Dane Maxwell wants you to experience true freedom (even if you have zero ideas, cash, experience, or confidence)

Nine years ago I interviewed the entrepreneur you’re about to meet. At the time of that conversation, he was building a lifestyle business when everyone else was seeking venture funding.

Dane Maxwell is the founder of Paperless Pipeline, the real estate transaction and commission management system that agents and brokers actually enjoy using.

I’ve watched his business grow over the years and now it’s essentially running without him. He’s out with a new book that teaches other entrepreneurs to get the freedom he was able to create.

The podcast is in all major apps, just search for Mixergy.
You can also use our RSS Feed RSS feed.

Dane Maxwell

Dane Maxwell

Start from Zero

Dane Maxwell is the founder of Paperless Pipeline, the real estate transaction and commission management system that agents and brokers actually enjoy using.

roll-angle

Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. And nine years ago, I interviewed the entrepreneur you’re about to get to know about . . . We talked a lot over the years about a lot of different things. The top thing was you were building a lifestyle software company at a time when everyone seemed to want to go in the other direction, which is raise money. I feel like today nobody even talks about a lifestyle business. It was the phrase that venture capitalists gave businesses that were profitable and didn’t want venture capital. Like, you love your lifestyle so much that you’re not going to go big. We’re going to dismiss you by calling you a lifestyle entrepreneur. And that was the thing that was going on at the time and you said, “No, I’m comfortable with that. Call me a lifestyle entrepreneur. Yeah, it is bootstrapped. Here’s who I am.”

And you did that interview and a bunch of people listened to my podcast who felt that that was the right way to build companies, felt that they, in you, Dane Maxwell, had an entrepreneur that they could relate to who’s doing what they want to do. And so you became really popular on the podcast. You went on to do a . . . You went on to teach some of the people who came on here how to start companies, and all along, you kept growing your software company. That software is called Paperless Pipeline. What’s one sentence that you use to describe Paperless Pipeline?

Dane: It helps a real estate company become a mobile real estate office by taking their paper transactions and putting them in online filing cabinets instead of offline filing cabinets.

Andrew: In 2011 when we talked about that, it felt like a really weird tough thing to convince real estate agents to do, but now it’s just a natural. And so one of the things you told me before we started this interview is now the company is running without you. There’s a guy named Rajesh who’s running this site, running the business. It’s producing revenue, profitable, right?

Dane: Very. Yeah.

Andrew: And it’s giving you time to do other things like I was watching you on Facebook build a music career and then I watched you come back to business, then I watched you become a family man and all those other things are happening largely because this business is growing on its own. And one of the things that you’ve been doing is teaching other entrepreneurs how to start their businesses. In fact, you’ve got a new book out, it’s called “Start from Zero: How to Build a Lucrative Business and Experience True Freedom.” That’s what that book is about.

I invited Dane Maxwell back here to talk about his software company and what he’s been doing as he’s been teaching other entrepreneurs to build companies. We can do it thanks to a phenomenal sponsor called HostGator where you can host your website easily. And I’ll talk about that later. First, Dane, you know, dollars and cents kind of drive me for some reason. What’s the revenue on the business?

Dane: Well, Paperless Pipeline has an average revenue per user of around 145 to 160 a month. We’ve got 1,300 to 1,400 paying users. We have a 0.7% churn and we have a net growth of new accounts of 20 to 30 per month. Revenue quarter for last year was around 185,000 per month. So we’re north of 2 million ARR per year. I have a CEO that run it. He’s very talented. He was actually the lead developer on the product. He was so phenomenal that our trust built, so I worked on the business for three years day in and day out, getting it into a place where I could step away because most every business I start, I start with the intention of exiting. And that’s a very, very different, but subtle difference.

So that being in mind, he now runs it and I reset it up, so I said, “Listen, you can do anything you want as long as you hit a 25% minimum profit margin on the business. And have fun.” And so I don’t know the names of the employees. I don’t know them personally. It’s a fully self-managed business that I’ve exited that I work zero hours year on. And a lot of things had to go right for that business to work because that was my seventh, if I can remember correctly, seventh software product. And there are all these different little nuances that can break a software business that you don’t know about until you’re in it and it’s breaking that I just correct each software product I build, I was like, “Okay. That didn’t work. That didn’t work. That didn’t work.” And by the seventh one, it is nailed and nailed hard.

And so through that experience of this failure and trial and error, a lot of people did want to learn, and so I put together these cohorts and taught them how to build software companies. But what I was really doing was teaching them the fundamentals of pattern recognition as it relates to entrepreneurship. And so, you know, I tell people, “I’m helping you build a . . . I’m going to help you build a software business.” But what happened is they learned how to build one of the most complicated businesses, which is a software business. And because they learned how to become an entrepreneur and cut their teeth with a software company, many of them have gone on to do really remarkable businesses because they’re far grade simpler than leading a software business. So that’s why a lot of the students that I worked with many of them are top of their field largely because they learned how to build such a difficult business and those same patterns translated over to the new things that they did. But with Pipeline, that’s a pretty fun story.

Andrew: I want to get into that story specifically after you were running it day to day, how you made the transition to having somebody else and other people run it. And then what are the problems that you had as you transitioned? But let me see if I understand this. You’re saying the net profit that you’re looking for is 25%, that means for every million dollars in revenue, it’s supposed to kick off a quarter-million dollars in profit?

Dane: Yep.

Andrew: And that goes to your bank account?

Dane: Yeah.

Andrew: You own what percentage of the business?

Dane: 88.5%.

Andrew: Who owns the other 11.5?

Dane: So Rajesh owns 10.

Andrew: Okay.

Dane: And then another one of my past CEO owns one. And then that CEO convinced me to give, the 1% CEO convinced me to give a 0.5% to someone else. I was like, “Fine. They could just have it.”

Andrew: Who’s the other person who gets 0.5%?

Dane: I don’t know if she’ll want her name mentioned, but she’s a bookkeeper, but she also is way more than that. So it’s nice to have . . . It’s nice to know that she’s getting something, I guess.

Andrew: You know, Dane, one of the things that I wonder about you is when you do these kinds of agreements with people, is it formal? Do they actually have shares in the business or it’s, “You get 10%. You get 0.5%. We’ll send over a check whenever I take money out.” It’ll work out.

Dane: My favorite businesses, Andrew, have no contracts. My least favorite businesses have stingy, untrustworthy, let’s get every I dotted and T-crossed partners. My favorite businesses are the ones that are done on a handshake. That being said, we did have like an email and writing and Paperless Pipeline did officially get documented with those numbers, I don’t know, a few years ago. But for the first six years, it was all on a handshake.

Andrew: And then they actually got shares in the business.

Dane: Yeah, they had them. And then we put it in writing.

Andrew: Okay. And today they have shares in the business.

Dane: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Today they do.

Andrew: All right. So you were doing it day to day. I remember you talking to customers. I think weren’t you also videotaping them and writing about them on your site?

Dane: Oh, yeah.

Andrew: Am I wrong about that? You were?

Dane: Yeah.

Andrew: And then you decided I’m going to move out and bring other people into run it. Who’s the first person who you brought into start leading the company? You don’t have to give me the actual name.

Dane: Well, it was a dude in that case.

Andrew: Okay. We’re not going to use a name is what you mean, right?

Dane: No, it’s fine. We could use it. It was Tim.

Andrew: Okay.

Dane: And so Tim asked to run it.

Andrew: Who’s Tim?

Dane: He was an entrepreneur friend of mine. He’s like, “Dude, let me run this business. I love it.” I was like, “Okay.” And that was it.

Andrew: That was it.

Dane: Yeah.

Andrew: And what kind of experience did he had before?

Dane: He had modest experience, but he had enough to do the job. He was very gifted at the technical side of creating products and software. He could made good websites. He made a web design. He was launching his own online lead generation agency for real estate. He was pretty aligned. He oversue, oversaw to oversue, oversaw the . . . He oversaw, like, the redevelopment and redesign of the product. And he did a really good job with that. The thing that Tim . . .

Andrew: So wait. When you passed on to Tim, it was, “You go run this.” And what? How much oversight did you give him? How much direction did you give him about the product and the way you do business?

Dane: Well, I got the pleasure of mentoring him for three or four years before . . .

Andrew: And so how did that work?

Dane: How did what work?

Andrew: How did the mentorship work? Was he the type of guy . . . I know you’ve had people just stay at your house. Did he stay at your house and you were talking?

Dane: Oh, yeah.

Andrew: You did?

Dane: Oh, yeah.

Andrew: So Tim lived at your house.

Dane: Yeah. We lived together.

Andrew: And you just talk business with him and then you’d let him go and run it?

Dane: Yeah. Yeah, pretty much. I mean . . . But it was three or four years of talking and there’s a lot of trust built. And I got to watch the way he builds businesses and I have a lot of respect for how he builds businesses. And when he asked to run it, you know, I was getting . . . another business was taking off for me, and so I needed to put my attention there, he’s like, “Let me run this for you.”

Andrew: Okay.

Dane: So he did. I feel like . . . I hope I’m answering these questions.

Andrew: Yeah. Let’s get into a specific thing that he did well with this kind of direction and one thing that didn’t work out.

Dane: Well, I didn’t like how slow the business grew with him. He didn’t grow the business very fast. But he did really help redesign the product. When I moved from Tim to Rajesh, Rajesh was a very, very good CEO for Pipeline. Both of these guys aren’t very heavy in sales. So they’re very heavy in product experience. But Rajesh he’s more so even heavy in sales. Like, he’s . . . We’ve got sales guys hired, we generate leads, sales guys do sales calls for the product, show how it plugs in the workflow, yada yada. That whole deal for the software. But with Tim, he spent about a year to a year and a half as CEO, and in that time of a year and a year and a half he redesigned the product to an immaculate level of quality, but he didn’t grow the business that much. Like, when I handed it off to Tim, I think that businesses at 700,000 a year.

Andrew: Okay.

Dane: When Tim left, I think it was like 1 million, which is decent. But when Rajesh came in, he’s like, “All right. Let’s look at our pricing plans. Okay. We’ve got $40 a month to $400 a month. Forty dollars a month, those guys are the biggest pain in the ass. They ask us the most questions, they fill out the most customer support requests, they take up the most amount of time to get implemented and they cancel the fastest. Every data point is against them.” So Rajesh was like, “All right. Cut the $40 plan,” profitability immediately went up. We started working with . . . We targeted our ideal customer, which is offices, you know, between 40 and 150 agents, and we cut out the low price plan. So, like, Rajesh would use data like a good CEO to innovate and move the company forward.

Andrew: Okay. So you were passing it on to Tim, and you said that he was good at improving the product. What did he do that made the product better?

Dane: He had a UI guy that he redesigned the product with.

Andrew: Okay.

Dane: Yeah. So my approach to entrepreneurship, Andrew, and just so you know, like, I want to create an innovation and how people think of entrepreneurship. And most entrepreneurs lead with idea, they lead with mechanism, they lead with their tool. I want to purport or proposed as entrepreneurs, we stopped doing that, and we lead with the desire of the desired end result of the customer. So my whole specialty in starting business is I obsess about what the customer desires as an end result. And then the mechanism that can fulfill that result could be 10 or 15 different mechanisms. I outsource mechanism. Elon Musk outsource mechanism, Jeff Bezos outsource mechanism. Entrepreneurs don’t do mechanism. So you’re asking me questions about mechanism when I don’t even really fucking care about mechanism as long as it’s delivering an end result.

Andrew: So what’s the end result that you told him to deliver for customers? Like, what’s . . .

Dane: A real estate transaction management platform.

Andrew: You just wanted it to be easy for your customers to put all the paperwork that they usually would have on paper into digital form. Was that it?

Dane: Yeah, yeah.

Andrew: Or how did you communicate the direction?

Dane: Well, okay. So, like I said with this sort of . . . I don’t know if it’s really an innovation, but it seems to be because most every venture capital pitch thing, all these things they start with idea. Here’s my idea. And I don’t fucking like it because it’s narcissistic, it’s self-absorbed, I think it’s dressed in ego, “Here’s my great idea.” Why don’t you get out of your mind, out of your ego and into the world and find someone and serve them instead? What do they want? What desired result do they want?

Now, this was somewhat revolutionary like nine years ago. Today with a lean startup and strategizer and all these guys are all saying build products people want. That’s what they’re saying. It’s good. Now, with Paperless Pipeline, the reason it was successful is because it’s all rooted within what a customer desired. So the customer desired . . . So in the paper world, the way it works is a realtor would come in and get their contract and they’d put their paper on a desk, then the person would come take the paper, work the paper and put it in a filing cabinet. Right? So that’s how it worked. But these engineers come and they start making these transaction management platforms and they’re like, “No, no. We’re going to change how you work, Mr. Realtor. We’re going to try to change your behavior.” How many NordicTracks still exist, right? Nobody uses a NordicTrack anymore because they don’t . . . That’s a change of behavior.

So what we did is we built a software product that mimics the offline world. And we did that because we were sticking to the desired end result of the customer. The desired end result of a customer was they want a paperless transaction platform that does not change how they work, so that’s what we did. And we had, like, eight competitors that came out, and they all tried to sell themselves as transaction management, but because they don’t understand the desired end result of the customer, the customer doesn’t want transaction management, they want something that doesn’t change how they work, and they also want a mobile real estate office. They don’t care about transaction management.

So I just came out and made this huge splash because of these few simple distinctions. So I built the product. I oversaw . . . I hired the developer. I mocked up and drew initial UI with my pen and paper. I hired a UI guy to make those better. I oversaw the product. I met with the customer. I flow-charted out all the ways the transaction would flow. I did all the pattern recognition to make sure it wouldn’t change our flow. I spent three years overseeing every detail of the building of the software product so it would work to a good degree. At three years in, we realized the product was way too old and it needed a complete redesign to look quite a bit better and it changed a few functionalities of how things work. Not much. So, basically, you can say Tim gave the product a facelift, if you want to say.

Andrew: Based on what? You told him, “This is old. Now update it.” That’s all the direction you gave him or what? I’m trying to understand how you . . .

Dane: Yes. That’s it.

Andrew: That is it. That is it.

Dane: That’s it.

Andrew: You said, “This is all updated.” And so do you leave it to him to know that your style is to talk endlessly to customers and see if this is what they want and to make sure that they’re willing to buy it or do you let him do it his own way?

Dane: Well, I mentored him for four years so he knew to do that.

Andrew: Because every night you would sit and talk and go over how he could be doing things, he’d tell you his problem, and you’d give him a suggestion for how to solve it.

Dane: Well, yeah. I don’t guess in business. And when I do guess I get my fucking ass kicked. Like, I get . . . If I guess at something, it just feels good at the time, it was great idea, but then I guess that the customer will like this and figure out does it work. So every single time we make a UI, we’d connect with . . . Zoom didn’t exist so we would use GoToWebinar and share screen and show them the design and ask them to try to point and click where they would use it.

Andrew: With an individual customer. You say, “Let’s get on this meeting.” You tell . . . “Here’s what we’re designing. Just click and show me how you use it.” They clicked and showed you how they used it. If it didn’t make sense, you would instantly know it. And the two of you were doing it at the same time.

Dane: Yeah.

Andrew: Okay.

Dane: To a certain degree. I mean, this is like . . . This is about eight years ago now, so it’s a little hazy. But we had around 200 to 300 paying customers. So we’re like, “Hey, we’re going to redesign the platform. Can you try and use the new design and we’ll see what you think?”

Andrew: Okay.

Dane: But all these details are so minor to me because what I focus on is, “Who’s the customer and what result do they want?” Once I’ve got married to these two things it’s like Hiten Shah would say, “Don’t marry your product. Marry the problem.” Once I get married to the customer and the desired end result they have, we can be flexible with 100 different ways to get there. So, you know, you walk into a tech company and they’re like, the sky is falling, the tech is getting outdated and they’re worried they’re going to be obsolete. It’s like, no, you’re not a tech business. You’re in the business of delivering a result. What result is your tech deliver? Get clear on that and then you won’t have to worry about keeping your tech up today.

Andrew: It’s always, who’s the customer? What result do they want?

Dane: Yeah. So, when you . . . In terms of how I build businesses at lightspeed is I get really clear on three things. The clear customer, a clear result, and a clear mechanism. That’s it, man. So I launched a podcast where I mentor people and I show them how to make money in business without compromising who they are. And I’ve got, like, 15 millionaires now to back up the results and what we’re talking about.

But what these people all learn, the first thing I felt . . . I got, like, 35 of these interviews I’ve done now. And I’m telling all these people how to start businesses. And every single one of these 35 people, Andrew, they’re all different folks. I got an 80-year-old, like a semi-professional video game player. All these weird demographics of people coming on that want to start businesses. I tell every single one of them the same thing and with the same fundamental principle and I just do a few different tactics.

The same three things I tell every person is you get a clear customer and a clear result and a clear mechanism. When you get those three things, you’ll build a business at lightspeed. So, if you’re not happy with your current business or any current business isn’t working or flying or in full-on harmony, it’s likely because you’re not clear on the customer, you’re not clear on the result, you’re just freaking making up a mechanism. Right? So you’re muted, by the way. You’re muted. But like . . .

Andrew: What do you mean by mechanism?

Dane: The tool, the product, the idea, the concept. It could be a candle, it could be a book, it could be a software product, it could be a television.

Andrew: You know what? Maybe we could be more specific. Is there one of the customers or one of the people that you’ve mentored who’s done this who’s found a customer result?

Dane: Well, Paperless Pipeline is a mechanism.

Andrew: So the mechanism is this software?

Dane: Yeah.

Andrew: And that’s all it is.

Dane: Yeah.

Andrew: Versus a service. And once you stick with software, you’re saying you’re going to stick with that, you’re not going to switch to services . . .

Dane: No.

Andrew: . . . or vice versa.

Dane: So clear customer, clear result, clear mechanism. I don’t want you guys to, like . . . This is literally the Holy Grail for business. If you look at, like, Dave Ramsey. Dave Ramsey is one of the biggest financial gurus in the space. His clear customer is a couple that’s in debt. His clear result is to become debt-free. His clear mechanism is something called the debt snowball. Right? Pay off your highest interest rate credit card first and then snowball it down.

If you go to daveramsey.com, on the top of the page, you’re going to see a couple holding a picture that says, “We’re $40,000 debt-free in 23 months,” or something like this. Clear customer, clear result, clear mechanism. You do this shit, your business flies. So that’s what I did with Paperless Pipeline and that’s what, like, businesses that really become successful very quickly do. So, when you ask me questions about mechanism, it’s like kind of an insignificant piece. As long as the mechanism works well and delivers the result, like, my . . .

Andrew: But getting the mechanism to work is hard. Getting somebody who is working for you to not trust their gut, but instead keep going back to customers is hard, right?

Dane: It is. It definitely is.

Andrew: So the mechanism is hard and you’re saying one way you would know that it’s right is by taking your software to customers, showing them what you plan to create for, asking them for their feedback. That’s one way that you do it. What about when you’re telling someone, “I hired you, but I don’t want you to trust your gut. I know you’re a great designer, I want you to still show it to someone else”? Doesn’t that happen a lot?

Dane: I’m confused with the question.

Andrew: I want to get into this . . . I feel like this is just overly simplistic. I want to get into the specifics then of how the mechanism works or how you guide someone towards improving the mechanism. If the mechanism is the software. That’s not an easy thing where you just tell someone, “I hired you. All you have to do is fix the mechanism so that we can get the results for the customer that we pick.” You need to give them a little more guidance. No?

Dane: Yeah.

Andrew: Okay. And so what kind of guidance do you give these guys? What kind of guidance did you give Tim? What kind of guidance do you give Rashid? And then where did it fail when you were managing to them? When you were giving them direction, where did it not work?

Dane: Well, mechanism won’t fail if you’re clear on a customer and clear on a result, because you can, like . . . If the mechanism fails, like, you just try a bunch of shit. And if it doesn’t work, you keep trying. So, like, on my first version of the mechanism for Paperless Pipeline, the customer didn’t like. So we built the first version in eight weeks.

Andrew: Okay.

Dane: I got the UI built. I used Backpack from 37signals, which no longer exists, as the template. And then I hired a guy from Google Groups to code the program because the Google Groups has really great coders just waiting around in there. And then I had him build the first version of the product, I showed it to the customer. The customer is like, “No, no, you forgot this really big feature. I don’t want this.” So then we took the mechanism back, we added the feature, and then we brought it in. But once you have clear customer and clear result, mechanism can fail a bunch on the way there. So I do the best I can depending on the situation to evolve the mechanism.

But like, as I was saying, like, people are obsessed with what the tool does and it doesn’t . . . So I was on another podcast, Andrew, and the guy asked me he’s like, “So how do you disrupt? How do you become innovative?” And I was like, “I don’t worry about innovation or disruption. I worry about a clear customer and a clear result because that becomes very innovative.”

I was at my chiropractor’s office and I heard him pitch in to someone at the front desk. And at the end of the call, I thought I heard him say, “Well, fuck you very much,” and hang up. I was like, “I’m pretty sure he said thank you very much. No. I must have been here in something.” He comes back in the room and I say, “Hey, did you say fuck you very much when you hung up?” He’s like, “I most certainly did. I was talking to an insurance company.”

And so if I asked him what his desired end result is, is he would like to get his insurance information without talking to someone on the phone. So I have a clear customer, a chiropractor, a clear result to get insurance information without having to talk on the phone. If I now go to work to put a team together to figure out how in the world you would do that, and I deliver that, that would be somewhat supposedly innovative for the chiropractic industry, but I wouldn’t necessarily know how to solve that mechanism but we put our brains together and figure out one thing or the other and it would be done. Is this too . . .

Andrew: Give me an example of one . . .

Dane: Is this still too simple?

Andrew: I think it . . . I’m getting it but it’s not detailed enough. Like, I’d like to see how it’s done specifically. Maybe we can come back and talk about one of the people who you featured in your book who’s gone through this process and found the mechanism. And the book, of course, is called “Start from Zero.” Why don’t I take a moment to talk about my first sponsor? It’s a company called HostGator. You told me before we started you used HostGator. What did you use HostGator for?

Dane: My whole life changed because of HostGator.

Andrew: Really?

Dane: Yes, definitely, because I was sitting there as a real estate agent and I heard two realtors . . . I was making my own website. I knew just enough to be dangerous. Like, I have to Google CSS, I have to Google HTML and I do enough to be dangerous, like, I break stuff. But I was, like, “How do I host?” I go to hostgator.com, it’s like eight bucks a month for unlimited domains. And I was like, “Damn. It’s awesome.” And I was like, “Okay. These realtor websites are 50 or 100 bucks a month.” I was like, “I’m not going to do that. I’m going to make my own. I’m too cheap.”

Two realtors in the other room were talking. One realtor says, “Hey, man. How much do you charge . . . How much do you pay . . . I don’t like my website. How much do you pay for your website?” And the realtor is like, “Oh, man, I love my website.” He’s like, “Well, how much do you pay?” He’s like, “I pay 100 bucks a month.” and I was like, “Jeez. A hundred bucks? Like, $8 unlimited domains, I could make so much money.” And then the other guy goes . . . And I was like, a hundred bucks, like, my stomach drops I was like, “No way.” And the other realtor goes, “Wait. Only 100? Dude, I pay 200 for mine.” And then the rest was history. I was like, “I’m going to get into software.” So HostGator had the first blimp of me getting it. So I pay 175 bucks a month still to HostGator for my old software tools that I built way back in the day.

Andrew: Because it’s still hosted on HostGator.

Dane: Yeah.

Andrew: Wow. So let me ask you this. If somebody was listening to us today and they said, “I want to start something.” And I were to say, gift them HostGator account, or maybe they were to go online and see that it costs just a few bucks a month and they’ve signed up for it. What’s an idea of . . . Actually, I was opening up a new tab. What’s an idea that they could pursue with this new site, with this new hosted package from HostGator?

Dane: Well, I would encourage someone to start a business and just for the aspect of learning. Don’t start a business to become successful. Start a business for the aspect of learning. What that means that and affords you, your identity is not invested in it, it doesn’t mean anything about you if it’s successful. You’re just doing it to learn. Once you’re doing it to learn, you’re going to pick the business where you’ll learn the most. I would recommend sticking with outsourcing mechanism. Don’t become the technical expert. Outsource the expertise. So I would encourage you to build a content marketing site around a very niche subject and hire content writers to write around that area of expertise. So let’s pick . . . Let’s fucking . . . I’m cursing a lot.

Andrew: I know it’s a good one. It’s okay to curse. One thing that I’m noticing is interesting is a lot of people want to create content like podcast, video, and so on. There’s a thing about microphones lately where people are fascinated by what the right one is and so on. I don’t know if this is what you’re talking about, but the right equipment to record a podcast or record a YouTube it’s just fascinating to people.

Dane: Oh, it is.

Andrew: But if that’s not the right topic for you, go with something else, but to me, that feels like a topic that’s especially hot right now.

Dane: That’s good. And I’ve lost a lot of money by overestimating someone’s intelligence. Like, I’m like, “It’s a microphone. Just go to Amazon and pick one that’s . . . ”

Andrew: Right.

Dane: Just go to Amazon and pick a five-star mic and hit Add to Cart. They’re like, “No. I need to know the pros and cons and I need . . . ”

Andrew: And what’s the mixer? And what’s this? Right?

Dane: Yeah. So overestimating customer intelligence has cost me a lot of money. But in terms of like a website, I would do a business to learn and I would start a content site on, like, how to use a metal detector to find treasure, right? And so then I would go on Upwork, and I would look up expert content writers and I would create a 10 to 25 blog website and I would hire it out and so you could see what it’s like to really be the owner of something and not get caught in mechanism. And I would do it on HostGator and I would do it just to learn.

Andrew: It’s so interesting. And Dane, you wouldn’t have the person who’s listening to us write the content themselves at first.

Dane: Absolutely, not.

Andrew: No.

Dane: Never. Never.

Andrew: Because?

Dane: No.

Andrew: Most people would have said if they’re fascinated by metal detectors, they should be the ones getting the metal detectors, testing them out, writing about them. If they’re fascinated by mics, that’s a topic they’re going for, they should just write about mics to understand . . .

Dane: No.

Andrew: Why not?

Dane: No. So the first . . . So the book “Start from Zero” book, it’s broken down into seven different learning adventures. If you go on seven different learning adventures, you’ll know how to effectively start a business from zero. So, if you’re unhappy with your current business, read the book to reboot it. So, if you are a new entrepreneur and you come to me and say, “Dane, I want to start a business.” I say, “Okay, great. You want to start a business? The first thing I would tell you is the three little rocks. The three little rocks are very important.”

But to shorten this up, I’ll say, “Here’s a little rock 2. Little Rock 2 is the cardinal rule of successful entrepreneurship. And damn it, you better have this burned into your head or you will lose a lot of money.” The cardinal rule of successful entrepreneurship is we do not get to decide what works. So don’t pick your passion because, I tell you, you could be passionate about metal detectors and nobody gives a flying flip about them and you’re going to be probably pretty lonely over there with your great passion.

I tell you what? It’s very exciting to do something that works. And since you don’t get to decide what works, don’t do your passion, do what works. And now you can ideally blend the two as you start to do this, but if you’re doing your first HostGator site, your first thing, go for something that you know works. And since you don’t get to decide what works, like, I talked to a video editor and I’m asking him about B-Roll music for his backgrounds for his videos. And I say, “Is B-Roll music of interest to you as a video editor?” He’s like, “Oh, dude, I’m obsessed with B-Roll music. My clients want the best B-Roll music. B-Roll music is like half the video. I have to have good B-Roll music.”

And I go, “So you currently pay money for B-Roll music?” He’s like, “Yeah.” I’m like, “Are you happy with that?” He’s like, “You know, I don’t really like B-Roll music that much. I’d like a better thing.” I say, “Great. Customer, video editor. Result, B-Roll music.” Now, mechanism, I could post on Craigslist and find a pianist to record me some music. I outsource mechanism to the pianist. Now, did I get to decide if that videographer likes B-Roll music? No. Did I get to decide if you would pay for it? No. I don’t get to decide what works. You don’t get to decide what works. If your product isn’t working, that’s not your fault unless you keep trying to make it work. You don’t get to decide. We just don’t.

So I wouldn’t say find your area of passion and write about it, one, because that’s being a technician and technicians do not build great wealth. Entrepreneurs build great wealth because technicians trade time for money. Entrepreneurs trade time for freedom. That freedom is a technical term called equity. And that’s like the primary thing that I usually teach people is like, do not . . . A chiropractor is a gifted technician. A neurosurgeon is a gifted technician. You want to hire the chiropractor. You want to hire the neurosurgeon. You want to hire the content writer. Those are the things you do.

So do business to learn. Get in the business of ownership because if you want real freedom, like, you want to set it up so you build equity every single day. The top entrepreneurs I know every single day they have a little more equity than they did the day before. And after 10 years, they got a ton of equity. Technicians after 10 years have no equity. They have no freedom. So, if you learn to write content, I mean, yes, writers do make passive income because an article now exists without you, that could be a form of equity. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, but, you know, you couldn’t pay me.

Like for my podcast, I mentor people one on one. And say I could charge two grand an hour or something for one on one coaching. You couldn’t get me to do it. Like my nervous system will not allow me to exchange time for money because that’s in the technical role. Once I’ve made two grand once I’m done, I have nothing to show for it. But in my podcast, I’m mentoring these people for free, teaching them how to build businesses for free because when I’m done, I’m done hit recording, I have equity.

Andrew: Because that podcast episode then goes on.

Dane: Yeah.

Andrew: All right. Let me close out the ad for HostGator by saying . . .

Dane: Okay.

Andrew: It’s actually much cheaper now than what you pay, Dane.

Dane: Wow.

Andrew: I’m looking at the price right now online, hostgator.com/mixergy, for what looks like it starts at 3.98 a month. You get that unlimited domain package that you were just talking about. And that comes with unlimited domains, it comes with unmetered disk space, email addresses, everything you need to get started, including, if you’re not happy with it, a money-back guarantee, but I promise you will absolutely be happy. And if you don’t, if you’re not, come back and tell me. My email address is andrew@mixergy.com. I always watch my sponsors to make sure they take care of my . . . My audience.

Dane: Can I say something about HostGator?

Andrew: Yeah.

Dane: They’re good. And, like, my servers would crash and then I would, like . . . Because it was a shared server.

Andrew: Yeah.

Dane: And so then I get in the chat and they’d help, like, right away. And then I get them in chat and I was like, “Yo, is the founder in the company right now?” And they’re like . . . I think, like, it’s the owner, the owner of HostGator there they are like, “Yeah, he’s here. He’s here every day.” And I’m like, “Who is he? What’s this guy? He must be a genius. Tell me everything you can about him.” And I was, like, grilling the customer support about the founder of HostGator. I’m blown away.

Andrew: And they’re open about it. There’s a sponsor who wanted to sponsor here that I can’t figure out . . . Well, I don’t know exactly if they want to sponsor or there was an interest on our part or whatever. We started a conversation apparently. And anyway, bottom line, I couldn’t figure out who owns a company. I couldn’t figure out who started the company. How do you work with someone like that? All right, hostgator.com/mixergy. Go start your company. And I really like what Dane was saying before about just go do it as a way of . . .

Dane: Learning.

Andrew: . . . practicing, of learning, of experimenting without even looking for the result. All right. I see where we’re going. Let me see if I can ask you about a specific. Someone who is in your book.

Dane: Well, pause your question. So Paperless Pipeline. The mechanism for Paperless Pipeline since I know you love this mechanism stuff. So I used to be really obsessed with mechanism. I used to really like it. I’ll tell you, if you sit around a table full of people making 100 grand a month each, they don’t talk about mechanism. They talk about marketing, they talk about systems, they talk about customer acquisition. They are talking about product. But anyway, product is important, but, like, if you get to, like, people that are just, like, zero to 10 grand, they’re obsessed with their idea. People at 100 grand a month or so you’ll notice they don’t talk about their products. So it’s very interesting to not. I just want to really start planning that in the seed. Product is critical. And once you get to a certain level, it’s done.

With Paperless Pipeline, we had a feature where if you hovered over a PDF, it would instantly show you a preview of the document. So we wanted to streamline transaction management for a real estate company. So we made it so you could scan paperwork directly into Paperless Pipeline and then assign it to a transaction like they do in the offline world. Then once the PDFs were in there, we wrote a script that would crawl and take an image of every PDF, store each image in the database. It doubled our hard drive costs. It doubled the storage cost of the entire server, but it gave you instant access to look at a document without having to download it. That kind of instantaneous access to a PDF document when you’re reviewing 40 documents an hour saves a lot of time in building your product. And that’s like one distinctive feature that really helps.

But those mechanisms take care of themself when you really figure out what the customers really wanting because you watch them, you obsess about them, you see they want to move quicker. And that’s what helps you innovate the product and the features. Does that make sense?

Andrew: It does, but then isn’t that what we want more details on here? Don’t we want to know more about how to do that?

Dane: Sure.

Andrew: And how to more importantly, if you’re hiring somebody, to run your company, how to work with them so they could do that?

Dane: I mean, I’ll do my best to answer.

Andrew: Okay. Yeah. How can you pass that on to someone else? What’s the process for doing it and for coming up with a mechanism? And then how do you train someone else to do that so that you can walk away and have someone like Rajesh take over?

Dane: You know, I think I got lucky with Rajesh.

Andrew: Okay.

Dane: He’s just so damn good. And I keep him really happy and I take great care of him and there’s a tremendous amount of trust. And every quarter he messages me on Skype how much I withdraw into the business. And it’s just such a beautiful relationship. And I call up Rajesh and I’m like, “Rajesh, I heard that this transaction management stuff is going to be obsolete and the RE/MAX franchise is going to be going all in this one direction, we’re going to lose all these customers. And what should we do? And I’m over-dramatizing a little bit, but that’s kind of how I felt on the inside, but I was playing a little more cool on the outside. And he said, “Well, Dane, the RE/MAX makes up about 10% or 11% of our customer base, so I wouldn’t really worry about it.”

I get kind of lucky finding someone like that. But I would say if I’m training someone to run a business, I use my intuition largely to do it. Is this person going to be badass at this? Okay. Give it a shot. And I intentionally am hands-off of it. But I would do the same things that Bezos probably say, you know, customer obsession, obsessed with the customer.

Andrew: Okay.

Dane: Be customer-obsessed because if you’re obsessed with the customer, that will determine what your headline says on the landing page.

Andrew: I get it. I’m just feeling, like, I’d want to know how you do it. What do you do with the customer? How do you pass that on to Rajesh? Or maybe you’re just saying, “Listen, I got lucky with Rajesh. He understands this stuff. I’m leaving it to him.”

Dane: No. When you talk to a real estate company and you say, “How many times have you tried to go paperless?” You say, “Well, you know, most companies have tried to go paperless many times and they back out because the system is so complicated.” So we asked him, “How many times have you tried to go paperless?” And they say, “We tried about three times.” “Okay. So tell me about the first time. Tell me about the second time. Tell me the third time. Tell me the thoughts that you were thinking in your head when you were signing up. Tell me the turning point when you decided to back out. Tell me what your greatest dream would have been when this thing was falling down.”

And you ask all these questions to customer and now you have this deep intimacy with them around the times that they failed and all those things can become the marketing copy on the website itself, so it’s like, you know, “How have you tried to go paperless before? Did these bad things happen to you when you tried? Well, this product was built so none of those things ever happened. Welcome to Paperless Pipeline.”

Andrew: Okay. I get it. All right. I sense that this is not the stuff that you love talking about, especially not eight years ago. Here’s what I noticed that you do love talking about.

Dane: I’m sorry, Andrew. I do like talking about it. It’s just I don’t mean to seem impatient. I’m just like, I consider this stuff basic. Maybe it’s not.

Andrew: I don’t know that it is, but I did sense before we got started where you felt the most passion was when you told me about the four-letter word in business. What’s a four-letter word and business? I actually wrote that in big letters here in my notes because I said, “This guy is really coming back to this phrase a lot.” What’s the four-letter word?

Dane: Well, I’m not going to say the words right away because you’re going to roll your eyes if I do, so I’m going to . . . Again, because it’s very important and it can make you a ton of money and make things really good. But I’ll start by telling a story of how I do it and I’ll tell you what the word is. So I’m launching a new product and it’s to help entrepreneurs with mindset, help entrepreneurs specifically with anxiety. Right? So a lot of times entrepreneurs wait to feel better until their webinar works, wait to feel better until their sales letter is done, wait to feel better until their funnel is awesome.

Andrew: I will feel good when I make this much money. I’ll feel good when this part of my business is figured out. Yeah, I’ve been there.

Dane: Yeah. Yeah. So have I until I realized that that was actually creating suffering, and I could feel good right now, and then I could use that feel-good feeling to be more creative and have more energy, I wouldn’t be stressed. So what happens is, since I do customer and end result and outsource mechanism, I found a great mindset expert to help people feel good right now. He’s my mechanism. Right? So now I’ve got the customers and entrepreneur with anxiety, I got the desired result is they want to feel good. Then I’ve got the mechanism of the guy who can help entrepreneurs feel good.

So now that I’ve got that I go to start writing this letter in a Google Doc. And I’m like, “Okay. I want to use this four-letter word to make this product a success.” So what I end up doing is I write a letter, I go on Facebook, and I say, “Hey, who are my fellow entrepreneurs who run on stress? Send me a message.” So then I get people, “Hey, I run on stress. Hey, I run on stress.” And then I say, “Hey, thanks for writing me. I really appreciate it because it’s vulnerable for me to admit something like that. I’m putting together a program to help entrepreneurs run without stress so they can get more done and they’re more creative because they’re not trying to manage the stress at the same time. Can I show it to you and get your feedback on it?” And they say, “Yes.”

So I send them a Google Doc, and then when I say, “I don’t want to know whether you want the program or not. What I want to know is what your full experience is reading this entire letter.” Right? So then they reply back and they say. Okay, this and this and this. And so then I send it to another guy and I said, “Do you want . . . ” I say, “I’m starting to get better at this. I’m innovating it as I’m going.” I say, “Tell me on a scale of 1 to 10 how bad you want this thing after you read it, this help with anxiety,” which is like a free audio that helps an entrepreneur with anxiety. The guy replies back, he says, “I want it 8 out of 10.”

And I say, “Okay. Tell me what would make it a 10 out 10. Tell me what you would lose sleep over, like I have to have this, I’m losing sleep over it. Be imaginative, tell me anything.” And then he says, “You know, actually, I just don’t like that you use the word happiness in the letter because I think that when people try to sell happiness, it’s just a big trigger for me and it just makes me turn off and feel slimy because people try to sell me happiness all the time.”

So I went back into the letter and changed happiness to contentment and satisfaction. Then we went and I started to make a few other changes. And then he said . . . But he said, “You know what, Dane, actually? I want that audio at a 10 out of a 10 now because I feel so cared for by you, because you’re asking about my opinion.”

So we now are innovating this product and we don’t have a website for it, we don’t have a logo, we don’t have a product even created. We have nothing but a relationship with the customer and their desired end result and a Google Doc explaining what the mechanism might be. Now, this process is so exciting to do because what I do now is I go out to this person and I ask him, and then we keep innovating it until we get to a point where I was, “I need an audio. Let me know when the audio is. Is the audio ready yet?” And we got the letter to that point.

The thing that drove me that whole time in that four-letter word is love. Love for this person, love for this man, love for him to have a better life. So this is a very different motivation than most people in business because most people in business the motivation is profit, the motivation is to generate a result, and while those are nice, you don’t ever hear someone usually say “My motivation is love my customer.” Even Jeff Bezos says it’s customer obsession. But to what end? For a more successful Amazon? Right?

Like, if you talk about the dream desire of loving someone, then if you put a letter in front of them and it doesn’t resonate with them, then you haven’t effectively loved them where they’re at. And I’m talking about romantic love. I’m talking about the kind where, you know, if you’re Tide and you watch a mom using Tide in the washing machine and you watch them pour the Tide in that cup, and then they pour the cup in the washing machine and they put that cup back on the top of Tide and it’s all messy and the laundry detergents getting everywhere, that person is sitting there with the intention of love they’re like, “This is not a good process for a woman to do. Let’s give them a tablet.” And then the tablet was born because people were watching how moms used Tide, similar thing with this.

So, if you’re driven by love, you’ll actually notice that . . . If I would articulate this in a couple of sentences, if you’re driven by love, you’ll notice the subtle distinctions that break rapport with your customer that when addressed explode the amount of attention they give you and also explode the amount of money they give you because they feel so understood, so gotten, they can’t help but buy from you. So that’s how I would . . . That’s what I would say with the four-letter word is like how could I love.

And what that means is, see, when we obsess about mechanism, Andrew, when we have a lot . . . Like, we have an area of expertise. Like, say your area of expertise is content marketing, right? You’re really good at content marketing. You write good old big blog posts and they generate all kinds of traffic. So then you start because you have this bias towards content marketing, you now talk with people, but you always try to subtly steer them towards content marketing. That’s not love. That’s your agenda.

So what happens if you sit with a business owner, and you release all agenda, and then you create true intimacy with that person and you say, “What are you obsessed with right now? What are the dominating thoughts in your head? What are the things that you think about on a day-to-day basis? What would your dream solution to these thoughts be? What would your course magic wand, the famous magic wand question to this be?” And then you sit with someone and you find out they want something completely different. But if you’re not an expert at the mechanism, how do you fill it if you believe that you have to be the person to fill it?

So the amount of wealth that I’m building now is like 4X to what I did before by dropping my agenda for what I think people should have and truly, truly asking them about what they want. And it’s just something I’m getting reacclimated and re-humbled to every day because my ego is so strong that I think I know what the person wants. And then when you sit down and ask someone what they want, it’s usually very, very simple.

Like, I did the process with my partner when she was pregnant and all she wanted was to cure her pregnancy nausea. Right? So now that I know she wants to cure her pregnancy nausea, I have customer pregnant person, desired result end nausea. Now I can go to acupuncturist, I can go to naturopathic doctors, I can find all kinds of mechanisms. So I find in terms of not . . . In terms of being . . . We don’t get to decide what works.

Paperless Pipeline was my seventh software product. And when I decided to build that, I declared out to the universe that I wanted to sell insulin to a diabetic because I wanted to sell a product that would be really hard for people to cancel because people were buying other software products and canceling them very easily. And then truly, like, just loving the customers I had, taking great care of, thinking about how I can serve them.

I had a customer, one of my first 50 customers, his name was Wally Wilson. And he was one of my first 50 customers. And he referred me five other people to my software product, and I remember almost all five of them. And I called him 11 years later, like, last year I called him because I was just thinking about Wally. And I called him up and I said, “Wally, this is Dane Maxwell. Do you remember me?” He said, “My God. I sure do, Dane. How have you been?” And I said, “Wally, I’m good.” And I just got emotional and tears in my eyes and I said, “You know, I just wanted to say thank you because you really changed my life and you believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, and you’re one of my favorite customers of all time, and you had such a positive impact on me. I just want to say, thank you.”

And he said . . . He started getting pretty emotional. He said, “You know, Dane, I’m towards the end of my life and I’m starting to question a lot of my decisions and I’m wondering if what I did actually mattered. And so the fact that you actually called me to say this it means a great deal to me. And because I love Wally. And he felt that love from the day we met and referred me five different people.

So, when I say that the most powerful four-letter word is love, like, I just want to give you permission to love your customer, permission to love the mechanism, that it’s built with love, that it’s got when you hover over a link, the PDF comes up instantly because you’re going to do 40 in an hour and every half a second you save per document saves your life, saves your time, or your life to the point where I walk into my customers’ offices and they’re like, “Hey, this is Dane, the founder of Paperless Pipeline,” and they beam joy at me because they’re so happy, because I was obsessed with making their life incredible.

And I tell you what? That’s pretty much it. Like, that call to Wally was so incredible for me. And I didn’t . . . I’ve only ever done that with Wally. Like, Wally left a really positive impact on me. But so many cool things happen with that guy. He’s like, “You seem to know so much about the internet, Dane. Can you do search engine optimization for me and my business?” I was like, “Yeah. Google search engine optimization book.” I read the book, implement it for him, you know, because the mechanism can be figured out. When you have the customer and the result mechanism can be figured out.

So, you know, you see you’ve got like, if you’re listening, and I’m really grateful for you listening. If you, like, want to reboot certain aspects of your business, get really clear on clear customer and then clear result and then maybe rethink your mechanism because you can build a business at lightspeed when those things are in place.

Paperless Pipeline, that software product was built an eight weeks the first version, a software product in eight weeks. Usually, 12 is good. And I had to build seven products to get it to that.

But I didn’t mean to seem impatient, Andrew, or like dismissive when you were like, “But how do you figure out mechanism?” It’s just kind of a little different every time, but it kind of seems to reorient back to the same thing. And I also want to say, like, “Start from Zero” is a labor of love. That book has 100 and million percent of my heart in that book. And I wrote it for two years. And it’s like 300 pages in PDF form and 15 different case studies of people that went from employee to entrepreneur by making a fundamental identity shift. And each of the 15 people have personality assessments next to them so you can see what kind of personality type was successful.

And there’s four different brains that if you focus on building, you can really build a lot of business with. So, like, if you’re an entrepreneur and you’re passionate about entrepreneurship, like, I’d invite you to check out the book and see if you enjoy it, but what I also just want for the book with “Start from Zero” is for mothers and daughters and sons and just people that . . .

What I desire, Andrew, is a desire for everybody to try entrepreneurship for at least 90 days. Like, every single person in the world, I believe, should try entrepreneurship for 90 days because if they try entrepreneurship for 90 days, they won’t have to spend any of the rest of their life thinking about if they should have done it or not. And then if they did entrepreneurship for 90 days, no matter what else they did, after that they’d be super successful at because if you’re like, okay, the heart of entrepreneurship as you found is to find a painful problem.

That’s the heart of what I learned from you, Andrew. Find pain. So you teach someone to go out and find pain. Then they find the pain. Then you teach them how to find an expert to create a product around that pain, then you give that product to someone and they’re able to get a result with that and you’ve done that, and you’re like, “You know what? This isn’t for me.”

Now, let’s say you decided you want to be an actor. Well, you got an actor and you got 100 people all vying for a role towards the director. But you go to the director to the backdoor he say, “Hey, as a director, I’m just curious, what are your painful problems on a day-to-day basis?” You develop a relationship with a director and now you land the job as the lead role. So I just want, like, the heart of entrepreneurship is to start from zero. The heart of entrepreneurship is to start from no resources, no idea, no money, no experience and . . .

Andrew: That’s what this book is about, start from zero, how to start from nothing?

Dane: Yeah. No idea, no money, no experience, no credibility, absolute ground zero, which I think is the heart of entrepreneurship.

Andrew: Is there an example of somebody here in this book that has done that?

Dane: Most of them.

Andrew: Yeah, I see several. Is there one that you’d want to share with us? Dave Rogenmoser is one of my favorite people. I saw that he’s in the book. I like that you got him to give his assessment. I won’t reveal his number.

Dane: His personality assessment.

Andrew: There was one that I saw. I’ll say this. I don’t remember the exact number. But this is one where I was looking to see like how humble is he. To me he comes across a pretty humble person, but the book showed that he wasn’t super humble that he still has whatever the opposite of humble would be considered here. Is there one person whose story you want to share a little bit here?

Dane: You tell me which one you want me to talk about because there’s so many folks. Like, my favorite folks are the guys of, like, third world countries. Not third world, but like foreign countries. Like, the guy in the book he never even joined any of my courses, but he used these interviews and stuff and he ended up building a niche software tool that integrated CRM with Salesforce so you could do proper lead attribution tracking so you would know where to continue to pay for traffic. And it’s like . . .

Andrew: Oh, because it ties back to whether you got a customer or not.

Dane: And the true source of it.

Andrew: You’re talking about Mr. Julian in the Ukraine.

Dane: Yes.

Andrew: Yeah, I see him in here.

Dane: Yeah. And he has . . . His HEXACO which is the personality assessment that I use, hexaco.org, which I learned from . . .

Andrew: It’s this . . .

Dane: Tai Lopez mentioned HEXACO in one of his like YouTubes or whatever.

Andrew: Tai Lopez. You’re learning business tips from Tai Lopez.

Dane: No. But I happen to watch a moment when he . . .

Andrew: That one. Okay.

Dane: But I happen to watch a moment to . . .

Andrew: Okay. All right.

Dane: And I don’t . . . And Tai is pretty remarkable . . . He’s accomplished some pretty remarkable things, opinions aside. But he’s not my first choice of what I would learn from. But anyway . . .

Andrew: And I don’t want to put down his approach, but I thought that stood out. Okay. So HEX score is what you learned from him or you found out about HEX score from him. This is a personality assessment. And you’ve used this with many of the subjects in the book.

Dane: So, yeah. In the book, we did a statistical analysis of 30 financially free entrepreneurs. And we found the top five and the bottom five scoring personality traits. In addition to that, and the 15 entrepreneurs we have featured in the book, each entrepreneur has their HEXACO right next to it, so you can take your HEXACO and kind of compare and contrast where you rank against these people.

Mr. Julian is really nice because he’s higher with anxiety, he’s higher with fear, he’s higher with dependence. He’s not very . . . He doesn’t have very high social self-esteem. He’s not what you would say, like, a bustling Elon Musk. But he built a business around his personality traits instead of, like, fighting him. So he built a software product where he doesn’t have to talk to people because he hired someone to do the talking for him. And he started his . . . He started from zero. He didn’t have the idea. He may have written some of the code for the product, but I usually hire the software developer out to do that.

But Mr. Julian is great because he makes 20 to 40 grand or so a month with this little niche tool that’s a Salesforce plugin towards companies that have around 50 employees or more and helping them with sales attribution tracking. That’s a pretty cool example. So what he did is he started talking to people and he found out that they were really frustrated that they couldn’t figure out what marketing was working and what wasn’t. So he built a tool that solved that problem and he also built the business around having low social self-esteem.

And I had this . . . I was getting data on HEXACO and I was like, “Oh, there’s only a certain type that works.” And so my buddy was really low on, like, an attribute, I was like, “Oh. You’re not very prudent. You can’t be successful entrepreneur.” And he’s like, “No, Dane, I just hire that out.” And I was like, “Oh, I’m still learning. I’m still learning over here.”

But “Start from Zero” is a labor of love. It’s a fully comprehensive book, like, with something like “The Four-Hour Workweek.” It’s a phenomenal book. “Four-Hour Workweek” was incredible. What I found with “Four-Hour Workweek” is I ended up feeling manipulated by the book because it talked to me about a four-hour workweek, but it left me deeply wanting on how to do that. It wasn’t actually fulfilling on the promise in a way that I could actually execute. And I have a lot of respect for Tim and I hope to be on this podcast one day. But “The Four-Hour Workweek” left me wanting. And so this book won’t leave you wanting. It’s fully comprehensive. It has everything in it. It’s not going to try to sell you on a lifestyle. It’s just literally here’s how you build a badass business and it’s got everything in it.

Andrew: I’ve got a Google Doc here with one of the early transcripts, so I guess, maybe it’s the later transcript. How do people get the book? And when’s it coming out?

Dane: Well, the book is out March 31. And you can pre-order it now at startfromzero.com. But, you know, Andrew, like I said, I think you have one of the more intelligent audiences for podcast listeners, so I’ve set up a special URL for your listeners to get a book transcript so they don’t have to buy anything, they can just look at the book transcript because . . .

Andrew: What does the book transcript mean?

Dane: Oh sorry, a book excerpt.

Andrew: Like a chapter of the book.

Dane: Yeah.

Andrew: A book excerpt.

Dane: Yeah, it’s a book excerpt.

Andrew: Where do they get that?

Dane: startfromzero.com/mixergy.

Andrew: Mixergy, M-I-X-E-R-G-Y.

Dane: Yeah. And in that excerpt, you’ll see the five-question process that you can use to find really great products for your business to innovate on or sell. But I don’t want people to buy the book unless they’re going to read it. So read the excerpt and if you like what you read, then go ahead and get it, because I’m not looking for, like, New York Times bestseller, I’m not looking to get the most book sales. I’m looking to get the most books read. And also, like, if you want help on your business, like, to reboot your business or something, like, I’d love to hear from you and I’m happy to try to help if I can. And I just have a heart for entrepreneurs. It’s just such a fun space to help people rock at.

Andrew: The book “Start from Zero” meaning zero idea, zero cash, zero confidence, zero expertise, zero experience. And the site is startfromzero.com/mixergy.

Dane: Yeah, /mixergy. And you can find the podcast there too. But like I hope this was inspiring, Andrew. Like, one . . .

Andrew: Well, you know what? It’s interesting to see your process. It’s interesting to see what you mean by love. It’s also it helps me understand why . . . I don’t know if you can see my iPad here, but how many times do I . . . Where’s that? There it is. How many times I go on your Facebook and I see people post a photo of you wearing heart shirts? How many heart t-shirts do you have, dude? You’re wearing one right now.

Dane: Dude, I’m wearing a heart shirt right now.

Andrew: Yeah. And there’s another one here, another one there. The other one that I see is there’s a photo of you and a baby. Tell me about the baby.

Dane: Yeah. Well, I became a father.

Andrew: Look at that. How long ago and how’s it been for you?

Dane: I love it. And two or three months now. And oh, man, just, like, what that girl does to me . . . My heart is notoriously unconsciously protecting itself a lot. Like, it’s like, I feel protection come around my heart often. And when you look at your daughter and you see the same protections come over your heart, you can see, like, a real healing begin to emerge because if I’m not able to open my heart to my daughter, then I know that my emotions are lying to me about what is safe and what isn’t.

So I’ve been able to use my daughter as a great source of healing and also to really ground me because I’m happy that I left business to go to music for a while. I thought I would do music forever, but then as I started doing music, somebody came out of the woodwork and said, “Hey, Dane, a book publisher came and asked if I would write a book.” And I was like, “You know what? I do need to impart my entrepreneur knowledge in a book.” And so then I kind of like to surrender to the current of life and follow what life gives me, if you will. And so my idea was music forever, but then life kind of said, “Hey, you’ve got some pretty good gifts here in business that need to be imparted to the world.” So I stopped to create “Start from Zero.”

And I don’t feel like I came up with that name, Andrew. Like, my particular belief system is like there are ideas that are in the ether that anybody could pick from, and that idea was given to me to steward into the world, but, like, I don’t know if you’re the story like Michael Jackson and, like, Usher or something two very . . . No. Prince and Michael Jackson. And Michael Jackson had a dream about putting butterflies in one of the songs and Michael Jackson ended up rushing down to his producer like 4 a.m., “We’ve got to get butterflies in the song.” And the guy is like, “Dude, it’s 4 a.m. Go back to sleep.” He’s like, “No, you don’t understand. If we don’t get this, Prince is going to take the idea,” because Michael Jackson and Prince were both pulling ideas from the same current of ether.

You know you’ve heard these things before like, “I had that idea.” I think ideas go around to people to be steward and you can pick it or if you don’t pick it, it moves on to someone else. I feel like “Start from Zero” was a gift from God depending on a belief system or a gift from the universe, the gift from energy, a spirit, if you will, and it was sort of given to me, and then I was like, “Okay. I’ll make this a physical manifestation in the real world.” I’m sure I just lost half the audience, but I don’t care.

Andrew: You lost me. This is so Dane to me. It’s one of the things that I love about you and one of the things that I don’t relate to about you, this sense of like, open heart all the time. I’ll get text messages from you out of nowhere, “Andrew, I just wanted you to know . . . ” Like, you probably go more than, “I care very much about you.” You probably will say something like, “Andrew, I just want you to know I love you,” and I go, “Who writes text messages like this? My dad doesn’t even do that.”

Dane: Have you heard of the artist, John Mayer, the famous artist?

Andrew: Yes. Yes.

Dane: So have you heard of the song, “Say what you need to say. Say what you need to say”?

Andrew: Yes.

Dane: So they wrote that song and the producer was like, “How’d you write that song?” And John is like, “I didn’t. I opened up to the universe and it came through me and I wrote what I heard.” And it’s very common in art. And art really opened me up to this current. So I feel like I opened up and I heard, you know, Start from Zero as the brand, “Start from Zero” as the book, and I really see it as sacred work. Part of my karma and life purpose is to impart the gift of entrepreneurship in the world. And, you know, if it made it seem more believable to you, I could say, you know, in the middle of the night I got the idea call “Start from zero.”

Andrew: No. I’m with you. I’m with you. I think I’d relate better to you saying, “I did a bunch of Google searches and it turns out that this was this. And then I did what Tim Ferriss says which is I bought some ads to see what people clicked on more and it turns out Start from One didn’t really do well, Start from Zero actually beat it. So that’s the name.

All right. So there it is, “Start from Zero.” And I want to thank the sponsors who made this interview happen. If you need a website hosted or you hate your current hosting company and want to switch over to a brand new hosting company, go to hostgator.com/mixergy. And I’m grateful to them for starting us up here. And thank you to you for listening. Bye, everyone.

Who should we feature on Mixergy? Let us know who you think would make a great interviewee.

x