Sean D’Souza doesn’t want to grow his company!

Sean D’Souza is making good money with his site. $500,000 per year. Consistently. Every year.

He says he doesn’t want more. He’s happy. Comfortable. All good, thank you.

Are you skeptical? Intrigued? Catch this interview. Trust me.

Sean D'Souza

Sean D'Souza

PsychoTactics

Sean D’Souza is the creator of PsychoTactics which teaches why customers buy and why they don’t.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, everyone. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.com. Hey, what happened to my upbeat intro? I think I’m trying to be more conversational in my intros. But maybe it makes more sense to say hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I am the founder of Mixergy.com. It is home of the ambitious upstart.

I’m also trying to learn how to slow down my talk. I’ve been listening to my old interviews, Sean and I’m talking really fast on some of them. I’m talking like a New Yorker and I’ve got to talk more like a Californian–slower.

Anyway, this interview is with a guy who I kind of introduced right now or I addressed. His name is Sean D’Souza. Sean is the creator of a company called Psychotactics, which teaches people why customers buy and why they don’t. I invited him here to talk about how he built his businesses. That’s frankly what I’m about here at Mixergy. I want to talk to entrepreneurs really about what they did to grow their companies.

This interview is sponsored by two great, fantastic companies. The first one you probably have heard of if you listen to my interviews. It’s ContentPromotion.com. Later on I’ll tell you why if you’re looking to promote your content you should check them out. The second one is a new sponsor, CloudSponge. If you are looking to get more people to use your product, they’re going to show you how email could do it for you. I’ll tell you more about them later too.

But first, I’ve got to welcome Sean. Good to have you here, Sean.

Sean: Nice to be here.

Andrew: Sean, I’m checking out your website with my audience in mind. And I know they’re going to look at this and say, “Dude, Andrew, this is just a WordPress blog. It’s got the same three-column layout that was popular back when blogging started. This is the company that you’re profiling here on Mixergy?” And you say to that what?

Sean: I say to that it works. It works really well. It’s given us a lifestyle that a lot of people envy. We take three months off every year. We’ve done so since 2004. We create products that we want, not that the public necessarily–not driven by, say, crowdsourcing or searches on the Internet. We create stuff exactly–products that we want, services that we want, workshops that we want. We are very, very happy. It’s a happy website.

Andrew: I’ll ask you about the products in a moment, but how much revenue are you doing with this business?

Sean: We decided in 2007 that we didn’t want to exceed half a million dollars. It was a choice.

Andrew: So, you do half a million in sales. What do you do to stop yourself from making more?

Sean: No, it’s not half million in sales. It’s half a million in net profits.

Andrew: Oh, and what kind of revenue are you doing then to get half a million in profit?

Sean: I don’t know. But our expenses aren’t very high. So, it’s not like we’re making a million and then it’s half a million. It’s probably another $50,000.

Andrew: Wow. So, what’s the problem with going to $600,000 in profit or spending some time and building it up to $1 million?

Sean: My job is not to increase my revenue and it’s not to defeat the competition. It is to create better stuff, to create stuff that is so powerful, so good that for us, it becomes–our business is like Hotel California. You can check out anytime but you can never leave.

Andrew: Okay. How do you mean?

Sean: The point is if you create outstanding stuff, then clients will come back. You can explore that market and you can grow that market. For most people, that’s a natural way to go. They’re interested in more money. But for me, that’s not the way I look at things. I look at how can we create something better? How can we create–so, if I’ve written a book on how customers buy, that goes through–it’s almost like Photoshop. How do I make it version 1, version 1.2, 2, 2.2, 3? I’m looking to improve stuff. I’m not looking to necessarily double the income.

Andrew: You know, I know what you mean. I see a lot of people who run online education courses or info marketing products and they spend endless time talking about and thinking about marketing. I never hear them spend any time talking about, asking questions about, getting curious about how to improve the product, how to get more results for their customers. What you’re saying is that’s what you do.

Sean: Yes. A lot of it comes from feedback. We’ve had products, like say, we have a course, the article writing course. Now, it’s an info product. We have a course online. It’s run on what you would call pretty outdated software. We use just a phpBB3 forum and that’s it.

Now, what is the goal of you joining an article writing course? It is to be able to write outstanding articles, articles that can be published on BBC, CNN, any newspaper in the world, any magazine in the world that you can turn out on demand. That is the goal. If the clients don’t reach that goal, it doesn’t matter how great your product is.

Andrew: I see.

Sean: So, everything is designed to create consumption. So, when we look at everything out there, all the books on Amazon, at least in marketing, we see attraction and we see conversion. Ours is designed for consumption. So, we’re more interested in how do we get the customers to the end point. This is the great for software as well. You’ll design stuff and then no on uses it. What is the point in all those features?

Andrew: So, the products–what are they?

Sean: We have live workshops. We have online courses and we have physical–I mean we have both physical products like books and courses that you can buy online. So, say for instance there’s a book called “The Brain Audit” that was written in 2002.

Andrew: I read that book.

Sean: That itself has sold over half a million dollars, a single book.

Andrew: “The Brain Audit” book?

Sean: Yes.

Andrew: Really?

Sean: Yes.

Andrew: All right. Wow. I bought it on Amazon Kindle. I’ve got it here on my screen.

Sean: So, it started out as a 16-page book. It went to a 20-pager. It’s now 180 pages and it’s version 3.2. There will be a version 4.0.

Andrew: “The Brain Audit” is about why customers buy and why they don’t. That’s your whole focus.

Sean: Correct.

Andrew: You want to create products that help your customers get more customers.

Sean: Correct.

Andrew: Using psychology to help them get more buyers.

Sean: Yes, using psychology, not using intimidation tactics, not using countdown clocks, not using stuff that drives people crazy. You can sell a lot of stuff if people like you. One of the things that we’ve found from our customers is that they don’t read our sales pages.

Andrew: Because your fonts, your text is so small.

Sean: Okay. But they buy.

Andrew: But they do buy.

Sean: They buy. So, for instance, now we’re having storytelling workshop in the US and in Europe. Most of the people–we send out an email to them and ask them, “So, which part of the sales page convinced you?” And they go, “We didn’t read the sales page.” So, there you go.

Andrew: So, let’s see how you got this, how you built it up and how you grow sales and understand a little bit about the psychology of sales. I’m looking at the cover of “The Brain Audit” and what I see is a cartoon on the cover. You drew that?

Sean: Yes, I did.

Andrew: That’s what you started out doing and then you read Jim Collins’ book–which one?

Sean: “Good to Great.”

Andrew: And it changed your direction, the direction of your life. What happened when you read that book?

Sean: I was on a flight. I used to live in India and then I moved to New Zealand and then we had to go back to India because we had to settle stuff. We had to sell the property and stuff like that. I had lots of time to think. I read the book. In Jim Collins’ book, he asks a question, “What can you be the best in the world at?” He asked two other questions, “What are you passionate about? How are you going to get any revenue from there?” So, it’s not enough to be the best in the world, get the revenue and are you passionate about it.

To me, the most critical question was what can be the best in the world at? At that point in time, I saw Calvin and Hobbes, the comic strip as the best in the world. In the year 2000, I didn’t think I could beat that. So, I decided the thing I did really better than anybody else was keep customers. Why did I keep customers? I had to deconstruct that. That’s why we started Psychotactics.

Andrew: Where did you keep customers when you were a cartoonist?

Sean: Surprisingly, a lot of people–what they really want is a relationship with you. Customers will say, “Well, I just want to buy your product. I don’t want a relationship with you.” When you look at some of the brands that we truly love, we want to know the story behind it. I’ve got these Bose QC20 now. These are the headphones. They are noise cancellation headphones. I want to know something about it. I want to know who designed it.

You look at the Segway, for instance. It’s such an amazing invention. You don’t know anything about Dean Kamen. You love the idea of owning a Segway. But you don’t know who Dean Kamen is and he’s the guy who invented the Segway.

Andrew: But what were you selling that you were so good at keeping customers?

Sean: Well, cartoons. To begin with, just cartoons.

Andrew: I see. Where did you sell cartoons?

Sean: Oh, to advertising agencies, to newspapers, to magazines.

Andrew: And what did you do to help them increase their sales or to help you increase sales with them?

Sean: I didn’t do anything at that point in time. A cartoonist is usually an illustrator.

Andrew: Yeah. What I’m saying is how did you know you were going to be so good at sales that should be your new focus?

Sean: Well, I started going to a networking meeting and I started speaking to people. They would tell me what they did. I would say, “Okay, so, here’s what you do.” They would speak for 15 minutes and I would put it in a couple of lines. They go, “You say it better than I do.”

Andrew: I see.

Sean: So, when you speak to 10 people, that’s cool, 15 people now you’re starting to pay attention to your own voice. People tell you. You’re just not listening the first time around. When I made this presentation on “The Brain Audit,” I didn’t know I wanted to do marketing. My only goal was to take a break, to go on vacation as a cartoonist and not lose any money, not see the revenues dip, not have competition move in. So, I created “The Brain Audit” for myself. It’s like all the products we create. It’s always me, me, me.

Andrew: So, you said, “I’m seeing that when I talk about customers and the way they think and about the mindset of selling to them, there’s something there that people are attracted to. I think I can do more of it and maybe that’s where I can be the best in the world.” Is that the thought process?

Sean: Yes.

Andrew: Okay. So, then you started–

Sean: It was very confusing at the start. It’s not as clear as it is today.

Andrew: Yeah. I don’t want to make it seem like everything is such a neat transition. You have this big realization from reading a book. Your life changes. As a result, you immediately build this new business that we’re here to talk about. I understand that it’s a lot less straightforward than that. But for the sake of storytelling and the sake of getting the interview done in less time than it took you to live your life, we’ll move a little faster, but I appreciate you saying that.

One of the things that is important for us to talk about is that you didn’t immediately start Psychotactics. What you then started doing was working for clients doing marketing for them, right?

Sean: Correct.

Andrew: Okay. One of them was a law firm, the other one was a sofa store.

Sean: Yes.

Andrew: Did you learn anything from working for those clients that allowed you then to start teaching other people how to sell? Did you learn anything by marketing?

Sean: I was totally out of my depth. I was what I’d call a fraud.

Andrew: Really?

Sean: Yes.

Andrew: So, what kind of work did you do for them as a fraud?

Sean: I knew more than they did.

Andrew: Okay.

Sean: Today I could go in and completely deconstruct the business, tell them exactly what to do, how to go about it, know how much they were going to do. So, I went in there as a consultant and as a consultant, you go, “Okay, there are 500 things that need to be fixed here.” You make a list of all the 500 things and no one does anything. Today I know that consumption is the most important thing. So, I would go in and say, “There are 500 things. Here is the first thing we can fix today.”

Andrew: I see. By consumption you mean that would get people to actually use the products that they paid for and if they used the products that they paid for, then they’re going to want to buy more stuff and more people are going to want to buy the things you’re making too.

Okay. So, you weren’t there yet but you were working for those other clients. You could make suggestions, you could give advice. They didn’t end up using the advice, but at least you were starting to use your marketing chops. One of the people you work for is a guy named Joe Vitale. How do you describe him?

Sean: I didn’t know him. These were the early days of the internet. We’re talking about around 2000. A lot of the websites were you look at Google or you look at most of the websites in 2000–nothing. He started selling eBooks. EBooks were this concept that just didn’t exist. They were selling them at $29, I think. A physical book was everything to everyone. It was selling at Borders and Barnes & Noble at $16.

Andrew: So, the same book that he was selling for $16 in a store he sold digitally online for twice that almost.

Sean: Yes.

Andrew: I see. That’s what opened your eyes.

Sean: Yes.

Andrew: Okay. And he’s an author. I didn’t know him that well. But in preparation for our conversation here today, I looked him up. He wrote books called “Zero Limits,” “The Attraction Factor,” “Hypnotic Writing,” “Attract Money Now”–that’s the one that’s got the weirdest cover. It’s him standing with his arms out and money just floating everywhere behind him, dollar bills. The missing secret–was he in the documentary, “The Secret?”

Sean: I have no idea. I lost track of him. But here’s what he did to us.

Andrew: Okay.

Sean: I wanted one of the books that he wrote online, which are none of the books that you mentioned right now. So, I said to him, “Let’s do a deal. I draw the cartoons for you and you give me your books.” So, he did that and then after that, I sent him some of my stuff that I had written, a 16-page book which is “The Brain Audit.” He said, “Okay, here’s what we’ll do. I have a list. Let’s promote this to a list. Do you have your credit card system up?” I said no. He said, “I’ll give you a week.”

Now, my wife and I had spent the whole two months working out–as I said, these were very early days of the internet–we spent a whole two months trying to figure out this whole thing of credit cards and he gave us a week. So, his job was to come in there, give us a kick, get the credit card system up and then he disappeared. He didn’t do the promotion.

Andrew: He didn’t end up doing the promotion?

Sean: He never did anything. He never showed up. I never spoke to him since.

Andrew: Okay.

Sean: He’s gone. But that book has gone on to sell a half a million dollars.

Andrew: So, I can see the value of having him give you a deadline and getting results. You had a credit card merchant account, which meant that you could start processing credit cards. You had your own book, not his to sell, right?

Sean: Correct.

Andrew: How did you start selling your own book which had fewer than two-dozen pages?

Sean: Someone bought it.

Andrew: Where?

Sean: On the website. We just put it on the website. We wrote some kind of crazy sales pitch. They bought it.

Andrew: What was the website that you put it up on?

Sean: On Psychotactics.

Andrew: Okay. How did you get people to come to Psychotactics to buy it?

Sean: Oh, we had a list. Back in the year 2000, I had a silly named website that was called Million Bucks. I’m embarrassed by it. It was called Million Bucks. I ran it for two years and I didn’t know why people wouldn’t recommend it.

Q And now looking back what do you say?

Sean: It sounds spammy, doesn’t it? It sounds creepy. It sounds weird.

Andrew: But then again, so does Ramit Sethi’s “I Will Teach You to Be Rich.” But the guy has owned up to the site and it’s done well for him. But I agree with you. A Million Bucks also doesn’t even feel like you. You’re the guy who doesn’t even want to earn a million bucks a year.

Sean: Exactly. I wouldn’t know what to do with it, frankly. A lot of people say, “Give it to me.” The point is I wouldn’t know what to do with it. I’m quite happy as I am. But to come back to the story–where were we?

Andrew: Wait, did you own the domain AMillionBucks.com?

Sean: .co.nz.

Andrew: Oh, .co.nz. Okay.

Sean: Yeah, or NZ.

Andrew: Is it N or M.

Sean: NZ, like New Zealand.

Andrew: I’m trying to look you up now on Internet Archive. Let’s see if I can find out what that page used to look like.

Sean: If you think our website now is bad… By the way, we’ve got a new website in the wings, it’s just that I haven’t had time to complete it. It will be up in Feb, maybe March.

Andrew: So, soon after this interview is going up.

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: I see the page now. All right. Same color scheme.

Sean: Yes. It was green, I think.

Andrew: Green, yeah. “Do you find it hard to keep existing customers while trying to grow new ones? In your constant search for new customers, do you seem to lose your current clients?” That’s the page. So, you’re building a mailing list here.

Sean: 1,000 people scrolled–if you scroll right down to the bottom of the page, there is no button. It says, “If you want to sign up, click here.” The only thing that’s click here, I don’t think there’s an underline either under the “click here.” And 1,000 people subscribed.

Andrew: That’s unreal. Okay. Oh, there we go. “To get your free copy, simply click here.” And if I click on that, I’m taken to signup.html where I can put in my name. I could, in the dropdown menu tell you how I found you and then I could either click the clear button or the subscribe button.

Sean: Exactly.

Andrew: Remember when pages used to have a whole button for clear. Yeah. We’re looking at a page from December, 2001. So, this is what launched you. You finally had your own credit card. You had your own mailing list. You had your own product. I heard you also started selling the PDF at events.

Sean: Yes. I’d go to an event and I’d speak. I couldn’t really speak very well. I can do that–you could put 10,000 people in front of me today. I have no problem. But the first time I went to speak in front of an audience, I forgot what I had to say. I was like a five-year old on stage. I spoke for a while and then I forgot. These were people that were paying $75 to be there.

Andrew: Just to hear you? You know what, let me take a moment here and come back to how you got an audience of people to see you. I should stop and tell about my sponsor, which is CloudSponge. Do you know Noah Kagan?

Sean: No.

Andrew: Okay. My friend Noah–I’ve known him for over a decade–people go to him for marketing advice all the time. One of the things I notice when I check in with them to say, “What did he say to you?” is he’s got this little marketing hack that just keeps working for him endlessly. He says to them, “After somebody joins your mailing list or after they buy or after they finish whatever action they want, encourage them to tell their friends about your product.”

So, if you ever sign up for one of Noah Kagan’s free email courses or often some of his products, right after you’re done, he says, “Why don’t you tweet this out? Why don’t you email a friend to share what you just signed up for? You love it. Why don’t you tell a friend about it?” He’ll sometimes incentive you by saying, “You get to join my Slack group if you tell a friend.”

It works for him beautifully. It’s worked for him, as far as I can see, talking to people who got advice from him for over five years, which is huge. Now, he’ll get someone who joins one time to then bring in a friend or two or three or four new friends to join again, which means that he’s got this little growth engine going. Anyone listening to me should steal Noah’s idea. I think he’ll be perfectly fine with it.

But how do you accelerate it? Well, you accelerate it by understanding the problem that people have after they join your mailing list and when you’re telling them, “Go tell your friend.” I’ll ask you, Sean. Do you know your friends’ email addresses?

Sean: No. I can go to Gmail.

Andrew: Right. That’s the thing. I don’t even know my wife’s work email address. But I do know I could just repopulate it by typing it to Gmail. So, a lot of people when you tell them, “Go tell your friend about this site,” will say, “I don’t know my friend’s email.” They’ll go into Gmail and you’ve pretty much lost them.

So, what this service CloudSponge does is they say, “Why don’t we just make it easy for users to just grab their Gmail contacts or grab their Yahoo email contacts or grab their contacts from whatever service they like and just have it accessible on your website so if they want to invite their best friend, they don’t have to think of what their best friend’s email address is.

They could just start typing in their best friend’s name and CloudSponge will grab their email address from whatever email service they use or whatever address book they use. It’s beautiful. It all happens on your website. Whoever is listening to me could add this to their website. CloudSponge makes it super, super easy to go.

So, once you do that, people don’t have to remember and they just start typing in their friends’ names. If you want to get CloudSponge added to your site, all you have to do is go to CloudSponge.com/Mixergy. You know I like to give you guys something for adding the /Mixergy to the end of the URL because frankly I get something out of it. I get recognition from my sponsor.

So, what do you get if you go to CloudSponge.com/Mixergy? You get two free months to try this, two free months to see if it really will do what I say it will, which is will grow your audience, get you more email subscribers, get you more customers. In two months, you’ll know right away whether it makes sense or not.

So, all you have to do is go to CloudSponge.com/Mixergy. By the way, you don’t have to do it just when people register. There are other periods in your software that it makes sense for you to say, “Go tell your friends about this software,” or, “Go bring your friends in.” What if they get–why am I starting to go a little too long in this interview?

Sean, let me ask you one final question about this sponsor. If you were running a software company or frankly in your business, is there a place where you could use something like CloudSponge? I want to get a new idea in here, not just my own.

Sean: Absolutely. Where could we use it? When people signup, when they write to us, when they listen to a podcast–in fact, I have a whole report that I wanted to do on just tell a friend. It is one of the most interesting things because it gets more qualified leads to us rather than just leads.

Andrew: You have a tell a friend button at the very top of your site. Anyone who clicks it can have these emails so you automatically create for them. So, they don’t even have to think of what to write. They can edit it. They can send it out to their friends. You’re saying that’s what’s effective for you. A tool like that is one that can benefit from using CloudSponge.

I don’t want to oversell it. I want you all to know to just go to CloudSponge.com/Mixergy, take down the name if you need it. If a friend needs it, they’re going to thank you. I’m grateful to them for sponsoring.

You know, Sean, since we’re talking about that, how helpful is it to have that big tell a friend button or actually a small tell a friend link at the top of your site.

Sean: It’s very useful. It’s incredibly useful. I can’t remember the report I was going to put together, but when I got the analysis of how many people came in from tell a friend and specifically how they moved through the system–so, they will buy one product and then another one and they move much faster through the system than someone who just comes off Google.

Andrew: I see. When they come from a friend, they start buying more, they start interacting more.

Sean: Well, it’s like anything. Your friend tells you about maybe a movie. You’re more likely to go there. But it depends on what’s being sold to you. So, for instance, occasionally we’ll give away a whole workshop and an enormous number of people–we’re talking about thousands of people–come and pick up that free workshop.

What happens after that is what’s interesting. They end up buying “The Brain Audit” and then they’re buying something else. Our courses are $2,000 and $3,000 each. On average, they’ll buy two of them. Some of them will buy five of them.

Andrew: All right. Let me keep going with the story so I understand how you built it up and then get a little more of an understanding of how you’re selling all these products. You start going and speaking at live events. How did you get to speak at live events where people paid you?

Sean: There are live events everywhere, as long as you’re going to speak free. There are local live events. Here it was more about going to these small places, really, sales people with a purpose, something like that.

Andrew: And you were charging to speak at those events?

Sean: Was I?

Andrew: Were you charging to speak at those events?

Sean: No. They were free.

Andrew: Oh, so where did the money come from?

Sean: There was no money.

Andrew: I see. But you were selling the PDF at the events?

Sean: I wasn’t. A friend of mine said, “While you’re there, right at the end you might as well tell them you have a PDF. This is again, 2000. Most people don’t have so much as an email address. So, I had to put the PDF on a CD and give it to them.

Andrew: I see.

Sean: But in a room of 50 people, 39 people or something like that, they bought it. We were like, “Oh, wow.” But all of this is this big surprise. People coming to the website, buying it off the website, going to an event–big surprise, all of them, surprise after surprise after surprise. It’s not that we weren’t doing our homework. But it’s still a surprise that it works.

Andrew: I see.

Sean: In my brain, I’m still a cartoonist.

Andrew: Yeah. You told our producer that you sometimes feel like a fraud still.

Sean: I don’t know. So, for instance I just wrote a book on pricing. Now, I’ve written so many articles on the website. I’ve done podcasts on pricing. I’m like, “What else do I have to say about pricing?” When I put a book together, I’m like, “Is anyone going to read this book? Hey it’s all out there. It’s all free.”

The point is that customers want a system. They want to go from A to B to C to D and they want someone to put it together coherently because sure they have all the information, but coherently it’s like an album, like a music album. The artist has figured out what goes in number one, number four. This is what John Mayer says. He says, “In today’s world, you can just pick any song. But why is it song number one? Why is it song number six? That’s because someone thought about it.”

Andrew: Okay. Let me continue then with the story.

Sean: Okay.

Andrew: You’re selling directly. I get your point. Your point is that it’s the steps that get the result that’s important.

Sean: Right.

Andrew: It’s the fact that some of the steps are available online for free doesn’t matter. What people want is all the steps assembled in the right order with the right payoff at the end. That’s what we’re paying for. As long as you do that, it’s okay if bits of it are available online for free.

Sean: Right. But I feel like a fraud. I don’t feel entirely like a fraud, but you get that feeling. Until you get feedback from people saying, “Wow, this is amazing.”

Andrew: At the heart of “The Brain Audit,” this is the first product that you had, your goal was to help people do more than just understand why people buy and don’t buy, right?

Sean: Yes.

Andrew: You wanted them to understand how to do what?

Sean: I wanted them to understand that the reason why people don’t buy is not because your product is not good. It’s because there are these seven elements. It’s almost like a Caruso. You put seven red bags when you got on the flight. Then you’re standing and waiting for your bags and you get the first bags and then you get the second bag and the third red bag. Then there’s an orange bag, a purple bag, a green bag. You get to the sixth bag. You miss just one bag. So, when do you leave the airport?

So, that’s what I wanted them to understand. I wanted them to understand that first of all, there is a sequence to the bags. It’s not just any old bag coming any old way. The second thing is that you can do an exceedingly good job, come right to the end and then the customer doesn’t buy. It’s got nothing to do with your product or service.

Andrew: Okay. So, it’s not about the product or service, it’s about walking your potential customer through a set of steps in a way that’s logical order and if you don’t have all of the steps, they’re not going to buy just like if they don’t have all of their bags on the way out of the airport, they’re not going to leave the airport.

Sean: Exactly.

Andrew: So, that was your key idea and that’s what you just kept developing and developing over the years.

Sean: Yes.

Andrew: Your next product was what?

Sean: I can’t remember. We’ve had lots of products along the way. I can’t remember exactly what the next product was. After that, we setup a membership site. The reason why we setup a membership site is because when you have a book, you have to start up–and I’m going to say it, you may not like it–a religion.

Andrew: A religion.

Sean: Religion.

Andrew: I like it.

Sean: You have to start up a religion.

Andrew: Okay. Why?

Sean: You have a book. You have a Bible. You start up a religion. Everything, whether you look at football, it has a set of rules, Harley Davidson–all of these are religions. You can call them a cult. You can call them group. You can call them a religion. Essentially, you have to gather your customers in a space together.

Andrew: I see. You’re saying the book is the Bible. But the Bible on its own does not do enough for people. You need to create the religion, which means bring them all together, giving them something to do, helping them use what’s in the Bible.

Sean: Correct.

Andrew: So, you created a membership site charging on a monthly basis?

Sean: Yes.

Andrew: Is this the 5000BC?

Sean: Correct.

Andrew: 5000BC.com, which is, as far as I can see, that forum that you were telling me about, essentially. Yes, there are articles on there, but it’s a forum, right?

Sean: Yes.

Andrew: And you were charging people. Did you feel like a fraud when you were charging people to access nothing but a forum?

Sean: No because I was charging them $11 a year.

Andrew: $11? Did you feel like a fool for charging only $11 a year?

Sean: No, I didn’t. I felt like a fool when I asked them to renew the next year and 50% didn’t renew. That’s when I felt like a fool.

Andrew: Why didn’t they renew? Do you know?

Sean: Because obviously the stuff that I was offering at that point in time wasn’t what they wanted. So, I said to them, “It’s only $11 a year.” And they go, “It’s $11.”

Andrew: That is shocking.

Sean: It’s not of any use. So, we had to restructure it. Then we went up to $97 a year from $11. I would have thought that we would lose customers, but because we were listening, we lost probably 5%.

Andrew: Okay.

Sean: Yeah. And then today, it’s $259, I think, a year. We’ve had members there for eight years, ten years. Some have been there since 2003.

Andrew: When you say you’re listening, what did you hear? How did you hear it? How did it shape the product?

Sean: What people wanted was less information. When you get into 5000BC, you get into a buffet, just like you get onto Google–too much information. What they really want is less information. But they want pertinent information. So, for instance, supposing you want to know how to sell your product and you have a specific problem, what the forum does is it gives you access to me. I answer your questions. You come up and ask 400 questions. I answer 400 times.

Andrew: Okay.

Sean: So, that’s specific. The second thing is we had something called Vanishing Reports. Now, the Vanishing Reports are really just a little information in, say, 10 pages or 12 pages. So, it’s taken from the same website. It’s taken from 5000BC. And you would say, “But it’s already there.” No, I put it in a report. As soon as I changed the format, it’s a different product. People love Vanishing Reports. Our clients, you ask them what do they like? Vanishing Reports. Why?

Andrew: What you’re saying is you’re taking the answers that you already had given people in the forum and you put it into a report and they like the report?

Sean: Yes. I rewrite it.

Andrew: Rewritten. So, it’s not just copy and paste into a new report.

Sean: With cartoons and stuff. It’s repackaged.

Andrew: Okay. What’s the vanishing part of it?

Sean: It vanishes.

Andrew: If you don’t get it now, that’s it. It’s gone.

Sean: It’s gone. You have to buy it.

Andrew: So, go download this thing that I just put together.

Sean: Correct.

Andrew: Got it.

Sean: They love that. So, the point is that people enter to have a buffet, but they want you to recommend which meal to eat. That enables them to eat it. They’re happy. They keep coming back for small meals. It’s the concept of the buffet. How many times do we go to a buffet every year? How many times do we go for a single meal?

Andrew: That’s a good point. I hadn’t thought of it for some reason–not for some reason, I know I’m not a buffet person.

Sean: Most people aren’t, surprisingly.

Andrew: Yeah, you would think they would be. The only time I’ve had a buffet in the last like five years was on a cruise that I recently went on. It’s pretty convenient. All right. Before we do a sponsorship message–oh no, that’s not what it is. You know what? I’m doing this pushup competition with some of my friends. The thing is, they’re all dropping out of the pushup competition and I’m the only one now who’s in the pushup competition against myself.

Sean: Yes.

Andrew: I kind of feel like a fool. Maybe I also feel a little triumphant. Every time I do my pushups, I go into our iMessage group, I send them a photo of the screenshot from the app that I use to keep track of my pushups and today I sent them a photo of my triceps and I got a much of emojis back, but I don’t see that they’ve done their pushups today. I thought for a second there they did.

Sean: Okay.

Andrew: I’m trying to lighten up the mood here. I was very serious with you at the beginning. Then I said, “This guy is a little lighter.” Now I’m trying to lighten it and maybe I went too light. What do you think?

Sean: Oh, you’re okay.

Andrew: I’m okay?

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: I’m overthinking it. All right. Let’s go to the sponsorship. Let’s talk about how Andrew can make some money with this interview by helpful out his audience. Sean, check this out. The number one most shared thing on Mixergy was the video that I sent you before or the infographic we sent you before the interview started, the one that said, “Hey, have a light facing you. Have a wired internet connection. Don’t trust Wi-Fi,” that kind of thing. Did that help you?

Sean: Yes. It did. I’ve got a light here.

Andrew: I see. Do you usually have light in front of you?

Sean: No.

Andrew: Oh, good. Then it helped. I’m glad. So, we put this thing together. It took a long time. I said, “Well, now that I have it together, I don’t just want my interviewees to see it. How about if we use it to help anyone who’s on a webcam online so that we can help all these people but also get some traffic and some credibility for having put this thing together and having done so many interviews and learned from them?”

So, I said, “How do I do it?” I’m not going to buy ads for one piece of content. It’s a little bit lame to buy ads for your infographic. So, my team and I put together a list of all the people who we thought would want to help us promote it–past interviewees, active fans of the site, that kind of thing.

We had this list that was pages and pages on an Excel spreadsheet and then we started emailing them the day before saying, “We’re about to publish this. Will you help us by promoting it?” And then the day of, “Will you help us by promoting it like you offered to? All you have to do is click this link.” We did that whole thing and it helped. We got over 1,000 shares on this little piece of content. It was fantastic. That’s the way to promote content online.

The problem, Sean, is frankly who has the time, who has the connections to do this for every little thing they publish on their site? Most people don’t. That’s why what a lot of people do is they go to my sponsor, who is ContentPromotion.com is their domain. You just say, “You do it for me. Here’s what I have. You find the influencers. You put that spreadsheet together. You contact them. You have them promote it. You have them share it. You have them talk about it.” That’s what Content Promotion will do for a small fee.

All you have to do is go to ContentPromotion.com/Mixergy. When you do, you’ll see how it works and you’ll get a 15% discount on your promotion campaign with them. I’m grateful to them for sponsoring, ContentPromotion.com. If you haven’t heard of them, they’ve been around for years. You should check them out.

So, we have our first couple of products. We have the membership. The membership now is improving because you’re talking to your customers. I want to actually understand a little bit more about how you talk to them. I’ve tried just calling people randomly in the audience. They don’t pick up the phone.

I just actually had someone in my audience say that something horrible happened to her, horrible. I called her up immediately. She didn’t pick up the phone. I called her up again. I left voicemail. She’s never going to call me back because it’s kind of weird for some reason, a little intimidating, I guess. So, how did you get to talk to your customers to understand what you needed to fix in your membership site?

Sean: We send them chocolate.

Andrew: Really?

Sean: Yes. We send them chocolate. We’ve spent thousands of dollars sending chocolate. It costs $15 to ship it and another $5 for the chocolate. If you only send it 1,000 times, you can do the math. It’s not too hard. We ask them for their physical address. We say we’re going to send them a special gift. It’s going to come by mail. They give us their physical address.

This is what I mean by Hotel California. They have to trust you in the first place. They give you the physical address. They send you the chocolate. Almost 70% of them write back. If they don’t write back, you write to them, they go, “Oh, I forgot to tell you about the chocolate.” We meet them six years later. They talk about the chocolate. We sell them a $2,000 product, they talk about the chocolate. They come to a workshop, they talk about the chocolate.

Andrew: That’s unreal.

Sean: Yes. It’s unreal.

Andrew: I’ve seen it–

Sean: I send them postcards too.

Andrew: So, when you say they write back, how do they write back?

Sean: Email.

Andrew: I see. So, they get the chocolate and they’ll email you back. How do they know to email back? Do you include a note saying something?

Sean: Yeah. Sometimes they’ll send the chocolate back.

Andrew: Why?

Sean: Because they feel nice about it.

Andrew: Oh, I see, not the same chocolate back like, “Hey, sucker, don’t send this to me. I’m on a diet. They just send another chocolate back to you.”

Sean: Yes. And if someone doesn’t eat chocolate, they’ll say, “Don’t send me a chocolate. Send me a postcard.” So, we’ve designed these cartoon postcards. They love to get the postcards. So, I’ll send them a postcard. I’ll send them a chocolate. I don’t send them bills. They only get bills in the mail.

Andrew: What service do you use to send the chocolate out?

Sean: I ask for the email. I write it down myself. I write the postcard myself.

Andrew: You actually will put the chocolate in a box and ship it out yourself?

Sean: Correct. The moment they know it’s not from New Zealand, it makes all the difference. When they see the handwriting, they know my handwriting, they know it’s coming from New Zealand, it makes a huge difference. The moment you start to de-personalize stuff, you’re wasting time. So, what people say–this is what we started at–you’re saying, “I want to have lots of customers.” We are saying we want fewer customers. We don’t want those customers to leave. Those customers don’t want to leave. They just want someone to take care of their needs.

Andrew: How do you find the time to sit and write a note and ship chocolate to every customer?

Sean: I don’t have to go around finding new customers. That’s how I find time.

Andrew: This is mind-blowing. I was going to tell you, you don’t even have to send it from New Zealand. You can save money by sending it from the U.S. But you don’t care about that.

Sean: No.

Andrew: What about when you’re on vacation? You said you take off three months a year.

Sean: I send postcards from wherever I am.

Andrew: But no chocolate?

Sean: No. Obviously not. I’d have to travel with chocolate. So, right now we’re going to do conduct two workshops, one in the US and Europe, as I said. So, I’m going to take some chocolate with me. But we’ve already mailed out two bars of chocolate yesterday. We’ll probably mail out two bars today. Next year, I plan to write a postcard to someone every day of the year, every single day of the year. I just wake up in the morning, I have breakfast, I write a postcard–what’s the big deal?

Andrew: You address it yourself too? You don’t even have that printed out?

Sean: No.

Andrew: All right. That’s incredible.

Sean: Look at how much time we waste on Facebook or something else, right? It takes three minutes. It’s not a big deal. But when someone gets it in the mail, they’re like, “Wow. This is not a phone call.” You have to remember, most of the people that we deal with are introverts. They don’t really care about intrusion. They just want to be left alone. They just want to do their stuff.

Andrew: You know what, Sean? I’m discovering that most people on the planet are introverts. I used to think that everyone was an extrovert and I and maybe a select other few people are introverted. So, it ate at me that I was so weird and so different and I had to find a way to make enough money so people would get to know me and pull me out of my shell just because I had all this money.

Then I realized that’s not the way it works and you don’t want those people. Then I became extroverted. I learned how to connect with people. I learned how to love getting to know strangers. I discovered most people, most strangers don’t want to be gotten to know, really. Maybe they’d like to, but they’re a little shy, a little intimidated about it. It turns out that most people are introverted. What you see are the extroverts acting like 20 times as loud so it seems like they’re 20 times as many people like that.

Sean: Yeah. But it’s also the definition of introverted and extroverted. My definition is introverted people get drained by people and extroverted people get charged by people. So, I get charged by people. I can come over and speak to you for six hours, no problem. I’m happy at the end of it. My wife, one hour, she’s dead.

Andrew: You mentioned we a lot of times. Is the company run by both of you?

Sean: Yes.

Andrew: It is? What’s her part in this?

Sean: What’s her part? She loves analysis. She looks at where customers come, what do they buy, what’s their pathway. Why would they choose to buy this product instead of that product? What happened when we did this campaign? We don’t do joint ventures. We don’t do advertising. We don’t do publicity. We’ve never done affiliates.

Andrew: Well, you have a ClickBank account.

Sean: I used to. That’s what I started out with.

Andrew: I saw that actually on your site. I tried to click to one of the links. It went to a dead ClickBank account. You were selling your stuff through ClickBank. Is that you how you get your first merchant account?

Sean: Correct.

Andrew: I see. That’s why you were able to charge so fast. Did you do an affiliate program back then?

Sean: No.

Andrew: What do you do to get your customers?

Sean: Customers show up and they never leave.

Andrew: How did they show up?

Sean: So, they find us. So, for instance, when I first started out, I was writing on a site called MarketingProfs. Now, they have over 350,000 people. But when we started out or when they started out, Allen Weiss, who used to run the site, you don’t see him, but he owns the site–he used to email me, “Sean, can I have the next article?” So, that’s how I started writing articles because Allen was bugging me. So, a lot of people came from that site, Copyblogger and some people. A lot of people find us on Google.

Andrew: I see. When you were writing for Copyblogger, that brought–so, it seems like it’s guest blogging that does it for you.

Sean: Yes, but people find us all over the place. We don’t speak much at events. I’m sounding like a recluse right now. It’s just that I need a lot of time to spend with my family. I need a lot of time to make my products better. I need a lot of time to draw my cartoons.

Andrew: I do see, actually. I see a lot of content marketing here. Who is Craig? Does Craig work with you? No. Craig works with Double Your Freelancing. So, I see that DoubleYourFreelancing.com featured you, right?

Sean: Possibly.

Andrew: In October.

Sean: We’ve been around since 2000.

Andrew: They featured you on–I can’t get out of their exit pop. No, there’s a link. “Today the first episode of a two-part edition with Sean D’Souza. Sean’s book ‘The Brain Audit’ had…” So, you were on their site and then sent you some traffic.

Sean: Possibly.

Andrew: I’m sure some people from this interview will come to your site. I see Boost Blog Traffic.

Sean: Yes.

Andrew: That’s sending you traffic. What’s Boost Blog Traffic? That’s another blog.

Sean: That’s Jon Morrow.

Andrew: Jon Morrow. Oh, Jon Morrow is fantastic. I see Copyblogger is sending you traffic. But the number one source of traffic for you is 5000BC.com, your insular community of people who paid.

Sean: That’s right. And you know what? We don’t even have a lot of articles out there that the average person can see. When you think of a business, you want to think of it from a human point of view. You grow. You keep yourself fit. You just keep yourself in shape. There is no need to keep expanding.

There is no need to continuously–it’s always you look at yourself and you say, “How can I improve myself? How can I keep the members of my family happy?” It’s a very strange concept when it comes to business. Business is like, “Oh, to hell with my family, my work comes first.” It’s all of this stuff. “I need to double my income.”

I had a friend of mine whose company did the best year they ever had in ten years. They got into the meeting. They had champagne and they said, “Let’s double it next year.” For what? What are you going to do? What impact is that going to have on your family? What impact is that going to have on everything else in your life? Why?

I know it doesn’t make a lot of sense to other people. It makes a lot of sense to me. I take three months off every year, show me people that take three months off and travel every year. It’s insane what people do. But I’m glad they do it. I just think it’s insane.

Andrew: In those three months, you don’t send chocolates out. You don’t write?

Sean: No. I eat, sleep, drink.

Andrew: Do you respond to the forum?

Sean: Nope.

Andrew: You don’t respond to the forum even?

Sean: No. If I go there, they throw me out.

Andrew: What do you do to keep the conversation going in the forum? What did you do in the early days of the forum to keep the conversation going?

Sean: Early days was difficult because people don’t trust forums because forums have been nasty places. Forums have been promotional places. So, you have to build a lot of trust. In the early days, it was very difficult. I even tried being a fake person, like I’ll sign in as Andre and ask questions and then I’ll answer it. I even tried to give them rewards and they said the reason why we ask questions is not to get a reward.

So, when you attract the right kind of people, they become the elders in the group. So, what we’ve gone through now is a phase where a lot of the people who joined in 2008, their businesses have grown. They have changed. They’re not so frequent in the forum. Now you’ve got a new generation coming in. When I say new generation, it’s not age-dependent. It’s just how long they’ve been with us.

The slogan for the forum is, “Be kind, be helpful or be gone.” So, people come in there. They test the waters. They often join a course or they come to a workshop. Once they get to know us, once they get their chocolate, once they get these points of contact, they suddenly realize, “Look, this guy is okay.” So, when you look at a lot of people online, they’re like, “Oh, I’m a guru. I won’t deal with you as a client unless you sign this check.” We go on vacations with clients. We go for dinner. We stay at clients’ houses.

People feel comfortable around you. When people feel comfortable around you, you’re not selling anything. If I say to you, “Hey, there’s this software that you need for your phone,” you know me. Are you going to think, “Hey, he’s pitching this to me?” It might be my software. You’ll buy it. The whole fundamental of business should be about you, not about the client. It should be, “How can I make my life happy?”

Andrew: Really?

Sean: Yes.

Andrew: It’s not about, “How do I help get my customers the results they want?”

Sean: No.

Andrew: Why not?

Sean: Because it’s what they do on planes. When the oxygen drops, you put the mask on yourself first, then you help somebody else. If you can’t take breaks, if you can’t do the stuff that you’re promising others, you’re just being a fraud, in a way. You’re saying you will double their income. In reality, you will double their customers. I don’t really see that happening.

So, a person will say, “I will double your income. I’ll make you a millionaire.” Excuse me, but you did 700 things to get there. There aren’t 700 things in your book. You know, even of those 700 things, there were 700 subsets of those things.

Andrew: I see what you mean. Right.

Sean: What we promise is very simple. We say if you join this course on storytelling, at the end of three days, you will be able to tell stories as good as David Attenborough. And then you have a benchmark–are you telling stories as great as David Attenborough? If you join an article writing course, you will be able to write articles that will match the best in the world.

Andrew: But not necessarily lead to more customers?

Sean: No.

Andrew: But isn’t that what people want? If you’re not selling that result, a result that makes them more money than they spent with you, aren’t you letting them down? Aren’t you reducing your sales?

Sean: No. Because they understand that when you are telling a better story, that attracts a customer in a different way, which then leads to sales. People are not stupid. They know, “Why am I writing an article? Why am I doing a podcast? Why am I doing this stuff?” I need a skill. What you’re giving me is some system that worked for you, like double your income, double your whatever. Sure. It’s possible. But at the end of the day, I want to be satisfied with the stuff I do. I want to write better. I want to draw better. You want biceps, right? Is that going to attract–are more women going to drop at your feet?

Andrew: First of all, I would like it and I think it’s a possibility. Yes. Absolutely. Number two, it’s not just that. There’s an inner need for more and I can’t deny it. I ran yesterday. I’m not going to say, “Why run today?” I ran yesterday. I want to run today. I want to run more. I want to do another marathon even though I ran a marathon. I want to do marathons on more continents than I’ve ever done before. I want to do all that.

Sean: Is that going to get you more customers?

Andrew: When you’re talking about for fun, I want more. When we’re talking about for business, I also want more. I do want more people exposed to my ideas. I do want more people in my audience. When I have more people in my audience, it means I have better guests or bigger-named guests. When I have bigger guests and they know they have a bigger audience, they prep more. When you have more, life becomes better. Frankly, it just keeps it interesting. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Sean: Yes. But the other way to look at it is also that you know what are the elements that cause customers to listen to you, that cause customers to want to listen to your program. So, storytelling is a part of it, article writing is a part of it, something else is a part of it. What we teach people–it’s not that “The Brain Audit” doesn’t go into a system, “This is what you do step by step.” It’s not like you’re completely ignoring the concept of more customers or more revenues. But what’s the benchmark? The way I look at my life is that I have to be like a pilot. I have to get all my customers across.

Andrew: How do you measure whether you’ve gotten all your customers across? I feel the same way. I want to measure that. I don’t want to measure sales. But it’s a harder thing to keep track of.

Sean: It’s the benchmark. It’s how many people can write an article in 45 minutes.

Andrew: So, what do you do to keep track of how many people have written an article?

Sean: They’re on the course. I can see it. They’re doing the course.

Andrew: What software do you use to keep track of that?

Sean: No software. It’s on the forum. They have to write an article every day.

Andrew: I see. How can you keep track of everyone in the forum and see if they’ve written an article every day in the forum?

Sean: You have fewer people.

Andrew: Sorry?

Sean: You have fewer people.

Andrew: Oh, I see. Because you have fewer people, you can keep track of them all.

Sean: Exactly.

Andrew: I see. How many members in the forum?

Sean: In our forum we have 400.

Andrew: I see.

Sean: But in any given forum, you’ll have 10% who are active at any given point in time.

Andrew: So, that means 40 people are really active and writing and you want to make sure those 40 get to the finish line.

Sean: Right. But most of the stuff is done through courses, an online course.

Andrew: An online course for us, what I did is I created a Gravity Form, which is a plugin for WordPress that asks people to report back after each step. And then using Infusionsoft and Gravity Form–actually, I had Gravity Form, tag them in Infusionsoft and say, “They finished this module.” That’s how I kept track of how many people finished. What do you do?

Sean: What I do is I give them an assignment to do every day. They have to show up every day. They have to do the assignment. So, for instance, if you’re doing, say, we just finished the headline course. You have to write 16 headlines for tomorrow. I look at the headlines. I decided. It’s labor-intensive.

Andrew: They email it to you?

Sean: No. It’s on the forum. Everyone gets to see it.

Andrew: I see, on the forum for that.

Sean: Everyone gets to see it. The whole group gets to see it. Their group critiques it. I critique it. It’s a really weird system. It’s called your neighborhood.

Andrew: That does for freaking ever. Look at this. In one of the copy for your 5000BC membership site, you say the uniqueness of 5000BC is Sean sticks around. He’s around 20 or 30 times a day. When you ask a question, you will be amazed at the richness and detail of his answer. Sometimes he’ll write four or five articles just for you just to answer your question. That’s what makes 5000BC utterly unique. That’s exhausting.

Sean: No, it’s not. It takes two and a half hours.

Andrew: Two and a half hours because you don’t have that many members and you can–

Sean: No, hang on a second. You’re now missing the whole point of leverage.

Andrew: Catch me.

Sean: If I write, supposing you ask me a question, I decide, “I’m going to outline this answer. I’m going to write it in five parts. I’m going to spend two and a half hours. I’m going to write 5,000 words.” That’s a report. I put it in a report. I can sell the report. I can give it as a Vanishing Report. I can give it as a bonus. I can take some of those articles, I can publish them elsewhere. I can write a book in the future. I can use sections of that.

Andrew: I see. They’re teaching you what articles to write in all kinds of places, what products to create for them, what problems they need solved and how to solve it for them.

Sean: Correct.

Andrew: All right. I’m beginning to get what you’re saying.

Sean: So, I’m not really wasting time. It really depends on whether you’re a card player that wants to win the money or the card player that wants to win the game. I want to win the game. I want to know the secrets of what’s happening. There’s a song by Sting. He says he doesn’t play for money. He doesn’t play for respect. He plays to find the answers.

We make money by the way. Whatever we make is enough for us. It’s more than enough for us. The point is that we’re there at that table to find the answers, that sacred geometry of chance. Why is it that this glass costs 50% than that glass and everyone buys the 50% more? Why? That’s what I want to find out.

Andrew: You want to know that.

Sean: Yes. I want to know why do people come to a forum and why can’t we get it from 10% to 12% or 15%. How do we get people to the end of a course, 80% of them? Why is it that 50% of people can drop out in the first week of a course and you as the course owner don’t know anything about it? What is the first week and why is it so critical? I’m just in it for the curiosity.

Andrew: I get it. It’s a much saner way to run a business. You don’t have to update your website every moment. You don’t have to think about what’s the latest software. How do we shift people from what we’re using to the new one? You don’t have to think about where am I going to partner with the next group of people to get more traffic to the site? You don’t have to worry about how you can sell more people and find more people. I get that. I can appreciate all that.

Sean: This is a bad ad for business, right?

Andrew: I think frankly to some people this is really what they’ve been looking for. In fact, a while back, you went on vacation, one of your famous vacations. You didn’t have email with you because this was about 10 years ago. You didn’t have email in your pocket. So, when you checked email at your laptop, you saw that something wasn’t working right on your site. What wasn’t working?

Sean: The website. It had crashed.

Andrew: The whole website wasn’t working?

Sean: The whole website had crashed, all the information was deleted down to the last pixel.

Andrew: Oh, really? Including what people put on the site.

Sean: Everything was gone.

Andrew: This is what I was getting at. Your audience, instead of complaining did what?

Sean: They started a waiting room.

Andrew: What’s a waiting room?

Sean: It’s another forum. They started their own forum. Because my email list is on a different server, so I don’t keep two things in the same space. So, I just emailed them and said, “We have a waiting room. Someone started the waiting room. It might take 15 days, it may take 30 days for the site to come back up again. I don’t know anything. It’s just gone. I’m on vacation. I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to promise anything.” So, they went to the waiting room. They continued their conversations there.

Andrew: You didn’t even rebuild the site while you were on vacation?

Sean: No.

Andrew: Wow. This is a whole other place to live.

Sean: Yes. When we came back, we said, “We are sorry for this, if you would like some of your money back, if you would like to leave, we understand.” We didn’t lose a single client.

Andrew: Wow. All right. That’s an amazing story. It’s a great place to end the interview. It says a lot about the audience that you’ve built. It says a lot about the products that you create for them. The website is Psychotactics, like the tactics of a psychologically-oriented sales person. Is that right?

Sean: Yes. That’s right. Should we call it Chocolatetactics?

Andrew: I want to see these chocolates that you’re sending out to people.

Sean: Maybe Renuka will get in touch with you.

Andrew: Do they put it on Facebook?

Sean: No, she’ll ask for your address. You’ll have to give your address. She might ask for your Social Security number as well.

Andrew: I get it. You guys seem honest. I’ll do it.

Sean: At one point we did that. We asked people for their mobile numbers, their landlines. They gave it.

Andrew: I get it. I don’t care about that. Frankly I don’t care about the phone number anymore because spammers now have gotten everyone’s cell phone number. I don’t know if you’re experiencing it. But we’re all getting spam voicemail and spam phone calls on and so on. I don’t even pick up the phone unless I know the number.

Sean: I’m just on–what is that called when you get on the plane? Most of the time that’s what my phone is on.

Andrew: Oh, airplane mode. Really?

Sean: Yes.

Andrew: I should have actually–the right place to interview is not to have interrupted you right now, it’s to have just ended it a moment ago when you told the story of how your site went down. But this is just me being a human being, being really curious about you. Tell me about your typical day. What was yesterday, Monday? What was that like? You wake up at one time?

Sean: I wake up at 4:00.

Andrew: 4:00 in the morning?

Sean: Yes.

Andrew: Okay. Do you wake up to an alarm or no alarm?

Sean: I don’t have an alarm.

Andrew: No alarm?

Sean: I’ve never had an alarm.

Andrew: Your body just says, “4:00, I’m going to wake up.” What do you do?

Sean: Usually I start work at 4:00. My body is up at 3:45. I get to the office, which is next door. It’s a house next door and I record the podcast, which is a three-month vacation podcast. That’s because there’s no noise at that point in time. I’ll record at that point. I’ll answer posts in the forum. I’ll do that kind of stuff. At about 5:30, I go for a walk for an hour and a half. I’ll walk by the beach. We’ll stop for a coffee, meditate ten minutes before the coffee and then have the coffee, turn around, come back, have breakfast.

Andrew: Are you listening to a podcast or music while you’re walking?

Sean: Yes.

Andrew: You are?

Sean: Always. I’ll learn languages. I’ll listen to podcasts. I listen to audio books.

Andrew: Okay. So, you’re having your walk and you’re listening to those podcasts. You’re coming back home after your mediation and coffee and what do you do next?

Sean: We’ll have a breakfast and I’ll put on the music.

Andrew: With your two girls and your wife?

Sean: Those are my nieces. They’re just around a lot.

Andrew: It’s you and your wife. You’ll have breakfast. You’ll put music on?

Sean: Apple Music that I get any kind of music. After that, about 8:30 to 9:00 I’ll paint. So, I do a daily diary every single day and I’ll paint in water colors and then at 9:00 I’ll get to work. I work until about 12:00, then I go back home for lunch. We have lunch for half an hour. I know this I sounding very French now.

Andrew: It’s also sounding very short, half hour lunch.

Sean: Yes, but then I’ll sleep for maybe half an hour to an hour and a half.

Andrew: Okay.

Sean: I’ll pick up my niece at 3:00. Then I work with her until 7:30. My wife and I will alternate.

Andrew: From 2:00 to 7:30, what do you work with her on?

Sean: We’re just mentoring her. She struggled a bit in school a few years ago. She’s doing really well now. We’re just mentoring her.

Andrew: Okay. So, you’re helping her with school.

Sean: Yes.

Andrew: Okay. And with what else?

Sean: Most days while I’m teaching her stuff I’ll be cooking. I’ll cook a meal and then we’ll go out to dinner.

Andrew: Really?

Sean: Yes.

Andrew: Who eats the meal then?

Sean: We’ll have it for lunch.

Andrew: The next day.

Sean: Yes. I like cooking. Yes.

Andrew: When you get home you read? What do you do, watch TV?

Sean: No. We haven’t owned a TV since 2001 maybe.

Andrew: Okay.

Sean: So, we don’t know what’s on TV.

Andrew: You don’t even watch it on your iPad or laptop?

Sean: Not TV. I’ll watch some movies. I’ll watch Netflix.

Andrew: Okay.

Sean: But no. I’ll read. I like the New Yorker. But I read ten different magazines, not so many books. I tend to listen to books rather than read books simply because I can’t anymore.

Andrew: But every night you go out to dinner pretty much.

Sean: Not every night. We try to cut it down, but the weeks we say, “We’re not going to dinner this week,” we go out four times.

Andrew: I see. Then what time do you go to sleep?

Sean: About 10:00, but some days, last night I went to sleep at 9:15.

Andrew: Okay. I don’t know why. I’m just fascinated by you. I know why it is because I would want more. I would just like, “What else can I do? Can I run instead of walking? Can I run faster next time?” I see the advantage of the way you’re living your life and it’s frankly a little bit eye-opening and I wonder if I could do that too.

Here’s the best part of it. I like the idea of focusing in on the customers I have instead of looking constantly to bring in new people. I feel like if you take care of the people in your life, then it’s worth having them in your life. I don’t like searching for more people. I don’t feel satisfied from that.

Sean: It’s a lot of work. When you say, “Helping people, writing those articles is a lot of work.” No. That’s not a lot of work. That is my family. That is like my family. I would like to help my niece. I would like to help my wife. I don’t want to help some random stranger off the street and try to get them through the door. What’s the point?

Andrew: All right. I’ll give out the website one more time. It’s Psychotactics.com. Sean, it’s really good to have you on here. I also want to thank my two sponsors. The first is CloudSponge. I told you guys about them. If you need to basically grow your audience–look at this, grow your audience through getting more–it’s a different way of doing things, kind of like your tele-friend. What he’s trying to do is say CloudSponge.

You have an audience, they have friends how they want to connect with and share your stuff with. Let’s make it easy for them. Let’s not make them go into their Gmail to find their friends email addresses. Let’s create a really simple process for them to connect with their friends and bring them over to your site. That is CloudSponge. I’m grateful to them for sponsoring. The second is ContentPromotion.com. Actually, it’s both, ContentPromotion.com/Mixergy and CloudSponge.com/Mixergy and you’ll get really good offers if you go to those URLs.

Sean, it’s good to talk to you.

Sean: It was a pleasure.

Andrew: You bet. Thank you all for being a part of Mixergy. Bye, everyone.


  • Great interview Andrew!!!!

  • Nice to hear someone speak out who is not espousing the prevalent online marketing group think. Problem with group think is you may not even realize you are mentally stuck in it. Not sure I got a good grasp of what his alternative view actually is, but I am intrigued enough to plan visiting his websites.

  • Thanks. I keep thinking about what he said, that stuff about staying small and caring about your current customers instead of getting new ones.

  • Yeah. He’s “crazy” by most people’s standards, but I keep thinking about how he’s got things figured out. I admire how he thinks.

  • Yes, refreshing. But for me, as someone who has built a pretty successful blog and then lost it all, it’s nice to hear that I don’t have to grow to the numbers of my old business to be successful. I am struggling with what to do next.

    I am not a natural entrepreneur, so making money isn’t my strength and he makes me feel that I can be myself and still be successful.

    in less then 2 years I was able to build a blog/business that had about 190,000 YouTube subscribers, an email list of 40,000 subscribers,1,000,000 page views per month and was generating about $15,000 per month.

    So, the success of my previous business is paralyzing me and Sean reminds me that I can be successful without having the big numbers like I used to.

  • Emma – I Love My Chair

    I just cannot decide how I feel about this interview.

  • Emma Veiga-Malta

    I cannot decide how I feel about this interview.

    I’m a huge Mixergy fan and I’ve listened to so many over the past few years; if the subject doesn’t resonate or the person doesn’t captivate me, I’ll stop and move on. Neither worked for me on this interview and yet I was captivated.

    I totally get his attitude to not growing or scaling ‘just because you can/should’ (it’s a mindless obsession these days) I applaud his desire to nurture his current followers and clients – I try to do the same. I have a very close relationship with all my clients and I’m there for each of them.

    But his uber casual attitude to customer acquisition and vague processes baffled and annoyed me. Yet had me feeling envious!

    Thank you Andrew for making me a bit unsettled. It’s a good thing sometimes!

  • Robin Arsenault Vézina

    This is the first episode I ever listen from mixergy. I’ve been following Sean for more than a year, I’ve read his book the brain audit twice and he’s one of the few newsletter I read when they pop in my mailboxe. In my top 5 in term of sale psychology/story/copywritin

    Really interesting interview, I felt that the interviewer was destabilize by Sean sometimes.

    It was like a young kids showing the cool widget from his Ipad game to his grandfather. A strange communication between the two but very fascinating.

    Thx for your curiosity Andrew (I think it’s your name), I’m definatly curious about your podcast I will surely listen a couple more to see different stories.

    Just want to share something, the sponsor moment feel so akward to listen. I don’t know if it’s always like that but it’s long, non-interesting and even the guest feel non comfortable. I would launch something that is pre-recorded but not in the middle of your conversation. It’s like “ok my sponsor is more important than my relationship with you my guest, let’s talk about them for 2 minutes

    Just my honest feeling here

  • After the interview, I got chocolate in the mail :)

  • Sean was amazing. He’s your guest who is the most alive and whole. After a certain point, the money is just beads in a jar for counting. Sean gets that. What matters is what you can do to make a better world, how you can make your family’s life better (hint: more money is probably not it; even Steve Jobs admitted before he passed on that one of his regrets was not spending more time with his family).

    For the longest time I thought making the world a better place was your gig as well Andrew. The new doubled membership prices and the hard sell courses seem beneath you and the tradition of Mixergy. If you would care about us and sharing the lessons of entrepreneurship, you could make close to as much money in hand yet have more opportunities open to you.

    As an example, last year I wrote to you to tell you how you could doubled your conversion ratio with a single tiny change to your previous sales page. Your staff said they would pass my message on to you. Not a peep back. You could have doubled your conversion ratio without turning Mixergy into hard sell heaven if you’d answered. Sean would have answered (and/or Renata). And improved his business with a minimum amount of effort. Sorry to mention this, it’s just a real world example of how to listen to your customers and sell more with less effort.

    Anyway, Sean was completely refreshing. Thank you for this, Andrew.

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    One year ago I decided to quit my last job and that decision changed everything for me… I started doing work online, for a company I discovered on-line, several hrs a day, and I earn much more than i did on my office work… My last month payment was for $9000… Amazing thing about this work is that now i have more time for my loved ones… http://urlin.it/143f7e

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