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Hey, everybody, it’s Andrew Warner, founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart. I got an email recently from a guy named Todd Smith in the audience, who said Andrew, I like what you’re doing with the email, but let me help you out. Here are a few suggestions of how you could improve it. Todd and I went back and forth a few times. It was a big help. And as I looked up I said who is this guy? I looked him up, found out he had an interesting background. I said you know, why don’t I have Todd on Mixergy? And here he is.
This is Todd Smith, founder and creator of Little Things Matter. Todd, welcome to Mixergy.
Interviewee: Great Andrew. I’ve enjoyed your shows and it’s great to be a part of this one.
Andrew: Thank you. Let’s actually jump right into the thing that stood out most when I looked at your biography. It said, let me read this line, I’ve got it on my screen…businesses generated over $1 million in sales and has paid him more than $23 million in commissions. What is this business?
Interviewee: Well, you know, the quick summary of my background is I owned a printing business for four and a half years. Went from that to being one of the nation’s top producing realtors, earning more than $250,000 a year. My first year of selling real estate at age 23. Became the top 15 in the United States by the time I was 28. Got burned out, then at age 28 back in 1990 I started my direct sales career, whereas as a result of my ability to teach and train and help develop people, I’ve been able to generate more than a billion, with a b like boy, a billion in sales and more than $23 million in commissions. So, it’s been a great experience.
Andrew: When you say a billion in sales, is this for your company or all the people who’ve gone through your course and have learned from you.
Interviewee: Yes, it’s from the combined efforts of all the people who are a part of the team that I’ve created, correct.
Andrew: I see, and when you say $23 million in commissions, does that mean commissions that go in your pocket or commissions in the combined pockets of the people who’ve learned from you.
Interviewee: No, that’s a great question. No, these have all gone in my pocket.
Andrew: Okay. I put my financials up on the internet and it was such a hard decision to do. I actually created a video where I talked about them and I held onto it for months saying I just don’t know. It’s been nothing but good so far. Moving down to South America and who knows what’s going to happen here, but it was a tough decision. I’m wondering why you decided to be so public about your numbers?
Interviewee: Well, the reason is because at this point in my life I’ve made my decision that I’m going to focus on helping other people, both personally and professionally. So I’ve moved beyond my background and now I’m focusing pretty much 80-90% of my time on writing my book, developing my blog, running my Facebook page, Little Things Matter. And I believe one of the things that separates me from most people in my space is that I have done it. I’m not just somebody who took a public speaking class and I’m out now teaching people how to be successful.
minute 5 to minute 10
Interviewee: …I’m not just somebody who took a public speaking class and I’m out now teaching people how to be successful. As I look at most of the people in the personal and professional development space, most of them have never even had a business outside of their personal and professional development business; the books, perhaps, they’ve written; their speaking engagements. So, my son, who is one of my advisers at 23 years old, a wise young man, said, “Hey, Dad, you’re just like everybody else, unless you distinguish yourself from the crowd.” So I made the decision to distinguish myself and to kind of talk about what my background has been, to talk about my success, including the income. There’s not a lot of people who’ve averaged more than a million dollar a year in earnings for the last 20 years. So, I feel that’s one of the things that distinguishes me from the rest of the crowd.
Andrew: We’ve gotten a sense to how long it’s taking you to make that and why you made the decision to do it. And you’re right, by the way, I have an interview here with Guy Kawasaki who said, “It’s so easy to be an expert today. You put together a book, you don’t even have to get a publisher for it. You go online, you find a self-publishing company, and you call yourself an expert, you [xx] speak. And before you know it, everyone else starts to consider you an expert.” I’ve actually seen people who call themselves social media experts who don’t have the following and the competence that you have on Facebook.
I’m looking at your Facebook profile, “This guy has no business knowing all the stuff about Facebook.” The people who call themselves experts are unable to do this. But you got people engaged in the posts that you have. You’ll post from your blog and I suddenly will see 23 comments on there. You’re using it to grow your mailing list, I just love it. From everything that I’ve seen from you, I can see how that experience that you’ve talked about in business is actually useful and it’s actually helping you stand out. That’s one of the reasons why I was eager to have you on.
So, let’s talk about how we got here. The first thing that you said that you did was you worked in the printing business. What was that? What was that experience?
Interviewee: Right out of high school, I was going to go on to the workplace. My parents didn’t have any money, so going to college wasn’t an option for me. So, I started digging ditches, [xx] got late on my birthday, which was in November. I went out and decided to be a UPS runner and ran packages to the doors during the Christmas holidays. I got laid off on Christmas, and my brother said, “Hey, do you want to move up to Chicago?” I lived in Colorado at the time. “We can start a business together, silkscreening business, printing t-shirts and caps and jackets.”
I said, “Sure.” I mean, at that point, I’d been laid off two jobs six months out of high school. So, that was my entry into the entrepreneurial world. Together, we built that business into the second largest printing business of its type in the Chicagoland market. Along with the growth of that, had 25 employees and a lot of headaches and a lot of stress and a lot of pressure. So, I kind of thought, “Well, maybe life would be easier if I didn’t have all that.” That’s when I got into real estate and moved forward from there.
Andrew: What kind of headaches did you have?
Interviewee: The biggest headaches were, without question, dealing with my employees. It was always something going on, somebody needs a mental health pay, somebody’s late for work, somebody’s got personal problems. It was just a continued challenge. Part of that was in the line of work that I was in. Most of my employees were on the low end of to the pay scale. So, when you’ve got employees on the low end of the pay scale, you have a lot of headaches.
Andrew: They’re not doing this because this is a passion and career that they hope to spend the rest of their lives enjoying, they’re doing it because they need the money. What did you do right in that space? What did you right in the printing business?
Interviewee: I think that, probably more than anything, it’s what I’ve done right in everything I’ve done. I’ve strived for excellence in what I’ve done. I’ve looked at what I’m doing and asked, “How can I do this better?” You know, I’ve just strived for excellence, I’ve identified what are the activities that I need to engage in to be successful and then I’ve focused on mastering those activities.
Andrew: You did that even back then, early 20’s, first business. What were the activities that you needed to focus on?
Interviewee: First of all, quality customer service. I mean, that was a huge factor, building relationships with the customers. Certainly, marketing, doing a lot of different testing, refining different marketing methods, finding out what works, what doesn’t work, making the prospecting calls that nobody in sales likes to make. But, I was willing to do it, calling people that I knew had a need for the type of services that we provided. Every call I made, I would get off that call and evaluate how I did and how I can do better. And then I would engage in the next phone call, continuing to refine what I’m doing, and striving to be the best at what I did.
Andrew: So how would you find people to call? How did you identify who you’re going to call?
Interviewee: In the market that we were at, for us print niche(?), we’re looking for large organizations, large companies that would have a need for the types of services that we provided, but also the advertising specialty industry. The advertising specialty industry is a huge industry where they buy everything from printed pens and paper cubes, to printed napkins and everything else.
So we were a vendor to the advertising specialty industry, so a lot of my efforts were put talking to people who were out resellers of the types of products that we marketed.
Andrew: Okay, so you make a phone call to one of them, you go through your pitch, you go through the process of getting to know them, you’d have the full conversation, hang up the phone. You’d say, what did I do right? What could I have done differently? Where was I a little bit weak? What did you learn? What are some of the things you learned as you went through that process?
Interviewee: Well, probably the thing that stood out first to me is I learned how to address different kinds of objections that people had. So every time somebody would say something and where I really refined this was in my real estate career, where I’d get used to, no matter what somebody would say, I was ready for the response.
Then over a process of time you just get to know hey, this is the best response for this question or this objection, then you just keep doing the one that works the best over and over again.
Andrew: I see, so you identify common issues, common objections that people have, you test out different responses or different ways of presenting the same response. You see the one people really understand and the one that gets them excited and that’s what you end up using in the future. And the more you do that the better you become as a salesman, as a presenter of your ideas.
Interviewee: And combined with everything from the phone calls I’d make to being able to get to the right people, to when I’m talking with them, to my phone energy, to the smile on my voice when I had the conversation. I mean it was just all these little things that I would focus on.
Andrew: All right. I want to move on to Re/Max, your next business, but I’ve got to ask you about the energy in your voice. That’s a hard thing to put on. Sometimes I’ll come on here and I wonder if the audience knows it, and I don’t have the energy for the interview, and I’m a little bit shaky on the information I have about my guest. And it’s hard to say Andrew, you’re on for an hour, give it everything you’ve got. Until you know, you understand that’s what you need to do.
But how do you do it? And I’m sure that other people in the audience are also making phone calls on days they don’t have energy, or try to go out and make sales on days they don’t have energy. What do we do when we don’t have it?
Interviewee: Well, one of the things that most people don’t know about me and even when I tell them, they don’t believe it, but I am an extreme introvert. Meaning, if you take the Myers-Briggs test on a scale of 1-20, I am all the way slammed on the introvert side.
So for me it’s not a natural thing. It’s just a matter of something I’ve got to do. We often hear focus on your strengths and make your weaknesses irrelevant, but if your weaknesses are relevant, you better make them strengths.
And that’s what I’ve done. So when it’s show time, it’s show time. I mean, when it’s time to pick up the phone and make phone calls, I know what I’ve got to do and I know how I need to present myself. And there’s been many a day that I’ve had the personal challenges. I have not felt well. I have had low energy levels, bad nights sleep. But when it’s time to pick up that phone, it’s time to slap your hands together, it’s time to get yourself fired up and get yourself in the right state of mind.
Andrew: How do you do that? How do you get yourself fired up when you don’t have the energy to get yourself fired up?
Interviewee: Well, if I’m really lacking energy, one of the things I do is I’ll have an energy drink or I’ll have some espresso just to get myself a little advantage, but sometimes it’s just a matter of slapping my hands together and getting myself fired up. In sales sometimes imagine chewing a log, I imagine taking bits of a log and firing myself up. So sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do to get yourself in the game.
Andrew: I know what you mean and I’m actually obviously seeing this is you’re doing it right now. You know what, it’s interesting. Sometimes I’ll sit here at my desk and I’ll try to get myself fired up by just sitting here and thinking about the answer, and that’s not it.
I see Shawkow [? 14:19] in the audience loves it and a couple of other people who saw it. Todd loves that kind of energy. And I think you’re right. I need to just get up and move around, or even in my seat, move and create some action. And that action hopefully will wake me up and get me…
Interviewee: Slapping your hands together, firing yourself up, you know, yeah.
Andrew: I love that, yeah. All right. So I was introducing the next business. This is Remax. How did you get connected with Remax?
Interviewee: Well, when I was in my printing business I used to go to the no money down seminars. And I realized in doing that, hey, there could be some money made in this real estate business. Then I started interviewing real estate agents and…
Interviewee: Real Estate agents and realised I knew more than most of them and I started to looking at the kind of money they made and I said wow, this could be the way I start a new career and not have all the headaches I currently have and be in control, more control of my future and I so I said hey, I’m going to get my real estate license and get started selling real estate.
Andrew: When you say you interviewed Real Estate agents, how… how did you do that?
Interviewee: Are you referring to something I just said now?
Andrew: Yeah, you said it a moment ago, you were interviewing Estate Agents, and you started to see you that you knew more about it than they, I started to see you knew more they did well they are making good money why don’t I give it a shot?
How did you find this new industry? How’d you.. What do you mean by interviewed Real Estate agents?
Interviewee: Well I would interview them based upon the criteria I was taught in the no money down seminar with the type of real estate I was looking for in order to get those no money down deals, and so I was pretty much asking real estate agents questions that would help me find the kind of deals that they talked about in the seminars, and most of the agents were completely clueless with the kind of stuff I was asking so It was a confidence builder that maybe this was something I could do?
Andrew: How are the no money down seminars, do they actually work the what you’re learning there?
Interviewee: No, they are exactly what they sound like, they are no money down seminars, and you go there you listen to someone, you get, you buy their audio program. I was in real estate for, four and half years, I sold 430 homes I saw a lot of homes there were very very, very few homes, with me in the business that I was able to acquire with little money down but none with no money down.
Andrew: Ah, I see so you got into this seminars, you went out you started putting into action what you learnt and you realized this probably isn’t going to work but look at these guys they’re making good money they don’t know as much as I do and they aren’t as passionate as me. They aren’t going out of their way I am. Why don’t I look into getting into the space, you started working for Remax. You were how old when you when you went there?
Interviewee: I was 23 years old when I got started
Andrew: Ok, and you got into the Remax hall of fame at 28
Interviewee: Yep, Yep
Andrew: How did you become such great real estate agent?
Interviewee: Well, you know the first thing that I believe key in being successful in anything and this is a great point for all your audience. If you want to be successful at something, the smartest thing you can do it learn from those who have been successful, and so what I did I identified the nation’s number one selling estate agent. I lived in Chicago, he lived in Denver Colorado, I called him he was impressed that I would have an interest in learning from him. I asked him, if flew to Colorado if he would spend a day with me. He said he would in fact here’s the guy the number one selling realtor, that nobody had ever called to spend time with him, I flew to Colorado, I spent a day with him, and picked his brain and he shared with me his insights, and one of things he stressed was the importance of having discipline, and a lot of agents will sit around the office and open their mail and do those kind of things but if you want to be a top achiever you have to willing to push yourself to do what the other agents aren’t willing to do, and that’s prospecting. And so I got started and I was very disciplined in my prospecting efforts. I blocked out time every day where I made my prospecting calls, I generally did it first thing in the morning because that was when most of the people I was calling were open and most receptive, I learnt that if I called a for sale buyer in the morning they had a better attitude than if I called them at the end of the day, so these were all little refinements in things I was doing and so I so and I simply went out and was very committed to prospecting every day and every often I was put that phone to my ear and say I’m not putting this phone down for one hour. I don’t care how bad I need to go to the toilet, I’m not putting it down, and I would hold this phone to my ear and continue to prospect, and I will tell you Andrew, That I believe and obviously a lot of analysis of my successful, why have I been successful? Why haven’t others been this successful? I believe of the nearly 700 little things on my list that I teach, there not one that has a greater value to the market than discipline does, and for a guy 23 years old to make a quarter of a million dollars I mean in today’s money that’s a half a million, it wasn’t because I was good, it wasn’t because I had skills that others didn’t have. It was because I had discipline and I pushed myself to make those calls every single day with my heart beating out of my chest, with my arm pit sweat, with my underwear stuck to my butt. I pushed myself to do what I had to do and it was uncomfortable I never got comfortable doing it. I went to the Antony Robin seminars where they say
Interviewee: You squeeze your leg with every yes you get, and you try to make yourself think that you really like it. You try all those positive affirmations, none of that really worked for me. I just said, “Hey you know what? I don’t like prospecting, but it’s what I’ve got to do if I want to be successful,” and so that’s how I became successful. My business, certainly over time got to be a lot more referrals, but I started off calling people right out of what was called a criss-cross directory. I’d write down every single address and every single street, call ’em, then I’d graduated into sale by owners, people that were selling their homes themselves, to expired listings. You know, really began to focus on everywhere that I could find somebody who might be interested in selling their homes. I pretty much specialised in sale by owners. If people knew they were competing with me for a sale by owner, they would pretty much know they were going against the wrong guy.
Andrew: Alright, so what made you… I understand if you do it every single day you are going to find the people who are going to sell or who are going to say I don’t want to a sale by owner any more, this guy Todd Smith sounds like he knows what he’s talking about. He’s going to increase the price of my home enough that he can cover his own commission and also help me earn more without all the ardour of trying to do it myself. I understand that. But if there are two people making that proposal, why are you the one who gets it and they don’t?
Interviewee: Well one of the things I did back then that I didn’t realise that was such a good thing, that today is very apparent, is that when I would go to a for sale by owner, basically I would call them. I can almost still remember, “Hi, my name is Todd Smith with Remax. The reason for my call is I would like to stop by your home and give you one of my for sale by owner kits that will help you sell the home yourself. Would you allow me to stop by and drop off one of my kits?” Another thing that was a key was getting is getting in the first day their home went on the market for sale by owner, because then they hadn’t had a hundred agents call them. I tracked it and man, the first day someone’s home came on the market for sale by owner, I was the first person calling them. First thing in the morning before they’d been wore out. I had success doing that, but then and I was used to every objection from my mother’s a realtor to my brother’s a realtor, my neighbour’s a realtor, my best friend’s a realtor, we’re hoping to sell the home ourselves, we hope to not have a realtor. And I said “I know that. If you want to sell your home and you want to use your mother, then great. My goal is to help you sell the home yourself. I put together a kit with some great ideas and information that will help you learn how to be more effective in marketing the home, how you can be more effective in selling it and there’s no charge for this.” And they asked well what’s in it for you? “Hey, if I can help you sell the home yourself all I ask is you keep me in mind in case you know anyone in the future who would need to employ the services of a Realtor.” That’s all I would ask, for referrals. And people would say great, come on by. And when I went by I would never talk to them about what I could offer them. It was always about what they can do to sell their home themselves. Me giving them tips about how if someone makes an offer, don’t respond then, walk in the other room, talk to your spouse about it, come back out. I’d offer them my pager number, so if they had somebody who wanted to buy their home to page me to come by, I’d be willing to come by, I’d be happy to write up the offer, no charge. So basically I was a go-giver. I was willing to help these people, at all-expense, sell the home themselves. What they saw was that I was a person who cared. I was different from all the other realtors who wanted the listing. In fact they would say “How much will you charge for our home?” and I would say, “You know what, right now it’s not about me charging anything, it’s about you selling the home yourself, and if the day comes when you’re not successful in selling the home then obviously I’d love to be able to come with you, talk to you about what price we can sell your home for and the services I can provide. But first and foremost, let’s focus on you selling the home yourself.” So that was my whole thing, how they could sell it, and I distinguished myself because they knew I was sincere and genuine and that. Then oftentimes, when they didn’t sell, they would call me and I had no competition in most cases.
Andrew: Would it happen often that somebody would start off selling themselves, have you show them how to do it well and then have them give up?
Interviewee: That’s how I got most all of the listing. They would put it up on the market for sale by owner, they would, whatever period of time that they really felt they could afford to sell, and lot of these people were having homes built, they had some flexibility. And I would go meet with them, I would leave them my for sale by owner kit. I had a little binder, also, that was called my career book that I would say ‘I’d like to pick this up in a few days,’ and if they flipped through it, it would show them all of the things that I would do. I would go home, write them a handwritten thank you note, send it to them. I was doing all the little things that distinguished myself, and I continued to go up and touch base with them, and see if I could offer any help.
Interviewee: They would say,” You know, Todd, I think we’re ready to sit down and talk to you. And so, it was just a matter of waiting till the right time came. Sometimes it was three days later; sometimes it was three months later. But I just continued to stay in touch and try to offer value.
Andrew: Where did you get the idea to come up with this kit?
Interviewee: I went to a seminar, and it all goes back to learning from what successful people have done. I went to a seminar where a guy had been one of the top-selling realtors in the country because he was a specialist in for-sale buy owners. And so, his name was Roger Butcher. And I bought his whole program. I went customized what he had provided; created my own for-sale buy owner kit, and, you know, had a custom-printed envelope, the kit with all the things – how to show the home to how to negotiate offers. I even put copies of a contract into it so they could review it if they wanted to write it up themselves if somebody came. I gave them everything they needed. In fact, if they didn’t have for-sale signs in the yard, I had for-sale buy owner signs in my trunk that I would take out, put in their yard and then add down in the bottom-hand, “compliments of Todd Smith RE/MAX”, and so that basically was me spraying the yard so that any other realtor knew, “ Hey man. Todd’s here.” And it kinda put a little fear in them to know they were up against me. But you know it’s a whole lot of reciprocity. If you do enough to help other people – whether it’s giving them ideas, giving them values, just like much of what you’re doing here Andrew, me leaving a sign behind; they feel a responsibility to at least involve me, to at least interview me and see what services I can provide, to see if it’s something that they wanted. And in most cases, what’s funny is I always end up be their mother, brother, and uncle,sister, cousin now, because at the end of the day, they wanted someone who can get top-dollar for their home, and they had more confidence in me than the other people.
Andrew: The audience, by the way, is loving you. I see Brandon from musictrader.com when you were saying you were basically spray-painting your name on their lawn, I see that he was laughing. Dan Blank, Greece, simple brilliant, they loved the discipline. Where is this motivation coming from? You know, to be able to stay, as you said, on the phone when you’re sweating, when you’re tired, when you’ve been hung up on. Where’s the motivation come from?
Interviewee: Well, it, you know, Napoleon Hill says in the book “Think and Grow Rich” that desire is the starting point of all achievement. Even for years, I would say that success begins with desire, a burning desire. Because without desire, you won’t do what is required to succeed. And in most cases, what you’re not willing to do is overcome the obstacle, the discipline. And so, when I look at why I was successful, I believe I was successful because of the benefits of being what successful would provide me was important to me. And so, I believe the people who are successful in anything in life are the people who becoming successful is important to them. Because, you know, I’ve worked with tens of thousands of people in my direct sales business, people who would say “you know, I’ve got the desire to live in a nicer home, to have a nicer car. You know, I want to make an extra 500 bucks a month, but yet they wouldn’t follow through, and do what was required of them. And it’s because the benefit of what they would gain was not important enough to them that they were willing to do what was required. So I believe that the true foundation to all motivation is based upon what is important to you. And to me, my goal has been to retire by the time I was 40. And so, I did the math, I determined the kind of net worth I needed to build. And you know, I’m not somebody who can tell you that the things I have done were passions of mine. They were a means to an end. They were a way for me to accomplish what was important to me; and that is to be able to live here on the beach like I do now, to live and enjoy a great quality of life, to be at home with my wife and four children, and now my grandchild running around. You may hear him running here in a minute. And you know, I just love working out in my home. I love the freedom and flexibility of doing what I want when I want. And that is what drove me.
Andrew: You know for me, that desire to succeed came from being a big nerd for most of my life. It came from just not knowing how to even have a real conversation with people because I was just such an introvert, and so shy, and so socially awkward. In a city like Manhattan where everybody seems to have everything, and they’re just exuding confidence as they walk down the street. You feel like “Yeah, that guy is somebody. They are all somebody. And here I was, feeling a nobody, and business is gonna be my way of being something, of actually reaching who I feel I am inside underneath this shyness and fear and social inaptitude. And so when it was time to sit and work hard, I was channeling all that desire to break free of that into every bit of work. And at the same time, because I was reading magazines, like Forbes magazine, and seeing what the possibilities were, beautiful homes, travel and being able to do what you feel like, both of those motivators are acting on everything I do.
Andrew: Both of those motivators are acting on everything that I do. For you, did you have that negative pain, that pain that you had to fight to break free of, or am I just the only whack job who had that?
Interviewee: No. I think it’s different for everybody, and I think in your case it was just different. For me, I had different things that I had to break through. I mean, I think we all have them.
Andrew: What were they?
Interviewee: I think they deal with our self-confidence and how we really. our self-image and our self-esteem. And when we’re young, you know, it’s natural that we lack those things. Unless we’re raised in a home where our parents are telling us, “You’re great. You’re going to be the next president of the United States or whatever.” And they just instill that in you, I think that you have those doubts, and so when you were talking about what it was like for you, I mean, it brought back memories of me, having my own doubts. Can I do this? Do I really have the ability? Am I worthy?
Andrew: What were you fighting towards, and we’re also fighting against at the same time. What were you fighting against?
Interviewee: I think, more than anything, I thought the biggest thing I fought against is just laziness, meaning I know what I need to do but the key is doing it. And so, I feel like my challenge always has been the challenge of being disciplined, doing what I know I should do when I don’t feel like doing it. If there’s something I need to do and I don’t feel like doing it, then I say, “I must do it now.” So, my challenge has always been pushing myself to do what I know I should do, even though I don’t feel like doing it because the truth is most of the things that really do make us money as entrepreneurs are the things that we don’t want to do. But we need to do if we want be successful, and that’s been my biggest challenge, I think, more than anything else.
Andrew: Can you take us through a time–this is a question from Atrabbit is the user name. Can you take us through a time where things were tough, where it was especially difficult? And tell us what it was like and how you got out of it?
Interviewee: You know, I’m thinking right now. Obviously, there’s been all kinds of challenges I’ve had in my life. I’m thinking back, you know, to my early years. My wife got pregnant before we got married, and that was just when I was starting in real estate. I mean, I was starting in real estate when she got pregnant, and then we got married. And we were living in a 600 square foot apartment. Every time we’d pay bills, we’d get in a fight because the pressure was so great. And so, I would say that that was the most challenging time in my life, having a new wife, having a baby on the way, having no money because when you start selling real estate you have no money, especially when you’re 23-years-old. And then, knowing that she wouldn’t be working and knowing that I had to perform, that was again just part of saying, “OK, I got to go do what I do. There’s no looking back. I got to do it.”
Andrew: I see. All right. When you don’t have much money, you’re living in a small place, you’ve got a new wife and a baby on the way, you just have to go and fight to get out of that, to get out of that small place to give yourself some room to breathe. By the way, you said earlier that you were living on the beach and that your grandchild might be running around and jumping on camera, by the way. That’s one of the reasons why I love doing interviews via video Skype. You never know where we’re going to find the person who I’m interviewing and get a sense of who they are and where they live. Where is this beach? Where in the world are you?
Interviewee: Well, let me see. I’ll just go right over here and see if you can look out there.
Andrew: Oh yeah. I see it.
Interviewee: It’s probably a little too shiny. I don’t know if you can see the water.
Andrew: No, I can see it. I see some bushes, and I see the ocean behind you, right?
Interviewee: Yep. Yep. That’s the Gulf of Mexico. So, I live on Siesta Key, Florida.
Andrew: Wow. How long have you lived there?
Interviewee: We have lived in Sarasota since ’97. We’ve lived on the bay during most of that time, but believe it or not, we bought this place thinking we were going to tear it down. We designed a big beautiful home for it, and then everything collapsed. A couple of years ago we said, “Hey, you know, let’s not build yet. Let’s move into the place we were going to tear down and see how we like it.” So, we’re actually living in the little beach cottage that’s been here since the 1950s. We just love it. It is the best place we’ve ever lived, and even though it’s probably the least desirable home, the location is without doubt awesome.
Andrew: It looks like Dan Blank has a link to a map that shows the area where you live. It’s kind of incredible. Some people say something in an interview, and Dan Blank or someone else in the audience will go and find information about it and put it into the chat room. OK. So, now you’re helping other entrepreneurs. Actually, before we get into that, what about the direct sales business? What was that? How did you get into that business?
Interviewee: Well, what happened was is that I enjoyed the success that we’ve talked about in real estate, and one day I was just driving down the road and I just
Interviewee: …And one day I was just driving down the road and I just, you know I was 28 years old, I couldn’t even go out on a date with my wife on a Friday night without my pager going off fifteen times. I couldn’t take a Sunday off without, getting out of church on a Sunday morning and having ten messages on my pager. And, and I, I just said, “Is this the way I want to live the rest of my life?” And this was before they had real estate teams and things that would take the pressure off of an agent. And I, I said no I don’t want to sell real estate the rest of my life, so I put together a list of what I thought was an ideal business. I want to work from my home. I, you know don’t want any employees. I don’t want any responsibilities such as leases and paperwork. I wanted to be able to, do what I want when I want. I wanted to be able to take vacations all the things I couldn’t do when I was in real estate. And, and then actually responded to an ad in a business opportunity journal. Got started, back in May of 1990, and just like everything else I’ve done, the first thing I did was I went out and I identified some of the most successful people in the industry. I met with three people who were making over a half a million dollars a month. And… learned what it was that they did. I got started and, and my first four months in the industry, built a team of more than 1600 people. Broke all the records in a company of more than 2,000,000 distributors. And… and then, you know, have now gone on over the last, you know, twenty years, to have earned over $23,000,000 and built an organization of more than 500,000 people around the world.
Andrew: Is this multi-level marketing by the way?
Andrew: It is. So what was the product that you guys were selling?
Interviewee: Our number one product is the all natural clinically proven alternative to statin medication, for helping people optimize their cholesterol levels, lower their LDL, raise their HDL, lower triglycerides, stabilize blood sugars. So…that…that’s, that product right there’s probably of my sales, probably more than a half a billion of my sales is just that one product.
Andrew: How long have you been in the business, since… 1990?
Andrew: Okay, and…well, are you still in the business?
Interviewee: I still collect a check which is one of the great things about it. And…so yeah I still, I still collect a check, I’m just, I’m not overly active. I mean still support my people but I’m not out, recruiting or building new legs or anything like that. I, you know I just did an event this last weekend, for that company. I’m also doing events for other companies outside of the industry. You know I’m still spending time but, but most of my time, 90% of my time is spent writing my blog post, recording my pod cast, on my personal development blog. And…managing my fan page, responding to people, responding to emails, all the things you know.
Andrew: Yeah. Yeah I know cuz I saw you respond to my emails quickly, I saw the way that you’re responding to people on Facebook, I saw the way you were engaged out there. And I also see, is it that you’re writing a blog post everyday and recording a short five minute pod cast everyday?
Interviewee: That’s correct. So basically, what I’ve done Andrew, is I, have identified, upwards now of 700 little things. I mean a little thing would just be making eye contact when talking with somebody. You know, the way that you smile. The way that you greet someone. Remembering their name, shaking their hand, listening to them, not interrupting when they’re talking. And so, I’ve got upwards of 700 of these little things and every day, I’ll teach at least one little thing. My post yesterday as an example was 35… little things that you can do in less than 10 seconds to make a positive impression on others. And, if you look at my blog, you can see it was shared more than 350 times on Facebook. And so, you know yesterday was 35 little things, but… some days it’s just one thing. I mean today as an example…it’s, it’s just one thing helping people understand that, we’re all different, we all come from different backgrounds, we all have different experiences and, just because someone’s views may be different than yours, it doesn’t mean theirs is wrong. Perhaps maybe yours is wrong. And so…you know everyday I teach a little thing, atleast one little thing five days a week. And so…that’s what I’m doing.
Andrew: And you’re recording it daily?
Interviewee: Yes, and so basically what I do is I write each post out. They’re more than likely between 500 and 1000 words probably averaging around 750 words each. And then… I have it edited so that I look good right? And… then, and then I record it and I got a little bitty recording device that looks about like a cell phone that … I record in my closet between my t-shirts where I got a nice, quiet spot. And…and then my daughter edits it and adds my jingle on. So… then we post it so everyday you can, you can subscribe, from my podcast through Itunes or you can listen right on the website so… there’s a lot of people who feel like they’d rather learn by listening, you know maybe they’re having coffee and they listen and they don’t want to read. So I offer people my content through both of those mediums, so that they can have whatever they prefer.
Andrew: I saw it I was wondering how you put that together because it really is polished. Unlike here where I’m going back and forth, I say “by the way” 500 times.
End of transcription.
Andrew: That’s really polished and now I see how you get it…how long does it take you to get those 5-minute pieces?
Interviewee: It takes me about two hours to write the lesson, then my editor will edit it, send it back to me, then I’ll spend another 20 minutes reading what she edited, you know correcting things I liked or didn’t like, I want it to be me. Then for me to record it I read it out loud twice to kind of get the enunciation right, to get the flow right, to get the feeling right so it doesn’t sound like I’m reading.
And then after I’ve read it out loud twice I’ll go into my closet and I’ll record it. You know I don’t ever record it without making a mistake. I’m not perfect, but my daughter just edits those and makes me look perfect.
Andrew: So interesting because I was listening to that and I said he’s probably just spending five minutes talking into a microphone and posting it online. How is it that I’m not so clear? How is it that I can’t get my words out clearly? How is it that I’m stuttering and going back and forth on a single question.
It’s interesting to see that it’s not that you’re knocking it out of the park on the first shot. You’re writing it for a couple of hours. You’re editing it. You’re going back and forth. Your daughter is editing it from there. So, why? This is like I’m counting three or four hours of work into a single blog post. Why do you spend so much time?
Interviewee: Well, because I’ve got the time. I take pride in what I do. My attitude is that if I’m gonna put my name on something I want it to be the best that it can be. Part of this content also is going to be regurgitated for my book. So some of my lessons will be lessons you’ll never see in my book because my first book is going to be upwards of about 300 little things that apply to people’s personal and professional life.
As an example, making eye contact would apply both in your social relationships as well as in your business relationships. So my first book is going to be things that apply to both. You know, if you go on there I’ve got business texting etiquette and all kinds of things that won’t ever appear in the book, but that I do it because I want to appeal to my audience which is primarily professionals that are trying to grow and develop themselves.
So you know, at this point I’m putting the time to create the content, to try to build a following. I realize that as you certainly know, content is king out there and I want to take pride in developing great content to give people the confidence to recommend me to their friends because it’s all the word of mouth that grows this. And also knowing that my content will be used in some capacity down the road, both in my book and in audio programs that I create.
Andrew: I was thinking back to what I sad earlier and that it takes me forever and I wonder why it takes everyone else so much less time, but while I’m imagining it, it really doesn’t take them less time.
I know I’m going to get email from people saying Andrew, don’t put down your work. I don’t think I am putting down my work. I think I’m being very open about what I feel with my interviews. I think I’m being very open about what I care about and don’t care about. When I say that the lighting in here is awful, it was an admission of the truth. The lighting in here is terrible. It’s making me look terrible. But I’m also gonna say that I don’t care about that. It’s not part of what drives me and it’s not what I’m not going to spend a lot of time on here.
I do care about pushing through, really learning, and finding out why people do things and how they’re building their businesses, and motivation. And I’m especially curious about why you’d care about writing a book? Why spend all this time to put together a book? There’s zillions of books out there. No one is going to get rich writing a book. We’ve discovered that you really can’t build a reputation off of a book. Most books sit nowhere in the virtual book case. So why?
Interviewee: Well, first of all, let me say to you Andrew, you come across great. You’re very authentic, that’s why people love you. That’s why your traffic is growing. So there’s only a few people I’ve ever met in my life who are like President Obama and just open their mouth and the words just flow out. I’m not one of those people either. And I built a whole career by fumbling my way through what I’m saying.
Andrew: I don’t see that, I’ve been paying attention to the way you express yourself here. You’re going a very good job at it and I’m sure you weren’t just born this way. I’m sure that all those phone calls and all the analysis after every one of those phone calls has helped. I’m sure that going and speaking to large crowds, and showing them how they can sell themselves…I’m sure that writing everyday and editing it and all the work that you put in has made you a better speaker. And I’m sure of that also for me.
Every one of these interviews. Every time that I get on camera I get a little bit better. I get a little more comfortable. People should see me in the first ones, go back and listen to me in the first ones. I was God awful. I think admitting where I wasn’t good and focusing on it to improve it has helped me get a little bit better every day.
Interviewee: You have.
Andrew: Okay, let’s go back to the book. Who cares? A book? You’re a business man.
Interviewee: Well, it really began for me, Andrew. I did retire…
Interviewee: I did retire as I wanted to and you know I went and took goof lessons every day and you know ended up feeling like I was taken up on another job and you know, the goof lessons I just said “what do I want to do with my life?” and, and I was reading success magazine and I think it’s one of the best public locations in the market place and you know there were a cupple of articles from last year that talked about your legacy, what kind of legacy do you want to lead? And so I started thinking so what kind of legacy do I want to lead? And you know, what, what what has made me successful, what can I offer people? And I feel like i’ve got a very unique strength in, and I also have a very unique experience. I mean been in the poisition I have been within the direct selling industry where I can see litterally thousands tens of thousands of people fail and thousands succed and say ‘what is the difference?’ and I can identify the difference I mean I could talk to somebody in an hour I could tell you in any line of work if they were to be successful and where they fall in that in that pace scale, and so yeah I felt like I had a gift in this area and I said ‘you know I don’t wana just sit at home and go fishing every day and go goofing I want to do something that I’m proud of that when I die and people don’t just look at tod as been a successful buisness guy who really did impace millions of people I mean thats my goal, millions is a big number but I beleive that I can do that I’m 47 years old so I got time left and, and my book the real thing is with the book is I beleive it’s an opotunatiy to help me spread the word, it allows me to help me communicate to people the things that really will help them achive greater personal perfessonal success it will give me credabilty I mean, you know been in auther gives someone credabilty been a best seller gives an auther more credabilty and so I beleive that to reach the group that I wana reach I need credabilty beyond my past credabilty and so I beleive the book will help me do that, and so it’s all part of my long term objective to, to really go out and to help people from all walks of life to achive greater success and you know my thing andrew, I am actually convinced that anybody can be successful at anything thats importent to them if they will focus on the little things that matter i’ve done it in the pinting buisness, I’ve done it in wilstate, i’ve done it in direct sales, I coached my sons little 18 we won by an adverage of 17 runs a game because I hired two perfessonal ball players to come and to teach me the thundermentals of harderground ball, how to propperly throw a ball, how to hit a ball. You know it’s something you can apply to anything learn from the best how to con it and apply it and thats what I’ve done with my blog to talk about how my blog looks. I studied the top blogs, yours was one of them and looked at what they have done well and then put together mine everything I do is based upon studying what the best people do and I beleive any lesseror out there can do whatever it is thats on their mind whatever their dream is that they have if they will focus on the little things in what they are doing bothing the activates they are engaed in and how they perform those activites greater, and then who they are as a person the relationships they build how they interact, how the communicate, how they brand themselfs, what their emails look like, what they sound like on the phone, how they present themselfs in person, how likeable they are. All those things.
Andrew: You said earlier that you seen thousands of successes and failures that you can talk to somebody for an hour and know which one they are going to be, that you know the difference, what is the difference? What have you seen?
Interviewee: It’s about whats importent, you know it’s me saying if you were to do whatever it is that your wanting to do, why would you do it? And listening. And asking them on a scale of 1 to 10 how importent is-that-to-you? And if it’s not an 8,9 or 10 I know right now their not falling through because when it gets time for people to get uncomfable to make calls to push themselfs outside their confort zone, to give presentations. There not going to do that unless their disre is great enough to overcome the obstical of the fear in the uncoftable feeling their gunna have when they have to do what they really need to do to be successful.
Andrew: So if troy in the audience is building some internet company and I ask him ‘whats the internet company, and how importent is it to really make this thing a hit?’ And he says “well you know, I didn’t really invest that much time it in. It’s– Maybe it’ll go somewhere, maybe I’ll go somewhere else.” Ahh, his not he doesn’t have it. But if his firey if he says “I’ve got to do this!” If he’ll shut you up if you start to come up with too many objections or with objections to the internet as a whole then you know his got something.
Interviewee: Yeah and thats absulutly the case. I mean people have got to have that burning passion that disre deep down inside it’s got to be something thats pushing them, driving them and if they’ve got that for what their doing…
Interviewee: And if they’ve got that for what they’re doing and then they really go and say okay, what is, what are the activities that I need to engage in to perform at the highest level of what I’m doing. And then identify those activities and look to master those activities, every one of those. And that’s what I did in everything I’ve done. I mastered, every activity of everything I’ve done, I mastered.
Andrew: Somebody in the audience was asking me to talk about the negative side of multi-level marketing. I’d like to. I’d like to do a whole interview on both sides of it. I don’t think Mixergy is about multi-level marketing, but I’d like to do an interview on both sides of it. I think that part of the discussion, I think it’s outside the scope of our discussion.
But Todd, when I do an interview on it, what should I be talking about with my guests? What are the negative sides I need to be asking questions about?
Interviewee: Well, network marketing is like anything in sales. When I was in real estate, one out of 100 realtors in the state of Illinois would renew their licenses a year later. These are people that went to school for eight weeks. They spent $500 on real estate school. They got a license, but they didn’t follow through with it.
Direct sales has got a very low cost of entry. Most people can get started for $35-40 and it’s the same thing. Unless they’ve got that desire that’s great enough to push them, they’re gonna fail. So you know, there’s just such a large number of people that come into the direct sales industry that really don’t have that desire to improve their quality of life that they end up quitting.
But also there’s expectations. There’s a whole lot of people out there that will lead people to believe they’re gonna make more than perhaps they are. I mean somebody might be making $20 an hour and somebody saying you’re gonna make $100 hour. Well, that’s not realistic. You’re not gonna take your value to the market at $20 an hour and just because you change vehicles, you’re not going to go to $100 an hour. You’re not gonna do that in anything. You’ve got to incrementally increase your value to the market if you want to make more money.
So, network marketing, direct sales is like every other business model out there. It works. It works for the people who apply themselves and it doesn’t work for the people who don’t.
Andrew: Okay. All right, I’ll save the rest of it for another discussion, another interview. Let’s see. I guess, Todd, where can people connect with you?
Interviewee: The best thing is if what I’m talking about is of interest to people, go to the Littlethingsmatter.com. That’s my blog. In the upper right corner there’s a little blue box where you can subscribe. I don’t sell anything. Everything I’m doing for the first time in my life is free, so you can subscribe to my podcasts, they’re free. You can subscribe to my blog, it’s free. You can go to my fan page which was called a fan page, now they’re no long called that, but my Facebook page at Facebook.com/littlethingsmatter. I put little nuggets up there, and then my larger lessons on my blog. So that’s how I can best help people, Andrew.
Andrew: Well, thank you. Thanks for doing this interview. Thanks for the help before. In fact, like I said in the beginning of the interview, the only reason I connected with Todd is he sent me a bunch of tips, said here’s what you could do differently, and he was helpful and I really appreciate that. Thanks Todd.
Interviewee: Well, you’re doing a great job. I enjoy your shows and you’re really helping a lot of people. I could see probably from your blog you’re probably being grossly under paid too right now in your life for what you’re doing. But you’re helping a lot of people and what goes around comes around. Keep doing what you’re doing. The rewards will be there for you.
Andrew: Thank you. Thank you guys for watching. I’m Andrew, see you in the comments.