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268 - The Hard Truth Every CEO Needs To Hear

268 - The Hard Truth Every CEO Needs To Hear

Listen To Today's Episode: 

Episode Recap:

On this episode Russell allows us to listen in on some personal advice that Tony Robbins gave him about where he should go with Clickfunnels, and why that may involve stepping down as CEO. Here are some of the surprising things you will hear in this episode:

-- Where Tony thinks Russell should go next, and why he thinks selling Clickfunnels would be a mistake.

-- What Tony has done with his own companies that he thinks would be a great move for Russell to make.

-- And what makes Russell so good at what he does, and how he can continue to do what he loves without being CEO.

So listen here to find out what Tony thinks Russell’s next move should be.

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Best Quote:

In a way, we basically did where there's 10 of us that were kind of in this little small group, and Dean and Tony are in front, and everyone had a chance to introduce themselves, talked about what they were doing and having success, so everyone could celebrate together, and then talk about what in your business or your life you had questions about, or you were at a crossroads and didn't know what to do and just kind of be vulnerable and share that a little bit.


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What’s up everybody? This is Russell Brunson, welcome back to the Marketing Secrets podcast. What did you guys think about yesterday’s episode? I guess it wasn’t yesterday, a day or two ago, I don’t know, I’m recording these at the same time, so it seems like yesterday, but for you, you’ll get them every other day or something like that.

So I hope you enjoyed it, about Tony Robbins and the Dream 100. I don’t know if I told you this or not, but Tony is our big keynote at this year’s Funnel Hacking Live. So if you want to meet my mentor and hang out with him, and get to know him, and get your life changed by him, like he changed my life, you better get your tickets to Funnel Hacking Live, what are you waiting for.

Anyway, this next episode, this is a really special one and I was nervous to share this video. If you haven’t seen the video yet, go to our YouTube channel. I think if you go to it will take you to our channel. But go to the channel and watch the video, because the visuals are amazing. But this is a private intervention with me and Tony Robbins where he basically consulted me on the next steps of my life and my business, and it was very emotional, very powerful, very cool lesson. So I hope you enjoy it. I’m going to queue up the theme song, when we come back we’ll jump right into the episode. With that said, don’t forget to get your tickets at so you can come hear me and Tony and the rest of our amazing audience we put together for you. And number two, if you haven’t gone to our YouTube channel yet, and you want to. Go to our YouTube channel, get these videos, they are insane. It’ll takes tons of time and effort and money into making it amazing and visually appealing. But the audio is just as powerful, so listen to the audio, but go check out the video as well. Thanks so much and we’ll talk to you soon.

So, The Mastermind, I didn't really know what to expect. And I asked Dean, and Dean was like, "Oh, we talk about business, but we always talk about business. Let's leverage Tony while we got him for a couple hours."

Okay. Is Russell gonna join us too?


Oh is he gonna be up--

Yeah, he's right there.

Okay cool.

I think it'd be worth taking a few moments, a minute or two with each, and have you tell us where are you right now in your life? Where are you? What's great? What's missing? What needs to change? And let's see if we can go a little deep so it's not a surface thing here. We're happy to answer marketing and sales and business questions, of course. But my hope for you is that we go a little deeper because... How many of you are between 35 and 45? Virtually all of you.

So, if you're in that range, close to it, every stage of life has different opportunities and different challenges and I'm lucky enough to have lived almost 60 years now and I can look back on those years and see each decade. And everyone's different, nothing's universal. But, there's certain things that that stage of life show up for people pretty predictably. And if we look at some of those things, we might be able to give you even more help than just your business, which will help your business as well. So, if you're open to it, we'll go there, so...

I'd suggest going deeper than you even thought you were gonna be and I also wanna give it up for Russell, our other partner and friend, in helping make this. What a great friend and it's been amazing for us to get to know you more, and Collette it's been so awesome. You guys are family now, so without any further ado, let's do this.

In a way, we basically did where there's 10 of us that were kind of in this little small group, and Dean and Tony are in front, and everyone had a chance to introduce themselves, talked about what they were doing and having success, so everyone could celebrate together, and then talk about what in your business or your life you had questions about, or you were at a crossroads and didn't know what to do and just kind of be vulnerable and share that a little bit.

I was in the second row so I had a little while to sit back and just relax and a couple hours to watch him go deep on everybody else. But what's amazing about Tony when you watch him do what he does, his context of who's in the room.

So when he does, he'll go deep on someone, he does an intervention. As he's doing it, he's saying things specifically that he knows that Russell needs to hear, or Jenna needs to hear, or whatever. And he'll say something and he'll mention it, he'll look at me direct eye contact like, "That was for you, Russell." I'm like, "Got you. Okay, I'm picking up what you're laying down." So I had a chance to see him do a bunch of interventions like Lewis Howes, and Josh Bezoni, and Billy Gene, and just all different people leading up to me.

And from everyone's presentation, I dot different pieces about how to structure your life, how to do your morning routines. All these cool things made me start thinking in my head about ClickFunnels and the future, and what do I wanna actually do?

We've worked with individuals, but how many gotten something for yourself in each one so far? Just wanna make sure. Okay, good. Just wanna make sure.

In fact, by the time he got to me, I was just like, "I'm kinda good. I know most of the answers I looking for."


You should be up here talking. What are you doing sitting there?

No, I wanna be back here.

But there's one question that I've always wanted to ask Tony about but been really nervous about it. It's kind of the question that like I don't think anybody else would ever dare to ask him or even bring it up. But...

Russell, at lunch today, said, "What I really wanna ask Tony is how's his breath
always so amazing?"

How's what?

How's your breath always so amazing? Your breath is insanely good all the time.

That's what he said.

Probably isn't right now.

That's actually a real question. You can text me the answer to that one some time.

What's that?


I literally said it last night.

When your breath's bad, you're very acidic.

That's all I got. Just kidding. It's hard to put it as an actual question, so I'm not really sure exactly. It has to do with kind of just direction. So, obviously, ClickFunnels turns five years old in two weeks. It's been five years run--

Give him a hand, that's awesome.

Thank you. It's become bigger than we ever, I think, dreamt initially and it's been a really, really fun ride as we been growing. We're almost 400 employees now. We passed 95,000 active customers last week, we should have 100,000 by the end of this year, so lot of fun things.

That's what I'm saying, that's not a promotion it's a business.

But also, it's...I remember the very first time we met at UPW like 10 or 11 years ago, and--


In Toronto, yeah. And you told me, you said the reason why you got in this business is because of the art. You were doing your art and then you built a business because you had to do it to be able to support your art. And I've always felt like that's very similar to me like I love the art of what I do, and that's what I'm passionate about, that's why I love it. It's all about that for me, and as the business has grown, I'm still in the CEO role, and I think that's been one of the hard things is that as it's grown, my ability to do the art has shrunk. I have pockets of times I could do it, like doing events I love, I love writing the books, I love doing content, but now I'm a CEO also which, especially at this level, there's all the legal compliance now which you take my art and then the lawyers look at it and they try to destroy the art before they send it out. It's hard and then you get just all the government regulations. We processed $4 billion so far through ClickFunnels. Now, it's just like the bureaucracy, that part of it now is...


What takes up so much of my time and my ability to spend time in the art has gotten smaller and smaller. And I think that's kinda been this weird spot where I'm at where it's like we have an opportunity, I think, if we wanted to exit, we could exit. But then I have the fear of if I did exit, would I lose my art, and is there a way to exit and keep the art, or is it just do I need to shift so I can do my art and not worry about that part of it? So, that's kind of the question coming into it, which a lot of stuff you said to Josh has been... Was really good for me as well.

Yours is different though because you have really mastered that business at a really amazing level where you could sell it for a billion dollars probably on a gross multiple as you described, right? So, I don't think it's quite the same thing there, but I think the difference is the art matters to you emotionally. That's why I brought it up to you when I was talking up here. It matters to you so much, that if you don't have what's next before you sell it, you're making a big mistake.

So, you either gotta decide maybe I'll get a valuation slightly less, but all my employees will win and I'll win and I can just keep running it and I'll do my art, I'm gonna hire someone to be the CEO and I'll be the chairman. That's what I would do, that's what I am in my company. I'm the chairman, I'm no longer the CEO.

So, you either decide to exit because you don't want those things, and in those cases I'm not the CEO there anyway, someone else is doing it, but for me it was getting in the way of what I wanted to do. And the other area's I made myself chairman, I hired CEOs that are really skilled in those areas, and then decided what I wanna do with those businesses because I wanna keep them. So, I got enough assets, enough benefit, I don't need to sell them. You have enough assets probably 'cause you live very humbly. This guy's one of the most humble people I know. He's like 100 million times better than he ever projects himself to be, he always understates who the (bleep) he is, he's a total (bleep) stud, and he's incredibly humble, is he not? And it's incredible.

And he lives a humble life, and he's got five beautiful children, and he's just a great human being. You all know that I think if you interact with him. So, you have all that by the ass, so to speak, by the tail. So, to me, it'd be like, "Okay, I can exit, but if I'm gonna do it, what am I gonna use that for that's gonna be even more fulfilling? Otherwise, I should keep this and get someone else
to do the shit I don't wanna do who's even better than me, get back into my art."

As your friend, you love what you do. You light up when you do it, I love being around you when you talk about it. You always gotta mention Clickfunnels. It’s like, wow. It's like Jesus has come to Earth and is coming through his body. It's a beautiful thing, you know. So, for you to sell that is really exciting right now. I don't know if it'll be exciting five years from now, unless you found the next most exciting thing that you're gonna build and make happen and go do.

Because the money's not gonna change your life, brother. It'll change your life for the moment, it'll provide some comforts or some securities maybe more than you have, but, honestly, the lifestyle you have, you got plenty. I would not let the momentum of the business determine where my life is gonna go. I decide where my life's gonna go and decide where the business needs to go based on that. Because, otherwise, everyone around you is gonna push you towards it, and because a billion dollars, like that's the big number everybody wants to hit, not everybody, most people wanna hit a million dollars, but a billion dollars, oh my god, you know.

A billion dollars' unbelievable, but most of your life probably won't change very much. So, maybe decide how you're gonna get the assets you want for yourself and your family, but where you could do the art still and keep growing it just for your own fulfillment, and because you have so much to give and you're like, how old are you now?


You're not even (bleep) 40. You haven't even gone on your (bleep) journey yet. It's beautiful what you've accomplished. No, I mean it, that's not derogatory. It just means, "Holy (bleep), I'm 60." You think about the next 20 years, what you can do from where you are now. Where I was at 39, most people are like, "Oh, it was unbelievable." It was like (bleep) nothing compared to what I'm doing now.

So, I wouldn't sell myself short for the money. Still get the money, you should be smart. You should take it off the table, you built something, you should do it. Should help your people do it. It's figuring out what your plan is that's gonna be more fulfilling. That's the most important thing, 'cause in the end, it's the fulfillment that's gonna make the quality of life happen. It's not gonna be the dollars. And you love what you do, brother.

I do.

And you're getting pulled away from some of it, as you said, more and more, so all the more reason to sell the business, but that's not really the reason. That just means you shouldn't be doing that role. Find somebody who's so good at the role, loves that (bleep).


That's who you put in there, that they thrive on that (bleep). It's like knowing what your greatest gifts are and staying with those even more. The business wouldn't be here because of your CEO role. The business is here 'cause of your vision, and your influence, and your passion, and your creativity, and your intelligence, and your (bleep) caring, and your ability to teach, and your humility.

That makes everybody go, "Man, he really seems like an easy guy. If he can do it, I can do it too." You don't seem like superhuman and you are. But you don't seem like it, which is what makes more people be able to succeed.

I'm 6'7 so sometimes they think I'm super (bleep) human, and I'm not super (bleep) human, right? But they think I am, so then sometimes it was like, "Tony can do that shit, what about me?" But if they spend enough time with me, they see they don't have to do what I do. They can do what they do even better, you know? Make sense?

I think, for sure, your company, and, obviously, you're on track to do great things, but I think if you got the right CEO in place who loved being a CEO as much as you love marketing, there's another level of exponential growth, 'cause I know you. You and I market, we think a lot alike, we have great conversations. You're just getting pulled away from that genius of yours. Your biggest growth could be just what Tony's talking about is a CEO that loved running the day-to-day as much as you love marketing, and you got back into your craft. I think there's another exponential growth waiting with that decision.

It's also timing. You should probably take something off the table, right? But still keep your vehicle unless you've found a better one. You need to get out of what you don't enjoy. 'Cause when you do what you enjoy, you (bleep) crush it. And you feel alive. She knows better than anybody, right?

There's two types of marketing that are sucking your energy, external or internal marketing. External marketing is the time you're spending serving the customer and the client, or maybe your internal clients. Internal marketing is dealing with all the (bleep) that frustrates you and pisses you off, and if you're spending so much time on internal marketing, you have less for external marketing, the business will not have the same value, or, more importantly, even though the business keeps going, you aren't feeling the same value.

So, there's only so much E. I got a lot of it, you guys do too. E meaning pure energy, but there is a limit no matter who we are, no matter how strong you are. So, you gotta say where is that energy gonna go? And if there's any mistake I used to make, by the way, it's to stay with people way too long, 'cause I'm a very loyal person, but what I've learned is if I'm not loyal to the mission, if I'm not loyal to the best players by trying to stay with somebody, if you're gonna play with Michael Jordan, you better be (bleep) ready to play. Otherwise, go play somewhere else. Nothing wrong with you not wanting to give the same amount as I do, but you shouldn't be on this team. Find somebody that loves to deliver as much as you do on the marketing like Dean said, it'll be a different game for you.

As a consumer of your content, I listen to every podcast that you release and I can hear you just trying your best to squeeze in that time on your drives to work, or wherever it can be, and it's always gold. I always do kind of leave those episodes thinking like, "What if Russell just had more time to create, to write, to do what, frankly, you do best?" And so, I think that chairman is a really interesting role for somebody like you. That was cool.

Give him a hand.

Well, thank you both so much. I feel like I've already gotten so much. My name is James….

Yeah, I think a lot of entrepreneurs they start their businesses because they're passionate about a thing. I'm a great photographer, or I'm a great designer, whatever. They get into because of the passion for the thing and then you have to learn all these businesses to be able to support the art. And I think it's interesting how we all eventually have to become the CEO of our business because we're the ones who are the most passionate. We get stuck in the CEO role because that's where you need to be to drive the ship, but a lot of times that's what then makes it so you don't even spend time with the art. And then you start, in some cases, resenting it. It shifts really quickly from being an entrepreneur to back to being a job.

It's kind of the opposite reason why most of us got into this business. I'm not exactly positive what I'm gonna do. For sure, what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna try to have an inventory of myself to really sit down a bit and think what are the things that I love? If I was to design my perfect week, what would that look like? If I was to design a perfect month, a perfect year. I think a lot of times, we don't focus on architecting that and designing it, so instead, come to the office everyday and it's like, "Ah, there's a whole bunch of fires. What fire do I put out first, second, and third?"

Instead, it's coming back so, "Okay, who's the person who can be in charge of the fire?" If I was to build this from ground up right now with only put myself in spots that they give me most passion and fire and excitement, like what would those be? Almost like writing your own job description for your own job. This is my job description, I do this, I do this, I do this, I do this.

And then make a job description except you don't like as much. And take that job description, like who's the person that wants this job? 'Cause there are people who love it. I phone up my funnel building team, I'm like, "You guys are so lucky. I have to go have a meeting with so-and-so and you get to build funnels, I love it, I love sitting down at a whiteboard and architecting, and figuring out the designs, the branding, the logos, the hook, the author, the copy.” Like being in the middle of that, and when it's done you see the funnel like how beautiful it is. I love that part of it.

And the second part I love is getting that ah-ha moment for other people like when they're like, "How would a funnel work for me?" And you explain it to them all someday like they get it. There's something about that. That's the other part, so I think it's understanding who are the people that are obsessed with and love the things that I don't and let's give those things to them and let me just do what I love.


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