Transcript of Setting the Stage for a Moment of Awakening written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing
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John Jantsch: This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Klaviyo. Klaviyo is a platform that helps growth focused e-commerce brands drive more sales, with super targeted, highly relevant email, Facebook and Instagram marketing.
Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is James Fell. He is a very popular health writer and speaker, and he is also the author of a book we’re going to talk about today. The Holy S!it Moment: How Lasting Change Can Happen in an Instant.
So, James, thanks for joining me.
James Fell: Thanks very much for having me on the show, John.
John Jantsch: So, we didn’t talk about this when we were off air, but that is the first time I’ve said that word on air. I run a very PG show here. I must admit though, I was in the airport the other day, and the top three best seller titles they had facing out, two of them had the F word in them, and one of them said ass.
I guess it’s just the world in we live in today, isn’t it?
James Fell: The funny thing is, is that I was at first opposed to that title. We don’t have to say it again. You want to be respectful of people that don’t want the potty mouth on their show, and that’s fine.
But, it came about because … The book is about the science of the life-changing epiphany, and that is what, in common vernacular, people will refer to it as. As a holy S moment.
John Jantsch: At that point, it’s not even a curse word to them, right? It’s like a phrase.
James Fell: Yeah. So, I was talking to my agent. We were weeks away from pitching it to publishers, and we still didn’t have a title. He said, “Just come up with 10 different title ideas, and send it to me,” and that one was one of the one’s on the list, and it was way down the list.
He came back, said, “Let’s call it this.”
I said, “I don’t know man, I don’t really like that one.”
He said, “No, it’s good. It’s accurate. I think publishers will like it, and later on we can change it, if we come up with something better. But, we need something now to pitch.”
I said, “Fine.”
As it turned out, the publishers loved the title. Everybody loved the title, and on and on since then. I’m still like, “I’m not to sure about it,” but so many people loved it, that through the process, when they heard about it, I said, “Okay, I guess it’s grown on me.”
John Jantsch: Well, and I think, as you know, that’s kind of a phrase that people are used to. It’s not just gratuitous or uncreative, to stick it in there. I think that’s one that people can relate.
James Fell: Yeah, it’s a thing. People have used that term before. I didn’t invent it, I just turned it into a book title.
John Jantsch: As you mentioned, the book is about the science of life-changing epiphanies. When suddenly, someone has a sudden lightning strike of understanding that awakens their passion. I’m reading this from something you had written.
Would it be safe to say that your journey started that way? Your journey to becoming a very popular health writer, I should say?
James Fell: Well, it absolutely did. There was the big transformative event in my earlier 20s, that took me from a very lazy man, to an industrious hardworking one. I went from flunking out of school and being in debt, and drinking way too much, and in poor physical condition, to transforming everything, because of a sudden lightning strike of awakening.
Then, later on, there’s been more clarifying epiphanies that came later on. I ended up getting an MBA and working in business for about a dozen years. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. It was about the age of 40 when I just said, “Life is too short to spend most of my waking hours doing something that I’m not really passionate about.”
And, I knew that writing was my passion. That it was something that was very excited, and I wanted to see if I could make a go out of it, and see if I could turn this into a career.
When I took that step, there was an overwhelming sense of rightness, that, “Yes, this is what I’m meant to do.”
I worked harder at that than I had ever worked at anything in my life, and it paid off. It was because I was so excited to do my job each day, that a year after I had my first published article, I had a column in the Los Angeles Times.
John Jantsch: Yeah. So, I don’t know, do you share what that epiphany was, or does that not make any sense to the story?
James Fell: Oh, the original one from my early 20s? Yes, I absolutely do. So, I tell that in chapter one. So, I was flunking out of university. I was about to be kicked out. I was overweight, and my credit card companies were calling. I read one of those motivation quotes.
Which, I’m not saying that I’m this huge fan of motivational quotes. It’s just that this one resonated at that space and time. I was just at the right point of my life to receive this sudden enlightenment. I read it in my university newspaper while I was sitting in the food court, and it was a quote, from all people, folk singer Joan Baez.
The quote read, “Action is the antidote to despair.”
When I read that, I realized that all of these problems I was facing down was of my own doing. It was a whole that a dug myself, and that I had the ability to take action to fix it all. All of these things could be fixed via my own effort.
So, that was the first sort of big insight. Then, the sudden flash of self reflection came, that made me realize that I had lazy my entire life, and I had skating through on cruise control, and that if I just got down and started to work really hard, that there was light at the end of the tunnel.
Then, what happens next in psychological terms is called dramatic relief. Where, you still see, all of those problems still exist. They’re still there. Still very real, but you’re relieved because you know your going to fix them. They’re going to be gone eventually, because you’re going to work towards the resolution. You see that light at the end of the tunnel, and I did.
Instead of going to the campus bar, to toss back beer, I went to the registrar’s office and launched an appeal to beg my way out of my failing report card. I told them, I went to that meeting saying, “I’m a changed man,” and they believed me. After that, I was a very good student.
John Jantsch: Well, great for them for taking a chance, because I bet you they’ve heard that story before.
James Fell: Maybe. Maybe the passion came through. I think I was pretty convincing, because I believed it. At my core, I believed that I had changed, and I guess they got that vibe. I ended up getting two master’s degrees.
John Jantsch: So, it was a good investment on their part too, right? Let me ask you this. Thousands of other people read that Joan Baez quote that day, and still flunked out.
My point is, what was the difference? Why did that strike you, and not those other thousand people? That quote, I don’t know if it was in a song, or something. That’s been around. That hasn’t moved a lot of people to act.
So, what was the thing going on in your brain, that made you choose to act? It’s like when that person … You know, my father-in-law tried to quit smoking for 25 years, and then finally decided to quit one day, and that was it. That was the end of the story.
I mean, what happened?
James Fell: Well, and your father-in-law’s example, there’s some research in the book about people that quit smoking. The ones that suddenly say, “That’s it, I’m done,” are far more successful than the ones that do the planned attempt.
John Jantsch: But, he did the planned attempt, 15 times. So, then one day, it just clicked.
James Fell: Yeah. So, the click was the one that worked, and that’s the research, that shows that those ones are more likely to be successful.
In my case, I was in the right space in time for a few different reasons. One is called crystallization of discontent. Where you have various different problems in your life, that individually they don’t seem like that big of a deal. But, when you are able to look at them as a whole, that whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.
Where you read something akin to a breaking point, where you’re just like, I cannot go in this direction any longer. I think the thing that added the most weight to this was the fear of being kicked out of school made me wonder what’s my girlfriend going to think, because she was a straight A student who was destined for med school.
I worried, if I flunked out, that it would potentially spell doom for our relationship. That put more fear into me than anything else. That was something that felt unbearable to me. Was losing this woman that I loved. I think that was one of the things that really pushed me toward this realization, that I had to change.
Everything worked out. We’ve been together 29 years now.
John Jantsch: Want to remind you that this episode is brought to you by Klaviyo. Klaviyo helps you build meaningful customer relationships by listening and understanding cues from your customers. This allows you to easily turn that information into valuable marketing messages.
There’s powerful segmentation, email auto-responders that are ready to go. Great reporting. You want to learn a little bit about the secret to building customer relationships? They’ve got a really fun series called Klaviyo’s Beyond Black Friday. It’s a docu-series, a lot of fun. Quick lessons.
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You, in a previous book, wrote about weight loss, and you’ve worked with folks trying to lose weight. That’s probably another one of those, where somebody struggles for years, and then one day, or maybe six months, eight months later is 80 pounds lighter.
For some reason, something happened, and it clicked. Obviously, that’s very similar, probably, to the smoking, but is there a moment, or something that goes on in our brain, that makes something like that stick?
James Fell: Yes, and the answer’s a little bit complicated, so bear with me for a moment. That was actually, working with people who lost a lot of weight, was what first gave me the idea for this book. What it boils down to, it’s called the Rokeach’s Model of Personality, and it relates to what’s called The Identity Value Model of Self Control.
So, the Model of Personality is that … If you’ve ever seen the movie Shrek, he says, “Ogres are like onions.”
Well, people are like onions too, in that we have layers to our personality. At the external layer are our actions, our behaviors. Then, you go down a layer, and you’ve got beliefs, and then there’s attitudes, and then there’s your values.
Then, at the core is your identity, yourself. When people focus on changing something like weight loss, they focus on their behaviors. Eat better, eat less, get some exercise. If that is in conflict with your core identity and your values, that’s an incredible struggle.
It’s a model that’s built on suffering. Where you have to use willpower and grit, and it’s painful, and you gotta suck it up. The failure rate is tremendously high. It’s one of those reasons why we preach baby steps, where you minimize the suffering by just doing a little bit, that’s only a little bit uncomfortable. Eventually, you get used to it, and you slowly develop habits, and drag yourself over a motivation tipping point.
The failure rate of that is just so high, because it’s just such an uninspiring way to approach it. Now, the shift that we talk about in this book, with the life changing epiphany is it’s not about changing behaviors, it’s about changing core identity and core values. So, the example of a man named Chuck Gross. Chuck weighed over 400 pounds.
He had been heavy his entire life. He was the epitome of the person, that the likelihood of them losing weight and keeping it off was extraordinarily remote. He had tried and failed to lose weight many times. Then, something very unexpected happened. His wife came out of the bathroom, and holding in her hand was a positive pregnancy test.
At first, he said he was overjoyed at the prospect of being a father. Like I said, it was unexpected. Then, he realized, in a flash, that this time he was going to lose weight, it was going to work, he was going to keep it off. The reason why is what shifted was his identity.
In a moment, he went from not a father, to, congratulations buddy, you’re going to be a dad, and along with that came an entirely new set of values. Which were, I value of the idea of being a really fit father, that can rough house with my kids, and have a good, long healthy life, and be that type of a role model for my children, and all that type of thing.
For him, this was more important than anything else in his life. It was more important than sitting on the couch. It was more important than overeating on treat food. Here’s a direct quote from Chuck, “I didn’t have to struggle with my motivation. It came built in.”
He said, it was a fait accompli. It was a tremendous sentence of relief, that he knew that his weight problem … He still weighed over 400 pounds, but he knew that his weight problems were over, because he was going to lose it, and that was all there was to it.
He lost over 200 pounds, and he’s kept it off more than a decade, because of that core identity and value shift.
John Jantsch: So, we’ve been talking primarily about somebody trying to change a bad habit. Smoking, losing weight, or eating healthy. How does this apply to that person that wakes up one day, and goes, “This is what I’m going to do with my life,” or, “This is how I’m going to innovate this product.”
It applies equally, doesn’t it?
James Fell: Oh, absolutely. So, there’s the breaking point concept, of maybe rock bottom, or just crystallization of discontent. Then, there’s also the good-to-great scenario, which I’m stealing that line, as the title of a book by James Collins.
Which is a great book about how corporations can have tremendous success, and I reference the book a number of times in mine. It’s all about the vision quest. Where, suddenly you have this new passion in life that’s been unlocked, which is like me with writing. That, I felt that I had to become a writer, and I worked harder at that than anything I ever have.
I got to tell you, making it as a writer isn’t easy. You got to work hard. There’s examples of that in the book. Of one woman, she had an epiphany while she was walking across the parking thought. That she was going to go back to school and get her PhD in pharmacology.
Another example is of a woman that decided to move away from home, to launch a new career, because she just realized that her family environment wasn’t good for her anymore. So, these types of quests, where it’s about finding purpose in life.
So, I know that a lot of books have been written about happiness, how to be a happier person. Well, happiness is mostly a state of mind, and I think, some people, it may always elude them, and other people are just naturally happy, no matter what happens.
This is about flourishing. Where, you look at what your capacities and your talents and your abilities and your education and your wisdom all makes who you are. You look at that, and you realize, “What could I do with this? If I was suddenly inspired to strive for it, what could I use with my internally abilities and my situation? How could I make myself a better person, and improve? Do things that are good for me, and good for other people, and maybe even go on to change the world?”
That is the type of thing that will drive you endlessly. It will keep you awake at night, when you should sleep. I’m a big fan of these ambitious quests. I refer to it as, you know what, impossible dreams, you need to let those go. Implausible dreams can be incredibly motivating, because the potential upside has so much value for us, that we feel, the realization of this quest would be so amazing, that I gotta do it. I gotta chase it, I gotta give it a try.
John Jantsch: I mean, that’s the closest thing there is to a process for this, because I can see listeners going, “Okay, this is great, but how do I find my moment?”
What you just described is sort of the process, isn’t it?
James Fell: Yeah, that’s an incredibly 50,000 foot executive summary view. I wrote an entire book, and it’s not a short book. It’s a long the longer, that is filled, beginning or end, with action items. To use an MBA term.
There are tasks I give the reader all the way through, of things that you can do to have your holy S moment, your life changing epiphany. It’s really hard to boil down into a couple of minutes, but a lot of it can involve … First, believing that it can happen.
These types of experiences are very common. We’re seeing the approximately one-third of people have them without even trying. If you start to put effort into it, by believing that it’s something that can happen for you. Most of us sort of go through life on cruise control, without spending too much time thinking, “Well, what do I want to do with the rest of my life? What is it that would really bring me joy and allow me to flourish as a human being?”
Spending time, analyzing what your capacities and talents are, what that might entail as the new version of you, 2.0, and what you can do that would be good for you and good for other people, and really give you an overwhelming vision of success for the future, and spending time analyzing that.
Then, here’s the real key point. The solution to the problem, of what do I do with the rest of my life, doesn’t come while you’re actively trying to solve the problem. During that analytical phase is when you’re filing away bits of information into your unconscious brain. Then, when the answer comes is when you’re not actively trying to solve it. When you’re in a distracted state.
Which is why I’m a big fan. I tell readers, “Go for a walk, leave your phone at home.”
Take a shower, and don’t … Even if you have a waterproof phone, don’t take it in there with you. Meditate, pray. Prayer is a common one, because it’s another form of medication.
Just get used to lying on the couch without distraction, and letting your mind go anywhere. No offense to the work that you do, but if you’re going for a walk, don’t listen to a podcast, because you need to get comfortable with being alone with your own thoughts. That’s when these sudden insights arrive, when you least expect it.
But, there is the pre-work that you can do, to put the information into your brain. That, during this distracted state, allows those little bits of information to meander and collide, and gel in a profound way, that suddenly delivers unto you the answer. Which, can be incredibly motivating, because you’re suddenly very excited, and there’s a positive neurochemical rush, that says, “Oh, yeah. This is it. This is what I got to do.”
John Jantsch: You know, we’ve been talking, of course, about people that … You mentioned the person that had a lot of weight to lose, and smokers, and that person who’s destitute, back against the wall. They have that decision time.
Sometimes I think there’s a far greater amount of people that are stuck in, “Everything’s okay,” or in mediocrity land, who don’t realize that they maybe are suffering as much as they are.
James Fell: That’s absolutely right. There’s some research in the book about that. When life is good, we become risk averse. The person who reaches a breaking point has nothing to lose. Where as, where life is good, we see people who are suffering. We’re like, “I don’t want it to be like that,” and that can demotivate us to go on an ambitious quest.
But, you have to realize … There’s a great quote, that I put in the book, by radio personality, Earl Nightingale. Earl Nightingale was one of the few men who survived the sinking of the USS Arizona in the battle of Pearl Harbor. So, this guy knew about struggle.
This quote is, “Most of us tiptoe through life, trying to make it safely to death.”
When I read that, I was like, “I don’t want to be like that.”
Other people may read it, and say, “Yeah, what’s wrong with that. That’s fine,” and that’s okay. If that’s the way you think. If you want to tiptoe through life and make it safely to death, that’s okay. I won’t judge you for that.
But, if you read that, and say, “No, that’s not for me. I want to make it unsafely to death. I want life to be more of a thrill ride, where I feel like I realized my true potential.”
William James is considered the father of American psychology, and in the 19th century, he wrote about how most people only utilize a fraction of their potential, and that if you start thinking about what could I do if I was truly inspired. If motivation was not a scarce resource. If I had all the motivation I needed to do something, what would that something be?
Start asking yourself that question. What’s the harm in investigating the question? You never know what answer might pop up.
There’s another quote, TS Eliot wrote, “We do not know what egg it is we’ve been sitting on until the shell cracks. You need to be ready to embrace the audacious.”
You never know. You may end up becoming so inspired, that when this answer comes to you, the world better watch out, because you can be capable of more than you imagine.”
Other people may not see it. Maybe, right now, you don’t even see it. But, when something wakes up. When people wake up with these visions and missions, the world gets changed.
John Jantsch: There’s a Dylan Thomas poem. It’s one of my favorites. “Do not go quietly into that great good night,” that really talks about that idea of raising a ruckus while you’re here, because we’re all going to die.
James Fell: Oh, yeah.
John Jantsch: So, you only get one chance at this. So, James, where can people find out more about your work, your writing, and of course, pick up The Holy Sh!t Moment?
James Fell: So, my website is BodyForWife.com. Yes, that was the lovely woman I was talking about earlier. BodyForWife.com.
If they click the book tabs, there’s links to every possible purchasing platform, including audio. If people didn’t mind listening to my voice, I’m the one who did the narration for the audio version, and I’m also very active on Facebook.
John Jantsch: We, of course, put these in the show notes. So, people will be able to click on them if they head on over to Duct Tape Marketing.
So, James, thanks for joining us. Really enjoyed the chat. Going to dig into the book myself, and hopefully we can run into you someday out there on the road.
James Fell: Thanks so much, John. It’s been a pleasure.
Today on the podcast I chat with James Fell. Fell is a health expert and author of several books, including, most recently, The Holy Sh!t Moment: How Lasting Change Can Happen in an Instant.
As a college student, Fell was overweight, failing classes, and in debt. His sudden epiphany turned his life around and helped him to find and follow his passion for writing and fitness.
In the book, he talks about how his own moment of sudden awakening changed his life, and how you can rapidly change your mindset to have a moment of awakening as well. That’s what we discuss in today’s episode.
Questions I ask James Fell:
- What was the life changing epiphany that got you on track?
- What causes the click that allows you to have that epiphany?
- How does this apply to someone who wants to implement a new positive change, rather than just get rid of a bad habit?
What you’ll learn if you give a listen:
- Why you need to go beyond focusing solely on behaviors to make a lasting change.
- How to focus on where your talents and interests lie, rather than chasing the concept of happiness.
- Why believing in the possibility of an epiphany is part of the process.
Key takeaways from the episode and more about James Fell:
- Learn more about James Fell
- Order your copy of The Holy Sh!t Moment
- Follow on Twitter
- Follow on Facebook
- Connect on LinkedIn
Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!
This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Klaviyo. If you’re looking to grow your business there is only one way: by building real, quality customer relationships. That’s where Klaviyo comes in.
Klaviyo helps you build meaningful relationships by listening and understanding cues from your customers, allowing you to easily turn that information into valuable marketing messages.
What’s their secret? Tune into Klaviyo’s Beyond Black Friday docu-series to find out and unlock marketing strategies you can use to keep momentum going year-round. Just head on over to klaviyo.com/beyondbf.
Transcript of Creating a Community for Entrepreneurs written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing
This transcript is sponsored by our transcript partner – Rev – Get $10 off your first order
John Jantsch: This episode with the Duct Tape Marketing podcast is brought to you by Asana, a work management software tool that we use to run pretty much everything in our business, all of our meetings, all of our product launches, all of our tasks. And I’m going to show you how you can try it for free a little later.
Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Abdo Riani. He is a consultant and coach, founder of a number of businesses we’re going to talk about today including the community called Startup Circle, where startup founders get together and talk about all the trials and tribulations of starting a business. So Abdo, thanks for joining me.
Abdo Riani: John, thank you very, very much for having me. I’m very, very excited for this episode.
John Jantsch: Well, thanks. So tell me, you gave me kind of your background in bio, and I think it’s an interesting story. Give, if you don’t mind, I don’t know if you’ve got this down to like the five minute version or something, but give us a little insight into your entrepreneurial journey prior to Startup Circle.
Abdo Riani: Absolutely. So John, I started business because I was blown away by how a few lines of code can make such a big impact in people’s lives. It was back in, I don’t actually remember the exact year, but I was a sophomore in college, maybe eight years ago. Actually I’m still in college right now, just a month or two away from completing my PhD, but back then, John, I wanted to make an impact the way business owners make impacts. I have always respected entrepreneurs because they create value from scratch. They give birth to new things that can contribute to many people’s lives, many stakeholders.
I had always been passionate about the environment, and I wanted to create something that can boost awareness for the environment and can boost recycling rates, so I created Recycler Spotter, a platform that rewards users for their eco friendly actions. And back then you know I needed funding to create the platform, at least I thought I needed funding to create the platform. This platform that can gather users that can connect them to the nearest recycling facility that can help them scan their barcodes and get points for recycling, that can help them use those points to get rewards from local businesses. But I just wasn’t able to get the funding I needed to create this technology, this application. A lot of investors were interested, but many required some tracks, some results, some revenue before they could invest. But for me at that time, and the way I was thinking about it is how am I going to be able to create traction, how am I going to be able to generate revenue if I don’t have this product.
But then I started thinking about it differently. I started doing things that don’t scale. Instead of creating the product, I became the product. I went to market under the condition of the unavailability of the product, so was the one connecting people to the nearest recycling facility, literally using my cell phone, I was doing it. I was the one keeping track of people’s points. I used excel sheets for that. I was the one that helped them get rewards from local businesses through email. I was the one doing all of that. I was the one in the middle connecting three stakeholders, and that helped me, not only go to market quickly, and under, limited to no budget, but also it helped me actually raise funds for creating the scalable version of the application. Many of those are recycling facilities noticed that a lot more people were coming in, and they said, well, can you give us a little more exposure, and we don’t mind paying for, or prepaying for our listing on your website when it’s ready. And when two people said that, I said, well, I can do the same thing with a lot more companies then.
Why don’t I try and ask. I generated, or I raised, I guess, I’m going to call it raised, $20,000 that helped me create the scalable version of the application and that allowed me to serve thousands of people instead of being the one serving 500 people manually.
Now two years and a half later, I realized that I was a lot more passionate about starting businesses than running business, so I started a [inaudible], startup development studio that helps nontechnical groups have entrepreneurs, all in the same idea I followed when I started my first venture, which that is taking ideas to market by doing things that don’t scale. And that helped me, or allowed me to get involved in the launch of about 50 startups over the course of four years, and it wasn’t until the beginning of 2018 when I said, you know what? I want to offer different other products. So I want to offer coaching services. I want to offer digital products. So why don’t I try and do that? And one of the challenges that I was faced was that I didn’t have an audience. I didn’t have an audience that trusted me. I mean I could buy an audience through apps, but I needed people that trust me because I am the asset. They’re going to be investing in me, and I have to prove that I can help them take their ideas to market or grow their businesses.
So one of my hypotheses last year was what if I can leverage people or experts instead of fighting for the attention of their audience? What if I can highlight experts’ expertise, and as a result of that get their promotion, get their testimonials, and get their recommendations to the audience? And that’s when I created the Bootstrapping summit where I highlighted, where I documented the journey of 100 Bootstrap entrepreneurs, and that helped me get exposure to about 5,000 people, that is 5,000 subscribers, and was actually a lot more than 5,000. And thanks to that I was able to sell my coaching services.
Now, a couple months later came Startup Circle. So looking back at my journey of launching startups, I realize that the reason why I was sometimes successful at launching startups, because, not because of resources, it was because of a small change in mindset or a small change in plan. And it was few conversations with customers, especially with mentors, and partners that I thought, those are just small discussions that made such a big difference. What if I can give other entrepreneurs, other passionate entrepreneurs an opportunity to chat with successful founders? Even if it’s a 15 minute chat. Even if it’s a 30 minute chat once in a while. And that allows them to get personalized answers that can help them move their businesses forward.
So I created Startup Circle, which is exactly that, a daily live Q&A session with successful entrepreneurs where, and we keep the sessions small so that those who join, attendees or the entrepreneurs that join can not only ask questions, but follow up questions and get personalized advice and connect with the speakers and get to remember. And Startup Circle has so far allowed me to connect many passioned entrepreneurs with many successful founders through, so far, about 150 live Q&A sessions. We host them on a daily basis, and the goal is really to get to a point, perhaps, in the future where we can democratize guidance, where every entrepreneur can connect with their idols, or at least those who are a few steps ahead of them so they can tell them what to do, what to avoid, and what to focus on to move their businesses forward. So this is a snapshot. I’m not sure it was five minutes, but hopefully I shared the journey.
John Jantsch: That was perfect. So you’ve actually, in some ways, I don’t want to gloss over this because I think it’s an important aspect of this, in some ways you have also learned along the way how to kind of start and leverage joint partnerships to build a business, build authority, build connection, build sales. You’re doing, you actually mentioned the Bootstrap event, so you’re actually using that as a kind of a marketing channel, aren’t you?
Abdo Riani: Exactly. That had, that made a huge difference, John, last year. I mean, I had invested a lot in content, marketing. I had invested a lot in social media marketing. I had written guides that were 15,000 words long, and applied many strategies that helped me distribute those guides and help me create some virality, but it wasn’t until I created the Bootstrap, and so that simple idea that if you highlight people’s expertise and can give them exposure, and can build the relationship with them, why would they mind sharing and distributing your message to their audience? So I, the Bootstrapping summit allowed me to accomplish my goals very quickly, in fact launching online events or launching joint partnerships is what I consider now every entrepreneur’s opportunity for two, three months overnight success because it can help you accomplish so many things, whether it’s relationship building, whether it’s exposure, whether it’s branding, about branding, in fact, thanks to that I was able recently to become a Forbes contributor. I have been trying to become a Forbes contributor for a while, and thanks to that, thanks to that proves that I am the Bootstrapping guy online, or one of the Bootstrapping people to write about one of the Bootstrap entrepreneurs to write about Bootstrapping online. It has helped me get that branding and the attention of the editors.
So I wanted to apply this same idea, John, and exchange this through email in different ways. One of the other ways I’m doing it is, I mentioned chambers. So I went to local chambers, and I told them one of your goals, I know that one of your goals, and I’m looking at your calendar, I know that one of your goals is to educate local entrepreneurs, is to provide them with human capital resources that learn from experts and get advice to help them grow or start their businesses locally. And I told them that I know you have a budget for that, and perhaps it’s not feasible to get many experts to come in and give a presentation for a couple thousand dollars every other week. So one of the things I proposed I could do is bring those experts, although not in person, bring them online where we can have them talk about something and share some insights and answer questions live. And a lot of chambers were very open to the idea, and currently actually am in the planning stages of launching the first ones with here, one of the local ones in South Texas. So that is another application of what I call the accelerate method, or a way to accelerate your growth no matter how you define growth actually.
For me, the distribution that’s exactly what I asked for, when they ask me how else, how can we compensate you? And my answer is distribution. All I need is for you to distribute this event or this initiative so that people can come and learn about me and learn about Startup Circle, and also learn about the speaker and the topic. So it becomes a win win, and it’s also doing the same thing with other companies, companies that offer complimentary services and that need or want to educate their members so that their members can use those companies’ software and build successful business. So whatever they want to, that those companies offer the software for, so yeah, John, took some time to answer your question, but [inaudible] online is important.
John Jantsch: I like the chamber idea because I think it’s a very old school business that you are bringing some new ideas to, and a lot of online marketers have been doing summits and webinars and using this technology for years, but there’s still a lot of local business, and I would put the chamber in that, that haven’t come around to that, so I think it’s a great sort of proven application to bring to those businesses.
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John Jantsch: Tell me a little bit about, I mean putting together one of these summits, just kind of go into if somebody’s thinking, okay, this sounds interesting. I like this idea. What goes into putting one of these on?
Abdo Riani: Oh, a lot. In fact, you know when I launched the Bootstrapping summit back in May, I had actually never interviewed anybody in my life, John, back then. Right now I run one to three sessions a day, but back in April, I think, i had been thinking about launching something like this for a while, but I hadn’t done it, and I just woke up, and I said, you know what? I think this is the right time. I have the time, and I have the energy, and I have been thinking about it for a while, so let’s do it. And what goes on is obviously interviewing a lot, so you have to first be prepared that you are going to interview people and that you are going to prepare for those interviews, and that you are going to try to get as much information from those speakers or guests as much as possible.
What is more, I don’t want to say more important, but as important as the interviews is promotion. So the idea is that you are going to get most of your attendees, most of the people that are going to sign up for the summit, are through the speakers, through the guests. The guests are encouraged, I guess, to share with their audience, preferably through email, one or two dedicated emails, and if you can, if you want to go an extra step, then you find partners, partner companies or promotional partner companies. For my last summit, for example, I had 14 promotional partner companies, and those are companies that are I cold emailed that reached out to and told them about the summit and what it’s created for, and if they would be inclined to partner with me on this by sending two dedicated emails to their audience in exchange I would do the same thing for them.
So to summarize, two things that you definitely need to have is number one, you definitely need to have speakers about a topic, and the more specific you are in choosing the topic, the better, because people will be coming and expecting some outcomes from joining the summit. And the second thing is the promotion, just as important, mostly those who are going to be your guests are those who are going to promote you. Just need to make sure that they are aware of that, and they are willing to promote, in fact one of the mistakes I made last time was that I had 100 sessions. I then realized that I didn’t need 100 sessions. 100 sessions, or 100 interviews is a lot. I could have focused on perhaps 40, and tried to be more specific with the topic instead of saying, for example, Bootstrapping, in general. Perhaps Bootstrapping [inaudible] startups or Bootstrapping [inaudible] startups or Bootstrapping AI startups. That was number one.
And the second thing was that quantity of sessions didn’t matter. What mattered was how many people promoted, and about 20% only of those people promoted. So if I had perhaps 40 people, and only 20 promoted, I would have had the same result as 100 people, and only 20 promoted. Even in terms of content, it didn’t make that big of a difference because I realized later that a lot of people who joined and attended every single session got to a point where they got tired, sometimes confused, some … It’s normal that entrepreneurs get to different places through different routes, so when you hear 10 different entrepreneurs talking about how they bootstrapped their startups or small business, and you hear 10 different ideas, you sometimes get overwhelmed and confused, so focus is important. And then you just go to market, then launch.
John Jantsch: So tell us a little bit in closing about Startup Circle. Can … how can people … what can people expect when they come there, and what’s kind of the best way for somebody to participate?
Abdo Riani: Absolutely. So StartupCircle.co. You need to register. We keep the sessions small, and the way we, the way we do it, in other words, the way we assign people to sessions is through a couple questions. So we ask you who, first of all who you want to attend, which sessions you want to attend. You find a list of upcoming sessions, and by date and time. It’s easy to find the page and select the speakers that you want to attend. You reply to our welcome email or the first email that you will receive with a list of people that you want to attend, and a quick description about yourself, and finally one of your most active social media accounts. The reason we ask if we want to make sure that those who join really need to be there. Those are free sessions, but we want to make sure that if you join, you need answers from the speaker or this topic. And once you’re in, then the way the sessions are organized, for about 20 minutes, we I interview the guest, focusing on one topic. And then you open the conversation. You can ask your questions through chat. You can unmute the microphone. You can turn on the video. You can do whatever you want for about 20, 30 minutes. And then you connect into the next session, the next session, the next session. We host many sessions.
John Jantsch: Well, Abdo, thanks for joining us and telling us about your entrepreneurial journey. And love hearing about Startup Circle. We’ll have the URL in the show notes. So, Abdo, thanks. And hopefully we’ll run into you out there on the road.
Abdo Riani: John, thank you very much for having me. This has been great.
Today’s guest on the podcast is Abdo Riani. An entrepreneur himself who runs several different ventures, on this episode we focus on Startup Circle, a platform that allows established entrepreneurs to share what they’ve learned along the way with those who are starting their own businesses.
Riani shares about his own entrepreneurial journey and the ways he’s getting creative about structuring his approach with Startup Circle.
He is also a contributor for a number of business publications, including Forbes, Inc., and Entrepreneur.
Questions I ask Abdo Riani:
- What was your entrepreneurial journey, prior to Startup Circle?
- How has leveraging joint partnerships helped you to build authority, connections, and sales?
- What goes into planning a summit?
What you’ll learn if you give a listen:
- How sometimes the best way to get to market is by embracing ideas that don’t scale.
- Why relying on traditional methods of connecting can be just as effective as using the latest technology.
- How honing in on a specific audience can create greater interest in your brand.
Key takeaways from the episode and more about Abdo Riani:
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How to Incorporate Marketing Automation Into Your Existing Strategy written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing
When you started your business, you had a smaller customer base and it was easier to keep in touch with everyone. However, as your business has expanded, customer base has grown, and prospect pool has widened, you have more and more people that you’re hoping to reach with personalized messaging.
Fortunately, marketing automation tools can help you get all of that done. Many of the marketing tasks that you do now can be automated in a way that allows you to be targeted in your messaging and frees up time in your day to get other work done.
But if you haven’t used a marketing automation tool in the past, you might be overwhelmed by your options or not quite sure where to start. Today, we’re going to take a look at how to incorporate marketing automation into your existing strategy to ensure that you get the best results out of the tool.
Understand Where You Need Help
There are a lot of marketing automation tools out there on the market. Some are comprehensive, offering features for email, social media, and websites. Others are more niche and are focused on only one or two channels.
The first step to settling on the right tool for you is understanding the gaps in your current approach. This means turning back to your existing strategy. If you had big plans for your social media marketing but are consistently struggling to keep up with a regular posting schedule, that’s a sign that automation of scheduling and publishing to your social feeds might be useful for you.
If you’re having trouble growing your newsletter mailing list, then that might indicate that your lead capturing approach on your website could use some help. If you find that lead conversion is not as strong as you would like, an automated email follow up campaign might help you to keep pace with incoming requests from prospects.
Focus on the Tools that Work for You
Once you have a handle on where the weak points are in your marketing approach, you can then start to hone in on the tools that make the most sense for you. This will also, of course, be dependent on your budget and team’s level of tech-savvy.
If you’re looking for a tool that solves a narrow part of the marketing automation issue, it’s possible to find a low- or no-cost option. If strengthening your social media approach is a goal, a tool like Buffer or Hootsuite can help you to manage your social media post schedule and better engage with your audience.
If you want to improve your email marketing approach, a tool like MailChimp offers all of the basic features you could look for in managing a mailing list.
However, if you’re looking for a more comprehensive tool that brings together site tracking, email automation, sales and CRM, plus other features like SMS messaging, you’ll want to consider a platform like ActiveCampaign, Ontraport, or InfusionSoft.
These all-ecompassing tools have manageable subscription fees for small businesses, and if you have the budget and bandwidth to implement a full-scale automated system now, it might save you from having to migrate from individual tools to something larger in the future.
Prepare Your Data for the Switch
If you’ve been managing your customer list in a spreadsheet or sending out your newsletter through your Gmail account, chances are your data is not in its most organized state.
Part of the power of marketing automation is its ability to communicate with specific subsets of your population based on their attributes or actions. However, in order to take full advantage of email segmentation, you need to teach your marketing automation tool how you want it to communicate with your audience.
As you prepare to migrate your data into a marketing automation tool, begin thinking about how you want to slice and dice your list. This exercise should be driven by how you define your ideal customer. Are there certain features your ideal customer has like age, gender, location, or job title?
You’ll want to be sure that you have all of the relevant data on your existing customers that will make it easy for you to implement an effective segmentation approach. So take the time before you implement the system to scrub your data: get rid of stale contacts, fill gaps in relevant information, and make sure you’re starting your new system with a clean data set.
Once you get your marketing automation tool up and running, you’ll be able to undertake behavior lead scoring to understand the actions that typically lead to conversions, which will allow you to create an even more detailed profile of your dream customer.
Define Your Goals for the New System
Whenever you implement a new tool, you want to be sure you’re getting the most out of it. The best way to do that is to set concrete goals for what you intend to accomplish with your newly automated approach.
When defining those goals, be specific. Rather than, “I hope we’ll get some more interest in our mailing list,” try for something like, “I want to increase our open rate by 5 percent.” This kind of specificity will help you to understand what you need to do to give your automation approach its greatest shot at success.
Help Your Team Get Up and Running
If your sales and marketing teams are used to the old way of doing things, getting used to a new marketing automation system will take a little bit of time. And while a marketing automation tool can take a lot of work off your team’s plate in the long run, it’s only able to do that if it’s being used correctly.
You can help to ease the transition by first clearly communicating the changes. Give your team a head’s up about your intention to implement a new system. If you have employees who have used a marketing automation tool elsewhere in their career, get their advice before you make your final selection. Getting buy-in early on is one of the keys to successful implementation.
Once the new tool has been selected, clearly communicate your goals for the new tool, and make it clear how these goals align with your existing strategy. How will email follow up campaigns help you to increase sales? What will site tracking do for the way you behavior score your leads?
Finally, once you’ve shared your goals and approach, you want to provide adequate training and support during the transition process. Check in regularly with the teams who use the tool to see if they have any feedback or issues, and work to address concerns that might pose a problem in implementing your strategy.
When you’re used to running your marketing efforts without the help of a marketing automation tool, the thought of making the switch can be daunting. But when you’re thoughtful about selecting a tool that complements your existing strategy, you can set you and your team up for even greater success with less busy work.
My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.
I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you to check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from an online source or one that I took out there on the road.
- Leadworx – Learn more about anonymous website visitors so that you can turn them into customers.
- Zendesk Answer Bot – Harness the power of machine learning to answer customers’ questions.
- 200 Words a Day – Stay on track with generating more content for your website by joining this online writing group.
These are my weekend favs, I would love to hear about some of yours – Tweet me @ducttape