Jay Baer is a hype-free, tequila-loving Social Media and Content Strategist, speaker, and author. He founded Convince & Convert in 2008. Jay has consulted with more than 700 companies on Digital Marketing since 1994, including Caterpillar, Nike, and Billabong. He was named one of America’s top Social Media Consultants by Fast Company Magazine, and the Convince and Convert blog is ranked as the world’s #1 Content Marketing Resource.
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- “Some days you’re the pigeon, and some days you’re the statue.” – Unknown click to tweet!
- Jay has had clients straight up tell him they hate his work. Listen to how his mentality turns this into a positive.
Entrepreneurial AHA Moment
- When Jay tried to do it all, he failed time and time again. When he started to surround himself with experts in areas he was not, he started seeing incredible results. Listen as Jay gets specific about the team he has assembled and how they operate in the virtual world.
- Jay has a lot of things going on, including between 50-100 speaking engagements every year. Listen as he tells us of one such speaking engagement and how he CRUSHED it.
Small Business Resources
- BufferApp.com: A Smarter Way to Share on Social Media
Best Business Book
- Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd by Youngme Moon
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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, Jay Baer. Jay, are you prepared to ignite?
Jay Baer: I am 1,000% prepared to ignite!
John Lee Dumas: My man! Jay is a hype-free, tequila-loving social media and content strategist, speaker and author. He founded Convince & Convert in 2008. He’s consulted with more than 700 companies on digital marketing since 1994, including Caterpillar, Nike and Billabong. He was named one of America’s top social media consultants by Fast Company Magazine, and Convince & Convert blog is ranked as the world’s number one content marketing resource.
I’ve given Fire Nation a little overview, Jay, but why don’t you tell us who you are and what you do?
Jay Baer: Thanks very much for having me on the show. It’s an honor to be here. I have been in digital marketing, as you mentioned, since 1994. So almost as long as you can have been in digital marketing. Convince & Convert is my fifth entrepreneurial venture, my fifth professional services startup. So I’ve been doing this a long time. I absolutely love it. It’s a very exciting period now with all the advances in social media. It sometimes feels like the world has changed more in the last three years than it did in the previous 30 years. So there’s never a dull moment in my world.
John Lee Dumas: Love that! Jay, listen. We always start every show off with a success quote. It’s kind of our way to get the motivational ball rolling and to get the EntrepreneurOnFire listeners pumped up for the rest of your content, which I can already tell is going to be incredible. So what do you have for us today?
Jay Baer: I keep it on my wall in front of my laptop, and it says, “Some days, you are the pigeon, and some days, you are the statue.” I take that to heart because what I’ve discovered being an entrepreneur now for almost 20 years is that it is never going as good as you think it is, and it is never going as bad as you think it is, and I think it’s important to recognize that.
John Lee Dumas: So Jay, how do you apply this quote to your everyday life?
Jay Baer: Well, I think as an entrepreneur, one of the reasons that we choose that path for ourselves is the sort of visceral nature of entrepreneurship. Right? It is passion-worthy and it means a lot to you to have your own business and watch your business grow. But I think sometimes we get caught up in the sort of micro details of entrepreneurship. Right? Oh, we got a new client or we have a new project or we’ve got a new book, and you get really, really excited. Then something happens that’s maybe not as positive and you get really, really down and really depressed. Maybe it’s just that I’m getting old, but I have determined that the best way is to try and stay in even keel. Do not get overly excited about your victories and not get overly disappointed about your defeats.
John Lee Dumas: So true. Entrepreneurship can truly be a rollercoaster, so keeping even keel, that’s a great lesson to pull out of that. It’s a great plaque to have on your wall. We’re going to use that to transition to our next topic, which is failure, or a challenge or a major obstacle that you’ve come up to at some point in your life. As an entrepreneur, you have failed, you have come up with a challenge that you’ve really had a hard time or struggled with, but you’ve obviously used that to propel yourself forward or to inspire you further in different directions because you’re still here today. Can you take us back to a moment in time during your journey as an entrepreneur where you have faced an obstacle and you have overcome it? Can you take us through that?
Jay Baer: Yes. I’ve been really fortunate, I should say, that I’ve been doing this a long time, and as I said, I’ve started four or five professional services firms in a row and have been able to sort of start them from scratch and get up to speed relatively quickly. So I’ve been fortunate. I haven’t had a lot of those, “Oh no, we may not make it this month” kind of moments, and I am eternally grateful for that.
But one of the things that I have discovered is that you really have to – as you grow your business, you have to get to the point pretty quickly where you understand what it is that you are not good at. Right? So if you’ve read E-Myth and books like that, one of the things that they’re very big on, and I agree, is this notion of the entrepreneur working on the business instead of working in the business.
I have discovered that I am really not a very good Project Manager. So I manage by Post-It Note, and that is not a highly scalable game plan. So there were a couple of times when I was a young entrepreneur in the website design/website production business where I made mistakes just because I wasn’t paying attention. I’ve actually deleted people’s websites. My clients. Like, “Oh sorry, your website’s gone because I screwed something up.”
So I took that lesson and realized I have to have people around me who have that attention to detail, who make sure that those kind of mistakes don’t get made. One of the things I’ve written about a lot, John, is that in entrepreneurship, I think the people who do it best are those who figure out as quickly as possible what they’re not good at and what they don’t want to do. Whereas I think most entrepreneurs try and gravitate toward what they do want to do and what they are good, and I feel like you’re better off if you almost do a process of elimination.
John Lee Dumas: Absolutely. I really appreciate that aerial view and the lesson that you have pulled from that. That’s just great karma right there to go forward in with that mentality. Can you take us now down to ground level into a specific situation where you really came across something that you had to adjust with the client or just with your business in general and how you reacted to that?
Jay Baer: First, with starting out. This was a long time ago. We delivered something to a client and I had not approved it or looked over it or sort of did that final examination of it before it went out the door. And for reasons that are unimportant for the purposes of the show starting out.
This was a long time ago. We delivered something to a client and I had not approved it or looked over it or sort of did that final examination of it before it went out the door. And for reasons that are unimportant for the purposes of the show, it just was not quality work. It just was not up to par, and the client called us and said, “This is really, really, really poor work and this is not what we expect from you,” and it was a pretty ugly situation.
It really got me to understand very early on that you’re only as good as your last deliverable. Now, in this era of reputation and Twitter followers and blogs, and everybody has got a book and being a speaker and an author – it’s like being an actor or a singer or a model these days – that yes, you may have some sort of public reputation that social media generates, but at the end of the day from a client perspective, from an entrepreneurship perspective, you’re only as good as your last deliverable and you have to continue to bring quality every single time. You can never rest. You can never say, “You know what? We’re good enough to sort of mail this in,” because that is where you turn around one day and say, “Oh, I’ve just ruined my business.”
John Lee Dumas: Absolutely. So Jay, we’re going to transition now into the aha moment because as an entrepreneur, just like we experience failure and obstacles and challenges every single day, we also have these little moments continuously – daily, weekly, monthly – that inspire us, that move us forward, that just really help us grow our business.
Sometimes in that journey, we really have had this one big aha light bulb moment that just came on. The clouds parted, the sunrays came through, and then just the angels were singing. Have you had that large aha moment that you were able to flex into a true success?
Jay Baer: I don’t know that it was a lightning bolt out of the sky, but certainly an understanding that there is a way to differentiate in professional services not around quality, not around smarts, but just around responsiveness. So one of the things that I have always done across all the different companies that I have started and owned is we are the guys that will call you back. We are the guys who are on top of it.
Literally every day, a client or a perspective client says to me or one of my people, “I can’t believe how fast you got back to me. I can’t believe how responsive you are.” While that would seem like table stakes, in the technology business, and to some degree in the professional services business, it’s anything but, John.
There are a lot of people out there in social media, in content marketing, in web design, in email, in SEO, who you send them an email and they’ll get back to you three days later. You leave them a voicemail and they’ll get back to you next week, and I refuse to run my business that way. I’ve probably generated more income for myself and my family just by being responsive than through any other single mechanism, and it’s something that any entrepreneur can do. You just have to commit to it.
John Lee Dumas: I love that aha moment, and that really speaks to the team that you’ve built around yourself, and you alluded to this earlier. That you realized early on that you can’t do it all. You’re not a professional at everything. You’re not an expert at everything, and if you focus on what you’re good at, that’s going to be what’s best for your business. So can you take a moment and talk to the listeners of EntrepreneurOnFire and tell us about the team that you have built around you?
Jay Baer: I think it will be somewhat different than what many listeners expect. I have started and run several what you might consider to be traditional digital marketing agencies where we had a number of people on staff as regular employees – anywhere from three or four in the early days to 50 or 60 people on staff.
In this company, Convince & Convert, which we started a little over four years ago, I decided to do it totally different. I don’t want to start another agency. I don’t want to run another agency. I sort of feel like I’ve been there and don’t have anything left to prove in that regard. So I wanted to really build it as more of a consultancy.
So the way it works is we’re purely virtual. There are six people on the team now across the entire United States at East Coast, West Coast, and I’m in the Midwest. Every single person on my team is a contractor, and every single person on my team has their own company as well. So all the people on Convince & Convert on my team have their own clients that they work with in social media and content marketing and digital marketing, but then we come together to work on projects under the Convince & Convert umbrella.
All of those entrepreneurs are on retainer to my company. So I pay them every month, whether I use their time or not. By doing it that way, I know that all the people who are working with me have the kind of entrepreneurial skills, the client skills, the attention to detail, the customer focus, that I need to be the best-of-breed in my industry.
John Lee Dumas: Again, I love this aerial view that you’re giving us. Now, let’s take this down to the ground level again and really get into the specific roles that you have these people playing to kind of give us a good idea of what you have as a team.
Jay Baer: You bet. So I do most of the business development and client relationship management. I have a guy, Daniel Lemin, who’s a former Google marketer who lives in Los Angeles. He’s our Chief Strategist who works on most of our strategic planning initiatives for clients. Chris Sietsema in Phoenix is our Head of Digital Operations and manages most of our execution layer projects for clients. Lisa Loeffler, who’s also in Arizona, does a lot of research projects on behalf of our clients and a lot of tactical recommendations. We use a special Ninja Facebook trick and those kind of things that we help our customers with.
Then we have some other folks on the East Coast who really focus on our thought leadership. In the industry that I’m in, of course, content creation is extraordinarily important. So we’re always working on the blog, email newsletter, e-book, physical book and speaking opportunities. So there are some people on the team that really focus on that part of the business as well.
John Lee Dumas: Thank you for being so transparent with that because I think that’s just really helpful for the listeners to really understand how a true virtual business works because that’s just a big mystery to a lot of people. So just the way that you were very transparent and shared with us the different roles that these people play is a huge, huge benefit to these listeners here, so we definitely appreciate that.
Jay Baer: Let me just mention one thing that I think is really important for the listeners to understand. It’s that A, everybody who works for me, as I mentioned, has their own business. Right? So they have those kind of skills, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Then B, anybody who works with me, I already knew. So most of the people on my team, I had worked with in previous companies or I have a personal relationship with. So we’re not building a virtual company by pulling people off the street and saying, “Let’s hope this works.”
If you’re going to run a truly virtual company like we do where we literally only get together in person twice a year, and everything else is email and GoToMeeting and Skype, you have to have that sort of unstated shorthand in the organization. You just don’t have time for handholding. So you have to have people who really are sort of on the same wavelength. They know what you want, they know how each other operates, and that sort of – it’s going to sound strange, but that sort of “virtual closeness” is really, really important to making that structure work.
John Lee Dumas: Thank you for breaking that down even more because the more that we can understand how a successful virtual business works, the better off we all are. So we really appreciate that. Jay, have you had an I’ve made it moment?
Jay Baer: I’ve had a lot of moments where I thought, “You know what? I’m proud of that.” I’m very proud of my first book, “The Now Revolution,” that did very well and continues to do well. There are certainly times when I walk offstage – I do 50 to 100 speaking engagements a year – and you walk offstage and you know you killed it and you know you’ve imparted information that’s going to change people’s business. That’s certainly a moment that you relish. There have been things that we have done for clients and we see how our work and our advice has built their business. That’s extraordinarily gratifying. But I’ll tell you, what probably makes me the happiest and what I point to as the biggest moment is that something like – I’ve added it up lately – but something like 20 or 25 people who have worked for me have started their own companies. I feel like this kind of structure that I have put into place not just in this company but in previous companies that I’ve owned, has fostered entrepreneurship, and many, many young people who I have hired either out of college or as a very young professional have subsequently started their own successful businesses, and that pays tremendous dividends to a lot of people and I’m really, really proud of that, probably more so than anything else.
John Lee Dumas: So Jay, you did mention that you have a lot of different facets going on in your business, and it all sounds very exciting. I normally ask our guest to only give one thing that’s really exciting them about their business today, but I really feel like it would be beneficial to the EntrepreneurOnFire audience to hear a couple more things because I just feel like you have a couple more things to share. Can you share two or maybe three things and really expound on those things that are really exciting you about what you’re doing right now?
Jay Baer: Absolutely. Let me give you a sense of sort of the business that we do, and that might help. So we do consulting for corporations and we help corporations with social media strategy and content strategy. We do a lot of consulting for agencies. So we help advertising agencies and public relations firms stay great at social media. We’re sort of the “social media whisperer.” So they send us their proposals and their work, and we say, “Yes, that’s good, but you know what we could? We could put this little twist on it, and that would make it even better.” So we do a lot of that kind of work.
We have a very successful blog, we have a weekly podcast, we have a daily email newsletter and we sell advertising through all of those channels, and then we do a lot of public speaking and book writing. So there’s in common an exposure through those channels as well. So every day, there are a number of different projects.
Even though it’s only a five or six-person team, because of our agency relationships and our own direct client relationships and the things that we’re doing, we probably work with, either directly or indirectly, 40 or 50 companies per week every week. So we see a lot of opportunities. We see a lot of pitches – in baseball parlance – which I think make us effective consultants because we have so many at bat. We see social media and content marketing and digital marketing from a lot of sides, and I think it makes us pretty effective and sort of keeps us in that hype-free position. We’re like, “Yes, it’s just business.”
John Lee Dumas: So you spoke of your public speaking and how you do between 50 to 100 events a year at times. You actually even shared that sometimes you walk offstage and you just say to yourself, “Wow! I really just crushed that! I know I’ve helped a lot of people.” To me, that’s really inspiring, and I know the audience really is inspired by that as well. Can you take us to an actual event and kind of paint a picture for us of where you were recently a public speaker at an event, and take us through that whole event when you actually crushed it and how you really think you did help those people in the audience.
Jay Baer: Absolutely. Of all the things that we do, public speaking is probably my favorite. I come by it naturally. My mom and my stepdad are both teachers. They were teachers for 30+ years. What I envisioned I would be doing right now is teaching in the university. In fact, John, that was my plan. I sold my last business and did pretty well on that, and I was going to sort of semi-retire and teach and write. But then the simultaneous real estate collapse and stock market collapse sort of put that dream on hold, and so I’m back for another go around at Convince & Convert. I feel like being a public speaker is the next best thing to being an educator because you’re educating in 60 minute blocks over lunch as opposed to in a classroom setting. I think the dynamics are really similar.
Then to your question about an example, literally just like three days ago, right? So last Friday, I was in Orlando at the International Council of Shopping Centers Conference on MOCIAL. That’s Mobile Location and Social. A special niche conference for that industry, and it’s all shopping center owners and mall owners and those kind of guys. This new speech that I’m rolling out is called “Youtility: Why Smart Businesses Focus on Helping and Not Selling,” and it’s the basis of my forthcoming new book. But this speech I had only given twice in the past in two very friendly audiences, very social media-aware audiences who are predisposed to understanding and embracing the themes that I’m bringing forward.
So this was the very first time I had ever given that speech to a regular business audience, and again, it’s allegedly going to be the foundation of my new book. So I was very, very nervous about, “Hey, you know what? If this doesn’t resonate with this audience, I have a real problem.” I have a problem with the speech, I have a problem with the book. I got to go back to the drawing board. It was one of those days. The same thing happens in sports where your timing is right, the lighting is right, the room is right, the crowd is right, the coffee is hot and just really hit all the marks and it was almost a euphoric kind of experience where you sort of walk offstage and you’re like, “You know what? That’s about as good as I can do,” and the feedback from that presentation was extraordinary. People were saying, “That’s the best marketing presentation I’ve ever seen. I’m going to go back to my office and put those principles into practice on Monday.” That kind of thing. That makes it all worthwhile. It’s nice to get a check, but it’s even nicer to know that people are going to get back on the plane and say, “You know what? That guy was right. We should do our business that way.”
John Lee Dumas: Abstract theories are great, and at EntrepreneurOnFire, we really try to bring the story to the audience. So that was just so powerful. You actually sharing that insight into your life and how you did crush it, and that is truly meaningful. Thank you for doing that.
Now, the word “entrepreneur” is truly a mystery to many people. They really kind of scratch their heads and they wonder, what exactly does an entrepreneur do during the course of a day? It’s just a mystery. At EntrepreneurOnFire, we really do try to pull back the curtain and show that yes, an entrepreneur does have a variety of tasks and it’s very common that we don’t do the same thing day-to-day. However, there definitely are commonalities that we are doing that are taking up a good portion of our day. Can you just speak to the audience and tell us two tasks that you do find that take up a portion of your day every day?
Jay Baer: Absolutely, and as I mentioned, some of my previous companies were more traditional agencies where we had a number of people involved. One of the reasons I got out of that model was that I found myself as we got dozens and dozens of employees, you end up not doing the things that you love. You end up not doing the things that brought you to that industry in the first place. It got to the point in my last company where I wasn’t actually doing marketing. I was doing HR and finance and accounting. I mean the things that I don’t want to do.
So in this company, it’s very intentionally small enough. In fact, we probably turn – well not even probably. We turn down far more work than we take. We only have one rule in the company, which is we only work on stuff that everybody in the company wants to work on. So every time we have a business opportunity, we vote on it. If everybody’s eager to do it, we do it. If everybody’s not eager to do it, we pass. To me, that’s the definition of success – when you work on only the things that you want to work on.
That being said, because it’s an intentionally small team, I work with clients directly every day. I have phone calls or email exchanges or Skype calls with our clients every day, helping them get better at social and digital and content. Then because of the amount of speaking that I do, I work on some sort of presentation, a keynote PowerPoint kind of thing, every day. I’m always in there doing presentation design and presentation development on an almost continuous basis.
Then because we’re out there when we want to be out there, we probably do – I’m sure I do an interview like this. Not a show of this magnitude with your level of insight, John, but some sort of media interview at least once a day.
John Lee Dumas: So Jay, your business is rocking right now. You turn away more business than you actually accept. Your team is rocking. People understand their roles. What is your vision for the future of Convince & Convert?
Jay Baer: It’s a great question, John, and one that I’m not entirely certain I have a handle on. It’s going great. We have a 40% increase in revenue this year, a 40% increase in revenue last year, a 40% increase in revenue the year before. So it’s been very stable of 40, 40, 40, which is great. That’s a growth that is excellent, but also not runaway growth. That’s kind of how I want it. I don’t want to go from 6 to 25 people, and all of a sudden you change your whole dynamic. So we’re trying to control that growth.
Where does it go? I’m not totally certain. It’s hard to have an exit strategy with a purely virtual business because you have nothing to sell. Not that I want to sell or not that I would sell, but that’s one of the things that entrepreneurs need to understand. That when somebody wants to come out and buy your company – and I’ve sold agencies in the past – if you don’t really have any saleable assets, that takes one of those exit opportunities off the table.
So I think we’re going to stay the course. Everybody is having a great time. Our clients like it. We like it. It’s a great place to be right now. So we see very similar into the future for the next two to five years. A decent growth every year, we keep doing great work, we continue to be recognized for our thought leadership and our excellence. I can’t complain. There are worse jobs out there.
John Lee Dumas: Having three years running of 40% growth and looking at that as the vision for your future is a pretty good thing. So I definitely applaud you for what you’ve done in the past and what you’re looking to do in the future.
So Jay, we’ve now reached my favorite part of the show. We’re about to enter the Lightning Round. This is where I provide a series of questions and you come back with amazing and mind-blowing answers. Does that sound like a plan?
Jay Baer: Lightning sound effect?
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs] I will add that in post-production.
Jay Baer: Excellent, excellent.
John Lee Dumas: What was the number one thing that was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Jay Baer: I think like most entrepreneurs, it was fear. And I’ll tell you a little story. I had worked in marketing services since I was 17. I had always wanted to start my own thing, but I was pretty well compensated at a young age, which was nice. I was doing well and I was afraid to give that up to be an entrepreneur and say, “Well, what if this doesn’t work and I got to feed my family?” and that typical kind of concern that a lot of potential entrepreneurs have.
My best friend – who also ended up being my brother-in-law – he married my wife’s sister. So my best friend was my brother-in-law, which is fantastic. That’s an awesome circumstance. He came down with brain cancer, and unfortunately passed away when he and I were both 32. Once he was diagnosed, that was the push I needed. I walked into my company and quit and started my company, my first entrepreneurial venture, the next day. I said, “You know what? Here’s the thing. If this doesn’t work out, I can just go get a job as somebody’s Internet guy. Nothing terrible is going to happen.” When you realize what terrible things can happen, at least for me it gave me the courage that I needed to take that first entrepreneurial step and I’ve never looked back.
John Lee Dumas: Wow! That is a very grounding and moving story. Thank you for sharing that. What is the best business advice you have ever received?
Jay Baer: Because I’ve always been on the professional services side, I think this is good advice. My first boss said, “Look, our job is to give our clients our very best professional advice, but at the end of the day, they decide whether or not they take it.” That was really good advice for me because it can be frustrating with this kind of company that I run when you say, “Here’s what you should do,” and then it doesn’t get done. At the end of the day, it’s not our job to pull the trigger. We can’t make the horse drink, right? We can just lead him to water. That has been something that stuck with me probably every day for the last 20 years.
John Lee Dumas: What is something that’s working for you or your business right now?
Jay Baer: Because I come out of the digital marketing industry, we’ve always been very attuned to the math and the metrics of marketing success. Right? Of measuring success, of understanding marketing scoreboards and dollars allocation and ROI, and applying that same kind of principle to social media and content marketing areas where some people struggle with understanding the math and the measurement has been really effective for us. We tend to be the grounded math-oriented guys. Like “Let us show you mathematically what works,” as opposed to “Wow, that’s neat. That tweet sure felt nice.” We really try and apply some more sophisticated measurement concepts to somewhat of a touchy feely industry and that’s been very effective for us.
John Lee Dumas: I don’t always ask this question, but you are so plugged-in to the online world that I’m going to throw it in. Do you have an Internet resource like an Evernote that you would recommend to the audience?
Jay Baer: Great question. You know what I like a lot? And I will say this with disclosure that I’m an investor in this company. I use Buffer all the time. For listeners who are on Twitter or on Facebook, Buffer allows you to find the content. Then click a button and it will tweet it or Facebook it or LinkedIn it at some point down the road. So what I do every morning is I read 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 email newsletters and blogs every morning, and I come up with a collection of things that I want to send out to my audience that day, but I don’t want to send them all at one point in the morning. So I click the Buffer button and click, click, click, click, click. Then every couple of hours it sends those out like a time-released capsule. That’s a very nice way to build some audience and some content curation.
John Lee Dumas: Phenomenal! What is the best business book that you’ve read in the last six months?
Jay Baer: I would say there is a book called “Different.” It actually didn’t do super well, unfortunately, but I really, really like it. It’s by – I’m going to grab it. Hold on. I’ll be right back. I have it right here.
Sorry, John. I want to make sure I have the author’s name right. It’s called “Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd,” and it’s by Youngme Moon. She is the Chair of the Harvard Business School. It’s all about how companies can differentiate themselves in the credit market place by being meaningfully and markedly different from their competitors. It’s very much of a brand positioning book, but it’s really, really well-written and [Unintelligible]. A quickie read and definitely one of the best books I’ve read in a while.
John Lee Dumas: Awesome! I will absolutely be linking all of these up in the show notes so the audience will have an easy way to get to this specific book. Thank you for sharing that.
Jay Baer: You bet!
John Lee Dumas: So this last question, Jay, is my favorite, but it’s kind of a tricky one. So definitely take your time and digest it before you answer. If you woke up tomorrow and you still had all of the experience, knowledge and money that you currently have today, but your business had completely disappeared, forcing you to start completely with a clean slate, as many of our listeners find themselves with right now, what would you do?
Jay Baer: The reality is I would probably do the same thing again because I’ve already done similar companies four or five times. When I was a kid, one of my first jobs was as the Marketing Director for Waste Management. I was a trash guy. My job was to give tours of landfills, quite literally. Actually, before that, I worked for the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections, and my job was to give tours of the juvenile prison. So if you need to know anything about landfills or juvenile prison in addition to social media, I’m probably your guy.
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs]
Jay Baer: One of the things I learned being in the trash business is that you go to all these trash conferences. And I’ll tell you what, that’s a good time. Right? Guys who own trash companies. Those guys can party. So what I learned from those guys is that they routinely will buy a single trash truck. Right? A refuse truck. Then they’ll move into a city and they’ll pick up a few routes, and then they’ll pick up a few more routes, and they’ll pick up a few more routes. Then inevitably, after two or three years, one of the big guys in the industry will come along and buy them out. They’ll wait for their non-compete to come up two years later, and they do it again.
I met a guy at a conference who had done that four times in a row. Who had just said, “Okay, same playbook. Boom! Do it again.” That’s probably what I would do. I would probably start over from scratch with the exact same playbook.
If that was off the table, I would probably start a wine or tequila bar.
John Lee Dumas: Wow! Great analogy with the trash, and hey, as the intro said, you are a tequila guy. So that’s pretty awesome.
Jay Baer: I was in Arizona for 40 years so I come by it geographically.
John Lee Dumas: Boom! There you go. So Jay, you’ve given us some great actionable advice, and we are all better for it. Give Fire Nation one last piece of guidance, give yourself a plug, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Jay Baer: Don’t hire your friends. It is great to become friends with people you hire, but a lot of entrepreneurs, especially when they’re starting out, say, “Oh, I know Bob. He’s a buddy of mine. We can kind of put him in that role. He’ll be fine.” I have seen more friendships ruined by entrepreneurs bringing their friends onboard than companies built. So I think you’re much better off keeping those two worlds separate. I have had that experience myself and seen that happen a number of times, and I know it’s very tempting to sort of go through the rolodex that you already possess, but I don’t think it’s the healthiest approach for most entrepreneurs.
John Lee Dumas: Very unique advice. We haven’t yet heard that on the show. So thank you for opening up that perspective. Jay, thank you so much for taking the time to join Fire Nation today. We really appreciate everything that you shared. We look forward to following you at Convince & Convert. We will be linking everything up in the show notes. Do you have a plug you’d like to give?
Jay Baer: Yes, you bet. For people who want to know what’s going on with the social media and content marketing world, we have a daily email newsletter called “One Social Thing.” It’s called that because we send one thing every day. It is the story, one story that you need to read every day. So it’s not overwhelming, it’s not a million things. It’s one thing. You can grab that for free at onesocialthing.com.
John Lee Dumas: Awesome, Jay! Fire Nation salutes you, and we’ll catch you on the flipside.