear purple pants. Hiring somebody who could give me a nice look so that I can go out there and meet girls. And I said, ‘I am just going to spend all of my time’, since going out and drinking with friends or doing all the goofy things that high school kids do didn’t mean anything to me . . .
Andrew: I said, ‘I am going to spend all of my time studying books on business. Reading biographies of successful people.’ I must have read a billion stories about Ted Turner and all of his antics. Like, when Ted Turner wanted to close a deal, he didn’t just walk in and say, ‘I’d like to close a deal with you.’ He walked into the office and said, ‘What is it going to take to make a deal with you? If I have to kiss your shoes, I am going to kiss your shoes.’ And do you know what he did?
Owen: [laughs] Yeah.
Andrew: He got down on his hands and knees, this is Ted Turner, one of the richest people in the world, the inventor of CNN and so many other companies. Gets down on his knees and kisses the shoes of the cable operator that he wants to do a deal with so that CNN or whatever other network he is running could be on there. I said, ‘One day, I am going to build a business like that.’ And that is going to be my ticket out of this freaking mess.
So, I went out and with my kid brother I built. I know you are going to ask me about Mixergy, but we are going to get there.
Andrew: I’ll give you a quick history here. With my kid brother, we created an Internet company called Bradford and Reed. And our idea was e-mail newsletters. You are going to sign up to our e-mail newsletters. Give us your e-mail address. Tell us that you want a joke a day, or a trivia a day. Whatever it is, we will send it to you everyday along with an ad, and I knew I could sell ads, so I sold those ads. And we built a business.
It didn’t take anything to have that business. I mean, we didn’t have computers. Here, let me tell you this. This is how we were. We couldn’t even afford computers. We were goofy looking poor kids.
Andrew: Couldn’t afford a computer, so here is what we did. I called up Staples, and I said, ‘Hey. What is your return policy on computers?’ The woman on the phone says, ’90 day return policy on everything.’
Andrew: ‘Hold on, no no. I don’t mean like a stapler, I mean on a computer.’ She goes, ’90 days. You can return it back in 90 days.’ I said, ‘Lady. You don’t know who you are telling this to. I’m crazy. I am going to use your computer everyday for 89 days and then when day 90 comes I am going to pack it up. I am going to return it to you. And then I’ll go buy another computer. Does 90 days still stand?’ She said, ‘Yes, sir.’ I said, ‘I’ll take seven.’
Boom. Next day. Staples had next day delivery. They sent me seven computers. That is what we used to send out our e-mail newsletters. Got a credit card. Paid for it on credit card. Day 90, I returned it and got back. Talk about hustling? That is the kind of hustling we had in order to build our business.
We built it up. E-mail newsletters were going OK, but spammers started getting into the web. Nobody wanted to join an e-mail newsletter because they were worried about spam. So, then we moved on to online greeting cards, and that became the big hit for us. People say, I think, we revealed recently that we did 30 plus million dollars in business. But, the majority of it came from greeting cards. Very profitable.
We also did a site called Grab.com and a bunch of other businesses. All funded just by the growth of these companies. So, eventually we were able to afford our own computers. We didn’t need to keep going back to Staples over and over. All that was good.
Andrew: And, sure enough, I hired somebody to dress me, so I wouldn’t wear those purple pants. Hired somebody to give me a look. Right now I don’t need the look anymore. I discovered once you have confidence you don’t need any of that. I wish I had that in high school, but maybe it served me for the best that I didn’t have it.
Andrew: I did hire somebody to dress me. She bought me suits. All these cool New York black suits, tee shirts. It cost two or three hundred bucks for a tee shirt.
Andrew: I know that because I bought so many of them that I didn’t even wear them all. I had labels on some of them when I sold the company. I looked. Excuse me, I need water. And so, I said, ‘Alright.’ I got somebody to dress me. Life is OK. But I am still now burning out. Everyday, all I do is work. I would like to explore other things. I would like to be able to go out and date.
I’d like to be able to go out and run or learn how to enjoy a vacation. I didn’t even know how to enjoy a vacation. In my head, the only vacation somebody could take was sitting on the beach. I said, ‘I can’t just sit on the beach. That’s not me. Just sitting on the beach?’
Andrew: You know? So, I thought vacations weren’t for me. Until I went out, sold the company, sold the assets, the majority of them. We still have a handful of them. The majority of the assets were sold and I went to discover the non-business portion of my life. And that’s when I learned vacations could actually be fun. They could be adventurous. They could be challenging. They could be intellectually stimulating. Vacations don’t have to be sitting by the beach.
In fact, even now when I go to Beach City, I want to go out and run. I want to go out and do water sports. But, I don’t want to just sit there. And I did finally learn how to date. I learned how. One of the things that I said to myself was, ‘I want to learn how to go and approach a girl no matter where she is.’
Andrew: I know how to make cold calls, but do I know how to talk to a girl at a bar? Do I know how to talk to a girl at a party? Which is in many ways harder, because at a party you have got your friends who are watching you. Do I know how to do any of this stuff? I said, ‘No. But I am going to learn it.’
And I did. I forced myself. It was like business. Every day I would get up and I would say, ‘I am going to go out and talk to a stranger.’ Not just one. If there is a girl, I am going to go and talk to her. If there is anyone out there, I am going to just figure out how to have a natural, normal human conversation that doesn’t involve me trying to sell them something.
And it worked out well. And then I said, ‘OK. Life now needs to have meaning. I need to do something with my life that I can leave as a legacy. That I can be like the people who I read about.’ In addition to reading biographies of guys like Ted Turner, I was moved by people like Dale Carnegie. Dale Carnegie is a guy who taught how to win friends and influence people. In Manhattan. He went and he put all of his ideas in a book, ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People,’ and it was such a huge hit, he became like a celebrity of his time from it.
And people, for years, politicians, business people, considered it their favorite book. I loved it and was moved by it so much that I went, when I was in college, I knocked on the door of Dale Carnegie & Associates, and I said, ‘You guys have to hire me.’ Even if it is for free. In fact, I’d rather it be for free, so that I can just come in here and feel like I can go and learn from everybody.’ And I said, ‘I want to be a little bit like that. I want to be able to create ideas like that, that influence people long after I’m dead.’
And that is Mixergy. Mixergy is my way of saying, ‘I want to be like them. I want to give back the way that they did.’ Not in their same way, but the way that they did. And maybe give back isn’t the right phrase.
Andrew: Maybe it is create a legacy the way that they did. And so what I am doing now is I am interviewing entrepreneurs about how they built their business. I want to find out directly from people who are doing things. How they do it. Because do you know what you have in this world? A lot of people who are great speakers. A lot of people who are great authors. Who write books about what it takes to succeed. But, they are always off.
When was the last time that you saw a success book that said, ‘Hey, you know what? In order to succeed, you have to have insecurities, and you have to have, the only way out of those insecurities is the goal that you are going to have. No. Mostly what they say is, ‘Find yourself. Have a well balanced life.’
Andrew: ‘Learn to enjoy the flowers on the way to work. And understand that there is an after work, where you can enjoy conversations with people,’ and blah, blah, blah. I see entrepreneurs who succeed. These guys are freaking mental patients who very often don’t do anything but work. Right?
Owen: [laughs] Totally understand.
Andrew: There is a reason why a lot of successful people have so many relationship breakdowns. Because they spend so much time away from the relationship, they shouldn’t even be calling it a relationship. They should be calling it, I don’t know what. Calling it a name. So, I want to find out directly from them. And do you know what I discovered? That there are a lot of people who are like me. Who had that kind of ferocity.
But there are also a lot of people who I never envisioned would have succeeded. Because they didn’t have my same philosophy. There are some people who do sometimes wake up and say, ‘I just want to do what I love. And what I love is writing for a big audience. And that audience loves technology as much as I do.’ I’m thinking about the founder of a non-tech. He never wanted to be rich, even though he is doing three million dollars a year now with a website about technology. That wasn’t his goal.
He said, ‘I just love technology. I wanted to write about it. What was in it for me, Andrew, is not money. If I wrote a good piece and I had a good audience, then a hardware company would send me free hardware. And I would get to play with that free hardware and evaluate it and tell people about it and talk about it. And that is what drove him.
And so what I am discovering in researching all of these people is there are a lot of different ways to do it. And the goal is to just learn from as many of them as possible. And once you discover that there is lots of different ways, you don’t try to conform yourself to my way.
Somebody who is listening to this, maybe in the beginning of my conversation here, would have said, ‘Well, Andrew is ferocious. And he gave up all dating. I should give up all dating.’ It may not be them. Now that they are hearing the latter part of the conversation, definitely after they listen to some of my interviews on Mixergy, they’ll realize, ‘Oh, there are lots of different ways. I need to find my path and I will take a little bit from here and there the way that a chef might learn from other people’s cooking.’ So, there is the answer to your question in ten minutes.
Owen: Wow, that was a very good intro. I really enjoyed it. And also, as you said, you’ve had this whole need to find something that you can leave behind as a legacy, right?
Owen: That was your own purpose for doing it. But, how did you discover that there was actually a need for something like Mixergy?
Andrew: Because when I had a tough time at work, there was a period there where we were losing money. And I needed to find a solution. And everything was on my shoulders. I would get up everyday and it was just like sleepwalking through the day. It was just, ‘Man. Another day. I just want to watch TV. Or I want to just go home and read and bliss out and forget about life. This is what happened to me? Why did I take these risks? Now I am going to have to get a job where I am going to have to pay off all this debt. What am I going to do?’
I went out and I saw this self-improvement guru. And this guru had people dancing around and getting them all jazzed up. And he said, ‘The answer to life is all this. And the answer to life is do good. And if you put a smile on your face, you will be happy. And if you be happy, then you will get happy.’
Andrew: ‘And you will make other people happy and life will be OK.’ And you know what? I was a dope that I did all that. I was going around and saying, ‘Alright. If I need to help somebody, why don’t I do it?’ It didn’t work. And it wasn’t really related to what the real world was. And I realized that these guys are good at speaking.
And there is a talent at speaking. And there is a talent to presenting ideas. And no doubt, what they say is inspiring. And no doubt that that inspirational loan can fire you up and help you come up with your own ideas and get you energized to even go to work, let alone come up with a solution to your problem.
But, having said that, they don’t know the tactics. They don’t know the methods. They don’t know the mindsets of people who are in there, in business, doing real business. I said, ‘What if I can get those guys to talk?’ Well, most of them are kind of freaking boring. You can’t just put them out there and have them speak for an hour. Have them write a book. They have got other things going on in their lives.
Andrew: So, I said, ‘What if it is just interviews? What if I just talk to them and have quiet conversations about what they did? Give them room to admit their failures. Give them room to admit the mistakes that they’ve made in their lives. Give them room to do all kinds of things. To just be themselves. What would happen then?’ And that is what Mixergy is.
Owen: Definitely. I was researching the history and I saw that you actually started out with events, previously, right? So, how did that transcend from you doing events to what it is now, with live Skype one-on-one interviews? Just what goes through that process?
Andrew: It happened because of a failure. So, what happened was, I remember being on Venice Beach, just kind of hanging out. My hanging out involved, at the time, reading the Wall Street Journal. And I kept reading about this guy, Howard Dean. He was a governor from nowhere with no real following. No real chance of making it. Who suddenly had a huge following and a big chance at making it. He was a frontrunner.
And, I said, ‘Why is he the frontrunner?’ And it turned out, what he was doing was going online. I said, ‘Alright. I know online.’ But, he was doing something else called meet-ups. Where people would get together in communities in their own towns and cities. And they would meet about how to support Howard Dean. And how to build the cause that Howard Dean stood for.
Andrew: And by meeting, they would come up with ideas that Howard Dean never would have. They would be active in a way that Howard Dean couldn’t have hired people to be active. And it was national, because they could do this on their own without permission from him. So, I said, ‘I need to do that too. About self-improvement. About business.’
We get businesspeople in a room together to talk business. Businesspeople to exchange ideas and the same power that gravitated Howard Dean’s mission will push my mission towards building an environment where genuinely successful people teach what they learned to other ambitious people.
The problem is, I was doing the events on my own, and I got distracted by creating an invitation platform. Because I said, ‘Alright. I am doing my own events. I got to have my own invitations site.’ Well, I am a guy who has had success online. I could build an invitation site in no time. I will just build it quickly.
I built it quickly, and I said, ‘Alright. Now I need to add this, and I need to add that.’ Nobody else said that they wanted me to add this. This was just me in my head saying, ‘I need this and I need that.’
Andrew: And I didn’t want to be in that space. So, it wasn’t something that got me up in the morning. It wasn’t something that got me going in the morning. It was just like this obligation that just kept getting bigger and bigger because I kept adding and adding to it. And meanwhile, the events I was getting distracted from. And they weren’t going on message.
People would come to the events. I paid for them out of my own pocket for a long time. People would come to the events and say, ‘This is great. There’s free food.’
Andrew: I said, ‘No. This isn’t what I am doing this about.’ And over a course of a few months and maybe even about a year, trying different things, I ended up saying to myself, ‘I need to just be clear about what my mission is.’ And then let everything else come out of that. Or let at least the whole thing fail, because the mission wasn’t strong enough to support it. Or at least because I wasn’t piling on top of the mission well enough.
But, let’s start with the mission and be clear about it. And so that’s why I started doing interviews with successful people and finding out about how they built their business. But, when I do those interviews, I start out very clearly stating the goal is to do interviews with entrepreneurs and successful businesspeople for an audience of ambitious upstarts.
And I say ambitious upstarts because, number one, most people aren’t that ambitious. If you ask them what they want to do in life, is just get by. And, frankly, there are times in my life, in my weakest points, where all I wanted is just to get by. Give me a good job where I could just have somebody guide me, because I don’t know what to do with my life. And I don’t have direction.
And so I would look to the potential job as my daddy and mommy. They were going to guide me. And, I needed it, you know? There were times that I wanted that. So, there are people who feel that way. There are mostly people out there who really don’t have ambition but have aspirations. And they are aspirations for what to buy. They are aspirations to buy the perfect television set. To buy the perfect trip. They are not aspirations to do something big.
So, I want that small group of people who have ambition. Who say, ‘You know what? My life will not be complete unless I do this big thing. And all those therapists and psychiatrists are going to tell me that I need to accept life as is. Phooey with them. I am not going to go to them.’
Andrew: ‘My life will not be complete until I do certain things. And you can’t talk me out of it, therapist. And you can’t talk me out of it, pop modern psychology. And you can’t talk me out of it, self-improvement gurus, who tells me that smelling the flowers is as building an incredible company that gives people direction and gives them something that they love to engage in and creates happy customers. That you can walk down the street and hear two people talk about how exciting it was to interact with your company. No amount of self help wisdom is going to give you that amount of pleasure.
And so the ambition part comes from that. And the upstart comes from the fact that, you know what? There are people in this world who have it made from day one. Day one, they are born, they don’t have to really work that hard. I was listening to Billy Joel’s daughter on Howard Stern the other day. Howard Stern would never have had her on if she wasn’t Billy Joel’s daughter.
The woman hadn’t made a name for herself. The guy doesn’t allow most people on the show as it is. Most musicians on. In fact, he has very few guests anyway. He has this woman on. Why? Because we want to listen to her? Because we were demanding her? No. Why? Because she made such a name for herself that he had to have her on? No. Because she is Billy Joel’s daughter.
Billy Joel, in the morning, made a cup of coffee for her. Billy Joel, in the morning, must have given her advice on how to conduct herself in front of the camera. How to conduct herself when she is asked shocking questions and what happens if she slips up when she is playing her music or she is singing and her voice just goes in the wrong direction or an instrument goes in the wrong direction.
She has Billy Joel to do that for her. She is not an up-start. She started up in the world. You know? With a leg up.
Owen: [laughs] Yeah.
Andrew: There are a lot of people like that, right? You’ve got Michael Douglas, no question about it, he has got a lot of talent. A lot of skill. He was a hard worker. I will give him all those things. But, you know what? I have lived in LA. A lot of people have all that. And the looks and the talent and the everything. But, they are not Kirk Douglas’s son.
And so Kirk Douglas didn’t get to help them hone their craft. And Kirk Douglas didn’t get to introduce them around. Kirk Douglas didn’t get to let them feel that when you wake up in the morning, the people on TV aren’t other people. When you wake up in the morning, the people on are my friends. That life is attainable to you.
So he is not a up-start. He is a guy who started with a leg up in the world. Those people aren’t my audience. Those people who aren’t who I am looking to help out. Those people don’t need my help. Those people don’t even know who the hell I am. And those people don’t know what a podcast is and they are not going to figure out how to get this stuff on their iPod or on their Zune or on their whatever it is that they happen to have and got for Christmas and they are going to deal with it.
I want to help those other people.
Owen: Definitely. So now you get the idea of what you want to do. How do you now go out there and approach successful entrepreneurs to come on your show? And not only that, how do you get them comfortable enough to want to come on and share their insights?
Andrew: OK. Two questions in that. The first is how do you get people to come on? I still use the same sales techniques that I learned as a kid when I was reading those business books. You do things like you ask for referrals. Anytime I interview somebody, I think, who else could they introduce me to? Anytime, in the early days, what I used to do, when I did an interview, I’d say, ‘Hey, if you know anyone else I should interview’, I’d tell the audience, ‘introduce me to them.’
So, I keep asking for referrals. One-on-one requests are especially powerful. Imagine you just finished an interview with me and you are interested in somebody else who I interviewed. And you ask me right away, ‘Can you introduce me to that person?’
Andrew: I am much more likely to do it than if you randomly asked somebody. Than if you even asked that person randomly. So I ask for a lot of referrals. What else do I do? I keep my requests short. A lot of people are very embarrassed in life to ask anything. And I see it, because they will send me e-mails asking for an interview, and the e-mail will be very long. And I feel for them. Because what they are trying to do is set me up for the request for the interview. And then at the bottom of that long e-mail is the request.
No. You have to say, ‘This is what I am coming here to ask you for. Now, let me tell you why you should do this.’ You never walk into a car lot, and hear, ‘What the hell am I doing here?’ You know? No. He goes, ‘I know what I am going to do here. I am going to try to sell you a car. Now, you can be on the defensive. You could be on the offensive with me. You could be reluctant. You could be informed. Whatever it is. But we know what is going to happen here. I am going to try to sell you a car. Let’s get it on.’
So, by the way, going back to dating. That is one of the things I needed to learn, too. I couldn’t befriend a girl for 25 years and then hope that one day she discovers that I am potentially date worthy and starts to kiss me.
Andrew: No. I’ve got to be very clear. Even if we are just hanging out. You know what you do? Here is what I discovered you do. You are just hanging out? You toss out some kind of reference to her body, or toss out some reference to her interests. This stuff is coming into my head anyway. I feel it. Why am I hiding that part, but I am heightening my need to just be friends?
So you want to be very clear. This is what I am asking for. I am asking for an interview. This is when it is going to be. I am going to make it that easy for you. Ask very clearly. Be unafraid to ask. Ask for referrals. And here is the last thing. Get turned down. Get turned down a lot. I ask so many people. You know, the best people in this industry have turned me down. You know Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn?
Andrew: He turned me down. He is doing tons of stuff. He turned me down. You know how many people turn me down? Marco, the founder of Instapaper. He decided he was working on Instapaper, he was working on Tumblr. And he said, ‘You know what? I’m done with Tumblr, I’ve done a good job here, but it is time for me to transition away. I’ll only work on Instapaper.’ It was big news in the tech community.
Andrew: I e-mailed him and I said, ‘Can I do an interview?’ He said, ‘Andrew, you don’t understand. I got this going on. You know, I am leaving Tumblr after so many years, it’s my last week here. I’ve got Instapaper going. I’ve got to make sure that this transitions over at Tumblr to the right people. I can’t do interviews.’
I wake up the next day. The same day, he is doing an interview with TechCrunch. The next day I wake up, he is doing an interview with the New York Times. He turned me down. Should be an insult. But, you know what? You’ve got to accept it. Life is a numbers game. So that is how I get people to do it. I just keep asking and I am not afraid to get shot down.
Because even if I am the most pathetic requester and the least likely to do an interview with someone, that means I have a one in a 100 chance of getting a yes. That means I just have to send out 100 requests and I will get my one yes. So, that is what I do. I send out 100 requests to 100 people. And thankfully, hopefully, I am going to say this, I am a little more charming than the one in 100. Hopefully, I am a little more desirable as an interviewer. A little more attentive to my guests and a little more aware of what my audience wants to hear.
And so I don’t have one in 100. But, if it was one in 1000, I would be willing to go 1000. And I would also be willing to spend time to figure out how I could reduce my odds to one in 100. That is how I get them.
Now, how do I ask them the shocking questions? By just doing it everyday. Everything that I do well, I have to do everyday. There are some people who are just born with a talent. I listen to Gary V. Gary Vaynerchuk, he turned his Internet celebrity into real world celebrity into businesses. You ask him, what does it take to succeed? He says, ‘Find your talent and go and do that talent.’
You know what? I don’t do that. I am the opposite. I understand if you have a talent, like Gary V, to talk, you want to do it all you can, you want to keep bringing an audience. I can’t do that. It’s not me. For me, it is find what you want out of life. Even if you don’t have the talent, screw that. Do it everyday, keep improving it until it becomes like a talent.
Until most people think, ‘Man. That Andrew Warner is talented. That Andrew Warner has the ability to go and talk to girls. That Andrew Warner has the ability to built a business. He must have been (__) that.’ No. I spent all this time building, what I call, and what is, actually, a skill, not a talent. So, the early interviews that I did, (__) sweat, really coming down. I swear to you, there was just sweat coming down my armpit.
Andrew: Just from doing that interview. I would ramble and maybe I am rambling now. But, it was a different kind of ramble, because it would go in lots of different directions and I was asking a question and rambling. But, I kept doing it everyday. And I kept learning from everything that I did. And I tried everything.
I did an interview with Timothy Sykes. This guy told me that when he went on CNBC, he had a little bit to drink. Again, not something that you hear self-improvement guys talk about. ‘I had a little to drink. That’s why I did well.’ I said to myself, ‘Alright. He had a drink. I am going to give it a shot.’
Andrew: So, I had a shot of whiskey before I went on camera.
Andrew: Didn’t really work. So, I had another shot of whiskey. I didn’t get drunk. But, I got tired. It was just, like, I couldn’t continue, I was so exhausted.
Andrew: So that didn’t work. But, I tried something else, and I tried something else, and in time I got better and better. And, sometimes I ask questions and they land. Sometimes, I ask questions and they don’t land. But eventually, I’ll get better and better at it.
I used to actually ask people, I said, ‘I need to get personal in my interviews.’ So, I asked questions like, ‘So, when did you lose your virginity?’ And guests would tell you. Who knew? But, some would, some wouldn’t. But, the audience didn’t like it. It wasn’t really relevant to my work. So, I thought, ‘Alright, maybe that’s not a great question.’
Andrew: And I said, ‘Well, how much are you making?’ And the audience liked it. So I kept that going. Some people don’t like it, so I back off a little bit and ask for more feedback. So, that’s how I got better and better.
Owen: So, basically it is just you testing different things to see what works. And sometimes when you have guests on the show, because I always listen to the show, sometimes with the questions and to see how they react to the questions, that is what I love about the show. Is seeing the facial expressions. ‘Should I answer the question or should I back off the question?’ That is beautiful.
And being the fact that you are on the Internet. You have become somebody who entrepreneurs come to because you have all these guests coming on your show to share all of their insights, I am sure you have to deal with naysayers. People on the Internet who probably don’t like what you do. So, how does someone deal with that? Say you are going on the Internet to be a resource and you now have people speaking negatively about you. How do you deal with that?
Andrew: I remember one of the first weeks of high school, walking through the hallway and hearing two girls talk about some guy. And I said, ‘Huh.’ Or they were upset that someone was talking about them. And, I said, ‘Upset that someone is talking about you? How can anyone be upset by that? At least they know you exist.’Here I am, I am standing right behind you. You are talking on like I don’t even exist.
Andrew: It’s not so bad that people talk about you badly. Same thing, I think, online. How many people are just publishing stuff, and nobody knows they exist. To even be talked about badly means that someone is paying attention. And you know what? If that person is paying enough attention, in time, they are going to be convinced, or maybe they are not a good fit.
But, at least they are paying attention and they are sampling you, you know? If I am an apple sitting there with hundreds of apples at the grocery store, I want to be at least the apple that somebody is feeling. Even if they pressing hard on it to figure out if they are the right one. Let them press hard on it to figure out if I am the right guy for them. If I am the right person to listen to.
That’s the first thing I would say about that. And the second thing I’d say is that there was a community online that hated me. That would see my videos and they would make fun of how fast I spoke. They would talk about how I came across like a salesman. Hey, you know what? Coming across like a salesman is not necessarily a bad thing.
All of them, I guarantee you, would love to learn how to sell. But instead, they are laughing at people who are salesmen. Alright, fine. That’s what they were doing. I said, ‘I am going to call them up. I am going to e-mail them. I am going to comment online. I am going to ask them for feedback.’
Because you know what? What I know is, Gary Vaynerchuk may know he is a great speaker. I know I am a horrible speaker. I am getting better at it. But, I am a horrible speaker. I can learn a lot. If they give me a little bit of feedback, I will improve. So, they did. And it took me a long time to hear the feedback that they were giving me and to understand that it was the right direction to go on.
And I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t just listening to the loudest people in the group, but was listening to people who had useful information for me. And I just kept asking them, ‘Alright. I am new at this. I suck. What do I do to get better? What is it that you don’t like?’ And that disarmed them. Instead of attacking me, they suddenly understood I was a real human being and not just some guy online.
Andrew: And I think that they understood that I was genuinely looking to improve. And I think they gave me useful feedback. And in time it all helped. And I think with some of them I won them over. Not to my cause, but at least to understanding that I am here to help. That I am here to really do something and I am sincere.
Owen: Definitely. I totally get that. And also, just the fact that a lot of people on the Internet are sharing good content. So, it becomes this whole flood of content. How does one actually find one’s voice? How do you stand out?
Andrew: I am still doing that myself. So, I can’t say exactly, this is how I found my voice. But, I will tell you something. Everybody in interview business looks up to Charlie Rose. He is the great interviewer. Charlie Rose is the genius of geniuses when it comes to interviewing. And, you know what? I accept it. He is really good. I am such a fan of Charlie Rose, I pay for his interviews so I can listen to him on my iPod. On my iPhone. I love that guy.
He did a piece, an interview, with Fortune magazine, where he talked about his life and he talked about his career. And they pointed out that earlier on, when he was on PBS and none of us were watching him. When he was just getting his legs and getting his voice, he would ramble with his questions. He would ask a question and explain it and re-explain it and re-explain it so much that Saturday Night Live actually parodied him.
Andrew: And somebody, I think, who he was asking a question, grabbed him and choked him or something like that and basically said, ‘Tell me the question. What’s the question already?’
Andrew: So here is a guy who is now an expert questioner who sucked even back then. And this was after he was on television. After he had his own TV show. After he had that hour long conversation with people on PBS. And, if he needed to get to that level, and he needed time to get there, and he failed at first, then God knows, I could use that kind of time. And I could fail for a long time before I consider this failure, or my ability to speak a failure. And I am willing to put the time in. I am willing to put the time in for anything.
And if I could learn how to have conversations that don’t relate to business and just naturally talk to somebody. You and I are going to meet at an event tomorrow night.
Andrew: Ten years ago, that would have freaked me out. There was one event that I remember at the height of my success. I was going to go out to some kind of tech event. And, I said, ‘Let’s meet these people who I keep reading about in all the magazines and all the websites who are reporting on our industry.’ Like the Rolling Stone magazine reporting on the Rolling Stones, the band.
I went there. I stood across the street from the event, and I couldn’t bring myself to even walk in. I swear, it was on Houston Street in Manhattan. That is how they pronounce Houston street. They pronounce is Houston Street, in Manhattan. It was right across from the Puck Building. The party was in the Puck Building. I stood there and I chickened out and I didn’t go into the event.
In time, I got so good that people thought that it was because I made so much money that I felt that everything was just going to work out for me. That I could buy a conversation. They know that you can’t buy a conversation. It took a lot of practice. A lot of working on myself. A lot of experimenting and failing. The same thing that happened here. Or, maybe I do this for a long time and I realize I don’t have the passion to see it through all the way.
But, at least I am willing to come in here and show up everyday and work like mad everyday to do my interviews and to put in the time. And I look back, this is a very long conversation on high school, but high school influenced me. Not as much as it did other people, but it influenced me. One of the things that influenced me was not becoming student body President.
Here I was, a nobody, who said, ‘I am going to become student body President.’ I said, ‘It’s not enough for me to be student body President. I am going to make these big banners. Giant, with my name on it, and put it up on the walls of the school.’ First of all, to do anything with your name on it and that big is kind of gaudy. And to ask for votes is kind of sad and pathetic. And to do it in such a big way means that if you fail, everybody will know you failed.
But, I said, ‘I am going to do it anyway.’ And, Bart Simpson was big at the time in the school. There were tee shirts with Bart Simpson. I printed out Bart Simpson and I said, ‘Bart Simpson would vote for me.’ And put it up all over the building. And I just kept putting myself out there.
And, man, not only did I not become student body President, but there were so many people competing, I think six, that they said the person who has the most votes doesn’t really have the majority of the votes. Why don’t we take out these three losers who didn’t even make it to the top three in this voting structure and have a revote with just those three people. And we will get rid of the losers. I was one of the losers.
And I didn’t make it. Now, that should be a scar that is so painful that I never put myself out there again. But, instead, it was a badge of honor. I always was proud that I at least did everything possible. That I didn’t go to sleep the day that I lost and say to myself, ‘What if I had the courage to speak up and say I wanted people’s vote? What if I had the courage to speak up and say I am in the running? What if I had the courage to put up a banner or to try this or to try that?’
No. I tried everything that I could, and it didn’t fail, and you know what? When you are out there and you put out everything, failure isn’t so bad. And I am not going to minimize failure. I don’t want to fail in life. But, there is something so much worse than failure. And that is living with yourself when you didn’t try.
Andrew: All those years that we talked about, dating, when I would go out with my friends, out to some kind of bar or party or club, and there would be a girl who I thought was interested, or I was interested in her, and I would say, ‘Go up there and talk to her,’ and I didn’t. That was a painful thing to go back home to. That was a painful thing to realize that you can’t even, in the short time that we have on Earth.
You want this little thing, a conversation, a try. To see if there is some kind of connection there. And you can’t even do that? And you want something out of your life? And you want to be someone in this life? And you can’t even do that? If you can’t do that, how could you do any of it? What do you mean? What are you? Who are you if you can’t do that?
You are just another wanna-be in a world full of wannabes. And you walk around Manhattan, everybody is grandiose and has big dreams in Manhattan. I remember hearing a homeless man in Manhattan talk about how he was going to own a Bentley and be one of the richest people in Manhattan.
You go home and you say to yourself, ‘If he is talking that way, and in my head I am talking that way, and he doesn’t have any substance to him, and I want substance to me. I have to understand that just saying it isn’t enough substance.’ You have to work hard. You have to take those risks.
So, if I take a risk and it doesn’t pan out, at least I’ve taken a step that he is not willing to take. At least I’ve taken a step that the younger me wouldn’t have taken. And I know in time, because numbers eventually work out, if you do it enough, you will have a hit. There it is.
Owen: Definitely that is a good point you made. And you have interviewed at least over 100 entrepreneurs. And I have just personally been going through all the interviews just to learn as much as possible for myself. And I want to find out from you, you have interviewed so many people, so many successful entrepreneurs. What can you take away, something that you think is similar to all of them that you feel you can share with my audience?
Andrew: A big thing that I see over and over again, and I actually have an interview with someone in a few minutes here, where I will probably hear the same thing. A big message over and over again is when I ask them, ‘What was that first version like?’ I always listen to that answer. And that answer is usually, ‘Crappy.’
I talked to Neil Patel yesterday about launching, which one of his websites did we talk about? Crazy Egg. I said, ‘What was that first version like?’ He said, ‘It barely worked.’ The first version wasn’t perfect. Wasn’t polished. Didn’t do everything that he imagined it would do. Didn’t do everything that he hoped it would do. But he released it.
You see the same thing across the board. That first version stinks, but they are willing to put it out there. It is really hard to make that first version work well. You have to really toss a lot of resources. And people who do, often, what happens is they end up failing. They end up with that perfect version that in their head is perfect, but in the world doesn’t jive with what everyone else wants.
Andrew: The reason that it is important to just start out with that failure is you get the feedback from people. You get to see what is working, you get to see what is not. You get a reality check and you get to keep improving on it. The problem is, the wannabes are afraid to suck. The wannabes in anything are afraid to suck. I am now hopefully going to get to do the Marine marathon in D.C. in about a month.
A friend of mine can’t make it and I am hopefully going to get his ticket to do it. I now run marathons. I used to be a kid who in gym class would find a way out of it. How did I do it? Because I finally was willing to look ridiculous. For a long time, I didn’t want to go out there and run, because I said, ‘What if all these people who are running in elementary school and running as adults, who are fit, who have abs? They could call their abs names like ‘The Situation’.’
Owen: [laughs] Yeah.
Andrew: What if all those people see me and they say, ‘You are just a poser. You don’t look right. Those aren’t the right shorts.’ What if they see my legs? Look at me. I’m Middle Eastern. Do you know how hairy I am?
Andrew: What if they see my legs, and they say, ‘Oh, that is such a hairy pair of legs and he is running around? That’s embarrassing.’ Or if I shave it down a little bit: ‘Oh my, the vanity on that Middle Eastern guy. Put a turban on it instead of shaving it down. That’s ridiculous.
Andrew: But, I finally said, screw it. I’ll look ridiculous and I’ll take that first effort is when I made the first step towards getting better and better. And, of course, the next step is to just get better and better. And not just say, ‘Hey, I did it. I had a sucky first version, now I am moving on.’ So, there’s that answer.
Owen: Thank you very much. I really enjoyed interviewing you. Like I told the audience, I always listen to your interviews and I am suggesting the audience do that. As a matter of fact, let me let you do that. Where can they get ahold of you?
Andrew: Guys, I picked a crummy name. I apologize. It means you are going to have to do a little more work. But, it also means that I get to weed out some of the wannabes. The website is Mixergy. You are going to misspell it, you are going to mispronounce it. So, I am going to give it to you again. M-I-X-E-R-G-Y. Mixergy.com. Go over there and I’ll find you.
Owen: Thank you very much for coming on the show.
Andrew: Thanks for doing an interview. I appreciate it. Thanks for having me on.