Brian Carter delivers entertaining, motivational talks on Internet Marketing and Social Media to corporations and associations, CEO’s, business owners and expert marketers. He is the author of The Like Economy, LinkedIn For Business, and Co-Author of Facebook Marketing (3rd ed.). Brian has 12 years experience with Google, Twitter and Facebook marketing as a consultant and a marketing agency director. He was also recently interviewed on Bloomberg TV about Facebook’s mobile ads.
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- Your Big Idea: Successful Entrepreneurs have One Big Idea. Follow JLD’s FREE training & you’ll discover Your Big Idea in less than an hour!
- “One day at a time.” – Unknown
- Brian gets paid to be a speaker… now. Listen to how he got over his crippling social anxiety, one day at a time.
Entrepreneurial AHA Moment
- Brian didn’t experience a great light bulb moment. Instead, just a bunch of little ones… but boy do they add up!
- Currently Brian gets paid to speak. He does something in this section that 99% of speakers won’t do… it’s a dirty secret and involves $$.
- Brian keeps it real here, cause that’s what he does.
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- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
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John Lee Dumas: Okay. Let’s get started. I am simply thrilled to introduce my guest today, Brian Carter. Brian, are you prepared to ignite?
Brian Carter: Yes!!!
John Lee Dumas: Alright! Enthusiasm!
Brian Carter: [Laughs]
John Lee Dumas: Brian delivers entertaining, motivational talks on Internet marketing and social media to corporations and associations, CEOs, business owners and expert marketers. He is author of “The Like Economy,” “LinkedIn for Business” and coauthor of “Facebook Marketing, 3rd Edition.” Brian has 12 years’ experience with Google, Twitter and Facebook marketing as a consultant and marketing agency director. He was recently interviewed on Bloomberg TV about Facebook’s mobile ads. Wow!
I’ve given Fire Nation a little overview, Brian, but take a second. Introduce yourself. Tell us who you are, where you’re from, and then tell us a little bit about your business.
Brian Carter: Yes. I’m from Ohio originally, and then I escaped. I was from Dayton, Ohio and I would go to Columbus because it was more exciting. So I think anytime you say that Columbus is more exciting than somewhere, it’s not that exciting.
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs]
Brian Carter: I think Dayton was pretty hot back in like the 1890s, but not so much when I lived there. So I moved to San Diego. The long story short, I went from being an acupuncturist back to Internet marketing, back to the nerdiness of my childhood. I’ve done a few different jobs directing part of an agency that did search and social media, and then eventually went solo and did some training and wrote some books and got into where I really wanted to be, which is being a paid speaker. Yes, that’s pretty much where I’m at now. That and consulting.
John Lee Dumas: Love it! Full circle. Good stuff. We’ll use that to transition now into our first topic, which is our success, because at EntrepreneurOnFire, we really like to get the motivational ball rolling and get Fire Nation pumped up for the content that you have for us today, Brian. So what’s your success quote?
Brian Carter: Yes, an atypical one. It’s one day at a time.
John Lee Dumas: Give us an example of how you actually apply that to your mentality or your life or how you have in the past.
Brian Carter: So I think ever since I was young, I wanted to do something big, and I always want to achieve big things, but those things take time. Also, as time goes on in your life, what you want changes. Sometimes you’ll get something and realize, “Oh, well this isn’t what I wanted.” So you can only really do all these stuff one day at a time. You really only have today, and I feel like I only have today because like in that StrengthsFinder World: Now Discover Your Strengths, one of my top 5 strengths was achiever, which is great because I’m always achieving stuff, but it’s bad because every day, I feel like I’m starting from zero. So I just concentrate on making every day productive and healthy, and then eventually relaxing near the end.
John Lee Dumas: Great mentality. That just kind of goes along with it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. We really need to focus on the long term goals and just doing one step at a time, it will get us there eventually and just don’t get burnt out. So many people get burnt out.
Brian Carter: Yes, you got to be balanced. I mean, if you try to get somewhere that it’s going to take you a year to get and you try to do it in like three weeks, you’re clearly going to hurt yourself [Laughs]. So calm down.
John Lee Dumas: Calm down, buddy [Laughs].
Brian Carter: Yes.
John Lee Dumas: So let’s use that to transition to our next topic because I don’t know if this has actually happened to you in the past specifically about getting burnt out, but as an entrepreneur, we’ve all faced it, and that’s failure. Those are obstacles, those are challenges that we need to overcome. We don’t let failure define us as entrepreneurs, but it’s definitely a part of the journey. So Brian, take us back to a point in your journey where you failed or that you faced a huge obstacle that you’ve just had to work around and how you reacted to that.
Brian Carter: Well, my biggest one has been social phobia and social anxiety. I mean a lot of people, they hear that. They’ve seen me speak or they’ve seen me recently or they’ve seen me do standup comedy and they don’t believe, but I grew up extremely shy and the fact that I wanted – when I was young, I always wanted to be the person onstage. So I don’t know if there’s a bigger one than shyness. Maybe stuttering or something would be my other thing that I had to overcome that would be huge for that.
John Lee Dumas: So Brian, can you just take us down to the ground level because this is about your journey as an entrepreneur in a time where you’ve actually felt or faced a challenge in regards to that phobia that you had and how you overcame it?
Brian Carter: Well, I don’t think I have one really huge failure that was in the newspaper or something, but there are a lot of times where I just was not able to – like in the beginning, I remember in high school, a girl would walk up to me and be like, “Hey, Brian! How are you doing?” and I couldn’t even really answer the question because I had so many thoughts in response and I didn’t know what to say. So this perpetuated social isolation for me. Eventually, when I tried to overcome it, I got into Toastmasters and I would see myself – like I would see a video of it and I would experience this difficulty with being able to be myself in public. It was like I still to some degree feel like my real self is only there when I’m alone. So I’ve had to translate all of what’s good about me into ways to talk to people about it, ways to socialize with it – speeches, jokes and things like that.
John Lee Dumas: Do you have a specific example of when you might have actually broken through a barrier? Like you really felt like you crossed a hill?
Brian Carter: Yes, there was. I did a Toastmasters speech. I don’t remember which assignment it was, but one of the first 10 that you do. I was so uncomfortable with the idea of being enthusiastic with people. Like for some reason, I could only convey my negativity to people because I was always judging myself. So I did a speech where I talked about being the “Enthusinator” and I had like this “E” on my shirt, but it was underneath another shirt so I like at one point during the speech just like ripped it off and I was just doing all these crazy cheerleader type things during the speech. That’s the first time I’d really ever expressed my enthusiasm publicly.
John Lee Dumas: I mean the thing that people have to realize, and I think that you must have at some point, is that you are in good company. I think that public speaking is the number one phobia that’s out there. Like second is death or something. I mean it’s literally something that everybody has and is born with for whatever reason.
Brian Carter: Right. A friend of mine has a joke. It’s like most people would rather be in the coffin than giving the eulogy.
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs]
Brian Carter: Yes. I mean it’s true, but somehow I always – it’s like I had this conflict between thinking that there’s greatness inside me, but not really being able to realize it or show anybody that. I felt like throughout high school, I never was the smartest. I wasn’t the best performer. I wasn’t the coolest. I wasn’t the biggest loser. I wasn’t anything. I was mediocre, and I hated that. I read a lot of books. Some of the typical ones most people have read like “Win Friends and Influence People” and all those other types of standard self-development books. Speaking is always a huge part of what these people would talk about. So that’s partly why I went there.
John Lee Dumas: Wow! Very good insight. So Brian, let’s use that to transition now to the other end of the spectrum. You were very generous and open and honest with a failure or challenge that you just encountered multiple times throughout your life and the lessons you learned from that. Let’s move over to the aha moment because as entrepreneurs, we’re also blessed with these little aha moments that we get every single day that kind of inspire us and move us forward and open our eyes into new directions. Have you had at some point in your journey a huge light bulb that came on that really just changed how you looked at what you were going to do with your life, with your business?
Brian Carter: I mean I wish. I wish I had [Laughs]. It’s always just like little ahas for me like day after day or month after month. I mean eventually, I recognized this pattern that I kept wanting to be famous at whatever I was doing, which actually is kind of stupid when you think about it, but like when I started playing guitar when I was 16, I wanted to be a rock star. And when I got into acupuncture, I wanted to be the next Deepak Chopra or Andrew Weil. Eventually, I realized – like I looked back and I was like, “Okay, wait.” I was in two bands and I probably played three live shows ever. So I wasn’t really doing what I needed to do to achieve what I wanted to achieve. When I realized I wanted to be – [when I was in the health thing], that’s what led me to go to Toastmasters and I’m like “I need to get some training and change.” So I think one of the aha moments was eventually after doing acupuncture for a while. I realized this wasn’t for me. I cared more about like creating more reliable systems for getting results with health than I did about the particular patient I was seeing right then, and that didn’t work very well. And then when I went to Toastmasters, I saw how bad I was at speaking and performance and it took me a long time to get better at it. So I mean, I don’t think there was just one.
John Lee Dumas: That’s very common. I get so many different answers to this question because for some people, it’s little aha moments that build up to a big understanding. For some people, it’s literally that light bulb just goes off and it just changes the course of their business or their career. For some people, they are still waiting for that aha moment.
Brian Carter: [Laughs] Right.
John Lee Dumas: It sounded like you’re probably a combination of two of those right there, which is totally fine and it’s exciting. You’re a young guy and you’re still doing a lot of things and you’re active. So that’s cool, but the real question is, have you had an I’ve made it moment yet?
Brian Carter: I think I’ve had a lot of them, but like the next day after that, I’m always like, what’s next? I think when we look at other people, we think they have made it, wherever they are. I think it’s very different. Sometimes I look at my own bio on my website and I’m like, who is that guy? I mean I know he’s accomplished those things and that they’re true, but I don’t always feel like that person. So I think to me, that’s another thing I learned about when you compare yourself to other people, if you compare how you feel inside when you’re feeling the worst to how other people look at their best, it really can hold you back. I mean one thing I’ve learned is that everybody puts their pants on the same way. Well, most people don’t try to jump into both legs.
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs]
Brian Carter: I’m sure there are some people, but most people don’t. But yes. So I don’t know if you can make it. I don’t know if we’re built to have made it somewhere and then stay there. Life is always changing. So whatever it is that you’ve achieved, I don’t know that it’s going to be enough to carry you five years from now. Whatever you did to get you where you’re at is not going to get you where you want to go next, and if you stop, I think life tends towards entropy, which is chaos, right? So it’s like a downwards escalator. If you stop moving, you’re going down. So I don’t personally believe that you can make it, and I don’t know that I have one goal that if I achieve it, I’m going to be like, “Okay. That’s it. I’m done.”
John Lee Dumas: I love this question too and I love your answer because there’s just such a variety of ways that entrepreneurs look at this question, and there’s such a variety of ways that they answer this question. Some entrepreneurs say, “No, I’ll never have an I’ve made it moment. That’s just not part of my mentality. I’ll never make it.” And others say, “Yes, I have a great I’ve made it moment every single day.” To me, I think that kind of somewhere in the middle is a good answer where you need to really be appreciating these moments that you’re achieving these goals you’re setting for yourself and setting goals further once you’ve reached that to keep yourself moving forward. But at the same time, don’t forget that life is about the journey. Like you said, it’s that escalator that’s moving, and if you’re not enjoying the journey and continuing to move throughout that journey, then you’re probably just going to end up somewhere south of where you want to be down that escalator.
Brian Carter: Right. Yes. One other thing I want to throw in is the fact is that most of us also have like I will never make it moments because if you think that there’s anybody out there who doesn’t have self-doubt right there, the only people that don’t have self-doubt are probably sociopaths or narcissists, and that’s not healthy. So all of us have downtimes. Like I’ve seen people who we didn’t really even think had a problem, disappear and try to kill themselves. So I think it’s important that people also share that they often have discouragement, and you have to battle against that. I love that book – well, okay, I’m going to talk about that later. I’ll fit that later in one of your questions.
John Lee Dumas: Awesome!
Brian Carter: I’m not going to jump ahead.
John Lee Dumas: We will definitely get there. Just to kind of clarify the note that you were talking about that I can’t agree with more, is there’s a few things that we’re born with. We’re born with the fear of heights. It just makes sense for us to innately be afraid of heights because heights are dangerous, especially when you’re young and you really don’t know any better. So we’re innately afraid of that. And we are innately ingrained with self-doubt because again, that forces us not to take things for granted and be on the lookout for that saber-toothed tiger that might be around the bend. We’re never just going to rest on our laurels. That self-doubt is always lurking and we can’t look at it as a negative always, but we have to embrace it and use it to propel us forward.
Brian Carter: Yes. I completely agree.
John Lee Dumas: So Brian, you’re doing so many cool things right now in a lot of different levels. I mean your bio, you’re right. If I had that as my bio, I’d look at that and be like, “Wow! Is that the same person who I thought woke up this morning?” I don’t know.
Brian Carter: [Laughs]
John Lee Dumas: What is one thing that’s just really exciting you about your business or what you’re doing right now?
Brian Carter: Okay. So one place I did really want to make it to was getting paid to speak, and that’s not easy. There are books out there about how to do that that I certainly read. “Speak and Grow Rich,” right? Which is a play on that other “Think and Grow Rich” book. Those may be outdated by now, but it took me years. Like I think I did my first – obviously, I did Toastmasters. That was like 12 years ago. And then when I started blogging and Internet marketing, eventually that led to speaking at conferences where my business had to pay for the travel and everything and I didn’t get paid and making that next leap to where people are actually willing to pay you to come and speak, and also pay your expenses. That seemed like a big hurdle. I mean I started working with a guy who’s been doing that for more than a decade and I started working with him in like 2009. It really took until 2011, it took like two years before I was paid for any speech at all. I think I got one, it was like February 2011, and then there were four or five that came near the end of 2011. And then there was a period in 2012, this year, where I wasn’t getting any and I was like, “Man! I thought I was there! Maybe they’ll never happen again.” But then some did.
One thing I took to heart, and I think it was like Alan Weiss who wrote some books on this. He said if you continue to build, in a way you’re building your bio, which is building your platform. You’re trying to add all these things to who you are and what you’ve done and what value you have to give to other people, and then of course your ability to speak, if that’s what you want to be paid for, right? So whatever it is you do, you have to get better at it. So I think having any of those at this point, like I haven’t had trouble for like eight years getting consulting gigs, but paid speaking gigs was harder. And so that’s what I’m still working on. And then it was the weirdest thing, like last week when I was going to speak in New York – and I live in South Carolina – and nobody knew I was going to speak in New York. It’s a private gig. I get this email from a producer at Bloomberg TV that they wanted to interview me the day I’m going to be there, which is the weirdest coincidence. Of course I said yes. They had to like send a car. They had to pay like 120 bucks each way to drive me an hour from where I was staying to – actually, it was New Jersey to New York – and then I was only on TV for like four minutes. So it’s such a crazy, crazy business. I had to get up at like 3 in the morning to do this and it was a very long day. But both of those things are extremely exciting. Some of that stuff.
You know what? You mentioned something earlier that made me think about – like I think some of us have trouble when we get to a certain level where like we actually, whether we realize it or not, have a ceiling on our comfort level with success and happiness, and you get to a point where you’re like, “Whoa! This is weird!” Like you can actually unconsciously self-destruct at a certain point if you achieve more than you think you deserve or whatever. So it gets kind of weird, and that’s one of the problems that I think people have with success that no one knows about when they get there because people don’t really talk about it.
John Lee Dumas: Such a good point. There’s a book, “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind” by T. Harv Eker that just really delves into that and about how people really do self-destruct. He goes into, for instance, lottery winners and what they do when they suddenly come across money that they don’t really feel like they’ve earned. It’s the same thing for entrepreneurs sometimes when all of a sudden we’ve created something that just we’re in the right place at the right time, and boom! We’re big and we’re getting all this money throw at us and we self-destruct. It’s a common, common trait, and it’s so good to be able to actually identify that and take steps to avoid it and grow. So I’m glad you have, Brian.
I do have a follow-up question, and I don’t know how comfortable exactly you are and how much you want to divulge, but I do just have a lot of people in the audience, listeners of Fire Nation, who are looking to get into speaking, and once they do take that leap – and obviously, it’s a long and arduous road – but if they are ever fortunate to get in the situation that you are now where you can actually command a fee to speak, do you have now a fee schedule and are you willing to share exactly what that is and what you expect to speak at any given conference?
Brian Carter: Yes, I do. I mean, you know what? The reality that most people won’t tell you is that what you actually get paid varies quite a bit because every event and every meeting or whatever has a different budget. You may be the keynote or you may be a breakout session. They may have allotted a specific amount of money for you. So you have a fee, which if you work with speaking agencies, they want to know what that fee is and that’s what they try to get. But in reality, you negotiate. So yes. I mean my keynote is $6,000, but it’s gone a lot lower than that at times. And that’s just something – I mean again, I don’t know if every speaker is going to admit to you that sometimes, they go out and do something for travel and expenses plus $1,000 or $2,000, or there are some speakers that are not getting paid and aren’t telling you. I mean what I’ve heard, kind of insider stuff, is that there are a lot of people, a lot of speakers who just aren’t doing quite as well as they would like you to believe. Obviously, I’m a big believer in transparency. I just don’t think that putting up false fronts ultimately helps everyone. It only helps the person that’s lying. That’s that.
I mean some people charge more. Like $10,000, $15,000, $20,000, but it’s really difficult to come back down. If you’re a $15,000 speaker and you have to come back down, it looks bad. It looks like you failed, right? That can cause you problems. So some people raise their fees too quickly. I think I’m still trying to gauge what the market will bear. I mean my topic is social media and there are still events where they don’t have enough budget for it or they’re willing to take a speaker who is not very good or not very educated or hasn’t written a book or hasn’t worked with more than one client who will just say some of the typical things about social media because they don’t have a budget for it. So it’s still a developing topic, but there are a lot of topics out there that have been out there for a long time, like sales, for example. There’s a lot of money out there for it, but there’s also a lot of competition for speaking in that niche.
John Lee Dumas: So Brian, what’s your vision for the future?
Brian Carter: We’ll all be happy and get along?
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs]
Brian Carter: [Laughs]
John Lee Dumas: I love that vision! I want to be there.
Brian Carter: [Laughs] Well, I’m trying to merge business and comedy, which is very difficult to do because there are some people out there who think if you make jokes, you’re not really serious or you can’t be serious. In fact, I think probably my thing is I’m so serious, that I try to balance that with humor. That helps because sometimes I get in consulting, calls, phone calls or whatever where I can use the sense of humor, or I add humor to a speech to differentiate myself. I don’t think I could do peer – I’ve thought about trying to go off and be a peer comedian, and I’m not sure I could do that. I feel a personal burden to give value that’s useful. Like useful, insightful stuff beyond just jokes, just like the Hour of Laughter or whatever. I mean that’s just my personal need or whatever.
And then I may move towards writing books that are more – a lot of the bestseller type books are more conceptual. I’ve written how to books. I do really well with those so I’m still trying to figure out if that’s just where I should be.
John Lee Dumas: Awesome stuff! Well, Fire Nation will keep tabs on you because it’s quite a journey thus far. Brian, we’ll move into my favorite part of the show now, which is the Lightning Round. This is where I get to ask you a series of questions and you get to come back with amazing and mind-blowing answers. Does that sound like a plan?
Brian Carter: Yes, sure.
John Lee Dumas: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Brian Carter: The first thing that held me back was fear. That if I took a risk, I’d become homeless and not be able to get another job. But I think that the number one thing that – I was more afraid of being doomed to work for the man his way and him getting most of the profits.
John Lee Dumas: What is the best business advice that you ever received?
Brian Carter: I think it’s actually from writing. It’s consider your audience. So no matter what you write or speak, you have to think about who those people are and what they need and what they’re open to and what they’re not. Certainly, that filters into when I use comedy and when I don’t. I think from a business standpoint, people need to interact with a persona initially. Like you don’t really get to just be you, but sometimes not every part of you needs to be on display for everybody.
John Lee Dumas: Love it! What’s something that’s working for you or your business right now?
Brian Carter: I think the biggest shift forward I’ve had is writing books, even though I was reluctant to do it. I thought it was stupid that people thought so much of authors. Now I know it’s actually a lot of work and not every author completes their book and so on. I also think that although you can self-publish and that’s great, that also means if you self-publish, there may not be any quality control on it. You may not have the resources of publishers. So generally speaking, still the best books come from the publishing world. So I think that’s a really good thing people should move towards.
John Lee Dumas: Great insight! On that note, what is your favorite business book?
Brian Carter: The one that’s helped me the most recently is “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield, which is not just for artists. I think it also fits entrepreneurs very well. I can’t remember, he may talk about that in there too, but there are a lot of internal obstacles people have to overcome to both create art or achieve in entrepreneurship.
John Lee Dumas: So Brian, this is the last question. It’s my favorite, but just take your time because it’s kind of a tricky one. Digest it and then come back at Fire Nation with an amazing answer.
Brian Carter: [Laughs] No pressure.
John Lee Dumas: If you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world, this world is identical to earth in every way, but you knew nobody. You still have all the experience and all the knowledge you currently have, but only $500 in your pocket, a computer with Internet access and your food and shelter is taken care of. What would you do in the next seven days?
Brian Carter: I would go on Facebook and post funny cat pictures. I’m just kidding.
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs] You’ll get a lot of likes!
Brian Carter: [Laughs] Right. Well, it’s not a survival situation and it sounds like the main thing I’m missing there is friends and associates. So yes, I mean I would get on social media because I’ve found that it was a great place for me with social anxiety, but if you combine like online networking with in-person networking, it’s super powerful and accelerates that process. When I look back at the last 10 years, probably apart from writing, I think these two are tied. The most important thing I’ve done in the last 10 years has been networking and meeting new people.
John Lee Dumas: Actionable advice, easy to do for any startup entrepreneur. You’ve given us actionable advice this entire interview, Brian, and we are all better for it. Give Fire Nation one parting piece of guidance, then give yourself a plug, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Brian Carter: Can we say [get wooden nickels]?
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs] You are a comedian! I love it!
Brian Carter: I guess [Laughs]. Yes, I’m very funny to 12 year olds.
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs]
Brian Carter: What was the last thing? A plug? Oh, just check out BrianCarterYeah.com or find me on Facebook. It’s Facebook.com/brian.carter.man. Man is weird but it’s because “brian.carter” was taken.
John Lee Dumas: Well, Brian, all of these will be linked up in the show notes – EntrepreneurOnFire.com/75 – so people can go there, go to all of your links, your Facebook page and your own site. Your book will be on there as well as the book that you recommended. Thank you so much for joining Fire Nation. We salute you, and we’ll catch you on the flipside.