Dane Maxwell is the Founder of Zannee, which makes real estate tools for recruiting and retaining brokers. At 22, Dane started out of his parent’s toy closet building an intranet website for real estate companies. Now, five years later, Zannee.com works with hundreds of real estate companies, helping them with real estate recruiting websites, real estate intranet websites, and real estate transaction management systems. That is all very exciting, but wait until you hear about The Foundation… it’s revolutionary.
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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!
- “The more I study copywriting, the more abundant my life becomes in every area.” – a Dane Maxwell original
- Dane talks about two failures, and each are very unique. His details are better than I could portray here.
Entrepreneurial AHA Moment
- Find anybody’s pain, and you have found an amazing business opportunity. Dane gets specific and shares his formula that resulted in him making over $40k in one day.
- Foundation.io. I have never been more inspired…
- Dane gives our listeners an AMAZING step-by-step strategy of how to create a business out of thin air. Dropbox anybody?
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John Lee Dumas: Hire Fire Nation and thank you for joining me for another episode of EntrepreneurOnFire.com, your daily dose of inspiration. If you enjoy this free podcast, please show your support by leaving a rating and review here at iTunes. I will make sure to give you a shout out on an upcoming showing to thank you!
John Lee Dumas: Okay. Let’s get started. I am simply thrilled to introduce my guest today, Dane Maxwell. Dane, are you prepared to ignite?
Dane Maxwell: Go Baby.
John Lee Dumas: At 22, Dane started out of his parents’ toy closet, building an intranet website for real estate companies. Five years later, Zannee.com works with hundreds of real estate companies, helping them with real estate recruiting websites, real estate Internet websites, and real estate transaction management systems.
Dane, I’ve given a little overview about what you’ve done. Why don’t you give us a little more intel about who you are and what you do?
Dane Maxwell: This is probably my tenth interview in the last week or two, and I’ve been quite blessed to be able to share this message. I think you might get the most articulate version since I’ve been so practiced by now.
John Lee Dumas: That’s exciting.
Dane Maxwell: One of the things I think is really important is not that I started with intranet and not that I built recruiting websites, and not that I own a real estate transaction management software company. It sounds like a mouthful. It is that I built all those companies from nothing. I built all those companies without any idea of what I wanted to build initially. I got the ideas straight from my customer. I built those products without any money, and I built those products without knowing how to write any software.
So the products themselves are remarkable. They’re remarkable because they’re built specifically on what the customer said they wanted. I didn’t have to inject my opinion anywhere in the process. What makes my business remarkable in my opinion is the process that I use to create to companies from thin air, if you will.
That has been what’s kind of sparked the popularity of the process that we now teach at the foundation, and of course all the interviews that I’m doing. It’s because people are really eating up this process because really, it’s a process that focuses on the unlimited potential of being human by reversing all of the common limiting beliefs that people have around business. Like business is risky, business takes a lot of time, I have to pick family or business, or I have to pick one thing to be successful at. You hear a lot of people that aren’t successful saying, “Well, at least my family is good.”
Well, no. You’ve just really settled on an abundant life because you can have everything you want. You just have a limiting belief that’s holding you back. So what’s really exciting to people about this is is that they can live from an empower belief framework that says you don’t need an idea. You don’t need to know how to write software, and you don’t necessarily need money to build a lucrative software company which happens to be the most lucrative business on the planet.
John Lee Dumas: Wow! Well, I am excited to delve more into this. Now, we’re going to transition to the first topic, which is the success quote. At EntrepreneurOnFire, we always like to start the show off with a little success quote. It’s kind of our way of getting the motivational ball rolling, so to speak. So Dane, what do you have for us?
Dane Maxwell: “The more I study copywriting, the abundant my life becomes in every area.”
John Lee Dumas: Alright. Can we attribute that to you or to anybody else?
Dane Maxwell: I just made it up. There’s probably maybe a few different ways you could say it since copywriting is an iterative process. Really, the main principle I want people to take away is that if you want an abundant life, study copywriting.
John Lee Dumas: That’s incredible. I’m glad you made that up on the spot. It speaks volumes about where your head is at. How would you say that you actually apply that to your everyday life?
Dane Maxwell: Well, copywriting is the process of putting words and phrases into a sequence that gets people to take action. That action can be whether they give you their email address on a website. It can be if they give you money. It can be, depending on what your family wants to do at night, it could be getting them to go to your favorite movie when they don’t want to go. It’s how I hire the best developers in the planet.
Copywriting is not about sneaky, sleek persuasion that manipulates people. Copywriting is about figuring out what’s important to that person, figuring out what objections they have, and then removing those objections, disarming those objections so that they can get what they want, and you can get what you want at the same time.
So for example, I have software companies. They’re all incredibly well run by amazing people, and I hire them with great copywriting. You find out what’s important to a developer. Well, what’s important to a developer is getting paid on time, having clear expectations, knowing that their product is going to impact the world, knowing that their code is actually going to get in the hands of customers so they can iterate based on customers instead of being stuck in an endless cycle of development and never getting released.
Actually, those are the three big things. It’s being paid on time, having clear direction, and knowing that their work is going to be impacting people. Now, if you take those principles and you look at oDesk or Rent a Coder or Elance or any place people hire developers, you won’t find any of that language in anywhere of the titles for their projects. All the titles of the projects are all very me focused. It’s the people that are trying to build software. They’re like, “I want this, this and this,” and none of that has anything to do with what’s important to the developer. Thus and hence, why they probably have trouble hiring remarkable talent.
John Lee Dumas: That is such a great point. We’re going to use that to transition to our next topic. At EntrepreneurOnFire, we really focus on the journey of the entrepreneur. You’re our spotlighted entrepreneur right now so we’re going to start with your journey and really delve into some time in the past, you’ve had a failure. You’ve overcome a challenge, you’ve overcome an obstacle. Lead us through the steps of this failure up to the point that it happened.
Dane Maxwell: Well, John, first I want to commend you on what you’re doing with EntrepreneurOnFire. I think it’s a very well needed thing because we need as many people that are producing quality content about entrepreneurs as possible. So I just want to thank you for doing what you’re doing.
John Lee Dumas: Well, thank you, Dane.
Dane Maxwell: The failure that comes to mind is the big one. I mean there are lots of failures. In fact, if I get into the story, I had an intern come visit me. He saw my interview on Mixergy, and he wrote me and said, “Hey, Dane, I loved your interview on Mixergy. I want to be around you. Would you please let me live with you for the summer? I’ll be your intern. I’ll work for free. I’ll do whatever you want.” I gave him a few test things to see how serious he was. Like a test project to see how he would perform on it. He got them done pretty decently well. I said, “Okay. Come on down.”
Three months go by, he starts a few different ventures. Something in the e-commerce world, something in the pest control world, all under my guidance, and none of them worked out. They didn’t work out not because of my guidance. They didn’t work out because he had severe limiting beliefs that were handicapping him from actually being successful.
This is what we actually find with people that are failing. It’s not that they lack the knowhow. It’s that there’s actually a subconscious limiting belief very deep inside them that’s actually preventing them from going after what they really want.
Anyway, at the end of the summer, I dropped him off. I dropped him off at the airport [Unintelligible – [00:07:18]. He looked over at me and he said, “Dane, I feel like I’ve been a failure this summer. I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything.”
Zooming back from that standpoint, we created a very open relationship – it sounds like we’re dating, but that’s not the case [Laughs]. We created like a very openly, emotionally, communicative relationship where we talk about our insecurity, we talk about our fears. I think he actually helped talk me through ending an engagement at the time. So he helped to actually even move the furniture out. So we bonded on a very deep level. This is actually how deep and transparent I like to be with everyone so they can show up with their raw emotions as they are, which I think is so important. Otherwise, I don’t think he would ever have told me that as he got out of the car.
He said, “Dane, I feel like I’ve been a failure,” and I said, “You know, you didn’t come here to succeed, Chris. You came here to fail faster.” That gave him some hope. Fast forward a year later, he’s now got his first few paying customers on his first business.
So it’s really not about entrepreneurship at the foundation. We believe that success comes from I think progress and – or what is it? Success comes from failure, basically. Like we believe we fail so we can succeed. Success comes from progress. Progress from experience. Experience from failure. We fail so we can succeed.
I failed more times than anybody I can count in my social circle. It’s just that successful people aren’t any smarter. They just fail more. Then the ones that don’t fail, they stick. Now I’m fortunate that I don’t actually fail much, if ever, anymore because we’ve kind of perfected this fairly proven process where you can predict the success of a company before you ever start building a product.
What sparked all that was me losing $12,000.00 buying a website for sale that I totally got scammed on. I bought it on like BuyaWebsite.com. I bought that bad boy and it was bad to me. I signed a contract to guarantee earnings, verified earnings. Everything was legit. Then like 20 days in, Google AdSense emailed me and said I had so much fraudulent activity they’re shutting down my account, more or less. I wrote the guy and he said, “No, you’ve been clicking on your own ads so this is your fault,” and of course I wasn’t.
So we tried to sue back and forth with an attorney, and it went back and forth the letters that he said I was clicking on my ads and I said I wasn’t. Google wouldn’t give us the IPs of who was clicking on the ads. I just completely dropped it, and it was at that point when I decided I’m going to stop trying to buy my freedom. I’m going to start looking internally and build my skills sets so that I can actually create companies from nothing.
I had about $123.00 in my bank account at the time. I remember logging into Wells Fargo to look at it, and it was just terrible.
Now, that was the best $12,000.00 I ever spent because it was that $123.00 that I had that I was able to launch my first six figure product from absolutely nothing.
John Lee Dumas: God! Those were two extremely powerful stories. Thank you for sharing that. We’re going to again use that to transition to the next topic, which is right on the heels of this. That’s an aha moment because as entrepreneurs, every day we have little aha moments that propel us forward. They keep us going. They inspire us.
Right now, I’ve heard so many aha moments that you’ve had up to this point in this interview, and I really would just love for you to focus on one aha moment, one huge light bulb that came on that you said, “Wow! This is going to be big. I’m excited. Let’s do this!”
Dane Maxwell: Who’s your audience, typically?
John Lee Dumas: My audience are people that are currently in corporate America that are driving to work every day, listening to this podcast every day. Looking to be inspired, looking to break away from that life and into entrepreneurism.
Dane Maxwell: Okay. Bad ass. I have an aha that aligns with them very well. So before I get into the aha, I remember sitting at a RE/MAX convention because I sell to a lot of real estate companies. Well, I don’t anymore. That whole company I have, I hired a CEO. He runs the whole thing. I’ve stepped away from the software company. I’m completely focused on teaching now.
But when I was running the company, I was sitting across the table from this RE/MAX broker. A big, big dealer. This guy’s a big [expletive] dealer. He’s one of the top 100 in the country. He’s like, “So Dane, I want to set up your Agent Care Center product.” That’s AgentCareCenter.com, one of my software products. It does about five, six grand a month. That’s for the last few years. I don’t touch it. It’s the smallest business I have.
He asked me, “So Dane, tell me about your product.” I said, “Well, tell me what you need to know before you sign up.” He said, “Well, actually, I don’t need to know anything. I’ve already looked at it all.” I said, “Great! We’ll sort out the details when you get back home.” That was it.
I remember we were at a table full of eight other brokers, and all the other brokers were like, “Oh great. The tech guy is going to go into his spiel about how amazing his product is.” Since I understood that copywriting is removing the barriers to get someone interested and have them buy, I said, “Well, what’s important to you?” He said, “You know, I actually don’t need to know anything,” and so that sale was made in a matter of 30 seconds.
I tell that story because it’s linked to the question I asked you – who is your audience? Because it’s linked to my biggest aha, which is that if you are focused on breaking out of your job and you’re trying to think of ideas to break out of your job, it’s probably stressful. It’s probably uncertain, and it’s probably frustrating.
The reason it’s those three things – and it’s probably more. You can probably even list off more, John, but the reason it’s those is because it’s focused on the person. It’s the person in corporate America that’s focusing on getting out. Well, they’re the person that got themselves in that situation in the first place and you cannot solve a problem with the same mindset that you came in at.
Albert Einstein said that. Interesting enough, no one can actually find and attribute where Albert Einstein actually said that. I think someone just put his name to it one day and we all think he said it now [Laughs]. But you can’t solve a problem at the current level that you created it in.
So if you got into a job with the mindset that you have, you have got to change your mindset to get out of the job. That’s why it’s important that you listen to courses like this to reverse your mindset.
So let me give you the aha so you have that reverse mindset. Stop focusing on you. Do I still have you, John?
John Lee Dumas: Absolutely, Dane.
Dane Maxwell: So stop focusing on you. Stop focusing on what you want to do. Stop focusing on your passions or what your skills are. Take all of that away and just focus on what the pain in the market is. If you just pick a market like veterinarians or bird shops or karate studios, or I picked real estate companies, and you just go into the market and you ask them two questions, this will open up an entire world of opportunity to you.
You ask them, what’s the most important activity in your business? They’ll answer. Then you’ll say, “Are you sure? Is there anything that’s more important?” They’ll say, “No, this is my most important activity.” You’ll say, “Okay, great. Do you have any pain associated with that activity?” They’re going to say yes. If they don’t say yes, there’s something wrong. It’s not the most important activity because usually the most important activity has pain.
Then start digging into that and you find out that they have severe pain around this very important activity in their business and you start defining that pain clearly. You write it down and you’re like, “Alright. So I understand your pain is X, Y, Z,” and you write it down. Then your subconscious is going to come up with a solution to that pain [Unintelligible – [00:15:01]. You don’t even have to worry about coming up with the idea.
So instead of being like idea-focused like what’s my idea, what can I do? Become focused on finding the pain, and you will get out of your job much faster than you realize. In fact, you might get out of your job so quickly, it’s going to scare you.
John Lee Dumas: Wow! I love that. That is just so clear. You’ve just described it so well. It’s really got me excited. I’m going to ask you this question. Have you had an I’ve made it moment?
Dane Maxwell: There’s a series of them. I thought I had the I’ve made it moment when I had made my like first $2,000.00 a day. Now, I make like a couple grand a day every day, and I don’t even have to work on that. Then I thought I had my I’ve made it moment when I had a $40,000.00 day. Then I was like, you know what? The money is actually not important. Then I thought I had the I’ve made it moment when I had all these people writing in and thanking me for changing their lives. So the aha moment – or not. Is that what you said? The I’ve made it moment?
John Lee Dumas: Yes.
Dane Maxwell: Yes. The first I’ve made it moment was when I was making like four grand a month and my expenses were like $2,000.00 when I was building my first six figure software product, the Recruiting Ninja System, and I was on my own. I was like, “Holy [expletive]! This is actually going to work.”
John Lee Dumas: Awesome. Thank you for sharing that insight. We’re going to transition right now into what you have going on today. I’ve really been following you for a little while now, and it really just gets me excited as to what you’re going to answer to this next question because I know what you’re doing. I’ve been tracking you and I’ve watched the videos. I’ve received the emails. It’s inspiring. Let’s continue off of that and just kind of break into what is something that’s really exciting you right now about what you’re doing.
Dane Maxwell: Oh man! I have to put it into words like helping people realize their full potential, and providing the support structure and the community and the framework around actually making that reality. What happens is people get stuck. Like I have a number of friends that I met basically – okay. Being an entrepreneur is the loneliest thing on the planet. It is so lonely at the top. Like you have very few people to relate to because not a lot of people want to be at the top.
John Lee Dumas: Right.
Dane Maxwell: Interestingly enough, the most crowded part of the pyramid is all the people that choose to be mediocre and average. The second you choose to be excellent and go to the top, it’s really not that competitive. It’s just not a very crowded space. And it’s a much better place to live. Sure, it demands more of you, but at the end of the day, you just feel better because you know you’re doing what you were built to be. If it’s being the best mom on the planet, then be the excellent mom. I’m not saying in terms of being an entrepreneur in business.
I’ve had a number of friends that were working 9 to 5 that are now completely free of that cage, and they’re working anywhere in the planet. My passion really is this whole getting started community, this whole business opportunity, this whole work at home thing, this whole have freedom thing. It’s a very jaded, shady place that I think needs to be reinvented.
We also take entrepreneurs that are stuck. In a simple sentence, we teach people how to build a six figure software company in six months where they have no ideas, no money and no development experience. If you start working with the foundation, you have to apply and if you’re accepted. At the end of six months, you will have a software product with at least 10 paying customers, even if you don’t have any idea, any money or you don’t know how to code.
That’s like the end result that we provide people, but it goes so much deeper than that because this is kind of a step on your journey because what will happen is software will give you – you’re going to build your skills set in business as an entrepreneur, which is super important.
Then as you build that skills as an entrepreneur, it’s going to ignite these other areas of your life that you didn’t know about so that when your software company gives you freedom, you’re actually free to explore what your real passions are without the financial burden of having to make money with them.
So the end promise is very, very enticing. It’s a lucrative software business that you can own even if you’re pretty clueless. As long as you have desire to bring to the table, it can happen. But it really goes much deeper because we’re really working with people to reverse limiting beliefs to empowering beliefs, helping them reshape their mindset so they can get out of the situation that they got themselves stuck into. That is our new focus and my goal is to create at least 20 new entrepreneurs and 20 new software companies in the next year. That’s what I’m working on now.
John Lee Dumas: That is a worthy venture, a worthy cause. Let’s explain a little more to the listeners exactly what this would be. Let’s do that by saying, John Dumas, myself. I go, I apply, I get accepted to the foundation. What happens? Take me through the process.
Dane Maxwell: So it’s a six month program. In the first month, a lot of the things we find is that we find that people, they think they need an idea to join the foundation. The first month is all about finding an idea, and we do that by focusing on three keywords – “find the pain.” We have the whole process around idea extraction where we’re going to different markets and we idea extract. When you do this process, it’s not going to be an issue for if you can find profitable ideas or not. Your stress will not become I need an idea. Your stress will become how do you pick from the three lucrative ideas that stand in front of you.
So that’s what happens in month one. You’re going to get stuck in that process. You’re going to have limiting beliefs that come up. You’re going to be talking on the phone to business owners. You’re going to have to learn these new skills. You’ll have other people in the community going through this stressful process as well, but the stress creates growth, and you grow into a different person.
Every time you take action, it rewires your brain a little bit. So when you rewire your brain, you don’t just read books and listen to interviews. You take action. It actually creates new circuitry in your brain. So you’ll actually be with other people that have all the same fears as you, all kind of pushing forward as a group. There’s a couple hundred people all at one time doing this. It’s very intoxicating to be around this kind of infectious synergy.
So you get stuck in that process and you’ll have my personal attention. I work personally with everyone. We reverse those beliefs so you can move forward. That’s month one. Month two, you start to pick the most lucrative idea that can be built in the least amount of time where we have the whole five part green light, yellow light, red light framework that if you get a green light in all five areas, then your gangbuster is good to go on that. Some of the green lights are like the scope of the project better be less than 12 weeks. Revenue potential. Whatever you want to make for revenue potential. If it’s five grand, that means that you need then 100 people at 50 bucks a month. Is that possible with this product? There are other green lights that are important as well, but those aren’t important to get into now.
So that second month, picking the most lucrative idea. You’re going to get stuck there as well. You might want to pick the idea that you think is coolest, but your customers actually tell you there’s a bigger pain in another area. So we’re very careful about this. What we find is that entrepreneurship is really nothing more than helping people get out of their own way.
The way that you succeed in entrepreneurship is that you just don’t get in your own way. Like if you ask the average business like, “Hey, do you track all your important numbers?” Eight out of ten businesses are going to be like, “Nope.” Then the two out of ten that say yes are the ones that actually just dominate their industry because they track their numbers.
The entrepreneur doesn’t even track the numbers. He hired someone in to be the number tracker for them. It’s not about doing stuff you don’t enjoy. That’s not what I’m saying.
Month three is then all about selling that idea in advance. We have this whole process where we’ve perfected that people will pay you for your product before it ever exists and will be excited to do it. Then if you can sell people on your product and they give you money before it exists, that’s totally legit, totally [Unintelligible – [00:23:18], totally ethical and totally legal.
Colleges do this. [Unintelligible – [00:23:22] does this with their T-shirts. If you go to Harvard’s site you’ll see that people can enroll in this course and they got to pay two grand for the course, but they don’t get to see it for like a month. Sort of paying in advance. Then Harvard says if we don’t have at least 75 students, we’re not going to run the course. So it’s like they refund your money. Harvard does. Like really smart people do this and it works very, very well. So we talk about how to sell in advance.
If we find people in the foundation building products or wrapping code before they have any paying customers, we kick them out. In fact, we kick people out from month one if they aren’t following directions. This is a very high performance group. You don’t join unless you’re taking action. Otherwise, you will be kicked out.
So you’re just surrounded by all these people. No matter how scared you are, as long as you’re taking action, that’s okay. It’s okay to be afraid as long as you’re in a supportive community that you’re not alone, and as long as you’re taking action. That’s okay. But at month three, we’ll kick you out if you don’t have any paying customers yet.
Then the last three months are all about building the marketing engine that’s building the leads that are going to buy your program that exists. We talk about loop generation, list building and how to build the lead capture page, and then how to draw in traffic to that, and then how to talk to your list as you’re building the software so they fall in love with your personality and the product even more.
Then month six, hopefully on month six, your developer hasn’t gotten into a car accident. We had one member that the developer got into a car accident so it’s delayed her software product about one-and-a-half month. So hopefully, nothing bad has happened. It usually doesn’t, but that could be a worst case scenario. Then you launch in month six with at least 10 paying customers.
John Lee Dumas: Wow! That’s exciting. I’m going to link all these up in the show notes so the listeners can just go there and watch the video and go to the website and learn even more about this, which is just truly inspirational stuff.
Dane, what is your vision for the future?
Dane Maxwell: Serendipity is surrounding the foundation in every way. This is not like just a casual endeavor for us. The foundation is a world class program. We are reinventing education. We are reinventing education in that we are focusing on the belief structures and the mindsets and reversing them indefinitely so people can find an abundance of joy in their life. Inaction doesn’t do that. They address the surface level issues. They don’t dig deep into the core and really change the heart of who someone is. We do this from a very loving place.
So I want to build, we want to build the largest group of self-aware, loving entrepreneurs on the planet that are like kind of warriors. Not that like we can do it, we’ll charge through walls. We would if we have to, but more like warriors of ourselves, of understanding ourselves with our limiting beliefs so that we can all reverse them together and become a more empowered community because we believe power is in the community, and alone where get together we are unstoppable.
So this is to build the most remarkable group of loving entrepreneurs in the planet and it’s to create as many possible software companies as possible. I want to have – well, I keep saying “I” because my limiting belief for the longest time has been that I need to do things by myself. I’ve just since reversed this belief to know I’m going to focus on what I’m amazing at, which is teaching, and build a team around me that can do the other remarkable things. So if you hear me saying I instead of we, it’s because I’m just shifting into this new belief that I’ve just recently reversed in myself.
So anyway, we belief really, and we’re building this list of entrepreneurs all around the world. We want to have a list that’s so big, that if I’m traveling and I’m in Florida, we can blast [Unintelligible – [00:27:25], “Hey, I’m coming to Florida in Tallahassee. Is anybody living here? Let’s kick it and have a beer.”
So like my entire goal for the list is to have friends all around the world so wherever I travel, I can be in good entrepreneurial company so that I’m not alone. This will be for anybody who’s a team member in the foundation.
I also have this vision of this home that I would build for myself that’s like anywhere between a $5 million and $10 million home. We’ll bring in like feng shui experts to calibrate the energy of every room, and I want it to be one of the most loving homes in the planet so people can come from all around the world to come visit and live in this place and experience it for a while and just be transformed by the loving energy of this home.
The reason I focus so much on love is that the fear center of your brain is actually shut off when love is present. A lot of people teach with fear. Like you got to do this or we will kick you out. I guess that is a little bit of fear, but that works really well for us. Otherwise, we find people slipping. But for the most part, like it’s all very loving because when you do love, the fear center of the brain shuts off.
I’m repeating myself here, but for example, if someone is in love, you see them doing like crazy, stupid stuff. It’s because all fearful thought in the brain has completely shut off because that love is present. So even the people who are super afraid, when they get into the presence of a very loving energy field, which we find that is present in the foundation, they’re able to move forward.
So it’s kind of an all-encompassing thing, John. It’s a really large list of entrepreneurs all around the world we can tap into wherever we’re traveling. It’s this amazing home that people can come into and be transformed by, and it’s to have as many possible new software companies and new entrepreneurs created as possible.
John Lee Dumas: Powerful, powerful stuff. I cannot wait to join you at that home at some point in the future. That’s going to be a great place.
So Dane, we’re approaching the end of the interview at this point, and this is where we launch into the Lightning Round where I just ask you five questions. Just take 20 to 30 seconds to answer each one of these questions for our audience.
Dane Maxwell: Okay.
John Lee Dumas: The first question is what was the number one thing that was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Dane Maxwell: It was thinking that I needed all these things in place to actually sell to a customer. Like a legal entity, a domain name, a product name, a brand, an attorney that’s like got my corporation all set up and business cards, and everything that a customer doesn’t care about. It’s the most freeing thing in the world when all you do is focus on what’s important to the customer. The customer does not care if you have a website or made your logo. They just care if their end result can get solved.
So once I’ve made that my focus which is I can solve your end result – we launched PaperlessPipeline and it was doing a few thousand dollars a month before we even ever registered the real domain name or created the product name or created the logo or anything because customers didn’t care about that. They just wanted to manage their transactions. So that’s what we focused on. It wasn’t an entity of any kind.
So it’s really just focusing on what’s important to the customer. I can explain this – I know it’s longer than 30 seconds, and I know you can logically hear it, but to internally really experience how little you need to do to actually start a company, you’ll find that it’s much easier to start a company than it is to go out and fill out a job application. Filling out a job application and applying for a job is actually more work than starting a company when you start a company correctly by focusing on the customer.
John Lee Dumas: Oh, I love that. What’s the best business advice you ever received?
Dane Maxwell: Find the pain.
John Lee Dumas: Awesome! What is something that’s working for you right now?
Dane Maxwell: Following my true purpose. I’m 29. It took me 29 years to find it. My true purpose is being a teacher, and I want to be one of the best teachers in the world. I made that declaration about a month-and-a-half ago because I found out about it about a month-and-a-half ago. What’s working for me is making that realization, and then hiring a team of people that can do everything else around me so that I can just focus on teaching.
It’s nice that I have money in place so that I can pay them, but the interesting thing is that many of them don’t want to be paid. They just want to be around me so they can experience my energy base – this is what they tell me – and learn from me so that they can maybe go off and do their own thing one day.
So it’s really been to recognize what my unique ability is and what my special talent is, and I wasn’t able to find it until I was taking action. I didn’t just sit around and realize, “Oh, I’m a teacher.” It was actually by trying to teach, and actually by starting these different software businesses that I was able to find it.
So what’s working for us right now at the foundation is we’re building this amazing team. I find that the quality of employees that I find, the quality of partners, are directly related to the quality of our vision. Our vision is to empower people with empowering beliefs so they can find an abundance of joy in their life, and they just so happen to build software companies.
So I’m being very clear on a really deep-driven mission and being focused on being a teacher so that others can fill in the gaps where I don’t want to be. It’s looking oh so incredibly well that I have to pinch myself sometimes.
John Lee Dumas: I love that vision. Do you have a book that you’d recommend to Fire Nation?
Dane Maxwell: It’d be a different book if they were starting their companies. If you were an entrepreneur and you were building a company, I would say The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes is a must have book. If you are looking to break out of your company, well there is the book The $100 Startup. I’ve never read it, but that comes to mind. I know Chris Guillebeau is a great writer so I’m such that book is quality, but I haven’t personally read it. But that book came to mind so I wanted to mention it.
Really, I don’t think this is really about books for people that want to get out of 9 to 5. This is really about the experience of doing idea extraction. Get off your butt. The next business that you walk into and do a transaction with, ask them, right there, right face-to-face, “Hey, tell me. I was curious about your business. What’s the most important activity in your business right now?”
Just try and ask it however awkward it feels. Just do it. Start finding the pain all over the place.
John Lee Dumas: Absolutely. This is the last question, Dane, and it’s my favorite. It’s kind of a tricky one so you can take a couple of seconds to digest it. If you woke up tomorrow morning and you still had all the experience and knowledge that you currently have right now, but everything that you’ve ever created had completely disappeared, leaving you with essentially a clean slate, which many of our listeners find themselves in right now, what would you do in the next seven days?
Dane Maxwell: I’ve often said that you could burn everything that I have to the ground, and I would just recreate it tomorrow because the external businesses that I own are a reflection of my internalized belief structures and mindset. They have nothing to do with the actual things that exist. So the manifestations of whatever they look like in the real world are all created because of my internal reality of how I perceive the world.
So I have no fear at all about any of my businesses failing. I’m not attached to any of them succeeding because I know they will succeed. That’s kind of [Unintelligible – [00:35:03] but it’s true. So I am attached to them succeeding. Like if they don’t succeed, I’m bummed. But like I’m not afraid of like if everything tanks, what’s going to happen? That’s just not a question.
So the next seven days, I would be so excited. Like it would be the greatest seven days ever because it would be so much fun. Like I don’t know what I would do. I would probably – okay, I’ll get really specific for a second.
John Lee Dumas: Great!
Dane Maxwell: I would target a company, a big software company that has an API like a Dropbox or a FreshBooks or – what’s some other big software companies with APIs? 37signals, Basecamp. Do you have any come into mind?
John Lee Dumas: I think 37signals is a great one. SEOmoz. Another one that we interviewed yesterday.
Dane Maxwell: Oh man, SEOmoz. Is that Rand Fishkin?
John Lee Dumas: Yes. We had Rand Fishkin on the show.
Dane Maxwell: Oh man. That guy is nuts!
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs] He is insane.
Dane Maxwell: Can I say F words on this?
John Lee Dumas: I’d like to limit them.
Dane Maxwell: Okay. Yes. I will only say that one [Laughs].
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs]
Dane Maxwell: I don’t really drop the F bomb, but man, I got to tell you he deserves it. He’s just nuts! Let’s pick Dropbox. I think Dropbox might be the biggest. I would go into the Dropbox community and I would start talking to users and I would find their pain about what they’re using Dropbox for that Dropbox wasn’t necessarily designed for. So they’re kind of like hacking Dropbox together to solve a problem that they’re like really trying to solve, but it just doesn’t really exist yet. I would find the pain out of conversations with people that are all using Dropbox until I kind of came to this universal conclusion that 30% of the people I talk to or 10% of the people I talk to – anywhere between 10% to 30% is fine – all are like – especially people in Dropbox in the real estate space or in the attorney space or how are they using it.
Like maybe they have a system where files go into a folder, and then they get moved to the reviewed folder once they’re reviewed, but sometimes the review screws up or whatever. So then I would say I’ve got this problem, I’ve got this pain. Okay, great. Now I’m going to build an API on top of Dropbox. It’s a simple hour review in the workflow structure so people can mark off files and then move them over to reviewed without like screwing up the file hierarchy and emailing notifications if files aren’t reviewed or whatever.
I’m just making this up, but d without like screwing up the file hierarchy and emailing notifications if files aren’t reviewed or whatever. I’m just making this up, but like this is what I would, and there are a number of very significant advantages that are built into this kind of process. I notice how this is all just an internal mindset thing, and then if this didn’t work out, I might try something different. Maybe I might target the DJ market or disc jockeys. I’m sure that they’ve got some pain. At the foundation, we believe that there’s an unmet pain or an unmet need in every market. You just have to dig long enough to find the pain.
So anyway, we’ve got the Dropbox thing. There’s a number of significant advantages. One, there’s already built-in paying users so you know that they’re willing to pay money. Two, you have a built-in customer base, which is great. Three, you have an existing software platform that you can build on top of so you can rapidly build a software product on top of that with the API very quickly. Four, if you have no idea what you’re doing with the software, it’s even better.
You’re even more well off because the foundation is already in place by Dropbox. So you can just post on oDesk and say, “Hey, I want to build this thing on Dropbox that does file reviewing send out,” and you’re going to get developers that write that.
Now I said at the beginning at the beginning of the interview if you’re kind of doing copywriting, it’s fast payment, guaranteed work, work that matters. You can kind of put that in the title, but just say I want to do this with Dropbox. You’ll get enough replies back to start for you on price as you go back – I go back to customers I talk to. I say, “This is what’s going to cost me to develop. I’d love for you to fund this in advance. In exchange, I want to give you the product free for life.”
Then within those seven days, I would like to have development start on that product, money funded in the account, and then building on that API, and then expanding on that. It’s not just for Dropbox API. Eventually, we’ll break off so we’re like the official file reviewing system for attorneys in this case, if I happen to target attorneys using Dropbox. That’s probably one thing I would do.
John Lee Dumas: Wow! I just love listening to the wheels turn in your mind. It’s really an awesome thing to hear. So thank you for sharing that, and thank you for joining us today, Dane. This is the end of the interview. You’ve given us some great actionable advice and we are all better for it. Why don’t you just give Fire Nation one last piece of advice, give yourself a plug, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Dane Maxwell: What do you think is the most impactful thing you’ve heard on the interview so far, John?
John Lee Dumas: I think the most impactful thing is fail faster. I really am a believer in that, but to hear how you put it, I just know how true it is and I’m excited to go do that.
Dane Maxwell: Yes. When you have everything on the line, like if your whole life is on the line, like if this business, the idea doesn’t work out and you can’t leave your company, it is so hard to not be afraid of failing. The thing about the foundation is you’re in that community of support so it’s more okay to fail there. You feel safer to fail. But what I would say to you, if this Dropbox idea – this is my piece of advice – if the Dropbox idea did not work out, I would try and sell it to customers. If they said no and they didn’t want to buy it, then that idea has failed. I tank it, I move on to the next one, but I’ve done so in like two or three days.
So that’s what I mean by fail faster. It’s like try and sell your idea, try and get money for it, and if you can’t get money for it, there could be an issue with your salesmanship, which SPIN Selling is actually a really great book. SPIN Selling. The guy who diagnosed 30,000 of the greatest sales calls ever done and put them into a model formula for just selling the [shit – [00:40:54] – sorry. Selling the crap out of everything. SPIN Selling is a great book.
So that’s what I mean by fail faster. So if like that Dropbox idea didn’t work, I’d say, “Oh, cool. Thank you.” I wouldn’t lose that guy as a customer because they still have that painful problem. I would just maybe try and do something different. So you marry this problem. Don’t marry the solution. So many people get stuck in marrying their solution. That has to be the solution, that has to be this product, and if anybody wants anything different, you’re not going to pivot.
Stop that. That causes so much pain and frustration and failure. That causes grey hair and wrinkles on your face. Marry the problem. Sell your product, fail fast.
If you want to see this done in real time, if you want to see case studies of people doing this so you can have more confidence to move forward and do it in your life, definitely check out thefoundation.io. That’s thefoundation.io.
You can request the case study of how a 22 year old kid from New Zealand built a six figure software business from thin air. He was working at a cell phone company. He had five grand in the bank when he joined the foundation, and now like even less than a year later, he’s got over 70K and he’s well on his way. He really started with nothing. His business is in his garage and he is a living testament to how much potential you have that you don’t even know about.
John Lee Dumas: We’re going to link all these up in the show notes. So again, thank you so much, Dane, and we’ll catch you on the flipside.
Dane Maxwell: Great, man. Thank you.