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Bryan is one of the original OGs in online marketing and probably one of the top five people in the world of internet marketing.
He has authored or co-authored eight books on the subject and also one on baseball! I have read one of his books on AB Testing.
He and his brother Jeffrey have made the most complex things easy.
This latest book is geared toward young adults who have set out, or are planning, to be entrepreneurs.
In fact, this is for every entrepreneur who has lost sight of the fundamentals. It’s a book of only 113 pages in a compelling storytelling dialogue format that you can finish reading in about 90 minutes.
The discussion on this episode revolved around this book and some interesting pointers that Bryan shared with me on becoming an entrepreneur.
The Inspiration Behind The Book
In April this year, Bryan was at work at home sending an important email when his 13-year-old son Sammy, who is on the collegiate baseball team, asked him if they could play catch.
So, after sending out the email, when he went out with Sammy and caught that first pitch, a thought struck him. He had been there for so many of his games, taking him out to practice and training to help him learn from the beginning and get better at his game. He realized that he had been there for his son right from the beginning and knew the entire process of how to practice and train for baseball.
On the other hand, his kids hadn’t seen him back in the day when he and his brother were growing the agency and scaling it out. Nor did they know some of the inner workings with a lot of his clients.
They saw him mostly when he was doing more and had already gone through the initial stages of establishing the agency; speaking than the building of businesses per se.
He made up his mind that he needed to leave a legacy back for his kids and for all kids in general.
So, he started thinking of a way to get these concepts through. Initially, he started asking around his friend and contact circles if there was one book that would give a young aspiring entrepreneur all the first principles, all the key things they needed to understand from a mindset and skill point of view to be a successful entrepreneur.
He, of course, did a Google search as well. But, there was no such book. That prompted him to write this one.
And after spending the last number of years working with Sammy and being around professional athletes, he noticed that it just boils down to getting the fundamentals right. It’s just doing the same thing over and over for hours and grinding. It’s not the fancy stuff and gimmicks that one does in a game.
That’s the problem. We don’t talk about it as an industry because it’s not sexy. But yet, almost 50 to 60%, if not more, of businesses fail within the first five years. We’re not talking about the simple things more often; as Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
Breaking It Down to Simple Things
Bryan and Jeffrey have had clients like Google, helping them acquire customers and speaking in front of what might be an intimidating group, a bunch of really smart people.
Yet, he is helping them break it down into simple things like what small businesses want and what’s their main challenge, and why they struggle.
He uses storytelling effectively and figures out things in the reverse, like reverse engineering. His initial books were complex, but then the follow-up books got simpler and simpler.
One of Bryan’s mentors, when he read one of the initial books called, “Waiting for Your Cat to Bark?”, found it so complex that he called it nine books in one.
So, this new book is meant to appeal to 13-year-olds. In fact, his son, Sammy, read it every day as Bryan wrote it, and he started his own little business. He created his own business card and a webpage, and he’s already made almost $500 as a 13-year-old. He started applying some of the principles. These are, in fact, complex things.
But to hold the interest of this age group, it needs to be in the form of a story. We all know that “Facts tell, but stories sell.” In everything we’re doing, we need to sell people and their brains on what they need to do.
We also need to keep them entertained because there are so many entertainment options today at their fingertips that if we don’t find a way to make it engaging, it creates a real challenge to get into the market. A book like ‘Waiting for Your Cat To Bark?’ today will not find a lot of readers. The span of attention has significantly reduced now, and very few spend even an hour a day on reading.
So each chapter in this new book takes 2-3 minutes to read.
You’re not selling a book. You’re not actually selling the physical paper. What you’re selling people on is the time they have to invest in reading a book.
Maybe if it’s something they’re so passionate about, and it’s such a niche book, they’ll invest in something that’s 400 pages. But if you want to reach the masses, you better make it quick, simple, and fun to read.
A Rule Breaker
This book is something that has been missing in the world of entrepreneurship this whole time. I wish I had this as a young adult because I thought the business was something where you follow the rules. Just like with math or economics.
I had this misplaced confidence that if I were a good student, I would be a good entrepreneur.
However, Bryan talks about how an entrepreneur is actually a rule breaker in a certain way. I thought the idea of being a millionaire when I was a young adult was something just way out of range; that to make a million dollars, you had to win the lottery or have some magical thing happen.
And then I see how so many businesses just did one thing, and they made it to $5 million, $10 million a year. A lot of people, not just young adults but maybe people in this post-COVID environment, want to start a business.
The internet has made it possible to be a millionaire, and a million dollars today is not even like it was 20 years ago.
That’s the whole point that Bryan tries to make in the book as well. There are guys who are doing full-time jobs as teachers in the book but then have their own little agency on the side, and it’s paying for the car payment.
The economy is hurting right now, so why wouldn’t we want to find opportunities to make more money? We all recognize the problems and issues that we have. We all have skills that we can develop, or we can keep advancing our skills, just like Dini (name changed), in the book.
Go ahead, upskill your skills, and all of a sudden, you’re selling those skills, and you’re making a few extra thousand dollars a month. And that can be incredibly meaningful even if you’re not shooting for a million.
The Secret to Becoming a Millionaire
If you find an opportunity to sell to an ocean of people, a large volume of people, at a small margin, you’re more likely to actually become a millionaire.
However, if you sell something that’s super expensive but only a handful of people can purchase, you’re likely living with poor people.
Is that contrary to the idea that you have to niche down?
Not really. The niching down is more about creating authority and trust, but not necessarily who you’re serving. You can serve larger than your niche, but in order to get attention today, which is the biggest commodity, you have to find a good niche. And I think that’s where a lot of confusion actually happens.
The First Thing is Creating Content
When Jeffrey and Bryan first started their business, they had just declared bankruptcy.
Things were pretty bleak, but they knew one thing; how to communicate. So they started writing in the early forums like the Warrior Forums. They started creating content consistently every single day, and that’s always the first thing.
As they slowly started building that up, eventually, they got picked up by somebody. They started producing on a larger platform that had a wider reach than their own newsletter. So they started doing content now on both. That got them invited to speak by Danny Sullivan at one of the early SESS, and those were sometimes free very early on.
They took the course and built their reputation up.
It’s just not so easy. When people say, “Oh, you click this, you buy this thing, and you’re gonna make six figures,” that’s quite frustrating because that is far from the truth.
There is an incredible amount of effort, work, and ethics that actually go behind creating the volume and quality of content.
Everybody’s out to make a buck by selling people that they can make a buck.
The reality is, just like an athlete, it takes a lot of consistent work on the fundamentals every single day. So it started with writing, went to speaking, to creating, and to consulting, that went on to creating software. That created the whole cycle.
With more success, more people will start knowing you. And you build your network; the people you hang around are going to create who you become. So it all becomes a vicious cycle.
Everybody wants a shortcut. It’s like you’re not going to become Steph Curry by getting on the NBA basketball court and shooting a few shots.
That’s just not going to work.
The Content Overload
Back then, when Bryan first started producing content, there wasn’t much content on the internet. The only way to find content was going to Yahoo and all these other directories and clicking through links to try to find something interesting next; there really wasn’t even Google at the time.
So any content you produced, whether it was super great quality or otherwise, people were craving for it.
But today, there’s an overabundance of content. There’s so much content out there, you have to figure out how to get through the noise, and that’s the biggest problem today.
So I think number one, I would still start raw. Simple; with the best camera you have and good lighting, there’s still stuff you can do at a low cost. To make your quality better, several software can do great editing.
You cannot put together some of the stuff we did back then, but at the same time, the fundamentals of what to do are all alike.
Becoming a Figurehead
There’s a study that just came out that talks about how the biggest job that people are dreaming of today is not fireman or astronaut, but it’s an influencer.
It’s wonderful to have an audience. But a lot of people don’t understand what it takes to build up a tribe; the commitment to the tribe, how you service the tribe, the value you bring to the tribe, and how you owe your life a lot to the tribe as well.
It’s great having a great community. Back then, people on the mailing lists, thousands of them, would respond to every email sent, and not everything went into junk.
Today, that’s a lot harder to do. But you still have to understand and bring value to your community.
You can’t just turn on the camera and go. That’s the piece that too many people get stuck on because they think it’s all glamor and it’s all easy, but it really is a lot of work.
The Importance of Learning and Sharing
Focus on finding people who are curious. You don’t need to be an expert in something to build an audience, but if you’re curious about it, you can share everything that you are learning based on your curiosity.
Can you bring people along on that journey of being curious?
Let’s say you’re curious about becoming a millionaire. Go read the book. Share what you’re learning through the book. Start documenting how you’re doing it. Start documenting how you’re putting the pieces together. People will get engaged with that.
They’ll root for you. And yes, you’ll have some people who will hate you on YouTube, so ignore them. But the people who root for you will be so engaged because they’re afraid to take action. And watching you slowly take those steps, being authentic about it, is amazing.
Overcoming Early Jitters
I’ve seen a lot of young adults start a business and are optimistic because they’ve heard from someone like Bryan. They’ve seen other successes, but then their friends and family members start pulling them down, telling them that they will not make it and should get a regular job.
This book does touch upon the crab mentality. This is about who you surround yourself with. That’s not to say you shouldn’t listen to your friends and your family.
But if you are not listening to people who already have what you want to have in life, and you don’t have them as mentors, find somebody to answer your questions, to guide you along.
Follow them. Let them help you build your confidence, and let them see in you the greatness that you have. If you don’t have it, most of those people will tell you honestly.
And they’ll do that if they really care. If not, they’ll let you go on your path.
You have to surround yourself with the right people. That’s fundamentally the number one thing you have to focus on.
The Importance of a Mentor
What if you’d love to get mentored by Elon Musk, but Elon Musk won’t reply to you on Twitter?
So then start looking at who Elon Musk follows and start seeing who will reach you and who will answer you. Start building that network. It’s a network. People are connected. You don’t necessarily need to aim for the top right away.
When Bryan & Jeffrey first started their business, they were unsure where they were going. One day in 1998, they walked into Barnes & Noble, where they found a copy of Roy H. William’s book, The Wizard of Ads. They had already started the agency a couple of years back but weren’t a hundred percent clear about where they were going.
Roy seemed to have it put together. This was a number-one bestseller, he had a trilogy of them. After that, they emailed and called their offices to meet with Roy. Luckily, he was actually doing a free session in his office.
They didn’t have the money but scraped it up. Jeffrey flew down to Austin, and they met Roy. Now he has always been their mentor. They’ve written books together.
Rarely does an author not respond to a direct message, a tweet, or an email. It’s not hard if you’re really curious, respectful, and patient. Most of these people will get back to you. Most of these people also are at speaking places.
Also, Sammy was not with the top MlB coach from day one.
He worked with other coaches who have worked with some of those people. Now he’s got access to just about any in the world of baseball because of the connections made over the last few years. Bryan knew nobody in baseball a few years ago. But his curiosity drove him, and he actually even wrote a book about it.
Sammy is not a natural athlete to play baseball in college. Only 7% of kids ever go out to play collegiate. But yet he’s able to do that. He’s documented so much of that journey, and there are countless people who have seen him do that. In spite of not being an expert at baseball, people still read that book. They value curiosity.
So, go, look for a mentor, and meet them in person. Connect with them. It’s not hard, And again, you don’t necessarily always have to shoot for the top, but if you can start shooting above where you are, you keep climbing. And that’s the number one goal. It’s just one step at a time.
The problem is there are too many people today who are so focused behind the screen and living in an isolation that they forget that we can connect with people.
Strive to become better every single day, even if it is only one percent a day. Be better today than you were yesterday. That’s all you’re trying to do. Every day get a little smarter.
How to Build Your Network
How do we keep connected? The biggest problem is if you’re just a consumer of other people’s content and you’re not out there trying to actively engage with people, you’re just losing out on all the value that there is in this world.
Top entrepreneurs are constantly connecting other people in their network as a catalyst. Not because they’re trying to make referrals for other people to hire each other, but just good people that need to meet. That’s a mark of world-class expertise.
The network is like strings; a single thread is not very strong. But when you take those strings and intertwine them, you create a rope. And that rope can’t be ripped apart very quickly. It can’t be pulled apart. Similarly, when you start making these connections with other people, you’re building ropes to your network, so it doesn’t become flimsy.
They add value to each other. And that’s where the gold is for everybody, not just financially but also from a human perspective.
I saw the stats that the average person has 400 connections. Whether you call those friends, LinkedIn connections, or people they know. But if you look at the friends of friends, say, 16,000, could one of those people not help you with something that you need?
One of my friends, Daryl Isaacs, is trying to hire a manager for his Content Factory. He’s probably the most famous person in the state of Kentucky. He’s a personal injury attorney, a good friend, and a client.
In my direct network, I don’t know enough people who could be the person he needs to hire.
But I put posts out there to refer others to me or let me know if someone’s interested. So now all these applications are coming in from people I’ve never known. But those people would never have known that opportunity existed unless I had said something, and then their friends shared that. So it’s created this sea of applications for the job!
If we don’t have these conversations, don’t engage with people, and have informal or even formal conversations, we lose opportunities.
Surround yourself with people who want to help you and others. You’re going to find valuable connections. It’s only a matter of time.
A Side Game of Your Own
There is this quote in the book:
“Never be caught in another man’s game. Always have a side hustle of your own or a side game of your own.”
J O B stands for Just Over Broke. We’re seeing it more and more in our environment today. It’s just enough to keep you living, paycheck to paycheck. But you can never get ahead on your job.
Unfortunately, too many bosses today want you to invest your whole life into the business. And sorry for those founders who want those super dedicated guys, but the reality is you get more out of people if you can help them learn how to balance life, health, family, and work. And not suck them dry.
So you need to be in control of your own life. You need to be in control of your own destiny. You need to have the freedom to make choices as you want them to make. And having the skills on how to make money is probably the most critical thing.
When Bryan’s youngest kid went door to door asking people for money, he was confident that his son will be fine for the rest of his life. He will find a way to pay the bills. No matter what, because he will find a way to make money. And it’s a way of looking at the world.
Do what you love, but run it like a business, and you will understand how you can do so much more.
Parents need to help their children have this no matter where they are.
Just Do It!
Take that first step. It’s okay if you fail. Just try something. Get out of your comfort zone. The more it feels uncomfortable, the more you’re probably going in the right direction.
If you want something different, with a little bit of discomfort today, you’ll grow tremendously.
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