Giovanni Marsico is the Founder of Archangel – a community of big-hearted entrepreneurs and superheroes. He hosts his flagship mastermind event, Archangel Academy, every January in Los Angeles, and leads an online private community called Archangel Club that gifts forward 50% of revenues to create positive impact in the world.
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Worst Entrepreneur Moment
- Giovanni got into a bad car accident at a LOW moment. He considered suicide for 4 hours – until a vision of his son snapped him out of it. His son was his hero that day. Who is your hero, Fire Nation?
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Giovanni Marsico: John, I have the fire department on standby.
John Lee Dumas: Giovanni is the founder of Archangel, a community of big hearted entrepreneurs and superheroes. He hosts his flagship mastermind event, Archangel Academy, every January in Los Angeles, and leads an online private community called Archangel Club that gifts forward 50 percent of revenues to create positive impact in the world. Giovanni take a minute, fill in the gap from that intro, and give us a little glimpse into your personal life.
Giovanni Marsico: Amazing. First of John, thank you so much for inviting me to chat with you and Fire Nation today. I’m a proud father with a beautiful son named Michael who is 10 going on 30. The kid is freaking smart. And you know what? I don’t often distinguish between personal life and professional life because my work is so very aligned with my purpose and why I’m here on the planet. I like to think of myself as a creator and curator of superhero entrepreneurs, and I often use an X-men analogy, I don’t know if you’re a big X-men fan. But the leader of the X-men is Professor Xavier, and in his role, he has to find people who are mutants, who have gifts, and he shows them how to use their gift to be a superhero, how to change the world, and he also creates a community of these heroes to work as a team. And, you know, I do something very similar. I’m always looking for entrepreneurs with big hearts who want to change the world with their gifts, and I’ve created a community to foster wisdom sharing and connection between these superheroes.
I’m essentially living out my childhood fantasy of being on a team of superheroes, and it’s a lot of fun.
John Lee Dumas: And why not? I mean, why do so many of us leave our childhood fantasies behind?
Giovanni Marsico: Yeah, it’s crazy. In our conversation today I’ll talk about how I became really successful, but I wasn’t happy or fulfilled, and what I realized is when you incorporate things that made you happy as a child, you can be even more happy as an adult.
John Lee Dumas: Love it. Looking forward to that conversation. Fire Nation, hold on to those afterburners, because we are going to be having quite the show today. Now Giovanni, before we get into your past and the successes, the failures, the light bulb moments, etc., talk to us about today. I mean, you’ve managed to find success in a very happy and fulfilling way. How do you currently generate revenue now?
Giovanni Marsico: Like I mentioned, I lead a community of superhero entrepreneurs, and the company is called Archangel, and it generates revenue in two ways. One from our membership community, which is Archangel Club, and then we also produce events, and event production is one of my passions. And I’ll start with talking about our flagship annual event, Archangel Academy, which someone in our group called it a family reunion for superheroes, which I thought was amazing, so it’s a high end private invite only mastermind type of event. We usually get 100 people investing $5,000.00 each for a two day – I don’t like using the word mastermind conference anymore because it’s way more than that, and it’s a show. It’s a party. Literally it’s a party because we actually have a DJ in the room playing between speakers, that kind of thing. But the other thing we do that I’m super passionate about is that we also offer 25 full scholarships to young entrepreneurs who are ages 18 to 25 who would benefit from being in the room with us.
And let me share the story of how this whole scholarship thing started. Ten years ago, I was working at a company called Strategic Coach, led by a brilliant guy named Dan Sullivan. And I was in charge of the marketing but I also had the opportunity to sit in on many of the workshops and it’s a quarterly workshop program for really highly successful entrepreneurs, and I learned more about being a successful business owner from sitting in and just listening to those workshops, listening to the conversation happening, than I could have ever learned in any business school. And it kind of felt like I was cheating because these clients are paying thousands of dollars a year to be there, and I was getting paid a salary. So when I left in 2005 and I made myself two promises. I said one, when I become successful and qualified to be here, I want to join this program, and I did that in 2011. And two, I need to find a way to recreate my experience of sitting in the back of a room in a room full of successful entrepreneurs, and I want to do that for other young entrepreneurs, and that’s how I came up with this scholarship program.
And our other source of revenue is our private membership community. Because I want to keep the event small. I don’t like personally attending events with thousands of people. I love intimacy and I love being able to connect with everyone in the room. So we don’t grow the number of people at the event. What we do is we grow our community online, and that’s Archangel Club, and there’s a monthly fee but the thing I love the most is that we take half of that money, we put it into a pot called the Archangel Fund, and then every month we use that money to gift forward the funds to help support the members in the community with whatever cause they’re passionate about, whatever charity they’re passionate about, if they’re doing some kind of Kickstarter campaign, so that way we can gift forward all the revenues to create more impact exponentially.
John Lee Dumas: Man, I mean, Fire Nation, this is a for purpose way of living. This is the kind of life that Giovanni would have been thrilled to know if at seven, eight, 10 years old if you’d said, “Hey, Giovanni, you’re going to be doing this when you’re 40, 50, 60,” he’d have been like, “That’s awesome.” I mean, how many people can say that, that if their 10-year-old self was given a little look into the future and they’re hunched over this computer pounding away for 12 hours in a cubicle with no windows. I mean, that would be terrifying to most 10-year-olds about the reality of the life that most of us lead, but this is the kind of life that you want your 10-year-old self to be rejoicing at, and I just love the story. Now Giovanni, we could talk about unicorns and butterflies all day. I love them, but at EO Fire, we like to talk about the tough times too, because that’s just reality, and I am reality based. So take us to your worst entrepreneurial moment. Don’t pull any punches, bring it down to the ground level, open up that window, bring us in, and tell us that story.
Giovanni Marsico: Okay, I actually have the date, because it’s a day I’ll never forget. It was March 27, 2008, and to give you some context, this was a month after my marriage failed and I was in one of the worst depressions ever. And that morning, I went to visit a client at his office, I left the client’s office, I’m driving down the street, I’m at an intersection, I’m going through the intersection, and a woman who was supposed to turn decided to go straight through and just crash right into me, and it was, I was left in a daze. Luckily no one was hurt, but it freaked me out because she had a young boy in her car. Like, her son. And my son, at the time, was around the same age, and I was already in the worst state ever because of all this stuff, so that day I literally spent, and I’m laughing now, but I spent three to five hours at a Quiznos in Toronto, which is where I live, debating whether or not I should end everything. And the thing that stopped me was my son, and I’m like, “I can’t do that. I owe it to him.”
And that day, my son was my hero. And ever since that day, everything has shifted and I’ve been on this rocket ship trajectory going up in growth, and I owe it, ironically, to a boy who knew nothing of what was going on at the time, but he’s my hero. And that, to me, was the worst day of my life, because at the time my business was in shambles, I just couldn’t think straight, and now any big, like I’ve had way worse things happen since then, but I treat them as if I’m a steam roller and the problem is an ant and I just, I’m just rolling over it. And like, it’s so much easier now to deal with problems. And I find that the more successful you become, the problems don’t actually go away. They become bigger, but you become stronger at dealing with them, so they don’t appear bigger anymore.
John Lee Dumas: I love that analogy. I love that story, that you are a steamroller and that problem, no matter how big, is a mere ant. Just picture that in your mind Fire Nation. How can you not just be confident that you are going to squash whatever stupid problem, big or small, that is in front of you, when you think of that analogy? The reality is that you can and you will if you have that mindset. Now Giovanni, that story was very powerful. Now unfortunately not everybody listening, myself included, have a son or a daughter that we can point to as kind of a strength point at that place in our lives, if we ever got there, or when we do get there, so looking back, in hindsight, you were able to leverage that. What would you say to our listeners who may find themselves there right now or maybe sometime in the future, what would you say for them to reach out and to find strength? How can they find their anti-kryptonite?
Giovanni Marsico: What I find is that the easiest way to get out of any negative mindset is to take the focus completely away from you and put all the focus on others. The easiest path to happiness is gratitude and service, and the more you focus on helping others, making them feel good, helping them achieve whatever their dream is or their growth is, and you take the focus away from you, it’s the easiest way to get out of that negativity. So that’s some huge advice for anyone who is currently in any kind of funk, because I use that all the time now. It’s almost the basis of my entire existence, serving others.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, why do we spend so much time just shining the spotlight on ourselves, on our own problems, on our own woes? I mean I get it, we’re humans, we’re very selfish by nature. That’s why we are survivalists, because we do worry about our own survival and our own well-being, but listen, this is 2015. Maybe it’s 2016 when you’re listening to this, who knows, but the reality is this. You can take your own spotlight off of yourself, turn it outwards, be a person of service, be a person of gratitude, of thankfulness, and just try that out for a couple of days. Because whatever you’re doing right now with the spotlight on yourself, it’s not working, so try something different. And I love what Giovanni says here. Now shifting, Giovanni, to another story, this one being one of an aha moment, an epiphany, a light bulb that you had at some point in your journey, take us there. Take us again to that moment. Maybe you don’t have the exact date, maybe you do, but tell us that story, Giovanni.
Giovanni Marsico: Absolutely. So it was a few years ago I had a huge revelation that there are, essentially, two ways to build a business. One is you create a product or a service and then you find the people who want that thing, or two, the lesser known one and the one I love, is that you create a tribe first and then figure out what they want and serve them. So tribe first, product second, and prior to Archangel, I was in the real estate space in Toronto and that’s where I built my success. Up until now I think I’ve sold almost close to $200 million worth of individual condo units since 2009, but I wasn’t happy at all. I wasn’t fulfilled. And I had, in my real estate business, that first way of building a business, having the product first and then finding the people that want it. And what I found was that it was extremely stressful because I’m always working with people I don’t want to work with, serving the wrong people that weren’t in alignment, and always trying to fit them into that box of, “Do you want this thing?” And when I started Archangel I made a decision that I would only work with people I loved.
It wasn’t even people I liked, people I loved, people I want to hang out with on the weekend, people who were aligned with me and share the same beliefs, and I started the Archangel tribe one relationship and one conversation at a time, essentially giving as much of me as I can, my time, my wisdom, my connections, my money, whatever it is that I could do to help them grow, and I found that happiness and fulfillment come from surrounding yourself with people you love and serving them in any way you can, like I mentioned before, right? And now I’ve set up my business where you literally can’t become a client unless you’re either referred in by an existing member or you go through a really strict application and interview process. And it’s something I kind of jokingly call rejection marketing, which is essentially saying no to almost everybody but only saying hell yes to the right people, to your dream clients, to the people you kind of love. And I don’t even, I tend not to use the word client anymore because it doesn’t seem good enough.
I use the word family, because there’s a love connection between me and everyone else. And I actually have a second aha, if I could bring one up. This came to me recently. So because I have that application process, as part of the questionnaire, I ask, “What is your current biggest challenge in your life and your business?” And we’ve collected thousands of these applications. And I recently exported all the data into a spreadsheet, and I’m scanning down the column that says “challenge,” and I notice something fantastic, that the words, even though there are thousands of answers, all from different industries, all in different language, there were five or six common themes that kept coming up. And I realized this is so invaluable. I can actually take this data, take those five or six themes, and create a product, like a book or a course or anything I can to address those five or six things, and I have an instant audience. And if anyone is wondering how to create a project, at that point, this is so simple, you ask people what their current challenges are and look for the themes and then come up with the solution to those five or six themes in one encompassing product.
And it also creates an amazing copyrighting strategy, because copyrighting is one of my passions. You always want to write in the language that your audience uses, and to me the most important thing is to have the person reading what you’re writing or listening to what you’re saying to say, “This person gets me.” And I think it’s so much more valuable for your reader to feel understood than they are to understand you, which is a really big distinction. So those are my two ahas for you.
John Lee Dumas: Tribe first, product second, Fire Nation. How powerful is that? It is so much better than product first, customer second. Why? Because you get to choose the playground. You get to choose the people. You are surrounded by your tribe. I launched EO Fire and for six months 180 episodes, I launched a daily episode. And guess what? My tribe grew around that, then I asked Fire Nation, you, “What are you struggling with?” You told me, and the products that I have created, Podcaster’s Paradise, Webinar on Fire, they have been from your struggles, your pain points, your needs and desires. That’s an amazing way to go about it. So couldn’t agree with you more Giovanni, it’s an amazing way to build a business. One sentence brother, one sentence, what do you want to make sure Fire Nation gets from that aha moment?
Giovanni Marsico: Honestly I think tribe first, product second, if they can just remember that, that will be a huge takeaway.
John Lee Dumas: Giovanni, what is your biggest weakness as an entrepreneur?
Giovanni Marsico: My kryptonite, huh? So up until recently, I have always had the mindset of being a martyr and being selfless, where I was thinking I should always serve others even if it meant sacrificing myself, and I realized that being selfless is the most selfish thing I could have ever done, which doesn’t seem to make sense but it does for me, because you can’t sacrifice yourself, you can’t serve others if you are weak, if you are unhealthy, and for me it showed up the most in my health. And it’s cliché, but if you’re on an airplane, they always say put your mask on first and then help the people around you, and I wasn’t doing that in my life or in my business, and now I’m slowly switching that around. And you know what? I can only be effective in changing the world if I change myself first.
John Lee Dumas: What’s your biggest strength?
Giovanni Marsico: I’d say my tribe. My tribe and the love I have for each of them and the love we have for each other, which it may be funny to speak about love in a business context but it’s true, and you can copy my events, you can copy any books I write, you can copy my strategies and my marketing, but you can’t duplicate the relationships, you can’t copy the bonds that we have.
John Lee Dumas: You might say that it’s funny to talk about the word love, I would actually say it’s sad not to. I mean, why are we living in this world if not for that reason? So powerful stuff, Giovanni, and what is the one thing above and beyond everything else that you have going on right now that has you most fired up?
Giovanni Marsico: It's definitely the planning of the production for my event in January. So it’s not, like we’re taking it to the next level in terms of creating a show and creating a memorable experience, right? So I’m a big movie freak. I love movies, and we’re literally going to make people at the event feel like they are stars in a film with a storyline. And we have a lot of surprises, a lot of surprise guests, and a lot of entertainment intermixed within the event itself, so I’m super excited and proud of what we’re producing right now.
John Lee Dumas: Well Fire Nation you need to get excited, you need to get pumped up for the lightning round, but first, we’re going to take a minute to thank our sponsors. Giovanni, are you prepared for the lightning round?
Giovanni Marsico: I am.
John Lee Dumas: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Giovanni Marsico: Nothing really. I was 16 when I first started my first ever venture so I guess school? Is that a good answer? School?
John Lee Dumas: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Giovanni Marsico: Definitely to join a high level mastermind group and surround yourself with super successful people. Outside of my own event, I am also a member of Joe Polish’s Genius Network and Jason Gainther’s Mastermind Talks and I’m in a strategic coach, I’m in a group called The Brotherhood. I am who I am in terms of business because of the people I surround myself with, and if you can do it, do it.
John Lee Dumas: What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Giovanni Marsico: For sure it’s creating, what I call, extreme routine, so my days are really structured, they’re always the same, but I also have a ton of space within those days for creativity, for doing things I love, and I learned this from how Hal Elrod from his book Miracle Morning who is a friend of mine to structure your mornings all the time the same so that you can be more productive and have more space throughout the day, so definitely extreme routine.
John Lee Dumas: Are you coming down to Best Year Ever in December?
Giovanni Marsico: You know I can’t, but Hal is speaking at my event so I’ll hang out with him.
John Lee Dumas: Okay, bummer, well I’m speaking at that event so we’ll send you a copy. Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation.
Giovanni Marsico: I’m going to make you laugh right now because my resource is the game Candy Crush which, don’t laugh, I don’t ask people to play like those annoying messages on Facebook and stuff, but I think it was a month ago I read Jane McGonagall’s new book Super Better, and in the book she talks about how playing Candy Crush can actually curb cravings for candy and sugar, and since I started playing, I’m actually down 15 pounds, which is nuts. So candy crush.
John Lee Dumas: Fascinating. If you could recommend just one book for our listeners, what would it be and why?
Giovanni Marsico: I’ll take it on a bit of a tangent, I would recommend Brian Johnson’s Philosopher Notes videos. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen them, but Brian Johnson records these 10 minute videos sharing five or six nuggets of wisdom from a bunch of books, and I’ve actually bought more books from listening to his videos recommending books and giving the highlights of those books, so I don’t know what the domain is but if you go to YouTube and search Brian Johnson’s Philosopher’s Notes they’re incredible and definitely an amazing way to summarize these books and help you figure out what you want to read.
John Lee Dumas: 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 audiobook for free at eofirebook.com. Giovanni, this is the last question of the lightning 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 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?
Giovanni Marsico: You know, I would do exactly what I did to start this current business. I would seek out superhero entrepreneurs who probably feel as alone as I’m feeling in this strange world and connect them with me and connect them together with each other into a family and figure out what they need to grow and then invest that $500.00 to help them get to their bigger future and start the whole process that way again.
John Lee Dumas: Loving the pay it forward, and Fire Nation, we’re going to end on fire. So Giovanni, share a parting piece of guidance, the best way we can connect with you, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Giovanni Marsico: In 2004 I went to an event that changed my life because I met Mark Victor Hansen, one of the Chicken Soup for the Soul guys, and he gave me advice that changed everything. He said, “If you want to be rich, you have to enrich,” which essentially means if you want to make money you have to serve other people first, and that’s been my thinking since that day, so I would definitely recommend that to everyone. Give first, and then receive.
John Lee Dumas: And what’s the best way we can connect with you?
Giovanni Marsico: Check out the event archangelacademy2016.com and the membership at archangel.club.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with and you’ve been hanging out with GM and JLD today, so keep up the heat and head over to eofire.com. Just type in Giovanni in the search bar. His show notes page will pop up with everything that we’ve been talking about today, and Giovanni thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flip side.
Giovanni Marsico: Thank you so much for having me.
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