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The Calling of Entrepreneurship: Serving Others and Achieving Success with Tom Bilyeu

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Episode Recap:

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Tom Bilyeu on his podcast "Impact Theory." While it's a few years old, Tom and I delved into a lot of topics essential for those who feel called to entrepreneurship today. From utilizing economic downturns to disruption marketing and influencer strategies.

Plus hear a particular 'emotional resilience technique' I use to stay motivated during tough times. Let’s live into our calling and find both meaning and impact as we build lasting success.

You can watch the interview here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBQQFrUx7wc

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Best Quote:

"The ability to suffer is one of the most powerful things that an entrepreneur can build. It’s about being able to endure and get back up, even when everything seems like it’s falling apart." ~ Tom Bilyeu

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Transcript:

Russell Brunson:
What's up, everybody? This is Russell Brunson. Welcome back to the Marketing Secrets podcast. I found a really cool interview I did at the very beginning of COVID. I was also, at that time, launching the Traffic Secrets book, which went on to become a New York Times bestseller. Thank you for all of you guys who bought it. And if you haven't bought it yet, do you want traffic to your websites? Go to trafficsecrets.com, and get your free copy of the book. Anyway, blatant pitch. There you go
.
Anyway, this is a really cool interview. During the book launch, I had interviews with tons of people lined up. One of my favorite ones was this interview with Tom Bilyeu. And Tom Bilyeu runs Impact Theory. He was the guy who started Quest Nutrition. So if you had Quest Bar, Tom was one who invented those and built that company up.
And anyway, just a really cool guy. He's spoke in Funnel Hacker Lab a few times, someone who I have a ton of respect for. Anyway, so I recently went back and found this YouTube video from back in the day, and I was like, "Oh, I want to share this with our audience." Obviously, the timing is a little different. We're not in the middle of the pandemic. But at the same time, we're going into scarier economic times.

I think it's very timely as well, and I hope you enjoy it. Tom's a great interviewer. He's fun. He kicked off the interview, asked me questions about wrestling and being an athlete before we ever talked about entrepreneurship. So I thought it was a lot of fun. I think you guys can get a ton of value from it. So with that said, here's my interview with Tom Bilyeu at Impact Theory, and I hope you enjoy it.

In the last decade, I went from being a startup entrepreneur to selling over a billion dollars in my own products and services online. This show is going to show you how to start, grow, and scale a business online. My name is Russell Brunson, and welcome to the Marketing Secrets podcast.

Tom Bilyeu:
Everybody, welcome to Impact Theory. Today's guest is Russell Brunson. He's the CEO and co-founder of ClickFunnels, which is now the fastest growing non-venture backed software company in the world with a following of roughly two million entrepreneurs. Along with his partner, he took ClickFunnels from zero to roughly $100 million in revenue in just three short years. And on top of all of that business success, he's also an accomplished author and an extraordinary state champion, all-American wrestler who finished his college career as one of the top 10 wrestlers in the country. Russell.

Russell:
Thank you for having me. I'm so excited.
T
om:
Dude, it's really cool to have you here. Obviously, we've gotten to know each other from our trips to Puerto Rico, and I have to say I'm very impressed with what you've accomplished. And given what everybody is going through right now, I wanted to start with some of the lessons that you actually learned in wrestling. You've talked a lot about hard work and what you learned through the process. One, what makes you good at wrestling? I think that's where I want to start.

Russell:
So it's funny because I know that I wasn't ever the best athlete, but I'm super grateful for a dad who was really good at watching what I would do and mistakes I'd made and sitting down with me and figuring out how to fix things. I was never the guy who was undefeated. I was never the guy who wanted every match. I was the guy who would lose a match and come back, and we sit down and we figure out what were the mistakes, what adjustments we need to make, and we'd practice, we'd practice, we'd practice. The next time we'd go out, we'd win. And so I think that's kind of what made me a great wrestler.

Tom:
That is awesome, dude. I love that story. I love the way that if somebody wins just from the jump, they're sort of naturally gifted. One of the things about Bo Jackson that I always found heartbreaking is when you ask him, "What made you so good," he's always like, "I'm just naturally talented." And I always found that crushing because it's like I'm not naturally talented. So for me, everything has sort of been this scramble of trying to learn, but I went through that period you talk about of this sort of devastation where you expected to kill it, and then you lose, and you're like, "Oh, shit." I went through that in film school where, dude, I thought I was just going to dominate. I thought that I was a natural-born filmmaker. And look, I had my fears that maybe I wasn't, but I was sort of cruising on this, I'm good at this, I have natural talent. And then I really got faced with the fact that I wasn't naturally talented.

And in fact, at the time, I didn't have really any talent for this thing that I loved at all. And so my life, one, I went through a really dark period because this is all before mindset and stuff like that. That word had not entered my vocabulary at all at the time. And so I had no sense of, oh, I can build myself up, I can get better. So it's rad that your dad really helped you focus on improvement and getting better.

Talk to me about discipline is where I was headed, because I think that what we're going to see in through COVID-19 and the crisis and what I think is going to happen to the economy, which is going to be less than ideal, it's going to be somewhere between less than ideal and catastrophic. And so I think what the people who are going to win are the people that are going to be able to start over. And one thing that you've talked a lot about, you certainly talk about in your newest book, Traffic Secrets, is understanding that, look, some things could just go away overnight. And how you respond to that is going to be really, really essential. So what's the role of discipline in your life? How can people get more of it in their own lives?

Russell:
Yeah. I think, man, I've been thinking a lot about it because, obviously, I help work with a huge entrepreneur or community of entrepreneurs, and a lot of them are freaking out right now for all the normal reasons. And what's been interesting is watching a lot of them who just have frozen up right now where it's like, "Ah, I don't know what to do." And as I worked them and talked through with a whole bunch of them, it's understanding that so many of them are so scared of failure or so scared of whatever the next thing is, that they're not willing to take the step. And so there's frozen, which is the worst possible thing. And I think one of the most valuable things I got out of wrestling that ties back to this was when you're wrestling, you step on the mat. And when you lose, it's like, "I lost this match." But no one ever says I'm a loser.

They're like, "I lost this match. Let me go figure out what I need to do to win next time." Whereas it seems like with business, so many people have it tied to their identity and to everything that when they lose, they say, "I'm a loser." It's because of that, they're scared to lose. They don't want to feel like a loser. They're scared of they have a dream or a vision. They're scared that if they try, it fails that the dream will disappear.

I think the biggest thing it's helped me throughout this, I think most people need to have is going in with the expectation of it's okay if I lose, it's okay if I fail. It doesn't mean I'm a failure. It means the situation failed. But then when you detach yourself from that, then it's so much easier to be like, "Okay, what was wrong? What do I need to tweak and go out and try it again and try it again and try it again," because so many people are just so frozen right now. And I think that's the biggest thing. I think with mindset is just helping people to detach the consequences of the failure being their own and as opposed to failure being a match, like a thing that failed that you can go back and fix, and figure out the next step with, if that makes sense.

Tom:
It does. One thing, so I wrestled exactly one time in my life. It was for, I want to say, what's a normal round, three minutes?

Russell:
In high school, it's like two, two, two. Yeah, two minutes.

Tom:
Okay. So probably two minutes then. I'm not joking, it was the single-most physically exhausting thing I've ever done in my life. It felt like I was fighting to survive. So this was back in middle school. This is before MMA. I ended up putting the guy in a headlock and basically just trying to choke him because I was so tired. I was like, "Dude, I have to do something. I'm dying over here."

Russell:
Choking out…

Tom:
And so in that I realized, "Yo, people that get good at this, this shit is inhuman." So what I want to know is how do you..." Pain. there's an awesome quote, I wish I remember who said it, but fatigue makes cowards of us all. And I think that people are going to face fatigue in this like the having to get up and try and try, try again. If they've lost their job, the thought of rebuilding, imagine somebody in their 50s losing their job now and they're like, "yo, I've got to rebuild. I'm fucking tired."

The thought of having to start from scratch is bordering on unbearable. What did you discover about yourself, about the human animal in building up that kind of conditioning where it's all on the line, dude. Everybody is watching you. You're there in the middle of a ring. You were literally in a skin tight outfit, dude. There is nowhere to hide, and you've got to pull it out. One thing that to me, the ability to suffer is one of the most powerful things that an entrepreneur can build. Translate that for me from the physical to the business world.

Russell:
Yeah. Man, the story that popped in my head when you started saying that, was I remember it was in high school, I can't remember which year it was, but I remember every single week, we had to cut weights. We'd come in, and I'd weigh 160 on Monday morning, and I got to be 130 by Thursday.

So it's like every week, you come in, you're like, "Oh." So you put the plastics on and the sweats on, and all this stuff. And you running and cutting weight. I remember it was after a really, really hard practice. I hadn't eaten or drinking much that whole week and just beat up. I remember our coach pulled us all out into this dark hallway behind the gym, and he had this conversation with us about attitude, and I don't remember the whole conversation. I just remember him saying that, "No matter what happens, you're going to make weight. No matter what happens, it's going to suck. No matter what happens, you have to go through this process."

So the only thing you can really affect is your attitude. So you can have a good attitude or a bad attitude. And I remember that night laying there in bed just thinking like, "God, I have been having the worst attitude ever." I'm hungry, I'm thirsty, I'm tired, I'm worn out. And I remember the next day, I came in, I put my sweats on, put my plastics on, put everything on. And before everyone showed up, I was out there jump roping. And I decided I'm going to have a smile on my face, the biggest smile I possibly can have. And so I started to smile. And also, my teammates started coming in. And they're all just like how I felt, but I was smiling. I'm jumping rope. They're like, "Brunson, why are you so happy? Why are you smiling?"

And I remember all I said, the thing popped in my head, I was like, "I don't know, but I've never seen someone lose with a smile on their face, so I'm going to smile from now on."

Tom:
Wow. You just gave me the chills.

Russell:
And so that became a thing. And my other teammates started doing that where we come out there and we would... The more pain it was, we would put the smile on, just keep doing because I've never seen someone lose a smile on their face. And so that's something that... I've been in business now. I think this is my 17th year, and there has been the ups and the downs. We build a company with 100 some employees, and then one day coming in and laying off 80 people overnight. And then the cycles that happened multiple times.

And I remember that feeling coming in where it's just like, "You've got to lay off 30 people today, and then you got to convince the other 50 that they got to keep working." And there's a vision and there's a mission. And I remember thinking that a couple of times from just like, "God, I don't know if I even believe it anymore." I'm so tired and beat down, and everything seems so heavy. And then it was like, "But if I don't come in with a smile, that's it." And you can't lose a smile on your face. So we come in, and we regroup and we talk about it again. Then we get back to work and keep going.

Tom:
That's an obsession of mine. It's what I call physiological hooks. So there are things in your physiology that allow you to manipulate your physiology. So one of the most famous is the smiling thing. So I tend not to get angry. But when I get angry, I stay angry. And so I had actually early in my marriage, that ended up being a lot of wasted time. I would get angry with something Lisa did, that she would even agree that I was justified in being angry.

But at the end of the day, I just thought, "It doesn't serve me. I just wasted all this time being pissed off." Like you said, you control your attitude. So I wrote this letter to myself, and I said, "Hey, me, it's me. You have no ulterior motive, but you know what the studies say. If you force yourself right now to laugh out loud, it will change your neurochemistry."

And this is something that I think people in this time are really going to have to be thoughtful about is, all right, I've got to take control of my neurochemistry. I've got to take control of the way that I feel because if I feel terribly like your friends coming into practice and they're just moping about, they're exhausted, then that practice is going to be worse than it could have been if they had forced themselves into a positive mental state. And then the performance is going to be worse because the practice was worse.

And to me, that's not about wrestling. That's about life. That's about being the human animal. Why do you think you were able to translate? This is something I see a lot. You look at Arnold Schwarzenegger and all the success he had in bodybuilding. He was able to translate into other areas of his life. The success that you had early in wrestling, you've obviously been able to translate. What's sort of the secret for you to the level of success you've had?

Russell:
It is interesting how similar my wrestling mindset and business is, and it's not the same as a lot of people. In fact, I've had a lot of people in the last few years. I've rubbed the wrong way because of it, but I look at it as a sport. So when I started my business, I was looking around. The first thing I looked at was like, "Who do I have to beat?"
I remember when we came in, there was a software company that was like, "All right. That's our competitor." And it was like I wasn't quiet about it. I'd made known to myself, to my team, to my entire community like, "We're going to beat them." And then we went after them aggressively and aggressively. And just like I would if I was going to be wrestling or competing against him. I reverse engineer everything they did. I figured out what they were doing, why they were doing.

I listened to every podcast interview the founder is on to understand his mindset, what he was doing. And we just relentlessly pursued them until we caught them, and then we passed them. And after we passed them, then I was like... It is funny because I was like, "I need something new to go after." And then there was another company that was bigger than them. And I was like, "That's the next company." We started going after them. And the same thing, I pursued them and looked at them, reverse engineer what they were doing and how they were doing it, why they were doing it, and trying to figure it out.

And I remember as we started getting closer and closer to them, the CEO of that company called me one day, and he was like, "Why are you so upset. Why do you hate me and hate our company so much?" And it caught me off guard. I was like, "What do you mean?" He's like, "You are out there always trying to do all these things to beat us." And I was like, "Oh, I don't hate you guys at all. I have so much respect. I know more about you than I think you do. I understand what you do, and why you do it at a level, I don't believe you do. I don't hate you at all, but you're my competitor. You're who I chose, and I have to beat you. That's how it works."

And I remember he came back, and he's like, "I wasn't really an athlete, so I'm not used to that." He's like, "It's interesting. I always thought you were mad at us or you hated us." And I was like, "No." It reminded me of the scene in my favorite movies, The Dark Knight, where at the very end, when the Joker's falling off the cliff and Batman asking, he's, "Why are you trying to kill me?" And the Joker starts laughing. He's like, "I'm not trying to kill you." He's like, "Without you, there's no me. I can't do what I do without you."

And I feel like that's been such my mindset. In fact, we passed that company, and it's like, "Hey, who's the next people?" And we found who they are, and I'm studying them and understanding them at a deeper level. And so for me, I don't think I could be in business where it's just a business just to grow, I don't know, without a goal or purpose or something to strive towards and to move forward.

I remember reading, I think it was Napoleon Bonaparte, that said something about what man will do for a scrap of ribbon. I feel like maybe that's like in wrestling, that's what it was for me. I had to go, and I went into a state champ. There was All-American. I kept going for whatever the next scrap of ribbon I had to get it. And I feel like in business, it's the same thing for me. It's just like it's a game. There's competitors, and we're trying to figure out the landscape, where we fit in and how we pursue, and how we go after them.

Tom:
Dude, I think that is genius. So as somebody, I didn't like being competitive when I was younger because I was afraid I was going to lose. And, of course, I didn't want to say that. So I was just saying... or I may not even have understood it if I'm completely honest. It triggered something in me which I would now recognize as insecurity, which I can now articulate as I had this fear of having proof empirical data that I wasn't good enough, which of course is my biggest fear when I was a kid.

And now getting into business and realizing, "Yo, motherfucker, you've got to be going hard." And this is like, look, I like you. I would be shocked if somebody was interpreting my competitiveness, my desire to win as hate. But it is what I call the dark side. It is a dark energy.

There's the light side, which is the beautiful things I want to create, and the gratitude I have for what I have in my life, and all of that. And it's amazing. But then there's also the competitive side of wanting to win, of saying, "Look, I'm going after that person." So I'm not a sports guy. But because of my mentality, I constantly find myself drawn to athletes. So I'll use that language. But please don't mistake me for an athlete.

Russell:
Okay.

Tom:
But when you talk to the guys that are really, really great and you look at the amount of tape they watch like how they study their competitors, they study themselves, they stare nakedly at their inadequacies, dude, there's something there. And the fact that people don't put in that time and energy to learn what is going on is crazy. The amount of insights you'll get are extraordinary. And that to me is the power. So as we go into this, which probably is going to be a recession, might be a depression, how do you think about overcoming the obstacles that are going to come your way? How do you avoid falling into the trap of thinking that you know everything already? How do you stay nimble?

Russell:
That's a good question, especially when at this point, our company's so big that you have a lot of friends who are solo entrepreneurs, and they're able to be nimble because it's just them. Now, we've got 400 plus employees, and it's harder to be nimble.

I think it's been interesting because I've been trying to figure that out. And one of our mutual friends, Dean Graziosi, I talked to him about this a lot as everything started hitting and things started shifting. And I remember watching him because again, I am kind of a marketing nerd. So I remember when I was in high school, I used to sit back and I would watch. I remember I watched Dean on infomercials back when I was a kid, and I would take notes. I'm like, "Whoa, I like the way he said things." And I remember watching as it came up to the last big recession, watching all Dean's infomercials.

And at the time, there was probably, I don't know, 30 different get rich in real estate infomercials on TV. Anyone who ever flipped a house in their life were like, "I'm an infomercial guru," and teaching people how to do it. And then the recession hit, and the housing market crashed. It went from 50 infomercial gurus to three down to one. And then there was just Dean.

And Dean continued to run infomercials the entire thing and then beyond. I didn't know him at the time, but I remember watching it and just being interested how he was the only one still on. And so I asked him later, "How in the world did you survive when everyone else got crushed?" And he said something super profound. He's like, "I didn't shift. I didn't shift my product. My product was still the same." He's like, "I shifted how I marketed my product."

He said, "Everyone else was speaking very aspirational, like how do we create these things, how do we get rich, how do we make money, things like that." And he's like, "I shifted from being aspirational to looking at my business more as a life preserver like how do you protect yourself and how this product can protect you?"

And so as we started coming into this thing, I realized the same thing. In fact, in Traffic Secrets, I talk about the fact that when any customers coming to you, they're moving towards you in one or two directions. Either they're moving towards pleasure, or they're moving away from pain, right? It's like they're coming to me because they want to start a business. They want to get rich, or they want to make money, or they want to whatever, or they're coming to me because like, I hate my boss, I need to get out of this pain. It's just I'm miserable. I need to get out of pain.

And if you look at the economy over the last seven or eight years, because for most people, it's been pretty good. Most people that are buying any product or service, whether it be fitness, health, business, anything for that matter, it's like they're buying it because they're trying to move towards pleasure. But a couple of weeks ago, everything shifted where people are in pain now.

I think the companies are going to survive and be nimble or ones that understand how to shift their messaging, where it's like, "How can the product with service I sale, how does it get somebody out of pain?" And that's the marketing, the messaging people need and they want right now. And it's funny because as I was launching the Traffic, I literally launched the book the same day that President Trump told everyone to go home.

And if you look at my marketing campaign ahead of time, it was like, "How do we build this $100-million-a-year company and how much traffic we get all these things?" And then I was like, "That is the wrong message right now."

And so we literally, my team, I'm like, "All right, everything, every ad we've written, every pre-sell, every video, just delete them all. We're redoing everything." And this is the messaging. The messaging is, and we start talking about, I got a buddy down the street who owns a local waffle place, the best waffles in the world. If you ever come to Boise, I'll take you there. And he opened the same day that the whole recession happened, and it was crazy because you look at, he's got his business. He opens the doors, and it's the same day that literally traffic, usually restaurants, you have cars, physical traffic driving by, and people come, and they come and they eat. And he's like, "The traffic stopped." And what happens to all the companies?

They die. Traffic is the lifeblood of a company. And so the whole messaging shifted to like, "Look, if you want to survive during these times, then thrive on the other side of this." You have to master traffic and customers and getting people in. This is literally your company's life preserver during these uncertain times.

So all the messaging shifted. The ads shifted. Everything shifted. And the book launch has done insanely well, and everything's kind of come from that. But it all came from shifting the message from towards pleasure to understanding that we're in a time of moving people away from pain. I think that the companies that understand that and understand that shift in messaging are the ones that are going to really win during this time.

Tom:
Yeah. One thing that I think people need to be very aware of is where they're at in their life. Are you moving towards something or away from something? So I've always said that people fall into two categories, and I think you're right. It changes actually depending on where you're at in your life, what's going on in the world.

But by nature, I would say that people are motivated by one of two things. Either they're moving towards a goal, or they're moving away from a problem. I don't want to be broke. I don't want to be homeless. And then there's other people that are like, "I want to achieve this goal. I want to win this. I want to be the best." And knowing where you come from will help you navigate the world in a much more sane, inducing way because if you're being sort of true to what aligns with you, for me, moving away from something is never very interesting.

It takes me into a very uncertain, a very uneasy place, whereas even if I'm in the middle of massive uncertainty and I have fears, for me to shift my energy, I need to pick a goal, something that I'm excited about so that when I'm pursuing it, even though the outcome is going to be that I outrun this thing, I've been broke, I've had crazy debt, I've been in a place emotionally where I'm laying on my carpet and I just fucking, I don't have any idea how I'm going to create momentum in my life.

So I know what that's like. But the things that got me up and moving were to believe that I could change, to believe that I could grow, to set a goal that I was excited about, and then wake up every day and pursue that. And that was the thing that I think a big thing people have to do is where are you at as a baseline reference point?

If you are in looking at seeing all the problems and all the things that are wrong, you're not in problem solving mode. If you can shift over into problem solving mode. So I've heard you talk about that waffle restaurant before, and you gave the guys some brilliant ideas about what to do like, "Hey, are you sending people text messages?" And it's like, "yeah, it's a be top of mind to remind people to incept them, but you have to be in that problem-solving mode."

Russell:
Yeah.

Tom:
Is that something that you think about intentionally? Is that something you try to train your team to do? That to me seems like going back to what you were saying at the very beginning with your dad of like, "All right. You can look at the fact that you lost or you can solve this problem."

Russell:
Yeah. I think it's interesting too because I look at most business owners. And I know for me, I did it backwards the first way. A lot of times, we come up with our products or our services. We have an idea like, "Oh, I want to create this thing. We create it." And then after we've done, now, we got to figure out how to sell it.

And you figure out a sales message and create that. And then it's like now you got to go find people to sell it to. And then we're trying to find people and it's backwards. If you look at the way the most successful businesses grow, I look at the way that we grew ClickFunnels is when I had this realization of I don't want to go and create something and find somebody to sell to. I want to go find the people that I'm passionate about serving and then just listen really, really carefully.

And I always tell people, the money you make will be in direct relation to how simple you make somebody else's process. So for me, it's like I'm helping people build funnels to sell their products and services. And so when I taught people the strategies, "Here's how you do it," I made good money. When we made software that made it simpler, I made more money.

When we had done for you things making even simpler, I make more money. And it's always like, "how do I simplify this process for whoever the customer is? How do I make it easier?" And the mindset that we're always having here at ClickFunnels and me and my team is like we're sitting there and listening to our audience, like, "What is it they're looking for? What do they want? What are they struggling?"

And it's like, "Hey, how do we make this process simpler?" And every good product, every good idea, everything that's been a winner came from that listening, and then figuring out how to solve the problem.

All the ones where it was like, "Russell has this great idea at two in the morning. Let me go. Let's go create it." When our whole team gets together and then we try to give it to people, those are the ones that don't typically do very well. No matter how much push force and money we put into it to try to get adoption, it's always harder than the opposite way. We're just listening to what people want and figuring out how is the best way to solve that for them. Anyway, that's the simplest thing is just listening. And then how do we simplify this form? How do we simplify it? And you'll get paid more, the better you become at simplifying processes and things for people.

Tom:
I love that idea of simplification. That's something. Do you know Noah Kagan?

Russell:
Yes. Yeah, I do.

Tom:
All right. Super interesting guy. And I think one of the things that makes him so effective, he said his superpower is making money. But what he means by that is his superpower is in simplifying. It's in breaking the process down into immediate action.
Those two things, simplifying it and then taking immediate action to me, are the exact things people need to be obsessively focused with right now because right now, first and foremost, if you're in a dire situation, take care of your basic needs, man. Don't worry about launching the next Facebook. Make sure that you've got a roof over your head, that you can put food on the table. And that's where a lot of people are going to crash and burn is, yo, Maslow's hierarchy of needs has stood the test of time for a reason. There are just certain things, safety, security. Get those taken care of.
And you may have to do a job that you didn't want to do or you may have to call people up and be banging the phones. If you've got a product that really has value, fuck, you don't know how to get it out. You've got to think like a direct marketer. And this is where I think my own story confuses people because I'm so intense, and I've got that rah-rah spirit.

But the reality is I'm not a burn the ships at the shore guy. I'm a, yo, keep your day job, man. When we launched Quest, we had a software company. So during the day, I was running a software company. And nights and weekends, I was making protein bars because I wanted to see if this would work. Like you're saying, make sure there's an audience before you go like, "We didn't get a warehouse and start buying equipment until we were selling protein bars."

I don't even think we bought the equipment until we were already profitable. So we were making the bars by hand, which was pure insanity, making the bars by hand ourselves nights and weekends to make sure that there was something real there. So what advice do you have for somebody who's like, "Yo, I just lost my job, and I feel totally out of control." What can they do as a solopreneur to get that first audience, to get that first sale?

Russell:
Yeah. I want to first off agree with you. People message me all the time like, "Oh, I read your book. I'm going to quit my job and do this thing." I'm like, "No. No, don't quit your job and do the thing." Keep your job because you know as well as I do that when you have the uncertainty and it makes the pressure so much higher and it makes it so much harder to get creative and figure things out, when those needs are met, it's so much easier to go figure things out.

It's funny because I've had this conversation with some close friends who've lost their jobs who are freaking out right now, and I tried to explain. I'm like, "you have to understand that the money didn't just disappear." We're in this great wealth transfer. Things are shifting around. I don't know if you know Perry Belcher, but he's one of my friends who owns SurvivalLife.com.

And you look at Survival Life in the last 30 days has made more money than the last 10 years combined, right? Money is shifting over there. And it's not that it's disappeared. People still have money. They're just not going to the movie theaters and the restaurants. They're spending it in other places. And it's understanding that. And so if your whole world has got pulled away from you, it's not that the money just evaporated. It just got transferred somewhere. So the first thing I'm doing is looking where is this getting transferred? What are the companies and the businesses that are making more money right now? They can't handle it. They're looking for more help because, man, all of a sudden because of this new circumstance, everything is just growing crazy. So that's the first thing.

The second thing I look at is what is the skill set that is the most valuable inside of a company? And I've got a friend who's a dentist. I tease them all the time because most dentists, there's a dentist. That's the most important person in the business. I'm the person who does the thing on people's teeth. And I had this whole conversation.
I'm like, "You're not the most important person in your business." He's like, "Yeah, without me, they can't clean teeth." I was like, "The most important person in your business is the person who can get customers to come in the front door because if that person can't bring customers to the front door, you have no teeth to clean. Therefore, your skill set is useless." I'm like, "The most valuable person in any company is the person who we call rain makers who can make it rain, who can bring people in."
And so that's what comes down to this book Traffic Secrets. It's like the person who can drive traffic, who can bring the customers in, becomes the most valuable person in any company.

I have friends who are so good at driving traffic that they literally will find a company that that's struggling or maybe on the downside, and they'll come in and say, "Hey, look, I can bring you the thing that you're missing. It's the holy grail for your business in all businesses. It's customers. And I can bring you as many as you want, as often as you want. The only thing is, I don't work for money. I work for equity. So if you want me to do this, I want 30% of your company."

And people are just handing them the company like, "Here you go because you can make it rain, you can bring me customers, and you can bring leads." And so I started shifting like if I got to figure out a skill set in this market, it's the most valuable thing I can learn is how do I make it rain for a company, and then I can go plug into companies I like, whatever that is.

But now you're so valuable that when things start going down, I figure like the dental office, the two last people standing is the dentist and the dude who brings in customers. They'll fire the receptionist. They'll fire the girl who does your teeth, all that stuff gone except for the person who brings the customer in and the person doing the actual fulfillment of the service.

And so it makes you so valuable. I think that I'd be aligning with that, figuring out the markets, the industries, the businesses that are booming right now, and then how can I go plug into those and become the rainmaker because then you can write your own paycheck from this point forward. And that's really the stability I think that all of us want is to be able to have that. And if you have a skill set like that, you become invaluable.

Tom:
All right. So let's talk about making it rain. So one of the cool things about Traffic Secrets is you took an evergreen approach. Anybody else writes this book, and I promise you it's going to be something that goes out of vogue. I mean, honestly, with what just happened, it would've gone out of vogue before it even hit shelves.

So the fact that you stopped, you said one of the key things you did here was you spent the beginning just stopping and thinking about how do I make sure that this is something that lasts no matter what the season, no matter what's going on, no matter what you said. TikTok didn't even exist when you started writing this. And by the time it came out, obviously, TikTok is huge. But the principles all apply regardless of the platform. So what are some evergreen principles to being a rainmaker?

Russell:
So the first step is really identifying who your dream customer is. At a deep level, most people are like, "Oh," especially people that only have one traffic stream. Maybe, they drive Facebook ads. They know like, "Oh, here's my interest and my targeting." And that's who their customer is.

But I'm like, "No. You have to go deeper, that really understand them at a deep level. Know their likes and their fears and what they're interested in, and where they hang out." And the better you understand that person, the more powerful step two is.

Step number one is identifying who they are. And step number two is understanding that the power of the internet is the fact that it gives us all this crazy humans with the things that we're passionate about, the ability to group together online in different spots, right? Say we pick health and fitness or biohacking, for example.

So there's biohacking. Everyone who's passionate about biohacking, they are hanging out together on certain blogs. There's maybe a dozen or so blogs that all the biohackers go, they read every single day. They're in the communities, and they're all on these blogs. And then you go to podcasts. What are all the podcasts that the biohackers listen to?

And there's a super passionate audience, and they're listening to all these 50 different podcasts. Then what are all the Facebook groups that are in? And what are all the email newsletters that they subscribe to? And so we start looking at traffic. Instead of targeting on Facebook, we start looking at where are all these pockets of customers? Where are they at? And we start looking at like, "Oh, my gosh, there's 300,000 on this blog right here, and there's 2.3 million to listen to this podcast every single..."

And you start finding these pockets of customers. And then our job as rainmakers, as traffic people, is to come back and say, "Okay, here's all these pockets of customers. How do we get access to them? What's the best way to get and infiltrate these groups?"

And one of the strategies we talk about in the book is the strategy called the Dream 100. And basically what the Dream 100 is not figuring out how do I get 100 customers? It's figuring out who are the 100 people that already have access to my dream customers. So who's the person who owns that blog that has 300,000 readers? Who are the podcast hosts that have the followings and the people that they're listening to? And so one of the exercises I do inside, I think it's page 41 in the book. I have a little graph in there.

It says, "Okay, here's Facebook, and make a list of all the people in Facebook who have your dream customers already congregated." What are the Facebook groups? What are the fan pages? What are the people that already have your dream customers hanging out there? And then you go to Instagram. Who are the influencers that already have congregated your dream customers? We list out all the influencers.

And then go to podcasts. And who's all the podcasters? And so you make this list. And, eventually, you've got 100, 200, 300 people that have all of your dream customers on it. And now, it's understanding that I can go and I can buy ads to the followings of these people and you should. But if I can get to know and build a relationship with one of these people, like a gatekeeper of this community, they can click a button and open up the access to the entire community.

For example, right now, I'm lucky enough to have you interview me on your podcast, and you've got a huge following of people who are going to hear about the book. And, hopefully, someone will come by the book. And it's like, it's giving me access to this huge thing. And it's interesting. We spend millions of dollars a month on ads, but so much we do in the businesses is building relationships with the people who have access to these huge audiences.

And then what's nice is I can spend more time and energy networking and marketing and building relationships and spending money because if I can get one of those people that say, "Yes," it can sell 100 or 1,000 or more of my products.

In fact, I don't know if you've gotten this far in the book yet, but I actually quote you in the book from an interview you did where you were talking about when you guys built Quest initially, that first thing you did is you found here's all the influencers, and you send them out Quest bars with handwritten letters. And you're like, "Hey, if you hate them, let us know. If you like them, let us know. But I just want to send you some of our stuff." And you did the same thing. You went to all these influencers, send them your bars, handwritten letters. And then from that, a whole bunch of people loved it, start sharing with their audiences and, boom. I'm assuming that's kind of the ground fire that initially launched Quest if I'm right.

Tom:
Yeah, 100%. And that is one of the most powerful strategies, both of those things. So one, are you able to identify your audience? And then two, are you able to put together a relationship? Are you able to bring value to that person, find some way to connect over time?

And that's where I say people have to take care of their needs first because to play this game right, it's not about the short-term dollars. And I've heard you tell similar stories to my own story, which is in the beginning of your journey, it was... or I'll speak for myself, though I've heard you say similar things since the language I'm going to use is maybe derogatory. I'll speak for myself.

So I did every get rich quick scheme you could imagine. So when I was young, dude, I was about it. There was this thing for a while where it was typing for money, and I was like, "Yo, they were talking about how much money you can make transcribing things."

And I was like, "I'm about it. Let's do it." And I tried selling insurance door to door. I did pyramid schemes. I really believed in the product I was selling, but still not necessarily a good look. And I wanted it to happen fast. And once I broke away from that, and I just started thinking about, "Okay, I didn't obviously say Dream 100," but really identifying where is my customer base. The people that I would really be able to serve with this product, where are they, which is something you wrote about in the book, niche out.

You got to pick a niche. Once you're niched out, then it becomes a lot easier to win in that space. You're not competing against everybody and their dog. They're easy to find online. You can deliver a crushing amount of value. So doing that and then playing the long game and building relationships, not trying to get anything in the short term, look, I'm not a fool.

I get that acting in that way and adding value to somebody else. It ultimately does come back to you. Some percentage, not all of it. But, one, it feels good in the moment. And then two, you'll be able to weather a storm because there are going to be other people there for you. And it goes back to the story you told about Arsenio Hall, which I think is really powerful. Tell people that story. It's, one, because I have a follow-up question about it, which is building a platform isn't the only way, and I'm super curious. Tell this story because people need to understand the punchline before I can really ask the question.

Russell:
Yeah. For sure. So what I talk about in the book is one of the most powerful ways to infiltrate your Dream 100 and get to know these people is by having your own platform because what do I have to offer Tony Robbins? What do I have to offer these people that I've loved to be on my Dream 100? A lot of times, they have everything. I'm not going to pay them. So what do I have to offer?

The thing you have to offer is your platform. And I think there's a lot of ways to infiltrate your Dream 100 and get to know people, but one of the most powerful ways, for sure, is that the reason why I met Tony Robbins initially, and I did a whole YouTube video, it's like 10 minutes long showing a 10-year journey. I went on with Tony of helping him, serving him, and doing all these things for him before eventually he promoted something for me a decade later.

But it was like the only way the door even opened is because I had a platform. I was able to help promote him on top of my platform and open the doors. And so many other people I've had a chance to meet all came because I had a platform to be able to offer him. And it opens up doors you can't get otherwise. So I'm a huge believer that people should start their own show. And it could be a YouTube show. It could be a podcast. It could be a blog. It doesn't really matter what, but something we can create a platform that you can leverage to get to know people that own your customers.

Tom:
All right. Well, then let's talk about that. So I think we're going to see the death of an influencer class as advertising revenues dry up. So a lot of people that have been making it their livelihood, it's going to, I think stop being their livelihood. But anytime where there's massive disruption, there is massive opportunity.

And I think there's going to be a whole new crop of influencers that actually figure out how to crack this nut. So what are some of, as the king of something the secret in the title, what are the secrets to building a platform?

Russell:
Yeah. A couple of things. Number one is you have to realize that first year, you are not going to be good. I remember when I started my first podcast, it was called the Marketing In Your Car podcast. I called it that because I had a five-minute commute from my house to the office. And I was like, "Lisa, I know I'll be consistent." So I'm just get my phone out. I'm going to click record, and I'm just going to talk while I drive." And I did a five-minute podcast every single day for, I don't know, five or six, seven years now. I still do it.

It's been a long, long time. And what's crazy is my first setup, I didn't know how to track stats the first three years. I just didn't know. I just set it up. I started recording. And my brother published, and I'd ask him if people were listening. He's like, "I don't even know how to check." So we didn't even know. And I'm so grateful to I didn't know-

Tom:
That's amazing.

Russell:
... because I just kept publishing. I'm like, "I'm driving anyway, might as well do these things." And it was about 300 episodes in when we shifted it from the Marketing In Your Car to Marketing Secrets. And that time, we switched the platform. We set up the analytics. And my brother's like, "Oh, my gosh. We're getting, I can't remember, 10,000 people perhaps who are listening right now." I was like, "Oh, I had no idea. This is amazing."

And we started looking back at the stats, and you look at how little it was for so long. And then I remember this guy that came into my world who's one of our hyper-successful students now. He was like, "I came in on episode 300. I was like, 'I'm going to binge listen to everything.'" So I started number one. And he's like, "Man, the first 40 or 50 episodes were so bad."

He's like, "You are the worst ever." He's like, "But about 45, 46, you started getting in the rhythm, and then it started getting good. Now, I love it." And so the first lesson is you have to publish long enough to find your voice. Most people do two episodes like, "Ah, no one's coming." But it's like, no, you have to make this a commitment. You got to do this for a long time because at first, no one's going to be listening, and that's okay because you're going to be really bad, but it's going to give you the ability to find your voice. That's number one.

Number two is, and I have an article here from one of my friends, Nathan Berry, he wrote a blog post called Endure Long Enough To Get Noticed. And he talked about, he said, "If you look at most good TV shows, usually, you don't find out what the good TV show is until it's in season five or season six or movies that are the third movie. Then you're like, 'Oh, I'm going to go back and watch all of them now because they've survived.'"

And he said that because there's so much content being created all the time that us as consumers, we wait for the best stuff to rise to the top. And so the first reason you're publishing all the time is because you're trying to find your voice. That's step number one. Step number two is you're doing it long enough that your dream customers can find you.

And so it's coming down and saying, "I'm going to be consistent. I'm going to do this." I always tell my people, "Publish something at least 100 episodes." And by the time you've done 100 episodes, and I recommend at least in a year window, so you're doing multiple times a week, that within a year, you'll found your voice, your people have found you, and you'll be financially free.

And so far, anybody who's taken me on that challenge, by the end of a year, they have done exactly that. They found their voice. The people have found them. They've been financially free. And so it's just one of those things that it's scary. It's weird, and it feels painful at first because it's not fun when you're really bad. But then you get in your stride, and then it gets really good.

Tom:
Yeah. I will echo that sentiment. So when I first started, this was back at Quest, I started a show called Inside Quest, which would be very recognizable to fans of Impact Theory. But when we first started it, even though I would say that if we all have some element of talent where we get just disproportionate wins, mine is for sure verbal ability.

So the more I have practiced, the more energy I've put into being able to articulate a message to be able to speak extemporaneously, I just got disproportionate returns from that. So somebody else might do the same thing. If I'm getting a 1.3X return on my time, maybe they're getting a 0.7.

So for me, that's a pretty big gap. When I started, I was so frustrated, no one was listening. I didn't think I was good at it. And I went to my producer who I also happened to be married to, and I said, "Yo, look, I'm running a billion-dollar business over here. This doesn't make sense. I'm wasting my fucking time. What are we doing?"

And she said, "Over my dead body." And ironically, what the exact amount of time she said was, "You're going to do this for a year," and she said, "If at the end of the year it's still not delivering, like you don't feel that it's delivering enough value to be worth doing it, then we'll stop." But she was like, "I really believe in this. I really think that you can add value to people's lives. So just take the time to figure it out. Take the time to let the audience find you."

And, of course now, at the time, it was just like one thing that we were doing to try, honestly, it started as a way to add value to my employees. And now, it's become my entire business model is predicated on creating content. So the platform, as you're saying, I think that's really, really powerful.

One thing I would just kick myself in the face if I didn't ask you about that you brought up earlier, you've gone through cycles before. You've been in business for a very long time. You've dealt with downturns. I want to know emotionally, you said you're coming in, and you're laying off half your people. You've got to convince the other half to stay, and you've got to be tied to the mission, and all of that. How have you stayed passionate about what you do? How much do you think about why of what you're doing? How do you survive those down times emotionally?

Russell:
Yeah. I think anyone who's created something amazing has felt this before. It's funny because when I got into business, like most people I think, I did a lot of the type from home and the selling door... So I get it. We get in because we want the money, and you start going after that. That's what the initial draw a lot of times is, is need to make some money.

And after you start making money really quickly, you realize how unfulfilling that is. And you're like, "Huh, that was not that cool." And then you start seeing the success of the people that whatever you're selling to the people, and then that becomes this next level of win where you're like, "Oh my gosh. Because I did something cool, that person had this big win." And that becomes this drug that's like, at least for me, it's unquenchable.

I just keep wanting. I desire it. The more it happens, the more I want it. And so for me, that's this thing. And so when things would struggle, I remember I used Voxers, like my mode of communication with most of the world. So it's just a little walkie-talkie app. And in Voxer, if a message is really cool, you put a little star next to it. So my kids said a cute thing, I'll put a star next to it. When people, my friends or clients or customers send testimonials, I put a little star next to it. So then you can go listen to all the stars you want. And so when times were down, I'd go back, and I would just go listen. And I click on the star section and listen. And I would just listen to 30, 40 minutes of people tell me how I changed their life, what happened, how it worked.

And it was just like, "All right." And listening to that got me back this spot of like, "Okay, I got to do this." And then my favorite quote of all time is Churchill, "However long and hard the road," and he's talking to Parliament about this war they'd have to go on, and it's going to be brutal. All these things, how hard it's going to be. And then in the very end says like, "Victory, victory at all costs, victory however long and hard the road."

And so whenever I listened to that, I re-center myself like, "This is where we got to go." And then it's like, "All right, we're going victory however long and hard the road. Whatever's got to go, whatever we got to do, we're just going to go, and we're going to go, and we're going to go." And that phrase, "However long and hard, the road," rings through my head all the time. Every time I'm tired or I'm frustrated, I think about the people, I hear about success. And then we go after it. And that's kind of the draw for me, the pull.

Tom:
That's amazing, dude. So that's the third time you've given me the chills in this talk today. That quote from Churchill, I've actually not heard that before. And my all-time favorite quote is also Churchill. I need to just memorize it because whenever I try to paraphrase, it doesn't have the punch, but it's the one where he's talking about never give in, never give up, not for any reason. You keep going except for, what's he say, good sense or something like that.

You just go and go, and go. And it reminds me of exactly what you were just saying. And one thing that's interesting about Churchill that I think is very apropos of the moment that we're in is not long after the war, they ousted him. And he was the right man at that time who rose up and was exactly what that country needed. And, look, if people are willing to reach within themselves, this is a time for people that are willing to step up and shine. This is a huge opportunity. How do you think about that? It would be very easy to see this time as just a time to suffer and get through when you were cutting weight, or do you think that there is a way to reframe this as opportunity?

Russell:
Oh, I think this is the greatest. I turned 40 this year. This is the greatest opportunity in the four decades I've been on this earth. And think about it right now, people are scared. There's fear. And everyone's looking to be led. Everyone's just freaked out. Even people who are leaders are trying to find people to lead them right now.

Everyone's struggling. I think that the people that are willing to stand up and raise their hands and say, "Look, I'm going to lead. Come follow me." Now is the time. And I always tell people, "I have a big belief that the business isn't just a way we make money or way we waste our time. I believe the business is a calling from God." And I always tell people, "You've been called to serve a group of people. And now, you've been called." If you've ever felt that tug before, my friend, Alex Charfen calls it the call of contribution.

You feel this tug, this pull like you've been called. And there's a group of people that you have been called to serve that you can change their life, but you've got to be willing to do the things to step up. And there's so many fear. I think that tons of people are called, but most people don't ever step up to it, and they shrink back down.

But those who are willing to step up to that calling and say, "All right. My job, I got a gathered group of people. And with my gifts and my talents, I'm going to serve these people to the best of my ability." Man, on the other side of this, they're going to be ones that have the companies that have the brands, that have these things especially right now, it's such a double-edged sword. There's all this fear, but there's also this blessing right now.

You look at ad costs. I don't know what you guys have seen. Our ad costs have dropped dramatically. We went from spending four or $5 for webinar registering. Right now, we're paying 78 cents. We had 17,000 people registered for webinar tonight, 17,000. People are so cheap. They're looking. They're begging. They're trying to find things.

I saw an article from Facebook saying that they're going to lose $40 billion over the next couple of months because no one's buying ads. And so we're coming in and like, "Man, now's the time we can gather people at a cost that's unheard of." I always tell, "I should go back when Google was easy back 17 years ago when I got started." It just happened. Three or four weeks ago, it opened up. The ad costs have dropped. And it's like I can gather people that costs now I never could before. And so I think on the other side of this was some people who missed this opportunity. Others who were like, "Look, I jumped on, and I found a group. I've called to serve them. I'm serving them. I'm doing everything in my ability. I'm gathering these people together."

And on the other side of this, man, people are going to remember who is the person that got me through the hard times, who's the person that gave me the hope in a brighter future. Those are the people they connect with, and they're going to keep following forever. And so I think now is such a unique, awesome time. And we can get attention from so many people at such a discount. It's a good time for everyone to start stepping up and start publishing, and start putting your voice out there.

Tom:
Yeah. No question, man. Totally. I aggressively agree with that. I am not sure how familiar people are, but the way that you think, dude, I think is extraordinary. I don't think it's any accident that you've had the kind of success you've had. So where can people find you? Where can they find Traffic Secrets, the whole secret series? What's the best way to connect with you?

Russell:
Yeah. If they go to trafficsecrets.com right now, we're in the pre-launch. So we have an offer. You can get the book for free. You just cover the shipping handling. It's hardbound. It's almost 400-page books. So it's 18 months worth of writing, and you just got to cover the shipping and handling. You get it. And so that's there. And then, obviously, my main company's called ClickFunnels. And so that's the other place, clickfunnels.com. But, yeah, that's kind of it. I'm all over the place. I'm sure that if you Google my name, you'll find me everywhere.

Tom:
Yes, you will. Google will auto-populate this man as you start typing the letters. So one final question. What is the impact that you want to have on the world?

Russell:
It's funny, I talked earlier about how people are gatherers, and I feel like my calling is to gather gatherers and to bring people together and give them tools and resources to be able to serve their audiences better. So if you look at everything we do from ClickFunnels to software we have, from the books I write to everything, it's giving gatherers the tools to gather the people and to serve them.

As of right now, inside ClickFunnels, we have over 100,000 active members. And I look at the number where I was excited as this company like, "Oh, 100,000 people." But each person is an entrepreneur, and each entrepreneur has the ability to change someone's life. And I share them with my team all the time like, "Look, I'm going to tell you about one of our entrepreneurs." And so I talk about like Kaelin Poulin, for example.

So she's one of our ClickFunnels members, one of the 100,000. And three years ago, she decided to start this weight loss business. And they launched on ClickFunnels, had no idea what they're doing, where the books, launched their first funnel. And now three years later, they have, I think, 1.5 million women on the list. Over 100,000 women have gone through their weight loss courses. And how many lives and families have been transformed and changed because of that one entrepreneur?

Then, we got Chris at chrisbeatcancer.com, a guy who goes through cancer and figures out a way to naturally cure himself. And now, he publishes on our platform. And he's now helped thousands of people who are going through this fear of cancer. And not that he cures everyone, but he helps people and helps them understand all these amazing things. That's one entrepreneur on our platform. And then I can list off, I mean, hundreds and hundreds of names. But for me, it's like, man, every entrepreneur we're able to affect has the ability to affect 100 or 1,000 or a million people. And so anyway, that's the impact that we're trying to have, is how do we gather these gatherers, give them the tools and the resources and the knowledge they need to be able to gather their people and serve them at a high level. And if we can do that, we'll change the world.

Tom:
I love that. Dude, thank you so much for coming on, man. This was a lot of fun. Again, I just love the way that you think. I love the way that you're crushing it, man. I love that you have optimism for the period that we're in right now. I share that. So brother, I salute you. Thank you so much for coming on the show. Everybody, if you haven't already gone into this man's world, do. It is extraordinary. And if you haven't already, be sure to subscribe. Until next time, my friends. Be legendary. Take care.

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