Subscribe on iTunes Subscribe on Google Play Listen on Spotify

Hey everyone! In today’s episode, I share the mic with Cameron Herold, founder of the COO Alliance and known as the CEO Whisperer.

Tune in to hear Cameron explain what it takes to join the COO Alliance, how he helps entrepreneurs around the world build and manage their team, why he won’t fly economy class again (and not for the reason you’re thinking!), and the valuable lesson he learned when working at 1-800-GOT-JUNK.

Time-Stamped Show Notes:

Resources from the interview:

Leave Some Feedback:

Connect With Eric Siu:


Subscribe on iTunes Subscribe on Google Play Listen on Spotify

Shan Sinha

Hey everyone! In today’s episode, I share the mic with Shan Sinha, founder and CEO of Highfive, a company that sells a video conferencing hardware/software bundle.

Tune in to hear Shan discuss his tech journey from Microsoft to Highfive, how much he sold his business DocVerse to Google for (who turned it into Google Drive), the difficulties of building a hardware/software company, and what they did to grow their YoY revenue by 170% from last year to this year.

Download podcast transcript [PDF] here: How Shan Sinha Is Tackling the Videoconferencing Space with His Hardware/Software Biz Highfive TRANSCRIPT

Time-Stamped Show Notes:

Resources From This Interview:

Leave Some Feedback:

Connect with Eric Siu:

Subscribe on iTunes Subscribe on Google Play Listen on Spotify

David Henzel

Hey everyone, in today’s episode I share the mic with David Henzel, previous owner of MaxCDN, founder of CDN Advisor LLC, and podcast host of Managing Happiness.

Tune in to hear David share about his passion for applying business principles to one’s personal life and relationships, the principles that will help you achieve continual success, how he sold his e-commerce business for $300K just so he could move to the U.S., and how defining the company’s mission statement made growing the business much easier.

Download podcast transcript [PDF] here: Why David Henzel Sold His Business for $10M+ and Started a Podcast Called ‘Managing Happiness’ TRANSCRIPT

Time-Stamped Show Notes:

3 Key Points:

  1. Apply business principles to your relationships to ensure that they are in a continuous phase of GROWTH.
  2. Lead your life with LOVE, not FEAR.
  3. Develop emotional strength which will help you act in the most difficult of situations.

Resources From This Interview:

Leave some Feedback:

Connect with Eric Siu:

Why You Should Be Spending More On Networking

Let’s dive into the concept of investing in yourself.

Not so long ago, I thought paying a couple thousand dollars for a course, or a couple thousand dollars for a mastermind, or a couple thousand dollars for a conference was just insane. Why would anybody pay that amount of money when you can learn this stuff for free online?

But in the past couple years, my investments into groups like Entrepreneurs’ Organization, which probably costs about $8,000 per year, and Young Entrepreneurs Council, which is like $1,000 per year, have paid off so many times.


The Value of Joining Masterminds

Compared to when I first came into Single Grain, I didn’t know a lot of things related to business processes. Basic things around operations, finance, even something like a 10-week cash flow document—I learned all these skills through my EO forum.

I learned all these processes because these guys already had that experience. The guys in my forum are in their 30s, 40s, 50s, etc. They’ve all gone through a lot of these things, and they were able to help me sidestep a lot of mistakes that I would have made on my own. Quite frankly, as a business owner, that’s worth more than a couple thousand dollars, right?

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that without Entrepreneurs’ Organization, my company wouldn’t be around today, because I wouldn’t have been able to sidestep so many mistakes. And it’s not just avoiding mistakes that makes groups like EO worth it—the camaraderie of working with other entrepreneurs who understand what I’m going through is priceless.

Learn More: The Benefits of Joining a Mastermind Group


Being able to build relationships with people, working closely with people in my forum…it’s been a really rewarding experience to do exciting stuff with really smart entrepreneurs and be a part of this organization where there’s 10,000 people worldwide. And they’re all just trying to create great businesses and add more value to the world.

If Young Entrepreneurs Council can get me into even two publications as a contributor in one year, it’s already more than paid for itself, right? But it gives me much more than that. I’m able to drop into Summit at Sea in Miami and text everyone and all of a sudden we’re all hanging out together. That’s powerful. And when I went to San Diego for Traffic & Conversion Summit, I did the same thing, I looked up who in YEC was there and we all got together.

How Much Are You Willing to Spend on Opportunity?

Summit at Sea is anywhere from $3,000-$10,000. But to be able to meet with so many great people on that boat, where I literally want to have lunch with every single person, makes it more than worth it for me. It was like: “Oh, there’s Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. There’s Scott Belsky, the founder of Behance over there. Gary Vaynerchuk is standing over there. And there’s Eric Schmidt from Google.”

So, even though that event was quite expensive, I’ve started to build lifelong friendships from that. And it’s because of those interactions. Same thing with Traffic & Conversion conference. This time, I took my team, because I knew they were going to learn a lot. And we bonded together more as a team and just had a good time together. Whatever they decide to do with their career, I hope this was a good stepping stone for them to learn a lot. 

The moral of the story is that a lot of these expensive investments might not pay off immediately for you. These things take time to manifest. Sometimes, it might take a year or two to close a deal. And that’s okay. I don’t go to these events just to say, “I’m here to get more business.”

Related Content: Why You Should Set An Agenda & Focus on Team Building at Conferences

Building Goodwill Is Priceless

Ultimately, at the end of the day, I know that the more relationships I can build, the more people I can help. It all comes back to building goodwill, right? Your compensation in the future is based directly on the value that you’re adding to people in the present.

So I’m not really worried about dollar figures at this point. I’m constantly putting out content all the time, and I know that it’s helping at least one person out there. The unsolicited feedback that I’m getting from time to time for the Marketing School podcast and my Growth Everywhere podcast is all the validation I need.

Growth Everywhere interviews

I’m doing these entrepreneur happy hours once a month, where I’ll pay for drinks and food. And I’ll do these monthly entrepreneur dinners, too. In a sense, I’m investing in myself and investing in the future. Because I know that if I’m able to connect these people, great things are going to happen. Not necessarily directly for me, but there’s going to be great value created. And I just want to be able to facilitate that. I want to be able to create that helpful ecosystem.

How Much I’m Investing in Networking this Year

That being said, I obviously did the math for how much it costs. This year alone, these expenses are $20,000-$25,000. A few years ago I would’ve thought that that was an insane cost for something that isn’t delivering immediate ROI. But the way I see things now, it’s worth it. I’m enjoying the community that we’re building in downtown L.A. These things take time, just like any kind of relationship takes time to manifest and grow.

So, if you ask me whether you should pay for that $5,000, $10,000 or $25,000 seminar, I’m going to say: if it’s the right timing for you, go for it.

I’ve seen people get massive value from these things. Is it worth it for you to pay $50,000 a year for a coach? Not if you’re only making $100,000 per year. But if you’re in the high six figures and this coach could push you into seven figures? Absolutely.

So take a step back and block out some time for a strategy day to figure out what kinds of conferences make sense. What kinds of events you should be throwing? What else should you be doing to enhance yourself? What else can you do to level up?

This post was adapted from Eric’s Facebook Live videos: Growth 90 – DAILY live broadcasts with Eric Siu on marketing and entrepreneurship. Watch the video version of this post:

Why You Should Set An Agenda and Focus on Team Building at a Conference

I recently returned from the Traffic and Conversion Conference with my Single Grain team. It’s a digital marketer’s annual marketing conference in San Diego and we brought about seven people.

T&C conference

Most of my team are contractors, but I brought the full-timers and we got to hang out in an Airbnb. Here are the lessons that I learned and the things I would’ve done differently.

Lesson 1: Make Sure You Have Enough Beds

Funny story—originally I was only going to bring four people, so the house we rented only had four rooms. That would’ve worked out, except we wound up having seven people. That meant people had to share beds.

The first night that we got there, we tried it out, and it was five guys sharing one restroom, and two girls sharing one restroom. We didn’t have enough beds so people had to share. After the first night, me and another guy decided to get a separate hotel, and we just met up with the team every day.

Lesson 2: Set an Agenda for Every Conference

Conferences are fantastic opportunities to network, meet experts in your industry and get to know potential clients—not to mention spend time with your team if they are virtual. One of the important things you should do is set an agenda ahead of time, so that for each day you’re optimizing every hour you spend at the conference.

I even scheduled in some time on the agenda for group bonding and preparation. That’s why we showed up at our Airbnb on Wednesday when the conference started on Friday.

Check out: Analysis of 1 Million Backlinks: Airbnb (Part 2/10)

The first day we were in San Diego, we went to an Escape the Room. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s where you’re locked into a room and it’s like you’re playing a game of Clue. You find all these clues and your goal is to get out of the room before the time limit expires. It’s great for team building.

Escape the Room

I just sat back and observed how people were acting, who was contributing, how people solved problems and things like that. Afterwards—this was kind of spontaneous—we ended up playing laser tag and that was pretty fun. Then we had dinner.

Most of this was on my agenda for the conference. I planned out every single night and it was definitely worth it.

What to Do at a Conference with Your Team

When we were at the conference, sometimes the agenda just said “free for all.” That meant that our team members could explore and eat on their own time and just expense it to Single Grain. If you’re nudging your employees to go out to these things, I think it makes sense if you pay for their meals and boarding since you’re the one requesting that they go. When I worked for other companies and we went out to these kind of events, these meals weren’t really expensed, which I never liked.

Related Content: Ultimate Guide to Building a World Class Team

Anyway, in terms of learning at the conference, to be honest I didn’t get much out of it. That’s because I listened to a ton of podcasts of the presenters before even attending. I’d already learned what they’d been teaching, but my team got a lot out of the conference because they hadn’t done that.

My goal for the conference was team bonding and free, self-directed learning for Single Grain employees, so they could sprout new ideas and take action. Usually after these conferences, there’s a flurry of action. Then it kind of just dies down. Think of it like a PR spike, which kind of tapers off. I definitely feel the energy right now, and people have gotten to know each other better.

We also had two new people start last week. It was great for them to be able to assimilate with the team. I would recommend that if you hire new employees, try to hire two people at the same time so they don’t feel as alone.

Always Be Networking

The other thing that I did was throw an entrepreneur’s dinner nearby. Each month, I throw entrepreneurs’ dinners, and great people attend.

We had Pat Flynn, Neil Patel‘s partner Mike, and a bunch of other great people attend, too. Just great people doing great things, running awesome businesses, super smart people. That was probably the highlight of the event for me, being able to connect with these people.

Even though the dinner cost me $1,600, that was okay. I know that down the road, it’s more than worth it. Honestly, I’m not even trying to get clients at these dinners, I’m just trying to connect with people and build goodwill. When you connect with other talented people and they see your goodwill, they’re going to want to put you in touch with awesome people in their network that are like minded. The least you could do is pay for the meal.

With so many of us working remotely, it’s also nice to see people in person every once in awhile. For example, I hadn’t seen Pat Flynn in two years.


Overall, I think this conference experience was well worth it. One thing I’ll do differently next time is get a larger Airbnb! 🙂

I definitely recommend doing some kind of “work-cation” with your team. Bonding with teammates over non-work activities is important (like having fun at escape rooms) and there are a lot of team-building events that you can find on Yelp. Not only will you get to know your employees better, but you might even build some friendships.

This post was adapted from Eric’s Facebook Live videos: Growth 90 – DAILY live broadcasts with Eric Siu on marketing and entrepreneurship. Watch the video version of this post:

Subscribe on iTunes Subscribe on Google Play Listen on Spotify

Verne HarnishHey everyone, in today’s episode I share the mic with Verne Harnish, founder of the world-renowned Entrepreneurs Organization (an organization that I’ve joined) as well as founder and CEO of Gazelles, a global executive education and coaching company.

Listen as Verne shares how he came up with the idea of EO (hint, Steve Jobs), why you should wait until the $1M mark before scaling up, how he bounced back after losing $1M in 10 weeks, 3 simple tips for branding and marketing success, and gives specific advice about how to scale your company.

Download podcast transcript [PDF] here: EO & Gazelles Founder Verne Harnish Reveals How To Take Your Business From $1M to $100M TRANSCRIPT

Time-Stamped Show Notes:

3 Key Points:

  1. In scaling up your business, hire the RIGHT people who are better that you or are the BEST in their field.
  2. Set money set aside for when problems arise OR that you can use to grow your company.
  3. Growing your company works best when you focus your energy on ONE thing.

Resources From This Interview:

Leave Some Feedback:

 Connect With Eric Siu:

Subscribe on iTunes Subscribe on Google Play Listen on Spotify

keith krance photoHi everyone, today’s interview is with Keith Krance, founder of Dominate Web Media and author of The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Advertising. He’s been running, managing, or teaching Facebook ads since their inception, and now he’s also a speaker on the Perpetual Traffic podcast, which I recommend you all listen to.

During the interview, we go in-depth on real, actual tactics that Keith teaches and uses with his clients to help prevent their accounts from getting banned, to lower their cost per click, and to optimize their Facebook budget for better bottom-line results.

He gives a lot of information to chew on, especially for those of us in the tech world who tend to run our Facebook ads to a landing page and call it a day.

What Dominate Web Media Does

Keith’s main company is Dominate Web Media, which operates on three different levels of business:

  1. Facebook Ads University: Teaching Facebook ads to people who prefer a DIY approach to their Facebook marketing.
  2. Facebook Navigator: A coaching program involving one-on-one calls once per week to help people optimize their Facebook campaigns.
  3. Agency: Digital Web Media fully manages Facebook ad campaigns and helps customers optimize their campaigns and landing pages. This is the main business model.

Getting into Facebook Advertising

Keith originally got into Facebook ads in 2009, when he was a part of two different franchises and owned multiple brick and mortar stores.

As a brick and mortar business owner, his default, go-to advertising methods were things like direct mail, billboards, and local radio and television ads.

He started dabbling with digital marketing, and was blown away with the setup of it.

Traditionally, for example, he’d spend $10,000 per month on a billboard upfront without any idea what the ROI would be. But in the digital world, you could essentially put up an ad (like a digital billboard) for free, an then only pay an a per-click basis, when a potentially customer actually decided to come in for a visit.

To boot, you could control the fact that the digital billboard was only shown to your ideal audience, and then only pay if they actually showed up on your website.

At that point, he went all in with Facebook, and published his own book in 2010 as an authority piece. (In retrospect, publishing that authority piece may have been the best thing he’s ever done, because it landed him a great anchor client that got his name out there to other gurus.)

Buddying Up with Facebook’s Algorithm & Not Being a Crummy Party Guest

In the offline networking world, says Keith, you don’t get new clients instantly. You have to build relationships and stay in front of people for them to eventually trust you enough to become one of your clients.

And recently, Facebook’s algorithm has caught onto that… but it’s also actually what Facebook users and customers really want, anyways.

No one likes to meet the guy at the party that’s trying to pitch his business to you thirty minutes after you meet, and in the virtual world, Facebook has replaced the party/coffee shop/networking event/conference as an online version.

Some of the best deals that have ever been done start as a result of two people meeting at a party, but a relationship is always built and nurtured after that first, initial meeting.

Being a Memorable Party Guest Instead

“The majority of your spend should be focused on driving traffic into some sort of conversion-focused campaign,” says Keith.

And being conversion-focused almost always means leading people through steps of conversion… each step signifying that they trust you more and more.

And to start, you need really basic steps that don’t require them to immediately jump onto your bandwagon right away. You pretty much just need an equivalent of “Hi, nice to meet you. My name is _____.”

To do this, you can pick a few pieces of your best content and amplify them through Facebook. Like creating and running a Facebook ad to one of your most popular, most helpful blog posts.

After they’ve visited your website, then you can create a pixel and start running ads to a lead magnet opt-in page.

Then, after that, you can focus on driving traffic to sales-based or free trial-based landing pages.

In order to be successful with your Facebook ads, says Keith, you need to think about where people are in your conversion funnel and have three to four types of campaigns going for people at different stages in your funnel.

As an example, Keith says Betty Rocker is doing a great job, and that once you set up two to three different things, you have something running in the background that’s basically a traffic-making machine for both cold and warm traffic.

Why People are Getting Their Accounts Shut Down

Keith says that your account history with Facebook affects both whether or not your ads will get approved and the pricing of your ads.

If you are amplifying engaging content, for example, it can actually affect your future pricing in your favor.

Every time you do something that’s good will based, you’ll get higher relevant scores, less negative feedback, and lots of shares and comments.

And when you run content with high relevant scores, you’re building up your safety net for running traffic to opt-in pages. Because if your negative feedback ratio gets to a certain point, Facebook will ban your account.

The Numbers: Content Amplification vs. Lead Magnet

Normally, says Keith, your cost per lead will still be much higher if you do content amplification and then a lead magnet, than if you went to the lead magnet directly.

But, your cost per click to your website is much lower.

For example, you might average $1.75 per click if you’re running cold ads to a webinar registration.

But if you’re running content amplification instead, your cost per click will be more like $0.40. (Or as much as 10x cheaper.)

Lowering Lead Acquisition Cost With Content Amplification

If your cost per lead was $6 with cold traffic and now you’re starting to run content amplification, you might notice that your cost per lead decreases to $4 each. It can be 20% to 50% cheaper depending on your content, says Keith.

But even if your cost per lead stays the same with both warm and cold email gathering, Keith says that your end-funnel sales conversions tend to be 20% to 30% higher with warm traffic that’s been retargeted, than simply cold traffic.

If anything, says Keith, think of doing content amplification as a good insurance policy against Facebook shutting you down.

Budget Break-Down

When you focus on using your Facebook ads to create a trust-building funnel, there’s three main parts which each require separate parts of the budget. Keith gives rough percentages that can be played with and adjusted:

  1. Content Amplification
  2. Lead Magnet
  3. Sales Landing Pages

Breaking down the lead magnet part of the budget (the middle 40%), Keith says you’ll want to have at least one main campaign where you test different images, and the other part of it should go to video ads. (The videos can also be shown to cold traffic.)

(Note: The video idea is something I can personally vouch for. I was getting leads for $7, but once I turned on video ads, my cost per lead went down to $2 to $3.)

Video Ad Length

Though Keith wouldn’t recommend this to most people, he had one client who put a 30-minute video in a Facebook ad that was normally on their Thank You page after someone opted in for their lead magnet.

But when they did that, they had a massive ROI on mobile, allowing them to scale up to $2,000 to $3,000 per day.

But for everyone else, he says that you’ll notice that you lose 95% of your video ad viewers after the first 10 seconds, but your goal isn’t to go after that 95% – your goal instead is to get that 4.5% who will watch the majority of your video, so you need good content.

He says not to focus too heavily on the length of the video (as long as it isn’t too long, of course), but instead to focus on using text overlays, because they can be really game-changing.

In fact, he says he’s got one client who’s a YouTube expert who’s currently killing it with a seven-minute video that leads to an opt-in to watch a one-hour video.

How & Why Ad Accounts Get Banned on Facebook

Keith says that making any kind of results-oriented claim about anything in your Facebook ad text is a bad idea.

It might suck, but he says that the reality is that the people working in the compliance division of Facebook Ads are 22 and 23-year-old recent graduates who are fresh out of college and don’t realize that if you’re an entrepreneur, you can write your own ticket if you put your head down.

“It kind of sucks,” says Keith. “It’s really frustrating. But that’s how it is.”

The other thing they take into account, besides making claims that they deem are unrealistic, is the amount of negative feedback you get from people hiding your ads from their feeds or saying that they don’t like them.

Doing content amplification can help counter-act any negative feedback you get, but at the end of the day, Keith says, you’ve got to go back to the scenario of meeting people at a party and acting like the guy you’d like to meet.

And rather than getting frustrated with Facebook’s rules and algorithm, you just need to try to figure out how to build relationships with people and be authentic.

The more you can speak from your voice, the better, he says. It really does make a difference.

The Importance of Like Campaigns

One of the most important reasons for running campaigns to get more likes on your Facebook page is your ability to re-market to your fans.

It’s like building a strong retargeting list, but you need to make sure you’re very specific in your ad copy for those campaigns.

Basically, you want the end result of the campaign to be people voluntarily raising your hands to say yes, they’d like to hear more from you.

Another reason, and perhaps the most important one, is to increase your friends of fans connection targeting.

Certain ads on Facebook show you which of your friends like a page even before you see the word “Sponsored”, which provides huge social proof that increases click through rates, relevant scores, and lowers costs per click.

It also grows your reach exponentially. For example, if Keith has 4,000 fans and he wants to target people who like Tony Robbins and who have a friend that likes his page, he might have 30,000 potential targets.

But when his fans increase to 5,000 likes, that number can go up to 40,000 to 45,000 potential targets.

One Must-Read Book

Keith recommends Essentialism, a book he’s currently going through for the third time.

It’s a book that’s about being very selective about what you say yes to, and helps you realize that every single time you say no, you’re actually opening yourself up to a better opportunity later because you’re giving yourself the ability to focus.

Perpetual Traffic Podcast

Perpetual Traffic is published by Digital Marketer, and it’s hosted by Keith, Molly Pittman (the VP of Digital Marketer), and Ralph Burns, who is Keith’s agency partner.

The goal of the show is not to just talk about a different tip every week, because they didn’t want to bombard and overwhelm people with advice.

Whenever they talk about a specific tactic, they try to make it a series of two to three episodes, or a case study where they have three episodes in a row of a person telling their story.

Resources from this interview:

Leave some feedback:

Connect with Eric Siu:

Subscribe on iTunes Subscribe on Google Play Listen on Spotify

jason treu photoHi everyone, today we’re talking to Jason Treu, author of best-selling book Social Wealth: How to Build Extraordinary Relationships By Transforming the Way We Live, Love, Lead and Network. His book has sold more than 30,000 copies, and he’s been ranked #1 in both Business and Self-Help Categories on Amazon.

Law School Grad Turned Coach

Starting out, Jason went to law school and got his Master’s degree in communications.

He figured out that he didn’t like being a lawyer in NYC, and remembered that when he asked people if they were happy, he could tell by their long pause that it was a question they were lying about.

He loved technology, so he decided to take off to San Francisco, and has never looked back.

In that time period, thanks to his social and extroverted personality, he got to work with high-name CEOs like Steve Jobs.

With those successes, he decided to go into coaching.

Coaching Business Revenue

Right now, his business revenue is focused through coaching.

He has around 15 clients and is growing rapidly, giving him a run rate of about $200,000 per year.

But in the fall, he’ll be launching a product, which is where the big revenue is at in the coaching business, he says. With this, he expects his revenue will change drastically. (For the better, of course.)

Jason’s Secrets to Getting to #1 on Amazon

Jason said he spent a lot of time trying to understand marketing and looking for people who knew how to market effectively on Amazon.

Investing in one person to coach him through the process and talking to others who’d done well on Amazon was really important, he says.

Here’s some of the tactics he used:

Return Rate on Book Review Requests

By sending out 80-100 emails before his book launched, Jason got about 40-45 good reviews before the book eventually launched and he got other people (like influencers) to review it as well.

It’s a lot of work and energy to get people to do book reviews, because they resist like crazy. To overcome that struggle, Jason sent out an honest, heart-felt email and created a video of him explaining why the reviews were so critical to his success.

The Email Template that Got Such a High ROI for Book Reviews


I’m coming out with a book that I’ve been working on for the past year, and here’s a copy. 

[gave them a Kindle copy & told them how to get the reader ID & pdf as well]

I’d appreciate it if you could go through the book and write a short review. It can be one sentence long… it doesn’t need to be any longer. The key thing is putting in the rating, which is what Amazon looks at more than anything else. 

The reviews will make or break my book. I spent a lot of time writing it, but without you, it won’t be successful. I’d really appreciate you taking the time to help it. 

As someone who’s a small fish trying to get a business started, this is a significant milestone for me. 

If there’s anything I can do to help you in any way, don’t hesitate to ask.



Benefits of Publishing a Book

When you start a business, says Jason, you can point to your book as a milestone people can immediately take a look at… especially if it’s a book that’s done well.

It’s a great credibility-builder, especially if you’re not that well-known in your space yet.

It’s also something you can leverage for press… like getting interview spots on podcast shows or getting byline articles on popular websites.

What it Means to Have Success Via Relationships

At the end of the day, says Jason, everything you accomplish is with or through other people. No one is successful by themselves.

You need strong relationships with clients, friends, and everyone else.

And ultimately, people will interact with you if your perceived value is high enough, and if they get enough emotionally, personally, or professionally out of their interactions with you.

It’s important to remember that when you interact with someone, you don’t just interact with them. You interact with everyone in their network.

And if you’re good to someone, they’ll be willing to help you and unlock their network for you… which is a major asset. And when you start understanding that, you realize every person you meet is really important.

Charity Events > Networking Events

Most people at networking events, says Jason, are all about getting. They don’t go there in the spirit of giving… at all.

They’re desperate people in the same place you are, which is not what you want.

Instead, if you spend your time at a charity event, you can talk to someone, ask what projects they’re working on that they’re passionate about, and immediately find out what they actually care about.

And when people tell you those things, it gives you a huge opportunity to find and establish common ground… which is something everyone loves.

The key, whatever event you’re at, is to be an active listener.

What people do wrong, says Jason, is use their mental energy for something other than the conversation at hand… whether it’s thinking about what you have to do tomorrow, or thinking about the next question you want to ask… and people can tell when you’re not giving them your full attention.

The best way to build trust is to always give first, because the only people who give to your first in your life are those in your inner circle. And ‘giving first’ is as easy as suggesting a book, resource, or contact to help someone out with their problem.

Finding Your Purpose: Internal vs. External

A lot of times, people assume their purpose in life is to be an entrepreneur that helps people with X, Y, or Z.

But that’s where the mistake comes in, says Jason… anything that’s external to you will eventually let you down. So don’t mix up your business’s purpose and mission statement with your own personal purpose in life.

The important thing, on an individual level, is to figure out the couple emotions you have that really drive you, and do things to keep those emotions full.

For example, Jason loves the feelings of connecting and belonging, so being stuck in cubicle America, keeping to himself for most of the day, wasn’t working for him.

But working as a coach, connecting people and helping them achieve more success, makes him feel alive and keeps him moving forward.

One Struggle: Finding the Ideal Client

At first, Jason didn’t even realize that he didn’t have the right customers.

He was working with a lot of self-development clients, and he’d help them move up so fast that they had a hard time keeping up with the success he was helping them uncover… so they’d leave his client list after six months.

But last fall, he had a couple executive clients come to him, and he saw a huge difference.

These people weren’t going to fall off after six months, because they had the resources to keep up.

It was a combination of trial and error, but now he’s found the sweet spot.

Advice to His 25-Year-Old Self

“Invest in yourself.”

One thing’s Jason’s realized about people who are financially successful is that they all have mentors, and they all pay for coaching or some kind of learning.

In fact, they spend anywhere from 10% to 20% of their income on it (though it does get a little lower once they get into the seven-figure range).

He says this is really important because you significantly shorten the learning curve, learn best practices, avoid pot holes, and it makes a massive difference in your life.

Three Must-Read Books

Jason suggests Give and Take by Adam Grant because it outlines how givers are the ones who get ahead in business.

He also recommends The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. Both will help you out of your own shell and open you up to be more authentic and vulnerable in your communications, which will help you get ahead significantly, no matter what you’re doing.

Resources from this episode:

Leave some feedback:

Connect with Eric Siu:

Subscribe on iTunes Subscribe on Google Play Listen on Spotify

noah parsons picHey everyone, today we’re talking to Noah Parsons, COO of Bplans and LivePlan. Noah and his team focus on teaching small and medium-sized businesses how to grow and make things right with business planning tools that make creating forecasts, budgets and goals more relevant than 40-50 page long ‘business plan’ documents.

A Career that Evolved from Software to SaaS

Noah’s been working in internet marketing and entrepreneurship in some form or another since the mid 1990s, starting his career at Yahoo back in the day when it was the “darling of the valley,” as he says.

Eventually, he ended up at Palo Alto software where he worked on products that helped companies pitch their businesses, write plans, create forecasts, and track their processes as they went along so they could keep refining and improving their plans.

But rather than getting bogged down by traditional, stuffy business plan documents that no one actually reads, they offer tools that help people create living and breathing plans that are incredibly useful and change with time.

Traditional vs. Modern Business Plans

Traditional 50-page-long business plans are so outdated that a lot of people in Silicon Valley go as far as saying that business plans as a whole are simply irrelevant and out dated.

But as Noah says, people still do planning… they just don’t do it in a document-based format. Financial forecasts, sales goals, budgets, strategy, and milestones are all still incredibly relevant and valuable, and very much tie into the “lean startup” movement.

“Companies really need some form of planning to succeed,” says Noah.

So that’s exactly what they try to facilitate with their product. They help companies keep track of their strategies and goals in a really simple way, and they connect their software to their customers’ accounting systems so they can track their progress against their financial standing.

Rather than walking their prospects through creating endlessly long Word documents, they help them set easily accessible & easy-to-track goals and budgets that can be revised on the fly. And with their software, they’re not prone to the headaches caused by Excel or the room for error if they made their own from scratch.

The plans are on the cloud and collaborative, and embraces what modern planning really is to make it easy for all entrepreneurs… whether they’re in Silicon Valley or Main Street America.

Driving Numbers via Content Production & Marketing

LivePlan recently crossed the 300,000 user mark, and their content site Bplans gets around 1.5 million users per month with 30% growth year-over-year.

The main driver for both sites, says Noah, is content marketing.

They invest heavily in Bplans by creating content on a regular basis, both with in-house and freelance writers.

By laying a foundation of creating valuable, useful content from the get-go and not focusing on SEO tricks, they use content to drive their funnel from Bplans to their product LivePlan.

On top of creating quality content, having a really robust editorial calendar setup to capture ideas, publish them, and promote them helps them be consistent in getting the word out rather than just trying to wing it without any kind of detailed planning.

The Content Investment

Noah says they publish anywhere from 25-30 new articles per month, along with revising 10-15 older articles to increase their relevancy.

To get this production done, they pay about 2.5 in-house writers to work on their content, along with some external writers… some who charge fees and some who don’t.

How to NOT Fail at Content Promotion

Noah says that a key part of their content promotion and getting 1.5 million visits per month is their email newsletter, so they work really hard on collecting email addresses by creating downloads, white papers, templates, and key takeaways for free for their readers.

They promote their key articles via a week curated newsletter, but also do daily updates for people who want more frequency.

To schedule promotion, they use a WordPress plugin called CoSchedule to plan and implement promotion across multiple channels within WordPress, and they can plan promotion for a piece of content not just on the day it’s published, but also over time so they can learn what types of content, photos and headlines that perform best and tweak those that need some help.

The key thing in having strong content promotion, says Noah, is tracking your data really carefully and paying attention to the results a piece of content yields.

While they do look at vanity numbers like shares and favorites, the real metrics they track are related to engagement, like the bounce rate and time on site of people who click through to read a particular article. The traction you’re getting from your content is what’s most important, says Noah.

And along with tracking data from your promotions, you’ve actually got to do the promotions.  After writing a piece of content, Noah says their in-house social media and email manager probably spends an additional 2-3 hours promoting each piece spread out over time.

Getting Their First 1,000 Customers by Not Marketing to Their Potential Customers

LivePlans actually got their first chunk of customers by not pitching their target audience directly.

They did use blogging and expertise giveaway as a content marketing strategy, but to get their first customers, they also networked with the influencers of their target market.

For example, they reached out to small business development centers and accountants… who were trusted sources they knew their prospects would come to and ask for advice at some point or another. Using this pre-existing trust-based relationship rather than building one totally from scratch proved pretty effective, and Noah recommends it for anyone who’s launching a new product without a pre-existing audience.

The Biggest Struggle of Growth

Noah says the biggest struggle for him when his company started growing was to transition from being very hands-on with everything in the early stages to being a people manager.

It took a lot of self-control and discipline for him to step back, and it’s one of the biggest challenges he’s ever faced.

Software to SaaS & Being on the Brink of Failure

In the late 2000s, Noah said the writing was already on the wall for the future of desktop software.

The world was seeing the decline of the big-box retail store, which was where they traditionally had a lot of revenue coming from the sale of their software.

They could see the switch to the cloud coming and knew they needed to make the switch, but at the same time, they didn’t want to simply port their product online because they saw a simultaneous change happening in what business planning for entrepreneurs should be like, so they wanted to create a shift in that product so they could become a leader in the space and establish themselves as the modern product that people needed.

After testing and validating their assumptions, they made the switch, which was initially terrifying.

Moving from a software install to a SaaS model meant that rather than a person paying full price for the install, they only paid for a fraction of it up front, and they had to hope and cross their fingers that their product was good enough to keep people using it and paying for it to get the total income they needed.

When you’re first moving into SaaS, he says, you don’t know what your churn rates will be or what to expect when it comes to lifetime value. You’re just jumping off a cliff and hoping the parachute opens.

Eating Their Own Dog Food

LivePlan is a company, that, as Noah puts it, “eats their own dog food.”

They’re active users of their own product, connecting their accounting system to it, and using it for all of their planning, tasking, and budgeting.

Because of this, they’re hyper-focused on making the product super easy to use. After all, well-designed products shouldn’t need a lot of documentation and tutorials just to get started with using them.

That said though, they do have a lot of help documents and tips for helping entrepreneurs who are very passionate about the problem their solving, but might not have an MBA or any kind of management or financial background.

They help them use LivePlan to spot potential trouble months in advance so they can act on it to avoid it now rather than scrambling to recover later.

Advice to His 25-Year-Old Self

“I’d tell myself to listen more than I talk.”

He says it’s probably advice he’d give himself today too, but young people have a higher tendency to have a big ego about what they know, when the reality is that those around them who have been in business longer know a lot more.

His Big Productivity Hack

Noah suggests unplugging your laptop from your big, fancy office monitor – if you use one.

When you unplug your monitor, you’re just on the 13″ or 15″ of screen that your laptop has, and you can maximize whatever window you’re working on to focus on one particular thing.

Having a bigger screen often creates more room for distractions and a cluttered desktop. Having the screen real estate to just do one thing makes a big difference, says Noah.

Two Must-Read Books

Noah suggests reading The Lean Startup or The Art of the Start.

Either one offers a great view into entrepreneurship and starting the business, and both are applicable no matter what kind of business you’re trying to launch.

He says he wishes more business (not just tech startups) would think more about the minimum viable product model, and the Lean Startup does a good job of drilling through that process, which is a methodology he uses every single day.

Resources from this episode:

Leave some feedback:

Connect with Eric Siu:

Subscribe on iTunes Subscribe on Google Play Listen on Spotify

GB_Episode62When I first started doing conferences and networking events, I was always the guy standing in the corner playing with his phone pretending to be busy. But to get the most value out of conferences, I’ve found that it’s always better to listen and focus on helping people. That way you’re more memorable and the conference is more beneficial for everyone.

Leave some feedback:

Connect with Eric Siu:

Free 1st Chapter Of Leveling Up

Submit your email below for free instant access