Good morning everybody, this is Russell Brunson. I want to welcome you back to the Marketing Secrets podcast. And you guys are in for a very special treat over the next four episodes. My guess is I’m going to be at Funnel Hacking Live when you’re listening to these, so I wanted to pre-load you up with some amazing-ness. So let me give you some context on what’s going to happen, and why you should be so excited.
Alright so, my favorite podcast, other than mine of course, that all of you guys should be subscribed to is called Mixergy. Andrew Warner is the guy who runs Mixergy podcast and I love that podcast because of Andrew. He is my favorite interviewer. If you look at how a lot of people do interview podcasts, they ask questions and I don’t know, I’ve suffered from this in the past as well. I’m not a good interviewer, at least not now. I’d like to learn how to do that skill, but I’m not a great interviewer.
And most people who do podcasts with interviews aren’t like great interviewers, but Andrew is like the best interviewer I’ve ever seen. The way he asks questions, how deep he goes and the research he does before the interviews, and all sorts of stuff.
Anyway, I love his style, love how he does it so what’s cool, I’ve actually been on the show twice in the past. And the first time, I don’t even, sorry, the second time, he totally caught me off guard. I remember he asked me some questions and I didn’t really know and I responded and he told me after, he told me live on the interview that he doesn’t edit his interviews. He was like, “Well, that was the worst answer you’ve ever given.” I was like, “Oh, thanks.” Anyway, it just totally caught me off guard, but it was cool the way that he just like kind of holds your feet to the fire.
So a little while ago I thought, I want to tell the Clickfunnels startup story. But I didn’t want me to just to tell it, I wanted someone who would tell it from a different angle, who would ask the questions that I think people would want to know and do it in a really cool way.
So I called Andrew and I’m like, “Hey, I’ve been wanting to do this thing, and I want to do an event around it. Would you be interested.” And he was like, luckily he said yes. So it’s funny, Andrew’s famous, I think I might have talked about this in the interview too, but he’s famous for these scotch nights he does, and as a Mormon I don’t drink so I can’t go to his scotch nights. So when we planned this interview, we planned it in Provo, Utah at this place called the Dry Bar Comedy Club. So a dry bar is a bar with no alcohol.
So it was kind of a funny thing. We brought those two things, my world and his world together in this one spot to a dry bar, and told the Clickfunnels startup story. And it was cool, ahead of time he did so much research. He interviewed people who love me, people who hated me, he interviewed our old business partners who are no longer part of the business. He did everything and then he came and I told him, “Everything’s, you can ask me any question you want. Nothing, no holds barred, feel free to do whatever you want.”
So we did the interview and it was about two hours long, and I loved it. I think it turned out amazing. And I hope you guys like it too. So I’ll tell you some of the details about the Clickfunnels startup story. How we built what we did, what happened, the ups, the downs, the negatives, the positives. He brings a couple of people up onstage to tell their parts of the story. Anyway, I really hope you enjoy it.
So what we’re going to do, I’m going to have each episode over the next four episodes be about thirty minutes long so you can listen to them in pieces. I hope iyou enjoy them, I hope you love them. And if you do, please, please, please take a screen shot of your phone when you’re listening to it, and go post it on Instagram or Facebook and tag me. And then do hashtag marketing secrets and hopefully that will get more people to listen to the podcast. And then please, if you haven’t yet, go rate and review, which would be amazing.
So with that said, I’m going to queue up the theme song and when we come back we will start immediately into part one of four of the Dry Bar Comedy Club Interview.
Keith Yacky: Clickfunnels has changed a lot of our lives. We all have an origin story. Mine was something similar to, I set up my website on GoDaddy and things were going great. And then Dave Woodward was like, “Dude, you need Clickfunnels.” I’m like, “I don’t need a Clickfunnel. I don’t even know what a Clickfunnel is.” And he’s like, “No, seriously man. This is going to totally change your business.” I’m like, “Bro, I have GoDaddy. They have a commercial on the Super Bowl, Clickfunnels doesn’t. But when they do, I’ll do it.”
Well, boy was I wrong. I changed over and it absolutely changed our business and changed our lives. So thank you for that, Dave. But here’s the thing, in every industry there’s somebody that comes along that really disrupts the industry, that really changes it, and that really does something amazing for that industry. And as we all, why we’re here, we know that person is Russell Brunson. And he has changed a lot of our lives. So before I bring him up here, they have asked me to ask you to make sure you don’t do any live recording of this next interview, because the gloves are coming off and they want to be able to present it to the world. You can do little Instagram clips if you’d like, like 15 second ones and tag them. My understanding is the best hashtag and the best clip, gets a date with Drew. I don’t know, that’s just what they told me. So blame them.
But with that, again, no videoing, and let us just absolutely take the roof off this place as we bring up our beloved Russell Brunson. Give it up guys.
Russell: Alright, well thanks for coming you guys. This is so cool. I’m excited to be here. So a couple of real quick things before we get started. For all of you guys who know, who came to be part of this, we had you all donate a little bit of money towards Operation Underground Railroad, and I’m really excited because Melanie told me right before I got here the total of how much money we raised from this little event for them. So I think the final number was a little over $13,000 was raised for Operation Underground Railroad. So thank you guys for your continued support with them.
Just to put that in perspective, that’s enough money to save about 5 children from sex slavery. So it’s a big deal and a life changing thing, so it’s pretty special. So I’m grateful for you guys donating money to come here. And hopefully you’ve had a good time so far. Has it been fun?
I really want to tuck my shirt in now, I’m feeling kind of awkward. No it’s been awesome.
Okay so what we’re going to do now, I want to introduce the person who’s going to be doing the interview tonight. And it’s somebody I’m really excited to have here. In fact, I met him for the first time like an hour ago, in person. But I want to tell kind of the reason why I wanted him to do this, and why we’re all here. And I’m grateful he said yes, and was willing to come out here and kind of do this.
So Andrew runs a podcast called Mixergy. How many of you guys in here are Mixergy listeners? Mixergy is my favorite podcast, I love it. He’s interviewed thousands of people about their startup stories and about how they started their businesses. And it’s really cool because he brings in entrepreneurs and he tells, gets them to tell their stories.
But what’s unique about what Andrew does that’s fascinating, the way he interviews people is completely different, it’s unique. I listen to a lot of podcasts and I don’t like a lot of interview shows because a lot of them are just kind of high level. Everyone you listen to with Andrew, he gets really, really deep. The other fun thing is he doesn’t edit his interviews. So there was one interview, I’ll tease him about this right now. But I was listening to it on my headphones, and him and the guest got in kind of an argument and a fight and then it just ended and they aired it. I was like, “I can’t believe you aired that, it was amazing.”
And then I was on his podcast a little while later, and he asked me some questions that I couldn’t quite understand perfectly, so I was trying to respond the best I could and kind of fumbled through it. And instead of letting me off the hook, his response was, “Man Russell, that was probably the worst answer I’ve ever heard you give in any interview ever.” And I was like, “Oh my gosh.”
So I’m excited for tonight because I told it was like no holds barred and he could ask me anything he wants about the ups of Clickfunnels, the downs of Clickfunnels and anything else, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.
So I’m excited to have him here. So with that said, let’s put our hands together for Mr. Andrew Warner.
Andrew Warner: I think my mic is right over here. Thank you everyone, thanks Russell for having me here. Most people will contact me after I interview them and say, “Could you please not air the interview?” And you actually had me back here to do it in person. And you were so nice, you even got us this room here. Check this out, they set us up, they’re so nice at Clickfunnels. They said, “Andrew, you’re staying here, we’re going to put you and your family up the night before in a room.” My wife was so good, look that’s her journaling. My kids were playing around, sleeping in the same, sleeping together, enjoying themselves.
And then I went to call somebody who was basically let go from Clickfunnels. And my wife goes, “Andrew, why do you have to do that? That’s not why they invited you here.” And I said, “I do know Russell. I know the team. They actually did invite me to really help get to the story of how Clickfunnels started, how it built up.” And the reason I was up calling people, understanding the story is because I want to make it meaningful for you.
I’ve talked to a lot of you as you were coming in here, you want to know how they got here, what worked for Clickfunnels, what would work for us. So that’s my goal here, to spend the time understanding by interviewing you about how you did it.
So I want to go way back to a guy a few of you might recognize, and I know you would, and ask you what drew you to this guy when you were younger?
Russell: Don Lepre
Clip: “One tiny classified ad in the newspaper that makes just 30-40 dollars profit in a week, it could make you a fortune, because the secret is learning how to take that one tiny classified that just made 30-40 dollars profit in a week, and to realize that you could now take that same exact ad and place it in up to 3,000 other newspapers around the country….”
Russell: I’m having nostalgia right now. So this is the story of that, I was 12, 13 years old, something like that, and I was watching the news with my dad. And usually he’s like, “Go to bed Russell.” And he didn’t that night and then the news got over and I think he thought I was asleep and Mash came on. So Mash started playing and then it got over, and then this infomercial showed up. And I’m laying there on the couch watching Don Lepre talk about tiny classified ads, I was totally freaking out and I jumped up and begged my dad to buy it and he said no. And I was like, “Are you kidding? Did you not listen to what he said?” Did you guys just hear that? That was a good pitch huh? It’s really good. I love a good pitch. It is so good.
So I went and asked my dad if I could earn the money. So I went and mowed lawns and earned the money and ordered the kit and I still have the original books to this day.
Andrew: Were you disappointed? I bought it too. It was the dream of being able to do it.
Russell: That’s why I like you so much, that’s amazing.
Andrew: And it’s just, all he sent you was a bunch of paper guides with how to buy ads, right. Were you disappointed when you got that?
Russell: No, I was excited. I think for me because the vision was cast, it was like, he said right there word for word, you make 40 dollars a newspaper, and if you’re disappointed, but he put that same ad in 3,000 newspapers, imagine that. So I had the vision of that, I think the only thing I was disappointed in, I didn’t have any money to actually buy an ad. And that was more like, I can’t actually do it now.
Andrew: You are a champion wrestler and then you got here. Is your wife here?
Russell: My beautiful wife right here, Collette.
Andrew: Hey Collette. And your dad had a conversation with you about money, what did he say?
Russell: So up to that point my dad had supported me, and I figured he would the rest of my life, I think. I don’t know. So I was 21 almost 22 at this time, I was wrestling so I couldn’t get a job because I was wrestling all the time. Then I met Collette, fell in love with her and then I called my parents and I was like, “Hey, I’m going to marry her. I’m going propose to her and everything.” Expecting them to be like, “Sweet, that’ll be awesome.” And my mom was all excited, I’m not going to lie.
But then my dad was like, “Just so you know if you get married, you have to be a man now. You have to support yourself.” And I was like, “I don’t know how to do that, I’m wrestling.” And he’s like, “Well, I’m not going to keep paying for you to do it.” I’m like, “But I literally got the ring. I have, I can’t not propose now.” So that was kind of the thing.
So it was interesting because about that time there was another infomercial, there’s the pattern, about I can’t remember exactly the name of the company, but they were doing an event at the local Holiday inn that was like, “Hey, you’re going to build websites and make money.” And it was like the night or two days after I told my dad this and he was like, “you’re in trouble.” And all the sudden I saw that, so I was like, there’s the answer.
So I’m at the holiday in two days later, sitting in the room, hearing the pitch, signing up for stuff I shouldn’t have bought. There’s the pattern.
Andrew: Did you feel like a loser getting married at 22 and still counting on your dad for money? Did you feel like you were marrying a loser?
Russell: Actually, this is a sad story because she actually, my roommate at the time, she actually asked him, “Do you think he’s going to be able to support me in the future?” and he was like, “Yeah, I think so.” I’m like, I didn’t know this until later. I don’t think I felt like a loser, but I definitely was nervous, like oh my gosh. Because my whole identity at that point in my life was I was a wrestler and if that was to disappear…I couldn’t have that disappear. So I was like, I have to figure out something. There’s gotta be some way to do both.
Andrew: To both what? To be a wrestler and make money from some infomercial?
Russell: I didn’t know that was going to be the path, but yeah.
Andrew: But you knew you were going to do something. What did you think that was going to be?
Russell: I wasn’t sure. When I went to the event, they were selling these time share books and you could buy resale rights to them, so I was like, oh. And I remember back, because I remembered the Don Lepre stuff, so I was like, maybe I could buy classified ads and sell these things. And then I was at the event and they were talking about websites, and that was the first thing I’d heard about websites. And they’re talking about Google and the beginnings of this whole internet thing.
So I was like, I can do that. It made all logical sense to me, I just didn’t know how to do it. I just knew that that was going to be the only path because if I had to get a job I wouldn’t be able to wrestle. So I was like, I have to figure out something that’s not going to be a 40 hour thing because I’m spending that time wrestling and going to school. So I had to figure out the best of how to do both.
Andrew: And you obviously found it. My goal today is to go through this process of finding it. But let me skip ahead a little bit. What is this website?
Russell: Oh man, alright. This is actually, the back story behind this is there was a guy named Vince James who wrote a book called the Twelve Month Millionaire. And if anybody’s got that book, it’s fat like a phone book. It’s a huge book. I read and I was like, this book’s amazing. And at the time I was an affiliate marketer, so I had a little bit, maybe a thousand people on my list. So I called up Vince and I was like, “Hey, can I interview you about the book and then I’ll use that as a tool to sell more copies of your book?” and he was like, “Sure.”
So he jumped on the phone with me on a Saturday and he spent 3 hours letting me interview with any questions I had. And I got to the end of it and I still had a ton of questions and he’s like, “Well come back next week and do it again.” So I interviewed him for 6 hours about it. And then we used that to sell some copies of his book and then it just sat there, probably for 2 or 3 years as I was trying different ideas, different businesses and things like that.
But every time I would talk to people I would tell them about this interview. I’m like, “I interviewed this guy who made a hundred million dollars through direct mail.” And everyone wanted to hear the interview, everybody asked me for it. So one day I was like, “Let’s just make that the product.” And we put it up here and this was the very first funnel we had that did over a million dollars, my first Two Comma Club funnel.
Andrew: A million dollars. Do you remember what that felt like?
Russell: It was amazing because it was funny back then. There were people, a few people who were making a lot of money online that I was watching and just idolizing everything they’d do. I was trying to model what they were doing. And I’d had little wins, you know $10,000 here, $15,000 here, but this was by far the first one that just hit. Everyone was so excited.
Andrew: How’d you celebrate?
Russell: I don’t even remember how we celebrated.
Andrew: You married a winner after all. I mean really. Do you remember what you guys did to celebrate? No.
Russell: I don’t even remember. (audience responding, inaudible) It was in my list. That’s a good question.
Andrew: It’ll come up, that list is going to come up in a second too. You ended up creating Clickfunnels. How much revenue are you guys doing now, 2018?
Russell: 2018 we’ll pass over a hundred million dollars, this year.
Andrew: A hundred million dollars, wowee. How far have you come?
Russell: Like when did we start?
Andrew: Today revenue, as of today, October 2018?
Russell: Oh this year? Oh from the beginning of time until now?
Andrew: No, no I mean I want to know, you’re going to do a hundred million dollars, are you at 10 and you’re hoping to get….
Russell: These guys know better than me, do you know exactly where we’re at right now? 83 million for the year.
Andrew: 83! I love that Dave knows that right, so I want to know how you got to that. I went through your site, pages and pages that look like this. It’s like long form sales letters. I asked my assistant to take pictures, she said, “This is, I can’t do it, it’s too many.” Look at this guys. I asked him to help me figure out what he did. He created this list, this is not the full list, look at this. Every blue line is him finding an old archive of a page he created. It goes on and on like this. How long did it take you to put that together?
Russell: It was probably 5 or 6 hours just to find all the pages.
Andrew: 5 or 6 hours you spent to find these images to help me tell the story. Years and years of doing this, a lot of failure, what amazes me is you didn’t feel jaded and let down after Don Lepre sold you that stuff. You didn’t feel jaded and let down and say, ‘This whole make money thing is a failure.’ After, and we’re going to talk about some of your failures, you just kept going with that same smile, the same eagerness.
Alright, let’s start with the very first business. What’s this one? This is called…
Russell: Sublime Net. How many of you guys remember Sublime Net out there?
Andrew: You guys remember this? Anyone remember it. You do?
Russell: John does. So actually this is the first business for the first website I bought. I was so proud of it, and I spent, I don’t know, I wanted to sell software so I was like, ‘what could I name my company?” So I figured out Exciting Software. So I went to buy Exciteware.com, but it wasn’t for sale. So I bought Exciteware.net and Collette was working at the time and she came home and I was so excited, I’m like, “We got our first website. We’re going to be rich.”
And I told her the name, I was like, “It’s Exciteware.net.” and she looked at me with this look like, she’s like, “Are you selling underwear, what is the…lingerie?” I’m like, “No, it’s software.” And she’s like, “You can’t, I’m not going to tell my mom that you bought that. You gotta think of another name.” I’m like, “Crap.” So that was the next best name I came up with was Sublime Net. Like the band Sublime. That was it.
Andrew: And I was going to ask you what it was, but it was lots of different things. Every screenshot on there is a whole other business under the same name. What are the businesses? Do you remember?
Russell: There was website hosting, there was affiliates sites, there were, I can’t even remember now, trying to remember. Everything I could think of, resell rights….
Andrew: Lots of different things. How did you do, how well did you do?
Russell: Never anything, very little. I remember the first thing I ever sold was an affiliate product, I made $20 on it through my Paypal account, because I remember that night, I do remember I celebrated. We went out to dinner and I had a Paypal credit card, and we bought dinner with $20 and then the guy refunded the next day. It was so sad. But I was proud that I had made money.
Andrew: How did you support yourself while this was not working?
Russell: I didn’t. My beautiful wife did, she had 2 jobs at the time to support me while I was wrestling and doing these things. She was the one who made it possible to gamble and risk and try crazy things.
Andrew: Can I put you on the spot and ask you to just come over here and just tell me about this period and what you felt at the time? Is that, I know you don’t love being onstage, Russell is good with it, but I know you don’t love it. If you don’t mind, I’m just going to go with one more story and then I’ll come back to you. You cool with it? Good, she seems a little nervous. Actually, wait. Let’s see if we can get her right now. Oh you are, okay.
Russell: Everyone, this is Collette, my beautiful wife.
Andrew: Do you want to use his mic?
Russell: She’s so mad at me right now.
Collette: I wanted to come to this, who knew?
Andrew: You are like his, he’s so proud that he had no venture funding. But you are like his first investor.
Russell: That is true.
Collette: Yes, I’ll be his first investor.
Andrew: Can you hold the mic a little closer. How did you know he wasn’t a loser? No job, he’s wrestling, he’s buying infomercial stuff that doesn’t go anywhere. We know he did well, so we’re not insulting him now, but what did you see in him back then that let you say, ‘I’m going to work extra hard and pay for what he’s not doing?’
Collette: What did I see in him? It was actually his energy, his spirit, because I’m not going to lie, it was kind of not love at first site, we had, we were geeko’s, do you know what I mean? Shopped at the Goodwill, in baggy pants and tshirts, I don’t know. But it was the person who just was always positive and we had the same goals.
Andrew: That’s the thing I noticed too, the positivity. When these businesses fail, we’re showing the few on the screen, it’s easy to look back and go, ‘ha ha, I did this and it was interesting.’ But at the time, what was the bounce back like when things didn’t work out? When the world basically said, you know what as sales people, when they don’t buy your stuff it’s like they don’t buy you. When the world basically said, ‘we don’t like you. We don’t like what you’ve created.’ What was the bounce back like? Hard?
Collette: No, because I come from a hard working family. So I work hard. So you just work hard to make it work.
Andrew: And he’s just an eternal optimistic, and you’re an eternal optimist too, like genuinely, really?
Collette: Yeah, I guess. It works.
Andrew: His dad said, ‘No more money. You had to cut up your credit cards too.’
Andrew: What was, how did you cut up your credit cards. What was that day like?
Collette: Hard. Yeah hard. Those that don’t know, I’m a little bit older than Russell. So I’ve always had this little bit of independency to go do and buy and do these things, and then all the sudden I’m like, step back sista! You gotta take care of this young man, so we can get to where we’re at. Anyway, but now…
Andrew: Now things are good?
Collette: Now things are amazing.
Andrew: Alright, give her a big round of applause. Thanks for coming up here. These businesses did okay, and then you started something that I never heard about, but look at this. I’m going to zoom in on a section of the Google doc you sent me. This is the call center. The call center got to how many employees? 100?
Russell: We had about 60 full time sales people, 20 full time coaches, and about 20 people doing the marketing and sales, so about 100 people in the whole company, yeah.
Andrew: 100 people doing what kind of call center, what kind of work?
Russell: So what we would do, we would sell free CDs and things like that online, free CDs, free books, free whatever, and then when someone would buy it we’d call them on the phone, and then we’d offer them high end coaching.
Andrew: And this was you getting customers, how?
Russell: Man, back then it was pre-facebook. So a lot of it was Google, it was email lists, it was anything we could figure out to drive traffic, all sorts of weird stuff.
Andrew: And then people come in, get a free CD, sign up for coaching, and then you had to hire people and teach them how to coach? How did you do that.
Russell: Yeah, that was the hard thing. When we first started doing it, I was just doing the coaching. People would come in and we had a little, Brent and some of you guys remember the little offices we had, and we’d bring people in and we were so proud of our little office. And they’d come in and we’d teach them for 2 or 3 days, teach an event for them, and then as it got bigger it was harder and harder for me to do that. So eventually, and a lot of people didn’t want to come to Boise. I love Boise, but it’s really hard to get to.
So people would sign up for coaching, and then they’d never show up to Boise and then a year later they’d want their money back. So we’re like, we have to get something where they’re getting fulfilled whether they showed up to Boise or now. So we started doing phone coaching, and at first it was me, and then it was me and a couple other people, and then we started training more coaches, and that’s kind of how it started.
It was one of those things though, at first it was just like 5 or 6 of us in a room doing it, and it worked and so then the next logical thing is, we should go from 5 people to 10 to 20 and next thing you know, we wake up with 100 people. I’m like, what are we doing? We’re little kids, it scares me that I’m in charge of all these people’s livelihood, but that’s kind of where it was at and it got kind of scary for me.
Andrew: Sometimes I wonder if I’m hiding behind interviewing because I’m afraid to stand up and say, ‘here’s what I want. Here’s what I think we need to do. Here’s how the world should be.’ So I’m amazed that even back then, after having a few businesses that didn’t really work out, you were comfortable enough to say, ‘Come to my office, I’m going to teach you. I’ve got it figured out.’ When you hadn’t. How did you get yourself comfortable, and what made you feel comfortable about being able to say, ‘I could teach these people. Come to my office.’ Who call up, who then become my coaches, who then have to teach other people?
Russell: I think for me it was like, when I first started learning the online stuff and entrepreneurship, I think most people feel this, it’s so exciting you want to tell everybody about it. So I’m telling my friends and my family and nobody cares at first. And you’re like, I have to share this gift I’ve figured out, it’s amazing. And nobody cares.
And then the first time somebody cares, and you just dump on them, you want to show it to them. So I hadn’t made tons of money, but I had a lot of these little websites that had done, $30 grand, $50 grand, $100 grand. So for me it was like, if I can show these people, I know what that did for me, it gave me the spark to want to do the next one and the next one. So for me it was like I want to share this because I feel like I figured it out. So that was the thing coming in. We weren’t teaching people how to build a hundred million dollar company, but we’re like, “Hey, you can quit your job. You can make 2 or 3 thousand dollars a month, you can quit your job, and this is how I did it. This is the process.” So that’s what we were showing people. Just the foundation of how we did it, and we showed other people, because they cared and it was exciting to share it with other people.
Andrew: Is Whitney here? There she is. I met her as she was coming in. I wanted to get to know why people were coming to watch this, what they wanted to hear from you. And Whitney was asking about the difficult period, the why. I’m wondering the same thing that she and I were talking about, which is why put yourself through this? You could have gotten a job, you could have done okay, why put yourself through the risk of hiring people, the eventual as we’ll see, closing of the company, what was your motivation? What was the goal? Why did you want to do it?
Russell: I think it shifts throughout time. I think most entrepreneurs when they first get started, it’s because of money. They’re like, ‘I want to make money.’ And then you get that and then really quick, that doesn’t last very long. And then it’s like, then for me it was like, I want to share that with other people. And then when other people get it, there’s something about that aha moment where you’re like, oh my gosh they got it. They got what I was saying. And that for me was like the next level, the next high. It was just like, ah, I love that.
And back then we had some success stories coming through, but now days, it’s like the bigger success stories come through and that’s what drives it on. That is the fascinating part. That’s why we keep, because most software company owners don’t keep creating books, and courses and inter….but when people have the aha, oh my gosh, that’s the best for me.
Andrew: That’s the thing, you get the high of the thing that you wanted when you were growing up, that you wanted someone to show it to you, and if you could then genuinely give it them, not like Don Lepre. But Don Lepre plus actual results, that’s what fires you up.
Russell: That does fire me up. That’s amazing.
Andrew: What happened? Why did that close down?
Russell: Oh man, a lot of things. A lot of bad mistakes, a lot of first time growing a company stuff that I didn’t, again, we just woke up one day it felt like, and we were in this huge office, huge overhead, and about that time, it was 99, 2000 something like that, and there was the merchant account that me and most of the people doing internet marketing at the time, we all used the same merchant account, and they got hit by Visa and Mastercard, so they freaked out and shut down. I think it ended up being 4 or 5 merchant accounts overnight, and we had 9 different merchant accounts with that company, and all of them got shut down instantly.
I remember because everything was fine, we were going through the day and it was like 1:00 in the afternoon on a Friday. They came in like, “None of the, the cards won’t process.” And I’m like, couldn’t figure out why they weren’t processing. We tried to call the company and no one’s answering at the company. Finally we get someone on the phone and they’re like, “Yep, you got shut down along with all the other scammers.” And then she hung up on me.
And I was like, I don’t know what to do right now. I’ve got 100+ people and payroll is not small, and we didn’t have a ton of cash in the bank, it was more of a cash flow business. And Collette actually just left town that night, and she was gone. I remember Avatar just came out, and everyone was going to the movie Avatar that night, and I remember sitting there during the longest movie of all time, and I don’t remember anything other than the sick feeling in my stomach. I was texting everyone I know, trying to see if anyone knew what to do. And everyone was like, “We got shut down too.” “We got shut down.” Everyone got shut down. And we couldn’t figure out anything.
So we came back the next day and I called everyone up, and actually kind of a funny side story, I had just met Tony Robbins a little prior, earlier to this. So that night I was laying in bed, it was like 4 in the morning, and my phone rings and I look at it and it was Tony Robbins’ assistant. And I pick it up and he’s like, “Hey, is there any way you can be in Vegas in three hours? There’s a plane from Boise to Vegas and Tony wants you to speak at this event. It’s starting in three hours. You need to be on stage in three hours.”
I’m sitting here like, my whole world just collapsed, I’m laying in bed sick to my stomach and I’m like, “I don’t think I can. I have to figure this thing out.” And then he tells Tony, and they call me back. “Tony says if your business is…if you can’t make it, don’t show up. You’re fine.” So I didn’t go and then the next morning I woke up and there was a message on my phone that I’d missed. I passed out and I woke up and it was a message from Tony. And he was like, “Hey man, I know that you care about your customers, you care about things. I don’t know the whole situation, but worst case scenario, if you need help let me know, and we can absorb you into Robbins research or whatever and you can be one of my companies, and that way if you want, we can protect you.”
And I heard that and I was like, “Okay, that’s the worst case scenario, I get to work with Tony Robbins? That’s the worst case scenario.” So then I called up everyone on my team and I was like, “Okay guys, we gotta try to figure out how to save this.” And Brent and John and everyone, we came back to my house and I was like, “Okay, what ideas do we got?” And we just sat there for the next 5 or 6 hours trying to figure stuff out.
And then we went to work, and I wish I could say that everything turned around, but it was the next probably 2 or 3 years of us firing 30 people, firing 20 people, closing things down, moving down offices. Just shrinking for a long, long time, until the peak of it, it was about a year after that moment, and we were in an event in Vegas trying to figure out how to save stuff, and I got an email from my dad who was helping with the books at the time, and he said, “Hey, I got really bad news for you. I looked through the books and it turns out your assistant who is supposed to be doing payroll taxes, hadn’t paid payroll in over a year. You owe the IRS $170,000 and if you don’t pay this, you’re probably going to go to jail.”
And I was like, every penny I’d earned to that point was gone. Everything was done and we’d lost everything and I was just like, I don’t know how to fight this battle, but if I don’t fight it I go to jail apparently. And I remember that’s a really crappy feeling. Brent, some of you guys are reliving this with me right now, I know. I remember going back that night, laying in bed and I was just like, “I wish I had a boss that could fire me, because I don’t know what to do, how to do it.” And that was kind of, that was definitely the lowest spot for me.
Andrew: And you stuck with him? Wow, yeah.