John is an entrepreneur, connector and startup enthusiast. He truly enjoys helping people find their passion in life. He is the founder of Due.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [00:58] – John lives in Palo Alto, California, is married and has a daughter
- [01:31] – One BIG and Unique Value Bomb: John is an expert at content marketing
- [03:20] – Worst entrepreneurial moment: Four years ago, John sold a company and bought a new one involved in e-commerce. They made multiple millions in sales every month. One day, they got a call from Amazon with a partnership offer
- [04:17] – Three weeks after the deal was made with Amazon, their account was shut off and they could not sell on the site anymore
- [04:40] – Never have all your revenue coming from one source – 93% of the revenue for John’s company came from Amazon
- [05:15] – John realized they had no money to pay their employees and they were headed into bankruptcy so he had to lay off every one of his employees
- [06:34] – They liquidated their entire warehouse of goods in two days, which was worth half a million
- [06:51] – John never found out the official reason why they were shut off from Amazon
- [08:17] – John was able to get into Amazon’s office, but his request wasn’t accepted
- [09:09] – Aside from diversification, you have to plan better
- [10:03] – JLD tells Fire Nation to remember that “this too shall pass”
- [10:36] – Greatest AH-HA Moment: John was in a sales job where he was selling on the phone; he got paid $8 for every sale he made. He posted a job ad on Craigslist looking for people who could sell for him and they would get $6 from every sale
- [11:40] – Two people responded to the ad and John started posting job ads everywhere, he soon had sales representatives of his own
- [12:18] – John found more ways to sell online and he became the number one sales representatives of their company; he was able to make 457 sales in one day
- [13:11] – John realized he had the power to change what he was doing and found a different way to become more productive at his job
- [14:02] – Even though something is working for you, it does not mean it is the best way—always be improving yourself
- [14:46] – JLD says to think outside the box
- [14:57] – What are you most FIRED up about right now? – Cryptocurrency and bitcoin
- [17:50] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – “Myself. I was too afraid of the security and money”
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – “Get out of your comfort zone and truly help others without expecting something in return”
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – Talking to everyone and not being afraid of saying anything to anyone
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – Zac Johnson
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – Top of Mind by John Hall, – it’s about keeping yourself top of mind
- [20:16] – Believe in yourself, you CAN do this
- 20:55 – Connect with John on his website and Twitter
Interviewer: Yes! John’s an entrepreneur, connector, and startup enthusiast. He truly enjoys helping people find their passion in life. He’s the founder of Due, that’s D-U-E. John, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro, and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
John Rampton: Well, my name’s John Rampton, guys. Thanks for having me on today. I live in Palo Alto, California. It’s a nice, sunny day. I’m married, have a daughter. She’s about 15 months old. I started a payments company called Due and just enjoying life. Love life to the – as much as I can.
Interviewer: Not a bad attitude to have, my friend. Let’s talk about today real quick. We’re gonna get back into your journey, but what is your area of expertise? How would you sum that up?
John Rampton: If I had to sum up my expertise, it would be I am an expert at content marketing.
Interviewer: What’s something that we as entrepreneurs do wrong over and over again that you see that we shouldn’t be doing wrong?
John Rampton: Entrepreneurs, I find, especially in the content online space, they don’t tell – they just assume you know what they want to hear. I feel so many entrepreneurs build products, build services, and assume that you want this, and assume. They make all these assumptions that you want to hear something or read something or do something in a certain way, without actually finding out.
Interviewer: It’s a curse of knowledge, Fire Nation. Don’t fall into that trap, never, ever. And John, what’s something that you want people to do more of? What’s a tip, tool, or tactic within contact marketing that makes you an expert that we’ll be impressed by?
John Rampton: I write for big – I write for Mashville. I write for Techron, [inaudible] [00:01:49], Entrepreneur; all these different publications. I get asked – one of – my tip, I guess, for readers – I get asked all the time, “How did you – I wanna write for Forbes.” Forbes didn’t start day one. It started with my own blog. It started small. Then I grew it over time. Just like you and your podcasts. It didn’t start with a million listeners day one. It started off small, and then you worked and you built your way up. It’s the same in the content marketing space. You gotta build on something. Start and then build it up.
Interviewer: What’s your worst entrepreneurial moment, John? Take us to that moment in your journey that is the lowest of the low. Tell us that story.
John Rampton: The lowest of the low. That was going back to – it was about four years ago. I had actually just barely come off a previous high where I’d sold a company and everything was going well, and was deciding what to do next. I purchased a company. It was called Organizing Ventures. We owned organized.com, Organizing Store, and a bunch of other online ecommerce properties. We were doing multiple millions in sales every month.
One day, I was at my desk and everything was going well. We literally purchased the company and in three months we had almost 10X’d the revenue and the profit of the company. Everything seemed like it was going great. I got a call one day from Amazon saying, “Hey, we wanna partner with you guys. Make this…” We were like “Hey!” I was on a little bit of a high and I was like “Hey, let’s do this. Let’s look into this. Let’s start working on this.”
Then things kind of fell apart from there. Things didn’t go quite as well as we wanted to. It turns out three weeks later they ended up shutting off our account, so we couldn’t sell on Amazon.
John Rampton: It was a nightmare, nightmare situation. It accounted for 93 percent of all of our revenue, was from one source. That’s a lesson for all you entrepreneurs listening, too. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Never have all your revenue coming from one source. We did; it was 93 percent of all of our revenue. Now, we still had hundreds of thousands of dollars coming from our online property and from other places, but we were focused around Amazon, and when we got shut off we emailed them and emailed them and emailed them and called. I flew out and I did this. There was nothing we could do to get turned back on.
I was sitting at my desk, and I remember very, very clearly just looking at the bank account and realizing I did not have money to pay my employees longer than the next week. I had no money in the bank and we were headed towards bankruptcy. At this point, I was thinking this was the lowest point of my life. It comes out it’s actually the next day.
Keep in mind, all my employees; they were working their tails off. These people were the best employees in the entire world. They were at the office at 7:00 a.m. and some would even stay ‘til 7:00 or 8:00 p.m. They were working ten, 12, 14-hour days because they really wanted to see this startup grow. They really wanted to see us grow and build this company and be part of it.
But there I was, sitting in my office, and the next day I had to lay off every single one of them. And I’m sitting in that office and I remember just – I was bawling because I was sitting there. Every person is at the conference room table and I’m just like “Dudes, you guys, I don’t have enough money to pay you guys. I can’t afford you guys’ next pay check.” I laid off all but two people and the rest of the two people helped me close down the office. We had an 80,000-square foot warehouse where we put For Sale signs up and liquidated an entire warehouse of goods. It was about half-a-million-dollars’ worth of our cost of goods. We liquidated it in two days.
Interviewer: Did you ever find out why Amazon shut you off?
John Rampton: It was a combination of things. The official reason, no, but they have metrics where they want you to be shipping at a 93 percent satisfaction rate 100 percent of the time, and on time at a 95 percent shipping rate. We fell below that for about three days. Now, keep in mind, as a large company you have millions of orders going out, or tens of thousands of orders going out every single day. We fell below that 95 percent shipping rate for about three days, and that was enough cause and justification for them to shut us off.
Interviewer: Now, is this prior to FBA?
John Rampton: We were actually doing FBA as well.
Interviewer: So you had FBM, which is filled by merchant, and that’s what got shut off?
John Rampton: Right.
Interviewer: But they actually turned off your FBA, too?
John Rampton: Correct. They turned off everything. They turned off the account which turned off that as well.
Interviewer: I’m kinda curious because that’s something that I would wanna do as well, is fly out to “Amazon” but I wouldn’t even know where to start. Take us through. You jump on a plane. You fly out to Amazon. What happens? Your feet hit the ground. Do you know where you’re going? Is it this big, security-ridden building? I’m picturing this huge complex of a building. You’re just knocking on doors. What’s happening when you’re trying to speak to somebody in person at Amazon?
John Rampton: I knew a few people over there. I had a few friends over there. One of my friends got me in the door, got me to the right person where I could argue my case in front of them. The person was in the thing – I will call his name Randy – was in the room and I was sitting there chatting with Andy in the room. He was like “There’s nothing we can do. It’s an automated system and we have to follow the rules.” I’m like “I know this person, this person.” I pointed out all these cases, stuff like that. But I was pointing out all these cases but they just were not budging. This was, literally, it was a whirlwind for me. I’m in the door and I’m talking with, apparently, the right person, the exact person I need to, and just wouldn’t do anything for me.
Interviewer: Besides diversification of asset streams, etc., what would you really wanna make sure our listeners get from this story?
John Rampton: Diversification and, although things are going amazing today, they might not be going amazing tomorrow. We had literally experienced prior to this, ten, maybe even 15X growth in the previous three months. We were a rocket ship. We were growing this thing like nothing else. It doesn’t always mean that success will keep going and keep happening. I would say 1), diversify, but 2), plan for things a little bit better.
We could have planned. We could have worked with other things. We blew off other people, like Sears and Overstock and eBay, and we kind of put them on a back burner because everything was going like a rocket ship on something else. If we would have planned a little bit better and made a little bit more efforts in areas, I don’t think it would have gone down as dramatically as it did.
Interviewer: Fire Nation, just remember the phrase “This too shall pass.” It works for both when things are going great; hate to say it but that too will pass; and when things are crappy because that, too, will pass. Of course, here’s John talking on EOFire today and that kinda brings us to the next story, John, which is your ah-ha moment. You’ve had a lot of great ideas. Tell us one of them, the story of one of your greatest ideas. Take us through that journey.
John Rampton: One of my greatest ideas, I was working at a startup. I had started working at a startup while I was in college. I was one of five or six people who started here. We were building this product helping real estate agents. I was picking up the phone every single day. Like me, if you’re probably listening to this, I’m at a sales job and I was just calling, dialing numbers, dialing numbers, dialing numbers. It’s horrible. It’s a very hard job selling people on the phone.
One day, I was like “Hey. I get paid $8.00 every single sale. I wonder if I can figure out a way so that other people are helping me sell.” I went on Craigslist, of all places, and I went on there and I posted a job ad. I said, “I’m looking for people who have good connections who can sell this product. I will pay you $6.00 every single time you sell it.” I’m getting paid eight and they’re getting paid six. All of a sudden, I had two people respond that day. They’re like “Hey, we’d love to sell this. I work at an agency. I could make sure to flip all of our sales over to you. I wanna get paid for this. Sure!”
Then I started posting that all over the place, that same ad. I started getting these many, many salesreps. I went from calling 20, 30, 50 people a day to just emailing my salesreps and emailing my mini internal team. These weren’t hired by the company; they were just hired by me. And then I went and I found more online ways to sell. I found, truly, how to actually sell.
Again, for all those listening, later I found out this was more like affiliate marketing and getting more affiliates selling my product, but I became very, very good at that, to the point where I was the number one salesrep at our company. Our number two salesrep was selling anywhere from eight to 12 a day, eight to 12 sales a day. My top day I did 457 sales in one day.
It just allows you – that was one of my ah-ha moments and one of my greatest times. I’ve sold companies. I’ve bought and sold and crashed and done all these amazing things, but that was one of my biggest ah-ha moments: I have the power to change me. I hated what I was doing. I hated my life at the time. I hated picking up the phone every single day. I didn’t change the job that I was at. I just found a different way to do my job in a more productive way that made me a lot more money. I figured out ways to become better at who I was at the time I was there. Then I took that same experience and that same methodology and that same tactics and I moved it from company to company to company. It’s made me millions and tens of millions of dollars in my life.
Interviewer: Alright, John. Just one takeaway real quick. I just want you to maybe sum it up. What do you want to make sure that our listeners get from that great idea/run of ideas that you had, into that ah-ha moment.
John Rampton: The number one takeaway is just because something’s working right now for you and you’re doing something and you’re making sales doesn’t mean it’s always the best way or there’s not better ways out there. Always be evolving and always be improving yourself and figuring out new ways to do better things, get more sales, and be a better person.
Interviewer: It’s true, Fire Nation. One thing that jumped out to me listening to Tim Ferris’ story back in the day was that he realized that making sales calls during the working hours, he was hitting the gatekeeper, but he’d get in a 6:30 a.m. and he’d make calls for half an hour. He’d do the same thing at 6:30 p.m. to 7:00, and he would get past the gatekeepers who were no longer working. He would make more sales in that one hour than he would make all day getting stonewalled. So, go outside the box. Try things that are different. Try to get into that blue ocean that’s there.
John, just in a couple sentences, I’m curious. What are you most excited about today? What really fires you up?
John Rampton: I love Blockchain and cryptocurrency and Bitcore. I’m in the financial space and that extremely fires me up, to have a distributed ledger. This might go way over people’s heads, but that extremely fires me up. The fact that we could have one currency for the entire world is awesome. That gets me going.
Interviewer: Fire Nation, what gets me going are the value bombs John’s gonna be dropping in the lightning round as soon as we get back from faking our sponsors.
John, are you ready to rock the lightning rounds?
John Rampton: Yeah!
Interviewer: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
John Rampton: Myself, by far. I was too afraid. I was afraid of that security and the money. Truly, it was money. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t quit my job. I couldn’t quit the stability. That held me back for a long time.
Interviewer: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
John Rampton: Best advice I have ever received is to get out of my comfort zone and truly help others without expecting something in return. I would say go out there and help as many people as you can and expect nothing in return. The more you do that the more it will come back tenfold into your life.
Interviewer: What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
John Rampton: Personal habit that contributes to my success is I talk with everyone and I’m not afraid to say anything to anyone. I talk to random strangers in the street, and as my wife always says, “You could have a conversation with a blade of grass.”
Interviewer: What’s an Internet resource you could recommend us?
John Rampton: One Internet resource that I really love in the content space is zacjohnson.com. He’s been a big – I’ve been a big fan of his over the years. He taught me truly how to blog and help others online. I’ve used that to make money and to really expand my personal brand online.
Interviewer: If you could recommend just one book, John, what would it be and why?
John Rampton: One of my favorite books right now is a book by John Hall. It’s called Top of Mind. It came out a couple months ago. The reason why I like this is keeping people – keeping yourself at other people’s top of mind is crucial. Making sure that you’re always thinking about them, sending them gifts, sending them notes; in the sales process, always having a touch; keeping yourself at other people’s top of mind is key to the future of business. I love it. I can’t speak higher about that book.
Interviewer: I just had him on my podcast two days ago. He’s a great dude.
John Rampton: Oh, nice! Great book. Seriously.
Interviewer: Great conversation. It’s a great book. Love it all.
John, let’s end today on fire with you giving us a parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, and then we’ll say goodbye.
John Rampton: My parting piece of advice is truly – this may seem a little cliché – but believe in yourself. When I started becoming an entrepreneur, I was so afraid of starting. I actually was earning almost double my job, double what I was earning at my job before I actually quit my job because I was so terrified of losing that stability. If I could go back I would just forget that. I would run and just do it. Believe in yourself because you can do this. You’re awesome. Truly, you can do this.
Best way to contact me is through my site, www.johnrampton – J-O-H-N-R-A-M-P-T-O-N - .com. Or I’m also on Twitter, @johnrampton.
Interviewer: Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. You’ve been hanging out with JR and JLD today, so keep up the heat and head over to eofire.com. Just type John in the search bar and his show notes page will up with everything that we’ve been talking about today. These are the best show notes in the biz: timestamps, links galore. And of course, head directly over to johnrampton.com for more great information from John.
JR, thanks for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, brother, we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flip side.
John Rampton: Thanks, guys.
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