SupportNinja founder opens up about mental health

We’re going to find out about an entrepreneur who has done so well for so long but has gotten screwed a little bit.

Cody McLain is the founder of SupportNinja which offers support as a service. You know how much of a pain in the butt it is for you to manage your customer support email? And as your company grows, it becomes even harder and harder. Well, Cody said, “You know what? What if I just do it? I know it’s one of the hardest parts of business. I think I could do it.”

SupportNinja is an omnichannel provider of customer care, back office support solutions. We’re going to find out about this business. We’re also going to find out a little bit about his life before foster care and what happened to his parents.

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Cody McLain

Cody McLain

SupportNinja

Cody McLain is the founder of SupportNinja which offers support as a service.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. Joining me . . . actually, why am I saying joining me? I should introduce myself first. I’m Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. I’m also a person who is intensity is so . . . like I’m always so on fire, Cody, that literally I was on vacation just a couple of weeks ago. I was diving into every single wave I could if not using it as body surfing material to get me out. And I was literally yelling out loud, “Wow,” when a big way would come to the point where people are looking at me like, “Who are you saying wow to? You don’t know anyone in the water.” Because my family had gone back to take naps. And I was so exuberant, I dove headfirst into a wave that ended up being so shallow that I heard my head, I heard it crack. I had to go get an X-ray. I couldn’t run for a week.

But I’m that exuberant about the stuff that I do. Before we started, Cody McLain, who you’re about to meet said, “Andrew, you’ve done over 1,000 interviews. Are you still excited about it?” Yes, I’m super, super stoked. I’m so excited about this stuff because I get to ask the questions I’d naturally be wondering about anyway.

And so I’m at a point in my life where I get to do this stuff that I’m super excited about and get to dismiss every other thing that I’m not excited about. Almost . . . Actually, maybe exactly every other thing I’m not excited about. All right, we’re going to find out about an entrepreneur who I got to meet in person who has done so well for so long. And I’m going to say gotten screwed a little bit. I should say it in the intro. I’m looking at your face to see if you’re like comfortable talking about it. I think you’re going to be comfortable talking about the times where you got screwed. We’ll find out.

Cody McLain is the founder of SupportNinja. What they do is support as a service. You know how much of a pain in the butt it is for you to manage your customer support email? But you want to do it, you want to take care of them. And as your company grows, it becomes even harder and harder. Well, Cody said, “You know what? What if I just do it? I know it’s one of the hardest parts of business. I think I could do it. And so that’s what he’s done. He created SupportNinja. It’s an omnichannel provider of customer care, back office support solutions. We’re going to find out about this business. We’re also going to find out a little bit about his life before foster care and what happened to his parents. I also want to find out about the hosting company that he launched and what happened with his co-founders.

I know that there’s some sensitive issues that he may not be fully open about, but I’m going to push to the point where he can feel comfortable and maybe a little bit but beyond. We could do with thanks to two phenomenal sponsors. The first will help you hire developers that are the best of the best. And only one issue with them, Cody has uncovered it when he talked to them. We’ll bring that up. And the second if you’re doing email marketing, these guys are the best email marketing company out there. Today, Cody doesn’t use them. I’m going to persuade him that he should be switching over to ActiveCampaign. But that’ll happen all later when I talk about my sponsors. First, Cody, welcome.

Cody: Thank you. Glad to be here finally.

Andrew: “Inc. Magazine” has said what your revenue is. So we can talk openly. What was it 2018?

Cody: So I think it was a 4.89. But now like we’re up to like eight million or so. So we’ve like . . .

Andrew: Eight million so far this year in 2019?

Cody: We’re going to be somewhere around like 8.5 million at the end of this year. And then last year we reported for the 2019. I don’t know if that’s this year or last year. I think it’s last year.

Andrew: They’re showing 2018 revenue with $4.5 million. What did they ask when they want to confirm your numbers?

Cody: So they have to get a certified statement that you get either from your CPA and then your CPA signs it with their name. I think that’s the option that we went with. And maybe they’re the ones with the IRS statement and then they have to confirm directly with the IRS. I don’t know.

Andrew: Wow. How did it feel when you made the list?

Cody: So I’m actually writing a blog post on this, because to be honest, it didn’t feel like much. And I have everybody telling me like great job, like phenomenal. And they asked me how it feels and I go back to actually when I sold my first company. And I’m in the room. I’m in the boardroom. We’ve got the directors. We’ve got the CEO. And they’ve got the lawyer on the phone with the bank. And I signed the paper and then the lawyer tells the bank, “Okay, transfer the money,” and I log in and there’s a few extra zeros in my bank account. The CEO comes up to me and he says, “How does it feel?” And I said, “It feels good. Thank you, sir.” But in my head, I’m thinking, “God, like the next two days I’m going to have to be spending like within their office and I’m having to give them all the information that hand over the company.”

And just in my head I’m thinking like, “I hate these two days. Like I just wanted to be back home, buy all the material shit that I think is going to make me happy, that doesn’t make me happy.” And looking back at that moment, and then learning everything that that opportunity granted me because during after I sold the company, I was finally able to stop thinking about the company because that’s all I thought about, right? I was able to think about who I am. Understand like where I came from, like what I’m here to do, learning new skills, like pilots, scuba diving, and traveling. And now . . .

Andrew: That makes you more happy? That makes you happier to learn how to pilot an airplane? Happier than the day you sold your company?

Cody: Well, no, to fly an airplane it grants you a unprecedented level of flow. And I was going to talk about when you were talking about surfing too, that reminded me of a great book called “The Rise of Superhuman.” And in there, they’re talking about flow and how you’ve got people who just try and seek that flow out. And when you’re flying an airplane or whether you’re surfing on a wave, you’re in flow. You’re not thinking. You’re not thinking about what you’re doing. You’re just in the moment, right? And now that I’ve reached this other accomplishment of being not only at Inc. 5000 or an Inc. 500 but an Inc. 100 number 86, to be exact, it’s something where, you know, I tell people like it feels good.

But the thing I’m doing differently is I have a task in my to-do list where every day it just reminds me to remember I achieve something that 10 years ago I thought was impossible because I thought it was too stupid. I didn’t have a talent. I didn’t have the skill. And I’m having to think about it. And there’s an odd thing of when I spend just a few moments in my head thinking about how grateful I am to be here to have a successful company. Because there are so many other things, you know, of billions of people, I have this opportunity. And so at the same time when I tell somebody it feels good and in my head I’m just like to me it’s just like another task that I just checked off, but to actually think about it.

You know, it reminds me of the thing about the gratitude jar that I remember Tim Ferriss mentioned a while back. And the idea is that anything positive happens. You put it on a sticky note, and you put it in the jar, because we’re wired as humans to only pay attention to the negative stuff. It’s a lot easier to remember the negative points in our timeline than it is the positive. And the problem is you end up having people who don’t have the confidence because they don’t celebrate the small wins. They only focus on the negative and then that lowers their self-confidence. They never even try. But if you focus, if you celebrate the small wins, that gives you courage to then try and try and bigger and bigger opportunities.

Andrew: What’s the small win that you celebrate right now because you’re pushing yourself to celebrate in?

Cody: To be here with you, to be here on this podcast. Because I remember 10 years ago, honest to God, yeah, I’ve known about you in this podcast and I thought to myself there’s no way I’d be successful enough to be to actually interview Andrew Warner and to be here.

Andrew: So you think about this and then what is it going to allow you to do later on, because you’ve been aware of this win?

Cody: Because I can look back at all the shit that I had to go through and all the hurdles and all the challenges and all the successes and I can use that as mental strength to remind myself that I’ve gotten through everything so far, so there’s nothing I can’t get to. And that raises my belief in what I think is possible that I know I think it is possible to become a TED speaker. I think it’s possible to influence millions of people around the world to raise their own ambitions and dreams because I think they die in our childhood.

Andrew: Cody, what do you channel this confidence and ability towards? What’s an example of something that you say, “Because I’ve gotten here, I know I can get to that next step”? Because I have something similar. I was deep in debt at one point. I remember it was like $5 million. I would Dell a few million dollars because we bought some hardware from them. And at the time thought, “How do I even get through this? I would love to just fast forward my life for two years to see what happens here.”

And then eventually, I got through it by paying off the debt and within a couple of years. And whenever I’m in trouble I think back to, “I got past that. I could get past this trouble to.” What I don’t do is say, “Here is a big issue. I want to channel this self-belief, this realization that I’ve gotten past bigger hurdles towards this new thing.” And I’m wondering if you do that actively. And if you do, maybe there’s something I could do to be more active about using those past memories?

Cody: So I’m playing around with the blog post this week, and I call it “Reverse Meditation.” And it’s interesting practice I’ve started over the years. Whereas we all know meditation, you know, and everybody preaches meditation. It’s like amazing and everybody needs to be doing nowadays. But with most people who do meditation, you do it in the morning, you do it as a way of clearing your head, of centering yourself, of getting out all the anxieties and just focusing on what you want to be working on or just having more spiritual awareness of yourself. So when I sold my company, I bought this [autonomous] massage chair, like 18 grand, but I got it in eBay for 6K. It was like nothing but you can get a massage chair for like less than 1,000 bucks nowadays.

And interestingly, I developed this interesting practice where I have this aromatherapy that has like a lavender scent. I have a dim room lights. I have this heated blanket. I have this thing that you can pop in the microwave, you put on your eyes, that kind of makes your eyes nice and moist. I listened to this channel on di.fm. It’s called Space Dreams. And there’s no drums or anything. And in some ways, I described it as like a float tank experience. If you’ve ever been in a float tank, have you by chance?

Andrew: No. Never.

Cody: It’s sort of like a precursor to doing a psychedelics in a way because you’re removing all of the sensory stimuli. And I think that’s part of the problem in our current society is that we’re always distracting ourselves with our phones or you’re watching TV and you’re on your phone. And that doesn’t give our subconscious time to process or time to take those underlying thoughts and give them to our conscious. And that’s why in the shower, we always come up with great ideas. And that’s why I’ve got the shower pad that’s like the gift that I give the most to people because you always come up with ideas in the shower, but then you lose them because you didn’t have a place to write it down.

And we get those ideas in the shower because we’re not watching TV, you know, maybe we’re in our heads. We don’t see any visual stimuli, right? And so the reverse meditation going back to that is the first few times you get in the chair, you just think about what it’s doing to it. So it’s pressing my body, or it’s massaging my back, etc. But after you do the same routine enough times, then I’m able to retreat in my own head and I’m able to pull out the anxieties that I’ve had in the day because too often when we go on our bed and we have that monkey mind where we can’t stop thinking. We can’t go to bed. And there’s so much research about the various environments that we have. And we shouldn’t do anything but have sex and sleep in our bed. And you go into bed, you’re on your laptop and your subconscious doesn’t know, should I be working or should I be sleeping? And then you end up not being able to sleep because you can’t stop your head from thinking all these thoughts.

And so I have this separate chair that I will let this anxiety out. That’s why I call it reverse meditation. And I spoke with the guy who runs [meditationshift.net 00:11:27]. And he has his online course. And he was like a Buddhist monk. And I asked him like, “Is there anything in Buddhism or meditation teaching that you’ve ever learned that sort of like this opposite, where instead of trying to center your breath, instead of trying to observe your thoughts and just let them pass that you actually go down that rabbit hole of that thought and you explore what’s in there?”

And the thing that has kept me from going down like off the deep end is learning about stoicism. And that fundamental question when it comes to anxiety is, is there anything I can do about this right now? And the example I gave is I was recently audited by the IRS for 2019. And the thing with USPS now is that you can get an email, like 24 hours prior to actually getting the mail of what you’re going to get. And I see this IRS Treasury and I’m like, “Oh, God, oh, God, what’s happening?” And I’m thinking like the worst thing like, “Oh, I’m being audited. Like what’s going to happen? They’re going to take my money.” You know, all the worst things you can possibly imagine.

And I’ve often found, just to experience I think we all can relate is that often the anxiety and the worry is much more stressful and much more problematic than whatever actually ends up happening that we have anxiety about. And so when I saw this, I recognized this anxiety and I asked myself, “Is there anything I can do about it right now?” And of course there wasn’t. And I got my chair and I thought about this and I sort of go down the rabbit hole. I looked down all the various branches in the paths. And if there’s nothing I can do about it, I let it go. And there’s been times where I’ve had that anxiety where I’ve been sued or somebody said really something bad and you just can’t stop thinking about. We’ve all had those experiences where we can’t stop thinking. We have that rumination where we just can’t stop thinking about it. And we we’re so angry or whatever and . . .

Andrew: But you’re saying you sit in a chair and you say, “There’s nothing I could do about it so I’m going to let it go.” And you could just let it go?

Cody: Of course, that’s the simplest way I can explain it. And it doesn’t always work but there’s been times where I have that ruminating thought. And in the same exact 20-minute session, I was able to then explore about my future. I was able to look at the positive things. I was able to look ahead and ask myself, “Okay, I’m working on this website project,” or, “I’m working on this app. You know, let me explore that pathway.” And I was able to let go of that rumination and then explore the positive.

Andrew: I do that too. I allow myself to get excited about the thing I want to focus on, the thing that’s almost hard for me to let go of. And I think about that and that keeps me from worrying. The other thing that I do is in those moments, I do draw on the past experiences where I was supposed to have just crash completely. And I ended up doing really well. And so I think, “Well, look at all those times I thought things were going to happen that were terrible and they ended up not happening where I worked it out. And then by the way, I’m so excited about this other thing over here. Let’s think about that thing.” And I actively do it. What’s the company that you mentioned earlier that you sold?

Cody: Pacific Coast.

Andrew: How much did you sell Pacific Coast for?

Cody: About 700,000.

Andrew: Seven hundred thousand. What’s the most that you’ve had in your personal bank account at one time?

Cody: Like probably like because after taxes and I was over a lump sum maybe 400K.

Andrew: 400K And today you’re a millionaire because your business is doing millions of dollars in sales and it’s worth millions of dollars?

Cody: So I’m a millionaire on paper. And I think if I were to sell SupportNinja right now, it would be a good lump sum. But, yeah.

Andrew: And you guys are profitable. How profitable?

Cody: So I’d say if we wanted to be we could be 15% profitable, but we reinvest that back into the company.

Andrew: Okay. And the reason I say the millionaire thing is because the title of your book is “From Foster Care to Millionaire: A Young Entrepreneur’s Story of Tragedy and Triumph.” What happened to your parents?

Cody: So they both died of alcoholism and . . .

Andrew: They did?

Cody: Yeah.

Andrew: And you saw them go through this?

Cody: Yeah.

Andrew: And what did you see growing up? What are some of the memories?

Cody: So I lived with my sister. We were born in Oakland and about eight or nine, my parents were having marital issues. So we went to go live with our grandparents in Florida. And then they thought we were malnourished. They weren’t taking care of us. So three years go by our parents kind of moved down there. And then they try and get custody of us, but our grandparents wouldn’t give us custody. So then they had to go through this whole legal battle. Eventually, my parents won. So then we were pulled away from all of our friends and that life that we had known for the past three years and we moved to Cincinnati. And my grandfather there was a physics professor and so we got to know him.

But shortly about less than a year later, my dad died. His skin was turning yellow. And then it was just my mom, my sister and I, and then we continued to move around a lot. You know, we’re on social security. My mom was . . . it was actually her second husband that died. And so for her, I think it just broke her spirit. And I was going to mention earlier the meaning in Viktor Frankl about “Man’s Search for Meaning.” And really we all have this will and we have to find something to look forward to in life that keeps us going, that keeps that flame lit.

And for what I’ve observed is that my mom, she just didn’t have that will. She became an alcoholic and she just kind of started drinking. And there were times like as described in the book like I would find alcohol, I would find the vodka and then I would run down the stairs and I would pour it down the sink and then she’d run after me. And at some point, she looked like a starving African child where she actually had to wear diapers because she can control her bowels. And the whole room was a mess. You know, we all have childhood traumas from all the stuff that we eventually deal with. And yeah, that was no different. But, yeah.

Andrew: And so because of that, did you start doubting yourself, “Maybe I’m not good enough?” Or did you feel superior to this environment that you’re around or something else?

Cody: So the interesting thing is that before she died is that we moved to the small section of Cincinnati and it was the Indian Hill School District but we were very poor, but we just happened to be within that boundary of the school district. And so everything and I had no specialty, I wasn’t like a computer or business expert up to that point. And the thing, though, is every day we would go on the bus is that we would go by these huge mansions. One of them even had a helicopter pad on top. And all the kids in school, they would get picked up by Mercedes Benz and BMWs. So I would see this constant wealth around me while being picked on and being made fun of for not having that wealth myself and even asking my mom in our shitty 1998 Ford Taurus to try and like park around the corner so kids wouldn’t see me getting in the car, right?

And that that played a huge role because at the same time I had Asperger’s and I’m also gay and being picked on for being called fag and then later understanding I’m Asperger’s, which is this sort of high functioning autism, where you basically don’t always understand people’s social gestures or their true intentions. And so I would trust people really, really easily and I would get screwed over. And that goes into the business years later on.

But basically being picked on. Never having a clique because I would hang out with the geeks but the geeks didn’t really like me. And so everybody in school thought I was smart but then I was in the lowest math class. And I’m pretty sure I have this dyscalculia, which is like basically dyslexia but for numbers. And I would go into the math class, which is the grade beneath. And I would always try and sneak in the class because I didn’t want to ruin people’s perception of me because the only thing I had was that people thought I was smart.

But when I hung out with the smart kids, they didn’t think I was smart. And I never had any association. I never had any tribe, you know. And I think as a fundamental human beings, we need to have a tribe of people that we feel like that we belong to. And so never fitting in. And then eventually, we had to move schools because my grandfather stopped giving us money. And so then we had to live in this the city provided hotel, there’s a motel and it had shootings and drugs and all this stuff for six months, and we were living in this hellhole. And then eventually the CMHA, the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority, which is most cities have this where if you’re a family of kids and you don’t have any money, they will provide a place that you can stay and then you only pay them the amount of money, a certain amount of money, and my mom would just pay them like 20% of our social security benefits that we would get. And eventually we had to move to another school. And then I had another identity crisis.

Andrew: Let me pause here for a second and just acknowledge one thing that you told our producer that you felt at the time. You said, “I wanted to prove to the kids, to the people who are doing better than you,” in a neighborhood where someone had a helipad, you wanted to prove to them that you are as good as them. You also wanted to do something entrepreneurial as a way of proving that. At 14, you asked your mom for your social security number. What did you want the social Security number for?

Cody: To open up a checking account so I can process credit cards.

Andrew: For what?

Cody: To charge clients’ money so I could start a hosting business.

Andrew: Did you know from the beginning that was going to be hosting business?

Cody: So actually, it wasn’t even my idea. I didn’t even have any business idea. It was actually me and a friend, Calvin, is . . . he wasn’t really friend. He was like bipolar manic. So, you know, one day he’d be my friend, the next day, he’d be telling rumors about me in school. And it was eventually . . . because he was rich. His mom had a Maserati. She owned this Paul Mitchell school and she still does. And he knew he had a future. You know, they lived in a huge mansion. He was the kind of friend where I finally bought a printer with my own money from the company. And it had a little LCD screen at the time, which back you know, the 2016 was a pretty cutting edge. And he would say like, “Yeah, it’s cool but mine is better.”

And he would always try and one up me. And he eventually his mom like grounded them. And then he wants to buy the new Xbox 360 but he couldn’t. So then we were in his room trying to think of business ideas. He wanted to make money and he thought he could make money. And I would shoot down all the shitty ideas until he had the idea of going into HostGator and signing up for a reseller account for hosting company. So we ended up doing that. But our partnership fell apart within a week.

But for the first time, I had something that I could associate myself with that I saw that, “Wait, this is a way that I could prove to myself to those rich asshole kids that I could be better than them. And I didn’t need my parents’ money.” So for a long time, the motivation of being successful and starting that business was to prove to these kids that I could be better than them. And that was my motivation.

Andrew: And so people would pay you for hosting and then you would pay HostGator? No, if you’re reselling HostGator, you just send the traffic to HostGator and they process the cards. It seems like you had something bigger in mind, what was that?

Cody: I mean, I had to start a business how to process credit cards. I mean, when you have a company like a reseller company or reseller hosting is that you’re white labeling their service. So your clients don’t know that you’re with that hosting company is you have your own website. They’re using their dedicated servers but they don’t know that you’re a reseller. And that’s how I started out.

Andrew: And that’s what happened back then. Got it? And so how did you get customers?

Cody: I really I looked on webhostingtalk.com, which was primary place you’d go to advertise. And it was really just looking at what are these other companies we’re doing. I’m a huge believer in fake it till you make it, you know, and I would have fake names where I would pretend to be my own sales agent. So I could refer to a manager and I would have different voices. And I would have different extensions on the phone line. And I really faked it as much as I could. And really, I think we have guys who go to MBAs and they go to business school and you take all these courses, but you can’t really learn in that. From my experience, you learn from doing it. And the example I give is, is when it came to writing press release. You know, I’m a kid that had no idea in marketing. I had no idea what I was doing.

I think if I did have an idea what was in store for me, I never would have started. And that’s probably how with most adults is that you’re just like, “I can’t do this.” And then you don’t even start it. So for some cases, I would say ignorance is bliss. But the example I give is with press releases is that I saw other hosting companies were writing press releases. And so I thought I need to write a press release. But I didn’t go and take you know how to write a press release course. I didn’t take a course on how to write a press release. I looked at another press release I thought was good. I looked at the formatting is that, okay, they talked about their intro here, then they have a little quote from the owner, etc. And then they use that to create my own format and my own style. And then I posted that on few locations and it got picked up by like various PR firms. And so it was incredible to see that.

Andrew: PR firms? You mean PR websites that would publish . . . ?

Cody: Like distribution link directory websites. Yeah.

Andrew: Got it. And so that’s how you started getting customers. You built this up where you’re reselling. As I understand it, you moved on to actually getting the servers yourself and hosting sites, am I right?

Cody: Yeah, that was a big step eventually to decide to move from having a reseller account where the hosting is managed for you by the provider to actually having to manage your own servers. And then I had to learn about Linux administration and how to run servers and all that and it was always crashing. And the way that I finally differentiated myself is I was always looking at what’s on the cutting edge, how can I differentiate myself, and I’d always pulled the best elements from all the best hosting companies like their website ideas. I was constantly tweaking the website and I was looking at the marketing ideas. I was always posting forum ads, that were actually A/B test various titles on my forum posts.

And I would go back and look at the numbers. And that’s way before I understood what a A/B conversion test was or anything. And so that’s how I got started. I was able to get clients. Eventually, some kids found out that like 11 . . . oh, no, I was like 14, 15 at the time and then they started posting that I’m a kiddie host. And the kiddie host is in the industry, it’s like because you would have so many kids who started hosting companies who thought it was like get rich quick scheme. And so you’d have people who put the websites on there and then they would just disappear overnight. And so you started calling them kiddie hosts. And that was a huge problem because that was the only thing I had at the time. And now I’m being bullied and picked on online and telling me that I can’t do this, that I’m under 18. That this is illegal. That blah, blah, blah.

But, you know, I cried, cried for like one night and then I just got my shit together and I moved on. And then the way that I differentiated myself is there’s this thing called FFmpeg, and then still around today and it is just around the time when YouTube started to get big. And whenever you upload a video to YouTube, it has to convert into the Flash video player format, which now not the case because html5 but back in the day, we had to convert mp4, whatever video into that one format and it would use up server processes. It would use up server CPU and RAM in order to do that. And so people wanted to have their own version of YouTube. But the problem is that when it tries to convert that video, it uses up like 100% of the CPU. And so you can only have it on dedicated servers.

And I thought to myself, “Wait, let me bring this to shared hosting.” So I told my administrator to install it. And I was going to start offering FFmpeg and he was like, “No, you can’t do that. It’s going to crash the server. And inevitably, I did have a lot of problems. And I had a lot of downtime as a result. But I was the first hosting company to actually offer that in a shared hosting environment. And that’s how I started to get my brand out there. That’s how I started grow customers because I found the niche. And in retrospect, in hindsight, how I’ve always been successful in my businesses is I always went into a market that was already validated. You know, I didn’t do my own product market validation or any of that. It was always an existing market. But I just found a niche within that market that hadn’t already been tackled yet by somebody else.

Andrew: And, Cody, in this case, the niche was there are sites that want to publish video, but it takes a lot of processing power to convert the videos that people upload into the videos that are flash that viewers can see? “I’m going to make that easier for them. They’re going to be my niche that I’m going to obsess on.”

Cody: Well, I was going to make it cheaper so you can have it not pay 100 bucks a month for a dedicated server. you can pay 30 bucks a month.

Andrew: And there was enough of these people? What were they doing with video uploads?

Cody: I had everything from like porn websites to Monster Truck websites. You know, there were scripts that developers were creating that were video sharing scripts that mimicked YouTube. And everybody was trying to get in on the game at the time. And so that’s was my fast track to growth is just specializing in that market. And then . . .

Andrew: What year is this, roughly?

Cody: So I’d say 2007, 2008, ’09, etc.

Andrew: Okay. So you were starting to do well. We’re going to talk about what happened afterwards. By the way, your sister the whole time basically did not want you to do well. Why not?

Cody: Well, I think she just didn’t really care. I never had a great relationship with my sister. She eventually became a Muslim and she moved to Pakistan for a year and then found out that the people are manipulating her in order to marry a Pakistani so that he can move to the U.S. And then she separated from that and now she just lives her own life. And the, yeah, I don’t know. We just never had a great relationship.

Andrew: Okay, all right. I’m just saying, wow, it’s so painful that as you’re trying to do this. Outsiders are rooting against you and talking about your age and trying to run your business. And then even in your family, you can’t get support. All right, and then we’ll talk about what happened with your co-founders. First, let me talk about my first sponsor, it’s a company called ActiveCampaign. Actually, no, why am I doing ActiveCampaign? I’m going to talk about . . . oh, no, yeah, ActiveCampaign. I was just going to say HostGator my sponsor kind of fits in. But I realized that we switched HostGator outfit this interview. So ActiveCampaign. You tried ActiveCampaign back in the early days, Cody. What happened? Be open.

Cody: I don’t remember much, but I think it was just it was a PHP script back in . . .

Andrew: Was it?

Cody: Yeah. It was a PHP script that you could run on a shared hosting environment. And that was just my experience. It was very basic. And I just didn’t have a lot of respect for it because it was just a PHP script that had a crappy interface. But, you know, today, it’s much, much different. And it looks to be more successful. But it’s also interesting that I’ve looked at companies like ActiveCampaign, and now you have companies like Zendesk is that I found that the companies that existed prior that were like even PHP scripts back in my heyday when I was the shared hosting company, is that they haven’t been as successful as the companies who started primarily just the SaaS companies in recent years. And so you have like MailChimp, they started as a SaaS company and a few others. Versus ActiveCampaign they’ve been around for a long, long time. But it’s interesting that they aren’t as well-known as some of these other companies. Now, maybe that’s a philosophical business question. I don’t know.

Andrew: So actually, I dismissed them because I was around for a long time. And I thought, “All right, ActiveCampaign is this company that started out a long time ago and they probably didn’t keep up.” And I totally forgot them. And when I heard about them, I dismissed them. I thought it was like . . . there are a couple of other companies that I guess I won’t go into them that I thought that’s old school like them. Anyway, I’m trying to like hesitate. I’m trying to hold myself back from talking negatively about other companies within this ad. But I just dismissed ActiveCampaign. And then I started to see that there are people who are in online marketing who are the marketing automation people who are into it.

But I’m talking about people like the founder of OptinMonster. I was sitting down for lunch with him. I said, “What do you think of ActiveCampaign?” He goes, “Those numbers are shooting through the roof. More and more people are switching to ActiveCampaign on my platform.” And I realized if someone is smart enough to use OptinMonster to collect email addresses, they’re thinking through their decision making. So I went and I looked at them. And then I interviewed the guy who created the automation companies, this Australian company. All they do is they help small to medium sized businesses with their online automation software with Infusionsoft, ActiveCampaign, even MailChimp. And he said that’s the software that he prefers, ActiveCampaign.

I kept digging into it and I realized ActiveCampaign has been modernizing, has actually realized that there’s a lot of marketing automation that’s too much of a pain in the ass to use. And so people don’t use it. They said they’re going to make it easy for them to use. So I’ll give you an example, Cody. You’re on MailChimp. I’m not going to hide it. If you’re a MailChimp and you want to customize to someone like me who doesn’t have software, I do online education, someone else has software, you want to say, “Look, we are the help company that will handle all your customer support needs.” If you were to say to me, especially if you do online education, you know that people care about getting responses fast, I would feel like you’re really speaking to me. I would feel like, “All right. I’m ready. Actually, these guys get me.”

Versus the software company, you don’t want to say that same thing to them. Imagine if you said software companies love us because it lets them focus on their software while we handle customer support.

Now can you do this with MailChimp? It’s kind of tricky but yes. Can you do with Infusionsoft? It gets way out of control, hairy, because you have to create a whole new email and a different set of if-then parameters. ActiveCampaign said, “Screw that.” If someone’s tagged as being an education, all you do is you tell us where in the email, we will pop in that one sentence that speaks to them. If someone’s tagged the software, we will pop that in. Keep the one email. You don’t have to create different dialogues and different emails and different sequences, just the same email you have. But you tell us if they are in this type of business or tagged with this tag, we will add this message. If not, we’ll get rid of it.” That little bit of brilliance makes people feel heard, makes them see that you care about them.

Cody: Yeah, and I’m reading online just looking at Email Tool Tester which actually tests the email deliverability.

Andrew: Oh, good call.

Cody: And despite the comparing MailChimp or ConvertKit who have 81%, apparently, I’m surprised ActiveCampaign leads the industry with a 97% deliverability rate. And out of everything you just said like despite all the features in the interface, it’s cool interface where you have the automation tools, the thing that matters the most is deliverability. And I’m actually surprised that they actually are leading the industry.

Andrew: All right. I didn’t even think to look that. And you’re right derivability really is it’s huge. I’m getting because we’ve had derivability issues. We use a few different companies. I won’t get into the details of it. It’s a pain in the ass. Thanks for saying that. For anyone who wants to switch over to ActiveCampaign or even start with ActiveCampaign, I highly recommend you go to activecampaign.com/mixergy. When you do, they’re going to let you try their software for free. So if even if you’re just saying, “Let me see what this back end is like, let me just learn it so that one day maybe it’ll come in handy.” This is a place for you.

If you decide to sign up, second month for free. Once you’re in, they’re going to give you two free one-on-one sessions with consultants who are experts in marketing automation and email. They will show you how to do all this in their software, directly in your business. And if you decide to go beyond email, they are more than email. I sell them as email because I want to keep things simple. But they’ll do SMS, they’ll even do chatbots, the whole thing. And then finally, if you decide you’re on a different platform and you want to migrate when use my URL, they will even migrate you for free activecampaign.com/mixergy. Really grateful to them for sponsoring.

All right. Let’s talk about the challenge. You had a co-founder and then it went south. How did you get the co-founder?

Cody: Co-founder, his name was Brian. And we were building. So I had my first company. And I turned 18. And I moved from Cincinnati up to Birch Bay, Washington. And now it’s right. It’s like the last exit in Washington State before you go to Vancouver. So he was living in Burnaby, and I was working for him prior to that. He was paying me. And so he just seemed like a good guy. He had good morals and good ethics. And in some ways, I think I didn’t realize at the time he sort of became like a father figure to me because I didn’t really . . . you know, if you’ve ever watched that Tony Robbins documentary where he asked the person to stand up and, “Did you want your mother’s or your father’s love the most?”

And for me, it was like my father’s. And I felt like it never was good enough in a way. But I moved up there. And then we became business partners and a deal that we had is that I’m going to do the marketing, I’m going to do build a website, do the technical stuff. You do the registration, you do the taxes, you do all the stuff that I don’t really have any interest in. And the problem is that he didn’t really do them very well. And then he found a friend who referred him to this penny stock investor. And this guy was a fast talker, smooth talker, he apparently was wanting to buy our company so that he could get us investors. And there was a period of time where he was reeling me around to these different people trying to pitch me as like the next Bill Gates.

And I just, honestly God, I hated the guy. I absolutely hated the guy from the first moment I met him. I was actually going to punch him in the face one time when we went drinking around. And I just didn’t like them. And the thing is that Brian, at the time, told me that he thought it was still a good deal because he will get us investment money and we could grow the thing. And I was very hesitant, but somehow I was convinced to do it.

But Brian decided, “Okay, let me add the word tentative at the top of the agreement.” So we added the word tentative. And then we signed it, and then we faxed it over to him. But then we found out that the guy had previously screwed somebody else. And I only Googled his name after. So, you know, word of advice, Google a person’s name and go beyond the front page, [inaudible 00:35:44]. And I made that mistake of not doing that.

So I went to a lawyer and the lawyer was like, “Yeah, this agreement is crap. You’ve got nothing to worry about.” And then we went to him and we told them that we were not going to do the sale. And so he ended up being able to go around that. He made this really shitty lawsuit that he just literally put together himself. So he spent zero money and he scared us by having these nasty voicemails saying that, you know, “Look, if you don’t do this, I’m going to have to sue you and Brian.” And so he was trying to get us to pick his side and to be like a secret agent. And he eventually did get that to happen. He was able to get our server administrator to feed him information. So he always was a step ahead of us in this whole lawsuit. And this was actually I would say it was a shittier your time than when my parents died. Because at least when my mom died is that it was an event, you know, it was before and after my mom. It’s like she’s dead, she’s not dead.

And with this, it was the lifetime work up to that point I was building this. And now to be faced with the challenge that I might not have this because this guy is challenging that he now owns the company. And so I woke up. I had no motivation anymore. It was like why should I work on a company if I might not even be mine? And so then we went through this whole lawsuit. He was able to close down our bank accounts, because Brian lapsed the registration of the company. And I think it’s in Wyoming or Montana is that if you lapsed the registration, somebody else who was involved in the company can then reregister the company and then they’re put as an officer or director.

So then he was able to have our server administrator become the sole officer. And then he went to WaMu, I think that was a bank that got acquired at the time, WaMu, in there. And he showed it to them. And so then they had this owner dispute so then they freeze the bank accounts. And so then I had to use my personal checking accounts. I had to process new credit cards to have money from the clients go to my personal checking account. And then we were using this company called SoftLayer at the time, which was a sort of a derivative of this bigger company I forgot that the time is a datacenter company. And they were actually fairly small. Now they’re like gigantic and huge, but they had one legal person.

And so what he did is he ended up filing a new lawsuit where his company was registered in Las Vegas that was more credible with an actual lawyer and then he got a temporary injunction because he went to the judge. And he said, like, “Look, these guys are not giving me access to the servers, and they’re going to destroy the company unless I get access.” And he was apparently convincing enough that the judge agreed and said that we needed to give him access to the servers. But we didn’t want to do that. So now we’re conflicted with having to comply with these judge’s orders or not because we know this is a bad guy. Who knows what he’s going to do if he has access to all the systems? Because up to that point, he’s been trying to damage the reputation of the company.

And so he sent this temporary injunction to SoftLayer and then software like overreacted. They’re like, “Oh, my God.” It wasn’t even to them. So they shut down all the servers. And then that morning, we started to get calls. You know, all of a sudden we have thousands of websites that go offline because SoftLayer is freaking out because they just got a temporary injunction that wasn’t even to them. And then I started to get calls of like customers asking, “Why is my website down?” You know, all these live chats and everybody was freaking out. And I just started crying on the phone because this is my life’s work and that this guy is basically trying to destroy it. And I never thought up to that point how could be somebody be so evil, so manipulative, so deceptive, where he knows what he’s doing is wrong but he’s still doing it?

Like I it still pains me to this day to know that there are people out there that are so evil, you can’t even fathom why they’re like that, you know? And eventually SoftLayer was able to put the servers back online but he was able to destroy my will. And we went to this temporary injunction lawsuit in Las Vegas. And then after the thing, nothing really happened as a result of this temporary injunction other than we learned that our lawyer was completely like horrible and stupid, because the one that we had been talking to the whole time, he wasn’t the one that was going to go up in front of the judge and actually talk to them. So we had maybe two hours to inform this other lawyer because apparently there are some lawyers that only deal with like the legal stuff and the technical stuff. And then there’s the lawyers who go in front of the actual judge and the magistrate.

And so we had two hours to inform this guy everything thing about our case so that he can go up to defend us. And the other guy, he had the sweet talking nice lady lawyer that the judge really liked. And so we were just screwed from the beginning. But after that we had lunch with the lawyer, and then he was like, yeah, you know, at this point, like, if he continues with the lawsuit, and we go into the discovery phase, you could lose $100,000 plus and that’s how much it would cost you. And at that point, I was like, “Okay, I’m going to settle.” And then we flew back, we flew back to Washington, Vancouver, and then I ended up meeting with him and I ended up settling with him. And when I signed the actual . . .

Andrew: So you settled with him even though he had no real ownership of the business?

Cody: Because I was afraid. Because I was having to fund this lawsuit by myself.

Andrew: You just said, “You know what? Then I’ve got to get out of this. Even if I’m in the right, I just need to be done.” You got out of it by doing what? Agreeing to?

Cody: Agreeing to give him the company. And in return, he removed Brian, he made me the CEO. I knew it was making a devil with the deal. And the thing is that when I signed that document with him, he actually literally said like, right after he was like, “You know, I’m glad you decided to settle. It was right thing to do, Cody, because, you know, I was actually going to just dropped the whole thing after temporary lien.” He literally told me that right in my face. And then he made me CEO. But the thing is, is that because he was ruining the reputation of the company trying to get us to bend over and give him the company is that he completely ruined the reputation. It started to get all these bad reviews online. And then we started to lose customers. And so we had maybe a $30,000, $40,000 a month server bill. And all of a sudden now he was owner of a company that was losing money.

So he was actually losing his own money now that he finished the lawsuit and he actually acquired the company. And he made me CEO but then he was telling me that he was going to sue me if I don’t get the profit of the company back up to where it should be. And at that point, I was like, “Okay, fuck you. I am going to leave.” And I just quit and I gave him my resignation letter. And of course, he sent me these horrible nasty yelling at me, cursing at me emails because he was not a rational, sane person.

Andrew: And then he ended up selling the business?

Cody: He ended up selling the business as a fire sale to Brent who was the owner of HostGator at the time. And I had a conversation with Brent. And I told him like, “Look, these are the circumstances that you’re buying this company for.” And the company was generating maybe a little over 600K in annual revenue at the time. And he ended up being offered the company, he negotiated the guy with $100,000. So he bought all the assets, all the clients, all the websites, all the business for $100,000 and it was this $600,000 plus business. I didn’t get any of that.

Andrew: You didn’t even though you were part owner because you resigned?

Cody: Because I settled the case. And so he . . .

Andrew: And so how did you deal with this personally? The fact that this happened, how do you get yourself back up?

Cody: I was destroyed. And it’s written in the book. And so at the time, I tried to apply for a job as like a web designer and I went to the Starbucks and then the guy . . . everything was going good in the interview up until he was asking me like I open up a blank page and like just start coding a website for me. And the thing is, as an entrepreneur, you wear many different hats. So I only learned what I needed to learn in order to get to that point. And my way of putting a website together was opening up a Dreamweaver template, editing text, you know, moving things around until I got something that would actually work. And I realized thought to myself I’m a failure at that point. Like the only option I had because I dropped out of high school because my parents died. And I was trying to escape foster care while still running a business. And that was earlier on in this experience.

Andrew: And you’re saying you were trying to get a job and you couldn’t even get a job because you were creating websites, the way that an entrepreneur might, which is the fastest way that you could with whatever tools are available. But that’s not what they were looking to hire. And so how did you then pick yourself back up considering what you were going through? How did you get yourself to a place where you were confident enough to start this business that we’re about to talk about?

Cody: So I had a couple thousand dollars in the bank. And I just realized that I had no other skills that the only thing I could do is either I’m going to be homeless or I’m going to be successful. And the only thing I knew at that point was how to build a hosting company. So I built another hosting company from scratch. And I put all my heart and effort into it. Don’t get me wrong, I was scared shitless because I have no family to fall back on. I have no backup plan. I don’t even think at the time that I never even fathomed the idea of even working at like McDonald’s because I thought that was just so beneath me that I would rather be homeless. And so I worked my ass off.

And the example I gave about like how can you be so successful is I’d say that, you know, just like just like the sailor of Cortés who had his Spaniard ships sail of to Latin America is he burned all of those boats so that his men couldn’t retreat. And so in some ways, my bridges and my boats were burnt for me. I had no other option other than then to be successful. And that’s what gave me this huge level of great perseverance.

Andrew: And that’s when you created Pacific Coast? That’s the company you started 2009. You sold it 2013. We just talked about the sale and how it at least allowed you to have some money in the bank, buy some things. You were talking about buying a few assets. What were they? Some things that maybe would make you happy because having the money in the bank didn’t? And I’m going to get my tea from over here while you answer that.

Cody: I got obsessed into IoT. I basically bought all the Hue lights that you would have about like, you know, you can control from your app. And then there was even at the time I read this thing. I also bought all the same underwear. So there’s this funny story about when Google first IPOed is that they ask the employees like, what are you going to do now that, you know, you’re a huge stockholder in this company? Is I’m going to get all the same underwear, and I’m going to get all the same socks. And so that’s basically also what I did. I only buy one pair of socks and one pair of underwear. And that was one of the few things.

Andrew: Why is that such a big thing to have one pair, one type of socks, one type of underwear?

Cody: Just like how with Mark Zuckerberg and how with Steve Jobs, you know, you all have that attire that you wear so you don’t have to pick out what you want to wear that day. And for me, my thing is I like to wear khakis and a black t-shirt. That’s sort of my thing that I picked up. But, yeah.

Andrew: Were you wearing that when I saw you? You were wearing shorts?

Cody: Yeah. I mean, I don’t always wear the same thing.

Andrew: He was wearing Bally. I met this entrepreneur who used to work for Steve Jobs. And then, excuse me, not an entrepreneur, he ended up becoming a venture capitalist. One of the things that he told me was he said, “I always only wear jeans.” And he opened my eyes to the idea that you could just wear jeans if that’s what you decide. He said, “I’m going to put in my life I could do whatever I want.” And one of the things that he said he could do is only wear jeans everywhere. And I realized, “Hell, yeah, I that little thing is for me. I love that.”

I wish I had more of a more of a uniform. I hate having to find clothes. I get that it makes things more interesting, but I hate it. All right, let’s talk about my second sponsor. And then we’re going to come back into how you ended up with this idea for what is now the biggest company that you’ve created, SupportNinja. I always felt like somebody should create this. Second company is a company called Toptal. Let’s be open. You call them up. You saw that there was an issue. I think it’s a valid point. What was the issue that you saw?

Cody: It’s just it’s just price, you know, I think they had like a minimum project size of like 10K. And then on top of that, you know, they take it percentage of the fee that you would otherwise pay the developer because they’re sourcing the developers. So I have no doubt that that developers are actually solid. But, yeah, it’s just expensive, you know?

Andrew: So interesting. When I did that there was no minimum. And I didn’t go through any kind of special thing. There was no minimum. It was just hit this button. You put a credit card down because they wanted to make sure that you were real, but they weren’t charging it. Then you got on a call with . . . this is just me from memory. Then I got on a call with a matcher. I told the matcher what I needed. The matcher put a few people in front of me. They didn’t ask me what the minimum order was. And then they didn’t take a commission. They just said, “Here’s how much it’s going to be to talk and still work with this guy.”

And I said, “Great, I liked him.” And that’s it. In fact, Jack is this finance guy that I got from them. In addition to developers they do finance and designers. I have now worked with Jack for maybe two years now. It’s definitely over a year. And I just get the invoices from them. And they automatically take the money out of my credit card. And it’s way cheaper. I’m paying Jack under 500 a month. By the way, I should tell you with Jack. I was losing money at the beginning of the year, Cody. I thought things were great. Revenues were up. There was a lot of action. People were paying attention. And every time there was a little . . . I didn’t even recognize that we were losing money. When I did see that we were losing money a little bit, I thought, well, it’s because of this or because of that.

I hired Jack as the finance guy from Toptal. I said, “Your job is just help me figure out where I’m missing things. Be the person who just keeps pushing me to see what I’m missing and keep obsessing on the income statement. And so he pushed me to recognize that we were really losing money and that there are a few issues that we had because we sell our ads and we get all the money at once, at the end of the year or if we do another sale like we’re doing now in August, all of it in August, we have to spread it out properly. And so we weren’t spreading that revenue out properly. And so if I wasn’t making money, I’d say ads because we’re not spreading the money properly. If we actually accounted for all the revenue from advertising we do.

But all those little excuses. I didn’t recognize that I was making. There was substance behind them but they were still excuses and I was wrong. He said, “Andrew, not only are you losing money, you’re not recognizing that you’re losing money and it’s because of this.” And he kept showing me how I could clear things up. I got on a call with him yesterday in the middle of day. And I looked I think it’s like the first three or four . . . first three months of the year were disaster and then finally it turned around and we’re like profitable. And then I said to him, “Your job is to obsess on the income statement.” He said, “Andrew, now that we are using accrual accounting, I want you to start looking at the cash flow statement.”

Cody: Wait, so you hire, Andrew, as the CFO or like a internal . . . ?

Andrew: I asked them for a CFO. I went Toptal, I said look, “You guys, I’ve hired great developer, hired great designer from you. I want a CFO, a temporary, outsourced CFO.” They heard me out. And then they said, “Andrew, what you’re really looking for is a profitability advisor.” And I said, “What’s the difference?” He said, “Look, the CFO has all these other responsibilities that you don’t need because you’re using this third-party company.” I’m using Pilot now to do all of our accounting. “So what you want is someone who’s going to help you understand where you’re missing out on profits, where you’re making mistakes and losing money.” And I said, “Yeah.” And so that’s what I ended up with.

Cody: Yeah. And I think that’s somebody that we’ve been trying to find. And I don’t think that we’re at the level. Maybe we need a CFO or something, but I only thought they were really for like developers and UI designers. But you’re right, I see the point in how they could actually be beneficial finding people who have these other skillsets from product management to being able to look at your books because I know that there’s another service that I used a long time ago that is based in Vancouver that tries to do your bookkeeping, but they kind of put you in like a cookie cutter. And then you have Upwork but the problem with Upwork is that there’s so many bad contractors and it’s like you don’t really know who you’re hiring. And it can be overwhelming at times. Like I’ve been through so many contractors. And so I can see the value ad of having a platform that really puts these contractors through the wringer.

Andrew: Yeah. So I actually for my personal stuff, I said, “Look, Pilot is handling my books.” I said to Olivia, “Look, I don’t know where we’re losing money at home, where we’re making bad mistakes. I can’t get men to work. Let’s go and hire a bookkeeper.” I got someone from Upwork. She was highly rated. She was really good. And then there was like an issue with her health and so, okay, we missed a month, and then you lose momentum when you miss a month. And then there was another issue where she was doing other people’s taxes around April and then we missed a couple of months.

And then I couldn’t get back on track with her. It was such a pain. I find that these other places are really good when you’re looking for cheap but when you’re looking for results, they’re not there for me. Anyway Jack, his name is Jack Barker. You can look him up on LinkedIn. He was a principal at the Carlyle Group. We’re talking about like experience that companies my size don’t usually get. He was a principal for 12 years at McKinsey & Company. Think about what it’s like for your company, Cody, to go and hire McKinsey & Company to come and help. And then of course he did other things here. So general things. Jack Barker, B-A-R-K-E-R.

Cody: He’s the fictional character from Silicon Valley.

Andrew: Is that right?

Cody: The CEO who exited Pied Piper.

Andrew: Oh, I didn’t know that.

Cody: I guess he must have the same name. That’s funny.

Andrew: Yeah. Anyway, so that’s my hiring experience with Toptal. Hire a developer, hire a designer now. I’m working really closely with Jack Barker and he has more than paid for himself. And they don’t take a commission. They don’t have a minimum. With him, I just pay whatever I use. If I go for a couple of months and I don’t talk to him, which happened once in some my travels, I couldn’t get together with him. I didn’t pay anything.

All right, it’s Top . . . if you want it, when you’re ready, Cody, even if you decide that I’m not sure if this is right for me or what. Go to toptal.com/mixergy. What they will do is they will hook you up with a matcher. You tell them what you want. If it’s different from what you think you want, they’ll help you shape what you’re looking for. And then they will introduce you to a couple of people who could be perfect fit.

And if you decide to hire them, you can pay an agreed price to Toptal and Toptal will make sure to pay them. They will work with you and make sure that you get the results. Here’s what you get if you use my URL, first of all, the good feeling of supporting Mixergy, and second, you get 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours in addition to a no-risk trial period of up to two weeks. If at the end of the trial period you’re not 100% happy you will not be billed. But don’t worry, Toptal will still take care of the developer and the person you hire from them. It’s Top as in top of your head. Tal as in talent. Toptal.com/mixergy.

Cody: Yeah, I’m going to that. And apparently so I Googled it and only requires a $500 deposit. And then it’s hourly from 60 up to like 6,400 a week or so. So I don’t know where I got the figure about the minimum. But I think I’ll definitely look at that for accounting type role.

Andrew: You’re right, it is a deposit. It’s not just taking your credit card. The deposit is fully refundable. What they’re trying to do is figure out who’s just trying to like check us out to compare us to Fivver and who’s really looking to book. If you book, they’ll use the $500. If you don’t, you move on.

Cody: Cool.

Andrew: All right. Talk about where you got the idea for SupportNinja?

Cody: So I was running Pacific Coast at the time, you know, the hosting company, we at the peak, I had over 100 servers from dedicated and shared hosting combined. And I was having to work with this guy over in India to actually manage my actual technical support. And that was the first thing I outsourced and it was actually it was only after I sold the company that I read Tim Ferriss’s “4-Hour Workweek” and I realized, “Oh, my God, I was doing everything wrong,” because the only thing I outsourced was the support. And I did the marketing and I did all the billing. I had like one billing guy in the U.S. who was answering phones, but I did everything myself from the business development standpoint.

And the one thing I did outsource, of course, was the support. So they did the support tickets. And India has really great . . . every like systems engineers who get these great certifications that you would easily pay over 100K year just to have working for you here in the U.S. And so they were very smart. And they basically managed my servers and they handled the majority of the technical support tickets. And I built up a team at some point like 20, 30 different Linux system engineers and sometimes you have dips and you have increases and dips in the business. And I realized that, you know I was able to achieve a certain success with the company. But I also saw an opportunity to provide outsourced support to other hosting companies.

So that’s where we worked together as a partnership and I created the company supportmonk.com. And, you know, whenever it comes to companies, I wouldn’t say I’m a branding expert. But I really think a lot about branding, the names, that design, the feel, you know, how like the texture in some ways about how people experience the brand. And for me, like Support Monk seemed like the perfect name. So we partnered together and I helped launch that, you know, started doing forum posting. And then along the same lines, I wanted to sell Pacific Coast and I felt like I hit a stump with Pacific Coast. And a part of the reason why I sold it is because I felt like I didn’t know what where else to go. I didn’t know where else to grow it.

And I also made the mistake of, you know, having cheaper and cheaper pricing because I would offer cheaper deals. It was started with 50% off at on Black Friday. And then it became 50% off like all year round from my basic hosting plan. And eventually I kind of screwed myself because I was offering like 30 bucks a month for a basic hosting plan for like three years of hosting because I was trying to get lower and lower. And unfortunately, hosting has become a commodity. And you just basically can only compete on price. That’s all people are looking for. And so that’s kind of the market I entered myself into is budget hosting.

And I didn’t realize until after I sold, you know, that I was having to support maybe like the top . . . you know, if you’ve heard the Pareto principle 20/80 or 80/20. And I realized that really a huge chunk of my clients were like 80% were actually costing me to lose money rather than make money. It was only the top 20% that were paying the highest hosting bills that I was actually making money from. And it was causing all this effort and all these stress and anxiety from having to deal with. At least once a week, I would get a really shitty customer who would tell me that he was going to sue me that, you know, his website was making $5,000 an hour and he paid me 50 bucks a month for hosting for two years. And that if I don’t get his site on that he’s going to sue me for all the 5,000 every hour that his site was down.

It’s like, “Well, why are you paying, you know, $25 a year for your hosting account?” So I sort of screwed myself by competing for the bottom of the barrel of the types of customers. I didn’t have any standards. You know, I thought, “Oh, the customer is always right.” And I was just stressed out and I felt like I wasn’t able to . . . I didn’t know where else to go. Because I actually tried to offer a virtual private server, which is like a mini version of a server. And I tried to offer an unmanaged version that didn’t have C panel and C panel was like the control panel that clients use. And I tried to offer it as an alternative cheaper version. And even though I said like this is not a managed VPS because the managed was like 50 bucks a month, this is 25 and you don’t get C panel is I would still have clients from my shared hosting who would move to this VPS and then they would expect the same level of support. They would expect me to transfer their site and I couldn’t do it. And I . . .

Andrew: I’m sorry. Just to understand, you’re doing a lot of customer support and I could see how these are really complicated issues. And you started to outsource it. When you outsource it, did it become profitable? Did it become reasonable? And did Support Monk become a standalone business?

Cody: So sorry, I go off on tangents and rabbit holes a lot. So I started Support Monk but I ended up selling Pacific Coast because of the business related issues that I was having. And I just sold off Support Monk at the same time. I just gave him full ownership to the guy in India. And I was just by myself for a period of time trying to figure out what am I going to do next. And I was going to launch another hosting company. I spent a lot of time and effort launching and doing hostgalaxy.com. But I after doing the numbers, I was going to do cloud hosting, I just realized like that the money just wasn’t there for me. It’s not going to be something that makes me a lot of money. And I didn’t want to exert another effort in creating another hosting company.

But I thought I needed to do another hosting company because that’s all I’ve ever known, right? And as a high school dropout, I never went to college. I always felt like that’s the only story skill and asset that I feel comfortable with. But then I realized like, “Wait, I was helping to build this support brand.” And I realized that I want to work with startups. I want to be cool.” [inaudible 00:59:11] kids were doing is like having their own startup. And I wanted a startup but I didn’t want to be a startup. And the idea came up of just realizing that, “Wait, what is the skill that I have the most?”

It’s dealing with bitchy customers. Being on the phone for eight hours a day answering a phone call randomly, having to deal with their issues, having to solve all these problems and be threatened at. And I realized that every startup has to provide customer support. So what if I provide the outsourced support for startups? And just sort of like the idea came together and I couldn’t find any other company except the one company that was offering outsourced support specifically tailored to startups. Their name was TaskUs. They just sold like the Blackstone for like 15 . . .

Andrew: And TaskUs does way more. I interviewed the founder. Phenomenal company. So interesting. They do all the little tasks. Like if you have a company that will OCR people’s receipts, chances are the software doesn’t do one of the task.

Cody: Yeah, I talked about that.

Andrew: Yeah, TaskUs will do that for them.

Cody: Yeah, and there’s so many features of companies like the smart scanning feature that your employee just takes a picture on their phone. And it processes through the system so the employer knows exactly the name in the price. But you know, it’s odd because it can sometimes take it half an hour or an hour. And they call it a smart scanning feature. But it’s actually just human in the Philippines who looks at the receipt and enters the information manually. And there’s so many aspects of these apps that are like “features”, but they’re just really humans in the background that manage the app.

Andrew: The reason I’m bringing it up is because TaskUs does way more than that. So you said, “Look, I think I can actually do this, just customer support really, really well.”

Cody: Honestly, I just copied TaskUs. They were just like . . .

Andrew: Weren’t they doing so much more?

Cody: What do you mean?

Andrew: That’s like saying I decided to create a customer support company so I copied Mechanical Turk. Mechanical Turk will do a bunch of different things. TaskUs did . . . yeah, go ahead.

Cody: It was my idea. And so it was my idea of initially wanting to provide outsourced support for startups. And, you know, a part of the market validation is you look for other companies that are doing it. And it actually took me like two days or three days before I came upon TaskUs. And when I came upon them, I couldn’t find any other company beyond them. And they were ideal. They were doing for Tinder, for HotelTonight. They were everything that I felt spoke to me. And I could only find them. And to me in my head I was like, “Okay, there’s one company doing this and they’re very successful.” They validated the idea. And if there’s one person that can be in the market, then there certainly be two people that could be in the market.

And so just like every other idea, I take the best elements that I can. I combine my experience in the best elements. And really, everything is a mix [max 01:01:54]. You know, you really can’t say that you have your own original idea. All of our ideas are built upon other people’s idea. And so I wouldn’t say I copied them. Like one thing I did do is I called in and pretended to be a customer and tried to figure out what their sales process is. And I was actually afraid to speak to them, but actually went to South by and there was a friend that actually apparently he lived next to Bryce in LA. And he knew him. And so he actually just introduced me. He’s like, “You shouldn’t be afraid.”

Because to me he’s like my competitor. Like he’s got not going to share anything. And Bryce was just totally open. He actually even gave me their customer contract because that was the biggest issue I had is trying to figure out because all these deals are different. But they had a like a 50-page outsourcing document that’s like a client sign. And that was my biggest issue because I couldn’t find a template online to use. And he literally just handed it over to me. And I’m like, “Oh, my God. This is like you’re giving me so much.” And so Bryce actually helped us get going. They actually even referred some initial customers that were too small for them and then we had [inaudible 01:02:55].

Andrew: Wow. And it’s the TaskUs guy did it?

Cody: Yeah. Bryce and Jasper from TaskUs.

Andrew: Okay, so you started to understand how this worked. What was the initial pricing?

Cody: So it was I think anywhere from like. It’s still around our pricing. Is that we were still way more expensive than other outsourcing firms in the U.S. You know, I initially I went to the Philippines and I picked the Philippines because, well, TaskUs was there, so it was an easy decision. And then I did do some research. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good place to go, especially for the customer service type role and they’re very familiar with America. And I ordered a bunch of the various BPO firms which is I didn’t even know what the term BPO was until like two years ago.

Andrew: What is it? BPO?

Cody: Business Process Outsourcing. So it’s a technical term for an outsourcing call center. And I literally started a BPO before I knew what it even was.

Andrew: So you went to the Philippines. You started a company there?

Cody: Yeah, that was the difficult part is actually registering a foreign corporation in another country and becoming a national corporation because to me like I’m thinking I’m way over my head. I initially went to this biggest consulting company in the Philippines that helps foreigners register companies, and they’re like, “Oh, yeah, you need like 150K.” And then they ended up being a really crappy company. And I almost lost like 30, 40K that they didn’t return to me.

But I just went there by myself. And I was able to find this area called the Clark Freeport Zone, which is it’s a investor friendly zone in the Philippines where you don’t have to go through all the underlying what you call it where you have to do that legal stuff that you’re not supposed to do of like . . . what do you call it? But we didn’t have to do any illegal stuff. It was all legitimate. We were able to open up a foreign corporation that’s owned by the U.S. Corporation.

Andrew: And you started to hire people in the Philippines?

Cody: It started out initially, I was doing staff leasing. I went with another company, a good guy that I found that I trusted him. And so he was white-labeling his staff. They worked . . .

Andrew: That’s what I thought. That was your first thing. You weren’t hiring, you weren’t setting company, you just found a company that could do this. You gave them a set of processes based on what you remember from previous business. Am I right? And then you started buying Google Ads?

Cody: So yeah, basically, yeah. And then I created a bunch of landing pages that were sub-niche sections of various types of like outsourcing terms. And then now we get a bunch of traffic just from organic SEO and just from people searching us. And somehow I still don’t know actually how but like if you type in like “customer support outsourcing” on Google, we’re like in the top three. And we always show up for that and the variation of that. And so we just get a lot of organic traffic. And that was just from me setting up landing pages, doing lots of guest posting and articles.

Andrew: I see you. I just did it. I guess it’s because I’m logged in and maybe because I’ve been checking your site for a bit. You are number one, both organic and number one for paid ads on that search term, and then a few other people who do this. So what about this? So one of the reasons why others have tried this and failed is the outsource customer service people don’t know enough about the client’s business. It’s one thing to do it for . . . it’s tough enough to do it for your own business and train your people but to do it for another company’s business and then when they change it they don’t tell you, it makes it even harder, right? People change screens, they change onboarding. How are you going to solve that?

Cody: I’ve always been a big process person. It definitely was overwhelming to think that, “Oh, I need to learn BIR laws and like the Philippine labor laws,” which are very, very extensive. I didn’t have an HR software. I sort of looked at the Philippines is like 1960s U.S. with all the bureaucracy, where everything is done by paper. Like even when we file our tax returns at the end of the year, the thing is that that they’re always so far behind that we end up having to pay a penalty fee, even if we filed our thing on time because they don’t get around the processing it until after the date of the penalty.

Andrew: Okay, but wait, wait, wait. Now we’re definitely going off track here. How are you able to train your people to understand your client’s customer support issues?

Cody: So what we do or we try to do is we have the clients help with the recruitment process. We try and instill to the agents and to the clients that this is a remote office for your team. And we have just a phenomenal team of . . . I’ll call them ninja success managers in the Austin office who facilitate this conversation. And a lot of them, they’re very happy. They’re very positive people. And they’re able to see the positives of any situation. And now even when we’re at today, we have a very organic culture of people who like to work for us. And for most of the accounts, we also allow the agents to play games. So I instill my own philosophy of remembering what it was like to work as well. As most call centers, they don’t allow the agents to play video games and you just can’t do that. And I just can only imagine sitting there for eight hours a day that that would be nuts.

Andrew: I get that. So sounds like what you’re saying is, “Andrew, we weren’t going to figure out there customer support issues directly, we’re going to introduce the person who does customer support to our client. And we’re going to make sure that they keep staying in touch. So that if there’s a question the customer support person that they don’t know, they could pass it on to the client. And the client can come back and answer it.” And then you have any kind of like Bible of customer support issues that you create for clients? Is there any process like that we can learn from?

Cody: So we do have an onboarding process where the clients initially introduced and see the agents. And during that, we record it in Zoom. And then we, more or less, we create an actual course for the agents so that when a client comes back to us and they’re like, “Hey, we’re growing. We’ve got five new agents.” We can just hire those agents because we know exactly what they need and we already have recorded the training process. So we use less as an LMS. And so we actually we’ll create a custom like training program module for all the various clients so that we can easily scale their team without the client having to be reintroduced and retrained and do all that stuff. We also have Q&A analysis. So we’ll have randomly, you know, they’ll pick out the tickets, we’ll report to the clients.

So the clients, some clients, they want to have weekly meetings, some clients just want metrics, they just want results. So we’ll send them like KPI reports on a regular basis. Some of them will have a dashboard that they can log in, they can see all the current stats, like how many chats and tickets, etc., that they’re handling. And otherwise, we just handle, we make sure that the agents are doing what they’re supposed to be doing. So we’re a premium service provider. And they’re not just leasing seats from us. Where essentially some providers is that you can just pay for the agents. And then the company just makes sure that the agents come in, they’re on time, they’re on shift, etc. But then all the training and the management is left up to the client.

We actually will do the management and the training for the agents because we suspect that the startups, they don’t want to be spending all this time. They want to be building their product. So we understand what their needs are, we customize that on a per client basis. And then we manage that to make sure that we’re meeting their expectations and that when they do scale, or, you know, there’s also like the bane of existence for so many startups that you scale too fast. And that can be the end of your career. And so we try to be prepared for that. So if they need 50 or 100 agents, and we also scale seasonally. Like we have a lot of e-commerce websites. We have one of the largest, I think, Happy Socks. We actually do their support.

And Happy Socks is like a subscription-based services that whenever the Christmas time comes around, they need a lot more agents. And so we scale their team. And it doesn’t necessarily cost them extra money other than the amount of money that they’re paying for the agent. And they don’t need to do extra training and management because we already know what they’re doing.

And we have this sort of pyramid scheme of levels. So we have at the base level, I call what’s called a ninja buddy. And that’s agent within your team that your parents too so you can ask for easy questions. And then you have the ninja, I think it’s the MRI or that or the manager. And then we have our ninja success manager here in Austin. And then we have Q&A teams. And then you have the individual departments like HR and recruiting. So it’s a very complex process. But I also try and create a process for it so that whenever the client onboards, I used to use something called Pipefy. And so we have a very . . .

Andrew: Pipefy?

Cody: Pipefy. It’s like a Kanban board sort of like Trello. Whenever you use a card you can specify actions that need to be done within that phase of the process. We just moved to [HubSpot 01:11:11], but now we still have automated actions, emails that get sent out to various people in various departments. So trying to integrate all the technology and all the processes into a kind of a single pipeline so that we make sure that we’re not missing anything.

Andrew: Okay. Wait, wait. I feel like we’re definitely like I’m losing a little bit of this. Let me see if I understand this. You train your people by creating an LMS, but you also make sure that they stay in touch with your clients so that they learn. Your client has access to the backend of the customer support software, which is what we have. So I know for us we use Help Scout. I can see whether people are happy or unhappy with the responses. I can see how many customer support email each person has answered. So all that stuff that I would use to manage our team internally, I could use to keep an eye on the team that we get from SupportNinja , right? And then you also used to use the Kanban process, which is a set of columns with cards under each one to manage what?

Cody: That would be managing the client onboarding process.

Andrew: Got it. To make sure that when they’re on boarded, you understand what you need. And that’s where the Zoom comes in. I get it. Let’s talk about how you get your customers. You mentioned buying ads. I’m looking at Ahrefs. This is my new thing. They’re partnering up with us so that I can start to understand what people are doing to get traffic to come over.

Cody: I heard it’s fantastic. I love that.

Andrew: Why are they sending you so much traffic, by the way? I saw that they’re sending you traffic.

Cody: Who is?

Andrew: Kind of weird, Ahrefs, according to SimilarWeb, they are one of the top sources of traffic for you.

Cody: Maybe it’s just because I’ve been using them a lot like checkout . . .

Andrew: So you check and come back in. Yeah, what are you doing with Ahrefs? It looks like you’ve always been good at SEO. Why are you using them? What do you get out of them?

Cody: It’s just all the . . . like especially all the inbound links, all the broken links. That was like the biggest thing. Being able to see various keyword results where you are and then trying to track them and analyze them so that if you’re trying to . . . like I have all these landing pages, so we can find the initial search terms that we want to aim for, but then you can make changes where you’re trying to change the primary key term and then you can track that. So you can track the page and see A/B test. Is this doing good or is it not doing good?

Andrew: What’s an example of a search term that you’re targeting and then a page that’s helping you get it? You said customer support is one. Is it?

Cody: I think customer support outsourcing, that’s probably the main one. The biggest issue that we still have is that we still get people who type in NinjaSupport, and they’re actually looking for support for the Ninja blender. But I can’t add a negative search term for the . . .

Andrew: For the ninja what?

Cody: You know the Ninja blender?

Andrew: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Cody: Of course, they’ll call us like all the time to ask for support for their Ninja blender. But so I break it down into various categories like data entry, image moderation, research and analysis, human resources. And then under those, those primary categories I’ll look at like recruitment process outsourcing. And that’s a landing page that we have. And it’s very specific. So you can imagine a lot of people type that in. And I don’t see that we rank very well. So that would be a good example of a page that I should analyze and then determine, you know, what are the PR? What is the page rank of the other pages that we’re competing against? What is the amount of searches considering what is the user intent? And then determining whether or not this is a page I should still have on the website based on the amount of inbound traffic we’re getting. And then to potentially remove it if it’s not relevant. Because supposedly, from an SEO perspective, the less pages you have, the more authority all of your pages have.

Andrew: So that customer support page that I just mentioned, the keywords that you’re targeting with that is outsource customer service. And you’ve got a whole page just answering that. That’s something that you spend time working on to make sure that it was doing well. So number one, it would show up in search results. And number two, when people came to it, it was exactly what they were looking for.

Cody: Yep.

Andrew: Oh, and look at this, even on the right, I’ve actually like hit some of my guests a little bit hard where I said, “I get that people are coming in, but what are they going to do? Sign up for your newsletter? Who’s going to do that?” It makes no sense once you’re on the page how to go from that to being a customer. With yours it does. On the very right side, there’s a place for me to get in touch with you if I’m interested to get in hiring someone.

All right. Let me ask you this, as personally, one of the things that I’m interested in SupportNinja is I saw somewhere on the site, you had a like a link to a Stelli Efti post on PandoDaily about how you should call your customers when they sign up. I’ve been fascinated by that. I would like to talk to my customers when they sign up as soon as they sign up. I haven’t found the time to sit down and do it. Can I actually outsource that to you? Have you guys call up people?

Cody: I think we do that. I’m not entirely sure. But yeah, I talk about that as a potential option with the customer support where you have a customer sign up. And then there’s research studies showing that if you reach out to a customer within like a minute of them visiting your website or something where they [enter a 01:16:11] form that they’re like 80% more likely to actually sign up with you as a service because you’re associating a human being with that. You know, they’re not just seeing it as a flat website.

It’s sort of like what I would do with my hosting company is I would actually send out some actual snail mail cards via like MailLift or one of those other various platforms to my customers. And I would always get a great reaction because whenever you sign up for a hosting company, it’s a virtual company, you don’t expect to get something in the mail. So it’s sort of like a special touch that you’re left feeling like, “Wow, they actually did that for me.”

Andrew: Even though MailLift is like . . . it’s handwritten cards that are sent out automatically, right, and it still feels authentic. People don’t feel like they’ve been cheated a little bit? I’ve been thinking of using something like that.

Cody: Yeah, because, you know, all these companies, they all say that it’s handwritten cards. But really, it’s a machine holding a pen moving it around so like you look at it and it’s like, “Oh, that’s a real pen.” But you know, if you look at the same characters, they’re all the same. So in some ways, it is disingenuous. But I would just say trying to be deceptive in terms of the language. You know, like I was actually just having this conversation where we’re going to start doing that with our sales guys. And our sales guys were like, “Oh, yeah, maybe I’ll be on the call and like we just sign the contract. And then maybe what we can do is, you know, if you don’t mind like I’ll send you a card.” And I was like, “Yeah, let’s not do that.”

Because you know, if I were them, because I’ve gotten those cards where they look handwritten but you could just tell that they’re not is I don’t want to like precurse that because that associates your brand with the deceptive practice. And there’s so many things that companies do that are deceptive that you just don’t want to do.

Andrew: So then you do that. So if I wanted to hire somebody to just call up, I would even say, “Look, I’m calling up from Cody’s company. Andrew interviewed him.” And he’s been curious about . . . like he decided to use us to understand why people sign up. That something I could get your company to do. Or it seems like you don’t even know because you guys hired a new CEO. That’s why you’re not aware of all the details. Am I right?

Cody: Well, it’s true. Like I don’t actually operate the company. I know what’s going on. I do help to make decisions but I generally operate kind of in my own bubble. I always like to use example, like, you know, Connor, he’s a great person who’s the CEO that I have running the company is. He’s kind of like the captain of the cruise ship and I’m a little tugboat, you know, a few miles ahead trying to figure out where we’re going to go to next.

Andrew: And you own 100% of the business?

Cody: I own like 87%. So, generally, yes. And then we have like a stock pool option, and then some other shares distributed and it’s 100% bootstrapped.

Andrew: What are we going to do to keep people from screwing you over this time?

Cody: I think I’ve learned a lot. And actually, the more vulnerable I am and that’s why I don’t have a problem with like your questions versus like who is right. I didn’t honestly have anxiety about this interview is because the more vulnerable I am with who I am that the more people respect me. And actually, I feel like the more power of my own choices, my own decisions. And the last time I was getting screwed over, I had a good coach. I’m surrounded by advisors. Now I’ve got advisors for everything. I’ve got another advisor that we’re just bringing on as a leadership coach who has his MBA from like Stanford and he used to work at McKinsey & Company and he’s an amazing person.

And then I have another advisor who used to work at like Y Combinator and TechCrunch or the other one that’s in Colorado. So I’m surrounded by people that I trust and that I can go to for opinions. And I recognize now that people have various opinions and they have biases and I just sort of take all of that in. And when I was in my last dispute, I had a coach who told me something about the drama triangle. And I wrote a blog post on it. It was phenomenal because I was reaching out to my lawyer and I had this shitty business partner that we disagreed on. And I was acting like the victim. And my partner was the persecutor. But to him, I was a persecutor and he was the victim. And so it’s this triangle that can be different based on the person.

But I realized that I was playing this role as the victim. And I was like I didn’t want to get rid of them because I thought it was going to destroy the company. And I wanted my lawyer to rescue me. And as soon as I learned about that, my mindset switched. I was like, “Okay, screw you. You’re not working for me, I’m going to push you out. And I’m going to deal with the consequences but I’m not going to play this victim role anymore.” And I was able to get out of that. And I was able to grow beyond that. And so I’m also able to recognize people’s motivations. You know, some people’s motivations are not pure. And I consider that. And so I hold back my thoughts sometimes.

And I remember like one of the rules from Robert Greene who, by the way, I’m interviewing next month. I’m so excited is that is that you should always hold your thoughts, hold your opinion. And the more so that you do, the more . . . there’s a mystic you become because people don’t know what you’re actually thinking. And so trying to incorporate some of those rules and just learning about manipulation about the seats, about persuasion, about various ways that people get manipulated. And just having been through that experience to that ringer so many times, I actually feel like the next book I want to write is a business book on how not to get screwed over by your business partner.

Because I wrote an article on Medium and it’s got several thousand likes. And I still to this day, I’d say about once a month I get somebody if you look on the Medium posts, you’ll see many people who commented and said that they’ve had similar experiences where they got screwed over by business partner. And it seems like maybe 1 out of 5, 1 out of 10 business people who have a co-founder, they end up getting screwed . . . because I had another guy who owns a CrossFit gym that I go to here in Austin and he ended up not having . . . he hadn’t had a verbal agreement with this partner. But at some point, she was like, “Okay, you know what? I’m going to have to 60 and you can have 40.”

And then he ended up getting screwed. Even though a verbal agreement is like a legal binding contract in Texas, it’s really hard to enforce. So, yeah, we’ve all been through that experience where we made those mistakes. And I’ve been a lot just simply because I got started when I was 14. And I’ve had six plus different businesses. I probably been screwed over by three different people. And, yeah, just you learn from that stuff.

Andrew: Looks like, by the way, Robert Greene has got a new book out, “The Laws of Human Nature.”

Cody: Fantastic. I felt in some ways that like he wrote that book. And I don’t know, maybe I shouldn’t be saying this but I felt like he wrote that as a way to redeem himself from his first book, which I felt like, you know, they banned “48 Laws of Power” from like the prisons because everybody thought it was pure evil and “The Laws of Human Nature,” I felt like he’s trying to redeem himself by talking about the positive qualities and, you know, what will you do and how to be empowered.

Andrew: I didn’t even realize that book came out. I was running with Ryan Holiday and he told me about how long Robert Greene spent writing this book. And at the time he said it’s going to come out soon. I didn’t even realize it came out. He’s not been talking about it much. I love this book so much. My favorite is “48 Laws of Power” by far. I just like how open he is and unafraid to say the things we’re not supposed say. And you’re saying in this book, he’s saying the things that maybe we are okay hearing. But is it still feeling true? Does it still feel as useful as the others?

Cody: Yeah, I would say it’s more useful because in “48 Laws of Power,” he tells these experiences and these laws through stories.” And don’t get me wrong, I love stories. I have a weekly newsletter where I precurse it. I’ll always read the story because people connect with stories. They don’t always remember what you say but they would remember how you made them feel. And so I think with the “48 Laws of Power,” it was just hard to connect because these are a lot of parables. They’re older stories. And despite haven’t read the book like twice now in the past few years, I still have a hard time like recalling these laws and actually changing my mindset or my daily flow or my productivity or the way I think in my decision making to actually correlate with those lessons in the story.

And it’s just hard that you don’t really remember a lot of what you read. Unless you’re like Ryan Holiday where you write down all the highlight and you put them on a little index card system. And I wrote a book on that because he mentioned the common book, which is like Benjamin Franklin, all these guys they had this book of all these things that they would write down and they would refer to it. And that’s how they remembered all these things.

And for me, I actually use this app. I think it’s neat. It’s called readwise.io. It has a Chrome extension that connects to your Kindle. So I use my Kindle and I’ll highlight the books and it’ll automatically pull in those books. And then it will send me a daily email and it picks all these random highlights from all the books . . .

Andrew: I’m doing this right now.

Cody: . . . I’ve read and then I can tag them. So now I can go back and I can look at all the books and look at all the highlights for various tags and I can see them.

Andrew: You know what? So I’ve done that. I hired somebody to create an Airtable . . . I created and Airtable that was okay and then I hired someone to update it. And what we do is, it automatically sucks in all my notes. And then I get to tag them in this Airtable and I have it. In the end is like the spreadsheet database type of thing. But I think that that’s just way too complicated. If there’s a tool that does it. I want it. So I’m now on readwise.io. I’m going to connect it with my . . . Oh, you could do Instapaper, iBooks, and a few others. I’m going to connect it to my Amazon.

All right. I’m going to do this after the interview is done. Why don’t I just say thank you so much for doing this interview. I’m going to tell people if they want to follow up with you that your book . . . wait a minute. My mouse is now going over to the other side. The book is called “From Foster Care to Millionaire.” You’re also online a bunch. What’s a good website for people to check out?

Cody: Codymclain.com. Follow me on Twitter. I post @CodyMcLain and sign up for my weekly digest. I send out interesting articles that I found over the week. And I also precurse that with a story, which as far as I know, no other newsletter does. And so I guarantee every week you’re going to have a story on Monday at 10:00 a.m. at least if you’re Central. That is a moral, ethical lesson of something that happened in the past that you will learn and be able to start your week with a question that will help you live and lead a better life.

Andrew: I dig that. And of course your website is for the business, it’s supportNinja.com. I want to thank the two sponsors who made this interview happen. The first, if you’re looking to hire developers or as I’ve done hire finance person, go to toptal.com. And when you’re ready to move into the best email marketing software out there, the best marketing automation software out there, go check out activecampaign.com/mixergy.

All right. I think we’ve got everything. Cool, Cody. Thanks so much for doing this. I’m going to go get a haircut. I like the way you look. You look good on camera. I liked it. The sun is coming in behind you. People aren’t even going to since it’s a podcast, but the sun is coming in behind you almost like the Lord is shining down on you. So really good setup over there.

Cody: Actually, I have Nanoleaf.

Andrew: Oh, the Nanoleaf is in front of you, which is this flat light that you can control with different devices including your Echo speaker. And the whole setup, looking really nice. And it’s all from Austin, right?

Cody: Yeah.

Andrew: I saw the cat go behind you a bunch. Finally settled in, huh? All right. Cody, thanks so much. Thank you all for listening. Bye, everyone.

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