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82 - Time, Opportunity Cost, Serve First


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Why you should never ask somebody for free advice.

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The one lesson I learned from my college education is opportunity cost. With opportunity cost, if you remember the concept, you’ve got two options. The opportunity cost is what you lost by not taking the other option, so for example, if I was to jump on the phone with this guy for an hour, the opportunity cost is that I’ve either got to give up an hour of time with my family, which is not something I’m willing to do at all, or I’ve got to carve out an hour of time from all of my other projects. An hour of focused time working towards Click Funnels or an hour towards something else, will make me a lot of money. It’s hard, because what he is asking for and what people like that are asking for – they don’t understand what they’re asking for.


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Hey everybody. This is Russell Brunson, and I have a very special “Marketing in Your Car” for you for today. Hey, everyone. I just got my hair cut, and I’m driving back home. I actually wanted to do a special podcast. I don’t normally log into Facebook very much because it stresses me out.

Typically I’m getting a lot of people who are asking me for my help for free. It’s just hard, because I want to, and I wish I could give them all the attention. The problem is, with everything I’m doing right now in my own company, in my own business, and in my own coaching clients, it’s hard to find time to even sleep at night.

There’s so much stuff always happening, and so I don’t typically log in that often, but the last week, I did for a couple of reasons. I just checked again when I was walking out of getting my hair cut. I saw a message, and it just made me think, so I want to tell you about two different people that approached me on Facebook. I won’t use their real names, but I want to share their approaches with you, because they were both very different.

The first guy that contacted me basically said, “Hey Russell, I’ve been watching you for a bunch of years. I love your stuff. I think you’re awesome. How much would it cost to buy an hour of your time?” I said, “Right now, I sell an hour for twenty-five hundred bucks,” and he wrote back and said, “Oh, that’s kind of steep, but hey, man, I love your stuff, and I think you can help me, so where do I send the money?”

So I told him. He sent the money. Two days later, we were on the phone. We spent an hour on the phone with him looking at his funnel, building it out, tweaking it, giving him all the advice that he needed, and after he was done, he was like, “Man, that was awesome. I feel like I’ve shifted my focus. I know exactly where I’m going now, I’m going to go ahead and implement it. Hey, do you mind if I shoot some questions now and then as I’m building this thing out, to help me create it?”

and I’m like, “Yeah, no worries.” So he went out, and he’s been building, and he shot me a couple of questions. I gave him some feedback, and I haven’t minded because he understood the value of my time, and what it takes for me to spend some time. I don’t mind helping him now, because he valued my time up front, and he was willing to invest, and now he’s trying to implement what I showed him, and so of course I’m going to help steer him in the right direction and have success. It’s been awesome.

Then I have this other guy. Again, a really nice guy, and my heart strings go out to him and to other people that I’ve gotten this message from. Literally, I think, five or six people this week sent me similar messages about, “Hey Russell, I love your stuff. I don’t have any money, but I want to work with you. I’d love it if you could get on the phone with me and coach me through this. I’ll give you half of my profits, and I’ll do all of this kind of stuff.”

That’s their mentality, and it’s tough, because honestly, for me as a person, I can’t even tell you how much I want to, but it’s hard. Most of those I don’t respond back to, because it’s just so hard for me to tell them “No”, but it’s like, “You have to understand, that when I was getting started, I never would have gone to somebody who is as busy or had as much success, and just ask them for their time. I always would have gone and figured out how I could provide value to them, whether it’s money or whatever, because their time is valuable.”

I look at my schedule. For example, this week, I was at the office twice until 3 a.m. in the morning this week trying to get some projects done. I literally had, I think, seven or eight one-hour phone call consultations with people. Every single one of those people, outside of the first guy I told you about – he paid $2,500 – everybody else paid $25,000 for those, and it was hard for me to fit those $25,000 one-hour calls into my schedule, because it’s so busy with everything.

I obviously made the time, because they made the investment. Plus I’ve got the Reactive Coaching for our $25,000 students, and then on top of that, I’ve got my own projects and my own businesses, and in our supplement company, we’re in the process of trying to hire three or four more people. It has by far eclipsed our internet marketing business [laughs] to this point, which is exciting.

We’re about to launch Click Funnels, which is a brand new company. We’re in the process of trying to find new office space and probably hiring a staff of, who knows – ten to twelve people to help with that. I literally don’t have time to sleep right now. I go home. I spend time in the morning with my family and kids and at night with my family and kids.

As soon as they all pass out, I’m back to work trying to move things forward, and it’s hard when I get an e-mail saying, “I just need an hour of your time. Remember what it was like when you were just beginning and you had no ability? If you had just gotten some guru to help you...,” and how it would help them, and again, my heart strings go out to them, but I don’t think people really understand the reality of it. For me to carve out another hour of my time, I would have to put one of my projects on hold, and you look at opportunity cost.

The one lesson I learned from my college education is opportunity cost. With opportunity cost, if you remember the concept, you’ve got two options. The opportunity cost is what you lost by not taking the other option, so for example, if I was to jump on the phone with this guy for an hour, the opportunity cost is that I’ve either got to give up an hour of time with my family, which is not something I’m willing to do at all, or I’ve got to carve out an hour of time from all of my other projects.

An hour of focused time working towards Click Funnels or an hour towards something else, will make me a lot of money. It’s hard, because what he is asking for and what people like that are asking for – they don’t understand what they’re asking for. They’re asking for an hour of your time. An hour of your time, literally, on the low end, is $2,500. I was trying to be nice to this guy, but because he was willing to respect the value of my time, I was willing to do it for $2,500, but the reality is an hour of time that’s focused on your own business is worth so much more than that. I just wanted to share. It’s been on my mind.

I may send him this podcast, and I hope it doesn’t hurt his feelings. That’s not my intention, but more so just to help him understand the value of other people’s time, and if you want to get someone’s attention, you’ve got to look at things differently. When I first got into this business, I remember I went to this event, and there was this guy that was at the event. He was in this Mastermind group, and he was in four or five others, and I was like, “How in the world did you get in all of these groups?”

and he said, “I learned something early on in life, Russell. I learned I can either work my way in, or I can buy my way in. It’s way easier just to buy your way in.” He had spent tons of money in to getting in to these different clubs. I said, “How in the world do you afford that?” I think he had spent almost a hundred grand in these Masterminds. He said, “Well, I couldn’t afford it, so instead of complaining about the fact that I didn’t have the resources to afford it, I tried to get resourceful. I went out to a bunch of Internet marketing forums, and I found a bunch of people who were in similar situations like me.

They couldn’t afford it, but they wanted the information, and so I said, “Look. This is the deal. I’m going to invest in these five Mastermind groups, and my total cost is going to be X amount of dollars. I can’t afford it right now, but if you will pay X amount of dollars into it, I will go to these events, and I will learn. I will do everything, and when I come back from these events, I will bring back and break down everything I learned, all the notes, give you everything, and you’ll get a chance, at a fraction of the cost, to go to all of these events with me, basically, to get all of the information I extract from these.”

This guy literally got ten people to give him $10,000. He had $100,000 in cash to go out and join the best Masterminds in the world. I was just like, “Wow.” – resourcefulness, right? He didn’t have the resources, but he figured out a way to make it happen. I always think about one of my favorite people I ever met in my entire life, and this is in the business, or out of the business, but it’s a guy named Stu McLaren. Before I even met Stu, I was putting on this workshop called “Affiliate Boot Camp”, and Stu paid $1,000 to be part of this boot camp.

He’s one of the smartest people I have ever met. It was a life-training series that I did, and I’d do a teleseminar. Every teleseminar, I’d open it up for questions at the end, and the first person to pop on was Stu, saying, “Hey, Russell, that was amazing. I’m Stu McLaren. That session you gave was amazing. It just totally built me up,” and he talked about why it was so great. He’d ask me some questions, and then he’d thank me, and, “Boom.”

Literally, for ten sessions in a row, Stu was the first one asking questions, the first one thanking me, all of that kind of stuff, and it was awesome. Then at the end of the event, he called me up one day, and he was like, “Hey, man, I’ve got an idea. We should work on this project together.” I knew who Stu was, and I knew he’d given me so much value from that side.

Me, as an educator and a teacher – to have somebody invest in my business and thank me and all of these things along the way, it changes it. Where now, just like the dude who paid the twenty-five hundred bucks, I have a vested interest in him. I want him to be successful. I want him to take the advice. Yeah, I’m going to pick up the phone, and I’m going to return the call. The other interesting thing is, in my Mastermind group, in our inner circle, we have a couple of different levels – anywhere from $8,000 up to $25,000 in our coaching program, and inside the programs, all of our members are able to ask me questions each week.

They can submit video clips and write questions to me, and we can chat back and forth. It’s a cool process. What’s interesting is that the majority of people who ask me questions will jump on and ask me a question, and that’s it. We move on. Sometimes, they’ll say, “Hey, thanks,” but that’s it. There’re not many people that say, “Thanks,” and I’m fine with that. I’m not looking for thanks, but there’s one guy whose name is Simon Cryer, and Simon signs up for the coaching program, goes in there, studies a bunch of stuff, and then he jumps into this thing where he can message me, and makes me this video, and all the video said was, “You know, Russell, thank you. This was one of the most amazing things in the world. It was awesome. It was...,”

and all of this stuff. I watched the video, and then I was waiting for him to ask me a favor, a question, or whatever, and he never did. He just thanked me, and I was like, “Dude, that guy’s awesome.” Simon’s name, I remembered. A couple of weeks later, he e-mailed me a question, and because I knew Simon’s name, and because he’d given me value, I literally sat up that night while my wife was angry at me, because she wanted me to go to bed [laughs].

I spent almost an hour on the computer making videos for him, mapping out the whole game process, showed him what he was doing right, showed him what he was doing wrong, sent him all of my files. I literally gave him a years’ worth of my research. I gave it all to him, one hundred percent, and I just said, “Hey, here you go, Simon.” He told me when he got that that he started crying, because he couldn’t believe that I would give him that. I told him afterwards, “You know what, Simon? You’re the first person that ever thanked me.”

It was interesting how that works, and so the reason for this, you guys, is I would just say – I don’t know what I’m trying to say, to be honest, but when you want things in life, there’s the right way and the wrong way to do it. The right way is to figure out how you can provide as much value as possible to other people, and if you do that, it’s amazing what they’ll do back in return for you. Sometimes that is paying people, right? I pay coaches all of the time.

I wrote Ryan Deiss and Perry Belcher a check for $25,000 in January, because I wanted some of their help. I’m friends with them. I could text them. I could call them, but I wanted to show them that I have respect for them and what they do, so I wrote them a check. I asked them one or two little questions here and there, and those things have transformed my business. I look at Bill Glaser. I was in his Mastermind group for six years. I spoke on his stage tons of times, and one day I had a question. Instead of calling him and saying, “Hey, Bill, I have a question for you,”

I called his assistant, and I sent him, I think, fifteen hundred bucks for an hour of his time. We got on the phone, and we talked through it. It’s just you understanding that people are busy, and yes, they may have time, and they’re there for their buddies or whatever, but if you’re going to pick their brains or you’re going to do whatever, understand that that’s not a small thing. I have people all the time that are like, “Hey, man, let me take you to lunch and pick your brain.”

In my life, I have not had the luxury of having lunch for months. I don’t have time for lunch. I eat while I’m working, because I don’t have time to break away and go to lunch. I have too many projects and too many things that are happening. If I were to go to lunch, I would miss time with my family, so I don’t eat lunch.

So for them to say, “Hey, Russell, I want to take you to lunch and pick your brain,” it seems like in their mind, they’re thinking it’s such a small thing –“Hey, I’m going to buy you lunch,” but for me to pull away and go to lunch, it’s like, “You don’t understand the opportunity cost of that. That will cost me on the lowest end, $2,500, and on the high end, I’m losing $10,000 to $15,000 or more by letting you take me to lunch to pick my brain.” I think that it’s important to understand that, especially with people you’re trying to get to, trying to get access to and need information from. Figure out ways that you can provide value first.

Coming to someone and saying, “Hey, I’ll give you half of my business,” or, “Hey, if you do this, I could make a lot of money, and I’ll give you part of it back,” that’s the same pitch everyone is giving them. It’s funny. I had a guy – this is another one. I get these all of the time, so I apologize for the rant here, but I had a guy the other day who came up to me and said, “Hey, Russell, this is the deal. I pitch you. You’re the one I want to work with on this project. This project’s awesome. What I want you to do is I want you to work with me to set the entire thing up. We’ll do this, this, and this. Help me launch and help me do everything and from that I’ll give you a percentage of the profits.”

I wrote him back, and I was like, “Dude, for the effort that it would take for me to go and do what you just asked me to do, I could do the exact same thing on my own project and keep all of the money. I don’t think you understand that. You’re not providing me value by giving me half of your company and letting me do all of the work. There’s no value for me in that, all right?” And so it’s just an understanding of you looking at the people that you want information from and figuring out, “How can I serve them first?” Stu McLaren was smart. He did not come to me, day one, and say, “Russell, I need this. I need this. I need this.”

He said, “How can I serve Russell first? I’m going to join his coaching program and ask him questions. I’m going to edify him, and I’m going to do all of this stuff, and I’m going to build a relationship,” and now, when Stu calls, I will drop anything. When Stu says, “Russell, I need this,” I will. To this day, if Stu was to call me at three in the morning and tell me that he needs an accountant, I’d be there. That’s how much rapport he’s built with me. I look at somebody like Simon.

After that whole thing happened, I happened to be in Dallas one day, and I think Simon’s from Dallas. We e-mailed, and an hour later, we’re hanging out. We spent the whole day together, and I consider him a close friend. He came out to Boise. We went to the fights together. All of this stuff came from him saying, “Thanks,” from him figuring out what I needed in my life to help me. Because of that now, I have this reciprocity, where I want to make sure he’s successful, and he’s going to be successful, because he played his cards right.

This guy that came to me first and said, “Hey, I’m going to pay you twenty-five hundred bucks for an hour of your time because that’s what it’s worth to you right now,” I’ve probably answered fifteen questions for him since then, because he respected my time. It helped me to feel that value first, and so, yes, I want to help him back out in the other direction. Anyway, I hope this doesn’t fall on deaf ears. In all aspects of your life, whether it’s relationships, whether it’s business or whatever it is, this advice is important.

It’s key, and you need to understand it. I don’t want to admit this, but one of my favorite shows on TV is “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette”. I watch this show, and I cringe every single time, because these guys get two minutes with the bachelor or the bachelorette to get to know them, and the ones that always blow it are the ones that get on there and go, “Okay, so my name is Joe, and this is what I do, and this is what I love,” and they just start talking about themselves, and just dump all of this garbage on the person that they’re on this date with.

The girl gets done and walks away, and they’re like, “Wow. I know everything about that guy, but he didn’t ask me a single question about myself.” The guys who are successful are the ones who sit down and ask the girl questions. –“Tell me about you. Tell me about this.” Those are the ones that succeed. The ones that fall in love are the ones who are not talking about themselves and telling them why they’re great. It’s the ones who go on the dates and ask questions to the other person.

When I was in college, I had a roommate. He was one of the most fascinating people ever, and I say that because I always thought that. I remember always thinking that this guy – John Merritt was his name. I thought, “This guy’s just fascinating.” He was one of the coolest people. I just thought he was awesome. One day, I came home from something, and I sat down, and I was talking to him, and he literally asked me questions directly for probably an hour straight – just question after question.

Everything he had to say, he seemed more fascinated by what I said, and I was like, “Man,” and all of the sudden, in the middle of this I remember pausing and thinking, “Oh, wow. I think he’s so fascinating, but I’ve never asked him a single question. I’m like that guy – I’m the bad date, but he’s the most amazing person in the world.” He just kept asking me question after question after question.

Everything I said, he seemed fascinated by, and that’s what he gave me. That’s why I always wanted to be around John. Everyone wanted to be around John. He was one of the neatest people ever. So anyway, there’s some stuff for all of you guys to think about. I have no idea if this went the right direction or not, but I hope that you guys got some value out of it. I am at the bank grabbing some money, so I’m going to jump off for now, and I appreciate you guys, and I will talk to you all soon.


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