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541 - Bootstrapping from $0 to $100,000,000+ Part 1 (Ian Stanley Interview)

541 - Bootstrapping from $0 to $100,000,000+ Part 1 (Ian Stanley Interview)

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Listen in on this rare interview with Russell Brunson and Ian Stanley.

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When I first got started, I'm been in this game 20 years now. When people were like, "What do you do for a living?" "Oh, I sell stuff on the internet." And they're like, "Oh." It was always like, "So do you sell things on eBay or are you in porn?" That was the two things...


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Russell Brunson: Hey, what's up everybody. This is Russell Brunson, and welcome back to the Marketing Secrets podcast. All right. So today I got something really cool for you. Recently I got interviewed by Ian Stanley. If you don't know him, he is a really good marketer. Some really fun offers. In fact, the first time I ever saw him, there was an offer he had for, it was one of those survival straws that, the world's coming to end, you can drink through these straws and it'll filter your water. And the ad was him downtown New York, walking into the most disgusting bathroom of all time. And he got down into the toilet himself and drank out of his survival straw out of a New York toilet. It was the most amazing video offer of all times. So that's why I first saw him and I've been following him for years.

He wrote a really good book called Confessions of an Advertising Hitman, which is really good as well. Anyway, just a really cool marketer who happened to move to Boise, Idaho, and lives here now. He's got a team and they're creating amazing offers and products and doing cool stuff. And anyway, we always joke that our goal is to get all of the big marketers and funnel builders to move to Boise. So we're working on getting all you all to come move out here, but Ian's out here, I'm out here. Obviously I run my masterminds and stuff and he runs his here as well. So yeah, a lot of cool people come to Boise because what Ian's doing, what I'm trying to do. And so anyway, the other day he asked me if I would come speak at one of the virtual events that he was doing at his, he calls it the hoffice, which is his house slash office.

It's the house he bought just to turn it into an office. And there was... Anyway, long story short, I said, yes. And so a couple Saturdays ago, I drove up there and we had a chance to hang out and talk for an hour. And it was really fun. We talked about all sorts of stuff from business to life, to about a million things in between. Some of it was goofy and funny. Some of it was really serious and fun. So anyway, I hope you have fun listening in on this interview. It's about an hour long, so I'm going to break it into two episodes. The first one you have a chance to listen to now. And then the next one I'll release in a few days from now. But this is behind the scenes interview where Ian Stanley was interviewing me for his highest members of his mastermind group, all about business and life. And I hope you guys enjoy part one of this interview.

Ian Stanley: You guys, we got Russell Brunson with us. I don't even know if he needs an introduction, to be perfectly honest. He loves secrets.

Russell: My license plate says so.

Ian: Yeah, when he came in, of course, he's got this license plate that just says secrets on it. And I'm like, oh, that makes perfect sense. And I just wonder what's the weirdest thing somebody said to you about seeing that? Because you got to be like, this guy made his money in some weird way.

Russell: Oh yeah. When I first got started, I'm been in this game 20 years now. When people were like, "What do you do for a living?" "Oh, I sell stuff on the internet." And they're like, "Oh." It was always like, "So do you sell things on eBay or are you in porn?" That was the two things. And that's-

Ian: Those are the only two options.

Russell: That's the secrets people ask, "So what is the secret?" Anyway. So it's usually something related to that.

Ian: And which one was it?

Russell: Yeah. Ebay.

Ian: Of course. Well, do you want to give any background? I mean, Russell started ClickFunnels, you've done a million other things. You just bought Dan Kennedy's company, which is pretty amazing. We'll have to talk about that.

Russell: Yeah. And about a dozen other companies this year. We bought a lot of companies.

Ian: Geez. Really? Okay.

Russell: Don't talk much about it, but we have been doing that.

Ian: Okay.

Russell: We're in the acquisition phase.

Ian: I'd love to hear about that because that's something Cam and I are starting to do. I've realized that trying to create almost passive income using, whether it's crypto or stocks or this or that, it doesn't actually fit within what I know. What if we just buy companies that…

Russell: What's crazy is you can buy them for free right now, too, which is nuts. I can talk about it if you want, but yeah. It's crazy.

Ian: Oh, I definitely do. Okay. Let's start with, because you actually said you've been doing this for 20 years. I want to know about your first dollar you made online. I've heard about the potato gun. You've seen the Muscle Funson where I said that I had a tomato gun business and the tomatoes would break upon impact. They're not as sturdy as potatoes, but so is the potato gun? Was that the first dollar?

Russell: It actually wasn't, no. It was the first thing that I could talk about. Everything was just dumb. I did affiliate marketing. Resale rights was a huge thing back 20 years ago. And I was at Boise State, so I was in classes trying to learn this stuff. And I'd sneak out to the computer lab and I'd be watching or listening to Frank Kern, tele seminars. Because pre-video. So listening to Frank Kern, Armin Moore...

Ian: Frank was before you?

Russell: Yeah, Frank was before me.

Ian: Okay.

Russell: Yeah. Frank, his underachiever thing, actually bought that from him later. But the underachiever thing he had way back almost 20 years ago, he was talking about finding a niche and then building a thing. And so that was when I was like, what's my niche and then potato guns. But I had done a couple things prior to that. In fact, my first actual product was a software product called Zip Brander. It was the first idea I ever had. I was in college and I tried to hire a programming company to build it. And they wanted $10,000, which I didn't have. So then I actually, I literally switched my major to programming so I could learn how to program this idea that I thought was going to be the greatest thing in the world.

And day three of programming class, I was like, I have no idea what these teachers are talking about. And then I remember I heard Armin Moore, who had 10 software products back then. He's like, oh, I hired people off Scriptlance to build it. So I took the same project idea I'd sent to this programming company. I put it on Scriptlance and I hired this dude named Ciprian in Romania. And he built it for $20. And I was like-

Ian: For $20?

Russell: It's on like Donkey Kong. Now I know how to play this game. And I started making my first, probably my first 10 products for little software products. And that was before the potato gun. I was making software products, these little, one off, dorky little things.

Ian: What did it do? What was the first one? What did it actually do?

Russell: So Zip Brander. So I remember back in the day everyone was selling resell rights. So you'd buy an ebook and then you'd download it. And I remember...

Ian: And then you could sell it.

Russell: Yeah. You could sell it.

Ian: Somebody else wrote the content but you were allowed to sell it as your own.

Russell: Yeah. But if you read the content, the person who was giving resale rights was smart. They wrote an ebook, but if the ebook was selling their backend stuff. And so I'd be selling this book and then they'd be making all this money off me. And so as an annoyed, 21 year old kid, I was like, I wish I could brand this. So the first thing they did when they opened it, they'd see my ad before they read the book. And I was like, that was the idea. So it was called Zip Brander. It was going to zip the file down. And then, when you opened it, you saw my ad first. That was a big idea, which is actually a stupid idea. But at the time I thought it was big enough in my head-

Ian: It was almost like a popup for books?

Russell: Yeah, totally. A popup for file.

Ian: People love popups. I can't believe it didn't take off.

Russell: But it was the first thing. I mean, I thought it was so big that I changed my major to figure out to make that thing. But I-

Ian: Did you change your major back?

Russell: Yeah. No, I just, no. Yeah.

Ian: So you have a programming degree?

Russell: Computer information systems. But I graduated a 2.1 GPA, so I don't know actually how to do any of it, but I got Cs. Cs get degrees. But anyway, but yeah, that was my very first thing. I did sell, I made a sales letter, I did the whole process. I got some design E cover of the software box and I wrote a sales letter and I remember I sent it to this guy named Raymond McNally and he wrote back, he's like, "This is the coolest idea and the worst sales letter ever." He's like, "I wrote you a new sales letter last night." And this dude wrote me an entire sales letter.

Ian: For free.

Russell: For free, just to help me out. And so I had the sales letter, I had the image and this is before ads or Facebook or anything. And so then I started just sending my product for free to a whole bunch of people. And I think Mike Filsaime might've been the first person.

Ian: How were you sending it out at that point? So this must be early two thousands?

Russell: 20 years ago. So what's that 20...

Ian: 2002.

Russell: 2002. Yeah.

Ian: Holy sh*t.

Russell: And so, yeah, I was just emailing it to people. I email Mike. I still remember Mike Filsaime, his email address was signanddrive at And so I sent him an email, here's the product. He wrote back, "This is cool." And then he sent email to his list and we made 12 sales. I was like, oh my gosh.

Ian: That's amazing.

Russell: That was the first thing. And then, from that, I had a little popup on the site and so I got people join my email list. And then I think I remember that very first promo that Filsaime did. I got 217 people. I remember that number to this day, 217 people joined my email list from the pop up and I was like, I have a list. So then I went to somebody else. I was like, "Hey, if you promote my thing, I'll promote your thing to my list." I didn't tell him I only had 200 people. And so they promoted my thing and I got another 500 people that joined the list, my popup, and I promoted their thing. And I started doing these little cross promos. And then I had another, my second software I spent a lot of time in forums, doing forum marketing.

Ian: Were you in the warrior forum?

Russell: Warrior forum and ablaze...

Ian: Just the bottom of the barrel. The people there are just...

Russell: The best. I would make all these posts and I could never find them again. So I was like, I need software that would follow up so I could remember if someone posted, I could find all these posts. And so my second product was called Forum Fortunes and I paid someone a hundred bucks or something to make the software. And that was the second one and then I sold that to my little email list. And then I had one called Article Spider. So it was a bunch of those little things.

Ian: So you basically just had, if you had a problem, you were like, can I solve this with the software?

Russell: Yeah. Or a lot of times I'd see someone who had a really cool software, but it was 300 bucks. I was like, I could have my guys code that for 300 bucks and then I could sell it. And then instead of becoming a cost, became a product. Because a lot of my things were just like, oh, I could hire someone to make that one and that one.

Ian: Because I thought you were an info product guy or a potato gun guy.

Russell: It all started with software.

Ian: So it started with software, now it's still-

Russell: So that was what was happening software and I was having some success with it and that's when Frank Kern came out with the underachiever thing. And I was like, oh, what's my thing? And so potato guns was the first info thing I did. So that's a more interesting story for the masses when I'm telling my story.

Ian: Yeah. Well, also the fact that you're from Idaho and the fact that you're like, I literally made money by teaching people how to shoot potatoes out of guns.

Russell: Much better story. So that's what I lead with.

Ian: So how did that actually happen?

Russell: So again, I bought Kern's course, went through it all and I was like, I have no talents. I don't know what I'm going to do. And then do you remember Overture? Is that before your time?

Ian: See, it might be before my time.

Russell: You're a young one.

Ian: In 2002 I was 12 years old.

Russell: Oh, seriously?

Ian: Yeah. So you're like, I had an email address and I'm like, I was just starting to experience the joys of puberty at that point. I was just trying to figure out-

Russell: I was making potato guns.

Ian: I looked like Rosie O'Donnell at that point. I was a chubby little guy. I don't know if we'll be able to pull up a picture.

Russell: I sure hope so.

Ian: ...Today, but that picture's fantastic. I mean, it looks like I'm pretty sure my dad shagged Rosie O'Donnell. It's a spitting image when I was a kid.

Russell: That's nuts.

Ian: But that was what I was doing in 2002.

Russell: Well, there's a site called Overture back in the day and it was the first keyword research thing and it was Yahoo did it. So Yahoo results. So you type in a keyword and it would show you, this is how many people searched on Yahoo for the keyword. And so I remember that was something Frank showed in the course. I went there. I typed in, oh, sorry. It was after spring break, my buddies and I, we were the only two married guys on the wrestling team. And so spring break hit and everyone else was like, boom, heading to Vegas or went over to go gamble and have fun. And Nate and I, our wives were supporting us to working. And so they weren't excited about us leaving town.

Ian: You didn't want to go to Vegas?

Russell: Yeah. And it's not really my style.

Ian: That's not really your...

Russell: And so our wives are working, so Nate's like, "Hey man, let's make potato gun this week." "What's a potato gun?" He was like, "Oh." So we spent the whole spring break making a potato gun and then we got done. I was like, that was really fun. And then the next Monday-

Ian: Did you shoot it?

Russell: Yeah. Went and shot it. In fact there's a whole funny story. Went out behind the airport, shooting it. And as we're shooting it, this big tank thing drives up. And apparently we were on army ground or something. And this big Sergeant come out of this thing and they started yelling at us. And my wife was pregnant with our twins at the time. She thought we were going to jail, she was freaking out. And then the guy was like, he was kind of a jerk at first. And then at the end he was like, "So how far does it shoot? Show it to me." And so then we spend the next 30 minutes with the army dudes, shooting the guns and stuff.

Ian: That's awesome.

Russell: And then they're like, you can shoot them. Just don't shoot them here because we can see these on our radar and you're going to go to jail.

Ian: He could see the potatoes on the radar?

Russell: Apparently. Yeah. Or I don't know if it's the potatoes or us drive or something, but yeah. They totally saw us and then thought we were-

Ian: This is the fastest ship we've seen out here. What is this UFO out here? Oh, it's a bunch of potatoes. We are in Idaho. It's some 21 year old wrestler shooting potatoes. I thought we were in danger right here. Wow. That's pretty outrageous.

Russell: It was so much fun. Yeah. The next Monday at school, I went to Overture and I was like potato gun and typed it in. And I think there was 18,000 people searching potato guns. And I was like, this is it. This is my product. And so that started the very first info product.

Ian: Was it plans? How to build...

Russell: It was plans. Nate and I spent the whole week building stuff. So we built 10 different versions and most of them didn't work or they didn't work as well. And there's the one that was our favorite one.

Ian: The one that the army contracts.

Russell: Yep.

Ian: Actually the army hired us to develop rocket launch-

Russell: That would have been such a better sales letter than we had.

Ian: To develop rocket launchers. That would've been a great story in the sales letter.

Russell: Yeah. It would've been.

Ian: The army wants this potato gun technology.

Russell: Imagine we got film or video of the dude. Things would've done now-

Ian: Was he in uniform?

Russell: Yeah, totally in uniform, big old boots and everything and coming. Yeah.

Ian: Potato guns would still be popular, had you done that?

Russell: Had I have had our phones back then to film everything.

Ian: Did you even have a computer at all?

Russell: No, we didn't.

Ian: Or were you literally going to the computer lab to do work?

Russell: We had a really crappy computer. My wife's computer. Because my wife's older than me so she had invested in a computer, but it was not nice. We had one at the house and then I'd go to school and then most work it in the school computer lab.

Ian: That's pretty what people have all these excuses nowadays, I feel like.

Russell: Oh yeah.

Ian: You have a super computer in your pocket.

Russell: You have your phone. Yeah.

Ian: And you're like, I was on dialup at a computer lab.

Russell: We didn't have cameras. There wasn't phones with cameras. I borrowed a video camera from somebody, like one of those dad cameras that you'd go film, with the little thing that scrolled, zooming in and out. And so we borrowed a camera and we actually broke into Boise State University and, on the whiteboard, mapped out... If you've watched the DVD, you'll see. It's in a classroom at Boise State.

Ian: That's awesome.

Russell: We wrote out the formulas and filmed ourselves doing it, went to Home Depot and filmed ourselves buying the pipes. And then my wife's work went back office and she worked at a warehouse and we'd go back there and we were cutting it and gluing it all together. But yeah, it was all filmed on this old camera we had to give back. And then we had to figure out, we have this tape. How do you get that on a computer and onto a DVD? And there's so many things we had to figure out. And then we finally got that all figured out and we started burning on DVDs. I bought DVD burner, so we burned the DVDs and we sell it, put it in things, ship it out.

Ian: So you were shipping them. So how did you actually get traffic? Because you had this list of people who were into software or internet marketing products, right?

Russell: Yeah.

Ian: But-

Russell: Completely unrelated.

Ian: ...You didn't have people who were like, but I also love potato guns.

Russell: So there were two big potato gun forums back in the day. I don't know if they're still there.

Ian: They were full forums?

Russell: Yeah. There's two forums. Just people talking about spud guns.

Ian: Just potato guns.

Russell: Yeah. And it was really cool. The hard part is a lot of those people in there were hardcore. They were making these insane guns, bolt action. We shoot potatoes. They had dudes building these semiautomatic ones, where you could load six potatoes and doo, doo. Crazy stuff. I'm coming to potato gun plans and people are making fun of it. But they sold ads. There's a banner at top and on the side. So I'd bought the banner ads and sure enough, all the newbies would come and buy our potato gun plans. Because no one was selling them. Everyone was talking about stuff.

Ian: Yeah. So how much were you? Do you remember the first sale? I bet you know what you paid and all that?

Russell: I can't remember. There was that one and also I was buying Google ads. Google ads were easy back in the day too. So I was also buying Google ads. Those are the two. I can't remember where the first sale came from. But yes, I do remember it coming through and I was like, somebody did... And I remember Nate was my buddy who did the thing with me. I message him. I was like, "Dude, somebody just bought one." He's like, "Somebody paid us for that crap?" I was like, "Yeah." And he's like, "What do we do now?" I'm like, "Well, we've got to go figure out. Now we got to burn a..." So we had to go figure out the whole... Because we had the file on a computer and we had burn a DVD and then we bought a sticker with the printer to be able to print a sticker and stick it on. And just all those little things we had to do to get it out.

Ian: What did you sell it for?

Russell: I think it was 37 bucks. That's what Kern told us to sell it for.

Ian: 37. Wow. Especially then, that's a pretty good price. Because then they got to buy all the gear. They got to make the potato gun.

Russell: Because that was the first thing. And then, again, if you've heard the whole story, the funnel story, that's what it was. And then Google ads changed and costs went up and then later we found Northern Idaho there's a distributor that actually makes and ships potato guns. They still, to this day, do. In fact, we did a kid event two months ago so I bought a bunch of them from them.

Ian: We need to write that down. We need some potato guns for Wolf pack week, that we can shoot off the mountain with at White Hawk. A hundred percent that's happening.

Russell: Yes. And in fact if you want good ones, there's-

Ian: I do. I don't want an average potato gun.

Russell: Dude, I bought one recently. It's a mount that looks like a pistol, like a actual gun. That's just a barbecue igniter on the back and it is what you need, but it looks like a big old handheld pistol that you glued to the gun. So it looks like... Anyway, they're insane. There's some really cool ones out there.

Ian: Cam, you're listening, right? You know that we're going to be shooting potatoes.

Russell: I'll give you the resource list after the call. It'll be-

Ian: How much? 37 bucks?

Russell: Yeah. No, the kits are more expensive, but well you did a partnership with them. And so that became the first upsell. People buy the DVD and then the upsell was, "Hey, instead of going and buying all the pipes and stuff, there's these kits."

Ian: So it was a kit. So it wasn't pre-made, they shipped it and then put it together.

Russell: It was all precut, pre everything.

Ian: That's awesome.

Russell: You have to glue it together and then, yeah, for the most-

Ian: And of course they were in Northern Idaho.

Russell: Yeah. Isn't that awesome?

Ian: That's where they would be.

Russell: Totally.

Ian: I mean, if there's a company that's already making premade potato guns...

Russell: It definitely is. But they've been doing it for 20 years now, because they're still doing to this day, which is crazy. So I don't know. I haven't looked at that market in a while, but enough of these guys are still building 20 years later.

Ian: There's probably some opening. There's going to be the next Russell Brunson is watching right now going, you know what? I'm going to redo potato guns and I'm going to have-

Russell: I own potato guns too.

Ian: ...ClickFunnels.

Russell: If you ever need, let me know. I can-

Ian: Do you seriously have that? Oh my God.

Russell: Come on now.

Ian: Do you have every combination of words plus secrets?

Russell: Secrets, hacker and there's usually every variation of every…

Ian: How many domains do you think you have?

Russell: Three or 4,000 probably.

Ian: Wow.

Russell: I've been buying for a long time.

Ian: What's the favorite domain?

Russell: Oh, oh crap. That's a good one. I can tell you the most expensive ones, that might be easier. I bought It was a lot. I bought and gave it to Dean and Tony. That was a lot.

Ian: Oh, so you bought and then you...

Russell: Gifted it to them.

Ian: You just gave it to them for free?

Russell: Yeah.

Ian: Is that what got you in on that-

Russell: I was kind of in with them already, but...

Ian: That was...

Russell: But... You know.

Ian: That's a pretty good domain name to give them.

Russell: Yeah. Well, I told Dean to go buy it and he messaged them. They wanted a million bucks for it. And then I went to the site and they're ClickFunnels user. They're holding two comic club awards on the thing. I was like-

Ian: Oh really?

Russell: Okay. And so we messaged him again and negotiated. I think it cost me $600,000. So I got it. And then yeah, I was like, what do you give Tony Robbins to impress him? It's not easy. The government gives him blackhawk helicopters and go fly for fun. You know what I mean? How do I impress him? I was like, okay, I'm just going to give it to him. And so I just gave it to him.

Ian: Sounds kind of fun. And that is a good question. How do you impress Tony Robbins?

Russell: Yeah. Actually do you want to hear something funny?

Ian: I do. I love funny stuff.

Russell: The very first time I met Tony Robbins, the whole long story behind that, but I was in Toronto's event and he invited me up and I went to his hotel room and had dinner with him. And he was asking a bunch of questions. And the first thing he told me though, was, he looked at me, he was like, "So potato guns. Huh?" And I was like, oh my gosh, he did his research ahead of time. I'm like, "Yeah." And so after that event was over, I'm like, I'm sure he meets a million people. How's he going to remember me tomorrow? You know what I mean? I don't want to be the guy…

Ian: Potato gun sounds pretty memorable.

Russell: Yeah. So the actual potato gun we built on the how to make potato gun DVD, I still had, and he has a house in Sun Valley, Idaho. And so I found out from the assistant his address. And so I shipped him the original potato gun and the DVD to his house. And then he only visits once a year. So I didn't hear anything from him for eight months. And then one day I get this message. He's like, "Dude, I just got into Idaho and there's this potato gun thing." He's like, "How does it work? I want to do it." So him and his wife went in the backyard and they made videos of them shooting my potato gun. And they said they sent me the videos five times. I never got them, which, to this day-

Ian: If there's a video you want, it's Tony Robbins shooting your potato gun.

Russell: The original potato gun. Yeah.

Ian: It must have looked so small in his hands. A potato pistol. This actually is huge, but it just looks tiny in his hands.

Russell: But that was the first thing I sent him because I want him to always remember me. So that was the first thing I sent him. And I said, then a decade later I gave him that one. And anyway.

Ian: It was that long between? So how did you-

Russell: Tony's a long date. If you want to get to know him, it's not...

Ian: Well he's so... That's the thing. I would not want his life in a million years. If you're breaking your life into 33 minute sections, that just seems horrible. It just seems so intense.

Russell: Yeah. He is intense.

Ian: So how did that happen? What was the progression there? How'd you meet him the first time and then how did it progress to?

Russell: Yeah. So the very first time was it was during the crash of whatever, 2008. And so his business was like, he was struggling. His entire business had been on TV at that point, crash hits and nothing's really working for him. So he had tried to hire some marketing people to bring him online. And I think he had three or four people coming to pitch him. And then somewhere, somehow he met Kern and Mike Koenigs and those guys. And so they got to come and pitch Tony. So they were the very first to pitch Tony. It was supposed to be a 30 minute meeting and they pitched what they were doing. And Tony was so blown away. The other two groups, I guess, were out in the lobby or whatever, waiting for him. And he had messaged, send the other people home. Send them home.

And he spent eight hours with Mike and Frank and those guys. And he just showed them our world. And Tony was so blown away. And so he's like, "I want to do something, I'm going to create something." And so they worked with Tony to build the new Money Masters DVD series, which was him interviewing a bunch of internet marketers about how we were doing stuff back in the day. And so they started filming those. And, at the time, I was the only person in our industry that had a call center. We had a call center in Boise with 60 sales guys.

And so they basically told Tony, the way this business works is you sell this thing on the front end, then you call them on the phone and say I'm coaching. And they're like, Brunson's the one that's got the call center. You need to meet Brunson to do the call center for you. And this all happened without me knowing anything. Also one day, out of the blue, I get a call from Jay Garrity, Tony's assistant at the time. And was like, "Hey, Tony wants to meet you today. Can you meet him?" And I was like-

Ian: Nah, I got stuff going on.

Russell: Yeah. And I was in Boise and he's like, "Well, we're in Salt Lake. Can you come over?" They thought I lived in Utah and I'm in Boise.

Ian: Some people think that it's the same.

Russell: They all think it's the same. Yeah.

Ian: They're like, it's Utah, Idaho. It's the same place.

Russell: Yeah. Just drive down real quick.

Ian: We have slightly fewer Mormons.

Russell: Way more potatoes.

Ian: More potatoes and less Mormons.

Russell: Few less Mormons. I'm working on that side though. Anyways. So he is like, "Okay, well, we'll totally be in Toronto next week doing UPW. You come up as his guest and then..." Anyway. So I flew up next week at UPW, that's where I met him. That's where I had the dinner with him. And then I didn't hear from him for four or five months. I'm like, oh crap. He hated me. And then he messaged me... Again, Jay messaged me out of the blue and is like, "Hey, Tony's doing an event in Fiji in two weeks. Do you want to come speak at it? And while you're there, he wants to see if he can record an interview to be one of the DVDs for the new Money Master series." I was like, "Yeah." Holy crap.

Ian: Yeah. That's amazing.

Russell: And its funny, because-

Ian: What were you actually doing at that time? Because you had the call center and that's why he was like, this is the guy. So what were you actually doing then?

Russell: So our business model we'd figured out. We were selling a free DVD, someone would buy the free DVD, and then we call him on the phone and sell them a high end coaching package. That was the model back then. And so we did it and then-

Ian: Was it marketing related stuff?

Russell: Yeah.

Ian: Okay.

Russell: Yeah. So we were doing that and then Kern came out with something, we did the back end leads for him. We did it for Filsaime. We did it for a dozen guys who were in the space. Because we figured out that was the model. Everyone wanted to shift that model, but nobody else wanted to build a call center. So we had a big call center here. And so everyone else was doing free plus shipping stuff. We do the backend phone sales. And then that was kind of-

Ian: That's 2008, '09, '10, something like that?

Russell: Yeah. About that. Yeah, it was right during the whole crash. 2008, around that area.

Ian: So then you go to Fiji.

Russell: Go to Fiji, which was so cool. And so you're on Tony's actual private resort and it's really small. And so we hung out there and then I got to speak. And it was in a room with, I don't know, maybe 80 attendees in this little room. Tony sat in the back of the room, listening to me speak, which was the most intimidating, scary thing in the world. And I remember, because I was teaching basic digital marketing. We didn't call that back then, but it was basic. I remember teaching them about a squeeze page and you have a squeeze page.

Ian: And people were like, "Oh my God."

Russell: Well, I remember because Tony raised his hand and said, "Isn't it true that our squeeze page is dead?" He said this to me in 2010 or whatever. And I was just like, "No, actually they still work." He's like, "Oh, because I heard from my friends that it's dead." I'm like, "No." Anyway, it was just funny because this day we still...

Ian: Still use the same-

Russell: Yeah. A decade later they still work. But he called me out during my presentation on stage asking if they were dead, which was so intimidating. That happened and then the next day we went to his actual house on the property and went to the back deck and we filmed him interviewing me, which was insane. And then we left and I didn't hear from him for five years.

Ian: Five years?

Russell: Once again, I think he hates me. And then out of the blue, it's weird. Weird things would happen. So you remember the 12 Month Millionaire book? Vince James?

Ian: I don't-

Russell: Oh my gosh. Okay. I'm going to send one. It's the greatest marketing book on the planet.

Ian: This is not Ryan Daniel Moran's 12 Months to a Million?

Russell: No.

Ian: 12 Month Millionaire.

Russell: This is the guy, Vince James wrote a book. It's called the 12 Month Millionaire. And was how he made a hundred million dollars in 23 months selling supplements through direct mail. And it's insane. So I did a partnership with the guy and we're selling that book for him. It's big. It's the size of a phone book. It's a huge old fat book. And I was selling that at the time and that's... You pop up on Tony's radar once in a while. He saw that so he popped up. "Hey, can you-"

Ian: So he just saw the ad?

Russell: Saw the ad or the email. I don't even know. Who knows?

Ian: That's one of those weird things. I bet a lot of famous people have seen your ads.

Russell: You want to hear something weird? The other day on Instagram, Hugh Hefner's ex-wife messaged me. And she wants to build a course with me on ClickFunnels and all these things.

Ian: Which ex-wife? Didn't he have six wives?

Russell: Yeah. The one that he was married to when he died. Her last name is still Hefner. And I was like, I don't even know how to respond.

Ian: She just DM-ed you?

Russell: Yeah. DM-ed me. I'm like, this is weird. There's always weird stuff like that.

Ian: What did your wife think of that one?

Russell: I didn't respond back to her.

Ian: What's the course going to be? How to marry an old rich guy and take all his money?

Russell: I have no idea.

Ian: That'll probably sell like crazy. That's a great idea.

Russell: That's a great offer. Way better than potato guns.

Ian: I'll buy that one. Shit, I'll marry Hugh Hefner to get all that. That's not a bad course.

Russell: Yeah. But anyway, stuff like that. It's surprising to me how many people now, in the real world, big celebrities now, are starting to see our world and keep bumping into us in different spots. Like Tony's next launch is Matthew McConaughy is the main speaker on Tony's next big launch. It's coming up next month, which is crazy. And there are a billion courses with Matthew McConaughy and helping him. It's just crazy how the real celebrity world and our world are now bumping into each other and becoming...

Ian: Well, because the thing is celebrities, well, celebrity's changing as well, with TikTok and Instagram and YouTube. What young kids think of as sugar daddy secrets.

Russell: Quick, buy that.

Ian: Russell's like-

Russell: Already own it.

Ian: You thought about that one a while ago. Yeah. I think celebrity's changed. What is a celebrity? Because I think, for my generation still, to me it's like movie stars. Those are celebrities or actors in TV shows. But to younger people it's YouTubers. To them they're more popular almost than an A-list celebrity.

Russell: 100%. If I had to ask my kids-

Ian: Interesting to see how that happens.

Russell: Mr. Beast versus whoever, they would have...

Ian: They'd go Mr. Beast.

Russell: 100%. Yeah. Who are you going to go meet, Tom Cruise or Mr. Beast? Who's Tom Cruise?

Ian: Well, Tom Cruise. Okay. They're wrong on that one. Tom Cruise is... So this is actually really funny. So I was saying to Whitney, I love Tom Cruise, man. Even when he was doing all the weird stuff and people are like, he's crazy. I'm like, I don't care. You put a Tom Cruise movie on and I'm watching the whole thing. Minority Report, edge of my seat the entire time.

Russell: Even five times in. I've seen it five times.

Ian: He's unbelievable. The fact is, the movies are great. Even people always... I'm like, I don't care what you think. I love Tom Cruise. And now he is made the people on don't care anymore about when he was jumping around on couches or whatever, and that he's a Scientologist and all that stuff. But I watched a bunch of Top Gun related material on YouTube after it had come out. And he's just such a likable dude. And he's so interesting. And I said to Whitney, I was like, God, if there was ever something I was doing and Tom Cruise would give me a motivational speech, there's no way I'm not winning whatever that is, no matter what. That weekend I'm watching formula one and he's in the pit with Mercedes and Louis Hamilton has his best race of-

Russell: Really?

Ian: And I'm like, no wonder. I bet you Tom Cruise is like, look, he's what we need. You're going to be my wing man today Lewis. And Lewis has his best race of the entire year while Tom Cruise is in the Mercedes pit. And I'm like, that's...

Russell: We need to hire Tom Cruise.

Ian: I bet it's only-

Russell: What can we do?

Ian: It's only a hundred million dollars for an hour or something. How would you even get Tom Cruise?

Russell: He's got an agent. We tried to get the Rock for something. Literally, if you ask Alexa, who's the most popular person in the world? The Rock is who she... Who knows if that's true or not. But we tried to get him.

Ian: Because what he did is he's used social media. He's the only really big celebrity who's decided to use that. And he's multiracial. He's everything.

Russell: Everyone loves the Rock.

Ian: He just hit all of it. No matter how many steroids he uses.

Russell: Everyone's like, no, no, no, he doesn't. No. Yes, he does.

Ian: That human is gigantic. The fact that you could even think that he's not is insane.

Russell: Yeah. All the women I know are like, I don't want to hear that, I don't want to hear that. It's natural.

Ian: You saw, we have a cutout of him.

Russell: Yeah. I saw it.

Ian: Because when we went through traction-

Russell: Is it life size?

Ian: It's life size. He's 6'3". He's just a little taller.

Russell: I want to stand next to it.

Ian: It's fantastic. But we did a traction, the EOS stuff. And so every 90 days you set your rocks. And so I said-

Russell: That's amazing.

Ian: I said to implementer. I'm like, "So we've got to get our Dwayne Johnsons done by the next 90 days." And she goes, "What?" I'm like, "Our Dwayne Johnsons." And she was like, "Nobody has ever done that." She does say that we are the most fun group she works with. She's got old people that are manufacturers and stuff. But so we got the cutout because this is the hoffice. So we might get a David Hasselhoff as well for the hoffice, but that's why we have Dwayne Johnson up there, is because we call our rocks, Dwayne Johnsons.

Russell: That's amazing. We just did ours last week. I should have done that. Okay. I might steal that for our team.

Ian: Do you do traction?

Russell: Yeah. So I have a guy, our new COO, who's been here for the year. He's amazing.

Ian: Think I met him last time I was...

Russell: Yeah. Kevin.

Ian: With the beard.

Russell: Yeah. So I don't know what exactly he does. I hate operations. I'm the least operational person. Anything operations, I'm like, I don't do meetings, I don't do that stuff.

Ian: You sounded like Will Ferrell in Wedding Crashers. I don't know what she's doing back there. I don't know what he does, but he works for us.

Russell: Yeah. But I do know he rocks. We do stuff. So it's probably based on traction. I don't know what else but, like I said, and this, hopefully for those entrepreneurs who are listening who hate operations, I hate operations more than anything on this planet. So I try to distance myself as far as possible from it as much as I can. They loop me in the meetings I have to be in, but anything else. So I do have to do the meeting with the quarter on our Dwayne Johnsons.

Ian: On your Dwayne Johnsons. Yeah. You got to bring a cut out. They'll be like, "What are you doing?" So that's a good sort of transition, is I'm curious. What do you think if you had to boil it down to one reason why you've been successful as you are, what do you think that is?

Russell: I'm obsessed with the art of this game. I just love it. If you look at this business, there's three personality types you have to have to be successful in the business. And I wish I understood this when I got started because we only had two of the three for the first, until a year ago, to be honest. And the three personality types you have. Number one, you've got to have someone who's obsessed with the product. There's a product person. Number two, someone who's obsessed with the marketing. And then number three, someone who's obsessed with operations. If I ever start a new company in the future, those are the three people I need. And then from there, everything else will grow.

The problem most entrepreneur-based businesses is operations. At first we don't need operations because we're just marketing and selling. That's what we do. So we go build these companies and we blow it up. And then all of a sudden the customers come and they're like, oh crap. And you operate, we need someone to manage people and we try to figure it out. And that's why most, especially internet marketing run businesses, end up failing eventually because they suck at the actual dealing with people.

Ian: They suck at business.

Russell: Yeah. Oh yeah. And so...

Ian: They're good at selling.

Russell: Yeah. You don't need the operations person on day... Well, in our heads we don't need a day one. We need it after we've had success. But the reality is you need that person. So when you do have success, success lasts longer than the launch or the promotion of the campaign. And so when ClickFunnels launched, Todd is my business partner. He's obsessed with the product and I was obsessed with the marketing. So we could sit there and spend... He could spend his every waking hour, 80 hours a week during the building phase, focus on that. I could focus on the marketing and the sales. And so we just each were so obsessed with our piece of the pie that we made stuff that was great. And so, I mean, that's honestly, I think most people are in this business because they want to make money. But man, yes, I want to-

Ian: So you still love marketing?

Russell: Oh, why do I keep doing this? I just bought a company yesterday that's not in my market at all because I know the marketing plan that I'm freaking so excited to execute on because it's just...

Ian: This is your thing.

Russell: Yeah.

Ian: This is why you're here.

Russell: 100%.

Ian: You haven't gotten tired of it. You're not like, you know what? I'm going to do something else. This marketing stuff is...

Russell: What else would I do? Everything else seems stupid. It's like the greatest game in the world. And, at the end of it, you play a video game and the end of it, you get a high score. Here we play a video game and then we get paid. They're like, oh my gosh, I'm going to buy a house and turn it into an office. You can do whatever you want to do at this point. But this is how much I love the art. Because people always ask me, "Oh, well, you're lucky because you're teaching people how to make funnels and funnels are cool." I'm like, "Funnels were not cool when I got started."

Ian: You made funnels cool.

Russell: I used to do, here in Boise, I would do events. I have advertising on the radio. We did direct mail campaigns to do events, to go fill the Holiday Inn on Vista, need people to show up. And I would sit there.

Ian: We're going to have to ask you about that. Cam, did you hear that? Because we do our events here and we're like, we got to try some local ads and see what we can do here.

Russell: Yeah. I can tell you all the stats. I mean, it's been a while since we did them but it was fascinating. And I remember doing this event. We had three times during the day. So we had radio and direct mail to fill this event. We got there and the very first session two people showed up and I was so embarrassed. I have a huge room with seats, everything and two people showed up. Even though they had RSVP-ed, people just didn't come. And I did the event and most of them were like, "Oh, this sucks. I'm making money. I would've been done." But that was 20 years ago. I did the event with two people and then another one where there was four people and then eight people.

Ian: Literally two people?

Russell: And then 10 people. Two people. Yeah. And I'm like, this sucks. And I'm awkward and introverted anyway. So the bigger the audience, the more comfortable I am. With two people, I'm like, oh. But I was talking about when there were two people in the room and then 10 people and people are like, "How'd you get 6,000 people at Funnel Hacking Live?" Because I've been doing this for two decades. I cared enough. I consistently keep doing it because I love this so much. When there are two people, I kept doing it. When there are four people and there are eight people and there are 10 people. Most people, they do something like, oh, only 10 people show up. I did YouTube video, I got 30 likes. Who cares? If you actually care, if you're obsessed with this thing, it doesn't matter. If you're obsessed with the art. So, for me, it's this point, I love this game. It's so much fun. It's so exciting. Every day we come in, it's like, okay, what can we do? What should we do?

Ian: And I can attest that being at your office, the amount of books, it looks like a crazy person.

Russell: And I didn't take you to the library. So I'm building a 20,000 square foot library. So I have another office. It's just storing my books right now because there's no room for them. I've conservatively, in the last six months, probably bought 3000 books. All first editions from the early 19 hundreds. Advertising, marketing, personal development, success. Because this is my art, this is the game I'm in. And so...

Ian: How many of the books, how often are you reading?

Russell: I read a little bit every day. Not a lot. Part of it, again, I'm collecting this thing because there's a business I'm building behind it. So I'm collecting all these first editions. And then one of the first business I ever got into back in the day was public domain, which is books whose copyrights have expired and you can republish those things. And so a lot of them I'm buying because we're turning them into businesses, into offers and things like that. And so all those books, the ones that are worth republishing, I'm reading. We're republishing. I'm making audiobook. There's a whole bunch of stuff we're doing with them, but that's a probably five hour event we could do later, going deep into the model behind that. But yeah, it's another business. They're all...

Ian: So what does your day look like? Because there's so many things and I understand. I get super excited about stuff, but then I'm less excited later. I'm like super quick, let's do this. And now basically most of my job for myself is just telling myself to do less. I'm going to write a book that should just call Do Less Shit, Better. Because there's so many things. And I found that the more stuff I do, the worse results I get, rather than just staying focused on the core model, the core thing. So, at this point, obviously ClickFunnels is now working whether you work on it or not. It's got its base, it's got-

Russell: Also we're about to launch ClickFunnels 2.0, so that's our biggest focus, by far, is the new relaunch and the new software and all that kind of stuff.

Ian: How much better is it?

Russell: Oh, it's night and day. In my mind, it's the future. We tried to... Yeah. I mean, the first time I built ClickFunnels, we built it on the technology that was good eight years ago. And we built a base of what we do eight years ago. Now we know what people want. We know how we wish we would've been. Technology is a million times better now. So it's just faster, better.

Ian: So it's a full re...

Russell: Yeah.

Ian: Redo.

Russell: Literally, when we decided to build it, we didn't tell anybody in our entire company, not even our other partners. It was me, Todd and Dave. Three people knew about it. And then Todd, kind of like Steve Jobs built his Skunkworks division inside of Apple that built his thing. We did the same thing where Todd built his thing. Was just him at first and then he started bringing in the best of our developers and made them literally swear in. They had to go through a whole hour long thing with Todd. They had to sign a contract that they wouldn't tell anybody in our company or anybody what they're working on.

Ian: Why was that?

Russell: Because we didn't want-

Ian: Is the rest of your company finding out about this right now?

Russell: Yeah. Hey guys. No, we did have a meeting eventually about a year into it. This is the plan because people started getting more confused. Why are you pulling the best developers off? Why are they disappearing? What are they doing? And finally I tell everybody, but because we have a platform with a hundred thousand plus members on it and if everyone's like, oh, this next thing was shifted over here, we could have lost everything. So we have to have this separate thing. We can't shift focus or deviation. This has to continue to develop and improve and get better. But eventually we're going to lose our business if we don't build the new thing. And so when we finally decided to do that, it was a separate thing. But it's amazing. Whole new built from the ground, all new technology, all new... Just the thought process of how things work and why they work and how to structure, it's what we wish we...

Ian: Would've done before. How long has it been developing?

Russell: Two years.

Ian: Damn.

Russell: Yeah. And we launch, if we go to C-F, the number two, then P-O-I-N-T and There's the countdown. There's the countdown clock to when we go live. October 4th is when it goes live to the world. So we're thinking 80 some days away from it.

Ian: Pretty close. Yeah Dave was telling us about that.

Russell: That's the number one focus. So everything like that defaults and then all the other stuff, like my side projects of...

Ian: Because you're taking on stuff where, oh, I've got this marketing plan. When I hear you say that, I'm like, God, that sounds like a nightmare. Another thing. Are you just, at this point, really idea person?

Russell: Yeah.

Ian: So if you go and you go, this is what we're going to do. There's the people that will actually push your idea forward?

Russell: For most things outside of my unique ability. I'm going to do the presentation. I'm going to do the things that are my unique ability I still do, but it's very much like, here's the vision. And then Kevin, I give it to Kevin. I make a video and sometimes they're 30 minutes to an hour long video. This is what needs to happen, how it's going to work. I funnel hacked 400 other people. I like how they do this and they do this and it's like, there's the big brain dump. And then he'll go through it. He'll take it all and project manage it out, chops it all up into a million... Because that's the thing, we have this vision and we don't want like, oh crap, there's all these details.

So the details stress me out so bad. In fact, my team has project manager systems, and I'm not involved in any of those. Because if I see, here's all the tasks that have to happen for that to happen, I just want to give up. So I don't see any of that. But then after the vision's done, then I become an employee of the team. So then Kevin's like, "Russell, these are your assignments to make this thing happen." Then he's giving me tasks like any other employee. You have to write a copy for this. You're doing the video for this. And so I'm now just an employee on the team and I only see the things I have to do and make it actually happen.

Ian: So what is your role now? Are you writing all the copy still for the primary?

Russell: No, we've got some good copywriters, but I work with them. So I love copy until we get past the initial scroll and then like, oh, I want to die. But everything above the fold, I'm obsessed and I love talking about it. So it's going to be Heath on our team's our lead copywriter.

Ian: Heath. What's his last name?

Russell: Wilcox. Do you know Heath?

Ian: Yes. I love Heath.

Russell: He's now full time with us.

Ian: He's awesome.

Russell: He is my favorite copywriter I've ever worked with, ever. Yeah. He's insane.

Ian: He's a good dude.

Russell: And so we sit down and we brainstorm and then he'll write stuff and I'll write stuff, and we'll go back and forth till we get the right lead, the right message, right tone. And then he will then run and then just do his magic. He's amazing. And then email sequences, I write a lot of those. We actually, we have a couple other writers, but I'm involved in those process…

Ian: Do you write the daily emails that you guys send?

Russell: Sometimes. It depends. I have yet to find someone who really can master my voice.

Ian: Value voice.

Russell: So usually I'm involved in...

Ian: Is there a difference in results in the ones that you write versus the ones that are written by others?

Russell: Yeah. For sure.

Ian: How significant would you say?

Russell: It depends how good they... They're getting better at modeling me, but it's hard for them to come up with-

Ian: Your brain's very unique.

Russell: It's hard for them to come up with the right hook. They'll write something. I'm like, "What? That's not sexy"

Ian: Even if the voice is yours, but it's not the idea. Then it's not going to work.

Russell: Yeah. So a lot of times more of it's that me like, "Hey, I want the email campaign to be six emails. The first one, we should be talking about this." So I'll give them that and then they'll write it and then I'll go back in like, ah, and then I'll retweak stuff. So it's rarely me just writing everything right now, a hundred percent.

Ian: From scratch.

Russell: It's usually me sending a vox message. Here's the hook or here's the thing I think, or here's a story, turn that into an email and then I'll get that. And then I'll tweak.

Ian: Do you use that a lot? Voxer?

Russell: Oh yeah. I think I'm the only person that uses it still.

Ian: I remember, I can't remember what it was. It was sometime that you were using it. I remember hearing and I was like, I don't know if anybody else...

Russell: Yeah. I'm the only one. In fact, the company is for sale. They were trying to sell to me because they're like, you're the only person that loves us.

Ian: You're the only guy on here. Do you want to buy?

Russell: But literally, any partnership I have, from my family, to my relationships, to my business, to everything, it all happens on vox.

Ian: And it's all audio, right? Is that what it is?

Russell: Audio. You can 4X speed things like someone sent me two minute message, I can get in 30 seconds. And then I can forward messages to people. So I can-

Ian: I can't imagine listening to you on four times speed. There's no way I can understand it.

Russell: But it's awesome. If I have an idea, who needs to be involved in this idea? So I make a Voxer group. I throw in the five people I need. I sit there while I'm driving and brain dump the entire idea. This is what I want to do. And then it's over. And then they all got it. And if, oh, I forgot something. I can just forward that message to them or bring them in the group. And so I don't have to do meetings now. I can just do a 30 second thing, get the vision to everybody, and they can start running. Or my coaching programs.

I used to do coaching calls and it's the worst. If you give someone a 30 minute coaching call with you, they want to get on a call for 30 minutes and, oh, this is my time. I got to use it all. Their question's a 20 second question. And so I shifted that to, for the high end coaching that I do, they just message me in Voxer and they're only allowed to ask me one question at a time and it can't go over a minute. So usually they think through it first, they ask me a 30 second question. I listen on 4X speed. It takes me 10 seconds to listen to it. I respond back, yes or no. And the whole coaching call takes-

Ian: Should I do this thing? Should I not do this thing?

Russell: It takes 90 seconds as opposed to 90, whatever the time allotted would've been, and they get exactly what they need.


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