Brad Harker is an author, speaker, influence expert, professor, and consultant with a robust entrepreneurial background that includes the creation of several companies and more than a quarter-billion dollars in sales. His book, The Laws of Influence, has become recognized as a powerful tool for entrepreneurs, sales leaders and influencers.
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Worst Entrepreneur Moment
- Brad watched his income EVAPORATE when the real estate market went south. His low moment is low, but he FIGHTS BACK!
Entrepreneur AH-HA Moment
- Brad shares a moment that is unique to EOFire. Listen for the value bombs, Fire Nation, they are plentiful!
Small Business Resource
- WebEx: Online meetings and presentations, webinars, town halls, online courses and training, and online presentations.
Best Business Book
- The Laws of Influence by Brad Harker
- Contagious by Jonah Berger
- The Laws of Influence – Brad’s book
Brad: John, I was born ready.
John: Yes. Brad is an author, speaker, influence expert, professor and consultant with a robust entrepreneurial background that includes the creation of several companies and more than a quest of a billion dollars in sales. His book, The Laws of Influence, has become recognized as a powerful tool for entrepreneurs, sales leaders and influencers. Brad, take a minute and will in some gaps from that intro and give a little glimpse into your personal life.
Brad: Well, first of all, thank you for having me on the show, I’m thrilled and this is going to be awesome. I have also been entrepreneurial. From as long as I can remember I was shoveling walks, mowing lawns and whatever it took, I was all about creating a little extra income as a kid. The other thing that I think from a very early age, I was always committed to the opportunity to coach, to mentor and to give back. I have always had a passion for people and I knew that from a very young age.
So, I was reading books like, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and How to Win Friend and Influence People, when I was a teenager. So, I think, early in my career, I realized that everything we do is a function of selling. So, I got myself on this quest to really develop those skills and master the art of communication. The next thing that I did was kind of, set out on my entrepreneurial career and my first big foray into entrepreneurship was a direct sales company. I actually went out and sold alarms, door to door.
I stayed in that industry and actually became founder of a company that was in that same industry. It was a good experience, but I just started to see my career as laboratory, as a place for me to really kind of figure out, what is it that makes people successful and what are the differences between average and great and what are the things that I can start paying attention to for when it becomes my turn to go and to give back. So, I experienced sales in a variety of capacities. I got into real estate development private equity, sold everything from hotels to pieces of raw dirt in the middle of nowhere.
I really just sale the sales process and the entrepreneurial prospective from a variety of vantage point and I fell in love with this quest to understand what the difference was between the average and the great and how do I become great myself. What are the limits that I can push and what do I need to do to obviously have the freedom and the results that I want in my life?
All of that really led me to the culmination of all of that experience, was when I finally decided to just sit down and start putting my platform together and that is where the laws of influence came in. I just started writing all of the thoughts and the experiences in my life that had come to fruition and I couldn’t stop writing.
I couldn’t stop and for three months I just wrote and wrote and wrote. It was a disaster, but I hired a number of editors and we finally came to what was the final product and ever since I launched that book and I have really committed to that career on a full scale, it’s been transformational and awesome. Obviously, opportunities like this and to be on the phone with you is just proof of how powerful that transformation and that process has been.
John: Fire Nation, there are two types of entrepreneurs, as I see it. You have born entrepreneurs and Brad; I think you are one of those. I mean, you talked at the beginning how you were shoveling snow and always looking to make extra money and reading the right books. That is awesome and that is the Gary Vaynerchuk's of the world, but I would really like to stress to Fire Nation is that, there is also, become entrepreneurs, people who become entrepreneurs.
I am the first person to admit, I was a lazy kid and I did what I had to do to get by, but nothing more. I was mowing one lawn per week because that gave me $20.00 and then I could spend that money and I could get by until the next Friday when I mowed that same lawn. I wasn’t looking to start a lawn mowing company and that’s okay. It took me 32 years to become and entrepreneur and even start to become and entrepreneur.
So, if you are listening Fire Nation and are like Oh my God, Brad was doing this since he was 2 years old and Gary Vaynerchuk since he was 3 years old. Yeah, people are born entrepreneurs and some aren't. So, there is no right or wrong way to go about it, it’s just when you make that flip of that switch. If you are listening to my voice and then Brad's voice, you flip that switch.
Brad, you have been on quite the journey. I want to hear right now, before we dive into that journey, how do you generate revenue today, as an entrepreneur?
Brad: Okay, really quick and before I answer that, I want to make a comment on what you just said. I think what is really cool about your experience and probably a lot of the listeners that maybe came later into their entrepreneurial pursuit, is when you did it, it was because you were compelled to do it. You knew it was right, you knew why you were doing it and I think a lot of people, myself included, I went down a lot of entrepreneurial roads, not just to be an entrepreneur, but without understanding the why and that power that you have got.
So, regardless of when you get there, it doesn't matter, the fact is that when you get there, you know exactly why and what it is you are doing. So, anyways, I just wanted to add that, because that is a great point. So, I generate revenue, I have three primary revenue generators. The first one is that I consult organizations in the structure and training of sales teams. I have been in sales for as long as I can remember. I love building things and I love the creation of sales infrastructure and putting the team together, recruiting and really developing that talent.
So, that is a natural as a byproduct of what I have done in my entire career. No. 2 is that I am a speaker, a professor at a University. I teach a sales course there and I also have some sales and coaching program package that I put together, as well as obviously speaking at different forums and venues across the country. And third, I still have roots; I am a real estate developer. I still have a few projects that I am in the middle of. They just kind of give me a little change of scenery every once and a while. I love just the opportunity to put projects together and create value. So, real estate is a great outlet for that.
John: Brad, somebody who has as ling and lustrous of an entrepreneurial career as you, you have seen it all. You have seen the ups and downs and the roller coaster. That is the world that we live in. I want to start with what you consider your worst entrepreneurial moment to date. So Brad, really take us there; I want you to tell us that story, in first person.
Brad: Love to; I don’t know that I would love to revisit this.
John: I’d love to, the worst moment in my life.
Brad: Let's go there. So, if I go back, when I first got into real estate, I remember putting my first real estate deal under contract and that was how I was told to get into real estate. You dive into the deep end of the pool. So, I dove in and I bought a 4.5 million subdivision, as least I put it under contract and in the midst of that project, after my money had gone nonrefundable, my partners backed out and I was left holding the bag. Ended up making it through that deal and then that really kind of catapulted me into the next level of real estates.
So, I put all of my eggs in a basket, which was to own a real estate franchise. Just as we started to get going and soaked every dollar into that, the market really started to turn. I ended up spending another year or 18 months just watching everything evaporate. The market was just dying and I was in a tertiary market, which was far removed from any big cities. So, I just watched and it was like I was going ten rounds with Mike Tyson and I was just getting hammered.
It got to a point where I was up to my eyeballs in debt, I was broke and the market was gone and I had no real income source at all and I was destitute. I mean, I was absolutely destroyed and I just saw everything vanishing. So, I was trying to put together my next real estate project, my next thing to really get the attention of an investor and nothing was happening. I actually remember having an interview with a guy on his jet, but I couldn’t get it to happen. So, I fast forward a few months, I’m trying to get this guy to take action and to invest in me.
I ended up going back and I was working for a company that I used to be a partner of, and I will never forget, I was in Phoenix, Arizona and I am sleeping on the floor in this apartment. The guy that is in the room next to me was supposed to be selling, but he was actually coming off a pretty heavy drug overdose. The guy was actually dying in the room next to me and it was just the most humbling point in my career. I was broke, I refused to starve, I refused to deprive my family of what we needed like the food on the table.
I was living up in Idaho at the time and I'm down in Phoenix, selling alarms, door to door again, working at the very bottom, sleeping on the floor just to put some money in my pocket and food on the table, just to buy enough time to see if I could make this deal come together.
I just realized, that in a couple of years you can go from the very top and feeling like you are on cloud nine, to being at the very bottom and asking yourself that question of do I really have what it takes. Is this the end and where I give up and go and conform to some level of mediocracy that’s going to define the rest of my life? I have never been as low as that moment and I will never forget it.
John: A phrase that I love and that I keep near and dear to my heart is, you are never as good as you think you are. But, on the flip side, it's never as bad as you think it is. It’s always somewhere in the middle there. That is kind of one reason, I personally, love being a host of EOFire, because no matter how much success EOFire might have, I get reminded every single time I talk to a successful entrepreneur, what it means to just have that terrible moment. I can look, not too far in my past, for a number of those as well.
Now, kind of a side note, this came up when you said, going ten rounds with Mike Tyson, did you ever used to play Mike Tyson's Punch-Out when you were a kid on Nintendo?
Brad: I totally did, absolutely.
John: I loved that game. Who was your favorite person that you would box against in one of those rounds?
Brad: I can't remember his name, who was the really skinny lanky guy? I think he was like a European and like the second fighter.
John: I think I know who you are talking about.
Brad: He had really wobbly legs. I just knew, you know how everyone had a weak spot and if you could find it you could knock him down in one punch. I just had that guy's number. I don’t remember, I think my cousin got me to Mike Tyson, but I never played long enough. I was kind of a Zelda.
John: I was totally Zelda, too.
B I was a Mario Brothers kind of guy, but I remember once; my cousin got me to Mike Tyson and kicked the crap out of me.
John: And so, you went ten rounds with Mike Tyson and he kicked the crap out of you.
Brad: Almost literally, I think I need to call Mike Tyson and put a trifecta there.
John: Oh, I love it and my favorite person was, do you remember that guy that was the tiger and had a little gem in the middle and he would go around in circles and punch you. When I finally got the timing down, where I could block him every time, then he would just sit there. I would go, boom, counter punch baby.
Brad: I remember that guy, that’s awesome.
John: That is so funny. So, ten rounds with Mike Tyson, sometimes Fire Nation, we go through that, but guess what, Brad got off the mat, I got off the mat. You are hearing our voices today and if you are on the mat, you can get off too. If you remember being on the mat, guess what, you got off so, congratulations. Now Brad, one sentence, what do you want to make sure Fire Nation gets from that story?
Brad: You have to be willing to do hard things and to keep the door open. I think, part of it is, you have to demonstrate and I don’t know who you are demonstrating, this is to yourself, that you are willing to give up everything. I mean everything and you would be willing to sacrifice everything, to have a shot at your goal. Sometimes you have to be willing to go to the very beginning, where you started and feel like you have lost everything, just to demonstrate and prove to yourself that you are willing to pay the price to make it happen.
John: All right Brad, let's go to another point in your journey and let's tell another story. This one being an ah-ha moment, a light bulb or an epiphany. My friend, you have had a ton of these and the kind of person that you are, you are going to have a ton more throughout your journey, but bring us to one that you think our listeners on Fire Nation, will resonate with and tell us that story.
Brad: I might call my ‘ah-ha’ moment more of like a slap in the face or it's about fricken time moment. You know what is funny, like I said earlier, I just knew from a very early age where I wanted to go. I felt like I wanted to be so prepared when I got there, that I could hold court with anybody and be comfortable talking if Donald Trump was in the room, I could talk real estate with him and feel like I knew what I was talking about. I didn’t want to start without being there.
So, fast forward, I told you about being in Phoenix and sleeping on the ground, well, just a few weeks later, I ended up getting my shot in that deal that I was working so hard to get. About five years later, after I had just had five of the best years, in the worst years in the real estate market, I had five of the best years that I had ever had. We liquidated over a billion dollars' worth of real estate. I found myself on my own now, the deal had kind of come and gone and I found myself brokering my own deals.
I remember one day just sitting there and I had brokered a hotel deal. There were three deals that I will never forget them. I brokered a hotel deal and then I brokered a big land development deal. In each of those two deals and then this third one, which was another large land deal with ranch lots, I got stiffed. I did all of this work, six months or a year of prep, to get the partners and everybody dialed in and get the returns where they needed to be. In each of the three scenarios, I got stiffed on the commission and I didn’t make a dollar and some of these were my full time gig for a while.
I sat there and I said, what is the problem, what is the common thread here and why does this keep happening to me. The number two is, if I am going to work for free, I better love what I do. It's time that I start focusing on the things that I love to do. That was the day that I had my ah-ha moment and I said, you know what, its time. I could sit here all day or all year for the rest of my life and try and marinate on the things that I think I need to know, but it's time to get out there.
If I am going to work for free and invest my heart and soul into something, it's going to be the thing that I am most passionate about. That was the day that I started writing the book and it was powerful. It was a huge loss, but a powerful mind shift for me.
John: Fire Nation, every single person that is hearing my voice right now is hearing Brad’s story, you are going to get to the end of your life at some point. You’re going to look back and say, man, I really screwed up or wow, I am so glad that I stepped up. It's going to be one of the two; there really is no middle ground. You are either going to step up at some point or you are not going to. If you don’t step up, you're going to screw up, because that is just the essence of screwing up and not taking that one powerful step in your life, to make it all worthwhile and to live the life that you are meant to live.
To have the vision, the voice and the message and share that with the world. So brad, that is my big take away, you stepped up my friend and even though you might get knocked down in the future, we all might and most likely will, it's okay. Now, break it down for us again, one sentence, what do you want to make sure Fire Nation gets from your story?
Brad: You know, the only thing that is going to stop you is you. I think, Guy Kawasaki, art of the start, the hardest part of getting started is starting, or something along those lines. Honestly, I think we spend our lives trying to protect ourselves. I was actually commenting on a post today and the question was, what is the disconnect between us saying we want to do something and actually doing it?
It's us, it's those safe bets that we put in the way of those outs that we create for ourselves. You just have to burn your bridges and just go for it and trust that there is something on the other side, because when you get there, you will realize that all of that fear was for not. Because, it's us, we are the ones that can stop ourselves.
John: Brad, you have some strengths and we are going to talk about those, but break down what you consider your number one weakness as an entrepreneur.
Brad: Patients and ignorance. We will start with patients. I have never been a patient person and that is the one virtue that I wish I had more of, is the ability to just let it marinate. Sometimes you just have to give it some time, let it take root, let is go and grow. You see those people with Bonsai trees on their table; I would never be that person. I love the concept and the theory of what that would be like, but there is no way I could have a Bonsai tree.
So, I need more patients. The other one is, I think part of our life is to come into harmony with our gifts and who we are and our contributions. So I think, a lot of times the biggest mistakes I made were just a lack of understanding of who I was and what were those strengths. So, between just getting to know and understanding who we are, and developing the patients to let things happen and take their natural course, those would probably be my two.
John: What is your biggest strength?
Brad: Honestly, I think my biggest strength is the ability to see other people's challenges and help them innovate solutions. Not just problems solving, I have always been a very creative person, but I have this ability and I have always felt like it is easier for me to help other people connect and find success, then it has been for myself. I just happen to wait and I guess that is when you remove that emotion from that and you just logically help somebody. I just have a really unique ability to help other people improve in their lives and really create the results that they are looking for.
John: So Brad, you have a lot of things right now that you are excited about, but what is the one thing that has you most fired up today?
Brad: Today, this show man. This is awesome. I just had a really cool Forbes article that was kind of a write up of the book and some of my philosophies that just came out a few weeks ago. I am just at a point now where I am breaking though, and some of the social aspects, you know; they take a while to grow.
I actually just launched an influencer community, it’s a Facebook group and it has been a really, really cool and powerful way to connect with a lot of the people that I do a lot of work with. We will talk about it at the end, but just to really grow an influencer community of like-minded individuals that empower and work with each other has got me right now and it's everything I am doing.
John: Well, Fore Nation, I tell you what has got me is the fact that we still have the lightening round coming up, but first we are going to take a minute to thank our sponsors. Brad, are you prepared for the lightening rounds?
Brad: I’m ready to go.
John: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Brad: Confidence. I think a lot of people could probably relate to this and I don’t know what it is in our experiences that ultimately rub as a confidence, but there are so many people. I mean, one crazy statistic is, 60 percent of Americans are unhappy with their jobs. I think a lot of that has to do with maybe a lack of confidence along the way and conforming where we give up on something and we just go after the safe and secure bet. For me, it took me a long time to find confidence as an entrepreneur.
I mean, I was confident in a lot of areas of my life, but the confidence that I could go out there and I could create something that I owned, believed in and that was me and actually see it and see customers enjoy adopt it and embrace it, was an area that really took me a long time to develop, was confidence and just believing that I could do it.
John: What is the best advice that you ever received?
Brad: There is no failure, only feedback. It’s a great quote and has been paraphrased a number of times, but honestly, when we have talked a lot about trials in this call and when you look at the trials that you have gone through, every one of those. I see my life a lot of time as this long movie and it's those trials that are some of the most profound and game changing moments in our lives, if we can look at those and not allow them to rob us of confidence.
If we can see that adversity, even the time where we were on the mat and we couldn’t even get up and barely had the strength to stand up, and see those as a lesson, a gem and as a learning experience is empowering and it changes the meaning. It doesn't rob you of confidence; it empowers you and equips you to approach the rest of your life a little more empowered and smarter.
John: What is a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Brad: Writing things down. I learned very young to carry a little notebook with me and now I use my phone a lot and I still have a few notebooks. You know, I think our brains are like muscles and when we have thoughts that roll through there, if we don’t indulge in those or write them down and remember them, they are gone. A lot of times they never come back and so I got into a habit early to journal occasionally, not consistently, but to write down every single thought that came to my mind.
There are some crazy ideas and when I looked back, when I was in some of the struggling points of my career, a lot of times it was the journals and the things that I had written down, that helped put things back in perspective for me and helped remind me what I was ultimately going for and ultimately helped me write my book just because it was there. So, write things down, use your brain and leverage it and it will start to give you more and more good stuff as you start to utilize it.
John: Share an internet resource like Evernotes, with Fire Nation.
Brad: A big one for me is WebEx. I know there are a lot of great webinar tools out there. I have used WebEx and I have been in a few of those crunch situations where the webinar is starting in a few minutes and your current platform just dropped. WebEx, for me, has been a really great resource and it is really easy to use and simple to transition between video slides and communication, so I would say WebEx.
John: Now if you could recommend just one book for our listeners to join The Laws of Influence on our bookshelves, what would it be and why?
Brad: So, I just finished Contagious. It was a great book and really good perspectives on marketing. I am in the middle of Abundance, but the book that I actually thought about, that I wanted to mention, and I love going old school here, but As a Man Thinketh by James Allen. It is just short and sweet and so powerful to get you reconnected with the greatest gift that we have and that's ourselves and our thoughts and the power that we have that is innate to us.
John: Well Fire Nation, I know you love audio so I teamed up with Audible and if you haven’t already, you can get an amazing audio book for free at eofirebook.com. Brad, this is the last question of the lightening round, but it’s a doozy. Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world, identical to earth, but you knew no one. You still have all of the experience and knowledge you currently have, your food and shelter is taken care of, but all you have is a laptop and $500.00, what would you do in the next seven days?
Brad: I remember saying this when I was younger, if I had a year, if I could start over and this is the same answer and I could do it all over, I would spend an entire year, or in this case, I could spend seven days, $500.00 and every possible program that is on that laptop and I would network. I would travel this new world and I would meet everybody that I could possibly meet in seven days.
You know, Napoleon Hill said, no individual has sufficient experience, education, native ability or knowledge to ensure the accumulation of great force, without the cooperation of other people. I know, as a certain fact, the greatest things that have happened in my life, have been a function of the networks and the people that I have come to know and leverage in my life.
So, if I had to buy 500 people lunch for $1.00, I don’t know what the prices are in that place, but I would network every second of every day and I would figure a way to succeed after that, I guarantee it.
John: Brad lets end on fire with a parting piece of guidance, the best way we can connect with you and then we will say goodbye.
Brad: My background is a unique blend of personal development and sales entrepreneurship. I have just seen the sales process in everything that we do. So, influence is the energy, it's what drives the interactions and the transactions in our lives. So, what I focus on is influence. It’s this natural aptitude that we all have in our own unique way to be successful and to realize the result on our life.
So, there are a few ways that come to fruition. Number one, to the organizations that are listening, I've have worked with some of the most seasoned sales organizations and what I teach, you don’t find in the traditional sales book. I teach influence, I teach the underlying core attribute that make us successful m, regardless of what we do. So, obviously I work with a lot of sales organizations to do that and so that is part of it. The other part is to the individual that sees that they are in a rut, stuck and not getting the results that they are looking for.
It’s a function of influence and I know that there is something in your strategy that we can look at to really break out of that mold and basically, align with your unique purpose and ultimately leverage your potential. The best way to connect with me to do either one of those two things is at bradharker.com and I actually created a special page bradharker.com/fire for your audience so that we can connect. I have a free gift for anybody that goes and joins the community; it’s a free copy of The Laws of Influence for them.
John: Love that, Fire Nation gifts galore. You are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with and you have been hanging out with BH and JLD today, so keep up the heat and head over to eofire.com and just type Brad in the search bar and his show notes page will pop up with everything that we have been talking about today. Of course, go directly to bradharker.com/fire, claim your gift Fire Nation, take action and I want to thank you Brad for sharing your journey with Fire Nation and for that brother, we salute you and we will catch you on the flip side.
Brad: John, thank you so much, this has been great and I appreciate it.
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